Wolf (Terhune)

Wolf  (1918) 
by Albert Payson Terhune

Extracted from Windsor magazine, V.45 1917-18, pp. 491-499. Accompanying illustrations by Norman P. Rockwell omitted.

There were three dogs on The Place—collies all. There was a long shelf in the master's study whereon shimmered and glinted a rank of silver cups of varying sizes and shapes. Two of The Place's dogs had won them all.

Above the shelf hung two huge picture-frames. In the centre of each was the small photograph of a collie. Beneath each likeness was a certified pedigree, a-bristle with the red-letter names of champions. Surrounding the pictures and pedigrees, the whole remaining space in both frames was filled with blue ribbons—the very meanest bit of silk in either was a semi-occasional purple or white "Reserve",—while strung along the tops of the frames from side to side ran a line of medals.

Cups, medals, and ribbons alike had been won by The Place's two great collies, Lad and Bruce. (Those were their "kennel names." Their official titles on the A. K. C. registry list were high-sounding and needlessly long.)

Lad was a mahogany-and-white giant of a dog, with a soul that was as big as his body and as human as his deep brown eyes. He was such a dog as one meets with once in a lifetime—and seeks for, vainly, before and after.

But now he was old, very, very old. His reign on The Place was drawing toward a benignant close. His muzzle was snow-white and his once graceful lines were beginning to blur with the oncoming heaviness of age. No longer could he hope to hold his own in form and carriage with younger collies at the dog-shows, where once he had carried all before him.

Bruce was six years younger, tawny of coat, kingly of bearing; a dog without a fault of body or of disposition; stately as the boar-hounds that the painters of old used to love to depict in their portraits of monarchs.

The Place's third dog was Wolf. But neither cup nor ribbon did Wolf have to show as an excuse for his presence on earth. Nor would he have won recognition in the smallest and least exclusive collie-show.

For Wolf was a collie only by courtesy. His breeding was as pure as was any champion's, but he was one of those luckless types to be found in nearly every litter—a throw-back to some forgotten ancestor whose points were all defective. Not even the glorious pedigree of Lad, his father, could make Wolf look like anything more than he was—a dog without a single physical trait that followed the best collie standards.

In spite of all this he was beautiful. His gold-and-white coat was almost as bright and luxuriant as any prize-winner's. He had, in a general way, the collie head and brush. But an expert, at the most casual glance, would have noted a shortness of nose and a breadth of jaw and a shape of ear and leg and shoulder that told dead against him.

The collie is supposed to be descended direct from the wolf. And Wolf looked far more like his original ancestors than like a thoroughbred collie. From puppyhood he had been the living image, except in color, of a timber-wolf. And it was from this queer throw-back trait that he had won his name.

Lad was the mistress's dog. Bruce was the master's. Wolf belonged to the Boy, having been born on the latter's tenth birthday.

For the first six months of his life Wolf lived at The Place on sufferance. Nobody except the Boy took any special interest in him. He was kept only because all his better-formed brothers and sisters had died in early puppyhood and because the Boy, from the outset, had loved him.

At six months it was discovered that he was a natural watch-dog. Also that he never barked except to give an alarm. A collie is, perhaps, the most excitable of all large dogs. The veriest trifle will set him off into a thunderous paroxysm of barking. But Wolf, the Boy noted, never barked without strong cause.

He had the rare genius for guarding that so few of his breed possess. For not one dog in ten merits the title of watch-dog. The duties that should go with that office are far more than the mere clamorous announcement of a stranger's approach, or even the attacking of such a stranger.

The born watch-dog patrols his beat once in so often during the night. At all times he must sleep with one ear and one eye alert. By day or by night he must discriminate between the visitor whose presence is permitted and the trespasser whose presence is not. He must know what class of undesirable to scare off with a growl and what class needs stronger measures. He must also know to the inch the boundaries of his own master's land.

None of these things can be taught; all of them must be instinctive. Wolf had been born with them. Most dogs are not.

His value as a watch-dog gave Wolf a settled position of his own on The Place. Lad was growing old and a little deaf. He slept, at night, under the piano in the music-room. Bruce was worth too much money to be left at large in the night-time for any clever dog-thief to steal. So he slept in the study. Thus Wolf alone was left on guard. The piazza was his sentry-box. From this shelter he was wont to set forth three or four times a night, in all sorts of weather, to make his rounds.

