Part 1 out of 5
FURTHER ADVENTURES OF LAD by ALBERT PAYSON TERHUNE
Sunnybank Lad won a million friends through my book, "LAD: A
DOG"; and through the Lad-anecdotes in "Buff: A Collie." These
books themselves were in no sense great. But Laddie was great in
every sense; and his life-story could not be marred, past
interest, by my clumsy way of telling it.
People have written in gratifying numbers asking for more stories
about Lad. More than seventeen hundred visitors have come all the
way to Sunnybank to see his grave. So I wrote the collection of
tales which are now included in "Further Adventures of Lad." Most
of them appeared, in condensed form, in the Ladies' Home Journal.
Very much, I hope you may like them.
ALBERT PAYSON TERHUNE "Sunnybank" Pompton Lakes, New Jersey
FURTHER ADVENTURES OF LAD
CHAPTER I. 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 doorlocks were
inspected and new hiding-places found for portable family
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 wistaria-clad gray 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
honor. 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
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 lofty lineage,--was that his
breeder had named him "Lad."
From these meager 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
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 smolder in the
deep-set sorrowful dark eyes. To the casual observer, he was but
a beautiful and appealing and wonderfully cuddleable bunch of
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 everyone 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 halfgrown youngster,
petting his silken head, running her white fingers through his
shining mahogany coat; making crooning little friendly noises to
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
"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," be 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
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
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
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 marveled 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
leopard-skin 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
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
dullness. 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 silent. 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 someone 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
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
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
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. Someone was coming towards the house;--and
carrying a small bag under his arm. Someone 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 gamboled up the drive to meet the
The man was feeling his way through the pitch darkness, groping
cautiously; halting once or twice for a smolder 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 aegis 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
Soon, the man started back toward the pale 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, reveling 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 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
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; specially 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 tantalizingly 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 swig
frivolously to one side and vanish in the night.
The astonished man had seen more. Feeble was the flashlight's
shrouded ray, 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 witch-work he had witnessed.
He had plenty of nerve. He had plenty of experience along his
chosen line of endeavor. 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
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 recognize 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
leveled the pistol he had drawn. This time the shaded ray
revealed to him not only his bag, but,--vaguely,--the Thing that
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
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 gamboled 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
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
Realizing that the sound of his own stumblingly 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, be himself
could easily win clear of the Place before anyone of the
household should appear. And his car would be a mile away before
the neighborhood 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
Everyone, 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
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, gayly expectant, for more. He got it.
There was a second rackety explosion and a second puff of
lightning from the man's out-flung hand. But, this time,
something like a red-hot whip-lash smote Lad with horribly
agonizing 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 out-flung
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 agonizing
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 milk-teeth bared, head low, ruff
abristle, friendly soft eyes as ferocious as a wolf's, he
There had been scarce a breathing-space between the second report
of the pistol and the collie's counterattack. 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 defenseless.
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 lest 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 marvelous 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.
CHAPTER II. The Fetish
From the night of the robbery, Lad's high position at the Place
Even in the months of ganglingly leggy awkwardness which
generally separate furry puppyhood from dignified collie
maturity, he gave sure promise of his quality. He was such a dog
as is found perhaps once in a generation; the super-collie that
neither knows nor needs such things as whip and chain; and that
learns the Law with bewildering swiftness. A dog with a brain and
a mighty heart, as well as an endless fund of loveableness and of
Month by month, the youngster developed into a massive giant; his
orange-mahogany coat a miracle of thickness and length, his deep
chest promising power as well as wolflike grace. His mind and his
oddly human traits developed as fast as did his body.
After the first month or so he received privileges never to be
accorded to any other of the Place's dogs in Lad's lifetime. He
slept at night under the music-room piano, in the "cave" that was
his delight. At mealtimes he was even admitted into the sacred
dining-room, where he lay on the floor at the Master's left hand.
He had the run of the house, as fully as any human.
It was when Lad was eighteen months old that the mad-dog scare
swept Hampton village; and reached its crawly tentacles out
across the lake to the mile-distant Place.
Down the village street, one day, trotted an enormous black
mongrel; full in the center of the roadway. The mongrel's heavy
head was low, and lolled from side to side with each lurching
stride of the big body. The eyes were bloodshot. From the mouth
and the hanging dewlaps, flecks of foam dropped now and then to
The big mongrel was sick of mind and of body. He craved only to
get out of that abode of men and to find solitude in the forests
and hills beyond the village.
For this is the considerate way of dogs; and of cats as well.
When dire sickness smites them, they do not hang about, craving
sympathy and calling for endless attention. All they want is to
get out of the way,--well out of the way, into the woods and
swamps and mountains; where they may wrestle with their
life-or-death problem in their own primitive manner; and where,
if need be, they may die alone and peacefully, without troubling
Especially is this true with dogs. If their malady is likely to
affect the brain and to turn them savage, they make every
possible attempt to escape from home and to be as far away from
their masters as may be, before the crisis shall goad them into
attacking those they love.
And, when some such suffering beast is seen, on his way to
solitude, we humans prove our humanity by raising the idiotic
bellow of "Mad dog!" and by chasing and torturing the victim. All
this, despite proof that not one sick dog in a thousand, thus
assailed, has any disease which is even remotely akin to rabies.
Next to vivisection, no crime against helpless animals is so
needlessly and foolishly cruel as the average mad-dog chase.
Which is a digression; but which may or may not enable you to
keep your head, next time a mad-dog scare sweeps your own
Down the middle of the dusty street trotted the sick mongrel.
Five minutes earlier, he had escaped from the damp cellar in
which his owner had imprisoned him when first he fell ill. And
now, his one purpose was to leave the village behind him and to
gain the leafy refuge of the foothills beyond.
Out from a door-yard, flashed a bumptious little fox terrier.
Into the roadway he bounded; intent on challenging the bigger
He barked ferociously; then danced in front of the invalid;
yapping and snapping up at the hanging head. The big mongrel, in
agony, snarled and made a lunge at his irritatingly dancing
tormentor. His teeth dug grazingly into the terrier's withers;
and, with an impatient toss, he flung the little beast to one
side. Then he continued his interrupted flight; sick wrath
beginning to encompass his reeling brain, at the annoyance he had
The yell of the slightly hurt terrier brought people to their
doors. The sound disturbed a half-breed spaniel from his doze in
the dust, and sent him out to continue the harrying his injured
terrier chum had begun.
The spaniel flew at the black dog; nipping at the plodding
forepaws. The mongrel raged; as might some painfully sick human
who is pestered when he asks only to be let alone. His dull
apathy gave place to sullen anger. He bit growlingly at the
spaniel, throwing himself to one side in pursuit of the elusive
foe. And he snapped with equal rage at an Irish terrier that had
come out to add to the turmoil.
