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Title: Sigurd Our Golden Collie and Other Comrades of the Road
Author: Bates, Katharine Lee
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Sigurd Our Golden Collie and Other Comrades of the Road" ***

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Internet Archive)



SIGURD OUR GOLDEN COLLIE
AND
OTHER COMRADES OF THE ROAD



BY THE SAME AUTHOR

FAIRY GOLD
THE RETINUE AND OTHER POEMS

E. P. DUTTON & COMPANY



[Illustration: JOY OF LIFE AND SIGURD]



SIGURD OUR GOLDEN COLLIE

AND

OTHER COMRADES _of the_ ROAD



By KATHARINE LEE BATES



NEW YORK
E. P. DUTTON & COMPANY
681 FIFTH AVENUE


COPYRIGHT, 1919,
BY E. P. DUTTON & COMPANY
_All Rights Reserved_

_First printing      November, 1919_
_Second printing     March, 1920_

Printed in the United States of America



Transcriber's Note: In this e-text letters with macrons are preceded by
an equal sign and enclosed in brackets, such as [=a] and [=o].



INSCRIBED

TO

THE ONE WHOM SIGURD LOVED BEST



A few of the sketches and poems in this volume have already appeared
in print. Acknowledgments are due to _The Christian Endeavor World_,
_Life_, _The Outlook_ and _Scribner's Magazine_.



CONTENTS


I

SIGURD OUR GOLDEN COLLIE

                                                   PAGE

_Vigi_                                                3

PUPPYHOOD                                             5

_The Dogs of Bethlehem_                              28

GROWING UP                                           30

_Laddie_                                             55

THE CALL OF THE BLOOD                                57

_Sigurd's Meditations in the Church Porch_           89

ADVENTURES                                           90

_The Heart of a Dog_                                120

HOME STUDIES                                        121

_The Pleaders_                                      144

COLLEGE CAREER                                      146

_To Sigurd_                                         174

FAREWELLS                                           177

_To Joy-of-Life_                                    215


II

OTHER COMRADES OF THE ROAD

_The Pinegrove Path_                                218

ROBIN HOOD                                          219

_Why the Spire Fell_                                246

AN EASTER CHICK                                     248

_How Birds Were Made_                               270

TAKA AND KOMA                                       272

_Warbler Weather_                                   288

SUMMER RESIDENTS AT A WISCONSIN LAKE. BY KATHARINE
COMAN                                               290

_The Jester_                                        304

EMILIUS                                             305

_Hudson's Cat_                                      322

CATASTROPHES                                        324

_To Hamlet_                                         349

HAMLET AND POLONIUS                                 350



SIGURD OUR GOLDEN COLLIE
AND
OTHER COMRADES OF THE ROAD



I

SIGURD OUR GOLDEN COLLIE



VIGI


    Wisest of dogs was Vigi, a tawny-coated hound
    That King Olaf, warring over green hills of Ireland, found;
    His merry Norse were driving away a mighty herd
    For feasts upon the dragonships, when an isleman dared a word:

    "From all those stolen hundreds, well might ye spare my score."
    "Ay, take them," quoth the gamesome king, "but not a heifer more.
    Choose out thine own, nor hinder us; yet choose without a slip."
    The isleman laughed and whistled, his finger at his lip.

    Oh, swift the bright-eyed Vigi went darting through the herd
    And singled out his master's neat with a nose that never erred,
    And drave the star-marked twenty forth, to the wonder of the king,
    Who bought the hound right honestly, at the price of a broad gold ring.

    If the herddog dreamed of an Irish voice and of cattle on the hill,
    He told it not to Olaf the King, whose will was Vigi's will,
    But followed him far in faithful love and bravely helped him win
    His famous fight with Thorir Hart and Raud, the wizard Finn.

    Above the clamor and the clang shrill sounded Vigi's bark,
    And when the groaning ship of Raud drew seaward to the dark,
    And Thorir Hart leapt to the land, bidding his rowers live
    Who could, Olaf and Vigi strained hard on the fugitive.

    'Twas Vigi caught the runner's heel and stayed the windswift flight
    Till Olaf's well-hurled spear had changed the day to endless night
    For Thorir Hart, but not before his sword had stung the hound,
    Whom the heroes bore on shield to ship, all grieving for his wound.

    Now proud of heart was Vigi to be borne to ship on shield,
    And many a day thereafter, when the bitter thrust was healed,
    Would the dog leap up on the Vikings and coax with his Irish wit
    Till 'mid laughter a shield was leveled, and Vigi rode on it.



PUPPYHOOD

    "Only the envy was, that it lasted not still, or, now it is past,
    cannot by imagination, much less description, be recovered to a
    part of that spirit it had in the gliding by."

    --Jonson's _Masque of Hymen_.


Sigurd was related to Vigi only by the line of Scandinavian literature.
The Lady of Cedar Hill was enjoying the long summer daylights and
marvelous rainbows of Norway, when word reached her that her livestock
had been increased by the advent of ten puppies, and back there came
for them all, by return mail, heroic names straight out of that
splendid old saga of _Burnt Njal_.

But this is not the beginning of the story. Indeed, Sigurd's story
probably emerges from a deeper distance than the story of mankind.
Millions of glad creatures, his tawny ancestors, ranged the Highlands,
slowly giving their wild hearts to the worship of man, and left no
pedigree. The utmost of our knowledge only tells us that Sigurd's sire,
the rough-coated collie Barwell Ralph (pronounced R[=a]fe), born
September 3, 1894, was the son of Heather Ralph, a purple name with
wind and ripples in it, himself the son of the sonorous Stracathro
Ralph, whose parents were Christopher, a champion of far renown, and
Stracathro Fancy; and of lovely Apple Blossom, offspring of Metchley
Wonder and Grove Daisy. Ralph's mother of blessed memory was Aughton
Bessie; her parents were Edgbarton Marvel, son of that same champion
Christopher and Sweet Marie, and Wellesbourne Ada, in proudest Scotch
descent from Douglas and Lady.

Sigurd's mother, Trapelo Dora, born May 16, 1900, was also a sable and
white rough collie. Her sire, Barwell Masterpiece, son of Rightaway and
Caermarther Lass, had for dashing grandsires Finsbury Pilot and
Ringleader, and for gentle grandams, Miss Purdue and Jane. Her mother,
Barwell Queenie, came of the great lineage of Southport Perfection and
numbered among her ancestors a Beauty, a Princess and a Barwell Bess.

Those ten puppies, poor innocents, had something to live up to.

But their sire, Ralph, cared nothing for his distinguished progenitors,
not even for that prize grandmother who had sold for eight hundred
pounds, in comparison with the Lady of Cedar Hill, whom he frankly
adored. His most blissful moments were those in which he was allowed to
sit up on the lounge beside her, his paw in her palm, his head on her
shoulder, his brown eyes rolling up to her face with a look of liquid
ecstasy. He had been the guardian of Cedar Hill several years when Dora
arrived. Shipped from those same Surrey kennels in which Ralph uttered
his first squeal, her long journey over sea and land had been a
fearsome experience. When the expressman dumped a travelworn box,
labeled _Live Dog_, in the generous country house hall, and proceeded
with some nervousness to knock off the slats, the assembled household
grouped themselves behind the most reassuring pieces of furniture for
protection against the outrush of a ferocious beast. But the delicate
little collie that shot forth was herself in such terror that even the
waiting dish of warm milk and bread, into which she splashed at once,
could not allay her panic. From room to room she raced, hiding under
sofas and behind screens, finding nothing that gave her peace, not even
when she came up against a long mirror and fronted her own reflection,
another scared little collie, which she tried to kiss with a puzzled
tongue against the glass. Then in sauntered the lordly Ralph, whose
indignant growl at the intruder died in his astonished throat as Dora
confidingly flung herself upon him, leaping up and clinging to his
well-groomed neck with grimy forelegs quivering for joy. Ralph was a
dog who prided himself on his respectability. Affronted, shocked, he
shook off this impudent young hussy, but homesick little Dora would not
be repelled. Here, at last, was something she recognized, something
that belonged to her lost world of the kennels. Let Ralph be as surly
as he might, he had her perfect confidence from the outset, while the
winsome Lady of Cedar Hill had to coax for days before Dora would make
the first timid response to these strange overtures of human
friendship.

As for Ralph, he decided to tolerate the nuisance and in course of time
found her gypsy pranks amusing, even although she treated him with
increasing levity. As he took his prolonged siesta, she would frisk
about him, biting first one ear and then the other, till at last he
would rise in magnificent menace and go chasing after her, his
middle-aged dignity melting from him in the fun of the frolic, till his
antics outcapered her own.

Dora's wits were brighter than his. If the Lady of Cedar Hill, after
tossing a ball several times to the further end of the hall, for them
to dash after in frantic emulation and bring back to her, only made a
feint of throwing it, Ralph would hunt and hunt through the far corners
of the room, while Dora, soon satisfying herself that the ball was not
there, would dance back again and nose about the hands and pockets of
her mistress, evidently concluding that the ball had not been thrown.
Or if a door were closed upon them, Ralph would scratch long and
furiously at its lower edge, while Dora, finding such efforts futile,
would spring up and strike with her paw at the knob.

The date made momentous by the arrival of the ten puppies was August
20, 1902. The Lady of Cedar Hill, home from the Norland, found Dora
full of the prettiest pride in her fuzzy babies, while Ralph, stalking
about in jealous disgust, did his best to convey the impression that
those troublesome absurdities were in no way related to him. This was
not so easy, for they, one and all, were smitten with admiration of
their august father and determination to follow in his steps. No sooner
did Ralph, after casting one glare of contempt upon his family, stroll
off nonchalantly toward the famous Maze, the Mecca of all the children
in the neighboring factory town, than a line of eager puppies went
waddling after. Glancing uneasily back, Ralph would give vent to a
fierce paternal snarl, whereat squat on their stomachs would grovel the
train, every puppy wriggling all over with delicious fright. But no
sooner did Ralph proceed, with an attempt to resume his careless
bachelor poise, than again he found those ten preposterous puppies
panting along in a wavy procession at his very heels.

Only one of the puppies failed to thrive. Fragile little Kari,
inappropriately named for one of the most terrible of the Vikings, died
at the end of three months. But Helgi and Helga, Hauskuld and
Hildigunna, Hrut, Unna and Flosi, Gunnar and Njal, waxed in size,
activity and naughtiness until, in self-defense, the Lady of Cedar Hill
began to give them away to her fortunate friends. Joy-of-Life was
invited over to make an early choice. As Wellesley is not far from
Cedar Hill, whose mistress she dearly loved, she went again and again,
studying the youngsters with characteristic earnestness. They were
nearly full-grown before she drove me over to confirm her election. The
dogs were called up to meet us, and the lawn before the house looked to
my bewildered gaze one white and golden blur of cavorting collies.

"Are they all here?" I asked, after vain efforts to count the heads in
that whirl of perpetual motion.

"All but the barn dog," replied the Lady of Cedar Hill. "He is kept
chained for the present, until he gets wonted to his humble sphere, but
we will go down and call on him."

He saw us first. An excited bark made me aware of a young collie,
almost erect in the barn door, tugging madly against his chain. The
Lady of Cedar Hill, with a loving laugh, ran forward to release him.
His gambol of gratitude nearly knocked her down, but before she had
recovered her balance he was too far away for rebuke, romping,
bounding, wheeling about the meadow, such a glorious image of wild
grace and rapturous freedom that our hearts gladdened as we looked.

"But he is the most beautiful of all," I exclaimed.

"Oh, no," said the instructed Lady of Cedar Hill, "not from the
blue-ribbon point of view." And she went on to explain that Njal, the
biggest of the nine, was quite too big for a collie of such
distinguished pedigree. His happy body, gleaming pure gold in the sun,
with its snowy, tossing ruff, was both too tall and too long. His
white-tipped tail was too luxuriantly splendid. The cock of his shining
ears was not in the latest kennel style. His honest muzzle was a trifle
blunt. He was, in short, lacking in various fine points of collie
elegance, and so, while his dainty, aristocratic brothers and sisters
were destined to be the ornaments of gentle homes, Njal was relegated
to a life of service, in care of the cattle, and to that end had been
for the month past kept in banishment at the barn.

But Njal had persistently rebelled against his destiny. He declined to
explore the barn, always straining at the end of his chain in the
doorway, watching with wistful eyes the frolics of his mother, hardly
more than a puppy herself, with her overwhelming children. She seemed
to have forgotten that Njal was one of her own. He would not make
friends with the dairymen nor with the coachman, and though he showed
an occasional interest in the horses, he utterly ignored the cows and
calves whose guardian he was intended to be. Even now, in defiance of
social distinctions, he dashed into the house, which, as we came
hurrying up behind him, resounded with the reproachful voices of the
maids.

"Njal, get out! You know you're not allowed in here."

"Njal, jump down off that bed this minute. The impudence of him!"

"Njal, drop that ball. It doesn't belong to you. Be off to the barn."

The maids, aided by Njal's brothers and sisters, who struck me as
officious, had just succeeded in chasing him out as we came to the
door, but he flashed past us, tail erect, enthusiastically bent on
greeting his glorious sire, who was majestically pacing up to
investigate this unseemly commotion.

"Poor Njal! Even more than the rest, he idolizes his father," said the
Lady of Cedar Hill, as Ralph met his son with a growl and a cuff.

Crestfallen at last, Njal trotted back to his mistress and stood gazing
up at her with great, amber eyes, that held, if ever eyes did, wounded
love and a beseeching for comfort. She stroked his head, but bade one
of the maids fetch a leash and take him back where he belonged.

I glanced at Joy-of-Life. That glance was all she had been waiting for.

"Njal is my dog," she said.

"What! Not Njal!" protested the Lady of Cedar Hill. "Why, in the count
of collie points----"

"But I'm not looking for a dog to keep me supplied with blue ribbons. I
want a friend. Njal has a soul."

The Lady of Cedar Hill bent a doubtful glance on me.

"Oh, we've just settled that," smiled Joy-of-Life. "She would rather
have him than all the other eight."

So it was that on the last day of June, 1903, we drove again to Cedar
Hill to bring our collie home.

"It's a queer choice," laughed our hostess, as she poured tea, "but at
least you need not put yourselves out for him. He is used to the barn,
and a box of straw in your cellar will be quite good enough for Njal."

She rang for more cream. No maid appeared. Surprised, she rang again,
sharply. Still no response. One of the ever numerous guests rose and
went out to the kitchen. She came back laughing.

"All the maids are kneeling around Njal, disputing as to whose ribbon
becomes him best and worshiping him as if he were the golden calf. And
really William has given an amazing shine to that yellow coat of his.
It is astonishing what a splendid fellow the barn-puppy has grown to
be."

In came Jane with the cream, blushing for her delay, but lingering to
see what reception would be given the collie who walked politely a step
or two behind.

Groomed till he shone, his new leather collar adorned with a flaring
orange-satin bow, Njal entered with the quiet stateliness of one to
drawing-rooms born, widely waving his tail in salutation to the entire
company. But it was to the Lady of Cedar Hill that he went and against
her side that he pressed close, while his questioning eyes passed from
face to face, for he seemed already aware of an impending change in his
fortunes.

The phaeton was brought to the door. Joy-of-Life and I took our places,
and the Lady of Cedar Hill, who gave her puppies away right royally,
passed in a new leash and complete box of brushes. Then the coachman
lifted Njal, an armful of sprawling legs, and deposited him at our
feet. The collie sat upright, making no effort to escape. But as his
mistress perched on the carriage step to give him a good-bye hug, his
eyes looked back into hers so wistfully, and yet so trustfully, that
one of the maids in the background was heard to sniff.

"Be a good doggie," the beloved voice adjured him, "and don't give your
new ladies any trouble on the long drive."

If he promised, he certainly kept his word. All the way he sat quietly
where he had been put, erect and alert, watching the road and bestowing
a very special regard on every dog and cat we passed. When we reached
our modest home, he jumped out at our bidding, entered the open door
and proceeded steadily from room to room, looking long out of each
window as if hoping to find a familiar view. We had been warned that
strange surroundings would probably affect his appetite, but Njal was
far too sensible a collie to disdain a good dinner. He took to his
puppy-biscuit and gravy with such a relish that, in an incredibly short
period, the empty dish was dancing on the gravel under the hopeful
insistence of his tongue. Homesickness, however, came on with the dusk.
He gazed longingly from the piazza down the road, and when we attempted
to introduce him to the cellar and his waiting box of plentiful clean
straw, he resisted in a sudden agony of fright.

Njal had known nothing of cellars, and the terror with which that
unnatural, lonesome hollow under ground affected him lasted for two
full years. Then a visiting nephew, boy-wise in the ways of animals,
romping with him, purposely scampered back and forth through the
cellar, running in at one door and out at the other, so that the dog,
in the ardor of the chase, had traversed that realm of awful chill and
gloom before he realized where he was. Later on, one torrid afternoon,
I carried a bone down cellar and, sitting on a log beside it, chanted
its praises until, tempted beyond endurance, Njal came tumbling
headlong downstairs and fell upon it. For a little while longer, he
would not stay in the cellar without companionship, but at last his
dread was so entirely overcome that, in the midsummer heats, the
cellar, and especially, to our regret, the coal bin, was his favorite
resort.

But on this first night he would have none of it. We were reluctant to
use force and compromised on the bathroom. Here he obediently lay down
and bore his lot in silence till dead of night, when at last the rising
tide of desolation so overswelled his puppy heart that a sudden wail,
which would have done credit to a banshee, woke everybody in the house.

The second evening he made his own arrangements. Our academic home was
simple in its appointments,--so simple that Joy-of-Life and I often
merrily quoted to each other the comment of a calling freshman:

"When _I'm_ old, I mean to have a dear little house just like this one,
all furnished with nothing but books."

The barn-dog inspected our chambers and promptly decided that only the
best was good enough for him. This approved bower was then occupied by
the Dryad, over whose couch was appropriately spread a velvety green
cover, a foreign treasure of her own, marvelous for many-hued
embroidery. As bedtime came on, Njal disappeared and was nowhere to be
found, until the Dryad's pealing laugh brought us to her room, where a
ball of golden collie, even the tail demurely tucked in, was sleeping
desperately hard in the middle of the choice coverlet. One anxious eye
blinked at us and then shut up tighter than ever. Njal was so
determined not to be budged that the tender-hearted Dryad took his part
and pleaded against our amateur efforts at discipline.

"Poor puppy! Let him be my room-mate tonight. He's so new and scared.
He can sleep over there on the lounge under that farthest window and he
will not bother me one bit."

Njal consented to this transfer, but in the small hours homesickness
again swept his soul and he jumped up beside the Dryad, to whom he
nestled close. The night was excessively hot, and the morning found a
pallid lady snatching a belated nap on the lounge under the far window,
while Njal remained in proud possession of the bed.

Joy-of-Life thereafter insisted on leashing him at night in the lower
hall, where we would spread out for him the Thunder-and-Lightning Rug,
an embarrassing gift for which we had never before been able to find a
use. There he would contentedly take his post, the conscious guardian
of the house, his white and yellow in vivid contrast to the black and
scarlet of the rug, and his blue-figured Japanese bowl of water within
easy reach. This disposition of our problem worked both well and ill,
since Njal found distraction from his diminishing attacks of nostalgia
in trying with his sharp white teeth the toughness of the leashes which
succeeded one another in costly succession. But as a watch dog he took
himself most seriously, though not greatly to the furtherance of our
repose. From the depths of slumber he would leap up with a dynamic
bark, accompanied by a bass growl, as if there were two of him,
spinning around and around upon his leash, until we all rose from our
beds, grasping electric torches, and sped downstairs to behold a fat
beetle scuttling off across the floor or to hear the receding scamper
of a mouse behind the wainscot. On the night before the Fourth,
outraged by such a racket as he had never heard before, our
ten-months-old protector succeeded in making more noise than all the
horns, torpedoes and firecrackers in our patriotic neighborhood.

We celebrated the national holiday by changing his name, which sounded
in the mouth of the mocker too much like _miaul_, to that of the
shining hero of the _Volsunga Saga_. Joy-of-Life hesitated a little
lest the Lady of Cedar Hill should deem her own Norse hero, Burnt Njal,
"gentle and generous," treated with discourtesy, but I pleaded that in
all likelihood our home would never again be blessed with anything so
young and so yellow, so altogether fit to bear the honors of the Golden
Sigurd. The collie readily accepted his new name, but never forgot the
old, and even to the last year of his sunny life, if the word Njal were
spoken, however softly, would glance up with bright recognition.

Sigurd bore himself through that first July with such civility and
dignity that we did not dream how homesick he really was,--that
towering puppy, who looked absurdly tall as we took him out to walk on
his latest leash. He submitted to this needless indignity as he
submitted to the long chain that bound him to the piazza railing, with
magnanimous forbearance. We had used a rope at first, but he felt it a
point of honor to gnaw this apart, coming cheerfully to meet us with a
section of our clothesline trailing from his collar. Through these
first weeks he had much to occupy his mind and tax his fortitude in the
engine whistles and rumble of trains, the whirr of electric cars,
Cecilia's energetic broom that threatened to brush him off the piazza,
the manners of the market-man, who, unlearned in Norse mythology,
injuriously called him Jigger, and divers other perils and excitements.
His ears were forever on the cock and his tail busy with the agitated
utterance of his changing emotions. When we ventured, after a little,
to let him run loose, he investigated the immediate territory but kept
within call, bounding to meet us as we came out to look for him. The
first time that he actually ventured off on an independent quest, he
came tearing back after forty minutes' absence as if he had been
putting a girdle round the earth, insisting on a complete and repeated
family welcome as well as a second breakfast. My first vivid sense of
the comfort of having a dog smote me on the edge of a tired evening,
when, trudging home from a long day in one of the Boston libraries, a
sudden nose was thrust into my hand and a gleaming shape leapt up out
of the roadside shadows in jubilant welcome. So we supposed our collie
was light-hearted.

But one after-sunset hour, when we had feloniously sallied out to strip
the flower-beds of an absent neighbor, Sigurd, in amiable attendance,
suddenly started, wheeled and was off down the hill like a shimmering
arrow of Apollo. How was he aware of her at that distance, in that
dusk, the Lady of Cedar Hill? He flung himself like a happy avalanche
upon her and poured out all the bewilderment and yearning, the
lonesomeness and love of his loyal soul, in a shrill, ecstatic tremolo
that we came to designate as "Sigurd's lyric cry." It was reserved for
a favored few, objects of romantic devotion; it was rarely vouchsafed
to the commonplace members of his own household; but it never failed
the Lady of Cedar Hill, though months might elapse between her visits.

On this her first coming, his joy was touching to see. He pressed close
to her side as she walked up the hill and after she had seated herself
in a piazza chair he tried to climb into her lap as in his fuzzy
puppyhood, and succeeded, too, though he hung over her knees like a
yellow festoon, his feet touching the floor on either side and his
plumy tail fanning her face. Yet when she went away, he made no effort
to follow. He watched her intently from the piazza steps as she passed
down the hill and turned the corner. When she was out of sight, tail
and ears drooped and he came in of his own accord, soberly lying down
on the Thunder-and-Lightning Rug, beside his leash. Feelings were all
very well in their way, but duty was supreme. He had a house to guard
from beetles and other bugbears of the night.

Sigurd was so big and strong that he needed plenty of exercise. Before
he came, a spacious "run" had been provided for him on the wild bank,
hardly yet redeemed from the forest, back of the house, but this he
promptly repudiated for all purposes of frolic. He seemed to regard it
as a singing-school, for, dragged out there "to play," he would sit on
his haunches and practice dirge-music in howls of intolerable crescendo
until a decent respect for the opinions of the neighbors obliged us to
bring him in. We called him our gymnasium, walking and romping with him
all we could, but our utmost was not enough. So we would drive out,
once or twice a week, along the less frequented roads, though
automobiles were not so many then, to give the boy a "scimper-scamper."
He delighted to accompany the carriage, running alongside with brief
dashes down the bank for water or into the woods after a squirrel. When
he was tired, he would run close and look up, asking for a lift, but
after a few minutes of panting repose, lying across the phaeton in
front of our feet, nose and tail in alarming proximity to the wheels,
he would want to scramble out and race again.

The first time that we took him back to Cedar Hill was a thrilling
event for Sigurd. He had been running most of the way and jumped in
just before we reached familiar landmarks. As soon as these appeared,
all his weariness vanished. Standing erect, eyes shining, ears pricked
up, nose quivering, his tail thumping the dashboard with louder and
louder blows, he sent his lyric cry like a bugle through the air,
heralding our approach so well that all his kindred yet remaining on
the estate, as well as his original mistress, her guests and her maids,
were drawn up on the lawn and steps to receive us. Sigurd sprang out
before the horse had stopped and tore up with a special squeal of
filial devotion to greet his sire, Ralph the Magnificent, who was
barely restrained by a circle of strenuous hands on his collar from
hurling himself in fury on this most obnoxious of his sons. Dora
trotted up and sniffed at him with coquettish curiosity, as if
wondering who this golden young gallant might be, but her bearing could
by no stretch of language by styled maternal. Gunnar, a puppy with
every mark of high descent, now installed on the estate as crown
prince, was so infected by his father's rage that they both had to be
shut up during our stay. Sigurd pranced rapturously all over the place,
visiting every scene of his childhood with the conspicuous exception of
the barn. He disdained to recognize the cows and gave but a
supercilious curl of his tail even to the most affable of the dairymen.
A cattle-dog, indeed! He invited himself to tea in the drawing-room and
had the further impertinence to take a snooze on Dora's own cushion,
close to the skirts of the Lady of Cedar Hill. She doubted whether he
would be willing to go back with us, but when the phaeton was driven to
the door, Sigurd rushed out to meet it and leapt into his place before
we had finished our more ceremonious farewells. We knew then that he
was really ours.



THE DOGS OF BETHLEHEM


    Many a starry night had they known,
    Melampo, Lupina and Cubil[=o]n,
        Shepherd-dogs, keeping
        The flocks, unsleeping,
    Serving their masters for crust and bone.

    Many a starlight but never like this,
    For star on star was a chrysalis
        Whence there went soaring
        A winged, adoring
    Splendor out-pouring a carol of bliss.

    Sniffing and bristling the gaunt dogs stood,
    Till the seraphs, who smiled at their hardihood,
        Calmed their panic
        With talismanic
    Touches like wind in the underwood.

    In the dust of the road like gold-dust blown,
    Melampo, Lupina and Cubil[=o]n
        Saw strange kings, faring
        On camels, bearing
    Treasures too bright for a mortal throne.

    Shepherds three on their crooks a-leap
    Sped after the kings up the rugged steep
        To Bethlehem; only
        The dogs, left lonely,
    Stayed by the fold and guarded the sheep.

    Faithful, grim hearts! The marvelous glow
    Flooded e'en these with its overflow,
        Wolfishness turning
        Into a yearning
    To worship the highest a dog may know.

    When dawn brought the shepherds, each to his own,
    Melampo, Lupina and Cubil[=o]n
        Bounded to meet them,
        Frolicked to greet them,
    Eager to serve them for love alone.



GROWING UP

    "His years were full; his years were joyous; why
    Must love be sorrow, when his gracious name
    Recalls his lovely life of limb and eye?"

    --Swinburne's _At a Dog's Grave_.


Now that we realized not only that we had adopted Sigurd but that
Sigurd had adopted us, we entered into an ever deepening enjoyment of
our dog. Be it understood that we were teachers, writers, servants of
causes, boards, committees, mere professional women, with too little
leisure for the home we loved. Had our hurried days given opportunity
for the fine art of mothering we would have cherished a child instead
of a collie, but Sigurd throve on neglect and saved us from turning
into plaster images by making light of all our serious concerns. No
academic dignities impressed his happy irreverence.

"What is Sigurd slinging about there on the lawn?" I asked on his first
Commencement morning. "It looks as if he had a muskrat by the tail."

Joy-of-Life glanced apprehensively from the window to the bed, on which
she had carefully laid out a dean's glistening regalia.

"My cap!" she ejaculated and dashed downstairs and out of the door and
away over the grass after a frolicsome bandit who knew of no better use
for a mortar-board--perhaps there is none--than to spin it around by
its gilt tassel.

He had no regard for manuscript, after a thorough investigation had
convinced him that it was not good to eat, and made no scruple of
breaking in on our most absorbed moments with an insistent demand for
play. Whatever the game might be, he infused it with dramatic quality,
turning every romp into a thrilling adventure. He liked to pretend that
he was Jack the Giant-Killer and would crouch and growl and bristle and
finally hurl himself upon some ogre of a wastepaper basket,
overthrowing it in the first onslaught and then worrying its scattered
contents with mimic fury. For punishment, we would clap the basket
tight over his head, and he would back into a corner, indulging in all
sorts of profane remarks while he pawed and shook that insulting helmet
off, but carefully, for he clearly understood that, though what it held
was subject to his teeth, the basket itself must not be harmed. He
pretended to be bitterly outraged by this treatment, but no sooner was
the basket in position beside the desk again than he would caper up and
gleefully knock it over, promptly presenting his ruffled head to have
his punishment repeated.

Apart from our enjoyment of his crimes, it was difficult to punish him,
because his sunny spirit turned every fresh experience into fun. He
reminded me of a family tradition of an incorrigible baby uncle, whose
clerical father, in despair at the child's ability to find amusement
under all penal circumstances, stripped him naked and shut him into an
empty room to repent of his sins. But when the parental eye
condescended to the keyhole, it beheld a rosy cherub with puffed-out
cheeks dancing merrily about and blowing a bewildered fly from one end
of the chamber to the other.

Sigurd loved nothing better than make-believe discipline,--to be
whacked with the feather-duster, "blown away" with the bellows, rolled
up in the Sunday newspaper, anything that gave him an excuse for
frisking, barking, dodging, scampering, kicking, rolling, tumbling, and
rushing in at the last for a hug of assured understanding. We could
keep him quiet for hours at a time by putting a cooky or any bit of
sweet into a small pasteboard box, tying it up and fitting it into as
many more, of increasing sizes, as time and material allowed. Sigurd
would watch the process with sparkling eyes and then, taking the packet
between his forepaws, settle down to the long task of getting at that
cooky. Sometimes he would sigh with weariness or sink his yellow head
to the floor in momentary despair. But he never gave up, though he
often paused long enough to restore his energies by a nap. Taking the
ragged bundle to another part of the room, as if his labors might be
assisted by some special quality in a different rug, he would fall upon
his puzzle again and not desist until the goal of all that patient
endeavor, one morsel of sweetness, gave its brief delight to his
triumphant tongue. This device of the boxes was a great resource when
rough weather kept us in, for the youngster, who did not yet venture
far without us, was incessant in his search for occupation. When this
led him into genuine mischief and brought upon him actual rebuke, he
took it so to heart that no member of the household, in kitchen or
study, could get on with her work for the next half-day, for Sigurd
would trot from one to another, with imploring eyes, insisting on
shaking paws and being forgiven over and over again.

A most affectionate little fellow he was, and would sit still at my
knee by the hour so long as he was occasionally patted and addressed by
what he instantly recognized as a pet name,--Opals, or Blessed
Buttercup, or Honey of Hybla, or Sulphur of my Soul. Epithets failing,
he would touch my foot at intervals with a reminding paw. Then,
absorbed in my work, I would absent-mindedly, on the edges of my
consciousness, conjure up more titles for him,--Yellowboy, Crocus,
Sunflower, Topaz, Mustard, Nugget, Starshine, his appreciative tail
thumping the floor at every one. He wanted to be good and was aided by
a happy disposition that, when one line of activity was cut off, found
prompt solace in another. After a few trials had convinced him that
bones, though polished in his most masterly manner and disposed behind
doors and under sofa pillows with engaging modesty, were not acceptable
ornaments of the house, he so rejoiced in the new-found art of burying
them in the earth that, for a time, all his dainties went the same way,
and the gardener's hoe would turn up petrified pieces of sponge cake
and gingerbread at which Sigurd would sniff in embarrassed
reminiscence.

Day by day the puppy was learning not only the ways of the house, but
what he considered a proper demeanor toward our variety of callers. He
took up the domestic routine almost at once and developed such an exact
sense of time that we used to call him our four-o'clock. At this merry
hour we would drop pens, shut books and take Sigurd to walk,--a duty
that he by no means allowed us to forget. At the exact moment his
_Woof, Woof_ rang out like a bell into "the still air of delightful
studies" and upon his protesting playmates Sigurd would burst like a
thunderbolt, catching at our dresses and literally dragging us away
from our desks. At mealtimes, too, with inexorable punctuality he
herded the family to the dining room. But most of the day he was doing
sentry duty on the doorsteps, incidentally offering his comment on
every happening of the road and neighborhood. Tramps he abominated and,
not content with driving them from our own premises, roared them away
from every back door on the hill. His prejudice had to do, apparently,
less with their looks and even their smell than with something stealthy
and furtive in their approach. Skulking he abhorred. On one occasion he
brought pink confusion to the cheeks of a little seamstress who was
passing in a bundle at the door while her sheepish young escort hid in
the shrubbery. It did not take Sigurd thirty seconds to drive that gawk
from cover. To a recognized friend our collie would act as master of
ceremonies, bounding down the walk to give him welcome, barking sharply
to save him the trouble of ringing the bell, dashing in ahead with the
glorious news of the arrival and then scampering back to thrust into
the visitor's palm a cordial, clumsy paw, wagging that plumy tail
meanwhile with an impetuous swing that sometimes swept before it small
articles from cabinet or tea-table. Sometimes he would take a fancy to
an utter stranger and greet him as an angel from the blue, singing
love-at-first-sight to him at the top of his funny squeal, a
four-legged troubadour. College girls he regarded as his natural chums
and would frisk about them or leap upon them as the mood took him;
middle-aged folk, like his mistresses, were all very well in their
serviceable way; but the romance of life centered for Sigurd in old
ladies. The whiter the hair, the more beautiful. For them he would
spring up on his hind feet and rest his forepaws on their shoulders,
pressing his face against their cheeks with such ardor that once, when
such an encounter occurred on the street, a gentleman rushed from
across the road, with upraised cane, to the rescue.

"Kindly let us alone, sir," crisply rebuked the Lovely Object, her
bonnet askew but her face beaming. "This dog and I understand each
other and we want no interference."

When a company of callers were seated, Sigurd, in a rapture of
hospitality, would hurry again and again around the circle, shaking
paws with each in turn and uttering a continuous, soft quaver of
welcome, pleasure and pride. Then he would lie down contentedly in the
very center of the group, now and then rolling over on his back in the
hope that it would occur to somebody to slap his fluffy breast.

At first he often made mistakes in his office of sentinel. It was funny
to see him rush madly to the door at a suspicious step and then,
abashed by the jocular greeting of some household familiar, drop the
rôle of heroic defender and, waving his tail affably but with a certain
reserve, push by on the pretense that he was just coming out to take a
squint at the weather.

Of sensitive and generous nature, our golden collie was quick to feel
the difference between an intentional hurt and an accident. He had been
with us only a few weeks when a college colleague, then brightening our
table with her presence, started to play stick with him before dinner.
Sigurd's way of playing stick was to bring you anything from a
clothespin to a beanpole and coax you to throw it for him, holding it
up lightly between his teeth for you to take. This time he had a piece
of board with jagged ends, and our friend, whose own dog, a monstrously
ugly and therefore supremely choice Boston Bull, would hang on to a
stick with iron jaws while she tried in vain to wrench it from him,
mistook the game. Sigurd held up his stick by one end, deftly balancing
it in the air, and she, supposing that he would maintain his grip,
rammed it suddenly down his throat. But Sigurd, eager for his run, at
once let go, with the result that his throat was rather badly cut. He
was surprised into one scream of pain and then silently tore about in
circles, his tail low and rigid. His would-be playmate, grieved to the
heart, had hurried for his Japanese water-bowl, but Sigurd would touch
nothing that she brought. He went, instead, to a natural basin in the
rock, always his favorite drinking-cup, where he lapped away at a
prodigious rate, leaving a red stain on the water. After this he hid in
the bushes, and it was not until dinner was nearly over that Sigurd
came trotting in, ears and tail still depressed. Joy-of-Life, with the
voice that was healing in itself, called him to her, but he passed us
both by, going straight to the comparative stranger who had innocently
hurt him. Settling on his haunches beside her chair, Sigurd gazed up
mournfully but understandingly into her eyes and offered his
magnanimous paw.

"You know I didn't mean to, and you came in to say so and to forgive
me, you perfect little gentleman," she exclaimed, shaking the proffered
paw as deferentially as if it had been the hand of Socrates. And that
was the end of it. Sigurd coughed up a little blood and a few splinters
that night, but he always met this lady, on her frequent comings, with
a special, quiet courtesy, though he never invited her to a game of
stick again.

Sigurd had one playmate who shamefully imposed upon his noble
disposition. Nellie was an ancient spaniel, whose black curls were
turning a dingy gray. She was our next neighbor and Sigurd's first
love. Nellie was too fat and wheezy to romp, but she would sit,
blinking approval, the center of a circle whose circumference was made
by the golden gambols of our infatuated puppy. Around and around her he
would caper, while she yawned and scratched--she was always a vulgar
old thing--and took her exercise by proxy. We did not allow Nellie
inside the house, to Sigurd's grieved surprise, but his dinner-dish was
regularly set out of doors, by the back steps, and Nellie, every now
and then, when her own rations had not been satisfactory or when Sigurd
had peculiarly toothsome viands on his plate, would take advantage of
his chivalry to play on him a low-down trick. Out of sight on the other
side of the house, she would raise a wail of feigned distress,
whereupon our gallant Volsung, just in the first enjoyment of his food,
would lift his head, listen, even drop the piece of meat in his mouth
and speed away to her rescue, running down one hill and up another in a
vain endeavor to discover the villain of whom she had complained.
Meanwhile Nellie, puffing with detestable delight, would waddle around
to the doorsteps and gobble up the best of Sigurd's dinner. When she
heard him bounding back, she discreetly shuffled off, so that Sigurd's
ideal remained unspotted. Dear, faithful lad! To the last of her
disgraceful days, he was old Nellie's champion and dupe.

All the while his development was going on apace. When he came to us he
was already, like his brothers and sisters, proficient in giving the
right paw, and could also, under protest, stand on his hind legs in a
corner and "go roly-poly," a senseless performance, that he detested,
on floors, but a natural and joyful gymnastic on the grass. He soon
added to these accomplishments the agile arts of jumping over a stick
and leaping through a hoop, though his tribulations with the hoop were
many. He would brandish it over his head, run with it and trip in it,
get his legs and body all wound up in it, and finally throw himself
upon it and bite it into docility. He readily learned to catch, but his
tastes were not extravagant and he would disdainfully drop in the
thickets the rubber balls that were bought for him and grub up for
himself some crooked branch or tough old chip that suited his purpose
better.

Being educators ourselves, we did not think much of education as such
and gave little attention to teaching him artificial tricks.
Joy-of-Life was in favor of vocational training and decided that he
must learn to guard. Her efforts nearly achieved success. For one proud
fortnight Sigurd would, at the word of command, lie down and, resisting
every temptation to leave his post, watch over a handkerchief or glove
or parasol until he was called off by the same voice that had imposed
the duty on him. It was I who ruined this excellent attainment by
setting him, beside a pansy-bed agleam with sympathetic twinkles, to
guard a hoptoad. To Sigurd's dismay and annoyance that brownie of the
garden refused to play the game. How could a puppy remain at his post
if his post would not remain at the puppy? Sigurd tried to paw the toad
back into place, he remonstrated with it in a series of shrill barks
and at last, when he heard us laughing at him, he indignantly
repudiated, and forever, the whole business of guarding. It was then
that Joy-of-Life accused me of being a demoralizing influence and for
Sigurd's good reminded me of what I had quite forgotten and he had
never known,--that he was not "our puppy" but hers.

"I want," said Joy-of-Life, bending her earnest look upon us both,
"that Sigurd should grow up into a good dog, and how can he be a good
dog if you turn duty into a joke?"

I felt so guilty that Sigurd hurried over to lick my hand.

"Whose dog are you, Gold of Ophir?" I asked, and Sigurd, with an
impartial flourish of his tail, lay down exactly between us.

This delicate question was ultimately decided by no less an arbiter
than Mother Goose. In pursuance of the theory that her immortal
nonsense songs were written by Oliver Goldsmith--this is what is known
as Literary Research--I had obtained leave from a Boston librarian, an
indulgent spirit now gone to his reward, to take home for comparison
with an accumulation of other texts a unique copy, exquisitely printed
on creamy pages with wide margins and choicely bound in white and gold.
It was an extraordinary grace of permission and, even in the act of
passing that gem of a volume over, the librarian hesitated.

"It must not come to harm," he said, "for it is irreplaceable; but I
know how you value books and I believe there are no children, to whom
this might be a temptation, under your roof."

"Unfortunately, no; only a puppy."

"We will risk the puppy," he smiled,--but he did not know Sigurd.

I carried that book home as carefully as if it had been a nest of
humming-bird's eggs. As I used it that evening at my desk, I propped it
up at a far distance from any possible spatter of ink. Then I slipped
it into a vacant space on the shelf of the revolving bookcase close at
hand and, resolving to return it the next morning, turned to a
good-night romp with the Volsung. We tried several new games without
winning much popular applause. He was a failure as Wolf at the Door,
because he barked so gleefully for admittance to the room where
Joy-of-Life was brushing her mother's beautiful white hair and was so
welcome when he came bursting in; nor did he shine as Mother Hubbard's
dog, for his friend in the kitchen, Cecilia, who never let her cupboard
go bare, had just filled the doughnut jar. So we practiced in secret
for a few minutes on "a poetic recital" of Hickory Dickory Dock and
then came forth to electrify the household. Taking a central seat, I
repeated those talismanic syllables, at whose sound Sigurd jumped upon
me, climbed up till his forepaws rested on the high top of the chair,
in graphic illustration of the way the mouse ran up the clock, emitted
an explosive bark when, shifting parts at a sudden pinch, he became for
an instant the clock striking one, and then scrambled down with
alacrity, a motion picture of the retreating mouse. This was no small
intellectual exercise for a collie, and at the end of our one and only
public performance he broke away and squeezed himself under the sofa,
where he lay rubbing his poor, overwrought noddle against the coolest
spot on the wall.

His mental energies had revived by morning and apparently he wanted to
review his _Hickory Dickory Dock_, for he was in my study earlier than
I and there, from all the rows of books on all the open shelves, he
must needs pick out _Mother Goose_, even that unique copy _de luxe_.
When I came in, there was Sigurd outstretched on his favorite rug,
beside my desk, with the book between his forepaws, ecstatically
engaged in chewing off one corner.

My gasp of horror brought Joy-of-Life speedily to the scene, and
Sigurd, instantly aware that he had committed a transgression beyond
precedent, slid unobtrusively away, his penitent tail tucked between
his legs. We were too keenly concerned over the injury done to remember
to punish him, but no further punishment than our obvious distress was
needed. Never again would Sigurd touch a book or anything resembling a
book. He had discovered, once for all, that he had no taste for
literature.