The Place covered seventeen acres. It ran from the high-road, a furlong above the house, down to the lake that bordered it on two sides. On the third side was the forest. Boating-parties, late at night, had a pleasant way of trying to raid the lakeside apple-orchard. Tramps now and then strayed down the drive from the main road. Prowlers, crossing the woods, sometimes sought to use The Place's sloping lawn as a short cut to the village below.

For each and all of these intruders Wolf had an ever-ready welcome. A whirl of madly pattering feet through the dark, a snarling growl far down in the throat, a furry shape catapulting into the air and the trespasser had his choice between a scurrying retreat or a double set of white fangs in the easiest-reached part of his anatomy.

The Boy was inordinately proud of his pet's watch-dog prowess. He was prouder yet of Wolf's almost uncanny sharpness of intelligence, his quickness to learn, his knowledge of word meaning, his zest for romping, his perfect obedience, the tricks he had taught himself without human tutelage.

But none of these talents overcame the sad fact that Wolf was not a show dog and that he looked positively underbred and shabby alongside of his sire or of Bruce. Which rankled at the Boy's heart even while loyalty to his adored pet would not let him confess to himself or to any one else that Wolf was not the most flawlessly perfect dog on earth.

When this story begins, Wolf was four years old. Under-sized (for a collie), slim, graceful, fierce, affectionate, he was still the Boy's darling and the official guardian of The Place. But all his four years had brought him nothing more than this—the four years that Lad and Bruce had spent in winning prize after prize at one local dog-show after another within a radius of thirty miles.

The Boy was duly enthusiastic over the winning of each trophy. But always, for days thereafter, he was more than usually attentive to Wolf, to make up for his pet's dearth of prizes.

Once or twice the Boy had hinted, in a veiled, tentative way, that Wolf might perhaps win something, too, if he were allowed to go to a show. The master, never suspecting what lay behind the cautious words, would always laugh in good-natured derision. Or else he would point in silence to Wolf's head and then to Lad's.

The Boy knew enough about collies to carry the subject no farther. For even his eyes of devotion could not fail to mark the difference in aspect between his dog and the two prize-winners. One July morning both Lad and Bruce went through an hour of anguish. Both of them, one after the other, were plunged into a bath-tub full of warm water and soap-suds and were scrubbed right unmercifully. After which they were rubbed and curried and brushed for another hour until their coats shone resplendent. All day, at intervals, the brushing and combing were kept up.

Lad was indignant at such treatment, and he took no pains to hide his indignation. He knew perfectly well, from the undue attention, that a dog-show was at hand. But not for a year or more had he himself been made ready for one. His lake baths and his thrice-a-week casual brushing at the mistress's hands had been, in that time, his only form of grooming. He had thought himself graduated forever from the nuisance of going to shows.

"What's the idea of dolling up old Laddie like that?" asked the Boy, as he. came in for luncheon and found the mistress busy with comb and strapbrush over the unhappy dog.

"For the Fourth of July Red Cross Dog-Show at Ridgewood to-morrow," answered his mother, looking up, a little flushed, from her exertions.

"But I thought you and dad said last year he was too old to show any more," ventured the Boy.

"This time is different," said the mistress. "It's a specialty show, you see. And there is a cup offered for 'the best veteran dog of any recognized breed.' Isn't that fine? We didn't hear of the veteran cup till Dr. Hopper telephoned to us about it this morning. So we're getting Lad ready. There can't be any other veteran as splendid as he is."

"No," agreed the Boy, dully, "I suppose not."

He went into the dining-room, surreptitiously helped himself to a handful of lump-sugar, and passed on out to the veranda. Wolf was sprawled, half asleep, on the driveway lawn in the sun. The dog's wolflike brush of tail began to thump against the shaven grass. Then, as the Boy stood on the veranda edge and snapped his fingers, Wolf got up from his soft resting-place and started toward him, treading mincingly and with a sort of swagger, his slanting eyes half shut, his mouth a-grin.

"You know I've got sugar in my pocket as well as if you saw it," said the Boy. "Stop where you are."

Though the Boy accompanied his order with no gesture nor change of tone, the dog stopped dead short ten feet away.

"Sugar is bad for dogs," went on the Boy. "It harms their teeth and their digestions. Didn't anybody ever tell you that, Wolfie?"

The dog's grin grew wider. His slanting eyes closed to mere glittering slits. He fidgeted a little, his tail fast wagging.

"But I guess a dog's got to have some kind of consolation purse when he can't go to a show," resumed the Boy. "Catch!"

