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Victor looked at the dog carefully.
It couldn't have spoken to him. It must have been his imagination. But he'd said that last time, hadn't he?
'I wonder what your name is?' said Victor, patting it on the head.
'Gaspode,' said Gaspode.
Victor's hand froze in mid-tousle.
'Tuppence,' said the dog, wearily. 'World's only bloody harmonica-playing dog. Tuppence.'
It is the sun, Victor thought. I haven't been wearing a hat. In a minute I'll wake up and there'll be cool sheets.
'Well, you didn't play very well. I couldn't recognize the tune,' he said, stretching his mouth into a terrible grin.
'You're not supposed to recognize the bloody tune,' said Gaspode, sitting down heavily and industriously scratching one ear with his hind leg. 'I'm a dog. You're supposed to be bloody amazed I can bloody well get a squeak out of the bloody thing.'
How shall I put it? Victor thought. Do I just say: excuse me, you appear to be tad . . . No, probably not.
'Er,' he said. Hey, you're quire chatty for . . . no.
'Fleas,' said Gaspode, changing ears and legs. 'Giving me gyp. I
'Oh dear.'
'And all these trolls. Can't stand 'em. They smell all wrong. Bloody walking stones. You try and bite 'em, next minute you're spittin' teef. It's not natural.'
Talking of natural, I can't help noticing that-
'Bloody desert, this place,' said Gaspode.
You're a talking dog.
'I expect you're wondering,' said Gaspode, turning his penetrating stare on Victor once again, 'how come I'm talking.'
'Hadn't given it a thought,' said Victor.
'Me neither,' said Gaspode. 'Until a couple of weeks ago. All my life, never said a bloody word. Worked for a bloke back in the big city. Tricks and that. Balancing a ball on my nose. Walkin' on me 'rod legs. Jumpin' through a 'oop. Carried the hat round in my mouf afterwards. You know. Show business. Then this woman pats me on me 'ead, says "Eow, wot a dear little doggy, he looks like he understands every word we say," and I thinks, "Ho, ho, I don't even bother to make the effort any more, missus," and then I realizes I can hear the words, and they're coming out of me own mouf. So I grabbed the 'at and had it away on my paws pretty damn quick, while they were still starin'.'
'Why?' said Victor.
Gaspode rolled his eyes. 'Exactly wot life do you fink a genuine talking dog is going to have?' he said. 'Shouldn't have opened my stupid mouth.'
'But you're talking to me,' said Victor.
Gaspode gave him a sly look.
'Yeah, but jus' you try tellin' anyone,' he said. 'Anyway, you're all right. You've got the look. I could tell it a mile orf.'
'What on earth do you mean?' said Victor.
'You don't fink you really belong to yourself, right?' said the dog. 'You've 'ad the feeling that something else is doin' your thinking for you?'
'Good grief.'
'Give you a kind of hunted look,' said Gaspode. He picked up the cap in his mouth. 'Tuppence,' he said indistinctly. 'I mean, it's not as if I've got any way of spending it, but . . . tuppence.' He gave a canine shrug.
'What do you mean by a hunted look?' said Victor.
'You've all got the look. Many are called and few are chosen, style of fing.'
'What look?'
'Like you've been called here and you don't know why.' Gaspode tried to scratch his ear again. 'Saw you acting Cohen the Barbarian,' he said.
'Er . . . what did you think of it?' said Victor.
'I reckon, so long as ode Cohen never gets to hear about it, you should be OK.'

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