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Subject: Re: Doctor Dolittle's Garden
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Title: Doctor Dolittle's Garden
Author: Hugh Lofting
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DOCTOR DOLITTLE'S GARDEN
- I. THE DOG MUSEUM
- 2. QUETCH
- 3. THE DICK WHITTINGTON DOG
- 4. THE CHILDREN'S HOSPITALITY
- 5. GIPSY LIFE
- 6. THE ACROBAT
- 7. THE MONASTERY
- 8. THE SHEPHERD IN DISTRESS
- 9. CITY LIFE
- 10. THE HERMIT DOG
- 11. THE TOP-KNOT TERRIERS
- 12. DOGS' JOBS
- I. INSECT LANGUAGES
- 2. FOREIGN INSECTS
- 3. TANGERINE
- 4. DOMESTIC INSECTS
- 5. THE WATER BEETLE
- 6. THE END OF THE JOURNEY
- 7. THE COLONY OF EXILES
- 8. A LIFETIME OF TWENTY-FOUR HOURS
- 9. DAB-DAB'S VIEWS ON INSECT LIFE
- 10. THE GIANT MOTHS
- II. OTHO THE PREHISTORIC ARTIST
- 12. "THE DAYS BEFORE THERE WAS A MOON"
- 13. MEMORIES OF LONG ARROW
- 14. BLIND TRAVEL AGAIN
- 15. GUB-GUB HALTS THE GAME
- 1. BUMPO AND MAGIC
- 2. THE TAPPING ON THE WINDOW
- 3. THE GIANT RACE
- 4. THE AWAKENING OF THE GIANT
- 5. KEEPING A SECRET
- 6. THE BUTTERFLIES' PARADISE
- 7. THE HOME OF THE GIANT MOTH
- 8. FLOWERS OF MYSTERY
- 9. SMOKE ON THE MOON
- 10. TOO-TOO'S WARNING
- 11. OUR MIDNIGHT VISITORS
- 1. BUMPO CLEARS THE GARDEN
- 2. THE MOUNTED POLICE
- 3. THE ERRAND
- 4. THE STOWAWAY
- 5. THE DOCTOR'S RECEPTION
- 6. CROSSING "THE DEAD BELT"
- 7. THE TWO SIDES OF THE MOON
- 8. THE TREE
"The Doctor clambered up till he stood where the wings joined the body" (in colours) Frontispiece
Doctor Dolittle's Garden
I suppose there is no part of my life with the Doctor that I, Thomas Stubbins, look back on with more pleasure than that period when I was Assistant Manager of the Zoo.
We had come, as I have told you elsewhere, to call that part of the Doctor's garden "Animal Town." One of my greatest difficulties was in keeping down the membership in the various clubs and institutions. Because of course a limit had to be put on them. The hardest one to keep in check was the Home for Crossbred Dogs. Jip was always trying to sneak in some waif or stray after dark; and I had to be quite stern and hard-hearted if I did not want the mongrels' club disorganized by over-crowding.
But while the Doctor and I were agreed that we must keep a fixed limit on all memberships, we encouraged development, expansion and new ideas of every kind on the part of the animals themselves that would help to make Animal Town a more interesting and more comfortable place to live in. Many of these were extremely interesting. Among them was the Dog Museum.
For many years the Doctor had had a museum of his own. This was a large room next to the study where bones, mineral specimens and other natural-history things were kept. There is an old saying: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. A natural interest in bones often led the dogs to contemplate this display and finally to start a museum of their own.
This was helped to some extent by a peculiar dog who had some months before become a member of the club. The peculiarity of his character was that he had an inborn passion for collecting. Prune-stones, umbrella-handles, door-knobs—there was no end to the variety of his collections. He always maintained that his prune-stone collection was the largest and finest in the country.
This dog's name was Quetch. He was a great friend of Toby, who had first introduced him and put him up for membership at the club. He was a good second to Toby in upholding the rights of the small dogs at the club-house and seeing that they didn't get bullied out of any of their privileges. In fact Blackie and Grab always said that the small dogs, with Toby and Quetch to champion them, bossed the club a good deal more than they had any business to. Well, Quetch it was (he was a cross between a West Highland terrier and an Aberdeen) who first suggested the idea that the Mongrels' Club should have a museum of its own. With his passion for collecting, he was probably counting on getting the job of museum curator for himself-which he eventually did. The House Committee met in solemn council to discuss the pros and cons and ways and means. The idea was finally adopted by a large majority vote and a section of the gymnasium was screened off to form the first headquarters of the museum.
