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´╗┐Title: Bruno
Author: Dewey, Byrd Spilman
Language: English
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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 "Bruno" ***

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  BRUNO



[Illustration: The Old City Gates, St. Augustine.--_Frontispiece._]



  BRUNO

  BY
  BYRD SPILMAN DEWEY

  New Edition
  WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY
  CALVERT SMITH

  BOSTON
  LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY
  1908



  _Copyright, 1899, 1908,_
  BY BYRD SPILMAN DEWEY,

  _All rights reserved._

  Printers
  S. J. PARKHILL & CO., BOSTON, U. S. A.



  THIS LITTLE SKETCH
  Is dedicated
  TO ALL WHO HAVE EVER LOVED ONE OF THOSE FAITHFUL
  CREATURES OF WHOM WE, IN OUR IGNORANCE
  AND VANITY, ARE WONT TO SPEAK AS
  "THE LOWER ANIMALS."

  B. S. D.



ILLUSTRATIONS.


  THE OLD CITY GATES, ST. AUGUSTINE           _Frontispiece._

  "I FELL ON MY KNEES TO HUG HIM"                    Page  25

  "HE WAS HISSING AT BRUNO"                            "   62

  CHASING CRABS AND SEA-BIRDS                          "  111



BRUNO



CHAPTER I


We do not count the first half-year of our married life, because, during
that time we did not live, we boarded.

Then we found we had developed a strong appetite for housekeeping, so we
began to look about us for a house.

In the small northern village where we must live, it was not possible to
rent anything that suited us; so we decided to take what we could get
until we could manage to build what we wanted.

The house we took was one which had originally been built out in the
country, but the town had crept around it until it now seemed to be
almost in the heart of the village.

While we were furnishing and embellishing this our first home, was, I
think, the most entirely happy time of our lives.

Julius often said, "I know now why the birds always sing so joyously
when they are building their nests."

We were just beginning to feel settled, when a letter came to Julius
from his only sister, who lived in a city. It was not unusual for him to
have letters from her, but this particular letter stands by itself.

It had a postscript!

The postscript said: "Would you like a nice dog? The children have had a
valuable puppy, seven months old, given to them, and we cannot keep him
here, in a flat. He is half setter and half water-spaniel; pure on both
sides. We call him 'Bruno.'"

How our dignity increased at the idea of owning live-stock! So far we
had only achieved a cat, who had by this time achieved kittens. But a
dog! That was something like! It did not take us long to decide and send
off an enthusiastic acceptance. Then another letter came, saying that
Bruno had started on the journey us-ward.

The next afternoon a colored car-porter walked into Julius's place of
business escorting a shaggy brown dog by a chain fastened to his collar.
We have never known just what transpired during that eighteen hours'
journey; but something notable there certainly was, for Bruno could
never endure the sight or presence of a negro from that time as long as
he lived. He seemed utterly humiliated and dejected when he was led in.

Julius looked up from his day-book, and exclaimed,--

"Is that you, Bruno? How are you, old fellow?" At the sound of his name,
Bruno raised his ears, wrinkled his forehead, and cocked his head on one
side inquiringly. Julius stroked and patted him, and Bruno was won.

I was sitting at home busily sewing, when I was startled by a great
clatter out on the sidewalk. I looked, and there came Julius
leading--puppy, indeed! A dog nearly as big as a calf! I had expected a
baby-dog in a basket!

He was a beauty,--his hair just the color that is called auburn or red,
when humans have it. He sniffed me over approvingly, and let me hug his
beautiful head.

We took off the chain, and watched him roll and bathe himself in the
high grass of the back yard. He had probably never seen such grass
before, and he could not express his delight with it.

There was a three-cornered discussion at bedtime about where our new pet
was to sleep. Julius and I did the talking, while Bruno sat upright--I
called it "standing up before, and sitting down behind," his ears cocked
up, looking from one to the other as we spoke, seeming to understand all
that was said. It was finally decided to make him a bed on the floor
beside ours, so that he would not be lonesome.

Several times in the night we were startled by his cries. He moaned and
whined in his sleep,--evidently having bad dreams. Julius would call to
him until he was broad awake, then reach down and pat him till his tail
began to thump the floor, and he would rise and wind himself up by going
round and round on his bed, then drop, to go off again into an uneasy
snooze. We did not sleep much. Towards morning we were awakened from a
first sound nap, finding ourselves violently crowded and pushed. Julius
sprang out of bed and lighted a candle. There was Bruno monopolizing
half of our bed.

It was daylight before we could convince him that his bed was on the
floor and that he was expected to occupy it.

The next afternoon, I ventured to take Bruno for a walk. I had tied a
broad light-blue ribbon in a big bow round his neck, which contrasted
beautifully with his auburn curls. I felt very proud of his appearance,
and he also eyed me with a look of satisfaction. Alas! "Pride goeth
before a fall, and a haughty spirit before destruction."

As we crossed a street that ran at right angles with the one we were
gracing, Bruno, looking down its vista, caught sight of what was
probably the first flock of hens he had ever seen.

All the setter in him sprang to the fore, and in a flash he was off
after them. Without a thought, I followed. Up and down the street we
sped,--he after the one speckled hen he had singled out, and I after
him, shrieking to him, and making lunges at him with my parasol, as he
and the hen rushed by me.

Finally the distracted Biddy, squawking, cackling, and with outspread
wings, found the hole under the fence through which the others had
escaped and disappeared, leaving us to view the ruins, heated and
dishevelled, with smashed parasol, muddy feet, draggled ribbon, and
vanished dignity.

After some half-hysterical reproaches from me, which Bruno listened to
with drooping ears and tail, we turned, demoralized and dejected, to
wend our way homeward, I mentally congratulating myself that the streets
were deserted. I shuddered to think of the probable consequences if it
had happened after school hours when the small boy was abroad.

So far we had managed to prevent a meeting between Bruno and Rebecca.

Bruno was to us such an uncertain quantity that we feared the result of
their first glimpse of each other. So the box containing Rebecca's
kittens had been kept out in the stable, and her food carried out to her
to prevent the dreaded meeting. I wearied of the daily forced marches
stable-ward, though, and longed to have them within reach. So, one
evening after Julius came home from the office, we, in fear and
trembling, brought in the box, and mounted guard to watch developments.

Bruno looked curious, sniffed, and then drew nearer. I sat down on the
floor to be ready to defend them, while Julius stood behind Bruno.

As soon as he spied the kits, his ears rose and he was all alert. Then
gradually he seemed to realize, from our way of proceeding, that they
were not fair game. His ears drooped forward, his tail began to wag,
and I drew back from the protecting attitude I had instinctively
assumed. His tail continued to wag, his ears drooped lower and lower,
until presently he was licking the little kits and rooting them over
with his nose regardless of their ineffectual clawing and spitting.

At this stage of the game, who should arrive on the scene but Rebecca!
She came dashing in, having returned from a hunting excursion to find
her nest of babies gone; coming, as she always did when anything went
wrong, for our help and comfort. As soon as she saw Bruno, her back went
up as if a spring had been touched; she stood at bay, growling and
spitting.

He started towards her, but Julius grasped his collar. Then Rebecca
caught sight of her kits. She darted to them, sprang into the box, and
covered them with her body.

Julius loosened his hold of Bruno, who advanced eagerly.

Rebecca received him with a flash of her paw which left a long deep
scratch on his nose. He retreated whining and growling. Julius comforted
him, while I took Rebecca in hand. For some time we reasoned and
experimented with them, until finally we had the satisfaction of seeing
Rebecca let down her bristles and begin to purr while Julius smoothed
her head and back with Bruno's paw.

After that they kept the peace fairly well, though Rebecca always boxed
his ears when she came in and found him licking and nosing her kittens.

We tried to keep him away from them, but he did love them so. He would
watch Rebecca out of one eye as he lay dozing, and as soon as she
started on a hunt, he would go tiptoeing to the kitten-box for a frolic.

Soon they grew quite fond of playing with his big curly ears, and forgot
to spit and scratch.



CHAPTER II


One morning when Julius got up, he could find only one of his slippers.
After a long search the other was found under the edge of the
washing-stand, but in a decidedly dilapidated condition.

It had evidently been gnawed.

We gravely discussed the misfortune of having our premises invaded by
rats, and when on the following morning one of my overshoes was likewise
discovered to be a wreck, matters began to look serious, and Julius
hastened to procure a trap.

That night I was awakened from my first doze by a sound of gnawing, and
on hastily lighting a candle, Bruno was seen with a conscious,
shamefaced expression--just like a big boy who is caught enjoying a
nursery-bottle--chewing a shoe!

It was quite a revelation of dog-character to find such a big fellow
chewing up things, but we were relieved on the score of rats. Bruno was
furnished with an old shoe for his very own on which to exercise his
jaws, and we formed the habit of arranging our shoes on the mantelpiece
every night before retiring.

We exchanged the trap for some boxes of tacks, which are always "handy
to have in the house."

About this time our neighbors, the Crows, became possessed of a large
setter dog, by name Leo.

This dog was deficient in morality, and at once developed thieving
propensities.

Bruno soon understood that we did not want Leo to come to our house, nor
even into the yard; still, he personally formed a dog-friendship for
him. While this seemed at the time very strange to us, I have since
explained it to my own satisfaction.

I think Leo must have confided to Bruno the fact that he was not well
cared for by his owners.

Many people seem to think it is unnecessary to give a dog regular meals.
They think he ought to "pick up a living." The Crows seemed to have this
idea; so Bruno doubtless felt that Leo was not altogether to blame for
being a thief, and after fiercely driving him outside of our gate, he
would follow, and they would have romps and races until both were
exhausted.

Leo was the only real dog-friend Bruno ever had. All his other friends
were either humans or cats.

The crowds of dogs that sometimes go yelping and tearing through the
streets were to him objects of the loftiest scorn. From front window or
porch he would look down his nose at them, then turn, stepping high, to
march off and lie down in some remote corner where only the faintest
echoes of their din could reach him.

One evening, while Julius and I were at choir-practice, we heard
something that distressed me greatly. I felt that I could not stay, so
we slipped out and hurried home. As soon as we were inside of our own
door I threw myself into Julius's arms with childlike sobbing.

He tried to comfort me, but I could only hear my own heart-throbs. All
at once he exclaimed,--

"Look, Judith, look at Bruno!"

His tone was so strange, it penetrated even my grief. I raised my head
and there was Bruno, standing upright, his head against Julius's
shoulder, as close to me as he could get, his eyes full of tears, the
picture of woe.

"You see Bruno is crying too," said Julius.

As soon as Bruno saw me look up, he threw back his head and wagged his
tail as if to say,--

"Come now, that's better, much better."

My tears still fell, but they were no longer bitter. There was something
about the sympathy of that dumb creature which touched a chord not to be
reached by anything human. It was so unlooked for and so sincere.

It was wonderful how he entered into all our feelings. In those days I
was very much afraid of thunder-storms. In some subtle way Bruno divined
this and kept the closest watch for clouds. If the heavens began to be
overcast, he would go from window to window, noting developments, coming
to me every few minutes to look into my face and wag his tail
reassuringly.

When our fears were verified and the storm broke, he would come to rest
his head on my knee, wincing with me at the thunders and flashes. When
the worst was over, and big scattering drops showed the end of the storm
to be near, he would drop at my feet with a huge sigh of relief that
showed what a nervous strain he had been enduring.

He also discovered a strong aversion I had for spiders, and went about
killing every one he could find. Chancing to be at my side one day when
I dodged and exclaimed at the too familiar dartings of a wasp that was
flying around me, he from that time made it a rule to destroy flying
bugs of all kinds, often jumping high in the air to catch them.



CHAPTER III


Now approached a troublous time in Bruno's career. He fell into bad
ways. We always thought it was Leo who tempted him.

It developed in this way. Soon after dark Bruno would ask to have the
door opened for him to go out. He would look as innocent as if he only
meant to step around to the well for a fresh drink. At bedtime we would
suddenly remember that we had heard nothing of him since he had been let
out. Julius would open the door expecting to find him lying on the
porch. Disappointed in this, he would whistle, call, whistle again, but
there would be no answer. At last we would give him up and go to bed. At
gray dawn there would be a sound of scratching on the door, and when it
was opened Bruno would come in, muddy, draggled, and exhausted. After
drinking with evident relish from his water-bowl, he would curl up on
his bed and sleep till noon.

