A Boy I Knew and Four Dogs
by Laurence Hutton
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The next morning, early, he came into the Thirty-fourth Street study, combed, kempt, shining, cared for to a superlative degree; with a note in his mouth signifying that his name was Mop and that he was The Boy's. He was The Boy's, and The Boy was his, so long as he lived, ten happy years for both of them.

Without Punch's phenomenal intelligence, Mop had many of Punch's ways, and all of Punch's trust and affection; and, like Punch, he was never so superlatively happy as when he was roughly mauled and pulled about by his tail. When by chance he was shut out in the back-yard, he knocked, with his tail, on the door; he squirmed his way into the heart of Mary Cook in the first ten minutes, and in half an hour he was on terms of the most affectionate friendship with Punch's cat.

Mop had absolutely no sense of fear or of animal proportions. As a catter he was never equalled; a Yale-man, by virtue of an honorary degree, he tackled everything he ever met in the feline way—with the exception of the Princeton Tiger—and he has been known to attack dogs seven times as big as himself. He learned nothing by experience: he never knew when he was thrashed. The butcher's dog at Onteora whipped, and bit, and chewed him into semi-helpless unconsciousness three times a week for four months, one summer; and yet Mop, half paralyzed, bandaged, soaked in Pond's Extract, unable to hold up his head to respond to the greetings of his own family, speechless for hours, was up and about and ready for another fray and another chewing, the moment the butcher's dog, unseen, unscented by the rest of the household, appeared over the brow of the hill.

The only creature by whom Mop was ever really overcome was a black-and-white, common, every-day, garden skunk. He treed this unexpected visitor on the wood-pile one famous moonlight night in Onteora. And he acknowledged his defeat at once, and like a man. He realized fully his own unsavory condition. He retired to a far corner of the small estate, and for a week, prompted only by his own instinct, he kept to the leeward of Onteora society.

He went out of Onteora, that summer, in a blaze of pugnacious glory. It was the last day of the season; many households were being broken up, and four or five families were leaving the colony together. All was confusion and hurry at the little railway station at Tannersville. Scores of trunks were being checked, scores of packages were being labelled for expressage, every hand held a bag, or a bundle, or both; and Mop, a semi-invalid, his fore paw and his ear in slings, the result of recent encounters with the butcher's dog, was carried, for safety's sake, and for the sake of his own comfort, in a basket, which served as an ambulance, and was carefully placed in the lap of the cook. As the train finally started, already ten minutes late, the cook, to give her hero a last look at the Hill-of-the-Sky, opened the basket, and the window, that he might wag a farewell tail. When lo! the butcher's dog appeared upon the scene, and, in an instant, Mop was out of the window and under the car-wheels, in the grip of the butcher's dog. Intense was the excitement. The engine was stopped, and brakemen, and firemen, and conductors, and passengers, and on-lookers, and other dogs, were shouting and barking and trying to separate the combatants. At the end of a second ten minutes Mop—minus a piece of the other ear—was back in his ambulance: conquered, but happy. He never saw the butcher's dog or Onteora again.

To go back a little. Mop was the first person who was told of his master's engagement, and he was the first to greet the wife when she came home, a bride, to his own house. He had been made to understand, from the beginning, that she did not care for dogs—in general. And he set himself out to please, and to overcome the unspoken antagonism. He had a delicate part to play, and he played it with a delicacy and a tact which rarely have been equalled. He did not assert himself; he kept himself in the background; he said little; his approaches at first were slight and almost imperceptible, but he was always ready to do, or to help, in an unaggressive way. He followed her about the house, up-stairs and down-stairs, and he looked and waited. Then he began to sit on the train of her gown; to stand as close to her as was fit and proper; once in a while to jump upon the sofa beside her, or into the easy-chair behind her, winking at his master, from time to time, in his quiet way.

And at last he was successful. One dreary winter, when he suffered terribly from inflammatory rheumatism, he found his mistress making a bed for him by the kitchen fire, getting up in the middle of the night to go down to look after him, when he uttered, in pain, the cries he could not help. And when a bottle of very rare old brandy, kept for some extraordinary occasion of festivity, was missing, the master was informed that it had been used in rubbing Mop!

