They came to the door, and Mort started to round the corner into the room. Roland quickly shouldered him back. "Are you mad? We can't just barge in." Mort thought this was highly irregular, coming from Roland, but he was a far better poker player than Rollie. He managed to hide his incredulity.
"Of course not, sir. Do you have a plan?"
"Yes. I'll go first." The bulldog threw his massive shoulder into the door and heaved it open, growling menacingly if somewhat asthmatically. "Stand down," he yelped, "or I'll..."
He broke off uncertainly. No mirror flashed light into his tired old eyes. No Picasso menaced the small, mismatched pack knotted around the hearth.
An awkward silence descended.
At last, Scruffy sprang forward. "Surprise, Uncle Rollie! Happy dog's day!"
"I'm not your uncle," Roland responded out of habit (although the truth was, nobody had the faintest idea what the lineage of the aptly-named terrier mix might be). Before he could get a good growl going - he only managed a wheezing intake of breath - the pack parted so he could see what they'd been hiding.
Lying on the hearth, folded and stacked neatly, was a small pile of dog-sized items. The bulldog circled them, sniffing noisily with his squished-up nose. There was a lush, brocade jacket, a pair of soft (oh soft, oh happy, oh his paws!) slippers and, crowning the heap, a tiny wooden pipe.
"The woman helped. She folded and... stuff," Scruffy admitted.
"But we added the pipe after she'd gone, old chap." A debonair greyhound winked at him.
"Atta boy, Alberto." Rollie had to turn away as he said it, sniffing. Everyone just thought he was wheezing again. Mort helped him into the jacket and he clenched the pipe in his teeth.
"Now. Anyone for cards?" A deck was produced from somewhere, and the pack settled in a circle.
"You mutts go ahead. I'm going to sit here and smoke."