Fiction

Love Me, Love My Doghouse

Both the big black dog and his master were slightly daffy like left-handed pitchers. But a woman loved them dearly—some of the time

JAMES LAMB FREE November 15 1947
Fiction

Love Me, Love My Doghouse

Both the big black dog and his master were slightly daffy like left-handed pitchers. But a woman loved them dearly—some of the time

JAMES LAMB FREE November 15 1947

Love Me, Love My Doghouse

Both the big black dog and his master were slightly daffy like left-handed pitchers. But a woman loved them dearly—some of the time

JAMES LAMB FREE

STEVE KIRBY sat quietly shuddering, watching the huge black dog gallop through his repertoire of parlor retrieving tricks, to the great detriment of Nancy’s spotless house. He was beginning to understand her irate phone call.

“Steve Kirby,” she had said, firmly, “you come out here and do something about Moorehead and this—this animal you sold him.”

Steve had seen many retriever-happy men, but Eager Moorehead was plainly the worst. And, unfortunately, he had made his discovery by acquiring one of the largest Labrador retrievers ever whelped. Ebony Sport of Glenfield had been the freak of the litter, a throwback to some remote Newfoundland ancestor. Also, he had forgotten to stop growing. Now he had feet like snowshoes, the build of a truck horse, and the soul of a lap dog, and Eager Moorehead had loved him on sight.

Few people in the suburb of Glenfield remembered the name on Eager Moorehead’s birth certificate. In grammar school he was called Loony Moorehead. At Glenfield High he was known successively as Fiendish, Maniac and Madman Moorehead. He had a single-track mind and was always obsessed with a burning enthusiasm, usually for something quite incomprehensible to the other boys. For instance, in his junior year he discovered chess and abruptly quit the football team. Things like that.

When Steve knew him at university he had become Eager Beaver Moorehead, which was shortened to just plain Eager. This had stuck.

With a grin he said now, “Get. a load of this one, Steve. There’s a dish of fruit on the dining room table.” He turned to the dog.

“Sport!” he commanded, “fetch me a banana.”

Sport bounded happily across Nancy’s neat living room, slid the last ten feet on a small handhooked rug, and disappeared into the dining room. There was a clawing, scrabbling sound. After a moment he returned, tenderly carrying a banana between his enormous jaws.

He was followed closely by Nancy, her lovely face pale with rage. She was a small girl with big greyblue eyes, eyes that now were like twin flame throwers. Steve had never before seen her really angry at her husband. Her sense of humor had withstood the considerable strain of eight, years of marriage to Eager Moorehead and until now she had thought, his unorthodox enthusiasms were funny. Even when he was earnestly studying the Spirit of the Hive and the bees he was keeping in the back yard swarmed and stung her. And when he replaced the lawn mower with a pair of Toggenburg goats, who proceeded to eat Nancy’s prize roses instead of the grass.

She had been a remarkably patient wife.

But now she stood in the doorway— speechless.

At last she choked, “Moorehead, that beast, was up on my Hepplewhite table. He scratched the safinwood

inlay.”

Then she spotted Steve, who was hunched deep in a wing chair.

“And you, Steve Kirby,” she said coldly. “The dog expert. Will you kindly fell my husband this brute is not a house dog?”

“Nancy’s right,” mumbled Steve. “I told you to keep him outside, in his pen.”

“Nuts,” said Eager. “Sport doesn’t like it out there.”

“You’re ruining a good hunting dog with all this nonsense in the house. You should work him outside,” Steve said.

“He’s a retriever, isn’t he?” argued Plager. “He likes to fetch me things.”

“Perhaps,” said Nancy, “he would like to fetch you a new wife.” Eager walked over and took her hand.

“Now, now, darling,” he said.

“Don’t you darling me.” She jerked her hand away. “The next time that, big black ape mistakes my needle-point hassock for a fireplug, I

will return him to Steve, personally—right around the neck.”

