The Mixer by P. G. Wodehouse
I. He Meets a Shy Gentleman
Looking back, I always consider that my career as a dog proper
really started when I was bought for the sum of half a crown by the Shy
Man. That event marked the end of my puppyhood. The knowledge that I
was worth actual cash to somebody filled me with a sense of new
responsibilities. It sobered me. Besides, it was only after that
half-crown changed hands that I went out into the great world; and,
however interesting life may be in an East End public-house, it is only
when you go out into the world that you really broaden your mind and
begin to see things.
Within its limitations, my life had been singularly full and vivid.
I was born, as I say, in a public-house in the East End, and, however
lacking a public-house may be in refinement and the true culture, it
certainly provides plenty of excitement. Before I was six weeks old I
had upset three policemen by getting between their legs when they came
round to the side-door, thinking they had heard suspicious noises; and
I can still recall the interesting sensation of being chased seventeen
times round the yard with a broom-handle after a well-planned and
completely successful raid on the larder. These and other happenings of
a like nature soothed for the moment but could not cure the
restlessness which has always been so marked a trait in my character. I
have always been restless, unable to settle down in one place and
anxious to get on to the next thing. This may be due to a gipsy strain
in my ancestry—one of my uncles travelled with a circus—or it may be
the Artistic Temperament, acquired from a grandfather who, before dying
of a surfeit of paste in the property-room of the Bristol Coliseum,
which he was visiting in the course of a professional tour, had an
established reputation on the music-hall stage as one of Professor
Pond's Performing Poodles.
I owe the fullness and variety of my life to this restlessness of
mine, for I have repeatedly left comfortable homes in order to follow
some perfect stranger who looked as if he were on his way to somewhere
interesting. Sometimes I think I must have cat blood in me.
The Shy Man came into our yard one afternoon in April, while I was
sleeping with mother in the sun on an old sweater which we had borrowed
from Fred, one of the barmen. I heard mother growl, but I didn't take
any notice. Mother is what they call a good watch-dog, and she growls
at everybody except master. At first, when she used to do it, I would
get up and bark my head off, but not now. Life's too short to bark at
everybody who comes into our yard. It is behind the public-house, and
they keep empty bottles and things there, so people are always coming
Besides, I was tired. I had had a very busy morning, helping the men
bring in a lot of cases of beer, and running into the saloon to talk to
Fred and generally looking after things. So I was just dozing off
again, when I heard a voice say, 'Well, he's ugly enough!' Then I knew
that they were talking about me.
I have never disguised it from myself, and nobody has ever disguised
it from me, that I am not a handsome dog. Even mother never thought me
beautiful. She was no Gladys Cooper herself, but she never hesitated to
criticize my appearance. In fact, I have yet to meet anyone who did.
The first thing strangers say about me is, 'What an ugly dog!'
I don't know what I am. I have a bulldog kind of a face, but the
rest of me is terrier. I have a long tail which sticks straight up in
the air. My hair is wiry. My eyes are brown. I am jet black, with a
white chest. I once overheard Fred saying that I was a Gorgonzola
cheese-hound, and I have generally found Fred reliable in his
When I found that I was under discussion, I opened my eyes. Master
was standing there, looking down at me, and by his side the man who had
just said I was ugly enough. The man was a thin man, about the age of a
barman and smaller than a policeman. He had patched brown shoes and
'But he's got a sweet nature,' said master.
This was true, luckily for me. Mother always said, 'A dog without
influence or private means, if he is to make his way in the world, must
have either good looks or amiability.' But, according to her, I overdid
it. 'A dog,' she used to say, 'can have a good heart, without chumming
with every Tom, Dick, and Harry he meets. Your behaviour is sometimes
quite un-doglike.' Mother prided herself on being a one-man dog. She
kept herself to herself, and wouldn't kiss anybody except master—not
Now, I'm a mixer. I can't help it. It's my nature. I like men. I
like the taste of their boots, the smell of their legs, and the sound
of their voices. It may be weak of me, but a man has only to speak to
me and a sort of thrill goes right down my spine and sets my tail
I wagged it now. The man looked at me rather distantly. He didn't
pat me. I suspected—what I afterwards found to be the case—that he
was shy, so I jumped up at him to put him at his ease. Mother growled
again. I felt that she did not approve.
'Why, he's took quite a fancy to you already,' said master.
The man didn't say a word. He seemed to be brooding on something. He
was one of those silent men. He reminded me of Joe, the old dog down
the street at the grocer's shop, who lies at the door all day, blinking
and not speaking to anybody.
Master began to talk about me. It surprised me, the way he praised
me. I hadn't a suspicion he admired me so much. From what he said you
would have thought I had won prizes and ribbons at the Crystal Palace.
But the man didn't seem to be impressed. He kept on saying nothing.
When master had finished telling him what a wonderful dog I was till
I blushed, the man spoke.
'Less of it,' he said. 'Half a crown is my bid, and if he was an
angel from on high you couldn't get another ha'penny out of me. What
A thrill went down my spine and out at my tail, for of course I saw
now what was happening. The man wanted to buy me and take me away. I
looked at master hopefully.
'He's more like a son to me than a dog,' said master, sort of
'It's his face that makes you feel that way,' said the man,
unsympathetically. 'If you had a son that's just how he would look.
Half a crown is my offer, and I'm in a hurry.'
'All right,' said master, with a sigh, 'though it's giving him away,
a valuable dog like that. Where's your half-crown?'
The man got a bit of rope and tied it round my neck.
I could hear mother barking advice and telling me to be a credit to
the family, but I was too excited to listen.
'Good-bye, mother,' I said. 'Good-bye, master. Good-bye, Fred.
Good-bye everybody. I'm off to see life. The Shy Man has bought me for
half a crown. Wow!'
I kept running round in circles and shouting, till the man gave me a
kick and told me to stop it.
So I did.