By this time, a score of people were dancing up and down inside
their door-yard fences, squalling "Mad dog!" and flinging at the
black brute any missile they could lay hand to.
A broken flower-pot cut the invalid's nose. A stone rebounded
from his ribs. The raucous human yells completed the work the
first dog had started. From a mere sufferer, the black mongrel
had changed into a peril.
The Mistress had motored over to the Hampton post-office, that
afternoon, to mail some letters. Lad, as usual, had gone with
her. She had left him in the car, while she went into the
Lad lay there, in snug contentment, on the car's front seat;
awaiting the return of his deity and keeping a watchful eye on
anyone who chanced to loiter near the machine. Presently, he sat
up. Leaning out, from one side of the seat, he stared down the
hot roadway, in a direction whence a babel of highly exciting
sounds began to issue.
Apparently, beyond that kick-up of dust, a furlong below, all
sorts of interesting things were happening. Lad's soft eyes took
on a glint of eager curiosity; and he sniffed the still air for
further clues as to the nature of the fun. A number of
humans,--to judge by the racket,--were shouting and screaming;
and the well-understood word, "dog," formed a large part of their
clamor. Also, there were real dogs mixed up in the fracas; and
more than one of them had blood on him. So much the collie's
uncanny senses of smell and of hearing told him.
Lad whimpered, far down in his throat. He had been left here to
guard this car. It was his duty to stay where he was, until the
Mistress should return. Yet, right behind him, there, a series of
mighty entertaining things were happening,--things that he longed
to investigate and to mix into. It was hard to do one's solemn
duty as watchdog, when so much of wild interest was astir! Not
once did it occur to Laddie to desert his post. But he could not
forbear that low whimper and a glance of appeal toward the
And now, out of the smear of flying dust, loomed a lurching black
shape;--gigantic, terrible. It was coming straight toward the
car; still almost in mid-road. Behind, less distinct, appeared
running men. And a shot was fired. Somebody had run indoors for a
pistol, before joining the chase. The same somebody, in the van
of the pursuers, had opened fire; and was in danger of doing far
more damage to life than could a dozen allegedly mad dogs.
Just then, out from the post-office, came the Mistress. Crossing
the narrow sidewalk, she neared the car. Lad stood up, wagging
his plumed tail in welcome; his tiny white forepaws dancing a jig
of eagerness on the leather seat-cushion.
On reeled the black mongrel; crazed by noise and pain. His
bleared eyes caught a flash of the Mistress's white dress, on the
walk, fifteen feet in front of him and a yard or more to one
In a frame of mind when every newcomer was a probable tormenter,
the mongrel resolved to meet this white-clad foe, head-on. He
swerved, with a stagger, from his bee-line of travel; growled
hideously, and sprang full at her.
The Mistress paused, for an instant, in the middle of the
sidewalk, to find out the reason for the sudden din that had
assailed her ears as she emerged from the post-office. In that
brief moment, she caught the multiple-bellowed phrase of "Mad
dog!" and saw the black brute charging down upon her.
There was no time to dart back into the shelter of the building
or to gain the lesser safety of the car. For the charging mongrel
was not five feet away.
The Mistress stood stock-still; holding her hands at a level with
her throat. She did not cry out; nor faint. That was not the
Mistress's way. Like Lad, she was thoroughbred in soul as well as
in body. And neither she nor her dog belonged to the breed of
screamers. Through her mind, in that briefest fraction of a
second whizzed the consoling thought
"He's not mad, whatever else he is. A mad dog never swerves from
But if the Mistress remained moveless, Lad did not. Seeing her
peril even more swiftly than did she, he made one lightning dive
from his perch on the car seat.
He did not leap at random. Lad's brain always worked more quickly
than did his lithe body; flyingly rapid as were that body's
motions. As he gathered himself for the spring, his campaign was
Down upon the charging beast swooped a furry whirlwind of
burnished mahogany-and-snow. Down it swooped with the whirring
speed and unerring aim of an eagle. Sixty-odd pounds of sinewy
weight smote the lunging mongrel, obliquely, on the left
shoulder; knocking the great brute's legs from under him and
throwing him completely off his balance. Into the dust crashed
the two dogs; Lad on top. Before they struck ground, the collie's
teeth had found their goal ire the side of the larger dog's
throat; and every whalebone muscle in Lad's body was braced to
hold his enemy down.
It was a clever hold. For the fall had thrown the mongrel on his
side. And so long as Lad should be able to keep the great foaming
head in that sideways posture, the other dog could not get his
feet under him again. With his legs in their present position, he
had no power to get up; but lay thrashing and snapping and
snarling; and trying with all his cramped might to free himself
from the muscular grip that held him prostrate.
It was all over in something like two seconds. Up stormed the
crowd; the pistol-wielder at its head. Three shots were fired at
point-blank range. By some miracle none of them harmed Lad;
although one bullet scratched his foreleg on its way to the black
As soon as she could, the Mistress got herself and the
loudly-praised Lad into the car and set off for home. Now that
the peril was over, she felt dizzy and ill. She had seen what it
is not well to see. And the memory of it haunted her for many a
As for Lad, he was still atingle with excitement. The noisy
praise of those babbling humans had bothered him; and he had been
glad to escape it. Lad hated to be mauled or talked to by
strangers. But the Mistress's tremulous squeeze and her
shuddering whisper of "Oh, Laddie! LADDIE!" had shown she was
proud of him. And this flattered and delighted Lad, past all
He had acted on impulse. But, from the Mistress's manner, he saw
he had made a wonderful hit with her by what he had done. And his
tail thumped ecstatically against the seat as he cuddled very
close to her side.
At home, there was more praise and petting;--this time from both
the Mistress and the Master. And the Master bathed and patched
the insignificant bullet-scratch on the collie's foreleg.
Altogether, it was a gala afternoon for the young dog. And he
But, next morning, there was quite another phase of life awaiting
him. Like most Great Moments, this exploit of Lad's was not on
the free list. And Trouble set in;--grim and sinister trouble.
Breakfast was over. The Mistress and the Master were taking their
wonted morning stroll through the grounds. Lad cantered along,
ahead of them. The light bullet-scratch on his foreleg did not
lame or annoy him. He inspected everything of canine interest;
sniffing expert inquiry at holes which might prove to be rabbit
warrens; glaring in truculent threat up some tree which might or
might not harbor an impudent squirrel; affecting to see objects
of mysterious import in bush clumps; crouching in dramatic threat
at a fat stag-beetle which scuttled across his path.
