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The Dog Hervey

(April 1914)

My friend Attley, who would give away his own head if you told him you
had lost yours, was giving away a six-months-old litter of Bettina's
pups, and half-a-dozen women were in raptures at the show on
Mittleham lawn.

We picked by lot. Mrs. Godfrey drew first choice; her married daughter,
second. I was third, but waived my right because I was already owned by
Malachi, Bettina's full brother, whom I had brought over in the car to
visit his nephews and nieces, and he would have slain them all if I had
taken home one. Milly, Mrs. Godfrey's younger daughter, pounced on my
rejection with squeals of delight, and Attley turned to a dark,
sallow-skinned, slack-mouthed girl, who had come over for tennis, and
invited her to pick. She put on a pince-nez that made her look like a
camel, knelt clumsily, for she was long from the hip to the knee,
breathed hard, and considered the last couple.

'I think I'd like that sandy-pied one,' she said.

'Oh, not him, Miss Sichliffe!' Attley cried. 'He was overlaid or had
sunstroke or something. They call him The Looney in the kennels.
Besides, he squints.'

'I think that's rather fetching,' she answered. Neither Malachi nor I
had ever seen a squinting dog before.

'That's chorea--St. Vitus's dance,' Mrs. Godfrey put in. 'He ought to
have been drowned.'

'But I like his cast of countenance,' the girl persisted.

'He doesn't look a good life,' I said, 'but perhaps he can be patched
up.' Miss Sichliffe turned crimson; I saw Mrs. Godfrey exchange a glance
with her married daughter, and knew I had said something which would
have to be lived down.

'Yes,' Miss Sichliffe went on, her voice shaking, 'he isn't a good life,
but perhaps I can--patch him up. Come here, sir.' The misshapen beast
lurched toward her, squinting down his own nose till he fell over his
own toes. Then, luckily, Bettina ran across the lawn and reminded
Malachi of their puppyhood. All that family are as queer as Dick's
hatband, and fight like man and wife. I had to separate them, and Mrs.
Godfrey helped me till they retired under the rhododendrons and had it
out in silence.

'D'you know what that girl's father was?' Mrs. Godfrey asked.

'No,' I replied. 'I loathe her for her own sake. She breathes through
her mouth.'

'He was a retired doctor,' she explained. 'He used to pick up stormy
young men in the repentant stage, take them home, and patch them up till
they were sound enough to be insured. Then he insured them heavily, and
let them out into the world again--with an appetite. Of course, no one
knew him while he was alive, but he left pots of money to his daughter.'

'Strictly legitimate--highly respectable,' I said. 'But what a life for
the daughter!'

'Mustn't it have been! _Now_ d'you realise what you said just now?'

'Perfectly; and now you've made me quite happy, shall we go back to the
house?'

When we reached it they were all inside, sitting in committee on names.

'What shall you call yours?' I heard Milly ask Miss Sichliffe.

'Harvey,' she replied--'Harvey's Sauce, you know. He's going to be quite
saucy when I've'--she saw Mrs. Godfrey and me coming through the French
window--'when he's stronger.'

Attley, the well-meaning man, to make me feel at ease, asked what I
thought of the name.

'Oh, splendid,' I said at random. 'H with an A, A with an R, R with a--'

'But that's Little Bingo,' some one said, and they all laughed.

Miss Sichliffe, her hands joined across her long knees, drawled, 'You
ought always to verify your quotations.'

It was not a kindly thrust, but something in the word 'quotation' set
the automatic side of my brain at work on some shadow of a word or
phrase that kept itself out of memory's reach as a cat sits just beyond
a dog's jump. When I was going home, Miss Sichliffe came up to me in the
twilight, the pup on a leash, swinging her big shoes at the end of her
tennis-racket.

''Sorry,' she said in her thick schoolboy-like voice. 'I'm sorry for
what I said to you about verifying quotations. I didn't know you well
enough and--anyhow, I oughtn't to have.'

'But you were quite right about Little Bingo,' I answered. 'The spelling
ought to have reminded me.'

'Yes, of course. It's the spelling,' she said, and slouched off with the
pup sliding after her. Once again my brain began to worry after
something that would have meant something if it had been properly
spelled. I confided my trouble to Malachi on the way home, but Bettina
had bitten him in four places, and he was busy.

Weeks later, Attley came over to see me, and before his car stopped
Malachi let me know that Bettina was sitting beside the chauffeur. He
greeted her by the scruff of the neck as she hopped down; and I greeted
Mrs. Godfrey, Attley, and a big basket.

