Somewhere in the hideous wreck of Dr. Halding’s motorcar the dog had found a soul—and the rest had followed as a natural course of growth.
At the autumn dog-show, in Hampton, a “dark-sable-and-white” collie of unwonted size and beauty walked proudly into the ring close to the Mistress’s side, when the puppy class was called—a class that includes all dogs under twelve months old. Six minutes later the Mistress was gleesomely accepting the first-prize blue ribbon, for “best puppy,” from Judge Symonds’ own gnarled hand.
Then came the other classes for collies—“Novice,” “Open,” “Limit,” “Local,” “American Bred.” And as Bruce paced majestically out of the ring at last, he was the possessor of five more blue ribbons—as well as the blue Winner’s rosette, for “best collie in the show.”
“Great dog you’ve got there, madam!” commented Symonds in solemn approval as he handed the Winner’s rosette to the Mistress. “Fine dog in every way. Fine promise. He will go far. One of the best types I’ve—”
“Do you really think so?” sweetly replied the Mistress. “Why, one of the foremost collie judges in America has gone on record as calling him a ‘measly St. Bernard monstrosity.’”
“No?” snorted Symonds, incredulous. “You don’t say so! A judge who would speak so, of that dog, doesn’t understand his business. He—”
“Oh, yes, he does!” contradicted the Mistress, glancing lovingly at her handful of blue ribbons. “I think he understands his business very well indeed—now!”
CHAPTER III. The War Dog
The guest had decided to wait until next morning, before leaving The Place, instead of following his first plan of taking a night train to New York. He was a captain in our regular army and had newly come back from France to forget an assortment of shrapnel-bites and to teach practical tactics to rookies.
He reached his decision to remain over night at The Place while he and the Mistress and the Master were sitting on the vine-hung west veranda after dinner, watching the flood of sunset change the lake to molten gold and the sky to pink fire. It would be pleasant to steal another few hours at this back-country House of Peace before returning to the humdrum duties of camp. And the guest yielded to the temptation.
“I’m mighty glad you can stay over till morning,” said the Master. “I’ll send word to Roberts not to bring up the car.”
As he spoke, he scrawled a penciled line on an envelope-back; then he whistled.
From a cool lounging-place beneath the wistaria-vines arose a huge collie—stately of form, dark brown and white of coat, deep-set of eye and with a head that somehow reminded one of a Landseer engraving. The collie trotted up the steps of the veranda and stood expectant before the Master. The latter had been folding the envelope lengthwise. Now he slipped it through the ring in the dog’s collar.