Vanishing Roads and Other Essays eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 329 pages of information about Vanishing Roads and Other Essays.
cowardly!”—­and lay a moment on the roadside.  But only a moment; then he went limping off on his three sound legs, and hid himself away from all sympathy, in some unknown spot.  It was in vain we called and sought him, and only after two days was he discovered, in the remotest corner of a great rocky cellar, determined apparently to die alone in an almost inaccessible privacy of wood and coal.  Yet, when at last we persuaded him that life was still sweet and carried him upstairs into the great living-room, and the beautiful grandmother, who knows the sorrows of animals almost as the old Roman seer knew the languages of beasts and birds, had taken him in charge and made a cosy nest of comforters for him by the fire, and tempted his languid appetite—­to which the very thought of bones was, of course, an offence—­with warm, savory-smelling soup; then, he who had certainly been no coward—­for his thigh was a cruel lump of pain which no human being would have kept so patiently to himself—­became suddenly, like many human invalids, a perfect glutton of self-pity; and when we smoothed and patted him and told him how sorry we were, it was laughable, and almost uncanny, how he suddenly set up a sort of moaning talk to us, as much as to say that he certainly had had a pretty bad time, was really something of a hero, and deserved all the sympathy we would give him.  So far as one can be sure about anything so mysterious as animals, I am sure that from then on he luxuriated in his little hospital by the fireside, and played upon the feelings of his beautiful nurse, and of his various solicitous visitors, with all the histrionic skill of the spoiled and petted convalescent.  Suddenly, however, one day, he forgot his part.  He heard some inspiring barking going on nearby—­and, in a flash, his comforters were thrust aside, and he was off and away to join the fun.  Then, of course, we knew that he was well again; though he still went briskly about his various business on three legs for several days.

His manner was quite different, however, the afternoon he had so evidently come home to die.  There was no pose about the little forlorn figure, which, after a mysterious absence of two days, suddenly appeared, as we were taking tea on the veranda, already the very ghost of himself.  Wearily he sought the cave of the beautiful grandmother’s skirts, where, whenever he had had a scolding, he was wont always to take refuge—­barking, fiercely, as from an inaccessible fortress, at his enemies.

* * * * *

But, this afternoon, there was evidently no bark in him, poor little fellow; everything about him said that he had just managed to crawl home to die.  His brisk white coat seemed dank with cold dews, and there was something shadowy about him and strangely quiet.  His eyes, always so alert, were strangely heavy and indifferent, yet questioning and somehow accusing.  He seemed to be asking us why a little dog should suffer so, and what was going to happen

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