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Title: Bruce
Author: Terhune, Albert Payson, 1872-1942
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Bruce" ***

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Bruce


by

Albert Payson Terhune



TO MY TEN BEST FRIENDS:

Who are far wiser in their way and far better in every way, than I; and
yet who have not the wisdom to know it

Who do not merely think I am perfect, but who are calmly and
permanently convinced of my perfection;--and this in spite of fifty
disillusions a day

Who are frantically happy at my coming and bitterly woebegone in my
absence

Who never bore me and never are bored by me

Who never talk about themselves and who always listen with rapturous
interest to anything I may say

Who, having no conventional standards, have no respectability; and who,
having no conventional consciences, have no sins

Who teach me finer lessons in loyalty, in patience, in true courtesy,
in unselfishness, in divine forgiveness, in pluck and in abiding good
spirits than do all the books I have ever read and all the other models
I have studied

Who have not deigned to waste time and eyesight in reading a word of
mine and who will not bother to read this verbose tribute to themselves

In short, to the most gloriously satisfactory chums who ever appealed
to human vanity and to human desire for companionship

TO OUR TEN SUNNYBANK COLLIES MY STORY IS GRATEFULLY AND AFFECTIONATELY
DEDICATED



BRUCE

by

Albert Payson Terhune



CONTENTS

   I.  The Coming Of Bruce
  II.  The Pest
 III.  The War Dog
  IV.  When Eyes Were No Use
   V.  The Double Cross
  VI.  The Werewolf



CHAPTER I. The Coming Of Bruce

She was beautiful. And she had a heart and a soul--which were a curse.
For without such a heart and soul, she might have found the tough
life-battle less bitterly hard to fight.

But the world does queer things--damnable things--to hearts that are so
tenderly all-loving and to souls that are so trustfully and forgivingly
friendly as hers.

Her "pedigree name" was Rothsay Lass. She was a collie--daintily
fragile of build, sensitive of nostril, furrily tawny of coat. Her
ancestry was as flawless as any in Burke's Peerage.

If God had sent her into the world with a pair of tulip ears and with a
shade less width of brain-space she might have been cherished and
coddled as a potential bench-show winner, and in time might even have
won immortality by the title of "CHAMPION Rothsay Lass."

But her ears pricked rebelliously upward, like those of her earliest
ancestors, the wolves. Nor could manipulation lure their stiff
cartilages into drooping as bench-show fashion demands. The average
show-collie's ears have a tendency to prick. By weights and plasters,
and often by torture, this tendency is overcome. But never when the
cartilage is as unyielding as was Lass's.

Her graceful head harked back in shape to the days when collies had to
do much independent thinking, as sheep-guards, and when they needed
more brainroom than is afforded by the borzoi skull sought after by
modern bench-show experts.

Wherefore, Lass had no hope whatever of winning laurels in the
show-ring or of attracting a high price from some rich fancier. She was
tabulated, from babyhood, as a "second"--in other words, as a faulty
specimen in a litter that should have been faultless.

These "seconds" are as good to look at, from a layman's view, as is any
international champion. And their offspring are sometimes as perfect as
are those of the finest specimens. But, lacking the arbitrary "points"
demanded by show-judges, the "seconds" are condemned to obscurity, and
to sell as pets.

If Lass had been a male dog, her beauty and sense and lovableness would
have found a ready purchaser for her. For nine pet collies out of ten
are "seconds"; and splendid pets they make for the most part.

But Lass, at the very start, had committed the unforgivable sin of
being born a female. Therefore, no pet-seeker wanted to buy her. Even
when she was offered for sale at half the sum asked for her less
handsome brothers, no one wanted her.

A mare--or the female of nearly any species except the canine--brings
as high and as ready a price as does the male. But never the female
dog. Except for breeding, she is not wanted.

This prejudice had its start in Crusader days, some thousand years ago.
Up to that time, all through the civilized world, a female dog had been
more popular as a pet than a male. The Mohammedans (to whom, by creed,
all dogs are unclean) gave their European foes the first hint that a
female dog was the lowest thing on earth.

The Saracens despised her, as the potential mother of future dogs. And
they loathed her accordingly. Back to Europe came the Crusaders,
bearing only three lasting memorials of their contact with the Moslems.
One of the three was a sneering contempt for all female dogs.

There is no other pet as loving, as quick of wit, as loyal, as
staunchly brave and as companionable as the female collie. She has all
the male's best traits and none of his worst. She has more in common,
too, with the highest type of woman than has any other animal alive.
(This, with all due respect to womanhood.)

Prejudice has robbed countless dog-lovers of the joy of owning such a
pal. In England the female pet dog has at last begun to come into her
own. Here she has not. The loss is ours.

And so back to Lass.

When would-be purchasers were conducted to the puppy-run at the Rothsay
kennels, Lass and her six brethren and sisters were wont to come
galloping to the gate to welcome the strangers. For the pups were only
three months old--an age when every event is thrillingly interesting,
and everybody is a friend. Three times out of five, the buyer's eye
would single Lass from the rollicking and fluffy mass of puppyhood.

She was so pretty, so wistfully appealing, so free from fear (and from
bumptiousness as well) and carried herself so daintily, that one's
heart warmed to her. The visitor would point her out. The kennel-man
would reply, flatteringly--

"Yes, she sure is one fine pup!"

The purchaser never waited to hear the end of the sentence, before
turning to some other puppy. The pronoun, "she," had killed forever his
dawning fancy for the little beauty.

The four males of the litter were soon sold; for there is a brisk and a
steady market for good collie pups. One of the two other females died.
Lass's remaining sister began to "shape up" with show-possibilities,
and was bought by the owner of another kennel. Thus, by the time she
was five months old, Lass was left alone in the puppy-run.

She mourned her playmates. It was cold, at night, with no other cuddly
little fur-ball to snuggle down to. It was stupid, with no one to help
her work off her five-months spirits in a romp. And Lass missed the
dozens of visitors that of old had come to the run.

The kennel-men felt not the slightest interest in her. Lass meant
nothing to them, except the work of feeding her and of keeping an extra
run in order. She was a liability, a nuisance.

Lass used to watch with pitiful eagerness for the attendants'
duty-visits to the run. She would gallop joyously up to them, begging
for a word or a caress, trying to tempt them into a romp, bringing them
peaceofferings in the shape of treasured bones she had buried for her
own future use. But all this gained her nothing.

A careless word at best--a grunt or a shove at worst were her only
rewards. For the most part, the men with the feed-trough or the
water-pail ignored her bounding and wrigglingly eager welcome as
completely as though she were a part of the kennel furnishings. Her
short daily "exercise scamper" in the open was her nearest approach to
a good time.

Then came a day when again a visitor stopped in front of Lass's run. He
was not much of a visitor, being a pallid and rather shabbily dressed
lad of twelve, with a brand-new chain and collar in his hand.

"You see," he was confiding to the bored kennel-man who had been
detailed by the foreman to take him around the kennels, "when I got the
check from Uncle Dick this morning, I made up my mind, first thing, to
buy a dog with it, even if it took every cent. But then I got to
thinking I'd need something to fasten him with, so he wouldn't run away
before he learned to like me and want to stay with me. So when I got
the check cashed at the store, I got this collar and chain."

"Are you a friend of the boss?" asked the kennel-man.

"The boss?" echoed the boy. "You mean the man who owns this place? No,
sir. But when I've walked past, on the road, I've seen his 'Collies for
Sale' sign, lots of times. Once I saw some of them being exercised.
They were the wonderfulest dogs I ever saw. So the minute I got the
money for the check, I came here. I told the man in the front yard I
wanted to buy a dog. He's the one who turned me over to you. I
wish--OH!" he broke off in rapture, coming to a halt in front of Lass's
run. "Look! Isn't he a dandy?"

Lass had trotted hospitably forward to greet the guest. Now she was
standing on her hind legs, her front paws alternately supporting her
fragile weight on the wire of the fence and waving welcomingly toward
the boy. Unknowingly, she was bidding for a master. And her wistful
friendliness struck a note of response in the little fellow's heart.
For he, too, was lonesome, much of the time, as is the fate of a sickly
only child in an overbusy home. And he had the true craving of the
lonely for dog comradeship.

He thrust his none-too-clean hand through the wire mesh and patted the
puppy's silky head. Lass wiggled ecstatically under the unfamiliar
caress. All at once, in the boy's eyes, she became quite the most
wonderful animal and the very most desirable pet on earth.

"He's great!" sighed the youngster in admiration; adding naïvely: "Is
he Champion Rothsay Chief--the one whose picture was in The Bulletin
last Sunday?"

The kennel-man laughed noisily. Then he checked his mirth, for
professional reasons, as he remembered the nature of the boy's quest
and foresaw a bare possibility of getting rid of the unwelcome Lass.

"Nope," he said. "This isn't Chief. If it was, I guess your Uncle
Dick's check would have to have four figures in it before you could
make a deal. But this is one of Chief's daughters. This is Rothsay
Lass. A grand little girl, ain't she? Say,"--in a confidential
whisper,--"since you've took a fancy for her, maybe I could coax the
old man into lettin' you have her at an easy price. He was plannin' to
sell her for a hundred or so. But he goes pretty much by what I say. He
might let her go for--How much of a check did you say your uncle sent
you?"

"Twelve dollars," answered the boy,--"one for each year. Because I'm
named for him. It's my birthday, you know. But--but a dollar of it went
for the chain and the collar. How much do you suppose the gentleman
would want for Rothsay Lass?"

The kennel-man considered for a moment. Then he went back to the house,
leaving the lad alone at the gate of the run. Eleven dollars, for a
high-pedigreed collie pup, was a joke price. But no one else wanted
Lass, and her feed was costing more every day. According to Rothsay
standards, the list of brood-females was already complete. Even as a
gift, the kennels would be making money by getting rid of the
prick-eared "second." Wherefore he went to consult with the foreman.

Left alone with Lass, the boy opened the gate and went into the run. A
little to his surprise Lass neither shrank from him nor attacked him.
She danced about his legs in delight, varying this by jumping up and
trying to lick his excited face. Then she thrust her cold nose into the
cup of his hand as a plea to be petted.

When the kennel-man came back, the boy was sitting on the dusty ground
of the run, and Lass was curled up rapturously in his lap, learning how
to shake hands at his order.

"You can have her, the boss says," vouchsafed the kennel-man. "Where's
the eleven dollars?"

By this graceless speech Dick Hazen received the key to the Seventh
Paradise, and a life-membership in the world-wide Order of Dog-Lovers.

The homeward walk, for Lass and her new master, was no walk at all, but
a form of spiritual levitation. The half-mile pilgrimage consumed a
full hour of time. Not that Lass hung back or rebelled at her first
taste of collar and chain! These petty annoyances went unfelt in the
wild joy of a real walk, and in the infinitely deeper happiness of
knowing her friendship-famine was appeased at last.

The walk was long for various reasons--partly because, in her frisking
gyrations, Lass was forever tangling the new chain around Dick's thin
ankles; partly because he stopped, every block or so, to pat her or to
give her further lessons in the art of shaking hands. Also there were
admiring boy-acquaintances along the way, to whom the wonderful pet
must be exhibited.

At last Dick turned in at the gate of a cheap bungalow on a cheap
street--a bungalow with a discouraged geranium plot in its
pocket-handkerchief front yard, and with a double line of drying
clothes in the no larger space behind the house.

As Dick and his chum rounded the house, a woman emerged from between
the two lines of flapping sheets, whose hanging she had been
superintending. She stopped at sight of her son and the dog.

"Oh!" she commented with no enthusiasm at all. "Well, you did it, hey?
I was hoping you'd have better sense, and spend your check on a nice
new suit or something. He's kind of pretty, though," she went on, the
puppy's friendliness and beauty wringing the word of grudging praise
from her. "What kind of a dog is he? And you're sure he isn't savage,
aren't you?"

"Collie," answered Dick proudly. "Pedigreed collie! You bet she isn't
savage, either. Why, she's an angel. She minds me already. See--shake
hands, Lass!" "Lass!" ejaculated Mrs. Hazen. "'SHE!' Dick, you don't
mean to tell me you've gone and bought yourself a--a FEMALE dog?"

The woman spoke in the tone of horrified contempt that might well have
been hers had she found a rattlesnake and a brace of toads in her son's
pocket. And she lowered her voice, as is the manner of her kind when
forced to speak of the unspeakable. She moved back from the puppy's
politely out-thrust forepaw as from the passing of a garbage cart.

"A female dog!" she reiterated. "Well, of all the chuckle-heads! A
nasty FEMALE dog, with your birthday money!"

"She's not one bit nasty!" flamed Dick, burying the grubby fingers of
his right hand protectively in the fluffy mass of the puppy's
half-grown ruff. "She's the dandiest dog ever! She--"

"Don't talk back to me!" snapped Mrs. Hazen. "Here! Turn right around
and take her to the cheats who sold her to you. Tell them to keep her
and give you the good money you paid for her. Take her out of my yard
this minute! Quick!"

A hot mist of tears sprang into the boy's eyes. Lass, with the queer
intuition that tells a female collie when her master is unhappy, whined
softly and licked his clenched hand.

"I--aw, PLEASE, Ma!" he begged chokingly. "PLEASE! It's--it's my
birthday, and everything. Please let me keep her. I--I love her better
than 'most anything there is. Can't I please keep her? Please!"

"You heard what I said," returned his mother curtly.

The washerwoman, who one day a week lightened Mrs. Hazen's household
labors, waddled into view from behind the billows of wind-swirled
clothes. She was an excellent person, and was built for endurance
rather than for speed. At sight of Lass she paused in real interest.

"My!" she exclaimed with flattering approval. "So you got your dog, did
you? You didn't waste no time. And he's sure a handsome little critter.
Whatcher goin' to call him?"

"It's not a him, Irene," contradicted Mrs. Hazen, with another modest
lowering of her strong voice. "It's a HER. And I'm sending Dick back
with her, to where she came from. I've got my opinion of people who
will take advantage of a child's ignorance, by palming off a horrid
female dog on him, too. Take her away, Dick. I won't have her here
another minute. You hear me?"

"Please, Ma!" stammered Dick, battling with his desire to cry. "Aw,
PLEASE! I--I--"

"Your ma's right, Dick," chimed in the washerwoman, her first
interested glance at the puppy changing to one of refined and lofty
scorn. "Take her back. You don't want any female dogs around. No nice
folks do."

"Why not?" demanded the boy in sudden hopeless anger as he pressed
lovingly the nose Lass thrust so comfortingly into his hand. "WHY don't
we want a female dog around? Folks have female cats around them, and
female women. Why isn't a female dog--"

"That will do, Dick!" broke in his shocked mother. "Take her away."

"I won't," said the boy, speaking very slowly, and with no excitement
at all.

A slap on the side of his head, from his mother's punitive palm, made
him stagger a little. Her hand was upraised for a second installment of
rebellion-quelling--when a slender little body flashed through the air
and landed heavily against her chest. A set of white puppy-teeth all
but grazed her wrathful red face.

Lass, who never before had known the impulse to attack, had jumped to
the rescue of the beaten youngster whom she had adopted as her god. The
woman screeched in terror. Dick flung an arm about the furry whirlwind
that was seeking to avenge his punishment, and pulled the dog back to
his side.

Mrs. Hazen's shriek, and the obbligato accompaniment of the
washerwoman, made an approaching man quicken his steps as he strolled
around the side of the house. The newcomer was Dick's father,
superintendent of the local bottling works. On his way home to lunch,
he walked in on a scene of hysteria.

"Kill her, sir!" bawled the washerwoman, at sight of him. "Kill her!
She's a mad dog. She just tried to kill Miz' Hazen!"

"She didn't do anything of the kind!" wailed Dick. "She was pertecting
me. Ma hit me; and Lass--"

"Ed!" tearily proclaimed Mrs. Hazen, "if you don't send for a policeman
to shoot that filthy beast, I'll--"

"Hold on!" interrupted the man, at a loss to catch the drift of these
appeals, by reason of their all being spoken in a succession so rapid
as to make a single blurred sentence. "Hold on! What's wrong? And where
did the pup come from? He's a looker, all right a cute little cuss.
What's the row?"

With the plangently useless iterations of a Greek chorus, the tale was
flung at him, piecemeal and in chunks, and in a triple key. When
presently he understood, Hazen looked down for a moment at the
puppy--which was making sundry advances of a shy but friendly nature
toward him. Then he looked at the boy, and noted Dick's hero-effort to
choke back the onrush of babyish sobs. And then, with a roughly
tolerant gesture, he silenced the two raucous women, who were beginning
the tale over again for the third time.

"I see," he said. "I see. I see how it is. Needn't din it at me any
more, folks. And I see Dicky's side of it, too. Yes, and I see the
pup's side of it. I know a lot about dogs. That pup isn't vicious. She
knows she belongs to Dick. You lammed into him, and she took up and
defended him. That's all there is to the 'mad-dog' part of it."

"But Ed--" sputtered his wife.

"Now, you let ME do the talking, Sade!" he insisted, half-grinning, yet
more than half grimly. "I'm the boss here. If I'm not, then it's safe
to listen to me till the boss gets here. And we're goin' to do whatever
I say we are--without any back-talk or sulks, either. It's this way:
Your brother gave the boy a birthday check. We promised he could spend
it any way he had a mind to. He said he wanted a dog, didn't he? And I
said, 'Go to it!' didn't I? Well, he got the dog. Just because it
happens to be a she, that's no reason why he oughtn't to be allowed to
keep it. And he can. That goes."

"Oh, Dad!" squealed Dick in grateful heroworship. "You're a brick! I'm
not ever going to forget this, so long as I live. Say, watch her shake
hands, Dad! I've taught her, already, to--"

"Ed Hazen!" loudly protested his wife. "Of all the softies! You haven't
backbone enough for a prune. And if my orders to my own son are going
to be--"

"That'll be all, Sade!" interposed the man stiffly--adding: "By the
way, I got a queer piece of news to tell you. Come into the kitchen a
minute."

Grumbling, rebellious, scowling,--yet unable to resist the lure of a
"queer piece of news," Mrs. Hazen followed her husband indoors, leaving
Dick and his pet to gambol deliriously around the clothes-festooned
yard in celebration of their victory.

"Listen here, old girl!" began Hazen the moment the kitchen door was
shut behind them. "Use some sense, can't you? I gave you the wink, and
you wouldn't catch on. So I had to make the grandstand play. I'm no
more stuck on having a measly she-dog around here than you are. And
we're not going to have her, either. But--"

"Then why did you say you were going to? Why did you make a fool of me
before Irene and everything?" she demanded, wrathful yet bewildered.

"It's the boy's birthday, isn't it?" urged Hazen. "And I'd promised
him, hadn't I? And, last time he had one of those 'turns,' didn't Doc
Colfax say we mustn't let him fret and worry any more'n we could help?
Well, if he had to take that dog back to-day, it'd have broke his
heart. He'd have felt like we were his enemies, and he'd never have
felt the same to us again. And it might have hurt his health too--the
shock and all. So--"

"But I tell you," she persisted, "I won't have a dirty little female--"

"We aren't going to," he assured her. "Keep your hair on, till I've
finished. Tonight, after Dick's asleep, I'm going to get rid of her.
He'll wake up in the morning and find she's gone; and the door'll be
open. He'll think she's run away. He'll go looking for her, and he'll
keep on hoping to find her. So that'll ease the shock, you see, by
letting him down bit by bit, instead of snatching his pet away from him
violent-like. And he won't hold it up against US, either, as he would
the other way. I can offer a reward for her, too."

There was a long and thought-crammed pause. The woman plunged deep into
the silences as her fat brain wrought over the suggestion. Then--

"Maybe you HAVE got just a few grains of sense, after all, Ed,"
grudgingly vouchsafed Mrs. Hazen. "It isn't a bad idea. Only he'll
grieve a lot for her."

"He'll be hoping, though," said her husband. "He'll be hoping all the
while. That always takes the razor-edge off of grieving. Leave it to
me."

That was the happiest day Dick Hazen had ever known. And it was the
first actively happy day in all Lass's five months of life.

Boy and dog spent hours in a ramble through the woods. They began
Lass's education--which was planned to include more intricate tricks
than a performing elephant and a troupe of circus dogs could hope to
learn in a lifetime. They became sworn chums. Dick talked to Lass as if
she were human. She amazed the enraptured boy by her cleverness and
spirits. His initiation to the dog-masters' guild was joyous and
complete.

It was a tired and ravenous pair of friends who scampered home at
dinner-time that evening. The pallor was gone from Dick's face. His
cheeks were glowing, and his eyes shone. He ate greedily. His parents
looked covertly at each other. And the self-complacency lines around
Hazen's mouth blurred.

Boy and dog went to bed early, being blissfully sleepy and full of
food--also because another and longer woodland ramble was scheduled for
the morrow.

Timidly Dick asked leave to have Lass sleep on the foot of his cot-bed.
After a second telegraphing of glances, his parents consented. Half an
hour later the playmates were sound asleep, the puppy snuggling deep in
the hollow of her master's arm, her furry head across his thin chest.

It was in this pose that Hazen found them when, late in the evening, he
tiptoed into Dick's cubby-hole room. He gazed down at the slumberous
pair for a space, while he fought and conquered an impulse toward fair
play. Then he stooped to pick up the dog.

Lass, waking at the slight creak of a floorboard, lifted her head. At
sight of the figure leaning above her adored master, the lip curled
back from her white teeth. Far down in her throat a growl was born.
Then she recognized the intruder as the man who had petted her and fed
her that evening. The growl died in her throat, giving place to a
welcoming thump or two of her bushy tail. Dick stirred uneasily.

Patting the puppy lightly on her upraised head, Hazen picked up Lass in
his arms and tiptoed out of the room with her. Mistaking this move for
a form of caress, she tried to lick his face. The man winced.

Downstairs and out into the street Hazen bore his trustful little
burden, halting only to put on his hat, and for a whispered word with
his wife. For nearly a mile he carried the dog. Lass greatly enjoyed
the ride. She was pleasantly tired, and it was nice to be carried thus,
by some one who was so considerate as to save her the bother of walking.

At the edge of the town, Hazen set her on the ground and at once began
to walk rapidly away in the direction of home. He had gone perhaps
fifty yards when Lass was gamboling merrily around his feet. A kick
sent the dismayed and agonized puppy flying through the air like a
whimpering catapult, and landed her against a bank with every atom of
breath knocked out of her. Before she had fairly struck ground,--before
she could look about her,--Hazen had doubled around a corner and had
vanished.

At a run, he made for home, glad the unpleasant job was over. At the
door his wife met him.

"Well," she demanded, "did you drown her in the canal, the way you
said?"

"No," he confessed sheepishly, "I didn't exactly drown her. You see,
she nestled down into my arms so cozy and trusting-like, that I--well,
I fixed it so she'll never show up around here again. Trust me to do a
job thoroughly, if I do it at all. I--"

A dramatic gesture from Mrs. Hazen's stubby forefinger interrupted him.
He followed the finger's angry point. Close at his side stood Lass,
wagging her tail and staring expectantly up at him.

