The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The fox is being pursued by tally-ho-ing hunters on horseback. It is so quick a fox that it is soon out of sight, having scurried under a hedge and leaped over a ditch and away, away! But the lazy dog is now sure to be crushed under the hooves of galloping horses unless it moves out of their path. It is a dog equivalent of Pearl White, star of the silver screen, who sometimes found herself tied to railway lines as huge locomotives thundered implacably towards her. Except that no ropes tie the dog down, merely its own lassitude.
The awful sound of the approaching hooves wakes the lazy dog. It has been asleep, dreaming about whatever dogs dream about. It was quite oblivious to the quick brown fox which jumped over it at the beginning of our story. Now it opens one doggy eye and peers towards the source of the din which has awoken it. Shifting its fat bulk oh so slightly on the grass, it lifts one diffident paw in a gesture designed to halt the horses in their gallop. Think of a station master holding up a flag to halt a train.
If this were a transcript of an episode of a Pearl White serial, we would end here, leaving you in suspense. But, just as the cinematheque audience knows, deep down, that Pearl White will not actually be killed under the wheels of the thundering locomotive, so you know, deep down, don’t you?, that Mr Key would never gratuitously kill a dog. Even a lazy fictional dog.
So what happens is that, astonishingly, each individual horse spots the raised paw of the lazy dog on the lawn, and comes to a jarring stop, in spite of the tally-ho-ing promptings of its rider. Indeed, so sudden is the horses’ halting that some of the hunters are pitched forward and thrown from their mounts.
The lazy dog goes back to sleep. The toppled hunters rub their sprains and bruises. The horses make standard horsey noises and pad about, as horses do, when left to their own devices. Far, far away, the quick brown fox is still going like the clappers. It is heading towards a railway line.