The Woman nodded gravely. “Yes, I know. It’s the most difficult sort of bravery—the sort without flags, and music, and cheers to keep you up to the firing line.”
“That’s the kind, ma’am. Mebbe you know Bishop Rowe. That’s what he preaches—jest doin’ your best all the time, like you was in some big race. When he’s in Nome I allers go t’ St. Mary’s. He talks plain an’ simple, an’ cheers you up—I guess kinda the way Lincoln talked—jest like he knew all about people’s troubles an’ didn’t blame ’em fer mistakes, but wanted t’ help ’em t’ do better. Sometimes his talks don’t sound smooth, an’ made up beforehand, but you never forgit ’em.”
“Eloquence of the heart instead of the tongue,” murmured the Woman.
“An’ last August I went every night fer near a week, when Mr. Wickersham was talkin’ men inter sendin’ him t’ Washington, no matter what they felt an’ said agin his goin’ when he wasn’t before ’em.”
“You have certainly had a variety of orators, and a wide range of subjects.”
“You kin see I ain’t missed a single chanct t’ hear any of ’em since I made up my mind t’ be a great man”—and then appalled by his lengthy burst of eloquence the child colored violently and concluded in confusion—“an’ this mornin’ I got so interested in them speeches o’ Daly’s an’ Fink’s, I must ‘a’ lost all track o’ time, fer when I come out it was noon, an’ Baldy was gone.”
“You must indeed have been absorbed to forget Baldy. Where did you find him?”
“One o’ the school kids told me the pound-man had got him, so I went over t’ the pound on the Sand Spit as fast as I could run. I explained t’ the man that Baldy wasn’t a Nome dog; that we live five miles out at Golconda—but he said he was gittin’ pretty sick o’ that excuse. That no boy’s dog ever really lived in Nome, so fur’s he could find out; that all of ’em was residin’ in the suburbs, an’ only come in t’ spend a day now an’ then.”
“It’s a strange thing,” mused the Woman, “that all pound-men are sarcastic and sceptical. It seems an inevitable part of their occupation. They never believed me when I was a little girl, either. Then what?”
“He said the only thing that concerned him was that Baldy was in town when he found him, and hadn’t no license. Besides, he thought the dog was vicious ’cause he growled when the wire was around his neck. Pretty near any dog ‘ud do that ef he had any spirit in him; an’ Baldy’s jest full o’ spirit.”
Both the Woman and “Scotty” looked involuntarily at Baldy who stood, dejected and uneasy; and then exchanged a glance in which amusement and pity struggled for expression.
“The pound-man said ef I didn’t pay the $2.50 t’ git him out, an’ another $2.50 t’ git him a license, he’d sell the dog along with a lot o’ others he’d ketched durin’ the week. I tuk Mother’s money, an’ what the cook give me, an’ got Baldy out, an’ bought him a license so’s he’d be safe nex’ time. Now,” sadly, “there ain’t goin’ t’ be any nex’ time.”