Steve got up and sidled toward the door.

“Sit down,” protested Eager, taking him by the arm. “Nancy is only kidding. You haven’t seen anything yet.”

“Yes,” said Nancy through her even white teeth, “you simply must see the rest of the animal act. It will kill you.”

“I’ve seen enough,” said Steve. “I raised this mutt and I trained him. Clumsy as he is, he was a pretty good duck and pheasant, dog. You’ve had him two weeks and now he’s a banana retriever and a house wrecker.”

“Don’t be stuffy,” said Eager. “You and your fancy field trial dogs.”

Nancy said thoughtfully, “What’s wrong with field trials? If Sport is so wonderful why don’t, you win some ribbons, like Steve, and like Harry Smythe-Jones? You could put the dog with a good professional trainer and —”

Eager interrupted indignantly. “Put Sport, in a training kennel? Not on your life. You can have retriever trials and you can have Smythe-Jones and all the other sour-pussed snobs who stand around watching professionals handle their dogs. All they care about is winning cups and ribbons. They don’t care about t heir dogs.”

“There are a lot of nice people in the trials,” said Steve stiffly. “They aren’t all like SmytheJones.” He stood up to leave, but Eager placed a large hand on his wishbone and pushed him back into his chair.

“Just one more retrieve, Steve. This time, you name it.”

Steve groaned and looked at the dog, who now was sprawled out motionless in the middle of the floor, all the ungainly hundred pounds of this comical-looking labrador. He was on his back, with his hind legs sticking up and out in a huge V-sign, and his forepaws hanging limply as if in supplication. His ears flowed out. over the floor, like two creeping pools of asphalt. His eyes were closed and somehow he appeared to be completely relaxed in this ridiculous position.

“May the Lord and the Kennel Club forgive me,” said Steve. “But, I’m the breeder of that animal. Do you suppose he’s dead?”

“No such luck,” said Nancy.

“Sport relaxes like an athlete,” explained Eager proudly. “He saves his strength until he performs. Then he explodes into action. Go on, Steve. Tell me what you want him to fetch.”

“Okay,” sighed Steve. “Have him bring me a

beer.”

A gleam appeared in Eager’s eye. “By golly,” he exclaimed, “I never thought of that one.”

Nancy said in frigid tones, “If you send that brute pawing t hrough my icebox

“Now don’t get excited, honey. I’ll take a bottle of beer out of the icebox and hide it in t he pantry.” Plager disappeared inf« the kitchen, while Stove sat very quietly, avoiding Nancy’s eye.

When Eager returned Sport opened one eye, then scrambled up and sat alertly, thumping the floor with his heavy tail. He watched Eager’s face with worship in his pale burnt-almond eyes.

“No cheating, now,” sniffed Nancy scornfully. “No fair telling him where you put it.”

Plager ignored this jibe. “Now, Sport,” he said, “fetch Mr. Kirby a bottle of beer.”

Sport did explode. With a mighty scrambling and clawing at the waxed floor he got under way, missed collisions with assorted antiques, and was going away nicely as he crossed the hall and burst through the swinging door into the kitchen, where he could be heard skidding around on the linoleum. Then his heavy footsteps receded, and there was silence for a moment, followed by an enormous crash of breaking dishes.

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Love Me, Love My Doghouse

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“Evidently,” said Steve, “he found the pantry.”

Nancy glared at him. Her lips were like a well-healed scar.

'Then Sport reappeared, proudly carrying a bottle of beer in his mouth. As he rushed toward Eager his great thrashing tail collided squarely with a small fragile table which had a vase of roses on it.

Nancy flew across the room and .sank to her knees amid the wreckage.

"My Chippendale table,” she moaned. "My Wedgwood urn.”

Eager took the beer from Sport and handed it to Steve with a flourish. Then he turned to Nancy and said, “Sorry, dear, about the bric-a-brac. But did you ever see such a retrieve? A bottle of beer hidden in the pantry!”

