At length Denry and the Countess could see the clock of the Old Town Hall in Crown Square and it was a minute to three. They were less than a minute off the Institute.
“There you are!” said Denry, proudly. “Three miles if it’s a yard, in seventeen minutes. For a mule it’s none so dusty.”
And such was the Countess’s knowledge of the language of the Five Towns that she instantly divined the meaning of even that phrase, “none so dusty.”
They swept into Crown Square grandly.
And then, with no warning, the mule suddenly applied all the automatic brakes which a mule has, and stopped.
“Oh Lor!” sighed Denry. He knew the cause of that arresting.
A large squad of policemen, a perfect regiment of policemen, was moving across the north side of the square in the direction of the Institute. Nothing could have seemed more reassuring, less harmful, than that band of policemen, off duty for the afternoon and collected together for the purpose of giving a hearty and policemanly welcome to their benefactress the Countess. But the mule had his own views about policemen. In the early days of Denry’s ownership of him he had nearly always shied at the spectacle of a policemen. He would tolerate steam-rollers, and even falling kites, but a policeman had ever been antipathetic to him. Denry, by patience and punishment, had gradually brought him round almost to the Countess’s views of policemen—namely, that they were a courteous and trustworthy body of public servants, not to be treated as scarecrows or the dregs of society. At any rate, the mule had of late months practically ceased to set his face against the policing of the Five Towns. And when he was on his best behaviour he would ignore a policeman completely.
But there were several hundreds of policemen in that squad, the majority of all the policemen in the Five Towns. And clearly the mule considered that Denry, in confronting him with several hundred policemen simultaneously, had been presuming upon his good-nature.
The mule’s ears were saying agitatedly:
“A line must be drawn somewhere, and I have drawn it where my forefeet now are.”
The mule’s ears soon drew together a little crowd.
It occurred to Denry that if mules were so wonderful in the Apennines the reason must be that there are no policemen in the Apennines. It also occurred to him that something must be done to this mule.