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Title: That Pup
Author: Butler, Ellis Parker
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 "That Pup" ***

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THAT PUP

By Ellis Parker Butler

Author Of Pigs Is Pigs, Kilo, Etc.

Illustrated

New York The Mcclure Company, MCMVII



I. THE EDUCATION OF FLUFF

Murchison, who lives next door to me, wants to get rid of a dog, and if
you know of anyone who wants a dog I wish you would let Murchison know.
Murchison doesn’t need it. He is tired of dogs, anyway. That is just
like Murchison. ‘Way up in an enthusiasm one day and sick of it the
next.

Brownlee--Brownlee lives on the other side of Murchison--remembers when
Murchison got the dog. It was the queerest thing, so Murchison says,
you ever heard of. Here came the express wagon--Adams’ Express Company’s
wagon--and delivered the dog. The name was all right--“C. P. Murchison,
Gallatin, Iowa”--and the charges were paid. The charges were $2.80, and
paid, and the dog had been shipped from New York. Think of that! Twelve
hundred miles in a box, with a can of condensed milk tied to the box and
“Please feed” written on it.

[Illustration: frontispiece]

When Murchison came home to dinner, there was the dog. At first
Murchison was pleased; then he was surprised; then he was worried. He
hadn’t ordered a dog. The more he thought about it the more he worried.

“If I could just _think_ who sent it,” he said to Brownlee, “then I
would know who sent it; but I can’t think. It is evidently a valuable
dog. I can see that. People don’t send cheap, inferior dogs twelve
hundred miles. But I can’t _think_ who sent it.”

“What worries me,” he said to Brownlee another time, “is who sent it.
I can’t _imagine_ who would send me a dog from New York. I know so many
people, and, like as not, some influential friend of mine has meant to
make me a nice present, and now he is probably mad because I haven’t
acknowledged it. I’d like to know what he thinks of me about now!”

It almost worried him sick. Murchison never did care for dogs, but when
a man is presented with a valuable dog, all the way from New York, with
$2.80 charges paid, he simply _has_ to admire that dog. So Murchison got
into the habit of admiring the dog, and so did Mrs. Murchison. From what
they tell me, it was rather a nice dog in its infancy, for it was only a
pup then. Infant dogs have a habit of being pups.

As near as I could gather from what Murchison and Mrs. Murchison
told me, it was a little, fluffy, yellow ball, with bright eyes and
ever-moving tail. It was the kind of a dog that bounces around like a
rubber ball, and eats the evening newspaper, and rolls down the porch
steps with short, little squawks of surprise, and lies down on its back
with its four legs in the air whenever a bigger dog comes near. In color
it was something like a camel, but a little redder where the hair was
long, and its hair was like beaver fur--soft and woolly inside, with a
few long hairs that were not so soft. It was so little and fluffy that
Mrs. Murchison called it Fluff. Pretty name for a soft, little dog is
Fluff.

“If I only _knew_ who sent that dog,” Murchison used to say to Brownlee,
“I would like to make some return. I’d send him a barrel of my best
melons, express paid, if it cost me five dollars!”

Murchison was in the produce business, and he knew all about melons, but
not so much about dogs. Of course he could tell a dog from a cat, and a
few things of that sort, but Brownlee was the real dog man. Brownlee had
two Irish pointers or setters--I forget which they were; the black dogs
with the long, floppy ears. I don’t know much about dogs myself. I hate
dogs.

Brownlee knows a great deal about dogs. He isn’t one of the book-taught
sort; he knows dogs by instinct. As soon as he sees a dog he can make
a guess at its breed, and out our way that is a pretty good test, for
Gallatin dogs are rather cosmopolitan. That is what makes good stock in
men--Scotch grandmother and German grandfather on one side and English
grandmother and Swedish grandfather on the other--and I don’t see why
the same isn’t true of dogs. There are numbers of dogs in Gallatin that
can trace their ancestry through nearly every breed of dog that ever
lived, and Brownlee can look at any one of them and immediately guess
at its formula--one part Spitz, three parts greyhound, two parts collie,
and so on. I have heard him guess more kinds of dog than I ever knew
existed.

As soon as he saw Murchison’s dog he guessed it was a pure bred Shepherd
with a trace of Eskimo. Massett, who thinks he knows as much about dogs
as Brownlee does, didn’t believe it. The moment he saw the pup he said
it was a pedigree dog, half St. Bernard and half Spitz.

Brownlee and Massett used to sit on Murchison’s steps after supper and
point out the proofs to each other. They would argue for hours.

“All right, Massett,” Brownlee would say, “but you can’t fool _me_. I
Look at that nose! If that isn’t a Shepherd nose, I’ll eat it. And see
that tail! Did you ever see a tail like that on a Spitz? That is an
Eskimo tail as sure as I am a foot high.”

“Tail fiddlesticks!” Massett would reply. “You can’t tell anything by
a pup’s tail. Look at his ears! _There_ is St. Bernard for you! And see
his lower jaw. Isn’t that Spitz? I’ll leave it to Murchison. Isn’t that
lower jaw Spitz, Murchison?”

Then all three would tackle the puppy and open its mouth and feel its
jaw, and the pup would wriggle and squeak, and back away, opening and
shutting its mouth to see if its works had been damaged.

“All right!” Brownlee would say. “You wait a year or two and you’ll
see!”

About three months later the pup was as big as an ordinary full-grown
dog, and his coat looked like a compromise between a calfskin and one of
these hairbrush door mats you use to wipe your feet on in muddy weather.
He did not look like the same pup. He was long limbed and awkward and
useless, and homely as a shopworn fifty-cent yellow plush manicure set.
Murchison began to feel that he didn’t really need a dog, but Brownlee
was as enthusiastic as ever. He would go over to Murchison’s fairly
oozing dog knowledge.

“I’ll tell you what that dog is,” he would say. “That dog is a cross
between a Great Dane and an English Deerhound. You’ve got a very
valuable dog there, Murchison, a very valuable dog. He comes of fine
stock on both sides, and it is a cross you don’t often see. I never saw
it, and I’ve seen all kinds of crossed dogs.”

Then Massett would drop in and walk around the dog admiringly for a few
minutes and absorb his beauties.