With her keen power of scent, it had been no exploit at all to track
the man over a mile of unfamiliar ground. Already she had forgiven the
kick or had put it down to accident on his part. And at the end of her
eager chase, she was eager for a word of greeting.

"I'll be--" gurgled Hazen, blinking stupidly.

"I guess you will be," conceded his wife. "If that's the 'thorough' way
you do your jobs at the factory--"

"Say," he mumbled in a sort of wondering appeal, "is there any HUMAN
that would like to trust a feller so much as to risk another
ribcracking kick, just for the sake of being where he is? I almost
wish--"

But the wish was unspoken. Hazen was a true American husband. He feared
his wife more than he loved fairness. And his wife's glare was full
upon him. With a grunt he picked Lass up by the neck, tucked her under
his arm and made off through the dark.

He did not take the road toward the canal, however. Instead he made for
the railroad tracks. He remembered how, as a lad, he had once gotten
rid of a mangy cat, and he resolved to repeat the exploit. It was far
more merciful to the puppy--or at least, to Hazen's conscience,--than
to pitch Lass into the slimy canal with a stone tied to her neck.

A line of freight cars--"empties"--was on a siding, a short distance
above the station. Hazen walked along the track, trying the door of
each car he passed. The fourth he came to was unlocked. He slid back
the newly greased side door, thrust Lass into the chilly and black
interior and quickly slid shut the door behind her. Then with the silly
feeling of having committed a crime, he stumbled away through the
darkness at top speed.

A freight car has a myriad uses, beyond the carrying of legitimate
freight. From time immemorial, it has been a favorite repository for
all manner of illicit flotsam and jetsam human or otherwise.

Its popularity with tramps and similar derelicts has long been a theme
for comic paper and vaudeville jest. Though, heaven knows, the inside
of a moving box-car has few jocose features, except in the imagination
of humorous artist or vaudevillian!

But a far more frequent use for such cars has escaped the notice of the
public at large. As any old railroader can testify, trainhands are
forever finding in box-cars every genus and species of stray.

These finds range all the way from cats and dogs and discarded white
rabbits and canaries, to goats. Dozens of babies have been discovered,
wailing and deserted, in box-car recesses; perhaps a hundred miles from
the siding where, furtively, the tiny human bundle was thrust inside
some conveniently unlatched side door.

A freight train offers glittering chances for the disposal of the
Unwanted. More than once a slain man or woman has been sent along the
line, in this grisly but effective fashion, far beyond the reach of
recognition.

Hazen had done nothing original or new in depositing the luckless
collie pup in one of these wheeled receptacles. He was but following an
old-established custom, familiar to many in his line of life. There was
no novelty to it,--except to Lass.

The car was dark and cold and smelly. Lass hated it. She ran to its
door. Here she found a gleam of hope for escape and for return to the
home where every one that day had been so kind to her. Hazen had shut
the door with such vehemence that it had rebounded. The hasp was down,
and so the catch had not done its duty. The door had slid open a few
inches from the impetus of Hazen's shove.

It was not wide enough open to let Lass jump out, but it was wide
enough for her to push her nose through. And by vigorous thrusting,
with her triangular head as a wedge, she was able to widen the
aperture, inch by inch. In less than three minutes she had broadened it
far enough for her to wriggle out of the car and leap to the side of
the track. There she stood bewildered.

A spring snow was drifting down from the sulky sky. The air was damp
and penetrating. By reason of the new snow the scent of Hazen's
departing footsteps was blotted out. Hazen himself was no longer in
sight. As Lass had made the journey from house to tracks with her head
tucked confidingly under her kidnaper's arm, she had not noted the
direction. She was lost.

A little way down the track the station lights were shining with misty
warmth through the snow. Toward these lights the puppy trotted.

Under the station eaves, and waiting to be taken aboard the almost-due
eleven-forty express, several crates and parcels were grouped. One
crate was the scene of much the same sort of escape-drama that Lass had
just enacted.

The crate was big and comfortable, bedded down with soft sacking and
with "insets" at either side containing food and water. But commodious
as was the box, the unwonted confinement did not at all please its
occupant--a temperamental and highly bred young collie in process of
shipment from the Rothsay Kennels to a purchaser forty miles up the
line.

This collie, wearying of the delay and the loneliness and the strange
quarters, had begun to plunge from one side of the crate to the other
in an effort to break out. A carelessly nailed slat gave away under the
impact. The dog scrambled through the gap and proceeded to gallop
homeward through the snow.

Ten seconds later, Lass, drawn by the lights and by the scent of the
other dog, came to the crate. She looked in. There, made to order for
her, was a nice bed. There, too, were food and drink to appease the
ever-present appetite of a puppy. Lass writhed her way in through the
gap as easily as the former occupant had crawled out.

After doing due justice to the broken puppy biscuits in the
inset-trough, she curled herself up for a nap.

The clangor and glare of the oncoming express awakened her. She cowered
in one corner of the crate. Just then two station-hands began to move
the express packages out to the edge of the platform. One of them
noticed the displaced board of the crate. He drove home its loosened
nails with two sharp taps from a monkey-wrench, glanced inside to make
certain the dog had not gotten out, and presently hoisted the crate
aboard the express-car.

Two hours later the crate was unloaded at a waystation. At seven in the
morning an expressman drove two miles with it to a country-home, a mile
or so from the village where Lass had been disembarked from the train.

An eager knot of people--the Mistress, the Master and two
gardeners--crowded expectantly around the crate as it was set down on
the lawn in front of The Place's veranda. The latch was unfastened, and
the crate's top was lifted back on its hinges.

Out stepped Lass,--tired, confused, a little frightened, but eagerly
willing to make friends with a world which she still insisted on
believing was friendly. It is hard to shake a collie pup's inborn faith
in the friendliness of mankind, but once shaken, it is more than
shaken. It is shattered beyond hope of complete mending.

For an instant she stood thus, looking in timid appeal from one to
another of the faces about her. These faces were blank enough as they
returned her gaze. The glad expectancy was wiped from them as with a
sponge. It was the Master who first found voice.

"And THAT'S Rothsay Princess!" he snorted indignantly. "That's the pup
worth two hundred dollars at eight months, 'because she has every
single good point of Champion Rothsay Chief and not a flaw from nostril
to tail-tip'! Rothsay wrote those very words about her, you remember.
And he's supposed to be the most dependable man in the collie business!
Lord! She's undersized--no bigger than a five monther! And she's
prick-eared and apple-domed; and her head's as wide as a church door!"

Apparently these humans were not glad to see her. Lass was grieved at
their cold appraisal and a little frightened by the Master's tone of
disgust. Yet she was eager, as ever, to make a good impression and to
lure people into liking her. Shyly she walked up to the Mistress and
laid one white little paw on her knee.

Handshaking was Lass's one accomplishment. It had been taught her by
Dick. It had pleased the boy. He had been proud of her ability to do
it. Perhaps it might also please these strangers. And after the odd
fashion of all new arrivals who came to The Place, Lass picked out the
Mistress, rather than any one else, as a potential friend.

The Mistress had ever roused the impatience of collie experts by
looking past the showier "points" of a dog and into the soul and brain
and disposition that lay behind them. So now she looked; and what she
saw in Lass's darkly wistful eyes established the intruder's status at
The Place.

"Let her stay!" pleaded the Mistress as the Master growled something
about bundling the dog into her crate again and sending her back to the
Rothsay Kennels. "Let her stay, please! She's a dear."

"But we're not breeding 'dears,'" observed the Master. "We planned to
breed a strain of perfect collies. And this is a mutt!"

"Her pedigree says there's no better collie blood in America," denied
the Mistress. "And even if she happens to be a 'second,' that's no sign
her puppies will be seconds. See how pretty and loving and wise she is.
DO keep her!"

Which of course settled the matter.

Up the lawn, from his morning swim in the lake, strolled a great
mahogany-and-white collie. At sight of Lass he lowered his head for a
charge. He was king of The Place's dogs, this mighty thoroughbred,
Sunnybank Lad. And he did not welcome canine intruders.

But he halted midway in his dash toward the puppy who frisked forth so
gayly to meet him. For he recognized her as a female. And man is the
only animal that will molest the female of his species.

The fiercely silent charge was changed in a trice to a coldly civil
touching of noses, and the majestic wagging of a plumy tail. After
which, side by side, the two collies--big and little--old and
new--walked up to the veranda, to be petted by the humans who had so
amusedly watched their encounter.

"See!" exclaimed the Mistress, in triumph. "Lad has accepted her. He
vouches for her. That ought to be enough for any one!"

Thus it was that Lass found a home.

As she never yet had been taught to know her name, she learned readily
to respond to the title of "Princess." And for several months life went
on evenly and happily for her.

Indeed, life was always wondrous pleasant, there at The Place,--for
humans and for animals alike. A fire-blue lake bordered the grounds on
two sides. Behind stretched the forest. And on every side arose the
soft green mountains, hemming in and brooding over The Place as though
they loved it. In the winter evenings there was the huge library hearth
with its blaze and warmth; and a disreputable fur rug in front of it
that might have been ordained expressly for tired dogs to drowse on.
And there were the Mistress and the Master. Especially the Mistress!
The Mistress somehow had a way of making all the world seem worth while.

Then, of a morning, when Lass was just eleven months old, two things
happened.

The Mistress and the Master went down to her kennel after breakfast.
Lass did not run forth to greet them as usual. She lay still, wagging
her tail in feeble welcome as they drew near. But she did not get up.

Crowding close to her tawny side was a tiny, shapeless creature that
looked more like a fat blind rat than like anything else. It was a
ten-hour-old collie pup--a male, and yellowish brown of hue.

"That's the climax!" complained the Master, breaking in on the
Mistress's rhapsodies. "Here we've been planning to start a kennel of
home-bred collies! And see what results we get! One solitary puppy! Not
once in ten times are there less than six in a collie-litter. Sometimes
there are a dozen. And here the dog you wheedled me into keeping has
just one! I expected at least seven."

"If it's a freak to be the only puppy in a litter," answered the
Mistress, refusing to part with her enthusiasm over the miracle, "then
this one ought to bring us luck. Let's call him 'Bruce.' You remember,
the original Bruce won because of the mystic number, seven. This Bruce
has got to make up to us for the seven puppies that weren't born. See
how proud she is of him! Isn't she a sweet little mother?"

The second of the morning's events was a visit from the foreman of the
Rothsay Kennels, who motored across to The Place, intent on clearing up
a mystery.

"The Boss found a collie yesterday, tied in the front yard of a negro
cabin a mile or two from our kennels," he told the Master. "He
recognized her right away as Rothsay Princess. The negro claims to have
found her wandering around near the railroad tracks, one night, six
months ago. Now, what's the answer?"

"The answer," said the Master, "is that your boss is mistaken. I've had
Rothsay Princess for the past six months. And she's the last dog I'll
ever get from the Rothsay Kennels. I was stung, good and plenty, on
that deal.

"My wife wanted to keep her, or I'd have made a kick in the courts for
having to pay two hundred dollars for a cheeky, apple-domed, prick
eared--"

"Prick-eared!" exclaimed the foreman, aghast at the volleyed sacrilege.
"Rothsay Princess has the best ears of any pup we've bred since
Champion Rothsay Chief. Not a flaw in that pup. She--"

"Not a flaw, hey!" sniffed the Master. "Come down to the kennel and
take a look at her. She has as many flaws as a street-cur has fleas."

He led the way to the kennel. At sight of the stranger Lass growled and
showed her teeth. For a collie mother will let nobody but proven
friends come near to her newborn brood.

The foreman stared at the hostile young mother for a half-minute,
whistling bewilderedly between his teeth. Then he laughed aloud.

"That's no more Rothsay Princess than I am!" he declared. "I know who
she IS, though. I'd remember that funny mask among a million. That's
Rothsay Lass! Though how she got HERE--!

"We couldn't have shipped her by mistake, either," he went on,
confused. "For we'd sold her, that same day, to a kid in our town. I
ought to know. Because the kid kept on pestering us every day for a
month afterward, to find if she had come back to us. He said she ran
away in the night. He still comes around, once a week or so, to ask. A
spindly, weak, sick-looking little chap, he is. I don't get the point
of this thing, from any angle. But we run our kennels on the square.
And I can promise the boss'll either send back your check or send
Rothsay Princess to you and take Lass back."

Two days later, while all The Place was still mulling over the mystery,
a letter came for the Master from Lass's home town. It was signed
"Edw'd Hazen," and it was written on the cheap stationery of his
employer's bottling works. It read:

Dear Sir:

"Six months ago, my son bought a dog from the Rothsay Kennels. It was a
she-dog, and his ma and I didn't want one around. So I put it aboard a
freight-car on the sly. My boy went sick over losing his dog. He has
never rightly got over it, but he peaks and mopes and gets thinner all
the time. If I had known how hard he was going to take it, I would of
cut off my hand before I would of done such a thing. And my wife feels
just like I do about it. We would both of us have given a hundred
dollars to get the dog back for him, when we saw how bad he felt. But
it was too late. Somehow or other it is most generally too late when a
rotten thing has been done.

"To-day he went again to the Rothsay Kennels to ask if she had come
back. He has always been hoping she would. And they told him you have
her. Now, sir, I am a poor man, but if one hundred dollars will make
you sell me that dog, I'll send it to you in a money order by return
mail. It will be worth ten times that much, to my wife and me, to have
Dick happy again. I inclose a stamp. Will you let me know?"

Six weeks afterward The Place's car brought Dick Hazen across to
receive his long-lost pet.

The boy was thinner and shakier and whiter than when he had gone to
sleep with his cherished puppy curled against his narrow chest. But
there was a light in his eyes and an eagerness in his heart that had
not been there in many a long week.

Lass was on the veranda to welcome him. And as Dick scrambled out of
the car and ran to pick her up, she came more than half-way to meet
him. With a flurry of fast-pattering steps and a bark of eager welcome,
she flung herself upon her long-vanished master. For a highbred collie
does not forget. And at first glimpse of the boy Lass remembered him.

Dick caught her up in his arms--a harder feat than of yore, because of
her greater weight and his own sapped strength,--and hugged her tight
to his breast. Winking very fast indeed to disperse tears that had no
place in the eyes of a self-contained man of twelve, he sputtered
rapturously:

"I KNEW I'd find you, Lassie--I knew it all the time;--even the times
when I was deadsure I wouldn't! Gee, but you've grown, though! And
you're beautifuler than ever. Isn't she, Miss?" he demanded, turning to
the Mistress with instinctive knowledge that here at least he would
find confirmation. "Indeed she is!" the Mistress assured him.

"And see how glad she is to be with you again! She--"

"And Dad says she can stay with me, for keeps!" exulted Dick. "He says
he'll put a new lock on the cellar door, so she can't ever push out
again, the way she did, last time. But I guess she's had her lesson in
going out for walks at night and not being able to find her way back.
She and I are going to have the dandiest times together, that ever
happened. Aren't we, Lass? Is that her little boy?" he broke off, in
eager curiosity, as the Master appeared from the kennels, carrying
Bruce.

The puppy was set down on the veranda floor for Dick's inspection.

"He's cunning, isn't he? Kind of like a Teddy Bear,--the sort kids play
with. But," with a tinge of worry, "I'm not sure Ma will let me keep
two. Maybe--"

"Perhaps," suggested the Mistress, "perhaps you'd like us to keep
little Bruce, to remember Lass by? We'll try to make him very happy."

"Yes'm!" agreed Dick, in much haste, his brow clearing from a mental
vision of Mrs. Hazen's face when she should see him return with twice
as many dogs as he had set out for. "Yes'm. If you wouldn't mind, very
much. S'pose we leave it that way? I guess Bruce'll like being with
you, Miss. I--I guess pretty near anybody would. You'll--you'll try not
to be too homesick for Lass, won't you?"

On the steps of the veranda the downy and fat puppy watched his
mother's departure with no especial interest. By the Mistress's wish,
Mr. Hazen had not been required to make any part of his proffered
hundred-dollar payment for the return of his boy's pet. All the
Mistress had stipulated was that Lass might be allowed to remain at The
Place until baby Bruce should no longer need her.

"Bruce," said the Mistress as the car rolled up the drive and out of
sight, "you are the sole visible result of The Place's experiment in
raising prize collies. You have a tremendous responsibility on those
fat little shoulders of yours,--to live up to it all."

By way of showing his scorn for such trifles as a "tremendous
responsibility," Bruce proceeded to make a ferocious onslaught at the
Mistress's temperamental gray Persian kitten, "Tipperary," which was
picking a mincing way across the veranda.

A howl of pain and two scratches on his tiny nose immediately followed
the attack. Tipperary then went on with her mincing promenade. And
Bruce, with loud lamentations, galloped to the shelter of the
Mistress's skirt.

"Poor little chap!" soothed the Mistress, picking him up and comforting
him. "Responsibility isn't such a joke, after all, is it, Baby?"



CHAPTER II. The Pest

Thackeray, as a lad, was dropped from college for laziness and for
gambling. Bismarck failed to get a University degree, because he lacked
power to study and because he preferred midnight beer to midnight oil.
George Washington, in student days, could never grasp the simplest
rules of spelling. The young Lincoln loved to sprawl in the shade with
fish-pole or tattered book, when he should have been working.

Now, these men were giants--physically as well as mentally. Being
giants, they were by nature slow of development.

The kitten, at six months of age, is graceful and compact and of
perfect poise. The lion-cub, at the same age, is a gawky and foolish
and ill-knit mass of legs and fur; deficient in sense and in symmetry.
Yet at six years, the lion and the cat are not to be compared for power
or beauty or majesty or brain, or along any other lines.

The foregoing is not an essay on the slow development of the Great. It
is merely a condensation of the Mistress's earnest arguments against
the selling or giving away of a certain hopelessly awkward and
senseless and altogether undesirable collie pup named Bruce.

From the very first, the Mistress had been Bruce's champion at The
Place. There was no competition for that office. She and she alone
could see any promise in the shambling youngster.

Because he had been born on The Place, and because he was the only son
of Rothsay Lass, whom the Mistress had also championed against strong
opposition, it had been decided to keep and raise him. But daily this
decision seemed less and less worth while. Only the Mistress's
championing of the Undesirable prevented his early banishment.

From a fuzzy and adventurous fluff-ball of gray-gold-and-white fur,
Bruce swiftly developed into a lanky giant. He was almost as large
again as is the average collie pup of his age; but, big as he was, his
legs and feet and head were huge, out of all proportion to the rest of
him. The head did not bother him. Being hampered by no weight of brain,
it would be navigated with more or less ease, in spite of its bulk. But
the legs and feet were not only in his own way, but in every one else's.

He seemed totally lacking in sense, as well as in bodily coordination.
He was forever getting into needless trouble. He was a stormcenter. No
one but a born fool--canine or human--could possibly have caused
one-tenth as much bother.

The Mistress had named him "Bruce," after the stately Scottish
chieftain who was her history-hero. And she still called him
Bruce--fifty times a day--in the weary hope of teaching him his name.
But every one else on The Place gave him a title instead of a name--a
title that stuck: "The Pest." He spent twenty-four hours, daily, living
up to it.

Compared with Bruce's helplessly clownish trouble-seeking propensities,
Charlie Chaplin's screen exploits are miracles of heroic dignity and of
good luck.

There was a little artificial water-lily pool on The Place, perhaps
four feet deep. By actual count, Bruce fell into it no less than nine
times in a single week. Once or twice he had nearly drowned there
before some member of the family chanced to fish him out. And, learning
nothing from experience, he would fall in again, promptly, the next day.

The Master at last rigged up a sort of sloping wooden platform, running
from the lip of the pool into the water, so that Bruce could crawl out
easily, next time he should tumble in. Bruce watched the placing of
this platform with much grave interest. The moment it was completed, he
trotted down it on a tour of investigation. At its lower edge he
slipped and rolled into the pool. There he floundered, with no thought
at all of climbing out as he had got in, until the Master rescued him
and spread a wire net over the whole pool to avert future accidents.

Thenceforth, Bruce met with no worse mischance, there, than the
perpetual catching of his toe-pads in the meshes of the wire. Thus
ensnared he would stand, howling most lamentably, until his yells
brought rescue.

Though the pool could be covered with a net, the wide lake at the foot
of the lawn could not be. Into the lake Bruce would wade till the water
reached his shoulders. Then with a squeal of venturesome joy, he would
launch himself outward for a swim; and, once facing away from shore, he
never had sense enough to turn around.

After a half-hour of steady swimming, his soft young strength would
collapse. A howl of terror would apprise the world at large that he was
about to drown. Whereat some passing boatman would pick him up and hold
him for ransom, or else some one from The Place must jump into skiff or
canoe and hie with all speed to the rescue. The same thing would be
repeated day after day.

The local S.P.C.A. threatened to bring action against the Master for
letting his dog risk death, in this way, from drowning. Morbidly, the
Master wished the risk might verge into a certainty.

The puppy's ravenous appetite was the wonder of all. He stopped eating
only when there was nothing edible in reach. And as his ideas of edible
food embraced everything that was chewable,--from bath-towels to
axle-grease--he was seldom fasting and was frequently ill.

Nature does more for animals than for humans. By a single experience
she warns them, as a rule, what they may safely eat and what they may
not. Bruce was the exception. He would pounce upon and devour a
luscious bit of laundry-soap with just as much relish as though a
similar bit of soap had not made him horribly sick the day before.

Once he munched, relishfully, a two-pound box of starch, box and all;
on his recovery, he began upon a second box, and was unhappy when it
was taken from him.

He would greet members of the family with falsetto-thunderous barks of
challenge as they came down the drive from the highway. But he would
frisk out in joyous welcome to meet and fawn upon tramps or peddlers
who sought to invade The Place. He could scarce learn his own name. He
could hardly be taught to obey the simplest command. As for shaking
hands or lying down at order (those two earliest bits of any dog's
education), they meant no more to Bruce than did the theory of
quadratic equations.

At three months he launched forth merrily as a chicken-killer;
gleefully running down and beheading The Place's biggest Orpington
rooster. But his first kill was his last. The Master saw to that.

There is no use in thrashing a dog for killing poultry. There is but
one practically sure cure for the habit. And this one cure the Master
applied.

He tied the slain rooster firmly around Bruce's furry throat, and made
the puppy wear it, as a heavy and increasingly malodorous pendant, for
three warm days and nights.

Before the end of this seventy-two-hour period, Bruce had grown to
loathe the sight and scent of chicken. Stupid as he was, he learned
this lesson with absolute thoroughness,--as will almost any
chicken-killing pup,--and it seemed to be the only teaching that his
unawakened young brain had the power to grasp.

In looks, too, Bruce was a failure. His yellowish-and-white body was
all but shapeless. His coat was thick and heavy enough, but it showed a
tendency to curl--almost to kink--instead of waving crisply, as a
collie's ought. The head was coarse and blurred in line. The body was
gaunt, in spite of its incessant feedings. As for contour or style--

It was when the Master, in disgust, pointed out these diverse failings
of the pup, that the Mistress was wont to draw on historic precedent
for other instances of slow development, and to take in vain the names
of Thackeray, Lincoln, Washington and Bismarck and the rest.

