To their surprise, Mr. Brown did not appear that day, nor the following morning. Consequently, Mr. Davenport went up to his house at noon, and asked to see him. Brown by this time was sober, and at heart ashamed of his treatment of Duke.
“Brown,” said Mr. Davenport in greeting, “I’ve come to tell you that your dog is out at our place again.”
“I supposed as much,” he answered curtly.
“Well, why haven’t you been out for him?”
“It’s labor lost. I can’t keep the dog.”
Mr. Davenport hesitated a moment.
“Brown, perhaps we’ve been somewhat to blame in this matter, but, really, I couldn’t help the children’s making a fuss over the dog. Beth, my youngest child, was grieving herself sick over the death of a favorite dog, and Duke won her heart at once. For her sake, I’d be very glad if you’d sell the dog.”
“I won’t sell the dog.”
Mr. Davenport walked to the door.
“I don’t see that there is anything that I can do then except to send Duke back to you. I’ll have one of my darkies bring him in to-morrow morning.”
Mr. Brown did not answer a word. However, when Mr. Davenport was halfway down the steps, he stopped him and said:
“I’m the only one to blame. I see that love is more powerful that hate. Tell your little girl to keep the dog. I make her a present of him with one condition. If you ever leave Florida, I want the dog back. Good-morning.”
Before Mr. Davenport could utter a word, Brown closed the door as if fearful of gratitude.
One day, a strange white dog appeared at the Davenports’. No one knew whence she came. Perhaps Duke enticed her to the house. He tried to bespeak Beth’s interest by barking vigorously and jumping up and down wildly, as if begging the child to keep her.
At first, it was hard for Beth to feel any interest in the dog. It was fearfully thin, and always acted as if it expected to be kicked. It had one redeeming feature in that its eyes were very beautiful. They were large and brown, with a mildly pathetic look that appealed to Beth’s soft heart so that she decided to keep the dog.
For the first few days the newcomer sneaked under the house when any one was around. When she saw, however, that she was left unmolested, she gained courage. Duke was all devotion, and the white dog thrived under such attention. She freshened up so well that Beth wondered how she ever thought the dog ugly. Kindness and good food work wonders with dogs as well as with people. The days of her stay lengthened into months.
One morning, Beth came running in from the barn, her eyes brilliant from excitement.
“Mamma, mamma,” she called, “what do you think? White dog”—they had never given her a name—“has seven of the cutest little puppies you ever saw. Duke took me out and showed them to me.”