A click of the tongue, a noiseless graceful bound, and Punch was at his side. A wild scrambling rush, a wriggle on the sill, a patter over the window-seat, and Scamp was twisting himself into white figure-eights all over the room, with tremendous energy but not a sound save the soft pad of his tiny dancing feet.
Then, as he ate, the great brown head pillowed itself softly on his knee, and the eloquent brown eyes looked up into his in a way that a stone image could hardly have resisted. The while Scamp, on his hind legs, beat the air frantically with his front paws to attract attention to his needs and danced noiselessly all over the floor.
He gauged their characters with interest. When he gave them morsels turn about, Punch awaited his with gentlemanly patience, and even when purposely passed by in order to see what he would do, obtruded his claims by nothing more than a gentle movement of the head on his friend’s knee; while Scamp, in like case, twisted himself into knots of anxiety and came perilously near to utterance.
The difference between them when, through lack of intimate knowledge of their likes and dislikes, they got something not entirely to their taste, was also very typical. Punch would retire quietly into obscurity, and having disposed of the objectionable morsel somehow—either by a strenuous swallow or in some corner—would quietly reappear, lay his head on Graeme’s knee again, and work it up to his lap with a series of propitiatory little jerks that never failed of their object. Scamp, on the other hand, would hold it in his mouth for a moment till he had savoured it, then place it meekly on the floor, bow his head to the ground, and grovel flat with deprecatory white-eyed up-glances, and as clearly as dog could say, would murmur,—“Oh, Man, Lord of all that go on four legs, forgive thy humble little servant in that he is unable with enjoyment to eat that thou hast of thy bounty tendered him! The fault is wholly his. Yet, of thy great clemency, punish him not beyond his capacity, for his very small body is merely a bundle of nerves, and they lie so very close to the skin that even a harsh word from thee will set them quivering for an hour.” But, at a comforting word, he was up in a flash dancing and sparring away as gaily as ever.
Then, when Mrs. Carre brought in the next course, they both retired discreetly below the tent of the tablecloth. But she, knowing them of old perhaps, found them out at once and cried, “Ah you! I see you there! You are just troublesome beasts!” But, seeing that her guest was in the conspiracy, she permitted them for that once; and in time, seeing that he really desired their company, she allowed them to remain as a matter of course and without any preliminary harrying.
One other acquaintance he made during these dark days,—perhaps one ought to say an acquaintance and a half, if indeed the half in this case was not greater than the whole, a matter which Graeme never fully decided in his own mind,—a small person of grim and gloomy tendencies, whose sombre humours chimed at times with his own,—and that small person’s familiar.