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Bruce By Albert Payson Terhune Characters: 31124

Updated: 2017-11-28 00:07

Thackeray, as a lad, was dropped from college for laziness and for gambling. Bismarck failed to get a University degree, because he lacked power to study and because he preferred midnight beer to midnight oil. George Washington, in student days, could never grasp the simplest rules of spelling. The young Lincoln loved to sprawl in the shade with fish-pole or tattered book, when he should have been working.

Now, these men were giants-physically as well as mentally. Being giants, they were by nature slow of development.

The kitten, at six months of age, is graceful and compact and of perfect poise. The lion-cub, at the same age, is a gawky and foolish and ill-knit mass of legs and fur; deficient in sense and in symmetry. Yet at six years, the lion and the cat are not to be compared for power or beauty or majesty or brain, or along any other lines.

The foregoing is not an essay on the slow development of the Great. It is merely a condensation of the Mistress's earnest arguments against the selling or giving away of a certain hopelessly awkward and senseless and altogether undesirable collie pup named Bruce.

From the very first, the Mistress had been Bruce's champion at The Place. There was no competition for that office. She and she alone could see any promise in the shambling youngster.

Because he had been born on The Place, and because he was the only son of Rothsay Lass, whom the Mistress had also championed against strong opposition, it had been decided to keep and raise him. But daily this decision seemed less and less worth while. Only the Mistress's championing of the Undesirable prevented his early banishment.

From a fuzzy and adventurous fluff-ball of gray-gold-and-white fur, Bruce swiftly developed into a lanky giant. He was almost as large again as is the average collie pup of his age; but, big as he was, his legs and feet and head were huge, out of all proportion to the rest of him. The head did not bother him. Being hampered by no weight of brain, it would be navigated with more or less ease, in spite of its bulk. But the legs and feet were not only in his own way, but in every one else's.

He seemed totally lacking in sense, as well as in bodily coordination. He was forever getting into needless trouble. He was a stormcenter. No one but a born fool-canine or human-could possibly have caused one-tenth as much bother.

The Mistress had named him "Bruce," after the stately Scottish chieftain who was her history-hero. And she still called him Bruce-fifty times a day-in the weary hope of teaching him his name. But every one else on The Place gave him a title instead of a name-a title that stuck: "The Pest." He spent twenty-four hours, daily, living up to it.

Compared with Bruce's helplessly clownish trouble-seeking propensities, Charlie Chaplin's screen exploits are miracles of heroic dignity and of good luck.

There was a little artificial water-lily pool on The Place, perhaps four feet deep. By actual count, Bruce fell into it no less than nine times in a single week. Once or twice he had nearly drowned there before some member of the family chanced to fish him out. And, learning nothing from experience, he would fall in again, promptly, the next day.

The Master at last rigged up a sort of sloping wooden platform, running from the lip of the pool into the water, so that Bruce could crawl out easily, next time he should tumble in. Bruce watched the placing of this platform with much grave interest. The moment it was completed, he trotted down it on a tour of investigation. At its lower edge he slipped and rolled into the pool. There he floundered, with no thought at all of climbing out as he had got in, until the Master rescued him and spread a wire net over the whole pool to avert future accidents.

Thenceforth, Bruce met with no worse mischance, there, than the perpetual catching of his toe-pads in the meshes of the wire. Thus ensnared he would stand, howling most lamentably, until his yells brought rescue.

Though the pool could be covered with a net, the wide lake at the foot of the lawn could not be. Into the lake Bruce would wade till the water reached his shoulders. Then with a squeal of venturesome joy, he would launch himself outward for a swim; and, once facing away from shore, he never had sense enough to turn around.

After a half-hour of steady swimming, his soft young strength would collapse. A howl of terror would apprise the world at large that he was about to drown. Whereat some passing boatman would pick him up and hold him for ransom, or else some one from The Place must jump into skiff or canoe and hie with all speed to the rescue. The same thing would be repeated day after day.

The local S.P.C.A. threatened to bring action against the Master for letting his dog risk death, in this way, from drowning. Morbidly, the Master wished the risk might verge into a certainty.

The puppy's ravenous appetite was the wonder of all. He stopped eating only when there was nothing edible in reach. And as his ideas of edible food embraced everything that was chewable,-from bath-towels to axle-grease-he was seldom fasting and was frequently ill.

