Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The Heart of a Dog
Author: Terhune, Albert Payson
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 "The Heart of a Dog" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/American Libraries.)



------------------------------------------------------------------------

                          Transcriber’s Note:

This version of the text cannot represent certain typographical effects.
Italics are delimited with the ‘_’ character as _italic_.

Minor errors, attributable to the printer, have been corrected. Please
see the transcriber’s note at the end of this text for details regarding
the handling of any textual issues encountered during its preparation.

[Illustration]



                           THE HEART OF A DOG

[Illustration]

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                           The Heart of a Dog


                         ALBERT PAYSON TERHUNE

                    Illustrated by MARGUERITE KIRMSE



[Illustration: YOUNG MODERNS]



             DOUBLEDAY & COMPANY, INC., GARDEN CITY, N. Y.



                            COPYRIGHT, 1924
                        BY DOUBLEDAY & CO., INC.

                                   CL

                 _Copyright, 1921, 1922, 1923 and 1924,
                       By George H. Doran Company
           Copyright, 1920, by The Curtis Publishing Company
           Copyright, 1921, by International Magazine Company
                            Harpers’ Bazar_

                           THE HEART OF A DOG

                PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA



                       _My book is dedicated to_

                               MY FRIEND

                              MARK SAXTON

              THE ONLY BOY WHOM THE CONSERVATIVE SUNNYBANK
                    COLLIES HAVE HONOURED WITH THEIR
                FRIENDSHIP, AND WHOM THEY HAVE ACCEPTED
                         AS A LOVED PLAYFELLOW



                                CONTENTS

                                                           PAGE

             ONE: Fox!                                        1

             TWO: The Coming of Lad                          43

           THREE: The Meanest Man                            67

            FOUR: The Tracker                                95

            FIVE: “Youth Will Be Served!”                   123

             SIX: Lochinvar Bobby                           143

           SEVEN: “One Minute Longer”                       187

           EIGHT: Afterward                                 205

[Illustration]

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                ONE: Fox

[Illustration]

------------------------------------------------------------------------



[Illustration]


ONE: Fox!


When the Stippled Silver Kennel, Inc., went into the wholesale raising
of silver foxes for a world market, its two partners brought to the
enterprise a comfortable working capital and an uncomfortable ignorance
of the brain-reactions of a fox.

They had visited the National Exhibition of silver foxes. They had spent
days at successful fox farms, studying every detail of management and
memorising the rigid diet-charts. They had committed to memory every
fact and hint in Bulletin No. 1151 of the United States Department of
Agriculture—issued for the help of novice breeders of silver foxes.

They had mastered each and every available scrap of exact information
concerning the physical welfare of captive silver foxes. But, for lack
of half a lifetime’s close application to the theme, their knowledge of
fox mentality and fox nature was nil.

Now one may raise chickens or hogs or even cattle, without taking
greatly into account the inner workings of such animals’ brains. But no
man yet has made a success of raising foxes or their fifth cousin, the
collie, without spending more time in studying out the mental than the
physical beast.

On the kitchen wall of the Stippled Silver Kennel, Inc., was the printed
dietary of silver foxes. On the one library shelf of the kennel was all
the available literature on silver fox breeding, from government
pamphlets to a three-volume monograph. In the four-acre space within the
kennel enclosure were thirty model runways, twenty by twenty feet; each
equipped with a model shelter-house and ten of them further fitted out
with model brood nests.

In twenty-four of these thirty model runways abode twenty-four model
silver foxes, one to each yard at this autumn season—twenty-four silver
foxes, pedigreed and registered—foxes whose lump value was something
more than $7,400. Thanks to the balanced rations and meticulous care
lavished on them, all twenty-four were in the pink of form.

All twenty-four seemed as nearly contented as can a wild thing which no
longer has the zest of gambling with death for its daily food and which
is stared at with indecent closeness and frequency by dread humans.

But the partners of the Stippled Silver Kennel, Inc., failed to take
note, among other things, of the uncanny genius certain foxes possess
for sapping and mining; nor that some foxes are almost as deft at
climbing as is a cinnamon bear. True, the average silver fox is neither
a gifted burrower nor climber. But neither are such talents rare.

For example, King Whitefoot II, in Number 8 run, could have given a mole
useful hints in underground burrowing. Lady Pitchdark, the temperamental
young vixen in Number 17 run, might wellnigh have qualified as the
vulpine fly. Because neither of these costly specimens spent their time
in sporadic demonstration of their arts, in the view of humans, those
same humans did not suspect the accomplishments.

Then came an ice-bright moonlit night in late November—a night to stir
every quadruped’s blood to tingling life and to set humans to crouching
over fireplaces. Ten minutes after Rance and Ethan Venner, the kennel
partners, finished their perfunctory evening rounds of the yards, King
Whitefoot II was blithely at work.

Foxes and other burrowing beasts seek instinctively the corners or the
edges of yards, when striving to dig a way out. Any student of their
ways will tell you that. Wherefore, as in most fox-kennels, the corners
and inner edges of the Stippled Silver yards were fringed with a
half-yard of mesh-wire, laid flat on the ground.

Whitefoot chose a spot six inches on the hither edge of a border-wire
and began his tunnel. He did not waste strength by digging deep. He
channelled a shallow tube, directly under the flat-laid wire. Indeed,
the wire itself formed the top of his tunnel. The frost was not yet deep
enough or hard enough to impede his work. Nor, luckily for him, did he
have to circumnavigate any big underground rock.

In forty-two minutes from the time he began to dig, his pointed black
nose and his wide-cheeked stippled black face was emerging into the
open, a few inches outside his yard.

Wriggling out of his tunnel, he shook himself daintily to rid his
shimmering silver-flecked black coat of such dirt as clung to it. Then
he glanced about him. From the nearby wire runs, twenty-three pairs of
slitted topaz eyes flamed avidly at him. Twenty-three ebony bodies
crouched moveless; the moon glinting bright on their silver stipples and
snowy tailtips.

The eyes of his world were on the fugitive. The nerves of his world were
taut and vibrant with thrill at his escapade. But they were sportsmen in
their own way, these twenty-three prisoners who looked on while their
more skilled fellow won his way to liberty. Not a whine, not so much as
a deep-drawn breath gave token of the excitement that was theirs. No
yelping bark brought the partners out to investigate. These captives
could help their comrade only by silence. And they gave him silence to a
suffocating degree.

With their round phosphorous eyes they followed his every move. But
twenty-two of the twenty-three forbore so much as a single motion whose
sound might attract human ears. Couchant, aquiver, turning their heads
ever so little and in unison to watch his progress, the twenty-two
watched Whitefoot make for the high wire boundary fence which encircled
the four-acre kennel enclosure—the fence beyond whose southern meshes
lay the frost-spangled meadow.

Beyond the meadow reared the naked black woods, sloping stiffly upward
to the mountain whose sides they draped;—the mountain which was the
outpost of the wilderness hinterland to southward of this farm-valley.

But, as Whitefoot set to work at the absurdly simple exploit of digging
under this outer fence—a fence not extending underground and with no
flat width of wire before it—the twenty-third prisoner could stand the
emotional strain no longer. Young and with nerves less steady than her
companions’, little Lady Pitchdark marred the perfect symphony of
noiselessness.

She did not bark or even yelp. But she went into action.

By natural genius she was a climber. Up the side of her ten-foot
run-wire she whizzed; her long-clawed feet scarce seeming to seek
toe-hold in the ladder of meshes they touched. Like a cat, she sped
upward.

To provide against such an unlikely effort at jail-breaking, the four
wire walls of the run sloped slightly inward. At their summit, all
around, was a flat breadth of wire that hung out for eight inches over
the run; projecting inside the walls. As a rule such deterrents were
quite enough to bar an ordinary fox from escape. But nature had taught
Lady Pitchdark more than she teaches the ordinary fox. She was one of
the rare vulpines born with climbing-genius.

Up she scrambled her fierce momentum carrying her to the very top of the
fence; to the spot where it merged with the eight-inch overhang. Here,
by every rule, the vixen should have yielded to the immutable law of
gravity and should have tumbled back to the ground with a
breath-expelling flop.

This is precisely what she did not do. Still helped by her momentum, she
clawed frantically with both forefeet at the edge of the overhang. Her
claws hooked in its end-meshes. Her hindfeet released their hold on the
in-slanting fence and she swung for an instant between moon and earth—a
glowing black swirl of fur, shot with a myriad silver threads.

Then lithely she drew herself up, on the overhang. A pause for breath
and she was skidding down the steep slope of the fence’s outer side. A
dart across the yard and she reached the kennel’s boundary fence just as
Whitefoot was squirming to freedom through the second and shorter tunnel
he had made that night.

Diving through, so close behind him that her outthrust muzzle brushed
his sensitive tailtip, Pitchdark reached the safety of the outer world
at almost the same instant as did he. Whitefoot felt the light touch at
his tail. He spun around, snarling murderously, his razor-keen teeth
bared. He had won his way to liberty by no slight exercise of brain and
of muscle. He was not minded to surrender tamely to any possible
pursuer.

But as he confronted the slender young vixen in her royal splendour of
pelt and with her unafraid excited eyes fixed so mischievously upon him,
the dog-fox’s lips slipped down from their snarling curl; sheathing the
fearsome array of teeth and tushes. For a fraction of a second Whitefoot
and Pitchdark faced each other there under the dazzling white moon; twin
ebon blotches on the frost-strewn grass. Twenty-two pairs of yellow-fire
eyes were upon them.

Then on impulse the two refugees touched noses. As though by this act
they established common understanding, they wheeled about as one; and
galloped silently, shoulder to shoulder, across the frosted meadow to
the safety of the black mountainside forest.

Sportsmanship can go only just so far; even in cool-nerved foxes. As the
couple vanished through the night, a shrilly hideous multiple clamour of
barking went up from twenty-two furry black throats. The tense hush was
broken by a bedlam of raucous noise. The prisoners dashed themselves
against the springy sides of their wire runs. One and another of them
made desperate scrambling attempts to climb the inslanting walls that
encircled them—only to fall back to the frozen ground and add their
quota once more to the universal din.

Rance and Ethan Venner came tumbling out of the nearby house, grasping
their flashlights and shouting confusedly to each other. Instantly blank
silence overspread the yards. The foxes crouched low, eyes aflame,
staring mutely at the belated humans.

The briefest of inspections told the brothers what had happened. First
they found the tunnel leading forth from Whitefoot’s run. Then they
discovered that Pitchdark’s run was empty; though they could find no
clue to its occupant’s mysterious vanishing until next morning’s sunrise
showed them a tuft of finespun black fur stuck to a point of wire on the
overhang, ten feet above ground. Last of all the partners came upon the
hole under the fence which divided the kennel from the meadow.

“Whitefoot was worth an easy $600 as he stood,” grunted Rance Venner,
miserably; as his flashlight’s ray explored the hole under the fence.
“Nearer $700, in the coat he’s carrying this fall. And Pitchdark isn’t
more’n a couple of hundred dollars behind him. Two of the best we had. A
hundred per cent loss; just as we’re getting started.”

“Nope,” contradicted Ethan. “Not a hundred per cent loss. Only about
fifty. The pelt of either one of ’em will bring $300, dressed. Any of a
dozen dealers will pay us that for it.”

“If they was to pay us three million, we wouldn’t be any richer,”
complained Rance. “We haven’t got the pelts to sell. You’re talking
plumb foolish, Ethan.”

“We’ll have ’em both by noon to-morrow,” declared Ethan. “Those two
foxes were born in a kennel. They don’t know anything else. They’re as
tame as pet squirrels. We’ll start out gunning for ’em at sunrise. We’ll
take Ruby along. She’ll scent ’em, double quick. Then all we’ll have to
do is plant the shots where they won’t muss the pelt too much.”

“We’ll do better’n that,” supplemented Rance, his spirits rising at his
brother’s tone of confidence. “We won’t shoot ’em. We’ll get out the
traps, instead. They’re both tame and neither of ’em ever had to hustle
for a meal. They’ll walk right into the traps, as quick as they get the
sniff of cooked food. C’mon in and help me put the traps in shape. We
ought to be setting ’em before sunrise. The two foxes will be scouting
for breakfast by that time.”

The newly optimistic Rance was mistaken in all his forecasts. The two
fugitives were not scouting for breakfast at sunrise. Hours earlier they
twisted their way in through the narrow little opening of an unguarded
chicken-house belonging to a farm six miles from the kennel. Thither
they were drawn by the delicious odour of living prey.

There, like a million foxes since the birth of time, they slew without
noise or turmoil. There they glutted themselves; carrying away each a
heavy fowl for future feasting; bearing off their plunder in true
vulpine fashion with the weight of the bird slung scientifically over
the bearer’s withers.

Daybreak found them lying snugly asleep in a hollow windfall tree that
was open at either end and which lay lengthwise of a nick in the
hillside, with briars forming an effective hedge all about it.

Nor did the best casting efforts of Ruby, the partners’ foxhound,
succeed in following their cleverly confused trail across a pool and two
brooks. In the latter brook, they had waded for nearly a furlong before
emerging on dry ground at the same side.

Thus set in a winter of bare sustenance for the runaways. They kept to
no settled abiding place, but drifted across country; feasting at such
few farmsteads as had penetrable hencoops; doing wondrous teamwork in
the catching of rabbits and partridges; holing in under windfalls or in
rock-clefts when blizzards made the going bad.

It was the season when foxes as a rule run solitary. Seldom in early
winter do they hunt in pairs and never at any season in packs. But these
two black and silver waifs were bound together not only by early
association but by mutual inexperience of the wild. And while this
inexperience did not blur nor flaw their marvellous instinct, they found
it more profitable to hunt together than alone.

Only once or twice in their winter’s foraging did they chance upon any
of the high-country’s native red foxes. A heavy hunting season had
shifted most of the reds to a distant part of the county; as is the way
with foxes that are overpressed by the attentions of trappers and
hounds. In that region, pink coats and hunting horses and foxhound packs
were unknown. But many a mountain farmer eked out his lean income by
faring afield with a brace of disreputable but reliable mongrel hounds
and a fowling piece as disreputably reliable; eager for the flat price
of $10 to $12 per skin offered by the nearest wholesale dealer. This sum
of course was for the common red fox; silver foxes being as unknown to
the region at large as were dinosaurs.

(The dealer paid the farmer-huntsman perhaps $11 per skin. The pelt was
then cured and dressed and mounted and equipped with snappers; at a
total price in labour and material of perhaps $6 at most. After which,
in marketable form, it sold at retail from $60 to $75 or even higher.
Thus, there was money for every one concerned—except possibly for the
ultimate buyer.)

The two silver foxes had the forest and farmland largely to themselves.
The few reds they met did not attack them or affiliate with them at that
hungry time of year.

The winter winds and the ice-storms made Whitefoot’s coat shine and
thicken as never had it done on scientifically balanced rations. The
life of the wild put new depth to Pitchdark’s narrow chest and gave her
muscular power and sinew to spare. Quizzical Dame Nature had lifted them
from man’s wisest care; as though in object lesson of her own infinitely
more efficient methods for conditioning her children.

Late January brought a sore-throat thaw and with it a melting of drift
and ice-pack. Incidentally it ushered in the yearly vulpine mating
season.

Spring was early that year. But before the frost was out of the ground,
Pitchdark had chosen her nursery. It was by no means so elaborate nor
sanitary as had been the costly brood-nests at the kennel. Indeed it
would have struck horror to the heart of any scientific breeder.

For it was merely a woodchuck hole in an upland meadow, at the forest
edge, a short mile from a straggling farmstead. Even here Whitefoot’s
inspired prowess as a digger was not called into play. His sole share
toward securing the home was to thrash the asthmatically indignant old
woodchuck that had dug the burrow. Then Pitchdark made her way
cautiously down the hole and proceeded to enlarge it a little at the
shallow bottom. That was all the home-making done by the pair.

Then, of a windy night, just before the first of April, the vixen did
not join her mate in his expedition for loot. And as he panted homeward
before dawn with a broken-winged quail between his jaws, he found her
lying in the burrow’s hollow, with five indeterminate-looking babies
nuzzling close to her soft side.

Then began days, or rather nights, of double foraging for Whitefoot. For
it is no light thing to provide food for a den-ridden mate and,
indirectly, for five hungry and husky cubs.

Nor was the season propitious for food-finding. The migratory birds, for
the most part, had not shifted north. The rabbits for some silly reason
of their own had changed their feeding grounds to the opposite valley.
Farmers had suffered too many depredations from Whitefoot and Pitchdark
during the past month to leave their henroosts as hospitably open as of
yore.

The first day’s hunting netted only a sick crow that had tumbled from a
tree. Whitefoot turned with disgust from this find. For, though he would
have been delighted to dine on the rankest of carrion, yet in common
with all foxes, he could not be induced to touch any bird of prey.

That night he foraged again; in spite of having outraged his regular
custom by hunting in daylight. There was no fun in hunting, this night.
For a wild torrent of rain had burst out of the black clouds which all
day had been butting their way across the windy sky.

Foxes detest rain, and this rain was a veritable deluge; a flood that
started the spring freshets and turned miles of bottomland into soggy
lakes. Yet Whitefoot kept on. Grey dawn found him midway between his
lair and the farmstead at the foot of the hill.

This farm he and Pitchdark had avoided. It was too near their den for
safe plundering. Its human occupants might well be expected to seek the
despoilers. And just then those despoilers were in no condition to elude
the chase. Wherefore, fox-fashion, the two had ranged far afield and had
reserved the nearby farm for later emergencies.

Now the emergency appeared to call for such a visit from Whitefoot. A
moment or so he hesitated, irresolute whether to return empty-mouthed to
his mate or to go first to the farm for possible food. He decided on the
farm.

Had he gone to the burrow he would have known there was no further need
to forage for those five beautiful baby silvers, so different in aspect
from the slaty-gray infants of the red fox. A swelling rivulet of rain
had been deflected from its downhill course by a wrinkle in the soil;
and had poured swishingly down the opening of the woodchuck warren and
thence down into the ill-constructed brood nest at its bottom.

For the safeguarding of newborn fox-babies, as of the babies of every
race, dry warmth is all-essential. Chilled and soaked, despite their
young mother’s frantic efforts to protect them, the five ill-nourished
and perilously inbred cubs ceased to nurse and began to squeak right
dolefully. Then, one by one they died. The last of them stiffened out,
just before daybreak.

Rance and Ethan Venner would have cursed luridly at loss of so many
hundred dollars in potential peltry. But the bereft little mother only
cuddled her ice-cold babies the closer; crooning piteously to them. They
were her first litter. She could not realise what had befallen them, nor
why one and all of them had ceased to nurse.

Meantime, her mate was drifting like an unobtrusive black shadow through
the rain toward the clutter of farm buildings at the base of the
hill-pasture. His scent told him there was a dog somewhere in that
welter of sheds and barns and houses. But his scent told him also that
there were fowls aplenty. Preparing to match his speed and his wit
against any dog’s, he crept close and closer, taking due advantage of
every patch of cover; unchecked even by the somewhat more distant
man-scent; and urged on by that ever stronger odour of live chickens.

Presently he was skirting the chicken-yard. It and its coop were too
fast-locked for him to hope to enter with less than a half-hour’s clever
digging. He had not a half-hour. He had not a half-minute to spare.

Slinking from the coop, he rounded a tool-house. There he halted. For to
his nostrils came again the smell of living food, though of a sort
vaguely unpleasant to him. Hunger and the need to feed his brood formed
too strong a combination for this faint distaste to combat.

He peered around the corner of the half-open door of the tool-house.
From the interior arose the hated dog-smell, ten times stronger than
before. But he knew by nose and by hearing that the dog was no longer in
there.

He was correct in this, as in most of his surmises. Not five minutes
earlier, the early-rising Dick Logan had opened the tool-house door and
convoyed thence his pedigreed collie, Jean, to the kitchen for her
breakfast.

In the corner of the tool-house was a box half filled with rags. Down
among the rags nestled and squirmed and muttered a litter of seven
pure-bred collie pups, scarce a fortnight old.

Man-scent and dog-scent filled the air; scaring and disgusting the
hesitant Whitefoot. Stark hunger spurred him on. A fleeting black shadow
slipped noiselessly swift into the tool-house and then out again.

Through the welter of rain, Whitefoot was making for his mile-distant
lair; at top speed; pausing not to glance over his shoulder; straining
every muscle to get away from that place of double peril and to his
waiting family. No need to waste time in confusing the trail. The
sluicing rain was doing that.

Between his teeth the fox carried a squealing and struggling fat collie
puppy.

Keen as was his own need for food, he did not pause to devour or even to
kill the plump morsel he had snatched up. Nor did his pinpoint teeth so
much as prick through the fuzzy fat sides of his prey. Holding the puppy
as daintily as a bird dog might retrieve a wounded partridge, he sped
on.

At the mouth of the warren, Pitchdark was waiting for him. She had
brought her babies out of the death hole; though too late. They lay
strewn on the rain-sick ground in front of her. She herself was crouched
for shelter in the lee of a rock that stood beside the hole.

Whitefoot dropped the collie pup in front of his mate; and prepared to
join her in the banquet. Pitchdark nosed the blind, helpless atom of
babyhood; as though trying to make out what it might be.

The puppy, finding himself close to something warm and soft and furry,
crept instinctively toward this barrier from the cold and wet which were
striking through to the very heart of him. At his forward motion,
Pitchdark snarled down at him. But as his poking nose chanced to touch
her, the snarl merged suddenly into a croon. With her own sharp nose,
she pushed him closer to her and interposed her body between him and the
rain.

Whitefoot, the water cascading from his splendid coat, stood dripping
and staring. Failing to make any sense of his mate’s delay in beginning
to devour the breakfast he had brought along at such danger to himself,
he took a step forward, his jaws parting for the first mouthful of the
feast. Pitchdark growled hideously at him and slashed at his advancing
face.

Piqued and amazed at her ungrateful treatment, he hesitated a moment
longer; then trotted glumly off into the rain; leaving Pitchdark
crooningly nursing the queer substitute for her five dead infants. As he
ran, he all but collided with a rain-dazed rabbit that hopped out of a
briar clump to avoid him.

Five minutes later he and Pitchdark were lying side by side in the lee
of the rock, crunching unctuously the bones of the luckless bunny; while
the collie pup feasted as happily in his own fashion as did they,
nuzzling deep into the soft hair of his foster-mother’s warm underbody.

Why the exposure to rain and cold did not kill the puppy is as much a
mystery as why Pitchdark did not kill him. Nevertheless—as is the odd
way of one collie pup in twenty—he took no harm from the mile of rainy
gallop to which Whitefoot had treated him. More—he throve amain on the
milk which had been destined for five fox cubs.

The downpour was followed by weeks of unseasonably dry and warm weather.
The porous earth of the warren was dry within a few hours. The lair bed
proved as comfortable for the new baby as it was to have been to his
luckless predecessors.

By the time May brought the warm nights and the long bright days, the
puppy weighed more than twice as much as any fox cub of his age. He had
ceased to look like a sleek dun-coloured rat and resembled rather a
golden-and-white Teddy Bear.

On the moonlit May nights and in the red dawning and in the soft
afterglow, he and his pretty mother would frisk and gambol in the lush
young meadow grass around the lair. It was sweet to see the lithe black
beauty’s complete devotion for her clumsy baby and the jealous care
wherewith she guarded him. From the first she was teaching him the
cunning caution which is a fox’s world-old birthright and which is
foreign to a man-owned collie. With his foster-mother’s milk and from
his foster-mother’s example he drank in the secrets of the wild and the
fact that man is the dread foe of the beast.

Gaily as the two might play in the moonlit grass, the first distant
whiff of man-scent was enough to send Pitchdark scuttling silently into
the burrow; driving the shambling pup ahead of her. There the two would
lie, noiseless, almost without breathing; while man or dog or both
passed by.

This was not the season for hunting foxes. Their pelts were
“off-prime”—in no condition for the market. Thus, the pair in the burrow
were not sought out nor harried.

Back at the Logan farm there was bewilderment at the puppy’s mysterious
vanishing. His dam, returning from the kitchen after breakfast, had
broken into a growl of sudden wrath and had changed her trot for a
handgallop as she neared the tool-shed. Into the shed she had dashed,
abristle and growling, then out again, sniffing the earth, casting in
ever widening circles, and setting off presently on a trail which the
deluging rain wiped out before she could follow it for a hundred yards.

The stolen pup was the only one in the litter which had not been sold or
else bespoken. For the Logan collies had a just fame in the region. But
that one pup had been set aside by Dick Logan as a future housedog. This
because he was the largest and strongest and liveliest of the seven; and
because of the unusually wide white ruff which encircled his broad
shoulders like a shawl.

Dick had named the youngster “Ruff,” because of this adornment. And now
he was liked to have no use for the name.

Ruff, meantime, was gaining his education, such as it was, far more
quickly than his super-domesticated collie mother and Dick together
could have imparted it to him.

By example and by swift punishment in event of disobedience, Pitchdark
was teaching him to crouch, flattened and noiseless, at sound or scent
of man or of alien beast. She was teaching him to worm his pudgy little
body snakelike through grass and undergrowth and to make wise use of
every bit of cover. She was teaching him—as foxes have taught their
young for a million years—the incredible cunning of her race and the
fear of man.

By the time his legs could fairly support him on the briefest of
journeys, she was teaching him to stalk game;—to creep up on foolish
fieldmice, to confuse and head off young rabbits; and the like. Before
he was fairly weaned she made him try his awkward prowess at finishing a
rabbit-kill she had begun. With Ruff it was a case of kill or starve.
For Pitchdark cut off natural supplies from him a full week earlier than
his own gentle mother would have done.

Pitchdark was a born schoolmistress in Nature’s grim woodland course of
“eat or be eaten.” To her stern teachings the puppy brought a brain such
as no fox could hope to possess. Ruff was a collie—member of a breed
which can assimilate practically any mental or physical teachings, if
taught rightly and at an early enough age. Pitchdark was teaching him
rightly, if rigidly. Assuredly, too, she was beginning early enough.

To the imparted cunning of the fox, Ruff added the brain of a highly
sensitised collie. The combination was a triumph. He learned well-nigh
as fast as Pitchdark could teach. If nine-tenths of the things she
taught him were as reprehensible as they were needful, he deserved no
less credit for his speed in mastering them and for his native ability
to add to them.

At an age when his brethren and sisters, back at the farm, were still
playing aimlessly around the dooryard, Ruff was grasping the weird
secrets of the wild. While they were still at the Teddy Bear stage of
appealing helplessness, his fat body was turning lean and supple from
raw food and from much exercise and from the nature of that exercise.
While they were romping merrily with an old shoe, Ruff was creeping up
on fieldmouse nests and on couchant quail, or he was heading off
witlessly racing rabbits which his foster-mother drove toward the
cul-de-sacs where she had stationed him.

For a pup situated like Ruff, there were two open courses—abnormal
thriving or quick starvation. Ruff throve.

By the time he was three months old he weighed nearly eighteen pounds.
He was more than a third heavier than Pitchdark, though the silvered
black vixen had the appearance of being fully twice his size. A fox is
the most deceptive creature on earth, in regard to bulk. Pitchdark, for
instance, gave the impression of being as large as any thirty-pound
terrier, if of far different build. Yet, stripped of her pelt, her slim
carcass would not have weighed eleven pounds. Perhaps it would not have
weighed more than ten pounds, for she was not large for her kind.

Before Ruff was six weeks old, Whitefoot had tired of
domesticity—especially with so perplexing a canine slant to it—and had
deserted his mate and foster-son.

The warm days were coming on. The woods at last were alive with
catchable game. The chickens on many a farm were perching out of doors
at night. Life was gloriously livable. There seemed no sense in
fettering himself to a family, nor for helping to provide for a huge
youngster in whom his own interest was purely gastronomical.

More than once Whitefoot had sought to slay and eat the changeling. But
ever, at such times, Pitchdark was at him, ravening and raging in
defence of her suckling.

Then crept the influx of spring food into the valley and mountain. There
was dinner to be gotten more easily than by battling a ferocious mate
for it, a mate who no longer felt even her oldtime lonely comradeship
for the dog-fox, and whose every thought and care was for the sprawling
puppy. Apart from this, the inherently hated dog-scent on Ruff was a
continual irritation to Whitefoot; though maternal care had long since
accustomed Pitchdark to it.

Thus on a morning in late April Whitefoot wandered away and neglected to
return. His mate was forced to forage for herself and for Ruff. But the
task was easy in this new time of food lushness. She did not seem to
miss her recreant spouse.

She and Ruff shifted their abode from the burrow whose narrow sides the
fast-growing pup could scarce squeeze through. They took up changeable
quarters in the hinterland forest. There Ruff’s training began in grim
earnest.

So the sweet spring and the long drowsy summer wore themselves away.
Through the fat months Pitchdark and Ruff abode together; drawn toward
each other by the queerly strong tie that so often knits foster-dam and
child, in the fourfoot kingdom;—a tie that is prone to be far stronger
than that of normal brute mother and offspring.

This chumship now was wholly a thing of choice. For no longer did Ruff
depend on the vixen to teach him how to catch his daily bread. True, he
profited still by her experience and her abnormal cunning, and he
assimilated it and improved on it—as is the way with a collie when he is
taught something that catches his bright fancy. But he was
self-supporting.

He continued to live with Pitchdark and to travel with her and to hunt
with her; not because he needed to, but because he loved her. To this
temperamental black-and-silver vixen went out all the loyal devotion and
hero-worship and innate protectiveness which a normal collie lavishes on
the human who is his god.

Together they roved the mountain, where Pitchdark’s technique and craft
bagged illimitable game for them. Together on dark nights they scouted
the farm-valleys, where Ruff’s strength and odd audacity won them access
to hencoop after hencoop whose rickety door would have resisted a fox’s
onslaught.

Twice, Ruff forced his way through the rotting palings of a sheepfold
and bore thence to his admiring foster-mother a lamb that was twice as
heavy as Pitchdark. Once in open field he fought and outmanœuvred and
thrashed a sheep-herding mongrel; dragging off in triumph a half-grown
wether.

There were things about Pitchdark the young collie could not understand;
just as there were traits of his which baffled her keen wits. To him a
grape vineyard was a place whose sole interest centred about any
possible field-mouse nests in its mould. An apple orchard had as little
significance to him. He would pause and look in questioning surprise as
Pitchdark stopped, during their progress through an orchard, to munch
happily at a fallen harvest apple; or while she stood daintily on her
hindlegs to strip grapevines of their ripening clusters.

The fable of the fox and the sour grapes had its basis in natural
history. For the fox, almost alone of carnivora, loves fruit. Ruff cared
nothing for it. Few collies do.

Also, he could see no reason for Pitchdark’s rapture when they chanced
upon the rotting carcasses of animals. True, he felt an æsthetic thrill
in rubbing first one shoulder and then the other in such liquescent
carrion and then in rolling luxuriously over on his back in it. But it
was not good to eat. Ruff knew that. Yet Pitchdark devoured it in
delight. On the other hand, when the two came upon a young hawk that had
fallen from its pine-top nest, Pitchdark gave one sniff at the broken
bird of prey; and then pattered on, leaving it alone. Ruff killed and
ate it with relish.

By the first cool days of autumn, Ruff stood twenty-four inches at the
shoulder. He would have tipped the scales at a fraction above fifty
pounds. His gold-red winter coat was beginning to come in, luxuriantly
and with a sheen such as only the pelt of a forest-dweller can boast.
His young chest was deep. His shoulders were broad and sinewy. His build
was that of a wild beast; not of a domesticated dog. Diet and tremendous
exercise and his mode of life had wrought that vast difference.

He had the noiselessly padding gait and the furtive air of a fox.
Mentally and morally he was a fox; plus the keener and finer brain of a
collie. His dark and deepset eyes had the glint of the wild, rather than
the straight-forward gaze of a collie. Yet those eyes were a dog’s and
not a fox’s. A fox has the eye of a cat, not of a dog. The iris is not
round, but is long and slitted, like a cat’s. In bright sunlight it
closes to a vertical line, and does not contract to a tiny circle, like
dog’s or man’s.

Nor did Ruff have the long and couchant hindlegs and short catlike
forelegs of Pitchdark. His were the honestly sturdy legs and sturdy pads
of a collie.

The wolf is the dog’s brother. They be of one blood. They can and do
mate as readily as dog and dog. Dog and fox are far different. Their
cousinship is remote. Their physique is remoter;—too remote to permit of
blending. There is almost as much of the cat as of the dog in a fox’s
cosmos;—too much of it to permit of interbreeding with the cat-detesting
dog.

Yet Ruff and Pitchdark were loving pals. They profited materially from
their association; so far as food-getting went. They were inseparable
comrades, through the fat summer and autumn and in the lean winter which
followed.

In the bitter weather, when rabbits were few and when most birds had
flown south and when rodents were holed in, it was young Ruff whose
daring and strength enabled them to snatch fawns from snow-lined
deer-yards in the mountain creases and to raid sheepfolds and rip
through flimsy hencoop doors. He kept them alive and he kept them in
good condition. Daily he grew larger and stronger and wilier.

At a year, he weighed a full sixty pounds; and he had the strength and
uncanny quickness of a tiger-cat. It was he now who led; while Pitchdark
followed in meek adoration. Such foxes as they chanced to meet fled in
sullen terror before the collie’s assault. Ruff did not like foxes.

The next autumn brought forth the hunters. A few city folk and farm-boys
ranged the hills with fowling piece and with or without bird dog or
rabbit hound. These novices were ridiculously easy for Ruff and
Pitchdark to avoid. They offered still less menace to Whitefoot ranging
in solitary comfort on the thither side of the mountain wall.

But the real hunters of the region were a more serious obstacle to smug
comfort and to safety. They were lanky or stumpy men in woolly old
clothes and accompanied by businesslike hounds. These men did not bother
with mere sport or pot hunting. Red fox pelts brought this year $11.50
each, uncured, from the wholesaler down at Heckettville. Fox hunting was
a recognised form of livelihood here in the upland valley district.

It was not like quail shooting or other sport open to any amateur. It
was an art. It called for craft and for experience and for a rudimentary
knowledge of the habits of foxes and for perfect marksmanship. Also it
required the aid of a well-trained foxhound;—not the type of foxhound
the pink coats trail after, in conventional hunting fields—not the
spruce foxhound on exhibition at dogshows—but rangy and stringy and wise
and tireless dogs of dubious pedigree but vast fox-sense.

A veteran hunter with a good hound, in that part of the country and in
those days, could readily pay the year’s taxes and improvements on his
farm by the fox-pelts he was able to secure in a single month’s roaming
of the hills. Wherefore, now that the year’s farmwork was done, these
few experts began their season of lucrative and sportless sport.

Time and again some gaunt and sad-faced hound, that fall, hit
Pitchdark’s confused trail; only to veer from it presently when his
nostrils caught the unmistakable dog-scent along with it. Still oftener
did a hound cling tenaciously to that trail; only to be outwitted by the
vixen’s cleverer manœuvres.

Pitchdark had as much genius for eluding pursuit as for climbing
unclimbable fences. There are such foxes.

In these retreats from pursuing hounds it was she who took up afresh the
leadership she had laid down. Ruff followed her, implicitly, in her many
mazelike twists and doublings. At first he followed, blindly. But
gradually he began to get the hang of it, and to devise collie
improvements on the hide-and-seek game.

He and she were alone in their wanderings; especially since the hunting
season forced them higher among the almost inaccessible peaks of the
range. Foxes that crossed their path or happened to sight or scent them
fled as ever in terror at the dog-smell.

In midwinter, the day after a “tracking snow” had fallen, one Jeffreys
Holt, an aged fox-hunter, tramping home with his tired hound at his
heels, chanced upon an incredible sight.

An animal rounded a bend of rock on a hillside perhaps a hundred yards
in front of him; and stood there, stockstill, for a few seconds, sharply
outlined against the snow. Then, as Holt stared slackjawed, the creature
oozed from sight into a crevice. Holt plunged ahead, urging his weary
hound to the chase. But by the time he reached the crevice there was no
sign of the quarry.

The cleft led through to an opening on the far side of a rocky outcrop.
Thence a hundred-yard rib of rock jutted above the snow. Along this,
presumably, had the prey fled; for there were no further marks of him in
the whiteness. Holt cast his dog futilely upon the trail. He studied the
footprints in the snow at the point where first the beast had been
standing. Then he plodded home.

Whitefoot, from the safety of another double-entry rock-lair, a furlong
away, watched him depart. Long immunity had made the big dog-fox
overbold. Yet this was the first time human eyes had focused on him for
two years.

