But, since neither of these was available, a benignant Providence provided him with friends entirely to his taste. For the great brown hound, Punch, was surely, despite the name men had given him, a nobleman by birth and breeding. Powerful and beautifully made, the sight of his long lithe bounds, as he quartered the cliff-sides in silent chase of fowl and fur, was a thing to rejoice in; so exquisite in its tireless grace, so perfect in its unconscious exhibition of power and restraint. For the brown dog never gave tongue, and he never killed. He chased for the keen enjoyment of the chase, and no man had ever heard him speak.
He was the first dumb dog Graeme had ever come across, and the pathetic yearning in his solemn brown eyes was full of infinite appeal to one who suffered also from an unforgettable loss. He answered to his name with a dignified appreciation of its incongruity, and the tail-less white terrier, more appropriately, to that of Scamp.
They were on the very best of terms, these two friends of his, possibly because of their absolute unlikeness,—Punch, large, solemn, imperturbable, with a beautifully-curved slow-waving tail and no voice; Scamp, a bundle of wriggling nerves moved by electricity, with a sharp excited bark and not even the stump of a tail. When he needed to wag he wagged the whole of his body behind his front legs.
These two were sitting watching him expectantly as Mrs. Carre brought in his dinner that first day, and she instantly ordered them out.
Punch rose at once, cast one look of grave appeal at Graeme, as who would say—“Sorry to leave you, but this is the kind of thing I have to put up with,”—and walked slowly away. Scamp grovelled flat and crawled to the door like a long hairy caterpillar.
“Oh, let them stop,” said Graeme. “I like them by me,” and the culprits turned hopefully with pricked ears and anxious faces.
“Mais non! They are troublesome beasts. Allez, Ponch! Allez, Scamp! A couche!”—and their heads and ears drooped and they slunk away.
But, presently, there came a rustling at the wide-open window which gave on to the field at the back, and Graeme laughed out—and he had not smiled for days—at sight of two deprecatingly anxious faces looking in upon him,—a solemn brown one with black spots above the eloquent grave eyes, and a roguish white one with pink blemishes on a twisting black nose. And while the large brown face loomed steadily above two powerful front paws, the small white face only appeared at intervals as the nervous little body below flung it up to the sill in a series of spasmodic leaps.
“We would esteem it a very great favour, if you are quite sure it would not inconvenience you,” said Punch, as plain as speech.
“Do, do, do, do, do give us leave!” signalled Scamp, with every twist of his quivering nose, and every gleam of his glancing eyes, and every hair on end.