We scolded him about these "tears," as we called them, until he would in
spite of his fatigue go through with his tricks on being admitted in the
morning: he would "sit up" and offer to "shake hands" with first one
paw, then the other; trying to propitiate whichever of us opened the
door for him. But he would not give up the "tears." Then we tried
chaining him for the night. This kept him at home for nearly a week,
until he finally succeeded in pulling out the staple that held the
chain. In the morning Bruno, chain, and all had vanished; for it was
summer-time and we had chained him outside, under an open shed. The
hours crept on towards afternoon, and still he came not. I had heard at
intervals all day the distant yelping of a dog, but had only noticed it
to suppose that a neighbor some few blocks away had had occasion to tie
up his watch-dog. As evening approached, I anxiously awaited the return
of Julius from his office that he might go in search of our missing
Bruno.

While I was waiting, the milkman came along.

"Where's your dog?" he asked, as he poured out the milk.

Bruno and Rebecca always watched for the milkman and were first to
greet him; this day only Rebecca was there.

"I wish I knew," I answered; "he ran off in the night dragging his
chain, and we don't know what has become of him."

"There's a big brown dog that looks just like yours chained to the
sidewalk over yonder beyond Mr. Black's."

He jerked his head in the direction whence the yelping sounds had come.

Uncle Edwards was then spending a few days with us. He was one of those
people who believe that sooner or later all dogs go mad, and that it is
as much as one's life is worth to come within ten feet of them. He and
Bruno were on the most distant terms of mutual toleration.

But I was desperate. Julius had not come, and I must be at home in case
Bruno did arrive hungry, thirsty, and footsore. There was no help for
it; I must ask assistance from Uncle Edwards.

He was a gentleman of the old school, always obliging and courteous. He
would bow politely and pick up a loaded shell with burning fuse
attached, if asked to do so by a lady.

He readily agreed to go round by Mr. Black's to see if by any chance the
"big brown dog chained to the sidewalk" could be ours. He shortly
returned, leading by the extreme end of his chain a very crestfallen
Bruno; tired, hungry, thirsty, his throat raw with ineffectual yelpings.

Delighted and relieved as I was to see him, I still had room for a
smothered laugh at his and Uncle Edwards's attitude to each other as
they approached. Uncle regarded Bruno out of the tail of his eye, as if
he were some infernal machine, liable at any moment to do things unheard
of; while Bruno, perfectly aware of his distrust, threw tired, meekly
humorous glances out of the tail of _his_ eye. It was comical.

His chain had caught in a cleft board of the sidewalk, and he had been
held there, struggling and yelping, part of the night and all day! All
who had happened to see him thought he had been fastened there for some
purpose or other.

This was a pretty severe lesson for Bruno, and it kept him at home for
several nights. At last temptation again overcame him, and at bedtime
one night he was missing. When he returned at dawn, his side was
peppered with small bloody wounds. He had been shot!

"That settles it," said Julius; "he has been chasing sheep!"

We were extremely troubled at this discovery, and Julius said,--

"Our life is too quiet for him. His instincts are all for chasing
something. Our little promenades are but an aggravation to a dog who is
longing to stretch his legs over miles of country."

We knew he must go at least six miles to find sheep.

For the first time we now began seriously to consider the idea of giving
Bruno away.

A young hunter, whom we will call Mr. Nimrod, had long been wanting him.
He told us it was a shame to turn such a splendid fellow into a
drawing-room dog. He would hold forth indefinitely on Bruno's points,
especially certain extra toes on his various legs. He said a dog with
such toes was built for a "lightning-express" runner, and that it was
outraging nature to try to keep him cooped up in a village lot. After
many discussions we at last decided we ought to give him up to the life
for which he so evidently longed.

We were about to move into the house we had been building, and we
thought the best way to make the dog-transfer would be for Julius to
take him to Mr. Nimrod's the last day before we moved, so that if he
ran away and came to find us, there would be only the deserted house.

It did not occur to us that this would be cruel. We knew we were giving
him up for his own good, and we felt sure he would soon get wonted to
his new home, where he could live the life for which he was created. So,
on the last evening in the old home, Julius took up his hat, which was
always a signal to Bruno, who came and sat up before him, with ears at
"attention," which was his way of asking,--

"May I go?"

"Yes, Boonie can go," answered Julius.

Then Bruno, who had long since learned to understand the difference
between "go" and "stay," went bounding down the walk, leaped over the
gate, and began rushing back and forth along in front of the lot, giving
short barks of delight. Julius called him back, and he came rather
crestfallen, thinking he was, after all, to "stay;" but it was only that
I might hug him and tell him, "Good-bye, you must be a good doggie!"

This puzzled him; but his bewilderment was soon forgotten in the fact
that he was really and truly to "go." When Julius returned an hour
later, he told me he had slipped away while Mr. and Mrs. Nimrod were
petting Bruno, and so had escaped a formal leave-taking. I was glad of
this, for I had dreaded their parting.

In spite of the fact that I was the one to attend to Bruno's wants--that
he always came to me when hungry or thirsty, and that I never
disciplined him as Julius sometimes did,--still he showed in many ways
that Julius's place in his heart was far above mine. So I was relieved
that there had been no good-byes.

We were both entirely engrossed for the next few days by getting moved
and settled. In spite of busy hands, I had many times felt a tugging at
the heart-strings for the absent Bruno. I said nothing about it, though;
and Julius afterwards confessed that he too had felt longings, but had
suppressed them for fear of upsetting me, just as I had concealed my
feelings on his account.

On the afternoon of the fourth day Julius could stand it no longer; he
must have some news of Bruno. So he looked up Mr. Nimrod.

Before he could ask any questions, Mr. Nimrod began,--

"What did you feed that dog, anyway?"

"Why, the same things we ate," answered Julius, in surprise; "whatever
there was on the table."

"Well, he won't eat anything for us. We've tried everything we could
think of. What does he like best?"

"Well," said Julius, "he likes biscuit and toast and fried mush,--all
sorts of crisp and crackly things; and bones,--little ones that he can
bite,--and meats of course."

"We've tried everything except the toast and mush. We'll try him on
those. I'll go right home now and see about it."

When Julius came home and repeated this conversation to me, it produced
what may without exaggeration be called a state of mind. I was half
wild. All the emotions I had been struggling to conceal since Bruno's
departure now held sway. Julius was deeply moved too. We could only
comfort each other by recalling all the trouble we had had with Bruno,
from the anxious night of his first "tear," to that last morning when he
had returned wounded and bloody.

We assured each other that he would soon consent to be happy in such a
good home, and that it would be wrong for us to indulge our feelings to
his ultimate hurt. We dwelt especially on the fact that if he should
again go sheep-chasing and be shot at, he stood at least a chance of
being fatally wounded.

Thus we talked ourselves into a reasonable frame of mind.



CHAPTER IV


I knew, without anything being said about it, that Julius would lose no
time the next day in finding out if Bruno had consented to eat his
supper. When he started down town a whole hour earlier than usual, I
knew, as well as if he had said so, that it was in order to have time to
hunt up Mr. Nimrod before office hours.

"It's no use," began Mr. Nimrod, as soon as Julius appeared; "wouldn't
touch a thing. Never saw such a dog. I believe he's trying to starve
himself."

"Don't you think," ventured Julius, "it would be well to bring him out
to our house for a little visit, to cheer him up?"

"Not much!" answered Mr. Nimrod, promptly. "I never could break him in
then. He has run away twice already, and both times I followed him and
found him hanging around the house you moved from. Lucky the trail was
cold. If he once finds out where you are, the jig's up."

When Julius came home at noon, we sat at the table listless and
dejected, now and then making fitful attempts to converse. The dainty
noon meal had suddenly lost flavor after we had exchanged a few
sentences about "Poor, hungry Bruno!"

Were we to eat, drink, and be merry, while our faithful friend starved
for love of us!

After Julius had returned to the office, there was such a tugging at my
heart-strings that I--well, yes, I did, I cried! How I regretted that I
had never cultivated an intimacy with Mrs. Nimrod, so that I might have
"run in" to call, and thus have an opportunity to comfort the poor
homesick fellow!

Julius saw the tear-traces when he returned towards evening, and
proposed a stroll down town; thinking, I suppose, that if we sat at home
we should be sure to talk of Bruno and be melancholy.

We walked through all the principal streets of the town, meeting and
greeting friends and acquaintances, stopping to glance at new goods in
several of the shops; bringing up at last in the town's largest
bookstore.

[Illustration: "I fell on my knees to hug him."--PAGE 25.]

We were just starting for home, when on the sidewalk there was a sudden
flurry and dash, and Bruno, stomach to earth, was crawling about us,
uttering yelps and whines that voiced a joy so great it could not be
told from mortal agony.

Regardless of the fact that we were on the most public thoroughfare of
the town, I fell on my knees to hug him, and could not keep back tears
of mingled joy and pain. His poor thin sides! His gasps of rapture! Oh,
Boonie, Boonie!

The first excitement over, we looked about us for Mr. Nimrod. He was
nowhere to be seen. Bruno had evidently escaped, and was running away to
look for us when he had chanced to strike our trail and so had found us.

We were glad he was alone. We both felt that if he had been torn from us
at that supreme moment he would have died; he was so faint with fasting
and grief, and then the overwhelming joy at finding those he had thought
to be forever lost to him! He squeezed himself in between us, and kept
step as we went homeward in the gathering twilight.

As soon as we reached home, we hurried him to the kitchen to enjoy the
sight of the poor fellow at his trencher. How we fed him! I ransacked
the pantry for the things he liked best, till his sides began to swell
visibly. He paused between mouthfuls to feast his loving eyes on first
one, then the other of us, and his tail never once stopped wagging.
Rebecca came purring in to rub against his legs, and even submitted with
shut eyes to a kiss from his big wet tongue. He must have felt that such
an hour repaid him for all his sufferings.

After he had eaten until he evidently could not take another morsel, we
drew him in front of us as we sat side by side, for a three-cornered
talk. He sat on end, waving his tail to and fro on the floor, wrinkling
his forehead and cocking up his ears, while we explained the situation
to him.

We told him how kind Mr. Nimrod meant to be to him, how he would train
him to hunt and take him on long daily runs. Then we reminded him how
impossible it was for Julius to go on such excursions with him, and of
how many scrapes he had got into by going alone,--he seeming to take it
all in and to turn it over in his mind.

Then we told him that since he had found our new home he could come
often to see us, and he would always find us glad to see him,--yes, more
than glad!

Then Julius got his hat and said,--

"Come on, Boonie; now we're going home."

He seemed quite willing to go. I told him good-by with a heart so light
I could scarcely believe it the same one I had felt to be such a burden
when I had set off for our walk two hours earlier. I busied myself then
preparing a little supper against Julius's return; for we had not been
able to eat since breakfast, and I knew by my own feelings that Julius
would welcome the sight of a well-spread smoking table; and he said on
his return that I "guessed just right."

He and Bruno had found the Nimrods very much disturbed over their dog's
disappearance. Mr. Nimrod had just returned from an unsuccessful search,
and they were wondering what to do next. They welcomed the wanderer, but
were concerned, too, that he had discovered our dwelling-place.

"I'm afraid we'll have to keep him tied up now," said Mr. Nimrod.

Julius thought not, and said,--

"Now that he knows where we are, and can come for a glimpse of us now
and then, I believe he'll be better contented than he was when he
thought we'd left the country."

Better contented he certainly was, but he positively refused to stay at
home. It soon came to be a regular thing for Julius to escort him back
every evening.

The Nimrods lived nearly a mile from us, so Julius did not lack for
exercise.

Mr. Nimrod finally came to remonstrate with us.

"You ought to shut him out," he cried, "then he'd have to come back
home."

For answer, Julius showed him certain long, deep scratches on our
handsome new doors, adding,--

"Don't you see? It's as much as our doors are worth to shut him out, and
he leaps that four-foot fence as if it were but four inches."

There was obviously no possible reply to such logic as this; so he
continued to come,--dragging sometimes a rope or strap, or some other
variety of tether, triumphantly proving that love laughs at locksmiths!

The Nimrods at last lost heart. Bruno never would eat there, and he
never stayed when he could manage to escape. One night it was raining
hard when the time came for him to be taken "home," so they did not go;
and that seemed to settle it.

He was our dog.

We had given him away without his consent, and he refused to be given;
so the trade was off. He stayed closely at home now, seeming to think we
might disappear again if he did not watch us.



CHAPTER V


Unless there were guests in the house, we usually slept with all the
inner doors wide open for better circulation of air.

