FICTION

Love My Dog

So far as George and Carol were concerned it was a case of: While there's a dog there's hope

JOHN REID BYERS November 15 1936
FICTION

Love My Dog

So far as George and Carol were concerned it was a case of: While there's a dog there's hope

JOHN REID BYERS November 15 1936

Love My Dog

So far as George and Carol were concerned it was a case of: While there's a dog there's hope

JOHN REID BYERS

GEORGE’S first foggy mental reaction took the form of an awed tribute to his grandmother’s ability to divine the future. Nearly twenty years ago that indignant lady had tried to convince him that boys who smoked cornsilk cigarettes behind the barn invariably ended in the gutter. And his grandmother had been right. One bruised elbow now rested on the curb; but the rest of George Martin was unquestionably stretched at full length in the gutter. 1 loisting himself cautiously to his hands and knees, George turned an apprehensive head to see if he could discover the nature of the thunderbolt which had put him where he was.

lie found himself gazing incredulously up at the shaggy, fawn-colored head, and into the excited dark eyes of the largest dog he had ever seen. The largest dog, he thought dazedly, that anybody had ever seen or even ventured to imagine. It was straining eagerly toward him, but there seemed to be no animosity in its repeated lunges or in the fervent whimperings that accompanied them. On the contrary, there was something almost ecstatically affectionate about those soft whimperings; and as one sudden plunge brought the great dog a foot closer, a long red tongue shot out to rasp moistly across George’s chin.

“If—if you’re able to get up,” a voice somewhere above him was saying breathlessly, “I’ll try to keep him from knocking you down again. But please hurry ! I can’t hold him much longer.”

George tilted his head and for the first time observed that a girl was attached to the dog’s collar. She looked very small beside the huge fawn-colored brute, and she seemed to consist entirely of various shades of brown. Dark brown hair that clustered about her head in small moist tendrils; a delicately tanned brown face; bare arms some two shades darker than that face; a sleeveless linen frock a trifle lighter than the arms; and an immense pair of brown leather gardening gloves. It was slightly disconcerting to discover that her eyes were a dark and particularly effective blue. At the instant they were wide with concern.

“I’m awfully sorry,” she panted. “And I do hope you’re not hurt.”

George scrambled to his feet, retreated three quick steps and leaned, still a little dizzily, against the door of his car.

“I don’t think I am,” he managed to say. “But—but what happened, anyway?”

“He jumped on you. From behind. He just wanted to •—to attract your attention. He’s really awfully affectionate; he likes practically everybody. But he will jump on people.”

Dragging the girl with him, the dog was advancing purposefully upon George. For an instant George considered leaping into his car and slamming the door. But his head was beginning to clear—and he was looking at the girl in brown. After all, wasn’t he fond of dogs? He decided that he was.

“If you’d just pat him,” the girl was saying, “or rub his ears, or speak to him, he might quiet down. His name’s Banshee.”

George extended a slightly dubious hand and patted the dog’s shaggy skull. “Good dog. Banshee!” he murmured in a voice that lacked something of entire conviction.

Banshee surged two feet nearer and pressed his towering head against George’s tweed vest. George nibbed his ears cautiously. Banshee emitted a low moan of sheer bliss and closed his eyes. Slowly the girl released her grip on his collar.

“He does like practically everybody,” she repeated. “But I never saw him so—so enthusiastic about a stranger before ... I suppose there must be something especially attractive about the way you smell,” she concluded thoughtfully.

George reddened, but managed a rather feeble grin. “He’s an Irish wolfhound, isn’t he?” he asked conversationally. “I never saw one in the flesh before.” Then George’s eyes widened suddenly and George’s jaw sagged. “Great Scott! Why, you must be Carol!” he exclaimed. For a moment he stared unbelievingly across Banshee’s head at the girl in brown. “But—but I’d never have guessed it if I’d met you anywhere else. The last time I saw you, you were mostly legs and elbows, and you had those horrible-looking bands on your teeth. Why, nobody ever thought you’d be pretty!”

The girl’s blue eyes had cooled abruptly. Now the girl’s chin rose angrily.

