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   Chapter 11 No.11

What Might Have Been Expected By Frank Richard Stockton Characters: 7731

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04


Blinks was not the only dog on the Loudon place. There was another one, a much larger fellow, named Rob.

Rob was a big puppy, in the first place, and then he grew up to be a tall, long-legged dog, who was not only very fond of Harry and Kate, but of almost everybody else. In time he filled out and became rather more shapely, but he was always an ungainly dog-"too big for his size," as Harry put it.

It was supposed that Rob was partly bloodhound, but how much of him was bloodhound it would have been very difficult so say. Kate thought it was only his ears. They resembled the ears of a picture of a beautiful African bloodhound that she had in a book. At all events Rob showed no signs of any fighting ancestry. He was as gentle as a calf. Even Blinks was a better watch-dog. But then, Rob was only a year old, and he might improve in time.

But, in spite of his general inutility, Rob was a capital companion on a country ramble.

And so it happened, one bright day toward the close of April, that he and Harry and Kate went out together into the woods, beyond Aunt Matilda's cabin. Kate's objects in taking the walk were wild flowers and general spring investigations into the condition of the woods; but Harry had an eye to business, although to hear him talk you would have supposed that he thought as much about ferns and flowers as Kate did.

Harry had an idea that it might possibly be a good thing to hire negroes that year to pick sumac for him. He was not certain that he could make it pay, but it was on his mind to such a degree that he took a great interest in the sumac-bushes, and hunted about the edges of the woods, where the bushes were generally found, to see what was the prospect for a large crop of leaves that year.

They were in the woods, about a mile from Aunt Matilda's cabin, and not very far from a road, when they separated for a short time. Harry went on ahead, continuing his investigations, while Kate remained in a little open glade, where she found some flowers that she determined to dig up by the roots and transplant into her garden at home.

While she was at work she heard a heavy step behind her, and looking up, she saw a tall man standing by her. He had red hair, a red face, a red bristling moustache, and big red hands.

"How d'ye do?" said the man.

Kate stood up, with the plants, which she had just succeeded in getting out of the ground, in her apron.

"Good morning, sir," said she.

The man looked at her from head to foot, and then he said, "Shake hands!" holding out his big red hand.

But Kate did not offer to take it.

"Didn't you hear me?" said he. "I said, 'Shake hands.'"

"I heard you," said Kate.

"Well, why don't you do it, then?"

Kate did not answer, and the man repeated his question.

"Well, then, if I must tell you," said she; "in the first place, I don't know you; and, then, I'd rather not shake hands with you, anyway, because your hands are so dirty."

This might not have been very polite in Kate, but she was a straightforward girl, and the man's hands were very dirty indeed, although water was to be had in such abundance.

"What's your name?" said the man, with his face considerably redder than before.

"Kate Loudon," said the girl.

"Oh, ho! Loudon, is it? Well, Kate Loudon, if my hand's too dirty to shake, you'll find it isn't too dirty to box your ears."

Kate turned pale and shrank back against a tree. She gave a hurried glance into the woods, and then she called out, as loudly as she could: "Harry!"

The man, who had made a step toward her, now stopped and looked around, as if he would like to know who Harry was, before going any further.

Just then, Harry, who had heard Kate's call, came running up.

When the man saw him he seemed relieved, and a curious smile stretched itself beneath his bristling red m


"What's the matter?" cried Harry.

"Oh, Harry!" Kate exclaimed, as she ran to him.

"Matter?" said the man. "The matter's this: I'm going to box her ears."

"Whose ears?"

"That girl's," replied the red-faced man, moving toward Kate.

"My sister! Not much!"

And Harry stepped between Kate and the man.

The man stood and looked at him, and he looked very angrily, too.

But Harry stood bravely before his sister. His face was flushed and his breath came quickly, though he was not frightened, not a whit!

And yet there was absolutely nothing that he could do. He had not his gun with him; he had not even a stick in his hand, and a stick would have been of little use against such a strong man as that, who could have taken Harry in his big red hands and have thrown him over the highest fence in the county.

But for all that, the boy stood boldly up before his sister.

The man looked at him without a word, and then he stepped aside toward a small dogwood-bush.

For an instant, Harry thought that they might run away; but it was only for an instant. That long-legged man could catch them before they had gone a dozen yards-at least he could catch Kate.

The man took out a knife and cut a long and tolerably thick switch from the bush. Then he cut off the smaller end and began to trim away the twigs and leaves.

While doing this he looked at Harry, and said:

"I think I'll take you first."

Kate's heart almost stopped beating when she heard this, and Harry turned pale; but still the brave boy stood before his sister as stoutly as ever.

Kate tried to call for help, but she had no voice. What could she do? A boxing on the ears was nothing, she now thought; she wished she had not called out, for it was evident that Harry was going to get a terrible whipping.

She could not bear it! Her dear brother!

She trembled so much that she could not stand, and she sank down on her knees. Rob, the dog, who had been lying near by, snapping at flies, all this time, now came up to comfort her.

"Oh, Rob!" she whispered, "I wish you were a cross dog."

And Rob wagged his tail and lay down by her.

"I wonder," she thought to herself, "oh! I wonder if any one could make him bite."

"Rob!" she whispered in the dog's ear, keeping her eyes fixed on the man, who had now nearly finished trimming his stick. "Rob! hiss-s-s-s!" and she patted his back.

Rob seemed to listen very attentively.

"Hiss-s-s!" she whispered again, her heart beating quick and hard.

Rob now raised his head, his big body began to quiver, and the hair on his back gradually rose on end.

"Hiss! Rob! Rob!" whispered Kate.

The man had shut up his knife, and was putting it in his pocket. He took the stick in his right hand.

All now depended on Rob.

"Oh! will he?" thought Kate, and then she sprang to her feet and clapped her hands.

"Catch him, Rob!" she screamed. "Catch him!"

With a rush, Rob hurled himself full at the breast of the man, and the tall fellow went over backward, just like a ten-pin.

Then he was up and out into the road, Rob after him!

You ought to have seen the gravel fly!

Harry and Kate ran out into the road and cheered and shouted. Away went the man, and away went the dog.

Up the road, into the brush, out again, and then into a field, down a hill, nip and tuck! At Tom Riley's fence, Rob got him by the leg, but the trowsers were old and the piece came out: and then the man dashed into Riley's old tobacco barn, and slammed the door almost on the dog's nose.

Rob ran around the house to see if there was an open window, and finding none, he went back to the door and lay down to wait.

Harry and Kate ran home as fast as they could, and after a while Rob came too. He had waited a reasonable time at the door of the barn, but the man had not come out.

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