There are an immense number of worth-while details for a very
young collie, in even the most casual morning walk; especially if
his Mistress and his Master chance to be under his escort. And
Laddie neglected none of these things. If a troop of bears or a
band of Indians or a man-eating elephant were lurking anywhere in
the shrubbery or behind tree-trunks, Lad was not going to fail in
discovering and routing out such possible dangers to the peace of
mind of his two adored deities.
Scent and sight presently were attracted by a feeble fluttering
under a low-limbed catalpa tree in whose branches a pair of
hysterical robins were screeching. Lad paused, his tulip ears at
attention, his plumed tail swaying. Then he pushed his long
muzzle through a clump of grass and emerged carrying a flapping
and piping morsel between his mighty jaws. The birds, on the limb
above, redoubled their frenzied chirping; and made little futile
dashes at the collie's head.
Unheeding, Lad walked back to the Mistress and laid gently at her
feet the baby robin he had found. His keen teeth had not so much
as ruffled its pinfeather plumage. Having done his share toward
settling the bird's dilemma, Laddie stood back and watched in
grave interest while the Mistress lifted the fluttering infant
and put it back in the nest whence it had fallen.
"That makes the fifth baby bird Laddie has brought to me in a
month," she commented, as she and the Master turned back toward
the house. "To say nothing of two field mice and a broken-winged
bat. He seems to think I'll know what to do for them."
"I only hope he won't happen upon a newborn rattlesnake or
copperhead and bring it to you for refuge," answered the Master.
"I never saw another dog, except a trained pointer or setter,
that could handle birds so tenderly. He--"
The bumping of a badly handled rowboat, against the dock, at the
foot of the lawn, a hundred yards below, checked his rambling
words. Lad, at sudden attention, by his master's side, watched
the boat's occupant clamber clumsily out of his scow; then stamp
along the dock and up the lawn toward the house. The arrival was
a long and lean and lank and lantern-jawed man with a set of the
most fiery red whiskers ever seen outside a musical comedy. The
Master had seen him several times, in the village; and recognized
him as Homer Wefers, the newly-appointed Township Head Constable.
The Mistress recognized him, too, as the vehement official whose
volley of pistol-bullets had ended the sufferings of the black
mongrel. She shivered, in reminiscence, as she looked at him. The
memory he evoked was not pleasant.
"Morning!" Wefers observed, curtly, as the Master, with Lad
beside him, stepped forward to greet the scarlet-bearded guest.
"I tried to get over here, last night. But I guess it's soon
enough, today. Has he showed any signs, yet?" He nodded
inquiringly at the impassive Lad, as he spoke.
"'Soon enough' for what?" queried the puzzled Master.
"And what sort of 'signs' are you talking about?"
"Soon enough to shoot that big brown collie of yours," explained
Wefers, with businesslike briskness. "And I'm asking if he's
showed any signs of hydrophoby. Has he?"
"Are you speaking of Laddie?" asked the Mistress, in dismay; as
the slower-witted Master, stared and gulped. "Why should he show
any signs of hydrophobia? He--"
"If he hasn't, he will," rapped out the visitor. "Or he would, if
he wasn't put out of the way. That's what I'm here for. But I
kind of hoped maybe you folks might have done it, yourselves.
Can't be too careful, you know. 'Specially--"
"What in blue blazes are you blithering about?" roared the
Master, finding his voice and marshaling his startled wits. "Do
"I mean," said Wefers, rebuking with a cold glare the Master's
disrespectful manner, "I mean I'm here to shoot that big collie
of yours. He was bit by a mad dog, yesterday. So was three other
dogs over in the village. I shot 'em all; before they had time to
d'velop symptoms and things; or bite anybody. One of 'em," he
added, unctuously, "one of 'em b'longed to that little crippled
Posthanger girl. She cried and begged, something pitiful, when I
come for him. But dooty is dooty. So I--"
The Mistress's horrified monosyllable broke in on the smug
recital. She caught Lad protectingly by the ruff and stared in
mute dread at the lanky and red-whiskered officer. Lad, reading
her voice as always, divined this nasal-toned caller had said or
done something to make her unhappy. His ruff bristled. One corner
of his lip lifted in something which looked like a smile, but
which was not. And, very far down in his throat a growl was born.
But the Master stepped in front of his wife and his dog, and
confronted the constable. Fighting for calmness, he asked:
"Do I understand that you shot those harmless little pups just
because a dog that was sick, and not rabid, happened to nip them?
And that you've come across here with an idea of doing the same
thing to Lad? Is that it?"
"That's the idea," assented Wefers. "I said so, right off, as
soon as I got here. Only, you're wrong about the dog being
'sick.' He was mad. Had rabies. I'd ought to know. I--"
"How and why ought you to know?" demanded the Master, still
battling for perfect calm, and succeeding none too well. "How
ought you to know? Are you a veterinary? Have you ever made a
study of dogs and of their maladies? Have you ever read up,
carefully, on the subject of rabies? Have you read Eberhardt or
Dr. Bennett or Skinner or any of a dozen other authorities on the
disease? Have you consulted such eminent vets as Hopper and
Finch, for instance? If you have, you certainly must know that a
dog, afflicted with genuine rabies, will no more turn out of his
way to bite anyone than a typhoid patient will jump out of bed to
chase a doctor. I'm not saying that the bite of any sick animal
(or of any sick human, for that matter) isn't more or less
dangerous; unless it's carefully washed out and painted with
iodine. But that's no excuse to go around the country, shooting
every dog that some sick mongrel has snapped at. Put such dogs
under observation, if necessary; and then--"
"You talk like a fool!" snorted Wefers, in lofty contempt. "I--"
"But I am going to keep you from acting like a fool," returned
the Master, his hard-held temper beginning to fray. "You say
you've come over here to shoot my dog. If ever anyone shoots Lad,
I'll be the man to do it. And I'll have to have lots better
reason for it than--"
"Go ahead, then!" vouchsafed the constable, fishing out a rusty
service pistol from his coat-tail pocket. "Go ahead and do it
yourself, then; if you'd rather. It's all one to me, so long's
With sardonic politeness, he proffered the bulky weapon. The
Master caught it from his hand and flung it a hundred feet away,
into the center of a clump of lilacs.
"So much for the gun!" he blazed, advancing an the astounded
Wefers. "Now, unless you want to follow it--"
"Dear!" expostulated the Mistress, her sweet voice atremble.
"I'm an of'cer of the law!" blustered the offended constable; in
the same breath adding
"And resisting an of'cer in the p'soot of his dooty is a misde--"
He checked himself, unconsciously turning to observe the odd
actions of Lad.
As the Master had hurled the pistol far from him, the collie had
sped in breakneck pursuit of it. Thus, always, did he delight to
retrieve any object the Mistress or the Master might toss for his
amusement. It was one of Laddie's favorite games, this fetching
back of anything thrown. The farther it might be flung and the
more difficult its landing place, the more zest to the sport.