She rose to her feet and drew herself up to her full five feet two. She reached up and shook a finger under her lanky husband’s prominent nose.

Then she spoke. Her voice was dangerously quiet. “That monster goes out. If he enters this house again, I will leave it.”

STEVE HAD a place in the country west of Glenfield and the following Saturday afternoon he was behind his kennels working a young dog when he saw Eager Moorehead coming across the yard with Sport walking at heel.

“I’m glad you’re returning him,” grinned Steve, “and not Nancy. I wouldn’t care to have that moose wrapped around my neck.”

“I’m not returning him,” said Eager. Then his face flushed and he said abruptly, “I think I’ll enter Sport in the Rolling Meadow trials.”

Steve stared. “You? Enter a trial?” “Well,” said Eager gloomily, “it might give the dog a little fun. We’re both in the doghouse. Sport just sits in his jail in the yard and howls.” “Save your entry fee, pal,” said Steve

gently. “He wouldn’t last long enough in a trial to have much fun.”

Eager bristled. “You never did appreciate this dog.”

“'I’lie novice stake this year is for members only,” said Steve patiently. “Harry Smythe-Jones insisted on that, when he donated the trophy for it. He’s the only member with a real novice dog—a hot young Chesapeake he bought down east—and he appears to be a cinch to win his own cup. The only other stake will be the open all-age.”

“Well then,” said Eager, “I’ll join your silly club.”

“You have to be proposed by a director and passed unanimously by the board.”

“Just like a college sorority,” sneered Eager. “I thought it was supposed to be open to any lover of retrieving dogs.” “Not any more,” said Steve. “Not since Smythe-Jones and his cronies got control away from the more sporting element in the club. But I’m still a director and I’ll be glad to propose you.”

“Mighty big of you, chum.”

Steve grinned and said, “Look at your field trial dog now.”

Sport was near the kennel, pawing through a pile of wooden duck decoys. He selected one, picked it up, and trotted across the yard and offered it up to Eager. He stood proudly waiting for Eager to take it, his whole rear end wagging, every inch of the big dog saying eloquently, “Look what I brought you, boss.”

“We’d better brush him up on going through decoys,” Steve observed. “A trial is not a scavenger hunt.”

Steve set out several decoys on the ground and walked the dog through them, back and forth, with a short leash on him. Each time he tried to grab one, Steve restrained him sharply with the leash and said “No.” Then Eager tried it awhile and Sport kept looking up at him with confusion and reproach in his eyes. Plainly he thought the Chief had gone a bit daft.

Then at last a great light seemed to dawn on Sport. He looked up at Eager

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as if to say, “1 get it, boss. You don’t want these wooden ducks.” After that he scarcely looked at them, as Eager walked him through once more.

Then they went down to the small lake on Steve’s place and Steve put the decoys in the water and rowed out beyond them in the boat. lie fired a blank shot and tossed a shackled mallard in the water, an old tame hen he used for training.

Sport sat beside Eager on the shore, watching. “Go ahead,” shouted Steve. “Send him.”

Eager pointed at the duck and said, “Sport!” and with a mighty splash the big dog hit the water. He swam straight through the decoys, paying not the slightest attention to them, and his eyes never left the duck as he swam powerfully out into the lake. He took the bored bird gently in his mouth, turned and swam in and smartly delivered it up to Eager.

“How do you like that?” yelled Eager.

“You know,” said Steve thoughtfully as he beached the boat, “the big ox is not a bad water dog. If he should get lucky on the land work, he might get a fourth place, or a certificate of merit. If he got a ribbon, maybe Nancy would let you keep him in the house. Women are suckers for ribbons.”

THE NEW president of the Rolling Meadow Retriever Field Trial Club, Harry Smythe-Jones, pompous young banker-by-marriage, rapped the luncheon table with his pudgy fist. “Then we’ll consider it settled, gentlemen,” he said. “The water trials will be held on the river, opposite Bailey’s picnic grove.”

