Afoot in England eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 290 pages of information about Afoot in England.
those who are moved to a sense of wonder by it, find an echo in me.  But it is not only a delight to me to listen to the lark singing at heaven’s gate and to the vesper nightingale in the oak copse—­the singer of a golden throat and wondrous artistry; I also love the smaller vocalists—­the modest shufewing and the lesser whitethroat and the yellowhammer with his simple chant.  These are very dear to me:  their strains do not strike me as trivial; they have a lesser distinction of their own and I would not miss them from the choir.  The literary man will smile at this and say that my paper is naught but an idle exercise, but I fancy I shall sleep the better tonight for having discharged this ancient debt which has been long on my conscience.

Chapter Twenty-Five:  My Friend Jack

My friend rack is a retriever—­very black, very curly, perfect in shape, but just a retriever; and he is really not my friend, only he thinks he is, which comes to the same thing.  So convinced is he that I am his guide, protector, and true master, that if I were to give him a downright scolding or even a thrashing he would think it was all right and go on just the same.  His way of going on is to make a companion of me whether I want him or not.  I do not want him, but his idea is that I want him very much.  I bitterly blame myself for having made the first advances, although nothing came of it except that he growled.  I met him in a Cornish village in a house where I stayed.  There was a nice kennel there, painted green, with a bed of clean straw and an empty plate which had contained his dinner, but on peeping in I saw no dog.  Next day it was the same, and the next, and the day after that; then I inquired about it—­Was there a dog in that house or not?  Oh, yes, certainly there was:  Jack, but a very independent sort of dog.  On most days he looked in, ate his dinner and had a nap on his straw, but he was not what you would call a home-keeping dog.

One day I found him in, and after we had looked for about a minute at each other, I squatting before the kennel, he with chin on paws pretending to be looking through me at something beyond, I addressed a few kind words to him, which he received with the before-mentioned growl.  I pronounced him a surly brute and went away.  It was growl for growl.  Nevertheless I was well pleased at having escaped the consequences in speaking kindly to him.  I am not a “doggy” person nor even a canophilist.  The purely parasitic or degenerate pet dog moves me to compassion, but the natural vigorous outdoor dog I fear and avoid because we are not in harmony; consequently I suffer and am a loser when he forces his company on me.  The outdoor world I live in is not the one to which a man goes for a constitutional, with a dog to save him from feeling lonely, or, if he has a gun, with a dog to help him kill something.  It is a world which has sound in it, distant cries and penetrative

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Afoot in England from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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