Part 2 out of 5
A premium-list of the show had been mailed to the Place; and one
of its "specials" had caught the Mistress's quick eye and quicker
imagination. The special was offered by Angus McGilead, an exiled
Scot whose life fad was the Collie; and whose chief grievance was
that most American breeders did not seem able to produce collies
with the unbelievable wealth of outer-and-undercoat displayed by
the oversea dogs. This particular special was offered in the
Embossed Sterling Silver Cup, 9 Inches High (Genuine Antique) For
The Best-Coated Collie Shown.
Now, Lad's coat was the pride of the Mistress's heart. By daily
brushings she kept it in perfect condition and encouraged its
luxuriant growth. When she read of McGilead's eccentric offer,
she fell to visualizing the "embossed sterling silver cup, 9
inches high (genuine antique)" as it would loom up from the hedge
of dog-show prizes already adorning the living room
Summer is the zero hour for collies' coats. Yet, this year, Lad
had not yet begun to shed his winter raiment; and he was still in
full bloom. This fact decided the Mistress. Not one collie in ten
would be in anything like perfect coat. And the prize cup grew
clearer and nearer, to her mental vision. Hence the series of
special baths and brushings. Hence, too, Laddie's
At eight o'clock on the morning of the show, the Mistress and the
Master, with Lad stretched forlornly on the rear seat of the car,
set forth up the Valley on the forty-mile run to Beauville. On
the tonneau floor, in front of Lad, rested a battered suitcase,
which held his toilet appurtenances;--brushes, comb, talcum,
French chalk, show-leash, sponge, crash towel, squeaking rubber
doll (this to attract his bored interest in the ring and make him
"show") and a box of liver cut in small bits and fried stiff.
Lad blinked down at the suitcase in morose disapproval. He hated
that bag. It spelt "dogshow" to him. Even the presence of the
delicious fried liver and of the mildly dramatic squeaking doll
could not atone for the rest of its contents and for all they
As the car sent the miles slipping behind and as the Mistress and
the Master glanced back less and less often for a pat or a cheery
word to their sulking chum, Lad's dislike for that pestilential
bag grew sharper. True, it held squares of fried liver;--liver
whose heavenly odor penetrated through the musty leather smell of
the suitcase and to the dog's acute senses. Also, it held a doll
which exuded thrilling squeaks when gently bitten. But these
things, he knew full well, were designed as show-ring baits; not
as free gifts.
No, the bag was his enemy. And, unlike his few other natural
foes, Lad had never been bidden to leave it unmolested. This
memory came to him, in the midst of his blues. He eyed the
loathsome suitcase through quizzical half-shut eyes, as it rocked
and careened at his feet with every jounce of the car. And into
his brain shot the devil of mischief.
Bending down his shapely head, he took the handle of the case
between his teeth. Then, bracing his little white forepaws on the
slippery leather seat, he heaved with all the mighty strength of
his back and shoulders. Under such urgence, the light suitcase
swung high in air. A sideways toss of the muscular throat, and
the suitcase whirled clear of the car door and of the
running-board beneath. Then Lad let go; and settled himself back
smugly in the seat. The luckless suitcase smote the road dust and
rolled into a grassy ditch. The car sped on. Lad, for the moment,
was nearly happy. If he were not able to dodge the show itself,
at least he had gotten rid of the odious thing which held so much
he detested and which was always an inseparable part of the
ordeals he was taken to.
Arrived at the country club whose grounds had been fitted for the
charity show, Lad was benched in the shade. And there, all the
rest of the morning, he remained. For Loder, judge of the collies
and Old English Sheepdogs and of two other breeds, had missed a
train from Canada; and had not yet arrived. His various classes
were held up, pending his advent.
"Loder's a lucky man, at that," commented the Toy Breeds judge,
with whom the Master chanced to be talking. "And he'll be still
luckier if he misses the whole show. You 'small exhibitors' have
no notion of the rotten deal handed to a dog-show judge;--though
lots of you do more than your share toward making his life a
burden. Before the judging begins, some of the exhibitors act as
if they wanted to kiss him. Nothing's too good for him. He wades
chin-deep through flattery and loving attentions. Then, after the
judging is over, he is about as popular with those same
exhibitors as a typhoid germ. No one can say bad enough things
about him. He's 'incompetent,' he's 'a grafter,--'he's 'afraid of
the big kennels,'--he's 'drunk.' He's any of these things; or all
of them put together. Nobody's satisfied. Everybody has had a raw
deal. Everybody's hammer is out for the poor slob of a judge.
Well, not everybody's, of course. There are some real sportsmen
left crawling on the surface of the earth. But the big majority
pan him, all the way home; and then some of them roast him in
print. The Income Tax man is a popular favorite, compared with a
"Then, again," pursued the Toy Breeds man, "he's got to leave his
heart at home, if he doesn't want it to ache when he has to
'gate' the second-rate mutts shown by outsiders who never
exhibited before and who think their pet dog ought to get every
prize because he's so cunning and friendly. I hate to--"
The Mistress came hurrying up from a careful inspection of the
line of collies. Drawing her husband aside, she whispered,
"There's only one other collie here, whose coat can anywhere near
equal Laddie's. The rest are all in shabby summer coat. Come
across and let me show him to you. I'm--I'm afraid he has a
gorgeous coat. Not that _I_ think it's half as good as Lad's,"
she added, loyally, as she piloted the Master between the double
lines of clamorous dogs. "But--oh, I'm so afraid the judge may
think it is! You see, he doesn't know Laddie as we do."
She stopped before a bench whereon lay a pale golden sable
collie; almost corn-colored; who boasted a wealth and
magnificence of coat that made the Master open his eyes wide.
The dog was smaller and slighter of frame than was Lad. Nor, in
head and expression, was he Lad's equal. But his coat was every
bit as luxuriant. Indeed, there was perhaps a shade more of it
than Lad carried.
A collie's coat, as a rule, takes about seven months to grow.
Thus, each year, it comes into full bloom a little later than on
the year before. And, in course of time, it is prone to reach its
climax of excellence in summer. This was the lot of both Lad and
the paler-hued dog.
"Lochaber King," read the Master, from his catalog. "H'm! That's
Colonel Osbourne's greatest pup. Remember, we saw him at
Westminster? It's nip-and-tuck, between him and Lad; with a
little in this dog's favor. Tough luck!"
"Oh, this has been just one of those days nobody wants!" mourned
the Mistress. "First, our forgetting to bring along Laddie's
suitcase, though I could have sworn I saw you lift it
aboard,--and then the judge not being here; and now this horrid
collie with his wonderful coat! What next, I wonder?"
Like a well-staged bit of mechanism, the reply to her rhetorical
question came down to her from heaven. It came in the shape of a
thunder-roll that began far off and reverberated from mountain to
mountain; then muttered itself into silence in the more distant
hills. The Mistress, like everyone else, looked skyward.
The hazy blue of the summer noon was paling to dirty gray and
black. Up from the Hudson, a fast-mounting array of dun and
flame-shot clouds were butting their bullying way. No
weather-prophet was needed to tell these hillcountry folk that
they were in for a thunderstorm;--and for what one kennel-man
described as "a reg'lar ol' he-one," at that.
Now, under right conditions, an open-air dogshow is a thing of
beauty and of joy. At such places as Tuxedo and one or two others
it is a sight to be remembered. But in rainy weather,--especially
in a tumultuous thunderstorm, it has not one redeeming feature.
The Beauville Show Committee,--like all experts in such matters,
had taken this chance into account. Down the aisles of benches
and through the questioning and scared groups of exhibitors ran
attendants and officials; shouting that the Country Club polo
stables and the wide spaces under the clubhouse verandas had been
fitted up for emergency quarters, where the dogs might be housed,
dry and safe, until the passing of the storm.
Up to the Master hurried a club page-boy.
"This way, sir!" he panted. "I saved a special box stall, in the
first stable, for your collie."
"YOU saved it?" queried the puzzled Master, while the Mistress
began to unfasten Lad's leash. "How did you happen to do that?"
"I was told to, sir," answered the boy. "A--a gentleman told me
to, just now. One of the of'cers of the club. I don't know his
name. He showed me the stall; and he told me to take your dog
"That's mighty, decent; whoever did it," said the Master,
whistling the freed dog to him and setting forth in the boy's
wake, toward the welcoming stables. "I wish you knew his name.
I'd like to thank him."
The stable was dim-lit, at best. Now, the gathering storm made it
as dark as twilight. The box stall to which Lad was led was
almost pitch black; its shuttered window being closed. Still, it
was shelter. Leaving the Master and the Mistress to consign Lad
to his new quarters, the boy scuttled of to a harness-room.
There, an eagerly-questioning man was awaiting him.
"Yep," broke in the boy, through a volley of inquiries. "I done
it, all right, all right, Mr. Higham. They're moorin' him in
Stall Five, right now. How about those two soft dollars? Hey?"
"You earned 'em, O. K.," grinned Higham. "Here you are.
Two,--count 'em, two. And now, chase along, sonny. I'm busy."
He turned to a large bowl in which he had been mixing the
contents of three or four bottles. And the boy saw his fingers
were fiery red.
"What's the matter?" demanded the youngster, in high excitement.
"That's blood, ain't it?"
"No," denied Higham. "Blood's light red. This is crimson.
Remember the time we run in that joke on Daddy Price, by dipping
his prize white leghorns in crimson dye, just before the Madison
Square Garden Poultry Show? Well, this is the same stuff."
"Do I remember it?" snickered the boy. "He was ragin', for fair.
Couldn't get it off, to save him. It stayed, that color, on 'em,
till they'd shed the last one of last year's crop of feathers.
Sure, I remember. Why wouldn't I? Didn't I git a dollar for
holdin' 'em for you? And another dollar for keepin' my mouth
shut? But what are you lottin' to do with the stuff, this time?
No chickens here; or--"
"Nope," assented Higham. "No chickens here. Hold on, a second!"
He stood, musing. Then he spoke.
"I was going to play a lone hand, on this," he said, presently.