“Murchison,” he would say, “do you know what that dog is? That dog is
a pure cross between a Siberian wolfhound and a Newfoundland. You treat
that dog right and you’ll have a fortune in him. Why, a pure Siberian
wolfhound is worth a thousand dollars, and a good--a really good
Newfoundland, mind you--is worth two thousand, and you’ve got both in
one dog. That’s three thousand dollars’ worth of dog!”

In the next six months Fluff grew. He broadened out and lengthened and
heightened, and every day or two Brownlee or Massett would discover a
new strain of dog in him. They pointed out to Murchison all the marks
by which he could tell the different kinds of dog that were combined
in Fluff, and every time they discovered a new one they held a sort of
jubilee, and bragged and swelled their chests. They seemed to spend all
their time thinking up odd and strange kinds of dog that Fluff had in
him. Brownlee discovered the traces of Cuban bloodhound, Kamtchatka
hound, beagle, Brague de Bengale, and Thibet mastiff, but Massett first
traced the stag-hound, Turkoman watchdog, Dachshund, and Harrier in him.

[Illustration: 26]

Murchison, not being a doggish man, never claimed to have noticed any of
these family resemblances, and never said what he thought the dog really
was until a month or two later, when he gave it as his opinion that the
dog was a cross between a wolf, a Shetland pony, and hyena. It was about
that time that Fluff had to be chained. He had begun to eat other dogs,
and children and chickens. The first night Murchison chained him to his
kennel Fluff walked half a mile, taking the kennel along, and then only
stopped because the kennel got tangled with a lamp-post. The man who
brought him home claimed that Fluff was nearly asphyxiated when he found
him; said he gnawed half through the lamp-post, and that gas got in his
lungs, but this was not true. Murchison learned afterwards that it was
only a gasoline lamp-post, and a wooden one.

“If there were only some stags around this part of the country,” said
Massett, “the stag-hound strain in that dog would be mighty valuable.
You could rent him out to everybody who wanted to go stag hunting; and
you’d have a regular monopoly, because he’s the only staghound in this
part of the country. And stag hunting would be popular, too, out here,
because there are no game laws that interfere with stag hunting in this
State. There is no closed season. People could hunt stags all the year
round, and you’d have that dog busy every day of the year.”

“Yes!” sneered Brownlee, “only there are no stags. And he hasn’t any
staghound blood in him. Pity there are no Dachs in this State, too,
isn’t it? Then Murchison could hire his dog at night, too. They hunt
Dachs at night, don’t they, Massett? Only there is no Dachshund blood in
him, either. If there was, and if there were a few Dachs-”

Massett was mad.

“Yes!” he cried. “And you, with your Cuban bloodhound strain! I suppose
if it was the open season for Cubans, you’d go out with the dog and tree
a few! Or put on snowshoes and follow the Kamtchat to his icy lair!”
 Brownlee doesn’t get mad easily.

“Murchison,” he said, “leaving out Mas-sett’s dreary nonsense about
staghounds, I can tell you that dog would make the finest duck dog in
the State. He’s got all the points for a good duck dog, and I ought to
know for I have two of the best duck dogs that ever lived. All he needs
is training. If you will train him right you’ll have a mighty valuable
dog.”

“But I don’t hunt ducks,” said Murchison, “and I don’t know how to train
even a lap-dog.”

“You let me attend to his education,” said Brownlee. “I just want to
show Massett here that I know a dog when I see one. I’ll show Massett
the finest duck dog he ever saw when I get through with Fluff.”

So he went over and got his shotgun, just to give Fluff his first
lesson. The first thing a duck dog must learn is not to be afraid of a
gun, and Brownlee said that if a dog first learned about guns right at
his home he was not so apt to be afraid of them. He said that if a dog
heard a gun for the first time when he was away from home and in strange
surroundings he was quite right to be surprised and startled, but if he
heard it in the bosom of his family, with all his friends calmly seated
about, he would think it was a natural thing, and accept it as such.

So Brownlee put a shell in his gun and Mas-sett and Murchison sat on the
porch steps and pretended to be uninterested and normal, and Brownlee
stood up and aimed the gun in the air. Fluff was eating a bone, but
Brownlee spoke to him and he looked up, and Brownlee pulled the trigger.
It seemed about five minutes before Fluff struck the ground, he jumped
so high when the gun was fired, and then he started north by northeast
at about sixty miles an hour. He came back all right, three weeks later,
but his tail was still between his legs.

[Illustration: 32]

Brownlee didn’t feel the least discouraged. He said he saw now that
the whole principle of what he had done was wrong; that no dog with any
brains whatever could be anything but frightened to hear a gun shot off
right in the bosom of his family. That was no place to fire a gun. He
said Fluff evidently thought the whole lot of us were crazy, and ran in
fear of his life, thinking we were insane and might shoot him next.
He said the thing to do was to take the shotgun into its natural
surroundings and let Fluff learn to love it there. He pictured Fluff
enjoying the sound of the gun when he heard it at the edge of the lake.

Murchison never hunted ducks, but as Fluff was his dog, he went with
Brownlee, and of course Massett went. Massett wanted to see the failure.
He said he wished stags were as plentiful as ducks, and he would show
Brownlee!

Fluff was a strong dog--he seemed to have a strain of ox in him, so far
as strength went--and as long as he saw the gun he insisted that he
would stay at home; but when Brownlee wrapped the gun in brown paper so
it looked like a big parcel from the meat shop, the horse that they had
hitched to the buck-board was able to drag Fluff along without straining
itself. Fluff was fastened to the rear axle with a chain.

When they reached Duck Lake, Brownlee untied Fluff and patted him,
and then unwrapped the gun. Fluff gave one pained glance and made the
six-mile run home in seven minutes without stopping. He was home before
Brownlee could think of anything to say, and he went so far into his
kennel that Murchison had to take off the boards at the back to find him
that night.

“That’s nothing,” was what Brownlee said when he did speak; “young dogs
are often that way. Gun fright. They have to be gun broken. You come out
to-morrow, and I’ll show you how a man who really knows how to handle a
dog does the trick.”