At the store, that night, Rance Venner glanced up from his task of
ordering supplies for the Stippled Silver Kennels and listened with
sudden interest to the harangue of an oldster among the group around the
stove.

“I’m telling you,” Holt was insisting, in reply to a doubter, “I’m
telling you I saw him as plain as I see you. Jet black he was, only his
tailtip was white, and one of his hindfeet; and there was shiny grey
hairs sticking out from his shoulders and over his eyebrows. He—”

“Somebody’s black dog, most likely,” suggested the doubter.

“Dog nothing!” snorted Holt. “I’ve killed too many foxes not to know ’em
from dogs. This was a fox. A reg’lar ol’ he-one. A corker. And I’m
telling you he was coal-black; all but the tip of his tail and them
hairs sprinkled all over his mask and—”

“Well,” soothed the doubter, seeking to calm Holt’s vexed vehemence,
“I’m not saying there mayn’t be black foxes with white tails and white
hindfeet and grey masks. For all I know, there’s maybe foxes that’s
bright green and foxes that’s red-white-and-blue, or speckled with pink.
There may be. Only nobody’s ever seen ’em. Any more’n anybody’s ever
seen a black-and-white-and-grey one, till you seen that one to-day,
Jeff. I—”

Rance Venner came into the circle of disputants. He did not mingle with
the folk of this village, six miles from his fox-farm. This was his
first visit to the store. The emporium nearest his home had burned down,
that week. Hence his need to go farther afield for supplies.

“You say you saw a silver fox?” he asked excitedly, confronting Holt.

Holt stared truculently at him; suspecting further banter and not
relishing it from a stranger.

“Nope,” solemnly spoke up the doubter. “Not silver. Rainbow-colour, with
a streak of this here radium you’ve likely heard tell of. Jeff Holt
don’t see queer things, often. But when he does, he sure sees ’em plenty
vivid.”

“My name is Venner,” went on Rance, still addressing Holt. “My brother
and I run the Stippled Silver Fox Farm, up above Croziers. Two years ago
a couple of our silver foxes got loose on us. They—”

“Sure they wasn’t di’mond foxes?” asked the doubter, politely.

The audience snickered at this scintillant flash of native wit. But
Rance went on, unheeding. Briefly, he explained the appearance and
general nature and value of silver foxes; and expanded upon the loss of
the two that had escaped from his kennel.

His oration gained scant personal interest; until he made a cash offer
of $75 to any one who would bring him Whitefoot’s or Pitchdark’s pelt in
good condition. He made an offer of $125 for either fox if captured
alive and undamaged.

At this point incredulity reached its climax among his hearers. But when
Venner pulled twenty-five dollars from his hip pocket and deposited it
with the postmaster-storekeeper in evidence of good faith, the sight of
real money caused a wholesale conversion.

This conversion became rockbound conviction when, next night, Holt
returned from a call upon the wholesale pelt-buyer at Heckettville,
fifteen miles away.

“Say!” reported Holt, to the group of idling men at the stove-side.
“That Venner cuss ain’t loony, after all. Gannett told me all about them
silver foxes. They’re true, all right. Showed me a picture of one. The
spitting image of the one I seen. Gave me this circ’lar to prove it. It
was sent to him by the gov’ment or by some sort of association. Listen
here.”

Drawing out a folder, he began to read at random:

"Some silver foxes are cheap at $1,000.... If every silver fox in the
world should be pelted in November or December, when the fur is prime,
they could all be disposed of in a city the size of New York, in less
than a week, at a fab—at a fab’lous sum."

Impressively and for the most part taking the more unfamiliar words in
his stride, Jeffreys Holt continued to read. Nor did he cease until he
had made his eager audience acquainted with every line of the folder,
including the printer’s name and address in the lozenge at the foot of
the fourth page.

Next morning all available fox traps for some miles around were on duty
in the woods and among the hilltop rock-barrens. Every man who
understood the first thing about fox hunting was abroad with gun and
dog, as well as local wealth-seekers to whom the fine art of tracking
foxes was merely a thing of hearsay. In that meagre community and in
that meagre time of a meagre year, the lure of $75, to say nothing of
$125, was irresistible. The village went afield.

Rance Venner and his brother were among the hunters, they and their
little mixed-blood foxhound, Ruby.

Before dawn, Ruff and Pitchdark caught the distant signs of the chase,
and they denned in, far among the peak rocks, for the day. At that, the
chase might perhaps have neared their lofty eyrie before sunset, but for
Whitefoot.

The big dog-fox had enjoyed long immunity from harm. He lacked
Pitchdark’s super-caution. His adventure with man and dog, two days
earlier, had resulted in no harm to himself. With entire ease he had
blurred pursuit. Seeking rabbits again, in the clefts of the same
rockridge, at sunrise on this day of universal hunting, he heard hounds
baying futilely in far quarters of the valley and foothills below him.

Instead of denning in, as had his former mate and Ruff, he went on with
his own hunt. Lacking a confederate like the collie to help him find
food which was beyond his own vulpine powers to capture or slay,
Whitefoot had begun to feel the pinch of winter-hunger. Unappeasable
appetite made him take chances from which the vixen would have recoiled.

For example, the sound and smell of the distant hunt, this morning, did
not send him to cover. All autumn and early winter he had been hearing
such far-off sounds, had been catching the man-and-dog scent. Never had
he come to harm from any of it. He had been able to keep out of its way.
Until that afternoon when Holt chanced upon him, no human eye had seen
him. And even then there had been no trouble about getting away clean.

There were rabbits hiding in these clefts and crevices along the
ridge-side. Whitefoot could smell them. With luck he might be able to
stampede one of them into a cul-de-sac cranny big enough to admit his
own slim body.

An empty and gnawing stomach urged him on. It urged him on, even after
he caught the scent of human footprints which had passed that way, not
an hour agone. It urged him on, even when, in a cranny, he came upon a
contrivance of wood and iron which fairly reeked of human touch. The
thing reeked of something else—of an excessively dead chicken which lay
just beyond it in the cleft.

Too crafty to go past such a man-made and man-scented contrivance, yet
Whitefoot felt his mouth water at the ancient odour of the chicken. He
craved it beyond anything. Detouring the top of the ridge, he entered
the cleft from the other side. No visible object of man’s workmanship
checked him here or stood between him and the tempting food. Of course
the man-scent was as strong here as at the opposite end. But the morning
wind was shifting through the cleft, bearing the reek with it.

Cautiously the half-starved fox padded forward through the drift of dead
leaves toward the chicken which itself was half buried in leafage. His
jaws closed on it.

As he backed out with his treasure-trove, steel jaws closed on his left
forefoot.

An hour later, Rance Venner and Holt climbed the ridge to visit the
former’s newfangled patent fox-trap. In the centre of a patch of bloody
trampled snow lay a magnificent silver fox; moveless, his eyes rolled
back; his teeth curled away from his upper jaw. Limp and pitifully still
he lay.

Venner ran forward with a cry of joy and knelt to unfasten the trap jaws
from the lifeless creature’s paw.

“It’s our King Whitefoot II!” he exulted, laying the supine body in his
lap and smoothing the rumpled glory of pelt. “But I can’t figure why
he’s dead. Maybe the shock killed him, or else he broke a blood-vessel
in his brain trying to tear loose. He—”

The rambling conjecture ended in a hoot of pain. There was an
indescribably swift whirl of the inert black body. Rance Venner’s thumb
received a lightning bite from teeth which scraped sickeningly into its
very bone. Whitefoot was flying like mad for the nearest available
rock-cranny.

Venner once more was increasing his knowledge of fox-character. Apart
from enacting prodigies at digging and at climbing, it appeared now that
foxes, in emergency, understood to perfection the trick of playing dead.

Away flashed Whitefoot, his lacerated forepaw marring his speed not at
all. Jeffreys Holt was an old enough huntsman to act on sheer instinct.
Through no conscious volition of his own he whipped to his shoulder the
gun that had hung idle in his grasp while he watched Rance open the
trap. Taking snap aim, he pulled trigger.

Whitefoot did not stop at once his panic flight. He continued it for two
yards longer; rolling over and over like a mechanical toy, before
thumping against the rock-side, stone dead.

“There’s another good stunt we done, in getting that ol’ feller,”
remarked Holt, ten minutes later, as he and Venner made their way
downhill with their prize. “I’ll bet my share of his pelt he’s the fox
that’s been working the hencoops all along the valley, this winter. He’s
a whooping big cuss. And no common-size fox could ’a busted in the coop
doors like he did at a couple of places. Now that we got the fox, I
s’pose it’s up to us to get the wolf.”

“What wolf?” mumbled Venner, still sucking his bitten thumb.

“Why, the one the Grange reward is out for, of course,” answered Holt in
surprise at such ignorance. “First wolf that’s been in this section in
thutty years or more. He’s been at sheepfolds, all over. At hencoops,
too. First-off folks thought maybe it was a stray cur. But no dog c’d do
the smart wolf-stunts that feller’s done. Pizen-shy and trap-wise. It’s
a wolf, all right, all right.”

The store was jammed, for two hours or more, that evening, by folk who
came to stare at the wonder-fox. Next day and the next the whole
community was out in quest of the priceless vixen.

All the second day, after a night of successful forage, Ruff and
Pitchdark denned amid the rocks of their peak. At nightfall they fared
forth again, as usual. But as they were padding contentedly back to
their safe eyrie at grey dawn, Pitchdark failed to note a deadfall which
had been placed in a hillside gully three months earlier.

Going back and forth—always of course by different routes—during the
past three days, she and Ruff had scented and avoided a score of
shrewdly-laid traps scattered here and there. But this clumsy deadfall
had been in place since November, when a farm lad had set it and then
forgotten all about it. Rains and snow and winds had rubbed it clean of
any vestige of man-scent. It seemed nothing but a fallen log propped
against a tree-trunk.

By way of a short cut, Pitchdark ran under it.

There was a thump, followed at once by an astounded yell. The vixen,
flattened out, lay whimpering under the tumbled log.

Ruff was trotting along; a yard or so behind her. The fall of the log
had made him spring instinctively sideways. Now he went over to where
Pitchdark lay moaning and writhing. Tenderly he sniffed at her; then he
walked around the log and her pinioned body. In another second he was at
work clawing and shoving at the weight that imprisoned her.

The log was too light for its purpose. Also the boy who made and set the
trap was a novice. The end of the log had come to rest on a knot of wood
near the tree base. Ruff’s weight and applied strength set it a-rolling.
Off from the vixen it bumped; while she cried out again in agony.

Ruff turned to greet her as she should leap joyously to her feet. But
she did not leap. The impact of the falling log had injured her spine.
The best she could do was to crawl painfully along, stomach to the
ground; whining with pain at every step. Her hindlegs sagged useless.
Her forepaws made all the progress.

Yet she was a gallant sufferer. Keenly aware that she was in no
condition to face or flee any possible dangers of the open, she made
pluckily for the eyrie on the distant peak. The great collie slackened
his pace to hers. At a windfall, too high for her to clamber over, he
caught her gently by the nape of the neck with his mighty jaws and
scrambled over the impediment, carrying her with him.

Thus, at snail-pace, they made their way homeward; the collie close
beside his crippled chum; quivering from head to foot in distress as now
and then the pain forced from her a sharp outcry.

Dawn deepened into daylight. Up came the winter sun, shouldering its
sulky way through dun horizon mists. The day was on. And Ruff and
Pitchdark were not yet within a mile of their hiding place.

The last mile promised to be the worst mile; rising as it did, almost
precipice-like, to the summit; and strewn with boulder and rift. To the
light-footed pair, such a clamber had ever been childishly easy. Now it
threatened to be one long torment to the vixen.

No longer, since the accident, did they seek as usual to confuse or
obliterate their homeward trail. There was no question now of wasting a
step or of delaying the needful moment of safety.

Then, as they came to a ten-foot cliff, at the base of the peak’s last
stiff climb, they halted and looked miserably upward. Along the face of
this rock wall a narrow rudimentary trail ran, from bottom to top; a
widened rock-fissure. The fox and the collie were wont to take it almost
at a bound.

But now there was no question of bounding. Nor was the collie able to
navigate the tricky climb with Pitchdark suspended from his jaws. It was
not a matter of weight but of leverage and of balance. He had sense
enough to know that.

For the past half-mile he had been carrying the vixen, her helpless
hindlegs dragging along the ground. Very tenderly, by the nape of the
neck, he had borne her along. Yet the wrenching motion had forced cries
from her, so that once and again he had set her down and stared in
pitiful sorrow at her.

Now, Pitchdark took matters into her own hands. At the base of the cliff
was an alcove niche of rock, perhaps two feet deep and eighteen inches
wide; roofed over by a slant of half-fallen stone. It was bedded with
dead leaves. There were worse holes into which to crawl to die, than was
this natural den. Into it, painfully, wearily, the vixen dragged her
racked body. There she laid herself down on the leaf-couch; spent and in
torture. She had come to the end of her journey; though still a mile on
the hither side of the den where she and Ruff were wont to hide.

It was no hiding place, no safe refuge, this niche of rock wherein she
lay. But it was the best substitute. Panting, she settled down to bear
her anguish as best she might. Above her, at the opening of the niche,
stood the heartsick dog that loved her.

Puzzled, miserable, tormented, he stood there. At times he would bend
down to lick the sufferer, crooning softly to her. But she gave him
scant heed.

A rabbit scuttled across the snowy open space in front of the cliff.
With a dash, Ruff was after him. A few rods away the chase ended in a
reddened swirl of the snow. Back to Pitchdark trotted Ruff, the rabbit
in his mouth. He laid the offering in front of her. But she was past
eating or so much as noticing food.

Then, as he watched her, his deepset dark eyes sick with pity and grief,
he stiffened to attention; and his lip curled away from his curving
white teeth. The morning breeze bore to him a scent and a sound that had
but one meaning.

The scent was of dogs. The sound was of multiple baying.

Instinctively he glanced at the cliff-trail—the trail he could surmount
so quickly and easily, to the safety of the peak’s upper reaches. Then
his unhappy gaze fell on Pitchdark. The baying and the odour had reached
her even more keenly than it had reached Ruff. She read it aright; and
the realisation brought her out of the pain-daze into which she had
fallen. She tried to get to her feet. Failing, she fell to whimpering
softly.

Once she peered up, questioningly, at Ruff. The big collie was standing
in front of the niche, shielding it with his strong body. His head was
high and his eye had the look of eagles. Gone from his expression was
the furtiveness of the wild. In this crisis he was all collie. The sun
blazed on his flaming red-gold coat and his snowy mass of ruff and
frill. Every muscle was tense. Every faculty was alert.

Zeb Harlow knew nothing about fox-hunting. Indeed, he knew little enough
about anything. But at the store conclave, the preceding night, his
fancy had been fired by tales of the silver foxhunt. He had an
inspiration.

Before daybreak he was abroad; gun in hand. Going from one sleeping
neighbour’s to another’s, he loosed and took along with him no fewer
than five chained foxhounds.

The dogs all knew him well enough to let him handle them. There was not
one of the five that would not have followed anybody who carried a gun.
So his one-man hunt was organised. He and the five hounds made for the
ridge where, two days before, Whitefoot had been caught.

From reading nature-faked tales of rattlesnakes, Zeb argued that the
slain fox’s mate would be haunting the scene of her spouse’s death. It
was a pretty theory; as pretty as it was asinine. Like many another
wholly idiotic premise it led to large results—of a sort.

As Zeb was traversing a wooded gully on the way to the ridge, the
foremost hound gave tongue. The pack had come to the spot where
Pitchdark had been crippled. From that point a blind mongrel puppy could
have followed the pungent trail.

Oblivious of Harlow, for whom they had all a dog’s amusedly tolerant
contempt for an inefficient human leader, the quintet swept away on the
track. Zeb made shift to follow as best he could. Not being a woodsman,
his progress was slow.

Up the gully they roared and out into the hillside birch woods beyond
and thence to the patch of broken ground over which Ruff had carried
Pitchdark so tenderly. The scent was rankly strong now. It was
breast-high. No longer was there need to work with nostrils to earth.
The dragging hindfeet of the vixen were easier to follow than an
aniseseed lure.

Out into the cleared space they swung—the clearing with the ten-foot
cliff behind it. There, not fifty yards in front of them, clearly
visible between the braced legs of a shimmering gold-and-white collie on
guard at the niche opening, crouched their prey.

Deliriously they rushed to the kill.

The kill was there. But so was the killer.

Perhaps there are two foxhounds on earth which together can down a
normal collie. Assuredly there is no one foxhound that can hope to
achieve the deed. Most assuredly such a hound was not the half-breed
black-and-yellow leader of that impromptu pack.

The black-and-yellow made for the niche, a clean dozen lengths ahead of
his nearest follower. Blind to all but the lust of slaughter, he dived
between the braced legs of the movelessly-waiting collie, and struck for
the cowering vixen.

Ruff drove downward at him as the hound dived. The collie’s terrible
jaws clamped shut behind the base of the leader’s skull. The aim, made
accurate by a thousand snaps at fleeing rabbits and rising birds, was
flawless. The jaws had been strengthened past normal by the daily
grinding of bony food.

Ruff tossed high his head. The black-and-yellow was flung in air and
fell back amid his onrushing fellows; his neck broken, his spinal cord
severed.

But that was Ruff’s last opportunity for individual fighting. The four
following hounds were upon him; in one solid battling mass. Noting their
leader’s fate they did not make the error of trying to jostle past to
the vixen. Instead, they sought to clear the way by flinging themselves
ravenously on her solitary guard.

The rest was horror.

There was no scope for scientific fighting or for craft. The four
fastened upon the collie, in murderous unison. They might more wisely
have fastened upon a hornet-nest.

Down, under their avalanche of weight went Ruff; battling as he fell.
But a collie down is not a collie beaten. As he fell, he slashed to the
bone the nearest gaunt shoulder. By the time he had struck ground on his
back, he lunged upward for one flying spotted hindleg that chanced to
flounder nearest to his jaws. The fighting tricks of his long-ago wolf
ancestors came to him in his hour of stress. Catching the leg midway
between hock and body he gave a sidewise wrench to it that wellnigh
heaved off the pack that piled upon him. The possessor of the spotted
hindleg screeched aloud and gave back, tumbling out of the ruck with a
fractured and useless limb.

Up from the tangle of fighting hounds arose Ruff, his golden coat
a-smear with blood. High he reared above the surrounding heads.
Slashing, tearing, dodging, wheeling, he fought clear of his mangled
foes.

For an instant, as they gathered their force for a new charge at this
tigerlike adversary, the great collie stood clear of them all. A single
bound would have carried him to the cliff trail. Thence, to its top
would have been a climb of less than half a second. At the summit he
could have fought back an army of dogs or he could have made his escape
to the fastnesses beyond. Never was there a foxhound that could keep
pace with a racing collie.

The coast was clear, if only for an instant. There was time—just
time—for the leap. Ruff made the leap.

But he did not make it in the direction of the inviting trail. Instead,
he sprang back again in front of the trembling vixen as she crouched in
her niche.

A fox would have fled. So would any creature of the wild. But no longer
was Ruff a creature of the wild. In his supreme moment he was all
collie.

Whirling to face his oncoming enemies he took his stand. And there the
charge of the hounds crashed into him.

By footwork, by dodging, by leading his foes into a chase where they
should string out, he could have conquered them. But this he dared not
do. He knew well what must befall Pitchdark the moment he should leave
the niche unguarded. So he stood where he was; and went down once more
under the rush.

There were but three opponents atop him, this time. The spotted hound
was out of the fight, with a crunched leg and a craven heart. Nor were
any of the three others unmarked by slash or nip or tear.

Now, as Ruff fell he pulled one of the three down with him; his awful
fangs busy at the hound’s throat. A second of the trio rolled over with
them; the forequarters of his inverted body sprawled within the niche.
While he bit and roared at the fast-rolling Ruff, the vixen saw her
chance. Darting her head forward, she set her needle teeth deep in the
hound’s throat. Instantly, seared by the hurt, he was atop her; ripping
away at her unprotected back; tearing it to ribbons. But, with death
upon her and the rear half of her paralysed, she did not abate the
merciless grinding at the hound’s throat. Presently, the needle teeth
found their goal.

Ruff was up again; one of his assailants gasping out his life beneath
him; the other with Pitchdark clinging in death to his throat. Torn and
bleeding and panting as he was, Ruff flew at the fourth dog; the only
one of the five still in fighting condition.

Before that one-to-one onset the mongrel hound’s heart went back on him.
He turned and fled; but not before Ruff’s madly twisting jaws had lamed
him for life.

The battle was fought and won. Of the five hounds, one lay dead; two
more were dying, a fourth was lying helpless with a crunched hindleg.
The fifth was in limping flight.

The young collie staggered, then righted himself. Crossing to Pitchdark,
he bent painfully down and licked her face—the face whose teeth were
locked in her oppressor’s throat.

Never now would that glorious pelt sell for hundreds of dollars; or even
for hundreds of cents. The dying hound had seen to that. So had the dog
now limping away. This latter had taken advantage of Ruff’s
preoccupation with his two fellows, as they rolled in the snow, to tear
destructively at the silken coat as the vixen’s teeth were finding their
way to his comrade’s jugular.

Crooning, licking, Ruff sought to make his loved little foster-mother
awaken. Then he lifted his head and wheeled wearily about to face a new
intruder.

Across the snow toward him was clumping a slack-faced man who gripped in
both hands a cocked gun and who was shouting foolishly in his
excitement. Zeb Harlow had caught up to the hunt at last.

Ruff had not been so near to any human since he was a fortnight old. The
carefully-taught lessons of Pitchdark warned him to turn and flee. The
cliff trail was still open to him. But into the brain that was once
again all collie there seeped a queer sensation the big dog could not
analyse.

His dear little comrade was dead. Without her the old life would be
empty. His was the collie heritage—the stark need for comradeship;
coupled with the unconscious craving to be owned by man and to give his
devotion to man, his god.

Still unable to analyse his own unwonted feelings, Ruff bent again and
licked Pitchdark’s dead face. Then, hesitant, he took a step toward the
stormily advancing Harlow. He took another irresolute step; paused again
and wagged his plumy tail.

“Attacked me, he did!” bragged Zeb Harlow, that night at the store.
“Come straight for me, like he was going to eat me alive. But I stopped
him, all right, all right. I stood my ground. After the second step he
took, I let him have both bar’ls. You saw for yourselves what he looked
like after he tried to tackle ME.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                         TWO: The Coming of Lad

------------------------------------------------------------------------



[Illustration]


TWO: The Coming of Lad


In the mile-away village of Hampton, there had been a veritable epidemic
of burglaries—ranging from the theft of a brand-new ash-can from the
steps of the Methodist chapel to the ravaging of Mrs. Blauvelt’s whole
lineful of clothes, on a washday dusk.

Up the Valley and down it, from Tuxedo to Ridgewood, there had been a
half-score robberies of a very different order—depredations wrought,
manifestly, by professionals; thieves whose motor cars served the
twentieth century purpose of such historic steeds as Dick Turpin’s Black
Bess and Jack Shepard’s Ranter. These thefts were in the line of jewelry
and the like; and were as daringly wrought as were the modest local
operators’ raids on ash-can and laundry.

It is the easiest thing in the world to stir humankind’s ever-tense
burglar-nerves into hysterical jangling. In house after house, for miles
of the peaceful North Jersey region, old pistols were cleaned and
loaded; window fastenings and door-locks were inspected and new
hiding-places found for portable family treasures.

Across the lake from the village, and down the Valley from a dozen
country homes, seeped the tide of precautions. And it swirled at last
around the Place,—a thirty-acre homestead, isolated and sweet, whose
grounds ran from highway to lake; and whose wisteria-clad grey house
drowsed among big oaks midway between road and water; a furlong or more
distant from either.

The Place’s family dog,—a pointer,—had died, rich in years and honour.
And the new peril of burglary made it highly needful to choose a
successor for him.

The Master talked of buying a whalebone-and-steel-and-snow bull terrier,
or a more formidable if more greedy Great Dane. But the Mistress wanted
a collie. So they compromised by getting the collie.

He reached the Place in a crampy and smelly crate; preceded by a long
envelope containing an intricate and imposing pedigree. The
burglary-preventing problem seemed solved.

But when the crate was opened and its occupant stepped gravely forth, on
the Place’s veranda, the problem was revived.

All the Master and the Mistress had known about the newcomer,—apart from
his price and his lofty lineage,—was that his breeder had named him
“Lad.”

From these meagre facts they had somehow built up a picture of a huge
and grimly ferocious animal that should be a terror to all intruders and
that might in time be induced to make friends with the Place’s
vouched-for occupants. In view of this, they had had a stout kennel made
and to it they had affixed with double staples a chain strong enough to
restrain a bull.

(It may as well be said here that never in all the sixteen years of his
beautiful life did Lad occupy that or any other kennel nor wear that or
any other chain.)

Even the crate which brought the new dog to the Place failed somehow to
destroy the illusion of size and fierceness. But, the moment the crate
door was opened the delusion was wrecked by Lad himself.

Out on to the porch he walked. The ramshackle crate behind him had a
ridiculous air of a chrysalis from which some bright thing had departed.
For a shaft of sunlight was shimmering athwart the veranda floor. And
into the middle of the warm bar of radiance Laddie stepped,—and stood.

His fluffy puppy-coat of wavy mahogany-and-white caught a million
sunbeams, reflecting them back in tawny-orange glints and in a dazzle as
of snow. His forepaws were absurdly small, even for a puppy’s. Above
them the ridging of the stocky leg-bones gave as clear promise of mighty
size and strength as did the amazingly deep little chest and square
shoulders.

Here one day would stand a giant among dogs, powerful as a timber-wolf,
lithe as a cat, as dangerous to foes as an angry tiger; a dog without
fear or treachery; a dog of uncanny brain and great lovingly loyal heart
and, withal, a dancing sense of fun. A dog with a soul.

All this, any canine physiologist might have read from the compact
frame, the proud head-carriage, the smoulder in the deep-set sorrowful
dark eyes. To the casual observer, he was but a beautiful and appealing
and wonderfully cuddleable bunch of puppyhood.

Lad’s dark eyes swept the porch, the soft swelling green of the lawn,
the flash of fire-blue lake among the trees below. Then, he deigned to
look at the group of humans at one side of him. Gravely, impersonally,
he surveyed them; not at all cowed or strange in his new surroundings;
courteously inquisitive as to the twist of luck that had set him down
here and as to the people who, presumably, were to be his future
companions.

Perhaps the stout little heart quivered just a bit, if memory went back
to his home kennel and to the rowdy throng of brothers and sisters and,
most of all, to the soft furry mother against whose side he had nestled
every night since he was born. But if so, Lad was too valiant to show
homesickness by so much as a whimper. And, assuredly, this House of
Peace was infinitely better than the miserable crate wherein he had
spent twenty horrible and jouncing and smelly and noisy hours.

From one to another of the group strayed the level sorrowful gaze. After
the swift inspection, Laddie’s eyes rested again on the Mistress. For an
instant, he stood, looking at her, in that mildly polite curiosity which
held no hint of personal interest.

Then, all at once, his plumy tail began to wave. Into his sad eyes
sprang a flicker of warm friendliness. Unbidden—oblivious of every one
else—he trotted across to where the Mistress sat. He put one tiny white
paw in her lap; and stood thus, looking up lovingly into her face, tail
awag, eyes shining.

“There’s no question whose dog he’s going to be,” laughed the Master.
“He’s elected you,—by acclamation.”

The Mistress caught up into her arms the half-grown youngster, petting
his silken head, running her white fingers through his shining mahogany
coat; making crooning little friendly noises to him. Lad forgot he was a
dignified and stately pocket-edition of a collie. Under this spell, he
changed in a second to an excessively loving and nestling and adoring
puppy.

“Just the same,” interposed the Master, “we’ve been stung. I wanted a
dog to guard the Place and to be a menace to burglars and all that sort
of thing. And they’ve sent us a Teddy-Bear. I think I’ll ship him back
and get a grown one. What sort of use is—?”

“He is going to be all those things,” eagerly prophesied the Mistress.
“And a hundred more. See how he loves to have me pet him! And,—look—he’s
learned, already, to shake hands, and—”

“Fine!” applauded the Master. “So when it comes our turn to be visited
by this motor-Raffles, the puppy will shake hands with him, and register
love of petting; and the burly marauder will be so touched by Lad’s
friendliness that he’ll not only spare our house but lead an upright
life ever after. I—”

"Don’t send him back!" she pleaded. “He’ll grow up, soon, and—”

"And if only the courteous burglars will wait till he’s a couple of
years old," suggested the Master, “he—”

Set gently on the floor by the Mistress, Laddie had crossed to where the
Master stood. The man, glancing down, met the puppy’s gaze. For an
instant he scowled at the miniature watchdog, so ludicrously different
from the ferocious brute he had expected. Then,—for some queer
reason,—he stooped and ran his hand roughly over the tawny coat, letting
it rest at last on the shapely head that did not flinch or wriggle at
his touch.

“All right,” he decreed. “Let him stay. He’ll be an amusing pet for you,
anyhow. And his eye has the true thoroughbred expression,—‘the look of
eagles.’ He may amount to something after all. Let him stay. We’ll take
a chance on burglars.”

So it was that Lad came to the Place. So it was that he demanded and
received due welcome;—which was ever Lad’s way. The Master had been
right about the pup’s proving “an amusing pet,” for the Mistress.
From that first hour, Lad was never willingly out of her sight. He
had adopted her. The Master, too,—in only a little lesser
wholeheartedness,—he adopted. Toward the rest of the world, from the
first, he was friendly but more or less indifferent.

Almost at once, his owners noted an odd trait in the dog’s nature. He
would of course get into any or all of the thousand mischief-scrapes
which are the heritage of puppies. But, a single reproof was enough to
cure him forever of the particular form of mischief which had just been
chidden. He was one of those rare dogs that learn the Law by instinct;
and that remember for all time a command or a prohibition once given
them.

For example:—On his second day at the Place, he made a furious rush at a
neurotic mother hen and her golden convoy of chicks. The
Mistress,—luckily for all concerned,—was within call. At her sharp
summons the puppy wheeled, midway in his charge, and trotted back to
her. Severely, yet trying not to laugh at his worried aspect, she
scolded Lad for his misdeed.

An hour later, as Lad was scampering ahead of her, past the stables,
they rounded a corner and came flush upon the same nerve-wrecked hen and
her brood. Lad halted in his scamper, with a suddenness that made him
skid. Then, walking as though on eggs, he made an idiotically wide
circle about the feathered dam and her silly chicks. Never thereafter
did he assail any of the Place’s fowls.

It was the same, when he sprang up merrily at a line of laundry,
flapping in alluring invitation from the drying ground lines. A single
word of rebuke,—and thenceforth the family wash was safe from him.

And so on with the myriad perplexing “Don’ts” which spatter the career
of a fun-loving collie pup. Versed in the patience-fraying ways of pups
in general, the Mistress and the Master marvelled and bragged and
praised.

All day and every day, life was a delight to the little dog. He had
friends, everywhere, willing to romp with him. He had squirrels to
chase, among the oaks. He had the lake to splash ecstatically in. He had
all he wanted to eat; and he had all the petting his hungry little heart
could crave.

He was even allowed, with certain restrictions, to come into the
mysterious house itself. Nor, after one defiant bark at a leopardskin
rug, did he molest anything therein. In the house, too, he found a
genuine cave:—a wonderful place to lie and watch the world at large, and
to stay cool in and to pretend he was a wolf. The cave was the deep
space beneath the piano in the music room. It seemed to have a peculiar
charm to Lad. To the end of his days, by the way, this cave was his
chosen resting place. Nor, in his lifetime, did any other dog set foot
therein.

So much for “all day and every day.” But the nights were different.

Lad hated the nights. In the first place, everybody went to bed and left
him alone. In the second, his hard-hearted owners made him sleep on a
fluffy rug in a corner of the veranda instead of in his delectable
piano-cave. Moreover, there was no food at night. And there was nobody
to play with or to go for walks with or to listen to. There was nothing
but gloom and silence and dulness.

When a puppy takes fifty cat-naps in the course of the day, he cannot
always be expected to sleep the night through. It is too much to ask.
And Lad’s waking hours at night were times of desolation and of utter
boredom. True, he might have consoled himself, as does many a lesser
pup, with voicing his woes in a series of melancholy howls. That, in
time, would have drawn plenty of human attention to the lonely
youngster; even if the attention were not wholly flattering.

But Lad did not belong to the howling type. When he was unhappy, he
waxed silence. And his sorrowful eyes took on a deeper woe. By the way,
if there is anything more sorrowful than the eyes of a collie pup that
has never known sorrow, I have yet to see it.

No, Lad could not howl. And he could not hunt for squirrels. For these
enemies of his were not content with the unsportsmanliness of climbing
out of his reach in the daytime, when he chased them; but they added to
their sins by joining the rest of the world,—except Lad,—in sleeping all
night. Even the lake that was so friendly by day was a chilly and
forbidding playfellow on the cool North Jersey nights.

There was nothing for a poor lonely pup to do but stretch out on his rug
and stare in unhappy silence up the driveway, in the impossible hope
that some one might happen along through the darkness to play with him.

At such an hour and in such lonesomeness, Lad would gladly have tossed
aside all prejudices of caste,—and all his natural dislikes,—and would
have frolicked in mad joy with the veriest stranger. Anything was better
than this drear solitude throughout the million hours before the first
of the maids should be stirring or the first of the farmhands report for
work. Yes, night was a disgusting time; and it had not one single
redeeming trait for the puppy.

Lad was not even consoled by the knowledge that he was guarding the
slumbrous house. He was not guarding it. He had not the very remotest
idea what it meant to be a watchdog. In all his five months he had never
learned that there is unfriendliness in the world; or that there is
anything to guard a house against.

True, it was instinctive with him to bark when people came down the
drive, or appeared at the gates without warning. But more than once the
Master had bidden him be silent when a rackety puppy salvo of barking
had broken in on the arrival of some guest. And Lad was still in
perplexed doubt as to whether barking was something forbidden or merely
limited.

One night,—a solemn, black, breathless August night, when half-visible
heat lightning turned the murk of the western horizon to pulses of dirty
sulphur,—Lad awoke from a fitful dream of chasing squirrels which had
never learned to climb.

He sat up on his rug, blinking around through the gloom in the half hope
that some of those non-climbing squirrels might still be in sight. As
they were not, he sighed unhappily and prepared to lay his classic young
head back again on the rug for another spell of night-shortening sleep.

But, before his head could touch the rug, he reared it and half of his
small body from the floor and focused his nearsighted eyes on the
driveway. At the same time, his tail began to wag a thumping welcome.

Now, by day, a dog cannot see so far nor so clearly as can a human. But
by night,—for comparatively short distances,—he can see much better than
can his master. By day or by darkness, his keen hearing and keener scent
make up for all defects of eyesight.

And now three of Lad’s senses told him he was no longer alone in his
tedious vigil. Down the drive, moving with amusing slowness and silence,
a man was coming. He was on foot. And he was fairly well dressed.
Dogs,—the foremost snobs in creation,—are quick to note the difference
between a well-clad and a disreputable stranger.

Here unquestionably was a visitor:—some such man as so often came to the
Place and paid such flattering attention to the puppy. No longer need
Lad be bored by the solitude of this particular night. Some one was
coming towards the house and carrying a small bag under his arm. Some
one to make friends with. Lad was very happy.

Deep in his throat a welcoming bark was born. But he stilled it. Once,
when he had barked at the approach of a stranger, the stranger had gone
away. If this stranger were to go away, all the night’s fun would go
with him. Also, no later than yesterday, the Master had scolded Lad for
barking at a man who had called. Wherefore the dog held his peace.

Getting to his feet and stretching himself, fore and aft, in true collie
fashion, the pup gambolled up the drive to meet the visitor.

The man was feeling his way through the pitch darkness, groping
cautiously; halting once or twice for a smoulder of lightning to
silhouette the house he was nearing. In a wooded lane, a quarter mile
away, his lightless motor car waited.

Lad trotted up to him, the tiny white feet noiseless in the soft dust of
the drive. The man did not see him, but passed so close to the dog’s
hospitably upthrust nose that he all but touched it.

Only slightly rebuffed at such chill lack of cordiality, Lad fell in
behind him, tail awag, and followed him to the porch. When the guest
should ring the bell, the Master or one of the maids would come to the
door. There would be lights and talk; and perhaps Laddie himself might
be allowed to slip in to his beloved cave.

But the man did not ring. He did not stop at the door at all. On tiptoe
he skirted the veranda to the old-fashioned bay windows at the south
side of the living room;—windows with catches as old-fashioned and as
simple to open as themselves.