As he spoke he suddenly drew a lump of sugar from his pocket, and, with the same motion, tossed it in the general direction of Wolf. Swift as was the Boy's action, Wolf's eye was still quicker. Springing high in air, the dog caught the flung cube of sugar as it flew above him and to one side. A second and a third lump were caught as deftly as the first.

Then the Boy took from his pocket the fourth and last lump. Descending the steps, he put his left hand across Wolf's eyes. With his right, he flipped the lump of sugar into a clump of shrubbery. "Find it!" he commanded, lifting the blindfold from the eyes of his pet.

Wolf darted hither and thither, stopped once or twice to sniff, then began to circle the nearer stretch of lawn, nose to ground. In less than two minutes he emerged from the shrubbery, placidly crunching the sugar-lump between his mighty jaws.

"And yet they say you aren't fit to be shown!" exclaimed the Boy, fondling the dog's ears. "Gee, but I'd give two years' growth if you could have a cup! You deserve one, all right; if only those judges had sense enough to study a collie's brain as well as the outside of his head!"

Wolf ran his nose into his master's cupped palm and whined. From the tone underlying the words he knew the Boy was unhappy; and he wanted to be of help.

The Boy went into the house again, to find his parents sitting down to lunch. Gathering his courage in both hands, he asked:

"Is there going to be a novice class for collies, at Ridgewood, Dad?"

"Why, yes," said the master, "I suppose so. There always is."

"Do—do they give cups for the novice class?" inquired the Boy, with studied carelessness.

"Of course they don't," said the master, adding reminiscently, "though the first time we showed Lad, we put him in the novice class. And he won the blue ribbon there; so he had to go into the winners' class afterward. He got the winner's cup, you remember. So, indirectly, the novice class won him a cup."

"I see," said the Boy, not at all interested in this bit of ancient history. Then speaking very fast, he went on:

"Well, a ribbon's better than nothing! Dad, will you do me a favor? Will you let me enter Wolfie for the novice class to-morrow? I'll pay the fee out of my allowance. Will you, Dad?"

The master looked at his son in blank amazement. Then he threw back his head and laughed loudly. The Boy flushed crimson and bit his lips.

"Why, dear!" hurriedly interposed the mistress, noting her son's discomfiture. "You wouldn't want Wolf to go there and be beaten by a lot of dogs that haven't half his brains or prettiness! It wouldn't be fair or kind to Wolf. He's so clever, he'd know in a moment what was happening. He'd know he was beaten; nearly all dogs do. No, it wouldn't be fair to him."

"There's a 'mutt' class among the specials, Dr. Hopper says," put in the master, jocosely. "You might—"

"Wolf's not a mutt!" flashed the Boy, hotly. "He's no more of a mutt than Bruce or Lad, or Grey Mist, or Southport Sample, or any of the best ones. He has as good blood as all of them. Lad's his father, and Squire of Tytton was his grandfather, and Wishaw Clinker was his—"

"I'm sorry, son," interposed the master, catching his wife's eye and dropping his tone of banter. "I apologize to you and to Wolf. He's not a 'mutt.' There's no better blood in colliedom than his, on both sides. But mother is right. You'd only be putting him up to be beaten. And you wouldn't like that. He hasn't a single point that isn't hopelessly bad, from a judge's view. We've never taken a loser to a show from The Place. You don't want us to begin now, do you?"

"He has more brains than any dog alive except Lad!" declared the Boy, sullenly. "That ought to count."

"It ought to," agreed the mistress, soothingly. "And I wish it did. If it did, I know he'd win."

"It makes me sick to see a bushel of cups go to dogs that don't know enough to eat their own dinners," snorted the Boy. "I'm not talking about Lad and Bruce, but the thoroughbreds that are brought up in kennels and that have all their sense sacrificed for points. Why, Wolf's the cleverest—best—and he'll never even have one cup to show for it! He—"

He choked, and began to eat at top speed. The master and the mistress looked at each other and said nothing. They understood their son's chagrin as only a dog-lover could. The mistress reached out and patted the Boy gently on the shoulder.

Next morning, directly after early breakfast, Lad and Bruce were put into the tonneau of the car. The mistress and the master and the Boy climbed in, and the twelve-mile journey to Ridgewood began.

Wolf, left to guard The Place, watched the departing show-goers until the car turned out of the gate, a furlong above. Then, with a sigh, he curled up on a porch mat, his nose between his snowy little paws, and prepared for a day of loneliness.

The Red Cross dog-show, that Fourth of July, was a triumph for The Place.

