We sat listening as the sound grew fainter, and when it ceased entirely Uncle Eb said he must have got to the road. After a little the light of the morning began sifting down through the tree-tops and was greeted with innumerable songs.
‘He done noble,’ said Uncle Eb, patting the old dog as he rose to poke the fire. ’Putty good chap I call ‘im! He can hev half o’ my dinner any time he wants it.’
‘Who do you suppose it was?’ I enquired.
‘Robbers, I guess,’ he answered, ‘an’ they’ll be layin’ fer us when we go out, mebbe; but, if they are, Fred’ll find ’em an’ I’ve got Ol’ Trusty here ‘n’ I guess thet’ll take care uv us.’
His rifle was always flattered with that name of Ol’ Trusty when it had done him a good turn.
Soon as the light had come clear he went out in the near woods with dog and rifle and beat around in the brush. He returned shortly and said he had seen where they came and went.
’I’d a killed em deader ‘n a door nail,’ said he, laying down the old rifle, ‘if they’d a come any nearer.’
Then we brought water from the river and had our breakfast. Fred went on ahead of us, when we started for the road, scurrying through the brush on both sides of the trail, as if he knew what was expected of him. He flushed a number of partridges and Uncle Eb killed one of them on our way to the road. We resumed our journey without any further adventure. It was so smooth and level under foot that Uncle Eb let me get in the wagon after Fred was hitched to it The old dog went along soberly and without much effort, save when we came to hills or sandy places, when I always got out and ran on behind. Uncle Eb showed me how to brake the wheels with a long stick going downhill. I remember how it hit the dog’s heels at the first down grade, and how he ran to keep out of the way of it We were going like mad in half a minute, Uncle Eb coming after us calling to the dog. Fred only looked over his shoulder, with a wild eye, at the rattling wagon and ran the harder. He leaped aside at the bottom and then we went all in a heap. Fortunately no harm was done.
‘I declare!’ said Uncle Eb as he came up to us, puffing like a spent horse, and picked me up unhurt and began to untangle the harness of old Fred, ‘I guess he must a thought the devil was after him.’
The dog growled a little for a moment and bit at the harness, but coaxing reassured him and he went along all right again on the level. At a small settlement the children came out and ran along beside my wagon, laughing and asking me questions. Some of them tried to pet the dog, but old Fred kept to his labour at the heels of Uncle Eb and looked neither to right nor left. We stopped under a tree by the side of a narrow brook for our dinner, and one incident of that meal I think of always when I think of Uncle Eb. It shows the manner of man he was and with what understanding and sympathy he regarded every