"I didn't even dare let Rice in on it. He'd be dead-sure to tell
that gabby girl he's going to marry. And it'd get all over the
country in a week. And that'd lose me my job, if the boss heard
of it. I was going to play it alone. That's why I left Rice and
Willett to put up the dogs for me. But,--I'm blest if I know how
I'm to hold him and dye him at the same time. He's as strong as
an ox. You--you're a good, close-tongued kid, Harry. You kept
your mouth shut about Price's chickens. Could you keep it
shut,--for another dollar,--about this? If you'll do that, and
lend me a hand--How about it?"
"What's the main idea?" asked the boy, much intrigued by the
beauty of the dye on Higham's fingers; and squirming with
embarrassed self-importance at the man's flattering tone. "I'll
help out, all right. Only,--"
"Here's the notion," said Higham, coming out of momentary
self-communion. "And if you ever spill it, your mail will be sent
to you at the hosp't'l, for a spell. You saw that big dark sable
collie I had you steer into Stall Five? It cost me another two
dollars to get Abrams to let me have the use of that stall. The
idea come to me, in a jolt, first crack of thunder I heard. Well,
I'm due to 'get' that dog and the mucker who owns him, too. Them
and I had a run-in, once; and I been honing for a chance to
square things, ever since. I've seen 'em at shows and I've asked
folks about 'em, too. He sets more store by that dog than he'd
set by most humans. He's pleased as Punch, every time the collie
hauls down a cup at one of these neighborhood shows. Well, that
dog ain't going to be fit to go to another show, for a year. He
ain't going to be fit to look at, for that long. He's going to be
a laughing stock. His owners won't brag any more about him,
neither. They'll be glad enough to keep him out of sight."
The boy, listening with ever-widening eyes, chanced to shift his
gaze to the big bowl of new-mixed dye. And a light broke on him.
"You--you're aimin' to soak him with that stuff?" he whispered,
in awe at such combined courage and genius.
"Uh-uh," assented Higham. "I don't know what color the crimson
stuff will turn the dark part of his coat. But whatever color it
is, it'll be as funny as a box of three-tailed snakes. I've put a
glass of ammonia into the dye, to make it 'set' quicker. It--"
"Gee, but you're a wonder!" sighed the worshiping boy. "D'ye
s'pose I'll ever git to be as smart as you are?"
"It all depends on how you make use of your brains," returned
Higbam, complacently. "But I was some smarter than you to begin
Higham went on, more briskly:
"I've got this bag to put over his head when I open the stall
door. That'll put him out of the biting business, till it's
peeled away from his jaws, after he's got a real good rubbing.
But he'll likely wriggle, a lot. And I'll need you to sit on his
head. Likewise to carry this bowl and the sponge, while I'm
opening the door and getting the bag over his head. Are you
"I sure am!" breathed the enraptured boy.
"Come 'long, then. The stuff's ready; and we don't want to waste
any time. Go ahead and see if there's anyone in that end of the
stable." Two minutes later, the pair groped their way through the
dense gloom, to Stall Five. They walked with exaggerated care;
though the roar of the storm would have deadened the sound of a
cavalry charge. Handing over the bowl and sponge to his
assistant, Higham produced from under his coat a thick burlap bag
with a drawstring at its neck. Then, he opened the door of the
box stall, a few inches and stared in.
By straining his eyes, he could just see the vague outline of the
big collie. The dog arose from a bundle of straw, stretched
himself fore and aft, and walked gravely forward to welcome the
visitors who were so kindly easing his loneliness. He was barely
visible, in the dimness.
But there was light enough for Higham's purpose. With practiced
hand, he shoved the bag over the beautiful silken head, as the
collie stepped majestically toward him. Then, deftly, he threw
the indignant and struggling dog to the floor, and bade the boy
come in; and shut the gate behind him.
With the passing of another hour, the rain ceased; and a glory of
afternoon sunlight bathed the freshened world. At about the same
time, the belated collie judge arrived at the clubhouse. Word was
sent forth that all dogs were to he returned to their benches and
that the judging of the collies and of certain other breeds would
begin at once.
There was a general hustle and confusion, as exhibitors led forth
their dogs from shelter; benching them and plying brush and chalk
and towel in frantic haste.
Higham summoned Rice and another of the kennel men and bade them
bring forth the Lochaber dogs. Instead of helping them with his
task, Higham himself ran to the top of the clubhouse steps, from
which he could survey not only the benches but also the stables
and the lawn between. There, quivering with hard-held excitement,
he stood; with the air of one who has chosen a grandstand seat
for some thrilling event. He wore a pair of thick gloves. As he
had discarded the linen duster which he had worn during the
dyeing process, there was no betraying splash of color on his
severely correct garb.
People were trooping out from the shelter of the clubhouse. With
half an eye, Higham observed these; chuckling at thought of the
everincreasing number of spectators to his rare comedy. Of a
sudden, the chuckle changed to a gasp.
Out through the doorway, and onto the veranda, strolled Colonel
Osbourne, owner of the Lochaber Collie Kennels. With him walked
the Mistress and the Master.
At the Mistress's side paced Lad.
"It was so careless of us to leave the suitcase at home!" the
Mistress was saying. "I don't know how we could have groomed him,
Colonel, if you hadn't come to our rescue by turning that kit
bag's heaven-sent contents over to us. Besides, it gave us the
excuse to bring Laddie up into the house; instead of leaving him
all alone in that black stall. He hates thunderstorms, and--"
A yell, from somewhere, interrupted her. The yell was caught up.
It merged into a multiple roar of inextinguishable laughter. The
Mistress saw a hundred faces all turned in one direction, The
faces were convulsed with mirth. A hundred derisively wondering
fingers were pointing. She ran to the veranda rail and looked
Across the patch of greensward, from the stables, a man and a dog
were advancing. The man was shaking his fist at the world at
large and fairly dancing with rage.
But it was the dog, and not he, that caused the Homeric gusts of
merriment and the gobbling chorus of amazed questions. The dog
was a collie; noble of aspect, massive of coat.
But that same coat vied with the setting sun in garish brilliancy
of hue. Never since the birth of time, had such a beast been seen
by mortals. From the tip of his aristocratic nose to the plume of
his sweeping tail, the collie was one blazingly vivid mass of
crimson! He fairly irradiated flaring red lights. His coat was
wet and it hung stickily to his lean sides, as if he had just
come from a swim. And it was tinted like a chromo of a prairie
Following more slowly to the veranda's edge, Colonel Osbourne had
begun a reply to the Mistress's half-finished speech of gratitude
for his hospitality.
"I was only too glad to be of service," said he. "That's a grand
dog you have. It was a real pleasure to help in his grooming.
Besides, I profited by it. You see, my Lochaber King was
quartered in a muddy corner under the veranda. So I took the
liberty of telling my man, Rice, to put him in that comfortable
big stall of Lad's. I am the chief gainer by the--"
His courtly speech became a gurgle of horror. For, his eyes fell
on the ragingly advancing Rice. And, by deduction, he recognized
the crimson monstrosity at Rice's heels as his beloved Lochaber
Before the apoplectic Colonel could speak, Lad created a
diversion on his own account. He had been sniffing the air,
reminiscently, for a few seconds. Now, his eyes verified what his
nostrils had told him. A pallidly glaring and shaking man,
leaning against the veranda rail for support, had an oddly
familiar scent and appearance to Laddie.
The collie stepped forward to investigate. The nerve-smashed
Higham saw him coming; and thrust out one gloved hand in
The flicking gesture was unpleasantly like a blow. As the
menacing hand slapped toward his jaws, Lad caught at it, in wary
He recalled this man, now. He remembered he had been bidden to
"watch" him. He did not spring at his assailant. But a warning
snap answered the frenzied thrust of the hand. His teeth closed
lightly on the glove-fingers, just as Higham, in fear, jerked
back his arm.
The loose glove came away in the dog's mouth.
Colonel Osbourne, wheeling about to demand some explanation of
his kennel-manager, beheld a bare hand as vividly crimson as
Lochaber King's ruined coat.
"Laddie," observed the Mistress, that evening, as she placed on
the top trophy-shelf an embossed silver cup, antique, and nine
inches high, and stood back pride fully, to note the effect.
"Laddie, I know--I just KNOW,--you'd have won it, even if poor
Lochaber King had competed. But,--oh, I wish I could make head or
tail of any of the things that have happened, today! How do you
suppose it all started, anyhow, dear?" she asked, turning to her
husband for help in the riddle.
"I'd be willing to bet a year's pay it 'all started' about six
feet from shore in this lake," responded the Master, "and about a
But he spoke it in the depths of his own guiltily exultant heart.
Outwardly, he merely grinned; and said with vacuous conviction:
"Laddie, you're a grand dog. And,--if you didn't win that cup
from Lochaber King in one way, you certainly won it in another!"
CHAPTER IV. Hero-Stuff
Life was monstrous pleasant, for Lad, at the Place. And never,
except in early puppyhood, was he lonely. Never until the Master
was so foolish as to decide in his own shallow human mind that
the big collie would be happier with another collie for comrade
After that, loneliness more than once crept into Laddie's serene
life; and into the dark sorrowful eyes behind which lurked a
soul. For, until one has known and relied on the companionship of
one's kind, there can be no loneliness.
The Master made another blunder--this one on his own account and
on the Mistress's,--when he bought a second collie, to share
Lad's realm of forest and lawn and lake. For, it is always a
mistake to own two dogs at a time. A single dog is one's chum and
guard and worshiper. If he be rightly treated and talked to and
taught, he becomes all-but human. Because he is forced to rely
solely on humans, for everything. And his mind and heart respond
to this. There is no divided allegiance.
One dog in a home is worth ten times as much to his owners, in
every way, as are two or more dogs. Especially if the one dog be
such a collie as Sunnybank Lad. This the Master was due to
On a sloppy and drippy and muggy afternoon, late in October,--one
of those days nobody wants,--the Master came home from town; his
fall overcoat showing a decided list to starboard in the shape of
an egregiously bulged side-pocket.
The Mistress and Lad, as ever, came forth to greet the returning
man. Lad, with the gayly trumpeting bark which always he reserved
for the Mistress or the Master after an absence of any length,
cavorted rapturously up to his deity. But, midway in his
welcoming advance, he checked himself; sniffing the sodden
October air, and seeking to locate a new and highly interesting
scent which had just assailed his sensitive nostrils.