One night we were awakened by tremendous barkings and growlings from
Bruno. Julius spoke to him, and he answered with a whine. Then we could
hear his feet pad-padding on the carpet as he went from our room,
tap-tapping on the oil-cloth in the hall, pad-padding again through the
sitting-room and the dining-room, then tap-tapping on the painted
kitchen floor, with more loud barks and deep growls.

Julius tried again to quiet him, but he refused to be quieted.

"Something disturbs him," I said. "Maybe we'd better let him out."

"No," said Julius, "it is probably that wretched Leo lurking around,
trying to toll him off. He's better inside."

I did not think he would seem so fierce if it were Leo, but I was too
sleepy to argue; so we dozed off, leaving him still on the alert.

Deep was our surprise next morning to find that a band of thieves had
raided the town during the night, and that the houses on both sides of
us had been entered! How we petted and praised Bruno, our defender! He
was quite unconcerned, though, and seemed as if he would say to us,--

"Oh, that was nothing. I only barked and made a racket!"

Truly, it was only necessary for him to bark and make a racket. There
was never any occasion for him to go further. His voice was so loud and
deep it always conveyed the impression of a dog as big as a house,--one
that could swallow a man at one mouthful without winking.

People were always ready to take the hint when he gave voice to his
emotions. They never undertook to argue with him.

After that night we never slept with such comfortable feelings of
perfect security as we felt at those times when we were half aroused by
Bruno's barks and growls.

For a while the days passed uneventfully in our little home. Julius and
I were interested in beautifying and improving our grounds, so time
never dragged with us. Rebecca rejoiced in several successive sets of
kittens. They and Bruno frolicked through the days, with exciting
interruptions in the shape of the milkman's calls, Julius's returns from
the office, and occasional visits from the neighbors' children.

For greater convenience we always spoke collectively of Bruno, Rebecca
and her kits, as "the cattle."

The milkman's daily calls never grew stale to them. They generally heard
his bell before Julius or I suspected he was near, and would all go to
the sidewalk to meet him. Bruno would leap the fence; Rebecca and her
kits would creep through. As soon as the milk was poured out, they all
raced to the back piazza to wait for their share of it. When the dish
was filled and placed before them on the floor, Bruno stood back with
drooping ears, watching them drink. He seemed to feel that it would not
be fair to pit his great flap of a tongue against their tiny
rose-leaves. They always left some for him, which he devoured in two or
three laps, while they all sat about washing their faces. I don't think
he cared for the milk; he took it to be sociable, and seemed to be as
well satisfied with a swallow or two as he was after drinking the
dishful I sometimes offered him. He often tried to chew the grain on
which the chickens were fed, and would eat anything he saw us taking,
including all kinds of fruit, nuts, candies, and ices. Of course the
chief of his diet was the various preparations of cereals and meats, but
he seemed to want a taste of all that was going.

Once, much to his own ultimate disgust, he coaxed me to give him a sniff
of a smelling-bottle he thought I seemed to be enjoying. After that, he
regarded all bottles with the deepest suspicion and aversion.



CHAPTER VI


It is hard to remember just when we first began to talk Florida. Then a
neighbor went down there on a prospecting tour, and returned bringing
enthusiastic accounts of the climate and opportunities. We were greatly
interested, and at once sent off for various Florida papers, pamphlets,
and books.

Julius had always dreaded the bleak northern winters, having some
chronic troubles,--a legacy of the Civil War. It is only in literature
that a delicate man is interesting; practically, it subjects him to
endless trials and humiliations, so we never gave his state of health as
a reason for the proposed change. Instead, we flourished my tender
throat. A woman may be an invalid without loss of prestige, so not one
of our friends suspected that our proposed change of climate was not
solely on my account.

We decided that as soon as our northern property could be disposed of,
we would turn our faces southward and try pioneering.

Some children in a neighboring family had formed an enthusiastic
friendship with Bruno, and as soon as our plans were announced, their
parents asked us to give him to them when we were ready to start South.
In spite of our former experience in giving him away, this seemed
entirely feasible to us.

In the first place, we thought it would be utterly impossible to take
him with us to Florida. Then he was really and truly attached to the
children who wanted him; so we readily consented; and we encouraged them
to monopolize him as much as possible, so that we might see him
comfortably settled before we started. They lived next door to us, and
Bruno was always ready to join them in a game of romps. He even ate from
their hands. It seemed a perfect arrangement.

Our pretty little home was soon sold and dismantled, and we went to
board in another part of town while preparing for the long journey,
which then seemed almost as difficult as a trip to the moon. We locked
up the empty house and slipped away to our boarding-place, while Bruno,
all unconscious of what was going on, was barking and tearing about in a
game of tag on the other side of our neighbor's large grounds.

Old Aunt Nancy, a colored woman who had belonged to one of my aunts
before the war, and who had been our stand-by in domestic emergencies,
had taken Rebecca and her family, promising them "Jes' as good a home as
I can gib'm, Miss Judith." It was a sad breaking up, but we felt that
our pets were well provided for, and that we should feel worse for
leaving them than they would at being left.

Vain thought!

Two evenings after leaving our home, while I was busy in our room,
making ready to begin packing, I heard Julius's step on the stairs,
accompanied by a familiar clatter that made my heart stand still. The
door burst open, and, before I could rise from my kneeling position,
surrounded by piles of folded things, I was knocked over sideways by a
rapturous onslaught from Bruno.

"What does this mean!" I exclaimed, as soon as I could speak.

"I don't know," answered Julius. "I found him waiting for me at the
office door when I came out. He seemed half wild with delight at seeing
me again. I rather think it is a repetition of the Nimrod experiment."

"Poor old fellow!" I cried. "See how his sides have fallen in just in
these two days! He has been starving again, and we have nothing to give
him!"

"That's so," said Julius. "I'd better go and get something for him,
hadn't I?"

"Yes, indeed," I answered. "At once, poor old doggie!"

So they went clattering down the stairs again, and soon returned with
some promising-looking paper bags.

We spread a newspaper on the hearth to receive his feast, then sat
watching him and returning his glances of affection while he ate. When
he had eaten to his satisfaction and dropped into a happy snooze, Julius
said,--

"Well, I suppose I might as well try to find out if it would be possible
to take him with us. I'll see the agent to-morrow. We must either take
him, or have him killed; for I see plainly that it won't do at all to
try to leave him."

"If we could just have him go along in the car with us, it would be all
right," answered I. "He is such a knowing old fellow he would understand
things perfectly."

"That's impossible, I know," cried Julius. "If he goes at all, he must
ride in baggage-cars, and we'll be in a sleeper. I don't see how we can
manage it."

I began to think that a way would open, and my heart felt lighter than
it had at any time since we first began to talk Florida. If we could
have Bruno with us, I no longer dreaded going to a land which, in my
imaginings, had appeared to be teeming with unknown dangers.

The next morning Julius went promptly to interview the agent, and found
that, after all, it would be possible to take Bruno with us to Florida.
It would be some trouble and some expense. Besides his passage as
baggage, the porters in each car must be feed; and while we in the
sleeper should be in a through car, he would have a number of changes to
make,--one of them at early dawn, and another in the night. It would be
necessary for Julius to see to these changes in person, in case Bruno
proved to be unruly, which was quite probable. We decided to undertake
it, and Bruno's outfit for the journey was at once purchased. This
consisted of a strong new collar and chain, with a big tin cup fastened
to the chain for plenty of drinks, and a lunch-basket full of biscuit.

The memorable day came, and we were escorted to the train by kind
neighbors and friends full of good-byes and good wishes for us all,
Bruno receiving a full share of their attentions.

We knew well that they considered the whole affair to be a wild-goose
chase, and that they expected to see us return, sadder and wiser, in a
year at furthest.

As soon as the train was under way, Julius went forward to see how Bruno
was taking it. He found him in a state of the utmost excitement, howling
and dragging at his chain, probably remembering his other journey on the
cars, when he had left his first home to come alone to us in his
puppyhood. When he saw Julius and realized that we were with him, his
joy and relief were touching. Julius stayed awhile with him, and got him
some water,--he was always thirsty after "crying,"--then came back to
report to me.

I felt so relieved to know that we had really got off with Bruno in good
shape, it almost made me forget a small ache in the corner of my heart
for something that had happened a day or two before. I had gone up by
the old home to say good-by to an invalid neighbor, and there, on the
sidewalk, by the gate, sat Rebecca. Thin, scrawny, and alert, she sat
watching for somebody,--easy to guess what "somebody." How glad she was
to see me!

I sat down on the gate-step, and took her in my arms, wishing with all
my heart that we could take her with us too. Still, I knew we couldn't.
She, a sober, middle-aged cat, to be carried all those many miles! Then
it might be weeks after we reached Florida before we decided where to
settle. A dog, once there, could trot around after us, but what could we
do with a cat? She had never learned to follow for any distance, and she
was always nervous about being carried.

No, it wasn't to be thought of.

I stayed, petting her as long as I could; then, after urging her to go
back and be contented with Aunt Nancy, I bade her a tearful good-by, and
carried away an ache in my heart that I sometimes feel yet.

Dear old Rebecca!

Some day I hope to go across into cat-heaven and hunt her up. Then she
can be made to understand why I was seemingly so hard-hearted as to go
off and leave her looking mournfully after me on that sad day so long
ago. Maybe she knows now; I hope she does.



CHAPTER VII


It was late forenoon when we set off Florida-ward. Just after dark we
reached a big city where we were to take the through sleeper to
Jacksonville. In those days there was no Union Depot there, and it was
necessary to cross the city in order to get started on the road South.

This transfer had worried us all along, for the time was limited, and
there was all our baggage to see to and recheck, and Bruno. We arranged
that I was to take Bruno and go with him in the regular transfer
omnibus, while Julius crossed with the baggage. We thought that Bruno
and I could take care of each other, though I confess I was not willing
to have a private cab. In the well-lighted, comfortably filled 'bus I
felt safe enough, even though I was crossing a strange city at
nightfall, with only a dog for escort.

Bruno looked wistfully at the door as the 'bus started, but seemed
satisfied when I assured him it was all right.

Julius was waiting for us at the other station with tickets and checks.

When he returned from escorting Bruno to the baggage car, reporting,
"All's well," we both fairly laughed, in the relief of having passed the
most puzzling part of the journey.

I did not see Bruno again until the next morning. It was gray dawn. The
train was standing, puffing and snorting like a restless horse, on the
track under the shadow of Lookout Mountain.

On inquiry, Julius had learned that there would be a delay of a quarter
of an hour or so there, and, as he had to be up, anyway, to transfer
Bruno to another baggage car, he had planned to give him a little run;
so, as I leaned out of the car window, I saw Julius with Bruno's chain,
cup, etc., bunched in his hands, while the happy dog was galloping up
and down the roadside. He performed leaps and antics expressive of
extreme joy when I leaned out and called to him, saying to me as plainly
as possible,--

"Here we are again! Isn't it jolly?"

And I assured him that it was.

After that glimpse I saw no more of Bruno till we reached Jacksonville;
but Julius reported, from time to time, that he seemed to comprehend
the meaning of our plan of travel, and trotted along from old to new
baggage car, so eager not to be left that he tried to enter every one he
came to with doors standing open.

Early on the next morning after our stop by Lookout Mountain, we entered
the "Florida Metropolis." And now, behold, a great surprise! We had
brought thinner clothing in our hand-bags, thinking that, as we
journeyed southward, our heavy garments, built for northern winters,
would prove to be oppressive. How startling, then, to feel our features
pinched by nipping breezes as we stepped from the cars at last in the
Sunny South! True, as we passed residences on our way to the hotel, we
saw green trees and blooming flowers; but where were the balmy airs that
in our dreams were always fanning the fadeless flowers in this Mecca of
our hopes?

After leaving the cars, the most welcome sight that greeted our eager
eyes was a roaring open fire in the hotel reception-room. We thought
this a most excellent joke. They were very good to Bruno (for a
consideration) at the hotel, but it was against their rules to allow
dogs in the rooms, so he was installed in comfortable quarters outside.
Julius went with him to make sure he was satisfied, and to see that he
was watered, fed, and in good spirits before we had our own breakfast.
On the way down, as ever before, Bruno had attracted much favorable
notice. Women and girls exclaimed, "Oh, see that lovely dog!" And a
number of men scraped acquaintance with Julius by admiring notice of his
"Mighty fine dog!"