"What can you do?" asked Joy-of-Life, distractedly trying to wipe that
pulpy corner dry with her napkin. "This rich binding is ruined, but the
margins are so broad that Sigurd--O _Sigurd_!--has not quite chewed
through to the print."

"Nothing but make confession in sackcloth and ashes and pay what I have
to pay," I answered gloomily. Then a wicked impulse prompted me to add:

"Of course, since it's _your_ dog that has done the damage----"

"Sigurd is _our_ dog," hastily interposed Joy-of-Life. "I give you half
of him here and now, and we'll divide the damage."

So as I went in to inflict this shock upon the kind librarian I was not
without a certain selfish consolation, for if I should have to pay over
all my bank account, I would be getting my money's worth. The librarian
bent his brows over that mangled volume, listened severely to my abject
narration and not until his eye-glasses hopped off his nose did I
realize that he was convulsed with laughter.

"What can I do?" I asked, too deeply contrite to resent his mirth.

He wiped his eyes, replaced his glasses, examined the book once more.

"Well!" he replied in a choking voice. "If it were possible to replace
this volume, I should have to require you to do so at whatever cost.
But there is no other copy to be had. Its æsthetic value is gone beyond
repair. The text, fortunately, is intact. We shall have to cut the
pages down to the print and bind them into plain covers. A pity, but it
can't be helped. The circumstances do not seem to call for a fine, but
the rebinding will cost you, I regret to say, twenty-five cents."

Choosing to deal generously with Joy-of-Life, I paid it all.

Although Sigurd's golden coat seemed but the outer shining of the
gladness that possessed him, he had his share of the ills that flesh is
heir to, the most serious being a well-nigh fatal attack of distemper.
With human obtuseness, we did not realize at first that our collie was
sick. We heard him making strangling sounds and thought he had
swallowed too big a piece of bone. We started out, that Sunday
afternoon, on a seven-mile walk, partly for the purpose of exercising
Sigurd, and were a bit hurt by his most unwonted lack of enthusiasm.
Instead of multiplying the miles by his usual process of racing in
erratic circles around and around us and dashing off on far excursions
over the fields on either side, he trotted soberly at heel, like the
well-trained dog he never was. He moped, tail hanging, ears depressed,
and soon began to fall behind. At the halfway turn he lay down and, for
a time, flatly refused to budge. We laughed at his new game of Lazy Dog
and relentlessly whistled him along. We were almost home, having passed
through the village square, Sigurd lagging far in the rear, when a
notorious bloodhound, out for his weekly constitutional, broke away
from the steel chain by which his master was holding him and charged on
our big puppy. Sigurd ran for his life, but the fleeter hound was close
upon him. There were knots of men loafing about the square and, waiting
for the next trolley car, there stood among them an old dame gayly
attired in the colors of her native Erin. Sigurd's limited range of
experience had led him to regard men either as secondary creatures who
did what they were bid by the all-potent Lady of Cedar Hill or as
parlor and piazza, ornaments enveloped in an unpleasant odor of
tobacco. His peril called for strong protection, so, as we were still
too distant, he took refuge behind the voluminous sea-green skirts of
that decent Irish body and, dodging skillfully as she twirled and
whirled, kept her as a buffer between himself and his enemy. Screeching
to all the saints for deliverance, she was still striving in vain to
escape from her awful position, when the owners of the dogs came
panting up. The bloodhound's master collared him, none too soon, and
beat him so savagely with the chain that we turned away from the sight
to sympathize with Sigurd's involuntary defender and help her adjust
her grass-green bonnet and veil. As for Sigurd, he had flashed out of
the picture, but we found him at home, lying inert, exhausted, refusing
water and biscuit, indifferent to bones. He sniffed regretfully at his
Sunday dinner, but left it untasted.

An hour or two before dawn, simultaneously awakened by the sound of
desperate coughing, Joy-of-Life and I met on the stairs and hurried
down to find a croupy puppy, who, in his emergency, had again bitten
his leash in two and climbed into his favorite--because forbidden--easy
chair. As we leaned over him, Sigurd put up a paw to each of us, his
suffering eyes expectant of relief. But we could devise no effectual
help, and the veterinary, called in as early as we dared, regarded the
invalid as a dangerous animal and handled him so roughly that, the
moment Sigurd found himself released, he slipped out of the house and
across the road to Nellie. Sorely disappointed in us, he tried to hide
his yellow towering bulk on the other side of that grizzled little
spaniel and waited, an exile from home, until the doctor had driven
away.

For weeks we had a sick collie on our hands. He dreaded food and would
squeeze himself into all impossible places when he saw either one of us
coming with the prescribed "nourishment." As for medicine, he
contracted that autumn an aversion to bottles which he never overcame.
Years afterward, if Sigurd, about to enter a room, stopped short on the
threshold and turned abruptly away, we looked around for the bottle.

One morning the gasps were very feeble. The veterinary told us the end
was at hand. We took our earth-loving collie out from his dark
hospital-nook in the house and laid him down among the asters and
goldenrods on the wild land at the rear. The Lady of Cedar Hill had
come over to see him once more. He was lying so still that we thought
he would not move again, but at the sound of that beloved voice Sigurd
stirred a feeble tail and breathed a ghostly echo of his lyric cry.
Faint and hoarse though it was, there was the old glad recognition in
it, and his first mistress, forgetting her intended precautions for the
dogs at home, knelt down beside her Njal, comforting him with tender
strokes and soft, caressing words. From that hour he began to mend, but
so slowly that we were anxious about him all winter. Cruel pains would
suddenly dart through him and he could never understand where they came
from nor who did it. We would hear the sharp, distinctive cry that
meant one of those pangs and then see Sigurd stagger up from his rug or
cushion, look at it with deep reproach and cross to the furthest corner
of the room. Once such a shoot of pain took him as he was standing by
Joy-of-Life's gentle mother, his head propped on her knee, and the air
of incredulous grief with which he drew back and gazed at her smote her
to the soul. It was a matter of days before he could be coaxed to come
to her again.

One of the discoveries of Sigurd's illness was the heart of our Swedish
maid, Cecilia. Fresh from Ellis Island, buxom, comely, neat as a
scoured rolling-pin, she regarded us with no more feeling than did her
molding-board. We introduced her to the ways of an American household;
we helped her with the speaking of English; we paid her wages; we were,
in short, her Plymouth Rock, on which she stepped to her career in the
New World. Best of all, we were palates and stomachs on which to try
her sugary experiments, for it was her steadfast ambition to become an
artist in dough with the view of securing a lucrative position as a
pastry cook. However much we might further her own interests, her
imperturbable coolness made it clear that as fellow-creatures we were
nothing, but she humored every whim of that sick puppy, even letting
him lie in her immaculate pantry when the restless fancy took him. Her
love was lasting, too, for although, as soon as we had suffered her
apprenticeship and begun to enjoy her perfected craft, she ruthlessly
left us for "a hotel yob," she persisted for several years in sending
Sigurd a dog-picture postcard every Christmas. We always gave him the
cards, telling him they came from his friend Cecilia, and he pawed them
politely, but inwardly deemed them a poor substitute for the cakes,
tarts, puffs and crinkle-pastes of many curious flavors that had, for
one brief season, made our At Homes famous in our "little academe,"
dropping delicious flakes for a thrifty tongue to garner under the
table.

The distemper finally passed off in a trailing effect of St. Vitus'
dance, which, again, our afflicted collie could not understand. On our
springtide walks, his head, as he trotted in front, would suddenly be
twitched to one side, as if we had jerked it by a rein. Apparently he
thought we had, for invariably he came running back to see what we
wanted of Sigurd.

The final, enduring result of this hard experience was an assured
devotion. Sigurd had genially accepted us from the first as his people,
but now, through the suffering and weakness, he had come to know us as
his very own. The lyric cry still belonged to high romance, but after
all those piteous weeks when he found his only comfort in lying close
beside our feet--even, in extremity, upon them--he reserved certain
welcomes and caresses for us alone. Ours was the long, silent pressure
of the golden head against the knee and, in time of trouble, the swift
touch of the tongue upon clouded faces, and ours the long, shining,
intimate gaze that poured forth imperishable loyalty and love.



LADDIE


    Lowly the soul that waits
    At the white, celestial gates,
    A threshold soul to greet
    Belovèd feet.

    Down the streets that are beams of sun
    Cherubim children run;
    They welcome it from the wall;
    Their voices call.

    But the Warder saith: "Nay, this
    Is the City of Holy Bliss.
    What claim canst thou make good
    To angelhood?"

    "Joy," answereth it from eyes
    That are amber ecstasies,
    Listening, alert, elate,
    Before the gate.

        _Oh, how the frolic feet
        On lonely memory beat!
        What rapture in a run
        'Twixt snow and sun!_

    "Nay, brother of the sod,
    What part hast thou in God?
    What spirit art thou of?"
    It answers: "Love,"

    Lifting its head, no less
    Cajoling a caress,
    Our winsome collie wraith,
    Than in glad faith

    The door will open wide,
    Or kind voice bid: "Abide,
    A threshold soul to greet
    The longed-for feet."

        _Ah, Keeper of the Portal,
        If Love be not immortal,
        If Joy be not divine,
        What prayer is mine?_



THE CALL OF THE BLOOD

    "Come, brother; away!"

    --Shakespeare's _Much Ado About Nothing_.


Sigurd was not the only representative of his family in our favored
town. His sister Hildigunna, who might well be described in the words
applied to Hildigunna of the saga as "one of the fairest," was given
to a comparatively remote household in Wellesley Hills from
which--alas!--she soon was stolen and spirited away to fates unknown.
But his brother Hrut, a name speedily changed by his new owners to
Laddie, took up his happy abode at The Orchard, not half a mile from
us. These owners, returning from one of their many holidays abroad,
had found on shipboard the Lady of Cedar Hill, on her way back from
Norway. Of course she told them about the ten puppies and of course
she promised them one.

Reared in the best traditions of New England, these travelers had
already achieved an ideal success as founders and directors of a famous
school for girls and had retired from active labors to a tranquil home
whose broad Colonial porches were screened with "white foam flowers" of
the clematis. They were Neighbors _par excellence_, so beloved, so
leaned upon, so beset with callers and "old girls," with church
committees and town committees, with causes and confidences, that they
literally had to go to Europe to secure an occasional rest. And it was
charming to see how their modest dignity and winsome graciousness
received due meed of honor the Old World over, from titled personages
of London to the very cab-drivers of Florence, whom they believed to be
"honorable men" and were undoubtedly cheated less for so believing.
Hard, shrewd faces of Paris pensions and Swiss hotels softened in their
presence, and even the severe old Scotch dame who rated them roundly
for gadding about the globe instead of having married and reared a
freckled family, like hers, was moved to add: "But I mak nae doobt ye
are mooch respectet where ye cam fram." She would have been confirmed
in this amiable concession if she could have seen how their return was
a village jubilee and how all our accumulated joys and sorrows trooped
in at once through their open doors. They were Ladies of rare and
precious quality, with a touch of precise, old-fashioned elegance,
which made one frank admirer exclaim: "But they are like finest china,
like porcelain, like _Sèvres_. There is nothing so exquisite left on
earth. They are classics." Most eminently of all, they were Sisters. A
childhood of strange peril and suffering, in which their hearts clung
so close together that they grew into one, had fitted naturally
dissimilar natures into an utter harmony of desire and deed. Nobody
ever thought of one without the other. Not Castor and Pollux shine with
a more closely related and serener light.

The Sisters hardly waited for our first tumult of greetings to subside
before, on a September afternoon as quietly radiant as their own faces,
they drove over to Cedar Hill to see what they described as "ten little
fluffy balls, only just large enough to wriggle." The choice of their
collie they left to the giver. It was not determined then, but early in
April they had a message setting the day on which they were to "come
for Hrut." I presume they kissed the telephone. At all events, they
went with glad alacrity. As the door opened to admit them, a beautiful
little collie, pure white save for touches of a rich golden brown on
the ears, on the fall of the tail and on the top of his nobly carried
head, ran to meet them and sprang into the outstretched arms of the
foremost, cuddling there as if he knew that he had found his Earthly
Paradise.

His mistress had followed directly after him, aglow with pride in the
grace of his welcome.

"But this one cannot be ours,--he is _too_ lovely," exclaimed the
Sister who was already clasping him tight.

"Yes," smiled the Lady of Cedar Hill, "this one is yours," and the
puppy acquiesced with wagging tail and lapping tongue and every collie
courtesy.

From the first a delicate little fellow, the long drive back made him
ill, but he never gave, then or later, the least sign of homesickness,
settling at once with aristocratic ease into the comforts and
privileges of his new environment and lavishly returning love for love.

The Sisters, as well as the elder Cousin who dwelt with them, were
"lovers of all things alive," from bishops and other dignitaries, who
paid them appreciative homage, to the South Sea Islanders, of whose
costumes they disapproved but to whom, from babyhood up, they had
helped send missionaries. The grimiest urchin in town would grin
confidentially as he touched his cap to them, and their sympathy
overflowed all local limits to childhood everywhere. Little cripples
were the special objects of their care and tenderness. Of birds and
beasts they were spirited champions. No man dared whip his horse if
they were in sight. One of the Sisters had a magic pen, and many of her
stories, whimsical and wise, carried an appeal for human gratitude
toward the domestic animals who spend their patient strength in human
service, and for friendliness toward all these sensitive
fellow-creatures, our brief companions on a whirling star. The
quadrupeds must have passed on from one to another the glad tidings of
these Ladies of Lovingkindness, for many a hungry and thirsty cur
sought the hospitalities of their kitchen, and stray cats, forsaken by
selfish owners on vacation, used their piazza and even their parlor as
a summer hotel. Early one July morning I was starting out for the
college grounds on the search for a wretched mongrel that, having
appeared from nowhere in the spring term, as dogs will, had become a
cheerful hobo of the campus, living sumptuously through unlimited
attendance on the out-of-door luncheon parties of the village students.
A Commencement auto had broken one of his legs and frightened him into
hiding, and now the ebb of all that girl life which had fed and petted
him and the disappearance of chance bones from the closed back doors of
the dormitories had brought upon the college, I was informed by special
delivery letter from an indignant alumna, "the disgrace of leaving one
of God's creatures to suffer slow starvation." Old experience led me,
before setting forth to the rescue, to telephone the Sisters and ask if
they had any news of this divine vagabond.

"Yes, indeed," rang back a cheery voice. "He is breakfasting with us
now on the porch. He came limping up the walk just as the bell rang,
exactly as if he had been invited. Such a pleasant dog in his manners,
though dreadfully thin and--it's not his fault, poor dear--_so_ dirty!
I have just been calling Dr. Vet. to come and see what can be done for
that poor leg."

Of course Laddie was not their first dog. The checks of the school are
still stamped with the head of Don, their black Newfoundland, who had a
passion for attending the morning service in the school hall and
nipping the heels of the kneeling girls. In the repeating of the Lord's
Prayer he would join with a subdued rumble, doubtless acceptable to his
Creator, but when shut out from the sacred exercises, he would howl
under the windows an anthem of his own that offended both Heaven and
earth.

In the inexorable process of the years, Don grew old, becoming a very
Uncle Roly-Poly, but he was only loved the more. A cherished legend of
the school relates how he was sleeping on his rug by the bed of one of
his mistresses on a winter night, dreaming a saintly dream of chasing
cats out of Paradise, when some real or fancied noise awoke him and,
the faithful guardian of the school, he rushed through the low, open
window and out upon the piazza roof, barking his thunderous warning to
all trespassers. But he was still so bewildered with sleep that his
legs ran faster than his mind and, before he knew it, he had pitched
off the edge of that icy roof and was floundering in the snow beneath,
the most astonished dog that ever bayed the moon. What happened to him
then is supposed to have been related by Don himself:

    "My howls dismayed the starry skies,
      The Great and Little Dippers, _O!_
    Till came an angel in disguise,
      In dressing gown and slippers, _O!_
    I staggered up the steepy stair;
      She pushed me from behind, _Bow wow!_
    She tended me with mickle care,
      O winsome womankind! _Bow wow!_
    She bathed my brow and bruisèd knee.
      I only whined the louder, _O!_
    She murmured: 'Homeopathy!
      I'll give dear Don a powder,' _O!_
    And may I be a pink-eyed rabbit
      If she chose not from her stock, _Bow wow!_
    FOR PERSONS OF A GOUTY HABIT
      WHO'VE HAD A NERVOUS SHOCK. _Bow wow!_"

Other dogs had come after, notably Cardigan, a stately St. Bernard, who
made the fatal mistake of biting a pacifist, but Laddie, the only real
rival of Don in the Sisters' affections, was the crown of their delight
in doghood.

Sigurd had been with us only a few days when we took him over to see
his brother, already for nearly three months a resident at The Orchard.
We found Laddie, slender, white and dainty, quite at home on the
luxurious drawing-room sofa.

"I'm stronger than you," growled Sigurd, but Laddie, always the
gentlest and sweetest tempered of collies, acquiesced so pleasantly
that it was an amicable meeting. At the first hint of a second growl,
Laddie gave up the place of honor to his guest.

Of course we remonstrated, admonished Sigurd and urged the
accommodating host, whose good manners delighted the Sisters, to jump
back, which he did, tucking himself unobtrusively into the further
corner of the sofa. Sigurd immediately claimed that corner, which
Laddie yielded to him with unruffled magnanimity, crossing over to the
other. Sigurd promptly changed his mind again, pushing Laddie, this
time a little inclined to demur, down to the floor. Unable to devise a
plan by which he could curl into both corners at once, Sigurd stretched
himself out at full length, doing his best to reach from end to end of
the sofa, while Laddie, closely copying the attitude of this arrogant
big brother, lay along the rug below. Scandalized by Sigurd's conduct,
we would have removed him from his usurped throne in short order, but
the Sisters, rejoicing in the perfection of Laddie's social graces and
secretly convinced of their collie's moral superiority to ours, would
not allow any interference with the visiting puppy's comfort.

That freedom of the sofa was precious to Sigurd's pride and by repeated
efforts he tried to convince his obtuse mistresses that he was entitled
to the same privilege at home. But Joy-of-Life, who did not believe in
"pampering pets," stood firm. There was one evening, in particular,
when Sigurd jumped up on our living-room lounge some score of times,
keeping all the while a challenging eye on her, and just as many times
was ignominiously tumbled off. When she finally took possession
herself, laughing at his discomfiture, he banged his way out into the
kitchen and went down with a thump on the bare floor, hoping that we
would hear how hard it was and realize how sorely poor Sigurd was
abused. Finding that no apologies were forthcoming, he bounded to the
front door, barked his orders to have it opened and shot out into the
dark. Within five minutes the familiar tinkle called us to the
telephone and over the wire flowed the blithe voice of one of the
Sisters.

"I _must_ tell you what a lovely call we are having from dear Sigurd.
He barked to come in only a minute ago and went right up to the sofa
and took it all for himself--oh, yes, our Cousin had been sitting there
with Laddie, but they didn't mind at all--and there he is now, making
himself so charmingly at home, the beautiful boy. I _do_ wish you
could see him."

"_We will_," responded Joy-of-Life, and off we started to chastise
Young Impudence, whom we had begun to suspect of being a trifle
self-willed; but when we arrived the Sisters would by no means consent
to his overthrow. So there, while the chat went on, Sigurd lolled and
sprawled, yawning, stretching himself to an incredible length, rolling
over on his back with paws held high as if to applaud his victory and
continually turning up to Joy-of-Life eyes of such sparkling glee that
her purposes of discipline melted in mirth.

None the less, she was a match for him, resorting to strategy when she
was forbidden the exercise of force. Calling Laddie to her, she began
to stroke his nestling head. Instantly Sigurd, with a multitudinous
flourish of legs that might have moved a centipede to envy, flung
himself off the sofa and roared imperiously at the front door:

"Open this, Somebody, and be quick about it, too. Time to be off. Oh,
come along, Folks. You've no need to pat any dog but me. Good-night,
Lovely Ladies. S'long, Lad. See you tomorrow in the gloaming."

And unless we kept a strict watch, so he would. How often, while
surveying from our west porch, with Sigurd demurely sitting up between
us, the last faint flushes of the sunset sky, from across the road
there would be suddenly visible against the dusk a presence like a
celestial apparition, so white and hushed it was, the shining figure,
the lifted, listening head! And in the fraction of a second, even while
we were catching at his collar, off would go Sigurd with a great leap,
and away the brother collies would tear on a mighty run that kept two
households anxious far into the night. There was nothing celestial
about their behavior.

These lawless excursions often culminated in garbage-pail raids,
debauches from which the young prodigals would sneak home, abashed with
nausea. Once in a Commencement season we returned late in the evening,
with a guest, from the high solemnity of the President's Reception, to
find our hall strewn with Jonah strips of ham-rind and junks of
pumpkin. Our guest was a brilliant, worldly being, a very dragon-fly of
swiftness and gleam, and there she stood, exquisitely gowned in
rose-red under lace whose color was that of moonlight seen through thin
clouds, beholding our culprit, who an hour before had been exultantly
ranging a world of mysterious and infinite adventure, flattened
contritely in the midst of his enormities.

"How human!" was her only comment.

Often they came back injured, with bitten ears, scratched faces,
bleeding feet, and pretended to be worse off than they were, so as to
divert our reproaches into pity. Sigurd limped home one dawn with a
cruelly torn claw and lay all day in a round clothes-basket, to which
he had taken a fancy, curled up like a yellow caterpillar and sleeping
like a dormouse. But when I was sitting on the piazza steps that
evening, putting a fresh bandage on the claw, while Sigurd, almost too
feeble to stir, watched the process with pathetic eyes, a blanched
sprite glistened by, only a white motion through the dark, and in an
instant the invalid had sped away, bandage trailing, to be wicked all
over again.

No matter how often the four mistresses agreed that discipline required
doors to be shut against the truants till daybreak, on these nights of
their escapes ours were light slumbers that a pleading whine too easily
broke and many were the tiptoe journeys down derisively creaking stairs
to let the wanderers in. The next day such lame, dirty, subdued,
meek-minded stay-at-homes as our collies were! It was hard to scold
them properly when they rolled over on their backs and presented aching
stomachs to be comforted. But sometimes these stampedes took place by
day, for whenever they met out-of-doors these brothers, otherwise
fairly obedient, would disregard all human commands for the
authoritative call of the blood and dart away side by side like arrows
shot from a single bow. The sins that neither would commit alone they
reveled in without scruple when they were together. From all over town
we heard of our paragons as chasing cats, jumping at horses' heads,
over-running gardens and upsetting children. One sedate young woman on
whom they leaped, entreating her to play with them, sent in a
substantial bill to "the owner of the dog that tore my dress." When we
inquired whether it was the golden collie or the white that did the
damage she coldly replied that "the animals were so mixed up" she
couldn't tell whether it was "the brown one or the drab,"--to such a
condition had a bath of mud brought our dandies. One mother sternly
confronted us with a weepy little boy who complained that "zem two dogs
made me frow sticks for 'em all the way home from school an' my arm's
most bwoke with tiredness."

I remember clearly one typical escapade. It had snowed for three
successive days and nights. Joy-of-Life was away in Washington, reading
a learned paper before some convention of economists. Her mother passed
the shut-in hours patiently by the fireside, meditating with
disapproval on Dante's _Inferno_ which I was reading to her, at
intervals, for cheer during her daughter's absence. Sigurd was spoiling
for a romp. At last, in desperation, he amused himself by eating
everything he came across,--a tube of paste, a roll of tissue paper,
one of his own ribbons. I saw the latter end of the ribbon disappearing
into his mouth and sprang to seize it, meaning to drag the rest out of
his inner recesses, but Sigurd secured it by a furious gulp and capered
away in triumph. At last the flakes had ceased falling, the snow plow
had struggled through and, yielding to the big puppy's desperate
urgency, I took him out to walk, following after the plow between
glittering walls as high as my shoulder. At a turn in the road, I
caught sight, across the level expanse, of the Younger Sister
exercising an invisible Laddie. Suddenly there appeared above the
parapet the tips of two golden-brown ears, pricked up in eager inquiry.
Sigurd, overtopped by our own wall, could not have seen them, but with
one tremendous lurch he was up and out, wallowing madly through the
drifts to meet Laddie, who, like a miniature snow plow, was already
breaking a way toward him. The collies touched noses and, ranging
themselves side by side, plunged off into that blank of white, utterly
deaf to the human calls that would check the onward impulse of their
sacred brotherhood.

They had another glorious run two days later, when the snow was frosted
and could bear their weight. Mad with mischief, they raced miles on
miles,--to Oldtown and beyond, barking at every man they met and
leaping at every horse; they dashed into Waban Way and out over the
spacious Honeymoon estates; they scampered hither and thither across
the three hundred acres of the campus; they careered back and forth
over the frozen lake and challenged the college girls to a
rough-and-tumble in the snow. Meanwhile the Younger Sister and I,
seriously alarmed lest some nervous horse, startled by their antics,
should bring about disaster, had taken a sleigh and gone forth in
pursuit. Disquieting news of them kept coming to us as we drove.

"Two young collies? I should say so. I met them an hour ago, way over
in Dover. They both jumped at my old Dobbin's head, barking all
Hallelujah."

"O yes, I've seen two runaway dogs. Shepherds, white and fawn. They
were chasing an express team down by Eliot Oak. The driver was standing
up and whipping out at them for all he was worth."

Presently we came on their fresh tracks in the snow, tracks of running
feet always side by side, until at last we overtook the truants. There
they were, barking in duet, hoarse but happy, trying to scramble up an
icy telephone pole after a spitting cat. They bounded to greet us and
followed the sleigh home like lambs. The Sister, secretly condemning
Sigurd as the dangerous misleader of her angel Laddie, assured them
firmly that they were _never_ to play together again.

Sigurd still had so much frolic in him that, when we had arrived at our
own door, he coaxed me to stay outside and throw sticks for him from
the piazza into the drifts. But soon I noticed red touches on the snow
and, bringing him in, found that his feet were ice-cut and bleeding. I
told him sternly that such were his just deserts and he rolled over on
his back, holding up his paws to be healed. While I was anointing them
with vaseline, a vain remedy because of the avidity with which Sigurd
licked it off, I discovered that he had lost, in his wild whirl, the
ornamental blue-bead collar, wrought for him by a student devotee at
the cost of many patient hours. When I had done what he would let me
for his feet and he had curled up cosily in his basket, I solemnly set
about my duty of rebuking him, but the youngster was too tired for
rhetoric. With an apologetic grunt, he instantly fell fast asleep.
Being inwardly persuaded that Laddie was chiefly to blame, I left my
misguided innocent to his repose.

The next afternoon he limped demurely down the hill and, in about two
minutes, was on The Orchard porch, exchanging vociferous greetings with
Laddie, but for once his effrontery failed of its effect. Steeling
their hearts, the Sisters refused to let the outside collie in or the
inside collie out. Sigurd, always most dignified when his feelings were
hurt, rose against one of the drawing-room windows, took a long look at
the sofa and vanished into the early winter twilight, not to be seen
again by our anxious eyes for thirty-six hours. It was just on the
silver edge of the third day that a wistful _woof_ on our porch sent
four hastily slippered feet skurrying to the door. Such a famished,
unkempt, exhausted collie as stood wagging there! His coat was grimy,
his ruff gray and tangled, and from his collar, drawn cruelly tight,
dragged a cumbrous length of iron chain. The Sisters, who, suffering
all the pangs of contrition, had been no less eager than we in
prosecuting the search, hurried over (without Laddie) straight from
their breakfast table, and one of them, flinging her arms about Sigurd
as he nestled in the forbidden easy-chair--for he never missed the
opportunity to wrest some special privilege out of any emotional
crisis--sobbed with relief. Spent as he was, the collie licked her
cheek, forgiving and consoling, even while his happy, love-beaming eyes
could hardly hold themselves open. If an attempt had been made to
kidnap him, Sigurd's strength and often proved cleverness in
extricating himself from bonds had stood him in good stead. More
fortunate than his sister Hildigunna and than another high-spirited
sister, Unna, likewise supposed to have been stolen--though in the saga
Unna ran away from her home (and husband),--Sigurd, if he could not
break the chain of captivity, had managed to pull it out of its staple
and lug it along with him back to freedom.

By an assiduous use of the telephone to the effect, "We are taking
Laddie for a walk. Will you please keep Sigurd in?" or "Sigurd has just
started off in your direction. Where's Laddie?" we kept a certain check
on their escapades for the rest of that winter, but they contrived to
meet at some secret rendezvous in apple-blossom time and came home
panting and jubilant, with pink and white blossoms all over their
coats. Sigurd apparently liked the effect, considering himself a King
of the May, for no sooner were those petals brushed off than he frisked
out and rolled over in the tulip-bed to accumulate some more. On the
few occasions when our runaways, oozing through the merest cracks of
doors, gave us the slip, we dropped all minor occupations and hunted
them down, calling in the aid of an amused liveryman, an Irish neighbor
whose white hairs thatched a pate where wit and kindliness kept house
together.

"It's the goolden dog y'are to me," he would say to Sigurd. "Many's the
good dollar I've made out o' yez thraipsin's and throublin's."

The Lady of Cedar Hill had given away to appreciative friends all the
puppies save Gunnar, but several of them had homes nearby and she
thought it would be pleasant to have a family reunion once a year, on
their common birthday. One such gathering proved enough for all time.

On a delectable autumn afternoon we set forth, just after luncheon, in
a roomy surrey, The Sisters, Joy-of-Life, my nephew--then a wide-eyed
small boy, now a surgeon working for the wounded in France,--and I,
with Sigurd and Laddie racing alongside, to attend Gunnar's birthday
party. Six or seven of his brothers and sisters were assembled, but at
this distance of time I cannot call the roll. Among them were probably
Helga, who, becoming Lady Gwendolyn, lived to a reverend age; certainly
Flosi, who returned from the new owner to Cedar Hill, where his
frolicsome years were nine; perhaps Hauskuld, dearly beloved, who, like
Sigurd, was tormented in hot weather by the aristocratic ailment of
eczema, and perhaps Helgi, who, as far as the family record is known,
outlived all his generation, dying at the ripe age, for a high-bred
collie, of thirteen. There was no receiving line and never a moment
that afternoon when it was easy to distinguish them, for it was all one
glorious scrimmage from arrival to departure.

Ralph, growing more and more inhospitable with the years, had been
locked up as a precaution against tragedy, and resplendent young
Gunnar, the host of the day, assailed his guests so violently that he,
too, had to be put on his chain, where he alternately strained and
sulked all the afternoon. No wonder he never gave another party. But
Dora, always bewitching in her ways, found the occasion entertaining
and tolerated her children, if she could not be said to welcome them.
Meanwhile, by unremitting vigilance on the part of masters and
mistresses, the guests were restrained from too furious attacks on one
another, until the banquet, consisting of a row of extraordinarily big
and marrowy bones, was served. Each dog was instantly prompted by the
Evil One to covet his neighbor's bone, but after a really magnificent
display of authority on the part of their respective guardians, the
raging bunch of white and sable was disentangled. Separated by wide
distances, the collies, graceful figures lying on green lawn and bank,
fell to their crunching in comparative peace, while Gunnar, spurning
his own birthday dinner, roared grace from the end of his chain, with
Ralph's gruff _amen_ coming down from the open windows of his prison
chamber. I blush to record that Sigurd, having polished off his bone at
top speed, proceeded without ceremony to appropriate Laddie's. This was
rescued and returned to its gentle owner, already so bewildered by
these social excitements that, when a game of toss-and-catch followed
the feast, Laddie bit the leg of the short-trousered small boy, my
nephew, not unnaturally mistaking that long, thin, flourishing object
for a stick. This regrettable incident, as the Dog Gazette would put
it, broke up the party, but the distressed Sisters made such ample
amends to the victim that he came to consider, as birthdays and
Christmases rolled around, that scar on his calf one of his best
assets.

During the period of Sigurd's distemper and convalescence we took the
utmost care, of course, to shut him away from Laddie, whose bonny brown
head often appeared on the outside of one window or another, the
shining eyes wistful for his playmate.

On one occasion the contagious element in the disease stood us in good
stead. Sigurd was better, but still so weak that the least of walks
tired him out. We kept him off the highways, lest any germs yet
lingering about him might bring disaster on other puppies, but thought
we were safe in the woods behind the house. On a certain Sunday
afternoon I had coaxed Sigurd, by short stages, further than before. He
had spent his little stock of strength and, with his usual eye for
becoming effects, had disposed himself to sleep under a
white-blossoming wild cherry,--that exquisite springtide delight which
the campaign against browntail and gypsy moth is fast banishing from
eastern Massachusetts. Suddenly a group of young roughs from a
neighboring factory town burst through the brush, attended by a gaunt
mastiff, and for the fun of the thing, jovially deaf to my
remonstrances, proceeded to get up a dog fight, though the betting was
monotonously one-sided. "Buster," obedient to command, approached
growling and bristling, and Sigurd, who was never one to turn the other
ear, trotted out with gallant readiness to meet an opponent who would
have made an end of him with the first clinch.

"Very well!" I said, blazing at those boyish rowdies, who may, by this
time, have bloomed out into heroes and won the _croix de guerre_. "If
you want your dog to sicken and probably die of distemper, set him on.
This collie is full of it and will infect him at the first touch."

Without staying to question my scientific accuracy, the hoodlums
hastily called off their champion, threatened me in uncivil terms with
the police and the jail for bringing a distempered dog abroad and took
themselves off to look for safer holiday sport. Sigurd thought he had
frightened them away and swaggered home with a marked revival of
spirits.

When Dr. Vet at last pronounced all danger of contagion over, the
Sisters, leaving Laddie behind, made a congratulatory call on our
invalid, whose lyric cry, albeit hoarse and squeaky, shrilled to the
Dogstar as he welcomed them, now climbing up to their shoulders in
fervent embrace, now modulating his roundelay to the plaintive note as
he tried his best to tell them what "Poor Sigurd" had suffered. _They_
were sympathetic; _they_ were intelligent; and tumbling into the
forbidden easy chair, Sigurd made it clear to them, and they in turn
made it clear to his dull mistresses, that his swollen throat could
nowhere be so comfortable as here, where the chair-arm supported the
chin. It was then that our last shred of arbitrary discipline gave way.
Sigurd had won the throne of his ambition. In course of time, this
became Sigurd's Chair, given over to his exclusive occupancy, scratched
and rubbed and shabby, the most disreputable and, to his mind, the most
enjoyable of our furnishings.

Laddie escaped the distemper, but of other mischances he had more than
his share. He was scalded by his own dear Annie, against whom he had
unluckily run when she was carrying a pitcher of boiling water; he was
shot through the leg, as he was assisting in a midnight serenade given
by the dogs of the neighborhood to a belle shut up in the house of her
bad-tempered master; but the sorest pang of all was the departure of
his mistresses for another year abroad. The Elder Cousin had gone on a
longer journey; the corner by the hearth was lonely for the lack of
that small gray figure, the hands so busy with their knitting, the face
so shrewd and kindly; and all we village-folk called to express our
sympathy and remained to burden theirs with long recitals of our
various tribulations until the Sisters, utterly worn out, had again to
seek solitude overseas.

What to do with Laddie? Gunnar, disgusted enough at having Flosi back
again, flatly avowed that he would not put up with another brother on
the premises. Ralph, in the fullness of years, and little Dora,
prematurely, had slipped away to Shadowland, bequeathing the care of
Cedar Hill to Gunnar, who was keenly alive to his responsibilities.
From one of our recent visits Sigurd had come back with a bleeding ear
and a red blotch on the top of his head. So the farmhouse of the estate
opened its doors to Laddie, but he had other views and, running away
the first afternoon, made a valiant effort to get back to the Sisters.
He took one wrong turn and was lost for a night and a day, but his rare
beauty and appealing charm won him a friend who allowed him to follow
her home, fed him, read his collar and soon made telephone connection
with his distressed mistresses, already resolved to let their steamer
go without them rather than sail in ignorance of Laddie's fate. They
were stout-hearted enough, however, when they knew that he was found,
to ask the Cedar Hill farmer to go and reclaim the stray, denying
themselves and Laddie another farewell.

We hoped that in the year's separation the two brothers would forget
each other or, at least, outgrow their propensity to revert to the wild
together. It seemed the more likely because Laddie, always fragile, had
suffered a severe attack of pneumonia at the farmhouse, and came back
to the Sisters looking more like a white spirit than ever. But he took
time, on arrival, only to greet his household saints and indulge in a
brief nap on the sofa before dashing off to find Sigurd. Away they went
on an impassioned run, from which, seven hours later, Laddie came
drooping home, and even Sigurd spent the next day curled up in his
green easy chair, subdued and quiescent, looking like an illustration
for "After the Ball."

Although we kept what guard we could upon them, they managed to elude
us several times that autumn, but after the first wild spurt they would
run more slowly, Sigurd slackening his natural speed in order to keep
side by side with Laddie, whose hard panting could be heard above the
rustling of the autumn leaves through which they raced. The worry cow
hooked us badly on Christmas day. Laddie, who had coughed all night,
had to be coaxed to come out for a little walk after breakfast and was
dragging behind the Younger Sister when, turning the corner of a bright
barberry hedge, they came upon Sigurd, gorgeous in his new, upstanding
bow of holly ribbon. Hey, presto! Off they shot like young wolves on
the trail. Under the starlight our truant returned, a damp wisp hanging
from his collar. That white, wavy front of his, so carefully groomed
for the festal day, was all red and green from the holly ribbon that he
had been chewing up for his Christmas dinner. As for poor Laddie, he
was ill for a week, but rallied again, and, despite our doubled and
redoubled vigilance, the brothers had still two or three runs together
before the end of February brought with it the end of Laddie's life.

Beautiful being that he was, he had gladdened earth for five and a half
years. If it is hard to believe in immortality, it is harder to
understand how his Maker could cast away a spirit of such pure
sweetness as Laddie's. Perhaps he ranges the celestial meadows now and
has found out what King Lear wanted to know,--"the cause of thunder."
For thunder was Laddie's terror. He could be quieted only by the
Younger Sister, who, going to the piano, would play her loudest, while
the trembling collie crouched against her feet.

This second attack of pneumonia was relentless. Laddie was not allowed
to suffer it to the end, but was tenderly put to sleep. Shortly after,
Sigurd trotted over to The Orchard of his own impulse and, without any
of the customary lurking and looking for Laddie, went straight in to
the Sisters, licking their hands and pressing close against their
knees.

That afternoon a few of Laddie's closest friends--though all the town
loved Laddie--gathered about a little grave on The Orchard lawn, while
the delicate Elder Sister, wrapped in a white shawl, with Sigurd,
wearing a white ribbon, close beside her for comfort, looked down on
the scene from an open chamber window. In the group below, one of us
after another quietly spoke of Laddie's gentleness and gladness and
affection, of the happiness he had given and received. The Younger
Sister read a lyric good-bye that the Elder Sister had written and
thanked God, as simply as if He were standing in our midst, for all the
joy of Laddie. Then we lowered the box, dropping upon it the white
rosebuds that the Dryad had sent and the white carnations that Jack's
mistress had brought. When the earth went in, one voice said softly,
"Dust to dust," but another responded clearly, "Love to love." All the
while Sigurd's intent eyes and golden head peered from the window above
and once he gave a short, troubled bark.



SIGURD'S MEDITATIONS IN THE CHURCH-PORCH


    The gaze of a dog is blind
    To splendors of summit and sky,
        Ocean and isle,
    But never a painter shall find
    The beautiful more than I
        In my lady's smile.

    The thought of a dog is dim.
    Not even a wag he deigns
        To the wisest book.
    Philosophy dwells for him
    In loving the law that reigns
        In voice, in look.

    The heart of a dog is meek.
    He places his utter trust
        In a mortal grace,
    Contented his God to seek
    In a creature framed of dust
        With a dreaming face.

    The human is our divine.
    In the porch of the church, I pray
        For a rustling dress,
    For those dear, swift steps of thine,
    Whose path is my perfect way
        Of holiness.



ADVENTURES

    "_Puntarvolo._ Is he religious?

    _Gentleman._ I know not what you call religious, but he goes
    to church, I am sure."

    --Jonson's _Every Man out of his Humour_.


The zest, the fun, the excitement Sigurd infused into our human humdrum
outwent all expectation. I think it added a relish even to
Joy-of-Life's devotions at the early service of St. Andrew's that a
suppressed yelp and a vehement scamper might at any second denote
Laddie's appearance and Sigurd's instant reversion from her pious
attendant in the vestibule to a wild creature of enraptured speed. He
opened our eyes to a new vision of the most familiar things. What we
had considered merely gray squirrels were revealed, through his
glorious campaign against them, as goblin banditti bent on insult and
robbery. For on those enchanted autumn days, when we would be wandering
through the rich-colored, spicy woods, where winds laughed among the
branches and chased leaves bright as jewels down the air, these
impertinent squirrels were always scolding overhead and dropping acorns
on us. I remember one such stroll, when a falling chestnut smacked
Sigurd soundly on the nose. He at once attributed the indignity to the
squirrels--quite unjustly this time--and made off in pursuit of a wily
old fellow that whisked in and out among the slender birch boles and
led him, as if for the mere sport of it, on a far chase. I was absorbed
meanwhile in altruistic combat with a troop of ants, a foraging party
returning to their hill-castle with a company of belated beetles as
booty. As often as I brushed the ranks into confusion with a spray of
goldenrod, it was astonishing to see how quickly the discomfited ants
would rally and how immediately every one of the madly skurrying
beetles--for their pitiless captors had deprived them of their
wings--would be again a prisoner, surrounded in close formation by a
marching escort. Looking up from this insect tragedy, I saw Sigurd
tearing back with something in his mouth that, for one horrified
instant, I thought was the slaughtered squirrel. It turned out to be my
hat, which, blowing merrily away from the bramble whereon it was hung,
had been captured by my friend in need, who proudly restored it,
somewhat the worse for the manner of its rescue. Later on, in the
hushed Indian summer noons, Joy-of-Life and I would take our luncheon
out into the woods, where our golden collie would roll over and over in
a rustling bed of leaves much of his own color or of brown, fragrant
pine-needles, his bright eyes always on the watch for any aggression
from the peering citizens of the trees.

The winter, however, was Sigurd's heroic season. He had the soul of a
helper, not of a pet, and longed for occupation, responsibility,
service. His sentry duty at night, his guardianship in our walks, his
herding of the family into the dining-room three times a day with
punctual solicitude, these were not enough. It was amusing and yet, in
a way, touching to see with what strenuous earnestness he took upon
himself the task of driving the squirrels away from the bird boxes. For
our neighbors, the "shadowtails," as the Greeks called them, were so
obtuse as to appropriate to their own comfort and convenience every
provision we made for the flying folk. We had put up in the trees near
the house a few bird palaces, variously named, according to the
dominant interest of those whose respective windows overlooked them,
Toynbee Hall, the Tabard Inn, the Waldorf-Astoria, the Mermaid Tavern;
but their bluebird tenants were soon ejected, and families of baby
squirrels, for whose repose their parents busily chewed up mattresses
of leaf and bark, were reared in those proud abodes. To this Sigurd had
to submit, though he would lie for hours on the piazza, his chin on his
paws, wondering why the Collie Creator, whom he probably took to be
much like his adorable father Ralph, only a thousand times as big--for
had not Sigurd heard in the skies the thunder of his bark?--denied to
dogs the gift of climbing trees. But their attack on the food-boxes
brought these pirates almost within Sigurd's reach.

