“I should like you to go at once,” patiently. “There is a pump—”
The pedestrian raised a deprecating hand.
“Let us admit the pump! Doubtless the pump is there, but there is a pump here also, and a pump in the hand is worth two pumps, an ice-box and a John Collins in town. You doubtless know the situation created by Mahomet and the mountain? This is the same, with a difference. In this case the pump will not come to me and I cannot go to the pump. Therefore we both remain in statu quo. Do I make myself plain?”
Apparently he did, for there was no answer. Logic, he concluded, had achieved its usual triumph. The avenging angel had withdrawn. Blissfully he stooped again, closing his eyes to the cool drip of the water, but scarcely had they felt its chill relief when a sharp bark caused them to fly open with disconcerting suddenness—the avenging angel had returned, and with her was an avenging dog! Seen through the mist, the dog appeared to be a bull pup of ferocious aspect.
“I am sorry,” the cool voice had no ruth in it, “but it is my duty not to allow tramps upon these grounds. If you will not go, I must ask the dog—”
“Ask the dog!” In spite of his aching head the tramp (now no longer pedestrian) laughed weakly.
“Oh, please don’t ask him!” he entreated. “He looks too awfully willing! Besides, I begin to perceive that my presence is not desired. Naturally I scorn to remain.”
Very slowly he raised himself from the damp pump platform by means of the red pump-handle. In this manner he achieved an upright position without much difficulty and all might have gone well had he behaved like a proper tramp. But forgetting himself, under the tyranny of training and instinct, he attempted, in deference to the sex of the angel, to raise his hat (which was not on his head anyway). In so doing he released the red pump-handle, lost his balance, struggled wildly to regain it, and then collapsed with a terrible sense of failure and ignominy, right into the open jaws, as it were, of the avenging dog!
He had a fancy that something cool and kind was licking his hand....
It felt like the tongue of a friendly dog. He seemed to have been dreaming about dogs. Something soft and cold lay on his head. It felt like a wet handkerchief ... the pain had dulled to a slow throbbing ... if he opened his eyes he would know who licked his hand and what it was that lay upon his head ... on the other hand, opening his eyes might bring back the pain. It seemed hardly worth the risk ... still, he would very much like to know—
Without being able to decide the question, he fell asleep.
When he awoke, his head was clear and the pain was gone. He felt no longer unbearably tired, but only comfortably weary, deliciously drowsy. Had he been at home in his own bed he would have turned over and gone cheerfully to sleep again. As it was, he opened his eyes with a zestful sense of curiosity.