I don't know where we went, but it was a long way. I had never been
off our street before in my life and I didn't know the whole world was
half as big as that. We walked on and on, and the man jerked at my rope
whenever I wanted to stop and look at anything. He wouldn't even let me
pass the time of the day with dogs we met.
When we had gone about a hundred miles and were just going to turn
in at a dark doorway, a policeman suddenly stopped the man. I could
feel by the way the man pulled at my rope and tried to hurry on that he
didn't want to speak to the policeman. The more I saw of the man the
more I saw how shy he was.
'Hi!' said the policeman, and we had to stop.
'I've got a message for you, old pal,' said the policeman. 'It's
from the Board of Health. They told me to tell you you needed a change
of air. See?'
'All right!' said the man.
'And take it as soon as you like. Else you'll find you'll get it
given you. See?'
I looked at the man with a good deal of respect. He was evidently
someone very important, if they worried so about his health.
'I'm going down to the country tonight,' said the man.
The policeman seemed pleased.
'That's a bit of luck for the country,' he said. 'Don't go changing
And we walked on, and went in at the dark doorway, and climbed about
a million stairs and went into a room that smelt of rats. The man sat
down and swore a little, and I sat and looked at him.
Presently I couldn't keep it in any longer.
'Do we live here?' I said. 'Is it true we're going to the country?
Wasn't that policeman a good sort? Don't you like policemen? I knew
lots of policemen at the public-house. Are there any other dogs here?
What is there for dinner? What's in that cupboard? When are you going
to take me out for another run? May I go out and see if I can find a
'Stop that yelping,' he said.
'When we go to the country, where shall we live? Are you going to be
a caretaker at a house? Fred's father is a caretaker at a big house in
Kent. I've heard Fred talk about it. You didn't meet Fred when you came
to the public-house, did you? You would like Fred. I like Fred. Mother
likes Fred. We all like Fred.'
I was going on to tell him a lot more about Fred, who had always
been one of my warmest friends, when he suddenly got hold of a stick
and walloped me with it.
'You keep quiet when you're told,' he said.
He really was the shyest man I had ever met. It seemed to hurt him
to be spoken to. However, he was the boss, and I had to humour him, so
I didn't say any more.
We went down to the country that night, just as the man had told the
policeman we would. I was all worked up, for I had heard so much about
the country from Fred that I had always wanted to go there. Fred used
to go off on a motor-bicycle sometimes to spend the night with his
father in Kent, and once he brought back a squirrel with him, which I
thought was for me to eat, but mother said no. 'The first thing a dog
has to learn,' mother used often to say, 'is that the whole world
wasn't created for him to eat.'
It was quite dark when we got to the country, but the man seemed to
know where to go. He pulled at my rope, and we began to walk along a
road with no people in it at all. We walked on and on, but it was all
so new to me that I forgot how tired I was. I could feel my mind
broadening with every step I took.
Every now and then we would pass a very big house, which looked as
if it was empty, but I knew that there was a caretaker inside, because
of Fred's father. These big houses belong to very rich people, but they
don't want to live in them till the summer, so they put in caretakers,
and the caretakers have a dog to keep off burglars. I wondered if that
was what I had been brought here for.
'Are you going to be a caretaker?' I asked the man.
'Shut up,' he said.
So I shut up.
After we had been walking a long rime, we came to a cottage. A man
came out. My man seemed to know him, for he called him Bill. I was
quite surprised to see the man was not at all shy with Bill. They
seemed very friendly.
'Is that him?' said Bill, looking at me.
'Bought him this afternoon,' said the man.
'Well,' said Bill, 'he's ugly enough. He looks fierce. If you want a
dog, he's the sort of dog you want. But what do you want one for? It
seems to me it's a lot of trouble to take, when there's no need of any
trouble at all. Why not do what I've always wanted to do? What's wrong
with just fixing the dog, same as it's always done, and walking in and
'I'll tell you what's wrong,' said the man. 'To start with, you
can't get at the dog to fix him except by day, when they let him out.
At night he's shut up inside the house. And suppose you do fix him
during the day what happens then? Either the bloke gets another before
night, or else he sits up all night with a gun. It isn't like as if
these blokes was ordinary blokes. They're down here to look after the
house. That's their job, and they don't take any chances.'
It was the longest speech I had ever heard the man make, and it
seemed to impress Bill. He was quite humble.
'I didn't think of that,' he said. 'We'd best start in to train this
tyke at once.'
Mother often used to say, when I went on about wanting to go out
into the world and see life, 'You'll be sorry when you do. The world
isn't all bones and liver.' And I hadn't been living with the man and
Bill in their cottage long before I found out how right she was.
It was the man's shyness that made all the trouble. It seemed as if
he hated to be taken notice of.
It started on my very first night at the cottage. I had fallen
asleep in the kitchen, tired out after all the excitement of the day
and the long walks I had had, when something woke me with a start. It
was somebody scratching at the window, trying to get in.
Well, I ask you, I ask any dog, what would you have done in my
place? Ever since I was old enough to listen, mother had told me over
and over again what I must do in a case like this. It is the A B C of a
dog's education. 'If you are in a room and you hear anyone trying to
get in,' mother used to say, 'bark. It may be someone who has business
there, or it may not. Bark first, and inquire afterwards. Dogs were
made to be heard and not seen.'
I lifted my head and yelled, I have a good, deep voice, due to a
hound strain in my pedigree, and at the public-house, when there was a
full moon, I have often had people leaning out of the windows and
saying things all down the street. I took a deep breath and let it go.
'Man!' I shouted. 'Bill! Man! Come quick! Here's a burglar getting
Then somebody struck a light, and it was the man himself. He had
come in through the window.
He picked up a stick, and he walloped me. I couldn't understand it.
I couldn't see where I had done the wrong thing. But he was the boss,
so there was nothing to be said.
If you'll believe me, that same thing happened every night. Every
single night! And sometimes twice or three times before morning. And
every time I would bark my loudest and the man would strike a light and
wallop me. The thing was baffling. I couldn't possibly have mistaken
what mother had said to me. She said it too often for that. Bark! Bark!