From several of the upper windows had been built out simple and
practical feeding-shelves,--shallow wooden boxes partitioned off by
cross-pieces into some six or eight compartments. Here we would put out
marrowbones, suet, shreds and scraps from the dinner-plates, nuts,
acorns, pinecones, grains, crumbs, fragments of cheese, and here, all
the long winter through, our welcome guests were chickadees,
nut-hatches, tree sparrows, downy woodpeckers, juncos, with an
occasional fox sparrow or purple finch or flock of Canadian crossbills.
Our unwelcome guests were English sparrows, of whom, however, we had
but few and those of rather subdued deportment; blue jays, who would
fly away with big pieces of meat or cocoanut, and the gray squirrels,
who would come stealing softly down the edge of the casement and
suddenly leap into the box. Here they would sit up on their haunches,
defying us through the pane with hard, black eyes, and gobble till they
could gobble no more. Then they would stuff their elastic cheeks almost
to bursting and make off with their plunder only to be back again
before the little birds, so long and so patiently waiting on the snowy
branches of the nearest tree, had really settled down to enjoy the
leavings.

Sigurd instinctively understood that the little birds were guests--to
the English sparrows he gave the benefit of the doubt--and that the
blue jays and squirrels were intruders. On a keen winter day, when the
boxes had been freshly filled, he was indeed an overworked collie,
scampering from room to room and window to window, barking furiously at
the raiders. This vociferous warning that no trespassers were allowed
sufficed for the blue jays, who would flap sullenly away, but the
squirrels were quick to learn that a bark was not a bite. Shadowtail
would only drop his nut and sit up erect and alert, his little fists
pressed to his heart, his beady eyes staring straight against the dog's
honest, indignant gaze. Seeing that his loudest roar had lost its
terrors, Sigurd would leap up toward the window and give it a
resounding thump with his paw. At first this new menace put the
squirrels to precipitate retreat. Off they went, nor stood upon the
order of their going. A few minutes later, one shrewd little gray face
after another would peer around the casement edge, but at the first
view of that upright, shining figure, with the flowing snow-white ruff,
mounting guard on chair or hassock, the goblin faces vanished. Sigurd
was immensely proud of himself during this epoch of the warfare. A very
Casabianca in his firm conception of duty, only the most imperative
summons could call him from his post. But when the squirrels had
learned that the barrier between the collie and themselves was, though
transparent, an effective screen, and would, as before, saucily plant
themselves in the middle of the box and resume the stuffing and
pillaging process more diligently than ever, under his very eyes,
Sigurd, frantic with fury, would beat an utterly tremendous tattoo upon
the pane. Three times one January he crashed through the glass in one
of my chamber windows, cutting his face and paws and subjecting the
room to a more Arctic ventilation than I cared for. On these occasions
the squirrels saved themselves by prodigious leaps into the nearest
tree and did not venture back while that jagged gap remained,--so
satisfactory a result, from Sigurd's point of view, that he marveled at
my folly in calling in a glazier to repair the damage. As the man was
working at the window, Sigurd would look from him to me with a puzzled
and reproachful expression accentuated by the long strips of court
plaster across his nose.

He had a vigorous ally in my mother, who brought her own bright wits to
bear on the circumvention of the enemy. She knitted a little bag,
filled it with nutmeats and hung it from the middle sash outside the
window, so that it dangled halfway down in the open space which gave
the squirrels no footing but delighted our winged pensioners. It was
fun to see two spirited fluffs squaring at each other atop a lump of
suet for the best chance to rise at the bag, till another plumy midget
came fiercely down upon them and drove them, chirping remonstrance, off
to the outer edges of the box. Then the newcomer, bristling with
victory, flew up and secured the most desirable position on that
swinging dinner-pail, while the others, nudging and scrambling, sought
for a footing on the further side. But the squirrels studied the
situation from above and from below and presently learned to run up the
blind, make a sidelong leap to the bag and cling to it with all four
legs and feet, while they gnawed through the threads until the goodies
literally poured into their mouths. There they would cling and feast,
while on the other side of the glass my mother and Sigurd, both of them
sharply protesting and angrily rapping the pane, held a Council of War.
As a result, my mother bought two iron sink-mops, wired them together
and triumphantly fashioned a bag which even the strong teeth of the
furry burglars, for all their persevering and ingenious efforts, could
not bite open. But the happy chickadees and nut-hatches would perch
there, by relays, all day long, thrusting their bills through the iron
interstices and drawing out, bit by bit, the finely broken nutmeats.

The blue jays were routed quite by accident. The support of my box, a
strip of wood running from the underside of that little feeding table
to the house wall, had loosened its lower nail, and one day, when some
passing touch of grippe kept me in bed, with Sigurd sitting upright on
a chair beside me, playing nurse, a plump jay lit heavily upon the edge
of the shelf and screeched with fright as it shook and slid beneath
him. He took to his glossy wings and, within five minutes, the oak hard
by was alive with our whole colony of blue jays, all eying that box and
deep in agitated discussion. At last one venturesome fellow struck
boldly out and lit on it, only to feel it sway and sag and, with a
shriek rivaling that of his predecessor, flapped up just in time to
save himself, as he believed, from a terrific disaster. This
performance was repeated twice more and then the whole blue jay crew
abandoned, for the rest of the winter, not only their attacks on my
particular bird box, though its support was promptly made secure, but
on all the bird boxes of the house. Sigurd and I were well content as
we heard them croaking to one another, "A trap! Jam my feathers, a
hateful, human trap! But they couldn't hoodwink _us_. Yah, yah, yah!"

The squirrels, however, continued to be Sigurd's chief household care.
Out of doors, too, he was forever chasing them, but never, to my
knowledge, so much as brushed the tail of one. In his sleep, he often
seemed to be dreaming of a squirrel hunt, his feet running eagerly even
while his body lay at full stretch upon the rug, and his breath coming
in short pants. Sometimes he would howl in nightmare slumbers, but
generally he appeared elate, climbing, perhaps, the trees of Dreamland,
less slippery than our icy oaks, and driving out his enemies from their
loftiest fastness.

Sigurd bore no grudges and when, as the pussy-willows, anemones and
violets, the robins and the orioles were bringing in the spring, he was
called upon to adorn a blue jay funeral procession, he wore his black
ribbon with decorum. The chief mourner, a little lad by name of
Wallace, was one of our nearest neighbors and most honored friends. He
had been much perturbed in spirit over the perils of the blue jay brood
whose nursery, so reckless were their parents, tilted precariously on a
pine branch that overhung a ledge just beyond one end of Wallace's
porch. He feared every wind would overthrow that nest, but when the
shocking old mother, apparently in a fit of temper, deliberately pushed
her children out herself, and they fell, one by one, to instant death
on the rock below, Wallace's grief and horror were too great for a
child's good. His resourceful father therefore proposed a grand
funeral, as the only testimony of regard and regret that we could offer
to the unlucky fledgelings, and Wallace, who was much preoccupied with
his future career, having at one time planned to be a dentist in the
forenoon, a musician in the afternoon, and an editor at night, entered
with enthusiasm upon the duties of undertaker, sexton, and clergyman.
Called upon for an anthem, I responded with a lament which Wallace
found "too sad" to hear more than twice. On the second occasion it was
intoned at the tiny grave, above which Sigurd drooped a puzzled head,
not understanding a game that had in it neither romp nor laughter.

Though fond of Wallace, our collie's bearing toward small boys in
general was not conspicuous for cordiality. Women he accepted as
essential to the running of the universe; men--except for those
vindictive monsters perched on express teams with long whips in
hand--he regarded with amiable indifference; but about small boys he
was dubious. Some of our rougher little neighbors had stoned and
snowballed the new puppy. At Christmas we met that situation by
converting Sigurd into Santa Claus,--dressing him up in holly ribbon
and sleighbells and hanging on him the little gifts which we were in
the way of taking about to the children on our hill. The immediate
effect was excellent. Sigurd was thanked and patted and, in his
pleasure at such appreciation, he would magnanimously lick the boyish
hands that had been so often raised against him. One urchin was so
impressed by a toy fire-engine that, at least through January, he
touched his cap to "Mr. Sigurd" whenever they met; but with Fourth of
July and Hallowe'en our troubles were all renewed. Firecrackers and
torpedoes are so disconcerting to collie nerves that no normally bad
boy could resist setting them off under Sigurd's very nose,
somersaulting with ecstasy to see his instantaneous bolt for home;
while on Hallowe'en all the youngsters on the hill would call in a
troop, weirdly disguised, swinging Jack-o'-Lanterns and banging,
scraping, whistling, piping, on strange instruments not of music. On
these distracting occasions Sigurd was ready to tear those giggling
spooks to bits, and either Joy-of-Life or I had to hold him tight,
while the other passed the cookies and candies for which our
supernatural visitants had come.

May Day was better fun for Sigurd. He quickly understood that the
Maybasket chase was only a game and played it with a vim. But in
general he did not care for festivals nor for any variation of the
usual round. Just everyday living was joy enough for him. If Sigurd had
made the calendar, the week would have been all Mondays. Even Christmas
puzzled more than it pleased him. Such a confusion of brown paper and
tissue paper, such a flourishing of queer, lumpy stockings, such
tangles of string, such excitement over objects that had no thrill for
his inquiring nose! And for himself, the rubber cats with gruesome
squeaks inside them, the mechanical beetles that shook his courage as
they charged at him across the floor! He could not make it out. Once
when all the people present were shouting with mirth over a new,
preposterous game of cards, Sigurd quietly picked up from under the
table a pack not yet called into service and carried it out into the
kitchen, where he was presently discovered with one forefoot set on the
cards tumbled about before him, while he gazed dejectedly down at them
in a defeated effort to find out why they were amusing. And the
Christmas parties, for which he had to be scrubbed until he shone like
an image of white and gold! And if it happened that, between his toilet
and the party, he whizzed off with Laddie, what unpleasantness on his
return!

"Sigurd was especially invited for to-night and I promised Wallace to
bring him. But he's too dirty now and he hasn't had his dinner."

"All his own doing. He shall come dirty and dinnerless and learn to be
ashamed of himself."

Not that he felt ashamed at all, but very tired and lame, hobbling
behind his family into a bright, chattering room, where everybody
wanted to pet him and where all he wanted was to be let alone to sleep
his frolic off. Why must he be waked up with foolish laughter because
that glittering tree, which he had not been allowed to investigate for
squirrels, had given, in his name, a toy ship to Wallace, whose father,
Professor Wit, must needs observe: "How like dear Sigurd, to present
his neighbors with his _barque_!" And though for him the Christmas
tree bore a chocolate caramel in the inmost box of a nest of boxes, he
would, to the disappointment of the company who had heard of his skill
in opening parcels, yawn and fall asleep over each box in turn. At his
best, he bit drowsily into the pasteboard and pushed at the string more
clumsily than usual with a pair of grimy paws from which the circle of
silken skirts would draw away. Christmas, indeed, and an inaccessible
chocolate caramel for dinner!

Sigurd's most thrilling adventures, naturally, had to do with dogs, but
cats were an interesting side issue. The self-protective qualities of
the feline race I realized on our first Sunday walk with the puppy,
when a gray kitten bobbed up in our path. Sigurd romped forward,
Joy-of-Life caught him by the collar, and I, for my sins, picked up the
kitten. It looked so tiny, helpless and soft; it felt like a frame of
steel and wire, every little muscle tense, while its claws flashed out
like daggers and ripped up the back of my hand. In due time Sigurd
learned how formidable a cat may be. If she ran, he pelted after until
she took refuge up a tree, but if she proved to be some shrewd old
grimalkin who held her ground he suddenly slackened his pace and
sauntered casually by, trying to look as if he did not see her.

His one constant dog friend was Laddie. Their escapades were the top of
all adventure,--such orgies of wild joy that I would gladly lie awake
again listening for the hoarse bark of our returning prodigal. But with
other dogs of his own sex, acquaintance, however affably begun, would
soon ripen into a fight, unless the new comrade were too small and weak
or had reasons of his own for declining the test of battle. With Gyp,
across the way, a sly little black and tan, well-named, for his
ancestors must have run with the Romany folk and bequeathed to him a
genius for thievery, Sigurd did not take the trouble to quarrel. Gyp,
always skulking about our premises, would make off with any of our
lighter possessions carelessly left on porch or lawn. We had suffered
these losses without redress--for to the dog's master, only too ready
to beat poor Gyp cruelly on the least provocation, we would not make
complaint--till Sigurd came. He had been with us barely a week when,
one afternoon, as we were reading under the trees, Joy-of-Life reached
a hand behind her for her parasol. It was not there. As we both
exclaimed, questioned and looked about under the shrubbery where the
wind, had there been a wind, could not possibly have blown it, our new
guardian stood watching our

            "unsuccessful pains
      With fixed considerate face,
    And puzzling set his puppy brains
      To comprehend the case."

Suddenly he caught sight of Gyp trying with guilty haste to get a long
object, balanced in his jaws, through a favorite hole in his backyard
fence. It was never done, for Sigurd was upon him in a twinkling, had
shaken him thoroughly and brought back the parasol essentially
unharmed. Several times again he recovered our goods and chattels,
invariably giving the culprit a vigorous shaking, but otherwise keeping
on neighborly terms with the little scamp, till life ended for Gyp in a
kick from his drunken master's boot.

With another neighbor, black Rod, a noble St. Bernard, the initial
friendship was soon broken. The two dogs were of about the same age and
had many a frisk together that first summer, but when Rod tried to join
us on our walks, Joy-of-Life, who thought one big puppy enough for
amateurs to handle, would sternly bid Rod, "Go home." Sigurd would
promptly spring to enforce the command, and Rod would slowly and
sulkily retreat. After a few of these experiences, Rod ceased to follow
us, but he never forgave any one of the three. Thenceforth for the rest
of their lives the two dogs, who knew themselves almost equally matched
in size and strength, passed each other, often a dozen times a day,
with bristling backs and low, cautious growls, while never could my
friendliest greetings, even when I was alone, win the least wiggle of a
wag from Rod's rigid, remembering tail. He was so fortunate as to live
in a household of children, for whom he made the most faithful of
protectors, and often, on a sparkling winter day, I have met him
coasting with them, racing down the hill abreast of the sled, tail
waving, eyes gleaming, but the instant he became aware of my obnoxious
presence and observation, the tail would stiffen and the eyes would
cloud. His hostility was a genuine hurt to me, so much did I like and
respect the dog, but even in his old age, when pain and weakness lay
heavy on him, and the children--did he understand?--were teasing their
mother to have him chloroformed so that they might have in his place a
stylish young Boston bull, he would accept from me no comfort of touch
or tone. Another unhappy result of these early rebuffs was that Sigurd
got it firmly fixed in his yellow noddle that the words _Go home_ were
the profanest of curses, and whenever he was so addressed, especially
by one of us, his aspect of grief and horror was ludicrous to behold.
Besides, he did not go.

Through Sigurd our circle of fellowship was widened for all time. Here
we had been living on, half stifled in biped society, well-nigh unaware
of the jubilant dog world bounding about our feet, but in a few months
our own collie had made us acquainted with a democratic variety of
canine types. And still I would almost rather meet a new dog than a new
poet. A certain Norwegian lake is twice as dear to memory for the
courteous Great Dane that did the honors of the bank and shared our tea
cakes there; the only duchess to whose boudoir, at the heart of a
frowning Border castle, we were ever invited, impressed us less than
the three pompous poodles, their snowy curls so absurdly like her own,
that squatted on the edges of her flowing heliotrope morning-gown and
were simultaneously upset whenever one of her Ladyship's energetic
impulses brought her to her feet.

Sigurd's acquaintances were legion. To only a few may space be given
here. There was Teddy, a black spaniel who aspired to the high standard
of manners held by his master, a retired army officer, and, following
example, would punctiliously rise as ladies entered or left the room.
There were twin dachshunds, who daily drove abroad in a limousine and
enraged Sigurd by looking down on him, short-legged that they were,
from the window opened hardly wide enough to let them thrust their
black noses through the crack. There was the lean, forlorn old hound
whom all the dog-clubs blackballed and who, in consequence, had to
satiate his yearning for fellowship by keeping company with the
minister's cow. Every summer morning a silver-headed saint whose pulpit
labors were done escorted his Mulley down our hill and tethered her in
the broad green pasture below. At a respectful distance would follow
the homeless hound, who had picked up during the night what sustenance
he could from the neighborhood garbage pails. And hard of heart we
deemed that neatest of our housewives who, to keep his meddling muzzle
away, used to scatter a profusion of red pepper over her garbage. All
day long the hound would stay in the meadow close to the cow, who,
uneasy at first under his attentions, came to accept them with bovine
placidity. Indeed, there was, we thought, a certain coquetry in her
carriage as, a person of importance, she came sedately stepping up the
hill at sunset, the old clergyman on one side and the old dog on the
other. Her friendship with the happy hound grew to be as famous in our
local annals as, in the realm of books, is that of the horse and hen
related by White (in his _Natural History of Selbourne_), or that of
the swan and trout so poignantly told by Hudson (in his _Adventures
Among Birds_).

Certain dogs Sigurd would bully shamelessly, like amiable old Bounce,
on whom he would hurl himself in Bounce's own yard and sit on top of
him, growling most offensively, until we pulled him off. To the
subsequent scolding Sigurd would listen as long as it interested him
and then press up against us and offer his paw, as if to say, "All
right; enough of that; let's be friends again."

On the other hand, he had such a liking for our Professor Far-Away that
he stretched his regard to cover her successive dogs, Chum and Jack,
though he was born too late to know her beautiful black collie,
Wallace. He would even allow Chum, an adopted stray, a nondescript
animal of preposterous awkwardness, to drink from his own Japanese
bowl, spattering the water, in Chum's uncouth fashion, half across the
hall, while Jack, an Irish terrier,

    "With the soul in the shining eyes of him,"

ranked in Sigurd's esteem next after Laddie. Professor Far-Away, whose
perilous joy it was to traverse, with Jack, unexplored tracts of China
and Thibet, attended by a train of coolies, would, when dull destiny
called her back to the class room, effect brief escapes by way of
bicycle runs through the wood roads, attended by a train of dogs. When
her cavalcade swept by our hill, Sigurd would leap up as if at the call
of the Wild Huntsman and rush forth to fall in. Through her long
absences in foreign lands he never ceased to listen for her gypsy
whistle, and once, at least, he was literally her first caller on her
return. He came tearing back to his own family, in high excitement,
with a traveler's tag waving from his collar. The tag was penciled over
with the Wanderer's greeting, adding "how dear it was of Sigurd" to be
barking at her door within ten minutes after she and Jack had crossed
their threshold. When Professor Far-Away writes _The Junketings of
Jack_, there will be a book worth reading.

Although our puppy had several times returned with a scratched face,
after encounters with veteran cats, his first fight was with Major, a
rugged brindle bull, who lorded it over all the dogs in town. We had
been warned of Major and when, one September morning, I went to the
door in answer to the now familiar _woof_, I knew, even without the
uplift of Sigurd's eloquent look, what had happened. He was dripping
with blood, his own and Major's, and dragged one hind leg painfully,
yet he had an air of expecting congratulations. We bathed and
disinfected his wounds as well as our inexperience could--in the course
of the next few years we became experts at canine first aid--but the
injury to the leg looked so serious that we called in Dr. Vet, who
found that one of Major's tusks had penetrated the joint. The leg was
packed in an antiphlogistic clay until it looked more like an
elephant's leg than Sigurd's and was secured from the investigation of
his own inquisitive teeth by broad bands of plaster and innumerable
yards of bandages. The proud sufferer, who, claiming that he was now
entitled to all sick privileges, had insisted on taking to my bed, lay
there on a fresh rug, anxiously watching every movement of the doctor's
hands but enduring even the probing without protest.

After Æsculapius had gone and the rest of the family were gathered
about the invalid, who, despite all smarts and aches, keenly relished
being the center of attention, Joy-of-Life and I sallied forth to
inquire for Major. That redoubtable little ruffian, cuddled into his
basket, rolled up doleful eyes from a gory lump that bore but small
resemblance to his massive, wrinkled, pugnacious head. A beholder of
the battle reported that as Sigurd was trotting innocently across a
vacant lot, a brighter spot of yellow weaving its path through the
goldenrod, Major, after his wonted manner of attack, came sneaking up
behind and gripped him by the joint of a hind leg. Sigurd wheeled,
catching and crushing Major's head between his own powerful jaws, and
then the two dogs, locked in furious combat, spun round and round, a
snarling whirligig, gathering a vociferous group of ineffective
dissuaders, until a grocer's boy, jumping down from his delivery wagon,
came rushing up with a packet of pepper, hurling its contents into
Sigurd's nostrils and, through his literally open countenance, into
Major's. In a spasm of sneezing, the circle of dog broke apart, and
each dilapidated fragment made for home. Sigurd was a week or more in
getting well and he limped for a month after, but the scars on Major's
head were in evidence longer yet. They never matched prowess again,
though the language that they would use to each other, especially with
a wide road between them, is not fit for print.

Every evening of that first week our hero was carried or helped
downstairs and put to bed on the piazza, but every morning he crawled
and scrambled up again, crying out like a child as his injured leg,
trailing behind him, suffered jar or bump. Nobody could resist his
pleading to be lifted back to the bed and allowed to play hospital a
little longer, and Cecilia, more than ever his devoted slave, delighted
in bringing him, to his enormous pride, his dinner on a tray. He always
barked for the family to come in and behold that glorious spectacle,
and he barked, too, whenever the door bell rang, requesting the caller
to come up at once and pay respects to the Happy Warrior. Apart from
these red-letter events, his great diversion was trying to rid his
muffled leg of the bandages and plaster,--an exercise in which he soon
became only too proficient.

In Sigurd's last fight--with a gallant old mastiff, Rex--one of his
forelegs, bitten in three places, was put out of action for two months,
but no fuss was made about it. We had grown hardened to Sigurd's
battle-wounds. Sulpho-naphthol and his own tongue worked the cure,
though it took no little ingenuity to extract from between Sigurd's
teeth the stray tufts of grizzled hair that he wanted to keep as
souvenirs of Rex, who, still feebly growling, had to be fetched off the
field in a wheelbarrow.

From first to last, Sigurd's adventures were too often misadventures.
As a youngster, he was continually getting into trouble. It seemed
unfortunate that he should have so many feet, for what with thorns,
tacks, broken glass, jagged ice and the like, one or another of them
was usually in piteous condition.

His name brought more than one fight upon him, as our call of _Sigurd!_
_Sigurd!_ when he started out to investigate a dog-stranger, was often
mistaken for _Sick 'em!_ _Sick 'em!_ and the dog's owner would
reciprocate in kind. Once an indignant father, a summer visitor in
the town, passionately charged us with setting our dog on his two
"motherless boys," whereas we had been doing our best to call Sigurd
off from a chase after those provoking little rascals, who had attacked
him with a shower of pebbles.

Restless with his waxing strength he took to roving in the woods, where
once he was caught in a trap and painfully dragged himself home with a
lacerated leg that he had torn free from the cruel grip of the steel.
In the West Woods he once had a narrow escape. He was seen by a
wandering botanist to plunge into a swampy hole for water, a beverage
that, in spite of our hygienic warnings, Sigurd seemed to prefer with a
flavor of dirt. The mire there has a quicksand quality, and Sigurd
sank, splashing in frantic struggle, until only his nose was barely
visible above the black ooze, but in that extremity he seemed to get a
momentary hold for his hind feet, perhaps on root or snag, and by a
desperate effort lurched himself up and out. He lay on the bank,
panting and trembling, a sorely spent collie, for thirty-five minutes
by the botanist's watch, before he revived sufficiently to roll over
and over in the ferns and rub off some of the mud. Even so, when he
reached home he was so smeared and malodorous with mire that, all
unwitting of the mortal peril from which he had emerged, we met him
with a scolding, scoured him off with newspapers and shut him out of
doors for the rest of the day.

We grew to dislike the progress of civilization, so much did trains,
trolleys, golf-balls and motors add to our anxiety, but his own supreme
aversion was, in his early years, the bicycle. On a certain summer day,
when a deeper trouble than Sigurd could understand brooded over the
house, he trotted down to the forbidden center of the town, The Square,
in quest of entertainment. As he was crossing, there came upon him from
one side a carriage and from the other a bicycle, whose rider, a
Canadian, turned in his flurry the wrong way. Out of the resultant
crash Sigurd sprang to the sidewalk, but the bicycle reeled after him
and, in falling, struck him so sharply as to leave a long black bruise
under one eye. An observer of the collision told us that Sigurd
"flashed off toward home like a streak of sulphur." As soon as the door
was opened in response to his frantic barking, he bolted upstairs and
took refuge under my bed. The household in its grieved pre-occupation
forgot all about him, and it was not until evening that he stole down
into the family circle. With a careless glance at the black mark, we
rebuked him for having a smutty face. The wistful look of the
misunderstood came into those amber eyes, but he comforted himself with
a belated dinner and waited for Time to tell his story. The bruise
lasted long and the fright still longer. More than a year later
Joy-of-Life and I were driving through the tranquillities of an Indian
summer afternoon, with Sigurd, by this time a strong and rapid runner,
far ahead. Suddenly we saw him tearing back in terror. Without waiting
for us to pull up, he bounded over the wheel into the phaeton and
pressed his shaking body close against our knees. As we drove on, we
looked to right and left for the hippogrif that had so appalled him,
and presently beheld it,--a riderless bicycle leaning against a garden
wall.



THE HEART OF A DOG


    Where did they learn
    The miracle of love,
    These dogs that turn
    From food and sleep at our light-whistled call,
    Eager to fling
    Their all
    Of speed and grace into glad following?

    Not the wolf pack
    Taught savage instinct love,
    For there to lack
    The power to slay was to be hunger-slain;
    Once down, a prey,
    A stain
    Of crimson on the snow, a tuft of gray.

    Was it from us
    They learned such loyal love
    Magnanimous,
    Meeting our injuries with trustful eyes?
    Are we so true,
    So wise,
    So broken-hearted when love's day is through?

    Where did they learn
    The miracle of love?
    Though beauty burn
    In rainbow, foam and flame, these have not heard,
    Nor trees and flowers,
    That word.
    Only our dogs would give their lives for ours.



HOME STUDIES

    "Thou know'st whate'er I see, read, learn,
      Related to thy species, friend,
    I tell thee, hoping it may turn
    To thine advantage--so attend."

    --Caroline Bowles Southey's _Conte à Mon Chien_.


In pursuance of this curriculum, while Joy-of-Life sat on the floor
beside Sigurd for a good-night brush of his gleaming coat, I would read
to them from any canine classic that chanced to be at hand,--_Rab and
His Friends_, _Bobby of Greyfriars_, _My Dogs of the Northland_, _The
Call of the Wild_, _Bob_, _Son of Battle_, John Muir's vivid story of
his Stickeen, Maeterlinck's brooding biography of his Pelleas with the
bulging forehead of Socrates, or De Amicis' touching account of his
blessed mongrel, Dick. When Sigurd grew restless under his toilet and
wanted to jump up and play, we would tell him how the great dog Kitmer,
the only animal besides Balaam's ass and the camel that carried Mahomet
on his flight from Mecca to be admitted into the Moslem paradise, had
"stretched forth his forelegs" for three hundred years in the mouth of
a cave, mounting guard over the Seven Sleepers.

Joy-of-Life, who was an historian as well as an economist and had
written, despite the annoyance of being confined to the same set of
dates and dynasties, three histories of England, would reach down from
her book shelves some high authority and read us, perhaps, Plutarch's
report of the watchdog, Cipparus, who guarded the temple of Æsculapius
at Athens so well that when a thief slipped off with some of the
precious offerings, he went after in unrelenting pursuit. "First, the
man pelted him with stones, but Cipparus would not give up. When day
came, he kept at a little distance, but followed with his eye on the
man and, when the fellow threw him food, would not touch it. When the
man lay down, he spent the night by him; when he walked again, the dog
got up and kept following. Cipparus fawned on any wayfarers he met, but
kept barking at the thief. When the authorities, who were in chase,
heard of this from people who had met the pair and who described the
color and size of the dog, they pursued with yet more zeal, seized the
man and brought him back from Crommyon. The dog turned round and led
the way, proud and delighted, evidently claiming that _he_ had caught
the temple thief."

Another evening it would be Motley's account of the escape of the
Prince of Orange from a night raid sent out by the Duke of Alva, when
the Prince was encamped near Mons. "The sentinels were cut down, the
whole army surprised, and for a moment powerless, while, for two hours
long, from one o'clock in the morning until three, the Spaniards
butchered their foes, hardly aroused from their sleep, ignorant by how
small a force they had been thus suddenly surprised, and unable in the
confusion to distinguish between friend and foe. The boldest, led by
Julian in person, made at once for the Prince's tent. His guards and
himself were in profound sleep, but a small spaniel, who always passed
the night upon his bed, was a more faithful sentinel. The creature
sprang forward, barking furiously at the sound of hostile footsteps,
and scratching his master's face with his paws. There was but just time
for the Prince to mount a horse which was ready saddled, and to effect
his escape through the darkness, before his enemies sprang into the
tent. His servants were cut down, his master of the horse and two of
his secretaries, who gained their saddles a moment later, all lost
their lives, and but for the little dog's watchfulness, William of
Orange, upon whose shoulders the whole weight of his country's fortunes
depended, would have been led within a week to an ignominious death. To
his dying day, the Prince ever afterwards kept a spaniel of the same
race in his bed-chamber."

And well he might, and well, too, did the sculptors place a little dog
of marble or bronze at the feet of his royal statues hardly more silent
than himself, but what Sigurd and I clamored to know was whether, on
that wild night of September eleventh, 1572, the spaniel escaped with
his master or died with the servants and secretaries on Spanish steel,
and no historian, not even our own, could tell us. With the ancient
guile of teachers she would divert our attention from the question she
could not answer by relating something else,--how Denmark commemorates
a dog true to a deposed king in a high order of nobility whose motto
runs, _Wild-brat was faithful_. Or she would take down the first volume
of her well-worn _Heimskringla_ and excite Sigurd's young ambition by
the record of King Saur. For when Eyestein, King of the Uplands, had
harried Thrandheim and set his son over them, and they had slain the
son, then "King Eyestein fared a-warring the second time into
Thrandheim, and harried wide there, and laid folk under him. Then he
bade the Thrandheimers choose whether they would have for king his
thrall, who was called Thorir Faxi, or his hound, who was called Saur;
and they chose the second, deeming they would then the rather do their
own will. Then let they bewitch into the hound the wisdom of three men,
and he barked two words and spake the third. A collar was wrought for
him, and chains of gold and silver; and whenso the ways were miry, his
courtmen bare him on their shoulders. A high-seat was dight for him,
and he sat on howe as kings do; he dwelt at the Inner Isle, and had his
abode at the stead called Saur's Howe. And so say folk that he came to
his death in this wise, that the wolves fell on his flocks and herds,
and his courtmen egged him on to defend his sheep; so he leaped down
from his howe, and went to meet the wolves, but they straightway tore
him asunder."

On the whole, Sigurd preferred poetry, whose rhythm promptly put him to
sleep. It was all one to him whether Homer sang the joy-broken heart of
old Argus, over whom

                "the black night of death
    Came suddenly, as soon as he had seen
    Ulysses, absent now for twenty years,"

or Virgil chanted the device whereby Æneas and the Sibyl baffled the
giant watch-dog of Hades.

    "The three-mouthed bark of Cerberus here filleth all the place,
    As huge he lieth in a den that hath them full in face;
    But when the adders she beheld upon his crest up-borne,
    A sleepy morsel honey-steeped and blent of wizard's corn,
    She cast him: then his three-fold throat, all wild with hunger's lack,
    He opened wide, and caught at it, and sank his monstrous back,
    And there he lay upon the earth enormous through the cave."

Sigurd would softly thump his tail in cadence with the melancholy beat
of a dog elegy, whether Prior's tribute to the virtues of Queen Mary's
True, or Gay's ironic consolation to Celia on the death of her lap-dog
Shock, Cowper's impartial epitaphs for My Lord's pointer Neptune and My
Lady's spaniel Fop, Lehmann's memorial of his retriever, who

    "Chose, since official dogs at times unbend,
    The household cat for confidante and friend,"

Louise Imogen Guiney's lament for

    "All the sweet wavy
    Beauty of Davy,"

or Winifred Letts' apostrophe to the debonair collie Scott, or Hilton
Brown's tenderest of farewells to his Scotch terrier, Hamish.

                        "In the nether spaces
    Will the soul of a Little Black Dog despair?
    Will the Quiet Folk scare him with shadow-faces?
    And how will he tackle the Strange Beasts there?
    Tail held high, I'll warrant, and bristling,
    Marching stoutly if sore afraid,
    Padding it steadily, softly whistling;--
    That's how the Little Black Devil was made."

Sigurd lived too early to take part in the Free Verse controversy, but
he evinced an open mind on matters metrical in that he liked Lord
Byron's inscription for his Newfoundland Boatswain no better than Lord
Eldon's for his Newfoundland Cæsar. It was Sir William Watson's famous
quatrain, _An Epitaph_, that affected him most keenly, because it
invited emphasis on the one word that always brought him springing to
his feet.

    "His friends he loved. His fellest earthly foes
      --Cats--I believe he did but feign to hate.
    My hand will miss the insinuated nose,
      Mine eyes the tail that wagged contempt at Fate."

As Sigurd was duly shown _Canis Major_ in the ethereal heavens, so was
he introduced to certain starry dogs that shine in the skies of English
poetry,--the pampered "smale houndes" of Chaucer's Prioress, King
Lear's elegant little "Tray, Blanche, and Sweetheart," dear, clownish
Crab, and all that pack of rich-voiced hunting hounds whose "gallant
chiding" rings through Elizabethan literature. The boy Will Shakespeare
must often have hearkened to the hounds, "match'd in mouth like bells,"
coursing the Cotswolds, Silver and Belman and Sweetlips and Echo, their
heads hung "with ears that sweep away the morning dew," the "speed of
the cry" outrunning his "sense of hearing."

Sigurd was but mildly interested when we told him that in George
Eliot's novels there were over fifty dogs, ranging all the way from pug
to mastiff, nor did he care greatly for Dickens' dogs, not even
blundering, ill-favored, clumsy, "bullet-headed" Diogenes, Florence
Dombey's comforter, nor the bandy leader of Jerry's dancing troupe,
who, because of a lost half-penny, had to grind out Old Hundred on the
barrel-organ while his companions devoured their supper--and his; but
Scott's dogs, from fleet Lufra of _The Lady of the Lake_ to the Dandy
Dinmonts of _Guy Mannering_,--"There's auld Pepper and auld Mustard,
and young Pepper and young Mustard, and little Pepper and little
Mustard"--made him blink and prick up his ears. Thus encouraged, I
would tell him of Sir Walter's love for all his home dogs and most of
all for the tall stag-hound Maida; how Herrick wept for his spaniel
Tracy; how Southey grieved when his "poor old friend" Phillis, another
spaniel, was drowned; how Landor delighted in dogs from the boyhood
when he boxed with Captain behind the coach house door to the extreme
old age whose loneliness was solaced by two silky-coated Pomeranians,
first, in Bath, by the golden Pomero, who would bark an ecstatic
accompaniment to his master's tremendous explosions of laughter, and
then, in Florence, by Giallo, whose opinions on politics and letters
the snowy-bearded poet would quote with humorous respect; how Nero, a
Maltese fringy-paws, brightened the somber home of the Carlyles; and
how Pope's favorite dog was, as he bitterly suggests, not unlike
himself in being "a little one, a lean one, and none of the finest
shaped." If Sigurd seemed responsive, I might go on with accounts of
Mrs. Browning's Flush; of Hogg's Hector, "auld, towzy, trusty friend";
of Arnold's dachshunds, Geist, Max and Kaiser; of Gilder's Leo,

    "Leo the shaggy, the lustrous, the giant, the gentle Newfoundland,"

of Lehman's "flop-eared" Rufus, and of Miss Letts' terrier Tim in his
"wheaten-colored coat."

Lest Sigurd should get the impression that the globe was populated
chiefly by poets, Joy-of-Life would strike in with anecdotes of the
little dogs that frisked about Frederick the Great, and Charles II, the
Merry Monarch, and tell how Edward VII's last pet, Cæsar, a fox
terrier, trotted mournfully in the funeral procession behind Kildare,
the royal charger; or she would "unmuzzle her wisdom" to the point of
declaring that the kings of Babylon and Nineveh had their favorite
hunting hounds with tails curled up over the back and collars wrought
in the form of leafy wreaths. She would inform Sigurd, who took it
flippantly, that solemn burial honors had been paid to dogs in ancient
times, that the Egyptians held them sacred and religiously embalmed
their bodies, and that many a Celtic chief and Norland viking lies more
quiet beneath his cairn because his noblest deerhound slumbers at his
feet. Or perhaps she would relate, for our collie's ethical guidance,
celebrated deeds of hero dogs. Sigurd would grunt and grumble in
sympathy with her deep tones as she chanted the famous ballad of Beth
Gêlert, that "peerless hound" whose fidelity cost him his life, or of
the twice-sung terrier, haunter of Helvellyn, who for three months kept
watch beside her master's body at the foot of the fatal precipice.
Sigurd did not care for Wordsworth as much as Wordsworth would have
cared for him, but he loved Little Music, striving in vain to save her
fellow Dart under whose speed the river-ice had broken.

On one of those fortunate evenings when we had the Dryad with us,
Sigurd would listen with waxing incredulity to legends of King Arthur's
hound Cavall, whose paw left its print on British rock; of Merlin's
demon dog, black with red ears, akin to the little black dog that
danced about Faustus, sending out flying flames from its feet; of
Fingal's Bran and his last chase after the enchanted snow-white hart;
and of Tristram's faithful Hodain, who licked the dregs from the cup of
love which the knight and Queen Iseult had quaffed together. Sigurd was
frankly skeptical about those

    "Half a hundred good ban-dogs"

of Fountains Abbey, who, whistled to his help by the fighting friar,
gave Robin Hood and his archers not a little trouble.

    "Two dogs at once to Robin Hood did go,
      T'one behind, the other before;
    Robin Hood's mantle of Lincoln green
      Off from his back they tore.

    "And whether his men shot east or west,
      Or they shot north or south,
    The curtal dogs, so taught they were,
      They caught the arrows in their mouth."

But Petit-Crin, the fairy dog from Avalon that Tristram gave to Iseult,
was more than any honest collie could endure.

"No tongue could tell the marvel of it; 'twas of such wondrous fashion
that no man might say of what color it was. If one looked on the
breast, and saw naught else, one had said 'twas white as snow, yet its
thighs were greener than clover, and its sides, one red as scarlet, the
other more yellow than saffron. Its under parts were even as azure,
while above 'twas mingled, so that no one color might be distinguished;
'twas neither green nor red, white nor black, yellow nor blue, and yet
there was somewhat of all these therein; 'twas a fair purple brown. And
if one saw this strange creation of Avalon against the lie of the hair
there would be no man wise enough to tell its color, so manifold and
changing were its hues.

"Around its neck was a golden chain, and therefrom hung a bell, which
rang so sweet and clear when it began to chime Tristram forgot his
sadness and his sorrow, and the longing for Iseult that lay heavy at
his heart. So sweet was the tone of the bell that no man heard it but
he straightway forgat all that aforetime had troubled him.

"Tristram hearkened, and gazed on this wondrous marvel; he took note of
the dog and the bell, the changing colors of the hair, and the sweet
sound of the chimes; and it seemed to him that the marvel of the dog
was greater than that of the music which rang in his ears, and banished
all thought of sorrow.

"He stretched forth his hand and stroked the dog, and it seemed to him
that he handled the softest silk, so fine and so smooth was the hair to
his touch. And the dog neither growled, nor barked, nor showed any sign
of ill temper, however one might play with it; nor, as the tale goes,
was it ever seen to eat or to drink."

At this point, Sigurd rose, shook himself and stalked out to the
kitchen. He could bear a great deal from his pedantic mistresses, but
there were limits. Satiated with history and literature, he proposed to
relax his mind by a turn at psychology.

From Cecilia's successor, Ellen, Sigurd was taking a brief but vivid
course in psychics. To be sure, a _bona fide_ professor in that field
dwelt near us, her high-picketed fence enclosing a baker's dozen of
spaniels. It was understood, to the awe of the community, that by their
aid she investigated certain dark corners of her shadowy subject;
but Sigurd, embarrassed by the attentions thrust upon him by the
grandmother of the spaniel family, rested content with his unacademic
tutor.

"Poor Ellen," as she invariably called herself, was a small, wiry,
nut-brown Irish woman, whose gray hair rose erect, as if just
affrighted by pouke or pixy, from above a constantly wrinkling forehead
and a pair of snapping jet eyes. She must have been on the borders of
insanity, if not across, when she came to us. She was a furious worker,
cycloning about the house with mop and broom at all hours and not
hesitating to upbraid the college president herself, most benign and
punctilious of ladies, if her boots brought one speck of mud into "Poor
Ellen's clane hall." Her chief pride, however, was in her frugality, as
we discovered to our dismay on her second afternoon, when, as it often
happily chanced, the Dryad, then living on the campus, dropped in for a
call and consented to remain for dinner.

It was a simple matter, in our informal way of life, to call back from
the piazza through the hall to the figure setting the table in the
dining room:

"Lay another plate, please, Ellen. Our friend stays to dine with us."

But the wail that succeeded nearly slew our friend by throwing her into
an agony of suppressed laughter.

"Mother of God! Isn't that the burning shame! And me maning the three
chops should do us all!"

Ellen had been with us but a few days, though the house was already so
scoured and polished that we scarcely dared set foot on our own floors,
when a prolonged season of sultry weather broke in a tremendous
thunderstorm. These thunderstorms were always a challenge to Sigurd's
valor. At the first crash he would pluckily make for the porch, where,
flinging up his head, he would cast back one defiant bark to that
Superdog in the skies; then, scared by his own audacity, he would
usually bolt upstairs and take refuge under a bed. But this time he
fled, with the second shattering peal, to Ellen, who was rocking
herself, a crouching, huddled figure, to and fro on the cellar stairs,
screaming in a weird, blood-curdling chant:

"Mercy of God! Poor Ellen belaves in God the Father and in the Holy
Mother of God and in all the blissid saints of heaven. Oh, grace of
Mary! Poor Ellen belaves in thim all. Good Lord, you never kilt Poor
Ellen yet and you wouldn't be after doing it now whin her bones be old
and her heart a nest of sorrows. The Lord look down in pity on the
poor."

With Sigurd hugged tight, Ellen's shrieks gradually sank into sob and
moan, and from that hour he was her one confidante and comrade. Not
even in him would she allow the least untidiness, but would fly to meet
him at the threshold, picking up each paw in turn and manicuring it in
her apron, and would insist, despite our remonstrances, in squatting
down outside the back door and feeding his dinner to him, bit by bit,
lest "Gobble-mouth" drop crumbs and gravy on "Poor Ellen's clane
gravel."