'You've got to help me,' said Attley tiredly. We took the basket into
the garden, and there staggered out the angular shadow of a sandy-pied,
broken-haired terrier, with one imbecile and one delirious ear, and two
most hideous squints. Bettina and Malachi, already at grips on the lawn,
saw him, let go, and fled in opposite directions.

'Why have you brought that fetid hound here?' I demanded.

'Harvey? For you to take care of,' said Attley. 'He's had distemper, but
_I_'m going abroad.'

'Take him with you. I won't have him. He's mentally afflicted.'

'Look here,' Attley almost shouted, 'do I strike you as a fool?'

'Always,' said I.

'Well, then, if you say so, and Ella says so, that proves I ought to go
abroad.'

'Will's wrong, quite wrong,' Mrs. Godfrey interrupted; 'but you must
take the pup.'

'My dear boy, my dear boy, don't you ever give anything to a woman,'
Attley snorted.

Bit by bit I got the story out of them in the quiet garden (never a sign
from Bettina and Malachi), while Harvey stared me out of countenance,
first with one cuttlefish eye and then with the other.

It appeared that, a month after Miss Sichliffe took him, the dog Harvey
developed distemper. Miss Sichliffe had nursed him herself for some
time; then she carried him in her arms the two miles to Mittleham, and
wept--actually wept--at Attley's feet, saying that Harvey was all she
had or expected to have in this world, and Attley must cure him. Attley,
being by wealth, position, and temperament guardian to all lame dogs,
had put everything aside for this unsavoury job, and, he asserted, Miss
Sichliffe had virtually lived with him ever since.

'She went home at night, of course,' he exploded, 'but the rest of the
time she simply infested the premises. Goodness knows, I'm not
particular, but it was a scandal. Even the servants!... Three and four
times a day, and notes in between, to know how the beast was. Hang it
all, don't laugh! And wanting to send me flowers and goldfish. Do I look
as if I wanted goldfish? Can't you two stop for a minute?' (Mrs. Godfrey
and I were clinging to each other for support.) 'And it isn't as if I
was--was so alluring a personality, is it?'

Attley commands more trust, goodwill, and affection than most men, for
he is that rare angel, an absolutely unselfish bachelor, content to be
run by contending syndicates of zealous friends. His situation seemed
desperate, and I told him so.

'Instant flight is your only remedy,' was my verdict. I'll take care of
both your cars while you're away, and you can send me over all the
greenhouse fruit.'

'But why should I be chased out of my house by a she-dromedary?' he
wailed.

'Oh, stop! Stop!' Mrs. Godfrey sobbed. 'You're both wrong. I admit
you're right, but I _know_ you're wrong.'

'Three _and_ four times a day,' said Attley, with an awful countenance.
'I'm not a vain man, but--look here, Ella, I'm not sensitive, I hope,
but if you persist in making a joke of it--'

'Oh, be quiet!' she almost shrieked. 'D'you imagine for one instant that
your friends would ever let Mittleham pass out of their hands? I quite
agree it is unseemly for a grown girl to come to Mittleham at all hours
of the day and night--'

'I told you she went home o' nights,' Attley growled.

'Specially if she goes home o' nights. Oh, but think of the life she
must have led, Will!'

'I'm not interfering with it; only she must leave me alone.'

'She may want to patch you up and insure you,' I suggested.

'D'you know what _you_ are?' Mrs. Godfrey turned on me with the smile I
have feared for the last quarter of a century. 'You're the nice, kind,
wise, doggy friend. You don't know how wise and nice you are supposed to
be. Will has sent Harvey to you to complete the poor angel's
convalescence. You know all about dogs, or Will wouldn't have done it.
He's written her that. You're too far off for her to make daily calls on
you. P'r'aps she'll drop in two or three times a week, and write on
other days. But it doesn't matter what she does, because you don't own
Mittleham, don't you see?'

I told her I saw most clearly.

'Oh, you'll get over that in a few days,' Mrs. Godfrey countered.
'You're the sporting, responsible, doggy friend who--'

'He used to look at me like that at first,' said Attley, with a visible
shudder, 'but he gave it up after a bit. It's only because you're new
to him.'

'But, confound you! he's a ghoul--' I began.

'And when he gets quite well, you'll send him back to her direct with
your love, and she'll give you some pretty four-tailed goldfish,' said
Mrs. Godfrey, rising. 'That's all settled. Car, please. We're going to
Brighton to lunch together.'