Bark! It was the main plank of her whole system of education. And yet,
here I was, getting walloped every night for doing it.
I thought it out till my head ached, and finally I got it right. I
began to see that mother's outlook was narrow. No doubt, living with a
man like master at the public-house, a man without a trace of shyness
in his composition, barking was all right. But circumstances alter
cases. I belonged to a man who was a mass of nerves, who got the jumps
if you spoke to him. What I had to do was to forget the training I had
had from mother, sound as it no doubt was as a general thing, and to
adapt myself to the needs of the particular man who had happened to buy
me. I had tried mother's way, and all it had brought me was walloping,
so now I would think for myself.
So next night, when I heard the window go, I lay there without a
word, though it went against all my better feelings. I didn't even
growl. Someone came in and moved about in the dark, with a lantern,
but, though I smelt that it was the man, I didn't ask him a single
question. And presently the man lit a light and came over to me and
gave me a pat, which was a thing he had never done before.
'Good dog!' he said. 'Now you can have this.'
And he let me lick out the saucepan in which the dinner had been
After that, we got on fine. Whenever I heard anyone at the window I
just kept curled up and took no notice, and every time I got a bone or
something good. It was easy, once you had got the hang of things.'
It was about a week after that the man took me out one morning, and
we walked a long way till we turned in at some big gates and went along
a very smooth road till we came to a great house, standing all by
itself in the middle of a whole lot of country. There was a big lawn in
front of it, and all round there were fields and trees, and at the back
a great wood.
The man rang a bell, and the door opened, and an old man came out.
'Well?' he said, not very cordially.
'I thought you might want to buy a good watch-dog,' said the man.
'Well, that's queer, your saying that,' said the caretaker. 'It's a
coincidence. That's exactly what I do want to buy. I was just thinking
of going along and trying to get one. My old dog picked up something
this morning that he oughtn't to have, and he's dead, poor feller.'
'Poor feller,' said the man. 'Found an old bone with phosphorus on
it, I guess.'
'What do you want for this one?'
'Is he a good watch-dog?'
'He's a grand watch-dog.'
'He looks fierce enough.'
So the caretaker gave the man his five shillings, and the man went
off and left me.
At first the newness of everything and the unaccustomed smells and
getting to know the caretaker, who was a nice old man, prevented my
missing the man, but as the day went on and I began to realize that he
had gone and would never come back, I got very depressed. I pattered
all over the house, whining. It was a most interesting house, bigger
than I thought a house could possibly be, but it couldn't cheer me up.
You may think it strange that I should pine for the man, after all the
wallopings he had given me, and it is odd, when you come to think of
it. But dogs are dogs, and they are built like that. By the time it was
evening I was thoroughly miserable. I found a shoe and an old
clothes-brush in one of the rooms, but could eat nothing. I just sat
It's a funny thing, but it seems as if it always happened that just
when you are feeling most miserable, something nice happens. As I sat
there, there came from outside the sound of a motor-bicycle, and
It was dear old Fred, my old pal Fred, the best old boy that ever
stepped. I recognized his voice in a second, and I was scratching at
the door before the old man had time to get up out of his chair.
Well, well, well! That was a pleasant surprise! I ran five times
round the lawn without stopping, and then I came back and jumped up at
'What are you doing down here, Fred?' I said. 'Is this caretaker
your father? Have you seen the rabbits in the wood? How long are you
going to stop? How's mother? I like the country. Have you come all the
way from the public-house? I'm living here now. Your father gave five
shillings for me. That's twice as much as I was worth when I saw you
'Why, it's young Nigger!' That was what they called me at the
saloon. 'What are you doing here? Where did you get this dog, father?'
'A man sold him to me this morning. Poor old Bob got poisoned. This
one ought to be just as good a watch-dog. He barks loud enough.'
'He should be. His mother is the best watch-dog in London. This
cheese-hound used to belong to the boss. Funny him getting down here.'
We went into the house and had supper. And after supper we sat and
talked. Fred was only down for the night, he said, because the boss
wanted him back next day.
'And I'd sooner have my job, than yours, dad,' he said. 'Of all the
lonely places! I wonder you aren't scared of burglars.'
'I've my shot-gun, and there's the dog. I might be scared if it
wasn't for him, but he kind of gives me confidence. Old Bob was the
same. Dogs are a comfort in the country.'
'Get many tramps here?'
'I've only seen one in two months, and that's the feller who sold me
the dog here.'
As they were talking about the man, I asked Fred if he knew him.
They might have met at the public-house, when the man was buying me
from the boss.
'You would like him,' I said. 'I wish you could have met.'
They both looked at me.
'What's he growling at?' asked Fred. 'Think he heard something?'
The old man laughed.
'He wasn't growling. He was talking in his sleep. You're nervous,
Fred. It comes of living in the city.'
'Well, I am. I like this place in the daytime, but it gives me the
pip at night. It's so quiet. How you can stand it here all the time, I
can't understand. Two nights of it would have me seeing things.'
His father laughed.
'If you feel like that, Fred, you had better take the gun to bed
with you. I shall be quite happy without it.'
'I will,' said Fred. 'I'll take six if you've got them.'
And after that they went upstairs. I had a basket in the hall, which
had belonged to Bob, the dog who had got poisoned. It was a comfortable
basket, but I was so excited at having met Fred again that I couldn't
sleep. Besides, there was a smell of mice somewhere, and I had to move
around, trying to place it.
I was just sniffing at a place in the wall, when I heard a
scratching noise. At first I thought it was the mice working in a
different place, but, when I listened, I found that the sound came from
the window. Somebody was doing something to it from outside.
If it had been mother, she would have lifted the roof off right
there, and so should I, if it hadn't been for what the man had taught
me. I didn't think it possible that this could be the man come back,
for he had gone away and said nothing about ever seeing me again. But I
didn't bark. I stopped where I was and listened. And presently the
window came open, and somebody began to climb in.