The next day, when Fluff saw the buck-board he went into his kennel, and
they couldn’t pry him out with the hoe-handle. He connected buckboards
and guns in his mind, so Brownlee borrowed the butcher’s delivery wagon,
and they drove to Wild Lake. It was seven miles, but Fluff seemed more
willing to go in that direction than toward Duck Lake. He did not seem
to care to go to Duck Lake at all.

“Now, then,” said Brownlee, “I’ll show you the intelligent way to handle
a dog. I’ll prove to him that he has nothing to fear, that I am his
comrade and friend. And at the same time,” he said, “I’ll not have him
running off home and spoiling our day’s sport.”

So he took the chain and fastened it around his waist, and then he sat
down and talked to Fluff like an old friend, and got him in a playful
mood. Then he had Murchison get the gun out of the wagon and lay it on
the ground about twenty feet off. It was wrapped in brown paper.

Brownlee talked to Fluff and told him what fine sport duck hunting is,
and then, as if by chance, he got on his hands and knees and crawled
toward the gun. Fluff hung back a little, but the chain just coaxed him
a little, too, and they edged up to the gun, and Brownlee pretended to
discover it unexpectedly.

“Well, well!” he said. “What’s this?”

Fluff nosed up to it and sniffed it, and then went at it as if it was
Massett’s cat. That Brownlee had wrapped a beefsteak around the gun,
inside the paper, and Fluff tore off the paper and ate the steak, and
Brownlee winked at Murchison.

“I declare,” he said, “if here isn’t a gun! Look at this, Fluff--a gun!
Gosh! but we are in luck!”

Would you believe it, that dog sniffed at the gun, and did not fear it
in the least? You could have hit him on the head with it and he would
not have minded it. He never did mind being hit with small things like
guns and ax handles.

Brownlee got up and stood erect.

“You see!” he said proudly. “All a man needs with a dog like this is
intelligence. A dog is like a horse. He wants his reason appealed to.
Now, if I fire the gun, he may be a little startled, but I have created
a faith in me in him. He knows there is nothing dangerous in a gun _as_
a gun. He knows I am not afraid of it, so he is not afraid. He realizes
that we are chained together, and that proves to him that he need not
run unless I run. Now watch.”

Brownlee fired the shotgun.

Instantly he started for home. He did not start lazily, like a boy
starting to the wood pile, but went promptly and with a dash. His first
jump was only ten feet, and we heard him grunt as he landed, but after
that he got into his stride and made fourteen feet each jump. He was
bent forward a good deal in the middle, where the chain was, and in many
ways he was not as graceful as a professional cinder-path track runner,
but, in running, the main thing is to cover the ground rapidly. Brownlee
did that.

Massett said it was a bad start. He said it was all right to start a
hundred-yard dash that way, but for a long-distance run--a run of seven
miles across country--the start was too impetuous; that it showed a lack
of generalship, and that when it came to the finish the affair would be
tame; but it wasn’t.

Brownlee said afterwards that there wasn’t a tame moment in the entire
seven miles. It was rather more wild than tame. He felt right from the
start that the finish would be sensational, unless the chain cut him
quite in two, and it didn’t. He said that when the chain had cut as far
as his spinal column it could go no farther, and it stopped and clung
there, but it was the only thing that did stop, except his breath. It
was several years later that I first met Brownlee, and he was still
breathing hard, like a man who has just been running rapidly. Brownlee
says when he shuts his eyes his legs still seem to be going.

The first mile was through underbrush, and that was lucky, for the
underbrush removed most of Brownlee’s clothing, and put him in better
running weight, but at the mile and a quarter they struck the road.
He said at two miles he thought he might be overexercising the dog and
maybe he had better stop, but the dog seemed anxious to get home so he
didn’t stop there. He said that at three miles he was sure the dog was
overdoing, and that with his knowledge of dogs he was perfectly able
to stop a running dog in its own length if he could speak to it, but
he couldn’t speak to this dog for two reasons. One was that he couldn’t
overtake the dog and the other was that all the speak was yanked out of
him.

When they reached five miles the dog seemed to think they were taking
too much time to get home, and let out a few more laps of speed, and
it was right there that Brownlee decided that Fluff had some greyhound
blood in him.

He said that when they reached town he felt as if he would have been
glad to stop at his own house and lie down for awhile, but the dog
didn’t want to, and so they went on; but that he ought to be thankful
that the dog was willing to stop at that town at all. The next town was
twelve miles farther on, and the roads were bad. But the dog turned into
Murchison’s yard and went right into his kennel.

When Murchison and Massett got home, an hour or so later, after driving
the horse all the way at a gallop, they found old Gregg, the carpenter,
prying the roof off the kennel. You see, Murchison had knocked the rear
out of the kennel the day before, and so when the dog aimed for
the front he went straight through, and as Brownlee was built more
perpendicular than the dog, Brownlee didn’t go quite through. He went
in something like doubling up a dollar bill to put it into a thimble.
I don’t suppose anyone would want to double up a dollar bill to put it
into a thimble, but neither did Brownlee want to be doubled up and
put into the kennel. It was the dog’s thought. So they had to take the
kennel roof off.

When they got Brownlee out they laid him on the grass, and covered him
up with a porch rug, and let him lie there a couple of hours to pant,
for that seemed what he wanted to do just then. It was the longest
period Brownlee ever spent awake without talking about dog.

Murchison and Massett and old Gregg and twenty-six informal guests stood
around and gazed at Brownlee panting. Presently Brownlee was able to
gasp out a few words.

“Murchison,” he gasped, “Murchison, if you just had that dog in
Florence--or wherever it is they race dogs--you’d have a fortune.”

He panted awhile, and then gasped out:

“He’s a great runner; a phenomenal runner!”

He had to pant more, and then he gasped with pride:

“But I wasn’t three feet behind him all the way!”



II. GETTING RID OF FLUFF

So after that Murchison decided to get rid of Fluff. He told me that he
had never really-wanted a dog, anyway, but that when a dog is sent, all
the way from New York, anonymously, with $2.80 charges paid, it is hard
to cast the dog out into the cold world without giving it a trial. So
Murchison tried the dog for a few more years, and at last he decided
he would have to get rid of him. He came over and spoke to me about it,
because I had just moved in next door.