"Give him time!" she urged once. "He isn't quite six months old yet;
and he has grown so terribly fast. Why, he's over two feet tall, at the
shoulder, even now--much bigger than most full-grown collies. Champion
Howgill Rival is spoken of as a 'big' dog; yet he is only twenty-four
inches at the shoulder, Mr. Leighton says. Surely it's something to own
a dog that is so big."

"It IS 'something,'" gloomily conceded the Master. "In our case it is a
catastrophe. I don't set up to be an expert judge of collies, so maybe
I am all wrong about him. I'm going to get professional opinion,
though. Next week they are going to have the spring dogshow at Hampton.
It's a little hole-in-a-corner show, of course. But Symonds is to be
the all-around judge, except for the toy breeds. And Symonds knows
collies, from the ground up. I am going to take Bruce over there and
enter him for the puppy class. If he is any good, Symonds will know it.
If the dog is as worthless as I think he is, I'll get rid of him. If
Symonds gives any hope for him, I'll keep him on a while longer."

"But," ventured the Mistress, "if Symonds says 'Thumbs down,' then--"

"Then I'll buy a pet armadillo or an ornithorhynchus instead,"
threatened the Master. "Either of them will look more like a collie
than Bruce does."

"I--I wonder if Mr. Symonds smokes," mused the Mistress under her
breath.

"Smokes?" echoed the Master. "What's that got to do with it?"

"I was only wondering," she made hesitant answer, "if a box of very
wonderful cigars, sent to him with our cards, mightn't perhaps--"

"It's a fine sportsmanly proposition!" laughed the Master. "When women
get to ruling the world of sport, there'll be no need of comic
cartoons. Genuine photographs will do as well. If it's just the same to
you, dear girl, we'll let Symonds buy his own cigars, for the present.
The dog-show game is almost the only one I know of where a judge is
practically always on the square. People doubt his judgment, sometimes,
but there is practically never any doubt of his honesty. Besides, we
want to get the exact dope on Bruce. (Not that I haven't got it,
already!) If Symonds 'gates' him, I'm going to offer him for sale at
the show. If nobody buys him there, I'm going--"

"He hasn't been 'gated' yet," answered the Mistress in calm confidence.

At the little spring show, at Hampton, a meager eighty dogs were
exhibited, of which only nine were collies. This collie division
contained no specimens to startle the dog-world. Most of the exhibits
were pets. And like nearly all pets, they were "seconds"--in other
words, the less desirable dogs of thoroughbred litters.

Hampton's town hall auditorium was filled to overcrowding, with a mass
of visitors who paraded interestedly along the aisles between the
raised rows of stall-like benches where the dogs were tied; or who
grouped densely around all four sides of the roped judging-ring in the
center of the hall.

For a dogshow has a wel-nigh universal appeal to humanity at large;
even as the love for dogs is one of the primal and firm-rooted human
emotions. Not only the actual exhibitor and their countless friends
flock to such shows; but the public at large is drawn thither as to no
other function of the kind.

Horse-racing, it is true, brings out a crowd many times larger than
does a dogshow. But only because of the thrill of winning or losing
money. For where one's spare cash is, there is his heart and his
all-absorbing interest. Yet it is a matter of record that grass is
growing high, on the race-tracks, in such states as have been able to
enforce the anti-betting laws. The "sport of kings" flourishes only
where wagers may accompany it. Remove the betting element, and you turn
your racetrack into a huge and untrodden lot.

There is practically no betting connected with any dogshow. People go
there to see the dogs and to watch their judging, and for nothing else.
As a rule, the show is not even a social event. Nevertheless, the
average dogshow is thronged with spectators. (Try to cross Madison
Square Garden, on Washington's Birthday afternoon, while the
Westminster Kennel Club's Show is in progress. If you can work your way
through the press of visitors in less than half an hour, then Nature
intended you for a football champion.)

The fortunate absence of a betting-interest alone keeps such affairs
from becoming among the foremost sporting features of the world. Many
of the dogs on view are fools, of course. Because many of them have
been bred solely with a view to show-points. And their owners and
handlers have done nothing to awaken in their exhibits the half-human
brain and heart that is a dog's heritage. All has been sacrificed to
"points"--to points which are arbitrary and which change as freakily as
do fashions in dress.

For example, a few years ago, a financial giant collected and exhibited
one of the finest bunches of collies on earth. He had a competent
manager and an army of kennel-men to handle them. He took inordinate
pride in these priceless collies of his. Once I watched him, at the
Garden Show, displaying them to some Wall Street friends. Three times
he made errors in naming his dogs. Once, when he leaned too close to
the star collie of his kennels, the dog mistook him for a stranger and
resented the intrusion by snapping at him. He did not know his own
pets, one from another. And they did not know their owner, by sight or
by scent.

At the small shows, there is an atmosphere wholly different. Few of the
big breeders bother to compete at such contests. The dogs are for the
most part pets, for which their owners feel a keen personal affection,
and which have been brought up as members of their masters' households.
Thus, if small shows seldom bring forth a world-beating dog, they at
least are full of clever and humanized exhibits and of men and women to
whom the success or failure of their canine friends is a matter of
intensest personal moment. Wherefore the small show often gives the
beholder something he can find but rarely in a larger exhibition.

A few dogs genuinely enjoy shows--or are supposed to. To many others a
dogshow is a horror.

Which windy digression brings us back by prosy degrees to Bruce and to
the Hampton dogshow.

The collies were the first breed to be judged. And the puppy class, as
usual, was the first to be called to the ring.

There were but three collie pups, all males. One was a rangy tri-color
of eleven months, with a fair head and a bad coat. The second was an
exquisite six-months puppy, rich of coat, prematurely perfect of head,
and cowhocked. These two and Bruce formed the puppy class which paraded
before Symonds in the oblong ring.

"Anyhow," whispered the Mistress as the Master led his stolidly
gigantic entry toward the enclosure, "Bruce can't get worse than a
third-prize yellow ribbon. We ought to be a little proud of that. There
are only three entries in his class."

But even that bit of barren pride was denied the awkward youngster's
sponsor. As the three pups entered the enclosure, the judge's half-shut
eyes rested on Bruce--at first idly, then in real amazement. Crossing
to the Master, before giving the signal for the first maneuvers, he
said in tired disgust--

"Please take your measly St. Bernard monstrosity out of the ring. This
is a class for collies, not for freaks. I refuse to judge that pup as a
collie."

"He's a thoroughbred," crossly protested the Master. "I have his
certified pedigree. There's no better blood in--"

"I don't care what his ancestors were," snapped the judge. "He's a
throw-back to the dinosaur or the Great Auk. And I won't judge him as a
collie. Take him out of the ring. You're delaying the others."

A judge's decision is final. Red with angry shame and suppressing an
unworthy desire to kick the luckless Bruce, the Master led the pup back
to his allotted bench. Bruce trotted cheerily along with a maddening
air of having done something to be proud of. Deaf to the Mistress's
sympathy and to her timidly voiced protests, the Master scrawled on an
envelope-back the words "For Sale. Name Your Own Price," and pinned it
on the edge of the bench.

"Here endeth the first lesson in collie-raising, so far as The Place is
concerned," he decreed, stalking back to the ringside to watch the rest
of the judging.

The Mistress lingered behind, to bestow a furtive consolatory pat upon
the disqualified Bruce. Then she joined her husband beside the ring.

It was probably by accident that her skirt brushed sharply against the
bench-edge as she went--knocking the "For Sale" sign down into the
litter of straw below.

But a well-meaning fellow-exhibitor, across the aisle, saw the bit of
paper flutter floorward. This good soul rescued it from the straw and
pinned it back in place.

(The world is full of helpful folk. That is perhaps one reason why the
Millennium's date is still so indefinite.)

An hour later, a man touched the Master on the arm.

"That dog of yours, on Bench 48," began the stranger, "the big pup with
the 'For Sale' sign on his bench. What do you want for him?"

The Mistress was several feet away, talking to the superintendent of
the show. Guiltily, yet gratefully, the Master led the would-be
purchaser back to the benches, without attracting his wife's notice.

A few minutes afterward he returned to where she and the superintendent
were chatting.

"Well," said the Master, trying to steel himself against his wife's
possible disappointment, "I found a buyer for Bruce--a Dr. Halding,
from New York. He likes the pup. Says Bruce looks as if he was strong
and had lots of endurance. I wonder if he wants him for a sledge-dog.
He paid me fifteen dollars for him; and it was a mighty good bargain. I
was lucky to get more than a nickel for such a cur."

The Master shot forth this speech in almost a single rapid breath.
Then, before his wife could reply,--and without daring to look into her
troubled eyes,--he discovered an acquaintance on the far side of the
ring and bustled off to speak to him. The Master, you see, was a
husband, not a hero.

The Mistress turned a worried gaze on the superintendent.

"It was best, I suppose," she said bravely. "We agreed he must be sold,
if the judge decided he was not any good. But I'm sorry. For I'm fond
of him. I'm sorry he is going to live in New York, too. A big city is
no place for a big dog. I hope this Dr. Halding will be nice to the
poor puppy."

"Dr.--WHO?" sharply queried the superintendent, who had not caught the
name when the Master had spoken it in his rapid-fire speech. "Dr.
Halding? Of New York? Huh!

"You needn't worry about the effect of city life on your dog," he went
on with venomous bitterness. "The pup won't have a very long spell of
it. If I had my way, that man Halding would be barred from every
dog-show and stuck in jail. It's an old trick of his, to buy up
thoroughbreds, cheap, at shows. The bigger and the stronger they are,
the more he pays for them. He seems to think pedigreed dogs are better
for his filthy purposes than street curs. They have a higher nervous
organism, I suppose. The swine!"

"What do you mean?" asked the Mistress, puzzled by his vehemence. "I
don't--"

"You must have heard of Halding and his so-called 'research work,'" the
superintendent went on. "He is one of the most notorious
vivisectionists in--"

The superintendent got no further. He was talking to empty air. The
Mistress had fled. Her determined small figure made a tumbled wake
through the crowd as she sped toward Bruce's bench. The puppy was no
longer there. In another second the Mistress was at the door of the
building.

A line of parked cars was stretched across the opposite side of the
village street. Into one of these cars a large and loose-jointed man
was lifting a large and loose-jointed dog. The dog did not like his
treatment, and was struggling pathetically in vain awkwardness to get
free.

"Bruce!" called the Mistress, fiercely, as she dashed across the street.

The puppy heard the familiar voice and howled for release. Dr. Halding
struck him roughly over the head and scrambled into the machine with
him, reaching with his one disengaged hand for the self-starter button.
Before he could touch it, the Mistress was on the running-board of the
car.

As she ran, she had opened her wristbag. Now, flinging on the
runabout's seat a ten and a five-dollar bill, she demanded--

"Give me my dog! There is the money you paid for him!"

"He isn't for sale," grinned the Doctor. "Stand clear, please. I'm
starting."

"You're doing nothing of the sort," was the hot reply. "You'll give
back my dog! Do you understand?"

For answer Halding reached again toward his self-starter. A renewed
struggle from the whimpering puppy frustrated his aim and forced him to
devote both hands to the subduing of Bruce. The dog was making frantic
writhings to get to the Mistress. She caught his furry ruff and raged
on, sick with anger.

"I know who you are and what you want this poor frightened puppy for.
You shan't have him! There seems to be no law to prevent human devils
from strapping helpless dogs to a table and torturing them to death in
the unholy name of science. But if there isn't a corner waiting for
them, below, it's only because Hades can't be made hot enough to punish
such men as they ought to be punished! You're not going to torture
Bruce. There's your money. Let go of him."

"You talk like all silly, sloppy sentimentalists!" scoffed the Doctor,
his slight German accent becoming more noticeable as he continued: "A
woman can't have the intellect to understand our services to humanity.
We--"

"Neither have half the real doctors!" she flashed. "Fully half of them
deny that vivisection ever helped humanity. And half the remainder say
they are in doubt. They can't point to a single definite case where it
has been of use. Alienists say it's a distinct form of mental
perversion,--the craving to torture dumb animals to death and to make
scientific notes of their sufferings."

"Pah!" he sniffed. "I--"

She hurried on

"If humanity can't be helped without cutting live dogs and kittens to
shreds, in slow agony--then so much the worse for humanity! If you
vivisectors would be content to practice on one another--or on
condemned murderers,--instead of on friendly and innocent dogs, there'd
be no complaint from any one. But leave our pets alone. Let go of my
puppy!"

By way of response the Doctor grunted in lofty contempt. At the same
time he tucked the wriggling dog under his right arm, holding him thus
momentarily safe, and pressed the self-starter button.

There was a subdued whir. A move of Halding's foot and a release of the
brake, and the car started forward.

"Stand clear!" he ordered. "I'm going."

The jolt of the sudden start was too much for the Mistress's balance on
the running-board. Back she toppled. Only by luck did she land on her
feet instead of her head, upon the greasy pavement of the street.

But she sprang forward again, with a little cry of indignant dismay,
and reached desperately into the moving car for Bruce, calling him
eagerly by name.

Dr. Halding was steering with his left hand, while his viselike right
arm still encircled the protesting collie. As the Mistress ran
alongside and grasped frantically for her doomed pet, he let go of
Bruce for an instant, to fend off her hand--or perhaps to thrust her
away from the peril of the fast-moving mud-guards. At the Mistress's
cry--and at the brief letup of pressure caused by the Doctor's menacing
gesture toward the unhappy woman--Bruce's long-sleeping soul awoke. He
answered the cry and the man's blow at his deity in the immemorial
fashion of all dogs whose human gods are threatened.

There was a snarling wild-beast growl, the first that ever had come
from the clownlike puppy's throat,--and Bruce flung his unwieldy young
body straight for the vivisector's throat.

Halding, with a vicious fist-lunge, sent the pup to the floor of the
car in a crumpled heap, but not before the curving white eyeteeth had
slashed the side of the man's throat in an ugly flesh-wound that drove
its way dangerously close to the jugular.

Half stunned by the blow, and with the breath knocked out of him, Bruce
none the less gathered himself together with lightning speed and
launched his bulk once more for Halding's throat.

This time he missed his mark--for several things happened all at once.

At the dog's first onslaught, Halding's foot had swung forward, along
with his fist, in an instinctive kick. The kick did not reach Bruce.
But it landed, full and effectively, on the accelerator.

The powerful car responded to the touch with a bound. And it did so at
the very moment that the flash of white teeth at his throat made
Halding snatch his own left hand instinctively from the steering-wheel,
in order to guard the threatened spot.

A second later the runabout crashed at full speed into the wall of a
house on the narrow street's opposite side.

The rest was chaos.

When a crowd of idlers and a policeman at last righted the wrecked car,
two bodies were found huddled inertly amid a junk-heap of splintered
glass and shivered wood and twisted metal. The local ambulance carried
away one of these limp bodies. The Place's car rushed the smash-up's
other senseless victim to the office of the nearest veterinary. Dr.
Halding, with a shattered shoulder-blade and a fractured nose and jaw
and a mild case of brain-concussion,--was received as a guest of honor
at the village hospital.

Bruce, his left foreleg broken and a nasty assortment of glass-cuts
marring the fluffiness of his fur, was skillfully patched up by the
vet' and carried back that night to The Place.

The puppy had suddenly taken on a new value in his owners' eyes--partly
for his gallantly puny effort at defending the Mistress, partly because
of his pitiful condition. And he was nursed, right zealously, back to
life and health.

In a few weeks, the plaster cast on the convalescent's broken foreleg
had been replaced by a bandage. In another week or two the vet'
pronounced Bruce as well as ever. The dog, through habit, still held
the mended foreleg off the ground, even after the bandage was removed.
Whereat, the Master tied a bandage tightly about the uninjured foreleg.

Bruce at once decided that this, and not the other, was the lame leg;
and he began forthwith to limp on it. As it was manifestly impossible
to keep both forelegs off the ground at the same time when he was
walking, he was forced to make use of the once-broken leg. Finding, to
his amaze, that he could walk on it with perfect ease, he devoted his
limping solely to the well leg. And as soon as the Master took the
bandage from that, Bruce ceased to limp at all.

Meanwhile, a lawyer, whose name sounded as though it had been culled
from a Rhine Wine list, had begun suit, in Dr. Halding's name, against
the Mistress, as a "contributory cause" of his client's accident. The
suit never came to trial. It was dropped, indeed, with much haste. Not
from any change of heart on the plaintiff's behalf; but because, at
that juncture, Dr. Halding chanced to be arrested and interned as a
dangerous Enemy Alien. Our country had recently declared war on
Germany; and the belated spy-hunt was up.

During the Federal officers' search of the doctor's house, for
treasonable documents (of which they found an ample supply), they came
upon his laboratory. No fewer than five dogs, in varying stages of
hideous torture, were found strapped to tables or hanging to
wall-hooks. The vivisector bewailed, loudly and gutturally, this cruel
interruption to his researches in Science's behalf.

One day, two months after the accident, Bruce stood on all four feet
once more, with no vestige left of scars or of lameness. And then, for
the first time, a steady change that had been so slow as to escape any
one's notice dawned upon the Mistress and the Master. It struck them
both at the same moment. And they stared dully at their pet.

The shapeless, bumptious, foolish Pest of two months ago had vanished.
In his place, by a very normal process of nature-magic, stood a
magnificently stately thoroughbred collie.

The big head had tapered symmetrically, and had lost its puppy
formlessness. It was now a head worthy of Landseer's own pencil. The
bonily awkward body had lengthened and had lost its myriad knobs and
angles. It had grown massively graceful.

The former thatch of half-curly and indeterminately yellowish fuzz had
changed to a rough tawny coat, wavy and unbelievably heavy, stippled at
the ends with glossy black. There was a strange depth and repose and
Soul in the dark eyes--yes, and a keen intelligence, too.

It was the old story of the Ugly Duckling, all over again.

"Why!" gasped the Mistress. "He's--he's BEAUTIFUL! And I never knew it."

At her loved voice the great dog moved across to where she sat. Lightly
he laid one little white paw on her knee and looked gravely up into her
eyes.

"He's got sense, too," chimed in the Master. "Look at those eyes, if
you doubt it. They're alive with intelligence. It's--it's a miracle! He
can't be the same worthless whelp I wanted to get rid of! He CAN'T!"

And he was not. The long illness, at the most formative time of the
dog's growth, had done its work in developing what, all the time, had
lain latent. The same illness--and the long-enforced personal touch
with humans--had done an equally transforming work on the puppy's
undeveloped mind. The Thackeray-Washington-Lincoln-Bismarck simile had
held good.

What looked like a miracle was no more than the same beautifully simple
process which Nature enacts every day, when she changes an awkward and
dirt-colored cygnet into a glorious swan or a leggily gawky colt into a
superb Derby-winner. But Bruce's metamorphosis seemed none the less
wonderful in the eyes of the two people who had learned to love him.

Somewhere in the hideous wreck of Dr. Halding's motorcar the dog had
found a soul--and the rest had followed as a natural course of growth.

At the autumn dog-show, in Hampton, a "dark-sable-and-white" collie of
unwonted size and beauty walked proudly into the ring close to the
Mistress's side, when the puppy class was called--a class that includes
all dogs under twelve months old. Six minutes later the Mistress was
gleesomely accepting the first-prize blue ribbon, for "best puppy,"
from Judge Symonds' own gnarled hand.

Then came the other classes for collies--"Novice," "Open," "Limit,"
"Local," "American Bred." And as Bruce paced majestically out of the
ring at last, he was the possessor of five more blue ribbons--as well
as the blue Winner's rosette, for "best collie in the show."

"Great dog you've got there, madam!" commented Symonds in solemn
approval as he handed the Winner's rosette to the Mistress. "Fine dog
in every way. Fine promise. He will go far. One of the best types
I've--"

"Do you really think so?" sweetly replied the Mistress. "Why, one of
the foremost collie judges in America has gone on record as calling him
a 'measly St. Bernard monstrosity.'"

"No?" snorted Symonds, incredulous. "You don't say so! A judge who
would speak so, of that dog, doesn't understand his business. He--"

"Oh, yes, he does!" contradicted the Mistress, glancing lovingly at her
handful of blue ribbons. "I think he understands his business very well
indeed--NOW!"



CHAPTER III. The War Dog

The guest had decided to wait until next morning, before leaving The
Place, instead of following his first plan of taking a night train to
New York. He was a captain in our regular army and had newly come back
from France to forget an assortment of shrapnel-bites and to teach
practical tactics to rookies.

He reached his decision to remain over night at The Place while he and
the Mistress and the Master were sitting on the vine-hung west veranda
after dinner, watching the flood of sunset change the lake to molten
gold and the sky to pink fire. It would be pleasant to steal another
few hours at this back-country House of Peace before returning to the
humdrum duties of camp. And the guest yielded to the temptation.

"I'm mighty glad you can stay over till morning," said the Master.
"I'll send word to Roberts not to bring up the car."

As he spoke, he scrawled a penciled line on an envelope-back; then he
whistled.

From a cool lounging-place beneath the wistaria-vines arose a huge
collie--stately of form, dark brown and white of coat, deep-set of eye
and with a head that somehow reminded one of a Landseer engraving. The
collie trotted up the steps of the veranda and stood expectant before
the Master. The latter had been folding the envelope lengthwise. Now he
slipped it through the ring in the dog's collar.

"Give it to Roberts," he said.

The big collie turned and set off at a hand-gallop.

"Good!" approved the guest. "Bruce didn't seem to be in any doubt as to
what you wanted him to do. He knows where Roberts is likely to be?"

"No," said the Master. "But he can track him and find him, if Roberts
is anywhere within a mile or so from here. That was one of the first
things we taught him--to carry messages. All we do is to slip the paper
into his collar-ring and tell him the name of the person to take it to.
Naturally, he knows us all by name. So it is easy enough for him to do
it. We look on the trick as tremendously clever. But that's because we
love Bruce. Almost any dog can be taught to do it, I suppose. We--"

"You're mistaken!" corrected the guest. "Almost any dog CAN'T be taught
to. Some dogs can, of course; but they are the exception. I ought to
know, for I've been where dog-couriers are a decidedly important
feature of trench-warfare. I stopped at one of the dog-training schools
in England, too, on my way back from Picardy, and watched the teaching
of the dogs that are sent to France and Flanders. Not one in ten can be
trained to carry messages; and not one in thirty can be counted on to
do it reliably. You ought to be proud of Bruce."

"We are," replied the Mistress. "He is one of the family. We think
everything of him. He was such a stupid and awkward puppy, too! Then,
in just a few months, he shaped up, as he is now. And his brain woke."

Bruce interrupted the talk by reappearing on the veranda. The folded
envelope was still in the ring on his collar. The guest glanced
furtively at the Master, expecting some sign of chagrin at the collie's
failure.