I gave a good sniff, and I knew it was the man.
I was so delighted that for a moment I nearly forgot myself and
shouted with joy, but I remembered in time how shy he was, and stopped
myself. But I ran to him and jumped up quite quietly, and he told me to
lie down. I was disappointed that he didn't seem more pleased to see
me. I lay down.
It was very dark, but he had brought a lantern with him, and I could
see him moving about the room, picking things up and putting them in a
bag which he had brought with him. Every now and then he would stop and
listen, and then he would start moving round again. He was very quick
about it, but very quiet. It was plain that he didn't want Fred or his
father to come down and find him.
I kept thinking about this peculiarity of his while I watched him. I
suppose, being chummy myself, I find it hard to understand that
everybody else in the world isn't chummy too. Of course, my experience
at the public-house had taught me that men are just as different from
each other as dogs. If I chewed master's shoe, for instance, he used to
kick me; but if I chewed Fred's, Fred would tickle me under the ear.
And, similarly, some men are shy and some men are mixers. I quite
appreciated that, but I couldn't help feeling that the man carried
shyness to a point where it became morbid. And he didn't give himself a
chance to cure himself of it. That was the point. Imagine a man hating
to meet people so much that he never visited their houses till the
middle of the night, when they were in bed and asleep. It was silly.
Shyness has always been something so outside my nature that I suppose I
have never really been able to look at it sympathetically. I have
always held the view that you can get over it if you make an effort.
The trouble with the man was that he wouldn't make an effort. He went
out of his way to avoid meeting people.
I was fond of the man. He was the sort of person you never get to
know very well, but we had been together for quite a while, and I
wouldn't have been a dog if I hadn't got attached to him.
As I sat and watched him creep about the room, it suddenly came to
me that here was a chance of doing him a real good turn in spite of
himself. Fred was upstairs, and Fred, as I knew by experience, was the
easiest man to get along with in the world. Nobody could be shy with
Fred. I felt that if only I could bring him and the man together, they
would get along splendidly, and it would teach the man not to be silly
and avoid people. It would help to give him the confidence which he
needed. I had seen him with Bill, and I knew that he could be perfectly
natural and easy when he liked.
It was true that the man might object at first, but after a while he
would see that I had acted simply for his good, and would be grateful.
The difficulty was, how to get Fred down without scaring the man. I
knew that if I shouted he wouldn't wait, but would be out of the window
and away before Fred could get there. What I had to do was to go to
Fred's room, explain the whole situation quietly to him, and ask him to
come down and make himself pleasant.
The man was far too busy to pay any attention to me. He was kneeling
in a corner with his back to me, putting something in his bag. I seized
the opportunity to steal softly from the room.
Fred's door was shut, and I could hear him snoring. I scratched
gently, and then harder, till I heard the snores stop. He got out of
bed and opened the door.
'Don't make a noise,' I whispered. 'Come on downstairs. I want you
to meet a friend of mine.'
At first he was quite peevish.
'What's the idea,' he said, 'coming and spoiling a man's
beauty-sleep? Get out.'
He actually started to go back into the room.
'No, honestly, Fred,' I said, 'I'm not fooling you. There is a man
downstairs. He got in through the window. I want you to meet him. He's
very shy, and I think it will do him good to have a chat with you.'
'What are you whining about?' Fred began, and then he broke off
suddenly and listened. We could both hear the man's footsteps as he
Fred jumped back into the room. He came out, carrying something. He
didn't say any more but started to go downstairs, very quiet, and I
went after him.
There was the man, still putting things in his bag. I was just going
to introduce Fred, when Fred, the silly ass, gave a great yell.
I could have bitten him.
'What did you want to do that for, you chump?' I said 'I told you he
was shy. Now you've scared him.'
He certainly had. The man was out of the window quicker than you
would have believed possible. He just flew out. I called after him that
it was only Fred and me, but at that moment a gun went off with a
tremendous bang, so he couldn't have heard me.
I was pretty sick about it. The whole thing had gone wrong. Fred
seemed to have lost his head entirely. He was behaving like a perfect
ass. Naturally the man had been frightened with him carrying on in that
way. I jumped out of the window to see if I could find the man and
explain, but he was gone. Fred jumped out after me, and nearly squashed
It was pitch dark out there. I couldn't see a thing. But I knew the
man could not have gone far, or I should have heard him. I started to
sniff round on the chance of picking up his trail. It wasn't long
before I struck it.
Fred's father had come down now, and they were running about. The
old man had a light. I followed the trail, and it ended at a large
cedar-tree, not far from the house. I stood underneath it and looked
up, but of course I could not see anything.
'Are you up there?' I shouted. 'There's nothing to be scared at. It
was only Fred. He's an old pal of mine. He works at the place where you
bought me. His gun went off by accident. He won't hurt you.'
There wasn't a sound. I began to think I must have made a mistake.
'He's got away,' I heard Fred say to his father, and just as he said
it I caught a faint sound of someone moving in the branches above me.
'No he hasn't!' I shouted. 'He's up this tree.'
'I believe the dog's found him, dad!'
'Yes, he's up here. Come along and meet him.'
Fred came to the foot of the tree.
'You up there,' he said, 'come along down.'
Not a sound from the tree.
'It's all right,' I explained, 'he is up there, but he's very
shy. Ask him again.'
'All right,' said Fred. 'Stay there if you want to. But I'm going to
shoot off this gun into the branches just for fun.'
And then the man started to come down. As soon as he touched the
ground I jumped up at him.
'This is fine!' I said 'Here's my friend Fred. You'll like him.'
But it wasn't any good. They didn't get along together at all. They
hardly spoke. The man went into the house, and Fred went after him,
carrying his gun. And when they got into the house it was just the
same. The man sat in one chair, and Fred sat in another, and after a
long time some men came in a motor-car, and the man went away with
them. He didn't say good-bye to me.
When he had gone, Fred and his father made a great fuss of me. I
couldn't understand it. Men are so odd. The man wasn't a bit pleased
that I had brought him and Fred together, but Fred seemed as if he
couldn't do enough for me for having introduced him to the man.