“Yes?” she enquired icily. “How interesting! But if I’m supposed to recognize you as a friend of my unfortunate childhood, I’m afraid I don’t . . . Banshee, I think we should be getting back to the roses.”

Her voice was frigidly imperative, and Banshee seemed to sense the necessity for obedience. Reluctantly he removed his head from George’s vest and turned to follow her. In another minute girl and giant dog had passed through the gate and vanished behind the tali laurel hedge. Banshee looked back wistfully once. Carol did not look back at all.

GEORGE STOOD where he was for several unhappy minutes. Then he, too, moved slowly through the gate. He made three steps in the direction the girl had taken; then stopped and shook his head. After another minute he began to walk, still slowly, up the winding path which led to the sprawling vine-covered house. Across the velvety lawn he could see the tennis court and the sunny glimmer of the swimming pool. Nothing had changed in the seven years since George had last walked up that winding path. Nothing, that is, except Carol Montgomery!

But if Carol had not recognized him, Carol’s mother did; without hesitation and with every sign of pleasure.

“Why, George Martin !” she cried. “How nice to see you again ! Though it doesn’t seem longer ago than last month that Ted was bringing you home from college over the holidays. And now Ted’s in London, and you’re studding the country with dams and bridges and railroads and skyscrapers. But sit down and tell me all about yourself. You were in Mexico the last time I heard from Ted. Are you going to be in town long?”

George found himself a chair on the wide, pleasantly oldfashioned porch. “All summer, I guess. I’m slated to go to China on a big flood-control job, but work on it won’t start till fall, and my firm shot me out here to fill in for a sick man until then. We have the contract for the big warehouse that’s going up at Second and Main, you know.”

“How splendid ! And did you like Mexico, George? But wait until I call Carol. She’s somewhere in the garden, and she’ll want to hear about it.”

George shifted his feet apprehensively.

“I—I don’t believe I’d call her right now, Mrs. Montgomery. I’m afraid she’s pretty . . . You see, I met her and ...” In melancholy detail George recounted his meeting with Carol and with Banshee. Mrs. Montgomery’s shoulders were shaking long before he had finished.

“Oh, George!” she gasped. “I can see that your perfect gift for—for putting your foot in it hasn’t diminished with the years.” She paused long enough to wipe her eyes. “Carol must have been about fourteen the last time you saw her,” she went on, a little less mirthfully. “And she ivas principally elbows then. The horrible part of it is that she kept on being that way for years; we all thought that her awkward age was going to last forever. Why, she was nearly eighteen before you could trust her to come into a room without knocking over at least three things. And naturally she’s still pretty sensitive on the subject.”

“I rather gathered that,” George said meekly. “Look here, Mrs. Montgomery. “Would it—well, help any if I hunted her up now and apologized?”

Carol’s mother shook her head firmly.

“If you’ll take my advice you’ll simply let oblivion cover the distressing incident, George. Carol won’t hold it against you forever. And if you were to try your hand at apologizing you’d probably wind up by reminding her of the Christmas when she ate too many cranberries and was taken sick immediately after dinner, or something equally tactful . . . But tell me, George—are your bags out in the car? Because if they are, you’re to bring them in at once.” “Oh, really, Mrs. Montgomery,” George protested. “It’s awfully nice of you, but I have a perfectly comfortable room at the hotel.’’

Mrs. Montgomery eyed him sternly.

"George, even if 1 wanted to see you s|x*nd a hot summer in a stifling hotel room, Ted would disown me the minute he learned about it. You will now get back in your car and go after your bags. And 1 won’t listen to any arguments!” George argued conventionally; but without either hoping or wishing to win. And at eight that night George was sitting down to one of the well-remembered Montgomery dinners in the familiar Montgomery dining room. But George was not quite enjoying his dinner. For Carol Montgomery was wearing neither the linen frock nor the brown gardening gloves now. And from the third-finger of Carol’s left hand a two-carat diamond winked bluewhite defiance at George.

HPHE EXCELLENCE of the dinner, however, was not quite without effect.

"It might be just a passing affair.” George told himself hopefully over his dessert. “Maybe he’s no good and she’ll find it out in time. Or something might happen to him.” And George thought optimistically of falling elevators, of plane crashes and of the latest statistics on automobile accidents. After all, Carol seemed to have decided to pretend that the episode in front of the house had never occurred, and she had greeted him with much the casual cordiality which her father had exhibited.

