This was more or less the way in which the wolfhound’s mind worked as he ambled over the Downs that evening with his big knuckle-bone. (The cook at Nuthill was one of Finn’s most devoted admirers. In addition to the appetizing golden-brown skin that coated it, this bone carried quite a good deal of the short, dark-colored sort of meat which, though devoid of juice, makes very agreeable eating, and lends itself well to canine mastication.) And in view of this attitude of mind of his, Finn was rather grievously disappointed by the result of his visit.
He found the Lady Desdemona uneasily prowling back and forth, and in and out of the entrance to her cave. She perfunctorily touched Finn’s nose with her own (rather rough and hot) muzzle in greeting and, accepting the knuckle-bone with somewhat unmannerly eagerness, carried it at once to the rear of the cave. But when Finn made to follow her she returned nervously to the mouth of the cave and stood there, blocking the entrance. Most strangely stiff, preoccupied, and ill-at-ease, Finn thought her.
“Glad to see you, and all that,” her manner suggested; “but I don’t much think you’d better stay. I’m—er—busy, and—er—don’t let me detain you here.”
That was the suggestion conveyed; and Finn would have been the more angered about it, but for a vague feeling he had which he could in no way account for—a sort of yearning desire to help his mate and do something for her.
“She certainly doesn’t seem to want me,” he thought. And he tried to brace himself by means of resentful recollection of the eager way she had taken the bone he brought her. But much as he would have preferred to sniff, look coldly down his muzzle, and walk off, he found himself licking one of Desdemona’s heavily pendulous ears in quite a humble and solicitous manner. It was really rather annoying.
She jerked herself nervously away from him, with no more of deference than she might have shown some too effusive and presumptuous puppy. And yet, and yet the great wolfhound’s bowels yearned in kindliness toward this ungracious bloodhound mate of his; and when he did finally accept her numerous hints and take his leave, it was with no thought of resentment in his mind, but, on the contrary, with many a backward glance over his wire-coated shoulder, and several low whines of farewell from deep down in his throat. Altogether the evening, like the day preceding it, was a depressing one for Finn, and he was not sorry when the time came to stretch his great length upon his bed by the door of the Master’s room and sleep.
But when morning arrived Finn surprised his friend the cook by not waiting for his customary dish of milk. Directly the back door was opened he slipped out into the sweet, early sunshine of that fragrant neighborhood, and was off at a good loping gait for the Downs. (It was a thousand pities he could not have carried his milk with him as a morning draught for Desdemona.)