However, Fred's father produced some cold ham—my favourite dish—and
gave me quite a lot of it, so I stopped worrying over the thing. As
mother used to say, 'Don't bother your head about what doesn't concern
you. The only thing a dog need concern himself with is the
bill-of-fare. Eat your bun, and don't make yourself busy about other
people's affairs.' Mother's was in some ways a narrow outlook, but she
had a great fund of sterling common sense.
II. He Moves in Society
It was one of those things which are really nobody's fault. It was
not the chauffeur's fault, and it was not mine. I was having a friendly
turn-up with a pal of mine on the side-walk; he ran across the road; I
ran after him; and the car came round the corner and hit me. It must
have been going pretty slow, or I should have been killed. As it was, I
just had the breath knocked out of me. You know how you feel when the
butcher catches you just as you are edging out of the shop with a bit
of meat. It was like that.
I wasn't taking much interest in things for awhile, but when I did I
found that I was the centre of a group of three—the chauffeur, a small
boy, and the small boy's nurse.
The small boy was very well-dressed, and looked delicate. He was
'Poor doggie,' he said, 'poor doggie.'
'It wasn't my fault, Master Peter,' said the chauffeur respectfully.
'He run out into the road before I seen him.'
'That's right,' I put in, for I didn't want to get the man into
'Oh, he's not dead,' said the small boy. 'He barked.'
'He growled,' said the nurse. 'Come away, Master Peter. He might
Women are trying sometimes. It is almost as if they deliberately
'I won't come away. I'm going to take him home with me and send for
the doctor to come and see him. He's going to be my dog.'
This sounded all right. Goodness knows I am no snob, and can rough
it when required, but I do like comfort when it comes my way, and it
seemed to me that this was where I got it. And I liked the boy. He was
the right sort.
The nurse, a very unpleasant woman, had to make objections.
'Master Peter! You can't take him home, a great, rough, fierce,
common dog! What would your mother say?'
'I'm going to take him home,' repeated the child, with a
determination which I heartily admired, 'and he's going to be my dog. I
shall call him Fido.'
There's always a catch in these good things. Fido is a name I
particularly detest. All dogs do. There was a dog called that that I
knew once, and he used to get awfully sick when we shouted it out after
him in the street. No doubt there have been respectable dogs called
Fido, but to my mind it is a name like Aubrey or Clarence. You may be
able to live it down, but you start handicapped. However, one must take
the rough with the smooth, and I was prepared to yield the point.
'If you wait, Master Peter, your father will buy you a beautiful,
'I don't want a beautiful, lovely dog. I want this dog.'
The slur did not wound me. I have no illusions about my looks. Mine
is an honest, but not a beautiful, face.
'It's no use talking,' said the chauffeur, grinning. 'He means to
have him. Shove him in, and let's be getting back, or they'll be
thinking His Nibs has been kidnapped.'
So I was carried to the car. I could have walked, but I had an idea
that I had better not. I had made my hit as a crippled dog, and a
crippled dog I intended to remain till things got more settled down.
The chauffeur started the car off again. What with the shock I had
had and the luxury of riding in a motor-car, I was a little distrait,
and I could not say how far we went. But it must have been miles and
miles, for it seemed a long time afterwards that we stopped at the
biggest house I have ever seen. There were smooth lawns and
flower-beds, and men in overalls, and fountains and trees, and, away to
the right, kennels with about a million dogs in them, all pushing their
noses through the bars and shouting. They all wanted to know who I was
and what prizes I had won, and then I realized that I was moving in
I let the small boy pick me up and carry me into the house, though
it was all he could do, poor kid, for I was some weight. He staggered
up the steps and along a great hall, and then let me flop on the carpet
of the most beautiful room you ever saw. The carpet was a yard thick.
There was a woman sitting in a chair, and as soon as she saw me she
gave a shriek.
'I told Master Peter you would not be pleased, m'lady,' said the
nurse, who seemed to have taken a positive dislike to me, 'but he would
bring the nasty brute home.'
'He's not a nasty brute, mother. He's my dog, and his name's Fido.
John ran over him in the car, and I brought him home to live with us. I
This seemed to make an impression. Peter's mother looked as if she
'But, Peter, dear, I don't know what your father will say. He's so
particular about dogs. All his dogs are prize-winners, pedigree dogs.
This is such a mongrel.'
'A nasty, rough, ugly, common dog, m'lady,' said the nurse, sticking
her oar in in an absolutely uncalled-for way.
Just then a man came into the room.
'What on earth?' he said, catching sight of me.
'It's a dog Peter has brought home. He says he wants to keep him.'
'I'm going to keep him,' corrected Peter firmly.
I do like a child that knows his own mind. I was getting fonder of
Peter every minute. I reached up and licked his hand.
'See! He knows he's my dog, don't you, Fido? He licked me.'
'But, Peter, he looks so fierce.' This, unfortunately, is true. I do
look fierce. It is rather a misfortune for a perfectly peaceful dog.
'I'm sure it's not safe your having him.'
'He's my dog, and his name's Fido. I am going to tell cook to give
him a bone.'
His mother looked at his father, who gave rather a nasty laugh.
'My dear Helen,' he said, 'ever since Peter was born, ten years ago,
he has not asked for a single thing, to the best of my recollection,
which he has not got. Let us be consistent. I don't approve of this
caricature of a dog, but if Peter wants him, I suppose he must have
'Very well. But the first sign of viciousness he shows, he shall be
shot. He makes me nervous.'
So they left it at that, and I went off with Peter to get my bone.
After lunch, he took me to the kennels to introduce me to the other
dogs. I had to go, but I knew it would not be pleasant, and it wasn't.
Any dog will tell you what these prize-ribbon dogs are like. Their
heads are so swelled they have to go into their kennels backwards.