This time, Lad was especially glad at the diversion. From the
voices of these deities of his, Lad had gathered that the Master
was furiously angry and that the Mistress was correspondingly
unhappy. Also, that the lanky and red-bearded visitor was
directly responsible for their stress of feeling. He had been
eyeing alternately the Master and Wefers; tensely awaiting some
overt act or some word of permission which should warrant him in
launching himself on the intruder.
And now, it seemed, the whole thing was a game;--a game wherein
he himself had been invited to play a merry and spectacular part.
Joyously, he flew after the hurtling lump of steel and rubber.
The Master, facing the constable, did not see his pet's
performance. He took up the thread of speech where Wefers dropped
"I don't know what the law does or doesn't empower you to do, in
such cases," he said, trying to force his way back to the earlier
semblance of calm. "But I doubt if it permits you to trespass on
my land, without a warrant or a court order of some sort; or to
shoot a dog of mine. And, until I find out the law in the matter,
you'll get off this place and keep off of it. As for the dog,
I'll be legally responsible for him; and I'll guarantee he'll do
no damage. So--"
Like Wefers, the Master came to an abrupt halt in his harangue.
For Lad was cantering gleefully toward him, carrying something
dark and heavy between his jaws. Straight to the Master came Lad.
Carefully, at the Master's feet, he laid the rusty pistol.
Then, stepping back a pace, he looked up, eagerly, into the
dumfounded man's face, tail waving, dark eyes aglint with
expectation. It had been hard to locate the weapon, in all that
tangle of lilac-stems. It had been harder to carry the awkwardly
heavy thing all the way back, in his mouth, without dropping it.
But, if this was the plaything the Master had chosen, Lad was
only too willing to continue the game.
A little choking sound made the collie shift his gaze suddenly to
the Mistress's troubled face. And the light of fun in his eyes
was quenched. The sight of her splendid dog retrieving so
joyously the weapon designed for his death, was almost too much
for the Mistress's self-control.
The effect on the Master was different.
As Wefers made as though to jump forward and grab the pistol, the
Master said sharply
"WATCH it, Laddie!"
Instantly, Lad was on the alert. The game, it seemed, had begun
again, and along sterner lines. He was to guard this
plaything;--particularly from the bearded intruder who was
snatching so avidly for it.
There was a sharp growl, a flash of fierce white teeth, a bound.
One of Lad's snowy little forepaws was on the fallen pistol. And
the rest of Lad's sinewy body was crouching above it, fangs
aglint, eyes blazing with hot menace.
Wefers jerked back his protruding arm, with extreme quickness;
barely avoiding a deep slash from the collie's shearing
eye-teeth. And Lad, continued to "watch" the pistol.
The dog was having a lovely time. Seldom had he been happier. All
good collies respond in semi-psychic fashion to the moods of
their masters. And, to Lad, the very atmosphere about him was
thrilling just now to waves of stark excitement. With the
delightful vanity which is a part of the collie make-up, he
realized that in some manner he himself was a prominent part of
this excitement. And he reveled in it.
As Wefers pulled back his imperiled arm, the Mistress stepped
forward, before the Master could speak or move.
"Even if it were true that he could get rabies by a bite from a
rabid dog," said she, "and even if that dog, yesterday, were mad,
that wouldn't affect Laddie. For he didn't bite Laddie. He never
got the chance. Lad pinned him to the ground. And while the
mongrel was struggling to get up, you shot him. One of your
bullets flicked Lad's foreleg. But the mongrel's teeth never came
within twelve inches of him. I can testify to that."
"He was fighting with a mad dog!" reiterated Wefers, fumingly. "I
saw 'em, myself. And when a dog is fighting, he's bound to get
bit. I'm not here to argue over it. I'm here to enforce the law
of the sov'r'n State of Noo Jersey, County of P'saic, Township
"But the law declares a prisoner innocent, till he's proved
guilty," urged the Mistress, restraining the Master, by a light
hand on his restless arm. "And Lad's not been proved guilty. It
isn't proved he was bitten, at all. I can testify he wasn't. My
husband washed the scratch and he can tell you it wasn't made by
a bite. Any veterinary can tell you the same thing, at a glance.
We can establish the fact that Lad was not bitten. So even if the
law lets you shoot a bitten dog,--which I don't believe it
does,--it doesn't empower you to shoot Lad. Why!" she went on,
shuddering slightly, "if Lad hadn't sprung between that brute and
myself, you'd probably be wanting to shoot ME! For I'd have been
bitten, terribly, if Lad hadn't--"
"I'm not here to listen to silly nonsense!" announced Wefer,
glaring at the watchful dog and back at the man and woman, "I
came here in p'soot of my sworn dooty. I been balked and resisted
by the two of you; and my pistol's been stole from me and a
savage dog's been pract'c'lly sicked onto me. I'm an of'cer of
the law. And I'm going to have the law on both of you, for
int'fering with me like you have. And I'm going to get a court
order to shoot--"
"Then you haven't a court order or any other authority to shoot
him?" the Master caught him up. "You admit that! You came over
here, thinking you could bluff us into letting you do it, just
because you happen to wear a tin badge! I thought so. Now, my
pink-whiskered friend, you'll stop shouting and making faces; and
you'll listen to me, a minute. You aren't the first officer who
has exceeded his authority on the chance that people will think
he's acting within his rights. This time the bluff fails. With no
warrant or summons or other legal power to back him, a constable
has no more right on my place than any negro trespasser. What you
may or may not be able to persuade some magistrate to do about
this, I don't know. But, for the present, you'll clear out. Get
that? I've warned you, in the presence of a witness. If you know
anything of law, you know that a landowner, after such warning,
may eject a trespasser by force. Go. And keep going. That's all."
Wefers sputtered wordlessly, from time to time, during the
tirade. But before its end, he fell silent and began to fidget.
He himself was none too well versed in the matter of his legal
rights of intrusion. And, for the moment, he had no chance to
execute his errand. Later, armed with a magistrate's order, he
could pay back with interest his humiliation of this morning. In
"Gimme my gun!" he demanded in grouchy surrender.
The Master stooped; picked up the pistol, and held it in both
hands. Lad, all eagerness, stood dancingly waiting for him to
throw it again. But it was not thrown. Instead, the Master
"broke" the weapon; shaking the greasy cartridges out on to his
own palm and then transferring them to his pockets.
"In case of accidents," he explained, pleasantly, as he handed
the pistol back to its scowling owner. "And if you'll stop at the
post-office, this afternoon, you'll find these shells in an
envelope in your letter-box. Now, chase; unless you want Lad to
escort you to your boat. Lad is fine at escorting undesirables
off the Place. Want to see him perform?"