Sigurd found this fellowship at his meals so entrancing that he would
eat even baked beans from Ellen's lean brown fingers and would take
advantage of her society to get twice as much dinner as was good for
him. When his dish was empty and polished bright, under Ellen's
approving eye, by his circling tongue, he would promenade dolefully
about the kitchen, peering with an air of deep dejection into coal hod
and wood basket, as if he were starved to a diet of cinders and
kindlings, well aware that behind his back Ellen was heaping his dish
anew. Her excess of thrift, from which our own table suffered, was
never brought to bear on Sigurd.

As he ate, she would tell him long stories of her childhood in hungry
Ireland and of her hard, bewildered, wandering life in the Land of
Promise. Only once was I guilty of pausing by the kitchen door to
listen.

"It was the place afore this, Darlint, or maybe the place afore that,
or maybe another, that Old Goldtooth wedded my widow woman and took her
to New York for the shows. He'd been drinking more than a drop the day
and he says, 'Let's bring Poor Ellen along, for the fun of it. You can
lend her your second-best bonnet, for there's money to buy more in New
York.' But it wasn't her second-best, nor yet her third, the comical
thing she set on me. To a hotel in New York he took us and a grand feed
he gave us. Thin off to the show they wint, and he put a newspaper in
my hand, and opened up at a page with niver a picture on it, and he
told me to sit there like a lady and read about Boarding Houses. So
there was Poor Ellen all that avening, and long it was as a rosary of
nights, holding up that paper, with the quare letters, all sizes,
dancing over it, and reading about Boarding Houses. But whin they came
back--O Darlint, the saints defind us!--he told me it was about the
Borden Murder I'd been reading, not Boarding Houses at all, and Poor
Ellen not sensing a scratch of it, or sure she'd been scared into a
fit. Don't let thim tache you to read their books, Darlint, for sure
there's no knowing what the black words might be saying."

But although this is the only outpouring of Ellen's confidence to
Sigurd at which I played eavesdropper, too often her mad screeches
would bring us pell-mell into the kitchen where we would find the two
of them wrought to a state of highest excitement. Once Sigurd, lying at
full length, was squeezing a hollow rubber ball between his lips,
making it emit harrowing squeaks that Ellen, hopping grotesquely up and
down, identified as the cries of an imprisoned banshee. Another time
she had one arm clasped about Sigurd's neck and with the other hand was
pounding her little alarm clock on the floor, entreating him, "Bite the
feaver whin it jumps out, Darlint. A year ago by this clock it was that
Poor Ellen had the feaver and died and she has been in the Fire ever
since."

Again we heard sounds of scuffling and struggle, punctuated by
desperate screams from Ellen and furious barks from Sigurd. The kitchen
was in a whirlwind, but Ellen was presently calmed enough to explain to
us in terrified gasps that the demons were trying to drag her away from
the throne of God and that she had set Sigurd on her tormentors. Our
gallant collie evidently drove off the fiends, for Ellen's passion of
resistance suddenly ceased and, sinking to the floor, she hid her
convulsed face in Sigurd's ruff, wailing, "But next time they'll get
me. Poor Ellen! Poor Ellen! It's a sore and sorry life she's had, and
to come to the Pain in the end!"

On the last night of Ellen's stay with us,--for we had arranged,
without telling her, to have the crazy old creature transferred to the
office of a friendly physician, where her prowess with the
scrubbing-brush would be appreciated and her mental peculiarities be
under wise and humane observation--an ear-splitting yell once more
summoned us post-haste to the kitchen. Sigurd, erect on rigid legs, was
staring with an uncanny fixity of gaze on vacancy, while Ellen, on her
knees, wringing her hands above her head, was alternately abjuring him
and Heaven.

"O Darlint, is it my death ye're after seeing now? Is it Poor Ellen
with the candles at head and feet? Och, let me go! I lave this house
to-night. It's not Poor Ellen will bide with a dog does be looking at
her own ghost."

"Nonsense, Ellen!" protested Joy-of-Life, interposing her strong,
wholesome presence between the distracted old woman and the outside
door. "There are no ghosts here. Sigurd is only looking at the wall.
Perhaps he heard a rat or a mouse in there."

"_Ouch!_" shrilled Ellen, dodging out of the door in a fresh paroxysm
of fright. "Rats and mice is it! Rats and mice do be the black spirits
come to gnaw out our brains. And here they've come for Poor Ellen's
wits. They chase Poor Ellen wherever she goes. But she'll give thim the
slip on the morrow."

While Joy-of-Life brought Ellen in, quieted her with malted milk and
sent her to bed, I puzzled over Sigurd, whose staring eyes and
bristling hair still gave evidence of something we could not discern.
Other observers of dog conduct have testified to occurrences of this
kind, as, very recently, the master of a red cocker spaniel (Walter E.
Carr in _The Story of Five Dogs_) and from far antiquity the Arabs, who
hold that a dog can see the wings of the Angel of Death hovering over
the one for whom Azrael has been sent.

Ellen came down in the morning, still determined on departure and
entirely content with the place we had secured for her. All that day
through she was her most cleanly, thrifty and cheerful self. Nothing
would do but she must sweep the whole house from attic to cellar,
especially scouring her own room until it was pure enough for Diana.
Pleased with the bustle of packing and getting off, evidently an
habitual state of things with Poor Ellen, she graced her farewell with
a flourish of economical courtesies. She presented Joy-of-Life with a
banana which she had blarneyed from our Italian fruit-vender, and gave
me a little jar of cream, begged or bullied from the milkman in the
early dawn. As for Sigurd, she made him a square foot of his favorite
corn bread and hung a Catholic medal to his collar. She went off in the
best of humor, greatly set up by her own cleverness in having been able
to make, so cheaply, such suitable good-by gifts. When the expressman
came for her shabby, bulging bag, she treated him to such a nice little
luncheon of cookies and lemonade that he offered her a ride to the
station. From the driver's lofty seat she waved us a queenly adieu,
calling back: "The Lord loves Poor Ellen, after all." Sigurd ran with
the wagon as far as the corner. The last we saw of his psychic
instructor, she was kissing her workworn hands to him and shrilling
back endearments.



THE PLEADERS


    Before the Majesty of Most High God
      The gentlest of the glad Archangels came;
    Swift down the emerald avenue he trod,
      His eager sandals quivering to flame.
    Close at his heels there frisked a dog, his mate
      In bygone journeyings with young Tobias,
    A dog "without," whose love had dared the gate,
      Scenting the steps of Brother Azarias,
    So-called in those blithe morns when, laughing-eyed,
      By thorn and myrrh, the dew on every stem,
    He led the son of Tobit to his bride,
      And the lad's dog went leaping after them.

    The little winds that in those sunrise-flushed,
      Fleet plumes had nestled, to the harpstrings flew
    To learn gold melodies for May, but hushed
      Was all that glory till a Voice pealed through:
    "Mine Angel Raphael, of the Holy Seven
      Who lift the prayers of saints before the Throne,
    What wild, unworded anguish troubles Heaven,
      To man's appeal the wailing undertone?
    Men's orisons for Peace, for Peace, for Peace,
      Smothered the psalms of Paradise, until
    I bade that vain and bitter crying cease.
      My will is Peace. Let mortals do my will."

    Before the shining of the Mercy Seat
      The Angel raised a censer. "Lord, I bring
    The screams of shell-torn horses, thrashing feet
      Of mangled mules, the pigeon's broken wing,
    Gasping of dogs gas-tortured, wounds and woe
      Of myriad creatures by Thy breath endowed
    With being. Theirs the prayers that overflow
      This vessel by whose weight my heart is bowed."
    Ah, strange to see that poor, vague incense rise,
      Dim supplication crossed by fragrances
    Of courage, faithfulness, self-sacrifice
      Even of these brute martyrs, even of these.

    "Brother of Sorrows, bear to man those groans
      Of a creation that I fashioned well
    And gave to his dominion,--man, who owns
      One morning star to make it heaven or hell.
    I am but God, a Pity throned above
      To watch the sparrow's fall, to feel its throes
    And wait the slow, sweet blossoming of love,
      Small, kindly loves from which the Great Love grows."
    Then Raphael, Healer of the Earth, bowed thrice,
      Withdrawing through the ranks of seraphim
    Who smiled to see how, scorning Paradise,
      On frolic feet the dog sped after him.



COLLEGE CAREER

    "Thy faith is all the knowledge that thou hast."

    --Jonson's _Epigrams_, XVIII.


Whatever may be thought of Sigurd's college career, there can be no
doubt that he careered through college. He was at the top of bliss in a
mad run over the campus. With streaming ruff and tail he would rush on
like Lelaps, the wild hound of Cephalus on the trail of the monstrous
fox sent by a slighted goddess to harass the Thebans and, like Lelaps
when the Olympians chose to make the chase eternal by turning both dog
and fox to stone, Sigurd would come to a sudden stop on the brow of a
hill, standing out against the sky like a collie statue poised for
running.

Joy-of-Life could cross the broad meadow almost as lightly and swiftly
as he and their morning pilgrimages to chapel were expeditions of high
glory. There were hundreds of girls abroad at that hour and often
Sigurd would wheel from the path and dash jubilantly toward any figure
that took his fancy, confident of welcome. But if the individual
chanced to be a new freshman, not yet acquainted with the college
dignitaries, she might meet his advances with fear or annoyance or a
still more cutting indifference. Then Sigurd would droop those
expectant ears of his and return with dignity to his forsaken comrade.
If his greeting were properly reciprocated, he would ramp joyously upon
his fellow student and prance about her, leaping to the height of her
shoulders in his ecstasy of good-will.

His favorite laboratory was Lake Waban. In the summer afternoons he
would tease to have us both escort him up for his swim and if on the
way we tried to part company, one or the other turning aside for a more
pressing errand, Sigurd would herd us with ancestral art, jumping upon
the deserter and gently pushing her back, or standing in the path to
block her progress, protesting all the while with coaxing whines, with
expostulary barks and with all manner of collie eloquence. If we
walked, on the other hand, close together, absorbed in talk, he would
jealously push in between us, as he often did when we were having a
fireside tête-à-tête or bidding each other good night. He wished us to
understand that Sigurd was the one to be loved and that all affections
not directed toward Sigurd were superfluous. But when we both accepted
his invitation to the lake, the three hundred acres of the college park
hardly sufficed for his antics. Curveting about us till he seemed to be
ten collies at once, flashing in ever widening circles over the level
and over the slopes, bounding upon us with a storm of gleeful sneezes,
he would lead the way to Sigurd's Tub, as he considered it. If some one
fell in with us and joined us on the walk, Sigurd, always of courteous
instinct, would drop back and follow demurely, or amuse himself at a
decorous distance by investigating holes, chasing squirrels and
striving with wild springs, scrambles, clawings, to climb the trees
from whose boughs they mocked his clumsy efforts. But how rejoiced he
would be when the interloper turned off! "There! Gone at last! Now we
_will_ have fun, all by ourselves!" Then he would cast about for some
doughty deed to do, longing to dazzle us by a prodigious feat of
strength and skill. If he could find a young tree that our too
efficient forestry had cut down he would drag it along, bite and break
away its branches, seize it by the middle and balance it in his mouth
as a long pole, constantly lifting his bright eyes to us for
admiration.

Once arrived at the lake, it was our duty to find sticks and fling them
out over the water to the extent of our strength, while Sigurd swam for
them, the farther the better. As he would gallantly splash up from the
shallows and, stick in mouth, climb the bushy bank, we had to run from
the mighty shaking with which, delivering the prize, he loved to give
us a shower-bath. After a few such plunges, Sigurd, while we rested on
the bank, would appropriate the green apron of Mother Earth for a
towel, rolling over and over on the turf to dry himself and completing
the process by scampers in the sun. He disliked being wet, for although
these swims in the lake ranked among his prime delights, at home he
always resented and resisted a bath and, on a showery day, would often
run in to the towel rack, pleading to be wiped dry, and would then
forthwith run out into the rain again. In our hottest weather he would
slip off alone in the early morning to that still lake all sweet with
water-lilies and would be gone for hours. A few times, in his younger
years, our anxiety took us by mid-day to the shore, whence we would see
a yellow head well out in the water. At our whistle, Sigurd would turn
and swim back to us with an air of surprise and pleasure as if he had
quite forgotten that such dear friends were to be found on land. The
outcome was not so happy when, tormented in his fur coat by the heat,
he had stolen off to one of his secret mire-pits and indulged in a cool
wallow. When he came home plastered and perfumed from head to tail, we
would greet him with exclamations of disgust, which brought the Byronic
melancholy into his eyes, hustle him off to the rocks behind the house,
fling pailfuls of warm water over him and do our best to scrape off his
pollutions. On one of these occasions, a college-girl lover and Wallace
raced him up to Waban and scrubbed and rinsed him until, so they said,
the entire lake had changed color.

In the autumn term Sigurd would take a special course in harvesting,
frisking through a neighboring orchard and playing ball with the
falling apples. The winter term he gave mainly to athletics and
dramatics. How bewildered he was that first snowy morning when he ran
out into a strange white ravine bounded by slippery walls and when,
desperately lunging over one of these, he felt himself floundering in a
drift! His first dubious venture on a crackling sheet of ice taxed his
puppy courage, too, but he persisted in his quivering progress across
our little Longfellow Pond and swaggered up the further side with his
jauntiest sporting air. In later years he enjoyed nothing better than
going skating with Lady Blanche, another member of our changeful
household, and on a stinging January morning he would outdo the
frolics, that Cowper smiled to watch, of the dog who

                                "with many a frisk
    Wide scampering, snatches up the drifted snow
    With ivory teeth, or ploughs it with his snout;
    Then shakes his powder'd coat, and barks for joy."

As for dramatics, Sigurd loved to thrust his stick deep into a pile of
russet leaves or sparkling snow, and then pretend that he was a
sanguinary monster whose prey had escaped him, and dig and nose and
scrape and scatter and tear and shuffle with frenzied energy, rumbling
all the while growls of awful menace, until he had tossed it up to
seize and worry, display to the audience always requisite for these
performances, and then bury it again for a repetition of the melodrama.

When the winter storms kept him in, his surging vitality made him as
restless as an imprisoned wind. If the Cave of Æolus boasted a
housekeeper, she had our sympathy. All day long Sigurd would scoot and
spin about the little range of rooms that we liked to have quiet and
orderly, a very electric battery of mischief. He would pick quarrels
with the rugs, scatter the pile of newspapers and dance a scandalous
jig with that elderly, respectable Bostonian, _The Transcript_. He
would bump into a gracefully leaning broom and a meditative mop,
knocking their wooden wits together and bringing them to the floor with
what he considered a beautiful bang. He would stir up civil war on the
hearth till poker and tongs and dust-brush and bellows all set upon one
another with hideous clang of combat. At last we would toss over to
him, in desperation, an old pair of rubbers, and he would make love to
one and try to swallow the other, playing as many parts as Bottom
longed for, all the way from Pyramus to Lion.

A new stage was provided for him when the storm was over and we
undertook to shovel the drift off the piazza. He would instantly claim
the star rôle of rival shovel, pawing the powdery heaps with delirious
zest, or he would be the snow itself, ecstatically indignant at being
swept down the steps. He played thrilling tragi-comedies with bones,
too, especially with one monstrous knuckle that might have belonged to
the skeleton of Polyphemus, the prize of one of Sigurd's evening
prowls. It was a bitter cold midnight, but our happy rebel, sporting
with that giant joint, tossing it about in the snow, losing it on
purpose, catching its glimmer by grace of the moon and madly pouncing
on it once more, would not obey the bed-time whistle. He stretched
himself out, a saffron blotch on the white, and hugged his treasure,
crunching away persuasively to convince us that the clock was wrong and
it was still only dinner time. Our ignominious resort, in such a case,
was to fetch from a certain pantry box, the daily object of Sigurd's
supplicating sniffs, a piece of cake, and proceed to eat it, with
vulgar smack of ostentatious relish, in the doorway, under the electric
light. As ever, this stratagem brought our mutineer to terms. Giving
the bone a last affectionate lick, he came bounding into the hall in
time for the crumbs. But his high spirits were far from spent. Though
he consented to play Yellow Caterpillar, curling up in the blanketed
round clothes-basket which, for the winter, displaced his
Thunder-and-Lightning rug, he barked so often through the small hours,
in his dreams or out, that our slumbers were literally curtailed.
Rebuked into silence, he gnawed his leash in two, tipped over his
basket and settled himself for a morning snooze on the forbidden
lounge.

It is obvious that Sigurd was not a model of virtue. We did not want
him so much better than ourselves. "That dog would be improved by a
good licking," said Joy-of-Life's visiting elder brother. But with all
respect for elder brothers--my own had nearly hanged Sigurd by an
ingenious contrivance of ropes and loops designed to enable me to
unleash him on a summer morning from my sleeping balcony--we decided
that we would rather have our collie with all his frolic imperfections
on his head than cowed into slavish obedience. Only once when, hardly
out of puppyhood, he dashed from my side, as we were walking decorously
on the sidewalk, and danced backward on his hind legs in front of a
dodging automobile, out-barking its distracted horn, did I attempt to
whip him. He had barely escaped with life and limb and, determined to
impress him, for his own safety, with his wrong-doing, I caught him by
the collar, doubled the leash which I still carried but had almost
ceased to use, and began to beat him with it about the head. Sigurd's
astonished yelp was answered in an instant from the side street where
dwelt the Sisters and, like a white knight of chivalry, Laddie came
charging out, thrusting himself between us, leaping upon me and
demanding, with a wrath seldom seen in his gentle eyes, that I stop
maltreating his twin.

Of course the brothers took the chance to run away together. It was
slushy going and when Sigurd came home at seven o'clock, so tired that
he could hardly drag one muddy foot after another, he was in shocking
trim, his white hose and shirt-front soaked to a disreputable gray. It
was unlucky, for his amateur dramatics were to be crowned that evening
by a public part on the college stage. He was to be Faithful Dog,
watching beside his master,--a forgotten hero of the Revolution,--as
that gallant young lieutenant slept away the hour before daybreak, when
he was to be executed as a spy. At a low whistle of the rescuer beneath
the window, Faithful Dog was to arouse his master by placing a wary paw
upon the sleeper's breast and, when the lieutenant had made good his
escape, remain behind to face the angry guard and be shot extremely
dead in his master's place. Sigurd had thrown himself into this noble
rôle with enthusiasm and rehearsed it several times with distinguished
success.

An escort of sophomores had been waiting for him in an agony of
impatience and, when he at last arrived, there could be no thought of
dinner or a nap. Sigurd was hustled down to the laundry, put through
merciless ablutions and rushed off to the college barn, our impromptu
theater, in the snug little vehicle that our liveryman called his
"coop." Three or four girls were sardined in with him, flourishing
towels and doing their best to scrub him dry on the way. But it was a
ruffled, soapsudsy and excessively drowsy Faithful Dog that trotted out
upon the stage, yawned in the face of the rapturous greeting of his
congregated friends, the Barn Swallows, jumped up on the prison cot,
never meant for him, and rolled himself into a solid slumber-ball,
refusing to wake, not even so much as blink, from first to last of the
drama. With natural presence of mind, an essential quality in spies,
the hero soliloquized to the audience that his Faithful Dog had been
drugged, evoking a round of applause at which Sigurd dreamily flapped
his tail.

One rôle that he never could be induced to play was that of Dandy. One
Sunday afternoon, when he came limping in with his feet all cut and
sore from a morning frisk over rough ice, I dressed them in discarded
white kid gloves, tying each firmly round the ankle, and started out
with Sigurd for a call on the Dryad. But our sturdy Viking resented
such dudish apparel and would flump down, at brief intervals, on the
crusted drifts and tug away at that detested frippery with the result
that, on his arrival, only the paw he thrust out at his amused hostess
was still elegant in a tatter of white kid.

Sigurd believed in elective courses rather than required. There were
certain things that, as a matter of principle, he persistently refused
to learn. Though by nature a dig, as my sister's flower-beds too often
testified, not her most fervent remonstrances could convince him that
bulbs and bones should not be planted together. His general attitude
toward education was not unique. He had "come to college for the life."
From the narrow paths of learning he bounded off in pursuit of a
"well-rounded development." His social engagements were numerous and
pressing. Often he had not time, between afternoon tea in one dormitory
and a birthday spread in another, to scamper home for the plain
parenthesis of a dog-biscuit dinner. Sometimes we would hear our
truant, in the small hours, drop down upon the porch with a thud of
utter exhaustion, and would learn by degrees, during the next day or
two, that he had gone with a botany or geology class on a long morning
tramp, played hare and hounds with one of the athletic teams all the
afternoon and paraded the town till midnight with a serenading party.
Often in the spring weather we would not set eyes on him for two days
running, or might, perhaps, catch a passing glimpse of our collie
standing expectant on the stone wall by the East Lodge, watching the
stream of girls and waiting for his next invitation. He would dutifully
greet us with a bark and a caper and, if we were driving, jump down to
follow the carriage, but if one of his student chums came tripping
along and threw her arms about him, showering kisses on his sunny head,
Sigurd would flourish his tail in rapturous response and off the two
would race to "Math." or "Lit." or "Chem." or "Comp." or whatever other
branch of knowledge Young America cannot spare breath to pronounce.

We would often see him lying impartially across the knees of a group of
girls studying together in some green nook, his plume waving in the
faces clustered over Horace or Livy. He had nothing but admiration for
such guileless renderings as "The swift hunter pursuing the leper" or
"He landed his boats in the sea," and the harder these latter-day
Humanists hugged him, the more he sneezed and yawned in a very
embarrassment of joy, though when, absorbed in subjunctives, they
pinched his silky ears a trifle too hard, he would quietly withdraw and
hunt up a stick for them to throw for Sigurd. Not all his mates were
wise in their good-will. They would pick up and toss, for him to chase
and worry, rough-broken, splintery pieces of painted board or anything
that came handy, and presently a lugubrious dog would appear before his
family, laying at our feet, perhaps, a well-licked strip of picket
fence, and lifting for our ministrations a bleeding mouth, where the
red was mingled with a stain of sickly green.

Sigurd took all manner of liberties even with seniors. At home, though
he would gaze into the refrigerator with deep interest, he never
ventured to insert so much as his nose, and though a dish of candies
might be standing on a low table easily in reach, he merely looked and
waggled. Only once, on a Tophet-hot afternoon, while a guest, absorbed
in talk, sat oblivious of the plate of ice-cream melting on her knee,
did Sigurd slip in his craving tongue and accelerate the process. But
with the college girls he knew no such restraints. He was familiar with
all their chafing-dish corners and, entering by any door he found ajar,
he would help himself to a lunch of fudge and wafers before looking
about to choose the softest heap of couch cushions for his nap. When a
cut foot made walking painful, he would prevail upon the girls to carry
him, great fellow that he was, and we would sometimes come upon him
dangling across a slender hand-chair, while his panting bearers
struggled up the hill to College Hall. On seeing us, he would scramble
down and sheepishly make off with an exaggerated limp. Once we chanced
on a group of freshmen holding a picnic party with King Sigurd
enthroned on a mossy log in the center, his gilt-paper crown tipped
rakishly over one eye. He delighted in picnics, cross-country walks,
the May-day frolic on the campus, and constantly imperiled his life by
frisking about on tennis court, golf links and archery fields. The
girls would use him as a postman, sending him from one to another with
notes, not always delivered, swinging from his collar, and he often
appeared at the door of a college fair or other festivity wearing the
ticket which some lavish chum had bought for him. He was about the
college grounds and buildings so much that we feared he might become a
nuisance, as well as depart from the few principles of collie conduct
we had labored to instill. Much to his indignation, therefore, we made
him address to the students, through the columns of our little college
weekly,

    A DOGGEREL PETITION

    Sigurd begs to say to his friends
    That for certain inscrutable ends,
    Quite apart from his own sweet way,
    There are laws he ought to obey;
    And because the sight of a girl
    Puts the tip of his tail in a curl,
    And sends, with a pit-a-pat start,
    The commandments out of his heart,
    He has to entreat you should
    All help poor Sigurd be good.
    'Tisn't easy to choke one's barks,
    With squirrels making remarks;
    'Tisn't easy to travel home
    With girls enticing to roam.
    All nice things seem to be naughty;
    So it's not that Sigurd's grown haughty,
    When he meets you at eve on the meadow,
    A yellow scud in the shadow,
    And passes your grocery bag
    With only a wistful wag.
    The New Year's good resolutions,
    If broken, bring retributions;
    So Sigurd beseeches--'tis hard--
    That you shouldn't call him off guard;
    Nor tempt that inquisitive rover,
    That affectionate follower, over
    The threshold of College Hall;
    Nor let him trustfully sprawl
    In the pathway of many feet.
    And don't, though the sin is sweet,
    Don't, for the gleam of his eyes,
    His expectant ears' uprise,
    For his nose's coaxing nudge,
    Feed Sigurd infinite fudge.

That helped him through with one generation of college girls, but after
three or four years a fresh appeal had to be made, especially in view
of the fact that Sigurd had suddenly resumed the dangerous trick, first
taken up on his wild scampers with Laddie, of jumping at horses' heads,
and we found some of his younger classmates, for Sigurd belonged to
every class in turn, encouraging him in it, because he was "so pretty"
in his leaps. Hence once more he reluctantly lapsed into verse and
recommended to his intimates

    A NOSTRUM FOR SIGURD

    It is wrong to spring
      At a horse's nose;
    At that quivery thing
    It is wrong to spring.
    With tail for a wing
      I may chase the crows,
    But 'tis wrong to spring
      At a horse's nose.

    Call me back from the horses
      With _no_, _no_, _noes_;
    When I try snap courses
    Call me back from the horses.
    Though my remorse is
      A transient pose,
    Call me back from the horses
      With _no_, _no_, _noes_.

    I'm only a collie,
      As Wellesley knows;
    Though ever so jolly
    I'm only a collie.
    Save Sigurd from folly,
      For folly has foes,
    And I'm only a collie,
      As Wellesley knows.

There was a perilous season, after a village Airedale had unadvisedly
nipped a teasing small boy, when our hysterical local legislation
ordered all dogs into muzzles, commanding the police to shoot at sight
any canine wayfarer not so equipped. Sigurd, of course, detested his
muzzle and though he would sulkily fetch it when he saw us making ready
for a walk, he would growl at it and worry it until we had it snapped
on, when he would often turn mournfully back from the door or lie down
before it literally in flat rebellion, rather than take the air under
such humiliating and uncomfortable conditions. He soon began to
exercise his ingenuity, however, in the getting rid of that
encumbrance, and again and again, having gone forth a model of
compliance with the law, he would come bounding back, muzzleless,
triumphant, expecting congratulations. It was hard to find a make of
muzzle that he could not push off with his paws or scrape off under a
fence or rub off between close-growing trees, and impossible to find
one that he could not coax his compassionate girl-chums to take off for
him. Melted by his pleading whines, they would slip the muzzle down
from his jaws so that he wore it as a pendant over his white vest, a
compromise that perplexed our honest college policeman, who, Sigurd's
neighbor and friend, solved the problem by consistently turning his
back and refusing to see the dog at all. But one well-nigh fatal day a
special officer, called in by our stern selectmen for the purpose of
hunting down all lawless dogs, beheld Sigurd disporting himself in the
public road, his muzzle, as so often, gayly flapping under his chin.
According to the man's bewildered account, no sooner had he drawn his
revolver and taken good aim at the offender, than "a mob of girls,
coming from nowhere and everywhere," suddenly enveloped his intended
victim and swept the dog off in their midst to the campus. But the
officer had a determined jaw of his own. He kept watch for that fawn
collie and the next time he caught sight of Sigurd, again with a
swinging muzzle, he ran a rope through our poor boy's collar and was
dragging him off to the town lockup and execution ground when again an
excited throng of nymphs blocked the way.

"How can you be so cruel?" blazed one of Sigurd's fondest playmates, as
a dozen arms were thrown about the collie.

"I'm no rougher with that there dog than he is with me," protested the
young officer, purple not only through embarrassment but from the tug
of war in which he and Sigurd had been matching strength. "He may be
your college pet, but his manners ain't no-way ladylike."

Meanwhile one of the girlish hands caressing Sigurd's neck must have
succeeded in slipping a buckle, for suddenly his head shot back through
the collar, left as a keepsake to the dog-catcher, and our innocent was
far on his way toward the safe shelter of home.

This period of persecution extended over some months, for the muzzles
had a bad effect on dog tempers and there were more cases of snapping
and nipping than the town, in Sigurd's lifetime, had ever known, though
no trace of rabies was detected. It was an anxious season for
dog-owners. Our neighboring professor of psychology, she who
specialized in spaniels, was overheard by a guest one evening wearily
informing a new litter of eight:

"Puppies, this has been a sad day. This morning your ma bit the
postman, and this afternoon your pa bit the doctor."

It was a relief to many households when at last the selectmen put their
minds on something else.

Although Sigurd was a member of all classes, as well as faculty, and of
all societies, he bore, as mascot, a special relation to the Class of
1911, whose color he wore by grace of nature. Glorious he was to behold
on Field Day, his coat, well brushed for the occasion, glistening in
the sun, a great bow of yellow ribbon standing out like a butterfly
from the top of his collar, wagging all over with joyous
self-importance as he stood in the front rank of his class, impartially
barking applause for both their triumphs and defeats.

With him, as with the girls, the spring term was the climax of the
college year, though not precisely an academic climax. Sigurd still
found time to drop in at a lecture occasionally, flumping down beside
some favorite fellow-student for a brief repose and rousing now and
then to thrust up a sentimental paw for a shake. But he had many
class-meetings to attend, where, when "Further Remarks" were called
for, he has been known to respond with a loud bark,--a recognized
indecorum in the college buildings. But on the whole, he kept the rules
save in so far as he might be considered "a musical instrument" in use
"out of recreation hours."

The spring term bloomed out in guests like crocuses and Sigurd made a
point of attending as many as possible of the luncheons and teas given
in their honor. An English lady, a poet and a visionary, a presence
like a flame, was one afternoon addressing a choice assemblage in our
oriental parlor on the mysteries of the Bahist faith. A torch-bearer of
the Persian prophet, she was telling of her first interview with Ali
Baha on Mount Carmel.

"And the Master greeted me thus: 'O Child of the Kingdom!'"----

_Bump_ went something against the door, which swung wide, admitting
Sigurd, who saluted the company with a comprehensive wave of his tail.

"You beautiful creature!" cried the Englishwoman, winning him to her
with an outstretched hand, "I am sure _you_ are a Child of the
Kingdom," and Sigurd wagged, came up for a pat and dropped down at her
feet to slumber out the rest of her impassioned discourse, waking
promptly with the arrival of refreshments.

But our Child of the Kingdom, on the very day after he had received
this accolade, came home to dinner, for which he had no appetite, not
only with a deep scratch, inflicted by the claw of some profane,
anti-Bahist cat, down one side of his face, but with his white and
golden hair all matted in brown streaks and patches, in witness that a
freshman saucepan had spilled its fudge upon him. Where he could get at
himself to lick, he enjoyed it very much, but he was deplorably sticky
on top.

In the spring, too, there were more dogs about the campus, and battles
were frequent. In the interests of academic fellowship we did our best
to steer Sigurd clear of encounters with professorial champions,
especially Jerry, an Irish terrier who would fight with his own shadow
rather than not fight at all, but one morning our chapel vestibule was
the scene of an encounter that Isaac Watts might well have called
horrendous.

The aggressor was Coco, a fierce little Boston bull and the pride of
one of the town's most honored citizens. Coco fought by method and a
very effective method it was. He would sneak up to his chosen
antagonist, fly at the forehead, tear the flesh so that the streaming
blood blinded his enemy and then try for a grip on the throat. Half the
dogs in the village already bore Coco's mark when, one March morning,
Joy-of-Life and I went in to chapel, leaving Sigurd, as usual, to wait
for us outside. As a dog, whom we did not pause to identify, was
trotting down the avenue, we laid strict injunctions on Sigurd not to
get into a scrap.

The organ was calling all hearts to worship, and heads were already
bowed, when suddenly Sigurd, his earnest eyes trying in vain to explain
his difficulties, pressed in against our knees. This was a grave breach
of chapel decorum, and Joy-of-Life, rising instantly, led him down the
aisle. As she opened the door into the vestibule, Coco was upon him,
and the snarling fury of a dog-fight jarred against the solemn strains
of the organ. I slipped out to find Coco hanging from Sigurd's throat,
and Sigurd, blood streaming from his forehead over his face, so
hampered by a ring of hands pulling on his collar that he could only
snap his jaws in air, unable to see or reach his foe. The choir,
arrayed for the processional, had broken line and were banging Coco
with hymn books, while everybody was wildly issuing orders to everybody
else.

"Let the dogs alone, girls. Look out for yourselves."

"Let Sigurd go. Give him a chance to fight."

"Choke Coco off."

"Twist Coco's tail."

"Bring water."

"_Don't_ put your hands between them, girls. Keep away."

The janitor, the only man on the scene, had discreetly climbed into a
high window-seat, and it was one of the slenderest, most flowerlike
maidens there who finally jerked a half-strangled Coco loose and flung
him forth from the sacred portals. The choir promptly reformed in rank
and, a trifle flushed and disheveled but chanting more lustily than
ever, swung up the aisle with the air of the Church Militant. Only the
few who were slightly bitten remained behind to be conducted by
Joy-of-Life to the hospital for immediate attention to their wounds,
while Sigurd and I made for home, marking the trail with our blood. No
real harm was done. Coco's owner, though secretly convinced that Sigurd
did all the biting, insisted on paying the doctor's bills and, a few
days after the encounter, Sigurd, with a scarred forehead, welcomed his
injured defenders to a dinner-party, at which I presided with my arm in
a sling. Sigurd seemed to feel a dim responsibility for that hurt of
mine and, as long as I wore a bandage, would come up at intervals to
give it a penitent lick.

At all the festivals of the spring term Sigurd deemed his attendance
indispensable. He fell in with the parades, frisked out into the midst
of the campus dances, and once, at least, took a conspicuous part in
the Tree Day pageant. A graceful, carmine-clad Narcissus had died to
slow music on the bank of Longfellow Fountain. The wood-nymphs and
water-nymphs, Diana and her train, even the hilltop Oreads had tripped
off the sylvan stage, but the audience, massed on the other side of the
pool, refused to take the hint and, instead of breaking up, still sat
spell-bound, their gaze fastened on poor Narcissus, who, cramped in the
dying attitude, could not conceive any dramatic way of coming to life
again. So we bade Sigurd: "Go find," and after two false starts, once
for a squirrel and once for a stick, he sped straight for Narcissus
and, anxiously thrusting his nose into her face, recognized a special
friend and broke into loud barks of joy, while, throwing her arm about
him, she sprang no less gladly to her feet. The audience thought it all
a part of the pageant, the prevailing opinion being that Sigurd was
playing the rôle of Cerberus and welcoming Narcissus to Hades.

But for all his years of enthusiastic college attendance, Sigurd never
took a degree. Not even his own Class of 1911 was allowed to carry out
its design of dressing their mascot in a specially made cap and gown
and leading him with them in the Commencement procession. His B.A.
stood only for Beloved Animal.



TO SIGURD


    Not one blithe leap of welcome? Can you lie
    Under this woodland mold,
    More still
    Than broken daffodil,
    When I,
    Home from too long a roving,
    Come up the silent hill?
    Dear, wistful eyes,
    White ruff and windy gold
    Of collie coat so oft caressed,
    Not one quick thrill
    In snowy breast,
    One spring of jubilant surprise,
    One ecstasy of loving?

    Are all our frolics ended? Never more
    Those royal romps of old,
    When one,
    Playfellow of the sun,
    Would pour
    Adventures and romances
    Into a morning run;
    Off and away,
    A flying glint of gold,
    Startling to wing a husky choir
    Of crows whose dun
    Shadows would tire
    Even that wild speed? Unscared to-day
    They hold their weird seances.

    Ever you dreamed, legs twitching, you would catch
    A crow, O leaper bold,
    Next time,
    Or chase to branch sublime
    That batch
    Of squirrels daring capture
    In saucy pantomime;
    Till one spring dawn,
    Resting amid the gold
    Of crocuses, Death stole on you
    From that far clime
    Where dreams come true,
    And left upon the starry lawn
    Your form without your rapture.

    And was Death's whistle then so wondrous sweet
    Across the glimmering wold
    That you
    Would trustfully pursue
    Strange feet?
    When I was gone, each morrow
    You sought our old haunts through,
    Slower to play,
    Drooping in faded gold.
    Now it is mine to grieve and miss
    My comrade true,
    Who used to kiss
    With eager tongue such tears away,
    Coaxing a smile from sorrow.

    I know not what life is, nor what is death,
    Nor how vast Heaven may hold
    All this
    Earth-beauty and earth-bliss.
    Christ saith
    That not a sparrow falleth
    --O songs of sparrow faith!--
    But God is there.
    May not a leap of gold
    Yet greet me on some gladder hill,
    A shining wraith,
    Rejoicing still,
    As in those hours we found so fair,
    To follow where love calleth?



FAREWELLS

    "The door of Death is made of gold,
    That mortal eyes cannot behold."

    --Blake's _Dedication to Queen Charlotte_.


We were slow to realize that Sigurd was having too many birthdays. That
guardian figure stretched out on the south porch just above the steps,
shining like an embodied welcome, had become a part of life itself.
Indeed, a caller, not famed for tact, after surveying our Volsung for
some time in silence, dropped the cryptic remark: "How much a dog comes
to look like the family!" Brightening our busy months with golden
glints of romp and mischief and caress, he kept his run of birthdays
like festivals which brought no warning with them.

They were celebrated with becoming pomp, with much-wrapped gifts that
he rejoiced to open himself and often with a yellow tea. As his taste
inclined to broad and simple effects, there would be a giant sunflower
in the center of the table, with strips of goldenrod emanating from it
like rays. The guests, his best-beloved of all ages and conditions,
would drink Sigurd's health in orangeade and feast in his honor on
sponge cake. From the day of Poor Ellen to that of Housewife
Honeyvoice, Amelia, a young and comely Irish Protestant, reigned in the
kitchen and made it her pride to celebrate Sigurd's anniversaries with
all due splendor, though even then she would not intermit the daily
scoldings to which she attributed his very gradual growth in grace. For
still he would run away at intervals and wallow in all iniquity. If the
prodigal returned by daylight and found us together, he would disport
himself at our feet in a brief agony of penitence. As he lay on his
back, writhing with remorse and apparently trying to clasp his paws in
supplication, we would reproach him, to the accompaniment of his hollow
groans, until our gravity would break down. Then he would cheerfully
scramble up and fetch us his latest rubber toy, with a coaxing
invitation to let bygones be bygones and have a frisk with Sigurd. If
he came home under cover of darkness, he would shamelessly go straight
to his own piazza corner, venting an indignant grunt, like an outraged
man of the house, if he found his supper soggy and his bed not made.

The birthday teas, though they brought so many of his friends across
the threshold, were not an unmixed joy to Sigurd. The flaunting bow of
new, stiff, yellow ribbon tickled his ears, until he had succeeded in
working it around, a rumpled knot, under his chin, and worse yet were
the wreaths of yellow wild flowers that the small fingers of some of
his child neighbors had woven for his neck. His share of his own
birthday cake, too, was more hygienically apportioned than he approved.
What is a speck of yellow frosting on a collie's long red tongue? But
Amelia saw to it that his birthday dinner was after his own
heart,--fresh corncake, rice and liver, while now and then some devoted
sophomore, even though the long vacation had put a thousand miles
between them, would send him a home-made chocolate cream as large as a
saucer, at which he was allowed only to sniff and nibble.

We may have noticed that Sigurd's girth was ampler and his bearing more
sedate than in his younger days, but still he was the first in every
frolic and almost as fleet as a deer. He roused one at the edge of the
woods one morning when he was out for an early airing with Joy-of-Life
and chased it across the meadows so fast and far that she was in dismay
lest he overtake the beautiful creature and pull it down. Even to the
last he would let no dog pass him. His frankest admirer and
fellow-runner through his sunset years was a simple-minded young collie
whom Sigurd would outwit by wheeling sharply, when he felt Sandy
gaining on him, and making off at right angles while the precipitate
pursuer sped on for some distance in the old direction. But the goal
was what Sigurd chose to make it, and Sandy, bewildered by these subtle
tactics, always believed himself outrun.

We had come to regard a walk without Sigurd as hardly a walk at all.
Perhaps we observed that he found the heat, which brought out his
tormenting eczema, a little harder to bear from summer to summer, but
our crisp, crackling winters revived him to all manner of puppy antics.
I remember, like a picture, one frosty afternoon, the evergreens
festooned with ice, while the leafless trees, struck by the level rays
of the western sun, glistened with rainbow crystals. Through this
enchanted world, as through the heart of a diamond, Joy-of-Life and
Sigurd were coming home. Sigurd, barking his glad music, was bounding
hither and thither over the sparkling crust, now trying to fulfill his
contract to keep all chickadees and nut-hatches, blue jays and juncos,
from alighting on the earth, and now convinced that at last the moment
had come when he was to realize his supreme ambition, inherited from
Ralph, and catch a crow. Their sardonic caws above his head, as they
flapped heavily from pine to pine, made him so furious that he would
pounce on their black, sliding shadows, while Joy-of-Life, her cheeks
apple-bright with the cold, laughed at him so merrily that he took it
for applause.

Yet change was busy about our collie, who welcomed no changes but loved
his world exactly as it was. We sold the first home and moved into a
more spacious one that we had built on a strip of untamed land hard by.
Then a street came, and more houses, and quietly the wildwood drew away
from us. Within our own bounds, at least, we strove to keep the forest
growth in its own careless beauty, but never a man stepped on the
place, brother or guest or gardener or state warden or whosoever, but,
driven by the deep instinct of the pioneer, he must needs go stealthily
forth with ax or saw or shears and lay about him in our happy tangle.
The worst of it was that we had to appear grateful.

Sigurd accepted his new abode with but a passing bewilderment. Racing
up from the train on his return from a summer in the mountains with
Joy-of-Life, he was whistled into the Scarab while yet too utterly
absorbed in the rapture of his greetings to heed where he was. After a
little he looked about him in obvious surprise and perplexity and set
out at once on a tour of investigation, trotting from cellar to attic,
nosing into the closets and under the shelves, sniffing at the familiar
desks and bookcases and recognizing with a wag his own chair and rug.
As soon as might be he was out of doors, examining porches and paths.
Then he crossed the intervening bit of wilderness, granite ledge matted
over with the red-berried kinnikinic, and woofed for admittance at his
accustomed door. He was kindly received and allowed to go about as he
liked, upstairs and downstairs and into my lord's chamber, but the
furniture was not his furniture, the smells were not his smells, and
within ten minutes he had quitted those rooms, scene of so many puppy
exploits, to enter them no more. He knew the difference between house
and home.

Yet our new holding did not seem to Sigurd nor to us entirely natural
until he had cut one of his unfortunate paws on a broken bottle left by
the carpenters as a souvenir and had strewn steps and driveway and lawn
with shreds of cotton bandages and adhesive plaster. "When is a clutter
not a clutter?" asked my mother, and answered her own conundrum: "When
Sigurd does it."

