The day was fine in its orderliness.
The sidewalks had been swept clean in an efficient and thorough manner. Passersby politely nodded to each other in acknowledgment, being sure not to overstep into intrusive friendliness. The branches of the trees were consistently high enough not to brush against anyone's hat.
Mister Mawkish Buskermush and his daughter Maudlin were taking their regularly scheduled daily stroll through this locale, partaking in useful conversation at a moderate volume.
It was at this point that a curious noise alighted upon their ears; it was shrill and conspicuous, yet also still some distance away.
"Father," little Maudlin Buskermush asked, "might you identify that sound, for me? I do not recall ever hearing such a thing until now."
Her father replied: "I hoped that you never would, little one, but I can not shield you forever from the hard truths of life."
The two of them continued walking, and the bizarre noise grew louder. After a minute or thereabouts, the source of this disturbance came into view: a girl was rolling upon the ground in a courtyard, and from her mouth, the corners of which were upturned by an unseen force, came what might be described as a rapid series of gasps or hiccups.
Such was the strangeness of this spectacle, that Maudlin became fixated upon it, unaware that she had ceased strolling. Her father likewise slowed his own pace to a stop, quite deliberately, lest he proceed onward alone.
"Father," Maudlin asked with great plaintiveness, "what affliction has befallen that poor girl, compelling her to act in such a manner?"
Mister Mawkish Buskermush did not immediately reply, for though he knew the answer perfectly well, he required a moment to steady his voice.
"That unfortunate soul," he finally sighed, "has been... bitten by the Giggle Dog."
There was no need for him to explain further, for his little daughter perfectly understood this grim diagnosis; she had learned of it in school, though the lesson had mercifully been lacking in any sort of demonstration.
She exclaimed with a gasp: "How dreadful! that such a fate could befall someone of my own age or thereabouts."
A frightening thought occurred to her.
"Oh!" she cried, "surely I..."
"Let us hope not," her father simply replied, unable to bear the thought of it.
This pair of passersby then averted their eyes and continued strolling. The symptomatic noises gradually faded away. But the Buskermushes both remained heavy of heart, for they had been unable to render any assistance to the afflicted victim, nor could they even console themselves in the wake of witnessing this lamentable episode.