The Master put an end to the mystery, forthwith, by reaching deep
into his overcoat's swollen pocket and fishing out a grayish
golden ball of squirming fluff.
This handful of liveliness he set gingerly on the veranda floor;
where it revealed itself as an eight-weeks old collie pup.
"Her name is 'Lady,'" expounded the Master, as he and the
Mistress gazed interestedly down upon the sprawling and wiggling
puppy. "Her pedigree reads like a page in Burke's Peerage. She--"
He paused. For Lad had moved forward to where the infant collie
was trying valiantly to walk on the slippery boards. The big dog
regarded the puppy; his head on one side, his tulip ears cocked;
his deep-set eyes friendily curious. This was Lad's first
experience with one of the young of his species. And he was a bit
puzzled; albeit vastly interested.
Experimentally, he laid one of his tiny white forepaws lightly on
the mite's fuzzy shoulder. Instantly, the puppy growled a
falsetto warning to him to keep his distance. Lad's plumed tail
began to wag at this sign of spirit in the pigmy. And, with his
curved pink ribbon of tongue, he essayed to lick the shivering
Lady. A second growl rewarded this attention. And Lady sought to
avoid further contact with the shaggy giant, by scrambling at top
speed to the edge of the veranda.
She miscalculated the distance or else her nearsighted baby eyes
failed to take account of the four-foot drop to the gravel drive
below. Too late, she tried to check her awkward rush. And, for a
moment, her fat little body swayed perilously on the brink.
The Mistress and the Master were too far away to catch her in
time to prevent a fall which might well have entailed a broken
rib or a wrenched shoulder. But Lad was nearer. Also, he moved
With the speed of lightning, he made a dive for the tumbling
Lady. As tenderly as if he were picking up a ball of needles, he
caught her by the scruff of the neck, lifting her in the air and
depositing her at the Mistress's feet.
The puppy repaid this life-saving exploit by growling still more
wrathfully and by snapping in helpless menace at the big dog's
nose. But Lad was in no wise offended. Deaf to the praise of the
Mistress,--a praise which ordinarily threw him into transports of
embarrassed delight,--he stood over the rescued pup; every inch
of his magnificent body vibrant with homage and protectiveness.
From that hour, Lad was the adoring slave of Lady.
He watched over her, in her increasingly active rambles about the
Place. Always, on the advent of doubtful strangers, he interposed
his own furry bulk between her and possible kidnaping. He stood
beside her as she lapped her bread-and-milk or as she chewed
laboriously at her fragment of dog-biscuit.
At such times, he proved himself the mortal foe of Peter Grimm,
the Mistress's temperamental gray kitten, with whom he was
ordinarily on very comfortable terms. Peter Grimm was the one
creature on the Place whom Lady feared. On the day after her
arrival, she essayed to worry the haughty catkin. And, a second
later, the puppy was nursing a brace of deep red scratches at the
tip of her inquiring black nostrils.
Thereafter, she gave Peter Grimm a wide berth. And the cat was
wont to take advantage of this dread by making forays on Lady's
supper dish. But, ever, Lad would swoop down upon the marauder,
as Lady cowered whimperingly back on her haunches; and would
harry the indignant cat up the nearest tree; herding her there
until Lady had licked the dish clean.
Lad went further, in his fealty to the puppy. Sacrificing his own
regal dignity, he would romp with her, at times when it would
have been far more comfortable to drowse. He bore, without
murmur, her growling assaults on his food; amusedly standing
aside while she annexed his supper's choicest bits.
He endured, too, her occasional flurries of hot temper; and made
no protest when Lady chose to wreak some grievance against life
by flying at him with bristling ruff and jaws asnarl. Her keen
little milk teeth hurt like the mischief, when they dug into his
ears or his paws, in one of these rage-gusts. But he did not
resent the pain or the indignity by so much as drawing back out
of harm's way. And, afterward, when quick repentance replaced
anger and she strove to make friends with him again, Lad was
To both the Mistress and the Master, from the very outset, it was
plain that Lady was not in any way such a dog as their beloved
Lad. She was as temperamental as Peter Grimm himself. She had
hair-trigger nerves, a swirlingly uncertain temper that was
scarce atoned for by her charm and lovableness; and she lacked
Lad's stanchness and elusive semi-human quality. The two were as
different in nature as it is possible for a couple of
well-brought-up thoroughbred collies to be. And the humans'
hearts did not go out to Lady as to Lad. Still, she was an ideal
pet, in many ways. And, Lad's utter devotion to her was a full
set of credentials, by itself.
Autumn froze into winter. The trees turned into naked black
ghosts; or, rather, into many-stringed harps whereon the
northwest gales alternately shrieked and roared. The fire-blue
lake was a sheet of leaden ice, twenty inches thick. The fields
showed sere and grayly lifeless in the patches between sodden
snow-swathes. Nature had flown south, with the birds; leaving the
northern world a lifeless and empty husk, as deserted as last
Lady, in these drear months of a dead world. changed as rapidly
as had the smiling Place, From a shapeless gray-gold fuzzy baby,
she grew lank and leggy. The indeterminate fuzz was buried under
a shimmering gold-and-white coat of much beauty. The muskrat face
lengthened and grew delicately graceful, with its long muzzle and
Lady was emerging from clownish puppyhood into the charm of
youth. By the time the first anemones carried God's message of
spring through the forests' lingering snow-pall, she had lost her
adolescent gawkiness and was a slenderly beautiful young collie;
small and light of bone, as she remained to the day of her death,
but with a slimness which carried with it a hint of lithe power
and speed and endurance.
It was in the early spring that the Master promoted Lady from her
winter sleeping-quarters in the tool-house; and began to let her
spend more and more time indoors.
Lady had all the promise of becoming a perfect housedog.
Fastidious, quick to learn, she adapted herself almost at once to
indoor life. And Lad was overjoyed at her admission to the domain
where until now he had ruled alone. Personally, and with the
gravity of an old-world host, he conducted her from room to room.
He even offered her a snoozing-place in his cherished "cave,"
under the piano, in the music room the spot of all others dearest
But it was dim and cheerless, under the piano; or so Lady seemed
to think. And she would not go there for an instant. She
preferred the disreputable grizzly-bear rug in front of the
living room hearth. And, temporarily deserting his loved cave,
Lad used to lie on this rug at her side; well content when she
edged him off its downy center and onto the bumpy edges.
All winter, Lady's sleeping quarters had been the tool-house in
the back garden, behind the stables. Here, on a sweet-smelling
(and flea-averting) bed of cedar shavings, she had been
comfortable and wholly satisfied. But, at once, on her promotion,
she appeared to look upon the once-homelike tool-house as a newly
rich daylaborer might regard the tumbledown shack where he had
spent the days of his poverty.
She avoided the tool-house; and even made wide detours to avoid
passing close to it. There is no more thoroughgoing snob, in
certain ways, than a high-bred dog. And, to Lady, the tool-house
evidently represented a humiliating phase of her outlived past.
Yet, she was foredoomed to go back to the loathed abode. And her
return befell in this way:
In the Master's study was something which Lady considered the
most enthrallingly wonderful object on earth. This was a stuffed
American eagle; mounted, rampant and with outflung wings, on a
Why the eagle should have fascinated Lady more than did the
leopard-or-bear rugs or other chase-trophies, in the various
downstairs rooms, only Lady herself could have told. But she
could not keep her eyes off of it. Tiptoeing to the study door,
she used to stand for half an hour at a time staring at the giant
Once, in a moment of audacity, she made a playful little rush at
it. Before the Master could intervene, Lad had dashed between her
and the sacred trophy; and had shouldered her gently but with
much firmness out of the room; disregarding her little swirl of
temper at the interference.
The Master called her back into the study. Taking her up to the
eagle, he pointed at it, and said, with slow emphasis
"Lady! Let it ALONE! Let--it--ALONE!"
She understood. For, from babyhood, she had learned, by daily
practice, to understand and interpret the human voice. Politely,
she backed away from the alluring bird. Snarling slightly at Lad,
as she passed him in the doorway, she stalked out of the room and
went out on the veranda to sulk.
"I'm glad I happened to be here when she went for the eagle,"
said the Master, at lunch that day. "If I hadn't, she might have
tackled it sometime, when nobody was around. And a good lively
collie pup could put that bit of taxidermy out of commission in
less than five seconds. She knows, now, she mustn't touch it."
He spoke smugly; his lore on the subject being bounded by his
experiences in teaching Lad the simple Law of the Place. Lad was
one of the rare dogs to whom a single command or prohibition was
enough to fix a lesson in his uncannily wise brain for life. Lady
was not. As the Master soon had occasion to learn.
Late one afternoon, a week afterward, the Mistress had set forth
on a round of neighborhood calls. She had gone in the car; and
had taken Lad along. The Master, being busy and abhorring calls,
had stayed at home. He was at work in his study; and Lady was
drowsing in the cool lower hall.
A few minutes before the Mistress was due to return for dinner, a
whiff of acrid smoke was wafted to the man's nostrils.
Now, to every dweller in the country, there is one all-present
peril; namely, fire. And, the fear of this is always lurking
worriedly in the back of a rural householder's brain. A vagrant
breath of smoke, in the night, is more potent to banish sleep and
to start such a man to investigating his house and grounds than
would be any and every other alarm known to mortals.
Even now, in broad daylight, the faint reek was enough to bring
the Master's mind back to earth and the Master's body to its
feet. Sniffing, he went out to find the cause of the smell. The
chimneys and the roof and the windows of the house showing no
sign of smoke, he explored farther; and presently located the
odor's origin in a small brush-fire at some distance behind the
stables. Two of the men were raking pruned vine-suckers and
leaves onto the blaze. The wind set away from the house and
stables. There was nothing to worry over. Ashamed of his own
fussiness, the Master went back to his work.
As he passed the open study window, on his way indoors, a motion
inside made him stop. He was just in time to see Lady trot into
the room, crouch playfully, and then spring full at the stuffed
His shout deflected the young dog's leap, and kept her merrily
outstretched jaws from closing on the bird. As it was, the impact
knocked the eagle and the papier-mache stump to the floor; with
much clatter and dust.