In a snug corner against the south wall of the Scarab stood a massive
and elegant erection, with gable roof and olive-green door, that only
the unsophisticated called a kennel. It was "Sigurd's House," and as
such he accepted it, counting its artistically shingled walls and heavy
layers of sheathing paper no more than his just deserts. He delighted
in its deep bed of fresh straw which tickled him most agreeably as he
rolled over and over in it. He found it an exciting by-play, too, to
dash in with stick or bone and lose it under his bedding, which he
would proceed to scratch up with all the fury of a New England matron
in housecleaning time. Then he would come swaggering out with the air
of duty done, shaking his own skin. Sigurd's House was such a palace
that the children of the neighborhood liked to play in it, but our
collie deemed this high trespass and, from the screened study porch,
would roar indignant protest when five or six chubby tots, with that
saucy black spaniel, Curly, would all squeeze in together.

To the Scarab came new friends for Sigurd with new caresses, to which
he always made cordial and courteous response. Amelia crossed the ocean
to a waiting bridegroom and a happy home of her own, but Housewife
Honey-voice, with her little Esther, petted Sigurd even more devotedly.

Sigurd's only difficulty with Housewife Honey-voice, the only shadow on
their sympathy, arose from the delicacy of her appetite by which she
was inclined, at first, to measure his. When her enthusiasm and
culinary skill persuaded the family to go on a vegetable diet, Sigurd
gave us clearly to understand that we need not count him in. And when I
came home, one evening, from a week's motor trip, Sigurd barely waited
for his customary chant of welcome before gripping my dress and leading
me to the refrigerator.

"Hasn't Sigurd had his dinner yet?"

"Why, yes, an hour ago."

"Nonsense, boy! You're not hungry. Nobody is hungry just after dinner."

"What a whopper!" sighed Sigurd, as he pattered after me back to the
study.

No sooner had I turned my attention to the accumulation of letters on
my desk than again Sigurd pulled gently, yet with determination, at my
skirt and insisted on a second promenade to the refrigerator.

"He really is hungry. How much have you been giving him for dinner?"

But when I saw the measure, I heaped his plate, while he eagerly
watched the process, waving his tail in triumph, but hurrying once
across the kitchen to snuggle his head against the knee of Housewife
Honey-voice, looking up at her with those comprehending, trustful eyes
that said:

"You didn't _mean_ to starve dear Sigurd, and now that you know how big
my hollow is, it will be all right forever."

Every autumn a new horde of freshmen fell in love with him and visiting
alumnæ embraced him in mid-campus. Toward the Freshman Twins, who
gladdened the Scarab one year, he conducted himself like a sophomore,
humoring their childish ways, guiding them through the college
labyrinth, serving as a towel for their homesick tears and partaking
freely of their consoling fudge, but all with a comical air of
condescension. He was himself accustomed to the best society, even
seniors. Our gracious college president made him welcome to her
veranda, as she sat at tea among her roses; a beloved frequenter of the
Scarab, Hoops-of-Steel, though clinging to her preference for boys,
accorded him a true if tempered friendship; and even Scholar Carol, our
fifteenth-century historian, who affected the fireside sphinx and had
named a particularly gallant kitten Eddy IV, counted him only a little
lower than a cat. As for the children on our hill, they hugged him to
the limit of endurance. His warmest admirer among them was Wee-wee, a
rosy bunch of unweariable energy, who, when she came to us of an
afternoon in order to give her exhausted parents a brief respite, would
wear out the entire family as, one by one, we undertook to amuse her,
and would finally fling herself upon Sigurd, riding on his back,
rolling him over and over and examining his paws with an envious
admiration that broke forth in the remark: "Wen I'm old and big like
Sigurd, maybe I'll have feet on _my_ hands."

For two lively years a brace of graduate students, Cherub and Seraph,
folded their wings beneath the Scarab rooftree. Cherub was a bit
afraid, at first, of "that bouncing yellow elephant," but Seraph
instantly became Sigurd's very pink of playmates. Every morning they
would start off early for the college library, scampering across the
landscape at a rate that sent the sparrows fluttering from their path
like so many irregular verbs. Between the meadow and the campus is a
perilous stretch of railway tracks and trolley tracks, and here Sigurd
would assume full charge of his companion. If the whistle of an engine,
as they drew near the crossing, cut the air, Sigurd would leap upon her
and, with his paws upon her breast, hold her back until the train had
hurtled by, when he would lead her triumphantly across under the
trailing plume of smoke. Every autumnal Sunday they spent hours
together in the woods, from which the Seraph would bring home gentians,
wych-hazel and a lyric, and Sigurd a ruff all tangled up with burrs.
Winter did not daunt their zeal. They formed themselves into a rescue
expedition and saved from the frost all manner of wild-flower roots,
which the Seraph arranged in rows of pots placed on boards stretched
from a little table in her room to her south window. Alas for sweet
Saint Charity! There came a day when Sigurd, wishing to study the
scenery to verify a suspicion of a dog burglar after his treasure-trove
of bones, sprang up and struck his forefeet on the edge of the nearest
board with such violence that the whole structure came crashing down,
enveloping him in a flying ruin of pots and plants and earth and water.
He did not stay to help the Seraph clear up the landslide, but
remembered a pressing engagement in the remotest corner of the attic.

Through December these happy comrades explored the fringes of the
forest for glowing vines to serve as Christmas decorations, and in the
whirling snowstorms of a peculiarly ferocious little February they
would come romping home, two white objects plunging through the drifts,
looking like Peary and one of his huskies just back from the North
Pole. Joy-of-Life had been in Egypt that winter, seeking health after a
grave illness, but she came again with April, more welcome than the
spring. Sigurd bounded to her shoulders in ecstasy of greeting, his
coat ruddy in the sun. He shone more than ever with a supreme content
as he sat erect between us while we motored through the miracle of May,
under red-budded maples and oaks whose baby leaves, while the orioles
shouted to them to hurry up, where trembling from misty pink to golden
green. He did not care to run with the machine, however slowly it was
driven, but saved his energies for the long rambles with the Seraph, as
she went questing for anemone and dogwood, bellwort, violets,
columbine, lady slippers and all

          "our shining little sisters
    Of the forest and the fields."

As the days grew warmer, he would forget the admonitions of previous
springs and all his good resolutions, and take a roll, now and then, to
Sister Jane's wrath and anguish, in a bed of jonquils or yellow tulips,
claiming that their color made them his by royal right. When we scolded
him, he took refuge with the Seraph, though even she was causing him
bitter annoyance, as June and Commencement drew near, by her attentions
to a fuzzy puppy, Puck, whom she visited almost daily at collie kennels
two miles away. He was a prize puppy and it disgusted Sigurd beyond
barks to see the fuss we all made over certain dog-show awards that
Puck gave the Seraph to bring home, a green ribbon not worth the
chewing and an _empty_ cut-glass vase. When Puck, on the eve of
Seraph's departure, was himself brought to the Scarab and a journeying
basket was equipped for him, Sigurd sulked in the shabby depths of his
dear old chair. All the small folk of our neighborhood flocked in to
pat Puppy Ki-yi, as Joy-of-Life and I privily dubbed our guest, but
only Wee-wee, whose own name for the mite was "Minister--Ittle Teeny
Minister, coz he stan's on his back legs an' jiggles his arms an'
pweaches at us," divined Sigurd's jealous misery. She snuggled down in
the chair beside him, hugging the yellow ball into which he had rolled
himself and solicitously explaining that "Minister is the best 'ittle
dog, and Sigurd is the best gweat _big_ dog," but the Volsung did not
care for a divided homage and shook his ears at all puppy worshipers.

Then the Seraph disappeared, as all his student lovers, one after
another, would disappear. Letters came back to him and gifts, but he
could not puzzle out what these had to do with the dancing playmate no
longer to be found on hillside or by lake. Nor could he foresee the day
when that ridiculous Puck, grown into a noble collie, would in his turn
sorely miss the Seraph, who had sailed away, on the ship that bore
another of Sigurd's most devoted Wellesley lassies, to France. There
were dogs on that ship, Professor Peggy and her scarred comrades,
veterans of war, that had been sent over, like wounded French officers,
to instruct, and were now returning to duty at the front. But Puck, too
old for the Red Cross training, was left behind, sniffing up and down
the garden paths in patient search for his dainty mistress, who,
arrayed in gas-mask and trench-helmet, was serving from a battered
camionette hot coffee and cocoa to our boys in khaki just behind the
trenches.

In the Orchard, too, the venerable Cousin for whom Sigurd since
puppyhood had cherished a romantic attachment, the white-haired
inamorata whom he would run to meet with his most grotesque waggle, was
no longer to be found in the familiar nooks from which Laddie had long
since disappeared. And now that the all-beloved Elder Sister lay
mortally ill, Sigurd pattered over day after day to look in at the
sickroom and invite a stroking from the delicate hand that would rest
so languidly upon his lifted head. Sometimes he carried her a yellow
chrysanthemum or a cluster of cream-colored tea-roses tied to his
collar. And when she had passed to Paradise through brain-wandering
memories of Italy, as through a vestibule of beauty, Sigurd coaxed long
at the closed door, whining softly, calling to his friend, troubled by
the silence but incredulous of death.

Because of their vanishing ways, Sigurd had early come to look on
college girls in general as an inconstant factor in life and accepted
their attentions with the casual air of a confirmed old bachelor, but
his faithfulness to his friends of riper age never wavered. Even to the
last he always raised for the Lady of Cedar Hill his rapturous lyric
cry, though it would sometimes embarrass him by breaking into a hoarse
and husky squeak. He had special ways with each of us. He kept one
piquant game for my mother, who, while he wagged his tail in ever
wilder circles at her, would wag her _Congregationalist_ in exact
mockery at him, until he would make a maddened leap and snatch that
sacred sheet from her hand.

But he was gentle with old people, even in his frolics, and from the
first had felt a certain responsibility for their safety. Joy-of-Life
had left him late one afternoon, while he was still a youngster, to
guard her mother's nap on the piazza couch, but a white flash of
Laddie, temptation incarnate, at the foot of the hill, had sent him
careering off into the gloaming. Rising hurriedly to call him back,
confused by the sudden waking, his charge had missed her footing in the
dusk and fallen down the steps. Her first clear consciousness was of
Sigurd standing over her, licking her face and hands with a penitent
tongue, nor would he leave her all that evening, lying on the edge of
her dress as she sat and trotting close beside her whenever she crossed
the room. And when, touched by his concern, she bent to him and said:
"I wasn't really hurt, and Sigurd was a good dog to come back," he
joyously flopped over on his spine and presented his snowy shirt-front
for a forgiving pat.

A household dear to Sigurd was that in which two of our college
professors, long retired, dwelt in sisterly affection. He bore himself
with the utmost discretion there, as if aware of a dignity and
fragility beyond the wont of households. The classicist, whose Greek
precision of accent gave beauty to her least remark, would introduce
Sigurd to callers from abroad as "one of our most distinguished
citizens," while the botanist, prisoned in a hooded chair on
wheels,--ah, the feet that had so often and so lightly carried her in a
day over twenty miles and more of the green earth she loved!--liked to
have him escort her on her pathetic airings. He was not with her, but
attending his own family on a drive one day, when we saw in the village
square before us a sudden commotion, people running from all sides
toward that familiar little carriage, which, rashly left standing at
the edge of the curb with its hood open toward the wind, had been
overset, so that the poor lady, strapped to the seat, was standing on
her bonnet. Sigurd reached her first of all and when, shocked by the
jar into a momentary oblivion, she looked up, "it was," she afterward
said, "right into the kindest, most reassuring brown eyes in the
world," for Sigurd's head was drooping close above her own and all the
help that a collie could give beamed in his friendly gaze.

Hints of age began to appear, reluctant though we were to recognize
them, in Sigurd himself,--an inclination toward longer and longer naps
in his own disreputable chair, an increasing resentment of sweeping
days and housecleaning, and a tendency, long after a swollen ear or a
sharp attack of eczema was cured and Sigurd, settling his chin on his
paws, had dismissed Dr. Vet with a low, majestic sweep of tail, to
continue to claim the lazy privileges of an invalid. Sometimes his
stiffening limbs failed to fold themselves with the old comfort into
the hollow of his chair, and he would look up to us in puzzled appeal.
He was a handsome collie still, but his manners had grown more reserved
and his bearing more stately. He was no longer excited by Commencement
festivities, though he would stroll up to take a look at the Tree Day
dances and saunter into the Garden Party, accepting the embraces of old
friends and new with an amiability only slightly tinged with boredom.
But he loved more and more to bask in the sun on the south porch or to
dream, his legs tied into his favorite bowknot, in front of the study
fireplace, where Joy-of-Life's annual barrel of Christmas driftwood
made the flames look like little rainbows on a holiday.

He was almost ten years old when he was run over by an automobile.
Except for a bruised paw he did not seem to be hurt, for he crouched so
flat in the road that the machine merely scraped his back, but his
nerves were severely shaken. When we came home that noon, he greeted us
with a prolonged, strange howl, unlike anything that we had ever heard
from him before, and for weeks would not venture out upon the roads
without one of us to serve as bodyguard, wheedling until we had to drop
our books and devise some respectable excuse for a walk. Left behind at
a Greek Letter Society House one evening, he refused to start off for
home alone--the bold ranger of a thousand midnights--and his indulgent
girl hostesses telephoned for a carriage, so that Sigurd came proudly
driving up to his front door in a hack. He so enjoyed the extra petting
that came with any mischance that he affected, when it occurred to him,
this terror long after it had faded out, just as he would in running
tuck up an injured foot, when he happened to think of it, weeks after
it was healed, and hop plaintively on three legs until the sight of a
cat or a squirrel made him forget all about it.

Sigurd had several promising sons in the village, and one of these we
would gladly have adopted had not our delight in its puppy graces
nearly broken his jealous old heart. So we let it go to other admirers
and presently lost all trace of his golden scions. But one day, when I
was walking with him, a winsome little lad came up and, touching his
cap, asked shyly if he might stroke Sigurd, "for he's the papa of my
dog Trusty that died." Poor Trusty was a victim of distemper, and the
child softly told us all about it, his arms about the neck of Sigurd,
who put on an appropriate expression of bereavement.

The burden of the years brought its own compensation. Instead of the
darkling escapades that used to distract and worry us, Sigurd became
the best of company, in the depths of a winter night. Joy-of-Life was
the lark of the household, and I the owl, so our self-appointed
caretaker, after seeing her early to bed, would come downstairs again
to lie close against my feet, inviting confidences. When I became too
absorbed in my task to answer his remarks, he would still hold forth in
a broken conversational grumble, contented, for reply, with the
crackling of the fire and the scratching of a pen.

Nor was Sigurd the only one of our blithe fellowship for whom Time was
quietly setting up milestones along the changing road. He was still in
his prime when, on a date of gleaming memory, the Dryad gave at
Norumbega Hall a birthday party for my mother, a party musical with our
Poet's own sweet and roguish songs, not only in honor of

            "her who graciously
    With each soft year younger grows,
    As the earth with every rose,"

but in merry greeting of each of the other guests. The white-crowned
mother of Joy-of-Life was there, and the mother of the College
Reconciler,

    "Who, over and over
      (The Lady from Dover),
    Turns thistles to clover."

The spirited hostess of Norumbega, a bright-eyed little grandmother
immensely proud of that distinction, sat opposite the presiding Dryad,
and beside my mother was her Mount Holyoke classmate of the heroic days
of Mary Lyon, our gentle Librarian Emeritus, so modest from her long
maidenhood that she was distressed at the infant art of aviation,
fearing that one could no longer brush one's hair in a dressing-sacque
free from the peril of a man swooping down from the clouds to peep in
at the window.

It is but a few years since that hour of

    "Laurels and laughter and light,"

yet all those smiling elder faces, and not those only, have vanished
away.

Sigurd had his part in that fairest of our festivities, for an
impressionistic picture of him shines from the stanza that the Dryad
addressed to Joy-of-Life:

    "This lady is always attended
      By a golden and comet-y trail
    Of light, speed, sound, fury all blended.
    This lady is always attended
    By a beautiful vision and splendid,
      A flaunting and triumphing tail.
    This lady is always attended
      By a golden and comet-y trail."

A saucier dinner-card was mine:

    "You see her start out all agog
    For chapel, pursued by her dog.
      You may think her a saint,
      But he thinks she ain't,
    When she sets him to guarding a frog."

A dagger affixed to this effusion called attention to a learned note:

    "This is a scientific error: the beast should be _Bufo Lentiginosus_
    not _Rana catesbiana_. Such errors are common in the best poetry."

As successive sorrows cast their shadows on our hearts, as the mothers
slipped away, as the Dryad was smitten down in her brightness, a star
fallen from midsummer sky, Sigurd proved himself a very comforter. The
sympathetic droop of his ears and decorum of his disconsolate brown
eyes in the first hush of mourning and, in the later loneliness, his
nuzzling head against the knee, touches of a pleading tongue on hand
and cheek, his insistence on an answering smile, a pat, a romp, his
conviction that, while sun and wind made holiday and the wood was full
of sticks to throw for Sigurd, it was natural to be glad, helped us
better than more formal consolations. Both solitude and society, both
ignorance and wisdom, he could press close to the hurt without
intrusion. Often when one or the other of us, forgetful of the work
upon the desk, had let the cloud creep over, Sigurd would rouse
himself, trot across to the fireplace, select from the basket a piece
of light kindling wood, and present it with the clear intimation that
it would be more true to love to cheer up Sigurd with a bit of play
than to lose the hour in grieving.

Rarely in his joyful life, and then but for a matter of days or weeks,
had we both been away from Sigurd. He hated to have either of us go. He
knew only too well the meaning of trunks and suitcases and always
stalked uneasily about the room, getting in the way as much as
possible, during the process of packing. When at last he saw these
objects of ill omen closed and carried downstairs, followed by one of
his mistresses in traveling garb, he would desperately take his stand
in the doorway and, planting his legs like principles, do his best to
bar her exit. For a few days he would be very restless, watchful,
anxious, keeping close to the mistress who stayed behind to question
her with troubled looks and entreat her not to abandon Sigurd; nor was
the missing all on his side. The summer of 1908 was so hot that our
gasping collie would tease his friends to fan him and, for the first
and only time, we had him shaved. His bright hair, duly cleansed, was
made up with corn-colored silk into a sofa-pillow and sent to
Joy-of-Life, then sojourning in strange places, now among the Mormons,
now on an Indian reservation, gathering material for her two vivid
volumes on the _Economic Beginnings of the Far West_; and she assured
him that his "yellow bunch of love" was a magical cure for a certain
ache beyond the ken of the doctors. But grievously abashed he was with
only the white waves of his ruff, his fore-pantalets and plumy tail
unprofaned by the shears, and his sufferings from mortification and
mosquitoes outwent all that he had endured from the heat. As his silky
under-vest grew long enough to curl, he reminded us of Cagnotte, the
supposed poodle bought for three-year-old Gautier by his nurse, on whom
the Paris dealers palmed off a cur sewed up in a jacket of lamb's wool.

On summer vacations our Volsung sometimes went up into New Hampshire
with one or both of us. He especially rejoiced in our cottage life on
Twin Lake, where Sigurd renewed his youth, pursuing

                "the swallows o'er the meads
    With scarce a slower flight."

Here he learned to scratch up his own bed in the pine needles and to
wash his stick at the edge of the lake after a game, though we never
quite succeeded, on account of his masculine prejudices, in teaching
him to wash his dinner-plate. There were drawbacks, however, about
these summer travels with Sigurd. His first concern, on arriving at a
new place, was to go the rounds of the neighborhood and knock over all
the dogs. Having thus established our popularity, he proceeded to make
himself at home, welcoming most affably the dog-owners who called to
complain of his exploits.

One summer he was with Joy-of-Life up in Franconia, where they loved to
climb the scenery, Sigurd taking immense satisfaction in his duties as
guide. "Find the path, boy," she would bid, and very proudly he would
run at a little distance before her, nosing out the way. It was on one
of these excursions that he came upon a scattered flock of sheep
and--hey presto!--was instantly transformed into a dog that we had
never known. Uttering a curious "Yep, yep, yep!" unlike any sound he
had ever been heard to make before, he sped away toward those
astonished sheep, rounded them up and drove them, much too fast for
their comfort, to the furthest limit of their sloping pasture, where
Joy-of-Life found him, panting in tremendous excitement, holding the
sheep, a woolly huddle, penned into an angle of the deep stone walls.
The next morning he was off before daybreak and, after an arduous
search, she found him again playing stern guardian to that same
embarrassed flock. If only the Lady of Cedar Hill had offered him the
lordship of a sheepfold instead of a cattle-barn, Sigurd would have
been Njal to the end of his days. But Joy-of-Life, afraid that the
ancestral Scotch conscience so suddenly awakened in him might not be to
the liking of the Franconia farmers, decided on an immediate return to
the Scarab.

Sigurd always detested train travel, and this time he barely escaped a
tragedy. The baggage car was so full that to him could be allotted only
a space the size of his body. Into that narrow cavity he was confined
by walls of trunks that towered on every side. Within an hour of Boston
an abrupt jolt threw the passengers forward in their seats. Beyond a
few bumps and bruises no harm was done and Joy-of-Life speedily made
her way forward through the disordered train, which had come to a
standstill, to the baggage-car. Here she found a scene of disastrous
confusion, trunks and valises pitched madly about, one baggageman
groaning with a broken arm, on which a doctor was already busy, and the
other bleeding from a cut across his forehead. For very shame she could
not speak of a collie until, under the doctor's directions, she had
washed and bound up that cut. It was her patient who mentioned Sigurd
first.

"By George, your dog!" he said. "He's down under that tumble of trunks
over there. Not a yelp from him. I'm afraid he hadn't a chance."

Brakemen had pushed in, by this time, and with ready sympathy undertook
to clear a way to the corner where Sigurd had been imprisoned. A
monster crate had fallen in such a way as to roof him over and, when
this was dragged aside, there crouched Sigurd, showing no physical
injury but utterly motionless, staring with blank eyes at his rescuers.

"Back broken," suggested one of the men.

But Joy-of-Life gave, though from pale lips, the glad, out-of-door
trill that Sigurd knew so well. He quivered and, with one tremendous
bound, cleared the intervening heap of baggage and reached her. She sat
on a portmanteau, with her arms about him, till they arrived at Boston,
and then led him down the platform and took him with her into a cab.
All the time Sigurd was strange, remote, moving like a body without a
spirit, unresponsive to all her attempts at comfort and cheer. But
during the long wait for her missing trunk, Sigurd suddenly brightened
up and tried to scrabble out of the window into the cab drawn up
alongside. It was occupied by a plump, elderly couple, who gleefully
pulled him in, and to them Sigurd at once began to tell, in eager
whines and pitiful whimpers, that hardly needed Joy-of-Life's
commentary, the story of his peril.

"Poor fellow! Poor beauty!" they crooned. "We know, we know. Our own
dear collie was killed in just such a mix-up twenty years ago. Your
collie knew that we would understand."

And Sigurd, restored in soul at last, licked their kind old faces and
retired to his own cab. By the time he reached home, he was so
completely himself again that he ate a hearty dinner and spent the
better part of the evening scratching up the straw in Sigurd's House to
see what treasures dogs and children might have stored there during his
absence.

In the scorching July of 1913 we both left Sigurd for a year. The poor
lad was so wretched with the heat that we hoped he might be less keenly
aware than usual of the packing; but he knew. I do not like to remember
the look in his eyes when, that last morning, he was brought up from
his retreat in the cellar for good-by. I turn from that memory to his
antics a few evenings earlier, when he had been out frisking with some
dog callers in the comparative cool. He woofed imperiously at the
screen door and, as soon as it was unlatched, dashed it open and came
tearing into the study to demand of me some service that I was slow to
comprehend.

"How dull you are to-night!" he grunted and, flouncing down beside me,
fell clumsily to work on a hind paw. Investigating, I found a long
thorn run up into the pad. It took me a minute or two to grip it and
pull it out, while Sigurd, wincing a little but with full confidence in
my surgery, waited as patiently as a boy when a ball game is on. When
the thorn was drawn, he gave one flying lick to his foot and another to
my hand--"Much obliged, but you might have been quicker about it"--and
bounded back to his play with puppy eagerness.

We had made all possible arrangements for his comfort, boarding him
still at his home where three of the household remained with the new
tenants, but he was no longer the Lord of the Scarab. We knew that he
would do his golden best and we hoped that in his own sweet wisdom he
would realize that love never goes away, but as he watched and searched
in vain, week after week and month after month, Sigurd drooped, and
grew deaf with listening for voices over sea. Old friends took him on
the short walks that sufficed him now and affectionate greetings met
him everywhere on campus and on street. He would often be seen napping
on one neighborly porch or another, for he dwelt more and more in the
dim land of "Nod, the shepherd," consorting with

    "His blind old sheep-dog, Slumber-soon."

Housewife Honey-voice gave him true and tender care, and when, on a
zero night, she had to deny him the warmth of the Scarab and put him to
bed, well tucked up with rugs, in Sigurd's House, she would tell him,
for the strengthening of his spirit, that "even Jesus Christ slept in
the straw."

For our own part, we tried not to think too much of our forsaken
collie, but up in Norway we heard dogs called by his name and even on
our housetop promenades in Seville we were reminded of his frolic grace
by a scalawag puppy on a neighboring flat roof, a gleeful little
gymnast whose joy it was to leap up and jerk the linen off the line.
Sigurd's friends and ours wrote to us of his welfare with a
cheerfulness that was apt to waver before the end of the paragraph.

"I met him on the campus yesterday," scribbled Nannikachee, "and when I
asked him where his professors were, he galloped all over the snow,
remembering you as juncos, and on second thought he reared up against
an oak and barked up into its branches to scare you out of your holes,
convinced that you had come to a bad end and been turned into
squirrels. Such are the workings of the mighty mind you two sillies
credit him with! He looked as round and yellow as a Thanksgiving
pumpkin, but there was something wistful about him, too."

On the twenty-third of May, within a month of our return, Sigurd died.
To all his losses had been added, that spring, the loss of College
Hall, through whose familiar corridors he had roamed as usual, always
seeking, one March afternoon, and which he found the next morning a
desolation of blackened walls and blowing ashes. If Sigurd could have
counted into the hundreds, he would have known that every girl was
safe, but if he could have read in the papers of the quiet self-control
with which, roused from their sleep to find the flames crackling about
them, they had steadily carried through their fire-drill, formed their
lines, waited for the word and gone out in perfect order, he would have
been no prouder of them than he always was. Of course his Wellesley
girls would behave like that.

Sigurd crowded with the rest of the college into close quarters, where
he was more than ever underfoot. On that languid twenty-second of May
he slept all day along the threshold of the improvised postoffice, and
the hurrying feet stepped over him with unreproaching care. But with
the arrival of the late afternoon mail, the postmistress, knowing the
rush that was to come, said kindly to him:

"Now, Sigurd, you must really go away."

He rose slowly and moved from door to door till he came to the office
of the Christian Association. Assured of Samaritan shelter here, he
finished his snooze on their one rescued rug, but arrived at home in
punctual time for his dinner, and that night it chanced to be the
dinner Sigurd liked best. Little Esther, who had a romp with him on his
arrival, said he "smiled all over when he smelt the liver cooking."

He scraped out his pan to the last crumb and then lay down in a
favorite burrow of loose, cool earth for a twilight revery. One of the
household, a new lover, invited him to take a stroll with her, but he
excused himself with a grateful rub of his head against her knees.

He slept in Sigurd's House, as usual, and started out soon after dawn,
as usual, to go for a splash in a brook not far away. An early riser,
intent on making up her count of birds, met him and reported that he
was trotting briskly and saluted her with "a sunny twinkle of his
tail." Across the road from the brook is a pleasant old homestead under
whose great trees Sigurd often took a morning nap before returning to
the Scarab. Its occupants looked from the window, as they were
dressing, and saw him lying at ease under a spreading evergreen. An
hour later, as they rose from breakfast, they observed that Sigurd had
not changed his posture and, going out to bid him good morning, found
him lifeless. There was no injury on his body nor any sign of pain or
struggle. He had made friends even with Death.

Did he, like the old hero Njal, "gentle and generous," foreknow his end
as he chose out this quiet, beautiful spot? "We will go to our bed,"
said Njal in the saga, "and lay us down. I have long been eager for
rest."

A grave was dug for Sigurd on the brow of Observatory Hill over which
he had so often sped in the splendor of his strength, and there, under
the pines, some score of his closest friends and ours gathered the
following morning. With the reading of dog poems and the dropping of
wild flowers they gave the still body, that was not Sigurd, back to
earth. Jack pressed close to his mistress, whose Wallace sleeps near
by, and whined as the box was lowered, while little Esther, beholding
for the first time a burial, broke into wild crying.

In the autumn I stood by the grave, on which the one dear Sister left
in The Orchard had planted violets and periwinkles from Laddie's mound,
and watched a kindly young workman set above it a low granite block
inscribed, "Sigurd--Our Golden Collie. 1902-1914." As I strewed the
stone with goldenrod and turned away, there echoed on the air ancient
words from the Greek Anthology, "Thou who passest on the path, if haply
thou dost mark this monument, laugh not, I pray thee, though it is a
dog's grave. Tears fell for me."

Sigurd would have been well content with the honors that his College
paid him,--an obituary notice written with tenderest sympathy, a
commemorative letter from his Class of 1911 and many a student elegy.
It shall be his own class poet who paints the final picture:

    "A dancing collie and gay woodland sprite,
      Philosopher, friend, playmate unto each,
    Quiet in trial and charming in delight,
      Without the doubtful benefit of speech.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "When snow was over earth and lake and sky,
      How often where pale hemlock boughs bent low
    Have we beheld his flying shape go by,
      An arrow sped from an immortal bow!"



TO JOY-OF-LIFE


    So that was why our collie went away,
      Wise Sigurd, knowing you would come
    Ere a new springtide by the valley gray,
      Planning to guide you home,

    To bark Heaven's earliest welcome, to entice
      Those dearest feet the dim glen through,
    Then proudly up blithe hills of Paradise
      To "find the path" for you.



II

OTHER COMRADES OF THE ROAD



THE PINE GROVE PATH


    Our festal day was yet so young,
    As through the pines I came to you,
    The level sunrise lightly flung
    Before my feet, O eager feet,
    A flickering path of flame to you.

    The purple finches, breakfasting
    On pinecone seeds, in charity
    Tossed down the silky scales, to bring
    My human heart, O singing heart,
    A share of their hilarity.

    But gladder than those revelers
    So raspberry red, I sped to you,
    Beyond the pines, beyond the firs,
    A birthday guest, O blissful guest
    To tread the path that led to you.



ROBIN HOOD

    "The little bird with the red breast, which for his great
    familiarity with men they call a Robin, if he meet any one on the
    woods to go astray, and to wander he knows not whither out of his
    way, of common charitie will take upon him to guide him, at least
    out of the woods, if he will but follow him, as some think. This I
    am sure of, it is a comfortable and sweet companion."

    --_Partheneia Sacra_. By "H. A." 1533.


The early history of Robin Hood, like that of too many illustrious
characters, is veiled in obscurity. I never knew his parents nor was I
ever on speaking terms with any other member of his family. I cannot
tell whether his nursery was set in an apple tree or elm or oak or
pine, nor whether it was wind or boy or other untoward circumstance of
nestling life that cast his helpless infancy adrift upon the world. Our
earliest knowledge of Robin Hood dates from Sunday morning, June 16,
1901, when a group of Wellesley children, demurely wending their way to
Sunday School across a bit of open green, heard chirps in the grass and
picked up a baby robin, cold, hungry, bedraggled, pecked and generally
forlorn. They took him to Sunday School, muffling him in a
spick-and-span small handkerchief when his cries became too shrill and,
after this vain attempt at spiritual comfort, gave him to one of their
mammas, who, for several days, managed to sustain him on experimental
diets. Thursday morning, being about to make her summer exodus, she
cheerfully transferred her fosterling to me. Her farewell attention, a
spoonful of milk poured down his yawning throat, nearly ended his
adventures on the spot. He turned up his eyes, gasped and stiffened,
but with admirable presence of mind she balanced him on his bill, gave
him a dexterous tap in the crop and wiped up the milk from the table,
while Robin, blinking ruefully, resigned himself to a nap in my pocket.
He woke before we reached home, however, and demanded luncheon so
imperiously that I called at the nearest house and begged for bread. At
the drug store I paused again for water and, to make better connection
between this fluid and the depths of that bright orange cavity which
Robin so confidingly opened, I bought a medicine-dropper, but soon
found that a finger-tip would do as well.

Owing to these attentions by the way, Robin Hood was in an agreeable
and sociable frame of mind when he first met his adopted family, yet
all his baby graces gained for him only a mocking reception. He was
such a dumpy, speckle-breasted fluff, with funny folding legs that
could not hold him up on the perch, no tail and an utterly
disproportionate amount of bill, that it was impossible to take him
seriously, but his trustful little heart never once suspected that we
were making fun of him. He cuddled down cosily on an improvised couch
in the corner of a canary cage and devoted himself to a steady
alternation of snoozes and gorges. Everybody laughed at him--the Dryad,
who declared him a little monster of greediness and bad manners; the
chipmunks, who peered curiously into his cage whenever we left it for
sun and air on the piazza; even Joy-of-Life, who promptly sallied out
with a long iron spoon to dig him worms. For Robin Hood would keep on
ringing his dinner-bell, so to speak, even while the moistened bits of
bread were being thrust down his vociferous throat, ceasing from that
hungry clamor only when he was stuffed to the point of suffocation.
Then, with a ridiculous little grunt, he would topple off the
supporting hand back to his trundle-bed and doze like a dormouse only
to awake, in half an hour or so, an utterly famished birdling, all one
yellow gape of tremulous eagerness and outcry.

At this stage of development, living to eat, and eating to sleep, Robin
was left for several days in the care of Dame Gentle, kindest of
neighbors, pending the absence of his foster family. Here he was petted
to his babyhood's content and soon evinced a docile, affectionate
disposition. He took a dislike to his cramped canary cage, but now he
was strong enough to perch, and once placed on a chair rung by a hand
he trusted, he would sit quiet from one feeding time to the next, or
until he heard a familiar voice or step. Then, floppity-flop, down to
the floor would tumble Robin and hop joyously to meet his friend. He
soon had a soft, crooning little note for Dame Gentle, and all the
summer long, while he became a general chatterbox, kept a peculiarly
confidential accent and manner for her.

We resumed our charge on the third of July, but on the Fourth our
attention was somewhat diverted from Robin by the gift of a baby vireo,
apparently wounded by a fall from the nest. This green jewel, wild as a
windy leaf at first, was soon tamed, but his diet proved a difficult
problem. Robin Hood was only too ready to eat anything and everything,
but the tiny vireo, though calling piteously for food, turned his bill
away in sore disappointment from our various offerings. He would not
touch the crumbs of softened bread, nor Robin's favorite mess of mashed
potato and hard-boiled egg-yolk. We consulted all our bird-books, and
when we learned that the case demanded "masticated insects," we sat
down and looked at each other in despair. I generously offered to catch
any number of insects, if Joy-of-Life would do the masticating, but
little Liberty Bell finally compromised on a masticated raspberry. The
next day, mocking-bird food was procured for him, and this he swallowed
with apparent relish, but still he did not thrive.

On Sunday, the seventh, an eager troop of children brought to our door
another fallen vireo, this wee waif seeming in worse state than the
other. We named him Church Bell and cherished him as tenderly as our
ignorance might, but I hope Cornelia never had half the trouble with
her jewels that our pair of emeralds gave us. Their sharp, incessant,
querulous pipe, the utterance of pains we could not soothe, was so
trying to the nerves that, when I heard Joy-of-Life dropping books, I
would transfer the nest from her desk to mine, and when Mary came up
with a message from the grocer to find me spilling ink, she would take
the vireos down to her ironing board and drown their plaints by her
lusty voice of song. They were exquisite little creatures to see, and
as trustful with us as was Robin himself, but we never had the key to
their mystery. They would cry even in sleep and had hours of violent
trembling. We would sometimes put them in the rough, outdoor cage which
had been built for Robin, a large, square, unfloored box with roof and
walls of woven wire. He looked big and lubberly beside them, like Puck
beside Oberon and Titania, but he was always good-natured with his
dainty guests and often tried to join in the conversation as they sat,
pressed close together, on the far end of the twig which served him for
a perch, lamenting like elfin Banshees. A touch of chilly weather ended
their brief tragedy. Liberty Bell was hushed forever in the dawn of
Tuesday, the ninth, and by Wednesday noon Church Bell lay silent beside
him in the rockery which was already the burial cairn of three beloved
chickens, Microbe, Pat and Cluxley.

Meanwhile Robin Hood had been causing his share of anxiety. The
birdlings were all so tame that, in feeding them, we used to throw back
that half of the cage-top which served as lid, whereupon they would fly
up to the edge of the box and sit there in a row for dinner.
Occasionally one of the vireos would flash up into a low tree and wail
for food until we had to bring the step-ladder and fetch him down. But
it was not until Robin's winglets were fairly grown that he seemed
aware of the existence of trees. Then, suddenly, one azure afternoon,
he glanced up, cocked his head, spread his untried Icarus-plumes and
was off. In instant consternation, the whole family trooped after him,
so far as groundlings could, while he flew from tree to tree and roof
to roof. Chirping in his affectionate fashion, he peeped down upon us
with evident surprise as if to ask, "Why don't you come, too? It's much
nicer up here." Innocent of mirrors, he probably thought that we looked
just like him, or that he looked just like us, and he could not
understand why we chose to be earth-gropers when the leafy branches
swayed so delectably in mid-air. But he was such a social and kindly
little bird that, on our repeated calls, he came dipping down to us
and, without protest of a feather, let himself be shut into his cage
again.

Now we were face to face with the question that had already cast its
shadow before. Should we make a life-long captive of our Robin, who
took so pleasantly to human ways, or should we give him the perils and
delights of liberty? Mary's eyes were very wistful, and Joy-of-Life and
I reiterated to each other that our house-reared bird would be
handicapped in the greenwood struggle for life, that he was necessarily
weaker and less wary than other young robins, that there were white
kittens next door, that a gaunt, gray hunting-cat had been seen lurking
about the wire box--and yet, all the while, we knew what we must do.

    "He who bends to himself a joy
    Does the wingèd life destroy;
    But he who kisses the joy as it flies
    Lives in eternity's sunrise."

And so, on the following day, whenever any of us were at leisure to
guard our artless adventurer from the dangers of the yard, we set the
cage-lid wide and let him go where he would. He made small use of his
privileges at first. Little runs on the lawn amused him for a while,
but he would soon mount to the piazza rail and tease the occupant of
the steamer chair for food and petting. His hops over the shelving rock
behind the house were feeble; his trips of exploration to the
neighboring trees and roofs were brief. He was hardly more than a baby
robin yet and, soon wearied, he would go back into his cage for a nap
on the familiar perch. An old maternal robin showed much interest in
this lonely, weak-legged youngster, who seemed so unthrifty about
picking up ants for himself, but he squealed with fright and flew to us
whenever she approached him. She would stand silently beside the cage
and study him through the wire while he slept, but whether she was the
matron of a robin-home for crippled children, or one of his kinsfolk
puzzling out a likeness, our bewildered fosterling, whose idea of
mother-birds was formed on Dame Gentle and ourselves, would have, from
first to last, nothing to do with her.

But one evening, July 7th, just as we had finished giving Robin Hood a
particularly good supper on the edge of his box, he suddenly soared and
left us. The house stands

    "About a young bird's flutter from a wood,"

and, to our dismay, Robin Hood made thitherward
as if it were Sherwood Forest, disappeared
among the dusky treetops and returned not a
chirp to all our agitated calling. He had not
passed a night out of doors for the three weeks
that he had been under human guardianship, and
we felt that anything from a fatal chill to a fatal
hawk might befall him. But the first sound that
greeted my waking senses in the morning was
Mary's delighted, rich-toned, "Why, Robby!"
and there, on top of his cage, sat a hungry, happy
little bird, chirping eagerly and gesticulating with
one wing in a funny fashion of his own, peculiar
to seasons of excitement.

Mary--be it said in passing--was Cecilia's predecessor and for several
years, at the outset of our housekeeping, gave us a devotion only
surpassed by her devotion to her own large and lively family. They
lived but a few miles away, in the Boston suburb known as Jamaica
Plain, and Mary was subject to violent attacks of homesickness,
especially at Christmas, Easter, Hallowe'en and Thanksgiving, so that
we were usually deprived of her services when we needed them most. Once
at home, she would feast and frolic until she had made herself just
sick enough to have a pathetic pretext for prolonging her absence day
after day. When she turned up at last, her Irish wit would inevitably
forestall and frustrate any little unpleasantness that might be
awaiting her. I had mentioned at table one evening, while Mary was
changing the courses, that, lunching with our college president that
day, I had enjoyed luscious grapefruit fresh from the West Indies,
"brought her by a private hand from Jamaica." From her next truancy
Mary returned with a bulging paper bag in her arms, which, even while
my lips were parting to utter a deeply meditated reproach, she dumped
upon me with her rosy cheeks aglow and her round blue eyes all
twinkles. "Here's grapefruit for yez, brought by a private hand from
Jamaica--Plain." The family, waiting about gleefully to hear me deliver
that purposed scolding, broke into a shout of laughter, and the honors
of the day rested, as always, with the culprit.

During one of these vacations, intolerably prolonged by excuse after
excuse, our patience gave way and we availed ourselves of a sudden
chance to put in her place, as temporary substitute, a highly competent
(and expensive) Scandinavian woman. Thus we entered upon a month of
unparalleled luxury, for Gunilla proved to be a cook of the first
order. We were quite below her standard of household opulence and
elegance, as we realized when she asked us, with her invariable bearing
of respectful dignity, if we would kindly tell her where our wine
cellar was located, but she was disposed to take a rest between great
houses and provided for our simple needs with indulgent efficiency as
long as her whim lasted. Although she had broiled and roasted for a
governor, a bishop, and various magnates of industry, she turned to
scrubbing for recreation as naturally as czars and kaisers turn to
chopping wood. She beat every particle of dust, after sweeping, out of
broom and whisk, and before hanging out the clothes, she scoured the
line and every astonished clothespin. The sheets and other flat pieces
sent home from the laundry she straightway plunged into her own tubs.
Her pantry shone with obtrusive cleanliness and every dish came
glistening to the stiff, high-lustered table-cloth, where her spiced
breadsticks were cradled in fresh napkins for each dinner. Her kitchen
range fairly dazzled the eye with its sable brightness, and we were so
proud of the toothsome concoctions that came crackling and crinkling
from it as to give, under her smiling encouragement, a ruinous series
of banquets to our campus friends.

Promptly on Gunilla's departure, Mary came charging back to us, fired
with jealous wrath. Indeed, she would talk of little else but the
enormities of extravagance committed by "The Gorilla," until Robin
Hood's advent effected a welcome diversion.