“Do you like dogs?” he asked, and that was the first word of
conversation I ever had with Murchison. I told him frankly that I did
not like dogs, and that my wife did not like them, and Murchison seemed
more pleased than if I had offered him a thousand dollars.

“Now, I am glad of that,” he said, “for Mrs. Murchison and I hate dogs.
If you do not like dogs, I will get rid of Fluff. I made up my mind
several years ago to get rid of Fluff, but when I heard you were going
to move into this house, I decided not to get rid of him until I knew
whether you liked dogs or not. I told Mrs. Murchison that if we got rid
of Fluff before you came, and then found that you loved dogs and owned
one, you might take our getting rid of Fluff as a hint that your dog was
distasteful to us, and it might hurt your feelings. And Mrs. Murchison
said that if you had a dog, your dog might feel lonely in a strange
place and might like to have Fluff to play with until your dog got used
to the neighborhood. So we did not get rid of him; but if you do not
like dogs we will get rid of him right away.”

I told Murchison that I saw he was the kind of a neighbor a man liked to
have, and that it was kind of him to offer to get rid of Fluff, but that
he mustn’t do so just on our account.

I said that if he wanted to keep the dog, he had better do so.

“Now, that is kind of you,” said Murchison, “but we would really rather
get rid of him. I decided several years ago that I would get rid of him,
but Brownlee likes dogs, and took an interest in Fluff, and wanted to
make a bird dog of him, so we kept Fluff for his sake. But now Brownlee
is tired of making a bird dog of him. He says Fluff is too strong to
make a good bird dog, and not strong enough to rent out as a horse, and
he is willing I should get rid of him. He says he is anxious for me to
get rid of him as soon as I can.”

When I saw Fluff I agreed with Brownlee. At the first glance I saw that
Fluff was a failure as a dog, and that to make a good camel he needed
a shorter neck and more hump, but he had the general appearance of an
amateur camel. He looked as if some one who had never seen a dog, but
had heard of one, had started out to make a dog, and got to thinking of
a camel every once in a while, and had tried to show me Fluff that day
worked in parts of what he thought a camel was like with what he thought
a dog was like, and then--when the job was about done--had decided it
was a failure, and had just finished it up any way, sticking on the
meanest and cheapest hair he could find, and getting most of it on wrong
side to.

[Illustration: 52]

But the cheap hair did not matter much. Murchison and Brownlee showed me
the place where Fluff had worn most of it off the ridge pole of his back
crawling under the porch. He tried to show me Fluff that day, but it was
so dark under the porch that I could not tell which was Fluff and which
was simply underneathness of porch. But from what Brownlee told me
that day, I knew that Fluff had suffered a permanent dislocation of the
spirits. He told me he had taken Fluff out to make a duck dog of him,
and that all the duck Fluff was interested in was to duck when he saw a
gun, and that after he had heard a gun fired once or twice he had become
sad and dejected, and had acquired a permanently ingrowing tail, and an
expression of face like a coyote, but more mournful. He had acquired a
habit of carrying his head down and forward, as if he was about to lay
it on the headsman’s block, and knew he deserved that and more, and the
sooner it was over the better. He couldn’t even scratch fleas correctly.
Brownlee said that when he met a flea in the road he would not even go
around it, but would stoop down like a camel to let the flea get aboard.
He was that kind of a dog. He was the most discouraged dog I ever knew.

The next day I was putting down the carpet in the back bedroom, when in
came Murchison.

“I came over to speak to you about Fluff,” he said. “I am afraid he
must have annoyed you last night. I suppose you heard him howl?”

“Yes, Murchison,” I said, “I did hear him. I never knew a dog could howl
so loud and long as that. He must have been very ill.”

“Oh, no!” said Murchison cheerfully. “That is the way he always howls.
That is one of the reasons I have decided to get rid of Fluff. But it
is a great deal worse for us than it is for you. The air inlet of our
furnace is at the side of the house just where Fluff puts his head when
he howls, and the register in our room is right at the head of our bed.
So his howl goes in at the inlet and down through the furnace and up
the furnace pipes, and is delivered right in our room, just as clear and
strong as if he was in the room. That is one reason I have fully decided
to get rid of Fluff. It would not be so bad if we had only one register
in our house, but we have ten, and when Fluff howls, his voice is
delivered by all ten registers, so it is just as if we had ten Fluffs
in the house at one time. And ten howls like Fluff’s are too much.
Even Brownlee says so.” I told Murchison that I agreed with Brownlee
perfectly. Fluff had a bad howl. It sounded as if Cruel Fate, with
spikes in his shoes, had stepped on Fluff’s inmost soul, and then jogged
up and down on the tenderest spot, and Fluff was trying to reproduce his
feelings in vocal exercises. It sounded like a cheap phonograph giving
a symphony in the key of woe minor, with a megaphone attachment and bad
places in the record. Judging by his voice, the machine needed a new
needle. But the megaphone attachment was all right.

Brownlee--who knows all about dogs--said that he knew what was
the matter with Fluff. He said Fluff had a very high-grade musical
temperament, and that he longed to be the Caruso of dogs. He said that
he could see that all through his bright and hopeful puppyhood he had
looked forward to being a great singer, with a Wagner repertoire and
tremolo stops in his song organ, and that he had early set his aim at
perfection. He said Fluff was that kind of a dog, and that when he saw
what his voice had turned out to be he was dissatisfied, and became
morbid. He said that any dog that had a voice like Fluff’s had a right
to be dissatisfied with it--he would be dissatisfied himself with
that voice. He said he did not wonder that Fluff slunk around all day,
feeling he was no good on earth, and that he could understand that when
night came and everything was still, so that Fluff could judge of the
purity of his tonal quality better, he would pull out his voice, and
tune it up and look it over and try it again, hoping it had improved
since he tried it last. Brownlee said it never had improved, and that
was what made Fluff’s howl so mournful--it was full of tears. He said
Fluff would go to G flat and B flat and D flat, and so on until he
struck a note he felt he was pretty good at, and then he would cling to
that note and weep it full of tears.