They ran before I could get into my stride, so I told the dog Harvey
what I thought of them and his mistress. He never shifted his position,
but stared at me, an intense, lopsided stare, eye after eye. Malachi
came along when he had seen his sister off, and from a distance
counselled me to drown the brute and consort with gentlemen again. But
the dog Harvey never even cocked his cockable ear.

And so it continued as long as he was with me. Where I sat, he sat and
stared; where I walked, he walked beside, head stiffly slewed over one
shoulder in single-barrelled contemplation of me. He never gave tongue,
never closed in for a caress, seldom let me stir a step alone. And, to
my amazement, Malachi, who suffered no stranger to live within our
gates, saw this gaunt, growing, green-eyed devil wipe him out of my
service and company without a whimper. Indeed, one would have said the
situation interested him, for he would meet us returning from grim walks
together, and look alternately at Harvey and at me with the same
quivering interest that he showed at the mouth of a rat-hole. Outside
these inspections, Malachi withdrew himself as only a dog or a
woman can.

Miss Sichliffe came over after a few days (luckily I was out) with some
elaborate story of paying calls in the neighbourhood. She sent me a note
of thanks next day. I was reading it when Harvey and Malachi entered and
disposed themselves as usual, Harvey close up to stare at me, Malachi
half under the sofa, watching us both. Out of curiosity I returned
Harvey's stare, then pulled his lopsided head on to my knee, and took
his eye for several minutes. Now, in Malachi's eye I can see at any hour
all that there is of the normal decent dog, flecked here and there with
that strained half-soul which man's love and association have added to
his nature. But with Harvey the eye was perplexed, as a tortured man's.
Only by looking far into its deeps could one make out the spirit of the
proper animal, beclouded and cowering beneath some unfair burden.

Leggatt, my chauffeur, came in for orders.

'How d'you think Harvey's coming on?' I said, as I rubbed the brute's
gulping neck. The vet had warned me of the possibilities of spinal
trouble following distemper.

'He ain't _my_ fancy,' was the reply. 'But _I_ don't question his
comings and goings so long as I 'aven't to sit alone in a room
with him.'

'Why? He's as meek as Moses,' I said.

'He fair gives me the creeps. P'r'aps he'll go out in fits.'

But Harvey, as I wrote his mistress from time to time, throve, and when
he grew better, would play by himself grisly games of spying, walking
up, hailing, and chasing another dog. From these he would break off of a
sudden and return to his normal stiff gait, with the air of one who had
forgotten some matter of life and death, which could be reached only by
staring at me. I left him one evening posturing with the unseen on the
lawn, and went inside to finish some letters for the post. I must have
been at work nearly an hour, for I was going to turn on the lights,
when I felt there was somebody in the room whom, the short hairs at the
back of my neck warned me, I was not in the least anxious to face. There
was a mirror on the wall. As I lifted my eyes to it I saw the dog Harvey
reflected near the shadow by the closed door. He had reared himself
full-length on his hind legs, his head a little one side to clear a sofa
between us, and he was looking at me. The face, with its knitted brows
and drawn lips, was the face of a dog, but the look, for the fraction of
time that I caught it, was human--wholly and horribly human. When the
blood in my body went forward again he had dropped to the floor, and was
merely studying me in his usual one-eyed fashion. Next day I returned
him to Miss Sichliffe. I would not have kept him another day for the
wealth of Asia, or even Ella Godfrey's approval.

Miss Sichliffe's house I discovered to be a mid-Victorian mansion of
peculiar villainy even for its period, surrounded by gardens of
conflicting colours, all dazzling with glass and fresh paint on
ironwork. Striped blinds, for it was a blazing autumn morning, covered
most of the windows, and a voice sang to the piano an almost forgotten
song of Jean Ingelow's--

Methought that the stars were blinking bright,
And the old brig's sails unfurled--

Down came the loud pedal, and the unrestrained cry swelled out across a
bed of tritomas consuming in their own fires--

When I said I will sail to my love this night
On the other side of the world.

I have no music, but the voice drew. I waited till the end:

Oh, maid most dear, I am not here
I have no place apart--
No dwelling more on sea or shore,
But only in thy heart.

It seemed to me a poor life that had no more than that to do at eleven
o'clock of a Tuesday forenoon. Then Miss Sichliffe suddenly lumbered
through a French window in clumsy haste, her brows contracted against
the light.

'Well?' she said, delivering the word like a spear-thrust, with the full
weight of a body behind it.

'I've brought Harvey back at last,' I replied. 'Here he is.'

