Vanishing Roads and Other Essays eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 267 pages of information about Vanishing Roads and Other Essays.

He had come to us almost as mysteriously as he went away; a fox-terrier puppy wandered out of the Infinite to the neighbourhood of our ice-box, one November morning, and now wandered back again.  Technically, he was just graduating out of puppyhood, though, like the most charming human beings, he never really grew up, and remained, in behaviour and imagination, a puppy to the end.  He was a dog of good breed and good manners, evidently with gentlemanly antecedents canine and human.  There were those more learned in canine aristocracy than ourselves who said that his large leaf-like, but very becoming, ears meant a bar sinister somewhere in his pedigree, but to our eyes those only made him better-looking; and, for the rest of him, he was race—­race nervous, sensitive, refined, and courageous—­from the point of his all-searching nose to the end of his stub of a tail, which the conventional docking had seemed but to make the more expressive.  We had already one dog in the family when he arrived, and two Maltese cats.  With the cats he was never able to make friends, in spite of persistent well-intentioned efforts.  It was evident to us that his advances were all made in the spirit of play, and from a desire of comradeship, the two crowning needs of his blithe sociable spirit.  But the cats received them in an attitude of invincible distrust, of which his poor nose frequently bore the sorry signature.  Yet they had become friendly enough with the other dog, an elderly setter, by name Teddy, whose calm, lordly, slow-moving ways were due to a combination of natural dignity, vast experience of life, and some rheumatism.  As Teddy would sit philosophizing by the hearth of an evening, immovable and plunged in memories, yet alert on the instant to a footfall a quarter of a mile away, they would rub their sinuous smoke-grey bodies to and fro beneath his jaws, just as though he were a piece of furniture; and he would take as little notice of them as though he were the leg of the piano; though sometimes he would wag his tail gently to and fro, or rap it softly on the floor, as though appreciating the delicate attention.

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Of Teddy’s reception of the newcomer we had at first some slight misgiving, for, amiable as we have just seen him with his Maltese companions, and indeed as he is generally by nature, his is the amiability that comes of conscious power, and is his, so to say, by right of conquest; for of all neighbouring dogs he is the acknowledged king.  The reverse of quarrelsome, the peace of his declining years has been won by much historical fighting, and his reputation among the dogs of his acquaintance is such that it is seldom necessary for him to assert his position.  It is only some hapless stranger ignorant of his standing that will occasionally provoke him to a display of those fighting qualities he grows more and more reluctant to employ.  Even with such he is comparatively merciful; stern,

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Vanishing Roads and Other Essays from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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