“Therefore, gentlemen, I hold that that houn’ dog, Buck, had a perfect right to follow that boy, Davy Allen, there; an’ I hold that Davy Allen was not called on to drive that dog back, or interfere in any way with that dog followin’ him if the dog so chose. You’ve heard the evidence of the boy. You know, an’ I know, he has spoke the truth this day, an’ there ain’t no evidence to the contrary. The boy did not entice the dog. He even went down the road, leavin’ him behind. He run back only when the dog was in dire need an’ chokin’ to death. He wasn’t called on to put that block an’ chain back on the dog. He couldn’t help it if the dog followed him. He no more stole that dog than I stole him. He’s no more a thief than I am. I dismiss this case, Mr. Thornycroft, this case you’ve brought against Davy Allen. I declare him innocent of the charge of theft. I set it down right here on the records of this court.”
“Davy!” gasped Mrs. Allen. “Davy!”
But, face working, eyes blazing, Old Man Thornycroft started forward, and the dog, panting, shrank between boy and mother. “Jim Kirby!” cried the old man, stopping for a moment in the cleared space. “You’re magistrate. What you say goes. But that dog thar—he’s mine! He’s my property—mine by law!” He jerked a piece of rope out of his overcoat pocket and came on toward the cowering dog. “Tom Belcher, Bob Kelley! Stop that dog! He’s mine!”
“Davy!” Mrs. Alien was holding the boy. “Don’t—don’t say anything. You’re free to go home. Your record’s clear. The dog’s his!”
“Hold on!” Mr. Kirby had risen from his chair. “You come back here, Mr. Thornycroft. This court’s not adjourned yet. If you don’t get back, I’ll stick a fine to you for contempt you’ll remember the rest of your days. You stand where you are, sir! Right there! Don’t move till I’m through!”
Quivering the old man stood where he was. Mr. Kirby sat down, face flushed, eyes blazing. “Punch up that fire, Tom Belcher,” he said. “I ain’t through yet.”
The hound came trembling back to Davy, looked up in his face, licked his hand, then sat down at the side opposite his former master, looking around now and then at the old man, terror in his eyes. In the midst of a deathly silence the magistrate resumed.
“What I was goin’ to say, gentlemen, is this: I’m not only magistrate, I’m an officer in an organization that you country fellers likely don’t know of, an organization known as the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. As such an officer it’s my duty to report an’ bring to trial any man who treats a dumb brute in a cruel an’ inhuman way. Mr Thornycroft, judgin’ by the looks of that houn’, you ain’t give him enough to eat to keep a cat alive—an’ a cat we all know, don’t eat much, just messes over her vittles. You condemned that po’ beast, for no fault of his own, to the life of a felon. A houn’ that ain’t happy at best, he’s melancholy; an’ a houn’ that ain’t