Part 4 out of 6
out to be burned the very second he became aware of its source.
Don't you worry, Doc. There won't be any noise in the papers."
"But leprosy! Public health! The dog has been exposed to his
master. The dog itself is a peripatetic source of infection."
"Contagion is the better and more technical word, Doc.," Walter
Merritt Emory soothed with the sting of superior knowledge.
"Contagion, then," Doctor Masters took him up. "The public must
be considered. It must not run the risk of being infected--"
"Of contracting the contagion," the other corrected smoothly.
"Call it what you will. The public--"
"Poppycock," said Walter Merritt Emory. "What you don't know
about leprosy, and what the rest of the board of health doesn't
know about leprosy, would fill more books than have been compiled
by the men who have expertly studied the disease. The one thing
they have eternally tried, and are eternally trying, is to
inoculate one animal outside man with the leprosy that is peculiar
to man. Horses, rabbits, rats, donkeys, monkeys, mice, and dogs--
heavens, they have tried it on them all, tens of thousands of
times and a hundred thousand times ten thousand times, and never a
successful inoculation! They have never succeeded in inoculating
it on one man from another. Here--let me show you."
And from his shelves Waiter Merritt Emory began pulling down his
"Amazing . . . most interesting . . . " Doctor Masters continued
to emit from time to time as he followed the expert guidance of
the other through the books. "I never dreamed . . . the amount of
work they have done is astounding . . . "
"But," he said in conclusion, "there is no convincing a layman of
the matter contained on your shelves. Nor can I so convince my
public. Nor will I try to. Besides, the man is consigned to the
living death of life-long imprisonment in the pest-house. You
know the beastly hole it is. He loves the dog. He's mad over it.
Let him have it. I tell you it's rotten unfair and cruel, and I
won't stand for it."
"Yes, you will," Walter Merritt Emory assured him coolly. "And
I'll tell you why."
He told him. He said things that no doctor should say to another,
but which a politician may well say, and has often said, to
another politician--things which cannot bear repeating, if, for no
other reason, because they are too humiliating and too little
conducive to pride for the average American citizen to know;
things of the inside, secret governments of imperial
municipalities which the average American citizen, voting free as
a king at the polls, fondly thinks he manages; things which are,
on rare occasion, partly unburied and promptly reburied in the
tomes of reports of Lexow Committees and Federal Commissions.
And Walter Merritt Emory won his desire of Michael against Doctor
Masters; had his wife dine with him at Jules' that evening and
took her to see Margaret Anglin in celebration of the victory;
returned home at one in the morning, in his pyjamas went out to
take a last look at Michael, and found no Michael.
The pest-house of San Francisco, as is naturally the case with
pest-houses in all American cities, was situated on the bleakest,
remotest, forlornest, cheapest space of land owned by the city.
Poorly protected from the Pacific Ocean, chill winds and dense
fog-banks whistled and swirled sadly across the sand-dunes.
Picnicking parties never came there, nor did small boys hunting
birds' nests or playing at being wild Indians. The only class of
frequenters was the suicides, who, sad of life, sought the saddest
landscape as a fitting scene in which to end. And, because they
so ended, they never repeated their visits.
The outlook from the windows was not inspiriting. A quarter of a
mile in either direction, looking out along the shallow canyon of
the sand-hills, Dag Daughtry could see the sentry-boxes of the
guards, themselves armed and more prone to kill than to lay hands
on any escaping pest-man, much less persuavively discuss with him
the advisability of his return to the prison house.
On the opposing sides of the prospect from the windows of the four
walls of the pest-house were trees. Eucalyptus they were, but not
the royal monarchs that their brothers are in native habitats.
Poorly planted, by politics, illy attended, by politics, decimated
and many times repeatedly decimated by the hostile forces of their
environment, a straggling corporal's guard of survivors, they
thrust their branches, twisted and distorted, as if writhing in
agony, into the air. Scrub of growth they were, expending the
major portion of their meagre nourishment in their roots that
crawled seaward through the insufficient sand for anchorage
against the prevailing gales.
Not even so far as the sentry-boxes were Daughtry and Kwaque
permitted to stroll. A hundred yards inside was the dead-line.
Here, the guards came hastily to deposit food-supplies, medicines,
and written doctors' instructions, retreating as hastily as they
came. Here, also, was a blackboard upon which Daughtry was
instructed to chalk up his needs and requests in letters of such
size that they could be read from a distance. And on this board,
for many days, he wrote, not demands for beer, although the six-
quart daily custom had been broken sharply off, but demands like:
WHERE IS MY DOG?
HE IS AN IRISH TERRIER.
HE IS ROUGH-COATED.
HIS NAME IS KILLENY BOY.
I WANT MY DOG.
I WANT TO TALK TO DOC. EMORY.
TELL DOC. EMORY TO WRITE TO ME ABOUT MY DOG.
One day, Dag Daughtry wrote:
IF I DON'T GET MY DOG I WILL KILL DOC. EMORY.
Whereupon the newspapers informed the public that the sad case of
the two lepers at the pest-house had become tragic, because the
white one had gone insane. Public-spirited citizens wrote to the
papers, declaiming against the maintenance of such a danger to the
community, and demanding that the United States government build a
national leprosarium on some remote island or isolated mountain
peak. But this tiny ripple of interest faded out in seventy-two
hours, and the reporter-cubs proceeded variously to interest the
public in the Alaskan husky dog that was half a bear, in the
question whether or not Crispi Angelotti was guilty of having cut
the carcass of Giuseppe Bartholdi into small portions and thrown
it into the bay in a grain-sack off Fisherman's Wharf, and in the
overt designs of Japan upon Hawaii, the Philippines, and the
Pacific Coast of North America.
And, outside of imprisonment, nothing happened of interest to Dag
Daughtry and Kwaque at the pest-house until one night in the late
fall. A gale was not merely brewing. It was coming on to blow.
Because, in a basket of fruit, stated to have been sent by the
young ladies of Miss Foote's Seminary, Daughtry had read a note
artfully concealed in the heart of an apple, telling him on the
forthcoming Friday night to keep a light burning in his window.
Daughtry received a visitor at five in the morning.
It was Charles Stough Greenleaf, the Ancient Mariner himself.
Having wallowed for two hours through the deep sand of the
eucalyptus forest, he fell exhausted against the penthouse door.
When Daughtry opened it, the ancient one blew in upon him along
with a gusty wet splatter of the freshening gale. Daughtry caught
him first and supported him toward a chair. But, remembering his
own affliction, he released the old man so abruptly as to drop him
violently into the chair.
"My word, sir," said Daughtry. "You must 'a' ben havin' a time of
it.--Here, you fella Kwaque, this fella wringin' wet. You fella
take 'm off shoe stop along him."
But before Kwaque, immediately kneeling, could touch hand to the
shoelaces, Daughtry, remembering that Kwaque was likewise unclean,
had thrust him away.
"My word, I don't know what to do," Daughtry murmured, staring
about helplessly as he realised that it was a leper-house, that
the very chair in which the old man sat was a leper-chair, that
the very floor on which his exhausted feet rested was a leper-
"I'm glad to see you, most exceeding glad," the Ancient Mariner
panted, extending his hand in greeting.
Dag Daughtry avoided it.
"How goes the treasure-hunting?" he queried lightly. "Any
prospects in sight?"
The Ancient Mariner nodded, and with returning breath, at first
whispering, gasped out:
"We're all cleared to sail on the first of the ebb at seven this
morning. She's out in the stream now, a tidy bit of a schooner,
the Bethlehem, with good lines and hull and large cabin
accommodations. She used to be in the Tahiti trade, before the
steamers ran her out. Provisions are good. Everything is most
excellent. I saw to that. I cannot say I like the captain. I've
seen his type before. A splendid seaman, I am certain, but a
Bully Hayes grown old. A natural born pirate, a very wicked old
man indeed. Nor is the backer any better. He is middle-aged, has
a bad record, and is not in any sense of the word a gentleman, but
he has plenty of money--made it first in California oil, then
grub-staked a prospector in British Columbia, cheated him out of
his share of the big lode he discovered and doubled his own wealth
half a dozen times over. A very undesirable, unlikeable sort of a
man. But he believes in luck, and is confident that he'll make at
least fifty millions out of our adventure and cheat me out of my
share. He's as much a pirate as is the captain he's engaged."
"Mr. Greenleaf, I congratulate you, sir," Daughtry said. "And you
have touched me, sir, touched me to the heart, coming all the way
out here on such a night, and running such risks, just to say
good-bye to poor Dag Daughtry, who always meant somewhat well but
had bad luck."
But while he talked so heartily, Daughtry saw, in a resplendent
visioning, all the freedom of a schooner in the great South Seas,
and felt his heart sink in realisation that remained for him only
the pest-house, the sand-dunes, and the sad eucalyptus trees.
The Ancient Mariner sat stiffly upright.
"Sir, you have hurt me. You have hurt me to the heart."
"No offence, sir, no offence," Daughtry stammered in apology,
although he wondered in what way he could have hurt the old
"You are my friend, sir," the other went on, gravely censorious.
"I am your friend, sir. And you give me to understand that you
think I have come out here to this hell-hole to say good-bye. I
came out here to get you, sir, and your nigger, sir. The schooner
is waiting for you. All is arranged. You are signed on the
articles before the shipping commissioner. Both of you. Signed
on yesterday by proxies I arranged for myself. One was a
Barbadoes nigger. I got him and the white man out of a sailors'
boarding-house on Commercial Street and paid them five dollars
each to appear before the Commissioner and sign on."
"But, my God, Mr. Greenleaf, you don't seem to grasp it that he
and I are lepers."
Almost with a galvanic spring, the Ancient Mariner was out of the
chair and on his feet, the anger of age and of a generous soul in
his face as he cried:
"My God, sir, what you don't seem to grasp is that you are my
friend, and that I am your friend."
Abruptly, still under the pressure of his wrath, he thrust out his
"Steward, Daughtry. Mr. Daughtry, friend, sir, or whatever I may
name you, this is no fairy-story of the open boat, the cross-
bearings unnamable, and the treasure a fathom under the sand.
This is real. I have a heart. That, sir"--here he waved his
extended hand under Daughtry's nose--"is my hand. There is only
one thing you may do, must do, right now. You must take that hand
in your hand, and shake it, with your heart in your hand as mine
is in my hand."
"But . . . but. . . " Daughtry faltered.
"If you don't, then I shall not depart from this place. I shall
remain here, die here. I know you are a leper. You can't tell me
anything about that. There's my hand. Are you going to take it?