For the week following his first venture into the trees Robin grew
braver and stronger every day. He had no feathered acquaintance and
kept close at home, hopping about under the rosebushes with a comical
air of proprietorship, bathing in an old flower-pot saucer in his open
cage and sitting sociably, for hours at a time, on Joy-of-Life's window
ledge or Mary's, or on my window box for winter birds. He could feed
himself by this time, but he still liked better to be fed. His table
manners showed marked improvement from his "little monster" age. He no
longer guzzled, and was becoming quite capable of picking up his own
living. Sometimes, when the ants were abundant, he would try the
experiment of self-support for half an afternoon. He was still a very
guileless birdling, and would fall sound asleep squatted down on any
sunny shelf of rock or even in the middle of a path, regardless of the
prowling tabbies that had already made way with our stonewall colony of
chipmunks. We encouraged him to frequent his safer haunts on roof and
window box by keeping fresh water and plentiful supplies of mocking
bird food ready for him there, but we had to know where he was from
dawn to dark, although the July dawns seemed to come in the middle of
the night. Morning after morning, not daring to trust our innocent even
with the early worm, I would slip on dressing-gown and slippers and be
out seeking him by three or four. And there, hopping across the already
heated concrete, would come skurrying an enthusiastic little
speckle-breast, flapping one wing in salutation and twittering
indignantly, "Morning! Breakfast! Morning! Breakfast!" as if he had
been up reading the newspaper for hours. He would ride trustfully on my
hand into the house, take his food and drink, and then contentedly go
to sleep again, perched, by preference, on top of a door.

But one Saturday morning I called Robin Hood in vain. The air, ringing
with bird-carols, held no music so precious as his hungry chirp.
Joy-of-Life was now a thousand miles away, but Mary and Dame Gentle
joined anxiously in the search. We were a distracted household when, at
eight, a ruddy young Audubon from the hilltop arrived, bringing in one
hand our overjoyed little truant, and in the other another fledgling
robin, with the merest beginnings of a tail--a waif picked up by the
roadside. Audubon reported that, as he was busy in his garden, a young
robin had flown down and alighted at his feet, fluttered there a moment
and raised the nestling cry for food. Happy Robin Hood, to have chosen
from all the boys of Wellesley the one wisest in benignant woodcraft!
Audubon slipped quietly to the ground, caught a caterpillar and held it
out to Robin, who came fearlessly to his hand and choked the furry
delicacy down. Then Audubon was sure that this was our famed fosterling
and, taking up the unsuspicious little fellow, hastened to bring him
down the hill to his home.

The new arrival from the greenwood, whom we dubbed Friar Tuck, promptly
belied that jovial memory. He was a wild, sullen, desperate little
outlaw, whose chirp was a metallic click and whose bill had to be pried
open before he would eat. Not even Robin Hood's hospitable chatter
could dispel his scared, defiant misery, and on the second morning,
unable to bear the look he turned up to the trees, we lifted the cage
lid and let him fly. We never, to our knowledge, saw Friar Tuck again,
and although we often listened for his uncanny chirp, it was not
heard--not even by Mary, whose imagination so expanded under these
Natural History studies that she would rush upstairs several times a
day to report all manner of rainbow-colored fowl that she had
discovered in the thickets. By the following winter, her Celtic vision
had soared beyond all bounds. "The cherubs are shoveling snow off the
porch of Paradise this morning," I once happened to remark, whereat
Mary, plumping down the hot coffee-pot helter-skelter, sprang open-eyed
and open-mouthed to the window, gazing ecstatically up into the white
whirl of the storm. "I see thim! I see thim! The shining little dears!
It's using their wings for shovels they are, and I see one of their
feathers afloating down in the snow."

As the summer went on, Robin Hood became the pet of the neighborhood.
Even Giant Bluff, who had moods of declaring that "what with
'Biddy-Biddy' on one side, and 'Robby-Robby' on the other, this hill
ain't fit for nothin' but females to live on," would bring tidbits to
our Speckle, who soon saved him the trouble by making frequent calls at
the front door. A guest of that house used to come to her window in the
early morning and sing him "Robin Adair," while he stood on the
opposite roof attentively listening, his head cocked and his bright eye
turned on the serenader.

But he was a loyal little soul. He spent much of his time on Dame
Gentle's piazza, and although Joy-of-Life, just before her departure,
treating him for asthma--due, the sages said, to an overhearty diet in
his inactive babyhood--had popped an unhappy worm dipped in red pepper
down his throat, yet even this Robin could forgive. It had hurt his
feelings at the time. He had withdrawn to his best-beloved branch on
his best-beloved oak and maintained an offended silence for half an
hour, but with the sting his anger went, and for days after
Joy-of-Life's disappearance, Robin would fly up to her window ledge and
chirp to the closed blinds.

During this second week of freedom, his experience was enlarged by a
thunderstorm, which he contemplated with lively astonishment from
within my window, but the next morning worms were plentiful, and there,
to Giant Bluff's inordinate pride, was Robin trotting about the lawn
like an old hand, turning up bits of turf with a grubby little bill and
actually getting his own breakfast.

A day or two later our fledgling began to sow wild oats. Thursday
afternoon Mary missed him and, hunting for him beyond the cairn, which
she designated "The Pets' Cemetery," found him lending charmed
attention to a big, red-breasted robin, who dashed off so guiltily that
he bumped himself against the fence. All Friday our Speckle was shy and
wild, flying about the edge of the wood with this first friend of his
own feather, but he came to perch on the piazza rail at twilight, as
usual, keeping us company while we took our open-air dinner, and
responding to our blandishments with a drowsy chirp. When he soared to
choose his slumber-spray in one of the tall trees before the house, we
strained our eyes to follow him into the shadows and called up laughing
counsels and good-nights as long as he would answer. But the next
morning an evil-eyed black cat sat on our steps and, hour after hour,
no Robin Hood appeared. Mary spent most of the forenoon in the woods
and, after luncheon, we both went calling through a leafy world with a
Babel of chirps about us. "Thim birds, they're just a-mocking me,"
wailed Mary. But suddenly we both heard, hurrying along the air, that
dear, unmistakable baby squawk, and in an instant more our own little
Speckle came plumping down on my head, where he rode triumphantly into
the house, flapping his funny right wing all the way and gasping with
speed and excitement. He had perhaps been in a fight, for one side of
his guileless face was badly pecked. Throughout the afternoon he
devoured one full meal after another, allowing ten-minute siesta
intervals, with all the enthusiasm of a prodigal son, and then he must
have a bath, and then he must be held and petted, and all the
while--yep, yep, yep! flop, flop, flop!--he was trying to tell the
story of his terrible adventures. Whatever they were, he was a reformed
little robin, and spent the Sunday partly on my window box, where he
would play for fifteen minutes together with the nutshells that the
chickadees had emptied, and partly under a leafy canopy in the oak
within easy squirrel-leap beyond, not having a chirp to chirp to any
bad bird who would lead him into mischief.

For a fortnight longer Robin was our daily joy. It seemed to make us
intimates of the woods to hear, as we were walking there, the hail of a
familiar voice from overhead and look up to see our own small Speckle
peeping down at us from some breezy twig against the blue. For he soon
recovered from his penitence and went sailing through the trees on ever
longer voyages of discovery, being often out of call for two or three
hours at a time. But he was always on the window box, where no other
robin ever came, in the early morning from half-past three on to seven,
overflowing with conversation and insisting on intelligent replies to
his remarks. At intervals throughout the day, too, I would hear a soft
thud on the box, followed by a chirp-p-p and the flap-p-p of a very
impatient and business-like little wing. On these occasions Robin Hood
was quite too much occupied with his greenwood affairs to feed himself,
and I must needs drop book or pen and cram refreshment down his
importunate yellow gullet till it could hold no more. Then he would hop
across to his Japanese water-cup, take a dozen eager dips, wipe his
bill first on one side, then the other, on the edge of the box, and
then, flapping his wing for good-by, sweep off again. In the middle of
every forenoon and, during the hottest weather, of the afternoon as
well, he alighted on his cage and called imperiously to Mary to bring
him fresh water for his bath. We shut him in during this and during his
sun-baths, since he enjoyed these rites so much as to be even more than
commonly oblivious of cats.

On the evening of July 24 the mercury "dropped on us," as Mary said,
some thirty degrees, and a drenching rain fell all night--a new
experience for Robin Hood, who appeared at my window Thursday morning,
a draggled little vagabond. Had there been no wise robin at hand to
teach him how to take the oil from his back pockets and convert his
airy fluff into a tight-fitting waterproof? He was glad to come in out
of the wet and spent the forenoon in Mary's kitchen, letting her fondle
him as she would, but flying with alarm from the proffered caresses of
market-man and grocer-boy. In the course of the next few days, however,
he began to protest a little when even his old friends stooped to take
him up. He would hop backward, snapping his bill, but he seldom flew
and, if the hand did not remain closed upon him, but left him perching
free on wrist or finger, he was entirely content.

On August 8 we did our Robin wrong. An expected dinner guest had
expressed a desire to see him and, as by this time he was spending his
nights, presumably, in a far-off Robin roost, for which he sometimes
started early in the afternoon, Mary caught him during the absorbed
ecstasy of his sun-bath and shut him into the cage. This was still a
favorite resort of his, and he did not object in the slightest until a
young robin playmate with whom he was in the habit of flying to the
roost whistled for him from a scarlet oak. Then Robin chirped to us to
let him out, growing frantic with excitement as we, hitherto so prompt
to obey his behests, made no move for his release. He called and called
again, beating about the cage and even breaking into a song of wild
entreaty. Shame-faced and conscience-stricken, we yet put him off,
expecting our guest minute by minute. It was nearly seven when regrets
were telephoned, but by that time Robin was in a panic and smote our
hearts by the terror with which he fluttered back from us as we bent
over the cage.

The instant the lid was raised he whirred up to the scarlet oak, where
his faithful chum still waited, but before their belated departure
Robin flew down to Dame Gentle's window and told her all about it, and
then over to Giant Bluff's piazza, where he rehearsed his grievances
again in a scolding chirp never heard from him before.

We closed the house on the fourteenth and went away, unforgiven by
Robin Hood, who has never, so far as I know, come to human hand since
Mary's clasp betrayed him to captivity. During those six days we caught
flying glimpses of our estranged fosterling, easily recognized from a
distance by the two white feathers in his tail, and a few times he
started, by sheer force of habit, to hop across the road to us from
Dame Gentle's, but, half-way over, he would turn sharply about, give an
angry little yep, and hop back again.

When we reopened the house in late September, not even Dame Gentle had
recent news of Robin Hood, and all the winter long we carried a
sorrowful sense of broken friendship. We were anxious about our
hand-reared birdling, too, hardly daring to hope that he could survive
the perils of migration. What a desperate adventure it seemed!

    "Who hath talked to the shy bird-people,
    And counseled the feathered breast
    To follow the sagging rain-wind
    Over the purple crest?"

But on the sixth day of March Robin Hood came home. There had been a
baby blizzard the night before and, as we returned from college in the
early afternoon, I noticed birdtracks in the light snow that still
mantled the piazza rail.

"See those prints, right where Robin Hood used to sit and watch us take
our supper!" I exclaimed, a wild hope knocking at my heart, but
Joy-of-Life thought it a case of hungry tree sparrows and, with her
especial tenderness for the plucky, one-legged fox sparrow that had
consorted with them all winter, went in to find them a choice handful
of scraps. But when, a few minutes later, I entered my chamber, there
outside his accustomed window, on the feeding-box now drifted over with
snow, sat a great, plump, glossy redbreast, staring into the room with
Robin's own bright eyes and cocking his head to listen to our welcome.
He fluttered back to the nearest tree, when we opened the window,
indicating that he had learned a thing or two, in the gossip of the
long aerial journeys, about the human race, nor did he ever again enter
the house nor let us touch him, but he kept close by, for weeks,
perching in his old familiar places on roof and rail and window-ledge,
hopping in our walks and gamboling in our eyes. Out in the open, he
would come within a few inches of us and there take his stand and chirp
the confidences that we would have given all our dictionaries to
comprehend. He was such a tall, stately robin, with such an imposing
air of travel and experience as he stood erect, swelling his bright
breast with the effort to relate his Winter's Tale, that Joy-of-Life
rechristened him Lord Bobs.

In course of time our gallant fledgling appeared in company with a
mate, most disappointing to our romantic anticipation,--a faded
crosspatch old enough to be his grandmother, a very shrew who scolded
him outrageously whenever she saw him lingering beside us. She told him
we were ogres, alligators, everything that was horrible and dangerous,
and threatened to peck out his last pin-feather unless he flew away
from us at once. A selfish old body she was, too, monopolizing the
rock-bath, as if she were taking a cure for rheumatism, whole hours at
a time, while Robin Hood, hot and dusty, waited on her pleasure in the
drooping branches above. But despite her shrill remonstrances, he would
still visit the window box, perching on Downy Woodpecker's marrow-bone
for an opera stage and trilling his matins and vespers to our delighted
ears. We were as proud of Robin Hood's singing as if we had taught him
ourselves. Between his carols our troubadour would take a little
refreshment, trying in turn Nuthatch's lump of suet, Bluejay's rinds of
cheese, Junco's crumbs and his own mocking-bird food, or quaffing rain
water from Chickadee's nutshell cups. He would sometimes hop to the
sill and, close against the glass, watch all the doings in that world
which lay about him in his infancy. We looked forward to an hour when
he might bring his own little speckles to play, as he had loved to
play, with the empty nutshells, but Mrs. Robin hustled him off to the
woods for the nesting season and we were never able after that first
spring to distinguish him with certainty among our robin callers. None
the less he had made the summer and all summers happier for us by his
gracious though guarded pardon for our unkindness.

    "Truth never fails her servant, sir, nor leaves him
    With the day's shame upon him,"

and even over wild-bird tradition and matrimonial tyranny the truth of
our love for Robin Hood, its single lapse forgiven, had prevailed.



WHY THE SPIRE FELL


    Our Emperor built a marble church
    So holy never a bird might perch
    On cross or crocket or gilded crown,
    A fretted minster of far renown,
    But still the spire came crashing down.

    _They stoned the swallow and limed the lark;
    A rosy throat was an easy mark;
    The tiniest wren that built her nest
    In Christ's own halo, on Mary's breast,
    Was scared away like a demon guest._

    Once, twice, thrice, the glistening spire
    That soared from the central tower, higher
    Than all its clustered pinnacles, fell,
    And not one of the carven saints could tell
    The cause, though the emperor quizzed them well.

    Down in the cloister all strewn with chips
    Of alabaster and ivory tips
    Of pastoral staffs and angel wings,
    In a rainbow ruin of sacred things
    He held high court in the way of kings.

    _All the while in a royal rage
    He pelted with fragments of foliage,
    Curly acanthus and vineleaf scroll,
    Finial, dogtooth and aureole,
    The linnets and finches who came to condole._

    Crowned with a cobwebby cardinal's hat
    That swooped from the vaulted roof like a bat,
    On a tilted porphyry plinth for a throne,
    The emperor summoned in thunder tone
    The hallowed folk of metal and stone.

    Martyrs, apostles, one and all,
    Tiptoed down from the quaking wall;
    Crusaders, uncrossing their legs of brass,
    Sprang from their tombs; over crackle of glass
    Balaam rode on a headless ass.

    But not one of the sculptured cavalcade
    Flocking from choir and creamy façade,
    Deep-arched portal and pillared aisle
    Had a word on his lips, though all the while
    Gentle St. Francis was seen to smile.

    _Whistles, chuckles, warbles tried
    To give the answer the saints denied;
    Gurgles, tinkles, twitters, trills,
    Carols wild as wayward rills
    Troubadouring daffodils._

    St. Peter, high in his canopied niche
    Set with jewels exceeding rich,
    Was dancing a hornpipe over the clock,
    But before the gargoyles had time to mock
    From his shoulder crowed St. Peter's cock.

    "_Kirikiree!_ Creative Love
    That folds the emperor folds the dove.
    No church is finished, though grand it be,
    That lacks the beauty of charity.
    Buttress your spire. _Kirikiree!_"

    So our Emperor reared the spire anew,
    Yon shaft of glory that cleaves the blue,
    Held in its place by the lightest things
    God ever fashioned, the wee, soft wings
    Of the birds that join in our worshipings.



AN EASTER CHICK

    "Only, what I feel is, that no charity at all can get rid of a
    certain natural unkindness which I find in things themselves."

    --Pater's _Marius the Epicurean_.


The grippe had held me a prostrate prisoner for weeks. Books, pencils,
people were forbidden. It was a strange but not unhappy Lent to lie
helpless day after day, gazing through my blessed square of window into
a first snowy, then blowy, often rainy and rarely sunshiny patch of
woodland, watching the brown oak leaves whirl in hurricane dances above
the pine-tops, and the crows wing their strong flight against the gray
of the sky. As a cumberer of the earth, I was meekly grateful for the
least attention from this active outdoor world, for the cheery pipings
of the chickadees, whose wee black bills pounded the marrow-bone on the
window-sill, for the guttural greetings of the white-breasted
nuthatches who played the acrobat on the swinging, open-work bag of
cracked walnuts outside the pane, even for the jeers of the bluejays
who swooped to the sash and dashed off like triumphant Dick Turpins
with our bounty of bread and cheese.

So Joy-of-Life, hearing of a Boston confectioner's pious offer to
bestow an Easter chicken on every customer who should alleviate the
fast by the purchase of two pounds of expensive candies at any time
during Holy Week, thought she would add to my feathered acquaintance a
more intimate companion. Herself an abominator of sweets, she
heroically passed a dollar and a half across the counter and received
in exchange, beside two boxes of riotous living, a tiny chick, only a
day or so out from egg and incubator.

It was pretty, she said, to see the interest with which the tired
shop-girls bent over that fluffy morsel of life, petting it with light
touches and soothing words, as it was tucked away, with Indian meal for
provender and a wad of cotton-wool for bedding, in a gay pasteboard
houselet. The color of this miniature mansion was russet flecked with
black. The door was a painted sham, but the red-tiled roof swung open.
The window boasted four oblong apertures, and the whole establishment
was symmetrically set in a half-inch estate of the reddest pasteboard
clay. The girl made the roof secure with a few turns of silver cord and
the captive was reduced to thrusting an indignant yellow bill through
one after another of his window openings, expostulating with all
creation in a series of shrill chirps. As the customer stepped out with
her premium in hand, the candy-coveting group of ragamuffins outside
the window surged forward in rapture at sight and sound of the chicken,
and one particularly grimy urchin reached up both arms toward it with
such an imploring gesture that the birdling almost changed ownership
then and there. But Joy-of-Life bethought herself in time of the
conditions of tenement and alley, not favorable to the development of
any sort of biped, and said:

"It is for a sick lady. Don't you want her to have it?"

And the tatterdemalion slowly dropped his wistful hands, sighing
dutifully, "Yes, m'm."

The chicken-bearer's dignified progress, "cheep, cheep, cheep," across
the Common and Public Gardens and through the Back Bay section,
afforded her a new gauge for testing human nature. Colonial Dames who
looked an aristocratic rebuke she put lower in the scale of sympathy
than the Italian organ-grinder whose black eyes laughed frankly into
hers, while the maid who opened a door in Newbury street, where
Joy-of-Life had a call to make, fell with her shocked, contemptuous
stare quite under passing rank.

It was late in the evening before I heard upon the stairs a welcome
tread, mounting to that queer accompaniment of cheep, cheep, cheep, now
pitched upon a key, had we but ears to hear, of acute distress. My
delight in greeting the chicken was not reciprocated, and no wonder.
Our unconscious, ignorant crimes against his frail little being had
already begun. Joy-of-Life, ever most tender toward the weak, enjoyed,
moreover, the advantage of having been reared upon a farm, where she
had often watched the life of coop and poultry-yard, but not even she
was wise enough to give that chicken comfort.

She had carefully seen to it, all the journey through, that he had
oxygen enough. The March wind blew so harshly that she had wanted to
shelter the fairy chalet under her cloak, but had feared that the
yellow bill, forever thrusting itself through the small casement, would
gasp for air. Air! That is the least of a chicken's wants. With all his
baby energy, Microbe, as we promptly christened him, had called for
heat, heat, heat, and had not been understood. Those thin pasteboard
walls and that shred of cotton-wool had left him practically naked to
the blast, and he was chilled--poor innocent--to the bone.

And still, in our big, human obtuseness, we did not comprehend. We
brought him meal mixed with cold water--an atrocious diet from which he
angrily turned away. All at cross purposes, we flattered him foolishly
in our alien tongue, while he remonstrated passionately in his. At last
the warmth of the room and very weariness quieted that incorrigible
cheep a little, and he was put downstairs out of invalid hearing, with
a strip of batting cast, like a snowdrift, over his jaunty dwelling.

The family went snugly to bed, while the furnace fire burned lower and
lower and the chill of the small hours stole through the house. A less
mettlesome chicken, overwhelmed with the loneliness and cruel cold,
would have yielded up its accusing little ghost then and there, but
this mite had a marvelous spirit of his own and struggled against fate
like a De Wet.

In that heavy hour before the dawn, Joy-of-Life was roused from sleep
by such desperate chicken shrieks, "Yep, yep, yep! Help, help, help!"
that no doors could shut them out. Shivering in her dressing-gown she
went down to our unhappy fosterling, who lay stiff and straight, with
head thrust forward and legs stretched back, apparently _in articulo
mortis_. The rigid bit of body was cold to her touch, and the only
hopeful sign was that shrill, protesting chirp, into which all
remaining vitality seemed to be forced. Holding the downy ball
compassionately between her palms, this ineffectual giantess--from
Microbe's point of view--reflected on the possibilities of the
situation only to be baffled. The kitchen fire was out, the oven had
not a hint of warmth in it, there was no hot water for the rubber bag.
Besides, the chicken seemed too far gone for restoration, and she
guiltily smothered him away under the fold of cotton batting and
retreated to her chamber. But Microbe had by no means surrendered his
sacred little claims to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The
persistent prick of his muffled, frantic cries drove sleep from her
pillow. She rose once more and, by inspiration, carried the diminutive
mansion down cellar, where she placed it on top of the furnace!
Instantly the genial heat reached that exhausted chick, who had battled
for it so valiantly and long. The white-barred lids slipped up over the
round black eyes--for chickens literally "shut their peepers up"--and
he was asleep before his rescuer had turned away.

Joy-of-Life did not believe such a day-old atom of mortality could
survive this woeful night. She came to my bedside at the breakfast hour
and prepared me solemnly for word of Microbe's premature decease. But
little did we know as yet the meaning of that maligned phrase
"chicken-hearted." She descended at a funereal pace to the cellar, but
with the sound of her swift returning feet I laughed to hear, clearer
from stair to stair, an eager, spirited little pipe, "Chip, chip, chip!
What's up now? Where are we going on this trip, trip?"

Such a wide-awake, enterprising speck of poultry it was that
Joy-of-Life proudly set upon the counterpane! He gave prompt proof of
his activity by scrambling madly for my plate, and fluttered down, with
yellow winglets spread, exactly in the center of my slice of toast.

"It's spring chicken on toast he's giving yez," cried our delighted
Mary, and in honor of that ready display of Irish humor, his name was
forthwith abbreviated to Mike.

Then he hopped up into my neck, cuddled down, sang a little, contented
song and went off to sleep again, waking to find himself the ruler of
the roost.

Word of our mutual devotion went abroad and forthwith the critics
began. A high-minded friend sent word that if she heard of my lavishing
any more affection on that ridiculous little rooster, she would come
and wring his yellow neck, and even the Madre herself, she who had
borne with my foibles longest and most indulgently, wrote in a flash of
scandalous uncharity that she wished I would rest content with the wild
birds that God had made, and not waste attention on an illegitimate,
incubator chicken.

But "God be with trewthe qwer he be!" The foolish fact is that, in the
restlessness of convalescence, when work and worry, thought and
humanity must still be shooed from the threshold, I found hourly mirth
and comfort in that dot of sunshine. The phenomenal mists and rains of
this first April of the new century caused such a dearth of golden
lights in the world that a yellow chicken acquired peculiar values. The
furnace-man said he was a Wyandotte and, as a feminine household, we
invariably put absolute faith in the word of our furnace-man. I do not
know how Wyandottes ought to look, but I know that this was a
daffodil-colored mite, with legs and feet more slender than chicken
wont, and with a hundred diverting, confiding, tyrannical little ways.

I never ceased marveling at the pluck with which this Lilliputian
tackled life in the midst of such Brobdingnagian surroundings. The only
time I ever saw him scared was when a guest, so well acquainted with
chickens as to venture on personal liberties, flourished her glove over
the graveled box that served poor little Mike for his Earthly Paradise.

"Squawk! squawk!" he cried in an agitated pipe I had not heard before,
and scrabbled wildly to the shelter of my hand, nestling out of sight
under the palm in his favorite fashion.

"Did you hear him call hawk, hawk?" asked my erudite visitor. "We have
an old biddy at home who nurses a grudge against me this week because I
will not let her set, and the last time I went out into the henyard, if
she didn't scream hawk, hawk, just like that, and send the chickens
scuttling to cover under the barn! The hateful thing! She knew how
insulted I would feel to be taken for a hawk!"

But apart from that trying occasion, Mike was a scrap of valor. No
member of the family was tall enough to disconcert him. He pecked
whatever he saw, from his own feet to the register, and would pounce
like a baby pirate upon objects many times larger than himself,
cheeping to the world his tidings of magnificent discovery. I am no
pastoral linguist, but I learned the rudiments of chicken language from
Mike, who was such a chatterbox that he twittered in his sleep.

Meal-times, which he liked to have occur every hour from dawn to dark,
brought out his conversational fluency at its best. We tried many
experiments with his diet, in obedience to many counselors. We were
told that his Indian meal should be mixed with scalding water, that he
was too young for this hearty dish and should be fed with dry oatmeal,
that minute crumbs of bread would comfort his crop, that larger bits of
bread, kindly masticated in advance, were better, that sour milk was
essential, mashed potato indispensable, string beans a plausible
substitute for angle-worms, that he must be given a chance to swallow
gravel to assist the grinding in his wee gizzard mill, and that his
cereals should be discreetly spiced with grubs and lettuce leaves and
such spring dainties. Whatever we were told to do, we did. Mike's
repasts were thus seasons to him of delicious excitement, and he would
tear deliriously from one end of his box to the other, pecking to right
and left, exclaiming in high glee, "Tweet, tweet! Something to eat!
Bless my pin-feathers! Here's a treat!"

This up-to-date son of an incubator had an obstinate instinct in him
which made the tap of my finger on the floor of his box equivalent to
the tattoo of a hen's bill beside some scratched-up delicacy, and it
was funny to see him rush to the sound, his black eyes shining with
joyous expectancy. So queerly did instinct serve him that he would grab
the goody as if a brood of famished brothers were on his heels and,
spreading his bits of wings, race off with his prize, most indiscreetly
shrilling as he went, "Twit, twit, twit! You shan't have a bit," and
gobbling it down in a corner with choking precipitation.

One of the "Arrows of the Wise" carries the point, "Be not idle and you
shall not be longing," and I had no chance to miss my customary
vocations with this importunate cockerel demanding constant society and
care.

Hatched to the vain anticipation of brooding wings and crooning cluck
and the restless pressure of other downy little bodies all about him,
Mike was a lonesome chick and could not bear to have his sorry
substitute for a mother-hen out of sight and sound a minute. His box
must be within reach of my hand, whither every few minutes he would run
for a snuggle and a snooze, turning a disdainful back on the elaborate
hot-water-bottle and cotton-batting shelters I had been at such pains
to erect. The life in him craved contact with life. If I withdrew my
hand, having occasionally other uses for it, or neglected to respond to
his casual remarks, my ears would suddenly be assailed by a storm of
piteous chirps, the neck would stretch until two round eyes peered
anxiously above his castle wall, and then, with clamber and scramble,
that indomitable little spirit would achieve the impossible and land a
fluttering fluff-ball against my face. When I was well enough to move
from room to room Mike would dare the most terrific rumbles from his
box to come chasing after, though every threshold was a towering
obstacle over which a Labor Union of wings and legs could barely carry
him.

After he had eaten his supper, with undiminished enthusiasm, and had
drunk his fill from a butter-plate, lifting his yellow bill to heaven
with every drink, and giving thanks, as all good chickens do, we used
to tuck him away in a basket. At first we buried him deep under a light
mass of cotton-wool, from the precise center of whose surface his head
would shine out in the morning like a star set in fleecy clouds; but
the chief of our advisory council warned us that the films might get
into his eyes and down his gullet with disastrous results, and
suggested instead the use of a retired table-scarf. Chicken in the
cloth, cloth in the basket, basket on the register, the family would
compose itself to listen to the "Life of Huxley," while the softest,
drowsiest nest song, "Tweety-tweet! Tweety-tweet!" from the depths of
the table-scarf accompanied the voice of the reader. The elfin
music-box would fall silent presently, but when bedtime came, and
Joy-of-Life, before taking the basket down cellar to hang it near the
furnace for the night, brought it to me that I might ask, no matter how
quietly, "All well, Mike?" a dreamy little note would instantly float
back, "Tweety-tweet! Sleeping sweet!"

We grew so fond of our pet as to dislike to see him deprived of the
natural companionship of chickenhood, and two other downy midgets--a
Penciled Brahmapootra, the gift of the market-man, and a Plymouth Rock,
from the Lady of Cedar Hill--were procured to bear him company. The
first we dubbed Patience, as the proper associate of a Microbe, but
this beautiful little fowl, whose golden face and delicately striped
body gave it a wild-bird look, developed such shillalah
characteristics, especially when Mike made off with the choice morsels,
that his name was speedily curtailed to Pat. The Plymouth Rock was
called Cluxley, in memory of our evening readings; but a meek,
illogical, not to say unscientific henny-penny she proved, who would
stand gazing on a dainty until one of her foster-brothers had snatched
it up and then industriously go and scratch for it in all the places
where it never could have been. Pat was a self-reliant, material-minded
younker, and we let him go his own lively way, with the minimum of
handling, but our brown Cluxley was of a clinging disposition and had
an embarrassing habit of imperiling her life by stealthy excursions up
loose sleeves. Mike did not welcome these birds of his own feather any
too cordially and held somewhat aloof from them to the end. One of my
students sent in a pair of dainty blue slippers, fortunately too small,
as thus my conscience was clear in devoting them to the welfare of my
immediate brood; but I always had to see to it that Mike and Pat took
their siestas in separate slippers, where they would drowsily flute
away in musical rivalry. Cluxley, with her customary indiscretion,
bestowed herself one day in a damp rubber for her nap and caught a bad
cold, which we successfully doctored with hempseed.

Mike had begun to show signs of feathers and once he tried to crow. He
had become less dependent on me for intimate society, his attention
being much taken up with thwarting Pat's designs on the tidbits, but he
could by no means dispense with me as general protector. If I were in
the room, or close beside them in a steamer chair out of doors, he was
willing to ramble a bit with Pat and Cluxley, always taking the lead,
but I could not slip away and leave them, even in Mary's charge,
without immediate consternation, protest and pursuit on Microbe's part.
He was such a humanized chicken, coming at the call of his name, loving
to eat from the finger, cocking his little head so sagely when he was
addressed and politely cheeping a response, that he became perilously
attractive to the children of the neighborhood. Sturdy schoolboys would
kiss his yellow softness on the sly and we often had to rescue him from
the unskillful clutch of loving childish hands.

When a luncheon was brought to me out of doors, all three chickens
would come winging and scrabbling up the rug that wrapped the sorceress
of the steamer-chair and dispose themselves about the edge of the tray,
chirping continuous amens to the grace steeped in ancient witchcraft:

    "Spread, table, spread.
    Meat, drink and bread.
    Ever may I have
    What I ever crave,
    When I am spread.
    Meat for my black cock,
    And meat for my red."

Now that I was to be seen outside the house with my little brood,
kindly neighbors came from all sides with offers of more chickens, but
my family cares were already heavy for a convalescent, and experience
had taught me that

                               "true happiness
    Consists not in the multitude of friends,
    But in the worth and choice."

Occasional misgivings as to the future crossed my mind. I had often
seen reposing sheep blocking up the doorways of Andalusian
homes,--Easter lambs given, all gay with ribbons, to the children the
year before and still withheld by family affection from their natural
destiny of mutton. The Dryad looked forward with glee to my appearance
on the academic platform with three full-grown fowls roosting on the
back of my chair or stalking up and down the desk, picking up bits of
chalk and pencil whittlings, but such embarrassments were not to be.

Mike was the first to sicken. His name may have been against him or the
long confinement in the basket may have injured him. The table-scarf
may have been too heavy to admit of his standing and moving during the
night as a chicken should. He suddenly became crippled, as with
paralysis. One morning, although he breakfasted with abundant relish,
he insisted on hiding in my hand immediately after. I wanted him to run
about for exercise, and twenty times put him back into his box, but he
returned to me twenty-one and had his own way for a while, until Mary
played the kidnapper. Coming down stairs half an hour later I heard her
remonstrating with Mike, who was cheeping wildly.

"Faith, Mike, ye're that onraysonable I can't plaze yez any how.
There's Pat and Cluxley as good as clover in the kitchen, but I let yez
into the dining-room, and still ye're discontinted, and now I've let
yez into the parlor, Mike, and not the parlor is good enough. Whativer
is it that ye can be wanting?"

Poor Chicken Little! He heard my voice and started to meet me, but with
such hobbling, staggering, bewildered steps that, at last, the
threshold overthrew him. We did for him what we knew--and we knew
nothing--that day and the next, and he sang his tuneful tweety-tweet on
Monday night; but on Tuesday morning, a fortnight from his coming, when
I asked for my chicken, they brought me a ghastly little form lying
among primroses.

I might say that I met the loss of my tiny comrade with adult dignity
and composure, but

    "Syr, for lying, though I can do it,
    Yet am I loth for to goo to it."

The core of my grief is the sense that my blundering devotion cut
short, on the very edge of spring, that gallant little life which
brought help to me in my heavy hour, and which had in it all the
promise of a Chaucer chanticleer.

In deep humiliation, we forthwith gave Pat and Cluxley over to higher
intelligence than ours, to a neighbor's hen who had no narrow parental
prejudices, but amply gathered them in with her own brood. Pat was the
beauty of the coop, but in a day or so his legs began to waver and sink
under him, and he, too, never knew a Maytime. Cluxley was always the
belated one and outlived him some three days, but on the fourth morning
she went staggering into the undiscovered realm.

People say, "But you did well to keep your Easter chicken alive
fourteen days. If the truth were known, you would find that very few of
those candy-sale chickens hold out so long as that. We bought one for
the children, but it was dead before Sunday. It is next to impossible
to raise chickens by hand, even with experience. As to the ducklings
that are coming into fashion for Easter gifts, they die sooner than
chickens."

Then to our moral, for Mike's small story surely has a moral, though it
does not matter in the least to Mike. I have no delusions there.

                      "All men are
    Philosophers to their inches,"

but chickens' inches are so very few that there is no room for altruism
in their philosophy. Yet the thought of how much these wee innocents
may suffer from the incompetence of those who so lightly assume their
fostering urges a protest against keeping Easter, the Festival of Life,
by such wanton sacrifice of life. How can we reproach the Spaniards,
who celebrate their Easter by the merciless bullfight, while we permit
this cruelty to tender chickenhood?

A chicken's death is not more trivial than a sparrow's fall. St.
Francis of Assisi would have cared.

But beneath it all lies the old, dark problem of creature existence.
They are so ready to trust and love us, these feathered and furred
companions of ours on the strange, bright star that whirls us all
through the vast of ether to an unknown rhythm, and we, with a lordly
selfishness that scoffs at question, slaughter them for our food and
clothing, hunt them for our sport, make them our drudges in peace and
our victims in war. I can never forget the eyes of a calf that ran to
me from his butcher in Norway,--of a kid that I saw struggling away
from the knife on Passover eve in Palestine. Yet such is the order of
the earth. All carnivorous creatures prey upon the weaker. Water and
wood and field and air are but varying scenes of the unpausing tragedy.
Why, if it must be so, were these doomed animals endowed with the awful
gift of suffering? And what recompense, even in the far reaches of
eternity, can their Creator make to these myriad martyrs for their
griefs and tortures? Is He the God of Hardy's _The Dynasts_, careless
of mortal agonies? There dwelt a truer God in Shelley's heart, the _cor
cordium_ of him who wrote:

    "I wish no living thing to suffer pain."



HOW BIRDS WERE MADE


    Above his forests bowed the Spirit, dreaming
    Of maize and wigwams and a tawny folk
    Who should rejoice with him when autumn broke
    Upon the woods in many-colored flame.
    Pale birches, maples gleaming
    In splendor of all gold and crimson tints,
    And dark-green balsams with their purple hints
    Of cones erect upon the stem, awoke
    In his deep heart,
    Though thought had yet no words,
    Beauty no name,
    Creative longing for a voice, a song
    Blither than winds or brooklet's tinkling flow,
    His own joy's counterpart.
    He breathed upon the throng
    Of wondering trees, and lo!
    Their leaves were birds.

    The birds do not forget, but love to fellow
    The trees whose shining colonies they were;
    Else wherefore should the scarlet tanager
    Fling from the oak his proud, exultant flush
    Of music? Why mid yellow
    Sprays of the willow by her empty nest
    Lingers the golden warbler? Softly drest
    In autumn buffs and russets, chorister
    Sweetest of all,
    Angel of lonely eves,
    The hermit thrush
    Haunts the November woodland. In them bides
    Memory of that far time, ere eyes of men
    Had seen the tender fall
    Of shadow or the tides
    Of silver sunrise, when
    The birds were leaves.



TAKA AND KOMA

    "What madness is it to take upon us to know a thing by that it is
    not? Shall we perswade our selves that wee know what thing a Camell
    is, because wee know it is not a Frogge?"

    --Barckley's _Felicitie of Man_. 1603.


To console me for the loss of the chicks, Joy-of-Life went into a
Boston bird-store one day and, in defiance of all her principles and
mine, bought me a Japanese robin. When she presented him, the daintiest
little fellow, mouse-color, with touches of red and gold on wings and
throat and the prettiest pink bill, I met her guilty look with one of
sheer astonishment.

    "A Robin Redbreast in a cage
    Puts all Heaven in a rage,"

I quoted.

"But he was in a cage already," she weakly apologized, "and we'll be
very good to him."

"Good jailers!"

"But liberty here would be his undoing, and I can't take him over to
Japan. Come! It's time that you said thank-you."

But Taka, named after a Japanese boy of Joy-of-Life's earlier
acquaintance, proved a dubious blessing. He was in angry temper from
the first, and a brilliant new cage, fitted up with all the modern
conveniences and latest luxuries, failed to appease him in the least.
He would thrust his head between the gilded bars so violently that he
could not draw it back, and while we were doing our clumsy best to
extricate him he would peck our fingers with furious ingratitude. He
upset his porcelain dishes, declined to use his swing and, as a rule,
rejected all the attractions of his criss-cross perches, fluttering
back and forth and madly beating against the bars or huddling in an
unhappy little bundle on the floor. It was a matter of weeks before we
could coax him into conversation, and then his abrupt, metallic chirps
were so sharp that Mary, who scorned and disliked him as a foreigner,
was scandalized.

"Don't ye talk with him. It's all sauce that Jap is giving yez."

Even Robin Hood, social little fellow that he was, tried in vain, later
on, to make friends with this ungracious stranger. The East and the
West could not meet. In response to Robin's cheery chatter, Taka would
bristle, turn away and maintain a stubborn silence.

I used to carry his cage out of doors with me and set it up on the
bank, where crocuses followed snowdrops, and tulips followed crocuses,
beside the steamer-chair, hoping that he would feel more at home amid
the blossoms and bird music of the spring. But there little Lord Sulks
would sit, bunched into a corner of his palace, deigning no response
whatever to the soft greetings of the bluebirds, those "violets of
song," nor to the ecstatic trills of the fox sparrows, nor even to the
ringing challenge of Lieutenant Redwing, as he flashed by overhead on
his way to Tupelo swamp.

A calling ornithologist examined Taka carefully and concluded that he
was an old bird, although the dealer had glibly represented him as
being in the very pink of youth. So our poor prisoner was perhaps not
born in captivity and may have had more than ancestral memories of
spreading rice fields, tea plantations and holy bamboo groves. Our
brave blue squills, our sunny forsythias, our coral-tinted laurels
could not break his dream of flushing lotus and flaming azalea. What
was our far-off glimpse of silvery Wachusett to the radiant glories of
sea-girt Fujiyama? I hinted that a pet monkey might solace his
nostalgia, but to such suggestion Joy-of-Life remained persistently
deaf.

The children of the neighborhood found him, sullen though he was, a
center of fascination, and would crowd about his cage, pointing out to
one another the jewel tints in his plumage.

"Cutest bird I ever seed 'cept the flicker," pronounced Snippet, whose
straw-colored hair stood out like a halo.

"Chickadees are nicer'n flickers," protested wise little Goody
Four-Eyes. "A chickadee eats three hundred cankerworms in a day and
over five thousand eggs--when he can get 'em."

The boys gave a choral snort.

"Who does the countin'?" demanded Punch.

"Wish _I'd_ been born with all the learnin' in me," scoffed Snippet.

But Goody, who had gathered many a pinecone for our feeding-boxes and,
her snub nose pressed snubbier yet against the window pane, had watched
the black-capped rolypolies twitch out the winged seeds, stood her
ground.

"Does, too," she averred stoutly. "Boys don't know about birds. They
stone 'em."

"And girls wear feathers in their hats."

"I don't, but Snippet's mamma does."

"Doesn't neither. She jes' wears regrets on Sunday."

"You don't say it right, but you're nothin' but a small boy."

"I'm seven," blustered Snippet, "and I think I'd be eight by now, if I
hadn't had the measles."

"Where's Taka?" I exclaimed.

In the jostling of the children about the cage, the door, accidentally
or not, had been slipped ajar, and Taka, taking advantage of the heat
of the discussion, had escaped.

The youngsters raised a whoop that might well have scared him to the
Pacific, but not the stir of a bird-wing could be perceived anywhere
about.

Cats!

"Run to the house, Punch, please, and call out everybody to help us
find Taka."

I had selected Punch as the boy of longest legs, forgetting his
partiality for Mary's doughnut jar. He chose the route through the
pantry with the result that when, after a suspiciously long interval,
the rescue party arrived, Mary was dancing with wrath.

"Shure," she panted, "that gossoon would be a good missenger to sind
for Death, for he wouldn't be after gitting him here in a hurry at all
at all."

We hunted and we hunted and we hunted. We hunted high in the trees,
which the boys and Goody, too, climbed with an activity that surprised
the woodpeckers; we hunted low in the grass, interrupting a circle of
squirrels gathered around a toadstool, as around a birthday cake; but
no sign of Taka. We searched hedges and shrubbery, but no Taka. We
chirped and we whistled, though well aware that even if Taka heard us
he would not answer.

The western sky was a brighter red than Goody's hair-ribbon before we
sat ourselves down, discouraged, on the piazza steps to wait for
Joy-of-Life.