The Master vaulted in through the window; arriving on the study
floor almost as soon as did the overthrown bird. Lady was
slinking out into the hall; crestfallen and scared. The Master
collared her and brought her back to the scene of her mischief.
The collie had disobeyed him. Flagrantly she had sinned in
assailing the bird; after his injunction of "Let it alone!" There
could be no doubt, from her wriggling aspect of guilt, that she
knew she was doing wrong. Worse, she had taken sneaky advantage
of his absence in order to spring at the eagle. And disgust
warred with the Master's normal indignation.
Speaking as quietly as he could bring himself to speak, he told
Lady what she had done and what a rotten thing it had been. As he
talked to the utterly crestfallen pup, he was ransacking a drawer
of his desk in search of a dogwhip he had put there long ago and
had never had occasion to use.
Presently, he found it. Pointing to the overthrown trophy, he
brought the lash down across the shrinking collie's loins. He did
not strike hard. But he struck half a dozen times; and with glum
knowledge that it was the only course to take.
Never before in her eight foolish months of life, had Lady known
the meaning of a blow. While the whip-slashes were too light to
do more than sting her well-mattressed back, yet the humiliation
of them seared deep into her sensitive nature. No sound did she
utter. But she cowered flat to the floor; and trembled as if in a
The whipping was over, in a few seconds. Again the Master
explained to her what it had been inflicted for. Then, calling
her to follow, he led the way out of doors and toward the
stables. Stomach to earth, the shamed and miserable Lady writhed
along, close at his heels.
The Master passed the stables and walked toward the brush fire,
where the two men were still at work. But he did not go within a
hundred feet of the fire. Turning, after he had left the stables
behind him, he made for the tool-house.
Lady saw whither he was bound. She ceased to follow. Wheeling
about, she trotted stealthily back toward the stables. Reaching
the tool-house door, the Master opened it and whistled to the
unhappy young collie. Lady was nowhere in sight. At a second
summons, she appeared from around the corner of the stables;
moving close to the ground, and with many wriggles of protest.
Twice, she stopped; and looked appealingly at the man.
The Master hardened his soul against the prettily pathetic appeal
in her eyes and actions; and called her to him again. His own
momentary anger against the luckless youngster was gone,--the
more so since the eagle had not been damaged by its fall,--but he
knew it was needful to impress strongly on Lady the fact of her
punishment. This for her own sake as much as for his; since a
housedog is worthless until it learns that each and every indoor
object must be respected and held sacred from mutilation.
Wherefore, he was minded to spare Lady from any future punishment
by making this present lesson sink deep into her brain.
Disregarding her manifest aversion for the tool-house, he
motioned her into it and shut the door behind her.
"You'll stay there, till morning," he told her, as he closed the
window and glanced in at the forlorn little wisp of fur and
misery. "You'll be comfortable. And the open spaces under the
roof will give you all the air you want. I don't dare leave this
window open, for fear you might be able to jump out. You've had
your supper. And there's a pan of fresh water in there. You'll be
no worse off there than you were all winter. A night in jail may
teach you to be a decent, house-broke dog; and not a mutt."
As he was on the way back to his study, in the sunset, the car
came down the drive, bearing the Mistress. Lad was seated in
solemn joy on the front seat, at her side. The big collie loved
motoring. And, as a rule, he was relegated to the back seat. But
when the Mistress went out alone, his was the
tremendously-enjoyed privilege of sitting in front, beside her.
"I had to lick Lady," reported the Master, shamefacedly, as he
helped his wife from the car. "She went for the eagle in my
study. You remember how I scolded her for that, last week, don't
you? Well, that's all the good it did. And I had to whip her. I
hated to. I'm glad you weren't here to look unhappy about it.
Then I shut her up for the night in the tool-house. She--"
He broke off, to look at Lad.
As the collie had jumped down from the car and had started toward
the house, he had struck Lady's trail; and he had followed it. It
had led him to the tool-house. Finding Lady was locked inside and
unhappy, he had come galloping back to the Master.
Standing in front of the man, and whining softly, he was scanning
the faces of his two deities with troubled eagerness. Evidently,
he considered that Lady had been locked in by mistake; and he was
pleading for her release. As these humans did not seem to catch
the idea his eyes and expression conveyed, he trotted a few steps
toward the tool-house and then paused to look invitingly back at
Twice he did this. Then, coming up to the Master, he caught the
latter's coat-hem lightly between his teeth and tugged on it as
he backed toward the tool-house.
"No, old friend," said the Master, petting the silken head so
appealingly upraised to him. "I know what you're getting at. But
I can't let her out. Tomorrow morning. Not till then. Come on up
Unwillingly and with wistful backward looks, Lad followed the
Mistress and the Master to the house and into the dining room and
to his wonted place on the floor at the Master's left side. But,
more than once during the meal, the man caught the collie's eyes
fixed on him in worried supplication; and was hard put to it not
to grant the plea which fairly clamored in his chum's mute gaze.
After dinner, when the Mistress and the Master set off on their
usual evening walk, Lad was not on hand to accompany them. As a
rule, he was all around them and in front and behind, in a series
of gay rushes, as they started on these walks. But not until the
Master called him, tonight, did he appear. And then he came up
dolorously from the tool-house.
Lad did not understand, at all, what was wrong. He knew only that
Lady had been shut up in a place she detested and that she was
horribly unhappy and that the Master would not let her out. It
perplexed him; and it made him increasingly wretched. Not only
did he miss his playfully capricious young mate, but her
unhappiness made him heartsick.
Vainly, he tried to plead with the Master for her release, as the
walk began; and again at its end.
There were such a lot of things in the world that even the
cleverest collie could not make head or tail of! And most of
these things were sad.
That night, when the house was shut, Lad crept as usual into his
cave under the piano. And he lay down with a sigh, his great head
between his two absurdly small white forepaws. As a rule, before
going to sleep for the night, Lad used to spend much time in
licking those same snowy forepaws into shining cleanliness. The
paws were his one gross vanity; and he wasted more than an hour a
day in keeping them spotlessly white. But tonight he was too
depressed to think of anything but the whimpering little dog
imprisoned down in the tool-house.
After a while, he fell asleep.
A true watchdog sleeps with all his senses or the very edge of
wakefulness. And when he wakens, he does not waken as do we
humans;--yawningly, dazedly, drunk with slumber. At one moment he
is sound asleep. At the next he is broad awake; with every
So ever it was, with Lad. So it was with him, this night. An hour
before dawn, he woke with sharp suddenness; and at once he was on
his feet; tense, on guard. He did not know what had roused him.
Yet, now that he was awake, two of his senses recorded something
which banished from him all thought of further sleep.
To his ears came a far-off muffled wail;--a wail which held more
than unhappiness;--a wail which vibrated with real terror. And he
knew the voice for Lady's.
To his sensitive nostrils, through the intervening distance and
the obstructing walls and windows, drifted a faint reek of smoke.
Now, the smoke-smell, by itself, meant nothing whatever to Lad.
All evening a trace of it had hung in the air; from the brush
fire. And, in any case, this whiff was too slight to have
emanated from the house or from any spot near the house. Yet,
taken together with Lady's cry of fear--
Lad crossed to the front door, and scratched imperiously at it.
The locked door did not yield to his push. Too sensible to keep
on at a portal he could not open, he ran upstairs, to the closed
door of the Master's room. There, again he scratched; this time
harder and more loudly. Twice and thrice he scratched; whining
under his breath.
At last the deep-slumbering Master heard him. Rousing himself,
and still three-quarters asleep, he heard not only the scratching
and the whimper but, in the distance, Lady's wail of fear. And,
sleep-drugged, he mumbled
"Shut up, Laddie!--I hear her.--Let her howl.--If she's lonely,
down there, she'll--she'll remember the lesson--all the better.
Go downstairs and--be quiet!"
He fell sound asleep again. Obedient to the slumbrous mandate,
Lad turned and pattered mournfully away. But, he was not content
to return to his own nap, with that terror-cry of Lady's echoing
in his ears. And he made a second attempt to get out.
At each side of the piano, in the music room, was a long French
window. Often, by day, Lad used to pass in or out of these
door-like windows. He knew that they, as well as the doors, were
a recognized means of exit. Now, with eagerly scratching paw, he
pushed at the nearest of them.
The house was but carelessly locked at night. For Lad's presence
downstairs was a better burglar-preventive than the best bolts
ever forged. Tired and drowsy, the Master, this night, had
neglected to bar the French windows.
The window gave, at Lad's vehement scratch; and swung outward on
its hinges. A second later, the big dog was running at top speed
toward the tool-house.
Now, the ways of the most insignificant brushfire are beyond the
exact wisdom of man. Especially in droughty weather. When they
knocked off work for the day, the two laborers had gone back to
the blaze beyond the tool-house and conscientiously had scattered
and stamped on its last visible remnants. The Master, too, coming
home from his evening walk, had glanced toward the back garden
and had seen no telltale spark to hint at life in the trampled
Nevertheless, a scrap of ember, hidden from the men's gaze
beneath a handful of dead leaves had refused to perish with its
comrade-sparks. And, in the course of five hours, an industrious
little flicker had ignited other bits of brush and of dried
leafage and last year's weed stumps. The wind was in the north.
And it had guided the course of the crawling thread of red. The
advancing line had thrown out tendrils of scarlet, as it went.
Most of these had died, in the plowed ground. One had not. It had
crept on, half-extinguished at times and again snapping merrily,
until it had reached the tool-house. The shed-like room stood on
low joists, with a clear space ten inches high between its flimsy
board floor and the ground. And, in this space, the leaves of the
preceding autumn had drifted in windrows. The persevering spark
did the rest.
Lady woke from a fitful doze, to find herself choking from smoke.
The boards of the floor were too hot for endurance. Between their
cracks thin wavery slices of smoke were pouring upward into the
room. The leaves had begun to ignite the floor-boards and the
lower part of the ramshackle building's thin walls.