My heart is there in the palm of it, in the pulse in every finger-
end of it. If you don't take it, I warn you I'll sit right down
here in this chair and die. I want you to understand I am a man,
sir, a gentleman. I am a friend, a comrade. I am no poltroon of
the flesh. I live in my heart and in my head, sir--not in this
feeble carcass I cursorily inhabit. Take that hand. I want to
talk with you afterward."
Dag Daughtry extended his hand hesitantly, but the Ancient Mariner
seized it and pressed it so fiercely with his age-lean fingers as
"Now we can talk," he said. "I have thought the whole matter
over. We sail on the Bethlehem. When the wicked man discovers
that he can never get a penny of my fabulous treasure, we will
leave him. He will be glad to be quit of us. We, you and I and
your nigger, will go ashore in the Marquesas. Lepers roam about
free there. There are no regulations. I have seen them. We will
be free. The land is a paradise. And you and I will set up
housekeeping. A thatched hut--no more is needed. The work is
trifling. The freedom of beach and sea and mountain will be ours.
For you there will be sailing, swimming, fishing, hunting. There
are mountain goats, wild chickens and wild cattle. Bananas and
plantains will ripen over our heads--avocados and custard apples,
also. The red peppers grow by the door, and there will be fowls,
and the eggs of fowls. Kwaque shall do the cooking. And there
will be beer. I have long noted your thirst unquenchable. There
will be beer, six quarts of it a day, and more, more.
"Quick. We must start now. I am sorry to tell you that I have
vainly sought your dog. I have even paid detectives who were
robbers. Doctor Emory stole Killeny Boy from you, but within a
dozen hours he was stolen from Doctor Emory. I have left no stone
unturned. Killeny Boy is gone, as we shall be gone from this
detestable hole of a city.
"I have a machine waiting. The driver is paid well. Also, I have
promised to kill him if he defaults on me. It bears just a bit
north of east over the sandhill on the road that runs along the
other side of the funny forest . . . That is right. We will start
now. We can discuss afterward. Look! Daylight is beginning to
break. The guards must not see us . . . "
Out into the storm they passed, Kwaque, with a heart wild with
gladness, bringing up the rear. At the beginning Daughtry strove
to walk aloof, but in a trice, in the first heavy gust that
threatened to whisk the frail old man away, Dag Daughtry's hand
was grasping the other's arm, his own weight behind and under,
supporting and impelling forward and up the hill through the heavy
"Thank you, steward, thank you, my friend," the Ancient Mariner
murmured in the first lull between the gusts.
Not altogether unwillingly, in the darkness of night, despite that
he disliked the man, did Michael go with Harry Del Mar. Like a
burglar the man came, with infinite caution of silence, to the
outhouse in Doctor Emory's back yard where Michael was a prisoner.
Del Mar knew the theatre too well to venture any hackneyed
melodramatic effect such as an electric torch. He felt his way in
the darkness to the door of the outhouse, unlatched it, and
entered softly, feeling with his hands for the wire-haired coat.
And Michael, a man-dog and a lion-dog in all the stuff of him,
bristled at the instant of intrusion, but made no outcry.
Instead, he smelled out the intruder and recognised him.
Disliking the man, nevertheless he permitted the tying of the rope
around his neck and silently followed him out to the sidewalk,
down to the corner, and into the waiting taxi.
His reasoning--unless reason be denied him--was simple. This man
he had met, more than once, in the company of Steward. Amity had
existed between him and Steward, for they had sat at table, and
drunk together. Steward was lost. Michael knew not where to find
him, and was himself a prisoner in the back yard of a strange
place. What had once happened, could again happen. It had
happened that Steward, Del Mar, and Michael had sat at table
together on divers occasions. It was probable that such a
combination would happen again, was going to happen now, and, once
more, in the bright-lighted cabaret, he would sit on a chair, Del
Mar on one side, and on the other side beloved Steward with a
glass of beer before him--all of which might be called "leaping to
a conclusion"; for conclusion there was, and upon the conclusion
Now Michael could not reason to this conclusion nor think to this
conclusion, in words. "Amity," as an instance, was no word in his
consciousness. Whether or not he thought to the conclusion in
swift-related images and pictures and swift-welded composites of
images and pictures, is a problem that still waits human solution.
The point is: HE DID THINK. If this be denied him, then must he
have acted wholly by instinct--which would seem more marvellous on
the face of it than if, in dim ways, he had performed a vague
However, into the taxi and away through the maze of San
Francisco's streets, Michael lay alertly on the floor near Del
Mar's feet, making no overtures of friendliness, by the same token
making no demonstration of the repulsion of the man's personality
engendered in him. For Harry Del Mar, who was base, and who had
been further abased by his money-making desire for the possession
of Michael, had had his baseness sensed by Michael from the
beginning. That first meeting in the Barbary Coast cabaret,
Michael had bristled at him, and stiffened belligerently, when he
laid his hand on Michael's head. Nor had Michael thought about
the man at all, much less attempted any analysis of him.
Something had been wrong with that hand--the perfunctory way in
which it had touched him under a show of heartiness that could
well deceive the onlooker. The FEEL of it had not been right.
There had been no warmth in it, no heart, no communication of
genuine good approach from the brain and the soul of the man of
which it was the telegraphic tentacle and transmitter. In short,
the message or feel had not been a good message or feel, and
Michael had bristled and stiffened without thinking, but by mere
KNOWING, which is what men call "intuition."
Electric lights, a shed-covered wharf, mountains of luggage and
freight, the noisy toil of 'longshoremen and sailors, the staccato
snorts of donkey engines and the whining sheaves as running lines
ran through the blocks, a crowd of white-coated stewards carrying
hand-baggage, the quartermaster at the gangway foot, the gangway
sloping steeply up to the Umatilla's promenade deck, more
quartermasters and gold-laced ship's officers at the head of the
gangway, and more crowd and confusion blocking the narrow deck--
thus Michael knew, beyond all peradventure, that he had come back
to the sea and its ships, where he had first met Steward, where he
had been always with Steward, save for the recent nightmare period
in the great city. Nor was there absent from the flashing visions
of his consciousness the images and memories of Kwaque and Cocky.
Whining eagerly, he strained at the leash, risking his tender toes
among the many inconsiderate, restless, leather-shod feet of the
humans, as he quested and scented for Cocky and Kwaque, and, most
of all, for Steward.
Michael accepted his disappointment in not immediately meeting
them, for from the dawn of consciousness, the limitations and
restrictions of dogs in relation to humans had been hammered into
him in the form of concepts of patience. The patience of waiting,
when he wanted to go home and when Steward continued to sit at
table and talk and drink beer, was his, as was the patience of the
rope around the neck, the fence too high to scale, the narrowed-
walled room with the closed door which he could never unlatch but
which humans unlatched so easily. So that he permitted himself to
be led away by the ship's butcher, who on the Umatilla had the
charge of all dog passengers. Immured in a tiny between-decks
cubby which was filled mostly with boxes and bales, tied as well
by the rope around his neck, he waited from moment to moment for
the door to open and admit, realised in the flesh, the resplendent
vision of Steward which blazed through the totality of his
Instead, although Michael did not guess it then, and, only later,
divined it as a vague manifestation of power on the part of Del
Mar, the well-tipped ship's butcher opened the door, untied him,
and turned him over to the well-tipped stateroom steward who led
him to Del Mar's stateroom. Up to the last, Michael was convinced
that he was being led to Steward. Instead, in the stateroom, he
found only Del Mar. "No Steward," might be described as Michael's
thought; but by PATIENCE, as his mood and key, might be described
his acceptance of further delay in meeting up with his god, his
best beloved, his Steward who was his own human god amidst the
multitude of human gods he was encountering.
Michael wagged his tail, flattened his ears, even his crinkled
ear, a trifle, and smiled, all in a casual way of recognition,
smelled out the room to make doubly sure that there was no scent
of Steward, and lay down on the floor. When Del Mar spoke to him,
he looked up and gazed at him.
"Now, my boy, times have changed," Del Mar addressed him in cold,
brittle tones. "I'm going to make an actor out of you, and teach
you what's what. First of all, come here . . . COME HERE!"
Michael obeyed, without haste, without lagging, and patently
"You'll get over that, my lad, and put pep into your motions when
I talk to you," Del Mar assured him; and the very manner of his
utterance was a threat that Michael could not fail to recognise.
"Now we'll just see if I can pull off the trick. You listen to
me, and sing like you did for that leper guy."
Drawing a harmonica from his vest pocket, he put it to his lips
and began to play "Marching through Georgia."
"Sit down!" he commanded.
Again Michael obeyed, although all that was Michael was in
protest. He quivered as the shrill-sweet strains from the silver
reeds ran through him. All his throat and chest was in the
impulse to sing; but he mastered it, for he did not care to sing
for this man. All he wanted of him was Steward.
"Oh, you're stubborn, eh?" Del Mar sneered at him. "The matter
with you is you're thoroughbred. Well, my boy, it just happens I
know your kind and I reckon I can make you get busy and work for
me just as much as you did for that other guy. Now get busy."
He shifted the tune on into "Georgia Camp Meeting." But Michael
was obdurate. Not until the melting strains of "Old Kentucky
Home" poured through him did he lose his self-control and lift his
mellow-throated howl that was the call for the lost pack of the
ancient millenniums. Under the prodding hypnosis of this music he
could not but yearn and burn for the vague, forgotten life of the
pack when the world was young and the pack was the pack ere it was
lost for ever through the endless centuries of domestication.
"Ah, ha," Del Mar chuckled coldly, unaware of the profound history
and vast past he evoked by his silver reeds.
A loud knock on the partition wall warned him that some sleepy
passenger was objecting.
"That will do!" he said sharply, taking the harmonica from his
lips. And Michael ceased, and hated him. "I guess I've got your
number all right. And you needn't think you're going to sleep
here scratching fleas and disturbing my sleep."
He pressed the call-button, and, when his room-steward answered,
turned Michael over to him to be taken down below and tied up in
the crowded cubby-hole.
During the several days and nights on the Umatilla, Michael
learned much of what manner of man Harry Del Mar was. Almost,
might it be said, he learned Del Mar's pedigree without knowing
anything of his history. For instance he did not know that Del
Mar's real name was Percival Grunsky, and that at grammar school
he had been called "Brownie" by the girls and "Blackie" by the
boys. No more did he know that he had gone from half-way-through
grammar school directly into the industrial reform school; nor
that, after serving two years, he had been paroled out by Harris
Collins, who made a living, and an excellent one, by training
animals for the stage. Much less could he know the training that
for six years Del Mar, as assistant, had been taught to give the
animals, and, thereby, had received for himself.
