Beware of the Dogs

On the dot of twelve on a quiet autumnal night
an old fashioned stagecoach came rattling by.
Invisible to all no matter how they might try.
Nothing there to most but a slight trick of the light.
By a row of houses it came to a stop, just shy
of an otherwise unremarkable front gate.
The door opened and stepping down from the footplate
was Death. Invisible to the few passers-by.
“Saul, Death has come to you. I believe we have a date”,
Death intoned. Presumably to himself for there was no reply.
He marched towards the door with his head kept high,
with a slow steady step and his back held straight.

He was virtually at the door when he heard the noises nearby.
They came around the corner of the house and over the lawn.
Two large playful dogs, one chocolate, one fawn.
Tongues lolling, rears waggling, running fast, leaping high.
They pawed and they slobbered more than could be borne
by Death although he tried to ignore them. Tried to stay calm.
Then the chocolate dog reared up and gently gripped an arm.
Which came off at the elbow. The dog dropped back to the lawn.
Death looked between his arm and the other dog with alarm
Then with the fawn dog in pursuit he dashed for the gate.
He stumbled on his cloak, it nipped at his heels and with a great
burst of speed he leapt over the gate. Safe from further harm.

Such language he left with, then returned with two steaks on a plate.
He tossed them on to the lawn. The empty mouthed dog grabbed a steak.
The chocolate one approached more cautiously not sure whether to take
this over a bone. But eventually dropped Death’s arm as it too took the bait.
Death came through the gate. No prevarication. He knew what was at stake.
There was no way that he had any wish to repeat this ordeal
He had to get in, do his duty, and get out before the dogs finished their meal.
So he hurried, pausing just briefly to avoid stepping on a rake.
There was of course a lock but that was insufficient to seal
a house against Death. He put his hand against it and slowly the door
swung open. And did the situation warrant the way that Death swore?
It did. Inside were another two dogs to whom Death had a savoury appeal.
As the door opened Death watched them get up from the floor.
A mouth snapped at his retreating heel. He gained his second wind
They would not catch him. Of that he was determined.
He pledged his revenge as he vaulted the front gate once more.

But Death had run out of ideas. It was looking as if failure was predestined.
The dogs suddenly fell silent and sat when a young women appeared.
In Death’s experience this was a lonely time of night. This was weird.
However, this was a gift horse that would not be further examined.
If they’d only been there how War, Pestilence and Famine would have jeered
as the girl called the dogs to her “Buttercup come here. Down Strawberry.
Foxglove leave it. I said put it down. Tansy get out of the shrubbery.”
The dogs obediently followed and then came Death who could have cheered.
Although it wasn’t very long before he got his greatest fright in a century.
When she merely told the dogs to sit, to stay, it seemed she was going to allow
the dogs to decide for themselves whether obedience was more important than chow.
She calmly entered the house while death nervously eyed up the boundary.

An hour passed, the dogs were beginning to stir. Death was wondering how
he could outrun all four when the young woman strolled back into sight.
She put a lead on each dog. When she led them away they put up no fight.
She tied them up, turned to the world at large, and announced “He is ready for you now.”

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