[Illustration: 52]

He asked Murchison if he hadn’t noticed that the howl was sort of damp
and salty from the tears, but Murchison said he hadn’t noticed the
dampness. He said it probably got dried out of the howl before it
readied him, coming through the furnace. Then Brownlee said that if
there was only some way of regulating Fluff, so that he could be turned
on and off, Murchison would have a fortune in him: he could turn his
howl off when people wanted to be cheerful, and then, when a time of
great national woe occurred, Murchison could turn Fluff on and set him
going. He said he never heard anything in his life that came so near
expressing in sound a great national woe as Fluff’s howl did. He said
Fluff might lack finish in tonal quality, but that in woe quality he was
a master: he was stuffed so full of woe quality that it oozed out of his
pores. He said he always thought what a pity it was for dogs like Fluff
that people preferred cheerful songs like “Annie Rooney” and “Waltz me
around again, Willie” to the nobler woe operas. He said he had tried
to like good music himself, but it was no use: whenever he heard Fluff
sing, he felt that Murchison ought to get rid of Fluff. Then Murchison
said that was just what he was going to do. What he wanted to talk about
was how to get rid of Fluff.

But I am getting too far ahead of my story. Whenever I get to talking
about the howl of Fluff, I find I wander on for hours at a time.

It takes hours of talk to explain just what a mean howl Fluff had.

But as I was saying, Murchison came over while I was putting down the
carpet in my back bedroom, and told me he had fully decided to get rid
of Fluff.

“I have fully decided to get rid of him,” he said, “and the only thing
that bothers me is how to get rid of him.”

“Give him away,” I suggested.

“That’s a good idea!” said Murchison gratefully. “That’s the very idea
that occurred to me when I first thought of getting rid of Fluff. It is
an idea that just matches Fluff all over. That is just the kind of dog
Fluff is. If ever a dog was made to give away, Fluff was made for it.
The more I think about him and look at him and study him, the surer I am
that the only thing he is good for is to give away.”

Then he shook his head and sighed.

“The only trouble,” he said, “is that Fluff _is_ the give-away kind of
dog. That is the only kind you can’t give away. There is only one time
of the year that a person can make presents of things that are good for
nothing but to give away, and that is at Christmas. Now, I might--”

“Murchison,” I said, laying my tack hammer on the floor and standing up,
“you don’t mean to keep that infernal, howling beast until Christmas, do
you? If you do, I shall stop putting down this carpet. I shall pull out
the tacks that are already in and move elsewhere. Why, this is only
the first of May, and if I have to sleep--if I have to keep awake every
night and listen to that animated foghorn drag his raw soul over the
teeth of a rusty harrow--I shall go crazy. Can’t you think of some one
that is going to have a birthday sooner than that?”

“I wish I could,” said Murchison wistfully, “but I can’t. I want to get
rid of Fluff, and so does Brownlee, and so does Massett, but I can’t
think of a way to get rid of him, and neither can they.”

“Murchison,” I said, with some asperity, for I hate a man who trifles,
“if I really thought you and Brownlee and Massett were as stupid as
all that, I would be sorry I moved into this neighborhood, but I don’t
believe it. I believe you do not mean to get rid of Fluff. I believe you
and Brownlee and Massett want to keep him. If you wanted to get rid of
him, you could do it the same way you got him.”

“That’s an excellent idea!” exclaimed Murchison. “That is one of the
best ideas I ever heard, and I would go and do it if I hadn’t done it so
often already. As soon as Brownlee suggested that idea I did it. I sent
Fluff by express to a man--to John Smith--at Worcester, Mass., and when
Fluff came back I had to pay $8.55 charges. But I didn’t begrudge the
money. The trip did Fluff a world of good--it strengthened his voice,
and made him broader-minded. I tell you,” he said enthusiastically,
“there’s nothing like travel for broadening the mind! Look at Fluff!
Maybe he don’t show it, but that dog’s mind is so broadened by travel
that if he was turned loose in Alaska he would find his way home. When
I found his mind was getting so tremendously broad I stopped sending him
to places. Brownlee--Brownlee knows all about dogs--said it would not
hurt Fluff a bit; he said a dog’s mind could not get too broad, and
that as far as he was concerned he would just like to see once how
broad-minded a dog could become; he would like to have Fluff sent out
by express every time he came back. He told me it was an interesting
experiment--that so far as he knew it had never been tried before--and
that the thing I ought to do was to keep Fluff traveling all the time.
He said that so far as he knew it was the only way to get rid of Fluff;
that some time while he was traveling around in the express car there
might be a wreck, and we would be rid of Fluff; and if there wasn’t a
wreck, it would be interesting to see what effect constant travel would
have on a coarse dog. He said I might find after a year or two that I
had the most cultured dog in the United States. Brownlee was willing to
have me send Fluff anywhere. He suggested a lot of good places to
send dogs, but he didn’t care enough about dog culture to help pay the
express charges.”

“I see, Murchison,” I said scornfully, “I see! You are the kind of a man
who would let a little money stand between you and getting rid of a
dog like Fluff! If I had a dog like Fluff, nothing in the world could
prevent me from getting rid of him. I only wish, he was my dog.”

“Take him!” said Murchison generously; “I make you a full and free
present of him. You can have that dog absolutely and wholly. He is
yours.”

“I will take the dog,” I said haughtily, “not because I really want a
dog, nor because I hanker for that particular dog, but because I can see
that you and Brownlee and Massett have been trifling with him. Bring him
over in my yard, and I will show you in very short measure how to get
rid of Fluff.”

That afternoon both Brownlee and Massett called on me. They came and sat
on my porch steps, and Murchison came and sat with them, and all three
sat and looked at Fluff and talked him over. Every few minutes
they would--Brownlee and Massett would--get up and shake hands with
Murchison, and congratulate him on having gotten rid of Fluff, and
Murchison would blush modestly and say:

“Oh, that is nothing! I always knew I would get rid of him.” And there
was the dog not five feet from them, tied to my lawn hydrant. I watched
and listened to them until I had had enough of it, and then I went into
the house and got my shotgun. I loaded it with a good BB shell and went
out.