But it was at me she looked, not at the dog who had cast himself at her
feet--looked as though she would have fished my soul out of my breast on
the instant.

'Wha--what did you think of him? What did _you_ make of him?' she
panted. I was too taken aback for the moment to reply. Her voice broke
as she stooped to the dog at her knees. 'O Harvey, Harvey! You utterly
worthless old devil!' she cried, and the dog cringed and abased himself
in servility that one could scarcely bear to look upon. I made to go.

'Oh, but please, you mustn't!' She tugged at the car's side. 'Wouldn't
you like some flowers or some orchids? We've really splendid orchids,
and'--she clasped her hands--'there are Japanese goldfish--real
Japanese goldfish, with four tails. If you don't care for 'em, perhaps
your friends or somebody--oh, please!'

Harvey had recovered himself, and I realised that this woman beyond the
decencies was fawning on me as the dog had fawned on her.

'Certainly,' I said, ashamed to meet her eye. 'I'm lunching at
Mittleham, but--'

'There's plenty of time,' she entreated. 'What do _you_ think of
Harvey?'

'He's a queer beast,' I said, getting out. 'He does nothing but stare at
me.'

'Does he stare at you all the time he's with you?'

'Always. He's doing it now. Look!'

We had halted. Harvey had sat down, and was staring from one to the
other with a weaving motion of the head.

'He'll do that all day,' I said. 'What is it, Harvey?'

'Yes, what _is_ it, Harvey?' she echoed. The dog's throat twitched, his
body stiffened and shook as though he were going to have a fit. Then he
came back with a visible wrench to his unwinking watch.

'Always so?' she whispered.

'Always,' I replied, and told her something of his life with me. She
nodded once or twice, and in the end led me into the house.

There were unaging pitch-pine doors of Gothic design in it; there were
inlaid marble mantel-pieces and cut-steel fenders; there were stupendous
wall-papers, and octagonal, medallioned Wedgwood what-nots, and
black-and-gilt Austrian images holding candelabra, with every other
refinement that Art had achieved or wealth had bought between 1851 and
1878. And everything reeked of varnish.

'Now!' she opened a baize door, and pointed down a long corridor flanked
with more Gothic doors. 'This was where we used to--to patch 'em up.
You've heard of us. Mrs. Godfrey told you in the garden the day I got
Harvey given me. I'--she drew in her breath--'I live here by myself, and
I have a very large income. Come back, Harvey.'

He had tiptoed down the corridor, as rigid as ever, and was sitting
outside one of the shut doors. 'Look here!' she said, and planted
herself squarely in front of me. 'I tell you this because you--you've
patched up Harvey, too. Now, I want you to remember that my name is
Moira. Mother calls me Marjorie because it's more refined; but my real
name is Moira, and I am in my thirty-fourth year.'

'Very good,' I said. 'I'll remember all that.'

'Thank you.' Then with a sudden swoop into the humility of an abashed
boy--''Sorry if I haven't said the proper things. You see--there's
Harvey looking at us again. Oh, I want to say--if ever you want anything
in the way of orchids or goldfish or--or anything else that would be
useful to you, you've only to come to me for it. Under the will I'm
perfectly independent, and we're a long-lived family, worse luck!' She
looked at me, and her face worked like glass behind driven flame. 'I may
reasonably expect to live another fifty years,' she said.

'Thank you, Miss Sichliffe,' I replied. 'If I want anything, you may be
sure I'll come to you for it.' She nodded. 'Now I must get over to
Mittleham,' I said.

'Mr. Attley will ask you all about this.' For the first time she laughed
aloud. 'I'm afraid I frightened him nearly out of the county. I didn't
think, of course. But I dare say he knows by this time he was wrong. Say
good-bye to Harvey.'

'Good-bye, old man,' I said. 'Give me a farewell stare, so we shall know
each other when we meet again.'

The dog looked up, then moved slowly toward me, and stood, head bowed to
the floor, shaking in every muscle as I patted him; and when I turned, I
saw him crawl back to her feet.

That was not a good preparation for the rampant boy-and-girl-dominated
lunch at Mittleham, which, as usual, I found in possession of everybody
except the owner.

'But what did the dromedary say when you brought her beast back?' Attley
demanded.

'The usual polite things,' I replied. 'I'm posing as the nice doggy
friend nowadays.'

'I don't envy you. She's never darkened my doors, thank goodness, since
I left Harvey at your place. I suppose she'll run about the county now
swearing you cured him. That's a woman's idea of gratitude.' Attley
seemed rather hurt, and Mrs. Godfrey laughed.