Nature does more for animals than for humans. By a single experience she warns them, as a rule, what they may safely eat and what they may not. Bruce was the exception. He would pounce upon and devour a luscious bit of laundry-soap with just as much relish as though a similar bit of soap had not made him horribly sick the day before.

Once he munched, relishfully, a two-pound box of starch, box and all; on his recovery, he began upon a second box, and was unhappy when it was taken from him.

He would greet members of the family with falsetto-thunderous barks of challenge as they came down the drive from the highway. But he would frisk out in joyous welcome to meet and fawn upon tramps or peddlers who sought to invade The Place. He could scarce learn his own name. He could hardly be taught to obey the simplest command. As for shaking hands or lying down at order (those two earliest bits of any dog's education), they meant no more to Bruce than did the theory of quadratic equations.

At three months he launched forth merrily as a chicken-killer; gleefully running down and beheading The Place's biggest Orpington rooster. But his first kill was his last. The Master saw to that.

There is no use in thrashing a dog for killing poultry. There is but one practically sure cure for the habit. And this one cure the Master applied.

He tied the slain rooster firmly around Bruce's furry throat, and made the puppy wear it, as a heavy and increasingly malodorous pendant, for three warm days and nights.

Before the end of this seventy-two-hour period, Bruce had grown to loathe the sight and scent of chicken. Stupid as he was, he learned this lesson with absolute thoroughness,-as will almost any chicken-killing pup,-and it seemed to be the only teaching that his unawakened young brain had the power to grasp.

In looks, too, Bruce was a failure. His yellowish-and-white body was all but shapeless. His coat was thick and heavy enough, but it showed a tendency to curl-almost to kink-instead of waving crisply, as a collie's ought. The head was coarse and blurred in line. The body was gaunt, in spite of its incessant feedings. As for contour or style-

It was when the Master, in disgust, pointed out these diverse failings of the pup, that the Mistress was wont to draw on historic precedent for other instances of slow development, and to take in vain the names of Thackeray, Lincoln, Washington and Bismarck and the rest.

"Give him time!" she urged once. "He isn't quite six months old yet; and he has grown so terribly fast. Why, he's over two feet tall, at the shoulder, even now-much bigger than most full-grown collies. Champion Howgill Rival is spoken of as a 'big' dog; yet he is only twenty-four inches at the shoulder, Mr. Leighton says. Surely it's something to own a dog that is so big."

"It IS 'something,'" gloomily conceded the Master. "In our case it is a catastrophe. I don't set up to be an expert judge of collies, so maybe I am all wrong about him. I'm going to get professional opinion, though. Next week they are going to have the spring dogshow at Hampton. It's a little hole-in-a-corner show, of course. But Symonds is to be the all-around judge, except for the toy breeds. And Symonds knows collies, from the ground up. I am going to take Bruce over there and enter him for the puppy class. If he is any good, Symonds will know it. If the dog is as worthless as I think he is, I'll get rid of him. If Symonds gives any hope for him, I'll keep him on a while longer."

"But," ventured the Mistress, "if Symonds says 'Thumbs down,' then-"

"Then I'll buy a pet armadillo or an ornithorhynchus instead," threatened the Master. "Either of them will look more like a collie than Bruce does."

"I-I wonder if Mr. Symonds smokes," mused the Mistress under her breath.

"Smokes?" echoed the Master. "What's that got to do with it?"

"I was only wondering," she made hesitant answer, "if a box of very wonderful cigars, sent to him with our cards, mightn't perhaps-"

"It's a fine sportsmanly proposition!" laughed the Master. "When women get to ruling the world of sport, there'll be no need of comic cartoons. Genuine photographs will do as well. If it's just the same to you, dear girl, we'll let Symonds buy his own cigars, for the present. The dog-show game is almost the only one I know of where a judge is practically always on the square. People doubt his judgment, sometimes, but there is practically never any doubt of his honesty. Besides, we want to get the exact dope on Bruce. (Not that I haven't got it, already!) If Symonds 'gates' him, I'm going to offer him for sale at the show. If nobody buys him there, I'm going-"

"He hasn't been 'gated' yet," answered the Mistress in calm confidence.

At the little spring show, at Hampton, a meager eighty dogs were exhibited, of which only nine were collies. This collie division contained no specimens to startle the dog-world. Most of the exhibits were pets. And like nearly all pets, they were "seconds"-in other words, the less desirable dogs of thoroughbred litters.