Bruno shrank from their attentions. He never made friends with
strangers, no matter how much they tried to pet him; and he never ate
anything offered to him by others unless we told him to. In fact, he was
always very particular about appropriating food. Sometimes at home, when
in a brown study, I placed his dish of food on the floor without saying
anything; but he would never begin to eat until he had gained my
attention by thrusting his nose into my hand, asking, "Is that mine?" by
questioning glances directed from me to the dish; then, when I answered,
"Yes; that's Boonie's; that's for Boonie," he would fall to and enjoy
it.

We were glad of this trait; and we often thought that but for it he
would, very early in his career, have fallen a victim to poison, for he
was greatly feared by many timid people, especially by various grocer
and butcher boys, who approached our premises with so many absurd
precautions that it seemed to afford Bruno the greatest delight to keep
them in a state of terror.



CHAPTER VIII


We made but a short stay in Jacksonville, then hurried on to St.
Augustine, where a former acquaintance of Julius's was living with his
family. We had to take a river steamer to Tocoi,--called Decoy by many,
for obvious reasons,--then journey across to the coast on a tiny
railway.

The steamboat on the St. John's was a first experience of the kind for
Bruno, who seemed to enjoy it greatly, for the boat had but few
passengers beside ourselves, and we went up and down stairs at will,
making him several visits in his quarters on the lower deck.

Things were even more informal on the little railway. There was no one
about when we boarded the train; so Bruno followed us into the passenger
coach, crept under the seat, doubling himself up like a shut knife, and,
totally effaced by the time the conductor came around, rode first-class
for once. It seemed such a treat for us all to be together as we
journeyed, that our short ride across from "Decoy" to the coast stands
out in memory as the pleasantest part of the journey.

We were met at St. Augustine by Julius's friend, and, as he bore a
pressing invitation for us from his family, we stopped that first day
with them, so that they might have their fill of news from their friends
and relatives whom we had seen just before starting to Florida.

They kindly urged us to stay longer, but we thought that two people and
a dog made a formidable party to entertain as visitors; so we hunted up
a pleasant boarding-house, and settled ourselves for a two weeks' stay.

All three of us found much to surprise us in the old town; but by far
the greatest sensation was Bruno's when we first took him out for a run,
and he promptly made a dash into one of the creeks as the tide was
flowing in, and took a big drink. He was warm with running, and the
water looked so inviting that he had taken a number of swallows before
he tasted it. Then his antics were most comical. He snorted and shook
his head till his ears flapped again, and rubbed at his nose, first with
one paw and then with the other. After that one lesson he never again
drank from a strange pool or stream without first tasting it very
gingerly, then waiting a few seconds to make sure of the after-taste.
But if he objected to the taste of salt water, he found no flaw in the
feeling of it.

There is no memory of him on which I so much love to dwell as on the
picture he made with his tawny curls streaming backwards in the breakers
when we took him out to the beach. The green-curling, foam-tipped waves
were to him a perfect delight. Even his dashing out in our midst and
shaking himself so that we were all drenched in an impromptu shower-bath
is pleasant,--as a memory,--though at the time we scolded him, and tried
to respond sternly to his waggish glances, as he gambolled about and
rolled in the sand.

The salt water was new to all of us, so we spent as much time as
possible on the island and the beaches.

On those days when we were confined to the mainland by showers, or by
the business we were attending to between times, we used to go, towards
evening, to promenade on the seawall. Then Bruno always got down in one
of the basins for a swim before we returned to our temporary home.

Although it seemed like northern spring weather, some days being quite
chilly, and others warm enough for summer clothes, we awoke one morning
to the fact that to-morrow would be Christmas. It had seemed to us,
since our arrival in St. Augustine, as if we were in a foreign country,
the Spanish element was so large in proportion to the rest of the town,
both in the people and their customs and in the arrangement and the
construction of the city. We heard of the celebration of midnight Mass
in the old Cathedral, and resolved to "assist;" but, as the evening came
on crisp and chilly, our enthusiasm cooled with it. The tonic qualities
of the unaccustomed salt air had inspired us with a keen interest in
food and sleep; so, after fully deciding to sit up for the Mass, we were
ready by half-past nine to declare that there was not a sight in the
world worth the sacrifice of such a night's sleep as that for which we
felt ready. So we embarked for dreamland, whence we were recalled at
daylight by Bruno's excitement over a perfect din of tin trumpets and
toy drums.

As we dressed, we peeped through the blinds at the processions of small
boys marching by in the narrow streets below, blowing trumpets and
pounding drums. The daily drills at the barracks in the old city made
all the small boys of the town even more ambitious than small boys
usually are to be soldiers. Apparently, every one of them had sent Santa
Claus a petition to bring him something warlike for a Christmas present.

Julius delighted Bruno by taking him out and buying him a paper of
candy, which he ate with much relish; then we three sat on the upper
piazza on which our room opened, listening to the music and watching the
processions.

It was a very strange Christmas to all three of us. The air was
pleasantly warm, and green things, with roses and other flowers, were in
sight in all directions.

As soon as Christmas had passed, we, with that feeling of having turned
a corner, common at such times, began to hasten our preparations to go
on South. We had inspected various tracts of land around St. Augustine,
but had not found anything to which we felt particularly drawn. It
seemed rather odd, too, to come South intending to pioneer, and then to
settle in or near what the old sergeant at the Fort assured us was the
oldest city in the Union.

We felt that we must, at all events, see what the wilder parts of the
State were like before deciding; so we soon found ourselves speeding
away again towards "Decoy," to catch the boat for a little station away
down South, up the river, which was then the only route to a small
settlement in the mid-lake country, where a relative was living, who had
urged us to see his part of Florida before deciding on anything.

It seems odd now to think how remote south middle Florida was in those
days. The point we were then trying to reach is now less than twelve
hours from Jacksonville by rail. Then we travelled all night by boat,
and took train at breakfast-time across to a big lake, where a tiny
steamer awaited us; on this we crossed the lake, then stopped at a town
on the other side, to wait for a wagon which was to come a half-day's
journey to meet us.

Our message was delayed, so we spent two days at an English inn, near
the big lake, where we made some friends we have kept on our list ever
since. And besides these friendships, we have treasured many pleasant
memories of this inn. We approached it in the twilight of a chilly,
blustering day, and on entering it we were greeted by an immense open
fire of light-wood, which glorified the polished floor, strewn with the
skins of wild creatures killed in the near-by thickets, called hammocks
or hummocks. The firelight gave fitful glimpses of old-fashioned chairs,
tables, etc., and lighted up a number of large gilt-framed paintings
which adorned the walls;--in short, it was a complete picture of
artistic comfort. Nor was our satisfaction lessened by the fragrant odor
of frying ham and hot muffins, wafted to us as we crossed the hall.

They gave us a ground-floor room in an L opening on one of the side
piazzas. This arrangement suited Bruno perfectly, and therefore it
pleased us. There was a small lake behind the house, and the next day
Julius proposed a row. The boat was quite small, and he was then rather
unskilled in the use of oars; so we coaxed Bruno to sit on the tiny
wharf and see us go by.

He seemed quite willing; so we pushed off. As we floated outward, Bruno
lost heart. It was too much like being left behind; so he whined and
plunged in after us.

"It isn't far across," said Julius, "and a swim won't hurt him!"

So we went on, letting him follow.

Suddenly he gave a strange cry, and Julius looked around, exclaiming,--

"See, he's cramping!"

We went to him as rapidly as possible, and were just in time. At the
risk of upsetting us all in the deepest part of the lake--probably about
fifteen feet--Julius dragged him into the boat. We then hurried back to
the landing, where poor Bruno had to be helped out, and we laid him on
the grass in a state of exhaustion which alarmed us greatly.

It was some hours before he was himself again, and many months before he
lost a great fear of the water,--in fact, he was never afterwards the
fearless water-dog of his youth.



CHAPTER IX


I see us next at the little inland settlement surrounding two small
lakes for which we had started.

It had been long years since we had seen the relative who was living
there, and childish memories did not tell us that he was the most
visionary and unpractical of men. We could not trust our own judgment in
such a topsy-turvy country as Florida, where the conditions were all so
new to us; so it is no wonder that we took his word for a number of wild
statements and decided to buy and settle there. We bought a tract of
land from a friend and client of his, who offered us the use of a small
homestead shanty near our land, to live in while we were building. This
shanty looked decidedly uninviting, but the alternative was a room in
the house of our relative, a full mile away from our place; so we
decided in favor of the shanty. It was built of rived boards, slabs
split out of the native logs. It had one door and no windows. In fact,
it needed none; for the boards lapped roughly on each other, leaving
cracks like those in window-blinds, so we could put our fingers through
the walls almost anywhere. Besides affording a means of light and
ventilation, this was vastly convenient for various flying and creeping
things. The floor was of rough ten-inch boards, with inch-wide cracks
between them. Julius escorted me over to inspect it, saying,--

"If we try to live in this excuse for a house, we shall be pioneering
with a vengeance."

After a searching glance around the premises, I answered,--

"The pioneering is all right, if we can just make it clean."

"Oh, that's easy enough!" exclaimed Julius, in a relieved tone. "If you
think we can stand its other short-comings, I can whitewash the whole
thing, and make it so fresh and sweet you won't know it."

We sent a message for our freight, which we had left at Jacksonville,
and Julius took a team to the nearest town to buy a few necessaries. We
had brought no furniture South with us, knowing that what we had in our
Northern home would be unsuitable for pioneering. Our freight,
therefore, was mostly books and pictures, with a few boxes of clothes,
bedding, etc. The shanty was wonderfully improved by a coat or two of
whitewash, and after an old tapestry carpet had been put down to cover
the cracks in the floor, extending up on the walls to form a dado, it
began to look quite livable.

The bed and a row of trunks filled one end, there being just room to
squeeze in between them. At the foot of the bed was a table, used by
turns as kitchen, dining, and library table; there was also a box
holding a kerosene stove, with shelves above it for dishes and supplies.

We had two wooden chairs, and a bench which we put to various uses. When
these things were all in place, and our books arranged on boards which
were laid across the rafters overhead, we felt as snug as was Robinson
Crusoe in his cave.

As soon as we were comfortable, Julius got a man to help him, and began
to improve our land. A few of the large pine-trees had to be felled, and
this performance filled Bruno with the wildest excitement. His natural
instincts told him there was only one reason for which a tree should
ever be cut,--to capture some wild creature which had taken refuge in
its top. At the first blow of the axe he would begin to yelp and dance,
breaking into still wilder antics when the tree began to sway and
stagger, finally rushing into the top as it fell, in a state of
excitement that bordered on frenzy.

As he, of course, found nothing there, he seemed to think he had not
been quick enough, and that the creature had escaped; so he became more
and more reckless, until Julius was alarmed for his safety, and said I
must keep him shut in-doors till the trees were down, or he would surely
end by being crushed.

I had my hands full. I would coax him in, and shut the door. As soon as
he heard the chopping begin, he would whine and bark, coaxing to be let
out. I always temporized until I heard the tree falling, then off he
would dash, and bounce into its top to yelp and explore.

He never found anything in the trees, but he never grew discouraged. He
"assisted" at the felling of every one.

Bruno was much happier in Florida than he had been in our Northern home.
He had all the woods to stretch his legs in, and for amusement he had
the different kinds of wild creatures.

One moonlight night we three had walked over to the post-office for the
mail. As Julius and I were slowly sauntering homeward, enjoying the
night air, while Bruno made little excursions in all directions, he
suddenly came up in front of us, and paused in that questioning way
which showed he had found something of which he was not quite sure.

"What is it, Boonie?" asked Julius.

Bruno made a short run, then came back, pausing as before, and glancing
first in the direction he had started to go, then at Julius.

"It is probably a 'possum," I suggested.

Bruno had shown himself to be very careful about attacking strange
animals. He seemed to remember our adventure with the hens, his first
meeting with Rebecca, and some of his other experiences.

Julius answered his evident question with,--

"Yes. It's Boonie's 'possum. Go get him!"

Off he sprang, dashing into a little clump of trees, about a bow-shot
from us, then with a yelp retreated, throwing himself on the ground,
uttering short cries, rubbing and rooting his nose down into the grass
and sand. Alas, poor Bruno! We knew what it was. We did not see it, we
did not hear it, but we knew. He felt that he had been a victim of
misplaced confidence; but we suffered with him, for it was days before
he got rid of the "bouquet." Then it was as if by an inspiration. He
seemed, all at once, to remember something. There was a tiny lake near
our place, that was going dry. Day by day its waters had receded, until
it was a mere mud-hole. Bruno went down to it, and buried himself up to
the eyes in the black mud.