'That proves you were right about Miss Sichliffe, Ella,' I said. 'She
had no designs on anybody.'

'I'm always right in these matters. But didn't she even offer you a
goldfish?'

'Not a thing,' said I. 'You know what an old maid's like where her
precious dog's concerned.' And though I have tried vainly to lie to Ella
Godfrey for many years, I believe that in this case I succeeded.

When I turned into our drive that evening, Leggatt observed half aloud:

'I'm glad Zvengali's back where he belongs. It's time our Mike had a
look in.'

Sure enough, there was Malachi back again in spirit as well as flesh,
but still with that odd air of expectation he had picked up from Harvey.

* * * * *

It was in January that Attley wrote me that Mrs. Godfrey, wintering in
Madeira with Milly, her unmarried daughter, had been attacked with
something like enteric; that the hotel, anxious for its good name, had
thrust them both out into a cottage annexe; that he was off with a
nurse, and that I was not to leave England till I heard from him again.
In a week he wired that Milly was down as well, and that I must bring
out two more nurses, with suitable delicacies.

Within seventeen hours I had got them all aboard the Cape boat, and had
seen the women safely collapsed into sea-sickness. The next few weeks
were for me, as for the invalids, a low delirium, clouded with fantastic
memories of Portuguese officials trying to tax calves'-foot jelly;
voluble doctors insisting that true typhoid was unknown in the island;
nurses who had to be exercised, taken out of themselves, and returned on
the tick of change of guard; night slides down glassy, cobbled streets,
smelling of sewage and flowers, between walls whose every stone and
patch Attley and I knew; vigils in stucco verandahs, watching the curve
and descent of great stars or drawing auguries from the break of dawn;
insane interludes of gambling at the local Casino, where we won heaps of
unconsoling silver; blasts of steamers arriving and departing in the
roads; help offered by total strangers, grabbed at or thrust aside; the
long nightmare crumbling back into sanity one forenoon under a
vine-covered trellis, where Attley sat hugging a nurse, while the others
danced a noiseless, neat-footed breakdown never learned at the Middlesex
Hospital. At last, as the tension came out all over us in aches and
tingles that we put down to the country wine, a vision of Mrs. Godfrey,
her grey hair turned to spun-glass, but her eyes triumphant over the
shadow of retreating death beneath them, with Milly, enormously grown,
and clutching life back to her young breast, both stretched out on cane
chairs, clamouring for food.

In this ungirt hour there imported himself into our life a
youngish-looking middle-aged man of the name of Shend, with a blurred
face and deprecating eyes. He said he had gambled with me at the Casino,
which was no recommendation, and I remember that he twice gave me a
basket of champagne and liqueur brandy for the invalids, which a sailor
in a red-tasselled cap carried up to the cottage for me at 3 A.M. He
turned out to be the son of some merchant prince in the oil and colour
line, and the owner of a four-hundred-ton steam yacht, into which, at
his gentle insistence, we later shifted our camp, staff, and equipage,
Milly weeping with delight to escape from the horrible cottage. There we
lay off Funchal for weeks, while Shend did miracles of luxury and
attendance through deputies, and never once asked how his guests were
enjoying themselves. Indeed, for several days at a time we would see
nothing of him. He was, he said, subject to malaria. Giving as they do
with both hands, I knew that Attley and Mrs. Godfrey could take nobly;
but I never met a man who so nobly gave and so nobly received thanks as
Shend did.

'Tell us why you have been so unbelievably kind to us gipsies,' Mrs.
Godfrey said to him one day on deck.

He looked up from a diagram of some Thames-mouth shoals which he was
explaining to me, and answered with his gentle smile:

'I will. It's because it makes me happy--it makes me more than happy--to
be with you. It makes me comfortable. You know how selfish men are? If a
man feels comfortable all over with certain people, he'll bore them to
death, just like a dog. You always make me feel as if pleasant things
were going to happen to me.'

'Haven't any ever happened before?' Milly asked.

'This is the most pleasant thing that has happened to me in ever so many
years,' he replied. 'I feel like the man in the Bible, "It's good for me
to be here." Generally, I don't feel that it's good for me to be
anywhere in particular.' Then, as one begging a favour. 'You'll let me
come home with you--in the same boat, I mean? I'd take you back in this
thing of mine, and that would save you packing your trunks, but she's
too lively for spring work across the Bay.'