Quetch (he was always called "Professor" by the other members of the club)—Professor Quetch, besides being a keen scientist, had a genius for organization almost as good as the white mouse's. And even he could not find fault with the general enthusiasm with which the Dog Museum was supported, and contributed to, by the members of the club. There was hardly a dog in the Home who didn't turn to collecting and bringing in material. And Quetch the curator had his paws more than full receiving and arranging the continuous flow of specimens of every kind that poured in.
The Museum was not confined to natural history. It was also an archæological or historical museum. The bones department was perhaps the largest. Personally, I don't think that any student of comparative anatomy would have found it scientifically very helpful. For the bones were mostly beef, mutton and ham bones.
But not all. There were fish bones. In fact there was one whole fish, which Professor Quetch proudly ordered me to label, "The Oldest Fish in the World" I could well believe it was. Blackie the retriever had dug it up—from the place where some one had carefully buried it a long time ago. Its odour was so far-reaching that the members of the Badgers' Tavern (which was at least a hundred yards away from the Home for Crossbred Dogs) sent in a request that something be done about it. They said that while they were not usually over-sensitive to smells, this one kept them awake at night. Professor Quetch was very much annoyed and sent a message back to the badgers that they were a lot of low-brow, meddlesome busybodies who didn't appreciate science. But some of the Doctor's neighbours across the street also complained; and the "oldest fish in the world" had to go—back to the garbage heap.
The archæological side of the Dog Museum was even more varied and extensive than the natural history departments. Here could be found Quetch's own priceless collection of prune-stones, umbrella handles and door-knobs. But these formed only a small part of the whole. The habit of digging—generally for rats—natural to all dogs, now led to the unearthing of treasures of every variety. Saucepan-lids, bent spoons, top hats, horse-shoes, tin cans, pieces of iron pipe, broken tea-pots, there was hardly anything in the way of hardware and domestic furnishings that wasn't represented. A sock which had been worn full of holes by the great Doctor himself was one of the most sacred and important exhibits.
For the first few days there was a general frenzy of digging. Jip and Kling had heard the Doctor say that the Romans had once had a military camp on the site now occupied by the town of Puddleby. They were determined that they'd find Roman jewelry if they only dug patiently enough. Among other places they tried was Colonel Bellowes' tulip bed. They had just dug up a bulb when they were seen by the Colonel and chased. But they got away—and home with the bulb. And that was how the Botanical Department of the museum began. The bulb in question had a label set under it reading:
"This Orchid was donated by the famous naturalist and explorer, Jip. The intrepid collector was disturbed at his work and chased for miles by savage natives. He eluded his pursuers however and succeeded in bringing back this priceless specimen to the Dog Museum."
The Dog Museum continued for much longer than I had thought it would. My private opinion had been that the dogs were only captivated by the novelty of the idea and would drop it altogether when its newness had worn off. Some weeks after its beginning the collections had grown so fast that they filled the whole gymnasium. During the semi-final bout of a wrestling contest a Great Dane threw Blackie the retriever through the dividing screen and landed him in the middle of the Botanical Department. It was clear that the gymnasium was getting crowded out by the museum.
So a second meeting of the House Committee was called. And it was decided that since athletics were equally important as science, most of the junk should be thrown out, and only those things kept that were really genuine and of special application to dogs and Dog History.
Jip's famous golden collar (which he only wore on holidays and occasions of importance) was made one of the star exhibits. There were also a few bones which Professor Quetch insisted had been chewed by the great dogs of history. There was, also, a small keg which he said had been carried round the necks of the St. Bernard dogs who went to the aid of lost travellers in the snow-swept passes of the Alps. How he knew the record of these relics no one could tell. On the other hand, no one could deny it when he put up a label under a veal bone saying that this object had been the earliest plaything of the Empress Josephine's pet poodle.