He lay there until late afternoon, then trotted off to a wet lake near
by, and took a thorough bath. With this, he regained his lost
self-respect, but he never forgot the experience. It was only necessary
to say,--

"Kitty, kitty, where's kitty?" to make his ears and tail droop in the
most dejected manner; then he would creep away, out of sight, till some
more agreeable topic of conversation was broached.

It was not strange, after such a trying adventure, that Bruno was rather
timid about approaching "Br'er 'Possum" when he did meet him. One night,
he was found lurking around outside, sniffing some odds and ends that
Bruno had disdained. After a little urging, Bruno was induced to seize
him. Finding that nothing unpleasant followed, he became from that
moment an enthusiastic 'possum-hunter, and used to bring one in every
night or two. I usually cooked them for him, and he ate them with a
relish, which we thought was fortunate, as we were about twelve miles
from a butcher. Another substitute for beef we found in the Florida
gopher. This is a grass-eating tortoise, which digs a house for itself
in the sand.

Bruno soon became a most ardent gopher-hunter. Their hard shells make
them difficult to handle, as they promptly draw in the head and legs on
being approached; so Bruno would nose one over until he could seize the
shovel, a protruding piece of the lower shell. Getting this small bit
between his side-teeth, he balanced the weight by holding his head
stiffly sideways, and came trotting in. The shadow of the house reached,
he dropped the gopher, carefully turning it over on its back, and lay
down beside it, to cool off and rest. Then off he would go for another.

He kept this up day after day, sometimes having as many as a dozen
around the place at once. As often as the creatures managed to flop over
so they could use their feet again and start to escape, Bruno, yelping
and barking, brought them back, and turned them on their backs.

Sometimes, when he returned after a protracted hunt, bringing in a fresh
victim, he found several of them escaping at once. Then he would
hurriedly drop his latest catch, to speed away, tracking the truants
until they were all found and recaptured, to be brought back and nosed
over again.

He never wearied of this sport, and after our house was finished, and a
well-stocked "chicken-park" was added to our estate, we bought a large
camp-kettle, which we arranged on bricks in a secluded place; in this we
would heat water and cook Bruno's gophers, so that he and the hens had
constant feasts of them and throve apace.



CHAPTER X


Julius and I always like to experiment with new articles of food. We
have no sympathy with the kind of fussiness that travels around the
world with its own lunch-box, disdaining everything strange or new. It
is to us part of the charm of changed surroundings to test the native
articles of diet.

[Illustration: He was hissing at Bruno.--PAGE 62.]

We had tried roast 'possum and stewed gopher; we now began to long for a
taste of alligator steak. We had heard that to be at all eatable the
steak must be taken from the fleshy part of the tail of a young animal
before the creature grows large enough to lose its shiny skin; so we
were quite delighted one day when we found that Bruno had cornered a
young one about four feet long. It was in a little glade about three
hundred yards from the house; and as soon as Julius found the cause of
Bruno's excitement, he hurried to the house for the axe, and soon put a
stop to the creature's demonstrations. He was hissing at Bruno like a
whole flock of geese, the while snapping at him with his teeth and
striking at him with his tail, which he had a most astonishing way of
flourishing around.

When the steak was cut the meat looked white and fine-grained, like the
more delicate kinds of fish. When cooked it was very inviting, being a
compromise between fish and the white meat of domestic fowls.

We enjoyed it very much and were loud in our praises of alligator steak,
but--we didn't want any more!

I cooked the rest of it for Bruno, and he ate one more meal of it; then
he struck. We have since heard that most people who try alligator steak
have the same experience. A first meal is thoroughly enjoyed, but one
not brought up on such a diet never gets beyond the second. It is a
useful article of food in southern camp-life, because it makes the
campers go back to bacon and beans with renewed relish. The same may be
said of roast 'possum and stewed gopher,--that is, for the human
campers.

Just before our house was ready for us, while we were still living in
the little shanty, I noticed one night when Julius came in that he was
empty-handed. He had been in the habit of bringing his tools home every
evening; so I asked,--

"What have you done with the saws and things?"

"I left them under the building," he answered, "wrapped in an old coat I
had there. They will be perfectly safe, and I am tired of carrying
them."

I was always glad when he had discovered an easier way of doing things;
so I made no objection to this, and went on preparing the evening meal,
for which we three were ready. Bruno had been over at the new house all
the afternoon; so I waited on him first, seeing that his water-basin was
full to the brim and heaping a plate with food for him. Then Julius and
I sat down with keenest enjoyment to such a meal as we would have
scorned in our old home, but which our open-air life in the pine-woods
made exceedingly welcome. Afterwards I cleared the table, and we sat
down to our usual evening of reading, interrupted with occasional
snatches of conversation.

Bruno lay at our feet--dozing when we were quiet, thumping the floor
with his tail whenever we spoke. Towards nine o'clock he got up, shook
himself, sighed deeply, then asked me in his usual manner to open the
door for him. This was the way he asked. He rested his head on my knee
until I looked up from my book. Then his tail began to wag, and he
glanced quickly from me to the door, then back at me again. I asked,--

"Boonie want to go?"

At this his tail wagged faster than ever, and he went to the door and
stood waiting. Julius got up and opened the door for him; standing for a
few moments after Bruno had disappeared in the darkness, looking at the
stars and listening to that sweet sound the pine-needles make when the
wind blows through them.

The night was rather cool, and it was not long before we both began to
feel sleepy. Bruno had not returned; so Julius went to the door,
whistling and calling to him.

But there was no answer.

We waited a little while; then Julius said:

"He will probably be here by the time we are ready to put out the lamp;
so let's to bed."

I felt troubled. It reminded me of the old days in Bruno's giddy youth
when he was off sheep-chasing. As I brushed out my hair, I was turning
over in my mind all those vague fears I had felt when I had formerly
dreamed of Florida as a country full of unknown dangers. At last I
spoke,--

"Julius, do you think a big alligator could have caught Bruno?"

"I don't know," answered Julius, slowly.

Then I knew that he was worried too.

When the lamp was out, Julius went to the door again and stood for some
minutes whistling, calling, and listening; but no sound came except the
pine murmurs and the mournful notes of a distant "Whip-Will's-Widow."

It was impossible for us to sleep. Having always had Bruno at our
bedside, we had never before felt uneasy, and had provided no way to
lock our shanty. There was just an old-fashioned string-latch with a
padlock outside; and here we were, deserted by our protector!

Again and again through the night Julius got up to call and listen.

Towards dawn we both slept heavily, worn out with anxious surmises. We
were awakened by a well-known whining and scratching at the door, and
when we both sprang up to open it, in walked Bruno, looking just as he
usually did in the morning,--lively, glad to see us awake, and ready for
his breakfast.

We gave him a welcome so warm it surprised and delighted him, while we
vainly questioned him for an explanation of his desertion of us for the
night. It was of no use. We could see that he had not been running, but
where _had_ he been? We gave it up.

Julius said his troubled night had left him without much appetite for
work; but the man who was helping him would be there, so he thought it
best to go over to the building, anyway.

He surprised me by returning almost immediately. His face was lighted up
and his eyes were dancing.

"I came back to tell you where Bruno slept last night," he exclaimed.
"You can't guess!"

"No," I answered; "I have already given it up."

"He went back to watch those tools I left over at the building. He dug
himself a nest right beside them, drawing the edge of my old coat around
for his pillow. The prints are all there as plain as can be!"

We were amazed and delighted at this performance; the reasoning seemed
so human. He had watched Julius arranging and leaving the tools, the
while making up his own mind that it was an unwise thing to do, and
evidently deciding to see to it later. His sitting with us till
bedtime, keeping in mind his mental appointment, and then going forth
without a word from any one to keep it, seemed to us to be a truly
wonderful thing, and so it seems to me yet.

From the first, we had made a constant companion of Bruno, talking to
him always as if he could speak our language; and we have since thought
that this must have been a sort of education for him, drawing out and
developing his own natural gifts of thought and reason. He often
surprised us by joining in the conversation. He would be lying dozing,
and we talking in our usual tones. If we mentioned Robbie or Charlie,
the two children who were his friends in his puppy days before he was
our dog, or spoke of Leo, or of going somewhere, he would spring up all
alert, running to the door or window, and then to us, whining and giving
short barks of inquiry or impatience.

Always, after that first time we had tried to give him away, he was
subject to terrible nightmares. In his sleep he would whimper and sigh
in a manner strangely like human sobbing. We thought at such times that
he was going through those trying days again, in his dreams. So we
always wakened him, petting and soothing him till he fully realized that
it was only a dream.

He had other ways which we thought noteworthy. Although he loved Julius
better than he did me, yet he always came to me with his requests. If
hungry or thirsty, he would come to me wagging his tail and licking his
lips.

Like "Polly," his general term for food was cracker. If I asked, "Boonie
want a cracker?" and if it was hunger, he would yawn in a pleased,
self-conscious manner, and run towards the place where he knew the food
was kept. If I had misunderstood his request, he continued gazing at me,
licking his lips and wagging his tail till I asked, "Boonie want a
drink?" Then he would yawn and run towards his water-cup, which I would
find to be empty.

Often, when he had made his wants known to me, I passed them on to
Julius, who would wait on him; but it made no difference: the next time
he came to me just the same. He seemed to have reasoned it out that I
was the loaf-giver, as the old Saxons had it, or else he felt that I was
quicker to enter into his feelings and understand his wishes.



CHAPTER XI


Not long after Bruno's self-imposed night watch we found ourselves
settled on our own estate, ready to carry out our plans for the future.
Briefly they were as follows. We had intended to make an orange-grove,
and while it was coming to maturity, we expected to raise early
vegetables to ship to northern markets. We brought with us only money
enough to make our place and live for a year: by that time we had fully
expected to have returns from vegetable shipments which would tide us
over till another crop. We had plenty of faith and courage, and were
troubled by no doubts as to the feasibility of our plans. Nor need we
have been, if only our land had contained the proper elements for
vegetable growing. It was good enough orange land, but it would be a
long time before we could depend on oranges for an income.

All this time we had been learning many things, taking care, as we began
to understand the situation, to go to practical doers for advice
instead of to visionary talkers.

There began to be serious consultations in our little home circle. The
year was drawing to a close, and our whole crop of vegetables would not
have filled a two-quart measure. We had gone on with our planting, even
after we felt it to be hopeless, because we did not dare to stop and
listen to our fears. It is not strange that we felt depressed and
disappointed. We could see that our plans could easily have been carried
out, had we only known just what sort of land to select. The whole State
was before us to choose from, but we had been misled through the
romances of a dreamer of dreams. All we had to show for our money, time,
and labor was a small house surrounded by trees so young that they were
at least five years from yielding us an income, and there was no more
money for experiments.

For a while we felt rather bitter towards our misleading adviser, but I
know now that we were wrong to feel so. A man can give only what he has.
"Out of the fulness of the heart the mouth speaketh." A dreamer of
dreams has only visions to offer to his followers, surely landing them
either in the briers of difficulty or the mires of discouragement.

One day Julius returned from the nearest large town, where he had been
for supplies, with an unusually thoughtful countenance. As soon as his
purchases were unloaded and the horse had been attended to, he came in
and, drawing a chair beside my work-table, opened the conversation with
these memorable words:

"Judith, how would you like to go up to Lemonville to live?"

"What makes you ask?" questioned I. "It depends altogether on the
circumstances how I'd like to live there."

"Well, Hawkes bantered me to-day to come up and keep his books for him,
and I have been considering it all the way home. It looks like a way
out, and I'll declare I don't see any other!"

"Go back to office work!" I exclaimed; "I thought you were done with
that sort of thing!"

"I thought so, too; but after a year of this sort of thing, it begins to
look quite different."

We sat up late, discussing this plan in all its bearings. Bruno seemed
to know that it was a crisis in our affairs, and sat on end facing us,
wrinkling his brows and looking from one to the other as each spoke. We
finally decided that Julius was to go back to town in a day or two, and
investigate further.

When Julius returned from Lemonville three days later, he brought us the
news that he had promised to give the position a trial, and that he had
engaged temporary quarters for us in a new house near the office.
Moreover, we were to move up there the following week, as Mr. Hawkes was
impatient for his help.