Hampton's town hall auditorium was filled to overcrowding, with a mass of visitors who paraded interestedly along the aisles between the raised rows of stall-like benches where the dogs were tied; or who grouped densely around all four sides of the roped judging-ring in the center of the hall.

For a dogshow has a wel-nigh universal appeal to humanity at large; even as the love for dogs is one of the primal and firm-rooted human emotions. Not only the actual exhibitor and their countless friends flock to such shows; but the public at large is drawn thither as to no other function of the kind.

Horse-racing, it is true, brings out a crowd many times larger than does a dogshow. But only because of the thrill of winning or losing money. For where one's spare cash is, there is his heart and his all-absorbing interest. Yet it is a matter of record that grass is growing high, on the race-tracks, in such states as have been able to enforce the anti-betting laws. The "sport of kings" flourishes only where wagers may accompany it. Remove the betting element, and you turn your racetrack into a huge and untrodden lot.

There is practically no betting connected with any dogshow. People go there to see the dogs and to watch their judging, and for nothing else. As a rule, the show is not even a social event. Nevertheless, the average dogshow is thronged with spectators. (Try to cross Madison Square Garden, on Washington's Birthday afternoon, while the Westminster Kennel Club's Show is in progress. If you can work your way through the press of visitors in less than half an hour, then Nature intended you for a football champion.)

The fortunate absence of a betting-interest alone keeps such affairs from becoming among the foremost sporting features of the world. Many of the dogs on view are fools, of course. Because many of them have been bred solely with a view to show-points. And their owners and handlers have done nothing to awaken in their exhibits the half-human brain and heart that is a dog's heritage. All has been sacrificed to "points"-to points which are arbitrary and which change as freakily as do fashions in dress.

For example, a few years ago, a financial giant collected and exhibited one of the finest bunches of collies on earth. He had a competent manager and an army of kennel-men to handle them. He took inordinate pride in these priceless collies of his. Once I watched him, at the Garden Show, displaying them to some Wall Street friends. Three times he made errors in naming his dogs. Once, when he leaned too close to the star collie of his kennels, the dog mistook him for a stranger and resented the intrusion by snapping at him. He did not know his own pets, one from another. And they did not know their owner, by sight or by scent.

At the small shows, there is an atmosphere wholly different. Few of the big breeders bother to compete at such contests. The dogs are for the most part pets, for which their owners feel a keen personal affection, and which have been brought up as members of their masters' households. Thus, if small shows seldom bring forth a world-beating dog, they at least are full of clever and humanized exhibits and of men and women to whom the success or failure of their canine friends is a matter of intensest personal moment. Wherefore the small show often gives the beholder something he can find but rarely in a larger exhibition.

A few dogs genuinely enjoy shows-or are supposed to. To many others a dogshow is a horror.

Which windy digression brings us back by prosy degrees to Bruce and to the Hampton dogshow.

The collies were the first breed to be judged. And the puppy class, as usual, was the first to be called to the ring.

There were but three collie pups, all males. One was a rangy tri-color of eleven months, with a fair head and a bad coat. The second was an exquisite six-months puppy, rich of coat, prematurely perfect of head, and cowhocked. These two and Bruce formed the puppy class which paraded before Symonds in the oblong ring.

"Anyhow," whispered the Mistress as the Master led his stolidly gigantic entry toward the enclosure, "Bruce can't get worse than a third-prize yellow ribbon. We ought to be a little proud of that. There are only three entries in his class."

But even that bit of barren pride was denied the awkward youngster's sponsor. As the three pups entered the enclosure, the judge's half-shut eyes rested on Bruce-at first idly, then in real amazement. Crossing to the Master, before giving the signal for the first maneuvers, he said in tired disgust-

"Please take your measly St. Bernard monstrosity out of the ring. This is a class for collies, not for freaks. I refuse to judge that pup as a collie."

"He's a thoroughbred," crossly protested the Master. "I have his certified pedigree. There's no better blood in-"

"I don't care what his ancestors were," snapped the judge. "He's a throw-back to the dinosaur or the Great Auk. And I won't judge him as a collie. Take him out of the ring. You're delaying the others."

A judge's decision is final. Red with angry shame and suppressing an unworthy desire to kick the luckless Bruce, the Master led the pup back to his allotted bench. Bruce trotted che

erily along with a maddening air of having done something to be proud of. Deaf to the Mistress's sympathy and to her timidly voiced protests, the Master scrawled on an envelope-back the words "For Sale. Name Your Own Price," and pinned it on the edge of the bench.