But Wefers did not answer. Snatching the impotent pistol and
shoving it back into his coattail pocket, he strode lakeward,
muttering lurid threats as he went.
The Mistress watched his lank figure on its way down the lawn to
"It's-it's AWFUL!" she faltered, clutching at her husband's arm.
"Oh, you don't suppose he can--can really get leave to shoot
Laddie, do you?"
"I don't know," answered the Master, as uneasy as she. "A mad-dog
scare has a way of throwing everybody into a fool panic. There's
no knowing what some magistrate may let him do. But one thing is
mighty certain," he reassured her. "If the whole National Guard
of New Jersey comes here, with a truckload of shooting-warrants,
they aren't going to get Laddie. I promise you that. I don't
quite know how we are going to prevent it. But we're going to.
That's a pledge. So you're not to worry."
As they talked they continued to watch the constable in his
clumping exit from the Place. Wefers reached the dock, and
stamped out to its extreme end, where was moored the livery scow
he had commandeered for his journey across the lake from the
A light wind was blowing. It had caught the scow's wide stern and
had swung it out from the dock. Wefers unhooked the chain and
dropped it clankingly into the bottom. Then, with ponderous
uncertainty, he stepped from the dock's string-piece to the prow
of his boat.
A whiff of breeze slapped the loosened scow, broadside on, and
sent it drifting an inch or two away. As a result, Homer Wefers'
large shoe-sole was planted on the edge of the prow, instead of
its center. His sole was slippery from the dew of the lawn. The
prow's edge was still more slippery, from having been the scene
of a recent fish-cleaning.
The constable's gangling body strove in vain to hold any
semblance of balance. His foot slid out from its precarious
perch, pushing the boat farther into the lake. And the dignified
officer flapped wildly in mid-air.
Not being built on a lighter-than-air principle, he failed to
hold this undignified aerial pose for more than the tenth of a
second. At the end of that time he plunged splashingly into the
lake, at a depth of something like eight feet of water.
"Good!" applauded the Master, as the Mistress gasped aloud in not
wholly sorrowful surprise and as Lad ambled gayly down the lawn
for a closer view of this highly diverting sight. "Good! I hope
he ruins every stitch he has on; and then gets rheumatism and
The Master's babbling jaw fell slack; and the pleased grin faded
from his face.
Wefers had come to the surface, after his ducking. He was fully
three yards beyond the dock and as far from his drifting scow.
And he was doing all manner of sensational things with his lanky
arms and legs and body. In brief, he was doing everything except
It was this phenomenon which had wiped away the Master's grin of
Any man may fall into the water, and may present a most ludicrous
spectacle in doing so. But, on the instant he comes to the
surface, his very first motions will show whether or not he is a
swimmer. It had not occurred to the Master that anyone reared in
the North Jersey lake-country should not have at least enough
knowledge of swimming to carry him a few yards. But, even as many
sailors cannot swim a stroke, so many an inlander, born and
brought up within sight of fresh water, has never taken the
trouble to grasp the simplest rudiments of natation. And such a
man, very evidently, was Homer Wefers, Township Head Constable.
His howl of crass panic was not needed to prove this to the
Master. His every wild antic showed it. But that same
terror-stricken screech was required to set forth the true
situation to the one member of the trio who had learned from
birth to judge by sound and by scent, rather than by mere sight.
With no good grace, the Master yanked off his own coat and
waistcoat, and bent to unstrap his hiking boots. He did not
relish the prospect of a wetting, for the mere sake of saving
from death this atrocious trespasser. He knew the man could
probably keep afloat for at least a minute longer. And he was not
minded to shorten the period of fear by ripping off his own outer
garments with any melodramatic haste.
As he undid the first boot-latchet, he felt the Mistress's tense
fingers on his shoulder.
"Wait!" she exhorted
Astounded at this cold-blooded counsel from his tender-hearted
wife, he looked up, and followed the direction of her eagerly
"Look!" she was exulting. "It'll all solve itself! See if it
doesn't. Look! He can't shoot Laddie, after--after--"
The Master was barely in time to see Lad swirl along the dock
with express-train speed and spring far out into the lake.
The dog struck water, a bare ten inches from Wefers' madly
tossing head. The constable, in his crazy panic, flung both bony
arms about the dog. And, man and collie together disappeared
under the surface, in a swirl of churned foam.
The Mistress cried aloud, at this hideous turn her pretty plan
had taken. The Master, one shoe off and one shoe on, hobbled at
top pace toward the dock.
As he reached the foot of the lawn, Lad's head and shoulders came
into view above the little whirlpool caused by the sinking
bodies' suction. And, at the same moment, the convulsed features
of Homer Wefers showed through the eddy. The man was thrashing
and twisting in a way that turned the lake around him into a
As the Master set foot on the dock he saw the Collie rush forward
with an impetus that sent both shaggy mahogany shoulders far out
of water. Striking with brilliant accuracy, the dog avoided
Wefers' flailing arms and feet, and clinched his strong teeth
into the back of the drowning man's collar.
Thus, Lad was safe from the blindly clinging arms and from a
kick. He had chosen the one strategic hold; and he maintained it.
A splashing of the unwieldy body made both heads vanish under
water, for a bare half-second, as the Master poised himself on
the string-piece for a dive. But the dive was not made.
For the heads reappeared. And now, whether from palsy of fright
or from belated intelligence,--Wefers ceased his useless
struggles; though not his strangled shrieks for help. The collie,
calling on all his wiry power, struck out for the dock; keeping
the man's face above water, and tugging at his soggy weight with
a scientific strength that sent the two, slowly but steadily,
After the few feet of the haul, Wefers went silent. Into his
blankly affrighted face came a look of foolish bewilderment. The
Master, remembering his wife's hint, and certain now of Lad's
ability to complete the rescue, stood waiting on the
string-piece. Once, for a second, Wefers' eyes met his; but they
were averted in queer haste.
As Lad tugged his burden beneath the stringpiece, the Master bent
down and gripped the sodden wet shoulders of the constable. One
none-too-gentle heave, and Wefers was lying in a panting and
dripping heap on the clean dock. Lad, relieved of his heavy load,
swam leisurely around to shore. It had been a delightfully
thrilling day, thus far, for the collie. But he was just a bit
By the time the dazed constable was able to sit up and peer
owlishly into the unloving faces of the Mistress and the Master,
Lad had shaken himself thrice and was pattering across the dock
toward the group. From the two humans, Wefers' gaze shifted to
the oncoming dog. Then he glanced back at the sullen depths of
lake water beyond the string-piece. Then he let his head sink on
his chest. For perhaps a whole minute, he sat thus; his eyes
shut, his breath still fast and hysterical.
