The beautiful early summer weeks slid by, and the young bloodhound grew more sedate and less given to violent exercise. And then Bates succeeded in persuading the Colonel into allowing him to kennel the Lady Desdemona. It is true the kennel given her was pretty nearly the size of a horse’s loose box, and had a little covered outside yard of its own. But it was a kennel, and securely inclosed. Despite the watchfulness of Bates, Finn the wolfhound came nuzzling round its sides fairly often in search of the prisoner.
After four days of confinement the bitch was released by Colonel Forde’s orders. For two days she had taken no food; and as she obviously fretted when Finn was kept away from her, the wolfhound was allowed to come and go at Shaws as he chose, and as he did at Nuthill.
Thus a week passed, and it was seen that the Lady Desdemona grew restless and uneasy.
“Take my advice and leave them severely alone,” said the Master. “Finn will go his own way whether we like it or not. He’s too old a hand to be cajoled, and I’ve sworn I’ll never coerce him. The bitch will be better left to go her own way. She’s got a good mate.”
Bates sighed, but the Colonel agreed; and very little was said about it when, a few days later, Desdemona passed out beyond the ken of her friends at Shaws and Nuthill, and for the time was seen no more.
What did rather surprise the Master, however, was that after an absence of a few hours, on the day of Desdemona’s disappearance, Finn turned up as usual in the evening at Nuthill, and spent the night on his own bed. This fact did strike the Master as odd when he heard that nothing had been seen at Shaws of the bloodhound.
“Evidently, then, Finn has nothing to do with her disappearance,” said Colonel Forde next day.
“Ah!” replied the Master, musingly. “I wonder!” And he thoughtfully pulled Finn’s ears, as though he thought this might extract information regarding the whereabouts of Desdemona. But Finn, as his way was, said nothing. He maintained in this matter a policy of masterly reserve.
HOW DESDEMONA FOUND HER NEST
It would, of course, be highly interesting if one were able to map out precisely the effect produced in Desdemona’s mind by the influence of Finn the wolfhound. One would very much like to trace the mental process; to know exactly how much and in what manner the influence of the wolfhound, with his experiences of life among the wild kindred of Australia, affected the development of the highly domesticated, the thoroughly sophisticated, young bloodhound. This one cannot pretend to do. But, as it happens, one is able faithfully to record the Lady Desdemona’s actions and experiences; and from that record, in the light of her previous intercourse with the Irish wolfhound, one is free to draw one’s own conclusions as to motives and inspirations.