The young man looked convinced, and almost as ashamed as if he had been the one to crop my ears. “What do you want me to do?” he said, slowly, and looking sheepishly at the boys who were staring open-mouthed at him and the young girl.
The girl pulled a little watch from her belt. “I want you to report that man immediately. It is now five o’clock. I will go down to the police station with you, if you like.”
“Very well,” he said, his face brightening, and together they went off to the house.
* * * * *
THE MORRIS BOYS ADD TO MY NAME
The boys watched them out of sight, then one of them, whose name I afterward learned was Jack, and who came next to Miss Laura in age, gave a low whistle and said, “Doesn’t the old lady come out strong when any one or anything gets abused? I’ll never forget the day she found me setting Jim on that black cat of the Wilsons. She scolded me, and then she cried, till I didn’t know where to look. Plague on it, how was I going to know he’d kill the old cat? I only wanted to drive it out of the yard. Come on, let’s look at the dog.”
They all came and bent over me, as I lay on the floor in my corner. I wasn’t much used to boys, and I didn’t know how they would treat me. But I soon found by the way they handled me and talked to me, that they knew a good deal about dogs, and were accustomed to treat them kindly. It seemed very strange to have them pat me, and call me “good dog.” No one had ever said that to me before to-day.
“He’s not much of a beauty, is he?” said one of the boys, whom they called Tom.
“Not by a long shot,” said Jack Morris, with a laugh. “Not any nearer the beauty mark than yourself, Tom.”
Tom flew at him, and they had a scuffle. The other boys paid no attention to them, but went on looking at me. One of them, a little boy with eyes like Miss Laura’s, said, “What did Cousin Harry say the dog’s name was?”
“Joe,” answered another boy. “The little chap that carried him home told him.”
“We might call him ‘Ugly Joe’ then,” said a lad with a round, fat face, and laughing eyes. I wondered very much who this boy was, and, later on, I found out that he was another of Miss Laura’s brothers, and his name was Ned. There seemed to be no end to the Morris boys.
“I don’t think Laura would like that,” said Jack Morris, suddenly coming up behind him. He was very hot, and was breathing fast, but his manner was as cool as if he had never left the group about me. He had beaten Tom, who was sitting on a box, ruefully surveying a hole in his jacket. “You see,” he went on, gaspingly, “if you call him ‘Ugly Joe,’ her ladyship will say that you are wounding the dear dog’s feelings. ‘Beautiful Joe,’ would be more to her liking.”
A shout went up from the boys. I didn’t wonder that they laughed. Plain-looking I naturally was; but I must have been hideous in those bandages.