One day my master began reading a short story to me called The Diary of a Madman by Nikolai Gogol. A quote from the story went as follows—
“I’ve been bow-wow! I’ve been bow-wow-wow! very sick.” Ah, you pup! I confess, I was very surprised to hear [the dog] speak in human language. But later, when I’d thought it over properly, I at once ceased to be surprised. Actually, there have already been many such examples in the world. They say in England a fish surfaced who spoke a couple of words in such a strange language that scholars have already spent three years trying to define them and still haven’t found anything out. I also read in the papers about two cows that came to a grocer’s and asked for a pound of tea.
“Don’t you see!” my master shouted down to me as I lay on my favorite purple sofa. “The dogs are talking to each other, and the narrator can hear them! Now why can’t you talk to me? Won’t you say anything?”
I was silent. You must know, dear reader, that I couldn’t let the secret out. That man, Gogol, he knew far too much, and some of us did him in, no doubt. Probably with leeches. That’s the way these things usually go.
“Now there’s a little business proposition I’d like to make,” my master began, turning Nikolai Gogol’s book upside-down and placing it on his lap. “I know you delight in snacks and food.” He presented, as if from thin air, a platter piled with roast garlic chicken. I drooled like the niagra. Ah, to sink my canines in such succulent flesh! “You can have this,” continued my master, flashing his teeth in a broad smile, “all of this, three times a day, as much as you like, if you do just one thing for me.”
I came so close to saying out loud, “and what’s that?” but I controlled myself, yes, I controlled myself, I knew the consequences of breaking cover, dear reader.
“Say just one word,” whispered my master, “one word is all I need from you. Just one. Then I’ll know for sure if this story”—and with his free hand he held Nikolai Gogol’s book, which was still open, aloft—“is true.”
“Woof!” I said. Then, before he could snap his eyelids shut, I lunged forward from my purple couch, seized a breast of dripping chicken in my jaws, and leaped away before he could catch me. The book went flying.
Two victories in one, dear reader—to eat a breast of chicken, having concealed a great secret.