While the pain and humiliation of her whipping had not been able
to wring a sound from the young thoroughbred, yet fright of this
sort was afar different thing. Howling with panic terror, she
dashed about the small enclosure, clawing frantically at door and
scantling. Once or twice she made half-hearted effort to spring
up at the closed window. But, from lack of running-space as well
as from lack of nerve to make the high leap, she failed.
Across the lawn and door-yard and around the end of the stables
thundered Lad. With the speed of a charging bull he came on.
Before he reached the burning shack, he knew more of his mate's
plight and peril than any human could have known.
Around the small building he whirled, so close to it that the
flames at its base seared his mighty coat and blistered and
blackened his white paws.
Then, running back a yard or so, he flung his eighty-pound weight
crashingly at the fastened door. The door, as it chanced, was
well-nigh the only solid portion of the shack. And it held firm,
under an impact that bruised the flying dog and which knocked him
breathless to the fire-streaked ground.
At sound of her mate's approach, Lady had ceased wailing. Lad
could hear her terrified whimpers as she danced frantically about
on the red-hot boards. And the knowledge of her torture drove him
Staggering up from his fall, he flung his splendid head back and,
with muzzle to the clouded skies, he tore to shreds the solemn
silences of the spring night with a wolf-howl; hideous in its
savage grief, deafeningly loud.
As though the awesome yell had cleared his brain, he sprang to
his feet amid the stinging embers; steady, alert, calm; with no
hint of despair or of surrender.
His smarting eyes fixed themselves on the single dusty window of
the tool-house. Its sill was a full five feet above ground. Its
four small panes were separated by a wide old-fashioned
cross-piece of hardwood and putty. The putty, from age, was as
solid as cement. The whole window was a bare sixteen by twenty
Lad ran back, once more, a few feet; his gaze fixed appraisingly
on the window and measuring his distance with the sureness of a
The big collie had made up his mind. His plan was formed. And as
he was all-wise, with the eerie wisdom of the highest type of
collie, there can be scant doubt he knew just what that plan
It was suicide. But, oh, it was a glorious suicide! Compared to
it the love-sacrifices of a host of Antonys and Abelards and
Romeos are but petty things. Indeed, its nearest approach in real
life was perhaps Moore's idiotically beautiful boast
Through the fiery furnace your steps I'll pursue;
To find you and save you:--or perish there, too!
The great dog gathered himself for the insane hero-deed. His
shaggy body whizzed across the scarlet pattern of embers; then
shot into the air. Straight as a flung spear he flew; hurtling
through the flame-fringed billows of smoke.
Against the shut window he crashed, with the speed of a catapult.
Against it he crashed; and clean through it, into the hell of
smoke and fire and strangulation inside the shack.
His head had smashed the strong cross-piece of wood and dried
putty and had crumpled it like so much wet paper. His giant
shoulders had ripped the window-frame clean of its screws. Into
the burning room spun Lad, amid a hail of broken glass and
To the fire-eaten floor he was hurled, close to his cowering and
whimpering mate. He reeled to his feet, and stood there, shoulder
to shoulder with Lady. His work was done.
And, yet, it was not in Sunnybank Lad's nature to be such a fool
as is the usual melodrama hero. True, he had come to share Lady's
fate, if he could not rescue her. Yet, he would not submit tamely
to death, until every resource had been tried.
He glanced at the door. Already he had found by harsh experience
that his strength availed nothing in the battering down of those
strong panels. And he peered up, through the swirling red smoke,
toward the oblong of window, whereby he had made his tumultuous
entrance to the death-trap.
Again, he must have known how hopeless of achievement was the
feat he was about to try. But, as ever, mere obstacles were not
permitted to stand in Lad's way.
Wheeling, he seized Lady by the nape of the neck. With a mighty
heave, he swung her clear of the hot floor. Gathering all his
fierce strength into one sublime effort, he sprang upward toward
the window; his mate hanging from his iron jaws.
Yes, it was a ridiculous thing to attempt. No dog, with thrice
Lad's muscular strength, could have accomplished the
impossibility of springing out through that high, narrow window,
carrying a weight of fifty pounds between his teeth.
Lad's leap did not carry him half the distance he had aimed for.
Back to the floor he fell, Lady with him.
Maddened by pain and by choking and by stark terror, Lady had not
the wit to realize what Lad was attempting. All she knew was that
he had seized her roughly by the neck, and had leaped in air with
her; and had then brought her bangingly down upon the torturing
hot boards. And her panic was augmented by delirious rage.
At Lad's face she flew, snarling murderously. One slash of her
curving eyetooth laid bare his cheek. Then she drove for his
Lad stood stock still. His only move was to interpose his shaggy
shoulder to her ravening jaws. And, deep into the fur and skin
and flesh of his shoulder her furious teeth shore their way.
It would have been child's play for him to have shaken her off
and to have leaped to safety, alone, through the sash-less
Yet he stood where he was; his sorrowful eyes looking tenderly
down upon the maddened youngster who was tearing into him so
And that was the picture the Master beheld; as he flung open the
door and blinked gaspingly through the smoke for the dog he had
Brought out of bed, on the jump, by Lad's unearthly wolf howl, he
had smelt the smoke and had run out to investigate. But, not
until he unbarred the tool-house door did he guess that Lady was
not the burning shack's only prisoner.
"It'll be another six months before your wonderful coat grows out
again, Laddie dear," observed the Mistress, next day, as she
renewed the smelly wet cloths on Lad's burned and glass-cut body.
"Dr. Hopper says so. But he says the rest of you will be as well
as ever, inside of a fortnight. And he says Lady will be well,
before you will. But, honestly, you'll never look as beautiful,
again, to me, as you do this very minute. He--he said you look
like a scarecrow. But you don't. You look like a--like a--a-What
gorgeously splendid thing DOES he look like, dear?" she appealed
to her husband.
"He looks," replied the Master, after deep thought, "he looks
like LAD. And that's about the highest praise I know how to give
him;--or give to anyone."
CHAPTER V. The Stowaway
There were but three collies on the Place, in those days. Lad;
his dainty gold-and-white mate, Lady; and their fluffy and fiery
wisp of a son, little Wolf.
When Wolf was a spoiled and obstreperous puppy of three months or
so, Lady was stricken with distemper and was taken to a
veterinary hospital. There, for something more than three months
she was nursed through the scourging malady and through the
chorea and pneumonia which are so prone to follow in distemper's
Science amuses itself by cutting up and otherwise torturing
helpless dogs in the unholy name of vivisection. But Science has
not yet troubled itself to discover one certain cure or
preventive for the distemper which yearly robs thousands of homes
of their loved canine pets and guards. Apparently it is
pleasanter for scientists to watch a screaming dog writhe under
the knife in a research laboratory than to trouble about finding
a way to abolish distemper; and thus of ridding the dog world of
its worst scourge.
This is a digression from our story. But perhaps it is worth your
remembering,--you who care about dogs.
Altogether, Lady was away from the Place for fifteen weeks.
And, in her absence, the unhappy Lad took upon himself the task
of turning little Wolf from a pest into something approaching a
decent canine citizen. It was no sinecure, this educating of the
hot-tempered and undisciplined youngster. But Lad brought to it
an elephantine patience and an uncannily wise brain. And, by the
time Lady was brought back, cured, the puppy had begun to show
the results of his sire's stern teachings.
Indeed, Lady's absence was the best thing that could have
befallen Wolf. For, otherwise, his training must needs have
devolved upon the Mistress and the Master. And no mere humans
could have done the job with such grimly gentle thoroughness as
did Lad. Few dogs, except pointers or setters or collies, will
deign to educate their puppies to the duties of life and of field
and of house. But Lad had done the work in a way that left little
to be asked for.
When Lady came home, her flighty brain seemed to have forgotten
the fact that young Wolf was her once-adored son. Of her earlier
capricious devotion to him, no trace remained. She sniffed in
stand-offish inquiry at him; as at a stranger. And the
scatterbrain pup remembered her no better than she remembered
him. There is a wide gulf in intelligence between a three-month
puppy and one six months old.
Yet,--perhaps because they were both excitable and mischievous
and loved romping,--and because each was a novelty to the
other--mother and son quickly formed a new friendship. From the
more sedate and discipline-enforcing Lad, the youngster turned
eagerly to chum-ship with this flighty gold-white stranger. And
Lady, for similar reason, seemed to find ten times as much
congeniality and fun in romping with Wolf as in playing with the
less galvanically agile Lad.
In brief, Lady and little Wolf became inseparable companions;--
this to the semi-exclusion of Lad.
The great collie did not resent this exclusion; nor did he try to
regain his fast-slipping hold on Wolf's affections. Yet, in
fashion that was more pathetic than ludicrous, he sought to win
back Lady's waning affection. A bit clumsily, he tried to romp
and gambol with her, as did Wolf. He tried to interest her, as of
yore, in following his lead in break-neck forest gallops after
rabbits or in gloriously exhilarating swims in the fire-blue lake
at the foot of the lawn. To the pityingly on-looking Mistress and
Master, he seemed like some general or statesman seeking to
unbend in the games and chatter of a party of high school boys
But it was no use.
True, in the cross-country runs or the swirling charges after
rabbits, neither Lady nor Wolf could keep up with Lad's flying
stride. And a long swim, which scarce breathed Lad, would exhaust
either or both of them.
But, they were young; and he was middle-aged. And, as in human
relationships, that one sentence told the whole tragic story.
As well expect a couple of flyaway children to give up a game of
tag in order to listen to the solemn discourse of an elderly
uncle; as to make the fun-loving Lady and Wolf widen their
selfish comradeship to include in it the steadier and older and
infinitely wiser Lad.
Perforce, Lad was thrown more and more on the society of the
Mistress and the Master. And, in their friendship, he was
happy;--until he would chance to see his mate and his little son
playing in wild ecstasy with a stick or ball, and would frisk
bulkily over to join them. In a bare second or two, the demeanor
of both showed him just what a grossly unwelcome interloper he
Whereat, after a wistfully miserable glance from one to the other
of the exclusive pair, Lad would trot slowly back to his human
deities; and. with a queerly sobbing little sigh, he would curl
up at the Mistress's feet.
"It's a shame, Laddie!" declared the Mistress, at one such time.
