Bilingual Lady

Ezra Azra

Copyright 2023 by Ezra Azra

Photo by ARTISTIC FRAMES on Unsplash
Photo by ARTISTIC FRAMES on Unsplash

Granny and Grampa were worried. Whenever they discussed worrying matters, they spoke in Zulu so that they would keep worrying matters away from their two Grandchildren, Yvonne, fourteen years old, and Elizabeth, nineteen.

What Granny and Grampa did not know was that Yvonne and Elizabeth had long ago secretly signed up for volunteer not-for-credit classes at school in Conversational Zulu. And so, when her Grandparents were in worried discussion about Elizabeth, Yvonne heard all of it, and became worried, too.

After Elizabeth had graduated from High School, she enlisted as an Army Cadet. She would be away from home for about ninety days at training camp. Granny and Grampa had been very proud of her. Yvonne, too, was proud of her sister in whose footsteps she was determined to follow after she graduated.

Elizabeth had promised to write regularly. Two weeks had passed, but no letter had arrived from Elizabeth. When the Grandparents had gone downtown to enquire at the recruiting office, the office was no longer there. The police were not aware of the closing.

The next morning, Saturday, not a school day, at breakfast, Granny and Grampa were worried and sad, but they pretended to be happy so as not to make Yvonne sad. But in their Zulu bits of conversation, they expressed depression and fear. Yvonne, while sincerely enjoying the breakfast Granny had made, was hard-pressed to pretend to be happy about Granny and Grampa and Elizabeth.

What nobody in the family knew was that Lady, the family pet dog, was, too, bilingual in Zulu and English. And, she did not go to school to learn to be bilingual.

Lady had had enough of all the uncertainty about Elizabeth. She had decided to do something about it. And, she had guessed accurately at what Yvonne's response to her invitation would be. Lady's wisdom went far beyond understanding all human languages.

After breakfast, Lady walked out into the backyard, and waited for Yvonne to appear. Yvonne appeared, doing one of her chores, not taking notice of Lady. Lady ran around Yvonne a few times. That was their usual signal to play. Yvonne was not quite in the mood. "Later, Lady."

Lady made her irresistible move. She ran a few steps, stopped, turned her head and looked at Yvonne, and gave a friendly growl. It did not fail, as it never ever had. Yvonne paid attention. Lady trotted farther away a few steps, and looked back at Yvonne, again. The game was on.

One girl to another, Yvonne intuitively knew Lady was about to go find Elizabeth. "You wait here, Lady, while I go make an excuse to Granny and Grampa.

Yvonne dashed back into the home. Her excuse was that she and Lady were going down to the river to play. That was an almost daily pastime with Lady and the children. Granny and Grampa welcomed it. Yvonne and Lady ran out the backyard gate, Lady in the lead, and along the alley to where stone steps led down to the river.

The shallow river was shallow all the way to the next town, miles away. They ran, sometimes in the river, sometimes on the shore. Not for even a second did Yvonne doubt that Lady knew where she was headed.

At some point, Lady left the river and ran up a hill into a thick forest. Yvonne hesitated only because the trees in the forest were so close together, she would not find it easy to move through them.

"Lady? You sure?" Lady paused, looked back at Yvonne and wagged her tale. Yvonne plunged ahead.

Somewhere inside the forest, Lady stopped. Yvonne caught up. Lady moved slowly and cautiously. Yvonne, too. They came to a clearing. There was a cabin. Standing guard, armed with a rifle, was Elizabeth.

Yvonne was about to let out a cry of surprise, but Lady bumped her aside. Yvonne stifled her surprise. Lady furtively approached Elizabeth. Elizabeth could not believe she was seeing Lady. "Lady? Is that you?"

Lady ran up to Elizabeth. Elizabeth put aside her rifle on the ground, and hugged Lady. Yvonne called out, to Lady more than to Elizabeth. "May I come out, now?" "Yvonne? That you?" The sisters hugged. Lady strutted away a few steps and sniffed around.

Elizabeth was thoroughly happily confused. "What are you two doing here?" "Elizabeth, something is wrong. Granny and Grampa cannot locate the people who recruited you. Their downtown office is closed. Even the police do not know anything about them." "How did you get here?" "Lady brought me here. We have to go home, Elizabeth." "Yvonne, I cannot just leave. I signed a contract. Granny and Grampa co-signed with me." "Elizabeth, that contract is not worth anything if your recruiters are not legal."

Lady, looking into the distance, growled. Elizabeth and Yvonne paid attention. They heard a vehicle approaching. Lady took up an attack posture, and stared in the direction of the approaching vehicle. The hair on her back, from head to tail, stood up like spikes. That was sign enough for Elizabeth.

She hissed to Yvonne, "Let's get out of here!" They dashed into the forest. Elizabeth called out, "Lady. Come on!" Yvonne paused for a second to say, "Let her be, Elizabeth. She will delay them. She knows the way home." The sisters fled to the river.

Lady sat on her haunches, waiting for the vehicle. She was casually scratching one of her ears when a jeep came into view. In it were two uniformed soldiers, armed with rifles. They slowed down when they saw Lady sitting in the middle of the road, alternatively looking at them and scratching her ears. They stopped.

"A dog?" "Looks tame enough." "Hey, doggie, get out of the way." Lady trotted up to the vehicle, and jumped onto the hood, and lay on her belly. "Really? It wants to play." "Later. I have to replace the sentry. Drive on."

The vehicle moved along slowly with Lady lying on her belly on the hood. It stopped when they arrived where Elizabeth had been standing guard.

"Where is the sentry?" They got out of the vehicle and looked around. One of them called out to Elizabeth, "Soldier! Where are you?" "Here is her rifle." "I don't like this."

Lady jumped off the hood onto one of the soldiers. When he was on his back on the ground, screaming, his arms paralyzed in terror, Lady positioned the tip of her nose a dog's breath away from the tip of the soldier's nose. Their eyes met.

She snarled; bared her teeth; opened her mouth wide enough to give him a clear view of her mighty uvula and tonsils. His fear was so deep and so all inclusive, his left eyelid would never be able ever again to close completely; his other eyelid would twitch forevermore. Ever and ever again, nightmares would interrupt his sleep. In that moment he suffered, as well, lower bodily, unprintable, unspeakable, stinky, consequences.

The other soldier took up a defensive stance, and, in his mindless terror forgetting which end was which, he grasped his loaded rifle by the barrel with both hands, as if it were a baseball bat.

Lady dashed away and disappeared into the forest.

The two were thoroughly discombobulated. "That is not an ordinary dog!" "What did it do to the sentry?" "I do not want to know." "We have to find her body!" "We have to get out of this business, and out of this country, and never come back!"

They scrambled back into the vehicle, and sped away.  

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