One by one the children had been summoned home, all but Wallace. He had
by telephone directed his parents, who used to be older than he but
whom he now watched over with solicitude, to eat their supper without
him and go to bed as usual in case he should be detained.

"I don't like to think of that little goldy head out in the big dark
all night," I said.

"Maybe a star will suppose it's another star and come down and stay
with it," suggested Wallace, trying to buttress my sagging courage.

"His winglets are so wild and so weak."

"I believe the other birds know where he is. Please tell us," entreated
Wallace, addressing a solemn crow that had just flapped over from the
wood to a neighboring fence-post.

"Now it's no use to be asking of His Riverence," put in Mary. "All the
crows were prastes once and they talk only the Latin."

It was one of Joy-of-Life's miracles. It was almost dark when, tired
and hungry, she came home from Boston,--from a committee meeting of
philanthropists who had been quarreling as only philanthropists can.
She looked into Taka's empty cage, stayed but for a glass of milk and a
few inquiries as to our field of search, and then, taking an electric
torch, slipped softly into Giant Bluff's cherished tangle of luxuriant
rosebushes, where the rest of us had not dared to venture. In a few
minutes she emerged, scores of irate briars catching at her clothes and
hair. She was crooning as she came out and in her safe clasp nestled a
sleepy little bird.

Soon after this episode, Joy-of-Life went west for her summer sojourn
among the birds at a Wisconsin lake, leaving to Mary, Robin Hood and
myself the guardianship of that forlorn mite. He was as obstinate as
ever in his lonesomeness, always pettishly rebuffing the friendly
advances of Robin and, though I would take his cage to the vicinity of
bird after bird, hoping that in some one of these he might recognize a
kindred spirit, he found nothing of his feather. The white-breasted
nuthatch, after nearly two months of absence, presumably for the
rearing of a brood in leafy seclusion, returned for a call at the
feeding-box, looking as genteel as ever in his tailor-made gray suit,
but so preoccupied with domestic memories that at first he would say
nothing but "Spank! spank! spank!" I brought Taka to the window and he
looked on disdainfully while I tried to win Nuthatch back to his winter
phrase of "Thank! thank! thank!" Only once did he revert to bachelor
freedom of expression. That was when he fluttered up to the nutmeat bag
and found it dangling empty:

"What a prank, prank, prank, to rob my bank, bank, bank! oh, the
offense is rank, rank, rank!"

At this explosion of resentment Taka gave an involuntary chirp, and
Nuthatch, the most inquisitive and alert of all our bird visitors,
looked the stranger over keenly before he retorted with shocking
rudeness, "You're a crank, crank, crank," and flew off to see what the
brown creeper, zigzagging wrong side up about the rough-barked trunk of
an old oak, was finding good to eat.

Once I carried Taka well out into the wildwood, but he was not
interested in any of its busy tenants,--not in little Chippy, who all
but pushed his russet crown between the bars of the cage, nor in
Yellow-Hammer, stabbing the ground for ants, nor in

                                  "yonder thrush,
    Schooling its half-fledged little ones to brush
    About the dewy forest."

At last, one afternoon, after Taka had been moping for hours in deeper
gloom than usual, I impulsively held up a hand-glass before him. As
soon as the solitary caught sight of that other Japanese robin he broke
out into excited chirps and twitters, and suddenly, to my astonishment,
caroled forth a ravishing song. I hastily put the glass away, but he
began calling, calling, calling with a wistful eagerness that could not
be endured. He kept it up till dark and began it again at dawn, so
hopefully, so yearningly, that, principles or no principles, there was
only one thing to do.

I went into Boston that morning and, stopping at a Japanese store,
asked their word for robin.

"Kóma-dóri, or Little Bird, usually called Koma, the Little One."

So on I fared to the bird-dealer's and bought Koma for Joy-of-Life. He
was the only Japanese robin they had left, and the dealer swore that he
was Taka's brother, but I suspected that the relationship was nearer
that of great-great-grandson, for Koma, smaller than Taka, of brighter
gold and more vivid ruby, was the quintessence of vital energy, a very
spark of fire. He fought like a mimic Hector while the dealer was
catching and boxing him, and all the gay-hued parrots jumped up and
down on their perches and screamed with the fun of having something
going on.

The dealer declared that the two birds would thrive best in the same
cage; so I introduced Koma into Taka's commodious abode that afternoon
and listened in high content to their jubilant bursts of song. They
went to sleep on the highest perch with their tiny bodies cuddled close
together, but during the following week their love lyric was punctuated
by several fights. Taka, hitherto so contemptuous of the comforts of
his cage, now wanted to swing whenever he saw Koma swinging and
insisted on shoving his guest away and eating from the very seed-cup
that Koma had selected, whereupon Koma, a glistening ruffle of wrath,
would fling himself in furious attack upon his honorable ancestor.

Mary, whose partiality for Koma, little beauty that he was, attempted
no disguise, maintained that Taka always began the combats and was
always worsted; but I was not so sure. Koma, a restless gleam of chirp
and song, was such a violent character that twice he rammed his head
between the upper wires of his cage and nearly hanged himself. Some
heathen deity had given him, for his protection, a tremendous voice,
and his shrieks soon brought me running to his rescue. Both times, as
soon as I had parted the wire and released the lustrous little head,
Taka, wildly agitated through the minutes of Koma's peril, turned
fiercely upon me and accused me of the trap.

"_You_ did it! Ugly thing! _You_ did it! You nearly killed my Koma."

And poor little Koma, gasping in the gravel, would chime in faintly but
with no less resentment, "_She_ did it."

Yet within an hour they might be fighting again, and I would find them
spent and panting, glaring at one another from opposite sides of their
limited arena, with deep cuts about the little warrior faces.

"Taka," I would remonstrate, "aren't you ashamed to treat your own
clansman like this, when you wanted him so much?"

But Taka and penitence were far asunder. "It's my last
tail-feather--chir-r-r! Koma, he hasn't any tail at all--chir-r-r! No
more have I now. Don't care a grub. I pulled _his_ out. Catch me that
fly, can't you? Who-oo-oo-oop!"

Koma, whose song had an entrancing gypsy note, was so much the wilder
of the two that Taka seemed comparatively tame. Koma's terror of human
monsters was unconquerable, and his panics, whenever one of us neared
the cage, soon destroyed the frail confidence that our long patience
had been building up in Taka. Presently we had two out-and-out rebels
on our hands, and even Dame Gentle, who "had a way" with birds, could
not cajole them into a League of Lovers.

When the cage door was opened for putting in or taking out the small
glass bathtub, it was a ticklish matter to prevent their escape, for
they could dart like mice through the least crack and, sly atoms of
conspiracy, were always on the lookout for a chance. Warned by bitter
experience, we saw to it that the windows were closed before that
perilous task was undertaken, but too often a victorious squeal from
Koma would announce his exit, and Taka, hopping in sympathetic
exultation from perch to perch, would urge him on with ancient Japanese
war-cries while he soared from mantel to chandelier, vanished in the
folds of a portiere or flashed from fern to rubber-plant. If he
succeeded in reaching the entry, he would prolong the game by hiding in
overshoes and umbrellas, while Taka, now that Koma was away, would at
once set up his pleading, poignant call and never cease until the
truant, snapping his pink bill and kicking fiercely with scratchy
little claws, was thrust back into the cage. Much as Taka might play
the tyrant, he could not bear having Koma out of his sight and reach.
Once, after an especially savage duel in which Koma had been badly
trampled and pecked, we put the wounded hero into a cage of his own and
hung it in the adjoining room. Forthwith both those scamplings raised
such a prodigious outcry and lament, taking on as if their naughty
specks of hearts were broken, that we brought back Koma's cage and hung
it in the window beside Taka's. But even so they scolded and protested
and, as the shadows fell, established themselves each on the extreme
end of a perch, as near one another as they could get, but with the
cruel wires and a few inches of space between them. Still they fumed
and fretted until we returned Koma, mauled as he was, to Taka's cage,
when instantly they nestled their plumy sides close together and
blissfully went to sleep.

Yet we kept both cages in use, separating our tiny incorrigibles when
their battles waxed dangerous. They loved to talk them all over
afterwards, gabbling like schoolboys, but if one of us chanced to
approach the window--"Sshh! Don't tell the ogre," and in an instant
they were dumb as toy idols. When we had time, we would occasionally,
after taking all due precautions, throw wide their cage doors and
invite them to enjoy the freedom of the room; but liberty so given they
despised. Only stolen fruit is sweet. After much deliberation and
consultation, they would stealthily steal out and skurry about the
floor like rats for a while, hunting for bugs and worms. When it became
evident that our rugs did not furnish such refreshment, they would
cuddle up together in Taka's cage and spoon. Koma would tuck his
shining wee head down on Taka's shoulder, and Taka would gently peck
him all over from the tip of his bill to his claws. Then, more often
than not, they would bristle and square for the fun of a fight. At this
point we would try to catch Koma and put him back into his own safe
cage, but even when his little coxcomb was so bloody that I had to wash
it off under the faucet, he was the top of ingratitude, gasping and
clattering with fury. All the while Taka, who had cut that poor pate
open, would be trilling abuse. A pugnacious pair of fairy Japanese
pirates they were!

We kept those midgets, a daily trouble and amusement, through the
winter. They sang like angels when it pleased them and in the intervals
conversed exclusively with each other in a harsh, metallic chatter that
filled the house. But one sad June morning we found Taka in the bottom
of the cage, on his back, the uplifted claws pathetically curled, the
wee body stiff and cold.

                   "The bird is dead
    That we have made so much on."

Koma knew what had happened and bewailed his loss in such a shrill,
incessant keening that when, a few days later, an east wind gave him a
swiftly fatal chill, we could only be glad to have that pitiful piping
hushed.

Little aliens! We had never known them.



WARBLER WEATHER


    The oak-leaves yet are doubting
    Between the pink and green;
    Half smiling and half pouting
    Our shy New England May
    Touches each happy spray,
    And at her call the runaway
    Warbler tribes convene.

    The gold-flecked Myrtle flitters,
    The Redstart dives and spins,
    The gay Magnolia glitters,
    The little Rubycrown
    Twinkles up and down;
    The fairy folk have come to town
    With all their violins.

    Our garden party sparkles
    With varied warbler wear,
    The olive suit that darkles
    To umber, russet crest,
    Blue tippet, crocus vest;
    New fashions come with every guest,
    Winged jewels of the air.

    Their treetop conversation
    Is sweetest of the sweet,
    With flashes of flirtation
    As gallants bow and dip.
    "Witch-e-wee!" "Cher!" "Chip-chip!"
    Too elfin fine for human lip
    Their dainty: "Tzeet! tzeet! tzeet!"

    When we shall walk together
    In Paradise, Most Dear,
    May it be warbler weather,
    Divine with flutterings
    Of exquisite wee wings,
    Our own familiar angelings
    That piped God's praises here.



SUMMER RESIDENTS AT A WISCONSIN LAKE

BY KATHARINE COMAN

    "Another beautiful day of sunshine and shimmering leaves and
    bird-notes and human love."

    --Katharine Coman: _Letter_.


The summer resort in question is only one of the numberless lakelets
that dot the hill country of Wisconsin; a mere dimple in the sunny
landscape, filled with limpid water. The banks are overhung by
beautiful lindens and mammoth oaks and by hoar cedars of a thousand
years' growth.

So sloping are the shores that reeds and rushes run far out into the
lake, carrying the green life of the earth into the blue heaven of the
water. Creeks and bayous stretch in turn far back into the land, and
the reeds and rushes follow after. Knee-deep in the swamps stand the
tamarack trees. Their cool shades cherish the mystery of the primeval
forest that held undisputed sway in this region only fifty years ago.
Back on the hills lie rich grain fields and comfortable farmhouses,
each defined against the sky by its windmill and cluster of barns and
haystacks.

This is an ideal summer residence for birds who have a mind for
domestic joys. Nothing, for example, could be better adapted for
nesting purposes than these cedar trees; not so much the centuried
veterans, as the young things of ten or twenty years' growth. Their
dense and prickly foliage promises security from invasion, while the
close-set branches offer most attractive building-sites. Here the
robins place their substantial structures; a masonry of sticks and mud,
hollowed out within into a chamber as round and smooth as if molded on
a croquet ball, and lined with fine, soft grasses. The catbirds build
more loosely, weaving strips of cedar bark into a rough basket. The
interior is softened for the tender bodies of the anticipated nestlings
by coils of horse hair. The mourning dove lays her eggs on a frail
scaffolding of cedar twigs, with the merest suggestion of padding. How
the eggs are kept in place on windy days is a mystery to the
uninitiated. As for brooding the young, the mother bird soon gives over
the attempt to do more than sit alongside her twin fledglings. The
cedar birds, despite their name, are oftenest found in the linden
trees. Rowing along the water side one may see the slender bodies
tilting on the top-most branches, flitting to and fro among the pendant
yellow bracts, peering shyly this way and that, whispering to each
other sage words of caution as to the queerness of all the world "save
thee and me, Dorothy." Gentle little Quakers they seem in the daintiest
of dove-color plumage. They are connoisseurs in the matter of foods, as
well as of dress. Nothing pleases their palate so well as the wild
cherries that ripen by the roadside. The sweet kernels of the linden
fruit are not bad eating, however, if one may judge by the quantities
of split shells to be found beneath the trees. The lake is sought out
by birds as well as humans for the pleasure of bathing in the cool,
fresh water. Sit quietly by some pebbly bank for a half hour or so, and
you cannot fail to see robin or bluejay or turtledove come down to take
his daily plunge.

The reedy marshes are beloved by the redwings. The thick-set tufts of
the cat-o'-nine-tails afford ideal sites for summer cottages, with
building material close at hand. Here, too, the marsh wrens weave their
oven-shaped nests and hang them among the banners of the iris. The
water-lily pools are alive with summer folk. Quaint, unwieldy bitterns
flap their slow way to nests well hidden in the reeds. Coots steal in
and out _en route_ to their lake dwellings. The broad green pads offer
the Virginia rail a secluded perch, where he may consider which quarter
of the shining mud flats will prove the best feeding ground for the
day. A trim little figure in gray and tan, he gathers no soil from the
black ooze through which he wades. Another dainty person who haunts
these same shallows is the spotted sandpiper, the much loved
"teeter-tail." He runs tipping along the water's edge, with an
occasional short flight, as much at home among these placid ripples as
by the booming sea. The kill-deer plover vibrates between the grassy
meadow and the beach, but he, as well as the sandpiper, prefers to
stake his domestic happiness on dry ground. Among the birds of the
shore, the kingfisher is most in evidence. Conspicuous in blue coat,
gray waistcoat and broad, white collar, he flies along the beach
seeking for the dead branches of oak or cedar that shall serve him as a
lookout station from which to spy upon the finny folk swimming in the
water beneath. A flash in the air, a splash in the water, and the
"expert angler" dashes triumphantly home, his watchman's rattle
announcing victory and fresh supplies to the awkward squad of baby
kingfishers deep in the clay bank awaiting his arrival.

Back in the meadows where thistles and wild lettuce are going to seed,
the hard-bills spend their holidays. Goldfinches cling to the thistle
tops, merry little clowns in yellow and black, antic tumblers no less
agile and versatile than the chickadee. Dickcissels search the purple
ironweeds for provender, and song sparrows flit along the blossoming
fence rows. Kingbirds perch at a point of vantage and watch their
chance for a dash at a grasshopper. Fine fighters these fellows, fully
equal to defending their well-feathered nests against all comers, and
therefore disdaining concealment. Bluebirds carol high in the air their
song of peace on earth and goodwill to man. Humming birds hover over
the milkweeds, bent on extracting not honey only, but toothsome insects
from the rosy blooms.

The tall oaks are sought out by the orioles, tanagers and grosbeaks,--a
brilliant and tuneful company. Here, too, the vireos, warbling,
red-eyed, white-eyed and yellow-throated, spy out invisible insects
under the growing leaves. Warblers throng the woods in May and June,
reveling in the bursting buds; but most of them have pushed on to
Canada for the summer season. Only the black and white creeper remains
to nest in Wisconsin. The resounding tattoo of the high-hole rings from
the hole of a blasted tree. The wood looks as if riddled with bullets.
The red-headed woodpecker follows close on his yellow-winged cousin.
Both find an abundant supply of ants in the decaying forest. High in a
fork of the branches the red-tailed hawk pitches his tent, a ragged,
black wigwam, rivaling that of the crow for size and inaccessibility.

The haunts of men are not wholly eschewed by our little brothers of the
air. The peewee loves to place his nest under the eaves of a sheltering
porch, and the phoebe is no less sociable. The presence of human
beings does not at all disconcert their housekeeping arrangements. I
have seen a young brood fed and fondled, and finally piloted forth for
their first journey in the world, within ten feet of a hammock full of
children.

To see the water birds at home one should take a boat in the early
morning or toward nightfall, and float silently on the open bosom of
the lake. Then you may watch the black terns wheeling and turning in
the blue sky, like beautiful great swallows. They are easily
distinguished even at a considerable height by their white wing bars. A
loon paddles slowly across the bay with tantalizing unconcern. It is of
no use to follow him, however, even with muffled oars. He knows a trick
worth any two of yours. Huge fellow as he is, he dives beneath the
surface, leaving not a ripple behind him. After five minutes of puzzled
waiting you may see him--or is it his double?--pop up from the water
many rods away, as serene and still as if he had not just executed a
submarine maneuver hardly to be excelled by the latest torpedo boat.
Quite as expert a performer is the pied-billed grebe, who swims long
distances with body submerged and only the tip of the bill out of the
water. Unobserving gunners conclude that he has gone to the bottom of
the lake, and call him the hell-diver. The grebe spends half of his
life in or on the water. His nest is a raft buoyed upon a clump of
decaying vegetation, and looks like a floating island moored to a reed.
Birds of the lake, too, seem the swallows--tree swallows, rough-winged
and barn swallows. They skim the water hither and yon in mad pursuit of
prey. No degree of familiarity with their mud nests avails to deprive
these winged atoms of their halo of spring and romance.

Birds of high degree occasionally visit our humble lakelet. A bald
eagle has been seen on the lightning-scarred branch of its tallest oak.
Blue herons flap their majestic way from shore to shore. If you were
born with a silver spoon in your mouth you may even be so lucky as to
see a snowy heron passing through to some heronry in the wilds of
Canada. The night herons come every spring to their ancient rookery in
a swamp hard by. As the shadows fall the birds may be heard calling,
"squawk, squawk," while they make their way down the creek to their
fishing grounds in the lake.

For the better part of our bird neighbors the summer sojourn is no
_dolce far niente_. They come north that their babies may have
wholesome air and suitable food. A gay young husband, like the
ruby-throated humming bird, shirks domestic responsibilities, but he
expects only two wee nestlings. A brood of five or six requires the
assiduous attention of both parents. Baby blue jays, for example, seem
to have an unlimited appetite. Their scolding, snarling cries begin
with the early dawn and only cease with nightfall. Even after the
rascals are flown one may find an anxious mother vainly striving to
satisfy her clamoring darlings, as she hurries from one to another with
some choice tidbit. A great hulking fellow, as big as his parents and
as gayly feathered, will stand crying like an infant, with wings
a-tremble and mouth a-gape, waiting for the food to be thrust down his
throat. Young robins are hardly less rapacious but far more tractable.
I was one day watching the début of a family that lived in a
neighboring cedar tree. The mother bird was having an anxious time, for
each young one, as he spread his wings, made but a flap or two and fell
sprawling into the network of branches beneath the nest. One young
hopeful essayed a more ambitious flight and came down to the ground. He
had no thought of fear and, being of an inquiring turn of mind, came
hopping through the grass to see what I was like. Such a dear little
man, in polka dot pinafore and white ruffles! But "chuck, chuck,"
mother robin called a warning note, and like a flash he turned tail and
bolted into the bushes. I found him later perched on a branch within
easy grasp of my hand. He gazed at me for some minutes with eyes full
of baby wonder; then, remembering the maternal admonitions, he fled to
a higher branch. Of all feathered mothers the catbird is the noisiest.
She flits restlessly about, eying from every point of vantage the
intruder who dares to show an interest in her housekeeping. I
determined to sit it out one morning, pitting my patience against her
sympathy for the hungry young ones. After two hours of flutter and meow
the mother heart could no longer resist the appeal of the gaping yellow
mouths. With sudden resolution she dashed straight to Farmer Black's
gooseberry patch, seized a berry and returned in a flash. The luscious
morsel once divided among the small fry, however, she flew back to her
post of observation.

The turtledoves seem a sentimental lot. During the courting season an
enamored swain will sit for hours in silent contemplation of his own
graceful pose, or chanting softly, "I am alone--alone--alone." The nest
once built and the young ones hatched, he hovers about in tender
constancy, bringing food to the mother as well as to the babies, and
perching alongside of the nest as close as circumstances will allow.
The little people are carefully tended until they are well-nigh grown,
though they look most uninteresting objects. A young dove will sit
silent and motionless for hours at a stretch, the only sign of life the
glitter in his bright, bead-like eyes. Decide that he has gone daft,
however, and venture a step too near,--presto! With flutter and whirr
he takes to wings, and is off as if flying was as simple a feat as the
traditional "falling off a log." The jaunty kingfisher, too, makes a
devoted parent. One day we saw a fledgling fly straight out over the
lake. The mother bird followed close, uttering cries of alarm. But,
alas! she could not lend him wings. His young muscles were unequal to
his ambition, and the little body dropped into the water. Both parents
dashed madly back and forth over the still, shining surface, and then
wandered disconsolately from tree to tree along the shore, voicing
their grief in wild, rattling cries.

Bird families hold together long after the nest is abandoned. They may
be seen toward nightfall making their way by twos and threes to the
tamarack swamp across the lake. The close-set, symmetrical branches
provide the best of perches for inexperienced feet. "Birds of a feather
flock together" when it comes to a question of lodging houses. One
evening I counted one hundred and fifteen kingbirds roosting in the
tapering spires of the tamarack trees.

September days are heralded by the return of the birds who have
summered in Canada. Fox sparrows stop with us a week or so on their
southward journey. The evening grosbeaks have come down from far
Saskatchewan, and are thinking of spending the winter here. Wild geese
wake one o' nights, with their hoarse "honk, honk." They have stopped
for a taste of our tender frogs, but will soon re-form their triangular
caravans and push on to the South. Ducks, mallards and canvasbacks,
feed and fatten in the shallow water among the reeds. The gunners
arrive as soon as they, however, and will soon frighten them away.
Everybody is getting ready for the great migration. Troops of young
birds flutter through the trees, like autumn leaves blown by a gust of
wind. They are taking their first lessons in migration and in food
supply.

The natives look on at these preparations with cynical unconcern. Blue
jays chatter and scream with a daily extension of their marvelous
vocabulary. Crows come proudly out from the deep woods, leading black,
ungainly broods, and direct their flight to the ripening cornfields.
Nuthatches, the white-bellied and the Canadian, bustle about the tree
trunks, bent on making the most of their time while Jack Frost spares
the insect life. The chickadees, nature's acrobats, turn somersaults
among the branches in sheer defiance of the law of gravitation. The
cares of summer are over and done with. The woes of winter do not
terrify this morsel of india rubber and compressed air. The English
sparrow pursues his ubiquitous search for food with insular disdain of
everything he does not understand. He has penetrated our sylvan
retreats and secured a foothold here by the most impudent of squatter
claims. He lives and multiplies by dint of a systematic disregard of
everybody's rights. The manners and the morals of the great city cling
to him. He will have nothing in common with our country ways. He brings
with him the blight of civilization.



THE JESTER


    Myths from earth's childhood tell
    Of Godhood visible,--
    Indra, the azure-skied,
    Four-handed, thousand-eyed;
    Far-wandering Isis, chief
    Lady of Love and Grief;
    Zeus, on each rash revolt
    Hurling the thunderbolt;
    Woden of warrior form
    Gray-mantled with the storm;
    Lir of the foam-white hair,
    Mad with the sea's despair.

    But of those Splendors who
    Conceived the kangaroo,
    With gesture humorous
    Shaped hippopotamus,
    Intoned the donkey's bray
    And, in an hour of play,
    Taught peacocks how to strut?
    Holy is Allah, but
    Is holiness expressed
    In hedgehogs? Whence the jest?
    Even in creation's dawn
    Was Puck with Oberon?



EMILIUS

    "O, I could beat my infinite blockhead."

    --Jonson's _The Devil is an Ass_.


Professor Emily has the kindest heart in the world and is always doing
good. Her charities would make a rosary more fragrant than sandal-buds.
And yet, perhaps, one time out of a thousand, her intention and her
action trip each other up.

One day in early June she met on our village sidewalk, half a mile from
the nearest pond or brook, a snapping turtle of formidable proportions,
easily weighing his twenty or twenty-five pounds. In characteristic
fashion she stopped to consider what she could do for him. Though he
was, for his own part, neither cordial nor communicative, she decided
that he must have lost his way, since the water, his natural habitat,
lay behind him, and by a dexterous application of boot and stick she
turned him about, quite against his will, so that his snout pointed
toward home. But the turtle, a surly, obstinate fellow, with no respect
whatever for academic authority, refused to progress in the appointed
path, and for some five minutes they argued it out together, with no
manifest result except a distinct access of temper, rather evenly
divided.

Your true philanthropist is not easily balked, and Professor Emily,
returning the scrutiny of those small, keen, sinister eyes that watched
her every movement, skillfully dodged that dark, vicious head which
kept lurching forward from the olive-mottled shell in lightning-swift
motions, seeking to strike this determined benefactor whom only muddled
wits could mistake for an enemy.

"No, you don't," she answered him sternly, retreating before a sudden
forward scramble of the broad webbed feet. Regardless of the terrified
protests of a group of freshmen, who had gathered on the outskirts of
the fray, she executed a rapid rear movement and seized the reptile
firmly toward the end of its long, rough tail. Swinging this furious
Caliban clear of the ground and holding it well out from her body, she
considered what to do next.

The noon had suddenly turned hot. She found herself panting a little.
That turtle was surprisingly heavy. He was awkward to handle, too,
twisting his neck back over his shell and darting it out left and right
to a disconcerting distance. Soothing tones had no effect whatever and
there seemed to be no suitable surface to pat. Even if he could and
would have told her the exact location of his native creek, it might
prove an irksome task to carry him so far, with those powerful jaws
snapping most suggestively, only biding their time to get in an
effective argument. Our house was close at hand. Why not accomplish two
good deeds in one and give this self-willed waif to us for a pet? He
would have a happy home and we another of God's creatures to love.

Dear Emily!

A shriek from Mary brought us to the kitchen. There was our household
staff and stay mounted on a chair, clasping her skirts tight about her
and apparently addressing the ceiling. There was our generous-hearted
friend, flushed and weary, but, by a miracle, unbitten. There was our
neighbor, Young Audubon, a budding naturalist, who had come to her aid
_en route_ and shared the honors of the delivery. And there was an
indignant snapping turtle, lying on its back in the middle of the
kitchen floor. Notwithstanding the pale yellows of its under-side,
shell and legs and tail, its expression was profane.

Joy-of-Life told Mary to be quiet. I poured the philanthropist a glass
of water. Then, exchanging eloquent glances, we learned of the new
pleasure in store for us.

"They make very nice pets," declared the donor, beaming with
benevolence. "Large specimens live for hundreds of years. They are not
at all exacting about their food and can be trained to eat from the
hand."

"Not from mine," screamed Mary, bouncing up and down on her chair.

"Wasn't it Pierre Loti who had a pet tortoise?" continued Emily. "Its
name was Suleima and it used to play with his white kitten. You might
name the turtle Suleima, after its literary cousin."

"No. We'll name it Emilius, after you, if it must be named at all."

"But we haven't even a black kitten," protested Joy-of-Life, "and so
little time for playing ourselves, that I am really afraid----"

"The dear might be dull. Wouldn't you better take him back to where you
found him?"

"And leave him on the road? Lost? For motors to run over? How could he
get out of their way? What does he know about motors?"

We admitted that he did not look modern.

"Besides, I must run to catch that next train. I've just remembered
that I am due at the Melting Pot conference in town."

"Isn't there room for Emilius in the pot?" I called after her, but she
was gone without waiting to be thanked.

"If ye'll put the baste in a suitcase," proposed Mary, "it's mesilf
will take it over to her rooms an' lave it there."

But Young Audubon, who had been lying on the floor, examining Emilius
from the tip of his tail to the snub of his snout, was enraptured,--so
enraptured that the chelonian, as he called it, was pressed upon him as
a free gift, regretfully declined because of certain prejudices on the
part of a devoted but unscientific mother.

"I can study him almost as well over here," cheerily said Young
Audubon. "Now the first thing to do is to drill a hole in his
carapace."

"Carry what?"

"Upper shell, you know."

The boy, a blond, blushed pink at our ignorance and managed, in an
offhand way, to touch the lower shell when he lightly referred to it as
the plastron.

"The drilling won't hurt him. He won't even know it's happening."

Whatever the darkened spirit, inaccessible in its armor, thought of the
subsequent proceedings, it registered no objection. Defenseless in his
undignified position, Emilius suffered our well-meant attentions in
bitter silence. The hole was drilled, the turtle tipped over, grasped
again by his peculiarly unattractive tail and borne triumphantly to the
grassy bank behind the house, where, like any domestic animal, he was
tethered to a tree.

"What next?" asked Joy-of-Life, who was already losing her heart to the
unresponsive monster.

"Water," pronounced Sir Oracle. "Turtles won't feed except under water.
They can't swallow if their heads aren't completely immersed. It will
take your largest dishpan----"

"It's mesilf that is going home to-morrow--to stay," announced Mary.

"Wouldn't a washtub do?" compromised Joy-of-Life. "There's that old
one, you know, Mary, that you never use."

"First-rate. Show me where to find it, Mary. I'll give you a start to
that wild cherry."

With a craft beyond the semblance of his open countenance, Young
Audubon raced Mary to the cellar, where she arrived panting too hard
for protests. They soon returned in amicable companionship, carrying a
battered blue tub between them.

Jerking up Emilius by the cord, we plumped him into the tub, poured in
abundant water and left him to be happy. Then our troubles began.

In the first place, Emilius absolutely refused to eat, in water or out.
Understanding from our one authority that he needed a carnivorous diet,
we tempted him, day after day, with every variety of meat brought to
our door in the butcher's white-hooded cart with its retinue of hungry
dogs, but nothing whatever would our boarder touch. And in the second
place, he was, unlike Diogenes, forever scrambling out of his tub and
digging himself in at one point or another on the bank. Several times a
day one or the other of us might be seen tugging up Emilius by his cord
from the bowels of the earth and solicitously dumping him down again
into his tub of water, which a shovelful of mud, shreds of meat and
other attractions still failed to render homelike. His one object in
life was to get out of it.

"If Emilius would only take a nap!" I sighed one warm afternoon, when I
had just rescued him from a deep pit of his frenzied digging for the
third time that day.

"Read him poetry," advised Joy-of-Life. Magical snatches of Bliss
Carman's deep-sea songs ran through my head:--

    "When sheering down to the Line
    Come polar tides from the North,
    Thy silver folk of the brine
    Must glimmer and forth;"

       *    *    *    *    *

    "The myriad fins are moving,
    The marvelous flanges play."

Chesterton, who chuckled over another grotesque denizen of the deep,
would have felt the charm of Emilius:

    "Dark the sea was, but I saw him,
      One great head with goggle eyes,
    Like a diabolic cherub
      Flying in those fallen skies.

       *    *    *    *    *

    "For I saw that finny goblin
      Hidden in the abyss untrod;
    And I knew there can be laughter
      On the secret face of God."

But it was almost too early for Chesterton, and quite too early for the
fascinating fish poems of Rupert Brooke or for Chauncey Hickox's
feeling apostrophe to a tortoise:

    "Paludal, glum, with misdirected legs,
    You hide your history as you do your eggs,
    And offer us an osseous nut to crack
    Much harder than the shell upon your back.
    No evolutionist has ever guessed
    Why your cold shoulder is within your chest--
    Why you were discontented with a plan
    The vertebrates accept, from fish to man.
    For what environment did you provide
    By pushing your internal frame outside?
    How came your ribs in this abnormal place?
    Inside your rubber neck you hide your face
    And answer not."

Besides, I had no ground for hope that Emilius would be pleased by my
reading of poetry or by anything else that I could do for him. He
impressed me as intensely preoccupied, a turtle of a fixed idea.

I was standing by the tub at sunset, trying to ingratiate myself with
its sulky occupant, whom I had just dragged up from his latest hole in
the bank, by tickling his flippers with a playful twig, when Giant
Bluff strode over from his adjacent territory and made us a party of
three.

"How's your snapper?"

"I don't know. He doesn't tell. But I'm afraid he can't be feeling very
fit, for he hasn't eaten anything since he came, a week ago."

"Hasn't, though? Huh! Looked out of my window at three o'clock last
night and saw it grazing out there at the length of its rope, munching
grass like any old cow."

Previous conversations with Giant Bluff had impaired our faith in his
strict veracity.

"I thought turtles ate only animal food."

"If it's fresh and kicking. What you ought to do is to catch it a mess
of frogs. 'Twould tear a live frog to pieces fast enough. But you've
starved it to grass. That's all right. I raised turtles out on the
Mojave desert one spell and fed 'em on nothing but grass. Quite a
dainty out there. Sold 'em for five dollars apiece. Turned over a cool
thousand----"

"Of turtles?"

"Of dollars. Easy's winking. This snapper of yours wouldn't be bad
eating. Might fetch five cents a pound in the market."

I was not exactly fond of Emilius, but I hated to hear him discussed as
edible pounds. Moving away a little, I began to stir lightly with my
twig the loose earth in his last excavation. Giant Bluff was no
favorite in our neighborhood, into which he had intruded, a stranger
from the wild west, a year or two before. His little habit of sitting
on his back steps, Sunday afternoons, with a rifle across his knees,
and shooting with accurate aim every cat and hen that trespassed on his
land was in itself enough to account for his unpopularity.

The shooting, however, except when a pet rooster or tabby was the
victim, thrilled the children on the hill with a delicious terror. Only
that morning I had seen Towhead, crouched behind a clump of syringas,
playing sharp-shooter.

"Here!" he was shouting to Rosycheeks, who was approaching very slowly,
like a fascinated bird. "Hurry up! You've got to come walking by and be
shot."

"I doesn't want to," sobbed poor little Rosycheeks, "but I's
tomin',--I's tomin'."

The glory of Giant Bluff, whose boasts were as prodigious as his
profession was mysterious, had recently, however, been tarnished by an
open discomfiture. One of our oldest and most respected citizens, a
Yankee in blood and bone, driver of a depot carriage, had incurred
Giant Bluff's deadly displeasure. And this was the way of it. In this
beginning of our sleepy summertide, when the campus was as empty of
life as a seigniorial park, when the citizens were able to use the
sidewalks and the shopkeepers dozed behind their counters, the New York
train dropped at our station a sharp-voiced young woman in a flamboyant
hat.

Uncle Abram, the only driver to persist in meeting trains through the
long vacation, watched from his carriage, with indifferent eyes, her
brisk approach.

"Is this a public vehicle?"

"Think likely."

"Do you know where Mr. Benjamin Bluff lives?"

"Maybe."

"Take me there."

On the way the fare, Giant Bluff's daughter by a former marriage,
questioned Uncle Abram as to her father's business and position in the
town, but she might as well have tried to wring information from
Emilius. Arrived at the house, she bade her driver inquire for her if
Mr. Bluff was at home, saying that otherwise she would not call.

Mrs. Bluff, whom Uncle Abram had never met before, answered the bell.

"Mr. Bluff in?"

"No. Why?"

"Nothin' partic'lar," and Uncle Abram backed himself away.

"Well?" queried his passenger, as he started up Daniel Webster with a
professional crack of the whip.

"Ain't to hum."

"Who came to the door?"

"Lady."

"What lady?"

"Dunno."

"Was it his wife?"

"Dunno as 'twas his wife."

His exasperated fare, afterwards tracking down her parent in Boston,
made use of this incident for the slander of her stepmother.

"A nice impression she makes, to be sure! Even that numskull of a
driver doubted whether she was your wife or not."

Giant Bluff came back that evening breathing out threats of slaughter.
Before midnight it was noised all about our village that he had sworn
to shoot Uncle Abram on sight. The old driver was warned by a group of
excited boys who found him serenely smoking over a game of checkers and
were quite unable to interest him in their tidings. But the next day,
when the station platform was well filled with our business men waiting
for the eight o'clock into town, Uncle Abram drove up to the depot and
reined in Daniel Webster just against the spot where Giant Bluff was
standing, a little aloof for the reason that nobody cared to stand with
him.

Taken by surprise as Uncle Abram coolly looked him over, Giant Bluff,
unexpectedly to himself, said:

"Good morning."

"Ez good a mornin' ez God ever made."

Giant Bluff, who prided himself on his atheism, began to swagger.

"That's stuff and nonsense. Only babies and fools believe such rubbish
nowadays."

"Thet so? Ain't no God, eh, and he never made no mornin's? Wal! Maybe
ye'll put me in the way of findin' out about quite a few little things
like that. I've hearn tell thet ye're goin' to shoot me, an' my
rheumatiz is so bad this summer thet I'd be obleeged if ye'd shoot me
right now an' hev it over."

"You--you insulted my wife," gasped Giant Bluff.

"Not a nary," protested Uncle Abram, with a touch of indignant color in
his weather-beaten cheeks. "I said I didn't know whether the lady thet
come to the door was your wife or not, an' no more I didn't. I hedn't
never seen her afore. But even s'posin' thet your morals didn't hurt
you none, do ye think I'd let it out to a stranger? No, siree; I'd a
kep my mouth shet, for the credit o' the town. An' now thet I've had my
say on thet little misunderstandin', ye kin shoot me ez soon ez ye
like."

The crowded platform roared for joy, the opportune train came in, and
Giant Bluff, the first to swing aboard, was not seen in the village
again for a fortnight. So it came to pass that he was but newly
acquainted with Emilius.

As I was aimlessly poking about with my twig in the last of those
mysterious holes which Emilius had been so desperately resolved on
digging, a number of small, round, white objects came to view.

"Why, what are those?" was my imbecile exclamation, stooping to see
them better in the half light. Forthwith Giant Bluff was stooping at my
shoulder.

"_Eggs._ Didn't you ever see turtles' eggs before? It beats me what you
learned ladies don't know."

I went abruptly in to Joy-of-Life, and there we sat in the dusk,
overwhelmed with contrition. Poor, dear, misunderstood, ill-treated
Emilius! All he wanted was a chance to get away from the water and lay
her eggs in some warm, deep chamber, where he could lie hidden for
days, and they for weeks, in comfort and security. And how we had
worried her with our continual upjerkings and immersions, how we had
kept him digging one forbidden nursery after another, how arrogantly we
had set ourselves against the unpersuadable urge of instinct!

Before breakfast the next morning we hurried out together to set
Emilius free. There was no Emilius. The tub stood empty, from the tree
dangled a bit of cut cord, the loose earth that marked the holes had
been neatly raked over, there were no small, white, round objects to be
found. Had Emilius gone for good and taken his eggs with her?

As we searched the ground in vain, Giant Bluff sauntered out of his
back door, smiling an inscrutable smile.

"Saw that snapper of yours walking off an hour since. It went under the
back fence out into the woods. Reckon you can't catch it, though it was
traveling rather slow; couldn't hurry much, for it had a dozen little
turtles trotting along on each side. Quite a handsome family!"

Joy-of-Life and I, turning our backs on that stupendous liar, stared at
each other with horror dawning in our eyes.

Had he----? Would he----? Could he----?

_Emilius!_



HUDSON'S CAT

    "This night our cat ranne crying from one side of the ship to the
    other, looking overboord, which made us to wonder; but we saw
    nothing."

    --_Juet's Journal._


    What did you see, O pussy-cat-mew,
    Pet of the _Half-Moon's_ turbulent crew?
    Who taught them mew-tiny? Wasn't it you?

    Juet kept journal of storm and fog
    And the mermaid that set them all agog,
    But what has become of the cat-a-log?

    Henry Hudson, the master sage,
    Writ large his name on history's page,
    But you, you too, were a purr-sonage.

    Shall the tale slight you, whose tail was a-quiver
    As you and Hudson sailed up the river
    Made only his by Time the giver?

    Why did you take to adventuring,
    Puss-illanimous fireside thing?
    What was the cargo you hoped to bring?

    Did you dream of multitudinous mice
    Running about the Isles of Spice
    In a paradoxical Paradise?

    Were you not homesick where monsters swam,
    Dolorous dolphin and clamorous clam,
    For your sunny stoop in Amsterdam?

    Months at sea, while the billows roared,
    And the Milky Way not a cupful poured;
    No wonder Tabby looked over-bored.

    You had your feelin's, as felines go,
    Poor little puss. What scared you so?
    O stupid sailors that didn't know!

    Was it a dogfish struck the spark
    From your sea-green eyes with the quaint remark
    That you were sailing upon a bark?

    Millions of happy pussies fall
    Into oblivion; still you call
    From the top of your ancient cater-wall,

    Call on the centuries to concur
    In praise of Tabby the Mariner,
    Who discovered the Catskills, named for her.



CATASTROPHES

    "And when Maeldune and his men went into the best of the houses
    they saw no one in it but a little cat that was in the middle of
    the house, and it playing about on the four stone pillars that were
    there, and leaping from one to another. It looked at the men for a
    short space, but it did not stop from its play."

    --Lady Gregory's _Book of Saints and Wonders_.


People are people, and cats are cats. We do not know our pussies. We
pet them but we cannot tame them. Landor's Cincirollo,

        "wagging his dread jaw at every chirp
    Of bird above him on the olive branch,"

is latent in Wordsworth's

                           "kitten on the wall
    Sporting with the leaves that fall."

These charming fireside tenants of ours have their own concerns, which
lie aloof from the human. Even nursery-lore bears witness to this:

    "'Pussy-cat, Pussy-cat,
      Where have you been?'
    'I've been to London,
      To see the Queen.'
    'Pussy-cat, Pussy-cat,
      What did you there?'
    'I frightened a little mouse
      Under her chair.'"

But if we cannot forego the consciousness of those tiger claws hid in
the velvet daintiness of the light feet, neither can tabby put her
trust in us. Race memory and, too often, individual experience accuse
us. Her reticence with humankind, her stealth, her self-reliance, might
well have been stamped deep into cat character by the monstrous
cruelties she has suffered at our hands. Her reputed connection with
witches, of whom it is estimated that Christendom put to death some
nine million, involved the poor animal in their hideous tortures.
Indeed, she caught it from all sides. Cats were flung into the bonfires
to perish with the helpless old crones who had cared for them. A witch
might be exorcised by whipping a cat, like the wretched puss long and
solemnly flogged by twelve priests "in a parlor at Denham, til shee
vanished out of theyr sight." And it was a cat, so confession on the
rack declared, that after an accursed christening was cast into the sea
to raise a storm that should drown James of Scotland, "the devil's
worst enemy," on his wedding journey home from Denmark. This royal
witch-hunter, who came thirteen years later to the throne of England,
was not content until thirty human victims had paid by horrible deaths
for the black art of that storm.