Instead, the Master took the envelope, unfolded it and glanced at a
word or two that had been written beneath his own scrawl; then he made
another penciled addition to the envelope's writing, stuck the twisted
paper back into the ring and said--

"Roberts."

Off trotted Bruce on his second trip.

"I had forgotten to say which train you'll have to take in the
morning," explained the Master. "So Roberts wrote, asking what time he
was to have the car at the door after breakfast. It was careless of me."

The guest did not answer. But when Bruce presently returned,--this time
with no paper in his collar-ring,--the officer passed his hand
appraisingly through the dog's heavy coat and looked keenly down into
his dark eyes.

"Gun-shy?" asked the guest. "Or perhaps he's never heard a gun fired?"

"He's heard hundreds of guns fired," said the Master. "I never allow a
gun to be fired on The Place, of course, because we've made it a bird
refuge. But Bruce went with us in the car to the testing of the Lewis
machineguns, up at Haskell. They made a most ungodly racket. But
somehow it didn't seem to bother the Big Dog at all."

"H'm!" mused the guest, his professional interest vehemently roused.
"He would be worth a fortune over there. There are a lot of collies in
the service, in one capacity or another--almost as many as the
Airedales and the police dogs. And they are doing grand work. But I
never saw one that was better fitted for it than Bruce. It's a pity he
lives on the wrong side of the Atlantic. He could do his bit, to more
effect than the average human. There are hundreds of thousands of men
for the ranks, but pitifully few perfect courier-dogs."

The Mistress was listening with a tensity which momentarily grew more
painful. The Master's forehead, too, was creased with a new thought
that seemed to hurt him. To break the brief silence that followed the
guest's words, he asked:

"Are the dogs, over there, really doing such great work as the papers
say they are? I read, the other day--"

"'Great work!'" repeated the guest. "I should say so. Not only in
finding the wounded and acting as guards on listening posts, and all
that, but most of all as couriers. There are plenty of times when the
wireless can't be used for sending messages from one point to another,
and where there is no telephone connection, and where the firing is too
hot for a human courier to get through. That is where is the war dogs
have proved their weight in radium. Collies, mostly. There are a
million true stories of their prowess told, at camp-fires. Here are
just two such incidents--both of them on record, by the way, at the
British War Office

"A collie, down near Soissons, was sent across a bad strip of
fire-scourged ground, with a message. A boche sharpshooter fired at him
and shattered his jaw. The dog kept on, in horrible agony, and
delivered the message. Another collie was sent over a still hotter and
much longer stretch of territory with a message. (That was during the
Somme drive of 1916.) He was shot at, a dozen times, as he ran. At last
two bullets got him. He fell over, mortally wounded. He scrambled to
his feet and kept on falling, stumbling, staggering--till he got to his
destination. Then he dropped dead at the side of the Colonel the
message had been sent to. And those are only two of thousands of true
collie-anecdotes. Yet some fools are trying to get American dogs done
away with, as 'non-utilitarian,' while the war lasts! As if the dogs in
France, today, weren't earning their overseas brothers' right to
live--and live well!"

Neither of his hearers made reply when the guest finished his earnest,
eager recital. Neither of them had paid much heed to his final words.
For the Master and the Mistress were looking at each other in mute
unhappiness. The same miserable thought was in the mind of each. And
each knew the thought that was torturing the mind of the other.

Presently, at a glint of inquiry in the Master's eye, the Mistress
suddenly bent over and buried her face in the deep mass of Bruce's ruff
as the dog stood lovingly beside her. Then, still stroking the collie's
silken head, she returned her husband's wretchedly questioning glance
with a resigned little nod. The Master cleared his throat noisily
before he could speak with the calm indifference he sought. Then,
turning to the apparently unnoticing guest, he said--

"I think I told you I tried to get across to France at the very
start--and I was barred because I am past forty and because I have a
bum heart and several other defects that a soldier isn't supposed to
have. My wife and I have tried to do what little we can for the Cause,
on this side of the ocean. But it has seemed woefully little, when we
remember what others are doing. And we have no son we can send."

Again he cleared his throat and went on with sulky ungraciousness:

"We both know what you've been driving at for the past five minutes.
And--and we agree. Bruce can go."

"Great!" applauded the guest. "That's fine! He'll be worth his--"

"If you think we're a couple of fools for not doing this more
willingly," went on the Master with savage earnestness, "just stop to
think what it means to a man to give up the dog he loves. Not to give
him up to some one who will assure him a good home, but to send him
over into that hell, where a German bullet or a shell-fragment or
hunger or disease is certain to get him, soon or late. To think of him
lying smashed and helpless, somewhere in No Man's Land, waiting for
death; or caught by the enemy and eaten! (The Red Cross bulletin says
no less than eight thousand dogs were eaten, in Saxony alone, in 1913,
the year BEFORE the war began.) Or else to be captured and then cut up
by some German vivisector-surgeon in the sacred interests of Science!
Oh, we can bring ourselves to send Bruce over there! But don't expect
us to do it with a good grace. For we can't."

"I--" began the embarrassed guest; but the Mistress chimed in, her
sweet voice not quite steady.

"You see, Captain, we've made such a pet--such a baby--of Bruce! All
his life he has lived here--here where he had the woods to wander in
and the lake to swim in, and this house for his home. He will be so
unhappy and--Well, don't let's talk about that! When I think of the
people who give their sons and everything they have, to the country, I
feel ashamed of not being more willing to let a mere dog go. But then
Bruce is not just a 'mere dog.' He is--he is BRUCE. All I ask is that
if he is injured and not killed, you'll arrange to have him sent back
here to us. We'll pay for it, of course. And will you write to whomever
you happen to know, at that dog-training school in England, and ask
that Bruce be treated nicely while he is training there? He's never
been whipped. He's never needed it, you see."


The Mistress might have spared herself much worry as to Bruce's
treatment in the training school to which he was consigned. It was not
a place of cruelty, but of development. And when, out of the thousands
of dogs sent there, the corps of trainers found one with promise of
strong ability, such a pupil was handled with all the care and
gentleness and skill that a temperamental prima donna might expect.

Such a dog was the big American collie, debarked from a goods car at
the training camp railway station, six weeks after the Mistress and the
Master had consented to his enlistment. And the handlers treated him
accordingly.

The Master himself had taken Bruce to the transport, in Brooklyn, and
had led him aboard the overfull ship. The new sights and sounds around
him interested the home-bred collie. But when the Master turned him
over to the officer in whose charge he was to be for the voyage,
Bruce's deep-set eyes clouded with a sudden heartsick foreboding.

Wrenching himself free from the friendly hand on his collar, he sprang
in pursuit of his departing deity,--the loved Master who was leaving
him alone and desolate among all these strange scenes and noises. The
Master, plodding, sullen and heavy-hearted, toward the gangway, was
aware of a cold nose thrust into his dejected hand.

Looking down he beheld Bruce staring up at him with a world of stark
appeal in his troubled gaze. The Master swallowed hard; then laid his
hand on the beautiful head pressed so confidingly against his knee.
Turning, he led the dog back to the quarters assigned to him.

"Stay here, old friend!" he commanded, huskily. "It's all right. You'll
make good. I know that. And there's a chance in a billion that you'll
come back to us. I'm--I'm not deserting you. And I guess there's
precious little danger that any one on The Place will ever forget you.
It's--it's all right. Millions of humans are doing it. I'd give
everything I've got, if I could go, too. IT'S ALL RIGHT!"

Then Bruce understood at last that he was to stay in this place of
abominations, far from everything he loved; and that he must do so
because the Master ordained it. He made no further effort to break away
and to follow his god ashore. But he shivered convulsively from head to
foot; and his desolate gaze continued to trace the Master's receding
figure out of sight. Then, with a long sigh, he lay down, heavily, his
head between his white forepaws, and resigned himself to whatever of
future misery his deities might have ordained for him.

Ensued a fortnight of mental and bodily anguish, as the inland-reared
dog tasted the horrors of a voyage in a rolling ship, through heaving
seas. Afterward, came the landing at a British port and the train ride
to the camp which was to be his home for the next three months.

Bruce's sense of smell told him the camp contained more dogs than ever
he had beheld in all his brief life put together. But his hearing would
have led him to believe there were not a dozen other dogs within a mile
of him.

From the encampment arose none of the rackety barking which betokens
the presence of many canines, and which deafens visitors to a dog-show.

One of the camp's first and most stringent rules forbade barking,
except under special order. These dogs--or the pick of them--were
destined for work at the front. The bark of a dog has a carrying
quality greater than the combined shouting of ten men. It is the last
sound to follow a balloonist, after he has risen above the reach of all
other earth-noises.

Hence, a chance bark, rising through the night to where some enemy
airman soared with engines turned off, might well lead to the bombing
of hitherto unlocated trenches or detachment-camps. For this and divers
other reasons, the first lesson taught to arriving wardogs was to
abstain from barking.

The dogs were divided, roughly, by breeds, as regarded the line of
training assigned to them. The collies were taught courier-work. The
Airedales, too,--hideous, cruel, snake-headed,--were used as couriers,
as well as to bear Red Cross supplies and to hunt for the wounded. The
gaunt and wolflike police dogs were pressed into the two latter tasks,
and were taught listening-post duty. And so on through all available
breeds,--including the stolidly wise Old English sheepdogs who were to
prove invaluable in finding and succoring and reporting the
wounded,--down to the humble terriers and mongrels who were taught to
rid trenches of vermin.

Everywhere was quiet efficiency and tirelessly patient and skillful
work on the part of the trainers. For Britain's best dog men had been
recruited for service here. On the perfection of their charges'
training might depend the fate of many thousand gallant soldiers.
Wherefore, the training was perfect.

Hundreds of dogs proved stupid or unreliable or gun-shy or too easily
confused in moments of stress. These were weeded out, continually, and
shipped back to the masters who had proffered them.

Others developed with amazing speed and cleverness, grasping their
profession as could few human soldiers. And Bruce, lonely and
heartsore, yet throwing himself into his labors with all the zest of
the best thoroughbred type,--was one of this group.

His early teachings now stood him in good stead. What once had been a
jolly game, for his own amusement and that of the Mistress and the
Master, was now his life-work. Steadily his trainer wrought over him,
bringing out latent abilities that would have dumfounded his earliest
teachers, steadying and directing the gayly dashing intelligence;
upbuilding and rounding out all his native gifts.

A dog of Bruce's rare type made up to the trainers for the dullness of
their average pupils. He learned with bewildering ease. He never forgot
a lesson once taught.

No, the Mistress need not have interceded to save him from beating. As
soon would an impresario think of thrashing Caruso or Paderewski as
would Bruce's glum Scottish trainer have laid whip to this best pupil
of his. Life was bare and strict for Bruce. But life was never unkind
to him, in these first months of exile from The Place. And, bit by bit,
he began to take a joy in his work.

Not for a day,--perhaps not for an hour, did the big collie forget the
home of his babyhood or those he had delighted to worship, there. And
the look of sadness in his dark eyes became a settled aspect. Yet,
here, there was much to interest and to excite him. And he grew to look
forward with pleasure to his daily lessons.

At the end of three months, he was shipped to France. There his
seemingly aimless studies at the training camp were put to active use.

      *      *      *      *      *

At the foot of the long Flanders hill-slope the "Here-We-Come"
Regiment, of mixed American and French infantry, held a
caterpillar-shaped line of trenches.

To the right, a few hundred yards away, was posted a Lancashire
regiment, supported by a battalion from Cornwall. On the left were two
French regiments. In front, facing the hill-slope and not a half-mile
distant, was the geometric arrangement of sandbags that marked the
contour of the German first-line trenches.

The hill behind them, the boches in front of them, French and British
troops on either side of them--the Here-We-Comes were helping to defend
what was known as a "quiet" sector. Behind the hill, and on loftier
heights far to the rear, the Allied artillery was posted. Somewhere in
the same general locality lay a division of British reserves.

It is almost a waste of words to have described thus the surroundings
of the Here-We-Comes. For, with no warning at all, those entire
surroundings were about to be changed.

Ludendorff and his little playmates were just then engaged in the
congenial sport of delivering unexpected blows at various successive
points of the Allied line, in an effort to find some spot that was soft
enough to cave in under the impact and let through a horde of gray-clad
Huns. And though none of the defenders knew it, this "quiet" sector had
been chosen for such a minor blow.

The men in higher command, back there behind the hill crest, had a
belated inkling, though, of a proposed attack on the lightly defended
front trenches. For the Allied airplanes which drifted in the upper
heavens like a scattered handful of dragon-flies were not drifting
there aimlessly. They were the eyes of the snakelike columns that
crawled so blindly on the scarred brown surface of the earth. And those
"eyes" had discerned the massing of a force behind the German line had
discerned and had duly reported it.

The attack might come in a day. It might not come in a week. But it was
coming--unless the behind-the-lines preparations were a gigantic feint.

A quiet dawn, in the quiet trenches of the quiet sector. Desultory
artillery and somewhat less desultory sniping had prevailed throughout
the night, and at daybreak; but nothing out of the ordinary.

Two men on listening-post had been shot; and so had an overcurious
sentry who peeped just an inch too far above a parapet. A shell had
burst in a trench, knocking the telephone connection out of gear and
half burying a squad of sleepers under a lot of earth. Otherwise,
things were drowsily dull.

In a dugout sprawled Top-Sergeant Mahan,--formerly of Uncle Sam's
regular army, playing an uninspiring game of poker with Sergeant Dale
of his company and Sergeant Vivier of the French infantry. The
Frenchman was slow in learning poker's mysteries.

And, anyway, all three men were temporarily penniless and were forced
to play for I.O.U's--which is stupid sport, at best.

So when, from the German line, came a quick sputt-sputt-sputt from a
half-dozen sharpshooters' rifles, all three men looked up from their
desultory game in real interest. Mahan got to his feet with a grunt.

"Some other fool has been trying to see how far he can rubber above the
sandbags without drawing boche fire," he hazarded, starting out to
investigate. "It's a miracle to me how a boche bullet can go through
heads that are so full of first-quality ivory as those rubberers'."

But Mahan's strictures were quite unwarranted. The sharpshooters were
not firing at the parapet. Their scattering shots were flying high, and
hitting against the slope of the hill behind the trenches.

Adown this shell-pocked hillside, as Mahan and the other disturbed
idlers gazed, came cantering a huge dark-brown-and-white collie. The
morning wind stirred the black stippling that edged his tawny fur,
showing the gold-gray undercoat beneath it. His white chest was like a
snowdrift, and offered a fine mark for the German rifles. A bullet or
two sang whiningly past his gayly up-flung head.

A hundred voices from the Here-We-Come trenches hailed the advancing
dog.

"Why, it's Bruce!" cried Mahan in glad welcome. "I might 'a' known he
or another of the collies would be along. I might 'a' known it, when
the telephones went out of commission. He--"

"Regardez-donc!" interrupted the admiring Vivier. "He acts like bullets
was made of flies! Mooch he care for boche lead-pills, ce brave vieux!"

"Yes," growled Dale worriedly; "and one of these days a bullet will
find its way into that splendid carcass of his. He's been shot at, a
thousand times, to my own knowledge. And all I ask is a chance, with a
rifle-butt, at the skull of the Hun who downs him!"

"Downs Bruce?" queried Vivier in fine scorn. "The boche he is no borned
who can do it. Bruce has what you call it, in Ainglish, the 'charm
life.' He go safe, where other caniche be pepper-potted full of holes.
I've watch heem. I know."

Unscathed by the several shots that whined past him, Bruce came to a
halt at the edge of a traverse. There he stood, wagging his plume of a
tail in grave friendliness, while a score of khaki-clad arms reached up
to lift him bodily into the trench.

A sergeant unfastened the message from the dog's collar and posted off
to the colonel with it.

The message was similar to one which had been telephoned to each of the
supporting bodies, to right and to left of the Here-We-Comes. It bade
the colonel prepare to withdraw his command from the front trenches at
nightfall, and to move back on the main force behind the hill-crest.
The front trenches were not important; and they were far too lightly
manned to resist a mass attack. Wherefore the drawing-in and
consolidating of the whole outflung line.

Bruce, his work done now, had leisure to respond to the countless
offers of hospitality that encompassed him. One man brought him a slice
of cold broiled bacon. Another spread pork-grease over a bit of bread
and proffered it. A third unearthed from some sacredly guarded
hiding-place an excessively stale half-inch square of sweet chocolate.

Had the dog so chosen, he might then and there have eaten himself to
death on the multitude of votive offerings. But in a few minutes he had
had enough, and he merely sniffed in polite refusal at all further
gifts.

"See?" lectured Mahan. "That's the beast of it! When you say a fellow
eats or drinks 'like a beast,' you ought to remember that a beast won't
eat or drink a mouthful more than is good for him."

"Gee!" commented the somewhat corpulent Dale. "I'm glad I'm not a
beast--especially on pay-day."

Presently Bruce tired of the ovation tendered him. These ovations were
getting to be an old story. They had begun as far back as his
training-camp days--when the story of his joining the army was told by
the man to whom The Place's guest had written commending the dog to the
trainers' kindness.

At the training-camp this story had been reenforced by the chief
collie-teacher--a dour little Hieland Scot named McQuibigaskie, who on
the first day declared that the American dog had more sense and more
promise and more soul "than a' t'other tykes south o' Kirkcudbright
Brae."

Being only mortal, Bruce found it pleasanter to be admired and petted
than ignored or kicked. He was impersonally friendly with the soldiers,
when he was off duty; and he relished the dainties they were forever
thrusting at him.

But at times his soft eyes would grow dark with homesickness for the
quiet loveliness of The Place and for the Mistress and the Master who
were his loyally worshiped gods. Life had been so happy and so sweetly
uneventful for him, at The Place! And there had been none of the awful
endless thunder and the bewilderingly horrible smells and gruesome
sights which here met him at every turn.

The dog's loving heart used to grow sick with it all; and he longed
unspeakably for home. But he was a gallant soldier, and he did his work
not only well, but with a snap and a dash and an almost uncanny
intelligence which made him an idol to the men.

Presently, now, having eaten all he wanted and having been patted and
talked to until he craved solitude, Bruce strolled ever to an empty
dugout, curled up on a torn blanket there, put his nose between his
white paws and went to sleep.

The German artillery-fire had swelled from an occasional explosion to a
ceaseless roar, that made the ground vibrate and heave, and that beat
on the eardrums with nauseating iterance. But it did not bother Bruce.
For months he had been used to this sort of annoyance, and he had
learned to sleep snugly through it all.

Meanwhile, outside his dugout, life was speeding up at a dizzying rate.
The German artillery had sprung to sudden and wholesale activity. Far
to the right of the Here-We-Come regiment's trenches a haze had begun
to crawl along the ground and to send snaky tendrils high in
air-tendrils that blended into a single grayish-green wall as they
moved forward. The hazewall's gray-green was shot by yellow and purple
tinges as the sun's weak rays touched it. To the left of the
Here-We-Comes, and then in front of them, appeared the same wall of
billowing gas.

The Here-We-Comes were ready for it with their hastily donned masks.
But there was no need of the precaution. By one of the sudden
wind--freaks so common in the story of the war, the gas-cloud was cleft
in two by a swirling breeze, and it rolled dankly on, to right and
left, leaving the central trenches clear.

Now, an artillery barrage, accompanied or followed by a
gas-demonstration, can mean but one thing: a general attack. Therefore
telephonic word came to the detachments to left and right of the
Here-We-Comes, to fall back, under cover of the gas-cloud, to safer
positions. Two dogs were sent, with the same order, to the
Here-We-Comes. (One of the dogs was gassed. A bit of shrapnel found the
other.)

Thus it was that the Here-We-Comes were left alone (though they did not
know it), to hold the position,--with no support on either side, and
with a mere handful of men wherewith to stem the impending rush.

On the heels of the dispersing gas-cloud, and straight across the
half-mile or less of broken ground, came a line of gray. In five
successive waves, according to custom, the boches charged. Each wave
hurled itself forward as fast as efficiency would let it, in face of
the opposing fire, and as far as human endurance would be goaded. Then
it went down, and its survivors attached themselves to the succeeding
wave.

Hence, by the time the fifth and mightiest wave got into motion, it was
swelled by the survivors of all four of its predecessors and was an
all-but-resistless mass of shouting and running men.

The rifles and machine-guns of the Here-We-Comes played merrily into
the advancing gray swarms, stopping wave after wave, and at last
checking the fifth and "master" wave almost at the very brink of the
Franco-American parapet.

"That's how they do!" Mahan pantingly explained to a rather shaky
newcomer, as the last wave fell back. "They count on numbers and
bullrushes to get them there. If they'd had ten thousand men, in that
rush, instead of five thousand, they'd have got us. And if they had
twice as many men in their whole army as they have, they'd win this
war. But praise be, they haven't twice as many! That is one of the
fifty-seven reasons why the Allies are going to lick Germany."

Mahan talked jubilantly. The same jubilation ran all along the line of
victors. But the colonel and his staff were not rejoicing. They had
just learned of the withdrawal of the forces to either side of them,
and they knew they themselves could not hope to stand against a second
and larger charge.

Such a charge the enemy were certain to make. The Germans, too, must
soon learn of the defection of the supports. It was now only a question
of an hour or less before a charge with a double-enveloping movement
would surround and bag the Here-We-Comes, catching the whole regiment
in an inescapable trap.

To fall back, now, up that long bare hillside, under full fire of the
augmented German artillery, would mean a decimating of the entire
command. The Here-We-Comes could not retreat. They could not hope to
hold their ground. The sole chance for life lay in the arrival of
strong reenforcements from the rear, to help them hold the trenches
until night, or to man the supporting positions. Reserves were within
easy striking distance. But, as happened so many times in the war,
there was no routine way to summon them in time.

It was the chance sight of a crumpled message lying on his dugout-table
that reminded the colonel of Bruce's existence and of his presence in
the front trench. It was a matter of thirty seconds for the colonel to
scrawl an urgent appeal and a brief statement of conditions. Almost as
soon as the note was ready, an orderly appeared at the dugout entrance,
convoying the newly awakened Bruce.

The all-important message was fastened in place. The colonel himself
went to the edge of the traverse, and with his own arms lifted the
eighty-pound collie to the top.

There was tenderness as well as strength in the lifting arms. As he set
Bruce down on the brink, the colonel said, as if speaking to a
fellow-human:

"I hate to do it, old chap. I HATE to! There isn't one chance in three
of your getting all the way up the hill alive. But there wouldn't be
one chance in a hundred, for a MAN. The boches will be on the lookout
for just this move. And their best sharpshooters will be waiting for
you--even if you dodge the shrapnel and the rest of the artillery. I'm
sorry! And--good-by."

Then, tersely, he rasped out the command--

"Bruce! Headquarters! Headquarters! QUICK!"

At a bound, the dog was gone.

Breasting the rise of the hill, Bruce set off at a sweeping run, his
tawny-and-white mane flying in the wind.

A thousand eyes, from the Here-We-Come trenches, watched his flight.
And as many eyes from the German lines saw the huge collie's dash up
the coverless slope.