Lad padded along, a pace or so to the rear;—still hopeful of being
petted or perhaps even romped with. The man gave a faint but promising
sign of intent to romp, by swinging his small and very shiny brown bag
to and fro as he walked. Thus ever did the Master swing Lad’s precious
canton flannel doll before throwing it for him to retrieve. Lad made a
tentative snap at the bag, his tail wagging harder than ever. But he
missed it. And, in another moment the man stopped swinging the bag and
tucked it under his arm again as he began to mumble with a bit of steel.

There was the very faintest of clicks. Then, noiselessly the window slid
upward. A second fumbling sent the wooden inside shutters ajar. The man
worked with no uncertainty. Ever since his visit to the Place, a week
earlier, behind the ægis of a big and bright and newly forged
telephone-inspector badge, he had carried in his trained memory the
location of windows and of obstructing furniture and of the primitive
small safe in the living room wall, with its pitifully pickable
lock;—the safe wherein the Place’s few bits of valuable jewelry and
other compact treasures reposed at night.

Lad was tempted to follow the creeping body and the fascinatingly
swinging bag indoors. But his one effort to enter the house,—with muddy
paws,—by way of an open window, had been rebuked by the Lawgivers. He
had been led to understand that really well-bred little dogs come in by
way of the door; and then only on permission.

So he waited, doubtfully, at the veranda edge; in the hope that his new
friend might reappear or that the Master might perhaps want to show off
his pup to the caller, as so often the Master was wont to do.

Head cocked to one side, tulip ears alert, Laddie stood listening. To
the keenest human ears the thief’s soft progress across the wide living
room to the wall-safe would have been all but inaudible. But Lad could
follow every phase of it;—the cautious skirting of each chair; the
hesitant pause as a bit of ancient furniture creaked; the halt in front
of the safe; the queer grinding noise, muffled but persevering, at the
lock; then the faint creak of the swinging iron door, and the deft
groping of fingers.

Soon, the man started back toward the paler oblong of gloom which marked
the window’s outlines from the surrounding black. Lad’s tail began to
wag again. Apparently, this eccentric person was coming out, after all,
to keep him company. Now, the man was kneeling on the window-seat. Now,
in gingerly fashion, he reached forward and set the small bag down on
the veranda; before negotiating the climb across the broad seat,—a climb
that might well call for the use of both his hands.

Lad was entranced. Here was a game he understood. Thus, more than once,
had the Mistress tossed out to him his flannel doll, as he had stood in
pathetic invitation on the porch, looking in at her as she read or
talked. She had laughed at his wild tossings and other maltreatments of
the limp doll. He had felt he was scoring a real hit. And this hit he
decided to repeat.

Snatching up the swollen little satchel, almost before it left the
intruder’s hand, Lad shook it, joyously, revelling in the faint clink
and jingle of the contents. He backed playfully away; the bag-handle
swinging in his jaws. Crouching low, he wagged his tail in ardent
invitation to the stranger to chase him and to get back the satchel.
Thus did the Master romp with Lad when the flannel doll was the prize of
their game. And Lad loved such races.

Yes, the stranger was accepting the invitation. The moment he had
crawled out on the veranda he reached down for the bag. As it was not
where he thought he had left it, he swung his groping hand forward in a
half-circle, his fingers sweeping the floor.

Make that enticing motion, directly in front of a playful collie
pup;—especially if he has something he doesn’t want you to take from
him;—and watch the effect.

Instantly, Lad was athrill with the spirit of the game. In one scurrying
backward jump, he was off the veranda and on the lawn, tail vibrating,
eyes dancing; satchel held tantalisingly towards its would-be possessor.

The light sound of his body touching ground reached the man. Reasoning
that the sweep of his own arm had somehow knocked the bag off the porch,
he ventured off the edge of the veranda and flashed a swathed ray of his
pocket light along the ground in search of it.

The flashlight’s lens was cleverly muffled; in a way to give forth but a
single subdued finger of illumination. That one brief glimmer was enough
to show the thief a right impossible sight. The glow struck answering
lights from the polished sides of the brown bag. The bag was hanging in
air some six inches above the grass and perhaps five feet away from him.
Then he saw it swing frivolously to one side and vanish in the night.

The astonished man had seen more. Feeble was the flashlight’s shrouded
rag—too feeble to outline against the night the small dark body behind
the shining brown bag. But that same ray caught and reflected back to
the incredulous beholder two splashes of pale fire;—glints from a pair
of deep-set collie-eyes.

As the bag disappeared, the eerie fire-points were gone. The thief all
but dropped his flashlight. He gaped in nervous dread; and sought vainly
to account for the witchwork he had witnessed.

He had plenty of nerve. He had plenty of experience along his chosen
line of endeavour. But while a crook may control his nerve, he cannot
make it phlegmatic or steady. Always, he must be conscious of holding it
in check, as a clever driver checks and steadies and keeps in subjection
a plunging horse. Let the vigilance slacken, and there is a runaway.

Now this particular marauder had long ago keyed his nerve to the chance
of interruption from some gun-brandishing householder; and to the
possible pursuit of police; and to the need of fighting or of fleeing.
But all his preparations had not taken into account this newest
emergency. He had not steeled himself to watch unmoved the gliding away
of a treasure-satchel, apparently moving of its own will; nor the
shimmer of two greenish sparks in the air just above it. And, for an
instant, the man had to battle against a craven desire to bolt.

Lad, meanwhile, was having a beautiful time. Sincerely, he appreciated
the playful grab his nocturnal friend had made in his general direction.
Lad had countered this, by frisking away for another five or six feet,
and then wheeling about to face once more his playfellow and to await
the next move in the blithe gambol. The pup could see tolerably well, in
the darkness;—quite well enough to play the game his guest had devised.
And of course, he had no way of knowing that the man could not see
equally well.

Shaking off his momentary terror, the thief once more pressed the button
of his flashlight; swinging the torch in a swift semicircle and
extinguishing it at once; lest the dim glow be seen by any wakeful
member of the family.

That one quick sweep revealed to his gaze the shiny brown bag a
half-dozen feet ahead of him, still swinging several inches above
ground. He flung himself forward at it; refusing to believe he also saw
that queer double glow of pale light, just above. He dived for the
satchel with the speed and the accuracy of a football tackle. And that
was all the good it did him.

Perhaps there is something in nature more agile and dismayingly elusive
than a romping young collie. But that “something” is not a mortal man.
As the thief sprang, Lad sprang in unison with him; darting to the left
and a yard or so backward. He came to an expectant standstill once more;
his tail wildly vibrating, his entire furry body tingling with the glad
excitement of the game. This Sportive visitor of his was a veritable
godsend. If only he could be coaxed into coming to play with him every
night—!

But presently he noted that the other seemed to have wearied of the
game. After plunging through the air and landing on all fours with his
grasping hands closing on nothingness, the man had remained thus, as if
dazed, for a second or so. Then he had felt the ground all about him.
Then, bewildered, he had scrambled to his feet. Now he was standing,
moveless, his lips working.

Yes, he seemed to be tired of the lovely game—and just when Laddie was
beginning to enter into the full spirit of it. Once in a while, the
Mistress or the Master stopped playing, during the romps with the
flannel doll. And Laddie had long since hit on a trick for reviving
their interest. He employed this ruse now.

As the man stood, puzzled and scared, something brushed very
lightly,—even coquettishly,—against his knuckles. He started in nervous
fright. An instant later, the same thing brushed his knuckles again,
this time more insistently. The man, in a spurt of fear-driven rage,
grabbed at the invisible object. His fingers slipped along the smooth
sides of the bewitched bag that Lad was shoving invitingly at him.

Brief as was the contact, it was long enough for the thief’s sensitive
finger tips to recognise what they touched. And both hands were brought
suddenly into play, in a mad snatch for the prize. The ten avid fingers
missed the bag; and came together with clawing force. But, before they
met, the finger tips of the left hand telegraphed to the man’s brain
that they had had momentary light experience with something hairy and
warm—something that had slipped, eel-like, past them into the
night;—something that most assuredly was no satchel, but _alive_!

The man’s throat contracted, in gagging fright. And, as before, fear
scourged him to feverish rage.

Recklessly he pressed the flashlight’s button; and swung the muffled bar
of light in every direction. In his other hand he levelled the pistol he
had drawn. This time the shaded ray revealed to him not only his bag,
but,—vaguely,—the Thing that held it.

He could not make out what manner of creature it was which gripped the
satchel’s handle and whose eyes pulsed back greenish flares into the
torch’s dim glow. But it was an animal of some kind;—distorted and
formless in the wavering finger of blunted light, but still an animal.
Not a ghost.

And fear departed. The intruder feared nothing mortal. The mystery in
part explained, he did not bother to puzzle out the remainder of it.
Impossible as it seemed, his bag was carried by some living thing. All
that remained for him was to capture the thing, and recover his bag. The
weak light still turned on, he gave chase.

Lad’s spirits arose with a bound. His ruse had succeeded. He had
reawakened in this easily-discouraged chum a new interest in the game.
And he gambolled across the lawn, fairly wriggling with delight. He did
not wish to make his friend lose interest again. So instead of dashing
off at full speed, he frisked daintily, just out of reach of the clawing
hand.

And in this pleasant fashion the two playfellows covered a hundred yards
of ground. More than once, the man came within an inch of his quarry.
But always, by the most imperceptible spurt of speed, Laddie arranged to
keep himself and his dear satchel from capture.

Then, in no time at all, the game ended; and with it ended Lad’s baby
faith in the friendliness and trustworthiness of all human nature.

Realising that the sound of his own stumbling running feet and the
intermittent flashes of his torch might well awaken some light sleeper
in the house, the thief resolved on a daring move. This creature in
front of him,—dog or bear or goat, or whatever it was,—was uncatchable.
But by sending a bullet through it, he could bring the animal to a
sudden and permanent stop.

Then, snatching up his bag and running at top speed, he himself could
easily win clear of the Place before any one of the household should
appear. And his car would be a mile away before the neighbourhood could
be aroused. Fury at the weird beast and the wrenching strain on his own
nerves lent eagerness to his acceptance of the idea.

He reached back again for his pistol, whipped it out, and, coming to a
standstill, aimed at the pup. Lad, waiting only to bound over an
obstruction in his path, came to a corresponding pause, not ten feet
ahead of his playmate.

It was an easy shot. Yet the bullet went several inches above the
obligingly waiting dog’s back. Nine men out of ten, shooting by
moonlight or by flashlight, aim too high. The thief had heard this old
marksman-maxim fifty times. But, like most hearers of maxims, he had
forgotten it at the one time in his speckled career when it might have
been of any use to him.

He had fired. He had missed. In another second, every sleeper in the
house and in the gate-lodge would be out of bed. His night’s work was a
blank, unless—

With a bull rush he hurled himself forward at the interestedly waiting
Lad. And, as he sprang, he fired again. Then several things happened.

Every one, except movie actors and newly-appointed policemen, knows that
a man on foot cannot shoot straight, unless he is standing stock still.
Yet, as luck would have it, this second shot found a mark where the
first and better aimed bullet had gone wild.

Lad had leaped the narrow and deep ditch left along the lawn-edge by
workers who were putting in a new water-main for the Place. On the far
side of this obstacle he had stopped, and had waited for his friend to
follow. But the friend had not followed. Instead, he had been somehow
responsible for a spurt of red flame and for a most thrilling racket.
Lad was more impressed than ever by the man’s wondrous possibilities as
a midnight entertainer. He waited, gaily expectant, for more. He got it.

There was a second rackety explosion and a second puff of lightning from
the man’s outflung hand. But, this time, something like a red-hot
whip-lash smote Lad with horribly agonising force athwart the right hip.

The man had done this,—the man whom Laddie had thought so friendly and
playful!

He had not done it by accident. For his hand had been outflung directly
at the pup, just as once had been the arm of the kennelman, back at
Lad’s birthplace, in beating a disobedient mongrel. It was the only
beating Lad had ever seen. And it had stuck, shudderingly, in his
uncannily sensitive memory. Yet now, he himself had just had a like
experience.

In an instant, the pup’s trustful friendliness was gone. The man had
come on the Place, at dead of night, and had struck him. That must be
paid for! Never would the pup forget his agonising lesson that night
intruders are not to be trusted or even to be tolerated. Within a single
second, he had graduated from a little friend of all the world, into a
vigilant watchdog.

With a snarl, he dropped the bag and whizzed forward at his assailant.
Needle-sharp milkteeth bared, head low, ruff abristle, friendly soft
eyes as ferocious as a wolf’s, he charged.

There had been scarce a breathing-space between the second report of the
pistol and the collie’s counter-attack. But there had been time enough
for the onward-plunging thief to step into the narrow lip of the
water-pipe ditch. The momentum of his own rush hurled the upper part of
his body forward. But his left leg, caught between the ditch-sides, did
not keep pace with the rest of him. There was a hideous snapping sound,
a screech of mortal anguish; and the man crashed to earth, in a dead
faint of pain and shock,—his broken left leg still thrust at an
impossible angle in the ditch.

Lad checked himself midway in his own fierce charge. Teeth bare, throat
agrowl, he hesitated. It had seemed to him right and natural to assail
the man who had struck him so painfully. But now this same man was lying
still and helpless under him. And the sporting instincts of a hundred
generations of thoroughbreds cried out to him not to mangle the
defenceless.

Wherefore, he stood, irresolute; alert for sign of movement on the part
of his foe. But there was no such sign. And the light bullet-graze on
his hip was hurting like the very mischief.

Moreover, every window in the house beyond was blossoming forth into
lights. There were sounds,—reassuring human sounds. And doors were
opening. His deities were coming forth.

All at once, Laddie stopped being a vengeful beast of prey; and
remembered that he was a very small and very much hurt and very lonely
and worried puppy. He craved the Mistress’s dear touch on his wound, and
a word of crooning comfort from her soft voice. This yearning was
mingled with a doubt less perhaps he had been transgressing the Place’s
Law, in some new way; and lest he might have let himself in for a
scolding. The Law was still so queer and so illogical!

Lad started toward the house. Then, pausing, he picked up the bag which
had been so exhilarating a plaything for him this past few minutes and
which he had forgotten in his pain.

It was Lad’s collie way to pick up offerings (ranging from slippers to
very dead fish) and to carry them to the Mistress. Sometimes he was
petted for this. Sometimes the offering was lifted gingerly between
aloof fingers and tossed back into the lake. But, nobody could well
refuse so jingly and pretty a gift as this satchel.

The Master, sketchily attired, came running down the lawn, flashlight in
hand. Past him, unnoticed, as he sped toward the ditch, a collie pup
limped;—a very unhappy and comfort-seeking puppy who carried in his
mouth a blood-spattered brown bag.

“It doesn’t make sense to me!” complained the Master, next day, as he
told the story for the dozenth time, to a new group of callers. “I heard
the shots and I went out to investigate. There he was lying half in and
half out of the ditch. The fellow was unconscious. He didn’t get his
senses back till after the police came. Then he told some babbling yarn
about a creature that had stolen his bag of loot and that had lured him
to the ditch. He was all unnerved and upset, and almost out of his head
with pain. So the police had little enough trouble in ‘sweating’ him. He
told everything he knew. And there’s a wholesale round-up of the
motor-robbery bunch going on this afternoon as a result of it. But what
I can’t understand—”

"It’s as clear as day," insisted the Mistress, stroking a silken head
that pressed lovingly against her knee. “As clear as day. I was standing
in the doorway here when Laddie came pattering up to me and laid a
little satchel at my feet. I opened it, and—well, it had everything of
value in it that had been in the safe over there. That and the thief’s
story make it perfectly plain. Laddie caught the man as he was climbing
out of that window. He got the bag away from him; and the man chased
him, firing as he went. And he stumbled into the ditch and—”

“Nonsense!” laughed the Master. “I’ll grant all you say about Lad’s
being the most marvellous puppy on earth. And I’ll even believe all the
miracles of his cleverness. But when it comes to taking a bag of jewelry
from a burglar and then enticing him to a ditch and then coming back
here to you with the bag—”

“Then how do you account—?”

“I don’t. None of it makes sense to me. As I just said. But,—whatever
happened, it’s turned Laddie into a real watchdog. Did you notice how he
went for the police when they started down the drive, last night? We’ve
got a watchdog at last.”

“We’ve got more than a watchdog,” amended the Mistress. “An ordinary
watchdog would just scare away thieves or bite them. Lad captured the
thief and then brought the stolen jewelry back to us. No other dog could
have done that.”

Lad, enraptured by the note of praise in the Mistress’s soft voice,
looked adoringly up into the face that smiled so proudly down at him.
Then, catching the sound of a step on the drive, he dashed out to bark
in murderous fashion at a wholly harmless delivery boy whom he had seen
every day for weeks.

A watchdog can’t afford to relax vigilance, for a single
instant,—especially at the responsible age of five months.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                         THREE: The Meanest Man

------------------------------------------------------------------------



[Illustration]


THREE: The Meanest Man


The big collie lay at ease, his tawny-and-white length stretched out in
lazy luxury across the mouth of the lane which led from the Hampton
highroad to Link Ferris’ hillside farmhouse.

Of old, this lane had been rutted and grass-hummocked and bordered by
tangles of rusty weeds. Since Link and his farm had taken so decided a
brace, the weeds had been cut away. This without even a hint from the
county engineer, who of old had so often threatened to fine Link for
leaving them standing along the highway at his land’s edge. The lane had
been graded and ditched, too, into a neatness that went well with the
rest of the place.

But—now that Link Ferris had taken to himself a wife, as efficient as
she was pretty—it had been decreed by young Mrs. Ferris that the lane’s
entrance should be enhanced still further by the erecting of two low
fieldstone piers, one on either side, and that the hollow at the top of
each pier should be filled with loam for the planting of nasturtiums.

It was on this decorative job that Link was at work to-day. His collie,
Chum, was always near at hand wherever his master chanced to be toiling.
And Chum, now, was lying comfortably on the soft earth of the lane head,
some fifty feet from where Link wrought with rock and mortar.

Up the highroad, from Hampton village a mile below, jogged a bony yellow
horse, drawing a ramshackle vehicle which looked like the ghost of a
delivery wagon. The wagon had a sharp tilt to one side. For long years
it had been guiltless of paint. Its canvas sides were torn and stained.
Its rear was closed by a wabbly grating. The axles and whiffletree
emitted a combination of grievously complaining squeaks from the lack of
grease. And other and still more grievous noises issued from the grated
recesses of the cart.

On the sagging seat sprawled a beefy man whose pendulous cheeks seemed
the vaster for the narrowness of his little eyes. These eyes were
wandering inquiringly from side to side along Link’s land boundary,
until they chanced to light upon the recumbent collie. Then into their
shallow recesses glinted a look of sharp interest. It was on this
collie’s account that the man had driven out from Hampton to-day. His
drive was a reconnoitre.

He clucked his bony steed to a faster jog, his gaze fixed with growing
avidity on the dog. As he neared the mouth of the lane, he caught sight
of Link and the narrow orbs lost a shade of their jubilance.

So might a pedestrian’s eyes have glinted at sight of a dollar bill on
the sidewalk in front of him. So might the glint have clouded on seeing
the bill’s owner reaching down for his property. The simile is not
far-fetched, for the driver, on viewing Chum, had fancied he beheld the
equivalent of several dollars.

He was Eben Shunk, official poundmaster and dog catcher of Hampton
Borough. Each and every stray dog caught and impounded by him meant the
sum of one dollar to be paid him, in due form, by the Hampton Borough
treasurer. And the fact that Chum’s sturdy master was within hail of the
invitingly supine collie vexed the thrifty soul of Eben Shunk.

Yet there was hope. And upon this hope Eben staked his chances for the
elusive dollar and for the main object of his visit—which was no mere
dollar. Briefly, in his mind, he reviewed the case and the possibilities
and laid out his plan of campaign. Halting his bony horse at the mouth
of the lane, he hailed Link.

“Look-a-here!” he called. “Did you take out a license for that big mutt
of your’n yet?”

Link glanced up from his work, viewed the visitor with no semblance of
favour and made curt reply.

“I didn’t. And he ain’t.”

“Huh?” queried Mr. Shunk, puzzled at this form of answer.

“I didn’t license him,” expounded Link, “and he ain’t a mutt. If that’s
all you’ve stopped your trav’lin’ m’nagerie at my lane for, you can move
it on as quick as you’re a mind to.”

He bent over his work again. But Eben Shunk did not take the hint.

“’Cordin’ to the laws an’ statoots of the Borough of Hampton, county of
P’saic, state of Noo Jersey,” proclaimed the dog catcher with much
dignity, “it’s my perk’s’t an’ dooty to impound each an’ every
unlicensed dog found in the borough limits.”

“Well,” assented Link, “go on and impound ’em, then. Only don’t pester
me about it. I’m not int’rested. S’pose you get that old bag of bones to
haul your rattletrap junk cart somewheres else! I’m busy.”

"Bein’ a smarty won’t get you nowheres!" declared Shunk. “If your dog
ain’t licensed, it’s my dooty to impound him. He—”

“Here!” snapped Link. “You got your answer on that when you tackled my
wife about it down to her father’s store last week. She told me all
about it. You came a-blusterin’ in there while she was buyin’ some goods
and while Chum was standin’ peaceful beside her. You said if he wasn’t
licensed he’d be put in pound. And if it hadn’t been for her dad and the
clerk throwin’ you out of the store, you’d ’a’ grabbed him, then and
there. She told you, then, that we pay the state and county tax on the
dog and that the law doesn’t compel us to pay any other tax or any
license fee for him. If your borough council wanted to get some easy
graft by passing an ordinance for ev’ry res’dent of Hampton Borough to
pay one dollar a year license fees on their dogs—well, that’s their
business. It’s not mine. My home’s not in the borough and—”

"Some says it is an’ some says it ain’t," interrupted Shunk. “The south
bound’ry of the borough was shifted, by law, last month. An’ the line
takes in more’n a half-acre of your south woodlot. So you’re a res’d’nt
of—”

"I don’t live in my south woodlot," contradicted Link, “nor yet within
half a mile of it. I—”

“That’s for the courts to d’cide,” said Shunk. “Pers’n’lly, I hold
you’re a borough res’d’nt. An’ since you ain’t paid your fee, your dog
is forf’t to—”

“I see!” put in Ferris. “You’ll grab the dog and you’ll get your dirty
dollar fee from the borough treasury. Then if the law decides my home is
out of the borough, you’ll still have your money. You’re a clever man,
Shunk.”

“Well,” averred the dog catcher, mildly pleased with the compliment, “it
ain’t for me to say as to that. But there don’t many folks find me
a-nappin’, I’m sittin’ here to tell all an’ sundry. Now, ’bout that
dog—”

“Yes,” repeated Link admiringly, “you’re a mighty clever man! Only I’ve
figgered that you aren’t quite clever enough to spell your own name
right. Folks who know you real well think you’ve got an ‘h’ in it that
ought to be a ‘k.’ But that’s no fault of yours, Shunk. You do your best
to live up to the name you ought by rights to have. So—”

"You’ll leave my name be!" thundered the dog catcher.

“I sure will,” assented Link. “By the way, did you ever happen to hear
how near you came to not gettin’ this office of dog catcher down at
Hampton?”

“No,” grunted the other, “I didn’t hear nothin’ of the kind. An’ it
ain’t true. Mayor Wipple app’inted me, same week as he took office—like
he had promised he would if I’d git my brother an’ the three boys to
vote for him an’ if I’d c’ntribbit thutty-five dollars to his campaign
fund. There wasn’t ever any doubt I’d git the app’intment.”

“Oh, yes, there was,” cheerily denied Link, with a sidelong glance at
his pretty wife and her six-year-old sister, Olive Chatham, who were
advancing along the lane from the house to note the progress of the
stonework piers. "There was a lot of doubt. If it hadn’t been for just
one thing you’d never have landed the job.

“It was this way,” he continued, winking encouragement to Mrs. Ferris
who had come to a momentary and disapproving halt at sight of her
husband’s uninvited guest. “The day after Wipple was elected mayor, I
asked him who he was aiming to appoint to the high and loocrative office
of dog catcher. He told me he was goin’ to appoint you. I says to him,
‘But Eben Shunk’s the meanest man in town!’ And Wipple answers ‘I know
he is. He’s as mean as pussly. That’s why I’ve picked him out for dog
catcher. No decent feller would take such a dirty job.’ That’s what
Mayor Wipple told me, Shunk. So you see if you hadn’t happened to be the
meanest man in Hampton, you’d never ’a’ got—”

"It’s a durn lie!" bellowed the irate Shunk. “It’s a lie! Wipple never
said no such a thing. He—”

"What’s in the wagon, there?" spoke up little Olive Chatham, as a
dolorous whimpering rose from the depths of the covered cart. “It sounds
awful unhappy.”

“It _is_ ‘awful unhappy,’ Baby,” answered her brother-in-law. “Mr. Shunk
has been on his rounds, picking up some more poor little stray curs,
along the road. He’s going to carry them to a filthy pen in his filthy
back yard and leave them to starve and be chewed by bigger dogs there,
while he pikes off to get his dollar, each, for them. Then, if they
aren’t claimed and licensed in twenty-four hours, he’s going to—”

“Link!” interposed Dorcas, his wife, warningly, as she visualised the
effect of such a word picture on her little sister’s tender heart.

But Olive had heard enough to set her baby eyes ablaze with indignation.
Wheeling on Link, she demanded:

“Why don’t you whip him and let out all those poor little dogs? And then
why don’t you go and put him in prison for—”

“Hush, dear!” whispered Dorcas, drawing the little girl close to her.
“Better run back to the house now! That isn’t a nice sort of man for you
to be near.”

Eben Shunk caught the low-spoken words. They served to snap the last
remaining threads of the baited dog catcher’s temper. His fists clenched
and he took a step toward Ferris. But the latter’s lazily wiry figure
did not seem to lend itself to the idea of passivity under punishment.
Shunk’s angry little eyes fell on the collie.

“That dog of your’n ain’t licensed,” he said. “He’s layin’ out on the
public road. An’ I’m goin’ to take him along.”

“Go ahead,” vouchsafed Link indifferently, with a covert glance of
reassurance at his scandalised wife, who had made a family idol of Chum.
“He’s there. Nobody’s stoppin’ you.”

Pleased at meeting with no stouter resistance from the owner, Shunk took
a step toward the recumbent collie. Little Olive cried out in hot
protest. Link bent over her and whispered in her ear. The child’s face
lost its look of panic and shone with pleased interest as she watched
Eben bear down upon his victim. Ferris whistled hissingly between his
teeth—an intermittent staccato blast. Then he, too, turned an interested
gaze on the impending capture.

Chum had not enjoyed the past few minutes at all. His loafing inspection
of his master’s job had been interrupted by the arrival of this
loud-voiced stranger. He did not like the stranger. Chum decided that,
at his first glimpse and scent of the man—and the dog catcher’s voice
had confirmed the distaste. Shunk belonged to the type which sensitive
dogs hate instinctively. But Chum was too well versed in the guest law
to molest or snarl at any one with whom Link was in seemingly amicable
talk. So he had paid no overt heed to the fellow.

There were other and more interesting things, moreover, which had caught
Chum’s attention. The sounds and scents from the wagon’s unseen interior
carried to him a message of fear, of pain, of keen sorrow. Chum had
half-risen, to investigate. Link, noting the action, had signalled the
dog to lie down again. And Chum, as always, had obeyed.

But now, through his sullen brooding, pierced a sound that set every one
of the collie’s lively nerves aquiver. It was a hissing whistle—broken
and staccato. It was a signal Link had made up, years ago—a signal which
always brought the dog to him on the gallop. For that signal meant no
summons to a romp. It spelled mischief. For example, when cattle chanced
to stroll in from the highway, that whistle signified leave for the dog
to run them, pell-mell, down the road, with barks and nips—instead of
driving them decorously and slowly, as he drove his own master’s cows.
It had a similar message when tramp or mongrel invaded the farm.

At the sound of it, now, Chum was on his feet in an instant. He found
himself confronting the obnoxious stranger, who was just reaching
forward to clutch him.

Chum eluded the man and started toward Link. Shunk made a wild grab for
him. Chum’s ruff—a big handful of it—was seized in the clutching
fingers. Again sounded that queer whistle. This time—thanks to the years
of close companionship between dog and master—Chum caught its purport.
Evidently, it had something to do with Shunk, with the man who had laid
hold on him so unceremoniously.

Chum glanced quickly at Link. Ferris was grinning. With an imperceptible
nod of the head he indicated Shunk. The dog understood. At least, he
understood enough for his own purposes. The law was off of this
disgusting outlander. Ferris was trying to enlist the collie’s aid in
harrying him. It was a right welcome task.

In a flash, Chum had twisted his silken head. A single slash of his
white eyetooth had laid open the fat wrist of the fat hand that gripped
him. Shunk, with a yell, loosed his hold and jumped back. He caught the
echo of a smothered chuckle from Link and turned to find the Ferrises
and the child surveying the scene with happy excitement—looking for all
the world like three people at an amusing picture show. The dog catcher
bolted for his wagon and plunged the lacerated arm into the box beneath
the seat. Thence he drew it forth, clutching in his hand a coil of
noosed rope and a strong oversized landing net.

“Tools of his trade!” explained Link airily, to his wife and Olive.

As he spoke, Ferris made a motion of his forefinger toward the tensely
expectant dog and thence toward the lane. The gesture was familiar from
sheep herding experience. At once, Chum darted back a few yards and
stood just inside the boundaries of his master’s land. A clucking sound
from Link told him where to halt. And the collie stood there, tulip ears
cocked, plumy tail awag, eyes abrim with mischief, as he waited his
adversary’s next move. Seldom did Chum have so appreciative an audience
to show off before.

Shunk, rope and net in hand, bore down upon his prey. As he came on he
cleared decks for action by yanking his coat off and slinging it across
one shoulder. Thus his arms would work unimpeded. So eagerly did he
advance to the hunt that he paid no heed to Link. Wherefore, he failed
to note a series of unobtrusive gestures and clucks and nods with which
Link guided his furtively observing dog.

The next two minutes were of interest. Shunk unslung his rope as he
advanced. Five feet away from the politely waiting collie he paused and
flung the noose. He threw with practised skill. The wide noose encircled
the dog. But before Shunk could tighten it, Chum had sprung lightly out
of the contracting circle and, at a move of Link’s finger, had backed a
few feet farther onto Ferris’s own property.

Chagrined at his miss and spurred on by the triple chuckle of his
audience, the man coiled his rope and flung it a second time. Temper and
haste spoiled his aim. He missed the dog clean. Baby Olive laughed
aloud. Chum fairly radiated contempt at such poor marksmanship. Coiling
his rope as, at another signal, Chum backed a little farther away, Shunk
shouted:

“I’ll git ye, yet! An’ when I do, I’ll tie you to a post in my yard an’
muzzle you. Then I’ll take a club to you, till there ain’t a whole bone
left in yer carcass. If Ferris buys you free, there won’t be more’n
sassage-meat fer him to tote home.”

Olive gasped. The grin left Link’s face. Dorcas looked up appealingly at
her husband. Shunk flung his noose a third time. Chum, well
understanding now what was expected of him, bounded far backward.

“Get off of my land!” called Ferris, in a queerly gentle and almost
humble voice.

“When I take this cur off’n it with me!” snarled the catcher, too hot on
the quest to be wholly sane.

He coiled his rope once more. At a gesture from Link, the dog lay down.

“In the presence of a competent witness I’ve ordered you off my land,”
repeated Ferris, in that same meek voice. “You’ve refused. The law
allows me to use force in such a case. It—”

Deceived by the humility of the tone and lured by the dog’s new
passivity, Shunk made one final cast of the noose. This time its folds
settled round the collie’s massive throat ruff. In the same fraction of
a second, Ferris yelled:

“Take him, Chum! Take him!”

The dog heard and most gleefully he obeyed. As the triumphant Shunk drew
tight the noose about his victim’s neck and sought to bring the landing
net into play, Chum launched himself, like a furry catapult, full at the
man’s throat.

And now there was no hint of fun or of mischief in the collie’s deep-set
dark eyes. They flamed into swirling fury. He had received the word to
attack. And he obeyed with a fiery zest. So may Joffre’s grim legions
have felt, in 1914, when, at the Marne, they were told they need no
longer keep up the hated retreat, but might turn upon their German foes
and pay the bill for the past months’ humiliations.

As the furious collie sprang, Shunk instinctively sought to clap the
landing net’s thick meshes over Chum’s head. But the dog was too swift
for him. The wooden side of the net smote, almost unfelt, against the
fur-protected skull. The impact sent it flying out of its wielder’s
grasp.

The blow checked the collie’s charge by the barest instant. And in that
instant, Shunk wheeled and fled. Just behind him was a shellbark tree,
with a low limb jutting out above the lane. Shunk dropped his coat and
leaped for this overhanging limb as Chum made a second dash for him.

The man’s fingers closed round the branch and he sought to draw himself
up, screaming loudly for help. The scream redoubled in volume and scaled
half an octave in pitch as the pursuing collie’s teeth met in Shunk’s
calf.

His flabby muscles galvanised by pain and by terror, the man made shift
to drag his weight upward and to fling a leg over the branch. But as the
right leg hooked itself across the bough, the dangling left leg felt a
second embrace from the searing white teeth, in a slashing bite that
clove through trouser and sock and skin and flesh and grated against the
bone itself.

Screeching and mouthing, Shunk wriggled himself up onto the branch and
lay hugging it with both arms and both punctured legs. Below him danced
and snarled Chum, launching himself high in air, again and again, in a
mad effort to get at his escaped prey. Then the dog turned to the
approaching Ferris in stark appeal for help in dislodging the intruder
from his precarious perch.

“That’s enough, Chummie!” drawled Link. “Leave him be!”

He petted the dog’s head and smiled amusedly at Chum’s visible
reluctance in abandoning the delightful game of man treeing. At a motion
of Ferris’s hand, the collie walked reluctantly away and lay down beside
Dorcas.

Chum could never understand why humans had such a habit of calling him
off—just when fun was at its height. It was like this when he ran stray
cattle off the farm or chased predatory tramps. Still, Link was his god;
obedience was Chum’s creed. Wherefore, so far as he was concerned, Eben
Shunk ceased to exist.

The dog catcher noted the cessation of attack. And he ceased his own
howls. He drew himself to a painful sitting posture on the tree limb and
began to nurse one of his torn legs.

“You’ll go to jail for this!” he whined down at Ferris.

“I’ll swear out a warr’nt agin ye, the minute I git back to Hampton.
Yes, an’ I’ll git the judge to order your dog shot as a men’ce to public
safety an’—”

“I guess not!” Ferris cut him short as Shunk’s whine swelled to a howl.
“I guess not, Mister Meanest Man. In fact, you’ll be lucky if you keep
out of the hoosgow, on my charge of trespass. You came onto my land
against my wish. You couldn’t help seein’ my No Trespassing sign yonder.
I ordered you off. You refused to go. I gave you fair warnin’. You
wouldn’t mind it. I did all that before I sicked the dog on you. My wife
is a reli’ble witness. And she can swear to it in any court. If I sick
my dog onto a trespasser who refuses to clear out when he’s told to,
there’s no law in North Jersey that will touch either me or Chum. And
you know it as well as I do. Now I tell you once more to clear off of my
farm. If you’ll go quick I’ll see the dog don’t bother you. If you put
up any more talk I’ll station him under this tree and leave you and him
to companion each other here all day. Now git!”

As though to impress his presence once more on Mr. Shunk, Chum slowly
got up from the ground at Dorcas’ feet and slouched lazily toward the
tree again. Link, wondering at the dog’s apparent disobedience of his
command to leave the prisoner alone, looked on with a frown of
perplexity. But at once his face cleared.

For Chum was not honouring the tree dweller by so much as a single
upward glance. Instead, he was picking his way to where Shunk’s
discarded coat lay on the ground near the tree foot. The dog stood over
this unlovely garment, looking down at its greasily worn surface with
sniffling disapproval. Then, with much cold deliberation, Chum knelt
down and thrust one of his great furry shoulders against the rumpled
surface of the coat and shoved the shoulder along the unkempt expanse of
cloth. After which he repeated the same performance with his other
shoulder, ending the demonstration by rolling solemnly and luxuriously
upon the rumpled, mishandled coat.

Link burst into a bellow of Homeric laughter. Shunk, peering down, went
purple with utter and speechless indignation. Both men understood dogs.
Therefore, to both of them, Chum’s purpose was as clear as day. But Baby
Olive looked on in crass perplexity. She wondered why Link found it so
funny.

“What’s he doing, Link?” she demanded. “What’s Chummie rolling on that
nassy ol’ coat for? It’ll get him all dirty.”