Coffee was served in the Montgomery library. Comfortably seated there, balancing his half-empty cup and explaining multiple-arch dams to Mr. Montgomery, George had reached an intricate point of engineering reminiscence when Banshee lounged into the room. George stopped talking and stared at him. almost with awe. Out-of-doors, Banshee was merely an extremely large dog; but inside the house he seemed literally to extend in all directions.

"He always comes in after dinner.” Carol explained. "But lie down now. Banshee.”

Banshee acknowledged the command with a whisk of his long tail; but Banshee continued to move happily toward George’s eha;r.

"He just minds when he feels it’s absolutely necessary,” Carol sighed. “See if you can make him lie down, George.” Banshee was some six feet away now. George raised his free hand and pointed an authoritative finger. “Down, sir!” he said sternly. Banshee paused in midstride. Then, slowly, he began to settle toward the floor. George smiled proudly.

But George had smiled a split second too soon. Banshee was not lying down. Banshee was merely crouching; and now Banshee sprang. With al! four feet tucked neatly together, he landed in George’s lap. George’s lap was slightly inadequate for Banshee’s bulk; George’s chair had never been designed to contain both George and 150 pounds of hurtling Irish wolfhound. The chair went over backward; George and Banshee and George’s coffee cup finished in a confused heap on the floor behind it. George’s left ear was full of coffee, but Banshee had managed to lick most of it away before Carol and Mr. Montgomery' were able to drag him off George.

The Montgomeries were concernedly apologetic; even Carol seemed to feel that Banshee had gone a step too far. But George rose from the floor with a loud, if not particularly real laugh.

"No damage done,” he insisted cheerfully. "And I’m awfully glad he’s taken such a fancy to me. I’m very fond of dogs.” He even patted Banshee, who immediately knocked Carol’s coffee cup from the table with an exuberant wag of his tail.

Carol gave him a peculiarly effective smile.

“I’m so glad you feel that way about him.” she said happily. “Because you'll he here all summer, and you can play with Banshee. He loves to romp, you know. But I’m not nearly big enough to cojx* with him, and dad says he’s too old and stiff, and the gardener says it’s bad for his varicose veins. But you . She was surveying George’s well-muscled 180 pounds with obvious approval.

George retreated to his room to change his coffee-stained shirt. When he returned. Mr. and Mrs. Montgomery and Banshee still occupied the library, but Carol was gone.

“Peter Waring called to take her somewhere,” Mrs. Montgomery explained. “I don’t think you ever met any of the Warings, George. They were in Europe most of the time when you used to come home with Ted. Peter and Caroi are engaged, you know.”

George hoped that his polite smile was a success.

“Oh, yes.” he murmured. “Er—I suppose they’ll be getting married soon, won’t they?”

“They haven’t set any date yet. Carol has talked about some time in November; but it’s not settled.”

George’s breathing grew easier. It was only mid-July. A great deal could happen between mid-July and some time in November. And didn’t the fact that Carol hadn’t set a definite date imply that she secretly realized there was something wrong with this Waring fellow? George decided that it very possibly did. But in Carol's absence he felt no particular inclination to resume his lecture on multiple-arch dams. Pleading fatigue, he announced that he would like to go to bed early. It was only with some difficulty that Banshee was dissuaded from accompanying him.

George’s room was cool and quiet; George’s bed wide and comfortable. George’s sleep should liave been dreamless. But it seemed that the date of the Chinese contract had been unexpectedly advanced, and George had been sent out to China as assistant superintendent. And then George had been captured by a band of pig-tailed Chinese bandits, who were demanding Carol Montgomery’s engagement ring as his ransom. But Carol who was somehow there, dressed in the brown linen gardening frock— had frowningly refused to surrender it, while the diamond itself sneered brightly at George from her finger. Sr) quite naturally the bandits were torturing George to death; and they were Ixiginning by cutting off his legs with a dull saw.