A few of these maligned cats have left a distinctive record on the
blurred page of history. Rutterkin, the familiar of Agnes Flower, whose
very name should have attested her innocence, was black as the soot of
hell, but Mother Fraunces, who learned the secrets of sorcery from her
own grandmother, had "a whyte spotted cat * * * to be her sathan,"
while the leader of the infernal chorus in the cavern scene of
_Macbeth_ was a tabby:

    "Thrice the brinded cat hath mewed."

Into other inoffensive little beasts, "hedgepigs," puppies, owls, bats,
crows, rabbits, toads, the evil spirits were believed to enter, though
Thomas Heywood notes with satisfaction that no imp was ever so
sacrilegious as to masquerade as dove or lamb; but the cat calumny has
lasted longest.

                    "And shall I be afrayd
    Of Cats in mine own Countrey?"

Some of us are, for a recent criminal trial in one of the Middle States
brought out the fact that many an American pocket, even to-day, carries
a silver bullet as a talisman against the "black hex," or witch-cat.

Yet from the cruelties of superstition poor puss has suffered less than
from the cruelties of sport. Rustic festivals in Merry England were not
complete without the archery matches whose target was a terrified,
bleeding cat, hung up in a wicker "bottle," while shouts of glee
greeted the successful hits in the whizzing storm of arrows. As a
special merry-making, a great company of our jovial ancestors would set
forth on horseback, with drum-beating and all manner of hullabaloo,
attended by half the population of the town, to enjoy themselves at the
expense of some ill-fated pussy. A barrel, half full of soot, was swung
from a cross-beam firmly fixed on two high poles. Into this barrel she
was plunged and under it the valiant horsemen rode as gayly as the
English ride to a fox-hunt even yet, striking it tremendous blows with
clubs and wooden hammers. If any life was left in the bruised and
mangled cat, after the destruction of the barrel, the man who put an
end to her by some spectacular novelty of barbarity was the hero of the
day.

How can we expect wise old Grimalkin to forgive us our atrocities? She
remembers. Accepting or rejecting at her pleasure what courtesies are
offered her, she maintains her own reserves. Rare are the recorded
instances of her going out of her way to serve mankind, to whom she
owes no debt of gratitude. Yet a legend, attested by two portraits of
this Good Samaritan, tells that when Sir Henry Wyatt, father of the
poet, was imprisoned in the Tower under Richard III and left to perish
of starvation, a cat came daily to his window-grating, bringing him a
pigeon from a neighboring dove-cot, which doubtless had its own opinion
of her charity. No wonder that Sir Henry, in his later, honored years
under the Tudors, "would ever make much of cats, as other men will of
their spaniels or hounds."

With the best will in the world toward _felis domestica_, I have never
been able to maintain fortunate relations with the individuals that
have come my way. Colleagues of mine have reared kittens that have
become the pride and joy of their hearths, as yellow Leo, who passed
from the happiest of homes into a lyric shrine; but my own cats make a
sorry parade down the avenue of memory. At the far, dim end of the
avenue glints out a chubby child in a calico-caped sunbonnet,
laboriously trundling in her doll-carriage five blind kittens, with the
benevolent intent of giving them a pleasant airing. The little
copper-toed shoes bump on the rocks and are caught in the brambles of
that rough pasture, while at every jolt that sprawl of kittenhood
overflowing the small red chariot miauls so dolorously that their
benefactor is sorely tempted to sit down and cry with them. But
amazement at their lack of appreciation is less than resentment at the
conduct of their grim, gray mother, Old Spotnose, who comes tearing
after in fierce pursuit and overtakes the rocking vehicle, whence she
snatches one of the wailing passengers by the scruff of its neck and
races back with her dangling burden to the woodshed. Determined to make
the remaining kittens happy, the child goes tugging and panting on, but
still there is heard that dreaded rush in the rear, and another,
another, another and yet another of those squallerkins is kidnapped.
Nothing is left at last but an empty doll-carriage, overturned among
the daisies and, deep within the sunbonnet, a puckered, crimson face
flowing with tears.

Throughout my childhood Old Spotnose continued to be an unsocial and
ungracious being. Perhaps annoyed by our persistent attentions to her
frequent families in the woodshed, she sought out all manner of
hiding-places from haymow to cellar. Memorable is the Sunday morning
when our mother lifted down the hatbox from her upper closet shelf and
looked in, her Sabbath expression completely destroyed, to find a
huddle of new kittens reposing in the crown of her best bonnet. The
sudden disappearances of these successive kitten groups were to my
slowly dawning apprehension first a mystery and then a horror. Old
Spotnose finally took to the woods, returning to the kitchen door for
food, a gaunt, half-savage creature, only under stress of icebound
weather. When we moved away from the village, she could not be found,
but one of my brothers, back for a visit the following summer, heard
that she had been seen skulking about the house and that kindly
neighbors had thrown meat and fish in her way. Carrying a basin of
milk, he went to a break in the barn foundations and, lying flat on the
ground, called and coaxed. Relenting toward humankind at the last, sick
Old Spotnose, hardly more than skin and bone, crawled out to him. She
would not taste the milk, but she lay against his knee for a while,
accepting his caresses; then dragged herself back under the barn to die
alone.

From that time to this, all my personal relations with cats have ended
in grief. One engaging kitten after another grew into romantic or
adventurous youth only to meet disaster. Perhaps our most heart-rending
experience was with Triptolemus, taken from his mother in such tender
infancy that we could not teach him to lap milk or even suck it from
the finger. Finally he solved the problem himself by tumbling into the
saucer and, when he was lifted out, licking his feet with relish. For
days he insisted on the saucer promenade, taking nourishment only by
applying his wayward little tongue to each foot in turn. From a
roly-poly innocent, wondering at the world out of the roundest of blue
eyes, he grew, with the astonishing speed of kittenhood, into a
profligate young ruffian, limping home from one disreputable fight
after another with torn ears and gashed neck and thighs. One wound
deepened into a festering, offensive sore, beyond the cure of our
domestic surgery, and as veterinaries and animal hospitals were then
foreign to our experience, a brother, in my absence, was bidden take
the cat down to the river and drown him. Very slowly the executioner, a
stout bag in his hand, made his way to the water's edge, Trip careering
about his feet and playing with the fatal string. The bag was weighted
with stones and the cat was ordered to enter the open mouth. Trip
sniffed at it suspiciously, did not like the game, but looked up
trustfully into the familiar face and obeyed. The boy who flung that
bag out into the current and came running home as if nine reproachful
little ghosts were at his heels could never be brought to drown a cat
again.

Later on, there was a graceful mite, Argon, whom I can still see
jumping after moths in the moonlight; but before the moth-season was
over, there came a night whose darkness never rendered him up. Strayed
or stolen, killed, chased, enchanted, it was not for us to know.

Years after, our home rejoiced for a few brief weeks in the charms of
Frisky Fuzzy, a peculiarly affectionate, confiding kitty, who met a
cruel death by the teeth of the rector's terrier. This young priest was
a holy man in general, but he had no regard for the sixth commandment
as broken by his dog. All the neighborhood was aroused, for one beloved
puss after another had been left torn and bleeding by that hypocritical
little brute, who always kept an eye out for fresh victims as he
trotted sedately at his master's heels, making pastoral calls. When at
last vengeance found him out and the dog lay poisoned on the parsonage
steps, the rector's grief was so sincere that my anger melted in
sympathy. There had been a coolness between us since Frisky Fuzzy's
fate, but on the next occasion when we met at a neutral tea-table, I
attempted a reconciliation.

"Perhaps your dog and my cat have made up our quarrel in heaven," I
began, passing him the sugar.

"I don't believe your cat went to heaven," he retorted, passing me the
lemon.

Our last attempt at a home kitten was with a little sprite of so
perverse and irreverent a temper that the most liberal theology could
hardly hold out to us the hope of finding her again in any Paradise
where pious pussies congregate. This impish being was foisted upon us
by an old friend whose persuasive powers, as I had long known, were
irresistible. In tones that were dulcet even by way of the telephone
she invited me to shelter her wild young puss, Polly, during the
summer, while she closed her own house and, bearing Billy in a basket,
sought the repose of an ocean isle.

"Why don't you carry Polly with you, too?"

"There isn't room in the basket and, besides, I'm sure that _two_ cats
would be against the rules of the railroad."

"But Polly takes to the trees whenever I try to pat her. She would run
away."

"Oh, I can arrange that for you very nicely. I'll let you have a kitten
of hers and then she'll be perfectly contented."

"A kitten of Polly's! She is only a kitten herself."

"Yes, you are quite right, as usual. One kitten might not be enough to
steady her. It would be better for you to have two, and then Polly will
be kept busy in teaching them to play together."

"Now how many catkins have you over there? Own up."

"Well! Not counting the pincushion pussy that the mice like to nibble,
we have six on hand just now,--Billy and Polly and the four kits. Such
darlings! Everybody wants them. The competition is really terrible, but
of course I insist that you shall have first choice. Come over this
afternoon, please. We are taking the early train to-morrow morning."

Spellbound by the cheerful audacity of these proposals, I went, and
when, after much active exertion on our part, Polly had been caught and
securely hasped down under a heaving basket-lid, I dubiously selected
two of her blind babes to bear her company.

"Who takes the other two?"

"You do," responded my friend more winsomely than ever, "unless you
want to be a horrid Herod and go down in history as another slayer of
the innocents. Look at those little dears! Listen to them! Have you the
heart to ask me to drop them into a pail of cold, cold water? What sort
of a physiologist are you to suppose that kittens, born only yesterday,
could live without their mother? And Polly would miss them dreadfully.
I never saw a more devoted family. As soon as they are old enough to
gambol, they will be such a pleasure for you all,--especially your
sister. And you can easily find nice homes for them, if you want to
give them away later on."

The four members of our summer household each had the privilege of
naming one of the kittens. Housewife Honeyvoice called the black one
Topsy; the small schoolgirl, Esther, dubbed the prettiest Daisy; I gave
to the homeliest the encouraging appellation of Cinderella, and Sister
Jane, returning from a visit to find the feline family in possession,
promptly branded the fourth as Beelzebub. Out of deference to her
outraged feelings, a nursery was prepared down cellar, where Polly, for
so inexperienced a parent, took excellent care of her babies except
when my officious ignorance interfered.

Still a blunderer, I put the kittens out on the south piazza the second
day to treat them to a bracing interlude of air and sunshine. Polly at
once went frantic, mewing and scratching for re-admittance. Presently a
succession of queer, soft thumps brought me to the scene, and there was
Polly, Beelzebub flapping from her mouth, climbing madly up the outside
of the screen door. As soon as she saw me, she parted her jaws to emit
another of those shrill meows that had been profaning the peace of the
house and down fell poor Belze with a piteous whack on the piazza
floor.

Close scrutiny of the situation revealed a big, saffron-colored cat,
with a dangerous glint in his green eyes, peering from the shrubbery
and, self-rebuked, I restored Polly and her jewels to the safe
seclusion of the cellar.

But I still held to my faith in the open air and, as soon as the
kittens began to blink, Housewife Honeyvoice and I pulled out from the
lumber that chokes up cellars under feminine charge the big wire box
which had been the Castle Joyous of Robin Hood. Planted firmly on the
grassplot outside the cellar door, with a cat-hole just large enough
for Polly cut in the wire, it was so secure as to appease even her
maternal fears. Every morning she marshaled her little troop out to
this new abode, carefully drove them all in and tended them there until
sunset, when she led them back to the cellar. All the cats in the
vicinity came to call, but Polly was the very spirit of inhospitality.
She always maintained an anxious guard against marauders and, at the
approach of the most amiable old gossip, would fill up the wire doorway
with her own slender body, spitting and bristling in the very face of
the disconcerted guest. Cinderella, the most precocious of the kittens,
observed with admiration this form of welcome and scandalized all
observers by scampering to the door one day, as her mother was
returning from a brief constitutional, and with all due ceremonies of
defiance refusing her admission. After one astonished instant, Polly
recovered her presence of mind, bowled out of the way that comical ball
of impudence and made it her first parental duty, after entering, to
box Cinder's ears.

As the kittens grew older, they had the run of the house, which they
filled with elfin mirth of motion and reels of Puckish revel. Placed in
a row on my desk, they would watch the moving pen with fascinated eyes,
till one shy paw after another would steal out to investigate and
presently there would be a flurry of funny antics all over a blotted
page. By autumn they had all gone their ways to different households,
except Esther's Daisy, whom we kept, but the joy of kittenhood was the
only life they had. Doom, like a black cat hunting mice, speedily
caught them all, unless, perchance, dogs and motors were kinder than we
fear to Cinder, who, one winter day, after her morning saucer of milk,
struck blithely out into the sunshine from the best of homes and never,
though search, inquiry and advertisement did their utmost, was heard of
again. Little Bub proved so puny that he was left with Polly,
reinstated, much to her content, in her own kingdom, but not even her
puzzled solicitude, varied by cuffings, could keep him alive. As for
Topsy and Daisy, I have not the heart to tell how they perished, but
though I say it as should not, Daisy was too bad for this world. An
incarnate imp, she mocked all discipline and scorned all affection,
capering into new mischief at every rebuke and scratching herself free
from caresses. Despising laps and cushions, she took to the air like an
aeroplane, forever on the leap from one forbidden shelf, mantel or
flower-pot to another. Her agility was supernatural. She would hang
from a curtain cord, spring thence to the top of a door, pounce on a
bowing caller's back, and, within ten seconds fill the hall with such
skurry and commotion that Hecate and all her witches could have done no
more. She could not keep quiet, even at night, until Housewife
Honeyvoice devised the plan of putting her to bed in a basket, with a
cork dangling from the handle for her to play with in her dreams.

Joy-of-Life was ill that winter and, because the kitten's pranks would
now and then divert a suffering hour, we bore with Daisy as long as
patience could, until, indeed, she forsook the house and set up an
independent establishment with a battered ruffian of a cat under our
south porch. Before forsaking the house, she had derided everything in
it. She had, indeed, an uncanny gift of singling out for her most
profane attentions the special objects that humankind holds sacred. On
the top of my desk stands a small Florentine bust of Dante, whose
austere countenance she loved to slap. Beyond it hangs a cross of
inlaid olivewood from Jerusalem, apparently inaccessible, but this
infant athlete, precariously balancing with one foot on the curved
woodwork of the desk and two feet clawing the wall, would stretch
herself out like an elastic until her free foot could give the lower
tip of the cross a smart rap and set it swinging. Punished, she would
strike back, hitting us in the face with an absurd, soft paw; called,
she would run away; caught, she would kick and bite. Our most tactful
cajolery she met with suspicion and disdain, if not with open ridicule.
Graceful as a whirling leaf, she was untamable as the wind that whirls
it,--the wildest wisp of kittenhood that ever left an aching memory.

Since the tragic exit of Daisy, whose confidence I could never
win,--and her cynical little ghost bids me admit that her distrust was
borne out by the event,--I have counted myself unworthy to take any
kitten to hearth and home. I doubt if any would come. My neighbors
across the way have a lordly old Thomas, who, smelling dog on my
skirts, spits at me as I mount the steps. My neighbors of the cross-cut
have a glossy black puss in a resplendent red collar, who politely but
unrelentingly evades all my advances. The feline heart has found me
out. Yet I still cherish a wistful regard for these delicate-footed,
wary creatures, who develop so suddenly from madcap frolic into
dignity, discretion and reserve, keeping even in the most domestic
surroundings a latent sense of a free life elder than civilization,
when, as Swinburne tells his silken crony:

    "Wild on woodland ways your sires
        Flashed like fires."

A friend of mine, a scholar, and therefore proud in thought and poor in
purse, living at the top of a London apartment house, had a cherished
cat by name of Fettles, who never touched the ground from September to
June. Rooms and corridor limited his promenades, except for a long box
of plants that filled the diminutive balcony. To the casual eye he
seemed well content with his cloistered life, purring on cozy cushions,
performing painstaking toilets, cuddling down on the table close to the
arm of his mistress as she read and wrote, even condescending, for her
pleasure, to play with a tassel or ball, but I noted that my arrivals
brought to Fettles a quivering excitement. It was not my conversation,
which he ignored, nor my gifts, for after his first scandalous orgy on
American catnip I was forbidden to bring him anything more tempting
than a chocolate mouse. It was my boots, especially if I had been
walking across Regent Park and brought in honest earth instead of
pavement scraps and taxi smells. Fettles would rush to my feet and
sniff at sole and heel and toe, arching his back and lashing his tail
when the odors brought him peculiarly thrilling tidings of the strange
world so far below his balcony. In the summer he was the guest of a
Devonshire cottage, but for the first week or two he would be
frightened by the vastness and queerness of out-of-doors. He would
crouch for hours on the threshold, looking out with mingled ecstasy and
terror on the garden, now and then reaching down a dubious paw to touch
the warm brown earth. By degrees he could be coaxed to join his
mistress at afternoon tea under the plum trees, cautiously placing
himself in touch of the hem of her gown. The summer would be half over
before he was at ease in his brief Paradise.

Fettles, by the way, was succeeded by Thomas Heywood, and Tommy Heywood
by Sisi, the only Londoner I know who enjoyed the air-raids. Whenever a
Zeppelin alarm scared the lodgers out of their "honey-heavy dew of
slumber," Sisi had the sport of his life. Knowing that his mistress,
even if a bomb were crashing through her ceiling, would not abandon
him, he would dash hither and yon in a rapture of disobedience, now
under the bed, now behind a bookcase, continually evading her frenzied
clutches. Slippered feet went skurrying past the door, but still Sisi
sprang and scampered, even wheeling about in giddy circles as if this
were the chance of chances for a kitten to catch its tail. My friend,
with Sisi clasped to her panting breast, was invariably the last lodger
to reach the refuge of the cellar.

The cats of legend are not as many as one would suppose, or perhaps the
fault is still mine. Even here they evade me. I can call but few to
mind, Puss in Boots, Sir Tybalt in the animal epic of _Reynard the
Fox_, the Kilkenny cats of tragic fame, the grinning Cheshire cat--for
whose like I vainly looked in Cheshire--the mysterious Knurremurre of
Norway, and the far-fabled "King of the Cats." English chronicles, none
too authentic, tell of a busy mouser that made Dick Whittington mayor
of London, and of a faithful puss who ventured down a chimney of The
Tower to cheer her imprisoned master, the Earl of Southampton, by a
call. More worthy of credit is John Locke's account, preserved by
Hakluyt, of an honorable incident in his voyage to Jerusalem,
undertaken in the spring of 1553. The pilgrim ship was about fifty
miles from Jaffa, when it "chanced by fortune that the Shippes Cat lept
into the Sea, which being downe, kept her selfe very valiauntly above
water, notwithstanding the great waves, still swimming, the which the
master knowing, he caused the Skiffe with halfe a dosen men to goe
towards her and fetch her againe, when she was almost halfe a mile from
the shippe, and all this while the ship lay on staies. I hardly beleeve
they would have made such haste and meanes if one of the company had
been in the like perill. They made the more haste because it was the
patrons cat. This I have written onely to note the estimation that cats
are in, among the Italians, for generally they esteeme their cattes, as
in England we esteeme a good Spaniell."

Petrarch and Tasso are eminent witnesses to the Italian fondness for
cats. The French, too, have long been famed as cat lovers; Montaigne,
Chateaubriand, Gautier, Pierre Loti, Jules Lemaitre, Baudelaire, La
Fontaine, Champfleury, Michelet have all written charmingly of the
Fireside Sphinx, leaving it to a Belgian poet, Maeterlinck, to present
poor pussy as a stage villain. English literature takes less account of
her, though Chaucer keenly expresses the friar's choice of a
comfortable seat by telling how

    "fro the bench he droof awey the cat,"

and Skelton has poured invective on the slayer of Philip Sparow,
calling down vengeance

    "On all the hole nacyon
    Of cattes wilde and tame;
    God send them sorowe and shame!"

No reader of Tudor drama needs to be reminded of Gammer Gurton's Gyb,
crouching in the fireplace, where her eyes, mistaken for sparks of
fire, refused to be blown out. Shakespeare's frequent references to the
"harmless, necessary cat" are as accurate as they are nonchalant, but
Milton does not mention her in his account of the creation, although
she would certainly have been more comforting to Eve, at least, than
"Behemoth, biggest born of earth," or "the parsimonious emmet." Indeed,
an Arabic story of the creation claims that the dog and cat were
allowed to accompany Adam and Eve, for their protection and solace,
into the waste beyond the flaming sword. Herrick's "green-eyed
kitling;" Walpole's Selima of

    "The fair round face, the snowy beard,
        The velvet of her paws,
    Her coat that with the tortoise vies,
    Her ears of jet and emerald eyes,"

--charms all forfeit to her longing for stolen goldfish; Arnold's
Atossa

    --"So Tiberius might have sat,
    Had Tiberius been a cat,"--

have made their way into poetry, but prose, especially the familiar
prose of letters, has kept green the memory of many a pussy more. We
love Dr. Johnson the better for his consideration of Hodge "for whom,"
reports Boswell, "he himself used to go out and buy oysters, lest the
servants, having that trouble, should take a dislike to the poor
creature." Of course the tender-hearted Cowper cared for cats, and even
the industrious Southey would turn his epic-blunted quill to accounts
of Rumpelstilzchen and Hurlyburlybuss,--sonorous cat-names closely
pressed upon by Mark Twain's Sour Mash, Apollinaris, Zoroaster and
Blatherskite, while Canon Liddon's Tweedledum and Tweedledee of Amen
Corner are not far behind.

No portrait of a cat in English verse is more vivid than that given in
the sestette of Mrs. Marriott Watson's oft-praised sonnet:

    "Sphinx of my quiet hearth! who deign'st to dwell
    Friend of my toil, companion of mine ease,
    Thine is the lore of Ra and Rameses;
    That men forget dost thou remember well,
    Beholden still in blinking reveries,
    With somber, sea-green gaze inscrutable."

It is pleasant to think that the race memory of puss goes farther back
in time and farther east in geography than the witchcraft cruelties of
Christendom. The Mohammedan faith has been kinder to her than ours.
Persia has ever held her in affection. Mahomet cut off the flowing edge
of his sleeve rather than disturb Muezza's nap. But most of all her
inherent aristocracy springs from those shining centuries by the Nile,
when under the protection of the moon-eyed goddess Pasht she was
honored in life and embalmed in death. The supreme Ra, the Sun God, was
addressed as "the Great Cat," and _The Book of the Dead_ holds the
mystic text: "I have heard the mighty word which the Ass spake unto the
Cat in the House of Hapt-re."



TO HAMLET, A COLLIE


    Strange dog, with terror planted in your heart,
    At your dim root of life a piteous dread
    Foreboding evil doom, a panic bred
    Of some fierce shock to puppy nerves! No art
    Home kindness can devise prevents your start,
    Wild stare and panting breath at each new tread;
    Your anxious eyes keep watch, uncomforted
    By our poor love, too weak to take your part
    Against that fatal menace which, for us
    No less than you, lurks in the coming springs.
    Of all our creeds and dreams incredulous,
    Thrilled by these sudden agonies, you quake
    Through all your lithe young body. What should make
    A collie know the grief of mortal things?



HAMLET AND POLONIUS

                  "There's something in his soul
    O'er which his melancholy sits on brood."

    --Shakespeare's _Hamlet_.


It was a beautiful morning, whose beauty could only hurt, of the first
June since Joy-of-Life went away. All green paths were desolate for
lack of her glad step. And the stately kennel that had been known from
the first as "Sigurd's House" stood silent, its green door closed on
bare floor and cobwebbed walls. Stray cats passed it unconcerned and
hoptoads took their ease on the edges of "Sigurd's Drinking-cup"
hollowed out in the adjacent rock. In an hour when the pain of living
seemed wellnigh unbearable, the Angel of Healing called me up by
telephone. His voice was gruff, but kindly.

"Say, you miss that old dog of yours a sight, don't you?"

I could feel the confidential pressure of Sigurd's golden head against
my knee as I briefly assented, recognizing the speaker as the
proprietor of certain collie kennels not far distant.

"He had a right good home, that dog had, and you must have got pretty
well used to collie ways."

"If you were going to ask me to buy another collie, please don't.
Sigurd is my dog--forever."

"Well! Since you put it that way--but I'm at my wit's end to get rid of
a collie pup--a pretty little fellow, rough Scotch, sable and white,
like yours--that's scairt at his own shadow."

"What scared him?"

"Blest if I know! His sire, Commander, and his dam, Whisper, are as
nice, normal, easy-tempered dogs as you could find anywhere, and their
litters take after 'em--'cept this youngster, who sulks all day long
off in some dark hole by himself and shakes if we speak to him. Nobody
has mishandled the little chap so far's I've ever seen or heard, but
the least thing--a shout or a rattle of tools or any fool noise--throws
him into such a funk that all the rest of the puppies are getting
panicky and the whole caboodle is running wild. There's no two ways
about it. I've got to clear that born ninny out. I sold him a month ago
to a lady for fifty dollars, but she brought him back in a week and
said he was about as cheerful company as a tombstone. Now see here! You
can have him for twenty, or for nothing, just as you feel after you've
given him a try."

"But I don't want him. I shouldn't want him if he were the best dog in
the country."

"Then I reckon I'll have to shoot him. I could give him away, but he's
such a wretched, shivery little rascal that most any sort of folks
would be too rough for him. 'Twould be kinder to put him out of the
world and done with it. He's had seven months of it now and pretty well
made up his mind that he don't like it. I did think maybe you might be
willing to give him a chance."

I was surprised to hear my own voice saying into the telephone: "I'll
try him for a few days, if you care to bring him over."

Yet I dreaded his coming. The friend who gave us Sigurd had offered us
the past winter a very prince of puppies, the daintiest, most spirited,
most winsome little collie that a free affection could ask, but
Joy-of-Life and I could not make him ours. We could regard him only as
a visitor in Sigurd's haunts, and the Lady of Cedar Hill, resenting the
name of Guest which we had given him, re-named him Eric and took him to
her own home. Here she soon won the utter devotion of his dog-heart,
which, though now no longer beating, through that ardent and faithful
love "tastes of immortality."

I was in the veranda off the study, trying to busy myself with my old
toys of books and pen and paper, when the young collie was led in by a
small girl, the only person at the kennels whose call he obeyed or
whose companionship he welcomed. Deposited beside my chair, he promptly
retreated to the utmost distance the narrow limits of his prison-house
allowed, panting and quaking.

"Be good, Blazey," the child admonished him, stroking his head with a
sunburned hand from whose light caress he at once shuddered away. "I'll
come to see you by and by."

"By and by is easily said," the puppy made answer with incredulous eyes
that first watched her out of sight and then rolled in anguish of
despair from the wire screening of the porch to roof and wall.

"Is your name Blazey?" I asked him gently, but his fit of ague only
grew worse as he turned his ghastly stare on me

            "with a look so piteous in purport
    As if he had been loosed out of hell
    To speak of horrors."

"I made further efforts at conversation while the day wore on, but that
little yellow image of throbbing terror, upright in the remotest
corner, would not even turn its head toward my voice. In vain I
remonstrated:

                    "Alas, how is't with you,
    That you do bend your eye on vacancy
    And with the incorporal air do hold discourse?
    Forth at your eyes your spirits wildly peep."

The constant tremble of the poor, scared, pitiful puppy was intensified
by every train whistle and motor horn to a violent shaking. I could not
flutter a leaf nor drop a pencil without causing a nervous twitch of
the brown ears. Suddenly the crack of an early Fourth of July torpedo
electrified him into a frenzy of fright. If it had been the fatal shot
in reserve for Blazey he could not have made a madder leap nor wheeled
about in more distracted circles. In one of these lunatic reels he
struck against me and, gathering him close, I crooned such comfort as I
had into that dizzy, quivering, pathetic face; but he tore himself
loose and fled gasping back to his corner beseeching a perilous and
cruel universe to let him alone. I, for one, declined:

    "Angels and ministers of grace, defend us!--
    Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damn'd,
    Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell,
    Be thy intents wicked or charitable,
    Thou comest in such a questionable shape
    That I will speak to thee; I'll call thee Hamlet."

The puppy accepted his new name, as he accepted his dinner, with
lugubrious resignation and the air of saying to himself:

                "Heaven hath pleas'd it so,
    To punish me with this, and this with me."

His misery was more appealing than a thousand funny gambols could have
been, and the household, those of us who were left, conspired in
various friendly devices to make him feel at home. The child at the
kennels had taught him one sole accomplishment, that of giving his paw,
and Sister Jane, in a fine spirit of sacrifice, made a point of shaking
hands with him long and politely at least a dozen times a day, rushing
to a faucet as soon as this hospitable rite was accomplished for a
fierce scouring of her own polluted palms. Housewife Honeyvoice tempted
his appetite with the most savory of puppy menus and kept up such a
flow of tuneful comment while he ate that, even in his days of deepest
gloom, he rarely failed to polish his dish and then thump it all about
in an unscientific effort to extract gravy from tinware. Esther's arms
were now as strong as her feet were lively and, after the first week or
so, he would let her pick him up like a baby and carry him about and
would even be surprised, at times, into a game of romps. He needed play
as much as he needed food, but he was curiously awkward at it, not
merely with the usual charming clumsiness of puppies but with a
blundering uncertainty in all his movements, miscalculating his jumps,
lighting in a sprawling heap and often hurting himself by a lop-sided
tumble.

Yet apart from these brief lapses he maintained his pose of hopeless
melancholy, varied by frantic perturbations, until his new name fitted
him like his new collar.

    "How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable
    Seem to me all the uses of this world!"

He was not, to be sure,

    "The glass of fashion and the mold of form,"

for his nose, from the bench point of view, was nearly half an inch too
long. But his "dejected haviour" and deep-rooted suspicion of his
surroundings were Hamlet's own. He felt himself "be-netted round with
villanies" and apprehensively watched the simple ways of our family in
profound despondency and distrust. The fears that haunted him kept him
so hushed that we grew to believe he was actually dumb,--a defect in
physical endowment that might account for many abnormalities. Now and
then the rigid little figure beside me on the veranda--for gradually,
day by day, he edged an inch or two nearer--would give a stir of
weariness or even drop, exhausted, for a nap, but in the main

                    "as patient as the female dove
    When that her golden couplets are disclos'd,
    His silence" would "sit drooping."

Through all the hot summer days I had to see him,

    "A dull and muddy mettled rascal, peak
    Like John-a-dreams,"

but as soon as we reached the cool cover of dusk, I would lift the now
crouching, anxious puppy to his four feet and snap on his new leash.

His troubled eyes would well over with expostulatory questions:

    "Say, why is this? wherefore? what should we do?"

"We're going to walk, Little Stick-in-the-Mud. Come on!"

And thus Hamlet, "with much forcing of his disposition," would undergo
the daily constitutional, which he converted into a genuine gymnastic
exercise for us both by pulling back on the leash with all his
considerable strength, protesting:

    "It is not, nor it cannot come to good;
    But break my heart, for I must hold my tongue."

In this ignoble fashion I would drag him along for a mile or so of the
least frequented road, until he would suddenly fix his slender legs and
refuse to be budged:

    "Where wilt thou lead me? speak;
    I'll go no further."

"Very well! If you insist on turning back here, you know what will
happen. It will be your turn to drag me."

To this he had always the same rejoinder:

                "'Tis true 'tis pity,
    And pity 'tis 'tis true."

So Hamlet, all his soul set on getting back to the comparative security
of that veranda, would fall to tugging like an infant Hercules,
scrabbling me along, regardless of sidewalks, by the nearest route to
safety, till I felt myself, on reaching home, more than ever a
"quintessence of dust."

When I tried him off the leash, he would, even into the autumn, run
back to the kennels, though he would let no one there touch him but the
gypsy-tanned child. Later, he would slip back to the Scarab, usually
after dark, but be afraid to come near or ask admittance, sweeping
around the house in wide, wistful circles. It took our softest coaxings
to bring that palpitating puppy across the threshold and, once in, we
all had to shake paws with him many times before he would believe
himself welcome and sink down at my feet to sleep away his tiredness
and terror. It was midsummer before I dared loose him on the campus for
a free scamper, from which, hesitant, with many tremors and recoils, he
came back to me in answer to my call. I thought then that the battle
was won, but the next time I ventured it, and the next, he ran away.
Yet before the leaves fell we had made such progress that when I
fastened on his leash and invited him to go to walk,

      "there did seem in him a kind of joy
    To hear of it."

For weeks the rooms of the house were to this kennel-bred puppy no
better than torture-chambers, being full of strange, sinister objects,
for to Hamlet, even yet, the unknown is a menace and a dread. Brought
into study or dining-room, he would "wax desperate with imagination,"
throwing wild looks at ceiling and walls and then spinning about and
about like an agonized top. "Upon the heat and flame" of those
excitements it was hard to persuade him to "sprinkle cool patience,"
but in process of time he became accustomed to rugs and furniture and
even, after repeated assurances, grew to understand that Sigurd's chair
was at his service.

By mid-winter he had come to realize, with a touching relief and
responsive fervor of affection, that the members of the family were his
friends, but he was still thrown into a panic by the door-bell and the
murderous monsters whose entrance he believed it to announce. Every
arrival he regarded as an agent of Hamlet's doom and fled precipitately
to chosen places of concealment on the upper floors. Yet curiosity was
strong in the little fellow, too. As I sat chatting with a caller, I
would presently be aware of an excessively unobtrusive collie stealing
down the stairs. Quivering all over, in awe of his own daring, he would
place himself erect on the threshold with his face to the hall and very
slowly, inch by inch, would "like a crab" back into the room, edging
along on his haunches, steering his blind course for the further side
of my chair. Still keeping his back to the stranger, he would reach up
a pleading paw for me to clasp and then, regarding himself as both
invisible and protected, listen keenly to learn if the conversation
were by any chance about Hamlet.

He was as timorous out of doors as in, having little to do with other
dogs, save with a benignant collie neighbor, old Betty, and yielding up
his choicest bones without remonstrance to any impudent marauder. If I
reproached him for his pacifist bearing, he would touch my hand with an
apologetic tongue and look up with shamefaced eyes that admitted:

                      "it cannot be
    But I am pigeon-liver'd, and lack gall
    To make oppression bitter."

It was his habit to take legs, rather than arms, "against a sea of
troubles," and when enemies loomed on the horizon he would
precipitately make for home. He was by this time dog enough to be
overjoyed if one of us summoned him for a walk.

    "What noise? who calls on Hamlet?"

And all his belated frolic of puppyhood came out in impatient collie
capers while, with our intolerable human tardiness, wraps were donned
and doors thrown open. And then the leaps of ecstasy!

    "Go on; I'll follow thee."

But he hated, and still hates, to be out in the great, dangerous world
of noises, people, motors, alone by daylight. "Nay, come, let's go
together," is his constant plea. But if no one of the household is at
liberty to companion him, he prefers to wait for his exercise till "the
very witching time of night," when he plunges into the mystery of the
woods or runs by moonlight along deserted roads. During his first
winter, on returning from one of his nocturnal rambles, he would stand,
snow-coated, without a whine or scratch, shivering at the outside door,
silent even under the beating of an icy storm, until some anxious
watcher caught sight of him and let him in. He had been with us over a
year before he found his voice. Then, one noon, a brisk step coming up
to the south porch along our private path took Hamlet by surprise. His
quick, shrill protest astonished him as much as it did us and he
promptly rushed to refuge under the table. But having shattered our
psychopathic theories and confessed that he was no mute, he took to
barking with immoderate enthusiasm that has already more than made up
for lost time. Yet as with his movements, so his barking is
odd,--discordant, off the pitch, "jangled out of tune."

These tremendous bouts of barking, combined with his excitable and
suspicious temperament, have given our timid collie a preposterous
reputation for ferocity. Callers wise in dogs observe that even as he
roars he runs away, wagging his tail, and come boldly on to the north
door, while Hamlet announces and denounces them at the south:

    "O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!"
    "A guilty thing."
    "A puff'd and reckless libertine."
    "A pestilence on him for a mad rogue!"
    "What, ho! help, help, help!"

But when he has torn his "passion to tatters, to very rags," he slips
in shyly to greet the accepted caller, usually seating himself,
according to his own peculiar code of etiquette, with his back to the
guest, but sometimes, especially if it is a college girl "in the morn
and liquid dew of youth," he will, instead of taking his accustomed
place by me, lie down at Ophelia's feet, explaining:

    "Here's metal more attractive."

Hamlet is a delicate subject for discipline as any sign of displeasure
on the part of the few he trusts will fling him back to his puppy state
of quivering misery. But for his inhospitable clamors he is
occasionally shut up in the telephone closet, a custom which he
considers

    "More honour'd in the breach than the observance."

Released, he bounds toward us beseeching caresses and every assurance
that we have forgiven him and love him still. But he is just as ready
to bark at the next arrival, though the dread word CLOSET will
sometimes arrest a roar in mid-career. His sense of duty, as the
guardian of the house, is inextricably intertwisted with his desire to
be good.

Hamlet has, indeed, an uncharacteristic conviction of the preciousness
of property. He did not learn it from me. I resent the metal that
outlasts flesh and bone and am careless about locking doors since
against grief and death no bolts avail; but Hamlet, had destiny put him
in his proper place, would have ridden through life on top of an
express wagon, zealously guarding its packages from every thievish
touch. As it is, he keeps an embarrassing watch and ward on my desk and
bookcases. Often a seminar student, reaching for a volume that promises
to throw light on the discussion, is amazed by the leap of what had
seemed to be a slumbering collie, now all alert and vigilant, gently
nipping her sleeve to hold that arm of robbery back. Or in the midst of
committee toils, a guileless colleague may move toward my desk to make
a note. From the hall Hamlet dashes in with gleaming eyes and, as she
turns in astonishment, squeezes his yellow bulk between her and that
mysterious altar of my midnight devotion and firmly shoves her back.
These policeman ways of his are not universally endearing and, in
return, he has no faith whatever in the honesty of my associates,
"arrant knaves all." He has never put aside his dark suspicions of one
who is not only generosity itself, but a socialist to boot, because on
his first Christmas Eve in the Scarab she had been so kind as to act as
her own Santa Claus and take away her labeled packet from the pile of
tissue-papered and gay-ribboned gifts in a corner of the study.
Although I had noticed that the puppy made a point of lying down before
that heap, I did not realize that he, terrified and bashful as he then
was, had constituted himself its custodian, till this action of hers
left his soul "full of discord and dismay." Even yet he heralds her
approach with consternation:

    "O shame! where is thy blush?"
    "A most pernicious woman!"
    "Marry, this is miching mallecho; it means mischief."

So our dog has few friends outside his home. It is difficult to
maintain with the children on the hill the pleasant fiction that their
Christmas playthings come from Hamlet when it so obviously "harrows"
him "with fear and wonder" to see the little recipients allowed to bear
these objects away. Laddie's mistress, ever gracious, pets and praises
him, and hers is the only home in the village at which, sure of a happy
welcome and delectable bits of bread and butter, he consents to call,
but Jack's mistress, catholic as her sympathies are, remembers an
unlucky encounter from which her famous comrade retired, blinking
queerly, the loser of a tooth. It is, of course, her theory that Hamlet
feloniously reached into Jack's mouth to snap out that treasure, while
to me it seems crystal clear that Jack uprooted the venerable fang
himself in an unholy effort to bite Hamlet; but now the collie is shut
up whenever the terrier comes, though they manage to exchange through
the windows a vituperative language not taught in our curriculum.

Hoping to extend this too limited circle of Hamlet's friendships, we
have accepted as a summer guest a cynical old parrot, who has already,
in a lifetime cruelly long for a captive, known a variety of vanishing
households. The tones that Poor Pol echoes, the names that he calls,
insistently and vainly, in his lonesome hours, the scraps of family
talk dating perhaps from five, ten, twenty years ago that his strange
voice, a mockery of the human, still repeats, make him, even to us, an
awesome personage, a Wandering Jew of the caged-pet generations. What
does he miss, what does he remember, as he sits sweetly crooning to
himself "Peek-a-boo, Pol," and then rasps crossly out, "Wal! what _is_
it?" and then falls to a direful groaning "Oh!" and "Ah!" over and
over, more and more feebly, as if in mimicry of a death-bed, and
suddenly spreads his wings, hurrahs like a boy on the Glorious Fourth
and storms our ears with a whole barn-yard of cackles and
cocka-doodledoos?

For the first few minutes after the arrival of Polonius, Hamlet
regarded the great cage, set on top of a tall revolving bookcase, and
its motionless perching inmate, whose plumage of sheeny green was
diversified by under-glints of red and the pride of a golden nape, as
new ornaments committed to his guardianship. Erect on his haunches, he
gazed up at them with an air of earnest responsibility, but when
Polonius, cocking his head and peering down on the collie with one
round orange eye, crisply remarked:

"Hello! What's that? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!" Hamlet went wild with
amazement. After making from every side vain leaps and scrambles toward
the unperturbed parrot, he tore from one of us to another, with whines
and imploring gaze striving to learn what this apparition might mean

    "So horridly to shake" his "disposition
    With thoughts beyond the reaches" of his soul.

A week has passed and I begin to fear that Hamlet's antipathy to
Polonius, "a foolish prating knave," a "wretched, rash, intruding
fool," is too deeply rooted in drama for life to eradicate. The fault
does not lie with the parrot. Though with him, as a rule, "brevity is
the soul of wit," he accosts Hamlet quite as cordially as any other
member of the family, with "Hello" when the dog trots into the room and
"Good-by" when he trots out. He is, indeed, so far in sympathy with
Hamlet that, well-nigh to our despair, he seconds the collie's uncivil
clamor when the doorbell rings by stentorian shouts of "Fire! _Fire!!_
FIRE!!!" We do not admit that, in general, Polonius talks only "words,
words, words." If he does, the coincidences are uncanny, for he warns
"Look out" as we lift his heavy cage and pronounces "All right" as we
set it safely down. I was adding a column of figures yesterday and, as
I named the total, Polonius said in an approving tone: "That's right;
that's it." He has a mild curiosity about our doings and occasionally
responds to our overtures by offering to an outstretched finger the
chilly grip of his clay-colored claws,--invariably, like a well-bred
bird, presenting the right foot. If Housewife Honeyvoice undertakes to
scratch the parrot's green head, Hamlet rears up against her and
insists that the same ceremony be performed on his yellow one.
Polonius, for his part, though too blasé for jealousy, has a proper
self-respect, and when he overhears us comforting our troubled collie
with murmurs of "Good Hamlet! Dear Hamlet!" promptly interjects "Pretty
Pol."

But Hamlet, who is so sensitive to suffering that he will go of his own
impulse to any visitor in trouble and press close, lavishing all his
shy caresses in the effort to console, need not fear that Polonius will
usurp his place in my affection. It is all I have to give him and I
shall not fail him there. I cannot give that fearful, only half-quieted
heart the security it craves from

          "the thousand natural shocks
    That flesh is heir to."

There is no security on this whirring planet where pain is pain, and
loss is loss, but where, for our deepest of consolation, though it
involves our keenest of grief, love is always love.

"Keep me close," pleads Hamlet, and I promise: "While I can."





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