“Would you mind calling off this animal, George?” he said at length. “He does not look amiable.”
“Oh! that’s Snarleyow; don’t mind him, he never bites unless you stop.” Philip instinctively quickened his pace. “Isn’t he a beauty? He’s a pure bred Thibet sheep-dog, and I will back him to fight against any animal of his own weight. He killed two dogs in one morning the other day, and pulled down a beggar-woman in the evening. You should have heard her holler.”
At that moment, fortunately for Philip’s calves, which were beginning to tingle with an unwholesome excitement, Mr. Snarleyow’s attention was diverted by the approach of a dog-cart, and he left to enjoy the amusement of snapping and barking at the horse. The cart pulled up at the door, and out of it emerged a tall and extremely gentlemanly-looking young fellow, followed by a very large red bull-dog.
“Mr. Caresfoot, I believe,” said the young gentleman to George, taking off his hat.
“Yes, Mr. Heigham, at your service. I am very glad to see you. My cousin, Mr. Philip Caresfoot.”
“I must apologize for having brought Aleck, my dog, you know, with me,” began Arthur Heigham; “but the fact was, that at the very last moment the man I was going to leave him with had to go away, and I had no time to find another place before the train left. I thought that, if you objected to dogs, he could easily be sent somewhere into the village. He is very good-tempered, though appearances are against him.”
“Oh! he will be all right, I daresay,” said George, rather sulkily; for, with the exception of Snarleyow, in whose fiendish temper he found something refreshing and congenial, he liked no dogs. “But you must be careful, or Snarleyow, my dog, will give him a hammering. Here, good dog, good dog,” and he attempted to pat Aleck on the head, but the animal growled savagely, and avoided him.
“I never knew him do that before,” ejaculated Arthur, in confusion, and heartily wishing Aleck somewhere else. “I suppose he has taken a dislike to you. Dogs do sometimes, you know.”
Next second it struck him that this was one of those things that had better have been left unsaid, and he grew more uncomfortable than ever. But at this very moment the situation was rendered intensely lively by the approach of the redoubtable Snarleyow himself, who, having snapped at the horse’s heels all the way to the stables, had on his return to the front of the house spotted Aleck from afar. He was now advancing on tiptoe in full order of battle, his wicked-looking teeth gleaming, and his coat and tail standing out like an angry bear’s.
Arthur, already sufficiently put out about the dog question, thought it best to take no notice; and even when he distinctly heard George quietly “sah” on his dog as he passed him, he contented himself with giving Aleck a kick by way of a warning to behave himself, and entered into some desultory conversation with Philip. But presently a series of growls behind him announced that an encounter was imminent. Looking round, he perceived that Snarleyow was standing over the bull-dog, of which he was more than twice the size, and holding on to the skin of his neck with his long teeth; whilst George was looking on with scarcely suppressed amusement.