“Listen, Baby,” exhorted Link, when he could speak. “A dog never digs
his shoulders into anything, that way, and then rolls in it—except
carrion! He—”

“Link!” cried Dorcas, scandalised.

“That’s so, old girl,” replied her husband. “It’s a busy day and we
won’t have time to waste in giving the dog a bath. Come away, Chum!”

The dog came back to his place in front of Dorcas. Ferris, wearying of
the scene, nodded imperatively to Shunk.

“Come down!” he decreed. “It’s safe. So long as you get out of here,
now!”

Mouthing, gobbling like some distressed turkey, Eben Shunk proceeded to
let his bulk down from the limb. He groaned in active misery as his
bitten legs were called upon to bear his weight again. He stood for a
moment glowering from Link to the disgruntedly passive collie. Chum
returned the look with compound interest, then glanced at Ferris in
wistful appeal, dumbly begging leave to renew the chase.

Shunk still fought for coherent utterance and weighed in his bemused
brain the fact that he had overstepped the law. Before he could speak, a
pleasant diversion was caused by Olive Chatham.

The little girl had been a happily interested spectator of the bout
between her adored Chum and this pig-eyed fat man. But the coat-rolling
episode had been beyond her comprehension. She had trotted away, after
Link’s explanation of it, and her mind had cast about for some new
excitement. She had found it.

The bony yellow horse had been left untied; in Shunk’s haste to annex a
dog-catching dollar. Therefore the horse, after the manner of his kind,
had begun to crop the wayside grass. But this grass was close cut and
was hard for his decaying teeth to nibble. A little farther on, just
within the limits of the lane, the herbage grew lusher and higher. So
the horse had strayed thither, trundling his disreputable wagon after
him.

Olive’s questing glance had fallen upon horse and cart, not ten feet
away from her, and several yards inside of the farm’s boundary line. She
heard also that pitiful sound of whimpering from within the
canvas-covered body of the wagon. And she remembered what Link had said
about the dogs imprisoned there.

She hurried up to the vehicle and circumnavigated it until she came to
the grating at the back.

Clambering up on the rear step, she looked in. At once several
pathetically sniffing little noses were thrust through the bars for a
caress or a kind word in that abode of loneliness and fear.

This was too much for the child’s warm heart. She resolved then and
there upon the rôle of deliverer. Reaching up to the grated door, she
pushed back its simple bolt.

Instantly she was half-buried under a canine avalanche. No fewer than
seven dogs—all small and all badly scared—bounded through the open
doorway toward freedom. In their dash for safety they almost knocked the
baby to the ground. Then with joyous barks and yelps they galloped off
in every direction.

This was the spectacle which smote upon the horrified senses of Eben
Shunk as he fought for words under the tree that had been his abode of
refuge.

Shunk had had an unusually profitable morning. Not often did a single
day’s work net him seven dollars. But this was circus day at Paterson
and many Hampton people had gone thither. They had left their dogs at
home. One or two of these dogs had wandered onto the street, where they
had fallen easy victims to the dog catcher. Others he had snatched,
protesting, from the porches and dooryards of their absent owners. Seven
of the lot had not chanced to wear license tags, and these Shunk had
corralled in his wagon. Now his best day’s work in months threatened to
become a total loss.

With a wild wrench he drove his arms into the sleeves of the coat he had
just rescued. In the same series of motions—and bawling an assortment of
expletives, which Link hoped Dorcas and Olive might not understand—the
dog catcher made a wild rush for his escaped captives, picking up and
brandishing the landing net as he ran.

“Chum!” whispered Ferris tensely.

As he spoke he pointed to the bony yellow horse.

“Easy!” he added, observing the steed’s feebleness and age.

The yellow horse was roused from his first square meal in weeks by a
gentle nip at his heel. He threw up his head with a snort and made a
clumsy bound forward.

But, instantly, Chum was in front of him, herding him as often he had
herded recalcitrant cows of Link’s, steering him for the highroad. As
the wagon creaked and bumped out onto the turnpike, Chum imparted a
farewell nip to one of the charger’s hocks.

With a really creditable burst of speed the horse set off down the road
at a hand gallop. The rattle and squeaking of the disreputable wagon
reached Shunk’s ears just as Eben had almost cornered one of the seven
escaping dogs.

Shunk turned round. Down the road his horse was running. A sharp turn
was barely quarter of a mile beyond. On the stone of this turn the brute
might well shatter the wagon and perhaps injure himself. There was but
one thing for his distracted owner to do. Horse and wagon were worth
more than seven dollars—even if not very much more. Eben Shunk was a
thrifty man. And he knew he must forgo the capture of the seven rescued
dogs if he intended to save his equipage.

He broke into a run, giving chase to his faithless steed. As he passed
the thunderously guffawing Ferris, Shunk wasted enough precious breath
and time to yell:

“I’ll git that dog of yourn yet! Next time he sets foot in Hampton
Borough I’ll—”

The rest of his threat was lost in distance.

“H’m!” mused Ferris, the laugh dying on his lips. “He’ll do it too!
He’ll be layin’ in wait for Chum, if it takes a year. In the borough
limits dogs and folks is bound by borough laws. That means we can’t take
Chum to Hampton again. Unless—Lord, but folks can stir up more ructions
over a decent innocent dog than over all the politics that ever
happened! If—”

His maundering voice trailed away. Just before him, at the spot where
Shunk had jettisoned his defiled and much-rolled-on coat, was a scrap of
paper. It was dirty and it was greasy and it had been folded in a half
sheet. His hard-learned lessons in neatness impelled Link to stoop and
pick up this bit of litter which marred the clean surface of the sward.
The doubled half sheet opened in his hand as he glanced carelessly at
it. The first of several sentences scrawled thereon leaped forth to meet
the man’s gaze.

Ferris stuck the paper in his shirt pocket and stared down the road
after the receding Shunk with a smoulder in his eye that might have
stirred that village functionary to some slight alarm had he seen it.

Olive’s visit to her big sister ended a week later. Link and Dorcas
escorted her back to the Chathams’ Hampton home. Old Man Chatham ran the
village’s general store and post office and had the further distinction
of being a local justice of the peace.

Olive did not at all care for the idea of changing her outdoor life at
the Ferris farm for a return to the metropolitan roar and jostle of a
village with nine hundred inhabitants. And she showed her disapproval by
sitting in solemn and semi-tearful silence on the slippery back seat of
Link’s ancient carryall all the short way into town. Only as the
carryall was drawing up in front of the store, which occupied the
southerly half of her ancestral home, did she break silence. Then she
said aggrievedly:

“This is just like when I get punished. And poor Chummie got punished,
too, for something. Why did Chummie get punished, Link?”

“Old Chum never got punished in his life,” answered Link. “Whatever gave
you that notion, Baby?”

“When I looked for him, to say by-by,” explained Olive, “he wasn’t
anywheres at all. So I called at him. And he barked. And I went to where
the bark was. And there was poor old Chummie all tied up to a chain in
the barn. He was being punished. So I—”

"He wasn’t being punished, dear," said Dorcas, lifting the child to the
ground. “Link tied him up so he wouldn’t follow us to town. There are so
many autos on the roads Saturday afternoons. Besides, Eben Shunk—”

“Oh,” queried Olive. “Was that why? I thought he was punished. So I
unpunished him. I let him loose. Not outdoors. Because maybe you’d see
him and tie him again. I let him loose and I shut the barn door, so he
could stay in there and play and not be tied.”

"It’d take Chum just about ten minutes to worry the barn door open!"
grinned Link. “He’ll get our scent and come pirootin’ straight after
us.”

“Oh!” exclaimed Dorcas. “Hadn’t you better turn back and—”

But the hurrying of the child’s father and mother from the house to
welcome the newcomers drove the thought out of her mind. Link had but
grinned the wider at her troubled suggestion. Greeting his
parents-in-law, Ferris hitched his horse and followed Dorcas and her
mother to the veranda.

There they sat talking until suddenly a volley of heart-broken screams
broke in upon them. Up the path from the street rushed little Olive, her
eyes streaming, her baby mouth in a wide circle, from which issued a
series of panic cries.

Both men sprang to their feet and hurried down the path to meet her. Her
mother and sister rushed from the house at the same moment and ran to
succour the screaming child. But Olive thrust them back, squealing
frantically to Link:

“That awful man’s got Chummie! He tooked him from me and he says he’ll
beat him till he’s dead. I pulled Chummie away and the man slapped me
over and he’s running off with Chummie!”

Old Man Chatham was an elder in the church at Hampton. Yet on hearing of
the blow administered to his worshipped child and at the sight of an
ugly red mark athwart her plump baby face, an expletive crackled luridly
from between his pious lips—an expletive which should have brought him
before the consistory of his church for rigid discipline.

Then, by the time Olive had sobbed out her pitiful tidings, both he and
Link Ferris had set off down the street at a dead run. Instinctively
they were heading for an alley which bisected the street a furlong
below—an alley wherein abode Eben Shunk and where his backyard pound was
maintained.

Truly, Chum had let himself and others in for an abundance of trouble
when he scratched and nosed at the recalcitrant barn door until he pried
it wide enough open to let him slip out. He had caught the scent, as
Link predicted, and he had turned into the main street of Hampton a bare
five minutes behind the carryall.

As he was on his orderly journey toward the Chatham home, Olive spied
him from the dooryard and ran out to greet him.

And Eben Shunk, seeing them, waited only long enough to snatch up his
rope and landing net, and gave chase. Coming upon the unsuspecting pair
from behind, he was able to jam the net over Chum’s head before the
placidly pacing collie was aware of his presence.

Chum, catching belated sight and scent of his enemy, sought right
valiantly to free himself and give battle. But the tough meshes of the
net had been drawn as tightly over his head and jaws as any glove,
holding him helpless. And Shunk was fastening the rope about the wildly
struggling neck. It was then that Olive sprang to her canine comrade’s
aid, only to be slapped out of the way by the irate and overoccupied
man. Whereat, she had fled for reinforcements.

A dog has but a single set of weapons, namely, his mighty jaws. The net
held Chum’s mouth fast shut. The noose was cutting off his wind. And bit
by bit strangulation and confusion weakened the collie’s struggles. With
a final wrench of the noose, Shunk got under way. Heading down street
toward his own alley, he dragged the fiercely unwilling prisoner behind
him. A crowd accompanied him, as did their highly uncomplimentary
remarks.

As Shunk reached the mouth of the alley and prepared to turn toward his
own yard, two newcomers were added to the volunteer escort. But these
two men were not content to look on in passive disgust. The elder of
them hurled himself bodily at Shunk.

Link intervened as his enraged father-in-law was about to seize the dog
catcher by the throat.

“Don’t!” he warned, thrusting Chatham back. “There’s the cop! You’re a
judge. You sure know a better way to get Shunk than to punch him. If you
hit the man you give him a chance to sue. Do the suing, yourself!”

While he talked, Link was using his hastily drawn farm knife in
scientific fashion. One slash severed the noose from about Chum’s furry
throat. A second cut parted the drawstring of the net. A dexterous tug
at the meshes tore the net off the dog’s head, setting free the terrible
imprisoned jaws.

Meanwhile, choking back his craving to assail Shunk, Old Man Chatham
strode up to the dumfounded constable.

“Officer,” Chatham commanded in his very best bench manner, albeit still
sputtering with rage and loss of breath, “you’ll arrest that man—that
Shunk person, there—and you’ll convey him to the court room over my
store. There I’ll commit him to the calaboose to await a hearing in the
morning.”

Shunk gobbled in wordless and indignant dismay. The constable hesitated,
confused.

“I accuse him,” went on the grimly judicious accents, “of striking and
knocking down my six-year-old daughter, Olive. He struck her, here, in
the public thoroughfare, causing possible ‘abrasions and contusions and
mental and physical anguish,’ as the statoot books describe it. The
penalty for striking a minor, as you know, is severe. I shall press the
charge, when the case comes before one of my feller magistrates,
to-morrow. I shall also bring civil action for—”

“Hold on, there!” bleated Shunk as the constable, overawed by the array
of legal terms, took a truculent step toward him. “Hold on, there! The
brat—she beat at me with both her fists, she did, an’—”

“And in self-preservation against a six-year-old child you were obliged,
to knock her down?” put in Link. “That’s a plea that’ll sure clear you.
’Specially if there’s any of the jury that’s got little girls of their
own.”

"I didn’t knock nobody down!" fumed Shunk, wincing under the constable’s
grip on his shoulder. “She was a-pummellin’ me an’ tryin’ to git the dog
away from me. I just slapped her, light like, to make her quit. She
slipped an’ tumbled down. It didn’t hurt her none. She was up an’ off in
a—”

"You’ll all bear witness," observed Link, “that he confesses to hittin’
the child and that she fell down when he hit her. We hadn’t anything but
her word to go on till now. And children are apt to get confused in
court. Shunk, you’ve just saved us a heap of trouble by ownin’ up.”

"Ownin’ up?" shrilled the dog catcher, stung to the belated fury which
is supposed to obsess a cornered rat. “Ownin’ up? Not much! Chatham, I’m
a-goin’ to bring soot agin you, as your child’s legal gardeen, for her
‘interferin’ with an off’cer in pursoot of his dooty’! I’m a sworn
off’cer of this borough. I was doin’ my dooty in catchin’ that
unlicensed cur yonder. She interfered with me an’ tried to git him away
from me. I know enough law to—”

He checked himself, then pointed to Link and demanded:

“Constable Todd, I want you should arrest Lincoln Ferris! I charge him
with assaultin’ me, just now, in the presence of ev’ry one here an’
interferin’ with me in the pursoot of my dooty, an’ for takin’ away from
me, with a drawn knife, an unlicensed dog I had caught as the law orders
I should catch such dogs on the streets of this borough. Take him along
unless you want to lose your shield for neglect of dooty. If I’ve got to
stand trial, there’s a couple of men who’ll stand it too.”

“Gee!” groaned Old Man Chatham, his legal lore revealing to him the mess
wherein Shunk could so easily involve Ferris and himself. “You were dead
right, Link. One dog can cause more mixups in a c’munity than—”

“Than Eben Shunk?” asked Ferris. “No, you’re wrong, sir. Shunk can stir
up more bother than a poundful of dogs. Listen here, Shunk,” he went on.
“You claim that Olive and I both interfered with you in the pursuit of
your duty. How did we?”

“By tryin’ to take away from me a dog that the law c’mpelled me to
catch, of course,” snapped Eben, adding: “An’ I charge you with ’sault
and batt’ry too. You hit me in the stummick an’ knocked me clean off’n
the sidewalk.”

“I was at work over my dog with one hand and I was holding back Mr.
Chatham with the other,” denied Link. “How could I have hit you? Did any
one here see me strike this man?” he challenged the crowd.

“Aw, you didn’t hit him!” answered one of the boys who had picked up
stones. “He slipped on the curb. I saw him do it. Nobody hit him.”

“That’s right,” agreed the constable. “I was here. And I didn’t witness
any assault.”

"I’m thinkin’ you’ll have trouble provin’ that assault charge, Shunkie,"
grinned Link. “Now for the other one. Judge,” he said, addressing his
worried father-in-law, “you are an authority on legal things. I grant
it’s a misdemeanour—or a crime—or something—to interfere with a dog
catcher on a street of his own bailiwick when he’s pullin’ along an
unlicensed dog. But what would the law be if Shunk had grabbed a duly
licensed dog—a dog that was wearin’ his license tag on his collar, like
the law directs—a dog that was walkin’ peacefully along the street,
guardin’ a child whose fam’ly it belonged to? Would that child or would
the dog’s owner be committin’ any punishable fault for tryin’ to keep
the dog catcher from stealin’ their pet? Would they? And would the dog
catcher have any right to lay hands on such a dog? Would he have any
case against such child or man? Hey?”

“Why, no! Of course not!” fumed Old Man Chatham. “He’d have no legal
right to touch such a dog. They’d have a right to protect the beast from
him. But that’s all beside the point. The point is—”

“The point is,” intervened Link, calling Chum to him by a snap of the
fingers—“the point is that I was bothered by this man’s threats to grab
my dog and torture him. So I walked into town yesterday and paid my
dollar license fee to the borough clerk and took out a license for Chum.
I paid ten cents extra for a license tag and I fastened it on Chum’s
collar, as the law directs. See?”

He parted the heavy masses of ruff on the collie’s throat, bringing to
view a narrow circular collar, whereon dangled a little brass triangle.

At sight of the emblem Shunk’s jaw dropped.

“I didn’t see that!” he stammered aghast. “You told me last week he
wa’n’t licensed. How was I to know—”

“The borough clerk read me the law,” replied Ferris. “The law commands
that dog catchers search a dog’s collar for license tags before taking
him in charge. Shunkie, I’m afraid your sweet hopes of beatin’ Chum to
death must be folded up and laid away, like the pants of some dear dead
friend. Something tells me, too, that the mayor and council will appoint
a brand-new poundmaster when our complaint is laid before ’em and when
they hear their champion dog catcher’s in the hoosgow on a charge of
beatin’ a child. Something tells me, too, that you’ll find it c’nvenient
to move somewheres else, when you get out, and give some other burg the
honour of havin’ a Meanest Man in its ’mongst.”

"If I’d ’a’ cotched him a day earlier," moaned Shunk in utter regret and
to himself rather than to the others—“if I’d—”

"You couldn’t, Shunkie!" replied Link blithely. “I saw to that! He
didn’t stir off my land till I had time to come and get him licensed. If
it hadn’t been for holdin’ back the judge, here, from wallopin’ you, I
wouldn’t even of hurried to-day, when I found you had Chum. I was kind
of hopin’ you might try it. That’s why I didn’t head Chum off when I
guessed he’d started for town. I was waitin’ for you. That’s why I got
the license.”

From his pocket Link fished out a soiled half sheet of paper and
tendered it to the bulging-eyed dog catcher.

“Prop’ty of yours,” he explained. "You let it drop out’n your coat that
day you nosed round my farm lookin’ for Chum. At the time I had an idea
you was lookin’ for a dollar fee. When I read that note I saw you was
after a hundred-dollar fee—the cash you was offered by Sim Hooper if you
could impound Chum and then let Sim sneak him out of your yard and over
to Pat’son, to a collie dealer there, before I c’d come to redeem him.

"No wonder you was hoverin’ round my farm like a buzzard that smells
garbage! I showed that note to Mayor Wipple yest’day. So there’s no need
of you tearin’ it all up like that, Shunkie. I figgered I might make it
more amoosin’ for you if I let you catch Chum before I sprung the note
on you.

“I’m sure obleeged to you, Chum, son, for rollin’ on his coat just when
you happened to be able to roll that note out’n it. You’re one wise
pup!”

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                           FOUR: The Tracker

------------------------------------------------------------------------



[Illustration]


FOUR: The Tracker


The child’s parents were going to Europe for three months, that winter.
The child himself was getting over a nervous ailment. The doctors had
advised he be kept out of school for a term; and be sent to the country.

His mother was afraid the constant travel from place to place, in
Europe, might be too much for him. So she asked leave of the Mistress
and the Master,—one of whom was her distant relative—for the
convalescent to stay at the Place during his parents’ absence.

That was how it all started.

The youngster was eleven years old; lank and gangling, and blest with a
fretful voice and with far less discipline and manners than a
three-month collie pup. His name was Cyril. Briefly, he was a pest,—an
unspeakable pest.

For the first day or two at the Place, the newness of his surroundings
kept Cyril more or less in bounds. Then, as homesickness and novelty
alike wore off, his adventurous soul expanded.

He was very much at home;—far more so than were his hosts, and
infinitely more pleased than they with the situation general. He had an
infinite genius for getting into trouble. Not in the delightfully normal
fashion of the average growing boy; but in furtively crafty ways that
did not belong to healthy childhood.

Day by day, Cyril impressed his odd personality more and more on
everything around him. The atmosphere of sweet peace which had brooded,
like a blessing, over the whole Place, was dispersed.

The cook,—a marvel of culinary skill and of long service,—gave tearful
warning, and departed. This when she found the insides of all her
cooking utensils neatly soaped; and the sheaf of home-letters in her
work-box replaced by cigar-coupons.

One of the workmen threw over his job with noisy blasphemy; when his
room above the stables was invaded by stealth and a comic-paper picture
of a goat’s head substituted for his dead mother’s photograph in the
well-polished little bronze frame on his bureau.

And so on, all along the line.

The worst and most continuous sufferer from Cyril’s loathed presence on
the Place was the massive collie, Lad.

The child learned, on the first day of his visit, that it would be
well-nigh as safe to play with a handful of dynamite as with Lad’s
gold-and-white mate, Lady. Lady did not care for liberties from any one.
And she took no pains to mask her snappish first-sight aversion to the
lanky Cyril. Her fiery little son, Wolf, was scarce less formidable than
she, when it came to being teased by an outsider. But gallant old Lad
was safe game.

He was safe game for Cyril, because Lad’s mighty heart and soul were
miles above the possibility of resenting anything from so pitifully weak
and defenceless a creature as this child. He seemed to realise, at a
glance, that Cyril was an invalid and helpless and at a physical
disadvantage. And, as ever toward the feeble, his big nature went out in
friendly protection to this gangling wisp of impishness.

Which was all the good it did him.

In fact, it laid the huge collie open to an endless succession of
torment. For the dog’s size and patience seemed to awaken every atom of
bullying cruelty in the small visitor’s nature.

Cyril, from the hour of his arrival, found acute bliss in making Lad’s
life a horror. His initial step was to respond effusively to the
collie’s welcoming advances; so long as the Mistress and the Master
chanced to be in the room. As they passed out, the Mistress chanced to
look back.

She saw Cyril pull a bit of cake from his pocket and, with his left
hand, proffer it to Lad. The tawny dog stepped courteously forward to
accept the gift. As his teeth were about to close daintily on the cake,
Cyril whipped it back out of reach; and with his other hand rapped Lad
smartly across the nose.

Had any grown man ventured a humiliating and painful trick of that sort
on Lad, the collie would have been at the tormentor’s throat, on the
instant. But it was not in the great dog’s nature to attack a child.
Shrinking back, in amaze, his abnormally sensitive feelings jarred, the
collie retreated majestically to his beloved “cave” under the music-room
piano.

To the Mistress’s remonstrance, Cyril denied most earnestly that he had
done the thing. Nor was his vehemently tearful denial shaken by her
assertion that she had seen it all.

Lad soon forgave the affront. And he forgave a dozen other and worse
maltreatments which followed. But, at last, the dog took to shunning the
neighbourhood of the pest. That availed him nothing; except to make
Cyril seek him out in whatsoever refuge the dog had chosen.

Lad, trotting hungrily to his dinner dish, would find his food
thick-strewn with cayenne pepper or else soaked in reeking gasoline.

Lad, seeking peace and solitude in his piano cave, would discover his
rug, there, cleverly scattered with carpet tacks, points upward.

Lad, starting up from a snooze at the Mistress’s call, would be deftly
tripped as he started to bound down the veranda steps, and would risk
bruises and fractures by an ugly fall to the driveway below.

Wherever Lad went, whatever Lad did, there was a cruel trick awaiting
him. And, in time, the dog’s dark eyes took on an expression of puzzled
unhappiness that went straight to the hearts of the two humans who loved
him.

All his life, Lad had been a privileged character on the Place. Never
had he known nor needed whip or chain. Never had he,—or any of the
Place’s other dogs,—been wantonly teased by any human. He had known, and
had given, only love and square treatment and stanch friendliness. He
had ruled as benevolent monarch of the Place’s Little People; had given
leal service to his two deities, the Mistress and the Master; and had
stood courteously aloof from the rest of mankind. And he had been very,
very happy.

Now, in a breath, all this was changed. Ever at his heels, ever waiting
to find some new way to pester him, was a human too small and too weak
to attack;—a human who was forever setting the collie’s highstrung
nerves on edge or else actively hurting him. Lad could not understand
it. And as the child gained in health and strength, Lad’s lot grew
increasingly miserable.

The Mistress and the Master were keenly aware of conditions. And they
did their best,—a useless best,—to mitigate them for the dog. They
laboured over Cyril, to make him leave Lad alone. They pointed out to
him the mean cowardice of his course of torture. They even threatened to
send him to nearer relatives until his parents’ return. All in vain.
Faced with the most undeniable proofs, the child invariably would lie.
He denied that he had ever ill-used Lad in any way; and would weep, in
righteous indignation, at the charges. What was to be done?

“I thought it would brighten up the house so, to have a child in it
again!” sighed the Mistress as she and her husband discussed the matter,
uselessly, for the fiftieth time, after one of these scenes. “I looked
forward so much to his coming here! But he’s—oh, he isn’t like any child
I ever heard of before!”

“If I could devote five busy minutes a day to him,” grunted the Master,
“with an axe-handle or perhaps a balestick—”

“You wouldn’t do it!” denied his wife. “You wouldn’t harm him; any more
than Lad does. That’s the trouble. If Cyril belonged to us, we could
punish him. Not with a—a balestick, of course. But he needs a good
wholesome spanking, more than any one else I can think of. That or some
other kind of punishment that would make an impression on him. But what
can we do? He isn’t ours—”

“Thank God!” interpolated the Master, piously.

“And we can’t punish other people’s children,” she finished. “I don’t
know what we _can_ do. I wouldn’t mind half so much about the other
sneaky things he does; if it wasn’t for the way he treats Laddie. I—”

“Suppose we send Lad to the boarding kennels, at Ridgewood, till the
brat is gone?” suggested the Master. “I hate to do it. And the good old
chap will be blue with homesickness there. But at least he’ll get kind
treatment. When he comes over to me and looks up into my eyes in that
terribly appealing way, after Cyril has done some rotten thing to
him,—well, I feel like a cur, not to be able to justify his faith that I
can make things all right for him. Yes, I think I’ll send him to the
boarding kennels. And, if it weren’t for leaving you alone to face
things here, I’d be tempted to hire a stall at the kennels for myself,
till the pest is gone.”

The next day, came a ray of light in the bothered gloom. And the
question of the boarding kennels was dropped. The Mistress received a
letter from Cyril’s mother. The European trip had been cut short, for
business reasons; and the two travellers expected to land in New York on
the following Friday.

“Who dares say Friday is an unlucky day?” chortled the Master in glee,
as his wife reached this stage of the letter.

“And,” the Mistress read on, “we will come out to the Place, on the noon
train; and take darling Cyril away with us. I wish we could stay longer
with you; but Henry must be in Chicago on Saturday night. So we must
catch a late afternoon train back to town, and take the night train
West. Now, I—”

“Most letters are a bore,” interpolated the Master. “Or else they’re a
bother. But this one is a pure rapture. Read it more slowly, won’t you,
dear? I want to wallow in every blessèd word of hope it contains. Go
ahead. I’m sorry I interrupted. Read on. You’ll never have such another
enthusiastic audience.”

“And now,” the Mistress continued her reading, “I am going to ask both
of you not to say a single word to precious Cyril about our coming home
so soon. We want to surprise him. Oh, to think what his lovely face will
be like, when he sees us walking in!”

“And to think what _my_ lovely face will be like, when I see him walking
out!” exulted the Master. “Laddie, come over here. We’ve got the
gorgeousest news ever! Come over and be glad!”

Lad, at the summons, came trotting out of his cave, and across the room.
Like every good dog who has been much talked to, he was as adept as any
dead-beat in reading the varying shades of the human voice. The voices
and faces alike of his two adored deities told him something wonderful
had happened. And, as ever, he rejoiced in their gladness. Lifting his
magnificent head, he broke into a salvo of trumpeting barks;—the oddly
triumphant form of racket he reserved for great moments.

“What’s Laddie doing?” asked Cyril, from the threshold. “He sounds as if
he was going mad or something.”

“He’s happy,” answered the Mistress.

“Why’s he happy?” queried the child.

“Because his Master and I are happy,” patiently returned the Mistress.

“Why are _you_ happy?” insisted Cyril.

“Because to-day is Thursday,” put in the Master. “And that means
to-morrow will be Friday.”

“And on Friday,” added the Mistress, “there’s going to be a beautiful
surprise for you, Cyril. We can’t tell you what it is, but—”

“Why can’t you tell me?” urged the child. “Aw, go ahead and tell me! I
think you might.”

The Master had gone over to the nearest window; and was staring out into
the grey-black dusk. Midwinter gripped the dead world; and the twilight
air was deathly chill. The tall naked treetops stood gaunt and
wraithlike against a leaden sky.

To the north, the darkness was deepest. Evil little puffs of gale
stirred the powdery snow into myriads of tiny dancing white devils. It
had been a fearful winter, thus far; colder than for a score of years;
so cold that many a wild woodland creature, which usually kept far back
in the mountains, had ventured down nearer to civilisation for forage
and warmth.

Deer tracks a-plenty had been seen, close up to the gates of the Place.
And, two days ago, in the forest, half a mile away, the Master had come
upon the half-human footprints of a young bear. Starvation stalked
abroad, yonder in the white hills. And need for provender had begun to
wax stronger among the folk of the wilderness than their inborn dread of
humans.

“There’s a big snowstorm coming up,” ruminated the Master, as he scanned
the grim weather-signs. “A blizzard, perhaps. I—I hope it won’t delay
any incoming steamers. I hope at least one of them will dock on
schedule. It—”

He turned back from his musings, aware for the first time that a right
sprightly dialogue was going on. Cyril was demanding for the eighth
time:

“_Why_ won’t you tell me? Aw, I think you might! What’s going to happen
that’s so nice, Friday?”

“Wait till Friday and see,” laughed the Mistress.

“Shucks!” he snorted. “You might tell me, now. I don’t want to wait and
get s’prised. I want to know now. Tell me!”

Under her tolerant smile, the youngster’s voice scaled to an impatient
whine. He was beginning to grow red.

“Let it go at that!” ordained the Master. “Don’t spoil your own fun, by
trying to find out, beforehand. Be a good sportsman.”

“Fun!” snarled Cyril. “What’s the fun of secrets? I want to know—”

"It’s snowing," observed the Mistress, as a handful of flakes began to
drift past the windows, tossed along on a puff of wind.

“I want to _know!_” half-wept the child; angry at the change of subject,
and noting that the Mistress was moving toward the next room, with Lad
at her heels. “Come back and tell me!”

He stamped after her to bar her way. Lad was between the irate Cyril and
the Mistress. In babyish rage at the dog’s placid presence in his path,
he drew back one ungainly foot and kicked the astonished collie in the
ribs.

At the outrage, Lad spun about, a growl in his throat. But he forbore to
bite or even to show his teeth. The growl had been of indignant protest
at such unheard-of treatment; not a menace. Then the dog stalked
haughtily to his cave, and lay down there.

But the human witnesses to the scene were less forbearing;—being only
humans. The Mistress cried out, in sharp protest at the little brute’s
action. And the Master leaned forward, swinging Cyril clear of the
ground. Holding the child firmly, but with no roughness, the Master
steadied his own voice as best he could; and said:

“This time you’ve not even bothered to wait till our backs were turned.
So don’t waste breath by crying and saying you didn’t do it. You’re not
my child; so I have no right to punish you. And I’m not going to. But I
want you to know you’ve just kicked something that’s worth fifty of
you.”

“You let me down!” Cyril snarled.

“Lad is too white and clean and square to hurt anything that can’t hit
back,” continued the Master. “And you are not. That’s the difference
between you. One of the several million differences,—all of them in
Lad’s favour. When a child begins life by being cruel to dumb animals,
it’s a pretty bad sign for the way he’s due to treat his fellow-humans
in later years,—if ever any of them are at his mercy. For your own sake,
learn to behave at least as decently as a dog. If—”

“You let me down, you big bully!” squalled Cyril, bellowing with
impotent fury. “You let me down! I—”

“Certainly,” assented the Master, lowering him to the floor. “I didn’t
hurt you. I only held you so you couldn’t run out of the room, before
I’d finish speaking; as you did, the time I caught you putting red
pepper on Lad’s food. He—”

"You wouldn’t dare touch me, if my folks were here, you big bully!"
screeched the child, in a veritable mania of rage; jumping up and down
and actually foaming at the mouth. “But I’ll tell ’em on you! See if I
don’t! I’ll tell ’em how you slung me around and said I was worse’n a
dirty dog like Lad. And Daddy’ll lick you for it. See if he don’t! He—”

The Master could not choke back a laugh; though the poor Mistress looked
horribly distressed at the maniac outburst, and strove soothingly to
check it. She, like the Master, remembered now that Cyril’s doting
mother had spoken of the child’s occasional fits of red wrath. But this
was the first glimpse either of them had had of these. Hitherto, craft
had served Cyril’s turn better than fury.

At sound of the Master’s unintentional laugh the unfortunate child went
quite beside himself in his transport of rage.

“I won’t stay in your nasty old house!” he shrieked. “I’m going to the
very first house I can find. And I’m going to tell ’em how you hammered
a little feller that hasn’t any folks here to stick up for him. And I’ll
get ’em to take me in and send a tel’gram to Daddy and Mother to come
save me. I—”

To the astonishment of both his hearers, Cyril broke off chokingly in
his yelled tirade; caught up a bibelot from the table, hurled it with
all his puny force at Lad, the innocent cause of the fracas, and then
rushed from the room and from the house.

The Mistress stared after him, dumbfounded; his howls and the jarring
slam of the house door echoing direfully in her ears. It was the Master
who ended the instant’s hush of amaze.

“Whenever I’ve heard a grown man say he wished he was a boy again,” he
mused, “I always set him down for a liar. But, for once in my life, I
honestly wish I was a boy, once more. A boy one day younger and one inch
shorter and one pound lighter than Cyril. I’d follow him out of doors,
yonder, and give him the thrashing of his sweet young life. I’d—”

“Oh, do call him back!” begged the Mistress. “He’ll catch his death of
cold, and—”

“Why will he?” challenged the Master, without stirring. “For all his
noble rage, I noticed he took thought to grab up his cap and his
overcoat from the hall, as he wafted himself away. And he still had his
arctics on, from this afternoon. He won’t—”

“But suppose he should really go over to one of the neighbours,” urged
the Mistress, “and tell such an awful story as he threatened to? Or
suppose—”

“Not a chance!” the master reassured her. “Now that the summer people
are away, there isn’t an occupied house within half a mile of here. And
he’s not going to trudge a half-mile through the snow, in this bitter
cold, for the joy of telling lies. No, he’s down at the stables or else
he’s sneaked in through the kitchen; the way he did that other time when
he made a grandstand exit after I’d ventured to lecture him on his
general rottenness. Remember how worried about him you were, that time;
till we found him sitting in the kitchen and pestering the maids? He—”

“But that time, he was only sulky,” said the Mistress. “Not insanely
angry, as he is now. I do hope—”

“Stop worrying!” adjured the Master. “He’s all right.”

Which proved, for perhaps the trillionth time in history, that a woman’s
intuitions are better worth following than a man’s saner logic. For
Cyril was not all right. And, at every passing minute he was less and
less all right; until presently he was all wrong.

For the best part of an hour, in pursuance of her husband’s counsel, the
Mistress sat and waited for the prodigal’s return. Then,
surreptitiously, she made a round of the house; sent a man to ransack
the stables, telephoned to the gate lodge, and finally came into the
Master’s study, big-eyed and pale.

“He isn’t anywhere around,” she reported, frightened. “It’s dinner time.
He’s been gone an hour. Nobody’s seen him. He isn’t on the Place. Oh, I
wonder if—”

"H’m!" grumbled her husband. “He’s engineering an endurance contest, eh?
Well, if he can stand it, we can.”

But at sight of the deepening trouble in his wife’s face, he got up from
his desk. Going out into the hall, he summoned Lad.

“We might shout our heads off,” he said, “and he’d never answer; if he’s
really trying to scare us. That’s part of his lovable nature. There’s
just one way to track him, in double time. _Lad!_”

The Master had been drawing on his mackinaw and hip-boots as he spoke.
Now he opened the front door.

“Laddie!” he said, very slowly and incisively to the expectantly eager
collie. “Cyril! Find _Cyril!_ _Find_ him!”

To the super-wise collie, there was nothing confusing in the command.
Like many another good dog, he knew the humans of the household by their
names; as well as did any fellow-human. And he knew from long experience
the meaning of the word, “Find!”

Countless times that word had been used in games and in earnest. Its
significance, now, was perfectly plain to him. The master wanted him to
hunt for the obnoxious child who so loved to annoy and hurt him.

Lad would rather have found any one else, at the Master’s behest. But it
did not occur to the trained collie to disobey. With a visible
diminishing of his first eager excitement, but with submissive haste,
the big dog stepped out on to the veranda and began to cast about in the
drifts at the porch edge.

Immediately, he struck Cyril’s shuffling trail. And, immediately, he
trotted off along the course.