"It's a SHAME! Why, you are worth a million of those crazy
playdogs! You're a million times wiser and beautifuller and more
lovable. Why do you bother with them? Master and I are ever so
much better company for you; and we love to have you with us.
Stay right here, and forget them."
Lad, perhaps, understood the actual meaning of one word in ten of
the advice. But he understood and loved the Mistress's sweet
voice and the caress of her cool little hand; and the sympathy in
her tone. It all meant much to Laddie. Very much indeed. And he
laid his mighty head against her knee; happy in the comfort of
touch and voice.
Nevertheless, that wistful glint was ever lurking in his deep-set
eyes, nowadays. And his gayly trumpeting bark rang out less often
and less jubilantly than of old. He took to moping. And he spent
more time than before in his beloved "cave," under the music-room
Moping and solitude are no more beneficial to dogs than to
humans. The Master racked his brain for some way of bringing the
splendid collie back to his olden spirits.
Luck, or fate, took the matter out of his hands.
The Mistress and the Master were invited to spend a week with
some friends whose house stood in an ultra-restricted residential
park, high up in the Catskills. By leaving the Place at sunrise,
they could reach the Park, by motor, in time for afternoon tea.
At dawn, the car was brought to the door. Its tonneau was piled
with luggage; and all was ready for a start as soon as the
unappetizingly early breakfast could be swallowed.
Wolf and Lady, after following the car from the garage to the
door, wearied of the uninspiring wait; and set forth at a
hand-gallop for the woods. There, at dawning, the dew would lie
heavy. And wet ground ever holds scent better than does dry. It
would be easy to pick up and follow rabbit trails, through the
Lad made as though to follow them. He ran out of the house and
half-way up the drive in pursuit of their flashing gold-and-white
flight. Neither turned a head at sound of his following steps.
Neither slackened pace to include him in the hunt.
Always abnormally sensitive, the big collie noted this aloofness.
And he came to an irresolute halt. For a moment, he stared after
the two vanishing runaways; his plumed tail swaying ever so
little, in groundless expectation of an invitingly glance or yelp
from Lady. Then, tail and crest adroop, he turned slowly back
toward the house.
From puppyhood, an odd trait of Lad's had caused amusement at the
Place. Whenever he was unhappy or considered himself ill-treated,
it was his way to hunt for something wherewith he might comfort
himself. For instance, as a pup, a scolding for some petty
misdeed would send him in search of his cherished flannel doll or
his squeaking ball. In later years, the car had taken the place
of these babyhood comforters.
Lad cared more for motoring than for any other amusement. In
moments of stress he sometimes ran to the garage and curled
himself up in the tonneau; as though in hope someone might take
pity on his unhappiness and give him a drive. And, usually,
Now, turning back, rebuffed, from the forest gallop, he caught
sight of the car. Not in the garage, either; but at the front
door; where its presence could mean nothing except an immediate
With one high spring, Lad had cleared the ground and was over the
closed tonneau door and amid a ruck of luggage and rugs. The rear
seat was filled by a steamer-trunk, strapped tightly in place
there. And the bottom of the car was annoyingly crowded by bumpy
bags and other gear.
Still, by the simple and ancestral process of turning himself
around several times, Lad was able to clear enough space on the
floor to permit of his lying down; albeit in a very compact
He settled himself into place on the floor with a satisfied
jounce which loosened a car-rug draped over the trunk. Down
slithered the rug; and fell athwart the dog's shaggy back and one
of the bags. It was not heavy enough to annoy Lad or hurt his
feelings. And its draped folds served as the top of a sort of
cave for him. On the whole, Lad rather enjoyed the rug's descent.
It made his narrow resting-place snugger and warmer on this
chilly early morning. Patiently, Lad lay there; waiting for the
car to start.
He did not have long to wait. In another minute or two, the
Mistress and the Master came out from breakfast; and got into the
front seat. Then the car was breasting the winding slope of the
drive, in first speed; the faint jar of the engine sending
undulations over the mahogany-and-white coat of the stowaway dog.
And, in a minute more, they were out on the smooth highway,
headed for the distant Catskills.
Now, Lad had not the remotest notion he was a stowaway. On the
few times when it had not been convenient to take him on drives,
the Master had always bidden him stay at home. And when, at such
times, the dog chanced already to be its the car, he had been
ordered back to earth. There, was no way for Lad to know, this
morning, that neither of the car's other occupants had seen him
as he lay curled up on the floor, three-quarters hidden under the
fallen rug. The luggage had been arranged in the tonneau, before
breakfast. And nobody had given a second glance at it since then.
The sun was rising over a new-made world, alive with summer glory
and thrilling with bird-songs. The air, later in the day, would
be warm. But, at sunrise, it was sharp and bracing. The mystic
wonder and the hush of dawn were still brooding over the earth.
The hard white road stretched out, like a winding river, between
banks of dew-gleaming verdure. The mountain-tops were glowing
with the touch of the sun. In the deeper valleys floated a
The car sped swiftly along the empty highway; slowing down only
as it spun through half-awakened villages; or checked its pace to
allow a sleepy boy to drive a straggling bunch of cows across the
road to pasturage.
For an hour or more, Lad lay cuddled under the rug in contented
laziness. Then the recumbent posture tired him; and he sat up. As
a rule, one or the other of his deities was wont to turn around,
at intervals, and speak to him or pet him. Today, neither of them
paid him the slightest attention. Still, the ride was a joy. And
the surrounding country was new and interesting. So Lad had a
good time, in spite of human neglect. After another hour or so,
he curled up again, among the bags, and fell to drowsing.
A six-hour run, over good roads, brought the car to Kingston, at
the gateway to the Catskills. Here, at a hotel entrance, the
machine came to a standstill. The Master got out, and turned to
help the Mistress to alight. It was the place they had decided on
for luncheon. Another three hours, at most, would carry them to
A negro boy, loafing aimlessly at the street corner, had begun to
whistle industriously to himself as the car slowed down. And he
had wakened into active motion. Apparently, he remembered all at
once an important mission on the other side of the street. For he
set off at a swinging pace.
His course took him so near the back of the car that he had to
turn out, a step or so, to avoid collision with it. He
accompanied this turning-out maneuver by another which was less
ostentatious, but more purposeful. Timing his steps, so as to
pass by the rear of the car just as the Master was busy helping
his wife to descend, the youth thrust an arm over the side of the
tonneau, with the speed of a striking snake. His hand closed on
the handle of a traveling bag, among the heap of luggage. Never
slackening his pace, the negro gave a fierce yank at his plunder,
to hoist it over the closed door.
In that tourist-ridden city, bag-stealing offered much profit. In
the rare chance of detection when he was at work, the boy had
only to plead over-zeal in trying to earn an honest dime by
helping lift the luggage to the sidewalk.
It was a pretty bit of theft; and it betokened long and careful
practice. Thus,--from the thief's standpoint,--it was almost a
pity the brilliant effort was wasted. For wasted it was.
This young negro prided himself on his powers of speed and of
silence, in plying his trade. And, today, though he proceeded to
excel in the first of these qualities, he disgraced himself most
woefully as regarded the second.
For he jerked his hand out of the tonneau far faster than he had
thrust it in. As he did so, he woke the echoes with the most
blood-curdling screech his leathern lungs could compass.
As his dusky fingers had closed on the bag, something viselike
and relentless had fastened upon those same expert fingers;
breaking two of them, and rending the flesh of the lower hand.
Lad, in rising to his feet, after his pleasant nap, at the
slowing of the car, had been aware of that predatory hand; as it
groped for the bag. Now, from puppyhood, Lad had been taught to
regard everything in the car as under his own careful
guardianship. Hence, he lunged forward and sank his terrible
white teeth deep into the groping fingers.
By main force the youth tore free. With a second screech, he
reeled back from the unseen peril which had assailed him. But Lad
would not have it so.
There was a harsh-breathed growl, from down in the tonneau; and,
on the instant, a tawny giant shape came catapulting over the top
of the shut door and hurled itself upon the staggering negro.
The Master, turning at sound of the yell, was just in time to see
the attack. The collie,--supposedly ninety miles away, and
peacefully guarding the Place,--was hurtling through the air and
crashing against the chest of a gray-faced and pop-eyed young
negro. To earth went the two; in a cloud of dust; a second before
the Master's sharp call brought Lad reluctantly away from his
prey, and just as a policeman and a score of idlers came running
The thief did not wait to explain. No sooner did he see the
Master catch the infuriated dog by the ruff than he scrambled to
his feet; ducked under the policeman's arm and set off, around a
corner, in something better than record time. Somehow, the
encounter had deprived him of the nerve and the pluck to stand
his ground and to explain that he had merely been trying to help
with the luggage. His only desire, just then, was to put as many
thousand miles as possible between himself and the tawny demon
that had assaulted him.
"Laddie!" gasped the Mistress, unbelieving, as the policeman and
most of the little crowd set off after the fugitive. "LADDIE!
What in the world--?"
"He--he must have been in the car, all the time," gabbled the
Master, brilliantly. "He must have jumped in, while we were at
breakfast. See, he's cleared a space for himself between two of
the bags. He's been there, all the time, and we never--"
"If he hadn't been there," suggested the Mistress, "we'd be
looking now for one or two pieces of luggage that had
disappeared. When the Grays went through here, one of their
"But what in blazes are we going to do with him?" broke in the
Master, worriedly. "We can't take him all the way home. And I
won't trust to sending him by express. He might get backed onto a
siding and be kept there for days, without food or water.
Besides, they won't let a dog go by express unless he's in a
crate. What are we to do?"
"Why," said the Mistress, stooping to stroke the silken head that
rested against her knee, "Why, Laddie seems to have settled that
for us, by coming along. He's surely paid his way. We'll have to
take him the rest of the trip. The Harmons will be glad to see
him, I'm sure. Everybody's always glad to see Laddie, wherever we
go. Let's take him. It's the only thing to do. We can explain to
them how it happened."
And so, after more discussion, it was settled. Even as most
things had a way of being settled when the Mistress proposed
Three hours later, the car stopped before the entrance of a
roomily beautiful house in a roomily beautiful residence park, in
the upper Catskills.
The welcoming smiles on the faces of host and hostess suffered
sudden eclipse; as a huge mahogany-and-white collie stepped
majestically from the car at the heels of the two guests.