What Michael did know was that Del Mar had no pedigree and was a
scrub as compared with thoroughbreds such as Steward, Captain
Kellar, and MISTER Haggin of Meringe. And he learned it swiftly
and simply. In the day-time, fetched by a steward, Michael would
be brought on deck to Del Mar, who was always surrounded by
effusive young ladies and matrons who lavished caresses and
endearments upon Michael. This he stood, although much bored; but
what irked him almost beyond standing were the feigned caresses
and endearments Del Mar lavished on him. He knew the cold-blooded
insincerity of them, for, at night, when he was brought to Del
Mar's room, he heard only the cold brittle tones, sensed only the
threat and the menace of the other's personality, felt, when
touched by the other's hand, only a stiffness and sharpness of
contact that was like to so much steel or wood in so far as all
subtle tenderness of heart and spirit was absent.
This man was two-faced, two-mannered. No thoroughbred was
anything but single-faced and single-mannered. A thoroughbred,
hot-blooded as it might be, was always sincere. But in this scrub
was no sincerity, only a positive insincerity. A thoroughbred had
passion, because of its hot blood; but this scrub had no passion.
Its blood was cold as its deliberateness, and it did nothing save
deliberately. These things he did not think. He merely realized
them, as any creature realizes itself in LIKING and in not LIKING.
To cap it all, the last night on board, Michael lost his
thoroughbred temper with this man who had no temper. It came to a
fight. And Michael had no chance. He raged royally and fought
royally, leaping to the attack, after being knocked over twice by
open-handed blows under his ear. Quick as Michael was, slashing
South Sea niggers by virtue of his quickness and cleverness, he
could not touch his teeth to the flesh of this man, who had been
trained for six years with animals by Harris Collins. So that,
when he leaped, open-mouthed, for the bite, Del Mar's right hand
shot out, gripped his under-jaw as he was in the air, and flipped
him over in a somersaulting fall to the floor on his back. Once
again he leapt open-mouthed to the attack, and was filliped to the
floor so hard that almost the last particle of breath was knocked
out of him. The next leap was nearly his last. He was clutched
by the throat. Two thumbs pressed into his neck on either side of
the windpipe directly on the carotid arteries, shutting off the
blood to his brain and giving him most exquisite agony, at the
same time rendering him unconscious far more swiftly than the
swiftest anaesthetic. Darkness thrust itself upon him; and,
quivering on the floor, glimmeringly he came back to the light of
the room and to the man who was casually touching a match to a
cigarette and cautiously keeping an observant eye on him.
"Come on," Del Mar challenged. "I know your kind. You can't get
my goat, and maybe I can't get yours entirely, but I can keep you
under my thumb to work for me. Come on, you!"
And Michael came. Being a thoroughbred, despite that he knew he
was beaten by this two-legged thing which was not warm human but
was so alien and hard that he might as well attack the wall of a
room with his teeth, or a tree-trunk, or a cliff of rock, Michael
leapt bare-fanged for the throat. And all that he leapt against
was training, formula. The experience was repeated. His throat
was gripped, the thumbs shut off the blood from his brain, and
darkness smote him. Had he been more than a normal thoroughbred
dog, he would have continued to assail his impregnable enemy until
he burst his heart or fell in a fit. But he was normal. Here was
something unassailable, adamantine. As little might he win
victory from it, as from the cement-paved side-walk of a city.
The thing was a devil, with the hardness and coldness, the
wickedness and wisdom, of a devil. It was as bad as Steward was
good. Both were two-legged. Both were gods. But this one was an
He did not reason all this, nor any of it. Yet, transmuted into
human terms of thought and understanding, it adequately describes
the fulness of his state of mind toward Del Mar. Had Michael been
entangled in a fight with a warm god, he could have raged and
battled blindly, inflicting and receiving hurt in the chaos of
conflict, as such a god, being warm, would have likewise received
and given hurt, being only a flesh-and-blood, living, breathing
entity after all. But this two-legged god-devil did not rage
blindly and was incapable of passional heat. He was like so much
cunning, massive steel machinery, and he did what Michael could
never dream he did--and, for that matter, which few humans do and
which all animal trainers do: HE KEPT ONE THOUGHT AHEAD OF
MICHAEL'S THOUGHT ALL THE TIME, and therefore, was able to have
ready one action always in anticipation of Michael's next action.
This was the training he had received from Harris Collins, who,
withal he was a sentimental and doting husband and father, was the
arch-devil when it came to animals other than human ones, and who
reigned in an animal hell which he had created and made lucrative.
Michael went ashore in Seattle all eagerness, straining at his
leash until he choked and coughed and was coldly cursed by Del
Mar. For Michael was mastered by his expectation that he would
meet Steward, and he looked for him around the first corner, and
around all corners with undiminished zeal. But amongst the
multitudes of men there was no Steward. Instead, down in the
basement of the New Washington Hotel, where electric lights burned
always, under the care of the baggage porter, he was tied securely
by the neck in the midst of Alpine ranges of trunks which were for
ever being heaped up, sought over, taken down, carried away, or
Three days of this dolorous existence he passed. The porters made
friends with him and offered him prodigious quantities of cooked
meats from the leavings of the dining-room. Michael was too
disappointed and grief-stricken over Steward to overeat himself,
while Del Mar, accompanied by the manager of the hotel, raised a
great row with the porters for violating the feeding instructions.
"That guy's no good," said the head porter to assistant, when Del
Mar had departed. "He's greasy. I never liked greasy brunettes
anyway. My wife's a brunette, but thank the Lord she ain't
"Sure," agreed the assistant. "I know his kind. Why, if you'd
stick a knife into him he wouldn't bleed blood. It'd be straight
Whereupon the pair of them immediately presented Michael with
vaster quantities of meat which he could not eat because the
desire for Steward was too much with him.
In the meantime Del Mar sent off two telegrams to New York, the
first to Harris Collins' animal training school, where his troupe
of dogs was boarding through his vacation:
"Sell my dogs. You know what they can do and what they are worth.
Am done with them. Deduct the board and hold the balance for me
until I see you. I have the limit here of a dog. Every turn I
ever pulled is put in the shade by this one. He's a ten strike.
Wait till you see him."
The second, to his booking agent:
"Get busy. Book me over the best. Talk it up. I have the turn.
A winner. Nothing like it. Don't talk up top price but way over
top price. Prepare them for the dog when I give them the chance
for the once over. You know me. I am giving it straight. This
will head the bill anywhere all the time."
Came the crate. Because Del Mar brought it into the baggage-room,
Michael was suspicious of it. A minute later his suspicion was
justified. Del Mar invited him to go into the crate, and he
declined. With a quick deft clutch on the collar at the back of
his neck, Del Mar jerked him off his footing and thrust him in, or
partly in, rather, because he had managed to get a hold on the
edge of the crate with his two fore-paws. The animal trainer
wasted no time. He brought the clenched fist of his free hand
down in two blows, rat-tat, on Michael's paws. And Michael, at
the pain, relaxed both holds. The next instant he was thrust
inside, snarling his indignation and rage as he vainly flung
himself at the open bars, while Del Mar was locking the stout
Next, the crate was carried out to an express wagon and loaded in
along with a number of trunks. Del Mar had disappeared the moment
he had locked the door, and the two men in the wagon, which was
now bouncing along over the cobblestones, were strangers. There
was just room in the crate for Michael to stand upright, although
he could not lift his head above the level of his shoulders. And
so standing, his head pressed against the top, a rut in the road,
jolting the wagon and its contents, caused his head to bump
The crate was not quite so long as Michael, so that he was
compelled to stand with the end of his nose pressing against the
end of the crate. An automobile, darting out from a cross-street,
caused the driver of the wagon to pull in abruptly and apply the
brake. With the crate thus suddenly arrested, Michael's body was
precipitated forward. There was no brake to stop him, unless the
soft end of his nose be considered the brake, for it was his nose
that brought his body to rest inside the crate.
He tried lying down, confined as the space was, and made out
better, although his lips were cut and bleeding by having been
forced so sharply against his teeth. But the worst was to come.
One of his fore-paws slipped out through the slats or bars and
rested on the bottom of the wagon where the trunks were squeaking,
screeching, and jigging. A rut in the roadway made the nearest
trunk tilt one edge in the air and shift position, so that when it
tilted back again it rested on Michael's paw. The unexpectedness
of the crushing hurt of it caused him to yelp and at the same time
instinctively and spasmodically to pull back with all his
strength. This wrenched his shoulder and added to the agony of
the imprisoned foot.
And blind fear descended upon Michael, the fear that is implanted
in all animals and in man himself--THE FEAR OF THE TRAP. Utterly
beside himself, though he no longer yelped, he flung himself madly
about, straining the tendons and muscles of his shoulder and leg
and further and severely injuring the crushed foot. He even
attacked the bars with his teeth in his agony to get at the
monster thing outside that had laid hold of him and would not let
him go. Another rut saved him, however, tilting the trunk just
sufficiently to enable his violent struggling to drag the foot
At the railroad station, the crate was handled, not with
deliberate roughness, but with such carelessness that it half-
slipped out of a baggage-man's hands, capsized sidewise, and was
caught when it was past the man's knees but before it struck the
cement floor. But, Michael, sliding helplessly down the
perpendicular bottom of the crate, fetched up with his full weight
on the injured paw.
"Huh!" said Del Mar a little later to Michael, having strolled
down the platform to where the crate was piled on a truck with
other baggage destined for the train. "Got your foot smashed.
Well, it'll teach you a lesson to keep your feet inside."
"That claw is a goner," one of the station baggage-men said,
straightening up from an examination of Michael through the bars.
Del Mar bent to a closer scrutiny.
"So's the whole toe," he said, drawing his pocket-knife and
opening a blade. "I'll fix it in half a jiffy if you'll lend a
He unlocked the box and dipped Michael out with the customary
strangle-hold on the neck. He squirmed and struggled, dabbing at
the air with the injured as well as the uninjured forepaw and
increasing his pain.
"You hold the leg," Del Mar commanded. "He's safe with that grip.
It won't take a second."
Nor did it take longer. And Michael, back in the box and raging,
was one toe short of the number which he had brought into the
world. The blood ran freely from the crude but effective surgery,
and he lay and licked the wound and was depressed with
apprehension of he knew not what terrible fate awaited him and was
close at hand. Never, in his experience of men, had he been so
treated, while the confinement of the box was maddening with its
suggestion of the trap. Trapped he was, and helpless, and the
ultimate evil of life had happened to Steward, who had evidently
been swallowed up by the Nothingness which had swallowed up
Meringe, the Eugenie, the Solomon Islands, the Makambo, Australia,
and the Mary Turner.