It was just as I had expected. There were mastiffs, terriers,
poodles, spaniels, bulldogs, sheepdogs, and every other kind of dog you
can imagine, all prize-winners at a hundred shows, and every single dog
in the place just shoved his head back and laughed himself sick. I
never felt so small in my life, and I was glad when it was over and
Peter took me off to the stables.
I was just feeling that I never wanted to see another dog in my
life, when a terrier ran out, shouting. As soon as he saw me, he came
up inquiringly, walking very stiff-legged, as terriers do when they see
'Well,' I said, 'and what particular sort of a prize-winner are you?
Tell me all about the ribbons they gave you at the Crystal Palace, and
let's get it over.'
He laughed in a way that did me good.
'Guess again!' he said. 'Did you take me for one of the nuts in the
kennels? My name's Jack, and I belong to one of the grooms.'
'What!' I cried. 'You aren't Champion Bowlegs Royal or anything of
that sort! I'm glad to meet you.'
So we rubbed noses as friendly as you please. It was a treat meeting
one of one's own sort. I had had enough of those high-toned dogs who
look at you as if you were something the garbage-man had forgotten to
'So you've been talking to the swells, have you?' said Jack.
'He would take me,' I said, pointing to Peter.
'Oh, you're his latest, are you? Then you're all right—while it
'How do you mean, while it lasts?'
'Well, I'll tell you what happened to me. Young Peter took a great
fancy to me once. Couldn't do enough for me for a while. Then he got
tired of me, and out I went. You see, the trouble is that while he's a
perfectly good kid, he has always had everything he wanted since he was
born, and he gets tired of things pretty easy. It was a toy railway
that finished me. Directly he got that, I might not have been on the
earth. It was lucky for me that Dick, my present old man, happened to
want a dog to keep down the rats, or goodness knows what might not have
happened to me. They aren't keen on dogs here unless they've pulled
down enough blue ribbons to sink a ship, and mongrels like you and
me—no offence—don't last long. I expect you noticed that the
grown-ups didn't exactly cheer when you arrived?'
'They weren't chummy.'
'Well take it from me, your only chance is to make them chummy. If
you do something to please them, they might let you stay on, even
though Peter was tired of you.'
'What sort of thing?'
'That's for you to think out. I couldn't find one. I might tell you
to save Peter from drowning. You don't need a pedigree to do that. But
you can't drag the kid to the lake and push him in. That's the trouble.
A dog gets so few opportunities. But, take it from me, if you don't do
something within two weeks to make yourself solid with the adults, you
can make your will. In two weeks Peter will have forgotten all about
you. It's not his fault. It's the way he has been brought up. His
father has all the money on earth, and Peter's the only child. You
can't blame him. All I say is, look out for yourself. Well, I'm glad to
have met you. Drop in again when you can. I can give you some good
ratting, and I have a bone or two put away. So long.'
* * * * *
It worried me badly what Jack had said. I couldn't get it out of my
mind. If it hadn't been for that, I should have had a great time, for
Peter certainly made a lot of fuss of me. He treated me as if I were
the only friend he had.
And, in a way, I was. When you are the only son of a man who has all
the money in the world, it seems that you aren't allowed to be like an
ordinary kid. They coop you up, as if you were something precious that
would be contaminated by contact with other children. In all the time
that I was at the house I never met another child. Peter had everything
in the world, except someone of his own age to go round with; and that
made him different from any of the kids I had known.
He liked talking to me. I was the only person round who really
understood him. He would talk by the hour and I would listen with my
tongue hanging out and nod now and then.
It was worth listening to, what he used to tell me. He told me the
most surprising things. I didn't know, for instance, that there were
any Red Indians in England but he said there was a chief named Big
Cloud who lived in the rhododendron bushes by the lake. I never found
him, though I went carefully through them one day. He also said that
there were pirates on the island in the lake. I never saw them either.
What he liked telling me about best was the city of gold and
precious stones which you came to if you walked far enough through the
woods at the back of the stables. He was always meaning to go off there
some day, and, from the way he described it, I didn't blame him. It was
certainly a pretty good city. It was just right for dogs, too, he said,
having bones and liver and sweet cakes there and everything else a dog
could want. It used to make my mouth water to listen to him.
We were never apart. I was with him all day, and I slept on the mat
in his room at night. But all the time I couldn't get out of my mind
what Jack had said. I nearly did once, for it seemed to me that I was
so necessary to Peter that nothing could separate us; but just as I was
feeling safe his father gave him a toy aeroplane, which flew when you
wound it up. The day he got it, I might not have been on the earth. I
trailed along, but he hadn't a word to say to me.
Well, something went wrong with the aeroplane the second day, and it
wouldn't fly, and then I was in solid again; but I had done some hard
thinking and I knew just where I stood. I was the newest toy, that's
what I was, and something newer might come along at any moment, and
then it would be the finish for me. The only thing for me was to do
something to impress the adults, just as Jack had said.
Goodness knows I tried. But everything I did turned out wrong. There
seemed to be a fate about it. One morning, for example, I was trotting
round the house early, and I met a fellow I could have sworn was a
burglar. He wasn't one of the family, and he wasn't one of the
servants, and he was hanging round the house in a most suspicious way.
I chased him up a tree, and it wasn't till the family came down to
breakfast, two hours later, that I found that he was a guest who had
arrived overnight, and had come out early to enjoy the freshness of the
morning and the sun shining on the lake, he being that sort of man.
That didn't help me much.
Next, I got in wrong with the boss, Peter's father. I don't know
why. I met him out in the park with another man, both carrying bundles
of sticks and looking very serious and earnest. Just as I reached him,
the boss lifted one of the sticks and hit a small white ball with it.
He had never seemed to want to play with me before, and I took it as a
great compliment. I raced after the ball, which he had hit quite a long
way, picked it up in my mouth, and brought it back to him. I laid it at
his feet, and smiled up at him.
'Hit it again,' I said.
He wasn't pleased at all. He said all sorts of things and tried to
kick me, and that night, when he thought I was not listening, I heard
him telling his wife that I was a pest and would have to be got rid of.
