By this time Gigi had thrown himself from the dog’s back, and stood feebly leaning against a tree. Released from his burden, the dog bounded forward, and was soon leaping upon the old man’s shoulders, covering his face and hands and feet with eager kisses.
“Down, Brutus, down!” said the old man, in a tongue which Gigi could not understand. “Where hast thou been so long, good dog? And what new pet hast thou brought for my colony?” He looked towards Gigi with keen, kind eyes. “Come hither, my lad,” he said in the same tongue.
But Gigi only stared, not understanding. He was growing afraid of this queer old man, who spoke a strange language and had wild animals for his friends; who read, too, in a great black book! Gigi had heard of wicked wizards and sorcerers, and he believed that he saw one now. He turned about and tried to run away. But his poor head grew dizzy, and before he knew it he had fallen, and lay sobbing and shivering, unable to rise.
Presently he felt the dog’s gentle tongue licking his face. A moment after, kind, strong arms lifted him and bore him into the little hut. The old man laid Gigi on a cot beside the window, and after laying his hand on the boy’s head and wrist, went away and returned with something in a cup.
“Drink this, my child,” he said. And this time Gigi understood. He drank and felt better. Then the old man asked him in the tongue which Gigi knew, “Are you hungry, lad?”
The boy nodded, and his eyes must have told how nearly starved he was. The old man went swiftly to a little cupboard in the wall, and soon came back with bread and milk in an earthen bowl.
“Eat,” he said, lifting Gigi’s head on his arm. “Eat this good bread, my son, and drink the warm milk of my friend the doe, which I had just set aside, not expecting you. Then you shall sleep here on my pallet. And soon we shall be right smiling and happy all!”
The kind old eyes beamed on Gigi while he devoured his breakfast like a starved animal, without a word of thanks. When he had finished, the kind old hands brought water and bathed the tired body, bound up the bleeding hands and feet with refreshing ointment, and laid Gigi back again to rest upon the cot beside the rose-screened window.
There Gigi lay and slept; slept and dreamed; dreamed and went over again by fits and starts the strange adventures of the past two days. But strangest of all, though by far the pleasantest, was that picture which he had seen when he came out into the clearing upon the back of Brutus. And this picture, with queer variations, filled the foreground of Gigi’s dreaming.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.—Holy writ.