Suddenly, from a distance, came a bedlam of noise that made
Michael prick up his ears and bristle with premonition of fresh
disaster. It was a confused yelping, howling, and barking of many
"Holy Smoke!--It's them damned acting dogs," growled the
baggageman to his mate. "There ought to be a law against dog-
acts. It ain't decent."
"It's Peterson's Troupe," said the other. "I was on when they
come in last week. One of 'em was dead in his box, and from what
I could see of him it looked mighty like he'd had the tar knocked
"Got a wollopin' from Peterson most likely in the last town and
then was shipped along with the bunch and left to die in the
The bedlam increased as the animals were transferred from the
wagon to a platform truck, and when the truck rolled up and
stopped alongside Michael's he made out that it was piled high
with crated dogs. In truth, there were thirty-five dogs, of every
sort of breed and mostly mongrel, and that they were far from
happy was attested by their actions. Some howled, some whimpered,
others growled and raged at one another through the slots, and
many maintained a silence of misery. Several licked and nursed
bruised feet. Smaller dogs that did not fight much were crammed
two or more into single crates. Half a dozen greyhounds were
crammed into larger crates that were anything save large enough.
"Them's the high-jumpers," said the first baggageman. "An' look
at the way they're packed. Peterson ain't going to pay any more
excess baggage than he has to. Not half room enough for them to
stand up. It must be hell for them from the time they leave one
town till they arrive at the next."
But what the baggageman did not know was that in the towns the
hell was not mitigated, that the dogs were still confined in their
too-narrow prisons, that, in fact, they were life-prisoners.
Rarely, except for their acts, were they taken out from their
cages. From a business standpoint, good care did not pay. Since
mongrel dogs were cheap, it was cheaper to replace them when they
died than so to care for them as to keep them from dying.
What the baggageman did not know, and what Peterson did know, was
that of these thirty-five dogs not one was a surviving original of
the troupe when it first started out four years before. Nor had
there been any originals discarded. The only way they left the
troupe and its cages was by dying. Nor did Michael know even as
little as the baggageman knew. He knew nothing save that here
reigned pain and woe and that it seemed he was destined to share
the same fate.
Into the midst of them, when with more howlings and yelpings they
were loaded into the baggage car, was Michael's cage piled. And
for a day and a part of two nights, travelling eastward, he
remained in the dog inferno. Then they were loaded off in some
large city, and Michael continued on in greater quietness and
comfort, although his injured foot still hurt and was bruised
afresh whenever his crate was moved about in the car.
What it was all about--why he was kept in his cramped prison in
the cramped car--he did not ask himself. He accepted it as
unhappiness and misery, and had no more explanation for it than
for the crushing of the paw. Such things happened. It was life,
and life had many evils. The WHY of things never entered his
head. He knew THINGS and some small bit of the HOW of things.
What was, WAS. Water was wet, fire hot, iron hard, meat good. He
accepted such things as he accepted the everlasting miracles of
the light and of the dark, which were no miracles to him any more
than was his wire coat a miracle, or his beating heart, or his
In Chicago, he was loaded upon a track, carted through the roaring
streets of the vast city, and put into another baggage-car which
was quickly in motion in continuation of the eastward journey. It
meant more strange men who handled baggage, as it meant in New
York, where, from railroad baggage-room to express wagon he was
exchanged, for ever a crated prisoner and dispatched to one,
Harris Collins, on Long Island.
First of all came Harris Collins and the animal hell over which he
ruled. But the second event must be stated first. Michael never
saw Harry Del Mar again. As the other men he had known had
stepped out of life, which was a way they had, so Harry Del Mar
stepped out of Michael's purview of life as well as out of life
itself. And his stepping out was literal. A collision on the
elevated, a panic scramble of the uninjured out upon the trestle
over the street, a step on the third rail, and Harry Del Mar was
engulfed in the Nothingness which men know as death and which is
nothingness in so far as such engulfed ones never reappear nor
walk the ways of life again.
Harris Collins was fifty-two years of age. He was slender and
dapper, and in appearance and comportment was so sweet- and
gentle-spirited that the impression he radiated was almost of
sissyness. He might have taught a Sunday-school, presided over a
girls' seminary, or been a president of a humane society.
His complexion was pink and white, his hands were as soft as the
hands of his daughters, and he weighed a hundred and twelve
pounds. Moreover, he was afraid of his wife, afraid of a
policeman, afraid of physical violence, and lived in constant
dread of burglars. But the one thing he was not afraid of was
wild animals of the most ferocious sorts, such as lions, tigers,
leopards, and jaguars. He knew the game, and could conquer the
most refractory lion with a broom-handle--not outside the cage,
but inside and locked in.
It was because he knew the game and had learned it from his father
before him, a man even smaller than himself and more fearful of
all things except animals. This father, Noel Collins, had been a
successful animal trainer in England, before emigrating to
America, and in America he had continued the success and laid the
foundation of the big animal training school at Cedarwild, which
his son had developed and built up after him. So well had Harris
Collins built on his father's foundation that the place was
considered a model of sanitation and kindness. It entertained
many visitors, who invariably went away with their souls filled
with ecstasy over the atmosphere of sweetness and light that
pervaded the place. Never, however, were they permitted to see
the actual training. On occasion, performances were given them by
the finished products which verified all their other delightful
and charming conclusions about the school. But had they seen the
training of raw novices, it would have been a different story. It
might even have been a riot. As it was, the place was a zoo, and
free at that; for, in addition to the animals he owned and trained
and bought and sold, a large portion of the business was devoted
to boarding trained animals and troupes of animals for owners who
were out of engagements, or for estates of such owners which were
in process of settlement. From mice and rats to camels and
elephants, and even, on occasion, to a rhinoceros or a pair of
hippopotamuses, he could supply any animal on demand.
When the Circling Brothers' big three-ring show on a hard winter
went into the hands of the receivers, he boarded the menagerie and
the horses and in three months turned a profit of fifteen thousand
dollars. More--he mortgaged all he possessed against the day of
the auction, bought in the trained horses and ponies, the giraffe
herd and the performing elephants, and, in six months more was
quit of an of them, save the pony Repeater who turned air-springs,
at another profit of fifteen thousand dollars. As for Repeater,
he sold the pony several months later for a sheer profit of two
thousand. While this bankruptcy of the Circling Brothers had been
the greatest financial achievement of Harris Collin's life,
nevertheless he enjoyed no mean permanent income from his plant,
and, in addition, split fees with the owners of his board animals
when he sent them to the winter Hippodrome shows, and, more often
than not, failed to split any fee at all when he rented the
animals to moving-picture companies.
Animal men, the country over, acknowledged him to be, not only the
richest in the business, but the king of trainers and the
grittiest man who ever went into a cage. And those who from the
inside had seen him work were agreed that he had no soul. Yet his
wife and children, and those in his small social circle, thought
otherwise. They, never seeing him at work, were convinced that no
softer-hearted, more sentimental man had ever been born. His
voice was low and gentle, his gestures were delicate, his views on
life, the world, religion and politics, the mildest. A kind word
melted him. A plea won him. He gave to all local charities, and
was gravely depressed for a week when the Titanic went down. And
yet--the men in the trained-animal game acknowledged him the
nerviest and most nerveless of the profession. And yet--his
greatest fear in the world was that his large, stout wife, at
table, should crown him with a plate of hot soup. Twice, in a
tantrum, she had done this during their earlier married life. In
addition to his fear that she might do it again, he loved her
sincerely and devotedly, as he loved his children, seven of them,
for whom nothing was too good or too expensive.
So well did he love them, that the four boys from the beginning he
forbade from seeing him WORK, and planned gentler careers for
them. John, the oldest, in Yale, had elected to become a man of
letters, and, in the meantime, ran his own automobile with the
corresponding standard of living such ownership connoted in the
college town of New Haven. Harold and Frederick were down at a
millionaires' sons' academy in Pennsylvania; and Clarence, the
youngest, at a prep. school in Massachusetts, was divided in his
choice of career between becoming a doctor or an aviator. The
three girls, two of them twins, were pledged to be cultured into
ladies. Elsie was on the verge of graduating from Vassar. Mary
and Madeline, the twins, in the most select and most expensive of
seminaries, were preparing for Vassar. All of which required
money which Harris Collins did not grudge, but which strained the
earning capacity of his animal-training school. It compelled him
to work the harder, although his wife and the four sons and three
daughters did not dream that he actually worked at all. Their
idea was that by virtue of superior wisdom he merely
superintended, and they would have been terribly shocked could
they have seen him, club in hand, thrashing forty mongrel dogs, in
the process of training, which had become excited and out of hand.
A great deal of the work was done by his assistants, but it was
Harris Collins who taught them continually what to do and how to
do it, and who himself, on more important animals, did the work
and showed them how. His assistants were almost invariably youths
from the reform schools, and he picked them with skilful eye and
intuition. Control of them, under their paroles, with
intelligence and coldness on their part, were the conditions and
qualities he sought, and such combination, as a matter of course,
carried with it cruelty. Hot blood, generous impulses,
sentimentality, were qualities he did not want for his business;
and the Cedarwild Animal School was business from the first tick
of the clock to the last bite of the lash. In short, Harris
Collins, in the totality of results, was guilty of causing more
misery and pain to animals than all laboratories of vivisection in
And into this animal hell Michael descended--although his arrival
was horizontal, across three thousand five hundred miles, in the
same crate in which he had been placed at the New Washington Hotel
in Seattle. Never once had he been out of the crate during the
entire journey, and filthiness, as well as wretchedness,
characterized his condition. Thanks to his general good health,
the wound of the amputated toe was in the process of uneventful
healing. But dirt clung to him, and he was infested with fleas.
Cedarwild, to look at, was anything save a hell. Velvet lawns,
gravelled walks and drives, and flowers formally growing, led up
to the group of long low buildings, some of frame and some of
concrete. But Michael was not received by Harris Collins, who, at
the moment, sat in his private office, Harry Del Mar's last
telegram on his desk, writing a memorandum to his secretary to
query the railroad and the express companies for the whereabouts
of a dog, crated and shipped by one, Harry Del Mar, from Seattle
and consigned to Cedarwild. It was a pallid-eyed youth of
eighteen in overalls who received Michael, receipted for him to
the expressman, and carried his crate into a slope-floored
concrete room that smelled offensively and chemically clean.