George blinked uncertainly at the dark ceiling of his room. It was a minute before he entirely realized that he was awake; another before he remembered where he was. And then he discovered that, dream or not. something had hapjxmed to his legs. They felt crushed and dead; he could not seem to move them. But lie could move his arms, and with one hand he jerked the bed lamp on. Then he swore softly. For Banshee lay sprawled across two thirds of the he'd, his great head resting comfortably upon George’s legs. Banshee was sleeping contentedly; but at George’s next attempt to move he wakened, yawned happily and began to flog the of the bed with his tail.

“Get down, sir!” George said in an indignant whisper. The tempo of the thumping tail increased, but the other parts of Banshee’s far-flung anatomy gave no indication of removing themselves. George looked at his watch. It was several minutes after three. Painfully he withdrew his paralyzed legs from beneath Banshee's head, swung them over the side of the bed and stumped as noiselessly as he could to the half-open door. “Come, Banshee !” he hissed imperatively. “Get out of here !” Banshee’s dark eyes were lovingly soft; but Banshee stayed where lie was.

At the end of fifteen minutes George still at the floor. Banshee still reclined ujxm the bed. Neither sotto voce cajoleries nor profanely whisix-red commands had the slightest effect ujx>n him. And any attempt to drag him into the hall would undoubtedly wake everytxxiy in the house. George sighed and accepted the situation. Returning to his bed, he disposed himself as comfortably as he could along the edge which Banshee had left him. He still, he reminded himself conscientiously as he dropped oft into the first of a series of broken slumbers, was fond of dogs. But tomorrow night he would lock his door!

Banshee had vanished when George woke the next morning. George did not see him again until he returned from a busy day supervising the pouring of several hundred yards of concrete at the warehouse. But Banshee and Carol were waiting for him then. And while Carol looked delightedly on, George played with Banshee. Banshee’s idea ol play combined the more violent features of football, hockey, catch-as-catch-can wrestling and an Indian massacre. The game ended with George flat on his back in a flower bed and Banshee, with both forefeet firmly planted on George’s stomach, harking in excited triumph.

Continued on page 58

Love My Dog

Continued from page 17 Starts on page 16

"It's probably a good thing that engineers wear their old clothes to work, isn’t it?" Carol observed thoughtfully when a badly dishevelled George finally joined her on tlie pordi. "But Banshee loved every minute of it . . . Do you feel up to a swim before dinner? If you do, I'll meet you at the pool.”

George felt somewhat better after the swim. After all, he told himself hojiefully, Banshee's devotion to him would probably moderate in f imc.

But at the end of ten days time George had grown gloomily sure that neither time nor custom seemed likely to wither the tine flower of Banshee’s untiring and very strenuous affection. George develojxd the Ix’ginnings of a hunted look and a deep sympathy for the forlorn Irish wolves who had lx:en exterminated by Banshee’s ancestors. Any physical efforts to discourage Banshee’s advances were quite obviously impossible now, and Banshee proved impervious to any more subtle rebutís. George even rememlxxed Carol’s first unflattering theory as to the source of his charm, and acted upon it. He purchased new and unpleasant brands of shaving cream, of tooth powder, of hath soap and employed them diligently. He even, for one horrible day, carried a scented handkerchief in the breast pocket of his coat. Everyone else with whom George came into contact that day seemed decidedly aware of the handkerchief; but it had not the slightest effect upon the happy exuberance of Banshee’s greeting that evening.

And as the days passed George found himself becoming more and more able to accept Banshee much as he would have accepted a thunderstorm; as something inevitable and elemental, which must he smilingly endured. There were even moments when he derived a certain morbid pleasure from Banshee’s dogged preference for him. It was nice to think that one living creature could prefer him to Peter Waring. For George had met Peter \\ aring several times. And if there was anything wrong with Peter, George was mournfully unable to discern it.

PETER WAS twenty-seven. Peter was lean and dark and strikingly handsome.

1 landsome enough to stroll into any 1 lollywood studio and name his own terms, George thought morosely, if it hadn’t been for the fact that Peter was also disgustingly rich. Peter had been educated at Oxford, but had discarded his Oxford accent while retaining his London tailor. Peter had hunted lions in Africa, tigers in Burma, grizzlies in the Rockies; but Peter never boasted of his exploits. Peter played ]x>lo. Peter won steeplechases and jxiint-to-ixiint races. And Peter beat George at tennis with ridiculous ease. The one thing in the world that Peter Waring seemed unable to do supremely well was to win Banshee’s heart.