Mop's early personal history was never known. Told once that he was the purest Dandie in America, and asked his pedigree, his master was moved to look into the matter of his family tree. It seems that a certain sea-captain was commissioned to bring back to this country the best Dandie to be had in all Scotland. He sent his quartermaster to find him, and the quartermaster found Mop under a private carriage, in Argyle Street, Glasgow, and brought him on board. That is Mop's pedigree.

Mop died of old age and of a complication of diseases, in the spring of 1892. He lost his hair, he lost his teeth, he lost everything but his indomitable spirit; and when almost on the brink of the grave, he stood in the back-yard—literally, on the brink of his own grave—for eight hours in a March snow-storm, motionless, and watching a great black cat on the fence, whom he hypnotized, and who finally came down to be killed. The cat weighed more than Mop did, and was very gamy. And the encounter nearly cost a lawsuit.

This was Mop's last public appearance. He retired to his bed before the kitchen range, and gradually and slowly he faded away: amiable, unrepining, devoted to the end. A consultation of doctors showed that his case was hopeless, and Mop was condemned to be carried off to be killed humanely by the society founded by Mr. Bergh, where without cruelty they end the sufferings of animals. Mop had not left his couch for weeks. His master spoke to him about it, with tears in his eyes, one night. He said: "To-morrow must end it, old friend. 'Tis for your sake and your relief. It almost breaks my heart, old friend. But there is another and a better world—even for dogs, old friend. And for old acquaintance' sake, and for old friendship's sake, I must have you sent on ahead of me, old friend."

The next morning, when he came down to breakfast, there by the empty chair sat Mop. How he got himself up the stairs nobody knows. But there he was, and the society which a good man founded saw not Mop that day.

The end came soon afterwards. And Mop has gone on to join Whiskie and Punch in their waiting for The Boy.

The family went abroad for a year's stay, when Mop died, and they rented the house to good people and good tenants, who have never been forgiven for one particular act. They buried a dog of their own in the family plot in the back-yard, and under the ailantus-tree which shades the graves of the cats and the dogs; and The Boy feels that they have profaned the spot!

It seemed to his master, after the passing of Mop, that the master's earthly account with dogs was closed. The pain of parting was too great to be endured. But another Dandie came to him, one Christmas morning, to fill the aching void; and for a time again his life is not a dogless one.

The present ruler of the household has a pedigree much longer and much straighter than his own front legs. Although he comes from a distinguished line of prize-winning thoroughbreds, he never will be permitted to compete for a medal on his own behalf. The Dog Show should be suppressed by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Dogs. It has ruined the dispositions and broken the hearts of very many of the best friends humanity ever had. And the man who would send his dog to the Dog Show, would send his wife to a Wife Show, and permit his baby to be exhibited, in public, for a blue ribbon or a certificate—at an admission-fee of fifty cents a head!

Mop's successor answers to the name of Roy—when he answers to anything at all. He is young, very wilful, and a little hard of hearing, of which latter affliction he makes the most. He always understands when he is invited to go out. He is stone-deaf, invariably, when he is told to come back. But he is full of affection, and he has a keen sense of humor. In the face he looks like Thomas Carlyle, and Professor John Weir declares that his body is all out of drawing!

At times his devotion to his mistress is beautiful and touching. It is another case of "Mary and the Lamb, you know." If his mistress is not visible, he waits patiently about; and he is sure to go wherever she goes. It makes the children of the neighborhood laugh and play. But it is severe upon the master, who does most of the training, while the mistress gets most of the devotion. That is the way with lambs, and with dogs, and with some folks!