At all events, the enormous array of hardware and rubbish which had formed the first displays gave place to one or two glass cases where a small collection of objects of great virtue was set forth. And for many years these remained a permanent part of the institution, and all visitors, whether dogs or people, were shown them. Professor Quetch never allowed visitors into the museum, however, without personally conducting them, to see that they didn't lean on the cases—if they were people—or, if they were dogs, that they didn't take away the historic bones.
The third story in the "Tales of the Home for Crossbred Dogs" was Jip's own tale of how he had posed for the great George Morland and helped the Lame Man's Dog earn money for his crippled master. For the fourth story Professor Quetch himself was called upon. Both Toby and Kling had often told me that they knew that he had led rather an interesting life, and I could well believe it, for he was certainly a dog of individuality and character. He was not easy to persuade however. In spite of his being, like Toby, a self-important, plucky, little animal, he wasn't boastful or given to talking about himself. He had always, when asked to tell the story of his life, made the excuse that he was too busy with his duties as curator of the museum.
However, now that the museum had been considerably reduced in size, he did not have to give so much attention to it. And one day Jip came to me highly delighted with the news that Quetch had promised to-morrow night to give us an account of his life which was to be entitled "The Story of the Dog Who Set Out to Seek His Fortune."
Feeling it would probably be a good yarn well told, I asked the Doctor if he would come and listen. In former times he had frequently attended the dogs' after-supper story-tellings. But of late he had seldom had the time to spare. However, he said he would make this a special occasion and be there without fail.
When the following night came the Dogs' Dining Room was jammed. For not only was every single member present, eagerly waiting to hear the yarn, but it turned out that this was Guest Night, the second Friday in the month, when members were allowed to bring friends to dinner as guests of the Club.
"I was born," Professor Quetch began, "of poor but honest parents. My father was a hard-working Aberdeen terrier and my mother was a West Highland of excellent pedigree. Our owners were small farmers in Scotland. My father helped regularly with the sheep. In spite of his size, he was a mighty good sheep dog and could round up a flock or cut out a single ewe from the herd with great skill. When we children were puppies we got fed well enough, because we were easy to feed, not requiring much more than milk. But as soon as we began to grow up into regular dogs it was another story. We saw then that the farmer that owned us had hardly enough food most of the time to feed his own family and the hands who worked for him, let alone a large litter of hungry terriers.
"We lived in a stable behind the farm-house where we had an old disused horse-stall to ourselves. It was well lined with dry straw, snug and warm. One night I happened to lie awake late and I overheard my mother and father talking. Their names were Jock and Jenny.
"'You know, Jock,' said my mother, 'very soon that farmer is going to get rid of these puppies of ours. I heard him talking about it only the other day.'
"'Well,' said my father, 'I suppose that was to be expected. They'll keep one or two, I imagine. I hope they leave Quetch here. He seems a bright youngster and is already quite a help to me with those silly sheep. For the rest, I think they're rather stupid.'
"'Stupid indeed!' snapped my mother with great indignation. 'They're every bit as clever as their father, that's certain.'
"'All right, have it your own way, Jenny,' said my father, snuggling his nose down into the straw to go to sleep—he never cared for arguments anyway—'have it your own way. But you can hardly expect McPherson to keep the whole litter when he can barely support his own family.'
"With that my father fell asleep and I fell to thinking. First of all, it seemed to me very wrong that dogs should be disposed of in this haphazard, hit-and-miss fashion. If we were given away, to whom would we be given? Had dogs no rights at all? My father was a worker on the farm, doing his daily job as faithfully and as well as any of the clodhoppers who drove the plough or cut the corn. And here he was calmly talking about his own children being given away as though they were apples or turnips! It made me quite angry. I lay awake far into the night wondering why dogs were not allowed to lead their own lives and shape their own careers. It was an outrage. I got myself quite worked up over it. And before I fell asleep I made up my mind that no one was going to give me away as though I were no more than an old pair of shoes. I was an individual, the same as the farmer himself. And I was going to make the world acknowledge that fact or know the reason why."
"Perhaps the only notable thing about this yarn of mine is that it is the story of a dog trying to lead his own life. I know of course that there are many of you present who have struggled to do the same. That was one reason why I wasn't keen to tell a story: I didn't feel that my life had anything particularly thrilling about it. But at all events what small adventures I ran into may have been different from your own, and the way I attacked the problem of winning liberty and independence for myself may interest you.
