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- The Day of the Dog - 1/10 -


THE DAY OF THE DOG

by

GEORGE BARR MCCUTCHEON Author of "Grauslark" "The Sherrods etc"

With Illustrations by Harrison Fisher and decorations by Margaret & Helen Maitland Armstrong

New York 1904

ILLUSTRATIONS

SWALLOW (in color) Frontispiece CROSBY DRIVES TO THE STATION THE HANDS HAD GONE TO THEIR DINNER THE BIG RED BARN THE TWO BOYS MRS. DELANCY AND MRS. AUSTIN MR. AUSTIN MRS. DELANCY PLEADS WITH SWALLOW THEY EXAMINE THE DOCUMENTS "SHE DELIBERATELY SPREAD OUT THE PAPERS ON THE BEAM" (in color) SWALLOW SHE WATCHES HIM DESCEND INTO DANGER MR. CROSBY SHOWS SWALLOW A NEW TRICK "SWALLOW'S CHUBBY BODY SHOT SQUARELY THROUGH THE OPENING" (in color) THE MAN WITH THE LANTERN MR. HIGGINS "HE WAS SPLASHING THROUGH THE SHALLOW BROOK" (in color) HE CARRIES HER OVER THE BROOK MRS. HIGGINS THEY ENJOY MRS. HIGGINS'S GOOD SUPPER LONESOMEVILLE THE DEPUTY SHERIFF CROSBY AND THE DEPUTY MRS. DELANCY FALLS ASLEEP THEY GO TO THE THEATRE "'GOOD HEAVENS!' 'WHAT IS IT?' HE CRIED. 'YOU ARE NOT MARRIED, ARE YOU?'" (in color) "CROSBY WON BOTH SUITS"

THE DAY OF THE DOG

PART I

"I'll catch the first train back this evening, Graves. Wouldn't go down there if it were not absolutely necessary; but I have just heard that Mrs. Delancy is to leave for New York to-night, and if I don't see her to-day there will be a pack of troublesome complications. Tell Mrs. Graves she can count me in on the box party to-night."

"We'll need you, Crosby. Don't miss the train."

[Illustration: Crosby Drives to the Station]

"I'll be at the station an hour before the train leaves. Confound it, it's a mean trip down there--three hours through the rankest kind of scenery and three hours back. She's visiting in the country, too, but I can drive out and back in an hour."

"On your life, old man, don't fail me."

"Don't worry, Graves; all Christendom couldn't keep me in Dexter after four o'clock this afternoon. Good-by." And Crosby climbed into the hansom and was driven away at breakneck speed toward the station.

Crosby was the junior member of the law firm of Rolfe & Crosby, and his trip to the country was on business connected with the settlement of a big estate. Mrs. Delancy, widow of a son of the decedent, was one of the legatees, and she was visiting her sister-in-law, Mrs. Robert Austin, in central Illinois. Mr. Austin owned extensive farming interests near Dexter, and his handsome home was less than two miles from the heart of the town. Crosby anticipated no trouble in driving to the house and back in time to catch the afternoon train for Chicago. It was necessary for Mrs. Delancy to sign certain papers, and he was confident the transaction could not occupy more than half an hour's time.

At 11:30 Crosby stepped from the coach to the station platform in Dexter, looked inquiringly about, and then asked a perspiring man with a star on his suspender-strap where he could hire a horse and buggy. The officer directed him to a "feed-yard and stable," but observed that there was a "funeral in town an' he'd be lucky if he got a rig, as all of Smith's horses were out." Application at the stable brought the first frown to Crosby's brow. He could not rent a "rig" until after the funeral, and that would make it too late for him to catch the four o'clock train for Chicago. To make the story short, twelve o'clock saw him trudging along the dusty road covering the two miles between town and Austin's place, and he was walking with the rapidity of one who has no love for the beautiful.

The early spring air was invigorating, and it did not take him long to reduce the distance. Austin's house stood on a hill, far back from the highway, and overlooking the entire country-side.