Roy is quite as much of a fighter as was any one of the other dogs; but he is a little more discriminating in his likes and his dislikes. He fights all the dogs in Tannersville; he fights the Drislers' Gyp almost every time he meets him; he fights the Beckwiths' Blennie only when either one of them trespasses on the domestic porch of the other (Blennie, who is very pretty, looks like old portraits of Mrs. Browning, with the curls hanging on each side of the face); and Roy never fights Laddie Pruyn nor Jack Ropes at all. Jack Ropes is the hero whom he worships, the beau ideal to him of everything a dog should be. He follows Jack in all respects; and he pays Jack the sincere flattery of imitation. Jack, an Irish setter, is a thorough gentleman in form, in action, and in thought. Some years Roy's senior, he submits patiently to the playful capers of the younger dog; and he even accepts little nips at his legs or his ears. It is pleasant to watch the two friends during an afternoon walk. Whatever Jack does, that does Roy; and Jack knows it, and he gives Roy hard things to do. He leads Roy to the summit of high rocks, and then he jumps down, realizing that Roy is too small to take the leap. But he always waits until Roy, yelping with mortification, comes back by the way they both went. He wades through puddles up to his own knees, but over Roy's head; and then he trots cheerfully away, far in advance, while Roy has to stop long enough to shake himself dry. But it was Roy's turn once! He traversed a long and not very clean drain, which was just large enough to give free passage to his own small body; and Jack went rushing after. Jack got through; but he was a spectacle to behold. And there are creditable eye-witnesses who are ready to testify that Roy took Jack home, and sat on the steps, and laughed, while Jack was being washed.

Each laughed on the wrong side of his mouth, however—Jack from agony, and Roy from sympathy—when Jack, a little later, had his unfortunate adventure with the loose-quilled, fretful, Onteora porcupine. It nearly cost Jack his life and his reason; and for some time he was a helpless, suffering invalid. Doctors were called in, chloroform was administered, and many delicate surgical operations were performed before Jack was on his feet again; and for the while each tail drooped. Happily for Roy, he did not go to the top of the Hill-of-the-Sky that unlucky day, and so he escaped the porcupine. But Roy does not care much for porcupines, anyway, and he never did. Other dogs are porcupiney enough for him!

Roy's association with Jack Ropes is a liberal education to him in more ways than one. Jack is so big and so strong and so brave, and so gentle withal, and so refined in manners and intellectual in mind, that Roy, even if he would, could not resist the healthful influence. Jack never quarrels except when Roy quarrels; and whether Roy is in the right or in the wrong, the aggressor or the attacked (and generally he begins it), Jack invariably interferes on Roy's behalf, in a good-natured, big-brother, what-a-bother sort of way that will not permit Roy to be the under dog in any fight. Part of Roy's dislike of Blennie—Blennie is short for Blenheim—consists in the fact that while Blennie is nice enough in his way, it is not Roy's way. Blennie likes to sit on laps, to bark out of windows—at a safe distance. He wears a little sleigh-bell on his collar. Under no circumstances does he play follow-my-leader, as Jack does. He does not try to do stunts; and, above all, he does not care to go in swimming.

The greatest event, perhaps, in Roy's young life was his first swim. He did not know he could swim. He did not know what it was to swim. He had never seen a sheet of water larger than a road-side puddle or than the stationary wash-tubs of his own laundry at home. He would have nothing to do with the Pond, at first, except for drinking purposes; and he would not enter the water until Jack went in, and then nothing would induce him to come out of the water—until Jack was tired. His surprise and his pride at being able to take care of himself in an entirely unknown and unexplored element were very great. But—there is always a But in Roy's case—but when he swam ashore the trouble began. Jack, in a truly Chesterfieldian manner, dried himself in the long grass on the banks. Roy dried himself in the deep yellow dust of the road—a medium which was quicker and more effective, no doubt, but not so pleasant for those about him; for he was so enthusiastic over his performance that he jumped upon everybody's knickerbockers, or upon the skirts of everybody's gown, for the sake of a lick at somebody's hand and a pat of appreciation and applause.

Another startling and never-to-be-forgotten experience of Roy's was his introduction to the partridge. He met the partridge casually one afternoon in the woods, and he paid no particular attention to it. He looked upon it as a plain barn-yard chicken a little out of place; but when the partridge whirled and whizzed and boomed itself into the air, Roy put all his feet together, and jumped, like a bucking horse, at the lowest estimate four times as high as his own head. He thought it was a porcupine! He had heard a great deal about porcupines, although he had never seen one; and he fancied that that was the way porcupines always went off!