"Here endeth the first lesson in collie-raising, so far as The Place is concerned," he decreed, stalking back to the ringside to watch the rest of the judging.

The Mistress lingered behind, to bestow a furtive consolatory pat upon the disqualified Bruce. Then she joined her husband beside the ring.

It was probably by accident that her skirt brushed sharply against the bench-edge as she went-knocking the "For Sale" sign down into the litter of straw below.

But a well-meaning fellow-exhibitor, across the aisle, saw the bit of paper flutter floorward. This good soul rescued it from the straw and pinned it back in place.

(The world is full of helpful folk. That is perhaps one reason why the Millennium's date is still so indefinite.)

An hour later, a man touched the Master on the arm.

"That dog of yours, on Bench 48," began the stranger, "the big pup with the 'For Sale' sign on his bench. What do you want for him?"

The Mistress was several feet away, talking to the superintendent of the show. Guiltily, yet gratefully, the Master led the would-be purchaser back to the benches, without attracting his wife's notice.

A few minutes afterward he returned to where she and the superintendent were chatting.

"Well," said the Master, trying to steel himself against his wife's possible disappointment, "I found a buyer for Bruce-a Dr. Halding, from New York. He likes the pup. Says Bruce looks as if he was strong and had lots of endurance. I wonder if he wants him for a sledge-dog. He paid me fifteen dollars for him; and it was a mighty good bargain. I was lucky to get more than a nickel for such a cur."

The Master shot forth this speech in almost a single rapid breath. Then, before his wife could reply,-and without daring to look into her troubled eyes,-he discovered an acquaintance on the far side of the ring and bustled off to speak to him. The Master, you see, was a husband, not a hero.

The Mistress turned a worried gaze on the superintendent.

"It was best, I suppose," she said bravely. "We agreed he must be sold, if the judge decided he was not any good. But I'm sorry. For I'm fond of him. I'm sorry he is going to live in New York, too. A big city is no place for a big dog. I hope this Dr. Halding will be nice to the poor puppy."

"Dr.-WHO?" sharply queried the superintendent, who had not caught the name when the Master had spoken it in his rapid-fire speech. "Dr. Halding? Of New York? Huh!

"You needn't worry about the effect of city life on your dog," he went on with venomous bitterness. "The pup won't have a very long spell of it. If I had my way, that man Halding would be barred from every dog-show and stuck in jail. It's an old trick of his, to buy up thoroughbreds, cheap, at shows. The bigger and the stronger they are, the more he pays for them. He seems to think pedigreed dogs are better for his filthy purposes than street curs. They have a higher nervous organism, I suppose. The swine!"

"What do you mean?" asked the Mistress, puzzled by his vehemence. "I don't-"

"You must have heard of Halding and his so-called 'research work,'" the superintendent went on. "He is one of the most notorious vivisectionists in-"

The superintendent got no further. He was talking to empty air. The Mistress had fled. Her determined small figure made a tumbled wake through the crowd as she sped toward Bruce's bench. The puppy was no longer there. In another second the Mistress was at the door of the building.

A line of parked cars was stretched across the opposite side of the village street. Into one of these cars a large and loose-jointed man was lifting a large and loose-jointed dog. The dog did not like his treatment, and was struggling pathetically in vain awkwardness to get free.

"Bruce!" called the Mistress, fiercely, as she dashed across the street.

The puppy heard the familiar voice and howled for release. Dr. Halding struck him roughly over the head and scrambled into the machine with him, reaching with his one disengaged hand for the self-starter button. Before he could touch it, the Mistress was on the running-board of the car.

As she ran, she had opened her wristbag. Now, flinging on the runabout's seat a ten and a five-dollar bill, she demanded-

"Give me my dog! There is the money you paid for him!"

"He isn't for sale," grinned the Doctor. "Stand clear, please. I'm starting."

"You're doing nothing of the sort," was the hot reply. "You'll give back my dog! Do you understand?"

For answer Halding reached again toward his self-starter. A renewed struggle from the whimpering puppy frustrated his aim and forced him to devote both hands to the subduing of Bruce. The dog was making frantic writhings to get to the Mistress. She caught his furry ruff and raged on, sick with anger.

"I know who you are and what you want this poor frightened puppy for. You shan't have him! There seems to be no law to prevent human devils from strapping helpless dogs to a table and torturing them to death in the unholy name of science. But if there isn't a corner waiting for them, below, it's only because Hades can't be made hot enough to punish such men as they ought to be punished! You're not going to torture Bruce. There's your money. Let go of him."