Nobody spoke. The Mistress looked down at the drenched man. Then
she winked at the equally silent Master, and laid a caressing
little hand on Lad's wet head. At length, Wefers lifted his face
and glowered at the trio. But, as his eye met Lad's quizzically
interested gaze, he fidgeted.
"Well?" prompted the Master, "do you want those cartridges back?"
Wefers favored him with a scowl of utter dislike. Then, his eyes
again averted, the wet man mumbled
"I come over here today, to do my dooty.--Dogs that get bit by
mad dogs had ought to be shot.--I come over here to do my dooty.
Likewise, I done it.--I shot that dog of yours that got bit,
"Huh?" ejaculated the Master.
"This dog here looks some like him," went on Wefers, sulkily.
"But it ain't him. And I'll so report to the author'ties.--I done
what I come to do. The case is closed. And-and-if you folks ever
want to sell your dog, why,--well, I'll just go mortgage
something and--and buy him off'n you!"
CHAPTER III. No Trespassing!
There were four of them; two gaudily-clad damsels and two men.
The men, in their own way, were attired as gloriously as the
maidens they were escorting. The quartet added generously to the
glowing beauty of the summer day.
Down the lake they came, in a canoe modestly scarlet except for a
single broad purple stripe under the gunwale. The canoe's tones
blended sweetly with the pink parasol and blue picture hat of one
of the women.
Stolid and unshaven fishermen, in drab scows, along the canoe's
route, looked up from their lines, in bovine wonder at the vision
of loveliness which swept resonantly past them. For the quartet
were warbling. They were also doing queer musical stunts which
are fondly miscalled "close harmony."
Thus do they and their kind pay homage to a divine day on a
fire-blue lake, amid the hush of the eternal hills. Lesser souls
may find themselves speaking in few and low-pitched words, under
the holy spell of such surroundings. But to loftier types of
holiday-seekers, the benignant silences of the wilderness are put
there by an all-wise Providence for the purpose of being
fractured by any racket denoting care-free merriment;--the louder
the merrier. There is nothing so racket-breeding as a perfect day
amid perfect scenery.
The four revelers had paddled down into the lake, on a day's
picnicking. They had come from far up the Ramapo river; beyond
Suffern. And the long downstream jaunt had made them hungry.
Wherefore, as they reached mid-lakes they began to inspect the
wooded shores for an attractive luncheon-site. And they found
what they sought.
A half-mile to southward, a gently rolling point of land pushed
out into the lake. It was smooth-shaven and emerald-bright. It
formed the lower end of a lawn; sloping gently downward, a
hundred yards or more, from a gray old house which nestled
happily among mighty oaks on a plateau at the low hill's summit.
The point (with its patch of beach-sand at the water's edge, and
with comfortable shade from a lakeside tree or so), promised an
ideal picnic-ground. The shaven grass not only offered fine
possibilities for an after-luncheon snooze; but was the most
convenient sort of place for the later strewing of greasy
newspapers and Japanese napkins and wooden platters and crusts
and chicken bones and the like.
Moreover, a severely plain "No Trespass" sign, at the
lake-margin, would serve as ideal kindling for a jolly little
camp-fire. There is always a zest in using trespass boards for
picnic fires. Not only are they seasoned and painted in a way to
cause quick ignition, but people laugh so appreciatively, when
one tells, afterward, of the bit of jovial audacity.
Yes, this point was just the place for luncheon and for siesta.
It might have been made to order. And by tacit consent the two
paddlers sent their multi-chrome canoe sweeping toward it. Five
minutes later, they had helped the girls ashore and were lifting
out the lunch-basket and various newspaper parcels and the
With much laughter and a snatch or two of close harmony, the
lunch was spread. One of the men picked out a place for the fire
(against the trunk of a two-century oak; perhaps the millionth
noble old tree to be threatened thus with death from care-free
picnickers' fires) and the other man sauntered across to the
trespass board to annex it for kindling.
Everything was so happy and so complete and everyone was having
such a perfect time! Into such moments Fate loves best to toss
Trouble. And, this day, Fate played true to form.
As the fire-maker's hand was laid on the trespass board, even as
his inconsequential muscles were braced to rip it loose from its
post,--a squeal from the girl in the blue picture hat and the
Nile-green georgette waist, checked his mirthful activities.
Now, there was nothing remarkable in the fact that the chromatic
lass had squealed. Indeed, she and her equally fair companion had
been squealing at intervals, all morning. But there was nothing
coquettish or gay about this particular squeal. It savored rather
of a screech. In its shrill note was a tiny thread of terror. And
the two men wheeled about, to look.
The blue-hatted girl had paused in her dainty labor of helping to
spread out the lunch; in order to peep inquisitively up the slope
toward the tree-framed house above. It might be fun, after
eating, to stroll up there and squint in through the veranda
windows; or,--if no one was at home, to gather an armful of the
roses that clambered over one end of the porch.
During that brief exploratory glance, her eye had been caught by
something moving through the woods beyond.
Behind the house, these woods ran up to the highroad, a furlong
above. A driveway led twistingly down from the gate-lodge, to the
house. Along this drive, was pacing a dog.
As the girl caught sight of him, the dog halted in his lazy
stroll and stood eagerly erect, his nose upraised, his tulip ears
pricked. Sound or scent, or both, had been arrested by some
unusual presence. And he paused to verify the warning.
As he stood there, an instant, in the shade-flecked driveway, the
girl saw he was a collie; massive, graceful, majestic; in the
full strength of his early prime; his shaggy coat of burnished
mahogany-and-snow glinting back the showers of sun-rays that
filtered down through the leaves.
Before the watching girl could take further note of him, the
dog's aspect of tense listening merged into certainty. With no
further shadow of doubt as to direction, he set off at a sweeping
run past the house and toward the point.
He ran with head down; and with tawny ruff abristle. There was
something in his lithe gallop that was as ominous as it was
beautiful. And, nervous at the great collie's approach, the girl
It had been a dull morning for Lad. The Mistress was in town for
the day. The Master was shut up in his study, hard at work. And,
for once, he had not remembered to call Lad to a resting place on
the study rug; before closing the door on the outside world.
Alone and bored, the collie had wandered into the woods; in quest
of possible rabbits to chase or squirrels to tree. Finding the
sport tame, he started homeward. Midway down the drive, his
supersensitive nostrils caught the whiff of alien humans on the
Place. At the same time, he heard the raucous gabbling of several
voices. Though his near-sighted eyes did not yet show the
intruders to him, yet scent and sound made it ridiculously easy
for him to trace them.
