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- The Day of the Dog - 2/10 -


timber was at least fifteen inches square.

"Ah, by George! That was a bully jump--the best you've made. You didn't miss me more than ten feet that time. I don't like to be disrespectful, you know, but you are an exceedingly rough looking dog. Don't get huffy about it, old fellow, but you have the ugliest mouth I ever saw. Yes, you miserable cur, politeness at last ceases to be a virtue with me. If I had you up here I'd punch your face for you, too. Why don't you come up, you coward? You're bow-legged, too, and you haven't any more figure than a crab. Anybody that would take an insult like that is beneath me (thank heaven!) and would steal sheep. Great Scott! Where are all these people? Shut up, you brute, you! I'm getting a headache. But it doesn't do any good to reason with you, I can see that plainly. The thing I ought to do is to go down there and punish you severely. But I'll-- Hello! Hey, boy! Call off this--confounded dog."

Two small Lord Fauntleroy boys were standing in the door, gazing up at him with wide open mouths and bulging eyes.

"Call him off, I say, or I'll come down there and kick a hole clear through him." The boys stared all the harder. "Is your name Austin?" he demanded, addressing neither in particular.

"Yes, sir," answered the larger boy, with an effort.

"Well, where's your father? Shut up, you brute! Can't you see I'm talking? Go tell your father I want to see him, boy."

"Dad's up at the house."

"That sounds encouraging. Can't you call off this dog?"

"I--I guess I'd better not. That's what dad keeps him for."

"Oh, he does, eh? And what is it that he keeps him for?"

"To watch tramps."

"To watch--to watch tramps? Say, boy, I'm a lawyer and I'm here on business." He was black in the face with indignation.

"You better come up to the house and see dad, then. He don't live in the barn," said the boy keenly.

"I can't fly to the house, boy. Say, if you don't call off this dog I'll put a bullet through him."

"You'd have to be a purty good shot, mister. Nearly everybody in the county has tried to do it." Both boys were grinning diabolically and the dog took on energy through inspiration. Crosby longed for a stick of dynamite.

"I'll give you a dollar if you get him away from here."

"Let's see your dollar." Crosby drew a silver dollar from his trousers pocket, almost falling from his perch in the effort.

"Here's the coin. Call him off," gasped the lawyer.

"I'm afraid papa wouldn't like it," said the boy. The smaller lad nudged his brother and urged him to "take the money anyhow."

"I live in Chicago," Crosby began, hoping to impress the boys at least.

"So do we when we're at home," said the smaller boy. "We live in Chicago in the winter time."

"Is Mrs. Delancy your aunt?"

"Yes, sir."

"I'll give you this dollar if you'll tell your father I'm here and want to see him at once."

"Throw down your dollar." The coin fell at their feet but rolled deliberately through a crack in the floor and was lost forever. Crosby muttered something unintelligible, but resignedly threw a second coin after the first.

"He'll be out when he gets through dinner," said the older boy, just before the fight. Two minutes later he was streaking across the barn lot with the coin in his pocket, the smaller boy wailing under the woe of a bloody nose. For half an hour Crosby heaped insult after insult upon the glowering dog at the bottom of the ladder and was in the midst of a rabid denunciation of Austin when the city-bred farmer entered the barn.

"Am I addressing Mr. Robert Austin?" called Crosby, suddenly amiable. The dog subsided and ran to his master's side. Austin, a black- moustached, sallow-faced man of forty, stopped near the door and looked aloft, squinting.

"Where are you?" he asked somewhat sharply.

"I am very much up in the air," replied Crosby. "Look a little sou' by sou'east. Ah, now you have me. Can you manage the dog? If so, I'll come down."

"One moment, please. Who are you?"

"My name is Crosby, of Rolfe & Crosby, Chicago. I am here to see Mrs. Delancy, your sister-in-law, on business before she leaves for New York."

"What is your business with her, may I ask?"

"Private," said Crosby laconically. "Hold the dog."

"I insist in knowing the nature of your business," said Austin firmly.

"I'd rather come down there and talk, if you don't mind."

"I don't but the dog may," said the other grimly.

"Well, this is a nice way to treat a gentleman," cried Crosby wrathfully.

"A gentleman would scarcely have expected to find a lady in the barn, much less on a cross-beam. This is where my horses and dogs live."

"Oh, that's all right now; this isn't a joke, you know."

"I quite agree with you. What is your business with Mrs. Delancy?"

"We represent her late husband's interests in settling up the estate of his father. Your wife's interests are being looked after by Morton & Rogers, I believe. I am here to have Mrs. Delancy go through the form of signing papers authorizing us to bring suit against the estate in order to establish certain rights of which you are fully aware. Your wife's brother left his affairs slightly tangled, you remember."

"Well, I can save you a good deal of trouble. Mrs. Delancy has decided to let the matter rest as it is and to accept the compromise terms offered by the other heirs. She will not care to see you, for she has just written to your firm announcing her decision."

"You--you don't mean it," exclaimed Crosby in dismay. He saw a prodigious fee slipping through his fingers. "Gad, I must see her about this," he went on, starting down the ladder, only to go back again hastily. The growling dog leaped forward and stood ready to receive him. Austin chuckled audibly.

"She really can't see you, Mr. Crosby. Mrs. Delancy leaves at four o'clock for Chicago, where she takes the Michigan Central for New York to-night. You can gain nothing by seeing her."

"But I insist, sir," exploded Crosby.

"You may come down when you like," said Austin. "The dog will be here until I return from the depot after driving her over. Come down when you like."

Crosby did not utter the threat that surged to his lips. With the wisdom born of self-preservation, he temporized, reserving deep down in the surging young breast a promise to amply recompense his pride for the blows it was receiving at the hands of the detestable Mr. Austin.

"You'll admit that I'm in a devil of a pickle, Mr. Austin," he said jovially. "The dog is not at all friendly."

"He is at least diverting. You won't be lonesome while I'm away. I'll tell Mrs. Delancy that you called," said Austin ironically.

He turned to leave the barn, and the sinister sneer on his face gave Crosby a new and amazing inspiration. Like a flash there rushed into his mind the belief that Austin had a deep laid design in not permitting him to see the lady. With this belief also came the conviction that he was hurrying her off to New York on some pretext simply to forestall any action that might induce her to continue the contemplated suit against the estate. Mrs. Delancy had undoubtedly been urged to drop the matter under pressure of promises, and the Austins were getting her away from the scene of action before she could reconsider or before her solicitors could convince her of the mistake she was making. The thought of this sent the fire of resentment racing through Crosby's brain, and he fairly gasped with the longing to get at the bottom of the case. His only hope now lay in sending a telegram to Mr. Rolfe, commanding him to meet Mrs. Delancy when her train reached Chicago, and to lay the whole matter before her.

Before Austin could make his exit the voices of women were heard outside the door and an instant later two ladies entered. The farmer attempted to turn them back, but the younger, taller, and slighter of the newcomers cried:

"I just couldn't go without another look at the horses, Bob."

Crosby, on the beam, did not fail to observe the rich, tender tone of the voice, and it would have required almost total darkness to obscure the beauty of her face. Her companion was older and coarser, and he found delight in the belief that she was the better half of the disagreeable Mr. Austin.

"Good-afternoon, Mrs. Delancy!" came a fine masculine voice from nowhere. The ladies started in amazement, Mr. Austin ground his teeth, the dog took another tired leap upward; Mr. Crosby took off his hat gallantly, and waited patiently for the lady to discover his whereabouts.

"Who is it, Bob?" cried the tall one, and Crosby patted his bump of shrewdness happily. "Who have you in hiding here?"


The Day of the Dog - 2/10

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