“Now you listen me!” said Kitty Silver. “I ain’t see no dog eat orange in all my days, an’ I ain’t see nobody else whut see dog eat orange! No, ma’am, an’ I ain’t nev’ hear o’ nobody else whut ev’ see nobody whut see dog eat orange!”
Herbert decided to be less impressed. “Oh, I’ve heard of dogs that’d eat apples,” he said. “Yes, and watermelon and nuts and things.” As he spoke he played with the tennis ball upon his racket, and concluded by striking the ball high into the air. Its course was not true; and it descended far over toward the orchard, where Herbert ran to catch it—but he was not quick enough. At the moment the ball left the racket Gammire abandoned his prayers: his eyes, like a careful fielder’s, calculating and estimating, followed the swerve of the ball in the breeze, and when it fell he was on the correct spot. He caught it.
Herbert shouted. “He caught it on the fly! It must have been an accident. Here——” And he struck the ball into the air again. It went high—twice as high as the house—and again Gammire “judged” it; continuously shifting his position, his careful eyes never leaving the little white globe, until just before the last instant of its descent he was motionless beneath it. He caught it again, and Herbert whooped.
Gammire brought the ball to him and invited him to proceed with the game. That there might be no mistaking his desire, Gammire “sat up” and prayed; nor did he find Herbert anything loth. Out of nine chances Gammire “muffed” the ball only twice, both times excusably, and Florence once more flung her arms about the willing performer.
“Who do you s’pose trained this wonderful, darling doggie?” she cried.
Mrs. Silver shook her marvelling head. “He mus’ ‘a’ come thataway,” she said. “I bet nobody ‘t all ain’ train him; he do whut he want to hisse’f. That Gammire don’ ast nobody to train him.”
“Oh, goodness!” Florence said, with sudden despondency. “It’s awful!”
“To think of as lovely a dog as this having to face grandpa!”
“‘Face’ him!” Kitty Silver echoed forebodingly. “I reckon you’ grampaw do mo’n dess ‘face’ him.”
“That’s what I mean,” Florence explained. “I expect he’s just brute enough to drive him off.”
“Yes’m,” said Mrs. Silver. “He git madder ev’y time somebody sen’ her new pet. You’ grampaw mighty nervous man, an’ everlas’n’ly do hate animals.”
“He hasn’t seen Gammire, has he?”
“Don’t look like it, do it?” said Kitty Silver. “Dog here yit.”
“Well, then I——” Florence paused, glancing at Herbert, for she had just been visited by a pleasant idea and had no wish to share it with him. “Is Aunt Julia in the house?”
“She were, li’l while ago.”
“I want to see her about somep’n I ought to see her about,” said Florence. “I’ll be out in a minute.”