Not that George had ever seen him try. Peter always sjx>ke pleasantly to Banshee; Banshee always raised his ears politely at Peter’s approach. But that was all.

”It isn’t Peter’s fault.” Carol told George once as they lingered at the swimming |xx>1 after Peter had left them. "And of course it isn’t poor Banshee’s. But the Warings are horsey people. They’ve never gone in for dogs as well, just dogs. Their dogs have always been carefully kennelled foxhounds or Ixagles or jxiinters or something useful. Never sjxiiled ix?ts like Banshee. Because he is spoiled, and it’s all my fault. But I've had him ever since he was just a tiny pup not much bigger than an Airedale ... Of course,” she added reflectively, "it would he nice if Banshee and Peter were—were the way you and he are. But I’m not going to let myself be silly about it.”

For several days after that George went out of his way to make much of Banshee, quite regardless of the resultant bruises. He even volunteered to give Banshee a hath under Carol’s supervision one Sunday morning. There was a great deal of Banshee to bathe, and Banshee did not take kindly to the process. And when George looked at Peter Waring that afternoon he realized gloomily that it had been a completely wasted effort.

It was during the second week of August that Peter left the city to keep a |x>loplaying engagement. He was to be gone for three clays. Carol spent the first two of her unoccupied evenings at home. On the third night George nerved himself to risk a refusal.

“Would you like to go to the movies tonight, Carol?” he asked. “I mean—well, there are two or three pretty good pictures in town, and I thought ...”

Carol accepted with hesitation. The picture they saw proved to lx; one at which you were supposed to laugh. Both Carol and George laughed a great deal. And ¡ after the show they drove out to one of the amusingly rowdy little pavilions on the | lake and danced. Carol seemed to be I enjoying the evening, and George too j enjoyed it during the infrequent moments I when he was not remembering Peter Waring’s perfections—and the fact that Peter Waring would be back tomorrow.

In the Montgomery hall George suddenly thought of something.

“Look here, you don’t think Peter will mind my taking you out tonight, do you?” he asked.

Carol smiled.

“Somehow I can’t quite imagine Peter being jealous,” she said. She did not add “of you” but her eyes seemed to imply the words. Then her smile tightened a little. “But if he should be, you am always explain that you knew me when I was a horrible-looking child with bands on my teeth, can’t you?”

George felt himself flushing hotly.

“Aren’t you ever going to forget that?” he demanded bitterly.

Carol shook her head.

“Never,” she said. “It’s not the kind of tiling that a girl with any pride would ever forget.”

“I wanted to—to try to apologize. But your mother said ...” George drew in an uneven breath. “I supjxise you don’t know that I—that I’m in love with you!” he finished grimly.

CAROL’S smile had vanished abruptly. Her eyes were wide and startled.

“Oh !” she said softly. There was a brief, unpleasant silence. Carol broke it first. "Is that all you wanted to say?” she asked quietly.

George’s eyes dropped from Carol’s tightly expressionless face to the costly taunt that glittered on Carol’s third finger. Then George turned toward the stairs.

“I just wanted you to know,” he said between his teeth as he stumbled over the first step.

Carol and Banshee were walking in the rose garden when George came downstairs the next morning. George sought them out nervously. Carol looked at him once, quickly, then she at something at the other end of the garden. Her face was still stiff and tight, her chin held very high.

“Carol, I wanted to ask if—if you wouldn’t pretend that I didn’t say anything last night,” George stammered.

Carol was still interested in the something at the far end of the garden. It was a minute before she replied. “All right. We’ll let it go that way,” she said tonelessly.

Carol smiled brightly at everybody during breakfast. George did not smile at all. As he drove to work he thought wildly for a moment of moving back to the hotel. But in the back of his mind he was fully aware that he would do no such thing. Not only would he be offending Mrs. Montgomery, but he would deprive himself of the privilege of even seeing Carol. No, he would stay on at the Montgomerys’; he would play with Banshee—George’s mouth hardened. “Waring ought to do that, curse him !” he thought. The idea of Peter Waring playing one of Banshee’s games possessed a morbid fascination; it stayed with George for several blocks. And suddenly George gasped. “Lord! If 1 could just find out the name of that stuif!” he muttered.