"You talk like all silly, sloppy sentimentalists!" scoffed the Doctor, his slight German accent becoming more noticeable as he continued: "A woman can't have the intellect to understand our services to humanity. We-"

"Neither have half the real doctors!" she flashed. "Fully half of them deny that vivisection ever helped humanity. And half the remainder say they are in doubt. They can't point to a single definite case where it has been of use. Alienists say it's a distinct form of mental perversion,-the craving to torture dumb animals to death and to make scientific notes of their sufferings."

"Pah!" he sniffed. "I-"

She hurried on

"If humanity can't be helped without cutting live dogs and kittens to shreds, in slow agony-then so much the worse for humanity! If you vivisectors would be content to practice on one another-or on condemned murderers,-instead of on friendly and innocent dogs, there'd be no complaint from any one. But leave our pets alone. Let go of my puppy!"

By way of response the Doctor grunted in lofty contempt. At the same time he tucked the wriggling dog under his right arm, holding him thus momentarily safe, and pressed the self-starter button.

There was a subdued whir. A move of Halding's foot and a release of the brake, and the car started forward.

"Stand clear!" he ordered. "I'm going."

The jolt of the sudden start was too much for the Mistress's balance on the running-board. Back she toppled. Only by luck did she land on her feet instead of her head, upon the greasy pavement of the street.

But she sprang forward again, with a little cry of indignant dismay, and reached desperately into the moving car for Bruce, calling him eagerly by name.

Dr. Halding was steering with his left hand, while his viselike right arm still encircled the protesting collie. As the Mistress ran alongside and grasped frantically for her doomed pet, he let go of Bruce for an instant, to fend off her hand-or perhaps to thrust her away from the peril of the fast-moving mud-guards. At the Mistress's cry-and at the brief letup of pressure caused by the Doctor's menacing gesture toward the unhappy woman-Bruce's long-sleeping soul awoke. He answered the cry and the man's blow at his deity in the immemorial fashion of all dogs whose human gods are threatened.

There was a snarling wild-beast growl, the first that ever had come from the clownlike puppy's throat,-and Bruce flung his unwieldy young body straight for the vivisector's throat.

Halding, with a vicious fist-lunge, sent the pup to the floor of the car in a crumpled heap, but not before the curving white eyeteeth had slashed the side of the man's throat in an ugly flesh-wound that drove its way dangerously close to the jugular.

Half stunned by the blow, and with the breath knocked out of him, Bruce none the less gathered himself together with lightning speed and launched his bulk once more for Halding's throat.

This time he missed his mark-for several things happened all at once.

At the dog's first onslaught, Halding's foot had swung forward, along with his fist, in an instinctive kick. The kick did not reach Bruce. But it landed, full and effectively, on the accelerator.

The powerful car responded to the touch with a bound. And it did so at the very moment that the flash of white teeth at his throat made Halding snatch his own left hand instinctively from the steering-wheel, in order to guard the threatened spot.

A second later the runabout crashed at full speed into the wall of a house on the narrow street's opposite side.

The rest was chaos.

When a crowd of idlers and a policeman at last righted the wrecked car, two bodies were found huddled inertly amid a junk-heap of splintered glass and shivered wood and twisted metal. The local ambulance carried away one of these limp bodies. The Place's car rushed the smash-up's other senseless victim to the office of the nearest veterinary. Dr. Halding, with a shattered shoulder-blade and a fractured nose and jaw and a mild case of brain-concussion,-was received as a guest of honor at the village hospital.

Bruce, his left foreleg broken and a nasty assortment of glass-cuts marring the fluffiness of his fur, was skillfully patched up by the vet' and carried back that night to The Place.

The puppy had suddenly taken on a new value in his owners' eyes-partly for his gallantly puny effort at defending the Mistress, partly because of his pitiful condition. And he was nursed, right zealously, back to life and health.

In a few weeks, the plaster cast on the convalescent's broken foreleg had been replaced by a bandage. In another week or two the vet' pronounced Bruce as well as ever. The dog, through habit, still held the mended foreleg off the ground, even after the bandage was removed. Whereat, the Master tied a bandage tightly about the uninjured foreleg.