Michael was impressed by his surroundings but not attracted by the
youth, who rolled up his sleeves and encased himself in large
oilskin apron before he opened the crate. Michael sprang out and
staggered about on legs which had not walked for days. This
particular two-legged god was uninteresting. He was as cold as
the concrete floor, as methodical as a machine; and in such
fashion he went about the washing, scrubbing, and disinfecting of
Michael. For Harris Collins was scientific and antiseptic to the
last word in his handling of animals, and Michael was
scientifically made clean, without deliberate harshness, but
without any slightest hint of gentleness or consideration.
Naturally, he did not understand. On top of all he had already
experienced, not even knowing executioners and execution chambers,
for all he knew this bare room of cement and chemical smell might
well be the place of the ultimate life-disaster and this youth the
god who was to send him into the dark which had engulfed all he
had known and loved. What Michael did know beyond the shadow of
any doubt was that it was all coldly ominous and terribly strange.
He endured the hand of the youth-god on the scruff of his neck,
after the collar had been unbuckled; but when the hose was turned
on him, he resented and resisted. The youth, merely working by
formula, tightened the safe grip on the scruff of Michael's neck
and lifted him clear of the floor, at the same time, with the
other hand, directing the stream of water into his mouth and
increasing it to full force by the nozzle control. Michael
fought, and was well drowned for his pains, until he gasped and
After that he resisted no more, and was washed out and scrubbed
out and cleansed out with the hose, a big bristly brush, and much
carbolic soap, the lather of which got into and stung his eyes and
nose, causing him to weep copiously and sneeze violently.
Apprehensive of what might at any moment happen to him, but by
this time aware that the youth was neither positive nor negative
for kindness or harm, Michael continued to endure without further
battling, until, clean and comfortable, he was put away into a
pen, sweet and wholesome, where he slept and for the time being
forgot. The place was the hospital, or segregation ward, and a
week of imprisonment was spent therein, in which nothing happened
in the way of development of germ diseases, and nothing happened
to him except regular good food, pure drinking-water, and absolute
isolation from contact with all life save the youth-god who, like
an automaton, attended on him.
Michael had yet to meet Harris Collins, although, from a distance,
often he heard his voice, not loud, but very imperative. That the
owner of this voice was a high god, Michael knew from the first
sound of it. Only a high god, a master over ordinary gods, could
be so imperative. Will was in that voice, and accustomedness to
command. Any dog would have so decided as quickly as Michael did.
And any dog would have decided that there was no love nor
lovableness in the god behind the voice, nothing to warm one's
heart nor to adore.
It was at eleven in the morning that the pale youth-god put collar
and chain on Michael, led him out of the segregation ward, and
turned him over to a dark youth-god who wasted no time of greeting
on him and manifested no friendliness. A captive at the end of a
chain, on the way Michael quickly encountered other captives going
in his direction. There were three of them, and never had he seen
the like. Three slouching, ambling monsters of bears they were,
and at sight of them Michael bristled and uttered the lowest of
growls; for he knew them, out of his heredity (as a domestic cow
knows her first wolf), as immemorial enemies from the wild. But
he had travelled too far, seen too much, and was altogether too
sensible, to attack them. Instead, walking stiff-legged and
circumspectly, but smelling with all his nose the strange scent of
the creatures, he followed at the end of his chain his own captor
Continually a multitude of strange scents invaded his nostrils.
Although he could not see through walls, he got the smells he was
later to identify of lions, leopards, monkeys, baboons, and seals
and sea-lions. All of which might have stunned an ordinary dog;
but the effect on him was to make him very alert and at the same
time very subdued. It was as if he walked in a new and
monstrously populous jungle and was unacquainted with its ways and
As he was entering the arena, he shied off to the side more stiff-
leggedly than ever, bristled all along his neck and back, and
growled deep and low in his throat. For, emerging from the arena,
came five elephants. Small elephants they were, but to him they
were the hugest of monsters, in his mind comparable only with the
cow-whale of which he had caught fleeting glimpses when she
destroyed the schooner Mary Turner. But the elephants took no
notice of him, each with its trunk clutching the tail of the one
in front of it as it had been taught to do in making an exit.
Into the arena, he came, the bears following on his heels. It was
a sawdust circle the size of a circus ring, contained inside a
square building that was roofed over with glass. But there were
no seats about the ring, since spectators were not tolerated.
Only Harris Collins and his assistants, and buyers and sellers of
animals and men in the profession, were ever permitted to behold
how animals were tormented into the performance of tricks to make
the public open its mouth in astonishment or laughter.
Michael forgot about the bears, who were quickly at work on the
other side of the circle from that to which he was taken. Some
men, rolling out stout bright-painted barrels which elephants
could not crush by sitting on, attracted his attention for a
moment. Next, in a pause on the part of the man who led him, he
regarded with huge interest a piebald Shetland pony. It lay on
the ground. A man sat on it. And ever and anon it lifted its
head from the sawdust and kissed the man. This was all Michael
saw, yet he sensed something wrong about it. He knew not why, had
no evidence why, but he felt cruelty and power and unfairness.
What he did not see was the long pin in the man's hand. Each time
he thrust this in the pony's shoulder, the pony, stung by the pain
and reflex action, lifted its head, and the man was deftly ready
to meet the pony's mouth with his own mouth. To an audience the
impression would be that in such fashion the pony was expressing
its affection for the master.
Not a dozen feet away another Shetland, a coal-black one, was
behaving as peculiarly as it was being treated. Ropes were
attached to its forelegs, each rope held by an assistant, who
jerked on the same stoutly when a third man, standing in front of
the pony, tapped it on the knees with a short, stiff whip of
rattan. Whereupon the pony went down on its knees in the sawdust
in a genuflection to the man with the whip. The pony did not like
it, sometimes so successfully resisting with spread, taut legs and
mutinous head-tossings, as to overcome the jerk of the ropes, and,
at the same time wheeling, to fall heavily on its side or to
uprear as the pull on the ropes was relaxed. But always it was
lined up again to face the man who rapped its knees with the
rattan. It was being taught merely how to kneel in the way that
is ever a delight to the audiences who see only the results of the
schooling and never dream of the manner of the schooling. For, as
Michael was quickly sensing, knowledge was here learned by pain.
In short, this was the college of pain, this Cedarwild Animal
Harris Collins himself nodded the dark youth-god up to him, and
turned an inquiring and estimating gaze on Michael.
"The Del Mar dog, sir," said the youth-god.
Collins's eyes brightened, and he looked Michael over more
"Do you know what he can do?" he queried.
The youth shook his head.
"Harry was a keen one," Collins went on, apparently to the youth-
god but mostly for his own benefit, being given to thinking aloud.
"He picked this dog as a winner. And now what can he do? That's
the question. Poor Harry's gone, and we don't know what he can
do.--Take off the chain."
Released Michael regarded the master-god and waited for what might
happen. A squall of pain from one of the bears across the ring
hinted to him what he might expect.
"Come here," Collins commanded in his cold, hard tones.
Michael came and stood before him.
Michael lay down, although he did it slowly, with advertised
"Damned thoroughbred!" Collins sneered at him. "Won't put any pep
into your motions, eh? Well, we'll take care of that.--Get up!--
Lie down!--Get up!--Lie down!--Get up!"
His commands were staccato, like revolver shots or the cracks of
whips, and Michael obeyed them in his same slow, reluctant way.
"Understands English, at any rate," said Collins.
"Wonder if he can turn the double flip," he added, expressing the
golden dream of all dog-trainers. "Come on, we'll try him for a
flip. Put the chain on him. Come over here, Jimmy. Put another
lead on him."
Another reform-school graduate youth obeyed, snapping a girth
about Michael's loins, to which was attached a thin rope.
"Line him up," Collins commanded. "Ready?--Go!"
And the most amazing, astounding indignity was wreaked upon
Michael. At the word "Go!", simultaneously, the chain on his
collar jerked him up and back in the air, the rope on his
hindquarters jerked that portion of him under, forward, and up,
and the still short stick in Collins's hand hit him under the
lower jaw. Had he had any previous experience with the manoeuvre,
he would have saved himself part of the pain at least by springing
and whirling backward in the air. As it was, he felt as if being
torn and wrenched apart while at the same time the blow under his
jaw stung him and almost dazed him. And, at the same time,
whirled violently into the air, he fell on the back of his head in
Out of the sawdust he soared in rage, neck-hair erect, throat a-
snarl, teeth bared to bite, and he would have sunk his teeth into
the flesh of the master-god had he not been the slave of cunning
formula. The two youths knew their work. One tightened the lead
ahead, the other to the rear, and Michael snarled and bristled his
impotent wrath. Nothing could he do, neither advance, nor
retreat, nor whirl sideways. The youth in front by the chain
prevented him from attacking the youth behind, and the youth
behind, with the rope, prevented him from attacking the youth in
front, and both prevented him from attacking Collins, whom he knew
incontrovertibly to be the master of evil and hurt.
Michael's wrath was as superlative as was his helplessness. He
could only bristle and tear his vocal chords with his rage. But
it was a very ancient and boresome experience to Collins. He was
even taking advantage of the moment to glance across the arena and
size up what the bears were doing.
"Oh, you thoroughbred," he sneered at Michael, returning his
attention to him. "Slack him! Let go!"
The instant his bonds were released, Michael soared at Collins,
and Collins, timing and distancing with the accuracy of long
years, kicked him under the jaw and whirled him back and down into
"Hold him!" Collins ordered. "Line him out!"
And the two youths, pulling in opposite directions with chain and
rope, stretched him into helplessness.
Collins glanced across the ring to the entrance, where two teams
of heavy draft-horses were entering, followed by a woman dressed
to over-dressedness in the last word of a stylish street-costume.
"I fancy he's never done any flipping," Collins remarked, coming
back to the problem of Michael for a moment. "Take off your lead,
Jimmy, and go over and help Smith.--Johnny, hold him to one side
there and mind your legs. Here comes Miss Marie for her first
lesson, and that mutt of a husband of hers can't handle her."
Michael did not understand the scene that followed, which he
witnessed, for the youth led him over to look on at the arranging
of the woman and the four horses. Yet, from her conduct, he
sensed that she, too, was captive and ill-treated. In truth, she
was herself being trained unwillingly to do a trick. She had
carried herself bravely right to the moment of the ordeal, but the
sight of the four horses, ranged two and two opposing her, with
the thing patent that she was to hold in her hands the hooks on
the double-trees and form the link that connected the two spans
which were to pull in opposite directions--at the sight of this
her courage failed her and she shrank back, drooping and cowering,
her face buried in her hands.
"No, no, Billikens," she pleaded to the stout though youthful man
who was her husband. "I can't do it. I'm afraid. I'm afraid."
