The Woman, perfectly unconscious that she was penetrating into a serious and secret Conclave of an Ancient and Honorable Order, came into the Kennel with the evening paper.
It contained an article complimenting George upon his skill in managing a difficult team, and upon introducing Spot, an infant prodigy, to the racing world of the North. Then it announced, in a delicate vein of sarcasm, that one of the wheel dogs had been the most recent notable addition to the Allan and Darling Kennel—Baldy, late of Golconda, now of Nome, “a likely Sweepstakes Winner.” At which the Woman had sniffed audibly, and “Scotty” had chuckled amiably. But Ben Edwards crept that night into his hard cot with the paper tightly clasped in his grimy hand, to dream of Baldy’s future triumphs.
The Woman, The Racers, and Others
THE WOMAN, THE RACERS, AND OTHERS
Even after the boys’ race, when George and Dan often singled him out for special use, and the joy of a run with Ben Edwards was almost an inevitable part of the day’s program, there were still a number of matters that were distinctly trying to Baldy.
He could not, for one thing, quite figure out the Woman, nor reconcile himself to her constant presence and aimless wanderings about the place.
When “Scotty” and Matt, or even Danny and George came in, it was for some evident purpose; when the boy appeared, it was to see him exclusively, but it was different with her.
She apparently loved all of the dogs, but she had no idea of discipline, and casually suggested all sorts of foolish and revolutionary privileges for them that would have meant ruin in no time.
She held the tiniest puppies in her lap when she should have known it was not good for them, spent hours playing with the young dogs with no attempt at training; and he could not forget that she had tried, the first day he had ever met her, to drag him ignominiously into her sled.
Even Ben’s evident friendliness toward her did not overcome Baldy’s disapproval, though he frequently went with them for long walks which would have been far more agreeable could he have been with the boy alone. She quite monopolized his chum, talking so earnestly that the dog was almost ignored, and could only trot along with the consolation that Ben shared was better than Ben absent.
Then, too, she was not in the least discriminating, and told Tom, who perhaps had as many faults as any member of the team, that he had an “angel face”; spoke of Dick and Harry, clever imitators of their brother’s misdeeds, as “The Heavenly Twins”; and alluded to Irish and Rover, gentle Irish Setters, as “Red Devils,” which was so rankly unjust that Baldy, who knew not automobiles, was amazed at