The big red barn stood in from the road a hundred yards or more, and he saw that the same driveway led to the house on the hill. There was no time for speculation, so he hastily made his way up the lane. Crosby had never seen his client, their business having been conducted by mail or through Mr. Rolfe. There was not a person in sight, and he slowed his progress considerably as he drew nearer the big house. At the barn-yard gate he came to a full stop and debated within himself the wisdom of inquiring at the stables for Mr. Austin.

He flung open the gate and strode quickly to the door. This he opened boldly and stepped inside, finding himself in a lofty carriage room. Several handsome vehicles stood at the far end, but the wide space near the door was clear. The floor was as "clean as a pin," except along the west side. No one was in sight, and the only sound was that produced by the horses as they munched their hay and stamped their hoofs in impatient remonstrance with the flies.

"Where the deuce are the people?" he muttered as he crossed to the mangers. "Devilish queer," glancing about in considerable doubt. "The hands must be at dinner or taking a nap." He passed by a row of mangers and was calmly inspected by brown-eyed horses. At the end of the long row of stalls he found a little gate opening into another section of the barn. He was on the point of opening this gate to pass in among the horses when a low growl attracted his attention. In some alarm he took a precautionary look ahead. On the opposite side of the gate stood a huge and vicious looking bulldog, unchained and waiting for him with an eager ferocity that could not be mistaken. Mr. Crosby did not open the gate. Instead he inspected it to see that it was securely fastened, and then drew his hand across his brow.

"What an escape!" he gasped, after a long breath. "Lucky for me you growled, old boy. My name is Crosby, my dear sir, and I'm not here to steal anything. I'm only a lawyer. Anybody else at home but you?"

An ominous growl was the answer, and there was lurid disappointment in the face of the squat figure beyond the gate.

"Come, now, old chap, don't be nasty. I won't hurt you. There was nothing farther from my mind than a desire to disturb you. And say, please do something besides growl. Bark, and oblige me. You may attract the attention of some one."

By this time the ugly brute was trying to get at the man, growling, and snarling savagely. Crosby complacently looked on from his place of safety for a moment, and was on the point of turning away when his attention was caught by a new move on the part of the dog. The animal ceased his violent efforts to get through the gate, turned about deliberately, and raced from view behind the horse stalls. Crosby brought himself up with a jerk.

"Thunder," he ejaculated; "the brute knows a way to get at me, and he won't be long about it, either. What the dickens shall I--by George, this looks serious! He'll head me off at the door if I try to get out and--Ah, the fire-escape! We'll fool you, you brute! What a cursed idiot I was not to go to the house instead of coming--" He was shinning up a ladder with little regard for grace as he mumbled this self-condemnatory remark. There was little dignity in his manner of flight, and there was certainly no glory in the position in which he found himself a moment later. But there was a vast amount of satisfaction.

The ladder rested against a beam that crossed the carriage shed near the middle. The beam was a large one, hewn from a monster tree, and was free on all sides. The ladder had evidently been left there by men who had used it recently and had neglected to return it to the hooks on which it properly hung.

When the dog rushed violently through the door and into the carriage room, he found a vast and inexplicable solitude. He was, to all appearances, alone with the vehicles under which he was permitted to trot when his master felt inclined to grant the privilege.

Crosby, seated on the beam, fifteen feet above the floor, grinned securely but somewhat dubiously as he watched the mystified dog below. At last he laughed aloud. He could not help it. The enemy glanced upward and blinked his red eyes in surprise; then he stared in deep chagrin, then glared with rage. For a few minutes Crosby watched his frantic efforts to leap through fifteen feet of altitudinal space, confidently hoping that some one would come to drive the brute away and liberate him. Finally he began to lose the good humor his strategy in fooling the dog had inspired, and a hurt, indignant stare was directed toward the open door through which he had entered.

"What's the matter with the idiots?" he growled impatiently. "Are they going to let this poor dog snarl his lungs out? He's a faithful chap, too, and a willing worker. Gad, I never saw anything more earnest than the way he tries to climb up that ladder." Adjusting himself in a comfortable position, his elbows on his knees, his hands to his chin, he allowed his feet to swing lazily, tantalizingly, below the beam. "I'm putting a good deal of faith in this beam," he went on resignedly. The


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