"Nonsense, madam," Collins interposed. "The trick is absolutely
safe. And it's a good one, a money-maker. Straighten up a
moment." With his hands he began feeling out her shoulders and
back under her jacket. "The apparatus is all right." He ran his
hands down her arms. "Now! Drop the hooks." He shook each arm,
and from under each of the fluffy lace cuffs fell out an iron hook
fast to a thin cable of steel that evidently ran up her sleeves.
"Not that way! Nobody must see. Put them back. Try it again.
They must come down hidden in your palms. Like this. See.--
That's it. That's the idea."
She controlled herself and strove to obey, though ever and anon
she cast appealing glances to Billikens, who stood remote and
aloof, his brows wrinkled with displeasure.
Each of the men driving the harnessed spans lifted up the double-
trees so that the girl could grasp the hooks. She tried to take
hold, but broke down again.
"If anything breaks, my arms will be torn out of me," she
"On the contrary," Collins reassured her. "You will lose merely
most of your jacket. The worst that can happen will be the
exposure of the trick and the laugh on you. But the apparatus
isn't going to break. Let me explain again. The horses do not
pull against you. They pull against each other. The audience
thinks that they are pulling against you.--Now try once more.
Take hold the double-trees, and at the same moment slip down the
hooks and connect.--Now!"
He spoke sharply. She shook the hooks down out of her sleeves,
but drew back from grasping the double-trees. Collins did not
betray his vexation. Instead, he glanced aside to where the
kissing pony and the kneeling pony were leaving the ring. But the
husband raged at her:
"By God, Julia, if you throw me down this way!"
"Oh, I'll try, Billikens," she whimpered. "Honestly, I'll try.
See! I'm not afraid now."
She extended her hands and clasped the double-trees. With a thin
writhe of a smile, Collins investigated the insides of her
clenched hands to make sure that the hooks were connected.
"Now brace yourself! Spread your legs. And straighten out."
With his hands he manipulated her arms and shoulders into
position. "Remember, you've got to meet the first of the strain
with your arms straight out. After the strain is on, you couldn't
bend 'em if you wanted to. But if the strain catches them bent,
the wire'll rip the hide off of you. Remember, straight out,
extended, so that they form a straight line with each other and
with the flat of your back and shoulders. That's it. Ready now."
"Oh, wait a minute," she begged, forsaking the position. "I'll do
it--oh, I will do it, but, Billikens, kiss me first, and then I
won't care if my arms are pulled out."
The dark youth who held Michael, and others looking on, grinned.
Collins dissembled whatever grin might have troubled for
expression, and murmured:
"All the time in the world, madam. The point is, the first time
must come off right. After that you'll have the confidence.--
Bill, you'd better love her up before she tackles it."
And Billikens, very angry, very disgusted, very embarrassed,
obeyed, putting his arms around his wife and kissing her neither
too perfunctorily nor very long. She was a pretty young thing of
a woman, perhaps twenty years old, with an exceedingly childish,
girlish face and a slender-waisted, generously moulded body of
fully a hundred and forty pounds.
The embrace and kiss of her husband put courage into her. She
stiffened and steeled herself, and with compressed lips, as he
stepped clear of her, muttered, "Ready."
"Go!" Collins commanded.
The four horses, under the urge of the drivers, pressed lazily
into their collars and began pulling.
"Give 'em the whip!" Collins barked, his eyes on the girl and
noting that the pull of the apparatus was straight across her.
The lashes fell on the horses' rumps, and they leaped, and surged,
and plunged, with their huge steel-shod hoofs, the size of soup-
plates, tearing up the sawdust into smoke.
And Billikens forgot himself. The terribleness of the sight
painted the honest anxiety for the woman on his face. And her
face was a kaleidoscope. At the first, tense and fearful, it was
like that of a Christian martyr meeting the lions, or of a felon
falling through the trap. Next, and quickly, came surprise and
relief in that there was no hurt. And, finally, her face was
proudly happy with a smile of triumph. She even smiled to
Billikens her pride at making good her love to him. And Billikens
relaxed and looked love and pride back, until, on the spur of the
second, Harris Collins broke in:
"This ain't a smiling act! Get that smile off your face. The
audience has got to think you're carrying the pull. Show that you
are. Make your face stiff till it cracks. Show determination,
will-power. Show great muscular effort. Spread your legs more.
Bring up the muscles through your skirt just as if you was really
working. Let 'em pull you this way a bit and that way a bit.
Give 'em to. Spread your legs more. Make a noise on your face as
if you was being pulled to pieces an' that all that holds you is
will-power.--That's the idea! That's the stuff! It's a winner,
Bill! It's a winner!--Throw the leather into 'em! Make 'm jump!
Make 'm get right down and pull the daylights out of each other!"
The whips fell on the horses, and the horses struggled in all
their hugeness and might to pull away from the pain of the
punishment. It was a spectacle to win approval from any audience.
Each horse averaged eighteen hundredweight; thus, to the eye of
the onlooker, seven thousand two hundred pounds of straining
horse-flesh seemed wrenching and dragging apart the slim-waisted,
delicately bodied, hundred-and-forty pound woman in her fancy
street costume. It was a sight to make women in circus audiences
scream with terror and turn their faces away.
"Slack down!" Collins commanded the drivers.
"The lady wins," he announced, after the manner of a ringmaster.--
"Bill, you've got a mint in that turn.--Unhook, madam, unhook!"
Marie obeyed, and, the hooks still dangling from her sleeves, made
a short run to Billikens, into whose arms she threw herself, her
own arms folding him about the neck as she exclaimed before she
"Oh, Billikens, I knew I could do it all the time! I was brave,
"A give-away," Collins's dry voice broke in on her ecstasy.
"Letting all the audience see the hooks. They must go up your
sleeves the moment you let go.--Try it again. And another thing.
When you finish the turn, no chestiness. No making out how easy
it was. Make out it was the very devil. Show yourself weak, just
about to collapse from the strain. Give at the knees. Make your
shoulders cave in. The ringmaster will half step forward to catch
you before you faint. That's your cue. Beat him to it. Stiffen
up and straighten up with an effort of will-power--will-power's
the idea, gameness, and all that, and kiss your hands to the
audience and make a weak, pitiful sort of a smile, as though your
heart's been pulled 'most out of you and you'll have to go to the
hospital, but for right then that you're game an' smiling and
kissing your hands to the audience that's riping the seats up and
loving you.--Get me, madam? You, Bill, get the idea! And see she
does it.--Now, ready! Be a bit wistful as you look at the
horses.--That's it! Nobody'd guess you'd palmed the hooks and
connected them.--Straight out!--Let her go!"
And again the thirty-six-hundredweight of horses on either side
pitted its strength against the similar weight on the other side,
and the seeming was that Marie was the link of woman-flesh being
A third and a fourth time the turn was rehearsed, and, between
turns, Collins sent a man to his office, for the Del Mar telegram.
"You take her now, Bill," he told Marie's husband, as, telegram in
hand, he returned to the problem of Michael. "Give her half a
dozen tries more. And don't forget, any time any jay farmer
thinks he's got a span that can pull, bet him on the side your
best span can beat him. That means advance advertising and some
paper. It'll be worth it. The ringmaster'll favour you, and your
span can get the first jump. If I was young and foot-loose, I'd
ask nothing better than to go out with your turn."
Harris Collins, in the pauses gazing down at Michael, read Del
Mar's Seattle telegram:
"Sell my dogs. You know what they can do and what they are worth.
Am done with them. Deduct the board and hold the balance until I
see you. I have the limit of a dog. Every turn I ever pulled is
put in the shade by this one. He's a ten strike. Wait till you
Over to one side in the busy arena, Collins contemplated Michael.
"Del Mar was the limit himself," he told Johnny, who held Michael
by the chain. "When he wired me to sell his dogs it meant he had
a better turn, and here's only one dog to show for it, a damned
thoroughbred at that. He says it's the limit. It must be, but in
heaven's name, what is its turn? It's never done a flip in its
life, much less a double flip. What do you think, Johnny? Use
your head. Suggest something."
"Maybe it can count," Johnny advanced.
"And counting-dogs are a drug on the market. Well, anyway, let's
And Michael, who knew unerringly how to count, refused to perform.
"If he was a regular dog, he could walk anyway," was Collins' next
idea. "We'll try him."
And Michael went through the humiliating ordeal of being jerked
erect on his hind legs by Johnny while Collins with the stick
cracked him under the jaw and across the knees. In his wrath,
Michael tried to bite the master-god, and was jerked away by the
chain. When he strove to retaliate on Johnny, that imperturbable
youth, with extended arm, merely lifted him into the air on his
chain and strangled him.
"That's off," quoth Collins wearily. "If he can't stand on his
hind legs he can't barrel-jump--you've heard about Ruth, Johnny.
She was a winner. Jump in and out of nail-kegs, on her hind legs,
without ever touching with her front ones. She used to do eight
kegs, in one and out into the next. Remember when she was boarded
here and rehearsed. She was a gold-mine, but Carson didn't know
how to treat her, and she croaked off with penumonia at Cripple
"Wonder if he can spin plates on his nose," Johnny volunteered.
"Can't stand up on hind legs," Collins negatived. "Besides,
nothing like the limit in a turn like that. This dog's got a
specially. He ain't ordinary. He does some unusual thing
unusually well, and it's up to us to locate it. That comes of
Harry dying so inconsiderately and leaving this puzzle-box on my
hands. I see I just got to devote myself to him. Take him away,
Johnny. Number Eighteen for him. Later on we can put him in the
Number Eighteen was a big compartment or cage in the dog row,
large enough with due comfort for a dozen Irish terriers like
Michael. For Harris Collins was scientific. Dogs on vacation,
boarding at the Cedarwild Animal School, were given every
opportunity to recuperate from the hardships and wear and tear of
from six months to a year and more on the road. It was for this
reason that the school was so popular a boarding-place for
performing animals when the owners were on vacation or out of
"time." Harris Collins kept his animals clean and comfortable and
guarded from germ diseases. In short, he renovated them against
their next trips out on vaudeville time or circus engagement.
To the left of Michael, in Number Seventeen, were five grotesquely
clipped French poodles. Michael could not see them, save when he
was being taken out or brought back, but he could smell them and
hear them, and, in his loneliness, he even started a feud of
snarling bickeringness with Pedro, the biggest of them who acted
as clown in their turn. They were aristocrats among performing
animals, and Michael's feud with Pedro was not so much real as
play-acted. Had he and Pedro been brought together they would
have made friends in no time. But through the slow monotonous
drag of the hours they developed a fictitious excitement and
interest in mouthing their quarrel which each knew in his heart of
hearts was no quarrel at all.