We booked our berths, and when the time came, he wafted us and ours
aboard the Southampton mail-boat with the pomp of plenipotentiaries and
the precision of the Navy. Then he dismissed his yacht, and became an
inconspicuous passenger in a cabin opposite to mine, on the port side.

We ran at once into early British spring weather, followed by sou'west
gales. Mrs. Godfrey, Milly, and the nurses disappeared. Attley stood it
out, visibly yellowing, till the next meal, and followed suit, and Shend
and I had the little table all to ourselves. I found him even more
attractive when the women were away. The natural sweetness of the man,
his voice, and bearing all fascinated me, and his knowledge of practical
seamanship (he held an extra master's certificate) was a real joy. We
sat long in the empty saloon and longer in the smoking-room, making
dashes downstairs over slippery decks at the eleventh hour.

It was on Friday night, just as I was going to bed, that he came into my
cabin, after cleaning his teeth, which he did half a dozen times a day.

'I say,' he began hurriedly, 'do you mind if I come in here for a
little? I'm a bit edgy.' I must have shown surprise. 'I'm ever so much
better about liquor than I used to be, but--it's the whisky in the
suitcase that throws me. For God's sake, old man, don't go back on me
to-night! Look at my hands!'

They were fairly jumping at the wrists. He sat down on a trunk that had
slid out with the roll. We had reduced speed, and were surging in
confused seas that pounded on the black port-glasses. The night promised
to be a pleasant one!

'You understand, of course, don't you?' he chattered.

'Oh yes,' I said cheerily; 'but how about--'

'No, no; on no account the doctor. 'Tell a doctor, tell the whole ship.
Besides, I've only got a touch of 'em. You'd never have guessed it,
would you? The tooth-wash does the trick. I'll give you the
prescription.'

I'll send a note to the doctor for a prescription, shall I?' I
suggested.

'Right! I put myself unreservedly in your hands. 'Fact is, I always did.
I said to myself--'sure I don't bore you?--the minute I saw you, I said,
"Thou art the man."' He repeated the phrase as he picked at his knees.
'All the same, you can take it from me that the ewe-lamb business is a
rotten bad one. I don't care how unfaithful the shepherd may be. Drunk
or sober, 'tisn't cricket.'

A surge of the trunk threw him across the cabin as the steward answered
my bell. I wrote my requisition to the doctor while Shend was struggling
to his feet.

'What's wrong?' he began. 'Oh, I know. We're slowing for soundings off
Ushant. It's about time, too. You'd better ship the dead-lights when you
come back, Matchem. It'll save you waking us later. This sea's going to
get up when the tide turns. That'll show you,' he said as the man left,
'that I am to be trusted. You--you'll stop me if I say anything I
shouldn't, won't you?'

'Talk away,' I replied, 'if it makes you feel better.'

'That's it; you've hit it exactly. You always make me feel better. I can
rely on you. It's awkward soundings but you'll see me through it. We'll
defeat him yet.... I may be an utterly worthless devil, but I'm not a
brawler.... I told him so at breakfast. I said, "Doctor, I detest
brawling, but if ever you allow that girl to be insulted again as
Clements insulted her, I will break your neck with my own hands." You
think I was right?'

'Absolutely,' I agreed.

'Then we needn't discuss the matter any further. That man was a murderer
in intention--outside the law, you understand, as it was then. They've
changed it since--but he never deceived _me_. I told him so. I said to
him at the time, "I don't know what price you're going to put on my
head, but if ever you allow Clements to insult her again, you'll never
live to claim it."'

'And what did he do?' I asked, to carry on the conversation, for Matchem
entered with the bromide.

'Oh, crumpled up at once. 'Lead still going, Matchem?'

'I 'aven't 'eard,' said that faithful servant of the Union-Castle
Company.

'Quite right. Never alarm the passengers. Ship the dead-light, will
you?' Matchem shipped it, for we were rolling very heavily. There were
tramplings and gull-like cries from on deck. Shend looked at me with a
mariner's eye.

'That's nothing,' he said protectingly.

'Oh, it's all right for you,' I said, jumping at the idea. '_I_ haven't
an extra master's certificate. I'm only a passenger. I confess it
funks me.'

Instantly his whole bearing changed to answer the appeal.

'My dear fellow, it's as simple as houses. We're hunting for sixty-five
fathom water. Anything short of sixty, with a sou'west wind means--but
I'll get my Channel Pilot out of my cabin and give you the general idea.
I'm only too grateful to do anything to put your mind at ease.'

