We had to go very slowly up a narrow, rough road. The bushes scratched and scraped against the buggy, and Mr. Harry looked very much annoyed.
“No man liveth to himself,” said Miss Laura, softly. “This man’s carelessness is giving you trouble. Why doesn’t he cut these branches that overhang the road?”
“He can’t do it, because his abominable laziness won’t let him,” said Mr. Harry. “I’d like to be behind him for a week, and I’d make him step a little faster. We have arrived at last, thank goodness.”
There was a small grass clearing in the midst of the woods. Chips and bits of wood were littered about, and across the clearing was a roughly-built house of unpainted boards. The front door was propped open by a stick. Some of the panes of glass in the windows were broken, and the whole house had a melancholy, dilapidated look. I thought that I had never seen such a sad-looking place.
“It seems as if there was no one about,” said Mr. Harry, with a puzzled face. “Barron must be away. Will you hold Fleetfoot, Laura, while I go and see?”
He drew the buggy up near a small log building that had evidently been used for a stable, and I lay down beside it and watched Miss Laura.
* * * * *
A NEGLECTED STABLE
I had not been on the ground more than a few seconds, before I turned my eyes from Miss Laura to the log hut. It was deathly quiet, there was not a sound coming from it, but the air was full of queer smells, and I was so uneasy that I could not lie still. There was something the matter with Fleetfoot, too. He was pawing the ground and whinnying, and looking, not after Mr. Harry, but toward the log building.
“Joe,” said Miss Laura, “what is the matter with you and Fleetfoot? Why don’t you stand still? Is there any stranger about?” and she peered out of the buggy.
I knew there was something wrong somewhere, but I didn’t know what it was; so I stretched myself up on the step of the buggy, and licked her hand, and barking, to ask her to excuse me, I ran off to the other side of the log hut. There was a door there, but it was closed, and propped firmly up by a plank that I could not move, scratch as hard as I liked. I was determined to get in, so I jumped against the door, and tore and bit at the plank, till Miss Laura came to help me.
“You won’t find anything but rats in that ramshackle old place, Beautiful Joe,” she said, as she pulled the plank away; “and as you don’t hurt them, I don’t see what you want to get in for. However, you are a sensible dog, and usually have a reason for having your own way, so I am going to let you have it.”
The plank fell down as she spoke, and she pulled open the rough door and looked in. There was no window inside, only the light that streamed through the door, so that for an instant she could see nothing. “Is any one here?” she asked, in her clear, sweet voice. There was no answer, except a low, moaning sound. “Why, some poor creature is in trouble, Joe,” said Miss Laura, cheerfully. “Let us see what it is,” and she stepped inside.