In Number Nineteen, on Michael's right, was a sad and tragic
company. They were mongrels, kept spotlessly and germicidally
clean, who were unattached and untrained. They composed a sort of
reserve of raw material, to be worked into established troupes
when an extra one or a substitute was needed. This meant the hell
of the arena where the training went on. Also, in spare moments,
Collins, or his assistants, were for ever trying them out with all
manner of tricks in the quest of special aptitudes on their parts.
Thus, a mongrel semblance to a cooker spaniel of a dog was tried
out for several days as a pony-rider who would leap through paper
hoops from the pony's back, and return upon the back again. After
several falls and painful injuries, it was rejected for the feat
and tried out as a plate-balancer. Failing in this, it was made
into a see-saw dog who, for the rest of the turn, filled into the
background of a troupe of twenty dogs.
Number Nineteen was a place of perpetual quarrelling and pain.
Dogs, hurt in the training, licked their wounds, and moaned, or
howled, or were irritable to excess on the slightest provocation.
Always, when a new dog entered--and this was a regular happening,
for others were continually being taken away to hit the road--the
cage was vexed with quarrels and battles, until the new dog, by
fighting or by non resistance, had commanded or been taught its
Michael ignored the denizens of Number Nineteen. They could sniff
and snarl belligerently across at him, but he took no notice,
reserving his companionship for the play-acted and perennial
quarrel with Pedro. Also, Michael was out in the arena more often
and far longer hours than any of them.
"Trust Harry not to make a mistake on a dog," was Collins's
judgment; and constantly he strove to find in Michael what had
made Del Mar declare him a ten strike and the limit.
Every indignity, in the attempt to find out, was wreaked upon
Michael. They tried him at hurdle-jumping, at walking on fore-
legs, at pony-riding, at forward flips, and at clowning with other
dogs. They tried him at waltzing, all his legs cord-fastened and
dragged and jerked and slacked under him. They spiked his collar
in some of the attempted tricks to keep him from lurching from
side to side or from falling forward or backward. They used the
whip and the rattan stick; and twisted his nose. They attempted
to make a goal-keeper of him in a football game between two teams
of pain-driven and pain-bitten mongrels. And they dragged him up
ladders to make him dive into a tank of water.
Even they essayed to make him "loop the loop"--rushing him down an
inclined trough at so high speed of his legs, accelerated by the
slash of whips on his hindquarters, that, with such initial
momentum, had he put his heart and will into it, he could have
successfully run up the inside of the loop, and across the inside
of the top of it, back-downward, like a fly on the ceiling, and on
and down and around and out of the loop. But he refused the will
and the heart, and every time, when he was unable at the beginning
to leap sideways out of the inclined trough, he fell grievously
from the inside of the loop, bruising and injuring himself.
"It isn't that I expect these things are what Harry had in mind,"
Collins would say, for always he was training his assistants; "but
that through them I may get a cue to his specially, whatever in
God's name it is, that poor Harry must have known."
Out of love, at the wish of his love-god, Steward, Michael would
have striven to learn these tricks and in most of them would have
succeeded. But here at Cedarwild was no love, and his own
thoroughbred nature made him stubbornly refuse to do under
compulsion what he would gladly have done out of love. As a
result, since Collins was no thoroughbred of a man, the clashes
between them were for a time frequent and savage. In this
fighting Michael quickly learned he had no chance. He was always
doomed to defeat. He was beaten by stereotyped formula before he
began. Never once could he get his teeth into Collins or Johnny.
He was too common-sensed to keep up the battling in which he would
surely have broken his heart and his body and gone dumb mad.
Instead, he retired into himself, became sullen, undemonstrative,
and, though he never cowered in defeat, and though he was always
ready to snarl and bristle his hair in advertisement that inside
he was himself and unconquered, he no longer burst out in furious
After a time, scarcely ever trying him out on a new trick, the
chain and Johnny were dispensed with, and with Collins he spent
all Collins's hours in the arena. He learned, by bitter lessons,
that he must follow Collins around; and follow him he did, hating
him perpetually and in his own body slowly and subtly poisoning
himself by the juices of his glands that did not secrete and flow
in quite their normal way because of the pressure put upon them by
The effect of this, on his body, was not perceptible. This was
because of his splendid constitution and health. Wherefore, since
the effect must be produced somewhere, it was his mind, or spirit,
or nature, or brain, or processes of consciousness, that received
it. He drew more and more within himself, became morose, and
brooded much. All of which was spiritually unhealthful. He, who
had been so merry-hearted, even merrier-hearted than his brother
Jerry, began to grow saturnine, and peevish, and ill-tempered. He
no longer experienced impulses to play, to romp around, to run
about. His body became as quiet and controlled as his brain.
Human convicts, in prisons, attain this quietude. He could stand
by the hour, to heel to Collins, uninterested, infinitely bored,
while Collins tortured some mongrel creature into the performance
of a trick.
And much of this torturing Michael witnessed. There were the
greyhounds, the high-jumpers and wide-leapers. They were willing
to do their best, but Collins and his assistants achieved the
miracle, if miracle it may be called, of making them do better
than their best. Their best was natural. Their better than best
was unnatural, and it killed some and shortened the lives of all.
Rushed to the spring-board and the leap, always, after the take-
off, in mid-air, they had to encounter an assistant who stood
underneath, an extraordinarily long buggy-whip in hand, and lashed
them vigorously. This made them leap from the springboard beyond
their normal powers, hurting and straining and injuring them in
their desperate attempt to escape the whip-lash, to beat the whip-
lash in the air and be past ere it could catch their flying flanks
and sting them like a scorpion.
"Never will a jumping dog jump his hardest," Collins told his
assistants, "unless he's made to. That's your job. That's the
difference between the jumpers I turn out and some of these dub
amateur-jumping outfits that fail to make good even on the bush
Collins continually taught. A graduate from his school, an
assistant who received from him a letter of recommendation,
carried a high credential of a sheepskin into the trained-animal
"No dog walks naturally on its hind legs, much less on its
forelegs," Collins would say. "Dogs ain't built that way. THEY
HAVE TO BE MADE TO, that's all. That's the secret of all animal
training. They have to. You've got to make them. That's your
job. Make them. Anybody who can't, can't make good in this
factory. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, and get busy."
Michael saw, without fully appreciating, the use of the spiked
saddle on the bucking mule. The mule was fat and good-natured the
first day of its appearance in the arena. It had been a pet mule
in a family of children until Collins's keen eyes rested on it;
and it had known only love and kindness and much laughter for its
foolish mulishness. But Collins's eyes had read health, vigour,
and long life, as well as laughableness of appearance and action
in the long-eared hybrid.
Barney Barnato he was renamed that first day in the arena, when,
also, he received the surprise of his life. He did not dream of
the spike in the saddle, nor, while the saddle was empty, did it
press against him. But the moment Samuel Bacon, a negro tumbler,
got into the saddle, the spike sank home. He knew about it and
was prepared. But Barney, taken by surprise, arched his back in
the first buck he had ever made. It was so prodigious a buck that
Collins eyes snapped with satisfaction, while Sam landed a dozen
feet away in the sawdust.
"Make good like that," Collins approved, "and when I sell the mule
you'll go along as part of the turn, or I miss my guess. And it
will be some turn. There'll be at least two more like you, who'll
have to be nervy and know how to fall. Get busy. Try him again."
And Barney entered into the hell of education that later won his
purchaser more time than he could deliver over the best vaudeville
circuits in Canada and the United States. Day after day Barney
took his torture. Not for long did he carry the spiked saddle.
Instead, bare-back, he received the negro on his back, and was
spiked and set bucking just the same; for the spike was now
attached to Sam's palm by means of leather straps. In the end,
Barney became so "touchy" about his back that he almost began
bucking if a person as much as looked at it. Certainly, aware of
the stab of pain, he started bucking, whirling, and kicking
whenever the first signal was given of some one trying to mount
At the end of the fourth week, two other tumblers, white youths,
being secured, the complete, builded turn was performed for the
benefit of a slender, French-looking gentleman, with waxed
moustaches. In the end he bought Barney, without haggling, at
Collins's own terms and engaged Sammy and the other two tumblers
as well. Collins staged the trick properly, as it would be staged
in the theatre, even had ready and set up all the necessary
apparatus, and himself acted as ringmaster while the prospective
purchaser looked on.
Barney, fat as butter, humorous-looking, was led into the square
of cloth-covered steel cables and cloth-covered steel uprights.
The halter was removed and he was turned loose. Immediately he
became restless, the ears were laid back, and he was a picture of
"Remember one thing," Collins told the man who might buy. "If you
buy him, you'll be ringmaster, and you must never, never spike
him. When he comes to know that, you can always put your hands on
him any time and control him. He's good-natured at heart, and
he's the gratefullest mule I've ever seen in the business. He's
just got to love you, and hate the other three. And one warning:
if he goes real bad and starts biting, you'll have to pull out his
teeth and feed him soft mashes and crushed grain that's steamed.
I'll give you the recipe for the digestive dope you'll have to put
Collins stopped into the ring and caressed Barney, who responded
in the best of tempers and tried affectionately to nudge and shove
past on the way out of the ropes to escape what he knew was
"See," Collins exposited. "He's got confidence in me. He trusts
me. He knows I've never spiked him and that I always save him in
the end. I'm his good Samaritan, and you'll have to be the same
to him if you buy him.--Now I'll give you your spiel. Of course,
you can improve on it to suit yourself."
The master-trainer walked out of the rope square, stepped forward
to an imaginary line, and looked down and out and up as if he were
gazing at the pit of the orchestra beneath him, across at the body
of the house, and up into the galleries.
"Ladies and gentlemen," he addressed the sawdust emptiness before
him as if it were a packed audience, "this is Barney Barnato, the
biggest joker of a mule ever born. He's as affectionate as a
Newfoundland puppy--just watch--"
Stepping back to the ropes, Collins extended his hand across them,
saying: "Come here, Barney, and show all these people who you
And Barney twinkled forward on his small hoofs, nozzled the open
hand, and came closer, nozzling up the arm, nudging Collins's
shoulders with his nose, half-rearing as if to get across the
ropes and embrace him. What he was really doing was begging and
entreating Collins to take him away out of the squared ring from
the torment he knew awaited him.
"That's what it means by never spiking him," Collins shot at the
man with the waxed moustaches, as he stepped forward to the
imaginary line in the sawdust, above the imaginary pit of the
orchestra, and addressed the imaginary house.