Bruce won ribbon after ribbon in the collie division, easily taking "winners" at the last, and thus adding another gorgeous silver cup to his collection. Then, when the supreme event of the day—"Best dog in the show"—was called, and the winners of each breed were led into the ring, the judges scanned and handled the group of sixteen for barely five minutes before awarding to Bruce the dark-blue rosette and the "Best Dog" cup.

The crowd around the ring's railing applauded loudly. But they applauded still more loudly a little later, when, after a brief survey of six aged thoroughbreds, the judge pointed to Lad, who was standing like a mahogany statue at one end of the ring.

These six dogs had all been famed prize-winners in their time. And above all the rest, Lad was adjudged worthy of the "veteran" cup. There was a haze of happy tears in the mistress's eyes as she led him from the ring. It seemed a beautiful climax for his grand old life. She wiped her eyes, unashamed, whispering praise the while to her stately dog.

It was a celebration evening for the two prize dogs, when they got home. But everybody was tired from the day's events; and by ten o'clock the house was dark. Wolf, on his veranda mat, alone of all The Place's denizens, was awake.

Vaguely Wolf knew the other dogs had done some praiseworthy thing. He would have known it, if for no other reason, from the remorseful hug the Boy had given him before going to bed.

Well, some must win honors and petting and the right to sleep indoors while others must plod along at the only work they were fit for, and must sleep out in thunderstorm or clear, in heat or freezing cold. That was life. Being only a dog, Wolf was too wise to complain of life, and took things as he found them, making the very best of his share.

He snoozed, now, in the warm darkness. Two hours later he got up, stretched himself lazily fore and aft, collie-fashion, and trotted forth for the night's first patrol of the grounds.

A few minutes afterward he was skirting the lake edge at the foot of the lawn, a hundred yards below the house. The night was pitch dark, except for pulses of heat-lightning, now and then, far to westward. Half a mile out on the Jake two men in an anchored scow were cat-fishing.

A small skiff was slipping along very slowly, not fifty feet offshore.

Wolf did not give the skiff a second glance. Boats were no novelty to him, nor did they inter- est him in the least—except when they showed signs of running ashore somewhere along his beat.

This skiff was not headed for land, but was paralleling the shore. It crept along at a snail-pace and in dead silence. A man, its only occupant, sat at the oars, scarcely moving them as he kept his boat in motion.

A dog is ridiculously near-sighted, more so than almost any other beast. Keen hearing and keener scent are its chief guides. At three hundred yards' distance it cannot, by eye, recognize its master, nor tell him from a stranger. But at close quarters, even in the darkest night, a dog's vision is far more piercing and accurate than man's under like conditions.

Wolf thus saw the skiff and its occupant while he himself was still invisible. The boat was no concern of his. So he trotted on to the far end of The Place, where the forest joined the orchard. On his return tour of the lake edge he saw the skiff again. It had shifted its direction and was now barely ten feet offshore—so near to the bank that one of the oars occasionally grated on the pebbly bottom. The oarsman was looking intently toward the house.

Wolf paused, uncertain. The average watchdog, his attention thus attracted, would have barked. But Wolf knew the lake was public property. Boats were often rowed as close to shore as this without intent to trespass. It was not the skiff that caught Wolf's attention as he paused there on the brink, it was the man's furtive scrutiny of the house.

A pale flare of heat-lightning turned the world, momentarily, from jet black to a dim sulphur-color. The boatman saw Wolf standing, alert and suspicious, among the lakeside grasses, not ten feet away. He started slightly, and a soft, throaty growl from the dog answered him.

The man seemed to take the growl as a challenge, and to accept it. He reached into his pocket and drew something out. When the next faint glow of lightning illumined the shore, the man lifted the thing he had taken from his pocket and hurled it at Wolf.

With all the incredible swiftness bred in his wolf-ancestry, the dog shrank to one side, readily dodging the missile, which struck the lawn just behind him. Teeth bared in a ferocious snarl, Wolf dashed forward through the shallow water toward the skiff.

But the man apparently had had enough of the business. He rowed off with long strokes into deep water. And once there, he kept on rowing until distance and darkness hid him.

Wolf stood, chest deep in water, listening to the far-off oar-strokes until they died away. He was not fool enough to swim in pursuit, well knowing that a swimming dog is worse than helpless against a boatman.

Moreover, the intruder had been scared away. That was all which concerned Wolf. He turned back to shore. His vigil was ended for another few hours. It was time to take up his nap where he had left it off.