"A few days after I had overheard my parents' conversation I began to see that my mother's fears were right. Almost every day McPherson the farmer would bring friends of his in to see us, hoping they'd be willing to adopt one or other of us. As luck would have it, I was selected the very first. A stupid fat man—I think he was a farmer too—chose me out of the whole litter. I wouldn't have chosen him from among a million. He had no wits at all and no—er—refinement, none whatever. He turned me over and prodded me and examined me as though I were a pig for the fatting market instead of a dog. I determined right away that whatever happened I wouldn't become his property. Luckily he couldn't take me immediately and he asked McPherson to keep me for him a couple of days, at the end of which he would come and fetch me.
"I had heard of boys setting out to seek their fortunes. Never of a dog. And yet why not? The more I thought of the idea, the more it appealed to me. I had to go somewhere if I didn't want to be taken away by that stupid man. I had seen nothing of the world so far. Very well then: I would set out to seek my fortune—yes, to-morrow!
"The next morning I was up before any of the farm was stirring. I had collected several old bones, and with these as all my earthly possessions tied up in a red handkerchief, I set out to carve a career for myself. I remember the morning so well. It was late in the Fall and the daylight would not appear for an hour yet. But an old rooster was already crowing in a hoarse voice through the misty chill air as I gained the road and looked back at the farm buildings huddled in the gloom of the hollow. With a light heart I waved my tail at him and trotted off down the road.
"Dear me, how inexperienced I was! I realize that now. Literally I knew nothing—not even the geography of the immediate neighbourhood around the farm. I didn't know where the road I was travelling along led to. But at that time such a thing only added to the thrill of the adventure. I would stick to this road, I told myself, and see what fortune it brought me to.
"After I had jogged along for about an hour I began to feel very much like breakfast. I therefore retired off the road into a hedge and opened my bundle of bones. I selected a ham bone which had not been quite so thoroughly chewed as the rest and set to work on it. My teeth were young and good and I soon managed to gnaw off the half of it.
"After that I felt much better, though still somewhat hungry. I re-packed my baggage, but just as I was about to set off I thought I heard a noise the other side of the hedge. Very quietly I crept through, thinking I might surprise a rabbit and get a better breakfast. But I found it was only an old tramp waking up in the meadow where, I suppose, he had spent the night. I had a fellow feeling for him. He was homeless too, and, like me, a gentleman of the road. Within the thicket I lay and watched him a moment. There was a herd of cows in the field. Presently the tramp went and began milking one of them into a tin which he carried. When he had the tin filled he brought it back to the corner of the field where he had slept and set it down. Then he went away—I suppose to get something else. But while he was gone I crept out of the hedge and drank up all the milk.
"Considerably refreshed, I set off along the road. But I hadn't gone more than a few hundred yards when I thought I'd go back and make the tramp's acquaintance. Maybe I felt sort of guilty about the milk. But anyway a fellow feeling for this adventurer whom I had robbed made me turn back.
"When I regained the corner of the meadow I saw him in the distance milking the cow again. I waited till he returned. Then I came out and showed myself.
"'Ah, young feller me lad!' says he. 'So it was you who pinched my milk. Well, no matter. I got some more now. Come here. What's your name?'
"Well, he seemed a decent sort of man and I kind of palled on to him. I was glad of his company. On both sides it seemed to be taken for granted that we would travel together along the road. He was much better at foraging food than I was—in some ways; and I was better than he was in others. At the farmhouses he used to beg meals which he always shared with me. And I caught rabbits and pheasants for him which he cooked over a fire by the roadside. Together we managed very well.
"We went through several towns on our way and saw many interesting things. He allowed me complete liberty. That I will always remember to his credit. Often at nights we nearly froze. But he was a good hand at finding sleeping-places, burrowing into the sides of haystacks, opening up old barns and such like. And he always spread part of his coat over me when he lay down to sleep."
"But the day soon came when my new friend played me false. He wanted money. I fancy it was to get coach-fare to go to some other part of the country. I don't know. Anyway one afternoon he knocked at a farm-house door. I thought that as usual he was going to ask for food. Imagine my horror when he said to the woman who answered the door, 'Do you want to buy a dog, Ma'am?'