That made me think.
And then I put the lid on it. With the best intentions in the world
I got myself into such a mess that I thought the end had come.
It happened one afternoon in the drawing-room. There were visitors
that day—women; and women seem fatal to me. I was in the background,
trying not to be seen, for, though I had been brought in by Peter, the
family never liked my coming into the drawing-room. I was hoping for a
piece of cake and not paying much attention to the conversation, which
was all about somebody called Toto, whom I had not met. Peter's mother
said Toto was a sweet little darling, he was; and one of the visitors
said Toto had not been at all himself that day and she was quite
worried. And a good lot more about how all that Toto would ever take
for dinner was a little white meat of chicken, chopped up fine. It was
not very interesting, and I had allowed my attention to wander.
And just then, peeping round the corner of my chair to see if there
were any signs of cake, what should I see but a great beastly brute of
a rat. It was standing right beside the visitor, drinking milk out of a
saucer, if you please!
I may have my faults, but procrastination in the presence of rats is
not one of them. I didn't hesitate for a second. Here was my chance. If
there is one thing women hate, it is a rat. Mother always used to say,
'If you want to succeed in life, please the women. They are the real
bosses. The men don't count.' By eliminating this rodent I should earn
the gratitude and esteem of Peter's mother, and, if I did that, it did
not matter what Peter's father thought of me.
The rat hadn't a chance to get away. I was right on to him. I got
hold of his neck, gave him a couple of shakes, and chucked him across
the room. Then I ran across to finish him off.
Just as I reached him, he sat up and barked at me. I was never so
taken aback in my life. I pulled up short and stared at him.
'I'm sure I beg your pardon, sir,' I said apologetically. 'I thought
you were a rat.'
And then everything broke loose. Somebody got me by the collar,
somebody else hit me on the head with a parasol, and somebody else
kicked me in the ribs. Everybody talked and shouted at the same time.
'Poor darling Toto!' cried the visitor, snatching up the little
animal. 'Did the great savage brute try to murder you!'
'So absolutely unprovoked!'
'He just flew at the poor little thing!'
It was no good my trying to explain. Any dog in my place would have
made the same mistake. The creature was a toy-dog of one of those
extraordinary breeds—a prize-winner and champion, and so on, of
course, and worth his weight in gold. I would have done better to bite
the visitor than Toto. That much I gathered from the general run of the
conversation, and then, having discovered that the door was shut, I
edged under the sofa. I was embarrassed.
'That settles it!' said Peter's mother. 'The dog is not safe. He
must be shot.'
Peter gave a yell at this, but for once he didn't swing the voting
'Be quiet, Peter,' said his mother. 'It is not safe for you to have
such a dog. He may be mad.'
Women are very unreasonable.
Toto, of course, wouldn't say a word to explain how the mistake
arose. He was sitting on the visitor's lap, shrieking about what he
would have done to me if they hadn't separated us.
Somebody felt cautiously under the sofa. I recognized the shoes of
Weeks, the butler. I suppose they had rung for him to come and take me,
and I could see that he wasn't half liking it. I was sorry for Weeks,
who was a friend of mine, so I licked his hand, and that seemed to
cheer him up a whole lot.
'I have him now, madam,' I heard him say.
'Take him to the stables and tie him up, Weeks, and tell one of the
men to bring his gun and shoot him. He is not safe.'
A few minutes later I was in an empty stall, tied up to the manger.
It was all over. It had been pleasant while it lasted, but I had
reached the end of my tether now. I don't think I was frightened, but a
sense of pathos stole over me. I had meant so well. It seemed as if
good intentions went for nothing in this world. I had tried so hard to
please everybody, and this was the result—tied up in a dark stable,
waiting for the end.
The shadows lengthened in the stable-yard, and still nobody came. I
began to wonder if they had forgotten me, and presently, in spite of
myself, a faint hope began to spring up inside me that this might mean
that I was not to be shot after all. Perhaps Toto at the eleventh hour
had explained everything.
And then footsteps sounded outside, and the hope died away. I shut
Somebody put his arms round my neck, and my nose touched a warm
cheek. I opened my eyes. It was not the man with the gun come to shoot
me. It was Peter. He was breathing very hard, and he had been crying.
'Quiet!' he whispered.
He began to untie the rope.
'You must keep quite quiet, or they will hear us, and then we shall
be stopped. I'm going to take you into the woods, and we'll walk and
walk until we come to the city I told you about that's all gold and
diamonds, and we'll live there for the rest of our lives, and no one
will be able to hurt us. But you must keep very quiet.'
He went to the stable-gate and looked out. Then he gave a little
whistle to me to come after him. And we started out to find the city.
The woods were a long way away, down a hill of long grass and across
a stream; and we went very carefully, keeping in the shadows and
running across the open spaces. And every now and then we would stop
and look back, but there was nobody to be seen. The sun was setting,
and everything was very cool and quiet.
Presently we came to the stream and crossed it by a little wooden
bridge, and then we were in the woods, where nobody could see us.
I had never been in the woods before, and everything was very new
and exciting to me. There were squirrels and rabbits and birds, more
than I had ever seen in my life, and little things that buzzed and flew
and tickled my ears. I wanted to rush about and look at everything, but
Peter called to me, and I came to heel. He knew where we were going,
and I didn't, so I let him lead.
We went very slowly. The wood got thicker and thicker the farther we
got into it. There were bushes that were difficult to push through, and
long branches, covered with thorns, that reached out at you and tore at
you when you tried to get away. And soon it was quite dark, so dark
that I could see nothing, not even Peter, though he was so close. We
went slower and slower, and the darkness was full of queer noises. From
time to time Peter would stop, and I would run to him and put my nose
in his hand. At first he patted me, but after a while he did not pat me
any more, but just gave me his hand to lick, as if it was too much for
him to lift it. I think he was getting very tired. He was quite a small
boy and not strong, and we had walked a long way.