Before he had taken two steps, his sensitive nostrils were full of the scent of raw meat. There, on the lawn ahead of him, lay a chunk of beef as big as a fist. This, then, was what the boatman had thrown at him.

Wolf pricked up his ears in appreciation, and his brush began to vibrate. Trespassers had once or twice tried to stone him. But this was the first time any of them had pelted him with delicious raw beef. Evidently, Lad and Bruce were not the only collies on The Place to receive prizes that day.

Wolf stooped over the meat, sniffed at it, then caught it up between his jaws.

Now, a dog is the easiest animal alive to poison, just as a cat is the hardest. For a dog will usually bolt a mouthful of poisoned meat without pausing to chew or otherwise investigate it. A cat, on the contrary, smells and tastes everything first and chews it scientifically before swallowing it. The slightest unfamiliar scent or flavor warns her to sheer off from the feast.

So the average dog would have gulped this toothsome windfall in a single swallow. But Wolf was not the average dog. No collie is. And Wolf was still more like his eccentric forefathers of the wilderness than are most collies.

He lacked the reasoning powers to make him suspicious of this rich gift from a stranger. But a queer personal trait now served him just as well.

Wolf was an epicure. He always took three times as long to empty his dinner dish as did the other dogs. For instead of gobbling his meal, as they did, he was wont to nibble affectedly at each morsel, gnawing it slowly into nothingness; and all the time showing a fussily dainty relish of it that used to delight the Boy and send guests into peals of laughter.

This odd little trait that had caused so much ridicule now saved Wolf's life.

He carried the lump of beef gingerly up to the veranda, laid it down on his mat, and prepared to revel in his chance banquet after his own deliberate fashion.

Holding the beef between his forepaws, he proceeded to devour it in mincing little squirrel-bites. About a quarter of the meat had disappeared when Wolf became aware that his tongue smarted and that his throat was sore. Also that the interior of the meat-ball had a rankly pungent odor, very different from the delicious fragrance of its outside and not at all appetizing.

He looked down at the chunk, rolled it over with his nose, surveyed it again, then got up and moved away from it in angry disgust.

Presently he forgot his disappointment in the knowledge that he was very, very ill. His tongue and throat no longer burned, but his body and brain seemed full of hot lead that weighed a ton. He felt stupid, and too weak to stir. A great drowsiness gripped him.

With a grunt of discomfort and utter fatigue, he slumped down on the veranda floor to sleep off his sick lassitude. After that, for a time, nothing mattered.

For perhaps an hour Wolf lay sprawling there, dead to his duty and to everything else. Then faintly, through the fog of dullness that enwrapped his brain, came a sound—a sound he had long ago learned to listen for. The harshly scraping noise of a boat's prow drawn up on the pebbly shore at the foot of the lawn.

Instinct tore through the poison vapors and roused the sick dog. He lifted his head. It was strangely heavy and hard to lift.

The sound was repeated as the prow was pulled farther up on the bank. Then came the crunch of a human foot on the waterside grass.

Heredity and training and lifelong fidelity took control of the lethargic dog, dragging him to his feet and down the veranda steps through no volition of his own.

Every motion tired him. He was dizzy and nauseated. He craved sleep. But as he was just a thoroughbred dog and not a wise human, he did not stop to think up good reasons why he should neglect his duty because he did not feel like performing it.

To the brow of the hill he trotted—slowly, heavily, shakily. His sharp powers of hearing told him the trespasser had left his boat and had taken one or two stealthy steps up the slope of lawn toward the house.

And now a puff of west wind brought Wolf's sense of smell into action. A dog remembers odors as humans remember faces. And the breeze bore to him the scent of the same man who had flung ashore that bit of meat which had caused all his suffering.

He had caught the man's scent an hour earlier, as he had stood sniffing at the boat ten feet away from him. The same scent had been on the meat the man had handled.

And now, having played such a cruel trick on him, the joker was actually daring to intrude on The Place!

A gust of resentful rage pierced the dullness of Wolf's brain and sent a thrill of fierce energy through him. For the moment this carried him out of his sick self and brought back all his former zest as a watch-dog.

Down the hill, like a furry whirlwind, flew Wolf, every tooth bared, his back a-bristle from neck to tail. Now he was well within sight of the intruder. He saw the man pausing to adjust something to one of his hands. Then, before this could be accomplished, Wolf saw him pause and stare through the darkness as the wild onrush of the dog's feet struck upon his hearing.

