“I’d like to see the man that would persuade me to put blinders or check-reins or any other instrument of torture on my horses. Don’t the simpletons know that blinders are the cause of—well, I wouldn’t like to say how many of our accidents, Joe, for fear you’d think me extravagant and the check-rein drags up a horse’s head out of its fine natural curve and presses sinews, bones, and joints together, till the horse is well-nigh mad. Ah, Joe, this is a cruel world for man or beast. You’re a standing token of that, with your missing ears and tail. And now I’ve got to go and be cruel, and shoot that dog. He must be disposed of before anyone else is astir. How I hate to take life.”
He sauntered down the walk to the tool shed, went in and soon came out leading a large, brown dog by a chain. This was Bruno. He was snapping and snarling and biting at his chain as he went along, though Mr. Wood led him very kindly, and when he saw me he acted as if he could have torn me to pieces. After Mr. Wood took him behind the barn, he came back and got his gun. I ran away so that I would not hear the sound of it, for I could not help feeling sorry for Bruno.
Miss Laura’s room was on one side of the house, and in the second story. There was a little balcony outside it, and when I got near I saw that she was standing out on it wrapped in a shawl. Her hair was streaming over her shoulders, and she was looking down into the garden where there were a great many white and yellow flowers in bloom.
I barked, and she looked at me. “Dear old Joe, I will get dressed and come down.”
She hurried into her room, and I lay on the veranda till I heard her step. Then I jumped up. She unlocked the front door, and we went for a walk down the lane to the road until we heard the breakfast bell. As soon as we heard it we ran back to the house, and Miss Laura had such an appetite for her breakfast that her aunt said the country had done her good already.
* * * * *
MRS. WOOD’S POULTRY
After breakfast, Mrs. Wood put on a large apron, and going into the kitchen, said: “Have you any scraps for the hens, Adele? Be sure and not give me anything salty.”
The French girl gave her a dish of food, then Mrs. Wood asked Miss Laura to go and see her chickens, and away we went to the poultry house.
On the way we saw Mr. Wood. He was sitting on the step of the tool shed cleaning his gun. “Is the dog dead?” asked Miss Laura.
“Yes,” he said.
She sighed and said: “Poor creature, I am sorry he had to be killed. Uncle, what is the most merciful way to kill a dog? Sometimes, when they get old, they should be put out of the way.”
“You can shoot them,” he said, “or you can poison them. I shot Bruno through his head into his neck. There’s a right place to aim at. It’s a little one side of the top of the skull. If you’ll remind me I’ll show you a circular I have in the house. It tells the proper way to kill animals: The American Humane Education Society in Boston puts it out, and it’s a merciful thing.