[Illustration: 62]

Fluff saw me first. I never saw a dog exhibit such intelligence as Fluff
exhibited right then. I suppose travel had broadened him, and probably
the hydrant was old and rusted out, anyway. When a man moves into a
house he ought to have _all_ the plumbing attended to the first thing.
Any ordinary, unbroadened dog would have lain down and pulled, but Fluff
didn’t. First he jumped six feet straight into the air, and that pulled
the four feet of hydrant pipe up by the roots, and then he went away.
He took the hydrant and the pipe with him, and that might have surprised
me, but I saw that he did not know where he was going nor how long he
would stay there when he reached the place, and a dog can never tell
what will come handy when he is away from home. A hydrant and a piece of
iron pipe might be the very thing he would need. So he took them along.

If I had wanted a fountain in my front yard, I could not have got one
half as quickly as Fluff furnished that one, and I would never have
thought of pulling out the hydrant to make me one. Fluff thought of
that--at least Brownlee said he thought of it--but I think all Fluff
wanted was to get away. And he got away, and the fountain didn’t happen
to be attached to the hydrant, so he left it behind. If it had been
attached to the hydrant, he would have taken it with him. He was a
strong dog.

“There!” said Brownlee, when we had heard the pipe rattle across the
Eighth Street bridge--“there is intelligence for you! You ought to be
grateful to that dog all your life. _You_ didn’t know it was against
the law to discharge a gun in the city limits, but Fluff did, and he
wouldn’t wait to see you get into trouble. He has heard us talking about
it, Murchison. I tell you travel has broadened that dog! Look what he
has saved you,” he said to me, “by going away at just the psychological
moment. We should have told you about not firing a gun in the city
limits. You can’t get rid of Fluff that way. It is against the law.”

“Yes,” said Massett; “and if you knew Fluff as well as we do you would
know that he is a dog you can’t shoot. He is a wonderful dog. He knows
all about guns. Brownlee tried to make a duck dog out of him, and took
him out where the ducks were--showed him the ducks--shot a gun at the
ducks--and what do you think that dog learned?”

“To run,” I said, for I had heard about Brownlee teaching Fluff to
retrieve. Brownlee blushed.

“Yes,” said Massett, “but that wasn’t all. It doesn’t take intelligence
to make a dog run when he sees a gun, but Fluff did not run like an
ordinary dog. He saw the gun and he saw the ducks, and he saw that
Brownlee only shot at ducks when they were on the wing. And he thought
Brownlee meant to shoot him, so what does he do? Stand still? No; he
tries to fly. Gets right up and tries to fly. He thought that was what
Brownlee was trying to teach him. He couldn’t fly, but he did his
best. So whenever Fluff sees a gun, he is on the wing, so to speak. You
noticed he was on the wing, didn’t you?”

I told him I had noticed it. I said that as far as I could judge, Fluff
had a good strong wing. I said I didn’t mind losing a little thing like
a hydrant and a length or two of pipe, but I was glad I hadn’t fastened
Fluff to the house--I always liked my house to have a cellar---and it
would be just like Fluff to stop flying at some place where there wasn’t
any cellar.

“Oh,” said Massett, “he wouldn’t have gone far with the house. A house
is a great deal heavier than a hydrant. He would probably have moved the
house off the foundation a little, but, judging by the direction Fluff
took, the house would have wedged between those two trees, and you would
have only lost a piece of the porch, or whatever he was tied to. But
the lesson is that you must not try to shoot Fluff unless you are a good
wing shot. Unless you can shoot like Davy Crockett, you would be apt to
wound Fluff without killing him, and then there _would_ be trouble!”

“Yes,” said Murchison, “the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals folks.
There is only one way in which a dog can be killed according to law in
this place, and that is to have the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
folks do it. You send them a letter telling them you have a dog you want
killed, and asking them to come and kill it. That is according to law.”

“That,” I said firmly, “is what I will do.”

“It won’t do any good,” said Murchison sadly; “they never come. This
addition to Gallatin is too far from their offices to be handy, and they
never come. I have eighteen deaths for Fluff on file at their offices
already, and not one of them has killed him. When you have had as much
experience with dogs as I have had you will know that the Prevention
of Cruelty to them in this town does not include killing them when
they live in the suburbs. The only way a dog can die in the suburbs of
Gallatin is to die of old age.”

“How old is Fluff?” I asked.

“Fluff is a young dog,” said Brownlee. “If he had an ordinary dog
constitution, he would live fifteen years yet, but he hasn’t. He has an
extra strong constitution, and I should say he was good for twenty years
more. But that isn’t what we came over for. We came over to learn how
you mean to get rid of Fluff.”

“Brownlee,” I said, “I shall think up some way to get rid of Fluff.
Getting rid of a dog is no task for a mind like mine. But until he
returns and gives me back my hydrant, I shall do nothing further. I am
not going to bother about getting rid of a dog that is not here to be
got rid of.”

By the time Fluff returned I had thought out a plan. Murchison had never
paid the dog tax on Fluff, and that was the same as condemning him to
death if he was ever caught outside of the yard, but when he was outside
he could not be caught. He was a hasty mover, and little things such as
closed gates never prevented him from entering the yard when in haste.
When he did not jump over he could get right through a fence. But to
a man of my ability these things are trifles. I knew how to get rid of
Fluff. I knew how to have him caught in the street without a license. I
chained him there.

Brownlee and Massett and Murchison came and watched me do it. Our street
is not much used, and the big stake I drove in the street was not much
in the way of passing grocery delivery wagons. I fastened Fluff to
the stake with a chain, and then I wrote to the city authorities
and complained. I said there was a dog without a license that was
continually in front of my house, and I wished it removed; and a week or
so later the dog-catcher came around and had a look at Fluff: He walked
all around him while Massett and Brownlee and Murchison and I leaned
over our gates and looked on. He was not at all what I should have
expected a dog-catcher to be, being thin and rather gentlemanly in
appearance; and after he had looked Fluff over well he came over and
spoke to me. He asked me if Fluff was my dog. I said he was.

“I see!” said the dog-catcher. “And you want to get rid of him. If he
was my dog, I would want to get rid of him, too. I have seen lots of
dogs, but I never saw one that was like this, and I do not blame you for
wanting to part with him. I have had my eye on him for several years,
but this is the first opportunity I have had to approach him. Now,
however, he seems to have broken all the dog laws. He has not secured a
license, and he is in the public highway. It will be my duty to take him
up and gently chloroform him as soon as I make sure of one thing.”

