“You get out!” Mr. Atwater shouted, “D’ye hear me, you poodle?”
He found the missile, a stone of fair diameter. He hurled it violently.
“There, darn you!”
The stone missed, and Gammire fled desperately after it.
“You get over that fence!” Mr. Atwater cried. “You wait till I find another rock and I’ll——”
He began to search for another stone, but, before he could find one, Gammire returned with the first. He deposited it upon the ground at Mr. Atwater’s feet.
“There’s your rock,” he said.
Mr. Atwater looked down at him fiercely, and through the black chrysanthemum two garnet sparks glinted waggishly.
“Didn’t you hear me tell you what I’d do if you didn’t get out o’ here, you darn poodle?”
Gammire “sat up,” placed his forepaws together over his nose and prayed. “There’s your rock,” he said. And he added, as clearly as if he used a spoken language, “Let’s get on with the game!”
Mr. Atwater turned to Kitty Silver. “Does he—does he know how to speak, or shake hands, or anything like that?” he asked.
* * * * *
The next morning, as the peculiar old man sat at breakfast, he said to the lady across the table: “Look here. Who did give Gamin to us?”
Julia bit her lip; she even cast down her eyes.
“Well, who was it?”
Her demureness still increased. “It was—Noble Dill.”
Mr. Atwater was silent; he looked down and caught a clownish garnet gleam out of a blackness neighbouring his knee. “Well, see here,” he said. “Why can’t you—why can’t you——”
“Why can’t I what?”
“Why can’t you sit out in the yard the next time he calls here, instead of on the porch where it blows all through the house? It’s just as pleasant to sit under the trees, isn’t it?”
“Pleasanter,” said Julia.
By the end of October, with the dispersal of foliage that has served all summer long as a screen for whatever small privacy may exist between American neighbours, we begin to perceive the rise of our autumn high tides of gossip. At this season of the year, in our towns of moderate size and ambition, where apartment houses have not yet condensed and at the same time sequestered the population, one may look over back yard beyond back yard, both up and down the street; especially if one takes the trouble to sit for an hour or so daily, upon the top of a high fence at about the middle of a block.