“Oh, James!” Charlotte gushed. “What a quaint little chalet you’ve chosen…”

“I’m so glad you approve, Charlotte,” James sighed with relief. “I wasn’t sure such a rustic ambiance would be to your liking, but I thought it would be marvelously romantic!”

He nuzzled the back of her neck while making a purring tiger sound.

“James, really! In front of the bellhop?”

“Where would you like your bags, Sir?” The bellhop stifled a chuckle.

“Huh? Oh, just uh, just put them over there…somewhere.” James blustered. He motioned toward the far side of the room where an empty place setting was arranged on the hardwood floor.

“Of course, Sir.”

As soon as the bellhop’s back was turned, James attempted to nuzzle Charlotte’s neck again, and she responded with a sharp elbow in his ribcage. “Do you mind?!”

“Oh, my!” Charlotte exclaimed and stepped away from James. “Look at that! Why on earth is there a place setting on the floor…?”

The bellhop turned to answer and Charlotte squinted to read his nametag aloud, to finish her sentence. “Marty. Marty do you know?”

“Indeed, Madame, he replied. “Indeed. You see, it is a tradition here at the Burpington Manor that harks back to the legend of —

“Oooh! A legend!” Charlotte interrupted, her eyes beaming like headlights. “Do tell!”

“Oooh! Do not!” James mimicked. “Marky here is a busy man, Charlotte. He doesn’t have time to tell you silly stories. Isn’t that right, Marky?”

“The name is Marty and I have all the time in the world, Sir,” Marty sniffed.

With a dismissive wave of her hand, Charlotte turned her attention back to Marty.

“It was the summer of 1742 and Lord Barnabas Burpington was in his prime. Oh, he was quite a specimen, Madame. Well, from the portraits I’ve seen anyway… positively yummy!  Anyway, a Russian Wolfhound by the name of Galahad was his constant companion. In fact, at one time this very room belonged to Galahad.

“Do you mean to say,” James began, “that essentially we are spending the weekend in a…dog house?”

“It looks to me as if you are, Sir,” Marty sniffed.

Charlotte burst into laughter, “Oh, Marty you are such a card!” Isn’t he an absolute scream, James?”

“Oh, hell yes.” James decided to pour himself a scotch from the minibar. “A scream.

“Anyway,” Marty continued, “one might venture to say that Lord Burpington and Galahad were best friends. Well, one afternoon the handsome duo decided to try their luck at coon hunting. Unfortunately, only one returned…

“And they all live happily ever after, right?” James interjected. “That’s just great. Thanks for the fascinating story, Marky.” James walked to the door and yanked it open. “Good night, now!”

Really, James. Do shut up!”

“But Charlotte…” James whined. “Don’t you want to…you know?”

“No, I do not. Not now. So stop hounding me!”

“Well!” James spun on his heel, slamming the door as he left the room in a huff.

“Please continue, Marty.” Charlotte batted her eyelashes.

“As I was saying…Lord Burpington returned alone that day. Galahad was never seen again.”

“Oh, how dreadful!”

“It was indeed, Madame. No one knows what happened, as Lord Burpington never spoke of it. He was heartbroken, to be sure, but never gave up hope that his companion would one day return. And that is why to this day, Galahad’s place setting is arranged every day, awaiting his arrival.”

“But why is there a knife and fork if the place setting is for a dog?

“Because Madame, dogs don’t use spoons.”

SusanWritesPrecise/Susan Marie Shuman

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