During the noon hour he visited a drug store.

“There’s something that dogs are suj> ixised to go crazy about,” he began abruptly. “The way cats do about catnip. They use it to lay the scent for drag hunts, too. Do you know what it is?” he demanded of the druggist.

“Probably aniseed oil. Dogs are supposed to like it. I’ve heard of jxiople using it when they wanted to steal a dog. I don’t supixise that’s what you want it for, though,” the druggist smiled.

George laughed harshly.

“Steal a dog! I want to—to unsteal one.” The need to confide his troubles in someone was strong. The druggist received a terse synopsis of his predicament.

“I get it.” The druggist was nodding sympathetically. “You figure if this other fellow’s going to get the girl, he ought to take this hound off the back of your neck, too. Well, the aniseed might do it. And a dime’s worth’ll be enough to find out.”

IT WAS several days before George was given an opportunity to employ the precious vial which nestled in his jxrcket.

I Airing those days Carol’s attitude was one of the same casual friendliness which she had shown in the past. George doubted if even Carol’s mother would be able to see that anything had hapixmed. But George noticed that Carol deftly avoided being alone with him, and that she never came out to watch the nightly romps with Banshee which had become a regular feature of George’s homecomings.

But on the third evening George returned to find Carol and Peter Waring playing tennis, and Peter’s blazer lying on the bench beside the court. George strolled across the lawn and seated himself close to the blazer. Five minutes later, when George moved to the other end of the bench, half the contents of the vial had been sprinkled over Peter’s blazer. Then, with Banshee’s vast length stretched at his feet, George waited nervously.

The set ended at last. Carol and Peter walked off the court and stood talking to George as Peter slipped into the blazer. Banshee' had risen at their approach. Ilis nose was now only inches from that blazer. George watched him tensely. Banshee sniffed once enquiringly; but then Banshee turned away. Carol and Peter strolled oil toward the house. Banshee looked after them for a minute, then turned to lay an impatient paw on George’s knee. It was, Banshee plainly indicated, the hour for their evening game George sighed, and rose obediently to his feet. “Oh, all right,” he told Banshee hopelessly.

IS TOUR SUBSCRIPTION DUE?

Subscribers receiving notice of the approaching expiration of their subscriptions are reminded of the necessity of sending in their renewal orders promptly.

The demand for copies to fill new orders is so great that we cannot guarantee the mailing of even a single issue beyond the period covered by your subscription. To avoid disappointment, your renewal order should be mailed to us promptly when you receive the "expiration” notice. George visited his confidant, the druggist, on his way to the warehouse the next morning.

“Well, it didn’t work.” he announced forlornly. “The dog smelled it, but it didn’t seem to mean a thing to him. Isn’t there anything else I could try?”

The druggist pursed his lips dubiously. ¡

“Some aits don’t care about catnip, either,” he volunteered. “Something else? I Well, offhand I don’t know of anything.

But if you’d like to drop in on your wayhome tonight, I’ll take a look at some txx>ks I have. I might find something.”

And the druggist was beaming proudly when George returned that evening.

“Here’s something that might do the job,” he said, displaying another small vial. “It’s a formula 1 found in one of the books. Trapjiers use it to attract wolves.

It seems to me as if anything that would attract a wolf ought to interest a dog too.”

Peter and Carol had gone sailing in Peter’s six-metre boat that afternoon. George had no opixirtunity to test the virtues of the druggist’s formula. But they were playing tennis the next day; and i once more Peter’s blazer lay u]x>n the bench. Before Peter donned it again, George had managed to anoint it judiciously with the contents of the new vial.

“Well, how’s the warehouse coming along. George?” Peter asked carelessly as he picked up his racket. He ncxlded with a genial lack of interest at George's reply. “Well, I’ll have to be getting along, Carol.

See you this evening.” And he stnxle briskly across tire lawn in the direction of his car.