And so, perhaps, for another hour--he declined the drink--Channel Pilot
in hand, he navigated us round Ushant, and at my request up-channel to
Southampton, light by light, with explanations and reminiscences. I
professed myself soothed at last, and suggested bed.

'In a second,' said he. 'Now, you wouldn't think, would you'--he glanced
off the book toward my wildly swaying dressing-gown on the door--'that
I've been seeing things for the last half-hour? 'Fact is, I'm just on
the edge of 'em, skating on thin ice round the corner--nor'east as near
as nothing--where that dog's looking at me.'

'What's the dog like?' I asked.

'Ah, that _is_ comforting of you! Most men walk through 'em to show me
they aren't real. As if I didn't know! But _you're_ different. Anybody
could see that with half an eye.' He stiffened and pointed. 'Damn it
all! The dog sees it too with half an--Why, he knows you! Knows you
perfectly. D'you know _him_?'

'How can I tell if he isn't real?' I insisted.

'But you can! _You're_ all right. I saw that from the first. Don't go
back on me now or I shall go to pieces like the _Drummond Castle_. I beg
your pardon, old man; but, you see, you _do_ know the dog. I'll prove
it. What's that dog doing? Come on! _You_ know.' A tremor shook him, and
he put his hand on my knee, and whispered with great meaning: 'I'll
letter or halve it with you. There! You begin.'

'S,' said I to humour him, for a dog would most likely be standing or
sitting, or may be scratching or sniffling or staring.

'Q,' he went on, and I could feel the heat of his shaking hand.

'U,' said I. There was no other letter possible; but I was shaking too.

'I.'

'N.'

'T-i-n-g,' he ran out. 'There! That proves it. I knew you knew him. You
don't know what a relief that is. Between ourselves, old man, he--he's
been turning up lately a--a damn sight more often than I cared for. And
a squinting dog--a dog that squints! I mean that's a bit _too_ much.
Eh? What?' He gulped and half rose, and I thought that the full tide of
delirium would be on him in another sentence.

'Not a bit of it,' I said as a last chance, with my hand over the
bellpush. 'Why, you've just proved that I know him; so there are two of
us in the game, anyhow.'

'By Jove! that _is_ an idea! Of course there are. I knew you'd see me
through. We'll defeat them yet. Hi, pup!... He's gone. Absolutely
disappeared!' He sighed with relief, and I caught the lucky moment.

'Good business! I expect he only came to have a look at me,' I said.
'Now, get this drink down and turn in to the lower bunk.'

He obeyed, protesting that he could not inconvenience me, and in the
midst of apologies sank into a dead sleep. I expected a wakeful night,
having a certain amount to think over; but no sooner had I scrambled
into the top bunk than sleep came on me like a wave from the other side
of the world.

In the morning there were apologies, which we got over at breakfast
before our party were about.

'I suppose--after this--well, I don't blame you. I'm rather a lonely
chap, though.' His eyes lifted dog-like across the table.

'Shend,' I replied, 'I'm not running a Sunday school. You're coming home
with me in my car as soon as we land.'

'That is kind of you--kinder than you think.'

'That's because you're a little jumpy still. Now, I don't want to mix
up in your private affairs--'

'But I'd like you to,' he interrupted.

'Then, would you mind telling me the Christian name of a girl who was
insulted by a man called Clements?'

'Moira,' he whispered; and just then Mrs. Godfrey and Milly came to
table with their shore-going hats on.

We did not tie up till noon, but the faithful Leggatt had intrigued his
way down to the dock-edge, and beside him sat Malachi, wearing his
collar of gold, or Leggatt makes it look so, as eloquent as Demosthenes.
Shend flinched a little when he saw him. We packed Mrs. Godfrey and
Milly into Attley's car--they were going with him to Mittleham, of
course--and drew clear across the railway lines to find England all lit
and perfumed for spring. Shend sighed with happiness.

'D'you know,' he said, 'if--if you'd chucked me--I should have gone down
to my cabin after breakfast and cut my throat. And now--it's like a
dream--a good dream, you know.'

We lunched with the other three at Romsey. Then I sat in front for a
little while to talk to my Malachi. When I looked back, Shend was
solidly asleep, and stayed so for the next two hours, while Leggatt
chased Attley's fat Daimler along the green-speckled hedges. He woke up
when we said good-bye at Mittleham, with promises to meet again
very soon.

'And I hope,' said Mrs. Godfrey, 'that everything pleasant will happen
to you.'

'Heaps and heaps--all at once,' cried long, weak Milly, waving her wet
handkerchief.