While we felt relieved at this decision, there was still something very
sad about the breaking up. We had builded so many hopes into our
pine-woods home, which had seemed to us to be guarded by a "standing
army" of giants carrying silver banners, especially imposing on
moonlight nights when the wind kept the banners of moss swaying under
the immense pine-trees.

We had seen it in imagination blossoming as the rose, a quiet little
nest, far from the madding crowd. And now to abandon it at the beginning
and go back to village life,--it was leaving poetry for the flattest of
prose.

The first step towards breaking up was to dispose of our fowls. This was
soon arranged, and when the cart came to carry them off, Bruno watched
the loading of them with the keenest interest, turning his head
sideways, with alert ears, and catching his lip between his side-teeth
when a hen squawked, as was his way when nervous. At last they were all
in the coop. The driver mounted to his seat, and started off. Bruno
trotted along after him, evidently not understanding that they were no
longer our chickens. He thought it was the beginning of the move he had
heard us discuss. He followed along for perhaps a quarter of a mile. All
at once he stopped and looked back; he saw us standing and looking after
him. It was a dilemma. He looked after the receding wagon, then back at
us, then at the wagon again. Then he turned and galloped back, stomach
to earth, and bounded up to us, yelping and panting, while we explained
that they were not our chickens any more; they were sold, and had gone
away to live in another home.

The poultry disposed of, we began hurriedly to make ready for our own
departure. It took a whole long day to pack our books, but we soon
stowed our other things, and inside of the agreed time we were
transferred and settled in the three rooms Julius had engaged.

There was a sitting-room below, which we used also as a dining-room,
with a small kitchen behind it. Over the sitting-room we had a large
chamber. The front windows of this room gave on the sloping roof which
covered a lower porch. This seemed to meet Bruno's views; he at once
sprang through one of the windows, and took possession of it as a
lounging-place--airy and cool.

Again and again friends we had made in our sylvan retreat, who came up
to town to visit us, said,--

"I found where you lived by seeing your dog on the porch-roof."

The house stood on rising ground and could be seen from almost any part
of the village; so we found Bruno quite useful as a door-plate in a town
where there were as yet no street names nor numbers.

We do not like living in the homes of other people, so as soon as
possible we made arrangements for two town lots, and put up a little
cottage.



CHAPTER XII


One day Julius came home with invitations for a ball in honor of the
Governor, to be given in an ambitious embryo city across the lake. He
had learned that the little steamer was to make an extra night-trip
across on purpose to accommodate those who wished to attend, and that
some of our friends had planned to go in company, and wished us to join
their party. We had long intended to take the steamer trip across the
lake; the Governor's ball sounded inviting, also the night crossing with
our friends. We decided to accept.

The evening fell rather threatening, with flurries of wind and rain.
Still we were undaunted, and kept hoping it would clear off.

I filled Bruno's basin and platter, telling him he must take care of the
house and be a good dog. He seemed to understand all about it, and stood
at the window after we had locked him in, watching us go with perfect
composure.

It was still twilight when we started, and we could see his eyes shining
through the glass, as long as the house was in sight.

The weather, meantime, had not improved, and had we not promised to go,
we should certainly have given it up.

When we reached the wharf, we found that the little steamer's cabin was
in the sole possession of our party, all the others having backed out on
account of the weather.

We kept up each other's spirits with all sorts of absurdities, and the
boat was soon ploughing a foamy track across the big waves.

As soon as we steamed out from behind a point of land that sheltered the
wharf, we were met by a gale of wind that made the little steamer reel
and tremble as if from the shock of a collision. The lights were all
promptly extinguished, as the doors were forced open by fierce winds,
while we huddled together in a corner, and laughingly reminded each
other that it was a "pleasure exertion."

I shudder now whenever I think of that night, though at the time we did
not know enough about the possibilities to be frightened.

How the little boat pitched and tossed! The waves washed its lower
decks, again and again putting out the engine fires; we meanwhile
rolling in the trough of the sea until they could be rekindled. We had
expected to cross in about three-quarters of an hour, and return soon
after midnight; but it was along towards the wee sma' hours when we
reached the other shore. Then, when we heard the crew congratulating
each other, exchanging experiences, and telling what they had expected
to see happen to all concerned every time big waves had washed out the
fire, we for the first time fully realized the risks we had taken in
crossing.

We were weary enough not to be sorry that the ball was already over. We
looked in at its departed glories for a few minutes; and then, finding
it would be impossible to start back home before broad daylight, began
to look for a lodging-place.

The town was filled with people who had driven in from the surrounding
country for the ball, but we succeeded in getting two small top-story
rooms in the hotel, which were vacated for us by some sort of
"doubling-up" among the good-natured guests. The three men of our party
took one, and we three women the other.

It was about three o'clock when we retired to our room, and while the
other two slept on the one bed, I sat by the window trying to hurry the
dawn; wondering what Bruno was thinking, and how we should look, a party
of people clothed in evening array, returning home in broad daylight. As
if we had made a night of it, surely! I chuckled to myself as I compared
our plight with that of Cinderella.

We met at breakfast in the hotel dining-room, a queer-looking crowd. As
we laughed at each other's appearance, it was hard for each to realize
that he or she looked just as absurd; but an unprejudiced observer would
have found little to choose between us. As soon as the meal was over,
the three men started out to find a way to get us all home again.
Everything seemed to conspire to delay us, and it was half-past twelve
at noon when we entered our own gate, the click of the latch bringing
Bruno's face to the window with a series of joyful barks.

Poor fellow! His long confinement to the house, his empty plate and
bowl, his joyful reception of us, and then his springing out to dash
round and round the lot, filled our hearts with compassion.

As soon as his first burst of enthusiasm was over, he came in, and crept
up to me with dejected ears and tail, which in his language meant "mea
culpa." I asked,--

"What is it, Boonie? What's Boonie been doing?"

Still lower sank head and tail, and his knees began to weaken. I made a
hasty survey of the sitting-room, and then I understood. He had slept on
the lounge, a thing he was strictly forbidden to do.

"Oh, Boonie!" I cried, "you naughty dog! Judith thought she could trust
you!"

At this his knees gave way, and he sank to the floor utterly dejected.
He would not rise, nor even look up, until I had forgiven and comforted
him.

The next time we had to leave him alone in the house, I built a
"booby-trap," with two light chairs on the lounge, which left him
looking so utterly crushed that I never had the heart to do it again.
But he never more transgressed in that way, so I felt that I had dealt
wisely with him.

It was a hard necessity which forced us to shut him up when we were
going where it would not do to take him. At first we had tried leaving
him outside; but we found that after we had been gone awhile, his heart
was always sure to fail him, and he would track us, turning up
invariably just in time to cover us with confusion, his own dejected
mien saying plainly,--

"I know this is against orders, but I just _had_ to do it."

He had a wonderful development of conscience. We sometimes thought that
this, as well as the other mental gifts of which he showed himself to be
possessed, were due to the shape of his head. His nose was very short,
and his forehead unusually high and well-rounded. Of course his life as
a close companion to humans and as a full member of a family circle, was
calculated to foster these mental gifts; but they were surely there, to
begin with. We might treat dozens of dogs just as we treated Bruno,
without developing another that would compare with him. He was unique;
and I shall always glory in the fact that he loved and trusted us. His
was a love not to be lightly won, nor, once given, ever to be recalled.



CHAPTER XIII


In spite of our snug little home in Lemonville, we never felt quite
settled there. We were not built for village life. Country life is good,
and city life is good; but in a village one has all the drawbacks of
both, with the rewards of neither. So it was not long before we resolved
on another change.

We sold our little home furnished, packed up our books, with a few other
personal belongings, and turned our faces towards St. Augustine, to
investigate several openings there, of which we had chanced to hear. We
were so fortunate as to be able to rent a small cottage, and at once
took possession, furnishing it from our trunks, only buying a few
necessary articles of the plainest kind.

Just as we had settled ourselves in these temporary quarters, a matter
of business came up, making necessary a return to Lemonville for a day
or two. The trip was both tedious and expensive, so after some
discussion we decided that Bruno and I should stay and keep house,
while Julius made the trip alone "light weight."

I had some trouble in persuading Julius that I should be perfectly safe
in Bruno's care. He wished us to close the cottage, and go to some one
of the many pleasant boarding-places, where we had friends or
acquaintances stopping. This I should certainly have done, had I been
alone; but I reminded Julius how more than able Bruno was to take care
of me, and how much trouble he always gave in a strange house. So he was
finally persuaded that it would be best for us to stay in the cottage.

Julius left on a noon train, carrying only a small hand-bag. When he
said good-by to us, he impressed this on Bruno's mind,--"Take good care
of Judith."

Bruno stood at the door with me, watching him out of sight, then
breathed a deep sigh, and crept off under the bed to have it out with
himself alone and unseen. I busied myself picking up the articles which
had been scattered in the confusion of packing, then sat down to drown
thought in a book.

Towards evening I had a caller. One of our friends, who had seen Julius,
bag in hand, at the station, and had thus learned that I was alone,
sent a message by her little son that I was to "come right around" to
their house for the night. I sent our thanks, with further message that
Bruno and I had agreed to take care of each other. The child went home;
then his mother came. She thought I "must be crazy" to think of staying
alone. She "wouldn't do it for any money." I assured her I was not
staying alone, and had some trouble to convince her that I could not
possibly be more safely guarded than by Bruno. I assured her, further,
that nothing would now induce me to lock up the house and leave it, for
it would be impossible to know just when Julius would return; he would
be sure to catch the first boat and train after his business was
finished, and I would not for anything have him return to find his nest
deserted.

I succeeded, at last, in quieting all of her kind objections, and was
left in peace.

Darkness came on, and then Bruno lost courage. As I was preparing his
evening meal, he ran to meet me as I crossed the room, and raising
himself to an upright position, he rested his paws on my shoulders and
gazed with mournful questioning into my eyes. I knew what he would say,
and sitting down, I drew his head to my knee, and told him all about
it,--that Julius would only stay a "little, little while," then he would
come back and "stay--stay--stay always with us." His ears rose and fell,
his forehead wrinkled and unwrinkled as I talked to him. Then he seemed
comforted, and ate a good supper.

I sat reading far into the night, until the letters began to blur. Bruno
sat beside me, sometimes with his head on my knee while I stroked his
silken ears,--which always suggested the wavy locks of a red-haired
girl,--and sometimes he lay at full length on the floor, with his head
against my feet.

As midnight tolled, I closed my book, covered up the fire, and tried to
go to sleep, with Bruno lying on the rug beside my bed. Whenever I
stirred, he got up, and putting his forefeet on the side of the bed,
reached his head over for me to stroke it. It was the first time I had
ever spent a night in a house with no other humans, and Bruno seemed to
enter thoroughly into my feelings.

I lay listening to the breakers booming on the outer bar, wondering how
far on his journey Julius could be.

Dawn looked in at me before I fell asleep; then I knew nothing until
aroused by Bruno's barks, to find that some one was rapping on the front
door.

After hastily putting on a dressing-gown, I investigated through a crack
made by holding the door slightly ajar, and found that the same kind
friends had sent to see how I had spent the night. I gave a glowing
account of our comfort and security, for my morning nap had thoroughly
rested and refreshed me; then I hastened to prepare some breakfast for
Bruno, meanwhile letting him out for a run in the lot.

After the small household duties were attended to, I had sat down to
finish some souvenirs I was painting for one of the shops, when I heard
a great din and clatter outside. Bruno, who was sitting beside me,
gravely watching my work, while now and then he gave a disgusted snort
as he got a good whiff of the turpentine I was using to thin my paints,
started up, barking and bounding towards the closed door. I sprang to
open it, and was met on the very threshold by a trembling, half-grown
deer. The gate was open, showing how it had entered, and there,
hesitating at the sight of Bruno and me, was a motley crowd of boys and
dogs. I at once grasped the situation. Many people in St. Augustine had
such pets, and I was sure this one must have escaped from the grounds of
its owner, to fall into the hands of the rabble.

I hurried out to shut the gate. Most boys are more or less cruel; but
Spanish boys are intensely so. When I returned to the porch, Bruno and
the deer were regarding each other with mutual doubts. I settled Bruno's
at once by laying my hand on his head while I stroked our gentle
visitor, saying,--

"Pretty deer, Boonie mustn't hurt it!"