"This is Lad," introduced the Mistress. "I hope you don't mind
our bringing him. I can promise he won't be a bit of trouble to
anybody. We didn't mean to bring him. It just happened. This was
While she was recounting the adventure to Mrs. Harmon, their host
drew the Master to one side.
"Say, old man," began Harmon, with visible discomfort, "please
don't misunderstand me or anything. But I'm a little bothered
about just what to do. This is the idea: There was a mad dog
scare here in Daylight Park, last month, when a Pom puppy snapped
at some kids that were teasing it. Then, a day or so later, a
Persian cat had fits and chased old Mrs. Cratchitt across a lawn
and gave her a spell of palpitation of the heart. And the next
day an Angora goat that the Varian children had as a pet got
loose and chewed up several hundred dollars' worth of lingerie
off a line. Then the Clives' spaniel took to barking under
Rutherford Garretse's study window. And ---"
"You needn't be afraid of Lad's doing any of those fool things,"
bragged the Master. "He behaves as well as any human. Better than
most of them. He--"
"That isn't the point," said his host, with growing uneasiness.
"You see, Daylight Park is run as a club. Home government and all
that sort of thing. Well, these livestock fracases raised such a
row that the club's Board of Governors has passed an ordinance,
forbidding the keeping of any pet animals in the whole park.
Nothing bigger than a canary bird can be harbored here. It's a
hard-and-fast rule. It seemed the only way to save our whole
summer colony from disruption. You know a livestock squabble can
cause more ructions in a small community than--"
"I see," mused the Master, staring glumly after Lad who was just
vanishing into the house in the wake of the Mistress and the
unhappy Mrs. Harmon. "I see. H'm!"
He pondered for an instant, while his host shifted from foot to
foot and looked apologetic. Then the Master spoke again.
"The only way out, that I see," he hazarded, "is for me to drive
back home with Lad; and leave him there and come on here,
tomorrow. I can--"
"Nothing of the sort!" protested Harmon, "There's an easier way
than that. Wittsville is only a mile or so from the Park gates.
They've got a fine boarding kennel there. Several of the Park's
dogs were exiled to it, when our ordinance went into effect. Jump
into the car, and we'll take your collie there in ten minutes.
He'll be well treated. And you and your wife can go to see him,
every day you're here. Come along. I--I hate to seem inhospitable
about this thing. But you see for yourself how it is. We--"
"Certainly," assented the Master. "I'll go in and get him and
explain to my wife. Don't let it make you feel uncomfortable. We
Which accounts for the fact that Lad, within the next half hour,
was preparing to spend his first night away from home and from
the two people who were his gods. He was not at all happy. It had
been an interesting day. But its conclusion did not please
Laddie, in any manner.
And, when things did not please Lad, he had a very determined
fashion of trying to avoid them;--unless perchance the Mistress
or the Master had decreed otherwise.
The Master had brought him to this obnoxious strange place. But
he had not bidden Lad stay there. And the collie merely waited
his chance to get out. At ten o'clock, one of the kennelmen made
the night rounds. He swung open the door of the little stall in
which Lad had been locked for the night. At least, he swung the
door halfway open. Lad swung it the rest of the way.
With a plunge, the collie charged out through the opening portal,
ducked between the kennelman's legs, reached the open gate of the
enclosure in two more springs; and vanished down the road into
As soon as he felt the highway under his feet, Lad's nose drooped
earthward; and he sniffed with all his might. Instantly, he
caught the scent he was seeking;--a scent as familiar to him as
that of his own piano cave; the scent of the Place's car-tires.
It had taken Harmon and the Master the best part of ten minutes
to drive through the park and to the boarding kennels. It took
Lad less than half that time to reach the veranda of the Harmon
house. Circling the house and finding all doors shut, he lay down
on the mat; and settled himself to sleep there in what comfort he
might, until the Mistress and the Master should come down in the
morning and find him.
But the Harmons were late risers. And the sun had been up for
some hours before any of the household were astir.
If Lad had been the professionally Faithful Hound, of storybooks,
he would doubtless have waited on the mat until someone should
come to let him in. But, after lying there until broad daylight,
he was moved to explore this new section of the world. The more
so, since house after house within range of his short vision
showed signs of life and activity.
Several people passed and repassed along the private roadway in
front of the Harmons' door; and nearly all of these paused to
peer at Lad, in what seemed to the collie a most flattering show
At last, the dog got to his feet, stretched himself fore-and-aft,
in true collie fashion; and trotted down the paved walk to the
road. There for a moment, he stood hesitant. As he stood, he was
surveying the scene;--not only with his eyes, but with those far
stronger sense organs, his ears and his nostrils. His ears told
him nothing of interest. His nose told him much. Indeed, before
he had fairly reached the road, these nostrils had telegraphed to
his brain an odor that not only was highly interesting, but
totally new to him. Lad's experience with scents was
far-reaching. But this smell lay totally outside all his
knowledge or memory.
It was a rank and queer smell;--not strong enough, out there in
the open, to register in a human-brain; but almost stingingly
acute to the highly sensitized dog. It was an alluring scent; the
sort of odor that roused all his curiosity and seemed to call for
Nose to ground, Lad set off to trace the smell to its source.
Strong as it was, it grew stronger and fresher at every step.
Even a mongrel puppy could have followed it. Oblivious to all
else, Lad broke into a canter; nose still close to earth;
pleasurably excited and keenly inquisitive.
He ran along the private road for perhaps a hundred yards. Then,
he wheeled in at another paved walk and ran up a low flight of
veranda steps. The front door of a house stood invitingly open to
the cool air of the morning. In through the doorway went Lad;
unheeding the gobbling call of a maid-servant who was sweeping
the far end of the veranda.
Lad did not know he was committing trespass. To him an open door
had always meant permission to enter. And the enticingly rank
scent was tenfold stronger indoors than out. Across a hallway he
trotted, still sniffing; and up a flight of stairs leading to the
second story of the house.
At the stairhead, a room door stood wide. And into this room led
the odor. Lad went in. He was in a large and sunlit room; but in
the most disorderly room he had ever set eyes on. The room needed
airing, too. For all its four windows were closed, except one
which was open for perhaps six inches from the top.
Lad circled the room, twice; from door to windows, and thence to
center table and around the walls; pausing at one window sill and
again at the threshold; picking his way daintily over heaps of
litter on the floor. Yes, the room was full of the scent. But,
whence the scent emanated, Lad could not, for the life of him,
tell. The room gave him no clew. And, after a few minutes of
futile investigation, he turned to depart.
At the stairhead, he came upon the same servant he had seen
sweeping the veranda. She cried: "Shoo!" at him and brandished
her broom. Lad, in offended dignity, stalked past her and out of
His quest having proven vain, he betook himself to the Harmons',
arriving there as the Mistress and the Master emerged upon the
veranda in company with their hosts. In wild delight, Lad
scampered up to the Mistress; his whole stately body wriggling in
eager welcome, his tiny white forepaws patting at her feet, his
muzzle thrusting itself into her cupped hand.
"Why, Lad!" she cried. "Laddie! We were so worried about you.
They just phoned from the kennels that you had gotten away. I
might have known you'd find your way to us. We--"
She got no further. Up the walk, from the road, came running an
apoplectically red and puffing man of late middle age;--a man
whose face bore traces of lather; and who was swathed in a purple
bathrobe. Flapping slippers ill-covered his sockless feet.
The Master recognized the fast-advancing newcomer. He recognized
him from many pictures in newspapers and magazines.
This was Rutherford Garretse, world-famed author and collector;
the literary lion and chief celebrity of the summer colony at
Daylight Park. But what eccentricity of genius could account for
his costume and for this bellicose method of bearing down upon a
neighbor's home, was more than the Master could guess.
Nor did the visitor's first words clear up the mystery. Halting
at the foot of the steps, Rutherford Garretse gesticulated in
dumb anguish, while he fought for breath and for coherent speech.
Then, disregarding Harmon's wondering greeting, the celebrity
burst into choking staccato speech.
"That dog!" he croaked. "That--that--DOG! The maid saw him go
into the house. Saw him go up to my study. She was afraid to
follow, at first. But in a few minutes she did. She saw him
coming out of my study! COME!!! I demand it. All of you. COME!"
Without another word, he wheeled and made off down the road,
pausing only to beckon imperiously. Marveling, the group on the
veranda followed. Deaf to their questions, he led the way. Lad
fell into line behind the perplexed Mistress.
Down the road to the next house, stalked Rutherford Garretse. At
the doorway, he repeated his dramatic gesture and commanded
Up the broad stairs he stamped. Behind him trailed the dumfounded
procession; Laddie still pattering happily along with the
Mistress. At the open door of a large room at the stairhead, the
author stood aside and pointed in silent despair through the
"What's up?" queried Harmon, for perhaps the tenth time. "Is
His question ended in a grunt. And, like the others, he stared
aghast on the scene before him.
The room, very evidently, was a study. But much of its floor,
just now, was heaped, ankle high, with hundreds of pages of torn
and crumpled paper.
The desk-top and a Sheraton cabinet and table were bare of all
contents. On the floor reposed countless shattered articles of
glass and porcelain; jumbled together with blotters an pastepot
and shears and ink-stand and other utensils. Ink had been poured
in grotesque pattern on rugs and parquetry and window curtains.
In one corner lay a typewriter, its keys twisted and its carriage
broken. Books--some of them in rare bindings,--lay gutted and
ink-smeared, from one end of the place to the other.
Through the daze of general horror boomed the tremblingly
majestic voice of Rutherford Garretse.
"I wanted you to see!" he declaimed. "I ordered everything left
as it was. That mess of papers all over the floor is what remains
of the first draft of my book. The book I have been at work on
for six months! I--"
"And it was the dog, there!" sputtered the maid-servant; emotion
riding over discipline. "I c'n swear the room was neat and all
dusted. Not a blessed thing out of place; and all the paper where
Mr. Garretse had stacked 'em in his portfolio, yonder. I dusted
this study and then the dining room. And then I went out to sweep
the veranda; like I always do, before breakfast. And maybe ten
minutes later I see this brute trot out of Mr. Harmon's place,
and along the road, and come, asnuffing up the steps and into the
house. And when I followed him upstairs and scatted him out, I
saw the room looking like it is, now; and I yells to Mr.