Scarce had Bruce gotten fairly into his stride when the boche bullets
began to sing--not a desultory little flurry of shots, as before; but
by the score, and with a murderous earnestness. When he had appeared,
on his way to the trenches, an hour earlier, the Germans had opened
fire on him, merely for their own amusement--upon the same merry
principle which always led them to shoot at an Ally war-dog. But now
they understood his all-important mission; and they strove with their
best skill to thwart it.

The colonel of the Here-We-Comes drew his breath sharply between his
teeth. He did not regret the sending of the collie. It had been a move
of stark military necessity. And there was an off chance that it might
mean the saving of his whole command.

But the colonel was fond of Bruce, and it angered him to hear the
frantic effort of the boche marksmen to down so magnificent a creature.
The bullets were spraying all about the galloping dog, kicking up tiny
swirls of dust at his heels and in front of him and to either side.

Mahan, watching, with streaming eyes and blaspheming lips, recalled the
French sergeant's theory that Bruce bore a charmed life. And he prayed
that Vivier might be right. But in his prayer was very little faith.
For under such a fusillade it seemed impossible that at least one
highpower bullet should not reach the collie before the slope could be
traversed. A fast-running dog is not an easy mark for a
bullet--especially if the dog be a collie, with a trace of
wolf--ancestry in his gait. A dog, at best, does not gallop straight
ahead as does a horse. There is almost always a sidewise lilt to his
run.

Bruce was still further aided by the shell-plowed condition of the
hillside. Again and again he had to break his stride, to leap some
shell-hole. Often he had to encircle such holes. More than once he
bounded headlong down into a gaping crater and scrambled up its far
side. These erratic moves, and the nine-hundred-yard distance (a
distance that was widening at every second) made the sharpshooters'
task anything but an exact science.

Mahan's gaze followed the dog's every step. Bruce had cleared more than
three-fourths of the slope. The top-sergeant permitted himself the
luxury of a broad grin.

"I'll buy Vivier all the red-ink wine he can gargle, next pay-day!" he
vowed. "He was dead right about the dog. No bullet was ever molded that
can get--"

Mahan broke off in his exultation, with an explosive oath, as a new
note in the firing smote upon his trained hearing.

"The swine!" he roared. "The filthy, unsportsmanly, dog-eating Prussian
swine! They're turning MACHINE-GUNS on him!"

In place of the intermittent rattle of rifleshots now came the purring
cough of rapidfire guns. The bullets hit the upper hillside in swathes,
beginning a few yards behind the flying collie and moving upward toward
him like a sweeping of an unseen scythe.

"That's the wind-up!" groaned Mahan. "Lord, send me an even break
against one of those Hun machinegunners some day! If--"

Again Mahan failed to finish his train of thought. He stared
open-mouthed up the hill. Almost at the very summit, within a rod or
two of the point where the crest would intervene between him and his
foes, Bruce whirled in mid-air and fell prone.

The fast-following swaths of machine-gun bullets had not reached him.
But another German enemy had. From behind a heap of offal, on the
crest, a yellow-gray dog had sprung, and had launched himself bodily
upon Bruce's flank as the unnoticing collie had flashed past him.

The assailant was an enormous and hyena-like German police-dog. He was
one of the many of his breed that were employed (for work or food) in
the German camps, and which used to sneak away from their hard-kicking
soldier-owners to ply a more congenial trade as scavengers, and as
seekers for the dead. For, in traits as well as in looks, the
police-dog often emulates the ghoulish hyena.

Seeing the approaching collie (always inveterate foe of his kind), the
police-dog had gauged the distance and had launched his surprise attack
with true Teuton sportsmanship and efficiency. Down went Bruce under
the fierce weight that crashed against his shoulder. But before the
other could gain his coveted throat-grip, Bruce was up again. Like a
furry whirlwind he was at the police-dog, fighting more like a wolf
than a civilized collie--tearing into his opponent with a maniac rage,
snapping, slashing; his glittering white fangs driving at a dozen
vulnerable points in a single second.

It was as though Bruce knew he had no time to waste from his
life-and-death mission. He could not elude this enemy, so he must
finish him as quickly as possible.

"Give me your rifle!" sputtered Mahan to the soldier nearest him. "I'll
take one potshot at that Prussian cur, before the machine-guns get the
two of 'em. Even if I hit Bruce by mistake, he'd rather die by a
Christian Yankee-made bullet than--"

Just then the scythelike machine-gun fire reached the hillcrest
combatants. And in the same instant a shell smote the ground,
apparently between them. Up went a geyser of smoke and dirt and rocks.
When the cloud settled, there was a deep gully in the ground where a
moment earlier Bruce and the police-dog had waged their death-battle.

"That settles it!" muttered the colonel.

And he went to make ready for such puny defense as his men might hope
to put up against the German rush.

While these futile preparations were still under way, terrific
artillery fire burst from the Allied batteries behind the hill,
shielding the Here-We-Come trenches with a curtain of fire whose lower
folds draped themselves right unlovingly around the German lines. Under
cover of this barrage, down the hill swarmed the Allied reserves!

"How did you get word?" demanded the astonished colonel of the
Here-We-Comes, later in the day.

"From your note, of course," replied the general he had questioned.
"The collie--old Bruce."

"Bruce?" babbled the colonel foolishly.

"Of course," answered the general. "Who else? But I'm afraid it's the
last message he'll ever deliver. He came rolling and staggering up to
headquarters--one mass of blood, and three inches thick with caked
dirt. His right side was torn open from a shell-wound, and he had two
machine-gun bullets in his shoulder. He's deaf as a post, too, from
shell-shock. He tumbled over in a heap on the steps of headquarters.
But he GOT there. That's Bruce, all over. That's the best type of
collie, all over. Some of us were for putting him out of his misery
with a shot through the head. We'd have done it, too, if it had been
any other dog. But the surgeon-general waded in and took a hand in the
game--carried Bruce to his own quarters. We left him working over the
dog himself. And he swears Bruce will pull through!"



CHAPTER IV. When Eyes Were No Use

"Yes, it's an easy enough trade to pick up," lectured Top-Sergeant
Mahan, formerly of the regular army. "You've just got to remember a few
things. But you've got to keep on remembering those few, all the time.
If you forget one of 'em, it's the last bit of forgetting you're ever
likely to do."

Top-Sergeant Mahan, of the mixed French-and-American regiment known as
"Here-We-Come," was squatting at ease on the trench firing-step. From
that professorial seat he was dispensing useful knowledge to a group of
fellow-countrymen-newly arrived from the base, to pad the
"Here-We-Come" ranks, which had been thinned at the Rache attack.

"What sort of things have we got to remember, Sergeant?" jauntily asked
a lanky Missourian. "We've got the drill pretty pat; and the trench
instructions and--"

"Gee!" ejaculated Mahan. "I had no idea of that! Then why don't you
walk straight ahead into Berlin? If you know all you say you do, about
war, there's nothing more for you to learn. I'll drop a line to General
Foch and suggest to him that you rookies be detailed to teach the game
to us oldsters."

"I didn't mean to be fresh," apologized the jaunty one. "Won't you go
ahead and tell us the things we need to remember?"

"Well," exhorted Mahan, appeased by the newcomer's humility, "there
aren't so many of them, after all. Learn to duck, when you hear a
Minnie grunt or a whizzbang cut loose; or a five-nine begin to whimper.
Learn not to bother to duck when the rifles get to jabbering--for
you'll never hear the bullet that gets you. Study the nocturnal habits
of machine-guns and the ways of snipers and the right time not to play
the fool. And keep saying to yourself: 'The bullet ain't molded that
can get ME!' Mean it when you say it. When you've learned those few
things, the rest of the war-game is dead easy."

"Except," timidly amended old Sergeant Vivier, the gray little
Frenchman, "except when eyes are--are what you call it, no use."
"That's right," assented Mahan. "In the times when eyes are no use, all
rules fail. And then the only thing you can do is to trust to your
Yankee luck. I remember--"

"'When eyes are no use'?" repeated the recruit. "If you mean after
dark, at night--haven't we got the searchlights and the starshells and
all that?"

"Son," replied Mahan, "we have. Though I don't see how you ever guessed
such an important secret. But since you know everything, maybe you'll
just kindly tell us what good all the lights in the world are going to
do us when the filthy yellow-gray fog begins to ooze up out of the mud
and the shell-holes, and the filthy gray mist oozes down from the
clouds to meet it. Fog is the one thing that all the war-science won't
overcome. A fogpenetrator hasn't been invented yet. If it had been,
there'd be many a husky lad living today, who has gone West, this past
few years, on account of the fogs. Fog is the boche's pet. It gives
Fritzy a lovely chance to creep up or, us. It--"

"It is the helper of US, too," suggested old Vivier. "More than one
time, it has kept me safe when I was on patrol. And did it not help to
save us at Rache, when--"

"The fog may have helped us, one per cent, at Rache," admitted Mahan.
"But Bruce did ninety-nine per cent of the saving."

"A Scotch general?" asked the recruit, as Vivier nodded cordial
affirmation of Mahan's words, and as others of the old-timers muttered
approval.

"No," contradicted Mahan. "A Scotch collie. If you were dry behind the
ears, in this life, you wouldn't have to ask who Bruce is."

"I don't understand," faltered the rookie, suspicious of a possible
joke.

"You will soon," Mahan told him. "Bruce will be here to-day. I heard
the K.O. saying the big dog is going to be sent down with some
dispatches or something, from headquarters. It's his first trip since
he was cut up so."

"I am saving him--this!" proclaimed Vivier, disgorging from the flotsam
of his pocket a lump of once-white sugar. "My wife, she smuggle three
of these to me in her last paquet. One I eat in my cafe noir; one I
present to mon cher vieux, ce bon Mahan; one I keep for the grand dog
what save us all that day."

"What's the idea?" queried the mystified rookie. "I don't--"

"We were stuck in the front line of the Rache salient," explained
Mahan, eager to recount his dog-friend's prowess. "On both sides our
supports got word to fall back. We couldn't get the word, because our
telephone connection was knocked galley-west. There we were, waiting
for a Hun attack to wipe us out. We couldn't fall back, for they were
peppering the hillslope behind us. We were at the bottom. They'd have
cut us to ribbons if we'd shown our carcasses in the open. Bruce was
here, with a message he'd brought. The K.O. sent him back to
headquarters for the reserves. The boche heavies and snipers and
machine-guns all cut loose to stop him as he scooted up the hill. And a
measly giant of a German police dog tried to kill him, too. Bruce got
through the lot of them; and he reached headquarters with the SOS call
that saved us. The poor chap was cut and gouged and torn by bullets and
shell-scraps, and he was nearly dead from shell-shock, too. But the
surgeon general worked over him, himself, and pulled him back to life.
He--"

"He is a loved pet of a man and a woman in your America, I have heard
one say," chimed in Vivier. "And his home, there, was in the quiet
country. He was lent to the cause, as a patriotic offering, ce brave!
And of a certainty, he has earned his welcome."

When Bruce, an hour later, trotted into the trenches, on the way to the
"Here-We-Come" colonel's quarters, he was received like a visiting
potentate. Dozens of men hailed him eagerly by name as he made his way
to his destination with the message affixed to his collar.

Many of these men were his well-remembered friends and comrades. Mahan
and Vivier, and one or two more, he had grown to like--as well as he
could like any one in that land of horrors, three thousand miles away
from The Place, where he was born, and from the Mistress and the
Master, who were his loyally worshiped gods.

Moreover, being only mortal and afflicted with a hearty appetite, Bruce
loved the food and other delicacies the men were forever offering him
as a variation on the stodgy fare dished out to him and his fellow
war-dogs.

As much to amuse and interest the soldiers whose hero he was, as for
any special importance in the dispatch he carried, Bruce had been sent
now to the trenches of the Here-We-Comes. It was his first visit to the
regiment he had saved, since the days of the Rache assault two months
earlier. Thanks to supremely clever surgery and to tender care, the dog
was little the worse for his wounds. His hearing gradually had come
back. In one shoulder he had a very slight stiffness which was not a
limp, and a new-healed furrow scarred the left side of his tawny coat.
Otherwise he was as good as new.

As Bruce trotted toward the group that so recently had been talking of
him, the Missouri recruit watched with interest for the dog's joy at
this reunion with his old friends. Bruce's snowy chest and
black-stippled coat were fluffed out by many recent baths. His splendid
head high and his dark eyes bright, the collie advanced toward the
group.

Mahan greeted him joyously. Vivier stretched out a hand which displayed
temptingly the long-hoarded lump of sugar. A third man produced, from
nowhere in particular, a large and meat-fringed soup-bone.

"I wonder which of you he'll come to, first," said the interested
Missourian.

The question was answered at once, and right humiliatingly. For Bruce
did not falter in his swinging stride as he came abreast of the group.
Not by so much as a second glance did he notice Mahan's hail and the
tempting food.

As he passed within six inches of the lump of sugar which Vivier was
holding out to him, the dog's silken ears quivered slightly, sure sign
of hard-repressed emotion in a thoroughbred collie,--but he gave no
other manifestation that he knew any one was there.

"Well, I'll be blessed!" snickered the Missourian in high derision, as
Bruce passed out of sight around an angle of the trench. "So that's the
pup who is such a pal of you fellows, is he? Gee, but it was a treat to
see how tickled he was to meet you again!"

To the rookie's amazement none of his hearers seemed in the least
chagrined over the dogs chilling disregard of them. Instead, Mahan
actually grunted approbation.

"He'll be back," prophesied the Sergeant. "Don't you worry. He'll be
back. We ought to have had more sense than try to stop him when he's on
duty. He has better discipline than the rest of us. That's one of very
first things they teach a courier-dog--to pay no attention to anybody,
when he's on dispatch duty. When Bruce has delivered his message to the
K.O., he'll have the right to hunt up his chums. And no one knows it
better'n Bruce himself."

"It was a sin--a thoughtlessness--of me to hold the sugar at him," said
old Vivier. "Ah, but he is a so good soldier, ce brave Bruce! He look
not to the left nor yet to the right, nor yet to the so-desired
sugar-lump. He keep his head at attention! All but the furry tips of
his ears. Them he has not yet taught to be good soldiers. They tremble,
when he smell the sugar and the good soup-bone. They quiver like the
little leaf. But he keep on. He--"

There was a scurry of fast-cantering feet. Around the angle of the
trench dashed Bruce. Head erect, soft dark eyes shining with a light of
gay mischief, he galloped up to the grinning Sergeant Vivier and stood.
The dog's great plume of a tail was wagging violently. His tulip ears
were cocked. His whole interest in life was fixed on the precious lump
of sugar which Vivier held out to him.

From puppyhood, Bruce had adored lump sugar. Even at The Place, sugar
had been a rarity for him, for the Mistress and the Master had known
the damage it can wreak upon a dog's teeth and digestion. Yet, once in
a while, as a special luxury, the Mistress had been wont to give him a
solitary lump of sugar.

Since his arrival in France, the dog had never seen nor scented such a
thing until now. Yet he did not jump for the gift. He did not try to
snatch it from Vivier. Instead, he waited until the old Frenchman held
it closer toward him, with the invitation:

"Take it, mon vieux! It is for you."

Then and then only did Bruce reach daintily forward and grip the grimy
bit of sugar between his mighty jaws. Vivier stroked the collie's head
while Bruce wagged his tail and munched the sugar and blinked
gratefully up at the donor. Mahan looked on, enviously. "A dog's got
forty-two teeth, instead of the thirty-two that us humans have to chew
on," observed the Sergeant. "A vet' told me that once. And sugar is bad
for all forty-two of 'em. Maybe you didn't know that, Monsoo Vivier?
Likely, at this rate, we'll have to chip in before long and buy poor
Brucie a double set of false teeth. Just because you've put his real
ones out of business with lumps of sugar!"

Vivier looked genuinely concerned at this grim forecast. Bruce wandered
across to the place where the donor of the soup-bone brandished his
offering. Other men, too, were crowding around with gifts.

Between petting and feeding, the collie spent a busy hour among his
comrades-at-arms. He was to stay with the "Here-We-Comes" until the
following day, and then carry back to headquarters a reconnaissance
report.

At four o'clock that afternoon the sky was softly blue and the air was
unwontedly clear. By five o'clock a gentle India-summer haze blurred
the world's sharper outlines. By six a blanket-fog rolled in, and the
air was wetly unbreatheable. The fog lay so thick over the soggy earth
that objects ten feet away were invisible.

"This," commented Sergeant Mahan, "is one of the times I was talking
about this morning--when eyes are no use. This is sure the country for
fogs, in war-time. The cockneys tell me the London fogs aren't a patch
on 'em."

The "Here-We-Comes" were encamped, for the while, at the edge of a
sector from whence all military importance had recently been removed by
a convulsive twist of a hundred-mile battle-front. In this dull
hole-in-a-corner the new-arrived rivets were in process of welding into
the more veteran structure of the mixed regiment.

Not a quarter-mile away--across No Man's Land and athwart two barriers
of barbed wire--lay a series of German trenches. Now, in all
probability, and from all outward signs, the occupants of this boche
position consisted only of a regiment or two which had been so badly
cut up, in a foiled drive, as to need a month of non-exciting routine
before going back into more perilous service.

Yet the commander of the division to which the "Here-We-Comes" were
attached did not trust to probabilities nor to outward signs. He had
been at the front long enough to realize that the only thing likely to
happen was the thing which seemed unlikeliest. And he felt a morbid
curiosity to learn more about the personnel of those dormant German
trenches.

Wherefore he had sent an order that a handful of the "Here-We-Comes" go
forth into No Man's Land, on the first favorable night, and try to pick
up a boche prisoner or two for questioning-purposes. A scouring of the
doubly wired area between the hostile lines might readily harvest some
solitary sentinel or some other man on special duty, or even the
occupants of a listening-post. And the division commander earnestly
desired to question such prisoner or prisoners. The fog furnished an
ideal night for such an expedition.

Thus it was that a very young lieutenant and Sergeant Mahan and ten
privates--the lanky Missourian among them--were detailed for the
prisoner-seeking job. At eleven o'clock, they crept over the top,
single file.

It was a night wherein a hundred searchlights and a million star-flares
would not have made more impression on the density of the fog than
would the striking of a safety match. Yet the twelve reconnoiterers
were instructed to proceed in the cautious manner customary to such
nocturnal expeditions into No Man's Land. They moved forward at the
lieutenant's order, tiptoeing abreast, some twenty feet apart from one
another, and advancing in three-foot strides. At every thirty steps the
entire line was required to halt and to reestablish contact--in other
words, to "dress" on the lieutenant, who was at the extreme right.

This maneuver was more time-wasting and less simple than its recital
would imply. For in the dark, unaccustomed legs are liable to
miscalculation in the matter of length of stride, even when shell-holes
and other inequalities of ground do not complicate the calculations
still further. And it is hard to maintain a perfectly straight line
when moving forward through choking fog and over scores of obstacles.

The halts for realignment consumed much time and caused no little
confusion. Nervousness began to encompass the Missouri recruit. He was
as brave as the next man. But there is something creepy about walking
with measured tread through an invisible space, with no sound but the
stealthy pad-pad-pad of equally hesitant footsteps twenty feet away on
either side. The Missourian was grateful for the intervals that brought
the men into mutual contact, as the eerie march continued.

The first line of barbed wire was cut and passed. Then followed an
endless groping progress across No Man's Land, and several delays, as
one man or another had trouble in finding contact with his neighbor.

At last the party came to the German wires. The lieutenant had drawn on
a rubber glove. In his gloved hand he grasped a strip of steel which he
held in front of him, like a wand, fanning the air with it.

As he came to the entanglement, he probed the barbed wire carefully
with his wand, watching for an ensuing spark. For the Germans more than
once had been known to electrify their wires, with fatal results to
luckless prowlers.

These wires, to-night, were not charged. And, with pliers, the
lieutenant and Mahan started to cut a passageway through them.

As the very first strand parted under his pressure, Mahan laid one hand
warningly on the lieutenant's sleeve, and then passed the same
prearranged warning down the line to the left.

Silence--moveless, tense, sharply listening silence--followed his
motion. Then the rest of the party heard the sound which Mahan's keener
ears had caught a moment earlier--the thud of many marching feet. Here
was no furtive creeping, as when the twelve Yankees had moved along.
Rather was it the rhythmic beat of at least a hundred pairs of
shapeless army boots--perhaps of more. The unseen marchers were moving
wordlessly, but with no effort at muffling the even tread of their
multiple feet.

"They're coming this way!" breathed Sergeant Mahan almost without
sound, his lips close to the excited young lieutenant's ear. "And
they're not fifty paces off. That means they're boches. So near the
German wire, our men would either be crawling or else charging, not
marching! It's a company--maybe a battalion--coming back from a
reconnaissance, and making for a gap in their own wire some where near
here. If we lay low there's an off chance they may pass us by."

Without awaiting the lieutenant's order, Mahan passed along the signal
for every man to drop to earth and lie there. He all but forced the
eagerly gesticulating lieutenant to the ground.

On came the swinging tread of the Germans. Mahan, listening
breathlessly, tried to gauge the distance and the direction. He
figured, presently, that the break the Germans had made in their wire
could be only a few yards below the spot where he and the lieutenant
had been at work with the pliers. Thus the intruders, from their
present course, must inevitably pass very close to the prostrate
Americans--so close, perhaps, as to brush against the nearest of them,
or even to step on one or more of the crouching figures.

Mahan whispered to the man on his immediate left, the rookie from
Missouri:

"Edge closer to the wire--close as you can wiggle, and lie flat. Pass
on the word."

The Missourian obeyed. Before writhing his long body forward against
the bristly mass of wire he passed the instructions on to the man at
his own left.

But his nerves were at breaking-point.

It had been bad enough to crawl through the blind fog, with the ghostly
steps of his comrades pattering softly at either side of him. But it
was a thousand times harder to lie helpless here, in the choking fog
and on the soaked ground, while countless enemies were bearing down,
unseen, upon him, on one side, and an impenetrable wire cut off his
retreat on the other.

The Missourian had let his imagination begin to work; always a mistake
in a private soldier. He was visualizing the moment when this tramping
German force should become aware of the presence of their puny foes and
should slaughter them against the merciless wires. It would not be a
fair stand-up fight, this murder-rush of hundreds of men against twelve
who were penned in and could not maneuver nor escape. And the thought
of it was doing queer things to the rookie's overwrought nerves.

Having passed the word to creep closer to the wires, he began to
execute the order in person, with no delay at all. But he was a
fraction of a second too late. The Germans were moving in
hike-formation with "points" thrown out in advance to either side--a
"point" being a private soldier who, for scouting and other purposes,
marches at some distance from the main body.

The point, ahead of the platoon, had swerved too far to the left, in
the blackness--an error that would infallibly have brought him up
against the wires, with considerable force, in another two steps. But
the Missourian was between him and the wires. And the point's
heavy-shod foot came down, heel first, on the back of the rookie's
out-groping hand. Such a crushing impact, on the hand-back, is one of
the most agonizing minor injuries a man can sustain. And this fact the
Missourian discovered with great suddenness.

