“I think,” said the young woman, after luncheon, “that some of you men might be civil enough to offer to look for him. I’m sure he can’t have gone far, or, if he has been stolen, the men who took him couldn’t have gone very far away either. Now which of you will volunteer? I’m sure you’ll do it to please me. Mr. Van Bibber, now: you say you’re so clever. We’re all the time hearing of your adventures. Why don’t you show how full of expedients you are and rise to the occasion?” The suggestion of scorn in this speech nettled Van Bibber.
“I’m sure I never posed as being clever,” he said, “and finding a lost dog with all Long Island to pick and choose from isn’t a particularly easy thing to pull off successfully, I should think.”
“I didn’t suppose you’d take a dare like that, Van Bibber,” said one of the men. “Why, it’s just the sort of thing you do so well.”
“Yes,” said another, “I’ll back you to find him if you try.”
“Thanks,” said Van Bibber, dryly. “There seems to be a disposition on the part of the young men present to turn me into a dog-catcher. I doubt whether this is altogether unselfish. I do not say that they would rather remain indoors and teach the girls how to play billiards, but I quite appreciate their reasons for not wishing to roam about in the snow and whistle for a dog. However, to oblige the despondent mistress of this valuable member of the household, I will risk pneumonia, and I will, at the same time, in order to make the event interesting to all concerned, back myself to bring that dog back by eight o’clock. Now, then, if any of you unselfish youths have any sporting blood, you will just name the sum.”
They named one hundred dollars, and arranged that Van Bibber was to have the dog back by eight o’clock, or just in time for dinner; for Van Bibber said he wouldn’t miss his dinner for all the dogs in the two hemispheres, unless the dogs happened to be his own.