My nice-but-dim friend listened patiently to my plight as we trotted, side-by-side, along the bridleway which led out of the work-yard. After I finished my tale of woe, Ewan nodding throughout the recital, he thought for a moment.
"When Fizzy came to live with me and mummy she made me have a pink blanket." he explained. "And a pink towel for after swimming. I didn't mind too much because it is easier to see food that might have dropped if it is on a pink blanket. And it is smell nicer than my old one."
"But why do you put up with it, Ewan?" I queried. "Don't you mind?"
"Well," explained the gangly, tousle-furred, dog as he lifted high a leg and downloaded a wee-mail. "The think is that I likes Fizzy lots. And Fizzy likes to have pink. So I don't likes it much - but I do likes it a-cos Fizzy likes it."
"She's got you exactly where she wants you, Ewan." I sighed. "Under the dewclaw, my friend. Well and truly under the dewclaw."
Ewan nodded and laughed, as he darted off to find a stick for us to play with. He was, at least, a more patient dog than I. And irrepressibly happy too. I begin to find that I should follow his example more often.
Well, in some things, at any rate. His cheese-theories will always remain his own.
Oh dear. I suppose I can put it off no longer. It has been weighing heavily on my conscience for many, MANY, months now. The next instalment of "The Evolution of Jasper". The one that will, quite rightly and in all probability, make you despise me - if not forever, then at least for a mere moment.
Procrastination, they say, is the thief of time. Well..., I have pilfered enough. It is thus with a heavy heart that I present to you the following. Judge me with kindness - if you can.
The route of initial forays into my dirty protest having been well and truly de-railed, I decided that it was time to step things up a claw. Denied access to the kitchen, and therefore also the bin, I went a-hunting for a new mine of mischief.
The first prize upon which my beady eye alighted was a roll of clear adhesive tape. Within the twitch of a whisker it had been stolen and chewed-up, bringing satisfying results. The young lady and her parents were excessively irritated. But irritation was not enough to quench my appetite. I wanted to inflict upon the young lady nothing short of misery and despair - a punishment, I felt, which befitted the crime of tearing me from all I had thus far learned to cherish in my pitiable, misery-tainted life.
Further exploration of the location which had yielded the clear adhesive tape bore further fruit. A roll of thicker, wider, white tape. Now, this wasn't so easy to chew. In fact, no sooner had I pierced its flesh than the wretched thing became well and truly stuck on one of my main fangs. I stumbled angrily around the room, knocking over bags as I went, before careering blindly into one of the legs of the coffee-table in the centre of the room. And here came a most interesting development.
As I bashed the tape-roll against the table leg, there came a sudden resistance and a cracking sound. I wondered if I'd broken the table - but no. A pause in my bashing and a closer examination revealed that a part of the tape had adhered itself to the table-leg. I moved cautiously backwards. The end of the tape stayed stuck to the leg and the roll moved in my mouth as a length of tape unwound itself. The roll popped easily off my fang and dropped onto the floor. I looked at the wide bit of white tape hanging from the table-leg to the roll on the floor and my way was instantly clear. Bending down, I carefully took up the roll in my mouth once more and walked fully around the rectangular table, the tape unwinding as I went and sticking to each of the other three table-legs. Intrigued and amused, I walked around the table again. The same result. The third time I ran. Around I went, again and again, the tape sealing itself around the table. A few times I dropped the tape, but I stuck to my work (much as the tape stuck to the table, hehehe...) until the roll was completely unwound.
Dropping the cardboard inner-roll, I stood back and admired my work with pride. The lower half of the expensive-looking rosewood coffee-table was entirely cocooned with the sticky white tape. I then turned to examine the bags I had overturned in my initial efforts to get the roll of tape off my fang. One, in particular, caught my attention. A plastic carrier-bag with two metal sticks protruding from the top. On further investigation, after pulling the sticks from the bag, it seemed that a small woollen blanket was growing from the sticks, and was being fed by a ball of yellow wool. The rest of the carrier-bag was full of larger balls of similarly-coloured wool. I wasted no time in tearing the blanket from the sticks and unravelling as much of the yellow wool as I could.
My energy - and the wool - thus spent, I fell asleep.
I woke to the sound of a guttural scream. The young lady stood in the rear doorway, wordlessly surveying the scene that met her. Her mouth opened and closed but no sound came out. She looked like a fish.
I watched, amused, as she tried but failed to unravel the white tape from the coffee-table. She went into the kitchen and fetched some scissors and then proceeded to snip and pick at the tape until it lay in pieces on the floor. She gathered and disposed of the bits - and then she noticed the wool.
My bottom was spanked. I cared not. Without a word, I was taken to the garden and the door closed upon me. This I cared about. I could bear almost everything - except being ignored. The young woman's parents returned and I used the opportunity to scamper back into the house, concealing myself behind the settle. I noted that the girl had attempted - and failed - to put the blanket back onto the metal sticks. Her voice was fraught with tension as she explained to her mother what I had done.
"Never mind. I can soon fix that." was the mother's response, backed up swiftly by the father - who went so far as to chide his daughter for punishing me. I felt angry and impotent, never more so than when the father gave me a rich, meaty dinner. The daughter still could not bear to even look at me.
Well, this wasn't good enough. I wanted the wench, at the very least, to be reduced to frenzied swearing at the mere sight of me.
Further tactics were attempted, growing daily worse and worse. The young woman viewed me with increasing contempt and disgust - but, each time, I was forgiven. As my deeds grew worse, so the living room grew emptier. Objects prone to easy destruction were placed frustratingly out of my reach.
One day, I was scratching around for a new source of mischievous amusement. Perched atop a small occasional table, which stood next to the young lady's chair, I discovered a brightly-coloured stitched workbag with pretty wooden handles. It contained wool, which the young woman employed in making tapestry pictures for cushions (the canvases were the first things to be removed from my nipping-range). I joyfully grasped the bag 'twixt my mighty jaws and carried my prize to the floor, where I delighted in crunching up the handles, unpicking the bag's elaborate stitching and throwing about the woollen skeins contained within like so much wedding confetti. My appetite for destruction thus sated, I dozed off, using the remnants of the workbag as a most agreeable pillow.
A wail, more terrible than any I had previously heard, wrenched me from my slumber. I slunk away from the immediate vicinity of my crime, preparing, as ever, to laugh at and enjoy the rewards of my efforts from the sidelines. But I was unprepared for what happened next.
Instead of shouting at me and banishing me to the garden whilst she attempted to tidy up my mess prior to her parents' return, the young lady burst into tears and dropped to her knees in front of the wreckage of the workbag. Her chest and her voice rose and fell with great, heaving, sobs as she picked up what remained of the wooden handles and held them close to her. I began to feel a twinge of guilt as I watched her weeping uncontrollably.
Well - how was I to know that the bag had been hand-made in 1938 by the young woman's great-aunt?! Or that the same great-aunt had given the bag to the young woman by way of a letter, discovered in the great-aunt's house, addressed to the young woman by this great-aunt, who had died some two years previously - the first close relative of the young lady's to die, thus teaching her the true nature of grief? How could I have known that?!
It wasn't MY fault.