“You don’t mean me?”
“I sure do.”
“But I couldn’t accept such a big present. And then, when we go away this winter—”
“Listen to your Uncle Bud, missy. A little lady give me a watch onct. ’T wa’n’t a big watch, but it was a big thing. ’Cause why? ’Cause that little lady was the first lady to give me a present in my life. I was raised up by men-folks. My mammy she wa’n’t there long after I come. Reckon that’s why I never was much of a hand with wimmin-folks. I wa’n’t used to ’em. And I don’t care how old and ornery a man is; the first time he gets a present from a gal, it kind of hits him where he breathes. And if it don’t make him feel warm inside and mighty proud of bein’ who he is, why, it’s because he’s so dog-gone old he can’t think. I ain’t tellin’ no secret when I say that the little lady put her name in that watch alongside of mine. And her name bein’ there is what makes that present a big thing—bigger than any piano that was ever built.
“Why, just a spell ago I was settin’ in my office, madder’n a cat what had tore his Sunday pants, ‘cause at twelve o’clock I was goin’ over to the saloon to fire that young ranger, Lusk, for gettin’ drunk. I pulled out this here watch, and I says to myself: ’Bud, it was clost around twelve o’clock by a young fella’s watch onct when he was filled up on liquor and rampin’ round town when he ought to been to work. And it was the ole foreman’s gal that begged that boy’s job back for him, askin’ her daddy to give him another chanct.’ And the boy he come through all right. I know—for I owned the watch. And so I give Lusk another chanct.”
Dorothy stepped to Shoop’s chair, and, stooping quickly, kissed his cheek. Bondsman, not to be outdone, leaped jealously into Bud’s lap and licked the supervisor’s face. Shoop spluttered, and thrust Bondsman down.
“Things is comin’ too fast!” he cried, wiping his face. “I was just goin’ to say something when that dog just up and took the words right out of my mouth. Oh, yes! I was just wishin’ I owned a piano factory.”
The Fires of Home
Bud Shoop read the newspaper notice twice before he realized fully its import. The Adams House at Stacey was for sale. “Then Jim and Annie’s patched it up,” he soliloquized. And the genial Bud did not refer to the Adams House.
Because his master seemed pleased, Bondsman waited to hear the rest of it with head cocked sideways and tail at a stiff angle.
“That’s all they is to it,” said Shoop.
Bondsman lay down and yawned. He was growing old. It was only Bud’s voice that could key the big Airedale up to his earlier alertness. The office was quiet. The clerk had gone out for his noon meal. The fall sunshine slanted lazily through the front-office windows. The room was warm, but there was a tang of autumn in the air. Shoop glanced at the paper again. He became absorbed in an article proposing conscription. He shook his head and muttered to himself. He turned the page, and glanced at the livestock reports, the copper market, railroad stocks, and passed on to an article having to do with local politics.