"I just ran. I left him standing at the door there and never looked back. It was such a shock to my faith in human nature that for the present I did nothing but feel blue. Puzzled, I went on down the road, still seeking my fortune, alone. It was only later that I began to feel angry and indignant. The cheek of the man, trying to sell me when he hadn't even bought me!—Me, the free companion of the road who had been in partnership with him! Why, I had caught dozens of rabbits and pheasants for that ungrateful tramp. And that was how he repaid me!
"After jogging miserably along for a few miles I came upon some children playing with a ball. They seemed nice youngsters. I was always fond of ball games and I just joined in this one, chased the ball whenever it rolled away and got it for them. I could see they were delighted to have me and for quite a while we had a very good time together.
"Then the children found it was time to go home to supper. I had no idea where my own supper was coming from so I decided I'd go along with them. Maybe they would let me join them at their meal too, I thought. They appeared more pleased than ever when I started to follow them. But when they met their mother at the gate and told her that I had played with them and followed them home she promptly chased me off with a broom. Stray dogs, she said, always had diseases. Goodness only knows where she got that from! Stray dogs too, if you please. To her every animal who wasn't tagged on to some stupid human must be a stray, something to be pitied, something disgraceful. Well anyway, to go on: that night it did seem to me as though mankind were divided into two classes: those that enslaved dogs when they wanted to be free; and those that chased them away when they wanted to be friendly.
"One of the children, a little girl, began to cry when her mother drove me off, saying she was sure I was hungry.—Which I was. She had more sense than her mother, had that child. However I thought I'd use a little strategy. So I just pretended to go off; but I didn't go far. When the lights were lit in the dining-room I waited till I saw the mother's shadow on a blind in another part of the house. I knew then that the children would be alone at their supper. I slipped up to the window, hopped on to the sill and tapped gently on the pane with my paw. At first the children were a bit scared, I imagine. But presently one of them came over, raised the corner of the blind and saw me squatting on the sill outside.
"Well, to make a long story short, the youngsters not only took me in, but they stowed me away in a closet so their mother wouldn't see me and gave me a fine square meal into the bargain. And after they were supposed to be fast asleep one of them crept downstairs and took me up to their nursery where I slept under a bed on a grand soft pillow which they spread for me. That was what I call hospitality. Never was a tramp dog treated better.
"In the morning I managed to slip out unseen by Mama and once more I hit the trail. Not only was one child crying this time, but the whole four of them were sniffling at the garden gate as I said goodbye. I often look back on those children's hospitality as one of the happiest episodes in my entire career. They certainly knew how to treat dogs—and such people, as we all know, are scarce. I hated to leave them. And I don't believe I would have done if it hadn't been for their mama and her insulting remark about all stray dogs having diseases. That was too much. So, with a good plate of oatmeal porridge and gravy inside me—which the children had secretly given me for breakfast—I faced the future with a stout heart and wondered as I trotted along the highway what Fortune would bring forward next,"
"About three miles further on I overtook a Gipsy caravan creeping along the road through the morning mist. At the rear of the procession a dog was scouting around in the ditches for rats. I had never met a Gipsy dog, so, rather curious, I went up to him and offered to help him hunt for rats. He seemed a sort of a grouchy silent fellow but I liked him for all that. He made no objection to my joining him and together we gave several rats a good run for their money.
"Little by little I drew the Gipsy dog out and questioned him as to what sort of a life it was to travel with the caravans. These people too were folk of the road like me, and I had serious thoughts of throwing in my lot with them for a while. From what he told me I gathered that a dog led quite a free life with the Gipsies and was interfered with very little.
"'The grub is kind of irregular,' said my friend, who had got over his grouchiness somewhat and seemed inclined to take to me. 'But then the whole of the Gipsy business is irregular, one might say. If you can stand that you'll probably rather like the life. It's interesting, travelling around all the time. We do see the world, after all. If we have hardships, at least it's better than being treated like a lap dog, trotted out on a leash and living on the same street all the time. Why don't you try it for a while? Just tag along with me. No one will mind. Likely as not the Gipsies themselves will never even notice that you've joined the caravan—at least not for a few days anyhow.'
