“As the Lodge Turns” Episode 49: A Mysterious Change…?

On this episode of “As the Lodge Turns”…

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My kingdom usually responds to my daily arrivals with an appalling lack of attention; I confess, I can never hope to compete with the childish playthings that enthrall the drooling masses. In the commendable growth of my regal wisdom, I have learned to expect little from them, if anything at all.

But today, I am greeted with a strange…enthusiasm.

“Good morning, Princess Scarlett!” says one of my white, fluffy subjects.

“Is Princess Scarlett here? Good morning!” a chocolate lab calls out from his perch on the picnic table.

“Your coat has an extra special glow today, Your Highness!” says a poodle-mix, her dark eyes glossy with admiration.

“What’s your secret?” asks a shepherd, taking an eager step forward.

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For a moment I am unable to offer the firm rebuke that sits impatiently on my tongue, lost as I am in this sudden rush of spontaneous affection. Surely this is what I have always deserved, but it is somewhat unsettling to finally receive such an outpouring of devotion. As I stand in a daze, my paws fixed to the turf, a swarm of eager peasants surrounds me.

“Here’s to the kindest ruler in all the land!” cries one member of the crowd with an exuberant bark.

“All hail Princess Scarlett!!” the rest shout in unison.

Perhaps I am merely asleep in my bed, caught in the pleasant tide of some wonderfully agreeable dream. This is far too self-indulgent…

“Here’s to our magnificent ruler! See how nobly she balances such a large head on such a tiny body!”

No, if this were a dream, he would not be here!

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Max, that mangy, conniving German Shepherd, stares down at me with a smug smile on his long snout. My stomach performs a sickening flip – just the sight of him makes me positively nauseous!

“Hmph! I do believe I hear a loud, irritating fly buzzing close to my ear! Fortunately the cheers of my adoring subjects are completely drowning out that unpleasant sound,” I say, tilting my dainty nose toward the sky.

“Still, they’re acting kind of weird, aren’t they? At first I thought they were just being sarcastic, but they’re playing it way too straight,” Max says, scanning the throng of my devotees with furrowed brows.

Though it pains me to entertain the thought that their behavior is…unnatural, I must concede that Max makes a fair point. What prompted this total metamorphosis in their view of my excellence? Did I perform some deed particularly worthy of commendation recently? Behold them with so noble a countenance that their repressed inclination toward respect was resuscitated? Which of these could have been the trigger?

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“Did I…” I begin, glancing away from Max, “…do something especially ‘good’ recently?”

He tilts his head to the side. “You couldn’t do ‘good’ if you tried. Unless it was an accident, maybe.”

I fix him with the fierce look I typically reserve for traitors to the state. And those who steal from my food dish. There is often a degree of overlap between the two.

“Okay, okay, chill out, hotdog. I get what you’re saying. No, I haven’t noticed a change lately. Can’t you think of anything? I highly doubt you’re the type to forget things that have to do with you,” Max says with a slight smile.

Hmm…he is sharper than he seems…

Oh! I was not at the Lodge yesterday! Could something have happened then to spur their long-delayed reformation?

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“Were you here yesterday?” I ask, quickly turning toward Max.

“Nope. And not the day before, either. You mean…you didn’t notice?” he asks in a mock-wounded bark. “Why not ask one of these brainwashed dogs what this is all about?”

The sea of my adoring public parts with uncomfortable ease as I approach a stocky bulldog. He stares down at me in stunned silence, his jaw hanging open in disbelief when I stand in front of him.

I am well aware that my presence is nothing less than awe-inspiring, but these reactions are beginning to unnerve me…

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“Peasant, why are you all treating me with such…exceptional reverence?” I ask, faltering as I catch sight of the many expectant faces peering at me from behind him.

He nervously looks from side to side, as if seeking the approval of the others in the crowd.

“Your Highness, yesterday you were talking with all of us, and you even helped some of us with our problems. You were so kind and noble, we’d never seen you act so regally!”

Yesterday…?

Are my perfect ears failing me? Did he just say that not only was I here yesterday, but I also sympathized with the plight of strangers?

A sudden rush of cold runs down my spine.

If I was not here yesterday, then who…?

…to be continued…