Patricia sat on the back fence, almost hidden by the low-spreading branches of an old apple-tree. Below her, on the grass, lay a small, curly, black dog, his brown, trustful eyes fixed confidently on Patricia.
“Really, you know,” the child said, gravely, “it’s a very perplexing situation. Aunt Julia needn’t have been so inhospitable. Why didn’t I wait until Daddy got home! Daddy’s so much more—convincible. But it’s no use now; Daddy never goes back on Aunt Julia.”
Patricia slipped from the fence. “I rather think you and I’d better go down to the back meadow to talk things over; it’s getting pretty near sewing-time.”
Out in the meadow, flat on her back in the long grass, Patricia set herself to the task of solving this perplexing situation.
Half an hour earlier she had appeared back from one of her desultory rambles, accompanied by this most forlorn of all forlorn dogs, explaining that she had met him on the road, and he had followed her home.
It was no unusual occurrence, but when Patricia added that he didn’t seem to belong to anybody, and she thought she would keep him, Miss Kirby promptly and firmly protested.
To Patricia’s pleading, that he was poor and lame and homeless, that Caesar, the pointer, was the only dog they had now, and he was too old to play much, Miss Kirby had proved adamant. Patricia might give her foundling a good meal, but keep him she could not.
Whereupon, Patricia, having given the wanderer what was in reality several meals condensed into one, had retired with him to think things over.
“It really seems as if you’d been meant for me,” she told him now; “I found you. I can’t see why Aunt Julia won’t look at things in a proper light. I’m afraid she hurt your feelings. Aunt Julia generally means pretty well, but she’s apt to speak out sort of quick. We Kirbys mostly do. I wonder what your name is?”
The dog stretched comfortably out in the warm grass, quite as happy and contented as if he had been everything he wasn’t, sat up suddenly, with a short little bark, as if trying to give the desired information.
Rolling over, Patricia, her chin in her hands, surveyed him carefully. “You aren’t very handsome just now; but then, I know lots of people who aren’t very good looking. I don’t see why that saying Aunt Julia is so fond of—about ’Handsome is as handsome does’—shouldn’t apply to dogs as well as people. All the same, you are a very mixed numbery sort of a dog: you’ve got one and three-quarters ears, three and one-half legs,—at least you don’t use that front paw very much,—and half a tail; and your hair is rather—patchy. But inside, I’m sure you’re all right. And you have beautiful eyes; they’re all there, too.”
The dog blinked back at her soberly, wagging his abbreviated tail in apologetic fashion.