His too-taut nerves forced from his throat a yell that split the
deathly stillness with an ear-piercing vehemence. He sprang to his
feet, forgetful of orders intent only on thrusting his bayonet through
the Hun who had caused such acute torture to his hand. Half way up, the
rookie's feet went out from under him in the slimy mud. He caromed
against the point, then fell headlong.

The German, doubtless thinking he had stumbled upon a single stray
American scout, whirled his own rifle aloft, to dash out the brains of
his luckless foe. But before the upflung butt could descend,--before
the rookie could rise or dodge,--the point added his quota to the rude
breaking of the night's silence. He screamed in panic terror, dropped
his brandished gun and reeled backward, clawing at his own throat.

For out of the eerie darkness, something had launched itself at
him--something silent and terrible, that had flown to the Missourian's
aid. Down with a crash went the German, on his back. He rolled against
the Missourian, who promptly sought to grapple with him.

But even as he clawed for the German, the rookie's nerves wrung from
him a second yell--this time less of rage than of horror.

"Sufferin' cats!" he bellowed. "Why didn't anybody ever tell me Germans
was covered with fur instead of clothes?"

The boche platoon was no longer striding along in hike-formation. It
was broken up into masses of wildly running men, all of them bearing
down upon the place whence issued this ungodly racket and turmoil.
Stumbling, reeling, blindly falling and rising again, they came on.

Some one among them loosed a rifle-shot in the general direction of the
yelling. A second and a third German rifleman followed the example of
the first. From the distant American trenches, one or two snipers began
to pepper away toward the enemy lines, though the fog was too thick for
them, to see the German rifle-flashes.

The boches farthest to the left, in the blind rush, fouled with the
wires. German snipers, from behind the Hun parapets, opened fire. A
minute earlier the night had been still as the grave. Now it fairly
vibrated with clangor. All because one rookie's nerves had been less
staunch than his courage, and because that same rookie had not only had
his hand stepped on in the dark, but had encountered something swirling
and hairy when he grabbed for the soldier who had stepped on him!


The American lieutenant, at the onset of the clamor, sprang to his
feet, whipping out his pistol; his dry lips parted in a command to
charge--a command which, naturally, would have reduced his eleven men
and himself to twelve corpses or to an equal number of mishandled
prisoners within the next few seconds. But a big hand was clapped
unceremoniously across the young officer's mouth, silencing the
half-spoken suicidal order.

Sergeant Mahan's career in the regular army had given him an almost
uncanny power of sizing up his fellowmen. And he had long ago decided
that this was the sort of thing his untried lieutenant would be likely
to do, in just such an emergency. Wherefore his flagrant breach of
discipline in shoving his palm across the mouth of his superior officer.

And as he was committing this breach of discipline, he heard the
Missourian's strangled gasp of:

"Why didn't anybody ever tell me Germans was covered with fur?"

In a flash Mahan understood. Wheeling, he stooped low and flung out
both arms in a wide-sweeping circle. Luckily his right hand's
fingertips, as they completed the circle, touched something fast-moving
and furry.

"Bruce!" he whispered fiercely, tightening his precarious grip on the
wisp of fur his fingers had touched. "Bruce! Stand still, boy! It's YOU
who's got to get us clear of this! Nobody else, short of the good Lord,
can do it!"

Bruce had had a pleasantly lazy day with his friends in the first-line
trenches. There had been much good food and more petting. And at last,
comfortably tired of it all, he had gone to sleep. He had awakened in a
most friendly mood, and a little hungry. Wherefore he had sallied forth
in search of human companionship. He found plenty of soldiers who were
more than willing to talk to him and make much of him. But, a little
farther ahead, he saw his good friend, Sergeant Mahan, and others of
his acquaintances, starting over the parapet on what promised to be a
jolly evening stroll.

All dogs find it hard to resist the mysterious lure of a walk in human
companionship. True, the night was not an ideal one for a ramble, and
the fog had a way of congealing wetly on Bruce's shaggy coat. Still, a
damp coat was not enough of a discomfort to offset the joy of a stroll
with his friends. So Bruce had followed the twelve men quietly into No
Man's Land, falling decorously into step behind Mahan.

It had not been much of a walk, for speed or for fun. For the humans
went ridiculously slowly, and had an eccentric way of bunching
together, every now and again, and then of stringing out into a
shambling line. Still, it was a walk, and therefore better than loafing
behind in the trenches. And Bruce had kept his noiseless place at the
Sergeant's heels.

Then--long before Mahan heard the approaching tramp of feet--Bruce
caught not only the sound but the scent of the German platoon. The
scent at once told him that the strangers were not of his own army. A
German soldier and an American soldier--because of their difference in
diet as well as for certain other and more cogent reasons--have by no
means the same odor, to a collie's trained scent, nor to that of other
breeds of war-dogs. Official records of dog-sentinels prove that.

Aliens were nearing Bruce's friends. And the dog's ruff began to stand
up. But Mahan and the rest seemed in no way concerned in spirit
thereby--though, to the dog's understanding, they must surely be aware
of the approach. So Bruce gave no further sign of displeasure. He was
out for a walk, as a guest. He was not on sentry-duty.

But when the nearest German was almost upon them, and all twelve
Americans dropped to the ground, the collie became interested once
more. A German stepped on the hand of one of his newest friends. And
the friend yelled in pain. Whereat the German made as if to strike the
stepped-on man.

This was quite enough for loyal Bruce. Without so much as a growl of
warning, he jumped at the offender.

Dog and man tumbled earthward together. Then after an instant of flurry
and noise, Bruce felt Mahan's fingers on his shoulder and heard the
stark appeal of Mahan's whispered voice. Instantly the dog was a
professional soldier once more--alertly obedient and resourceful.

"Catch hold my left arm, Lieutenant!" Mahan was exhorting. "Close up,
there, boys--every man's hand grabbing tight to the shoulder of the man
on his left! Pass the word. And you, Missouri, hang onto the
Lieutenant! Quick, there! And tread soft and tread fast, and don't let
go, whatever happens! Not a sound out of any one! I'm leading the way.
And Bruce is going to lead me."

There was a scurrying scramble as the men groped for one another. Mahan
tightened his hold on Bruce's mane.

"Bruce!" he said, very low, but with a strength of appeal that was not
lost on the listening dog. "Bruce! Camp! Back to CAMP! And keep QUIET!
Back to camp, boy! CAMP!"

He had no need to repeat his command so often and so strenuously. Bruce
was a trained courier. The one word "Camp!" was quite enough to tell
him what he was to do.

Turning, he faced the American lines and tried to break into a gallop.
His scent and his knowledge of direction were all the guides he needed.
A dog always relies on his nose first and his eyes last. The fog was no
obstacle at all to the collie. He understood the Sergeant's order, and
he set out at once to obey it.

But at the very first step, he was checked. Mahan did not release that
feverishly tight hold on his mane, but merely shifted to his collar.

Bruce glanced back, impatient at the delay. But Mahan did not let go.
Instead he said once more:

"CAMP, boy!"

And Bruce understood he was expected to make his way to camp, with
Mahan hanging on to his collar.

Bruce did not enjoy this mode of locomotion. It was inconvenient, and
there seemed no sense in it; but there were many things about this
strenuous war-trade that Bruce neither enjoyed nor comprehended, yet
which he performed at command.

So again he turned campward, Mahan at his collar and an annoyingly
hindering tail of men stumbling silently on behind them. All around
were the Germans--butting drunkenly through the blanket-dense fog,
swinging their rifles like flails, shouting confused orders,
occasionally firing. Now and then two or more of them would collide and
would wrestle in blind fury, thinking they had encountered an American.

Impeded by their own sightlessly swarming numbers, as much as by the
impenetrable darkness, they sought the foe. And but for Bruce they must
quickly have found what they sought. Even in compact form, the
Americans could not have had the sheer luck to dodge every scattered
contingent of Huns which starred the German end of No Man's Land--most
of them between the fugitives and the American lines.

But Bruce was on dispatch duty. It was his work to obey commands and to
get back to camp at once. It was bad enough to be handicapped by
Mahan's grasp on his collar. He was not minded to suffer further delay
by running into any of the clumps of gesticulating and cabbage-reeking
Germans between him and his goal. So he steered clear of such groups,
making several wide detours in order to do so. Once or twice he stopped
short to let some of the Germans grope past him, not six feet away.
Again he veered sharply to the left--increasing his pace and forcing
Mahan and the rest to increase theirs--to avoid a squad of thirty men
who were quartering the field in close formation, and who all but
jostled the dog as they strode sightlessly by. An occasional rifle-shot
spat forth its challenge. From both trench-lines men were firing at a
venture. A few of the bullets sang nastily close to the twelve huddled
men and their canine leader. Once a German, not three yards away,
screamed aloud and fell sprawling and kicking, as one such chance
bullet found him. Above and behind, sounded the plop of star-shells
sent up by the enemy in futile hope of penetrating the viscid fog. And
everywhere was heard the shuffle and stumbling of innumerable boots.

At last the noise of feet began to die away, and the uneven groping
tread of the twelve Americans to sound more distinctly for the
lessening of the surrounding turmoil. And in another few seconds Bruce
came to a halt--not to an abrupt stop, as when he had allowed an enemy
squad to pass in front of him, but a leisurely checking of speed, to
denote that he could go no farther with the load he was helping to haul.

Mahan put out his free hand. It encountered the American wires. Bruce
had stopped at the spot where the party had cut a narrow path through
the entanglement on the outward journey. Alone, the dog could easily
have passed through the gap, but he could not be certain of pulling
Mahan with him. Wherefore the halt.

      *      *      *      *      *

The last of the twelve men scrambled down to safety, in the American
first-line trench, Bruce among them. The lieutenant went straight to
his commanding officer, to make his report. Sergeant Mahan went
straight to his company cook, whom he woke from a snoreful sleep.
Presently Mahan ran back to where the soldiers were gathered admiringly
around Bruce.

The Sergeant carried a chunk of fried beef, for which he had just given
the cook his entire remaining stock of cigarettes.

"Here you are, Bruce!" he exclaimed. "The best in the shop is none too
good for the dog that got us safe out of that filthy mess. Eat hearty!"

Bruce did not so much as sniff at the (more or less) tempting bit of
meat. Coldly he looked up at Mahan. Then, with sensitive ears laid flat
against his silken head, in token of strong contempt, he turned his
back on the Sergeant and walked away.

Which was Bruce's method of showing what he thought of a human fool who
would give him a command and who would then hold so tightly to him that
the dog could hardly carry out the order.



CHAPTER V. The Double Cross

In the background lay a landscape that had once been beautiful. In the
middle distance rotted a village that had once been alive. In the
foreground stood an edifice that had once been a church. The
once-beautiful landscape had the look of a gigantic pockmarked face, so
scored was it by shell-scar and crater. Its vegetation was swept away.
Its trees were shattered stumps. Its farmsteads were charred piles of
rubble.

The village was unlike the general landscape, in that it had never been
beautiful. In spite of globe-trotters' sentimental gush, not all
villages of northern France were beautiful. Many were built for thrift
and for comfort and for expediency; not for architectural or natural
loveliness.

But this village of Meran-en-Laye was not merely deprived of what
beauty it once might or might not have possessed. Except by courtesy it
was no longer a village at all. It was a double row of squalid ruins,
zig-zagging along the two sides of what was left of its main street.
Here and there a cottage or tiny shop or shed was still habitable. The
rest was debris.

The church in the foreground was recognizable as such by the shape and
size of its ragged walls, and by a half-smashed image of the Virgin and
Child which slanted out at a perilous angle above its façade.

Yet, miserable as the ruined hamlet seemed to the casual eye, it was at
present a vacation-resort--and a decidedly welcome one--to no less than
three thousand tired men. The wrecked church was an impromptu hospital
beneath whose shattered roof dozens of these men lay helpless on
makeshift cots.

For the mixed American and French regiment known as the "Here-We-Comes"
was billeted at Meran-en-Laye during a respite from the rigors and
perils of the front-line trenches.

The rest and the freedom from risks, supposed to be a part of the
"billeting" system, were not wholly the portion of the "Here-We Comes."
Meran--en--Laye was just then a somewhat important little speck on the
warmap.

The Germans had been up to their favorite field sport of trying to
split in half two of the Allied armies, and to roll up each,
independently. The effort had been a failure; yet it had come so near
to success that many railway communications were cut off or deflected.
And Meran-en-Laye had for the moment gained new importance, by virtue
of a spur railway-line which ran through its outskirts and which made
junction with a new set of tracks the American engineers were
completing. Along this transverse of roads much ammunition and food and
many fighting men were daily rushed.

The safety of the village had thus become of much significance. While
it was too far behind the lines to be in grave danger of enemy raids,
yet such danger existed to some extent. Wherefore the presence of the
"Here-We-Comes"--for the paradoxical double purpose of "resting up" and
of guarding the railway Function.

Still, it was better than trench-work; and the "Here-We-Comes" enjoyed
it--for a day or so. Then trouble had set in.

A group of soldiers were lounging on the stone seat in front of the
village estaminet. Being off duty, they were reveling in that popular
martial pastime known to the Tommy as "grousing" and to the Yankee
doughboy as "airing a grouch."

Top-Sergeant Mahan, formerly of the regular army, was haranguing the
others. Some listened approvingly, others dissentingly and others not
at all.

"I tell you," Mahan declared for the fourth time, "somebody's
double-crossing us again. There's a leak. And if they don't find out
where it is, a whole lot of good men and a million dollars' worth of
supplies are liable to spill out through that same leak. It--"

"But," argued his crony, old Sergeant Vivier, in his hard-learned
English, "but it may all be of a chance, mon vieux. It may, not be the
doubled cross,--whatever a doubled cross means,--but the mere chance.
Such things often--"

"Chance, my grandmother's wall-eyed cat!" snorted Mahan. "Maybe it
might have been chance--when this place hadn't been bombed for a
month--for a whole flight of boche artillery and airship grenades to
cut loose against it the day General Pershing happened to stop here for
an hour on his way to Chateau-Thierry. Maybe that was chance--though I
know blamed well it wasn't. Maybe it was chance that the place wasn't
bombed again till two days ago, when that troop-train had to spend such
a lot of time getting shunted at the junction. Maybe it was chance that
the church, over across the street, hadn't been touched since the last
drive, till our regiment's wounded were put in it--and that it's been
hit three times since then. Maybe any one of those things--and of a
dozen others was chance. But it's a cinch that ALL of them weren't
chance. Chance doesn't work that way. I--"

"Perhaps," doubtfully assented old Vivier, "perhaps. But I little like
to believe it. For it means a spy. And a spy in one's midst is like to
a snake in one's blankets. It is a not pleasing comrade. And it stands
in sore need of killing."

"There's spies everywhere," averred Mahan. "That's been proved often
enough. So why not here? But I wish to the Lord I could lay hands on
him! If this was one of the little sheltered villages, in a valley, his
work would be harder. And the boche airships and the long-rangers
wouldn't find us such a simple target. But up here on this ridge, all a
spy has to do is to flash a signal, any night, that a boche airman can
pick up or that can even be seen with good glasses from some high point
where it can be relayed to the German lines. The guy who laid out this
burg was sure thoughtless. He might have known there'd be a war some
day. He might even have strained his mind and guessed that we'd be
stuck here. Gee!"

He broke off with a grunt of disgust; nor did he so much as listen to
another of the group who sought to lure him into an opinion as to
whether the spy might be an inhabitant of the village or a
camp-follower.

Sucking at his pipe; the Sergeant glowered moodily down the ruined
street. The village drowsed under the hot midday. Here and there a
soldier lounged along aimlessly or tried out his exercise-book French
on some puzzled, native. Now and then an officer passed in or out of
the half-unroofed mairie which served as regimental headquarters.

Beyond, in the handkerchief-sized village square, a platoon was
drilling. A thin French housewife was hanging sheets on a line behind a
shell-twisted hovel. A Red Cross nurse came out of the hospital-church
across the street from the estaminet and seated herself on the stone
steps with a basketful of sewing.

Mahan's half-shut eyes rested critically on the drilling
platoon--amusedly on the woman who was so carefully hanging the ragged
sheets,--and then approvingly upon the Red Cross nurse on the church
steps across the way.

Mahan, like most other soldiers, honored and revered the Red Cross for
its work of mercy in the army. And the sight of one of the several
local nurses of the Order won from him a glance of real approbation.

But presently into his weather-beaten face came an expression of glad
welcome. Out of the mairie gate and into the sleepy warmth of the
street lounged a huge dark-brown-and-white collie. The don stretched
himself lazily, fore and aft, in true collie style, then stood gazing
about him as if in search of something of interest to occupy his bored
attention.

"Hello!" observed Mahan, breaking in on a homily of Vivier's. "There's
Bruce!"

Vivier's leathery face brightened at sound of the collie's name. He
looked eagerly in the direction of Mahan's pointing finger.

"Ce brave!" exclaimed the Frenchman. "I did not know even that he was
in the village. It must be he is but new-arriven. Otherwise he would,
of an assuredly, have hunted up his old friends. Ohe, Bruce!" he called
invitingly.

"The big dog must have gotten here just a few minutes ago," said
Sergeant Mahan. "He was coming out of headquarters when I saw him. That
must mean he's just struck the town, and with a message for the K.O. He
always goes like greased lightning when he's on dispatch duty, till he
has delivered his message. Then, if he's to be allowed to hang around a
while before he's sent back, he loafs, lazy-like; the way you see him
now. If all the courier-dogs were like him, every human courier would
be out of a job."

At Vivier's hail the great collie had pricked his ears and glanced
inquiringly up and down the street. Catching sight of the group seated
in front of the estaminet, he began to wag his plumy tail and set off
toward them at a trot.

Ten minutes earlier, Bruce had cantered into Meran-en-Laye from the
opposite end of the street, bearing in his collar a dispatch from the
corps commander to the colonel of the "Here-We-Comes." The colonel, at
the mairie, had read the dispatch and had patted its bearer; then had
bidden the dog lie down and rest, if he chose, after his long run.

Instead, Bruce had preferred to stroll out in search of friends.

Top-Sergeant Mahan, by the way, would have felt highly flattered had he
chanced to get a glimpse of the dispatch Bruce had brought to the
colonel. For it bore out Mahan's own theory regarding the presence of
spies at or near the village, and it bade the "Here-We-Come" colonel
use every means for tracing them.

It added the information that three troop-trains with nine engines were
to pass through the village that night on their way to the trenches,
and that the trains were due at the junction at nine o'clock or shortly
thereafter. The mairie was on the other side of the street from the
estaminet. Incidentally, it was on the shady side of the street--for
which reason Bruce,--being wise, and the day being hot,--remained on
that side, until he should come opposite the bench where his friends
awaited him.

His course, thus, brought him directly past the church.

As he trotted by the steps, the Red Cross nurse, who sat sewing there,
chirped timidly at him. Bruce paused in his leisurely progress to see
who had accosted him whether an old acquaintance, to be greeted as
such, or merely a pleasantly inclined stranger.

His soft brown eyes rested first in idle inquiry upon the angular and
white-robed figure on the steps. Then, on the instant, the friendly
inquiring look left his eyes and their softness went with it--leaving
the dog's gaze cold and frankly hostile.

One corner of Bruce's lips slowly lifted, revealing a tiny view of the
terrible white fangs behind them. His gayly erect head was lowered, and
in the depths of his furry throat a growl was born. When a dog barks
and holds his head up, there is little enough to fear from him. But
when he lowers his head and growl--then look out.

Mahan knew dogs. In stark amazement he now noted Bruce's strange
attitude toward the nurse. Never before had he seen the dog show active
hostility toward a stranger--least of all toward a stranger who had in
no way molested him. It was incredible that the wontedly dignified and
sweet-tempered collie had thus returned a greeting. Especially from a
woman!

Mahan had often seen Red Cross nurses stop to caress Bruce. He had been
amused at the dog's almost protective cordiality toward all women,
whether the French peasants or the wearers of the brassard of mercy.

Toward men--except those he had learned to look on as friends--the
collie always comported himself with a courteous aloofness But he had
seemed to regard every woman as something to be humored and guarded and
to be treated with the same cordial friendliness that he bestowed on
their children--which is the way of the best type of collie. Yet Bruce
had actually snarled at this woman who had chirped to him from the
steps of the church! And he showed every sign of following up the
challenge by still more drastic measures.

"Bruce!" called Mahan sharply. "BRUCE! Shame! Come over here! Come,
NOW!"

At the Sergeant's vehement summons Bruce turned reluctantly away from
the foot of the church steps and came across the street toward the
estaminet. He came slowly. Midway he halted and looked back over his
shoulder at the nurse, his fangs glinting once more in a snarl. At a
second and more emphatic call from Mahan the dog continued his progress.

The nurse had started back in alarm at the collie's angry
demonstration. Now, gathering up her work, she retreated into the
church.

"I'm sorry, Miss!" Mahan shouted after her. "I never saw him that way,
before, when a lady spoke to him. If it was any dog but old Bruce, I'd
give him a whaling for acting like that to you. I'm dead-sure he didn't
mean any harm."

"Oh, I was going in, anyway," replied the nurse, from the doorway. "It
is of no consequence."

She spoke nervously, her rich contralto voice shaken by the dog's
fierce show of enmity. Then she vanished into the church; and Mahan and
Vivier took turns in lecturing Bruce on his shameful dearth of courtesy.

The big dog paid no heed at all to his friends' discourse. He was
staring sullenly at the doorway through which the nurse had gone.

"That's one swell way for a decently bred dog to treat a woman!" Mahan
was telling him. "Least of all, a Red Cross nurse! I'm clean ashamed of
you!"

Bruce did not listen. In his heart he was still angry--and very much
perplexed as well. For he knew what these stupid humans did not seem to
know.

HE KNEW THE RED CROSS NURSE WAS NO WOMAN AT ALL, BUT A MAN.

Bruce knew, too, that the nurse did not belong to his loved friends of
the Red Cross. For his uncanny power of scent told him the garments
worn by the impostor belonged to some one else. To mere humans, a small
and slender man, who can act, and who dons woman's garb, is a woman. To
any dog, such a man is no more like a woman than a horse with a
lambskin saddle-pad is a lamb. He is merely a man who is differently
dressed from other men--even as this man who had chirped to Bruce, from
the church steps, was no less a man for the costume in which he had
swathed his body. Any dog, at a glance and at a sniff, would have known
that.

Women, for one thing, do not usually smoke dozens of rank cigars daily
for years, until their flesh is permeated with the smell of tobacco. A
human could not have detected such a smell--such a MAN-smell,--on the
person who had chirped to Bruce. Any dog, twenty feet away, would have
noticed it, and would have tabulated the white-clad masquerader as a
man. Nor do a woman's hair and skin carry the faint but unmistakable
odor of barracks and of tent-life and of martial equipment, as did this
man's. The masquerader was evidently not only a man but a soldier.