"Ladies and gentlemen, Barney Barnato is a josher. He's got forty
tricks up each of his four legs, and the man don't live that he'll
let stick on big back for sixty seconds. I'm telling you this in
fair warning, before I make my proposition. Looks easy, doesn't
it?--one minute, the sixtieth part of an hour, to be precise,
sixty seconds, to stick on the back of an affectionate josher mule
like Barney. Well, come on you boys and broncho riders. To
anybody who sticks on for one minute I shall immediately pay the
sum of fifty dollars; for two whole, entire minutes, the sum of
five hundred dollars."
This was the cue for Samuel Bacon, who advanced across the
sawdust, awkward and grinning and embarrassed, and apparently was
helped up to the stage by the extended hand of Collins.
"Is your life insured?" Collins demanded.
Sam shook his head and grinned.
"Then what are you tackling this for?"
"For the money," said Sam. "I jes' naturally needs it in my
"What is your business?"
"None of your business, mister." Here Sam grinned ingratiating
apology for his impertinence and shuffled on his legs. "I might
be investin' in lottery tickets, only I ain't. Do I get the
money?--that's OUR business."
"Sure you do," Collins replied. "When you earn it. Stand over
there to one side and wait a moment.--Ladies and gentlemen, if you
will forgive the delay, I must ask for more volunteers.--Any more
takers? Fifty dollars for sixty seconds. Almost a dollar a
second . . . if you win. Better! I'll make it a dollar a second.
Sixty dollars to the boy, man, woman, or girl who sticks on
Barney's back for one minute. Come on, ladies. Remember this is
the day of equal suffrage. Here's where you put it over on your
husbands, brothers, sons, fathers, and grandfathers. Age is no
limit.--Grandma, do I get you?" he uttered directly to what must
have been a very elderly lady in a near front row.--"You see," (to
the prospective buyer), "I've got the entire patter for you. You
could do it with two rehearsals, and you can do them right here,
free of charge, part of the purchase."
The next two tumblers crossed the sawdust and were helped by
Collins up to the imaginary stage.
"You can change the patter according to the cities you're in," he
explained to the Frenchman. "It's easy to find out the names of
the most despised and toughest neighbourhoods or villages, and
have the boys hail from them."
Continuing the patter, Collins put the performance on. Sam's
first attempt was brief. He was not half on when he was flung to
the ground. Half a dozen attempts, quickly repeated, were
scarcely better, the last one permitting him to remain on Barney's
back nearly ten seconds, and culminating in a ludicrous fall over
Barney's head. Sam withdrew from the ring, shaking his head
dubiously and holding his side as if in pain. The other lads
followed. Expert tumblers, they executed most amazing and side-
splitting fails. Sam recovered and came back. Toward the last,
all three made a combined attack on Barney, striving to mount him
simultaneously from different slants of approach. They were
scattered and flung like chaff, sometimes falling heaped together.
Once, the two white boys, standing apart as if recovering breath,
were mowed down by Sam's flying body.
"Remember, this is a real mule," Collins told the man with the
waxed moustaches. "If any outsiders butt in for a hack at the
money, all the better. They'll get theirs quick. The man don't
live who can stay on his back a minute . . . if you keep him
rehearsed with the spike. He must live in fear of the spike.
Never let him slow up on it. Never let him forget it. If you lay
off any time for a few days, rehearse him with the spike a couple
of times just before you begin again, or else he might forget it
and queer the turn by ambling around with the first outside rube
that mounts him.
"And just suppose some rube, all hooks of arms and legs and hands,
is managing to stick on anyway, and the minute is getting near up.
Just have Sam here, or any of your three, slide in and spike him
from the palm. That'll be good night for Mr. Rube. You can't
lose, and the audience'll laugh its fool head off.
"Now for the climax! Watch! This always brings the house down.
Get busy you two!--Sam! Ready!"
While the white boys threatened to mount Barney from either side
and kept his attention engaged, Sam, from outside, in a sudden fit
of rage and desperation, made a flying dive across the ropes and
from in front locked arms and legs about Barney's neck, tucking
his own head close against Barney's head. And Barney reared up on
his hind legs, as he had long since learned from the many palm-
spikings he had received on head and neck.
"It's a corker," Collins announced, as Barney, on his hind legs,
striking vainly with his fore, struggled about the ring. "There's
no danger. He'll never fall over backwards. He's a mule, and
he's too wise. Besides, even if he does, all Sam has to do is let
go and fall clear."
The turn over, Barney gladly accepted the halter and was led out
of the square ring and up to the Frenchman.
"Long life there--look him over," Collins continued to sell.
"It's a full turn, including yourself, four performers, besides
the mule, and besides any suckers from the audience. It's all
ready to put on the boards, and dirt cheap at five thousand."
The Frenchman winced at the sum.
"Listen to arithmetic," Collins went on. "You can sell at twelve
hundred a week at least, and you can net eight hundred certain.
Six weeks of the net pays for the turn, and you can book a hundred
weeks right off the bat and have them yelling for more. Wish I
was young and footloose. I'd take it out on the road myself and
coin a fortune."
And Barney was sold, and passed out of the Cedarwild Animal School
to the slavery of the spike and to be provocative of much joy and
laughter in the pleasure-theatre of the world.
"The thing is, Johnny, you can't love dogs into doing professional
tricks, which is the difference between dogs and women," Collins
told his assistant. "You know how it is with any dog. You love
it up into lying down and rolling over and playing dead and all
such dub tricks. And then one day you show him off to your
friends, and the conditions are changed, and he gets all excited
and foolish, and you can't get him to do a thing. Children are
like that. Lose their heads in company, forget all their
training, and throw you down."
"Now on the stage, they got real tricks to do, tricks they don't
do, tricks they hate. And they mightn't be feeling good--got a
touch of cold, or mange, or are sour-balled. What are you going
to do? Apologize to the audience? Besides, on the stage, the
programme runs like clockwork. Got to start performing on the
tick of the clock, and anywhere from one to seven turns a day, all
depending what kind of time you've got. The point is, your dogs
have got to get right up and perform. No loving them, no begging
them, no waiting on them. And there's only the one way. They've
got to know when you start, you mean it."
"And dogs ain't fools," Johnny opined. "They know when you mean
anything, an' when you don't."
"Sure thing," Collins nodded approbation. "The moment you slack
up on them is the moment they slack up in their work. You get
soft, and see how quick they begin making mistakes in their
tricks. You've got to keep the fear of God over them. If you
don't, they won't, and you'll find yourself begging for spotted
time on the bush circuits."
Half an hour later, Michael heard, though he understood no word of
it, the master-trainer laying another law down to another
"Cross-breds and mongrels are what's needed, Charles. Not one
thoroughbred in ten makes good, unless he's got the heart of a
coward, and that's just what distinguishes them from mongrels and
cross-breds. Like race-horses, they're hot-blooded. They've got
sensitiveness, and pride. Pride's the worst. You listen to me.
I was born into the business and I've studied it all my life. I'm
a success. There's only one reason I'm a success--I KNOW. Get
that. I KNOW."
"Another thing is that cross-breds and mongrels are cheap. You
needn't be afraid of losing them or working them out. You can
always get more, and cheap. And they ain't the trouble in
teaching. You can throw the fear of God into them. That's what's
the matter with the thoroughbreds. You can't throw the fear of
God into them."
"Give a mongrel a real licking, and what's he do? He'll kiss your
hand, and be obedient, and crawl on his belly to do what you want
him to do. They're slave dogs, that's what mongrels are. They
ain't got courage, and you don't want courage in a performing dog.
You want fear. Now you give a thoroughbred a licking and see what
happens. Sometimes they die. I've known them to die. And if
they don't die, what do they do? Either they go stubborn, or
vicious, or both. Sometimes they just go to biting and foaming.
You can kill them, but you can't keep them from biting and
foaming. Or they'll go straight stubborn. They're the worst.
They're the passive resisters--that's what I call them. They
won't fight back. You can flog them to death, but it won't buy
you anything. They're like those Christians that used to be
burned at the stake or boiled in oil. They've got their opinions,
and nothing you can do will change them. They'll die first. . . .
And they do. I've had them. I was learning myself . . . and I
learned to leave the thoroughbred alone. They beat you out. They
get your goat. You never get theirs. And they're time-wasters,
and patience-wasters, and they're expensive."
"Take this terrier here." Collins nodded at Michael, who stood
several feet back of him, morosely regarding the various
activities of the arena. "He's both kinds of a thoroughbred, and
therefore no good. I've never given him a real licking, and I
never will. It would be a waste of time. He'll fight if you
press him too hard. And he'll die fighting you. He's too
sensible to fight if you don't press him too hard. And if you
don't press him too hard, he'll just stay as he is, and refuse to
learn anything. I'd chuck him right now, except Del Mar couldn't
make a mistake. Poor Harry knew he had a specially, and a
crackerjack, and it's up to me to find it."
"Wonder if he's a lion dog," Charles suggested.
"He's the kind that ain't afraid of lions," Collins concurred.
"But what sort of a specially trick could he do with lions? Stick
his head in their mouths? I never heard of a dog doing that, and
it's an idea. But we can try him. We've tried him at 'most
"There's old Hannibal," said Charles. "He used to take a woman's
head in his mouth with the old Sales-Sinker shows."
"But old Hannibal's getting cranky," Collins objected. "I've been
watching him and trying to get rid of him. Any animal is liable
to go off its nut any time, especially wild ones. You see, the
life ain't natural. And when they do, it's good night. You lose
your investment, and, if you don't know your business, maybe your
And Michael might well have been tried out on Hannibal and have
lost his head inside that animal's huge mouth, had not the good
fortune of apropos-ness intervened. For, the next moment, Collins
was listening to the hasty report of his lion-and-tiger keeper.
The man who reported was possibly forty years of age, although he
looked half as old again. He was a withered-faced man, whose
face-lines, deep and vertical, looked as if they had been clawed
there by some beast other than himself.
"Old Hannibal is going crazy," was the burden of his report.
"Nonsense," said Harris Collins. "It's you that's getting old.
He's got your goat, that's all. I'll show it to you.--Come on
along, all of you. We'll take fifteen minutes off of the work,
and I'll show you a show never seen in the show-ring. It'd be
worth ten thousand a week anywhere . . . only it wouldn't last.
Old Hannibal would turn up his toes out of sheer hurt feelings.--
Come on everybody! All hands! Fifteen minutes recess!"
And Michael followed at the heels of his latest and most terrible
master, the twain leading the procession of employees and visiting
professional animal men who trooped along behind. As was well
known, when Harris Collins performed he performed only for the
elite, for the hoi-polloi of the trained-animal world.