“Tell me what it is,” I said, “and I will help you make sure of ft.”

“Thank you,” he said, “but I will attend to it,” and with that he got on
his wagon and drove off. He returned in about an hour.

“I came back,” he said, “not because my legal duty compels me, but
because I knew you would be anxious. If I owned a dog like that, I would
be anxious, too. I can’t take that dog.”

“Why not?” we all asked.

“Because,” he said, “I have been down to the city hall, and I have
looked up the records, and I find that the streets of this addition to
the city have not been accepted by the city. The titles to the property
are so made out that until the city legally accepts the streets, each
property owner owns to the middle of the street fronting his property.
If you will step out and look, you will see that the dog is on your own
property.”

[Illustration: 72]

“If that is all,” I said, “I will move the stake. I will put him on the
other side of the street.”

“If you would like him any better there,” said the dog-catcher, “you can
move him, but it would make no difference to me. Then he would be on the
private property of the man who owns the property across the street.”

“But, my good man,” I said, “how _is_ a man to get rid of a dog he does
not want?”

The dog-catcher frowned.

“That,” he said, “seems to be one of the things our lawmakers have not
thought of. But whatever you do, I advise you to be careful. Do not try
any underhand methods, for now that my attention has been called to the
dog, I shall have to watch his future and see that he is not badly used.
I am an officer of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals as well as a
dog-catcher, and I warn you to be careful what you do with that dog.”

Then he got on his wagon again and drove away.

The next morning I was a nervous wreck, for Fluff had howled all night,
and Murchison came over soon after breakfast. He was accompanied by
Brownlee and Massett.

“Now, I am the last man in the world to do anything that my neighbors
would take offense at,” he said, as soon as they were seated on my
porch, “and Brownlee and Massett love dogs as few men ever love them;
but something has to be done about Fluff. The time has come when we must
sleep with our windows open, and neither Massett nor Brownlee nor I got
a minute of sleep last night.”

“Neither did I,” I said.

“That is different entirely,” said Murchison. “Fluff is your dog, and if
you want to keep a howling dog, you would be inclined to put up with the
howl, but we have no interest in the dog at all. We do not own him, and
we consider him a nuisance. We have decided to ask you to get rid of
him. It is unjust to your neighbors to keep a howling dog. You will have
to get rid of Fluff.”

“Exactly!” said Massett. “For ten nights I have not slept a wink, and
neither has Murchison, nor has Brownlee--”

“Nor I,” I added.

“Exactly!” said Massett. “And four men going without sleep for ten
nights is equal to one man going without sleep forty nights, which would
kill any man. Practically, Fluff has killed a man, and is a murderer,
and as you are responsible for him, it is the same as if you were a
murderer yourself; and as you were one of the four who did not sleep,
you may also be said to have committed suicide. But we do not mean to
give you into the hands of the law until we have remonstrated with you.
But we feel deeply, and the more so because you could easily give us
some nights of sleep in which to recuperate.”

“If you can tell me how,” I said, “I will gladly do it. I need sleep
more at this minute than I ever needed it in my life.”

“Very well,” said Massett; “just get out your shotgun and show it to
Fluff. When he sees the gun he will run. He will take wings like a
duck, and while he is away we can get a few nights’ rest. That will be
something. And if we are not in good condition by that time, you can
show him the shotgun again. Why!” he exclaimed, as he grew enthusiastic
over his idea, “you can keep Fluff eternally on the wing!”

I felt that I needed a vacation from Fluff. I unchained him and went in
to get my shotgun. Then I showed him the shotgun, and we had two good
nights of sleep. After that, whenever we felt that we needed a few
nights in peace, I just showed Fluff the shotgun and he went away on one
of his flying trips.

But it was Brownlee--Brownlee knew all about dogs--who first called my
attention to what he called the periodicity of Fluff.

“Now, you would never have noticed it,” he said one day when Murchison
and I were sitting on my porch with him, “but I did. That is because I
have studied dogs. I know all about dogs, and I know Fluff can run. This
is because he has greyhound blood in him. With a little wolf. That is
why I studied Fluff, and how I came to notice that every time you show
him the shotgun he is gone just forty-eight hours. Now, you go and get
your shotgun and try it.”

So I tried it, and Fluff went away as he always did; and Brownlee sat
there bragging about how Fluff could run, and about how wonderful he was
himself to have thought of the periodicity of Fluff.

“Did you see how he went?” he asked enthusiastically. “That gait was a
thirty-mile-an-hour gait. Why, that dog travels--he travels--” He took
out a piece of paper and a pencil and figured it out. “In forty-eight
hours he travels fourteen hundred and forty miles! He gets seven hundred
and twenty miles from home!”

“It doesn’t seem possible,” said Murchison. “No,” said Brownlee frankly,
“it doesn’t.” He went over his figures again. “But that is figured
correctly,” he said. “If--but maybe I did not gauge his speed correctly.
And I didn’t allow for stopping to turn around at the end of the out
sprint. What we ought to have on that dog is a pedometer. If I owned a
dog like that, the first thing I would get would be a pedometer.”

I told Brownlee that if he wished I would give him Fluff, and he could
put a pedometer, or anything else, on him; but Brownlee remembered he
had some work to do and went home.

But he was right about the periodicity of Fluff. Almost on the minute at
the end of forty-eight hours Fluff returned, and Brownlee and Murchison,
who were there to receive him, were as pleased as if Fluff had been
going away instead of returning.

“That dog,” said Brownlee, “is a wonderful animal. If Sir Isaac Newton
had that dog, he would have proved something or other of universal value
by him. That dog is plumb full of ratios and things, if we only knew how
to get them out of him. I bet if Sir Isaac Newton had had Fluff as
long as you have had him he would have had a formula all worked
out--x/y(2xz-dog)=2(4ab-3x) or something of that kind, so that
anyone with half a knowledge of algebra could figure out the square root
of any dog any time of the day or night. I could get up a Law of Dog
myself if I had the time, with a dog like Fluff to work on. ‘If one dog
travels fourteen hundred and forty miles at the sight of a gun, how far
would two dogs travel?’ All that sort of thing. Stop!” he ejaculated
suddenly. “If one dog travels forty-eight hours at the sight of one gun,
how far would he travel at the sight of two guns? Murchison,” he
cried enthusiastically, “I’ve got it! I’ve got the fundamental law of
periodicity in dogs! Go get your gun,” he said to me, “and I will get
mine.”

