As the days slipped past in that early summer-time, the black-and-gray dog pup thrived wonderfully in Desdemona’s cave. Having keen sight now in addition to the wonderful sense of smell which was his at birth, the black-and-gray had become a definite person already. Young though he was, he already knew the taste of rabbit’s flesh, and would growl masterfully at his own mother if she claimed his attention—say, for a washing—when he had stolen one of her bones, and was busily engaged in gnawing and scraping it with his pin-point teeth. When Finn appeared, this masterful youngster would waddle purposely forward, growling at times so forcibly as to upset his precarious equilibrium.
Twice he had adventured alone to the cave’s mouth, and tumbled headlong down the steep slope outside, grunting and growling the while (instead of whimpering, as his sister would have done), and threatening the whole South Downs with his displeasure. With never a hint of anything to fill the place of the much-discussed attribute we call filial instinct in the young of human kind, the black-and-gray pup conceived the greatest admiration for his father. But it was little he recked of fatherhood and he always vigorously challenged Finn’s entry to the cave, which he regarded as his property and his mother’s. Her authority he was, of course, obliged to recognize, and, too, he liked her well. But though he recognized Desdemona’s authority, he disputed it a dozen times a day, and made a brave show of resistance every time he was washed.
His little sister was his abject slave, and if in her slow peregrinations about the cave she should stumble upon a scrap of anything edible, he would promptly roll her over with one of his exaggeratedly podgy front paws and snatch the morsel from her without the slightest compunction. In the same way he would chase her from teat to teat when they both were nursing, and when full-fed himself would ruthlessly scratch and tug at his mother’s aching flanks from sheer boisterous wantonness. At such times he would climb about her hollow sides, holding on by his sharp claws, and scratch and chew her huge pendulous ears, rarely meeting with any more serious check or rebuke than a low, rumbling hint of a maternal growl, which, as a matter of fact, alarmed his little sister more than it impressed him. In fact, Master Black-and-Gray was a healthily thriving and insolent young cub, who enjoyed every minute of his life and gave every promise of growing into a big hound—providing he should chance to escape the thousand-and-one pitfalls that lay before him, regarding the whole of which his ignorance was, of course, complete.