Banshee lay drowsing some thirty feet away. He raised his head suddenly as j Peter moved past him. Then he scrambled to his feet. He stood motionless for a minute, his nose wrinkled questioningly. Then, with a sharp, excited bark, he bounded after Peter, caught up with him and began to gambol delightedly at his side, rubbing his great head affectionately against Peter’s blazer.

Carol gasjied.

“Do do you see that, George?” she whis|X‘red. “Why, Banshee’s decided that he likes Peter after all !”

George was staring raptly after Banshee and Peter Waring. Once, in the exuberance of his newly-found infatuation, Banshee shouldered Peter off the path and into a flower bed. George waited hopefully for the moment when Banshee would knock Peter down. It did not occur; but Banshee pranced beside him until he had reached the shelter of his car, and was kept from entering it with him only by determined action on Peter’s part. George turned slowly to look at Carol. Carol’s face was almost more startled than pleased.

“Aren’t you glad?” George demanded.

Carol’s face cleared quickly, a little defiantly.

“Of course I am! Very glad! But—it was so sudden.”

THE NEXT DAY was Saturday, and George reached home early in the afternoon. Carol, very crisp and trim in yachting attire, stood with Banshee near the swimming pool. A little against his will, George crossed the lawn to join them. “You’re going out?” he enquired inanely. Carol gave him one of the slightly brittle smiles which she reserved for their infrequent moments alone.

“Peter’s taking me sailing,” she informed him. “He ought to be here any minute now.” She looked toward the gate and waved a welcoming hand. “There he is now.”

Banshee, too. had seen Peter. And with an eager whine, Banshee leajx-d from Carol’s side and gallojx-d toward him. But twenty feet from Peter, Banshee slowed to a walk. His nose twitching, his head held high, he circled him puzzledly. Then Banshee’s head and tail dropped simultaneously. At a listlessly uninterested walk he moved behind Peter toward the swimming {xx.il. His eyes were dull with canine bewilderment. Banshee was finding him‘ self face to face with a state of affairs that was quite without precedent.

George knew precisely what was wrong. In time he felt sure that Banshee’s affections would be so completely transferred to Peter that the contents of the little vial would no longer be needed. But not just yet ! And the perfectly fitted white flannels which Peter wore today naturally carried no slightest trace of the fascinating odor which had roused Banshee to yesterday’s ecstasies. George fingered the vial in his pocket and resolved that if possible he would remedy that deficiency before Peter and Carol left.

“Hello, George,” Peter Waring said casually. “Ready to go. Carol?”

Carol nodded brightly. “Perfectly ready. Peter.” With another tight smile at George, she quite unnecessarily slipped her arm through Peter’s. Peter turned; and George’s hand moved out in a swift, furtive gesture. When it returned to his pocket several drops of the formula so attractive to wolves had been deposited upon the right shoulder of Peter’s perfect coat. George st(x>d back and waited exultantly.

But Carol and Peter had taken hardly half a dozen steps when Carol stopped.

“Oh, yes. I want you to kx)k at the swimming pool, Peter. I’m almost certain it’s lower than it was yesterday. Maybe it’s sprung a leak.” Releasing the arm she had so unnecessarily taken, she turned back toward the i*>ol with Peter at her side. On its verge she pointed. “I’m practically sure the water was up to the top of that tile yesterday.” she told him. “Do you remember?”

George was looking at Banshee with sudden apprehension. For Banshee’s head had lifted and Banshee’s nose was twitching eagerly once more. For an instant Banshee held a point of which any setter might have been proud. And then, before George could even shout a warning. Banshee gave a thunderous, happy bark and flung himself joyously upon Peter.

There was a splash. It was a moment before Peter’s head broke water again. He brushed his hair back from his eyes, looked up at Banshee once and struck out for the ladder without speaking. He climbed the ladder and stood for a minute at the edge of the pool, his white flannels sodden and dripping, a puddle of his own making at his feet. George looked at him a little apologetically. This was rather more than George had planned. But Carol gave a stifled, hysterical giggle and buried her face in her hands.

“I’m s-sorry, Peter,” she gasped. “But it was f-funny!” Peter turned a dark red, but he did not look at Carol. His eyes were fixed on Banshee, who was moving happily along the edge of the pool toward him.

