I’m not the last of the Romanticists. I’m a little bull-dog that came into the world one evening, almost under the feet of a chestnut mare. She didn’t lie down all night long, she was so afraid of crushing my mother and her puppies. A little bull-dog like me is almost the child of a horse. I lay in the warm straw against her warm flanks, I drank out of the stable pails. I used to get up when I heard the sound of hoofs coming in and I took an interest in the washing of the carriages, until the day She came and picked me out—me, the best-looking, the most snub-nosed, the stockiest of the litter. (Sighing.) And there She lies, so dreadfully quiet! It makes me sad to see her with that little cloth still ’round her ankle. You remember when He picked her up in his arms? He held her—and She’s a lot bigger than I am—just as if She were a little dog that he was going to drown....
I remember. I was at the top of the stairs irritated by the noise, but curious. He came up and pushed me aside with his foot, as he would have done if a piece of furniture had happened to be in his way.
Is that why you stayed away from this room—her room—for three whole days?
Yes ... and for another reason too.
Because of the fever.
TOBY-DOG, (carried away by his love)
Her fever smells better than other peoples’
KIKI-THE-DEMURE, (shrugging his shoulders)
And they talk of a dog’s scent! Truly the convictions of Two-Paws are based upon childish fables. You know of course that fever—
TOBY-DOG, (in a low tone)
Makes one afraid, yes.
KIKI-THE-DEMURE, (in a low tone)
Makes one afraid, gives one cold shivers down one’s back, distaste for everything and uneasiness all over. One hesitates on the threshold of a room where there is fever, searching fearfully some hidden thing.... She was in bed and burning hot. I looked at her a long time, ready to run, saying to myself: “Who can be with her there—behind the curtains—who is it stifles and torments her and makes her moan in her sleep?” TOBY-DOG, (frightened retrospectively)
There wasn’t anyone, was there?
No one but He—and the fever. He, the most intelligent of Two-Paws, was leaning over her listening to her breathing, dimly aware of an invisible presence. I overcame my aversion and looked at her. I was melancholy and jealous. He must love her, thought I, to go so near and defend her, to kiss her, imbued as She is with the evil charm. Would He hold me to his heart, if I—