Garretse, and he's shaving, and--"
"That will do, Esther!" snapped the author. "And, now, sir--"
"But, Mr. Garretse," put in the Mistress, "Lad never did such a
thing as this, in all his life! He's been brought up in the
house. Even as a puppy, he was--"
"The evidence shows otherwise," interrupted Garretse, with a
visible struggle at self-control. "No human, unless he were a
maniac, would have done such a wantonly destructive thing. No
other animal has been here. The dog was seen entering and leaving
this room. And my work of six months is not only destroyed by
him, but many of the very best pieces in my glass-and-porcelain
"I consented to stay on at Daylight Park, only on the solemn
assurance of the Governors that no animal should be allowed again
within the Park precincts. I detest animals. Particularly dogs.
And now I see my dislike is not mere prejudice. May I ask what
the owners and--and the harborer--of the cur mean to do about
this outrage? Notice, please, that I am speaking with studied
moderation, in asking this vital question. I--"
"It is my fault,--or rather, it is a mistake,--that Lad is in the
Park," spoke up the Master. "Mr. Harmon is wholly innocent in the
matter. I can testify to that. If there is any fine or other
penalty in connection with my dog's being here, I'm ready to
settle for it. But if you expect me to believe that Laddie did
all this weird damage to your manuscript and your collection and
your room,--why, that's absurd! Utterly absurd! Lad, never in his
"The courts will think otherwise!" blazed Garretse, losing a
fraction of his hard-held selfmastery. "And the case shall go
through every court in the land, since you persist in this
idiotic denial of a proven fact. I warn you, I shall--Look
there!" he broke off, furiously, leveling a shakily vehement
forefinger at Lad. "Watch him! He's prowling around, even now, in
search of more things to injure. He--"
The author finished his sentence by catching up a heavy metal
paperweight and drawing it back as if for a throw. His muscles
flexed. The Mistress moved, as by accident, between the raging
man and the dog.
The Master, for the moment, lacked presence of mind to do even
that much for his canine chum's safety. He was too much taken up
in glaring unbelievingly at Lad.
The sedate collie, after following the bevy of excited humans
upstairs, had stood gravely, just inside the threshold; looking
with keen interest from one to the other of the gesticulating and
noisy group. Then, as a sharp whiff of that same baffling scent
assailed his nose, he began a new tour of the room.
The odor was fresher than before. And Lad's curiosity was roused
to the full. He sniffed to right and left, exploring the floor
rubbish with inquiring muzzle, and circling the despoiled writing
It was then that Garretse called attention to him. And it was
then that Lad's nose suddenly pointed skyward. In another moment,
he had bounded eagerly toward one of the windows,--the window
that was slightly open from the top.
From that direction, the scent now came; and it was more potent
than at any earlier time in his quest.
Even as the astonished eyes of the group followed Lad
window-ward, those same eyes were attracted by a partial
darkening of the open space at the window's top.
Into the room, through the narrow aperture wiggled a hairy form,
moving with eel-like speed.
Thence, it leaped to the floor. For the fraction of a second, the
intruder crouched there; peering about, to determine into what
company his jump had landed him.
He was a gray monkey, small, infinitely aged and withered of
aspect. His paws and forearms were black with half-dry ink. Here
and there, all over his fuzzy gray body, ink-blobs were
spattered. In one skinny paw he still clutched the splintered
fragment of a Satsuma vase.
By the time the gaping humans could get a single good look at the
monkey, Lad was at him. Here at last was the solution of that
mysterious scent, so new to the collie.
Lad galloped toward the wizened and malodorous gray bunch; more
intent on investigation than on attack. The monkey did not wait
for him. With an incredibly agile leap, he was on the spattered
window curtains and swarming up to the rod at the top. There he
squatted, well out of reach; grimacing horribly and chattering in
"It's--it's a devil!" stammered Rutherford Garretse; his
nearsighted eyes squinting as he sought to take in the motley
details of the creature's appearance. "I--"
"It's Mrs. McMurdle's pest of a monkey, sirs" blithered the maid.
"Asking your pardon. The one she made such a fuss about sending
away, last month, when all beastees was barred from the Park. It
must 'a' strayed back from where she sent it to, the crafty
little nuisance! It's--"
"Incidentally," said the Master, "it is the creature that wrecked
your room. See the ink on it. And that bit of porcelain it's
brandishing at us looks like a match for some of these smashed
bits on the floor. It got in here, I suppose, through that
"No," corrected the Mistress, wiser at deduction. "Through the
doorway, downstairs. From somewhere outside. Probably while the
maid was dusting the dining-room. It came in here and began
destroying things; as monkeys love to. And Laddie struck its
trail and followed it up here. It heard Lad coming and it got out
through the window. Then, just now, something outside scared it;
and it climbed back in again. I wonder if--"
As she talked, the Mistress had moved toward the nearest window.
"See?" she finished, in triumph, as she pointed out and down.
On the patch of back lawn, below, stood a very much flustered old
lady, her worried gaze upraised to the study. In one hand she
carried a leash, in the other a half-peeled banana.
"It's Mrs. McMurdle!" exclaimed Harmon. "The maid was right. She
must have disobeyed the ordinance and had the miserable monkey
hidden in her house all the time. It must have gotten out, this
morning; and she hunted around till she saw it perched on the top
of the window cornice. I suppose it dived back in here, at sight
of her. She--"
"Come on, Laddie!" whispered the Mistress, under cover of a new
outbreak of multiple talk. "YOU'RE acquitted, anyhow. And the
rest of the scene is really no business of ours. The sooner we
get you to the boarding kennels again, the less chance there is
of trouble. And Master and I will come to see you there, every
single day, till we go back home."
A week later, the car turned in again at the gates of the Place.
This time, Lad rode in state atop the flat trunk on the rear
seat. As the car halted at the veranda, he sprang to earth
without waiting for the tonneau door to be opened.
For, dashing toward him from the direction of the lake, Lady hove
in sight. Behind her, and trotting more leisurely, came Wolf. At
sight and scent of her returned mate, Lady fairly squealed with
delight. She whirled up to Lad, frantically licking his face and
spinning about him with little staccato yelps of joy.
Lad was deliriously happy. Not only was he at home again; but
Lady was welcoming him with an effusion that she had not shown
him for many a sorrowful month. He could not understand it. Nor
did he try to. He was content to accept the miracle; and to
rejoice in it with all his great honest heart.
Knowing nothing of feminine psychology, he could not realize that
a week of Puppy Wolf's sole and undiluted companionship had bored
Lady horribly and had begun to get on her nerves;--nor that she
had learned to miss and yearn for the big, wise, ever-gentle mate
whom she had so long neglected.
It was enough for Lad to know that he was no longer a neglected
outsider, in the Place's canine family; but that his worshiped
mate was wild with joy to see him again.
"Look!" said the Master. "The old chap has forgiven her for every
bit of her rottenness to him. He's insanely happy, just because
she chooses to make much of him, once more."
"Yes," assented the Mistress, cryptically "Sometimes dogs are
CHAPTER VI. The Tracker
The child's parents were going to Europe for three months, that
winter. The child himself was getting over a nervous ailment. The
doctors had advised he be kept out of school for a term; and be
sent to the country.
His mother was afraid the constant travel from place to place, in
Europe, might be too much for him. So she asked leave of the
Mistress and the Master,--one of whom was her distant
relative,--for the convalescent to stay at the Place during his
That was how it all started.
The youngster was eleven years old; lank and gangling, and blest
with a fretful voice and with far less discipline and manners
than a three-month collie pup. His name was Cyril. Briefly, he
was a pest,--an unspeakable pest.
For the first day or two at the Place, the newness of his
surroundings kept Cyril more or less in bounds. Then, as
homesickness and novelty alike wore off, his adventurous soul
He was very much at home; far more so than were his hosts, and
infinitely more pleased than they with the situation in general.
He had an infinite genius for getting into trouble. Not in the
delightfully normal fashion of the average growing boy; but in
furtively crafty ways that did not belong to healthy childhood.
Day by day, Cyril impressed his odd personality more and more on
everything around him. The atmosphere of sweet peace which had
brooded, like a blessing, over the whole Place, was dispersed.
The cook,--a marvel of culinary skill and of long service, gave
tearful warning, and departed. This when she found the insides of
all her cooking utensils neatly soaped; and the sheaf of
home-letters in her work-box replaced by cigar-coupons.
One of the workmen threw over his job with noisy blasphemy; when
his room above the stables was invaded by stealth and a
comic-paper picture of a goat's head substituted for his dead
mother's photograph in the well-polished little bronze frame on
And so on, all along the line.
The worst and most continuous sufferer from Cyril's loathed
presence on the Place was the massive collie, Lad.
The child learned, on the first day of his visit, that it would
be well-nigh as safe to play with a handful of dynamite as with
Lad's gold-and-white mate, Lady. Lady did not care for liberties
from anyone. And she took no pains to mask her snappish
first-sight aversion to the lanky Cyril. Her fiery little son,
Wolf, was scarce less formidable than she, when it came to being
teased by an outsider. But gallant old Lad was safe game.
He was safe game for Cyril, because Lad's mighty heart and soul
were miles above the possibility of resenting anything from so
pitifully weak and defenseless a creature as this child. He
seemed to realize, at a glance, that Cyril was an invalid and
helpless and at a physical disadvantage. And, as ever toward the
feeble, his big nature went out in friendly protection to this
gangling wisp of impishness.
Which was all the good it did him.
In fact, it laid the huge collie open to an endless succession of
torment. For the dog's size and patience seemed to awaken every
atom of bullying cruelty in the small visitor's nature.
Cyril, from the hour of his arrival, found acute bliss in making
Lad's life a horror. His initial step was to respond effusively
to the collie's welcoming advances; so long as the Mistress and
the Master chanced to be in the room. As they passed out, the
Mistress chanced to look back.
She saw Cyril pull a bit of cake from his pocket and, with his
left hand, proffer it to Lad. The tawny dog stepped courteously