The task was less simple than ordinarily. For, the snow was coming down
in hard-driven sheets; blotting out scent almost as effectively as
sight. But not for naught had a thousand generations of Lad’s
thoroughbred ancestors traced lost sheep through snowstorms on the
Scottish moors. To their grand descendant they had transmitted their
weird trailing power, to the full. And the scent of Cyril, though faint
and fainter, and smothered under swirling snow, was not too dim for
Lad’s sensitive nostrils to catch and hold it.

The Master lumbered along, through the rising drifts, as fast as he
could. But the way was rough and the night was as black dark as it was
cold. In a few rods, the dog had far outdistanced him. And, knowing how
hard must be the trail to follow by sense of smell, he forbore to call
back the questing collie, lest Lad lose the clue altogether. He knew the
dog was certain to bark the tidings when he should come up with the
fugitive.

The Master by this time began to share his wife’s worry. For the trail
Lad was following led out of the grounds and across the highway, toward
the forest.

The newborn snowstorm was developing into a very promising little
blizzard. And the icy lash of the wind proved the fallacy of the old
theory, “too cold to snow.” Even by daylight it would have been no light
task to steer a true course through the whirling and blinding storm. In
the darkness the man found himself stumbling along with drunkenly zigzag
steps; his buffeted ears strained through the noise of the wind for
sound of Lad’s bark.

But no such sound came to him. And, he realised that snow and adverse
winds can sometimes muffle even the penetrating bark of a collie. The
man grew frightened. Halting, he shouted with all the power of his
lungs. No whimper from Cyril answered the hail. Nor, at his Master’s
summons, did Lad come bounding back through the drifts. Again and again,
the Master called.

For the first time in his obedient life, Lad did not, respond to the
call. And the Master knew his own voice could not carry, for a single
furlong, against wind and snowfall.

“I’ll go on for another half-hour,” he told himself, as he sought to
discern the dog’s all-but obliterated footsteps through the deepening
snow. “And then I’ll go back and raise a search party.”

He came to a bewildered stop. Fainter and more indistinguishable had
Lad’s floundering tracks become. Now,—by dint of distance and snow,—they
ceased to be visible in the welter of drifted whiteness under the glare
of the Master’s flashlight.

“This means a search party,” decided the man.

And he turned homeward, to telephone for a posse of neighbours.

Lad, being only a dog, had no such way of sharing his burden. He had
been told to find the child. And his simple code of life and of action
left him no outlet from doing his duty; be that duty irksome or easy. So
he kept on. Far ahead of the Master, his keen ears had not caught the
sound of the shouts. The gale and the snow muffled them and drove them
back into the shouter’s throat.

Cyril, naturally, had not had the remotest intent of labouring through
the bitter cold and the snow to the house of any neighbour; there to
tell his woful tale of oppression. The semblance of martyrdom, without
its bothersome actuality, was quite enough for his purpose. Once before,
at home, when his father had administered a mild and much-needed
spanking, Cyril had made a like threat; and had then gone to hide in a
chum’s home, for half a day; returning to find his parents in agonies of
remorse and fear, and ready to load him with peace-offerings. The child
saw no reason why the same tactics should not serve every bit as
triumphantly, in the present case.

He knew the maids were in the kitchen and at least one man was in the
stables. He did not want his whereabouts to be discovered before he
should have been able to raise a healthy and dividend-bringing crop of
remorse in the hearts of the Mistress and the Master, so he resolved to
go farther afield.

In the back of the meadow, across the road, and on the hither side of
the forest, was a disused cattle-barrack, with two stalls under its
roofpile of hay. The barrack was one of Cyril’s favourite playhouses. It
was dry and tight. Through his thick clothing he was not likely to be
very cold, there; for an hour or two. He could snuggle down in the warm
hay and play Indians, with considerable comfort; until such time as the
fright and penitence of his hosts should have come to a climax and make
his return an ovation.

Meanwhile, it would be fun to picture their uneasiness and fear for his
safety; and to visualise their journeyings through the snow to the
houses of various neighbours, in search of the lost child.

Buoyed up by such happy thoughts as these, Cyril struck out at a lively
pace for the highroad and into the field beyond. The barrack, he knew,
lay diagonally across the wide meadow, and near the adjoining woods.
Five minutes of tramping through the snow ought to bring him to it. And
he set off, diagonally.

But, before he had gone a hundred yards, he lost his first zest in the
adventure. The darkness had thickened; and the vagrant wind-gusts had
tightened into a steady gale;—a gale which carried before it a blinding
wrack of stingingly hard-driven snow.

The grey of the dying dusk was blotted out. The wind smote and battered
the spindling child. Mechanically, he kept on for five or six minutes,
making scant and irregular progress. Then, his spirit wavered. Splendid
as it would be to scare these hateful people, there was nothing splendid
in the weather that numbed him with cold and took away his breath and
half-blinded him with snow.

What was the fun of making others suffer; if he himself were suffering
tenfold more? And, on reaching the barrack, he would have all that
freezing and blast-hammering trip back again. Aw, what was the use?

And Cyril came to a halt. He had definitely abandoned his high
enterprise. Turning around, he began to retrace his stumbling steps.
But, at best, in a large field, in a blizzard and in pitch darkness, and
with no visible landmarks, it is not easy to double back on one’s route,
with any degree of accuracy. In Cyril’s case, the thing was wholly
impossible.

Blindly he had been travelling in an erratic half-circle. Another minute
of walking would have brought him to the highroad, not far from the
Place’s gateway. And, as he changed his course, to seek the road, he
moved at an obtuse angle to his former line of march.

Thus, another period of exhausting progress brought him up with a bump
against a solid barrier. His chilled face came into rough contact with
the top rail of a line fence.

So relieved was the startled child by this encounter that he forgot to
whine at the abrasion wrought upon his cheek by the rail. He had begun
to feel the first gnawings of panic. Now, at once, he was calm again.
For he knew where he was. This was the line fence between the Place’s
upper section and the land of the next neighbour. All he need do was to
walk along in the shelter of it, touching the rails now and then to make
certain of not straying, until he should come out on the road, at the
gate lodge. It was absurdly easy; compared to what he had been
undergoing. Besides, the lee of the fence afforded a certain shelter
from wind and snow. The child realised he had been turned about in the
dark; and had been going in the wrong direction. But now, at last, his
course seemed plain to him.

So he set off briskly, close to the fence;—and directly away from the
nearby road.

For another half-hour he continued his inexplicably long tramp; always
buoyed up by the hope of coming to the road in a few more steps; and
doggedly sure of his bearings. Then, turning out from the fence, in
order to skirt a wide hazel thicket, he tripped over an outcrop of rock,
and tumbled into a drift. Getting to his feet, he sought to regain the
fence; but the fall had shaken his senses and he floundered off in the
opposite direction. After a rod or two of such futile plunging, a
stumbling step took him clean off the edge of the world, and into the
air.

All this, for the merest instant. Then, he landed with a jounce in a
heap of brush and dead leaves. Squatting there, breathless, he stretched
out his mittened hand, along the ground. At the end of less than another
yard of this exploring, his fingers came again to the edge of the world
and were thrust out over nothingness.

With hideous suddenness, Cyril understood where he was; and what had
happened to him and why. He knew he had followed the fence for a full
mile, _away_ from the road; through the nearer woods, and gradually
upward until he had come to the line of hazels on the lip of the
ninety-foot ravine which dipped down into a swamp-stretch known as
“Pancake Hollow.”

That was what he had done. In trying to skirt the hazels, he had stepped
over the cliff-edge, and had dropped five feet or more to a rather
narrow ledge that juts out over the ravine.

Well did he remember this ledge. More than once, on walks with the
Mistress and the Master, he had paused to look down on it and to think
what fun it would be to imprison some one there and to stand above,
guying the victim. It had been a sweet thought. And now, he, himself,
was imprisoned there.

But for luck, he might have fallen the whole ninety feet; for the ledge
did not extend far along the face of the cliff. At almost any other spot
his tumble might have meant—

Cyril shuddered a little; and pursued the grisly theme no further. He
was safe enough, till help should come. And, here, the blast of the wind
did not reach him. Also, by cuddling low in the litter of leaves and
fallen brush, he could ward off a little of the icy cold.

He crouched there; shaking and worn out. He was only eleven. His fragile
body had undergone a fearful hour of toil and hardship. As he was
drawing in his breath for a cry to any chance searchers, the boy was
aware of a swift pattering, above his head. He looked up. The sky was a
shade or two less densely black than the ravine edge. As Cyril gazed in
terror, a shaggy dark shape outlined itself against the sky-line, just
above him.

Having followed the eccentric footsteps of the wanderer, with great and
greater difficulty, to the fence-lee where the tracing was much easier,
Lad came to the lip of the ravine a bare five minutes after the child’s
drop to the ledge.

There, for an instant, the great dog stood; ears cocked, head
inquiringly on one side; looking down upon the ledge. Cyril shrank to a
quivering little heap of abject terror, at sight of the indistinct
animal shape looming mountain-high above him.

This for the briefest moment. Then back went Lad’s head in a pealing
bark that seemed to fill the world and to re-echo from a myriad
directions at once. Again and again, Lad gave clamorous voice to his
discovery of the lost child.

On a clear or windless night, his racket must have penetrated to the
dullest ears at the Place, and far beyond. For the bark of a dog has
more carrying power than has any other sound of double its volume. But,
in the face of a sixty-mile gale laden with tons of flying snow, the
report of a cannon could scarce have carried over the stretch of
windswept ground between the ravine and the Place.

Lad seemed to understand this. For, after a dozen thunderous barks, he
fell silent; and stood again, head on one side, in thought.

At first sound of the barking, Cyril had recognised the dog. And his
terror had vanished. In its place surged a peevish irritation against
the beast that had so frightened him. He groped for a rock-fragment to
hurl up at the rackety collie.

Then, the child paused in his fumbling. The dog had scant reason to love
him or to seek his society. Of late, Lad had kept out of his way as much
as possible. Thus it was not likely the collie had come here of his own
accord, on such a night; for the mere joy of being with his tormentor.

His presence must mean that the Master was close behind; and that the
whole Place was in a ferment of anxiety about the wanderer. By stoning
Lad away and checking the barks, Cyril might well prevent the searchers
from finding him. Too weak and too numb with cold to climb up the
five-foot cliff-face to the level ground above, he did not want to miss
any chance for rescue.

Hence, as Lad ceased to bark, the child set up a yell, with all his
slight lung-power, to attract the seekers’ notice. He ordered Lad to
“Speak!” and shook his fist angrily at the dog, when no answering bark
followed.

Despairing of making any one hear his trumpeting announcement that he
had found the child, Lad presently made up his mind as to the only
course that remained. Wheeling about, head down, he faced the storm
again; and set off at what speed he could compass, toward home, to lead
the Master to the spot where Cyril was trapped. This seemed the only
expedient left. It was what he had done, long ago, when Lady had caught
her foot in a fox-trap, back in the woods.

As the dog vanished from against the grey-black skyline, Cyril set up a
howl of wrathful command to him to come back. Anything was better than
to be in this dreary spot alone. Besides, with Lad gone, how could Lad’s
Master find the way to the ledge?

Twice the child called after the retreating collie. And, in another few
steps, Lad had halted and begun to retrace his way toward the ledge.

He did not return because of Cyril’s call. He had learned, by ugly
experience, to disregard the child’s orders. They were wont to mean much
unpleasantness for him. Nevertheless, Lad halted. Not in obedience to
the summons; but because of a sound and a scent that smote him as he
started to gallop away. An eddy of the wind had borne both to the dog’s
acute senses.

Stiffening, his curved eyeteeth baring themselves, his hackles
bristling, Lad galloped back to the ravine-lip; and stood there sniffing
the icy air and growling deep in his throat. Looking down to the ledge
he saw Cyril was no longer its sole occupant. Crouched at the opening of
a crevice, not ten feet from the unseeing child, was something bulky and
sinister;—a mere menacing blur against the darker rock.

Crawling home to its lair, supperless and frantic with hunger, after a
day of fruitless hunting through the dead forest world, a giant wildcat
had been stirred from its first fitful slumber in the ledge’s crevice by
the impact of the child upon the heap of leaves. The human scent had
startled the creature and it had slunk farther back into the crevice.
The more so when the bark and inimical odour of a big dog were added to
the shattering of the ravine’s solitude.

Then the dog had gone away. Curiosity,—the besetting trait of the cat
tribe,—had mastered the crevice’s dweller. The wildcat had wriggled
noiselessly forward a little way, to learn what manner of enemy had
invaded its lair. And peering out, it had beheld a spindling child; a
human atom without strength or weapon.

Fear changed to fury in the bob-cat’s feline heart. Here was no
opponent; but a mere item of prey. And, with fury, stirred
long-unsatisfied hunger; the famine hunger of midwinter which makes the
folk of the wilderness risk capture or death by raiding guarded
hencoops.

Out from the crevice stole the wildcat. Its ears were flattened close to
its evil head. Its yellow eyes were mere slits of fire. Its claws
unsheathed themselves from the furry pads,—long, hooked claws, capable
of disembowelling a grown deer at one sabre-stroke of the muscular
hindlegs. Into the rubble and litter of the ledge the claws sank, and
receded, in rhythmic motion.

The compact yellow body tightened into a ball. The back quivered. The
feet braced themselves. The cat was gauging its distance and making
ready for a murder-spring. Cyril, his head turned the other way, was
still peering up along the cliff-edge for sight of Lad.

This was what Lad’s scent and hearing,—and perhaps something else,—had
warned him of, in that instant of the wind’s eddying shift. And this was
the scene he looked down upon, now, from the ravine-lip, five feet
above.

The collie brain,—though never the collie heart,—is wont to flash back,
in moments of mortal stress, to the ancestral wolf. Never in his own
life had Sunnybank Lad set eyes on a wildcat. But in the primal forests,
wolf and bob-cat had perforce met and clashed, a thousand times. There
they had begun and had waged the eternal cat-and-dog feud, of the ages.

Ancestry now told Lad that there is perhaps no more murderously
dangerous foe than an angry wildcat. Ancestry also told him a wolf’s one
chance of certain victory in such a contest. Ancestry’s aid was not
required, to tell him the mortal peril awaiting this human child who had
so grievously and causelessly tormented him. But the great loyal heart,
in this stark moment, took no thought of personal grudges. There was but
one thing to do,—one perilous, desperate chance to take; if the child
were to be saved.

The wildcat sprang.

Such a leap could readily have carried it across double the space which
lay between it and Cyril. But not one-third of that space was covered in
the lightning pounce.

From the upper air—apparently from nowhere—a huge shaggy body launched
itself straight downward. As unerringly as the swoop of an eagle, the
down-whizzing bulk flew. It smote the leaping wildcat, in mid-flight.

A set of mighty jaws,—jaws that could crack a beef-bone as a man cracks
a filbert,—clove deep and unerringly into the cat’s back, just behind
the shoulders. And those jaws flung all their strength into the ravening
grip.

A squall—hideous in its unearthly clangour—split the night silences. The
maddened cat whirled about, spitting and yowling; and set its foaming
teeth in the dog’s fur-armoured shoulder. But before the terrible curved
claws could be called into action, Lad’s rending jaws had done their
work upon the spine.

To the verge of the narrow ledge the two combatants had rolled in their
unloving embrace. Its last lurch of agony carried the stricken wildcat
over the edge and out to the ninety-foot drop into the ravine. Lad was
all-but carried along with his adversary. He clawed wildly with his toes
for a purchase on the smooth cliff wall; over which his hindquarters had
slipped. For a second he hung, swaying, above the abyss.

Cyril, scared into semi-insanity by sight of the sudden brief battle,
had caught up a stick from the rubbish at his feet. With this, not at
all knowing what he did, he smote the struggling Lad over the head with
every atom of his feeble force.

Luckily for the gallant dog, the stick was rotten. It broke, in the
blow; but not before its impact had well-nigh destroyed Lad’s precarious
balance.

One clawing hindfoot found toe-room in a flaw of rock. A tremendous
heave of all his strained muscles; and Lad was scrambling to safety on
the ledge.

Cyril’s last atom of vigour and resistance had gone into that panic blow
at the dog. Now, the child had flung himself helplessly down, against
the wall of the ledge; and was weeping in delirious hysterics.

Lad moved over to him; hesitated a moment, looking wistfully upward at
the solid ground above. Then, he seemed to decide which way his duty
pointed. Lying down beside the freezing child, he pressed his great
shaggy body close to Cyril’s; protecting him from the swirling snow and
from the worst of the cold.

The dog’s dark, deep-set eyes roved watchfully toward the crevice, alert
for sign of any other marauder that might issue forth. His own shaggy
shoulder was hurting him, annoyingly, from the wildcat’s bite. But to
this he gave no heed. Closer yet, he pressed his warm, furry body to the
ice-cold youngster; fending off the elements as valorously as he had
fended off the wildcat.

The warmth of the great body began to penetrate Cyril’s numbed senses.
The child snuggled to the dog gratefully. Lad’s pink tongue licked
caressingly at the white face; and the collie whimpered crooning
sympathy to the little sufferer.

So, for a time the dog and the child lay there; Cyril’s numb body
warming under the contact.

Then, at a swift intake of the windy air, Lad’s whimper changed to a
thunder of wild barking. His nostrils had told him of the search party’s
approach, a few hundred yards to the windward.

Their dispiritingly aimless hunt changing into a scrambling rush in the
direction whence came the faint-heard barks, the searchers trooped
toward the ledge.

“Here we are!” shrilled the child, as the Master’s halloo sounded
directly above. “Here we are! Down here! A—a lion tackled us, awhile
back. But we licked him;—I and Laddie!”

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                     FIVE: “Youth Will Be Served!”

------------------------------------------------------------------------



[Illustration]


FIVE: “Youth Will be Served!”


Bruce was a collie—physically and in many other ways a super-collie.
Twenty-six inches at the shoulder, seventy-five pounds in weight, his
great frame had no more hint of coarseness than had his classic head and
foreface.

His mighty coat was black-stippled at its edges, like Seedley
Stirling’s, giving the dog almost the look of a “tricolour” rather than
of a “dark-sable-and-white.” There was an air of majesty, of perfect
breeding, about Bruce—an intangible something that lent him the bearing
of a monarch. He was, in brief, such a dog as one sees perhaps thrice in
a generation.

At the Place, after old Lad’s death, Bruce ruled as king. He was no mere
kennel dog—reared and cared for like some prize ox—but was part and
parcel of the household, a member of the family, as befitted a dog of
his beauty and brain and soul.

It was when Bruce was less than a year old that he was taken to his
first A.K.C. bench show. The Master was eager that the dog-show world
should acclaim his grand young dog, and that the puppy—like the youthful
knights of old—should have fair chance to prove his mettle against the
paladins of his kind. For it is in these shows that a dog’s rating is
determined; that he is pitted against the best in dogdom, before judges
who are almost always competent and still oftener honest in their
decisions.

The goal of the show dog is the championship, whose fifteen points must
be annexed under no less than three judges, at three different times; in
ratings that range from one point to five points, according to the
number of dogs exhibited. To only the show’s best dog of his or her
special breed and sex are points awarded.

The Master took Bruce to his first A.K.C. show with much trepidation. He
knew how perfect was this splendid young collie of his. But he also knew
that the judge might turn out to be some ultra-modernist who preferred
daintiness of head and smallness of bone and _borzoi_ fore-face, to
Bruce’s wealth of bone and thickness of coat and unwonted size.

Modestly, therefore, he entered his dog only in the puppy and novice
classes, and strove to cure his own show-ague by ceaseless grooming and
rubbing and dandy-brushing of the youngster, whose burnished coat
already stood out like a Circassian beauty’s hair and who was fit in
every way to make the showing of his life.

In intervals of polishing the bored puppy’s coat, the Master spent much
time in studying covertly the collie judge, who was chatting with a
group of friends at the ring’s edge, waiting for his breed’s classes to
be called.

The Master was partly puzzled, partly reassured, by the aspect of the
little judge.

Angus McGilead’s Linlithgow birth was still apparent in the very
faintest burr of his speech and in the shrewd, pale eyes that peered,
terrier-like, above his lean face and huge thatch of grizzling red
beard. He was a man whose forebears had known collies as they knew their
own children, and who rated a true collie above all mere money price.

From childhood McGilead had made a life study of this, his favourite
breed. As a result, he was admittedly the chief collie authority on
either side of the grey ocean. This fact, and his granite honesty, made
him a judge to be looked up to with a reverent faith which had in it a
tinge of fear.

Such was the man who, at this three-point show, was to pass judgment on
Bruce.

After an eternity of waiting, the last airedale was led from the judging
ring. The first collie class, “Puppies, male,” was chalked on the
blackboard. The Master, with one final ministration of the dandy-brush,
snapped a ring-leash on Bruce’s collar, and led him down the collie
section into the ring.

Four other puppies were already there. McGilead, his shrewd pale eyes
half shut, was lounging in one end of the enclosure, apparently
listening to something the ring-steward was saying, but with his
seemingly careless gaze and his keen mind wholly absorbed in watching
the little procession of pups as it filed into the ring. Under the sandy
lashes, his eyes caressed or censured all the entrants in turn, boring
into their very souls.

Then, as the last of the five walked in and the gate was shut behind
them, he came to life. Approaching the huddle of dogs and their
handlers, he singled out a shivering little puppy whose baby fur had not
yet been lost in the rough coat of maturity and whose body was still
pudgy and formless.

“How old is this pup?” he asked the woman who was tugging at the
boundingly excited baby’s leash.

“Six months, yesterday!” was the garrulous answer. “Isn’t he a little
beauty, Judge? Two days younger and he’d have been too young to show. He
just comes in the law. It’s lucky he wasn’t born two days later.”

“No,” gently contradicted McGilead, petting the downy little chap. “It’s
unlucky. Both for you and for him. The rules admit a pup to the show
ring at six months. The rules are harsh, for they make him compete with
dogs almost double his age. The puppy limit is from six to twelve months
in shows. I don’t want you to feel bad when I refuse to judge this
little fellow. It isn’t your fault, nor his, that he hasn’t begun to
develop. But it would be like putting a child of five into competitive
examination at school with a lad of twenty.”

Motioning her gently to a far corner, he rasped at the others. “Walk
your dogs, please!”

The procession started around the ring. Presently, McGilead waved the
Master to take Bruce to one side. Then he placed one after another of
the remaining dogs on the central block and went over them with infinite
care. At the end of the inspection, he beckoned the worried Master to
bring Bruce to the block. After running his hands lightly over and under
the pup, he turned to the ring-steward, who stood waiting with a ledger
and a handful of ribbons.

Writing down four numbers in the book, McGilead took a blue and a red
and a yellow and a white ribbon and advanced again toward the waiting
exhibitors.

(And this, by the way, is the Big Moment, to any dog handler—this
instant when the judge is approaching with the ribbons. For sheer
thrill, it makes roulette and horse-racing seem puerile.)

To the Master, the little judge handed the blue ribbon. Then he awarded
the red “second” and the yellow “third” and the white “reserve” to three
others.

The recipient of the reserve snorted loudly.

“Say!” he complained. “Better judges than you have said this pup of mine
is the finest collie of his age in America. What do you mean by giving
him a measly reserve? What’s the matter with him?”

"Compared with what’s the matter with _you_," drawled McGilead,
unruffled, “there’s nothing at all the matter with him. Didn’t anybody
ever tell you how unsportsmanlike it is to argue a judge’s decision in
the ring? It’s against the A.K.C. rules, too. I’m always glad, later, to
explain my rulings to any one who asks me civilly. Since you want to
know what’s the matter with your dog, I’ll tell you. He has spaniel
ears. Fault number one. He is cow-hocked. Fault number two. He is
apple-domed, and he’s cheeky and he has a snipe-nose. Faults three, four
and five. He’s long-bodied and swaybacked and over-shot and his
undercoat is as thin as your own sportsmanship. He carries his tail high
over his back, too. And his outer coat is almost curly. Those are all
the faults I can see about him just now. He’ll never win anything in any
A.K.C. show. It’s only fair to tell you that; to save you further money
and to save you from another such dirty breach of sportsmanship. That’s
all.”

The Master, covertly petting Bruce and telling him in a whisper what a
grand dog he was, waited at an end of the ring for the next class—"the
novice"—to be called.

Here the competition was somewhat keener. Yet the result was the same.
And Bruce found himself with another dark blue ribbon in token of his
second victory.

Then, when the winning dogs of every class were brought into the ring
for "Winners"—to decide on the best male collie,—Bruce received the
winner’s rosette, and found himself advanced three points on his
fifteen-point journey toward the championship.

When the collie judging was over and the Master sat on the bench edge,
petting his victorious dog, Angus McGilead strolled over to where the
winner lay and stood staring down on him.

“How old?” he asked, curtly.

“Twelve months, next Tuesday,” returned the Master.

“If he keeps on,” pursued the dryly rasping voice, “you can say you own
the greatest collie Angus McGilead has seen in ten years. It’s a
privilege to look at such a dog. A privilege. I’m not speaking, mind
you, as the collie judge of this show, but as a man who has spent some
fifty-odd years in studying the breed. I’ve not seen his like in many a
day. I’ll keep my eye on him.”

And he was as good as his word. At every succeeding show to which the
Master took Bruce, he was certain to run into McGilead, there as a
spectator, standing with head on one side, brooding over the physical
perfections of Bruce. Always the little judge was chary of his
conversation with the Master. But always, he gazed upon Bruce as might
an inspired artist on some still more inspired painting.

McGilead had been right in his prophecy as to the collie’s future. Not
only did Bruce “keep on,” but the passing months added new wealth and
lustre to his huge coat and new grace and shapeliness to his massive
body, and a clearer and cleaner set of lines to his classic head.

Three more shows, two of them three-point exhibitions and one a
single-pointer, brought him seven more points toward the championship.
Then, on the day of the “Collie Club of the Union’s” annual show, came
the crowning triumph.

Thirty-two dogs were on hand, precisely the number, under the new
rulings, to make it a five-point show. And Angus McGilead was the judge.

When McGilead gave Bruce the winner’s rosette, which marked also his
winning of the championship, the pale and shrewd old eyes were misted
ever so little, and the hard and thin mouth was set like a gash.

It was as proud a moment in the little judge’s life as in the Master’s.
America once more had a champion collie—a young dog at that—at which
McGilead could point with inordinate pride, when collie-folk fell to
bewailing the decadence of the breed in the Linlithgow man’s adopted
country.

“I gave him his first winners!” he bragged that night to a coterie of
fellow countrymen, in a rare fit of expansiveness. “I gave him his first
winners, first time ever he was showed. I said to myself when he swung
into the ring that day—under twelve months old, mind you—I said: ‘Angus,
lad, yon’s a _dog_!’ I said. ‘Watch him, Angus!’ I said. ‘For he’s going
far, is yon tike,’ I said. And what’s he done? Won his championship in
five shows. In less’n a year. And I’m the man who gave him the ‘winners’
that got him his championship. Watch him! He’s due to last for years
longer and to clean up wherever he goes. Remember I said so, when you
see him going through every bunch he’s shown against. He’s the grandest
dog in America to-day, is Brucie.”

Again was the Scotchman’s forecast justified. At such few shows, during
the next six years, as the Master found time to take him to, Bruce won
prize after prize. Age did not seem to lessen his physical perfection.
And the years added to the regal dignity that shone about him like an
almost visible atmosphere.

Watching from the ring-side, or presiding in the ring Angus McGilead
thrilled to the dog’s every victory as to the triumph of some loved
friend. There was an odd bond between the great dog and the little
judge. Except for the Mistress and the Master, the collie felt scant
interest in humanity at large. A one-man dog, he received the pettings
of outsiders and the handling of judges with lofty coldness.

But, at sight of McGilead, the plumed tail was at once awag. The deepset
eyes would soften and brighten, and the long nose would wrinkle into a
most engaging smile. Bruce loved to be talked to and petted by Angus. He
carried his affection for the inordinately tickled judge to the point of
trying to shake hands with him or romp with him in the ring; to the
outward scandal and inward delight of the sombre Scot.

“Can’t you keep the beast from acting like he belonged to me, when I’m
judging him?” grumpily complained McGilead, once to the Master. “A fine
impression it makes, don’t it, on strangers, when they see him come
wagging and grinning up to me and wanting to shake hands, or to roll
over for me to play with him? One fool asked me, was it my own dog I
gave the prize to. He said no outsider’s dog would be making such a fuss
over a judge. Try to keep him in better order in the ring, or I’ll prove
he isn’t mine, by ‘giving him the gate,’ one of these days. See if I
don’t.”

But he never did. And the Master knew well that he never would. So it
was that Bruce’s career as a winner continued unbrokenly, while other
champions came and went.

With dogs, as with horses, youth will be served. By the time a horse is
six, his racing days are past; and he has something like twenty years of
cart or carriage mediocrity ahead of him. His glory as a track king has
fled forever.

And with dogs—whose average life of activity runs little beyond ten
years—ring honours usually come in youth or not at all. Yes, and they
depart with youth. The dog remains handsome and useful for years
thereafter. But his head has coarsened. His figure has lost its
perfection. His gait stiffens. In a score of ways he drops back from the
standard required of winners. Younger dogs are put above him. Which is
life—whether in kennel, or in stable, or in office, or in the courts of
love. Youth wins.

Yet the passing years seemed to take no perceptible toll of Bruce. His
classic head lost none of its fineness. His body remained limber and
graceful and shapely. His coat was mightier than ever. Even McGilead’s
apprehensive and super-piercing glance could find no flaw, no sign of
oncoming age.

The years had, hitherto, been well-nigh as kind to Angus, himself. Dry
and wiry and small, he had neither shown nor felt the weight of
advancing age. Yet, now, passing his sixtieth milestone, an attack of
rheumatic fever left him oddly heavy and slothful. Instead of taking the
stairs two at a time, he set a foot on every step. And at the top of any
very long flight, he was annoyed to find himself breathing absurdly
hard.

He found himself, for the first time in his life, sneering at youth’s
gay ebullience, and snubbing the bumptiousness of his growing sons.

“Youth!” he snarled grimly once to the Master, as they met at a show.
“Everything’s for youth, these days. It was a-plenty different when I
was young. Just as a man begins to get seasoned and to know his way
around, folks call him an oldster and fix up a place for him in the
chimney corner. Youth isn’t the only thing in this world. Not by a long
sight. Take Bruce, here, for instance. (Yes, I’m talking about you, you
big ruffian! Give me your paw, now, and listen to me tell how good you
are!) Take Bruce, here, for instance. Nearly eight years old. Eight in
August, isn’t it? As old, that is, as fifty-odd for a human. And look at
him! Is there one of the young bunch of dogs that can win against
him—under any judge that knows his business? Not a one of ’em. He’s
finer to-day than he was when he came out at his first show. Us oldsters
can still hold our own, and a little more. Bring on your youngsters! Me
and Brucie are ready for ’em all. (Hey, Big Boy? Gimme your other paw,
like a gentleman! Not the left one.) Why, first time I set eyes on this
dog I said to myself—”

"I’ve got something up at The Place that’s due to give Bruce the tussle
of his life in the show ring some day," bragged the Master. “He’s
Bruce’s own son, and grandson. That means he’s pretty nearly
seventy-five per cent. Bruce. And he shows it. His kennel name’s ‘Jock.’
He’s only eight months now, and he’s the living image of what Bruce was
at his age. Best head I ever saw. Great coat, too, and carriage. He’s
the best of all Bruce’s dozens of pups, by far. I’m going to show him at
the ‘Charity’ in September.”

“Are you, though?” sniffed McGilead. “It happens I’m judging at the
‘Charity.’ (Some liars can say I’m beginning to show my age. But I take
note they keep on wanting me to judge, oftener’n ever.) I’m judging at
the ‘Charity.’ And I’ll be on the lookout for that wonderful pup of
yours. All pups are wonderful, I notice. Till they get in the ring.
Being old Bruce’s son, this youngster of yours can’t be altogether bad.
I grant that. But I’ll gamble he’ll never be what his Dad is.”

"You’ll have the first say-so on that," answered the Master. “I’m
entering Bruce for ‘Open, Any Colour,’ at the ‘Charity.’ (By the way,
it’s the old fellow’s last show. I’m going to retire him from the game
while he’s still good.) Little Jock is entered for ‘Puppy and Novice.’
It’s a cinch they’ll come together before you, in ‘winners’!”

“And when they do,” scoffed McGilead, “don’t feel too bad if Bruce gets
winners and the pup don’t get a look in. Jock may never see a winners’
class. Plenty of these promising world-beaters never do. You’re as daft
on this ‘youth’ notion as any of ’em. Here you’ve got the grandest
collie in the States. And you turn your silly back on him and go
cracking your jaw about an upstart pup of his that most likely has more
flaws than fleas—and a bushel basketful of both. Grrh!”

Often, during the next three months, Angus found his mind dwelling
reluctantly upon the newcomer. He was anxious to see the near-paragon.
He realised he was all but prejudiced against the youngster by the
Master’s boastful praise.

Then, McGilead would pull himself up, short. For he prided himself on
his four-square honesty and his dearth of prejudice in show-ring
matters. This absolute squareness had brought him where he was to-day—to
the very foremost place among all dog-show judges. It had kept him
respected and had kept his services in constant demand for decades,
while showier and lesser judges had waxed and waned and had been
forgotten.

This honesty of his was McGilead’s fetish and pride in life. Yet, here
he was, unsight, unseen, prejudiced against a dog, and that dog his
adored Bruce’s own son!

McGilead brought himself together, sharply, cursed himself for an old
blackguard, and sought to put the whole matter out of his mind. Yet,
somehow, he found himself looking forward to the five-point Charity show
more interestedly than to any such event in years.

It was one of McGilead’s myriad points of professional ethics never to
go near the collie section of any show, until after his share of the
judging should be over. Thus it was, on the day of the Charity show, his
first glimpse of Jock was when the Master led the youngster into the
ring, when the puppy class was called.

Six other pups also were brought into the ring. McGilead, as ever,
surveyed them with breathless keenness, from between his half-shut
eyes—pretending all the while to be talking interestedly with the
ring-steward—while the procession filed in through the gate.

But his eyes, once singling out Jock, refused to focus on any other
entrant. And he set his teeth in a twinge of wonder and admiration for
the newcomer. Moreover, he observed in him none of the fright, or
curiosity, or awkwardness that is the portion of so many puppies on
their first entrance to the show-ring. The youngster seemed comfortably
at home in the strange surroundings.

Nor was this unnatural. The Master had made use of a simple ruse that he
had employed more than once before. Arriving at the show, long before
the judging had begun, and while the first spectators were trailing in,
he had led Jock at once to the ring, where, of course, neither the
Master nor the dog had, technically, any right to be at such a time.

First unleashing Jock, the Master had let him roam at will for a few
minutes around the strange enclosure; then had called the wandering
collie over to him, fed him bits of fried liver and lured him into a
romp. After which, the Master had sat down on the edge of the judging
block, calling Jock to him, petting and feeding him for a few moments,
and then persuading the pup to fall asleep at his feet.

Thus, when they re-entered the ring for the judging, Jock no longer
regarded it as a strange and possibly terrifying abode. To him the ring
was now a familiar and friendly place, where he had played and slept and
been fed and made much of. All its associations were pleasant in the
puppy’s memory. And he was mildly pleased to be there again.

McGilead’s veiled eyes were studying minutely every motion and every
inch of Bruce’s young son. And as a dog lover he rejoiced at what he
saw. The pup was all the Master said and far more. Well-nigh as tall and
as strong of frame as his sire, Jock had Bruce’s classic head and
wondrous coat; the older dog’s perfect and short-backed body, ear
carriage, flawless foreface, true collie expression and grace of action,
soundness and build. Above all, Bruce had transmitted to him that same
elusive air of regal dignity and nobility.

“Walk your dogs, please!” rasped the judge, starting out of his daze to
a realisation that the seven exhibitors were waiting for him to come to
earth again.

As, seven years earlier, he had waved Bruce aside, that he might not be
bothered in his judging of the lesser contestants, so, now, he bade the
Master take Jock into a corner while the parade and the preliminary
examining went on. The Master—this time not worried—obeyed.

And the scene of Bruce’s début was re-enacted, both in puppy and in
novice classes. Not one competitor was worthy of a second’s hesitancy
between himself and Jock.

Then, for the time, the tawny débutante was allowed to go back in peace
to his bench; and the other classes were called. When “Open, Any
Colour,” came up for judging, this most crucial of all classes had fine
representation. Four sables, two tri-colours and two merles contested.