From early puppyhood, Lad had been the official guardian of the
Place. He knew the limits of its thirty acres; from lake to
highroad; from boundary fence to boundary fence. He knew, too,
that visitors must not be molested as long as they were on the
driveway; but that no stranger might be allowed to cross the
land, by any other route; or to trespass on lawn or oak-grove.
And now, apparently, strangers were holding some sort of
unlicensed revelry, down on the point. His sense of smell told
him that neither the Master nor anyone else belonging to the
Place was with them. True watchdog indignation swelled up in
Lad's heart. And he ran at top speed.
The girl's three companions, turning at sight of her gesturing
hand, beheld a mahogany-and-white thunderbolt whizzing down the
hundred-yard slope toward them.
It chanced that both the men had served long apprenticeship as
dog-fanciers; and that both of them knew collies. Thus, no second
look was needed. One glimpse of the silently charging Lad told
them all they needed to know. Not in this way does a blatant or
bluffing watchdog seek to shoo off trespassers. This giant
collie, with his lowered head and glinting fangs and ruffling
hackles, meant business. And the men acted accordingly.
"Run for it!" bellowed one of them; setting a splendid example by
reaching the beached canoe at a single scrambling bound. The
second man was no whit behind him. Between them, the canoe, at
one shove, was launched. The first man grabbed one of the girls
by the arm and propelled her into the wobbling craft; while the
other shoved off. The remaining girl,--she of the azure headgear
and the verdant waist,--slipped on the grassy bank, in her
flight, and sat down very hard, at the water's edge. Already the
canoe was six feet from shore; and both men were doing creditable
acrobatic stunts to keep it from turning turtle.
"Stand perfec'ly still," one of them exhorted the damsel, as he
saw with horror that she had been left ashore in the tumbling
flight. "Stand still and don't holler! Keep your hands high. It's
likely he won't bother you. These highbred collies are pretty
gentle with women; but some of 'em are blue murder to strange
The man swayed for balance. His fellow-hero had brought the canoe
about, in an effort to smite with uplifted paddle at the oncoming
dog without venturing too close to the danger-line.
In the same moment, Lad had gained the brink of the lake.
Ignoring the panic-struck woman on the bank, he flashed past her
and galloped, body-deep, into the water; toward the swaying
Here he paused. For Lad was anything but a fool. And, like other
wise collies, he had sense enough to realize that a swimming dog
is one of the most helpless creatures in the universe; when it
comes to self-defense.
Ashore, or in water shallow enough to maneuver his powerful body,
Lad could give excellent account of himself against any normal
foe. But, beyond his depth, he would fall easy victim to the
first well-aimed paddle-stroke. And he knew it. Thus, hesitant,
his snarling teeth not two yards from the canoe, he stood
growling in futile indignation at the cranky craft's crankier
The girl who remained on shore plucked up enough panic-courage to
catch her gaudy pink parasol by the ferule and to swing its heavy
handle with all her fear-driven strength at Lad's skull. Luckily,
the aim was as bad as it was vehement. The handle grazed the
dog's shoulder, then struck the lake with a force that snapped
the flimsy parasol in two. Whereat the girl shrieked aloud; and
scuttled back as Lad spun around to face her.
But she might as well have spared herself the scream. She was in
no danger. True, the collie had whirled to seek and resent this
new source of attack. But, seeing only a yelling and retreating
woman behind him, he contented himself with a menacing growl, and
turned again toward the canoe.
One of the men, poising himself, had swung aloft his paddle. Now,
with full strength, he brought down the edged blade at the dog's
But it is one thing to aim a blow, from a tilting canoe; and
quite another to make that blow land in the spot aimed for.
The whizzing paddle-blade missed Lad, clean. Not only because the
dog veered sharply aside as it descended, but because the canoe,
under the jarring heave of the striker's body, proceeded to turn
Into the water plopped the two men. Into the water, with them,
splashed their rescued companion. This gentle soul had not ceased
screaming, from the time she was hauled aboard. But now,
submergence cut short her cries. A second later, the lamentations
recommenced; in higher if more liquid volume. For, the shore, at
the point sloped very gradually out to deeper water. And
immediately, she and the two men had regained their foothold.
There, chest deep the trio stood or staggered. And, there,
between them and the beach, raged Lad. None of the three cared to
risk wading shoreward, with such an obstacle between themselves
and land. The girl on the bank added her quota of squalls to
those of her semi-engulfed friend; and one of the men began to
reach far under water for a rock to throw at the guard dog.
The first shrill cry had reached the Master, as he sat at work in
his study. Down the slope he came running; and stopped in
slack-jawed amaze at the tableau in front of him.
On the bank hopped and wriggled a woman in vivid garments,--a
woman who waved a broken parasol and seemed to be practicing an
Indian war-howl. Elbow deep in the placid waters of the lake
floundered another woman almost as wonderfully attired as the
first, and quite as vocal. On either side of her was a drenched
and gesticulating man. In the background bobbed an upset canoe.
Between the two disrupted factions of the happy picnic party
The collie had ceased to growl; and, with head on one side, was
looking in eager inquiry at the Master. Lad had carried this
watchdog exploit to a point where the next move was hard to
figure out. He was glad the Master had arrived, to take charge of
the situation. It seemed to call for human, rather than canine,
solution. And Lad was profoundly interested as to the sequel. All
of which showed as clearly in the collie's whimsically expressive
face as ever it could have been set forth in print.
Both men began to talk at once; with lurid earnestness and vast
wealth of gesture. So did the women.
There was no need. The Master, already, had caught sight of the
half-spread lunch on the grass. And it was by no means his first
or his tenth experience with trespassers. He understood. Snapping
his fingers, to summon Lad to his side, he patted the dog's
silken head; and strove not to laugh.
"And just as we was sitting down, peaceful, to eat, and not
harming no one at all and minding our own business," came a
fragment of one man's oration, above the clamor of the others,
"that big dark-sable collie of yours came tearing down on us
The triple opposition of outcry and complaint blurred the rest of
his enraged whine. But the Master looked out at him in new
interest. The man had used the term, "dark-sable collie"; which,
by the way, was the technical phrase for Lad's coloring. Not one
non-collie-man in a thousand would have known the meaning of the
term; to say nothing of using it by instinct. The Master stared
curiously at the floundering and sputtering speaker.
"Aren't you the manager of the Lochaber Collie Kennels, up at
Beauville?" he asked, speaking loud enough to be heard above the
subsiding din. "I think I've seen you at Westminster and at some
of the local shows. Higham is your name, isn't it?"
