“As the Lodge Turns” Episode 64: Beagle on the Lam?!

On this episode of “As the Lodge Turns”…

The damp turf springs gently back as my paws propel me forward, the scent of last night’s rain lingering in the pool yard. A dull gray sky hangs overhead, warning that another shower is within the realm of possibility.

My mouth hangs open to catch the strange smells filling the cool air. I should enjoy these last mild days to the fullest before the summer sun turns me into a baking, beagle-shaped slug.

Didn’t spring just start?

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I sneak a quick look over my shoulder. Lucy is gaining speed, her eyes glowing with determination. She’s won all of our chase games lately, but today I’ve managed to keep an impressive distance between us.

Just have to hold out for a few more minutes, Bing…

I make a quick turn before we reach the pool, still very conscious of my unreliable beagle balance. Lucy follows with precise movements, not wasting a bit of her energy.

Racing past the picnic tables, I only narrowly avoid crashing into Max.

“Sorry!” I shout back at him, unable to slow my pace even for a moment.

“Want some help, Lucy?” Max yells, loud enough for me to hear. “I can cut him off up ahead for you!”

Some friend you are, Max.

“No,” comes her single, terrifying answer in a focused grunt. She’s not going to give up, no matter how fast I run, nor how far…I’m delaying the inevitable, I know, but I refuse to surrender without trying my hardest!

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You’ll just have to pick up your pace, Lucy!

I almost don’t notice the sudden sound of heavy, bounding steps behind us. Lucy and I turn our heads simultaneously, our eyes widening in synchronized confusion. A European Basset Hound is hot on our trail, his impressive ears flapping in the breeze like long, flightless wings. His little legs keep his body low to the ground, but he pursues us with admirable tenacity in spite of this hindrance to his speed.

Only Murphy, resident keeper of the law, has that kind of persistence!

“H…Ho…Hold it…right there!” he calls out to us in a staggered, though powerful, bark. We’re so stunned by the volume and tone of his declaration that we nearly miss what he says.

Slowly, hesitantly, Lucy and I decrease our pace to little more than a walk. She approaches my side with a look of concern; I offer her a reassuring smile, but somehow, I feel like a puppy about to be put in “time-out.”

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We wait with patient anxiety while Murphy plods across the yard towards us. As his quick, clumsy steps shorten the distance, one of those distinctive floppy ears inches dangerously close to his paw. My heart lurches in my chest, but before I can call out a warning, the inevitable occurs.

Instead of the firm, spongy turf, Murphy’s steps on his slippery ear.

“Oh no!” Lucy shouts, closing her eyes with a flinch.

His balance irreparably disturbed, Murphy has no choice but to flop to the ground. Lucy and I rush to him without a second thought, sniffing at his wrinkly face to make sure he isn’t hurt. He kicks his legs against the turf, his brow furrowing into deeper folds.

“Are you okay?” I ask, leaning forward. “That looked painful!”

Whether he heard my question or not, he offers no answer. He starts getting to his feet with a quiet huff.

“Be careful now,” Lucy says, attempting to settle him down. “You don’t want to do any more damage…”

He blinks back at her, as if he’s surprised by this concern.

“Miss, there’s no need to fret over me. These things happen…from time to time,” he assures her, his bark trailing into an embarrassed mumble.

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What am I, Murphy? Chopped cat food?

“That’s a relief,” I say with a laugh, my tail swaying in an energetic wag. “Well then, if you’re not any worse for wear, Lucy and I will just get back to our…”

Murphy suddenly whips his head around to face me, like he’s only just realized I’m here. The full weight of the mistake I’ve made lands squarely on my beagle shoulders, and our Basset companion wastes no more time.

“Not so fast!” he says in his sonorous bark. “I’ve been tracking you two down for miles.”

A slight exaggeration, but to Murphy it probably seemed that far…

“Why? Did we do something wrong?” Lucy asks, shooting an apprehensive glance in my direction.

Murphy fixes us with a look that leaves us frozen in place, waiting breathlessly for his explanation. All sounds fade, and even the breeze ceases to rustle through our coats.

His mouth finally opens.

What are Lucy and I in for this time…?

…to be continued…