Dogs,--high-strung dogs,--do not like to have tricks played on them;
least of all by strangers. Bruce seemed to take the nurse-disguise as a
personal affront to himself. Then, too, the man was not of his own
army. On the contrary, the scent proclaimed him one of the horde whom
Bruce's friends so manifestly hated--one of the breed that had more
than once fired on the dog.

Diet and equipment and other causes give a German soldier a markedly
different scent, to dogs' miraculously keen nostrils,--and to those of
certain humans,--from the French or British or American troops. War
records prove this. Once having learned the scent, and having learned
to detest it, Bruce was not to be deceived.

For all these reasons he had snarled loathingly at the man in white.
For these same reasons he could not readily forget the incident, but
continued every now and then to glance curiously across toward the
church.

Presently,--not relishing the rebukes of the friends who had heretofore
pestered him by overmuch petting,--the collie arose quietly from his
couch of trampled earth at the foot of the stone bench and strolled
back across the street. Most of the men were too busy, talking, to note
Bruce's departure. But Sergeant Mahan caught sight of him just as the
dog was mounting the last of the steps leading into the church.

As a rule, when Bruce went investigating, he walked carelessly and with
his tail slightly a-wag. Now his tail was stiff as an icicle, and he
moved warily, on the tips of his toes. His tawny-maned neck was low.
Mahan, understanding dogs, did not like the collie's demeanor.
Remembering that the nurse had entered the church a few minutes
earlier, the Sergeant got to his feet and hastily followed Bruce.

The dog, meanwhile, had passed through the crazily splintered doorway
and had paused on the threshold of the improvised hospital, as the reek
of iodoform and of carbolic smote upon his sensitive nostrils. In front
of him was the stone-paved vestibule. Beyond was the interior of the
shattered church, lined now with double rows of cots.

Seated on a camp-chair in the shadowy vestibule was the pseudo Red
Cross nurse. At sight of the collie the nurse got up in some haste.
Bruce, still walking stiff-legged, drew closer.

Out from under the white skirt flashed a capable and solidly-shod foot.
In a swinging kick, the foot let drive at the oncoming dog. Before
Bruce could dodge or could so much as guess what was coming,--the kick
smote him with agonizing force, square on the shoulder.

To a spirited collie, a kick carries more than the mere pain of its
inflicting. It is a grossly unforgivable affront as well--as many a
tramp and thief have learned, at high cost.

By the time the kick had fairly landed, Bruce had recovered from his
instant of incredulous surprise; and with lightning swiftness he hurled
himself at his assailant.

No bark or growl heralded the murderous throatlunge. It was all the
more terrible for the noiselessness wherewith it was delivered. The
masquerading man saw it coming, just too late to guard against it. He
lurched backward, belatedly throwing both hands up to defend his
throat. It was the involuntary backward step which saved his jugular.
For his heel caught in the hem of his white skirt. And wholly off
balance, he pitched headlong to the floor.

This jerky shift of position, on the part of the foe, spoiled Bruce's
aim. His fearful jaws snapped together harmlessly in empty air at a
spot where, a fraction of a second earlier, the other's throat had
been. Down crashed the disguised man. And atop of him the furious dog
hurled himself, seeking a second time the throatgrip he had so narrowly
missed.

At this point on the program Sergeant Mahan arrived just in time to
bury both hands in the mass of Bruce's furry ruff and to drag the
snarlingly rabid dog back from his prey.

The place was in an uproar. Nurses and doctors came rushing out into
the vestibule; sick and wounded men sat up on their cots and eagerly
craned their necks to catch sight of the scrimmage. Soldiers ran in
from the street.

Strong as he was, Mahan had both hands full in holding the frantic
Bruce back from his enemy. Under the insult of the kick from this
masquerader, whom he had already recognized as a foe, the collie had
temporarily lost every vestige of his stately dignity. He was for the
moment merely a wild beast, seeking revenge for a brutal injury. He
writhed and fought in Mahan's grasp. Never once did he seek to attack
the struggling man who held him. But he strained every giant sinew to
get at the foe who had kicked him.

The dog's opponent scrambled to his feet, helped by a dozen willing
hands and accosted by as many solicitous voices. The victim's face was
bone-gray with terror. His lips twitched convulsively. Yet, as befitted
a person in his position, he had a splendid set of nerves. And almost
at once he recovered partial control over himself.

"I--I don't know how it happened," he faltered, his rich contralto
voice shaky with the ground-swells of his recent shock. "It began when
I was sitting on the steps, sewing. This dog came past. He growled at
me so threateningly that I came indoors. A minute later, while I was
sitting here sewing, he sprang at me and threw me down. I believe he
would--would have killed me," the narrator finished, with a very
genuine shudder, "if I had not been rescued when I was. Such
bloodthirsty brutes ought to be shot!"

"He not only OUGHT to be," hotly agreed the chief surgeon, "but he is
GOING to be. Take him out into the street, one of you men, and put a
ball in his head."

The surgeon turned to the panting nurse.

"You're certain he didn't hurt you?" he asked. "I don't want a
newcomer, like yourself, to think this is the usual treatment our
nurses get. Lie down and rest. You look scared to death. And don't be
nervous about the cur attacking you again. He'll be dead inside of
three minutes."

The nurse, with a mumbled word of thanks, scuttled off into the rear of
the church, where the tumbledown vestry had been fitted up as a
dormitory.

Bruce had calmed down somewhat under Mahan's sharp reproof. But he now
struggled afresh to get at his vanished quarry. And again the Sergeant
had a tussle to hold him.

"I don't know what's got into the big fellow!" exclaimed Mahan to
Vivier as the old Frenchman joined the tumultuous group. "He's gone
clean daft. He'd of killed that poor woman, if I hadn't--"

"Get him out of here!" ordered the surgeon. "And clear out, yourselves,
all of you! This rumpus has probably set a lot of my patients'
temperatures to rocketing. Take the cur out and shoot him!"

"Excuse me, sir," spoke up Mahan, as Vivier stared aghast at the man
who commanded Bruce's destruction, "but he's no cur. He's a
courier-collie, officially in the service of the United States
Government. And he's the best courier-dog in France to-day. This is--"

"I don't care what he is!" raged the surgeon. "He--"

"This is Bruce," continued Mahan, "the dog that saved the
'Here-We-Comes' at Rache, and that steered a detail of us to safety one
night in the fog, in the Chateau-Thierry sector. If you order any man
of the 'Here-We-Comes' to shoot Bruce, you're liable to have a mutiny
on your hands--officer or no officer. But if you wish, sir, I can
transmit your order to the K.O. If he endorses it--"

But the surgeon sought, at that moment, to save the remnants of his
dignity and of a bad situation by stalking loftily back into the
hospital, and leaving Mahan in the middle of his speech.

"Or, sir," the Sergeant grinningly called after him, "you might write
to the General Commanding, and tell him you want Bruce shot. The Big
Dog always sleeps in the general's own room, when he's off-duty, at
Division Headquarters. Maybe the general will O.K. his death-sentence,
if you ask him to. He--"

Somewhat quickening his stately stride, the surgeon passed out of
earshot. At the officers' mess of the "Here-We-Comes," he had often
heard Bruce's praises sung. He had never chanced to see the dog until
now. But, beneath his armor of dignity, he quaked to think what the
results to himself must have been, had he obeyed his first impulse of
drawing his pistol and shooting the adored and pricelessly useful
collie.

Mahan,--stolidly rejoicing in his victory over the top-lofty potentate
whom he disliked,--led the way out of the crowded vestibule into the
street. Bruce followed demurely at his heels and Vivier bombarded
everybody in sight for information as to what the whole fracas was
about.

Bruce was himself again. Now that the detested man in woman's clothes
had gone away, there was no sense in continuing to struggle or to waste
energy in a show of fury. Nevertheless, in his big heart burned
deathless hatred toward the German who had kicked him. And, like an
elephant, a collie never forgets.

"But," Vivier was demanding of everybody, "but why should the gentle
Bruce have attacked a good nurse? It is not what you call 'make-sense.'
C'est un gentilhomme, ce vieux! He would not attack a woman less still
a sister of the Red Cross. He--"

"Of course he wouldn't," glumly assented the downhearted Mahan. "But he
DID. That's the answer. I saw him do it. He knocked her down and--"

"Which nurse was she?" asked a soldier who had come up after the
trouble was over.

"A new one here. I don't know her name. She came last week. I saw her
when she got here. I was on duty at the K.O.'s office when she
reported. She had a letter from some one on the surgeon-general's
staff. But why Bruce should have gone for her to-day--or for any
woman--is more than I can see. She was scared half to death. It's lucky
she heard the surgeon order him shot. She'll suppose he's dead, by now.
And that'll cure her scare. We must try to keep Bruce away from this
end of the street till he goes back to headquarters to-morrow."

As a result Bruce was coaxed to Mahan's company-shed and by dint of
food-gifts and petting was induced to spend most of the day there.

At sunset Bruce tired of his dull surroundings. Mahan had gone on duty;
so had Vivier; so had others of his friends. The dog was bored and
lonely. Also he had eaten much. And a walk is good, not only for
loneliness, but for settling an overfull stomach. Bruce decided to go
for a walk.

Through the irregular street of the village he picked his way, and on
toward the open country beyond. A sentry or two snapped fingers of
greeting to him as he strolled past them. The folk of the village eyed
his bulk and graceful dignity with something like awe.

Beyond the hamlet the ridge of hilltop ran on for perhaps a
quarter-mile before dipping into the plain below. At one end of this
little plateau a company of infantry was drilling. Bruce recognized
Mahan among the marching lines, but he saw his friend was on duty and
refrained from going up to him.

Above, the sunset sky was cloudless. Like tiny specks, miles to
eastward, a few enemy airships circled above the heap of clustered
hills which marked the nearest German position. The torn-up plain,
between, seemed barren of life. So, at first, did the farther end of
the jutting ridge on which the village was perched. But presently
Bruce's idly wandering eye was caught by a flutter of white among some
boulders that clumped together on the ridge's brow farthest from the
village.

Some one--a woman, from the dress--was apparently picking her way
through the boulders. As Bruce moved forward, a big rock shut her off
from his view and from the view of the hamlet and of the maneuvering
infantry company a furlong away.

Just then a puff of breeze blew from eastward toward the collie; and it
bore to him a faint scent that set his ruff a-bristle and his soft
brown eyes ablaze. To a dog, a scent once smelled is as recognizable
again as is the sight of a once-seen face to a human. Bruce set off at
a hand-gallop toward the clump of boulders.

The Red Cross nurse, whom Bruce had so nearly killed, was off duty
until the night-shift should go on at the hospital. The nurse had taken
advantage of this brief surcease from toil, by going for a little walk
in the cool sunset air, and had carried along a bag of sewing.

Up to three months ago this nurse had been known as Heinrich Stolz, and
had been a valued member of the Wilhelmstrasse's workingforce of secret
agents. Then, acting under orders, Herr Heinrich Stolz had vanished
from his accustomed haunts. Soon thereafter a Red Cross nurse--Felicia
Stuart by name had reported for duty at Paris, having been transferred
thither from Italy, and bearing indubitable credentials to that effect.

From carefully picked-up information Stolz had just learned of the
expected arrival of the three troop-trains at the junction at nine that
evening. The tidings had interested him keenly, and he knew of other
people to whom they would be far more interesting.

Seating himself under the lee of the easternmost rock, Stolz primly
opened his sewing-bag and drew forth various torn garments. The
garments were for the most part white, but one or two were of gaudy
colors.

By way of precaution, in case of discovery, the spy threaded a needle.
Thus, if any one should chance to see him shake out a garment,
preparatory to laying it on his knee and mending it, there could be no
reasonable cause for suspicion. Herr Stolz was nothing if not efficient.

He held up the needle and poked the thread at its eye in truly feminine
fashion.

He had just finished this feat of dexterity when he chanced to look up
from his work at sound of fast-pattering feet. Not thirty feet away,
charging head on at him, rushed the great brown-and-white collie he
supposed had been shot.

With a jump of abject terror, Herr Stolz sprang up. Mingled with his
normal fear of the dog was a tinge of superstitious dread. He had been
so certain the beast was shot! The doctor had given the order for his
killing. The doctor was a commissioned officer. Stolz's German mind
could not grasp the possibility of a soldier disobeying an officer's
imperative command.

The collie was upon him by the time the spy gained his feet. Stolz
reached frantically under his dress-folds for the deadly little pistol
that he always kept there. But he was still a novice in the mysteries
of feminine apparel. And, before his fingers could close on the weapon,
Bruce's bared fangs were gleaming at his throat.

Stolz ceased to search for the weapon. And, as before, he threw up both
frantic hands to ward off the furious jaws.

He was barely in time. Bruce's white teeth drove deep into the spy's
forearm, and Bruce's eighty pounds of furry muscular bulk smote Stolz
full in the chest. Down went the spy, under the terrific impact,
sprawling wildly on his back, and fighting with both bleeding hands to
push back the dog.

Bruce, collie-fashion, did not stick to one grip, but bit and slashed a
dozen times in three seconds, tearing and rending his way toward the
throat-hold he craved; driving through flesh of hands and of forearms
toward his goal.

Like many another German, Stolz was far more adept at causing pain than
at enduring it. Also, from birth, he had had an unconquerable fear of
dogs. His nerves, too, were not yet recovered from Bruce's attack
earlier in the day. All this, and the spectral suddenness of the
onslaught, robbed him of every atom of his usual stony self-control.

Sergeant Mahan was a good soldier. Yet a minute earlier he had almost
ruined his reputation as such. He had been hard put to it to refrain
from leaving the ranks of his drilling company, a furlong from the
rocks, and running at record speed toward the boulders. For he had seen
the supposed nurse pass that way. And almost directly afterward he had
seen Bruce follow her thither. And he could guess what would happen.

Luckily for the sake of discipline, the order of "Break ranks!" was
given before Mahan could disgrace himself by such unmartial behavior.
And, on the instant, the Sergeant broke into a run in the direction of
the rocks.

Wondering at his eccentric action, several of the soldiers followed.
The company captain, at sight of a knot of his men dashing at breakneck
speed toward the boulders, started at a more leisurely pace in the same
direction.

Mahan had reached the edge of the rocks when his ears were greeted by a
yell of mortal fear. The captain and the rest, catching the sound, went
faster. Screech after screech rang from the rocky enclosure.

Mahan rounded the big boulder at the crest of the ridge and flung
himself upon the two combatants, as they thrashed about in a tumultuous
dual mass on the ground. And just then Bruce at last found his grip on
Stolz's throat.

A stoical German signal-corps officer, on a hilltop some miles to
eastward, laid aside his field-glass and calmly remarked to a man at
his side

"We have lost a good spy!"

Such was the sole epitaph and eulogy of Herr Heinrich Stolz, from his
army.

Meantime, Sergeant Mahan was prying loose the collie's ferocious jaws
from their prey and was tugging with all his might to drag the dog off
the shrieking spy. The throat-hold, he noted, was a bare inch from the
jugular.

The rest of the soldiers, rushing up pell-mell, helped him pull the
infuriated Bruce from his victim. The spectacle of their admired
dog-hero, so murderously mauling a woman of the Red Cross, dazed them
with horror.

"Take him AWAY!" bellowed Stolz, delirious with pain and fear. "He's
KILLED me--der gottverdammte Teufelhund!"

And now the crazed victim's unconscious use of German was not needed to
tell every one within hearing just who and what he was. For the
quavering tones were no longer a rich contralto. They were a throaty
baritone. And the accent was Teutonic.

"Bruce!" observed Top-Sergeant Mahan next morning, "I've always said a
man who kicks a dog is more of a cur than the dog is. But you'll never
know how near I came to kicking you yesterday, when I caught you
mangling that filthy spy. And Brucie, if I had kicked you, well--I'd be
praying at this minute that the good Lord would grow a third leg on me,
so that I could kick myself all the way from here to Berlin!"



CHAPTER VI. The Werewolf

When Bruce left the quiet peace of The Place for the hell of the
Western Front, it had been stipulated by the Mistress and the Master
that if ever he were disabled, he should be shipped back to The Place,
at their expense.

It was a stipulation made rather to soothe the Mistress's sorrow at
parting from her loved pet than in any hope that it could be fulfilled;
for the average life of a courierdog on the battle-front was tragically
short. And his fate was more than ordinarily certain. If the boche
bullets and shrapnel happened to miss him, there were countless
diseases--bred of trench and of hardship and of abominable food--to
kill him.

The Red Cross appeal raised countless millions of dollars and brought
rescue to innumerable human warriors. But in caring for humans, the
generosity of most givers reached its limit; and the Blue Cross--"for
the relief of dogs and horses injured in the service of the
Allies"--was forced to take what it could get. Yet many a man, and many
a body of men, owed life and safety to the heroism of some war-dog, a
dog which surely merited special care when its own certain hour of
agony struck.

Bruce's warmest overseas friends were to be found in the ranks of the
mixed Franco-American regiment, nicknamed the "Here-We-Comes." Right
gallantly, in more than one tight place, had Bruce been of use to the
"Here-We-Comes." On his official visits to the regiment, he was always
received with a joyous welcome that would have turned any head less
steady than a thoroughbred collie's.

Bruce enjoyed this treatment. He enjoyed, too, the food-dainties
wherewith the "Here-We-Comes" plied him. But to no man in the army
would he give the adoring personal loyalty he had left at The Place
with the Mistress and the Master. Those two were still his only gods.
And he missed them and his sweet life at The Place most bitterly. Yet
he was too good a soldier to mope.

      *      *      *      *      *

For months the "Here-We-Comes" had been quartered in a "quiet"--or only
occasionally tumultuous--sector, near Chateau-Thierry. Then the
comparative quiet all at once turned to pandemonium.

A lanky and degenerate youth (who before the war had been unlovingly
known throughout Europe as the "White Rabbit" and who now was mentioned
in dispatches as the "Crown Prince") had succeeded in leading some
half-million fellow-Germans into a "pocket" that had lately been merely
a salient.

From the three lower sides of the pocket, the Allies ecstatically flung
themselves upon their trapped foes in a laudable effort to crush the
half-million boches and their rabbit-faced princeling into surrender
before the latter could get out of the snare, and to the shelter of the
high ground and the reenforcements that lay behind it. The Germans
objected most strenuously to this crushing process. And the three
beleaguered edges of the pocket became a triple-section of hell.

It was a period when no one's nerves were in any degree normal--least
of all the nerves of the eternally hammered Germans. Even the fiercely
advancing Franco-Americans, the "Here-We-Comes," had lost the grimly
humorous composure that had been theirs, and waxed sullen and ferocious
in their eagerness.

Thus it was that Bruce missed his wontedly uproarious welcome as he
cantered, at sunset one July day, into a smashed farmstead where his
friends, the "Here-We-Comes," were bivouacked for the night. By
instinct, the big dog seemed to know where to find the temporary
regimental headquarters.

He trotted past a sentry, into an unroofed cattle-shed where the
colonel was busily scribbling a detailed report of the work done by the
"Here-We-Comes" during that day's drive.

Coming to a halt by the colonel's side, Bruce stood expectantly wagging
his plumy tail and waiting for the folded message from division
headquarters to be taken off his collar.

Usually, on such visits, the colonel made much of the dog. To-day he
merely glanced up abstractedly from his writing, at sight of Bruce's
silken head at his side. He unfastened the message, read it, frowned
and went on with his report.

Bruce continued to wag his tail and to look up wistfully for the wonted
petting and word of commendation. But the colonel had forgotten his
existence. So presently the collie wearied of waiting for a caress from
a man whose caresses, at best, he did not greatly value. He turned and
strolled out of the shed. His message delivered, he knew he was at
liberty to amuse himself as he might choose to, until such time as he
must carry back to his general a reply to the dispatch he had brought.

From outside came the voices of tired and lounging soldiers. A
traveling kitchen had just been set up near by. From it arose a blend
of smells that were mighty tempting to a healthily hungry dog. Thither,
at a decorous but expectant pace, Bruce bent his steps.

Top-Sergeant Mahan was gazing with solicitous interest upon the toil of
the cooks at the wheeled kitchen. Beside him, sharing his concern in
the supper preparations, was Mahan's closest crony, old Sergeant
Vivier. The wizened little Frenchman, as a boy, had been in the
surrender of Sedan. Nightly, ever since, he had besought the saints to
give him, some day, a tiny share in the avenging of that black disgrace.

Mahan and Vivier were the warmest of Bruce's many admirers in the
"Here-We-Comes." Ordinarily a dual whoop of joy from them would have
greeted his advent. This afternoon they merely chirped abstractedly at
him, and Mahan patted him carelessly on the head before returning to
the inspection of the cooking food.

Since an hour before dawn, both men had been in hot action. The command
for the "Here-We-Comes" to turn aside and bivouac for the night had
been a sharp disappointment to them, as well as to every unwounded man
in the regiment.

When a gambler is in the middle of a winning streak, when an athlete
feels he has the race in his own hands, when a business man has all but
closed the deal that means fortune to him--at such crises it is
maddening to be halted at the very verge of triumph. But to soldiers
who, after months of reverses, at last have their hated foe on the run,
such a check does odd things to temper and to nerves.

In such plight were the men of the "Here-We-Comes," on this late
afternoon. Mahan and Vivier were too seasoned and too sane to give way
to the bursts of temper and the swirls of blasphemy that swayed so many
of their comrades. Nevertheless they were glum and silent and had no
heart for jolly welcomings,--even to so dear a friend as Bruce.

Experience told them that a square meal would work miracles in the way
of calming and bracing them. Hence, apart from stark hunger, their
interest in the cooking of supper.

Bruce was too much a philosopher--and not devoted enough to his soldier
friends--to be hurt at the lack of warmth in the greeting. With the air
of an epicure, he sniffed at the contents of one of the kitchen's
bubbling kettles. Then he walked off and curled himself comfortably on
a pile of bedding, there to rest until supper should be ready.

Several times, as he lay there, soldiers passed and repassed. One or
two of them snapped their fingers at the dog or even stooped, in
passing, to stroke his head. But on the faces of all of them was unrest
and a certain wolfish eagerness, which precluded playing with pets at
such a time. The hot zest of the man-hunt was upon them. It was gnawing
in the veins of the newest recruit, ever, as in the heart of the
usually self-contained colonel of the regiment.

The colonel, in fact, had been so carried away by the joy of seeing his
men drive the hated graycoats before them that day that he had
overstepped the spirit of his own orders from the division commander.

In brief, he had made no effort to "dress" his command, in the advance,
upon the regiments to either side of it. As a result, when the signal
to bivouac for the night was given, the "Here-We-Comes" were something
like a mile ahead of the regiment which should have been at their
immediate right, and nearly two miles in front of the brigade at their
left.

In other words, the "Here-We-Comes" now occupied a salient of their
own, ahead of the rest of the FrancoAmerican line. It was in rebuke for
this bit of good progress and bad tactics that the division commander
had written to the colonel, in the dispatch which Bruce had brought.