Roy likes and picks blackberries—the green as well as the ripe; and he does not mind having his portrait painted. Mr. Beckwith considers Roy one of the best models he ever had. Roy does not have to be posed; he poses himself, willingly and patiently, so long as he can pose himself very close to his master; and he always places his front legs, which he knows to be his strong point, in the immediate foreground. He tries very hard to look pleasant, as if he saw a chipmunk at the foot of a tree, or as if he thought Mr. Beckwith was squeezing little worms of white paint out of little tubes just for his amusement. And if he really does see a chipmunk on a stump, he rushes off to bark at the chipmunk; and then he comes back and resumes his original position, and waits for Mr. Beckwith to go on painting again. Once in awhile, when he feels that Mr. Beckwith has made a peculiarly happy remark, or an unusually happy stroke of the brush, Roy applauds tumultuously and loudly with his tail, against the seat of the bench or the side of the house. Roy has two distinct wags—the perpendicular and the horizontal; and in his many moments of enthusiasm he never neglects to use that particular wag which is likely to make the most noise.

Roy has many tastes and feelings which are in entire sympathy with those of his master. He cannot get out of a hammock unless he falls out; and he is never so miserable as when Mrs. Butts comes over from the Eastkill Valley to clean house. Mrs. Butts piles all the sitting-room furniture on the front piazza, and then she scrubs the sitting-room floor, and neither Roy nor his master, so long as Mrs. Butts has control, can enter the sitting-room for a bone or a book. And they do not like it, although they like Mrs. Butts.

Roy has his faults; but his evil, as a rule, is wrought by want of thought rather than by want of heart. He shows his affection for his friends by walking under their feet and getting his own feet stepped on, or by sitting so close to their chairs that they rock on his tail. He has been known to hold two persons literally spellbound for minutes, with his tail under the rocker of one chair and both ears under the rocker of another one. Roy's greatest faults are barking at horses' heels and running away. This last is very serious, and often it is annoying; but there is always some excuse for it. He generally runs away to the Williamsons', which is the summer home of his John and his Sarah; and where lodges Miss Flossie Burns, of Tannersville, his summer-girl. He knows that the Williamsons themselves do not want too much of him, no matter how John and Sarah and Miss Burns may feel on the subject; and he knows, too, that his own family wishes him to stay more at home; but, for all that, he runs away. He slips off at every opportunity. He pretends that he is only going down to the road to see what time it is, or that he is simply setting out for a blackberry or the afternoon's mail; and when he is brought reluctantly home, he makes believe that he has forgotten all about it; and he naps on the top step, or in the door-way, in the most guileless and natural manner; and then, when nobody is looking, he dashes off, barking at any imaginary ox-cart, in wild, unrestrainable impetuosity, generally in the direction of the Williamsons' cottage, and bringing up, almost invariably, under the Williamsons' kitchen stove.

He would rather be shut up, in the Williamsons' kitchen, with John and Sarah, and with a chance of seeing Flossie through the wire-screened door, than roam in perfect freedom over all his own domain.

He will bark at horses' heels until he is brought home, some day, with broken ribs. Nothing but hard experience teaches Roy. There is no use of boxing his ears. That only hurts his feelings, and gives him an extra craving for sympathy. He licks the hand that licks him, until everyone of the five fingers is heartily ashamed of itself.

Several autograph letters of Roy's, in verse, in blank-verse, and in plain, hard prose, signed by his own mark—a fore paw dipped in an ink-bottle and stamped upon the paper—were sold by Mrs. Custer at varying prices during a fair for the benefit of the Onteora Chapel Fund, in 1896.

To one friend he wrote:

"My dear Blennie Beckwith,—You are a sneak; and a snip; and a snide; and a snob; and a snoozer; and a snarler; and a snapper; and a skunk. And I hate you; and I loathe you; and I despise you; and I abominate you; and I scorn you; and I repudiate you; and I abhor you; and I dislike you; and I eschew you; and I dash you; and I dare you.

"Your affectionate friend,

"P. S.—I've licked this spot. "R. H.

His Roy [paw print] Hutton. mark.

"Witness: Kate Lynch."

Inspired by Miss Flossie Williamson Burns's bright eyes, he dropped into poetry in addressing her:

"Say I'm barkey; say I'm bad; Say the Thurber pony kicked me; Say I run away—but add— 'Flossie licked me.'

his "Roy x Hutton. mark. "Witness: Sarah Johnson."