"Yes, it is," returned the kennel man, truculent, but surprised
almost into civility. "And this is my assistant, Mister Rice. And
these two young lady friends of ours are--Say!" he broke off,
furiously, remembering his plight and swinging back to rage, as
he began to wade shoreward. "We're going to have the law on you,
friend! Your collie tackled us when we was peaceably-"
"When you were peaceably ignoring this trespass sign of mine?"
finished the Master. "Don't forget that. If you didn't have these
girls with you, I'd keep my hands off Lad's collar and let him
hold you out in the lake till it freezes for the winter. As it
is, one of you men can swim out for your canoe and tow it in; and
then the rest of you can bundle aboard it and finish your picnic
on somebody else's land."
"Well!" shrilled the wet damsel, striding shoreward like some
sloppily overdressed Venus rising from the sea. "Well! I MUST
say! Nice neighborly, hospitable way to treat poor
"Trespassers?" suggested the Master, as she groped for a climax
word. "You're right. It is no way to treat a woman who has fallen
into the lake; trespasser or not. If you and this other young
lady care to go up to the kitchen, the maids will see that your
clothes are dried; and they'll lend you other clothes to go home
in. Lad won't hurt you. And in this hot weather you're in no
danger of catching cold. While you're gone, Higham and Rice can
get hold of the canoe and right it and bail it out. And, by the
way, I want one of you two men to clear that litter of food and
greasy paper off my lawn. Then--"
"Into the kitchen!" snorted the wet maid. "Into the KITCHEN? I'm
a lady! I don't go into kitchens. I--"
"No?" queried the Master, trying once more not to laugh. "Well,
my wife does. So does my mother. I spoke of the kitchen because
it's the only room with a fire in it, in this weather. If you'd
prefer the barn or--"
"I won't step one foot in your house!" declaimed the girl. "Nor
yet I didn't come here to be insulted. You've gone and spoiled
our whole day, you big brute! Boys, go get that canoe! We won't
lower ourselves by staying another minute on his rotten land.
Afterward, our lawyer'll see what's the penalty for treating us
like this! Hurry up!"
Rice had clumped along shore until he found a dead branch washed
up in a recent rainstorm. Wading back into deeper water he was
just able to reach the gunwale of the drifting canoe with the
forked end of the bough and, by careful jockeying, to haul it
Aided by Higham, he drew the overturned craft to the beach and
righted it. All the time, both men maintained a half-coherent
diatribe, whose language waxed hotter and hotter and whose
thunderbolts centered about the Master and his dog;--particularly
about Lad;--and about the dire legal penalties which were to be
inflicted on them.
The Master, still holding Lad's ruff, stood to one side during
the work of salvaging the canoe; and while Rice replaced the
paddles and cushions in it. Only when the two women were helped
sputteringly aboard did he interfere.
"One minute!" he said. "I think you've forgotten your lunch. That
and the ream or two of newspapers you've strewn around: and a few
wooden dishes. I--"
"I picked up all the lunch that was worth saving," grunted Rice.
"Your mangy collie trampled the rest of it, when he ran down here
at us. I wisht it'd had strychnia in it and he'd et it! We'll go
eat our dinner over to the village. And, before we go, I got this
much more to say to YOU:--If--"
"Before you go," interrupted the Master, shifting himself and Lad
between Higham and the canoe, "before you go, let me remind you
that you've left a lot of litter on my clean lawn; and that I
asked you to clean it up."
"Go clean it up, yourself!" snapped Rice, from the boat. "This
upstage talk about 'trespassing' makes me sick! As soon as a guy
has a three-dollar patch of bum land (with a mortgage eating it
up, most likely), he always blats about 'trespassing' whenever
decent folks happens to walk on it. Go clean up the papers,
yourself! We ain't your slaves. You're due to hear a lot from us,
later, too. Clean it, yourself!"
The ladies applauded these stirring proletariat sentiments right
vigorously. But Higham did not applaud. Rice and the women were
in the canoe. Higham had gone back to the picnic site for an
overlooked cushion. On returning toward the beach, he had found
the Master and Lad standing in his way. Loftily, he made as
though to skirt them and reach the canoe.
"WATCH him, Laddie!" whispered the Master, loosing his hold on
the dog's ruff.
This, in the midst of Rice's tirade. Higham stood extremely
still. As the others applauded, he began, very fervently, to
"Higham," suggested the Master, "I've no personal objection to
your blasphemy. If the women of your party can stand it, I can.
But aren't you wasting a good deal of time! These papers have all
got to be picked up, you know; and the camp nicely policed. Get
Higham glowered on him in murderous hate; then at the tensely
watching dog. Lad's upper lip curled. The man took a tentative
step toward the beach. Lad crouched, panther-like; and a low
growl parted still further his writhing lips.
Higham was enough of a collie man to foresee the inevitable next
move. He stood stock still. The Master put his hand once more on
Lad's ruff; but none too tightly. And he nodded toward the
clutter of newspapers and wooden plates. Higham's language soared
spoutingly to high heaven. But he turned back and, with vicious
grabs, cleared the lawn of its unsightly litter.
"Take it into the boat with you." said the Master. "That's all.
Goodbye. See you at the Beauville show."
Waiting only for the canoe and its four vociferous occupants to
start safely from shore, the Master returned to the house; Lad at
his heels; pursued by a quadruple avalanche of abuse from the
"There'll be a comeback of some kind to this, Laddie," he told
the collie, as they moved on. "I don't know just what it'll be.
But those two worthy youths didn't look at all lovingly at us.
And there's nothing else in country life so filthily mean as an
evicted trespasser. Don't let's say anything to the Mistress
about it, Lad. It'd only worry her! And--and she'll think I ought
to have invited all those panhandlers up to the house to get dry.
Perhaps she'd be right, too. She generally is."
A week later, Lad received a summons that made his heart sink.
For he knew precisely what it foretold. He was called to the
bathroom; where awaited him a tub half full of warm water.
Now, baths were no novelty to Lad. But when a bath tub contained
certain ingredients from boxes on the dog-closet
shelf,--ingredients that fluff the coat and burnish it and make
all its hairs stand out like a Circassian Beauty's, that meant
but one thing.
It meant a dog-show was at hand.
And Lad loathed dog-shows, as he loathed tramps and castor oil
After a single experience, he had never been taken to one of
those canine ordeals known as "three-or-more-day shows." But the
Mistress and the Master rejoiced at his triumphs at such local
one-day shows as were within pleasant driving distance of the
Place. These exhibitions entailed no great strain or danger.
Lad's chief objection to them was that he hated to be chirped to
and pawed and stared upon by an army of strangers.
Such a one-day event was the outdoor Charity Dogshow at the
Beauville Country Club, forty miles to northeast of the Place; an
easy two-hour drive. It was to be a "specialty show"; at which
the richness and variety of prizes were expected to atone for the
lack of A. K. C. points involved.