German airmen, sailing far above, and dodging as best they could the
charges of the Allied 'planes, had just noted that the "Here-We-Comes"
"salient" was really no salient at all. So far had it advanced that,
for the moment, it was out of touch with the rest of the division. It
was, indeed, in an excellent position to be cut off and demolished by a
dashing nightattack. And a report to this effect was delivered to a
fumingly distracted German major general, who yearned for a chance to
atone in some way for the day's shameful reverses.

"If they hadn't halted us and made us call it a day, just as we were
getting into our stride," loudly grumbled one Yankee private to another
as the two clumped up to the kitchen, "we'd have been in
Fere-en-Tardenois by now. What lazy guy is running this drive, anyhow?"

"The same lazy guy that will stick you into the hoosgow for
insubordination and leave you to do your bit there while the rest of us
stroll on to Berlin!" snapped Top-Sergeant Mahan, wheeling upon the
grumbler. "Till you learn how to obey orders without grouching, it
isn't up to you to knock wiser men. Shut up!"

Though Mahan's tone of reproof was professionally harsh, his spirit was
not in his words. And the silenced private knew it. He knew, too, that
the top-sergeant was as savage over the early halt as were the rest of
the men.

Bruce, as a rule, when he honored the "Here-We-Comes" with a visit,
spent the bulk of his time with Mahan and old Vivier. But to-day
neither of these friends was an inspiring companion. Nor were the rest
of Bruce's acquaintances disposed to friendliness. Wherefore, as soon
as supper was eaten, the dog returned to his heap of bedding, for the
hour or so of laziness which Nature teaches all her children to demand,
after a full meal,--and which the so-called "dumb" animals alone are
intelligent enough to take.

Dusk had merged into night when Bruce got to his feet again. Taps had
just sounded. The tired men gladly rolled themselves into their
blankets and fell into a dead sleep. A sentry-relief set forth to
replace the first batch of sentinels with the second.

Mahan was of the party. Though the top-sergeant had been a stupid
comrade, thus far to-day, he was now evidently going for a walk. And
even though it was a duty-walk, yet the idea of it appealed to the dog
after his long inaction.

So Bruce got up and followed. As he came alongside the stiffly marching
top-sergeant, the collie so far subverted discipline as to thrust his
nose, in friendly greeting, into Mahan's slightly cupped palm. And the
top-sergeant so far abetted the breach of discipline as to give the
collie's head a furtive pat. The night was dim, as the moon had not
risen; so the mutual contact of good-fellowship was not visible to the
marching men on either side of Mahan and the dog. And discipline,
therefore, did not suffer much, after all.

At one post after another, a sentinel was relieved and a fresh man took
his place. Farthest in front of the "Here-We-Comes" lines--and nearest
to the German--was posted a lanky Missourian whom Bruce liked, a man
who had a way of discovering in his deep pockets stray bits of food
which he had hoarded there for the collie and delighted to dole out to
him. The Missourian had a drawlingly soft voice the dog liked, and he
used to talk to Bruce as if the latter were another human.

For all these reasons--and because Mahan was too busy and too grumpy to
bother with him--Bruce elected to stay where he was, for a while, and
share the Missourian's vigil. So, when the rest of the party moved
along to the next sentry-go, the dog remained. The Missourian was only
too glad to have him do so. It is tedious and stupid to pace a desolate
beat, alone, at dead of night, after a day of hard fighting. And the
man welcomed the companionship of the dog.

For a time, as the Missourian paced his solitary stretch of broken and
shrub-grown ground, Bruce gravely paced to and fro at his side. But
presently this aimless promenade began to wax uninteresting. And, as
the two came to the far end of the beat, Bruce yawned and lay down. It
was pleasanter to lie there and to watch the sentinel do the walking.

Stretched out, in a little grass-hollow, the dog followed blinkingly
with his soft brown eyes the pendulumlike progress of his friend. And
always the dog's plumed tail would beat rhythmic welcome against the
ground as the sentry approached him.

Thus nearly an hour wore on. A fat moon butted its lazy way through the
smoke-mists of the eastern skyline.

Then something happened--something that Bruce could readily have
forestalled if the wind had been blowing from the other direction, and
if a dog's eyes were not as nearsighted as his nose is farsmelling.

The Missourian paused to run his hand caressingly over the collie's
rough mane, and moved on, down the lonely beat. Bruce watched his
receding figure, drowsily. At the end of ninety yards or more, the
Missourian passed by a bunch of low bushes which grew at the near side
of a stretch of hilly and shellpocked ground. He moved past the bushes,
still watched by the somewhat bored dog.

It was then that Bruce saw a patch of bushshadow detach itself from the
rest, under the glow of the rising moon. The shadow was humpy and
squat. Noiseless, it glided out from among the bushes, close at the
sentry's heels, and crept after him.

Bruce pricked his ears and started to get up. His curiosity was roused.
The direction of the wind prevented him from smelling out the nature of
the mystery. It also kept his keen hearing from supplying any clue. And
the distance would not permit him to see with any distinctness.

Still his curiosity was very mild. Surely, if danger threatened, the
sentinel would realize it. For by this time the Shadow was a bare three
feet behind him near enough, by Bruce's system of logic, for the
Missourian to have smelled and heard the pursuer. So Bruce got up, in
the most leisurely fashion, preparatory to strolling across to
investigate. But at almost his first step he saw something that changed
his gracefully slouching walk into a charging run.

The Shadow suddenly had merged with the sentinel. For an instant, in
stark silence, the two seemed to cling together. Then the Shadow fled,
and the lanky Missourian slumped to the earth in a sprawling heap, his
throat cut.

The slayer had been a deft hand at the job. No sound had escaped the
Missourian, from the moment the stranglingly tight left arm had been
thrown around his throat from behind until, a second later, he fell
bleeding and lifeless.

In twenty leaping strides, Bruce came up to the slain sentinel and bent
over him. Dog-instinct told the collie his friend had been done to
death. And the dog's power of scent told him it was a German who had
done the killing.

For many months, Bruce had been familiar with the scent of German
soldiers, so different from that of the army in which he toiled. And he
had learned to hate it, even as a dog hates the vague "crushed
cucumber" smell of a pitviper. But while every dog dreads the
viper-smell as much as he loathes it, Bruce had no fear at all of the
boche odor. Instead, it always awoke in him a blood-lust, as fierce as
any that had burned in his wolf-ancestors.

This same fury swept him now, as he stood, quivering, above the body of
the kindly man who so lately had petted him; this and a craving to
revenge the murder of his human friend.

For the briefest time, Bruce stood there, his dark eyes abrim with
unhappiness and bewilderment, as he gazed down on the huddled form in
the wet grass. Then an electric change came over him. The softness fled
from his eyes, leaving them bloodshot and blazing. His great tawny ruff
bristled like an angry cat's. The lazy gracefulness departed from his
mighty body. It became tense and terrible. In the growing moonlight his
teeth gleamed whitely from under his upcurled lip.

In a flash he turned and set off at a loping run, nose close to ground,
his long stride deceptively swift. The zest of the man-hunt had
obsessed him, as completely as, that day, it had spurred the advance of
the "Here-We-Comes."

The trail of the slayer was fresh, even over such broken ground. Fast
as the German had fled, Bruce was flying faster. Despite the murderer's
long start, the dog speedily cut down the distance between his quarry
and himself. Not trusting to sight, but solely to his unerring sense of
smell. Bruce sped on.

Then, in a moment or two, his hearing re-enforced his scent. He could
catch the pad-pad-pad of running feet. And the increasing of the sound
told him he was gaining fast.

But in another bound his ears told him something else--something he
would have heard much sooner, had not the night wind been setting so
strongly in the other direction. He heard not only the pounding of his
prey's heavy-shod feet, but the soft thud of hundreds--perhaps
thousands--of other army shoes. And now, despite the adverse wind, the
odor of innumerable soldiers came to his fiercely sniffing nostrils.
Not only was it the scent of soldiers, but of German soldiers.

For the first time, Bruce lifted his head from the ground, as he ran,
and peered in front of him. The moon had risen above the low-lying
horizon vapors into a clear sky, and the reach of country was sharply
visible.

Bruce saw the man he was chasing,--saw him plainly. The German was
still running, but not at all as one who flees from peril. He ran,
rather, as might the bearer of glad tidings. And he was even now
drawing up to a group of men who awaited eagerly his coming. There must
have been fifty men in the group. Behind them--in open formation and as
far as the dog's near-sighted eyes could see--were more men, and more,
and more--thousands of them, all moving stealthily forward.

Now, a collie (in brain, though never in heart) is much more wolf than
dog. A bullterrier, or an Airedale, would have charged on at his foe,
and would have let himself be hacked to pieces before loosing his hold
on the man.

But--even as a wolf checks his pursuit of a galloping sheep when the
latter dashes into the guarded fold--Bruce came to an abrupt halt, at
sight of these reenforcements. He stood irresolute, still mad with
vengeful anger, but not foolish enough to assail a whole brigade of
armed men.

It is quite impossible (though Mahan and Vivier used to swear it must
be true) that Bruce had the reasoning powers to figure out the whole
situation which confronted him. He could not have known that a German
brigade had been sent to take advantage of the "Here-We-Comes"
temporarily isolated position--that three sentries had been killed in
silence and that their deaths had left a wide gap through which the
brigade hoped to creep unobserved until they should be within striking
distance of their unsuspectingly slumbering victims.

Bruce could not have known this. He could not have grasped the
slightest fraction of the idea, being only a real-life dog and not a
fairytale animal. But what he could and did realize was that a mass of
detested Germans was moving toward him, and that he could not hope to
attack them, single-handed; also, that he was not minded to slink
peacefully away and leave his friend unavenged.

Thwarted rage dragged from his furry throat a deep growl; a growl that
resounded eerily through that silent place of stealthy moves. And he
stepped majestically forth from the surrounding long grass, into the
full glare of moonlight.

The deceptive glow made him loom gigantic and black, and tinged his
snowy chest with the phosphorous gleam of a snowfield. His eyes shone
like a wild beast's.

      *      *      *      *      *

Corporal Rudolph Freund, of the Konigin Luise Regiment, had just
finished his three-word report to his superior. He had merely saluted
and announced

"He is dead!"

Corporal Freund did not thrill, as usual, to the colonel's grunt of
approval. The Corporal was worried. He was a Black Forest peasant; and,
while iron military life had dulled his native superstitions, it had
not dispelled them.

The night was mystic, in its odd blend of moon and shadows. However
hardened one may be, it is a nerve-strain to creep through long grass,
like a red Indian, to the murder of a hostile sentinel. And every
German in the "Pocket" had been under frightful mental and physical
stress, for the past week.

Corporal Rudolph Freund was a brave man and a brute. But that week had
sapped his nerve. And the work of this night had been the climax. The
desolate ground, over which he had crawled to the killing, had suddenly
seemed peopled with evil gnomes and goblins, whose existence no true
Black Forest peasant can doubt. And, on the run back, he had been
certain he heard some unseen monster tearing through the underbrush in
hot pursuit of him. So certain had he been, that he had redoubled his
speed.

There were no wolves or other large wild animals in that region. When
he had wriggled toward the slow-pacing American sentinel, he had seen
and heard no creature of any sort. Yet he was sure that on the way back
he had been pursued by--by Something! And into his scared memory, as he
ran, had flashed the ofttold Black Forest tale of the Werewolf--the
devil--beast that is entered by the soul of a murdered man and which
tracks the murderer to his death.

Glad was the unnerved Corporal Freund when his run ceased and he stood
close to his grossly solid and rank-scented fellowmen once more. Almost
he was inclined to laugh at his fears of the fabled Werewolf--and
especially at the idea that he had been pursued. He drew a long breath
of relief. He drew the breath in. But he did not at once expel it. For
on his ears came the sound of a hideous menacing growl.

Corporal Freund spun about, in the direction of the mysterious threat.
And there, not thirty feet from him, in the ghostly moonlight, stood
the Werewolf!

This time there could be no question of overstrained nerves and of
imagination. The Thing was THERE!

Horribly visible in every detail, the Werewolf was glaring at him. He
could see the red glow of the gigantic devil-beast's eyes, the white
flash of its teeth, the ghostly shimmering of its snowy chest. The soul
of the man he had slain had taken this traditional form and was hunting
down the slayer! A thousand stories of Freund's childhood verified the
frightful truth. And overwrought human nature's endurance went to
pieces under the shock.

A maniac howl of terror split the midnight stillness. Shriek after
shriek rent the air. Freund tumbled convulsively to the ground at his
colonel's feet, gripping the officer's booted knees and screeching for
protection. The colonel, raging that the surprise attack should be
imperiled by such a racket, beat the frantic man over the mouth with
his heavy fist, kicking ferociously at his upturned writhing face, and
snarling to him to be silent.

The shower of blows brought Freund back to sanity, to the extent of
changing his craven terror into Fear's secondary phase--the impulse to
strike back at the thing that had caused the fright. Rolling over and
over on the ground, under the impact of his superior's fist blows and
kicks, Freund somehow regained his feet.

Reeling up to the nearest soldier, the panic-crazed corporal snatched
the private's rifle and fired three times, blindly, at Bruce. Then,
foaming at the mouth, Freund fell heavily to earth again, chattering
and twitching in a fit.

Bruce, at the second shot, leaped high in the air, and collapsed, in an
inert furry heap, among the bushes. There he lay,--his career as a
courier-dog forever ended.

Corporal Rudolph Freund was perhaps the best sniper in his regiment.
Wildly though he had fired, marksman-instinct had guided his bullets.
And at such close range there was no missing. Bruce went to earth with
one rifle ball through his body, and another in his leg. A third had
reached his skull.

Now, the complete element of surprise was all-needful for the attack
the Germans had planned against the "Here-We-Comes." Deprived of that
advantage the expedition was doomed to utter failure. For, given a
chance to wake and to rally, the regiment could not possibly be
"rushed," in vivid moonlight, before the nearest Allied forces could
move up to its support. And those forces were only a mile or so to the
rear. There can be no possible hope for a surprise attack upon a
well-appointed camp when the night's stillness has been shattered by a
series of maniac screams and by three echoing rifle-shots.

Already the guard was out. A bugle was blowing. In another minute, the
sentry-calls would locate the gap made by the three murdered sentinels.

A swift guttural conference among the leaders of the gray-clad
marauders was followed by the barking of equally guttural commands. And
the Germans withdrew as quietly and as rapidly as they had come.

      *      *      *      *      *

It was the mouthing and jabbering of the fit-possessed Corporal Rudolph
Freund that drew to him the notice of a squad of Yankees led by
Top-Sergeant Mahan, ten minutes later. It was the shudder--accompanied
pointing of the delirious man's finger, toward the nearby clump of
undergrowth, that revealed to them the still warm body of Bruce.

Back to camp, carried lovingly in Mahan's strong arms, went all that
was left of the great courier-dog. Back to camp, propelled between two
none-too-gentle soldiers, staggered the fit-ridden Corporal Freund.

At the colonel's quarters, a compelling dose of stimulant cleared some
of the mists from the prisoner's brain. His nerve and his will-power
still gone to smash, he babbled eagerly enough of the night attack, of
the killing of the sentries and of his encounter with the Werewolf.

"I saw him fall!" he raved. "But he is not dead. The Werewolf can be
killed only by a silver bullet, marked with a cross and blessed by a
priest. He will live to track me down! Lock me where he cannot find me,
for the sake of sweet mercy!"

And in this way, the "Here-We-Comes" learned of Bruce's part in the
night's averted disaster.

Old Vivier wept unashamed over the body of the dog he had loved.
Top-Sergeant Mahan--the big tears splashing, unnoted, from his own red
eyes--besought the Frenchman to strive for better self-control and not
to set a cry-baby example to the men.

Then a group of grim-faced soldiers dug a grave. And, carried by Mahan
and Vivier, the beautiful dog's body was borne to its resting-place. A
throng of men in the gray dawn stood wordless around the grave. Some
one shamefacedly took off his hat. With equal shamefacedness, everybody
else followed the example.

Mahan laid the dog's body on the ground, at the grave's brink. Then,
looking about him, he cleared his throat noisily and spoke.

"Boys," he began, "when a human dies for other humans, there's a
Christian burial service read over him. I'd have asked the chaplain to
read one over Bruce, here, if I hadn't known he'd say no. But the Big
Dog isn't going to rest without a word said over his grave, for all
that."

Mahan cleared his throat noisily once more, winked fast, then went on:--

"You can laugh at me, if any of you feel like it. But there's some of
you here who wouldn't be alive to laugh, if Bruce hadn't done what he
did last night. He was only just a dog--with no soul, and with no life
after this one, I s'pose. So he went ahead and did his work and took
the risks, and asked no pay.

"And by and by he died, still doing his work and asking no pay.

"He didn't work with the idea of getting a cross or a ribbon or a
promotion or a pension or his name in the paper or to make the crowd
cheer him when he got back home, or to brag to the homefolks about how
he was a hero. He just went ahead and WAS a hero. That's because he was
only a dog, with no soul--and not a man.

"All of us humans are working for some reward, even if it's only for
our pay or for the fun of doing our share. But Bruce was a hero because
he was just a dog, and because he didn't know enough to be anything
else but a hero.

"I've heard about him, before he joined up with us. I guess most of us
have. He lived up in Jersey, somewhere. With folks that had bred him.
I'll bet a year's pay he was made a lot of by those folks; and that it
wrenched 'em to let him go. You could see he'd been brought up that
way. Life must 'a' been pretty happy for the old chap, back there. Then
he was picked up and slung into the middle of this hell.

"So was the rest of us, says you. But you're wrong. Those of us that
waited for the draft had our choice of going to the hoosgow, as
'conscientious objectors,' if we didn't want to fight. And every
mother's son of us knew we was fighting for the Right; and that we was
making the world a decenter and safer place for our grandchildren and
our womenfolks to live in. We didn't brag about God being on our side,
like the boches do. It was enough for us to know WE was on GOD'S side
and fighting His great fight for Him. We had patriotism and religion
and Right, behind us, to give us strength.

"Brucie hadn't a one of those things. He didn't know what he was here
for--and why he'd been pitched out of his nice home, into all this. He
didn't have a chance to say Yes or No. He didn't have any spellbinders
to tell him he was making the world safe for d'mocracy. He was MADE to
come.

"How would any of us humans have acted, if a deal like that had been
handed to us? We'd 'a' grouched and slacked and maybe deserted. That's
because we're lords of creation and have souls and brains and such.
What did Bruce do? He jumped into this game, with bells on. He risked
his life a hundred times; and he was just as ready to risk it again the
next day.

"Yes, and he knew he was risking it, too. There's blame little he
didn't know. He saw war-dogs, all around him, choking to death from
gas, or screaming their lives out, in No Man's Land, when a bit of
shell had disemboweled 'em or a bullet had cracked their backbones. He
saw 'em starve to death. He saw 'em one bloody mass of scars and sores.
He saw 'em die of pneumonia and mange and every rotten trench disease.
And he knew it might be his turn, any time at all, to die as they were
dying; and he knew the humans was too busy nursing other humans, to
have time to spare on caring for tortured dogs. (Though those same dogs
were dying for the humans, if it comes to that.)

"Yes, Bruce knew what the end was bound to be. He knew it. And he kept
on, as gay and as brave as if he was on a day's romp. He never
flinched. Not even that time the K.O. sent him up the hill for
reenforcements at Rache, when every sharpshooter in the boche trenches
was laying for him, and when the machine guns were trained on him, too.
Bruce knew he was running into death--, then and a dozen other times.
And he went at it like a white man.

"I'm--I'm getting longwinded. And I'll stop. But--maybe if you boys
will remember the Big Dog--and what he did for us,--when you get back
home,--if you'll remember him and what he did and what thousands of
other war-dogs have done,--then maybe you'll be men enough to punch the
jaw of any guy who gets to saying that dogs are nuisances and that
vivisection's a good thing, and all that. If you'll just do that much,
then--well, then Bruce hasn't lived and died for nothing!

"Brucie, old boy," bending to lift the tawny body and lower it into the
grave, "it's good-by. It's good-by to the cleanest, whitest pal that a
poor dub of a doughboy ever had. I--"

Mahan glowered across at the clump of silent men.

"If anybody thinks I'm crying," he continued thickly, "he's a liar. I
got a cold, and--"

"Sacre bon Dieu!" yelled old Vivier, insanely. "Regarde-donc! Nom d'une
pipe!"

He knelt quickly beside the body, in an ecstasy of excitement. The
others craned their necks to see. Then from a hundred throats went up a
gasp of amazement.

Bruce, slowly and dazedly, was lifting his magnificent head!

"Chase off for the surgeon!" bellowed Mahan, plumping down on his knees
beside Vivier and examining the wound in the dog's scalp. "The bullet
only creased his skull! It didn't go through! It's just put him out for
a few hours, like I've seen it do to men. Get the surgeon! If that
bullet in his body didn't hit something vital, we'll pull him around,
yet! GLORY BE!"

      *      *      *      *      *

It was late summer again at The Place, late opulent summer, with the
peace of green earth and blue sky, the heavy droning of bees and the
promise of harvest. The long shadows of late afternoon stretched
lovingly across the lawn, from the great lakeside trees. Over
everything brooded a dreamy amber light. The war seemed a million miles
away.

The Mistress and the Master came down from the vine-shaded veranda for
their sunset walk through the grounds. At sound of their steps on the
gravel, a huge dark-brown-and-white collie emerged from his
resting-place under the wistaria-arbor.

He stretched himself lazily, fore and aft, in collie-fashion. Then he
trotted up to his two deities and thrust his muzzle playfully into the
Mistress's palm, as he fell into step with the promenaders.

He walked with a stiffness in one foreleg. His gait was not a limp. But
the leg's strength could no longer be relied on for a ten-mile gallop.
Along his forehead was a new-healed bullet-crease. And the fur on his
sides had scarcely yet grown over the mark of the high-powered ball
which had gone clear through him without touching a mortal spot.

Truly, the regimental surgeon of the "Here-We-Comes" had done a job
worthy of his own high fame! And the dog's wonderful condition had done
the rest.

Apart from scars and stiffness, Bruce was none the worse for his year
on the battle-front. He could serve no longer as a dashing courier. But
his life as a pet was in no way impaired.

"Here's something that came by the afternoon mail, Bruce," the Master
greeted him, as the collie ranged alongside. "It belongs to you. Take a
look at it."

The Master drew from his pocket a leather box, and opened it. On the
oblong of white satin, within the cover, was pinned a very small and
very thin gold medal. But, light as it was, it had represented much
abstinence from estaminets and tobacco-shops, on the part of its donors.

"Listen," the Master said, holding the medal in front of the collie.
"Listen, while I read you the inscription: 'To Bruce. From some of the
boys he saved from the boches.'"

Bruce was sniffing the thin gold lozenge interestedly. The inscription
meant nothing to him. But--strong and vivid to his trained nostrils--he
scented on the medal the loving finger-touch of his old friend and
admirer, Top-Sergeant Mahan.



THE END





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