Yet, in all honesty, not one of the rest could equal old Bruce. The
great dog stood forth, pre-eminently their superior. And, with the
customary little tug of pleasure at his wizened heart, McGilead awarded
to his old favourite the squarely earned blue ribbon.

“The pup’s a wonder,” he told himself. “But the old dog is still the
best of the lot. The best of _any_ lot.”

The regular classes were judged; and the best dog in each came into the
ring for winners. At last, Bruce and Jock stood side by side on the
judging block. The contest had narrowed down to them.

And now, for the first time, McGilead was able to concentrate all his
attention and his judging prowess on a comparison of the two. For
several minutes he eyed them. He made their handlers shift the dogs’
positions. He went over them, like an inspired surgeon, with his
sensitive old fingers, though Bruce’s body was already as familiar to
his touch as is the keyboard to a pianist. He made them “show.” He
studied them from fifty angles.

Now, to casual observers, Angus McGilead was going through his task with
a perfunctory deftness that verged on boredom. The tired, half-shut eyes
and the wizened brown face gave no hint of emotion. Yet, within the
Scotchman’s heart, a veritable hell of emotion was surging.

This prolonged examination was not necessary. He had known it was not
necessary from the first instant he had seen the two dogs, sire and son,
standing side by side on the block before him. He was dragging out the
judging, partly in the vain hope of finding something to make him
reverse his first opinion, but chiefly to settle, one way or another,
the battle that was waging within him.

For, at once, his acutely practised eye had discerned that Jock was the
better dog. Not that he was better, necessarily, than Bruce had been a
few years earlier. But hitherto unnoted marks of time on the older dog
had sprung into sudden and merciless relief by comparison with the
flawless youngster.

Seen alone, or with the average opponent, these would not have been
noticeable. But alongside of Jock, the latter’s perfection brought out
every incipient flaw of age in his sire.

All this had been patent to McGilead at his first critical glance. The
younger dog was the better. Only a shade the better, thus far, it is
true. But by such shades are contests won—and lost.

No outsider—few professional judges—could have recognised the
superiority of one of the competitors over the other. Yet McGilead
recognised it as clearly as by lightning flare. And he saw his duty—the
duty that lay plain before him.

He had given Bruce his earliest ring award. He had awarded Bruce the
prize that gave the dog his championship. And now he must discrown this
collie he loved. For the first time he must pass Bruce over and give
winners to another and younger dog. Youth will be served! His heart as
sore as an ulcer, his pale and half-shut eyes smarting, the hot and
impotent wrath of old age boiling in his brain, Angus McGilead continued
his meaningless and seemingly bored inspection of the two dogs.

He loved Bruce—better than ever before he had realised. He had always
felt himself the marvellous collie’s sponsor. And now—

Oh, why hadn’t the dog’s fool of an owner had sense enough to retire him
from the ring before this inevitable downfall had come; this fate that
lies craftily in wait for dog and horse and man who stay in the game too
long?

The Master had said this was to be the old dog’s last show. His last
show! And he must leave the ring—-beaten! Beaten by a youngster, at
that! A pup who had years and years of triumphs ahead of him. Surely the
smugly perfect little tike could have waited till his sire’s retirement,
before beginning his own career of conquest! He needn’t have started out
by annexing dear old Bruce’s scalp and by smashing the old dog’s long
record of victories!

Bruce! Glorious old Brucie, whose progress had been McGilead’s own
life-monument! To slink out of the ring—at his very last show,
too—defeated by a puppy! Oh, this rotten cult of youth—youth—_youth_! He
and Bruce were both back numbers at last.

But were they?

Bruce, bored by the long wait, nudged the Scotchman’s inert fist with
his cold nose, and sought to shake hands. This diversion brought the
judge back to earth.

A gust of red rage set McGilead’s blood to swirling. On fierce impulse
he straightened his bent figure and unveiled his sleepy-looking eyes in
a glare of fury.

He laid both hands on the head of the gallant old dog whom he idolised.

“Bruce wins!” he proclaimed, his rasping voice as harsh as a file on
rusty iron. “Bruce _wins_!”

Wheeling on the Master, he croaked, in that same strained, rasping
shout, the scrap of a schooldays’ quotation which had come often to his
memory of late.

“‘It’s safer playing with the lion’s whelp than with the old lion
dying!’” he mouthed. “Bruce wins! Retire him, now! ‘Youth will be
served.’ But not till us oldsters are out of the way. Clear the ring!”

As he stamped from the enclosure he was buttonholed by a sporty-looking
man whom he had met at many a show.

“Mr. McGilead,” began the man, respectfully, “the Collie Club of the
Union has appointed me a committee of one to engage you for judge at our
annual show in November. Some of the members suggested a younger man.
But the Old Guard held out for _you_. I was going to write, but—”

“It’d have done you no good!” growled McGilead, sick with shame. “Let me
alone!”

“If it’s a question of price—” urged the puzzled man.

“Price?” snarled McGilead, turning on him in senile fury. “_Price?_
There’s only one price. And I’ve paid it. I won’t judge at your show!
I’ll never judge again at any show! My judging days are over! I’m a dead
one! I’m an old, _old_ man, I tell you! I’m in my dotage! I—why, I
couldn’t even trust myself, any more, to judge squarely. I’m _through_!”

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                          SIX: Lochinvar Bobby

------------------------------------------------------------------------



[Illustration]


SIX: Lochinvar Bobby


When the first Angus Mackellar left his ancestral Lochbuy moors he
brought to America the big, shaggy, broad-headed collie dog he loved—the
dog that had helped him herd his employer’s sheep for the past five
years.

Man and dog landed at Castle Garden a half century ago. From that time
on, as for three hundred years earlier, no member of the Mackellar
family was without a collie; the best and wisest to be found.

Evolution narrowed the heads and lightened the stocky frames of these
collies, as the decades crawled past.

Evolution changed the successive generations of Mackellars not at all,
except to rub smoother their Highland burr and to make them serve
America as ardently as ever their forefathers had served Scotland. But
not one of them lost his hereditary love for the dog of the moors.

Which brings us by degrees to Jamie Mackellar, grandson of the
emigrating Angus. Jamie was twenty-eight. His tough little body was so
meagrely spare that his big heart and bigger soul were almost indecently
exposed. For the rest, his speech still held an occasional word or two
of handed-down ancestral dialect. In moments of excitement these
inherited phrases came thicker; and with them a tang of Scots accent.

Jamie lived in the cheapest suburb of Midwestburg, and in one of the
suburb’s cheapest houses. But the house had a yard. And the yard
harboured a glorious old collie, a rare prize winner in his day. The
house in front of the yard, by the way, harboured Jamie’s Yorkshire wife
and their two children, Elspeth and Donald.

Jamie divided his home time between the house and the open. So—after
true Highland fashion—did the collie.

There were long rambles in the forests and the wild half-cleared land
beyond the suburb; walks that meant as much to Jamie as to the dog,
after the Scot had been driving a contractor’s truck six days of the
week for a monthly wage of seventy-five dollars.

Now, on seventy-five dollars a month many a family lives in comfort. But
the sum leaves scant margin for the less practical luxuries of life. And
in a sheepless and law-abiding region a high-quality collie is a
nonpractical luxury. Yet Jamie would almost as soon have thought of
selling one of his thick-legged children as of accepting any of the
several good offers made him for the beautiful dog which had been his
chum for so many years, the dog whose prize ribbons and cups from a
score of local shows made gay the trophy corner of the Mackellar
kitchen-parlour.

Then, on a late afternoon,—when the grand old collie was galloping
delightedly across the street to meet his home-returning master,—a
delivery motor car, driven by a speed-drunk boy, whizzed around the
corner on the wrong side of the way.

The big dog died as he had lived—gallantly and without a whine.
Gathering himself up from the muck of the road he walked steadfastly
forward to meet the fast-running Mackellar. As Jamie bent down to search
the mired body for injuries, the collie licked his master’s dear hand,
shivered slightly and fell limp across the man’s feet.

When the magistrate next morning heard that a mouth-foaming little Scot
had sprung upon the running board of a delivery car and had hauled
therefrom a youth of twice his size and had hammered the said youth into
100 per cent. eligibility for a hospital cot, he listened gravely to the
other side of the story and merely fined Jamie one dollar.

The released prisoner returned with bent head and barked knuckles to a
house which all at once had been left unto him desolate. For the first
time in centuries a Mackellar was without a collie.

During the next week the Midwestburg Kennel Association’s annual dog
show was held at the Fourth Regiment Armory. This show was one of the
banner events of the year throughout Western dog circles. Its rich cash
specials and its prestige even drew breeders from the Atlantic States to
exhibit thereat the best their kennels afforded.

Thither, still hot and sore of heart, fared Jamie Mackellar. Always
during the three days of the Midwestburg dog show Jamie took a triple
holiday and haunted the collie section and the ringside. Here more than
once his dead chum had won blue ribbon and cash over the exhibits from
larger and richer kennels. And at such times Jamie Mackellar had
rejoiced with a joy that was too big for words, and which could express
itself only in a furtive hug of his collie’s shaggy ruff.

To-day, as usual, Jamie entered the barnlike armory among the very first
handful of spectators. To his ears the reverberant clangour of a
thousand barks was as battle music; as it echoed from the girdered roof
and yammered incessantly on the eardrums.

As ever, he made his way at once to the collie section. A famous New
York judge was to pass upon this breed. And there was a turnout of
nearly sixty collies; including no less than five from the East. Four of
these came from New Jersey; which breeds more high-class collies than do
any three other states in the Union.

It was Jamie’s rule to stroll through the whole section, for a casual
glance over the collies, before stopping at any of the benches for a
closer appraisal. But to-day he came to a halt, before he had traversed
the first row of stalls. His pale-blue eyes were riveted on a single
dog.

Lying at lazily majestic ease on the straw of a double-size bench was a
huge dark-sable collie. Full twenty-six inches high at the shoulder and
weighing perhaps seventy-five pounds, this dog gave no hint of
coarseness or of oversize. He was moulded as by a super-sculptor. His
well-sprung ribs and mighty chest and leonine shoulders were fit
complements to the classically exquisite yet splendidly strong head.

His tawny coat was as heavy as a bison’s mane. The outer coat—save where
it turned to spun silk, on the head—was harsh and wavy. The under coat
was as impenetrably soft as the breast of an eider duck. From gladiator
shoulders the gracefully powerful body sloped back to hips which spoke
of lightning speed and endurance. The tulip ears had never known weights
or pincers. The head was a true wedge, from every viewpoint. The
deep-set dark eyes were unbelievably perfect in expression and placment.

Here was a collie! Here was a dog whose sheer perfection made Jamie
Mackellar catch his breath for wonder, and then begin pawing frantically
at his show catalogue. He read, half aloud:

    729: _Lochinvar Kennels. CHAMPION LOCHINVAR KING. Lochinvar
        Peerless—Lochinvar Queen_

Followed the birth date and the words “Breeder owner.”

Jamie Mackellar’s pale eyes opened yet wider and he stared on the collie
with tenfold interest; an interest which held in it a splash of
reverence. Jamie was a faithful reader of the dog press. And for the
past two years Champion Lochinvar King’s many pictures and infinitely
more victories had stirred his admiration. He knew the dog, as a million
Americans know Man-o’-War.

Now eagerly he scanned the wonder collie. Every detail,—from the level
mouth and chiselled, wedge-shaped head and stern eyes with their true
“look of eagles,” to the fox brush tail with its sidewise swirl at the
tip—Jamie scanned with the delight of an artist who comes for the first
time on a Velasquez of which he has read and dreamed. Never in his
dog-starred life had the little man beheld so perfect a collie. It was
an education to him to study such a marvel.

Two more men came up to the bench. One was wearing a linen duster; and
fell to grooming King’s incredibly massive coat with expert hands. The
other—a plump giant in exaggeratedly vivid clothes—chirped to the dog
and ran careless fingers over the silken head. The collie waved his
plumed tail in response to the caress. Recalling how coldly King had
ignored his own friendly advances, Jamie Mackellar addressed the plump
man in deep respect.

“Excuse me, sir,” said he humbly, “but might you be Mr. Frayne—Mr.
Lucius Frayne?”

The man turned with insolent laziness, eyed the shabby little figure
from head to foot, and nodded. Then he went back to his inspection of
King.

Not to be rebuffed, Mackellar continued:

“I remember reading about you when you started the Lochinvar Kennels,
sir. That’ll be—let’s see—that’ll be the best part of eight years ago.
And three years back you showed Lochinvar Peerless out here—this great
feller’s sire. I’m proud to meet you, sir.”

Frayne acknowledged this tribute by another nod, this time not even
bothering to turn toward his admirer.

Mackellar pattered on:

“Peerless got Americanbred and Limit, that year; and he went to Reserve
Winners. If I’d ’a’ been judging, I’d of gave him Winners, over Rivers
Pride, that topped him. Pride was a good inch-and-a-half too short in
the brush. And the sable grew away too far from his eyes. Gave ’em a
roundish, big look. He was just a wee peckle overshot too. And your
Peerless outshowed him, besides. But, good as Peerless was, he wasn’t a
patch on this son of his you’ve got here to-day. Losh, but it sure looks
like you was due to make a killing, Mr. Frayne.”

And now the Eastern breeder deigned to face the man whose words were
pattering so meekly into his heedless ears. Frayne realised this little
chap was not one of the ignorant bores who pester exhibitors at every
big show; but that he spoke, and spoke well, the language of the
initiate. No breeder is above catering to intelligent praise of his dog.
And Frayne warmed mildly toward the devotee.

“Like him, do you?” he asked, indulgently.

“Like him?” echoed Mackellar. “_Like_ him? Man, he’s fifty per cent. the
best I’ve set eyes on. And I’ve seen a hantle of ’em.”

“Take him down, Roke,” Frayne bade his linen-dustered kennel man. “Let
him move about a bit. You can get a real idea of him when you see his
action,” he continued to the dazzled Mackellar. “How about that? Hey?”

At the unfastening of his chain, Lochinvar King stepped majestically to
the floor and for an instant stood gazing up at his master. He stood as
might an idealised statue of a collie. Mackellar caught his breath and
stared. Then with expert eyes he watched the dog’s perfect action as the
kennel man led him up and down for half a dozen steps.

“He’s—he’s better even than I thought he could be,” sighed Jamie. “He
looked too good to be true. Lord, it does tickle a man’s heartstrings to
see such a dog! I—I lost a mighty fine collie a few days back,” he went
on confidingly. “Not in King’s class, of course, sir. But a grand old
dog. And—and he was my chum, too. I’m fair sick with greeting over him.
It kind of crumples a feller, don’t it, to lose a chum collie? One
reason I wanted to come here early to-day was to look around and see
were any of the for-sale ones inside my means. I’ve never been without a
collie before. And I want to get me one—a reg’lar first-rater, like the
old dog—as quick as I can. It’s lonesome-like not to have a collie
laying at my feet, evening times; or running out to meet me.”

Lucius Frayne listened now with real interest to the little man’s timid
plaint.

As Mackellar paused, shamefaced at his own non-Scottish show of feeling,
the owner of the Lochinvar Kennels asked suavely:

“What were you counting on paying for a new dog? Or hadn’t you made up
your mind?”

“Once in a blue moon,” replied Mackellar, “a pretty good one is for sale
cheap. Either before the judging or if the judge don’t happen to fancy
his type. I—well, if I had to, I was willing to spend a hundred—if I
could get the right dog. But I tholed maybe I could get one for less.”

Still more interestedly did Frayne beam down on the earnest little
Mackellar.

“It’s a pity you can’t go higher,” said he with elaborate nonconcern.
“Especially since King here has caught your fancy. You see, I’ve got a
four-month pup of King’s, back home. Out of my winning Lochinvar Lassie,
at that. I sold all the other six in the litter. Sold ’em at gilt-edge
prices; on account of their breeding. This little four-monther I’m
speaking about—he was so much the best of the lot that I was planning to
keep him. He’s the dead image of what King was at his age. He’s got
‘future champion’ written all over him. But—well, since you’ve lost your
chum dog and since you know enough of collies to treat him right—well,
if you were back East where you could look him over, I’d—well, I’d
listen to your offer for him.”

He turned toward his kennel man as if ending the talk. Like a well-oiled
phonograph, the linen dustered functionary spoke up.

“Oh, Mr. Frayne!” he blithered, ceasing to groom King’s wondrous coat
and clasping both dirty hands together. “You wouldn’t ever go and sell
the little ’un? Not Lochinvar Bobby, sir? Not the best pup we ever bred?
Why, he’s 20 per cent. better than what King, here, was at his age.
You’ll make a champion of him by the time he’s ten months old. Just like
Doc Burrows did with his Queen Betty. He’s a second Howgill Rival, that
pup is;—a second Sunnybank Sigurd! You sure wouldn’t go selling him? Not
Bobby?”

"There’ll be other Lochinvar King pups along in a few weeks, Roke,"
argued Frayne conciliatingly. “And this man has just lost his only dog.
If—What a pair of fools we are!” he broke off, laughing loudly. “Here we
go gabbling about selling Bobby, and our friend, here, isn’t willing to
go above a hundred dollars for a dog!”

The kennel man, visibly relieved, resumed operations on King with
dandy-brush and cloth. But Mackellar stood looking up at Frayne as a
hungry pup might plead dumbly with some human who had just taken from
him his dinner bone.

“If—if he’s due to be a second Lochinvar King,” faltered Jamie, “I—I
s’pose he’d be way beyond me. I’m a truck driver, you see, sir. And I’ve
got a wife and a couple of kids. So I wouldn’t have any right to spend
too much, just for a dog—even if I had the cash. But—gee, but it’s a
chance!”

Sighing softly in renunciation, he took another long and admiring gaze
at the glorious Lochinvar King; and then made as though to move away.
But Lucius Frayne’s dog-loving heart evidently was touched by Jamie’s
admiration for the champion and by the hinted tale of his chum dog’s
death. He stopped the sadly departing Mackellar.

“Tell me more about that collie you lost,” he urged. “How’d he die? What
was his breeding? Ever show him?”

Now perhaps there breathes some collie man who can resist one of those
three questions about his favourite dog. Assuredly none lives who can
resist all three. Mackellar, in a brace of seconds, found himself
prattling eagerly to this sympathetic giant; telling of his dog’s points
and wisdom and lovableness, and of the prizes he had won; and, last of
all, the tale of his ending.

Frayne listened avidly, nodding his head and grunting consolation from
time to time. At last he burst forth, on impulse:

“Look here! You know dogs. You know collies. I see that. I’d rather have
a Lochinvar pup go to a man who can appreciate him, as you would, and
who’d give him the sort of home you’d give him, than to sell him for
three times as much, to some mucker. I’m in this game for love of the
breed, not to skin my neighbours. Lochinvar Bobby is yours, friend, for
a hundred and fifty dollars. I hope you’ll say no,” he added with his
loud laugh, “because I’d rather part with one of my back teeth. But
anyhow I feel decenter for making the offer.”

Pop-eyed and scarlet and breathing fast, Jamie Mackellar did some mental
arithmetic. One hundred and fifty dollars was a breath-taking sum.
Nobody knew it better than did he. But—oh, there stood Lochinvar King!
And King’s best pup could be Jamie’s for that amount.

Then Mackellar bethought him of an extra job that was afloat just now in
Midwestburg—a job at trucking explosives by night from the tesladite
factory, over on the heights, to the railroad. It was a job few people
cared for. The roads were joggly. And tesladite was a ticklish
explosive. Even the company’s offer of fifty dollars a week, at short
hours, had not brought forth many volunteer chauffeurs.

Yet Jamie was a careful driver. He knew he could minimise the risk. And
by working three hours a night for three weeks he could clean up the
price of the wonderful pup without going down into the family’s slim
funds.

“You’re—you’re on!” he babbled, shaking all over with pure happiness.
“In three weeks I’ll send you a money order. Here’s—here’s—let’s
see—here’s twenty-seven dollars to bind the bargain.”

“Roke,” said Frayne, ignoring his kennel man’s almost weeping protests,
“scribble out a bill of sale for Lochinvar Bobby. And see he’s shipped
here the day we get this gentleman’s money order for the balance of
$150. And don’t forget to send him Bobby’s papers at the same time.
Seeing it’s such a golden bargain for him, he’ll not grudge paying the
expressage, too. I suppose I’m a wall-eyed fool, but—say! Hasn’t a man
got to do a generous action once in a while? Besides, it’s all for the
good of the breed.”

Ten minutes later Mackellar tore away his ardent eyes from inspection of
the grand dog whose best pup he was so soon to earn, and pattered on
down the collie section.

Then and then only did Lucius Frayne and Roke look at each other. Long
and earnestly they looked. And Frayne reached out his thick hand and
shook his kennel man’s soiled fingers. He shook them with much
heartiness. He was a democratic sportsman, this owner of the famed
Lochinvar Kennels. He did not disdain to grasp the toil-hardened hand of
his honest servitor; especially at a time like this.

Lochinvar King that day clove his path straight through “Open,
Sable-and-White” and “Open, any Colour,” to “Winners”; in a division of
fifty-eight collies. Then be annexed the cup and the forty dollars in
cash awards for Best of Breed; also four other cash specials. And in the
classic special for Best Dog in Show he came as near to winning as ever
a present-day collie can hope to at so large a show. Jamie Mackellar,
with a vibrating pride and a sense of personal importance, watched and
applauded every win of his pup’s matchless sire.

“In another year,” he mused raptly, “I’ll be scooping up them same
specials with King’s gorgeous little son. This man Frayne is sure one of
the fellers that God made.”

Four weeks and two days later, a past-worthy slatted crate, labelled
“Lochinvar Collie Kennels,” was delivered at Jamie’s door. It arrived a
bare ten minutes after Mackellar came home from work. All the family
gathered around it in the kitchen; while, with hands that would not stay
steady, the head of the house proceeded to unfasten the clamps which
held down its top.

It was Jamie Mackellar’ s great moment, and his wife and children were
infected almost to hysteria by his long-sustained excitement.

Back went the crate lid. Out onto the kitchen floor shambled a dog.

For a long minute, as the new-arrived collie stood blinking and
trembling in the light, everybody peered at him without word or motion.
Jamie’s jaw had gone slack, at first sight of him. And it still hung
supine; making the man’s mouth look like a frog penny bank’s.

The puppy was undersized. He was scrawny and angular and all but
shapeless. At a glance, he might have belonged to any breed or to many
breeds or to none. His coat was sparse and short and kinky; and through
it glared patches of lately-healed eczema. The coat’s colour was
indeterminate, what there was of it. Nor had four days in a tight crate
improved its looks.

The puppy’s chest was pitifully narrow. The sprawly legs were out at
elbow and cow-hocked. The shoulders were noteworthy by the absence of
any visible sign of them. The brush was an almost hairless rat-tail. The
spine was sagged and slightly awry.

But the head was the most direful part of the newcomer. Its
expressionless eyes were sore and dull. Its ears hung limp as a
setter’s. The nose and foreface were as snubbily broad as a Saint
Bernard’s. The slack jaw was badly overshot. The jowls showed a marked
tendency to cheekiness and the skull seemed to be developing an
apple-shaped dome in place of the semi-platform which the top of a
collie’s head ought to present.

Breed dogs as carefully and as scientifically as you will; once in a way
some such specimen will be born into even the most blue-blooded
litter;—a specimen whose looks defy all laws of clean heredity; a
specimen which it would be gross flattery to call a mutt.

One of three courses at such times can be followed by the luckless
breeder: To kill the unfortunate misfit; to give it away to some child
who may or may not maul it to death; or to swindle a buyer into paying a
respectable price for it.

Thriftily, Lucius Frayne had chosen the third course. And no law could
touch him for the deal. He had played as safe, in his dirty trade, as
does any vivisector.

Mackellar had bought the dog, sight unseen. Frayne had guaranteed
nothing save the pedigree, which was flawless. He had said the creature
was the image of King at the same age. But he had said it in the
presence of no witness save his own kennel man. And the statement, in
any event, was hard of refutal by law.

No; Frayne, like many another shrewd professional dog breeder, had
played safe. And he had annexed one hundred and fifty dollars, in
peril-earned hoardings, for a beast whose true cash value was less than
eight cents to any one. He had not even bothered to give the cur a
high-sounding pedigree name.

There stood, or crouched, the trembling and whimpering wisp of
worthlessness; while the Mackellar family looked on in dumb horror. To
add to the pup’s ludicrous aspect, an enormous collar hung dangling from
his neck. Frayne had been thrifty, in even this minor detail. Following
the letter of the transportation rules, he had “equipped the dog with
suitable collar and chain.” But the chain, which Jamie had unclasped in
releasing the pup from the crate, had been a thing of rust and
flimsiness. The collar had been outworn by some grown dog. To keep it
from slipping off over the puppy’s head Roke had fastened to it a twist
of wire, whose other end was enmeshed in the scattering short hairs of
the youngster’s neck. From this collar’s ring still swung the last
year’s license tag of its former wearer.

It was little Elspeth who broke the awful spell of silence.

"Looks—looks kind of—of measly, don’t he?“ she volunteered.

”_Jamie Mackellar!_" shrilled her mother, finding voice and wrath in one
swift gasp. “You—you went and gambled with your life on them explosion
trucks—and never told me a word about it till it was over—just to earn
money to buy—to buy—_that_!”

Then Jamie spoke. And at his first luridly sputtered sentence his wife
shooed the children out of the room in scandalised haste. But from the
cottage’s farthest end she could hear her spouse’s light voice still
raised to shrill falsetto. He seemed to be in earnest converse with his
Maker, and the absence of his wife and children from the room lent
lustre and scope to his vocabulary.

Outside, the night was settling down bitterly chill. A drifting snow was
sifting over the frozen earth. The winter’s worst cold spell was
beginning. But in the firelit kitchen a hope-blasted and swindled man
was gripped by a boiling rage that all the frigid outer world could not
have cooled.

Presently, through his sputtering soliloquy, Mackellar found time and
justice to note that Lochinvar Bobby was still shaking with the cold of
his long wagon ride through the snow from the station. And sullenly the
man went out to the refrigerator in the back areaway for milk to warm
for the sufferer.

He left the door open behind him. Into the kitchen seeped the deadly
chill of night. It struck the miserable Bobby and roused him from the
apathy of fright into which his advent to the bright room had immersed
him.

The fright remained, but the impotence to move was gone. Fear had been
born in his cringing soul, from the harsh treatment meted out to him in
the place of his birth by kennel men who scoffed at his worthlessness.
Fear had increased fifty fold by his long and clangorous journey across
half the continent. Now, fear came to a climax.

He had cowered in helpless terror before these strangers, here in the
closed room. He had sensed their hostility. But now for an instant the
strangers had left him. Yes, and the back door was standing ajar—the
door to possible escape from the unknown dangers which beset him on all
sides.

Tucking his ratlike tail between his cow-hocks, Bobby put down his head
and bolted. Through the doorway he scurried, dodging behind the legs of
Jamie Mackellar as he fled through the refrigerator-blocked areaway.
Jamie heard the scrambling footfalls, and turned in time to make a
belated grab for the fleeing dog.

He missed Bobby by an inch; and the man’s gesture seemed to the pup a
new menace. Thus had Roke and the other kennel men struck at him in
early days; or had seized him by tail or hind leg as he fled in terror
from their beatings.

Out into the unfenced yard galloped the panic-driven Bobby. And through
the pitch blackness Mackellar stumbled in utterly futile pursuit. The
sound of Jamie’s following feet lent new speed to the cowed youngster.
Instead of stopping, after a few moments, he galloped on, with his
ridiculous wavering and sidewise gait.

Mackellar lived on the outskirts of the suburb, which, in turn, was on
the outskirts of the city. By chance or by instinct Bobby struck ahead
for the rocky ridge which divided denser civilisation from the uncleared
wilderness and the patches of farm country to the north. Nor did the
puppy cease to run until he had topped, puffingly, the ridge’s summit.
There he came to a shambling halt and peered fearfully around him.

On the ridge-crest, the wind was blowing with razor sharpness. It cut
like a billion waxed whiplashes, through the sparse coat and against the
sagging ribs of the pup. It drove the snow needles into his watering
eyes, and it stung the blown-back insides of his sensitive ears. He
cowered under its pitiless might, as under a thrashing; and again he
began to whimper and to sob.

Below him, from the direction whence he had wormed his slippery way up
the ridge, lay the squalidly flat bit of plain with its sprinkle of mean
houses; behind it, the straggling suburb whence he had escaped; and
behind that, the far-reaching tangle of glare and blackness which was
Midwestburg, with miles of lurid light reflection on the low-hanging
clouds.

Turning, the puppy looked down the farther slope of his ridge to the
rolling miles of forest and clearing, with wide-scattered farmsteads and
cottages. The wilds seemed less actively and noisily terrifying than the
glare and muffled roar of the city behind him. And, as anything was
better than to cower freezing there in the wind’s full path, Bobby slunk
down the ridge’s northern flank and toward the naked black woodlands
beyond its base.

The rock edges and the ice cut his uncalloused splay feet. Even out of
the wind, the chill gnawed through coat and skin. The world was a
miserable place to do one’s living in. Moreover, Bobby had not eaten in
more than twenty-four hours; although a pup of his age is supposed to be
fed not less than four times a day.

The rock-strewn ridge having been passed, the going became easier. Here,
on the more level ground, a snow carpet made it softer, if colder. No
longer running, but at a loose-jointed wolf trot, Bobby entered the
woods. A quarter mile farther on, he stopped again; at sight of
something which loomed up at a height of perhaps three feet above the
half-acre of cleared ground about it.

He had strayed into the once-popular Blake’s Woods Picnic Grove, and the
thing which arrested his sick glance was the dancing platform which had
been erected at the grove’s painfully geometrical centre.

Years agone, Blake’s Woods had been a favourite outing ground for
Midwestburg’s workers. The coming of the interurban trolley, which
brought Boone Lake Beach within half an hour of the city, had turned
these woods into a dead loss as far as local pleasure seekers were
concerned. The benches had been split up or stolen or had rotted. The
trim central patch of green sward had been left to grow successive
unmown harvests of ragweed.

The dancing platform, with its once-smooth floor and the bright-painted
lattice which ran around its base, was sharing the fate of the rest of
the grove. The floor was sunken and holey. The laths of the lattice had
fallen away in one or two places, and everywhere they had been washed
free of their former gay paint.

Bobby’s aimless course took him past one end of the platform, as soon as
he discovered it was harmless and deserted. A furtive sidelong glance,
midway of the latticed stretch, showed him a weed-masked hole some two
feet square, where the laths had been ripped away or had been kicked in.
The sight awoke vague submemories, centuries old, in the artificially
reared pup. Thus had his wolf forbears seen, and explored for den
purposes, gaps between rocks or under windfalls. Bobby, moving with
scared caution, crept up to the opening, sniffed its musty interior;
and, step by step, ventured in under the platform.

Here it was still bitter cold; yet it was sensibly warmer than in the
open. And, year after year, dead leaves had been wind-drifted through
the gap. Riffles of them lay ankle deep near the entrance. Down into the
thickest of the riffles the wretched puppy wiggled his shivering way.
There he lay, still shaking, but gaining what scant comfort he might
from the warmth of the leaves beneath and around him.

Presently from sheer nervous fatigue he snoozed.

It was past midnight when Bobby awoke. He was awakened less by cold than
by ravening hunger. His was not the normal increase of appetite that had
come upon him at such times as the Lochinvar kennel men had been an hour
or so late with his dinner. This was the first phase of famine.

Fear and discomfort had robbed him of hunger throughout the train
journey. But now he was safe away from the strangers who had seemed to
menace his every move; and he had had a few hours of sleep to knit his
frayed nerves. He was more than hungry. He was famished. All his nature
cried out for food.

Now, never in his brief life had Lochinvar Bobby found his own meals.
Never had he so much as caught a mouse or rifled a garbage pail. In
sanitary man-made kennel run and hutch had he passed all his time. Not
his had been the human companionship which sharpens a collie’s brain as
much as does stark need. And he had no experience of food, save that
which had been served him in a tin dish. He did not know that food grows
in any other form or place.

But here was no tin dish heaped with scientifically balanced, if
uninspired, rations. Here was no manner of food at all. Bobby nosed
about among the dead leaves and the mould of his new-found den. Nothing
was there which his sense of smell recognised as edible. And goaded by
the scourge of hunger he ventured out again into the night. The wind had
dropped. But the cold had only intensified; and a light snow was still
sifting down.

Bobby stood and sniffed. Far off, his sensitive nostrils told him, was
human habitation. Presumably that meant food was there, too. Humans and
food, in Bobby’s experience, always went together. The pup followed the
command of his scent and trotted dubiously toward the distant man-reek.

In another quarter-hour the starving pup was sniffing about the locked
kitchen door of a farmhouse. Within, he could smell milk and meat and
bread. But that was all the good it did him. Timidly he skirted the
house for ingress. Almost had he completed the round when a stronger
odour smote his senses. It was a smell which, of old he would have
disregarded. But, with the primal impulse of famine, other atavistic
traits were stirring in the back of his necessity-sharpened brain.

His new scent was not of prepared food, but of hot and living prey.
Bobby paused by the unlatched door of the farm chicken coop. Tentatively
he scratched at the white-washed panel. Under the pressure the door
swung inward. Out gushed a pleasant warmth and a monstrously augmented
repetition of the whiff which had drawn him to the henhouse.

Just above him, well within reach, perched fifteen or twenty feathery
balls of varicoloured fluff. And famine did the rest.

Acting on some impulse wholly beyond his ken, Bobby sprang aloft and
drove his white milk teeth deep into the breast of a Plymouth Rock hen.

Instantly, his ears were assailed by a most ungodly racket. The quiet
hencoop was hideous with eldritch squawks and was alive with feathers.
All Bobby’s natural fear urged him to drop this flapping and squawking
hen and to run for his life.

But something infinitely more potent than fear had taken hold upon him.
Through his fright surged a sensation of mad rapture. He had set teeth
in live prey. Blood was hot in his nostrils. Quivering flesh was
twisting and struggling between his tense jaws. For the moment he was a
primitive forest beast.

Still gripping his noisy five-pound burden, he galloped out of the
hencoop and across the barnyard; heading instinctively for the lair in
which he had found a soft bed and safety from human intruders. As he
fled, he heard a man’s bellowing voice. A light showed in an upper
window of the house. Bobby ran the faster.

The hen was heavy, for so spindling a killer. But Bobby’s overshot jaws
held firm. He dared not pause to eat his kill, until he should be safe
away from the shouting man.

Stumbling into his platform den, half dead with hunger and fatigue, the
dog sought his bed of leaves. And there he feasted, rather than ate. For
never before had he known such a meal. And when the last edible morsel
of it was gorged, he snuggled happily down in his nest and slept.

Poultry bones are the worst and most dangerous fare for any domesticated
dog. Their slivers tear murderously at throat and stomach and
intestines; and have claimed their slain victims by the hundred. Yet,
since the beginning of time, wild animals, as foxes and wolves, have fed
with impunity on such bones. No naturalist knows just why. And for some
reason Bobby was no more the worse for his orgy of crunched
chicken-bones than a coyote would have been.

He awoke, late in the morning. Some newborn sense, in addition to his
normal fear, warned him to stay in his den throughout the daylight
hours. And he did so; sleeping part of the time and part of the time
nosing about amid the flurry of feathers in vain search for some
overlooked bone or fragment of meat.

Dusk and hunger drove him forth again. And, as before, he sought the
farmstead which had furnished him with so delicious a meal. But as he
drew near, the sound of voices from indoors and the passing of an
occasional silhouette across the bright window shades of the kitchen
warned him of danger.

When, as the kitchen light was blown out, he ventured to the chicken
coop he found the door too fast-barred to yield to his hardest scratch.
Miserably hungry and disappointed he slunk away.

Three farms did Bobby visit that night before he found another with an
unlatched henhouse door. There the tragedy of the preceding evening was
repeated. Lugging an eight-pound Dominic rooster, Bobby made
scramblingly for his mile-distant lair. Behind him again raged sound and
fury. The eight-pound bird with its dangling legs and tail feathers kept
tripping up the fleeing dog; until, acting again on instinct, Bobby
slung the swaying body over his shoulder, fox-fashion, and thus made his
way with less discomfort.

By the third night the collie had taken another long step in his journey
backward to the wild. When a dog kills a chicken every one within a half
mile is likely to be drawn by the sound. When a fox or wolf or coyote
kills a chicken, the deed is done in dexterous silence; with no squawks
or flurry of feathers to tell the story. Nature teaches the killer this
secret. And Nature taught it to Bobby; as she has taught it to other
gone-wild dogs.

