As word of these special golden retrieving dogs spread like wildfire among the gentry, good Lady Tweedmouth was astonished to find that her social standing was greatly enhanced by being associated (if only tangentially) with her husband's special hunting companions. Gradually, the Lady's heart began to soften towards the great huge drooling beasts that inhabited the house, despite the bitter complaints from the parlormaid and chambermaid about the vast quantities of golden hair they removed each day from parlor and bedchamber. In fact, as the Christmas season began to draw near, she even began to contemplate giving the dogs a special gift of their very own. Being a wise woman, she kept these thoughts to herself, as dogs were not treated then as they are today. Nonetheless, she owed the golden beasts a debt of gratitude for improving her social standing, and she spent many hours debating what gift they might most enjoy. . .
At last, on Christmas Day, after all members of the household had exchanged their gifts and indulged in much merrymaking, Lady Tweedmouth called the dogs to her side and presented them with their special presents. After much sniffing, each of the dogs took one of these unusual toys into its mouth, wagging with gratitude, while at the same time barking their appreciation. But instead of coming out "Woof! Woof!" as they'd intended, the dogspeak came out "WOOB! WOOB!" as their mouths were indeed full!
At the dark end of that good day, when the guests were gone, the Tweedmouth retrievers settled into their master's bed, along with the Lord and the Lady, and of course with the Lady's toys, which were by now being called "Woobies" by all members of the household. In the days that followed, it soon became apparent that these Woobies were looked upon by their owners as their own special pets, for the dogs cared for them in the same doting manner that good Lord Tweedmouth ministered to their needs. And the Woobies returned the dogs' devotion equally, being never far from their sides.
Never had the manor house seemed so full of harmony and goodwill. Lady Tweedmouth was deeply touched by the dogs' response to her gifts, and came to realize that she did indeed truly love them, regardless of what the neighbors might think of her frequent and excessive displays of affection for them. Seeing the Lady becoming so enthralled with his golden darlings naturally pleased Lord Tweedmouth greatly, as the dogs were no longer a wedge between himself and his good wife (though he now often found himself sleeping on the floor!). Even the housekeeping staff left off their bickering and complaining. And in this happy state of affairs, the winter passed slowly and peacefully, gradually giving way to spring... until one truly terrible day!
The coming of spring was once again a signal for celebration at the Tweedmouth estate. The somber Lenten season was past, Eastertide was but a memory; it was now time for the annual feasting and merrymaking that was the center of the May Day observance at the manor. Each year, townsfolk and gentry would gather for a day and evening of eating, drinking, dancing and all other manner of fun (some of it naughty, but most of it nice). The preparations leading up to this day were, of course, extremely burdensome to the household staff, who now (in addition to the usual drudgery associated with the annual event) were forced to complete their tasks while dodging the "great drooly loathsome beasts" (which is what they called Lord Tweedmouth's precious ones when they were safely behind closed doors). Needless to say, the maids and footmen began to return to their churlish ways, and occasionally they would forget themselves and hurl their unpleasant epithets at the dogs while they went about their labors. This preyed greatly upon the mind of the good Lady Tweedmouth, for she could not bear to hear their complaints against those who were now HER very special companions.
Finally, the first of May arrived, bringing a cloudless sky filled with singing birds and just enough puffy white clouds to provide the odd bit of shade should the day become warm and the more delicate of the ladies begin to swoon. Last minute preparations were completed, the dogs' coats brushed by the Lord and Lady to a high sheen. At last, the Tweedmouths, seeing that all was in readiness and done to their satisfaction, repaired to their private chambers to dress in their finery and prepare to meet their guests. It was then that an uninvited guest named TROUBLE invaded the Tweedmouth manor house... stealthy, soundless and unnoticed by all.
Soon all that could be heard were the sounds of horses hooves on the cobbled drive as the invited guests began to arrive. Laughter filled the great hall as peasants and peers came together, forgetting their class differences for this once a year opportunity to get a glimpse into each others' lives. The workers from the fields gaped open-mouthed at the richness of the feast and partook of it with great glee; the stuffy old titled folk were treated to some rather "low" humor, and chortled behind their hands (or, in the case of the ladies, their fans) at the naughtiness of it all. Lord Tweedmouth looked over the scene and smiled with pleasure, knowing that once again, the Lady and the household staff had managed to pull off a smashing social success.
Not noticing the good Lady herself, he was able to surmise, from past experience, that she was waiting for just the right moment to make her entrance. And sure enough, when he turned a moment later and looked up the stairway that led to the great hall, he saw her poised regally at the head of it. Giving her a small nod and a conspiratorial wink, he called for the attention of the assembled guests. "Ladies, gentlemen, and good folk, it is my honor to announce to you the entrance of the Lady Tweedmouth, my wife and the maker of this feast."
All eyes were cast upon the Lady, who graced the throng below with one of her legendary smiles, and proceeded to descend the stairway in a slow and measured pace, looking every inch the Lady that she was.
Until, that is, her foot chanced to land upon something that was indeed not a stair tread... something soft that rolled beneath her, causing her to complete her descent of the staircase in a most unladylike manner, arriving at the bottom in a disheveled, unconscious heap. The guests gasped collectively! It was then that the culprit was discovered... there, on the third step from the top was a WOOBIE! And the Lady Tweedmouth was indeed in a bad way, lying pale and still on the stone floor...
Fortunately, old Doctor Leech was in attendance, and quickly elbowed his way through the crowd to attempt to revive the Lady. He knelt over her prostrate form for several moments, waving a vial of some foul smelling substance back and forth beneath her nose... but alas, his efforts were in vain! The only noticeable effect of this treatment was the rapid disappearance from the scene of the Tweedmouth Retrievers, who until now had been sniffing their beloved mistress with great concern.
After a few more minutes of ministering to the Lady, the old doctor instructed Lord Tweedmouth that "only time will tell if she will revive," and instructed him to have her carried forthwith to her bedchamber. Two of the servants quickly produced a makeshift litter and prepared to carry her up the same staircase which she had descended in such a terrible fashion. In so doing, they noticed that the woobie which had caused her demise had disappeared from view, but did not remark upon it to the Lord. Lifting their burden ever so gently, they began their sad task, troubled greatly by the Lady's seemingly lifeless pale form. The hushed crowd watched with grief-stricken faces as she was carried away...
Slowly and ever so gently,
the faithful retainers carried the Lady up the long and
winding staircase arriving at last at the threshold of
her chamber. The door was, fortunately, cracked open ever
so slightly, so there was no need to shift their mistress
needlessly. But as they carefully eased the door open,
they were barely able to keep control of their burden
- THE END -
let YOUR woobies