The deer seemed satisfied too, and to feel that danger was past. I
brought water, and everything I could think of to offer it to eat. It
was too warm with running to want food, though, and only took a few
swallows of water. Its lovely, deep eyes suggested all sorts of romantic
thoughts. Of course I quoted, "Come rest in this bosom," and "I never
nursed a dear gazelle." I was sure its name should be Juanita, after the
girl in the sweet Spanish song.

All day the pretty creature roamed about our little enclosure, Bruno and
I attending to its wants as best we could, having had no experience in
catering for such guests.

It turned quite chilly towards evening. When I had shut all the doors
and built up the fire, I heard a clatter of small hoofs on the
porch-floor, and there stood Juanita, looking wistfully in through the
window. Bruno and I looked at each other, thoroughly perplexed. We were
not prepared for such a hint. I thought afterwards it must have been
taken as a baby-deer, and raised in-doors "by hand."

We went out and prepared a warm bed for it in the wood-shed back of the
house. It seemed quite satisfied with this arrangement, and settled down
cosily as we left it and returned to our fireside. We spent this evening
and night as we had the previous one, and were aroused very early in the
morning by the sound of Juanita's impatient little hoofs on the porch
floor. I had just finished feeding her and Bruno, when I heard the
gate-latch click. I looked out. A colored girl was coming up the walk.

"Mawnin', Lady," she said; "ole Miss hyud our deer was hyuh. _Dah_ you
is, you good-f'-nuffin' ole runaway! Thanky, Lady. Come on, Billy!" And
hitting _him_ a resounding slap on the back, she went off, accompanied
by our romantic Juanita, transformed into meek and prosy Billy.

Thus perish our illusions!

Bruno was inclined to resent this unceremonious taking off of our pet,
and began to growl; but as soon as I recovered from the mingled emotions
which at first had rendered me speechless, I realized from Billy's
actions that he and the colored girl were old friends; so I silenced him
by saying,--

"Never mind, Boonie, it wasn't our deer; it only came for a little
visit, and now it's going home." Then we stood watching graceful Billy
and his uncouth companion till they disappeared through the old City
Gates.

Late that evening, Bruno having had his supper, I sat by the fire
sipping a cup of chocolate, and thinking those tender, half-melancholy
thoughts we are apt to have at twilight when separated from those
beloved.

All at once I heard the gate click. Bruno sprang up, thrilled and alert.
A footstep on the walk--ah, Bruno knew it, even before I did, and was so
eager to get out that he almost held the door shut in his excitement. We
finally got it open, and there, weary, eager, and travel-stained, was
Julius! Before his lips reached my face, I mentally exclaimed,--

"How glad I am that Bruno and I have stayed here, instead of leaving a
shut-up house, where he would have to drop his bag and start out to look
for us!"

That moment, when I felt his arms around me and heard his words of joy
mingled with Bruno's ecstatic yelps, paid for all of our endless, lonely
hours. I dare say there was not in all the world a happier group of
three than sat before our open fire that night.

Every time Bruno dozed, he would awaken with a start, and go to sniff
and paw at Julius to make sure it wasn't a dream, that he really had
come back to us.

Julius reported his business successfully concluded; a change in one of
the time-tables had enabled him to get back sooner than we had dared to
hope.

The next day I received his letter, telling me to look for him by the
train on which he had come the night before!

In those days our mail not infrequently took an ocean voyage on its way
from one Florida town to another quite near by, so we were never
surprised at anything in the mail line,--except a prompt delivery!



CHAPTER XIV


It was shortly after the events related in the last chapter that we came
to a final decision against the various business openings we had been
investigating in St. Augustine, and concluded to go on to Jacksonville.
We disposed of the few things we had bought for our little cottage, and
when we again found ourselves on the train with our household goods, I
gave us both a fit of merriment by quoting the words of poor little Joe
in "Bleak House,"--

"Wisht I may die if I ain't a-movin' on."

It was by this time mid-season, and Jacksonville was full of tourists.
It was then very popular as a winter resort, Southern Florida was not
much known; so we had some difficulty in finding a place to live.

We decided to get just one room somewhere, and board at a restaurant
till the city emptied so we could secure a cottage.

The first room we found that would do, was too far from the business
part of town; so we took it for only a month, and kept on looking. We
heard of one, at last, which seemed close to everything. It proved to be
large, lofty, and pleasant, with a glimpse of the river from its front
windows.

The house was well recommended to us by the few business acquaintances
Julius had made, though they all confessed that such places were
constantly changing hands and inmates and that it was hard to keep up
with them. Time pressed, and nothing better offered; so we moved in. It
was entirely bare; so we bought some furniture, and, as it was rather a
long room for its breadth, we managed, with a screen or two, to make it
seem like three rooms.

When all was in place, it was really quite inviting. I had a small lamp
stove, so we need only go out for dinners. We began to feel more settled
than for a long time, especially, as Julius had in the meantime found a
business opening which was entirely satisfactory. We saw nothing at all
of the other lodgers; but this did not disturb us, as we were in no
hurry to make acquaintances. We felt that it was best to be circumspect
in a city of this size and make-up.

Our evenings were our pleasantest times, sitting on either side of the
reading-lamp, with Bruno stretched at our feet; so I was inclined to
object one evening, when Julius announced at dinner that he had promised
to give a few hours to helping a young friend of his to straighten out
his accounts. He had promised, though; so I had to yield. He set off
betimes, so as to be home earlier. I locked the door after him, as I
always did, and began to make myself as comfortable as possible for a
quiet hour or two, with a new magazine.

Before I had finished cutting the leaves, I was struck with surprise at
Bruno's actions. He crept in a very stealthy manner to the door, and
stood there in an attitude of listening, with every nerve and muscle
tense.

I watched him a minute, and then asked,--

"What is it, Boonie?"

He did not look around; he waved his tail once or twice, then resumed
his tense pose. Thoroughly surprised, I went softly to him, and stood
also listening. I could hear nothing but a faint rustling, a suppressed
whispering, and the soft click of a latch. I touched Bruno's head; he
looked up at me, and I saw he was holding his lip between his
side-teeth, as he had a way of doing when he was very much puzzled or
excited.

I tried to coax him away from the door, but he refused to come. I made
sure the bolt was shot, and then sat down at a little distance to watch
him. There was a door in the middle of one side of the room, which, when
we took possession, we had found to be nailed up. We utilized the recess
with the aid of some draperies, as a place to hang clothing. Bruno went
to this door, thrusting his head in among the clothes.

He listened there for a long time, probably ten minutes; he returned
again to the other door; then he gave a low growl, followed by several
half-suppressed barks, and lay down against it.

I forgot all about my book, and sat watching to see what he would do
next. The evening seemed endless. At last I heard Julius below in the
hall; Bruno sprang up when I opened the door, and went clattering down
the stairs to escort him up. It was not late, only about ten. I at once
told Julius of the queer evening we had spent, and had the satisfaction
of seeing him as thoroughly puzzled as I had been. We sat until a late
hour discussing it, then gave it up as something quite beyond us.

About three o'clock in the morning we were awakened by an alarm of
fire. The room was full of light, and when we looked out of the window
we found that it was close by--only about two squares away. It was a big
blaze and, as it was on the opposite side of the street, we had a fine
view of it. I was terribly frightened. My uneasiness earlier in the
evening had unnerved me, and this terrible fire so near us upset me
completely. A fire fills me with horror, especially if it breaks out in
the night: it always reminds me of the burning of a big steamer that
happened one awful night in my tenth year.

I watched the flames, fascinated by their lurid splendor;--imagining
that the three white pigeons which had been awakened by the light and
were circling around the tower of smoke--now hidden by it, and now
silhouetted against it--were the souls of those who had perished in the
flames. Overcome by horror, I finally exclaimed:--

"Suppose it had been this big building that had caught fire!"

"But it wasn't," said Julius.

"No: but it might have been. I don't like this at all. I want to be in a
little house by ourselves, close to the ground."

"Yes, it would be better," said Julius, who saw by the light of the
flames how pale I had become, and noted how I was trembling. "It will
not do to have you so terrified: we'll make a change at once. But it
will be difficult to find a house until the tourists begin to scatter."

We thoroughly discussed the situation, and by breakfast-time had reached
a decision.

I was to return to Lemonville for a stay of a week or two, and while
there to see to the packing and shipping of a piano we had left in
storage. Julius meanwhile was to find a cottage, and have our belongings
transferred to it. We did not like the arrangement very well, but it
seemed to be the only thing we could do.

Thus ended our experience as lodgers.

I was gone two weeks. It was pleasant to meet old friends, after a
separation long enough to have plenty of news to exchange, without
having had time to lose interest in each other's affairs, but my heart
was back in Jacksonville.

Julius and I wrote to each other every day, but the mails were so
tedious and uncertain that we usually got each other's letters by threes
or fours, with days full of anxiety and heart-ache between.

I still have the package of letters received then. I have just been
reading them over again. Bruno pervades them all. It is--

"Took Bruno with me to the office to-day, he begged so hard when I
started to leave him; it's lonely for him, poor fellow!"

And--

"While I ate breakfast, I had the waiter put up a good lunch for Boonie;
he's getting tired of biscuit, and I don't like to give him raw bones."

On Sunday,--

"I took Bruno a long walk in the suburbs to-day. It did him a lot of
good."

A letter written just before I returned says,--

"Bruno seems down-hearted to-night; I think he misses somebody."

I returned as soon as Julius wrote that he had procured a house. The
welcome I received told me that Bruno was not the only one who had
missed "somebody."



CHAPTER XV


All that season we lived in a rented cottage, but before the next summer
came we were planting roses in our own grounds. We had been renting just
about a year, when we bought our little home in one of the suburbs; so
we could fully appreciate the joys of being on our own place again.

We found a kitten, the "very moral" of Rebecca, striped black and
blue-gray. She was a dear little thing, and she and Bruno soon became
fast friends.

The only creature we ever knew him to bite--except, indeed, wild
animals, which he considered fair game--was in defending Catsie.

His victim was a handsome coach-dog, following some friends who one day
drove out to call on us. He was a thoroughbred dog, but he had not
Bruno's gentlemanly instincts. The first thing he did was to go trotting
around to the back porch, where he spied Catsie enjoying a fine meaty
bone. He sneaked up behind her, and snatching it in his teeth, made off
with it.

Bruno could not stand that. It seemed to make a perfect fury of him. I
think he felt that the fault was worse, because the coach-dog was so
sleek and plump; there was not even the excuse of hunger.

Poor fellow! Bruno sent him howling and limping from the yard.

The call came to an untimely end, our visitors declaring,--

"That great savage brute of yours has almost killed our beautiful dog!"

I am afraid we did not feel very contrite. We never took our "great
savage brute" anywhere to visit, except when he was especially invited;
and besides, we had our own opinion, which was similar to Bruno's, of
big dogs that robbed little cats.

It took a great deal to rouse Bruno, so much that we sometimes mistook
his amiability for lack of courage.

We had often watched him chasing the animals that lax town laws had
allowed to roam the streets of the only two villages we had ever known.
He would go dashing after a pig or a cow. If the creature ran, he would
chase it until he was exhausted; but if it stood its ground and calmly
returned his excited gaze, he would stop, look at it for a minute, then
turn and come trotting back, with an air that said plainly,--

"I was only in fun; I wanted to see what it would do."

There was a big watch-dog which lived in an enclosure we had to pass on
our way to town. When we took Bruno that way for a stroll, as soon as he
reached this lot, he and the other dog would greet each other through
the picket-fence with the most blood-curdling growls and snarls. They
seemed fairly to thirst for each other's life-blood. Then, each on his
own side of the fence, they would go racing along, keeping up their
growls and snarls, till they reached a place where there were half a
dozen pickets broken out, so that either could have leaped through with
ease.

Then what a change!

Their ears would droop, and their coats and tempers smooth down to the
most insipid amiability. But at their next meeting they were quite as
savage, till they again reached the opening in the fence. It was the
same program, over and over.

Bruno liked to play at anger just for a little excitement, but when he
found anything really worth a spell of the furies, it was quite another
story.

The butcher-boy, who came every other day, took Bruno's tragic
demonstrations for the real thing, and was terribly afraid of him. He
used to shout to me, "Come out and hold the dog!" until he could run to
the kitchen and get safely back outside the gate.

It was all in vain for me to assure him there was no danger. He thought
I did not know what I was talking about. His terror was so real, I
pitied the child--he was not more than twelve or fourteen--so I used to
shut Bruno up in the front hall on butcher-boy days until after he had
made his call.