Bruce at once decided that this, and not the other, was the lame leg; and he began forthwith to limp on it. As it was manifestly impossible to keep both forelegs off the ground at the same time when he was walking, he was forced to make use of the once-broken leg. Finding, to his amaze, that he could walk on it with perfect ease, he devoted his limping solely to the well leg. And as soon as the Master took the bandage from that, Bruce ceased to limp at all.

Meanwhile, a lawyer, whose name sounded as though it had been culled from a Rhine Wine list, had begun suit, in Dr. Halding's name, against the Mistress, as a "contributory cause" of his client's accident. The suit never came to trial. It was dropped, indeed, with much haste. Not from any change of heart on the plaintiff's behalf; but because, at that juncture, Dr. Halding chanced to be arrested and interned as a dangerous Enemy Alien. Our country had recently declared war on Germany; and the belated spy-hunt was up.

During the Federal officers' search of the doctor's house, for treasonable documents (of which they found an ample supply), they came upon his laboratory. No fewer than five dogs, in varying stages of hideous torture, were found strapped to tables or hanging to wall-hooks. The vivisector bewailed, loudly and gutturally, this cruel interruption to his researches in Science's behalf.

One day, two months after the accident, Bruce stood on all four feet once more, with no vestige left of scars or of lameness. And then, for the first time, a steady change that had been so slow as to escape any one's notice dawned upon the Mistress and the Master. It struck them both at the same moment. And they stared dully at their pet.

The shapeless, bumptious, foolish Pest of two months ago had vanished. In his place, by a very normal process of nature-magic, stood a magnificently stately thoroughbred collie.

The big head had tapered symmetrically, and had lost its puppy formlessness. It was now a head worthy of Landseer's own pencil. The bonily awkward body had lengthened and had lost its myriad knobs and angles. It had grown massively graceful.

The former thatch of half-curly and indeterminately yellowish fuzz had changed to a rough tawny coat, wavy and unbelievably heavy, stippled at the ends with glossy black. There was a strange depth and repose and Soul in the dark eyes-yes, and a keen intelligence, too.

It was the old story of the Ugly Duckling, all over again.

"Why!" gasped the Mistress. "He's-he's BEAUTIFUL! And I never knew it."

At her loved voice the great dog moved across to where she sat. Lightly he laid one little white paw on her knee and looked gravely up into her eyes.

"He's got sense, too," chimed in the Master. "Look at those eyes, if you doubt it. They're alive with intelligence. It's-it's a miracle! He can't be the same worthless whelp I wanted to get rid of! He CAN'T!"

And he was not. The long illness, at the most formative time of the dog's growth, had done its work in developing what, all the time, had lain latent. The same illness-and the long-enforced personal touch with humans-had done an equally transforming work on the puppy's undeveloped mind. The Thackeray-Washington-Lincoln-Bismarck simile had held good.

What looked like a miracle was no more than the same beautifully simple process which Nature enacts every day, when she changes an awkward and dirt-colored cygnet into a glorious swan or a leggily gawky colt into a superb Derby-winner. But Bruce's metamorphosis seemed none the less wonderful in the eyes of the two people who had learned to love him.

Somewhere in the hideous wreck of Dr. Halding's motorcar the dog had found a soul-and the rest had followed as a natural course of growth.

At the autumn dog-show, in Hampton, a "dark-sable-and-white" collie of unwonted size and beauty walked proudly into the ring close to the Mistress's side, when the puppy class was called-a class that includes all dogs under twelve months old. Six minutes later the Mistress was gleesomely accepting the first-prize blue ribbon, for "best puppy," from Judge Symonds' own gnarled hand.

Then came the other classes for collies-"Novice," "Open," "Limit," "Local," "American Bred." And as Bruce paced majestically out of the ring at last, he was the possessor of five more blue ribbons-as well as the blue Winner's rosette, for "best collie in the show."

"Great dog you've got there, madam!" commented Symonds in solemn approval as he handed the Winner's rosette to the Mistress. "Fine dog in every way. Fine promise. He will go far. One of the best types I've-"

"Do you really think so?" sweetly replied the Mistress. "Why, one of the foremost collie judges in America has gone on record as calling him a 'measly St. Bernard monstrosity.'"

"No?" snorted Symonds, incredulous. "You don't say so! A judge who would speak so, of that dog, doesn't understand his business. He-"

"Oh, yes, he does!" contradicted the Mistress, glancing lovingly at her handful of blue ribbons. "I think he understands his business very well indeed-NOW!"

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