"I did not need very much persuasion and it turned out eventually that I did join the Gipsies and on the whole had quite a good time with them. My friend had certainly been right about the food. To say it was irregular was putting it mildly. There were many days and nights when there simply wasn't any. But the Gipsy dog, through long experience in this kind of life, knew all sorts of dodges for getting provender under difficult conditions. I strongly suspect that my friend was one of the cleverest larder burglars that ever lived. Often I didn't even know where he got the supplies from and no amount of questioning would make him tell. Many a night when we were both starving, around supper time, with the prospect of going to bed hungry beneath the caravans, Mudge would say to me—that was his name, Mudge—
"'Oh, golly! I'm not going to bed hungry. Listen, Quetch: I think I know where I may be able to raise some fodder. You wait here for me.'
"'Shall I come too?' I'd say.
"'Er—no. Better not, I think,' he'd mutter. 'Hunting is sometimes easier single-handed.'
"Then off he would go. And in half an hour he'd be back again with the most extraordinary things. One night he would bring a steak-and-kidney pudding, tied up in the muslin it was boiled in—complete, mind you, and steaming hot. Another time it would be a roast chicken, stuffed with sage and onions, with sausages skewered to its sides.
"Of course it didn't take much detective work to tell, on occasions of this kind, that Mudge had just bagged some one else's dinner. I'm afraid I was usually far too hungry to waste time moralizing over where the things came from. Still, I strongly suspect that some good housewives called down many curses on Mudge's head during the course of his career. But the marvellous thing to me was how he did it without ever being caught.
"Yet the life was certainly pleasant for the most part. We visited all the fairs and saw the towns in holiday mood. It was in these days that I met Toby, who was, as you know, then a Punch-and-Judy dog. Yes, I liked the Gipsy life—chiefly because we were nearly always in the country, where a dog's life has most fun in it. Along the lanes there were always rats to dig for; across the meadows there were always hares to chase; and in the roadside woods and copses there were always pheasants and partridges to catch.
"That chapter of my life lasted about three months and it ended, as did the one before it, suddenly. We had been visiting a fair in a town of considerable size. Part of our own show was a fortune-telling booth. Here an old Gipsy woman, the mother of our boss, used to tell people's fortunes with cards. A party of quite well-to-do folk stopped at the booth one day to have their fortunes told. Mudge and I were hanging around outside the tent.
"'Let's get away from here,' he whispered to me. 'I don't like the looks of this mob. I lost a friend like that once before.'
"'Like what?' I asked.
"'Oh, Joe,' said Mudge.—Joe was the name of our boss.—'Joe never notices any stray dogs who join the caravan till somebody else notices them. Then he tries to sell them.... This friend of mine was a whippet. One of the visitors to the booth took a fancy to him and Joe just sold him then and there. I'd never get sold because I'm not nifty-looking. But you, you're smart enough to catch anyone's eye—specially the women. Take my advice; fade away till this mob's gone.'
"Mudge was already moving off, but I called him back. I was interested in this fortune-telling business. I hoped to get my own fortune told by the old woman. She read people's palms. I had been looking at the lines in my paw-pads and they seemed to me quite unusual. The future interested me. I was keen to know what sort of a career I had before me. I felt it ought to be a great one.
"'Just a minute, Mudge,' I said. 'Why get worried? How can Joe sell me when I don't belong to him?'
"'Don't you worry about that,' said Mudge. 'Joe would sell anything, the Houses of Parliament or the coat off the Prime Minister's back—if he could. A word to the wise. Fade away.'
"Mudge's advice was sound, but for me it came a bit late. I noticed as I turned to follow him that one of the women was already pointing at me and that Joe, to whom she was talking, was very interested in the interest she was showing. For about half an hour after that I saw nothing more of Mudge. I had moved round to another part of the fair grounds till the visitors should have departed from the fortune-telling booth.
"While I was looking at a strong man lifting weights the Gipsy dog suddenly came up to me from behind and whispered:
"'It's all up, Quetch. You'll have to clear out. That woman liked you so much that she said she'd buy you when Joe offered you to her. He is hunting for you everywhere now.'
"'But why,' I asked, 'can't I just keep out of the way till the woman has gone?'
"'It is no use,' said Mudge. 'Joe won't rest till he has sold you, now that he knows you're the kind of dog the ladies take a fancy to. What's more, if he misses this sale he will likely keep you on a chain right along, so as to make sure of you next time some one wants to buy you.'
"'Good gracious, Mudge!' I cried. 'Would he really do that? But tell me: Why do you yourself live with such a man? Come with me and we will go off together.'