It seemed to be getting darker and darker. I could hear the sound of
Peter's footsteps, and they seemed to drag as he forced his way through
the bushes. And then, quite suddenly, he sat down without any warning,
and when I ran up I heard him crying.
I suppose there are lots of dogs who would have known exactly the
right thing to do, but I could not think of anything except to put my
nose against his cheek and whine. He put his arm round my neck, and for
a long time we stayed like that, saying nothing. It seemed to comfort
him, for after a time he stopped crying.
I did not bother him by asking about the wonderful city where we
were going, for he was so tired. But I could not help wondering if we
were near it. There was not a sign of any city, nothing but darkness
and odd noises and the wind singing in the trees. Curious little
animals, such as I had never smelt before, came creeping out of the
bushes to look at us. I would have chased them, but Peter's arm was
round my neck and I could not leave him. But when something that smelt
like a rabbit came so near that I could have reached out a paw and
touched it, I turned my head and snapped; and then they all scurried
back into the bushes and there were no more noises.
There was a long silence. Then Peter gave a great gulp.
'I'm not frightened,' he said. 'I'm not!'
I shoved my head closer against his chest. There was another silence
for a long time.
'I'm going to pretend we have been captured by brigands,' said Peter
at last. 'Are you listening? There were three of them, great big men
with beards, and they crept up behind me and snatched me up and took me
out here to their lair. This is their lair. One was called Dick, the
others' names were Ted and Alfred. They took hold of me and brought me
all the way through the wood till we got here, and then they went off,
meaning to come back soon. And while they were away, you missed me and
tracked me through the woods till you found me here. And then the
brigands came back, and they didn't know you were here, and you kept
quite quiet till Dick was quite near, and then you jumped out and bit
him and he ran away. And then you bit Ted and you bit Alfred, and they
ran away too. And so we were left all alone, and I was quite safe
because you were here to look after me. And then—And then—'
His voice died away, and the arm that was round my neck went limp,
and I could hear by his breathing that he was asleep. His head was
resting on my back, but I didn't move. I wriggled a little closer to
make him as comfortable as I could, and then I went to sleep myself.
I didn't sleep very well I had funny dreams all the time, thinking
these little animals were creeping up close enough out of the bushes
for me to get a snap at them without disturbing Peter.
If I woke once, I woke a dozen times, but there was never anything
there. The wind sang in the trees and the bushes rustled, and far away
in the distance the frogs were calling.
And then I woke once more with the feeling that this time something
really was coming through the bushes. I lifted my head as far as I
could, and listened. For a little while nothing happened, and then,
straight in front of me, I saw lights. And there was a sound of
trampling in the undergrowth.
It was no time to think about not waking Peter. This was something
definite, something that had to be attended to quick. I was up with a
jump, yelling. Peter rolled off my back and woke up, and he sat there
listening, while I stood with my front paws on him and shouted at the
men. I was bristling all over. I didn't know who they were or what they
wanted, but the way I looked at it was that anything could happen in
those woods at that time of night, and, if anybody was coming along to
start something, he had got to reckon with me.
Somebody called, 'Peter! Are you there, Peter?'
There was a crashing in the bushes, the lights came nearer and
nearer, and then somebody said 'Here he is!' and there was a lot of
shouting. I stood where I was, ready to spring if necessary, for I was
taking no chances.
'Who are you?' I shouted. 'What do you want?' A light flashed in my
'Why, it's that dog!'
Somebody came into the light, and I saw it was the boss. He was
looking very anxious and scared, and he scooped Peter up off the ground
and hugged him tight.
Peter was only half awake. He looked up at the boss drowsily, and
began to talk about brigands, and Dick and Ted and Alfred, the same as
he had said to me. There wasn't a sound till he had finished. Then the
'Kidnappers! I thought as much. And the dog drove them away!'
For the first time in our acquaintance he actually patted me.
'Good old man!' he said.
'He's my dog,' said Peter sleepily, 'and he isn't to be shot.'
'He certainly isn't, my boy,' said the boss. 'From now on he's the
honoured guest. He shall wear a gold collar and order what he wants for
dinner. And now let's be getting home. It's time you were in bed.'
* * * * *
Mother used to say, 'If you're a good dog, you will be happy. If
you're not, you won't,' but it seems to me that in this world it is all
a matter of luck. When I did everything I could to please people, they
wanted to shoot me; and when I did nothing except run away, they
brought me back and treated me better than the most valuable
prize-winner in the kennels. It was puzzling at first, but one day I
heard the boss talking to a friend who had come down from the city.
The friend looked at me and said, 'What an ugly mongrel! Why on
earth do you have him about? I thought you were so particular about
And the boss replied, 'He may be a mongrel, but he can have anything
he wants in this house. Didn't you hear how he saved Peter from being
And out it all came about the brigands.
'The kid called them brigands,' said the boss. 'I suppose that's how
it would strike a child of that age. But he kept mentioning the name
Dick, and that put the police on the scent. It seems there's a
kidnapper well known to the police all over the country as Dick the
Snatcher. It was almost certainly that scoundrel and his gang. How they
spirited the child away, goodness knows, but they managed it, and the
dog tracked them and scared them off. We found him and Peter together
in the woods. It was a narrow escape, and we have to thank this animal
here for it.'
What could I say? It was no more use trying to put them right than
it had been when I mistook Toto for a rat. Peter had gone to sleep that
night pretending about the brigands to pass the time, and when he awoke
he still believed in them. He was that sort of child. There was nothing
that I could do about it.
Round the corner, as the boss was speaking, I saw the kennel-man
coming with a plate in his hand. It smelt fine, and he was headed
straight for me.
He put the plate down before me. It was liver, which I love.
'Yes,' went on the boss, 'if it hadn't been for him, Peter would
have been kidnapped and scared half to death, and I should be poorer, I
suppose, by whatever the scoundrels had chosen to hold me up for.'
I am an honest dog, and hate to obtain credit under false pretences,
but—liver is liver. I let it go at that.