As a result, his depredations, thereafter, left no uproar behind them.
Also, he learned presently the vulpine art of hoarding;—in other words,
when safety permitted, to stay on the ground until he had not only slain
but eaten one chicken, and then to carry another bird back to his lair
for future use. It cut down the peril of over-many trips to neighbouring
coops.

In time, he learned to rely less and less on the close-guarded chickens
in the vicinity of his den, and to quarter the farm country for a radius
of ten or more miles in search of food. The same queer new instinct
taught him infinite craft in keeping away from humans and in covering
his tracks.

He was doing no more than are thousands of foxes throughout the world.
There was no miracle in his new-found deftness as a forager. Nature was
merely telling her ancient and simple secrets to a wise little brain no
longer too clogged by association with mankind to learn them.

There was a profitable side line to Bobby’s chicken hunts. The wilder
woods, back of Midwestburg, abounded in rabbits for such as had the wit
to find them. And Bobby acquired the wit.

Incredibly soon, he learned the wolf’s art of tracking a cottontail and
of stalking the prey until such moment as a lightning dash and a
blood-streaked swirl in the snow marked the end of the chase. Squirrels,
too, and an occasional unwary partridge or smaller bird, were added to
the collie’s menu. And more than once, as he grew stronger, Bobby lugged
homeward over his shoulder a twenty-pound lamb from some distant
sheepfold.

Nature had played a vilely cruel trick on Lochinvar Bobby by bringing
him into the world as the puny and defective runt of a royal litter. She
had threatened his life by casting him loose in the winter woods. But at
that point Nature seemed to repent of her unkindness to the poor
helpless atom of colliehood. For she taught him the closest-guarded
secrets of her awful Live-On-One-Another ritual.

As winter grew soggy at the far approach of spring, Bobby found less and
less trouble in making a nightly run of thirty miles in search of meals
or in carrying back to his lair the heaviest of burdens.

Feasting on raw meat—and plenty of it—living in the open, with the icy
cold for his bedfellow, he was taking one of the only two courses left
to those who must forage or die. Readily enough he might have dwindled
and starved. The chill weather might have snuffed out his gangling life.
Instead, the cold and the exposure, and the needful exercise, and the
life according to forest nature, and the rich supply of meat that was
his for the catching—all these had worked wonders on the spindling runt.

His narrow chest had filled out, from much lung work. His shoulders,
from the same cause and from incessant night running, had taken on a
splendid breadth. His gawkily shambling body grew rapidly. The overshot
puppy jaw was levelling. And as his frame grew it shaped itself along
lines of powerful grace, such as Nature gives to the leopard and to the
stag. Incessant exposure to the cold had changed his sparse covering of
hair to a coat whose thickness and length and texture would have been
the wonder of the dog-show world. In brief, his mode of life was
achieving for him what all the kennel experts and vets unhung could not
have accomplished.

It had been a case of kill or cure. Bobby was cured.

After the departure of the snows and the zero nights, and before the
leafage made secret progress safe through forest and meadow, Bobby knew
a period of leanness. True, he foraged as before, but he did it at far
greater risk and with less certainty of results.

For—he could not guess why—the countryside was infested nowadays with
armed men; men who carried rifle or shot-gun and who not only scoured
hill and valley by daylight but lurked outside chicken coops and
sheepfolds by night.

Of course, by day Bobby could avoid them—and he did—by lying close in
his den. And at night his amazingly keen sense of smell enabled him to
skirt them, out of gun-shot range, as they waited at barn door or at
fold gate. But such necessity for caution played havoc with his chances
for easily acquired food. And for the most part he had to fall back on
rabbit-catching or to travelling far afield. This, until the thickening
of foliage made his hunting excursions safer from detection by human
eye.

There was sufficient reason for all this patrolling of the district.
During the past few months word had seeped through the farm country that
a wolf was at large in the long wolfless region; and that he was
slaughtering all manner of livestock, from pullets to newborn calves.

No dog, it was argued, could be the killer. For no known dog could slay
so silently and cover his tracks with such consummate skill. Nor could a
fox carry away a lamb of double its own weight. The marauder must be a
wolf. And old-timers raked up yarns of the superhumanly clever exploits
of lone wolves, in the days when populous Midwestburg was a trading
post.

The county Grange took up the matter and offered a bounty of fifty
dollars for the wolf’s scalp and ears. It was a slack time on the
farms—the period between woodcutting and early planting. It was a slack
time in Midwestburg, too; several mills having shut down for a couple of
months.

Thus, farmers and operatives amused themselves by making a try for the
fifty dollars and for the honour of potting the super-wolf. It was
pleasant if profitless sport for the hunters. But it cut down Bobby’s
rations; until farm work and reopening mills called off the quest. Then
life went on as before; after a buckshot graze on the hip had taught the
collie to beware of spring guns and to know their scent.

So the fat summer drowsed along. And so autumn brought again to the
northern air the tang which started afresh the splendid luxuriance of
the tawny coat which Bobby had shed during the first weeks of spring.

Late in December the dog had a narrow escape from death. A farmer,
furious at the demise of his best Jersey calf, went gunning afresh for
the mysterious wolf. With him he took along a German police dog—this
being before the days when that breed was de-Germanised into the new
title of “shepherd dog.” He had borrowed the police dog for the hunt,
lured by its master’s tales of his pet’s invincible ferocity.

Man and dog had searched the woods in vain all day, some five miles to
north of Bobby’s cave. At early dusk they were heading homeward through
a rock gulch.

The wind was setting strong from the north. Midway through the gulch the
police dog halted, back abristle, growling far down in his throat. The
man looked up.

As he did so, Bobby topped the cliff which formed the gulch’s northerly
side. The collie was on his way to a farm in the valley beyond, which he
had not visited for so long a time that its occupants might reasonably
be supposed to have relaxed some of their unneighbourly vigilance. The
wind from the north kept him from smelling or hearing the two in the
gully a hundred feet to south of him.

Yet, reaching the summit, Bobby paused; his wonted caution bidding him
search the lower grounds for sign of danger, before travelling farther
by fading daylight in such an exposed position.

It was then that the farmer saw him clearly, for the best part of two
seconds, silhouetted against the dying sunset. The man knew little
enough of collies, and less of wolves. And his mental vision was set for
a wolf. Thus, to the best of his belief, a wolf was what he saw. But he
saw also something he had not expected to see.

The last rays of the sun glinted on a bit of metal that swung beneath
Bobby’s shaggy throat; metal that had been worn bright by constant
friction with the dog’s ruff.

Thanks to the twist of wire which had been fastened into his hair, Bobby
had not slipped the leathern collar wherewith Frayne had equipped him.
And later his swelling muscular neck had been large enough to hold it
on. From its ring the old license tag still dangled.

Up went the farmer’s gun. He fired both barrels. As he pressed the two
triggers at once, the police dog made a rush for the collie. The farmer
chanced to be just in front of his canine companion. The police dog
sought a short cut, to reach his foe, by diving between the marksman’s
slightly spread legs. The two gun barrels were fired straight upward
into the sky; and the tripped-up hunter sat down with extreme suddenness
on a pointed jut of rock.

By the time he could focus his maddened gaze on the cliff-top again,
Bobby had vanished. The police dog was charging over the summit at
express-train speed. The farmer shook an impotent fist after the
disappearing spoiler of his aim.

“I hope he licks the life out of you if you ever catch up with him, you
bunglin’ fool!” he bellowed.

His wish came true. Next day, in a hollow, a mile farther on, the body
of the police dog was found, a score of slashes on his greyish hide and
one through his jugular. No police dog ever lived that could catch up
with a galloping collie who did not want to be caught. Bobby had varied
a career of profit with a moment or two of real pleasure.

Two days later, in the Midwestburg _Herald_, Jamie Mackellar read the
account of this fragmentary drama. He scanned it with no deep interest.
Tales of the wolf had grown stale to _Herald_ readers. But suddenly his
attention focused itself on the line:

“Mr. Gierson declares that a small disk of metal was suspended from the
throat of the brute.”

Jamie laid down the paper and went into executive session with his own
inner consciousness. A disk of metal, suspended from the throat of an
animal, means but one thing. It is a license tag. Never has such a tag
been fastened to a wolf.

Back into Mackellar’s memory came the picture of a poor shivering waif
from whose meagre and almost naked throat hung a huge collar; a collar
affixed by wire which was wound into such sparse strands of hair as
could be made to support it.

On the morning after the next snowfall, Jamie took a day off. Carrying
only a collar and chain and a muzzle, he fared forth into the woods. All
day he hunted. He found nothing.

A week later came another snowfall in the night. Next morning Mackellar
set forth again; this time letting his little son Donald come along. He
had told his family the far-fetched suspicion that had dawned upon him,
and Donald had clamoured to join the hunt.

On his first search, Jamie had quartered the country to west of the
ridge. To-day he climbed the rocks and made his way into the rolling
land below. Skirting Blake’s Woods, he was moving on toward the farms
when, in the fresh snow, he came upon the tracks he sought. For an hour
he followed them. Apparently they led nowhere. At least, they doubled
twice upon themselves and then vanished on a long outcrop of snowless
rock which stretched back into Blake’s Woods.

Tiring of this fruitless way of spending the morning, Donald strayed
from his father. Into the woods he wandered. And presently he sighted
the dancing platform amid its tangle of dead weeds. Running over to it,
the boy climbed thereon. Then, striking an attitude, he began to
harangue an invisible audience, from the platform edge; after the manner
of a cart-tail political orator he had observed with emulous delight.

“My friends!” he shrilled, from memory, “Our anc’st’rs fit fer the
lib’ty we enjoy! Are we goin’ to—? _Ouch!_ Hey, Daddy!”

One rhetorically stamping little foot had smashed through the rotten
boarding. Nor could Donald draw it out. At the yell of fright, Jamie
came running. But, a few yards from his son, Mackellar slid to a stop.
His eyes were fixed on an opening just below the boy’s imprisoned foot;
an opening from which the passage of Donald’s advancing body had cleared
aside some of the tangled weeds. From the tip of a ragged lath, at the
edge of this aperture, fluttered a tuft of tawny hair.

Pulling Donald free, Mackellar got down on all fours and peeped into the
space beneath the platform. For a few seconds he could see nothing.
Then, as his eyes accustomed themselves to the dimness, he descried two
greenish points of light turned toward him from the farthest corner of
the lair.

“Bobby?” called the man doubtfully.

The cornered dog heard the name. It roused vague half memories. The
memories were not pleasant; though the voice had in it a friendliness
that stirred the collie strangely.

Bobby crouched the closer to earth and his lips writhed back from
murderous white teeth. The man called again; in the same friendly,
coaxing voice. Then he began to crawl forward a foot or so. Behind him
the excited boy was blocking the only way out of the den.

The Lochinvar Bobby of ten months ago would have cowered whimperingly in
his corner, waiting for capture. He might even have pleaded for mercy by
rolling over on his back.

The Lochinvar Bobby of to-day was quite another creature. He laid out
his plan of campaign, and then in the wink of an eye he carried it into
effect.

With a rabid snarl he charged the advancing man. As Jamie braced himself
to fend off the ravening jaws, the dog veered sharply to one side and
dashed for the opening. Instinct told him the boy would be easier to
break past than the man.

But it was not Jamie Mackellar’s first experience with fighting or
playing dogs. As Bobby veered, Jamie slewed his own prostrate body to
the same side and made a grab for the fast-flying collie. His fingers
closed and tightened around Bobby’s left hind leg, just below the hock.

With a snarl, Bobby wheeled and drove his jaws at the captor’s wrist; in
a slash which might well have severed an artery. But, expecting just
such a move, Jamie was ready with his free hand. Its fingers buried
themselves in the avalanche of fur to one side of Bobby’s throat. The
slashing eye-teeth barely grazed the pinioning wrist. And Bobby thrashed
furiously from side to side, to free himself and to rend his enemy.

Mackellar’ s expert hands found grips to either side of the whirling
jaws, and he held on. Bit by bit, bracing himself with all his wiry
strength, he backed out; dragging the frantic beast behind him.

Five minutes later, at the expense of a few half-averted bites, he had
the muzzle tight-bound in place and was leading the exhausted and
foaming collie toward Midwestburg. Bobby held back, he flung himself
against the chain, he fought with futile madness against the gentle
skill of his master.

Then shuddering all over he gave up the fight. Head and tail a-droop, he
suffered himself to be led to prison.

“It’s Lochinvar Bobby, all right!” the wondering Jamie was saying to his
son in intervals of lavishing kindly talk and pats on the luckless dog.
"The collar and tag prove that. But if it wasn’t for them, I’d swear it
couldn’t be the same. It’s—it’s enough to take a body’s breath away,
Donald! I’ve followed the dog game from the time I was born, but I never
set eyes on such a collie in all my days. Just run your hand through
that coat! Was there ever another like it? And did you ever see such
bone and head? He’s—Lord, to think how he looked when that Frayne crook
sawed him off on me! It’s a miracle he lived through the first winter. I
never heard of but one other case like it. And that happened up in
Toronto, if I remember right.

“Now, listen, sonny: I’m not honing to be sued for damages by every
farmer in the county. So let’ em keep on looking for their wolf. This is
a dog I bought last year. He’s been away in the country till now. That’s
the truth. And the rest is nobody’s business. But—but if it keeps me
speiring for a week, to figger it out, I’m going to hit on some way to
let Mr. Lucius Frayne, Esquire, see he hasn’t stung me so hard as he
thought he did!”

For two days Bobby refused to eat or drink. In the stout inclosure built
for him in Mackellar’s back yard he stood, head and tail a-droop, every
now and then shivering as if with ague. Then, little by little, Jamie’s
skilled attentions did their work. The wondrous lure of human
fellowship, the joy of cooked food, and the sense of security against
harm, and, above all, a collie’s ancestral love for the one man he
chooses for his god—these wrought their work.

In less than a fortnight Bobby was once more a collie. The spirit of the
wild beast had departed from him; and he took his rightful place as the
chum of the soft-voiced little Scot he was learning to worship. Yes, and
he was happy,—happier than ever before;—happy with a new and strangely
sweet contentment. He had come into a collie’s eternal heritage.

The Westminster Kennel Club’s annual dog show at Madison Square Garden,
in New York, is the foremost canine classic of America and, in late
years, of the whole world.

A month before that year’s Westminster Show, Lucius Frayne received a
letter which made the wontedly saturnine sportsman laugh till the tears
spattered down his nose. The joke was too good to keep to himself. So he
shouted for Roke, and bade the kennel man share the fun of it with him.

He read aloud, cacklingly, to the listening Roke:

Mr. Lucius Frayne,
My dear Sir:

Last year, out to the Midwestburg show, here, you sold me a fine puppy
of your Ch. Lochinvar King. And as soon as I could raise the price you
sent him on here to me. I would of written to you when I got him, to
thank you and to say how pleased I was with him and how all my friends
praised him. But I figured you’re a busy man and you haven’t got any
waste time to spend in reading letters about how good your dogs are.
Because you know it already. And so I didn’t write to you. But I am
writing to you now. Because this is business.

You know what a grand pup Bobby was when you sent him to me? Well to my
way of thinking he has developed even better than he gave promise to.
And some of my friends say the same. To my way of thinking he is the
grandest collie in North America or anywhere else to-day. He is sure one
grand dog. He turned out every bit as good as you said he would. He’s
better now than he was at five months.

I want to thank you for letting me have such a dog, Mr. Frayne. Just as
you said, he is of Champion timber. Now this brings me to the business I
spoke about.

Granther used to tell me how the gentry on the other side would bet with
each other on their dogs at the shows. Six months ago my Aunt Marjorie
died and she willed me nine hundred dollars ($900). It is in bank
waiting for a good investment for it. Now here is an investment that
seems to me a mighty safe one. Me knowing Bobby as I do. A fine sporting
investment. And I hope it may please you as well. I am entering Bobby
for Westminster. I read in _Dog News_ that you are expecting to enter
Champion Lochinvar King there, with others of your string. So here is my
proposition.

I propose you enter King for “Open, Sable-and-White” and “Open, Any
Colour,” these being the only regular classes a sable champion is
eligible for. I will enter Bobby in the same classes, instead of
“Novice” as I was going to. And I will wager you six hundred dollars
($600) even, that the judge will place Bobby above King. I am making
this offer knowing how fine King is but thinking my dog is even better.
For Bobby has really improved since a pup. My wife thinks so too.

If this offer pleases you, will you deposit a certified check of six
hundred dollars ($600) with the editor of _Dog News_? He is a square man
as every one knows and he will see fair play. He has promised me he will
hold the stakes. I am ready to deposit my certified check for six
hundred dollars ($600) at once. I would like to bet the whole nine
hundred dollars ($900). Knowing it a safe investment. Knowing Bobby like
I do. But my wife doesn’t want me to bet it at all and so we are
compromising on six hundred dollars ($600).

Please let me hear from you on this, Mr. Frayne. And I thank you again
for how you treated me as regards Bobby. I hope to repay you at
Westminster by letting you see him for yourself.

                                      Your ob’t servant,
                                                 James A. Mackellar.

Yes, it was a long letter. Yet Frayne skipped no word of it. And Roke
listened, as to heavenly music.

“Talk about Lochinvar luck!” chortled Frayne as he finished. “The worst
pup we ever bred; and we sold him for one-fifty! And now he is due to
fetch us another six hundred, in dividends. He—”

“You’re going to cover his bet?” queried Roke. “Good! I was afraid maybe
you’d feel kind of sorry for the poor cuss, and—”

“Unless I break both wrists, in the next hour,” announced Frayne, “that
certified check will start for the _Dog News_ office by noon. It’s the
same old wheeze: A dub has picked up a smattering of dog talk; he thinks
he knows it all. He buys a bum pup with a thundering pedigree. The
pedigree makes him think the pup is a humdinger. He brags about it to
his folks. They think anything that costs so much must be the best ever,
no matter how it looks. And he gets to believing he’s got a world
beater. Then—”

“But, boss,” put in Roke with happy unction, “just shut your eyes and
try to remember how that poor mutt looked! And the boob says he’s ‘even
better than he gave promise to be.’ Do you get that? Yet you hear a lot
about Scotchmen being shrewd! Gee, but I wish you’d let me have a slice
of that $600 bet! I’d—”

“No,” said Frayne judicially. “That’s my own meat. It was caught in my
trap. But I tell you what you can do: Wait till I send my check and till
it’s covered, and then write to Mackellar and ask him if he’s willing to
bet another $150, on the side, with you. From the way he sounds, you
ought to have it easy in getting him to make the side bet. He needn’t
tell his wife. Try it anyhow; if you like.”

Roke tried it. And, after ridiculously small objection on Jamie’s part,
the side bet was recorded and its checks were posted with the editor of
_Dog News_. Once more Lucius Frayne and his faithful kennel man shook
hands in perfect happiness.

To the topmost steel rafters, where the grey February shadows hung, old
Madison Square Garden echoed and reverberated with the multi-keyed barks
of some two thousand dogs. The four-day show had been opened at ten
o’clock of a slushy Wednesday morning. And as usual the collies were to
be judged on the first day.

Promptly at eleven o’clock the clean-cut collie judge followed his
steward into the ring. The leather-lunged runner passed down the double
ranks of collie benches, bawling the numbers for the Male Puppy Class.

The judge had a reputation for quickness, as well as for accuracy and
honesty. The Open classes, for male dogs, were certain to come up for
verdict within an hour, at most.

Seven benches had been thrown into one, for the Frayne dogs. At its back
ran a strip of red silk, lettered in silver: “LOCHINVAR COLLIE KENNELS.”
Seven high-quality dogs lay or sat in this space de luxe. In the
centre—his name on a bronze plate above his head—reclined Lochinvar
King.

In full majesty of conscious perfection he lay there; magnificent as a
Numidian lion, the target for all eyes. Conditioned and groomed to the
minute, he stood out from his high-class kennel-mates like a swan among
cygnets.

Frayne, more than once in the show’s first hour or so, left his
much-admired benches; for a glance at a near-by unoccupied space,
numbered 568. Here, according to the catalogue, should be benched
Lochinvar Bobby.

But Bobby was nowhere to be seen.

Congratulating himself on his own craft in having inserted a forfeit
clause in the bet agreement, Frayne was none the less disappointed that
the fifth-rate mutt had not shown up.

He longed for a chance to hear the titter of the railbirds; when the
out-at-elbow, gangling, semi-hairless little nondescript should shamble
into the ring. Bobby’s presence would add zest to his own oft-told tale
of the wager.

According to American Kennel Club rules, a dog must be on its bench from
the moment the exhibition opens until the close, excepting only when it
is in the ring or at stated exercise periods. That rule, until recently,
has been most flagrantly disregarded by many exhibitors. In view of
this, Frayne made a trip to the exercise room and then through the
dim-lit stalls under the main floor.

As he came back from a fruitless search for Bobby or for Mackellar, he
passed the collie ring. “Limit; Dogs,” was chalked on the blackboard.
Two classes more—“Open, Merle,” and "Open, Tricolour"—and then King must
enter the ring for “Open, Sable.” Frayne hurried to the Lochinvar
benches, where Roke and another kennel man were fast at work putting
finishing touches to King’s toilet.

The great dog was on his feet, tense and eager for the coming clash.
Close behind the unseeing Roke, and studying King with grave admiration,
stood Jamie Mackellar.

“Hello, there!” boomed Frayne with loud cordiality, bearing down upon
the little man. “Get cold feet? I see your dog’s absent. Remember, you
forfeit by absence.”

“Yes, sir,” said Jamie with meekness, taking off his hat to the renowned
sportsman, and too confused in fumbling with its wabbly brim to see the
hand which Frayne held out to him. “Yes, sir. I remember the forfeit
clause, sir. I’m not forfeiting. Bobby is here.”

“Here? Where? I looked all over the—”

“I hired one of the cubby-hole rooms upstairs, sir; to keep him in,
nights, while he’s here. And I haven’t brought him down to his bench
yet. You see, he—he ain’t seen many strangers. And you’ll remember,
maybe, that he used to be just a wee peckle shy. So I’m keeping him
there till it is time to show him. My boy, Donald, is up, now, getting
him ready. They’ll be down presently, sir. I think you’ll be real
pleased with how Bobby looks.”

"I’m counting on a heap of pleasure," was Frayne’s cryptic reply, as he
turned away to mask a grin of utter joy.

Five grey dogs were coming down the aisle to their benches. The Merle
Class had been judged and the Tricolours were in the ring. There were
but four of these.

In another handful of minutes the “Open, Sable” Class was called. It was
the strongest class of the day. It contained no less than three
champions; in addition to four less famous dogs, like Bobby;—seven
entries in all.

Six of these dogs were marched into the ring. The judge looked at the
steward, for the “all-here” signal. As he did so, the seventh entrant
made his way past the gate crowd and was piloted into the ring by a
small and cheaply clad man.

While the attendant was slipping the number board on Mackellar’s arm,
Lucius Frayne’s eyes fell upon Lochinvar Bobby. So did those of the
impatient judge and the ninety out of every hundred of the railbirds.

Through the close-packed ranks of onlookers ran a queer little wordless
mutter—the most instinctive and therefore the highest praise that can be
accorded.

Alertly calm of nerve, heedless of his surroundings so long as his
worshipped god was crooning reassurances to him, Bobby stood at
Mackellar’s side.

His incredible coat was burnished like old bronze. His head was calmly
erect, his mighty frame steady. His eyes, with true eagle look, surveyed
the staring throng.

Never before, in all the Westminster Club’s forty-odd shows, had such a
collie been led into the ring. Eugenic breeding, wise rationing and
tireless human care had gone to the perfecting of other dogs. But Mother
Nature herself had made Lochinvar Bobby what he was. She had fed him
bountifully upon the all-strengthening ration of the primal beast; and
she had given him the exercise-born appetite to eat and profit by it.
Her pitiless winter winds had combed and winnowed his coat as could no
mortal hand, giving it thickness and length and richness beyond belief.
And she had moulded his growing young body into the peerless model of
the Wild.

Then, because he had the loyal heart of a collie and not the incurable
savagery of the wolf, she had awakened his soul and made him bask
rapturously in the friendship of a true dog-man. The combination was
unmatchable.

“Walk your dogs, please,” ordered the judge, coming out of his momentary
daze.

Before the end of the ring’s first turn, he had motioned Frayne and
Mackellar to take their dogs into one corner. He proceeded to study the
five others; awarding to two of them the yellow third-prize ribbon and
the white reserve, and then ordering the quintet from the ring. After
which he beckoned Bobby and King to the judging block.

In the interim, Frayne had been staring goggle-eyed at the Midwestburg
collie. He tried to speak; but he could not. A hundred thoughts were
racing dumbly through his bemused brain. He stood agape, foolish of
face.

Jamie Mackellar was pleasantly talkative.

“A grand class, this,” he confided to his voiceless comrade. “But, first
crack, Judge Breese had the eye to single out our two as so much the
best that he won’t size ’em up with the others. How do you like Bobby,
sir? Is he very bad? Don’t you think, maybe, he’s picked up, just a
trifle, since you shipped him to me? He’s no worse, anyhow, than he was
then, is he?”

Frayne gobbled, wordlessly.

“This is the last time I’ll show him, for a while, Mr. Frayne,”
continued Jamie, a grasping note coming into his timid voice. “The cash
I’m due to collect from you and Mr. Roke will make enough, with the
legacy and what I’ve saved, to start me in business with a truck of my
own. Bobby and I are going into partnership. And we’re going to clean
up. Bobby is putting seven hundred and fifty dollars and to-day’s cash
prizes into the firm. He and I are getting out of the show-end of collie
breeding, for a time. The more we see of some of you professionals, the
better we like cesspools. If dogs weren’t the grandest animals the good
Lord ever put on earth, a few of the folks who exploit them would have
killed the dog game long ago. It—. Judge Breese is beckoning for us!”

Side by side, the two glorious collies advanced to the judging block.
Side by, side, at their handlers’ gestures, they mounted it. And again
from the railbirds arose that queer wordless hum. Sire and son, shoulder
to shoulder, faced the judge.

And, for the first time in his unbroken career of conquest, Lochinvar
King looked almost shabby; beside the wondrous young giant he had sired.
His every good point—and he had no others—was bettered by Bobby.

As a matter of form, Breese went over both dogs with meticulous care;
testing coat-texture, spring of ribs, action, soundness of bone,
carriage, facial expression, and the myriad other details which go into
the judging of a show dog. Long he faced them, crouching low and staring
into their deep-set eyes; marking the set and carriage of the tulip
ears; comparing point with point; as becomes a man who is about to give
victory to an Unknown over a hitherto Invincible.

Then with a jerk of his head he summoned the steward with the judging
book and ribbons. And, amid a spontaneous rattle of applause, Jamie
Mackellar led his splendid dog to the far end of the ring, with one
hand; while in the fingers of the other fluttered a strip of
gold-lettered dark blue ribbon.

Back came both collies for the “Open, Any Colour Class,” and the verdict
was repeated; as it was repeated in the supreme “Winners’” Class which
followed. “Winners’” Class carried, with its rosette and cash specials,
a guerdon of five points toward Bobby’s championship.

Then followed the rich harvest of other cash specials in the collie
division, including $25 for “Best of Breed,” and for the next three days
even fatter gleanings from among the variety classes and unclassified
specials. These last awards ranged from five dollars to twenty-five
dollars apiece; apart from a valiseful of silver cups and like trophies
which are more beautiful than pawnable.

On Saturday, Jamie Mackellar and Bobby took the midnight train for
Midwestburg; richer by almost nine hundred dollars for their New York
sojourn.

Rolling sweetly around in Jamie’s memory was a brief talk he had had
with Roke, an hour before the close of the show. Sent as emissary by
Frayne, the kennel manager had offered Mackellar a flat two thousand
dollars for the sensational young prize winner.

“We’re not parting company, Bobby and I,” Jamie had made civil answer.
“Thanking you and your boss just as much. But tell Mr. Frayne if ever I
breed a pup as good as Bobby was when he came to me, he can have it for
an even hundred and fifty. I wouldn’t want such a fine chap to think I’m
not just as clean a sportsman as what he is!”

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                       SEVEN: “One Minute Longer”

------------------------------------------------------------------------



[Illustration]


SEVEN: “One Minute Longer”


Wolf was a collie, red-gold and white of coat, with a shape more like
his long-ago wolf ancestors’ than like a domesticated dog’s. It was from
this ancestral throw-back that he was named Wolf.

He looked not at all like his great sire, Sunnybank Lad, nor like his
dainty, thoroughbred mother, Lady. Nor was he like them in any other
way, except that he inherited old Lad’s staunchly gallant spirit and
loyalty and uncanny brain. No, in traits as well as in looks, he was
more wolf than dog. He almost never barked, his snarl supplying all
vocal needs.

The Mistress or the Master or the Boy—any of these three could romp with
him, roll him over, tickle him, or subject him to all sorts of playful
indignities. And Wolf entered gleefully into the fun of the romp. But
let any human, besides these three, lay a hand on his slender body, and
a snarling plunge for the offender’s throat was Wolf’s invariable reply
to the caress.

It had been so since his puppyhood. He did not fly at accredited guests,
nor, indeed, pay any heed to their presence, so long as they kept their
hands off him. But to all of these the Boy was forced to say at the very
outset of the visit:

“Pat Lad and Bruce all you want to, but please leave Wolf alone. He
doesn’t care for people. We’ve taught him to stand for a pat on the
head, from guests,—but don’t touch his body.”

Then, to prove his own immunity, the Boy would proceed to tumble Wolf
about, to the delight of them both.

In romping with humans whom they love, most dogs will bite, more or less
gently,—or pretend to bite,—as a part of the game. Wolf never did this.
In his wildest and roughest romps with the Boy or with the Boy’s
parents, Wolf did not so much as open his mighty jaws. Perhaps because
he dared not trust himself to bite gently. Perhaps because he realised
that a bite is not a joke, but an effort to kill.

There had been only one exception to Wolf’s hatred for mauling at
strangers’ hands. A man came to The Place on a business call, bringing
along a chubby two-year-old daughter. The Master warned the baby that
she must not go near Wolf, although she might pet any of the other
collies. Then he became so much interested in the business talk that he
and his guest forgot all about the child.

Ten minutes later the Master chanced to shift his gaze to the far end of
the room. And he broke off, with a gasp, in the very middle of a
sentence.

The baby was seated astride Wolf’s back, her tiny heels digging into the
dog’s sensitive ribs, and each of her chubby fists gripping one of his
ears. Wolf was lying there, with an idiotically happy grin on his face
and wagging his tail in ecstasy.

No one knew why he had submitted to the baby’s tugging hands, except
because she _was_ a baby, and because the gallant heart of the dog had
gone out to her helplessness.

Wolf was the official watch-dog of The Place; and his name carried dread
to the loafers and tramps of the region. Also, he was the Boy’s own
special dog. He had been born on the Boy’s tenth birthday, five years
before this story of ours begins; and ever since then the two had been
inseparable chums.

One sloppy afternoon in late winter, Wolf and the Boy were sprawled,
side by side; on the fur rug in front of the library fire. The Mistress
and the Master had gone to town for the day. The house was lonely, and
the two chums were left to entertain each other.

The Boy was reading a magazine. The dog beside him was blinking in
drowsy comfort at the fire. Presently, finishing the story he had been
reading, the Boy looked across at the sleepy dog.

“Wolf,” he said, “here’s a story about a dog. I think he
must have been something like you. Maybe he was your
great-great-great-great-grandfather. He lived an awfully long time
ago—in Pompeii. Ever hear of Pompeii?”

Now, the Boy was fifteen years old, and he had too much sense to imagine
that Wolf could possibly understand the story he was about to tell him.
But, long since, he had fallen into a way of talking to his dog,
sometimes, as if to another human. It was fun for him to note the almost
pathetic eagerness wherewith Wolf listened and tried to grasp the
meaning of what he was saying. Again and again, at sound of some
familiar word or voice inflection, the collie would pick up his ears or
wag his tail, as if in the joyous hope that he had at last found a clue
to his owner’s meaning.

“You see,” went on the Boy, “this dog lived in Pompeii, as I told you.
You’ve never been there, Wolf.”

Wolf was looking up at the Boy in wistful excitement, seeking vainly to
guess what was expected of him.

“And,” continued the Boy, “the kid who owned him seems to have had a
regular knack for getting into trouble all the time. And his dog was
always on hand to get him out of it. It’s a true story, the magazine
says. The kid’s father was so grateful to the dog that he bought him a
solid silver coller. Solid silver! Get that, Wolfie?”

Wolf did not “get it.” But he wagged his tail hopefully, his eyes alight
with bewildered interest.

“And,” said the Boy, “what do you suppose was engraved on the collar?
Well, I’ll tell you: ‘_This dog has thrice saved his little master from
death. Once by fire, once by flood, and once at the hands of robbers!_’
How’s that for a record, Wolf? For _one_ dog, too!”

At the words “Wolf” and “dog,” the collie’s tail smote the floor in glad
comprehension. Then he edged closer to the Boy as the narrator’s voice
presently took on a sadder note.

“But at last,” resumed the Boy, “there came a time when the dog couldn’t
save the kid. Mount Vesuvius erupted. All the sky was pitch-dark, as
black as midnight, and Pompeii was buried under lava and ashes. The dog
could easily have got away by himself,—dogs can see in the dark, can’t
they, Wolf?—but he couldn’t get the kid away. And he wouldn’t go without
him. You wouldn’t have gone without me, either, would you, Wolf? Pretty
nearly two thousand years later, some people dug through the lava that
covered Pompeii. What do you suppose they found? Of course they found a
whole lot of things. One of them was that dog—silver collar and
inscription and all. He was lying at the feet of a child. The child he
couldn’t save. He was one grand dog—hey, Wolf?”

The continued strain of trying to understand began to get on the
collie’s high-strung nerves. He rose to his feet, quivering, and sought
to lick the Boy’s face, thrusting one upraised white forepaw at him in
appeal for a handshake. The Boy slammed shut the magazine.

“It’s slow in the house, here, with nothing to do,” he said to his chum.
“I’m going up the lake with my gun to see if any wild ducks have landed
in the marshes yet. It’s almost time for them. Want to come along?”

The last sentence Wolf understood perfectly. On the instant he was
dancing with excitement at the prospect of a walk. Being a collie, he
was of no earthly help in a hunting-trip; but, on such tramps, as
everywhere else, he was the Boy’s inseparable companion.

Out over the slushy snow the two started, the Boy with his light
single-barrelled shotgun slung over one shoulder, the dog trotting close
at his heels. The March thaw was changing to a sharp freeze. The deep
and soggy snow was crusted over, just thick enough to make walking a
genuine difficulty for both dog and Boy.

The Place was a promontory that ran out into the lake, on the opposite
bank from the mile-distant village. Behind, across the highroad, lay the
winter-choked forest. At the lake’s northerly end, two miles beyond The
Place, were the reedy marshes where, a month hence, wild duck would
congregate. Thither, with Wolf, the Boy ploughed his way through the
biting cold.

The going was heavy and heavier. A quarter-mile below the marshes the
Boy struck out across the upper corner of the lake. Here the ice was
rotten at the top, where the thaw had nibbled at it, but beneath it was
still a full eight inches thick; easily strong enough to bear the Boy’s
weight.

Along the grey ice-field the two plodded. The skim of water, which the
thaw had spread an inch thick over the ice, had frozen in the day’s cold
spell. It crackled like broken glass as the chums walked over it. The
Boy had on big hunting-boots. So, apart from the extra effort, the
glass-like ice did not bother him. To Wolf it gave acute pain. The sharp
particles were forever getting between the callous black pads of his
feet, pricking and cutting him acutely.

Little smears of blood began to mark the dog’s course but it never
occurred to Wolf to turn back, or to betray by any sign that he was
suffering. It was all a part of the day’s work—a cheap price to pay for
the joy of tramping with his adored young master.

Then, forty yards or so on the hither side of the marshes, Wolf beheld a
right amazing phenomenon. The Boy had been walking directly in front of
him, gun over shoulder. With no warning at all, the youthful hunter
fell, feet foremost, out of sight, through the ice.

The light shell of new-frozen water that covered the lake’s thicker ice
also masked an air-hole nearly three feet wide. Into this, as he strode
carelessly along, the Boy had stepped. Straight down he had gone, with
all the force of his hundred-and-twenty pounds and with all the impetus
of his forward stride.

Instinctively, he threw out his hands to restore his balance. The only
effect of this was to send the gun flying ten feet away.

Down went the Boy through less than three feet of water (for the bottom
of the lake at this point had started to slope upward towards the
marshes) and through nearly two feet more of sticky marsh mud that
underlay the lake-bed.

His outflung hands struck against the ice on the edges of the air-hole,
and clung there.