'I've just got to look in at a house near here for a minute to inquire
about a dog,' I said, 'and then we will go home.'

'I used to know this part of the world,' he replied, and said no more
till Leggatt shot past the lodge at the Sichliffes's gate. Then I
heard him gasp.

Miss Sichliffe, in a green waterproof, an orange jersey, and a pinkish
leather hat, was working on a bulb-border. She straightened herself as
the car stopped, and breathed hard. Shend got out and walked towards
her. They shook hands, turned round together, and went into the house.
Then the dog Harvey pranced out corkily from under the lee of a bench.
Malachi, with one joyous swoop, fell on him as an enemy and an equal.
Harvey, for his part, freed from all burden whatsoever except the
obvious duty of a man-dog on his own ground, met Malachi without reserve
or remorse, and with six months' additional growth to come and go on.

'Don't check 'em!' cried Leggatt, dancing round the flurry. 'They've
both been saving up for each other all this time. It'll do 'em worlds
of good.'

'Leggatt,' I said, 'will you take Mr. Shend's bag and suitcase up to the
house and put them down just inside the door? Then we will go on.'

So I enjoyed the finish alone. It was a dead heat, and they licked each
other's jaws in amity till Harvey, one imploring eye on me, leaped into
the front seat, and Malachi backed his appeal. It was theft, but I took
him, and we talked all the way home of r-rats and r-rabbits and bones
and baths and the other basic facts of life. That evening after dinner
they slept before the fire, with their warm chins across the hollows of
my ankles--to each chin an ankle--till I kicked them upstairs to bed.

* * * * *

I was not at Mittleham when she came over to announce her engagement,
but I heard of it when Mrs. Godfrey and Attley came, forty miles an
hour, over to me, and Mrs. Godfrey called me names of the worst for
suppression of information.

'As long as it wasn't me, I don't care,' said Attley.

'I believe you knew it all along,' Mrs. Godfrey repeated. 'Else what
made you drive that man literally into her arms?'

'To ask after the dog Harvey,' I replied.

'Then, what's the beast doing here?' Attley demanded, for Malachi and
the dog Harvey were deep in a council of the family with Bettina, who
was being out-argued.

'Oh, Harvey seemed to think himself _de trop_ where he was,' I said.
'And she hasn't sent after him. You'd better save Bettina before they
kill her.'

'There's been enough lying about that dog,' said Mrs. Godfrey to me. 'If
he wasn't born in lies, he was baptized in 'em. D'you know why she
called him Harvey? It only occurred to me in those dreadful days when I
was ill, and one can't keep from thinking, and thinks everything. D'you
know your Boswell? What did Johnson say about Hervey--with an e?'

'Oh, _that's_ it, is it?' I cried incautiously. 'That was why I ought to
have verified my quotations. The spelling defeated me. Wait a moment,
and it will come back. Johnson said: "He was a vicious man,"' I began.

'"But very kind to me,"' Mrs. Godfrey prompted. Then, both together,
'"If you call a dog Hervey, I shall love him."'

'So you _were_ mixed up in it. At any rate, you had your suspicions from
the first? Tell me,' she said.

'Ella,' I said, 'I don't know anything rational or reasonable about any
of it. It was all--all woman-work, and it scared me horribly.'

'Why?' she asked.

That was six years ago. I have written this tale to let her
know--wherever she may be.

THE COMFORTERS


Until thy feet have trod the Road
Advise not wayside folk,
Nor till thy back has borne the Load
Break in upon the Broke.

Chase not with undesired largesse
Of sympathy the heart
Which, knowing her own bitterness,
Presumes to dwell apart.

Employ not that glad hand to raise
The God-forgotten head
To Heaven, and all the neighbours' gaze--
Cover thy mouth instead.

The quivering chin, the bitten lip,
The cold and sweating brow,
Later may yearn for fellowship--
Not now, you ass, not now!

Time, not thy ne'er so timely speech,
Life, not thy views thereon,
Shall furnish or deny to each
His consolation.

Or, if impelled to interfere,
Exhort, uplift, advise,
Lend not a base, betraying ear
To all the victim's cries.

Only the Lord can understand
When those first pangs begin,
How much is reflex action and
How much is really sin.

E'en from good words thyself refrain,
And tremblingly admit
There is no anodyne for pain
Except the shock of it.

So, when thine own dark hour shall fall,
Unchallenged canst thou say:
'I never worried _you_ at all,
For God's sake go away!'

Rudyard Kipling

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