Edward On Duty
The big white dog waited by the door in spite of the temperatures tumbling outside in the late afternoon air. Normally in these few waning moments of daylight he would be found romping round the back garden in a last burst of daytime energy before settling down in front of the fire for a restful, dozy evening. But The Lady wasn’t home yet, and he was worried. She hadn’t been herself when she left and though she’d said nothing, he'd known it. And so he waited, head on paws, ears pricked.
Hearing her car pull into the drive, he sat up and stared at the doorknob. Seeing it turn, he stood. One look at her and he knew he’d been right. She didn’t feel well. She gave him a slight pat on the head and headed immediately out through the kitchen and down the long hallway to the bedroom, letting her coats, shawls and gloves fall behind in her wake. She fell into bed. The big dog stood at the door and watched.
Right. He knew what he had to do. Wheeling around, he went to find Apple, his furry black housemate, and told her there was to be no unnecessary barking at squirrels or chipmunks for the foreseeable future. He then trotted into the den and under the piano where lay his new Christmas toy. “You never know”, he thought to himself. “She might like to play if she feels better.” He made his way back down the hallway to the bedroom door and stopped, stock still.
The door was closed.
In shock, he dropped his toy.
Lifting one large white paw, he demanded entrance.
Bang, Bang, Bang!
The door shook. And opened.
“Sorry, Edward.” The Man stepped aside to let him in.
Refusing to allow his annoyance to dent his dignity, the big white dog trotted into the room with his head held high and jumped as lightly as a bird atop the fluffy bed.
The Lady placed her hand on his head and he lay close beside her.
And there he stayed.
Cold itself drove down through the clouds that night, led by thundering steeds of wind that raked the bare trees and screamed past the cottage eaves. Still the big dog stayed close by The Lady, refusing to move. As the temperatures dropped past fifteen, past ten, The Lady slept and the big dog kept watch. In the afternoon he would reluctantly leave his post to tear figure eights through the garden, kangaroo-boxing with Apple, playing tag round the hemlocks, in a pent-up burst of unexploded energy. Then he would calmly return, quiet and somber, to take up his post once again.
On the third day he overheard The Man talking in the other room.
“Yes, it’s fortunate. We caught it early.”
“Must have been a mild case”.
“Very thankful. The medicine did the trick. She’s on the mend.”
The big dog chuckled to himself.
Whatever would they do without him?
They are curled up together tonight.