In honor of "John Ropes, Esquire," he went to Shakspere:

"But that I am forbid To tell the secrets of thy mountain climb, I could a tail unfold, whose lightest wag Would harrow up the roof of thy mouth, draw thy young blood, Make thy two eyes, like a couple of safety-matches, start from their spheres; Thy knotted and combined locks to part right straight down the middle of thy back, And each particular brick-red hair to stand on end Full of quills, shot out by a fretful Onteora porcupine. But this eternal blazon must not be To ears that are quite as handsome as is the rest of thy beautiful body.

("'Hamlet,' altered to suit, by)

his "Roy x Hutton. mark. "Witness: John Johnson."

His latest poetical effort was the result of his affection for a Scottish collie, in his neighborhood, and was indited


Should Auld Acquaintance be forgot, And the Dogs of Auld Lang Syne? I'll wag a tail o' kindness yet, For the sake of Auld Ladd Pruyn.

Witnesses: Marion Lyman, Effie Waddington, Katherine Lyman.

While Roy was visiting the Fitches and the Telford children, and little Agnes Ogden, at Wilton, Conn., some time afterwards, he dictated a long letter to his master, some portions of which, perhaps, are worth preserving. After the usual remarks upon the weather and the general health of the family, he touched upon serious, personal matters which had evidently caused him some mental and physical uneasiness. And he explained that while he was willing to confess that he did chase the white cat into a tree, and keep her away from her kittens for a couple of hours, he did not kill the little chicken. The little chicken, stepped upon by its own mother, was dead, quite dead, when he picked it up, and brought it to the house. And he made Dick Fitch, who was an eye-witness to the whole transaction, add a post-script testifying that the statement was true.

John says the letter sounds exactly like Roy!

Roy's is a complex character. There is little medium about Roy. He is very good when he is good, and he is very horrid indeed when he is bad. He is a strange admixture of absolute devotion and of utter inconstancy. Nothing will entice him away from John on one day, neither threats nor persuasion. The next day he will cut John dead in the road, with no sign of recognition. He sees John, and he goes slowly and deliberately out of his way to pass John by, without a look or a sniff. He comes up-stairs every morning when his master's shaving-water is produced. He watches intently the entire course of his master's toilet; he follows his master, step by step, from bed to bureau, from closet to chair; he lies across his master's feet; he minds no sprinkling from his master's sponge, so anxious is he that his master shall not slip away, and go to his breakfast without him. And then, before his master is ready to start, Roy goes off to breakfast, alone—at the Williamsons'! He will torment his master sometimes for hours to be taken out to walk; he will interrupt his master's work, disturb his master's afternoon nap, and refuse all invitations to run away for a walk on his own account. And the moment he and his master have started, he will join the first absolute stranger he meets, and walk off with that stranger in the opposite direction, and in the most confidential manner possible!

There are days when he will do everything he should do, everything he is told to do, everything he is wanted to do. There are days and days together when he does nothing that is right, when he is disobedient, disrespectful, disobliging, disagreeable, even disreputable. And all this on purpose!

It is hard to know what to do with Roy: how to treat him; how to bring him up. He may improve as he grows older. Perhaps to his unfortunate infirmity may be ascribed his uncertainty and his variability of temper and disposition. It is possible that he cannot hear even when he wants to hear. It is not impossible that he is making-believe all the time. One great, good thing can be said for Roy: he is never really cross; he never snaps; he never snarls; he never bites his human friends, no matter how great the provocation may be. Roy is a canine enigma, the most eccentric of characters. His family cannot determine whether he is a gump or a genius. But they know he is nice; and they like him!

Long may Roy be spared to wag his earthly tail, and to bay deep-mouthed welcome to his own particular people as they draw near home. How the three dogs who have gone on ahead agree now with each other, and how they will agree with Roy, no man can say. They did not agree with very many dogs in this world. But that they are waiting together, all three of them, for Roy and for The Boy, and in perfect harmony, The Boy is absolutely sure.

Transcriber's Note Inconsistent hyphenation (cobblestones/cobble-stones, dogless/dog-less) has been retained, along with the author's deliberate mis-spellings.


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