Our colored woman used to spend her nights in the bosom of her family,
coming back every morning in time to get breakfast. One morning she
failed to appear. It was butcher-boy morning, and the weather was quite
chilly. When I called Bruno in to shut him up, I noticed that the house
next to ours was closed. Our neighbors were off for the day. There were
two vacant lots opposite our place, and on the other side, a church. So
when our neighbors went off for a day's jaunt, as they frequently did,
we were quite isolated.

After I had shut Bruno in the hall, I sat down by the kitchen fire to
toast my toes and wait for the butcher-boy. I was impatient for him to
come, so I could release Bruno, who did not like being shut up. He was
perfectly willing to lie in the hall,--in fact, it was a favorite
dozing-place with him,--but, like some people, he did not enjoy the idea
of being forced to do even what he liked best. I was glad when I heard a
step on the back porch, and sprang eagerly to open the door. There stood
the dirtiest, most evil-looking tramp I had ever seen. He was so taken
aback at the way the door flew open, that I had slammed it and shot the
bolt before he recovered. I hurried in for Bruno, who had heard the
strange step and was eager to investigate. As soon as I returned and
unfastened the bolt, the tramp threw his weight against the door to
force it open. Bruno sprang to the opening with a whole volley of barks
and growls. I caught his collar, saying to the tramp,--

"You'd better run; I can't hold him long!"

I never saw a man make better time. I gave him a minute's start, then
loosed Bruno. He reached the fence just as the tramp had fallen over it
without stopping to open the gate. When I saw all was safe, I felt so
limp I fell back in a chair weak and nerveless. Bruno watched the tramp
around the corner, then returned to look after me. He was much exercised
to find me in such a state, and relieved his feelings by alternately
trying to lick my face, and dashing out to bark again after the vanished
tramp.

After that, Bruno seemed to feel more than ever responsible for me. He
had all along been my especial protector, but seeing me overcome with
fright seemed to make a deep impression on him.



CHAPTER XVI


Julius and I had been in the habit of taking evening walks, and as Bruno
stayed with me through the day when Julius was gone, it was his only
chance for a run.

One evening, when Julius came home, it had been raining, and I felt that
it would not do for me to go out.

"You'd better take Boonie for a little run, though," I said; "he has
been in the house all day."

"I have an errand down at the corner," answered Julius, "and he can race
around the square while I am attending to it. You won't be afraid?"

"Not for that little while; you will be back again before I have time to
miss you."

Julius went into the hall for his overcoat and hat.

"Come on, Boonie," he said; "Boonie can go."

Bruno bounced up, all excitement, showing how he had felt the
confinement. He dashed into the hall, where Julius was putting on his
overcoat, then came trotting back into the sitting-room and stood, ears
erect, looking at me and wagging his tail. I understood him, and
answered,--

"No, Boonie; Judith must stay. Just Julius and Boonie are going."

He knew us only by the names he heard us call each other.

He sat down at my feet, all his excitement gone.

"Come, Boonie," called Julius from the door. "Come on, Boonie's going!"

Bruno looked at him, wagged his tail, looked at me, and refused to stir.

"Don't you see?" I said; "he thinks I ought not to be left alone." Then
to him, "Go on, Boonie; Boonie must go. Judith isn't afraid."

He looked gratefully at me, and wagged his tail, saying plainly, in his
dog-fashion,--

"Thank you, but I'd rather not."

Julius waxed impatient.

"You Boon! come along, sir! come on!" he thundered. Bruno's ears and
tail drooped. He looked up sideways in a deprecating manner at Julius,
then came and laid his head on my knee. It was of no use. Neither
threats nor coaxing could move him. Noble creature! His ideas of
chivalry were not to be tampered with, even by those who were his gods,
his all!

The next morning at breakfast I said to Julius,--

"I am afraid Bruno will be ill staying in-doors so closely. Can't you
take him for a little run before you go to the office?"

"Yes," answered Julius, "I'll take him if he'll go."

"Oh, he'll go fast enough. Dinah is here, and he will think it safe to
leave me."

Bruno was delighted at the invitation, and went tearing around the
square four times while Julius walked it once; then came in, hot and
happy, to tell Catsie and me all about it.

There was something so peculiarly tender about our feelings for Bruno
and his for us. He was at once our protector and our dependent. It is
not strange that we never failed to be thoroughly enraged when
dog-lovers tried, as they sometimes did, to coax us to sell him. Sell
our Bruno! True, we had tried to give him away, but that was for his own
good. But to take money for him! To sell him!! Unspeakable!!!

Three times we had nursed him through trying illnesses,--twice the
blind staggers, and once the distemper; and when either of us was ill,
he could not be coaxed from the bedside. No matter who watched at night,
Bruno would watch too, and no slightest sound nor movement escaped his
vigilance.

How often since he left us have I longed in weary vigils for the comfort
of his presence!



CHAPTER XVII


In looking back at that winter, most of its evenings seem to have been
spent before the open fire, the room lighted only by its blaze.

Sometimes Little Blossom lay across my knees, the firelight mirrored in
her thoughtful eyes, her pink toes curling and uncurling to the heat.
Sometimes she lay cradled in Julius's arms, while he crooned old ditties
remembered from his own childhood.

Bruno never seemed to tire of studying this new-comer to our home
circle. He would stand with ears drooped forward, watching me bathe and
dress her, so absorbed in contemplation that he would start when I
spoke, as if he had forgotten my existence.

He had always before seemed intensely jealous when Julius or I had
noticed children, but with Little Blossom it was different; he seemed to
share our feelings,--she was _our_ baby.

At first he showed a disposition to play with her as he had long ago
romped with Rebecca's kittens, but after I had once explained to him
that she was too little and tender for such frolics, that he must wait
till she could run about, he seemed quite satisfied, and constituted
himself her guardian, as he had always been mine. While she slept, he
would lie beside her crib. When she took an airing, it was his delight
to walk proudly beside the carriage. When I held her, he sat at my
elbow; and when she laughed and cooed in her romps with Julius, he would
make short runs around the room, barking his delight.

Happy hours, all too short!

As spring advanced, our Little Blossom drooped. Her brain had always
been in advance of her physical development. She had never the
meaningless stare seen in normal babies. Instead, there was a wistful,
pensive expression as she gazed into the fire or through the window,
with always a quick dimpling smile when either of us spoke to her. There
was much sickness in town, especially among young children. We decided
to spend the summer months at the seashore. A cottage was leased, and
trunks were packed full of summer clothes, draperies, and other joys and
comforts.

When the time came to start, the cry arose,--

"Where is Bruno?"

No one knew. None remembered seeing him since breakfast. It was now
half-past ten. The train was to go at eleven, and we were three-quarters
of a mile from the station! We felt utterly lost. It was impossible to
leave Bruno, and yet we must go.

Julius looked in all directions, calling and whistling. No answer. Our
baggage had gone, a wagon full of it. The tickets were bought, and
everything was arranged.

Julius came in from an unsuccessful search, a look of desperation on his
face.

"There's no help for it," he said; "we must start, Bruno or no Bruno."

We locked up the house and set off. As we drove along, I kept looking
out, hoping to see the familiar form come dashing after us, but in vain.
Julius was to come into town each morning to the office, returning to us
at the seashore on the afternoon train. I began to think I could not
know Bruno's fate (for I feared something serious must have happened)
until the afternoon of the next day. We had been so delayed it was
necessary to make all speed.

[Illustration: Chasing Crabs and Sea-Birds.--PAGE 111.]

We hurried into the station, and there, standing beside our heap of
luggage, one eye for the packages and the other on the lookout for
us, stood Bruno!

He greeted us with such extravagant delight, and we felt so relieved at
seeing him, that we found no reproaches ready. Besides, although he had
so delayed us, it was quite evident that he had thought we had our hands
over-full, and that by keeping his eye on the things he would be helping
us. So he had followed the wagon, overlooked the unloading, and
evidently had kept tally of every package. Our man who had driven the
wagon was to go on with us to help in the transfer at the other end, and
to make all ready for comfort in the cottage. He told us that Bruno had
mounted guard over him as well as our effects, and while rather
overdoing it, had been quite helpful.

It is hard to write of the weeks that followed.

I see Bruno racing up and down the beach and swimming out through the
breakers, while Julius and I sit on either side of a little wicker wagon
drawn up beyond the reach of the tide, watching him.

I see him chasing crabs and sea-birds, or limping up to show us his foot
stung by a stranded jelly-fish.

Then--darkness.

It is night in a long white-draped room.

One end of it is lighted by a lamp having a rose-colored shade.

In the middle of the lighted end stands a crib. A little white-robed
form lies within.

The pink light so simulates a glow of health that the mother, sitting
beside the crib, bends low, thinking the little breast heaves.

But no. The waxen cheeks chill her lips.

Still she bends and gazes on that loved little form.

Bruno lies at the mother's feet. When she moves he rises, looking
mournfully into the crib, then turns to rest his head on her knee.

On a lounge, in the end of the room where shadows lurk, the father lies
asleep, exhausted with grief.

The curtains sway in the open windows, as if the room were breathing.
All else is still.

I see all this as if it were a scene in a dream or as a
picture,--something in which I have no part; and yet I feel that my
heart throbbed in that mother's bosom.

I know that after she had sent away all kind friends, to watch alone
that last night, it was literally and truly a "white night" to her.

She felt neither sorrow nor grief.

Yesterday her heart was torn with anguish, when those heavenly eyes grew
dim with the death-glaze.

To-morrow it will be rent again, when the little form is hidden from her
in its white casket; and again--at that bitterest moment Life can
give--when the first handful of earth makes hollow echo above it.

But to-night there is the uplifted feeling of perfect peace.

Although it is the third sleepless night, there is no thought of
weariness. All through the short hours she sits and feasts her eyes on
the angelic face with its look of joy unutterable.

And Bruno watches with her.

       *       *       *       *       *

The next day Bruno does not ask to join the sad procession leaving the
cottage.

He has no thought for self at such a time.

As it turns the corner, his mournful eyes are seen at the window, gazing
after his little playmate who is being carried away.

Or does he realize it is only the beautiful body they are taking, which
was all too frail for the bright spirit now flown these two days since!



CHAPTER XVIII


Again the mother is in the city home. No crib stands by the fireplace;
no tiny garments are spread out to air. All is orderly as in the years
that now seem so far away.

She sits with book or needle.

The book falls to her knee, the work slips to the floor; tears steal
down her cheeks.

Bruno presses near, his head against her arm. With his uplifted,
pleading eyes, he seems to say,--

"Don't cry, Judith, please don't cry."

Oh, matchless comforter!

After a time we notice that Bruno is growing old and feeble.

Do we grieve at this? Far from it. We feel that life is over for us; our
only thought is to escape its grasp and join our Little Blossom.

We could never leave Bruno alone; he would grieve himself to death, and
meanwhile, perhaps, be abused as a stupid brute for refusing to be
comforted.

So it is with a feeling of sad resignation that we realize how his hold
on life is weakening. At least he will die in comfort, ministered to by
his loved ones.

We sit alone, we three, in the twilight,--Julius and I, with Bruno at
our feet,--talking of the future. We speculate on the Beyond, hoping it
will not be the conventional Heaven, with harps and crowns.

We long for a sheltered nook, near the River of Life, where we and
Little Blossom can resume the life so happily begun here, going over to
the Happy Hunting Grounds to get Bruno, and to the Cat Heaven for
Rebecca and Catsie.

Then, our family circle complete, we would settle down to an eternity of
HOME.

Can Heaven itself offer anything sweeter than home,--the wedded home,
where love abides!

One morning Bruno seemed not to care for his breakfast. He sniffed
daintily at it, and turned away, though I tried to tempt him with
everything he liked best.

He rested his head on my knee, looking gratefully into my eyes, while
his tail waved his thanks.

Then he went to his bed, and lying down upon it, he fell asleep,--not a
short uneasy nap, with ears open for every sound, but a deep, dreamless
sleep.

There was a beautiful young fig-tree in our lot. Under this his grave
was dug. His bed was laid in, he on it, with his blanket wrapped around
him.

  "Arise against thy narrow door of earth,
    And keep the watch for me!"



  THE END

       *       *       *       *       *

TRANSCRIBER NOTES:


     Missing punctuation has been added and obvious punctuation errors
     have been corrected.

     Printer errors, misspelled and archaic words have been retained
     with the exception of that noted below.

     Page 91: "gods" changed to "goods" (and we again found ourselves on
     the train with our household goods).





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Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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