[Illustration: 82]

He stopped at the gate long enough to say:

“I tell you, Murchison, we are on the verge of a mighty important
discovery--a mighty important discovery! If this thing turns out
right, we will be at the root of all dog nature. We will have the great
underlying law of scared dogs.”

He came back with his shotgun carefully hidden behind him, and then he
and I showed Fluff the two guns simultaneously. For one minute Fluff was
startled. Then he vanished. All we saw of him as he went was the dust he
left in his wake. Massett had come over when Brownlee brought over
his gun, and Murchison and I sat and smoked while Massett and Brownlee
fought out the periodicity of Fluff. Brownlee said that for two guns
Fluff would traverse the same distance as for one, but twice as quickly;
but Massett said Brownlee was foolish, and that anyone who knew anything
about dogs would know that no dog could go faster than Fluff had gone
at the sight of one gun. Massett said Fluff would travel at his regular
one-gun speed, but would travel a two-gun distance. He said Fluff would
not be back for ninety-six hours. Brownlee said he would be back in
forty-eight hours, but both agreed that he would travel twenty-eight
hundred and eighty miles. Then Murchison went home and got a map, and
showed Brownlee and Massett that if Fluff traveled fourteen hundred
miles in the direction he had started he would have to do the last two
hundred miles as a swim, because he would strike the Atlantic Ocean
at the twelve hundredth mile. But Brownlee just turned up his nose and
sneered. He said Fluff was no fool, and that when he reached the coast
he would veer to the north and travel along the beach for two hundred
miles or so. Then Massett said that he had been thinking about
Brownlee’s theory, and he _knew_ no dog could do what Brownlee said
Fluff would do--sixty miles an hour. He said he agreed that a dog like
Fluff could do thirty miles an hour if he did not stop to howl, because
his howl represented about sixty horse power, but that no dog could ever
do sixty miles an hour. Then Brownlee got mad and said Massett was a
born idiot, and that Fluff not only _could_ do sixty miles, but he
could keep on increasing his speed at the rate of thirty miles per gun
indefinitely. Then they went home mad, but they agreed to be on hand
when Fluff returned. But they were not. Fluff came home in twenty-four
hours, almost to the minute.

When I went over and told Brownlee, he wouldn’t believe it at first, but
when I showed him Fluff, he cheered up and clapped me on the back.

“I tell you,” he exclaimed, “we have made a great discovery. We have
discovered the law of scared dogs. ‘A dog is scared in inverse ratio to
the number of guns!’ Now, it wouldn’t be fair to try Fluff again without
giving him a breathing spell, but to-morrow I will come over, and we
will try him with four guns. We will work this thing out thoroughly,” he
said, “before we write to the Academy of Science, or whatever a person
would write to, so that there will be no mistake. Before we give this
secret to the world we want to have it complete. We will try Fluff with
any number of guns, and with pistols and rifles, and if we can get one
we will try him with a cannon. We will keep at it for years and years.
You and I will be famous.”

I told Brownlee that if he wanted to experiment for years with Fluff
he could have him, but that all I wanted was to get rid of him; but
Brownlee wouldn’t hear of that. He said he would buy Fluff of me if he
was rich enough, but that Fluff was so valuable he couldn’t think of
buying him. He would let me keep him. He said he would be over the next
day to try Fluff again.

So the next day he and Murchison and Massett came over and held a
consultation on my porch to decide how many guns they would try on
Fluff. They could not agree. Massett wanted to try four guns and have
Fluff absent only half a day, but Brownlee wanted to have me break my
shotgun in two and try that on Fluff. He said that according to the law
of scared dogs, a half a gun, working it out by inverse ratio, would
keep Fluff away for twice as long as one gun, which would be ninety-six
hours; and while they were arguing it out Fluff came around the house
unsuspectingly and saw us on the porch. He gave us one startled glance
and started north by northeast at what Brownlee said was the most
marvelous rate of speed he ever saw. Then he and Massett got down off
the porch and looked for guns, but there were none in sight. There
wasn’t anything that looked the least like a gun. Not even a broomstick.
Brownlee said he knew what was the matter--Fluff was having a little
practice run to keep in good condition, and would be back in a few
hours; but, judging by the look he gave us as he went, I thought he
would be gone longer than that.

I could see that Brownlee was worried, and as day followed day without
any return of Fluff, Murchison and I tried to cheer him up, showing him
how much better we all slept while Fluff was away; but it did not cheer
up poor Brownlee. He had set his faith on that dog, and the dog had
deceived him. We all became anxious about Brownlee’s health--he moped
around so; and just when we began to be afraid he was going into a
decline he cheered up, and came over as bright and happy as a man could
be.

“I told you so!” he exclaimed joyfully, as soon as he was inside my
gate. “And it makes me ashamed of myself that I didn’t think of it the
moment I saw Fluff start off. You will never see that dog again.”

I told Brownlee that that was good news, anyway, even if it did upset
his law of scared dogs; but he smiled a superior smile.

“Disprove nothing!” he said. “It proves my law. Didn’t I say in the
first place that the time a dog would be gone was in inverse ratio
to the number of guns? Well, the inverse ratio to no guns is infinite
time--that is how long Fluff will be gone; that is how long he will run.
Why, that dog will never stop running while there is any dog left in
him. He can’t help it--it is the law of scared dogs.”

“Do you mean to say,” I asked him, “that that dog will run on and on
forever?”

“Exactly!” said Brownlee proudly. “As long as there is a particle of him
left he will keep on running. That is the law.”

Maybe Brownlee was right. I don’t know. But what I would like to know is
the name of some one who would like a dog that looks like Fluff, and is
his size, and that howls like him and that answers to his name. A dog of
that kind returned to Murchison’s house a long time before infinity, and
I would like to get rid of him. Brownlee says it isn’t Fluff; that his
law couldn’t be wrong, and that this is merely a dog that resembles
Fluff. Maybe Brownlee is right, but I would like to know some one that
wants a dog with a richly melodious voice.

THE END





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translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

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



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