“That.” lie announced grimly, “settles it. Carol, you've got to get rid of that dog!”

Carol’s hands dropixd. Her eyes were wide with incredulity.

“Get rid of Banshee?” she cried.

“Yes! I could stand having him around as long as he didn’t—-didn't get familiar! But now—get away, you brute!”

Peter Waring did not lack courage. Few men have ever kicked an Irish wolfhound. Peter kicked Banshee as hard as he could. Banshee gave a sharp yelp, retreated ten feet and sat down to stare unbelievingly at Peter.

“Peter!” Carol’s eyes were nearly as shocked as Banshee’s. “How could you!”

Peter’s mouth was a hard straight line.

“We needn't discuss it further now,” he said stiffly. “I’ll have to go home and change.” He took a drippingly dignified step toward the gate. “Maybe you could give him to somebody,” he added over his shoulder.

Carol’s face was white now, and her mouth made as tight a line as Peter’s own.

“1 think we'd better discuss it now, Peter,” she said evenly. "Because you ought to know that I'm not going to give Banshee to anybody. He’s my dog, and I'm going to keep him as long as he lives!”

Peter lifted a soaked shoulder.

“In that case there seems to lx nothing more to say.” he said coldly.

“I’m afraid not. If you'll wait just a minute, Peter . . . ” Carol was moving steadily toward him. She extended her hand. Something that glittered brightly in the sunlight passed from her hand to Peter’s. Peter resumed his stiffly dignified progress toward the gate. Carol walked more slowly toward the pool and stood staring thoughtfully into it.

EORGE approached her timidly.

“I’m awfully sorry, Carol,” he muttered.

Carol did not look up.

“I’m not, really,” she said quietly after a moment of silence. “Down underneath I guess I’ve known all along that Peter was a little too —too perfect to do for—well, for a permanent thing. But there wasn’t anybody else when he came along, and he is awfully handsome, and every girl in town wanted him. So I kept trying to tell myself that it would be all right.” She looked briefly at George; then away again. “But —it wasn’t,” she ended levelly.

George caught a reckless breath. “Listen, Carol! If you really don’t — don't feel too badly about it, could you . . . Would there be a chance for ... I mean, do you think you could ever leant to -—to care for me?”

Carol turned toward him slowly. She was smiling now; but twistedly aitd not very certainly.

“Are you very good at giving lessons, George?” she asked. "Because you weren't the other night, you know. You you literally stunned me then, George. 1 honestly didn’t have the faintest idea that you . . But if you’d just said a little bit more! Only you didn’t. And girls aren't going around swooning gratefully in men’s arms this year.”

George discovered that he had been holding that reckless breath. He was obliged to take another one lxfore he could go on.

“There was a lot more I wanted to say, Carol. I—I could say it now if you’d listen. Will you. Carol?” His hands moved out; impulsively but not at all confidently. They touched Carol's shoulders and fastened there. Carol did not step back. “Will you, Carol?” George repeated.

Something struck George between the shoulder blades. For a fraction of a second he realized that he was falling and that Carol was falling with him. Then the shattered waters of the pool closed over his head.

Banshee was barking delightedly at him from the edge of the pool when George rose and blinked the water from his eyes. Carol was already swimming toward the shallow end. George struck out after her.

Up to her shoulders in water, Carol waited for him at the end of the pool. 11er eyes met his questioningly as he lowered his feet and stood facing her.

“Does that make a difference to you, George?” she asked gravely. “It did to Peter, you see. And I ought to warn you that now that Banshee’s invented a new trick, he’ll play it every chance he gets.”

George shook his head vigorously. If Banshee were to duck him twice a day tor the next twenty years he would still lx in Banshee’s debt. That is, if . . .

“Carol,” he said thickly, “I’d marry a Bengal tiger if you came with it!”

And Carol’s questioning gravity dissolved suddenly into a long gale of laughter.

“Oh, George!” she managed to gasp a minute later. “That must be the most utterly romantic proposal any girl ever got! And—well, it would be fun to be able to tell people that I once rescued my husband from the gutter . . . And I’m sure Banshee will enjoy China!”