Another instant—and Wolf was near enough to spring. Out of the blackness he launched himself, straight for the trespasser's throat. The man saw the dim shape hurtling through the air toward him. He dropped what he was carrying and flung up both hands to guard his neck.

At that, he was none too soon. For just as the thief's palm reached his own throat, Wolf's teeth met in the fleshy part of the hand.

Silent, in agony, the man beat at the dog with his free hand. But an attacking collie is hard to locate in the darkness. A bulldog will secure a grip and will hang on. A collie is everywhere at once.

Wolf's snapping jaws had already deserted the robber's mangled hand and slashed the man's left shoulder to the bone. Then the dog made another furious lunge for the throat.

Down crashed the man, losing his balance under the heavy impact, Wolf atop of him. To guard his throat, the man rolled over on his face, kicking madly at the dog, and reaching back for his own hip-pocket. Half in the water and half on the bank, the two rolled and thrashed and struggled—the man panting and wheezing in mortal terror; the dog growling in a hideous, snarling fashion as might a wild animal.

The thief's torn left hand found a grip on Wolf's fur-armored throat. He shoved the fiercely writhing dog backward, jammed a pistol against Wolf's head, and pulled the trigger!

The dog relaxed his grip and tumbled in a huddled heap on the brink. The man staggered, gasping, to his feet; bleeding, disheveled, his clothes torn and mud-coated.

The echoes of the shot were still reverberating among the lakeside hills. Several of the house's dark windows leaped into sudden light—then more windows in another room—and in another.

The thief swore roundly. His night's work was ruined. He turned to his skiff and shoved it into the water. Then he turned to grope for what he had dropped on the lawn when Wolf's unexpected attack had interfered with his plans.

As he did so, something seized him by the ankle. In panic terror the man screamed aloud and jumped into the water. Then, peering back, he saw what had happened.

Wolf, sprawling and unable to stand, had reached forward from where he lay and had driven his teeth for the last time into his foe.

The thief raised his pistol again and fired in the general direction of the prostrate dog. Then he clambered into his boat and rowed off with frantic speed, just as a salvo of barks told that Lad and Bruce had been released from the house. They came charging down the lawn, the master at their heels.

But already the quick oar-beats were growing distant; and the gloom had blotted out any chance of seeing or following the boat.

Wolf lay on his side, half in and half out of the water. He could not rise, as was his custom, to meet the Boy, who came running up, close behind the master and valorously grasping a target rifle. But the dog wagged his tail in feeble greeting. Then he looked out over the black lake, and snarled.

The bullet had grazed Wolf's scalp and then had passed along the foreleg, scarring and numbing it. No damage had been done that a week's good nursing would not set right.

The marks in the grass and the poisoned meat on the porch told their own tale. So did the neat kit of burglar tools and a rubber glove found near the foot of the lawn. And then the telephone was put to work.

At dawn, a man in torn and muddy clothes, called at the office of a doctor three miles away to be treated for a half-dozen dog-bites received, he said, from a pack of stray curs he had met on the turnpike. By the time his wounds were dressed, the sheriff and two deputies had arrived to take him in charge. In his pockets were a revolver, with two cartridges fired, and the mate of the rubber glove he had left on The Place's lawn.

"You—you wouldn't let Wolfie go to any show and win a cup for himself," half-sobbed the Boy, as the master worked over the injured dog's wound, "but he's saved you from losing all the cups the other dogs ever won!"

Three days later the master came home from a trip to the city. He went directly to the Boy's room. There on a rug lounged the convalescent Wolf, the Boy sitting beside him, stroking the dog's bandaged head.

"Wolf," said the master, solemnly, "I've been talking about you to some people I know. And we all agree—"

He paused.

"Agree what?" asked the Boy, looking up in mild curiosity.

The master cleared his throat and continued: "We agree that the trophy-shelf in my study hasn't enough cups on it. So I've decided to add still another to the collection. Want to see it, son?"

From behind his back the master produced a gleaming silver cup—one of the largest and most ornate the Boy had ever seen—larger even than Bruce's "Best Dog" cup.

The Boy took it from his father's outstretched hand.

"Who won this?" he asked. "And what for? Didn't we get all the cups that were coming to us at the shows? Is it—?"

The Boy's voice trailed away into a gurgle of bewildered rapture. He had caught sight of the lettering on the big cup. And now, his arm around Wolf, he read the inscription aloud, stammering with delight as he blurted out the words: "Hero Cup. Won by Wolf Against All Comers."

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1928.

The longest-living author of this work died in 1942, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.