Just as the old cat finished his story, Old Boze sprang toward him with a loud, “Bow-wow-wow.” The old cat bounded as if he were made of India-rubber of the best quality. Such a cat-jump the little boy had never seen before. The first leap carried Old Klaws far out on the garden walk, and in the twinkling of an eye he was among the topmost branches of the old pear tree. When he felt himself safe, he turned round and began to spit and snarl and say bad words at Old Boze, who was looking at him with his long tongue hanging out of his mouth, and his face all wrinkled up into a broad grin.
Little Luke had jumped almost as lively as Old Klaws, but when he saw who it was and took in the old cat’s language, and the old dog’s funny looking face, he lay down on the porch and laughed till the tears came.
XXXI. THE STORY OF THE FAITHFUL DOG
“Dear Old Boze,” said the little boy, after the fun was over, “can’t you tell me a story of the old days?”
“Yes,” replied the old hound, “I can. And since Old Klaws has told you about one dog, I’ll tell you about another.”
“Once upon a time,” went on the old hound, “there was an Indian hunter who had a dog that he loved very dearly. And the dog on his part loved his master more than his own life.
“For many years, master and dog hunted together. When night came they ate of the same food, and shared the same bed. Many and many a time, each saved the life of the other. At last both began to grow old.
“One morning in winter a stranger entered their lodge. ’I am the Man-i-tou of Death,’ said he to the hunter. ’The Master of Life has sent me to summon you to the Happy Hunting Ground. Make ready at once, for when the sun rises for the third time, you must set forth.’
“‘It is well,’ replied the hunter, ‘the summons shall be obeyed.’
“At once he began to make ready. He danced the death dance and sang the death song. His wife and his two sons mourned and wept, and the dog joined in the death chant.
“On the third morning, the hunter was ready to depart on the long journey from which he could never return.
“‘Alas, my husband,’ said his wife, ’I cannot live without you. I will go with you. Where you are, there will I be also.’ And so also said his two sons.
“The hunter tried to comfort them, and to persuade them to remain until they too should be summoned by the Master of Life. But they refused to be comforted, and at last they all set forth.
“Meanwhile the dog had said nothing. But when they started, he was close at the heels of his master.
“Day after day they traveled toward the south-west. Alter a time, they entered a desert land, where water was scarce and there was no game. Soon they began to be hungry as well as weary.
“The younger boy’s strength and courage gave out, and he turned and followed the trail back to the wigwam.