Sputtering and gurgling, the Boy brought his head above the surface and
tried to raise himself by his hands, high enough to wriggle out upon the
surface of the ice. Ordinarily, this would have been simple enough for
so strong a lad. But the glue-like mud had imprisoned his feet and the
lower part of his legs; and held them powerless.

Try as he would, the Boy could not wrench himself free of the slough.
The water, as he stood upright, was on a level with his mouth. The
air-hole was too wide for him, at such a depth, to get a good purchase
on its edges and lift himself bodily to safety.

Gaining such a finger-hold as he could, he heaved with all his might,
throwing every muscle of his body into the struggle. One leg was pulled
almost free of the mud, but the other was driven deeper into it. And, as
the Boy’s fingers slipped from the smoothly wet ice-edge, the attempt to
restore his balance drove the free leg back, knee-deep into the mire.

Ten minutes of this hopeless fighting left the Boy panting and tired
out. The icy water was numbing his nerves and chilling his blood into
torpidity. His hands were without sense of feeling, as far up as the
wrists. Even if he could have shaken free his legs from the mud, now, he
had not strength enough left to crawl out of the hole.

He ceased his useless frantic battle and stood dazed. Then he came
sharply to himself. For, as he stood, the water crept upward from his
lips to his nostrils. He knew why the water seemed to be rising. It was
not rising. It was he who was sinking. As soon as he stopped moving, the
mud began, very slowly, but very steadily, to suck him downward.

This was not a quicksand, but it was a deep mud-bed. And only by
constant motion could he avoid sinking farther and farther down into it.
He had less than two inches to spare, at best, before the water should
fill his nostrils; less than two inches of life, even if he could keep
the water down to the level of his lips.

There was a moment of utter panic. Then the Boy’s brain cleared. His
only hope was to keep on fighting—to rest when he must, for a moment or
so, and then to renew his numbed grip on the ice-edge and try to pull
his feet a few inches higher out of the mud. He must do this as long as
his chilled body could be scourged into obeying his will.

He struggled again, but with virtually no result in raising himself. A
second struggle, however, brought him chin-high above the water. He
remembered confusedly that some of these earlier struggles had scarce
budged him, while others had gained him two or three inches. Vaguely, he
wondered why. Then turning his head, he realised.

Wolf, as he turned, was just loosing his hold on the wide collar of the
Boy’s mackinaw. His cut forepaws were still braced against a flaw of
ragged ice on the air-hole’s edge, and all his tawny body was tense.

His body was dripping wet, too. The Boy noted that; and he realised that
the repeated effort to draw his master to safety must have resulted, at
least once, in pulling the dog down into the water with the floundering
Boy.

“Once more, Wolfie! _Once more!_” chattered the Boy through teeth that
clicked together like castanets.

The dog darted forward, caught his grip afresh on the edge of the Boy’s
collar, and tugged with all his fierce strength; growling and whining
ferociously the while.

The Boy seconded the collie’s tuggings by a supreme struggle that lifted
him higher than before. He was able to get one arm and shoulder clear.
His numb fingers closed about an up-thrust tree-limb which had been
washed down stream in the autumn freshets and had been frozen into the
lake ice.

With this new purchase, and aided by the dog, the Boy tried to drag
himself out of the hole. But the chill of the water had done its work.
He had not the strength to move farther. The mud still sucked at his
calves and ankles. The big hunting-boots were full of water that seemed
to weigh a ton.

He lay there, gasping and chattering. Then through the gathering
twilight, his eyes fell on the gun, lying ten feet away.

“Wolf!” he ordered, nodding towards the weapon. “Get it! _Get_ it!”

Not in vain had the Boy talked to Wolf, for years, as if the dog were
human. At the words and the nod, the collie trotted over to the gun,
lifted it by the stock, and hauled it awkwardly along over the bumpy ice
to his master, where he laid it down at the edge of the air-hole.

The dog’s eyes were cloudy with trouble, and he shivered and whined as
with ague. The water on his thick coat was freezing to a mass of ice.
But it was from anxiety that he shivered, and not from cold.

Still keeping his numb grasp on the tree-branch, the boy balanced
himself as best he could, and thrust two fingers of his free hand into
his mouth to warm them into sensation again.

When this was done, he reached out to where the gun lay, and pulled its
trigger. The shot boomed deafeningly through the twilight winter
silences. The recoil sent the weapon sliding sharply back along the ice,
spraining the Boy’s trigger finger and cutting it to the bone.

“That’s all I can do,” said the Boy to himself. “If any one hears it,
well and good. I can’t get at another cartridge. I couldn’t put it into
the breech if I had it. My hands are too numb.”

For several endless minutes he clung there, listening. But this was a
desolate part of the lake, far from any road; and the season was too
early for other hunters to be abroad. The bitter cold, in any case,
tended to make sane folk hug the fireside rather than to venture so far
into the open. Nor was the single report of a gun uncommon enough to
call for investigation in such weather.

All this the Boy told himself, as the minutes dragged by. Then he looked
again at Wolf. The dog, head on one side, still stood protectingly above
him. The dog was cold and in pain. But, being only a dog, it did not
occur to him to trot off home to the comfort of the library fire and
leave his master to fend for himself.

Presently, with a little sigh, Wolf lay down on the ice, his nose across
the Boy’s arm. Even if he lacked strength to save his beloved master, he
could stay and share the Boy’s sufferings.

But the Boy himself thought otherwise. He was not at all minded to
freeze to death, nor was he willing to let Wolf imitate the dog of
Pompeii by dying helplessly at his master’s side. Controlling for an
instant the chattering of his teeth, he called:

“Wolf!”

The dog was on his feet again at the word; alert, eager.

“Wolf!” repeated the boy. “_Go!_ Hear me? _Go!_”

He pointed homeward.

Wolf stared at him, hesitant. Again the Boy called in vehement command,
“_Go!_”

The collie lifted his head to the twilight sky with a wolf-howl hideous
in its grief and appeal—a howl as wild and discordant as that of any of
his savage ancestors. Then, stooping first to lick the numb hand that
clung to the branch, Wolf turned and fled.

Across the cruelly sharp film of ice he tore, at top speed, head down;
whirling through the deepening dusk like a flash of tawny light.

Wolf understood what was wanted of him. Wolf always understood. The pain
in his feet was as nothing. The stiffness of his numbed body was
forgotten in the urgency for speed.

The Boy looked drearily after the swift-vanishing figure which the dusk
was swallowing. He knew the dog would try to bring help; as has many
another and lesser dog in times of need. Whether or not that help could
arrive in time, or at all, was a point on which the Boy would not let
himself dwell. Into his benumbed brain crept the memory of an old Norse
proverb he had read in school:

“_Heroism consists in hanging on, one minute longer._”

Unconsciously he tightened his feeble hold on the tree-branch and braced
himself.

From the marshes to The Place was a full two miles. Despite the deep and
sticky snow, Wolf covered the distance in less than nine minutes. He
paused in front of the gate-lodge, at the highway entrance to the drive.
But the superintendent and his wife had gone to Paterson, shopping, that
afternoon.

Down the drive to the house he dashed. The maids had taken advantage of
their employers’ day in New York, to walk across the lake to the
village, to a motion-picture show.

Wise men claim that dogs have not the power to think or to reason things
out in a logical way. So perhaps it was mere chance that next sent
Wolf’s flying feet across the lake to the village. Perhaps it was
chance, and not the knowledge that where there is a village there are
people.

Again and again, in the car, he had sat upon the front seat alongside
the Mistress when she drove to the station to meet guests. There were
always people at the station. And to the station Wolf now raced.

The usual group of platform idlers had been dispersed by the cold. A
solitary baggageman was hauling a trunk and some boxes out of the
express-coop on to the platform; to be put aboard the five o’clock train
from New York.

As the baggageman passed under the clump of station lights, he came to a
sudden halt. For out of the darkness dashed a dog. Full tilt, the animal
rushed up to him and seized him by the skirt of the overcoat.

The man cried out in scared surprise. He dropped the box he was carrying
and struck at the dog, to ward off the seemingly murderous attack. He
recognised Wolf, and he knew the collie’s repute.

But Wolf was not attacking. Holding tight to the coat-skirt, he backed
away, trying to draw the man with him, and all the while whimpering
aloud like a nervous puppy.

A kick from the heavy-shod boot broke the dog’s hold on the coat-skirt,
even as a second yell from the man brought four or five other people
running out from the station waiting-room.

One of these, the telegraph operator, took in the scene at a single
glance. With great presence of mind he bawled loudly:

“MAD DOG!”

This, as Wolf, reeling from the kick, sought to gain another grip on the
coat-skirt. A second kick sent him rolling over and over on the tracks,
while other voices took up the panic cry of “Mad dog!”

Now, a mad dog is supposed to be a dog afflicted by rabies. Once in ten
thousand times, at the very most, a mad-dog hue-and-cry is justified.
Certainly not oftener. A harmless and friendly dog loses his master on
the street. He runs about, confused and frightened, looking for the
owner he has lost. A boy throws a stone at him. Other boys chase him.
His tongue hangs out, and his eyes glaze with terror. Then some fool
bellows:

“Mad dog!”

And the cruel chase is on—a chase that ends in the pitiful victim’s
death. Yes, in every crowd there is a voice ready to raise that asinine
and murderously cruel shout.

So it was with the men who witnessed Wolf’s frenzied effort to take aid
to the imperilled Boy.

Voice after voice repeated the cry. Men groped along the platform edge
for stones to throw. The village policeman ran puffingly upon the scene,
drawing his revolver.

Finding it useless to make a further attempt to drag the baggageman to
the rescue, Wolf leaped back, facing the ever larger group. Back went
his head again in that hideous wolf-howl. Then he galloped away a few
yards, trotted back, howled once more, and again galloped lakeward.

All of which only confirmed the panicky crowd in the belief that they
were threatened by a mad dog. A shower of stones hurtled about Wolf as
he came back a third time to lure these dull humans into following him.

One pointed rock smote the collie’s shoulder, glancingly, cutting it to
the bone. A shot from the policeman’s revolver fanned the fur of his
ruff, as it whizzed past.

Knowing that he faced death, he nevertheless stood his ground, not
troubling to dodge the fusillade of stones, but continuing to run
lakeward and then trot back, whining with excitement.

A second pistol-shot flew wide. A third grazed the dog’s hip. From all
directions people were running towards the station. A man darted into a
house next door, and emerged carrying a shot-gun. This he steadied on
the veranda-rail not forty feet away from the leaping dog, and made
ready to fire.

It was then the train from New York came in. And, momentarily, the sport
of “mad-dog” killing was abandoned, while the crowd scattered to each
side of the track.

From a front car of the train the Mistress and the Master emerged into a
bedlam of noise and confusion.

“Best hide in the station, Ma’am!” shouted the telegraph operator, at
sight of the Mistress. “There is a mad dog loose out here! He’s chasing
folks around, and—”

“Mad dog!” repeated the Mistress in high contempt. “If you knew anything
about dogs, you’d know mad ones never ‘chase folks around,’ any more
than diphtheria patients do. Then—”

A flash of tawny light beneath the station lamp, a scurrying of
frightened idlers, a final wasted shot from the policeman’s pistol,—as
Wolf dived headlong through the frightened crowd towards the voice he
heard and recognised.

Up to the Mistress and the Master galloped Wolf. He was bleeding, his
eyes were bloodshot, his fur was rumpled. He seized the astounded
Master’s gloved hand lightly between his teeth and sought to pull him
across the tracks and towards the lake.

The Master knew dogs. Especially he knew Wolf. And without a word he
suffered himself to be led. The Mistress and one or two inquisitive men
followed.

Presently, Wolf loosed his hold on the Master’s hand and ran on ahead,
darting back every few moments to make certain he was followed.

“_Heroism—consists—in—hanging—on—one—minute—longer_,” the Boy was
whispering deliriously to himself for the hundredth time; as Wolf
pattered up to him in triumph, across the ice, with the human rescuers a
scant ten yards behind.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                            EIGHT: Afterword

------------------------------------------------------------------------

[Illustration]

EIGHT: Afterword



I have drawn upon one of our Sunnybank collies for the name and the
aspect and certain traits of my “Treve” book’s hero. The real Treve was
my chum, and one of the strangest and most beautiful collies I have
known.

Dog aristocrats have two names; one whereby they are registered in the
American Kennel Club’s immortal studbook and one by which they are known
at home. The first of these is called the “pedigree name.” The second is
the “kennel name.” Few dogs know or answer to their own high-sounding
pedigree names. In speaking to them their kennel names alone are used.

For example, my grand old Bruce’s pedigree name was Sunnybank
Goldsmith;—a term that meant nothing to him. My Champion Sunnybank
Sigurdson (greatest of Treve’s sons), responds only to the name of
“Squire.” Sunnybank Lochinvar is “Roy.”

Treve’s pedigree name was “Sunnybank Sigurd.” And in time he won his
right to the hard-sought and harder-earned prefix of “CHAMPION”;—the
supreme crown of dogdom.

We named him Sigurd—the Mistress and I—in honour of the collie of
Katharine Lee Bates; a dog made famous the world over by his owner’s
exquisite book, “_Sigurd, Our Golden Collie_.”

But here difficulties set in.

It is all very well to shout “Sigurd!” to a collie when he is the only
dog in sight. But when there is a rackety and swirling and excited
throng of them, the call of “Sigurd!” has an unlucky sibilant
resemblance to the exhortation, “Sic ’im!” And misunderstandings—not to
say strife—are prone to follow. So we sought a one-syllable kennel name
for our golden collie pup. My English superintendent, Robert Friend,
suggested “Treve.”

The pup took to it at once.

He was red-gold-and-snow of coat; a big slender youngster, with the true
“look of eagles” in his deepset dark eyes. In those eyes, too, burned an
eternal imp of mischief.

I have bred or otherwise acquired hundreds of collies in my time. No two
of them were alike. That is the joy of collies. But most of them had
certain well-defined collie characteristics in common with their
blood-brethren. Treve had practically none. He was not like other
collies or like a dog of any breed.

Gloriously beautiful, madly alive in every inch of him, he combined the
widest and most irreconcilable range of traits.

For him there were but three people on earth;—the Mistress, myself and
Robert Friend. To us he gave complete allegiance, if in queer form. The
rest of mankind, with one exception—a girl—did not exist, so far as he
was concerned; unless the rest of mankind undertook to speak to him or
to pat him. Then, instantly, such familiarity was rewarded by a
murderous growl and a most terrifying bite.

The bite was delivered with a frightful show of ferocity. And it had not
the force to crush the wing of a fly.

Strangers, assailed thus, were startled. Some were frankly scared. They
would stare down in amaze at the bitten surface, marvelling that there
was neither blood nor teeth-mark nor pain. For the attack always had an
appearance of man-eating fury.

Treve would allow the Mistress to pat him—in moderation. But if I
touched him, in friendliness, he would toss his beautiful head and dart
out of reach, barking angrily back at me. It was the same when Robert
tried to pet him.

Once or twice a day he would come up to me, laying his head across my
arm or knee; growling with the utmost vehemence and gnawing at my sleeve
for a minute at a time. I gather that this was a form of affection. He
did it to nobody else.

Also, when I went to town for the day, he would mope around for awhile;
then would take my cap from the hall table and carry it into my study.
All day long he would lie there, one paw on the cap, and growl fierce
menace to all who ventured near. On my return home at night, he gave me
scarcely a glance and drew disgustedly away as usual when I held out my
hand to pat him.

In the evenings, on the porch or in front of the living room fire, he
would stroll unconcernedly about until he made sure I was not noticing.
Then he would curl himself on the floor in front of me, pressing his
furry body close to my ankles; and would lie there for hours.

The Mistress alone he forbore to bite. He loved her. But she was a
grievous disappointment to him. From the first, she saw through his
vehement show of ferocity and took it at its true value. Try as he would
he could not frighten her. Try as he would, he could not mask his
adoration for her.

Again and again he would lie down for a nap at her feet; only to waken
presently with a thundrous growl and a snarl, and with a lunge of bared
teeth at her caressing hand. The hand would continue to caress; and his
show of fury was met with a laugh and with the comment:

“You’ve had a good sleep, and now you’ve waked up in a nice homicidal
rage.”

Failing to alarm her, the dog would look sheepishly at the laughing face
and then cuddle down again at her feet to be petted.

There was another side to his play of indifference and of wrath. True,
he would toss his head and back away, barking, when Robert or myself
tried to pat him. But at the quietly spoken word, “Treve!”, he would
come straight up to us and, if need be, stand statue-like for an hour at
a time, while he was groomed or otherwise handled.

In brief, he was the naughtiest and at the same time the most
unfailingly obedient dog I have owned. No matter how far away he might
be, the single voicing of his name would bring him to me in a swirling
rush.

In the show-ring he was a problem. At times he showed as proudly and as
spectacularly as any attitude-striking tragedian. Again, if he did not
chance to like his surroundings or if the ring-side crowd displeased
him, he prepared to loaf in slovenly fashion through his paces on the
block and in the parade. At such times the showing of Treve became as
much an art as is the guiding of a temperamental race-horse to victory.
It called for tact; even for trickery.

In the first place, during these fits of ill-humour, he would start
around the ring, in the preliminary parade, with his tail arched high
over his back; although he knew, as well as did I, that a collie’s tail
should be carried low, in the ring.

I commanded: “Tail down!” Down would come the tail. But at the same time
would come a savage growl and a sensational snap at my wrist. The
spectators pointed out to one another the incurably fierce collie.
Fellow-exhibitors in the ring would edge away. The judge—if he were an
outsider—would eye Treve with strong apprehension.

It was the same when I whispered, “Foot out!” as he deliberately turned
one white front toe inward in coming to a halt on the judging block. A
similar snarl and feather-light snap followed the command.

The worst part of the ordeal came when the judge began to “go over” him
with expert hands, to test the levelness of his mouth, the spring of his
ribs, his general soundness and the texture of his coat. An exhibitor is
not supposed to speak to a judge in the ring except to answer a
question. But if the judge were inspecting Treve for the first time, I
used to mumble conciliatingly, the while:

“He’s only in play, Judge. The dog’s perfectly gentle.”

This, as Treve resented the stranger’s handling, by growl-fringed bites
at the nearest part of the judicial anatomy.

A savage dog does not make a hit with the average judge. There is scant
joyance in being chewed, in the pursuit of one’s judging-duties. Yet, as
a rule, judges took my word as to Treve’s gentleness; especially after
one sample of his biteless biting. Said Vinton Breese, the famed
“all-rounder” dog-judge, after an Interstate show:

“I feel slighted. Sigurd forgot to bite me to-day. It’s the first time.”

The Mistress made up a little song, in which Treve’s name occurred
oftener than almost all its other words. Treve was inordinately proud of
this song. He would stand, growling softly, with his head on his side,
for an indefinite time, listening to her sing it. He used to lure her
into chanting this super-personal ditty by trotting to the piano and
then running back to her.

Nature intended him for a staunch, clever, implicitly obedient, gentle
collie, without a single bad trait, and possessed of rare sweetness. He
tried his best to make himself thoroughly mean and savage and
treacherous. He met with pitifully poor success in his chosen rôle. The
sweetness and the obedient gentleness stuck forth, past all his best
efforts to mask them in ferocity.

Once, when he bit with overmuch unction at a guest who tried to pat him,
I spoke sharply to him and emphasised my rebuke by a slight slap on the
shoulder. The dog was heart-broken. Crouching at my feet, his head on my
boot, he sobbed exactly like a frightened child. He spent hours trying
pitifully to make friends with me again.

It was so when his snarl and his nip at the legs of one of the other
dogs led to warlike retaliation. At once Treve would rush to me for
protection and for comfort. From the safe haven of my knees he would
hurl threats at his assailant and defy him to carry the quarrel further.
There was no fight in him. At the same time there was no taint of
cowardice. He bore pain or discomfort or real danger unflinchingly.

One of his chief joys was to ransack the garage and stables for sponges
and rags which were stored there for cleaning the cars. These he would
carry, one by one, to the long grass or to the lake, and deposit them
there. When the men hid these choice playthings out of his way he would
stand on his hindlegs and explore the shelves and low beam-corners in
search of them; never resting till he found one or more to bear off.

He would lug away porch cushions and carelessly-deserted hats and wraps,
and deposit them in all sorts of impossible places; never by any chance
bringing them back.

From puppyhood, he did not once eat a whole meal of his own accord.
Always he must be fed by hand. Even then he would not touch any food but
cooked meat.

Normally, the solution to this would have been to let him go hungry
until he was ready to eat. But a valuable show-and-stud collie cannot be
allowed to become a skeleton and lifeless for lack of food, any more
than a winning race-horse can be permitted to starve away his strength
and speed.

Treve’s daily pound-and-a-half of broiled chuck steak was cut in small
pieces and set before him on a plate. Then began the eternal task of
making him eat it. Did we turn our backs on him for a single minute—the
food had vanished when next we looked.

But it had not vanished down Treve’s dainty throat. Casual search
revealed every missing morsel of meat shoved neatly out of sight under
the edges of the plate or else hidden in the grass or under nearby
boards or handfuls of straw.

This daily meal was a game. Treve enjoyed it immensely. Not being
blessed with patience, I abhorred it. So Robert Friend took the duty of
feeding him. At sound of Robert’s distant knife, whetted to cut up the
meat, Treve would come flying to the hammock where I sat writing. At a
bound he was in my lap, all fours and all fur—the entire sixty pounds of
him—and with his head thrust under one of the hammock cushions.

Thence, at Robert’s call, and at my own exhortation, he would come forth
with mincing reluctance and approach the tempting dish of broiled steak.
Looking coldly upon the food, he would lie down. To all of Robert’s
allurements to eat, the dog turned a deaf ear. Once in a blue moon, he
consented to swallow the steak, piece by piece, if Robert would feed it
to him by hand. Oftener it was necessary to call on Wolf to act as
stimulant to appetite.

"Then I’ll give it to Wolf,“ Robert would threaten. ”_Wolf!_"

Treve got to his feet with head lowered and teeth bared. Robert called
Wolf, who came lazily to play his part in the daily game for a guerdon
of one piece of the meat.

Six feet away from the dish, Wolf paused. But his work was done.
Growling, barking, roaring, Treve attacked the dish; snatching up and
bolting one morsel of meat at a time. Between every two bites he
bellowed threats and insults at the placidly watching Wolf,—Wolf who
could thrash his weight in tigers and who, after Lad and Bruce died, was
the acknowledged king of all the Place’s dogs.

In this way, mouthful by mouthful and with an accompaniment of raging
noise that could be heard across the lake, Treve disposed of his dinner.

Yes, it was a silly thing to humour him in the game. But there was no
other method of making him eat the food on which depended his continued
show-form and his dynamite vitality. When it came to giving him his two
raw eggs a day, there was nothing to that but forcible feeding. In solid
cash prizes and in fees, Treve paid back, by many hundred per cent., the
high cost of his food.

When he was little more than a puppy, he fell dangerously ill with some
kind of heart trouble. Dr. Hopper said he must have medicine every half
hour, day and night, until he should be better. I sat up with him for
two nights.

I got little enough work done, between times, on those two nights. The
suffering dog, lay on a rug beside my study desk. But he was uneasy and
wanted to be talked to. He was in too much pain to go to sleep. In a
corner of my study was a tin biscuit box, which I kept filled with
animal crackers, as occasional titbits for the collies. Every now and
then, during our two-night vigil, I took an animal cracker from the box
and fed it to Treve.

By the second night he was having a beautiful time. I was not.

The study seemed to him a most delightful place. Forthwith he adopted it
as his lair. By the third morning he was out of danger and indeed was
practically well again. But he had acquired the study-habit; a habit
which lasted throughout his short life.

From that time on, it was Treve’s study; not mine. The tin cracker box
became his treasure chest; a thing to be guarded as jealously as ever
was the Nibelungen Hoard or the Koh-i-noor.

If he chanced to be lying in any other room, and a dog unconsciously
walked between him and the study, Treve bounded up from the soundest
sleep and rushed growlingly to the study door, whence he snarled
defiance at the possible intruder. If he were in the study and another
dog ventured near, Treve’s teeth were bared and Treve’s fore-feet were
planted firmly atop the tin box; as he ordered away the potential
despoiler of his hoard.

No human, save only the Mistress and myself, might enter the study
unchallenged. Grudgingly, Treve conceded her right and mine to be there.
But a rush at the ankles of any one else discouraged ingress. I remember
my daughter stopped in there one day to speak to me; on her way for a
swim. As the bathing-dressed figure appeared on the threshold, Treve
made a snarling rush for it. Alternately and vehemently he bit both bare
ankles.

“I wish he wouldn’t do that,” complained my daughter, annoyed. “He
_tickles_ so when he bites!”

No expert trainer has worked more skilfully and tirelessly over a Derby
winner than did Robert Friend over that dog’s shimmering red-gold coat.
For an hour or more every day, he groomed Treve, until the burnished fur
stood out like a Circassian beauty’s coiffure and glowed like molten
gold. The dog stood moveless throughout the long and tedious process;
except when he obeyed the order to turn to one side or the other or to
lift his head or to put up his paws for a brushing of the silken
sleeve-ruffles.

It was Robert, too, who hit on the scheme which gave Treve his last
show-victory; when the collie already had won fourteen of the needful
fifteen points which should make him a Champion of Record.

Perhaps you think it is easy to pilot even the best of dogs through the
gruelling ordeals that go to make up those fifteen points. Well, it is
not.

Many breeders take their dogs on the various show-circuits, keeping them
on the bench for three days at a time; and then, week after week,
shipping them in stuffy crates from town to town, from show to show. In
this way, the championship points sometimes pile up with reasonable
speed;—and sometimes never at all. (Sometimes, too, the luckless dog is
found dead in his crate, on arriving at the show-hall. Oftener he
catches distemper and dies in more painful and leisurely fashion.)

I am too foolishly mush-hearted to inflict such torture on any of our
Sunnybank collies. I never take my dogs to a show that cannot be reached
by comfortable motor ride within two or three hours at most; nor to any
show whence they cannot return home at the end of a single day. Thus,
championship points mount up more slowly at Sunnybank than at some other
kennels. But thus, too, our dogs, for the most part, stay alive and in
splendid health. I sleep the sounder at night, for knowing my collie
chums are not in misery in some distemper-tainted dogshow-building.

In like manner, it is a fixed rule with us never to ship a Sunnybank
puppy anywhere by express to a purchaser People must come here in person
and take home the pups they buy from me. Buyers have motored to
Sunnybank for pups from Maine and Ohio and even from California.

These scruples of mine have earned me the good-natured guying of more
sensible collie breeders.

Well, Treve had picked up fourteen of the fifteen points needed to
complete his championship. The last worthwhile show of the spring
season—within motor distance—was at Noble, Pa., on June 10, 1922.
Incidentally, June 10, 1922, was Treve’s third birthday. His wonderful
coat was at the climax of its shining fulness. By autumn he would be
“out of coat”; and an out-of-coat collie stands small chance of winning.

So Robert and I drove over to Noble with him.

The day was stewingly hot; the drive was long. Show-goers crowded around
the splendid dog before the judging began. Bit by bit, Treve’s nerves
began to fray. We kept him off his bench and in the shade, and we did
what we could to steer admirers away from him. But it was no use. By the
time the collie division was called into the tented ring, Treve was
profoundly unhappy and cranky.

He slouched in, with no more “form” to him than a plough horse. With the
rest of his class (“Open, sable-and-white”), he went through the parade.
Judge Cooper called the contestants one by one up to the block; Treve
last of all. My best efforts could not rouse the dog from his sullen
apathy.

It was then that Robert Friend played his trump card. Standing just
outside the ring, among the jam of spectators, he called excitedly:

“_Wolf!_ I’ll give it to Wolf!”

I don’t know what the other spectators thought of this outburst. But I
know the effect it had on Treve.

In a flash the great dog was alert and tense; his tulip ears up, his
whole body at attention, the look of eagles in his eyes as he scanned
the ringside for a glimpse of his friend, Wolf.

Judge Cooper took one long look at him. Then, without so much as laying
a hand on the magnificently-showing Treve, he awarded him the blue
ribbon in his class.

I had sense enough to take the dog into one corner and to keep him
there, quieting and steadying him until the Winners’ Class was called.
As I led him into the ring, then, to compete with the other classes’
blue ribboners, Robert called once more to the absent Wolf. Again the
trick served. The collie moved and stood as if galvanised into sparkling
life.

Cooper handed me the Winners’ rosette; the rosette whose acquisition
made Treve a Champion of Record!

It was only about a year ago. In that little handful of time, the judge
who made him a champion—the new-made champion himself—the dog whose name
roused him from his apathy in the ring—all three are dead. I don’t think
a white sportsman like Cooper would mind my linking his name with two
such supreme collies, in this word of necrology. Cooper—Treve—_Wolf!_

(There’s lots of room in this old earth of ours for the digging of
graves, isn’t there?)

Home we came with our champion—Champion Sunnybank Sigurd—who displayed
so little championship dignity that, an hour after our return to the
Place, he lifted my brand new Panama hat daintily from the hall-table,
carried it forth from the house with a loving tenderness; laid it to
rest in a patch of lakeside mud; and then rolled on it.

I was too elated over our triumph to scold him for the costly sacrilege.
I am glad now that I didn’t. For a scolding or a single harsh word ever
reduced him to utter heartbreak.

And so for a while, at the Place, our golden champion continued to revel
in the gay zest of life.

He was the livest dog I have known. Wolf alone was his chum among all
the Sunnybank collies. Wolf alone, with his mighty heart and vast wisdom
and his elfin sense of fun and his love for frolic. Wolf and Treve used
to play a complicated game whose chief move consisted of a sweeping
breakneck gallop, for perhaps a half-mile, to the accompaniment of a
fanfare of barking. Across the green lawns they would flash, like
red-gold meteors; and at a pace none of their fleet-footed brethren
could maintain.

One morning they started as usual on this whirlwind dash. But at the end
of the first few yards, Treve swayed in his flying stride, faltered to a
stop and came slowly back to me. He thrust his muzzle into my cupped
hand—for the first time in his undemonstrative life—then stood wearily
beside me.

A strange transformation had come over him. The best way I can describe
it is to say that the glowing inward fire which always had seemed to
shine through him—even to the flaming bright mass of coat—was gone. He
was all at once old and sedate and massive; a dog of elderly dignity—a
dignity oddly majestic. The mischief imp had fled from his eyes; the
sheen and sunlight had vanished from his coat. He had ceased to be
Treve.

I sent in a rush for the nearest good vet. The doctor examined the
invalid with all the skilled attention due a dog whose cash value runs
into four figures. Then he gave verdict.

It was the heart;—the heart that had been flighty in puppyhood days, but
which two competent vets had since pronounced as sound as the
traditional bell.

For a day longer the collie lived;—at least a gravely gentle and
majestic collie lived in the marvellous body that had been Treve’s. He
did not suffer—or so the doctor told us—and he was content to stay very
close to me; his paw or his head on my foot.

At last, stretching himself drowsily to sleep, he died.

It seemed impossible that such a swirl of glad life and mischief and
beauty could have been wiped out in twenty-four little hours.

Not for our virtues nor for our general worthiness are we remembered
wistfully by those who stay on. Not for our sterling qualities are we
cruelly missed when missing is futile. Worthiness, in its death, does
not leave behind it the grinding heartache that comes at memory of some
lovably naughty or mischievous or delightfully perverse trait.

Treve’s entertaining badnesses had woven themselves into the very life
of the Place. Their passing left a keen hurt. The more so because, under
them, lay bedrock of staunch loyalty and gentleness.

I have not the skill to paint our eccentrically lovable chum’s word
picture, except in this clumsily written sketch. If I were to attempt to
make a whole book of him, the result would be a daub.

But I have tried at least to make his _name_ remembered by a few
readers; by giving it to the hero of the “Treve” collection of stories.
Perhaps some one, reading, may like the name, even if not the stories,
and may call his or her next collie, “Treve”; in memory of a gallant dog
that was dear to Sunnybank.

We buried him in the woods, near the house, here. A granite boulder
serves as his headstone.

Alongside that boulder, a few days ago, we buried the Mistress’s hero
collie, Wolf; close to his old-time playmate, Treve.

Perhaps you may care to hear a word or two of Wolf’s plucky death. Some
of you have read his adventures in my other dog stories. More of you
read of his passing. For nearly every newspaper in America printed a
long account of it.

It is an account worth reading and rereading; as is every tale of clean
courage. I am going to quote part of the finely-written story that
appeared in the _New York Times_ of June 28, 1923; a story far beyond
power of mine to improve on or to equal:

  "Wolf, son of Lad, is dead. The shaggy collie, with the eyes that
  understood and the friendly tail, made famous in the stories of Albert
  Payson Terhune, died like a thoroughbred. So when Wolf joined his
  father, in the canine Beyond, last Sunday night, there was no hanging
  of heads.

  "Wolf died a hero. But yesterday the level lawns of Sunnybank, the
  Terhune place at Pompton Lakes, N. J., seemed empty and the big house
  was curiously quiet. True, other collies were there; but so, too, was
  the big boulder out in the woods with just ‘Wolf’ graven across it.

  "Ten years ago, when thousands of readers were following Lad’s career
  as told by his owner, Mr. Terhune, an interesting event took place at
  Sunnybank. Of all the puppies that had or have come to Sunnybank, that
  group of newcomers was the most mischievous. Admittedly, Lad was
  properly proud, but readers will remember his occasional misgivings
  about one of the pups. The cause of parental concern was Wolf. He was
  a good puppy, you know, but a trifle boisterous; maybe—yes, he was,
  the littlest bit inclined to wildness.

  "In 1918 Lad passed on; and the whole country mourned his departure.
  Wolf succeeded his famous father in the stories of Mr. Terhune. The
  son had long since abandoned his harum-scarum ways and had developed
  into a model member of the Terhune dog circle. Wolf was the property
  and the pet of Mrs. Terhune.

  "He became the cleverest of all the collies. One could talk to Wolf
  and get understanding and no back talk. One could depend on Wolf and
  get full loyalty. One could like Wolf and say so; and the soft cool
  nose would come poking around and the tail would begin to wag till it
  seemed as if Wolf would wag himself off his feet.

  "Wolf constituted himself warden of the Sunnybank lawns and custodian
  of the driveways. When motoring parties came in and endangered the
  lives of the puppies playing about the driveways, Wolf, at the first
  sound of the motor, would dash importantly down into the drive and
  would herd or chase every puppy out of harm’s way.

  "Each evening it was the habit of Wolf to saunter off on a long
  ‘walk.’ Three evenings ago he rambled away and—

  "Down in the darkness at the railroad station some folk were waiting
  to see the Stroudsburg express flash by. It was a few minutes late. A
  nondescript dog, with a hunted, homeless droop to his tail, trotted
  onto the tracks.

  "Far down the line there came the warning screech of the express. The
  canine tramp didn’t pay any attention to it, but sat down to scratch
  at a flea.

  "The headlight of the express shot a beam glistening along the rails.
  Wolf saw the dog and the danger. With a bark and a snap, the son of
  Lad thrust the stranger off the track and drove him to safety.

  “The express was whistling, for a crossing, far past the station, when
  they picked up what was Wolf and started for the Terhune home.”

All dogs die too soon. Many humans don’t die soon enough. A dog is only
a dog. And a dog is too gorgeously normal, and wholesome to be made
ridiculous in death by his owner’s sloppy sentimentality.

The stories of one’s dogs, like the recital of one’s dreams, are of no
special interest to others. Perhaps I have talked overlong about these
two collie chums of ours. Belatedly, I ask your forgiveness if I have
bored you.

                                              ALBERT PAYSON TERHUNE.

_“Sunnybank,”
Pompton Lakes,
New Jersey_.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                           Transcriber’s Note

‘Field-mouse’ appears with and without the hyphen. Both are given here
as printed. ‘Hand gallop’ also appears as a single word, unhyphenated.
Both are retained.

Errors deemed most likely to be the printer’s have been corrected, and
are noted here. The references are to the page and line in the original.
The following issues should be noted, along with the resolutions.

  21.1     first one should[d]er and then the other       Removed.
  22.25    without bird dog or rabb[b]it hound            Removed.
  32.17    a ten-foot clif[t/f]                           Replaced.
  153.24   L[i/o]chinvar King that day clove his path     Replaced.
  170.8    He found nothing[.]                            Added.
  181.18   with a truck of my own[.]                      Added.
  182.5    spring o[r/f] ribs                             Replaced.
  211.4    and deposit them there[.]                      Added.
  214.11   No expert trainer [w/a]s worked more skilfully Replaced.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Heart of a Dog" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
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.



Home