"Mudge grinned and shook his head.
"'Joe is all right to me,' he said. 'He may not be what you'd call exactly a gentleman. But he's all right to me. You're a stranger, you see. He looks on me as one of the tribe, the Romany folk, you understand. Their hand is against every man, but not against one another. Even if I were good enough looking to bring him a ten-pound note I doubt if Joe would sell me. He is a queer one, is Joe. But he's always been square to me.... No, Quetch, I'll stay with the caravan, with the Romany folk. Once a vagabond, always a vagabond, they say. I'll miss you. But, well ... Good luck to you, Quetch ... Better be going now. If Joe once lays hands on you you'll never get away till he sells you, you can be sure of that.'
"So, very sad at heart—for I had grown very fond of the strange Mudge, the Gipsy mongrel, the dog of few words—I left the fair and struck out along the road again, the Road of Fortune, alone.
"Dear me, what an unsatisfactory world it was! When one did find a nice kind of life something or somebody always seemed to shove you out of it just as you were beginning to enjoy it.
"Still, I had much of the world to see yet. And after all, my experiences so far had not brought to me that ideal independent sort of life that I was looking for. I was sorry I had not been able to have my fortune told. I looked at my paw again. I was sure it must be a good one. It was a nice sunny day. I soon threw aside my gloomy thoughts and trotted forward, eager to see what every new turn in the road might bring."
"That day I had very bad luck in the matter of food. I hardly got anything to eat all day. By the evening I was positively ravenous. I came to a town. Hoping to pick up bones or scraps that other dogs had left, I searched several back yards. But all I got was two or three fights with wretched inhospitable curs who objected to my coming into their premises.
"Then, famished and very bored with life, I wandered through the streets. At a corner I came upon an acrobat performing. He was standing on his hands and doing somersaults and things like that. He was all alone. There was a hat laid on the curb-stone in front of him, and from time to time people threw coppers into it.
"This set me thinking. The man was evidently making his living this way. In my life with the Gipsies I had often seen dog-acts in the circus ring. Some of the tricks I had practised myself when I had had a notion to go in for a circus career, and I had become skilled in quite a few of them. I could stand on my front paws, beg with a lump of sugar on my nose, throw a back somersault and so forth. Very well then, I said to myself, why shouldn't I give a one-dog show on the streets of this town the same as the man was doing? But I needed a hat for the people to throw money into—only in my case I hoped they would throw cutlets and sausages instead. Yes, the first thing to do was to get a hat.
"I knew that hats were to be found in shops and on garbage-heaps. I set off and hunted round the backs of houses. The garbage-heaps of this town had everything on them but hats. Most annoying. Where could I find one? I must have a hat. I passed a hat shop. The shop-keeper was busy writing in a book. There were lots of hats on the counter and many more, in boxes, on the floor. I was desperate. He could easily spare me one—he had so many. I dashed in and tried my luck. Bother it! I couldn't get the hat out of the box quick enough. The shop-keeper threw his book at me and chased me out.
"I went on down the street.
"'Never mind,' I said to myself. 'I'll get a hat, somehow, yet.'
"As I turned the corner into another street I saw an old gentleman crossing the road. He was all muffled up and full of dignity. And on his head he had an elegant high hat—just the kind of hat I wanted for my performance.
"'Ah!' I said to myself. 'If I can only trip that old gentleman up, his hat will roll off and I can take it to another part of the town and begin my show.'
"No sooner said than done. I leapt out into the road and ran between his feet. He stumbled and came down with a grunt on his stomach. His hat rolled into the gutter. I grabbed it and shot off down the street. Before the old gentleman had time to pick himself up I was round the corner and out of sight.
"I didn't stop running till I got to an entirely different part of the town, quite a distance away. Here I felt I was safe from pursuit. I found myself at a busy street corner.
"'Now,' I thought, 'the next thing is to collect a crowd.'
"I set the top hat on the curb-stone, got inside it and started barking for all I was worth. Very soon passers-by began to stop and wonder what it was all about. I went on yelping—I was sorry I hadn't a drum, that's what I should have had. Then I got out of the high hat, bowed to the audience and began my show. I begged, stood on my front paws, threw somersaults, etc. It was quite as good a show
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- I. THE DOG MUSEUM