Why is this jerk so determined to use the river? wondered Steve. He spoke up. “I think it’s a lousy idea. There’s a strong current and the ducks will drift.”

Smythe-Jones glared. “I think we’ve had enough discussion. Shall we put it to a vote, gentlemen?”

There was a chorus of solemn ayes from the henchmen. Steve’s was the only nay.

He looked at his watch and said, “I work for a living and I have to get back to my office. But first, I’d like to propose a new member. Eager Moorehead. He has a young Labrador, one of mine. He wants to run it in the members’ novice stake.”

All the directors looked at SmytheJones. He said heavily, “One of yours? What breeding?”

“By Terror of Glenfield, out of my Darkie bitch. But he’s a great big clumsy moose. Moorehead just wants to run him for fun.”

“A Terror pup, eh?” said SmytheJones. He regarded Steve with suspicion. “I don’t believe 1 know this man Moorehead. What does he do?” “He’s in the radio business. I think you’ve met him and I’m sure you know his wife.”

“Well, I don’t recall him," .SmytheJones said abruptly. “I can’t cast my vote for a man I don’t know.”

SPORT WAS gazing sadly through the wire of his pen in the yard when Steve stopped that evening to see Eager Moorehead. Nancy and Eager were in the living room, busily ignoring each other.

Steve cleared his throat and said, “You can’t run Sport in the members’ novice stake, pal.”

“Why not?” demanded Eager. “Smythe - Jones didn’t remember meeting you.”

Nancy chimed in, “What is all this?” Eager turned on her. “Since you won't allow my dog in my own home, madame, I thought I might get him out of his doghouse for a day by run-

ning him in the field trial. 1 have to join their stupid club to do it.”

Steve looked carefully between them and said, “Maybe Smythe-Jones was plastered when you met.”

“Are you trying to say,” bristled Nancy, “that Harry -Smythe-Jones blackballed my husband?”

“Well, not exactly blackballed—” “Why,” said Nancy indignantly, “that new-rich upstart, that nasty little kept man. 1 knew him when he had a runny nose and lived on the wrong side of the tracks. His name was plain Harry Jones then, before he married that plump frump, Ethel Smythe.” Her face was flushed and there were tears of rage in her lovely eyes. Eager stared at her.

Then he turned to Steve and said grimly, “Okay. I’ll just run Sport in the open all-age.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” saic| Steve. “Sport wouldn’t finish the first series.” Just then they were interrupted by a mournful howl. It started on a low, throaty note and swelled in volume and ascended the scale until it sounded more like a pack of timber wolves than a single spoiled Labrador. Steve shuddered.

“How do the neighbors like that?” he enquired.

“He hates his jail,” said Eager, “and I don’t blame him.”

Nancy pressed her lips together.

“See here, you two idiots,” said Steve. “This misbegotten mutt has caused enough trouble. Why don’t I just take him back and you kiss and make up? I might hang him in the smokehouse this winter. There ought to be lots of chops on him.”

“Very funny,” said Eager, but he wasn’t smiling.

“There’s no use arguing with him,” said Nancy. “If he’s made up his mind to enter the dog—”

“I’m entering him,” said Eager. Nancy followed Steve to the door. “Will Harry Smythe-Jones be at the open all-age?”sheenquired thoughtfully.

“Sure,” said Steve. “He’s planning to win that one, too.”

“Will Ethel Smythe-Jones be there?” “She never misses, when their dogs are running.”

“Apparently,” said Nancy, “the Mooreheads also have a dog running, or what we laughingly call a dog. I might be there myself.” Her big eyes peered innocently at Steve through long dark lashes and he thought, that lunatic Moorehead. If I were married to a woman like Nancy, I wouldn't worry about keeping a dog in the house. She's plenty in any man's house.

SMYTHE-JONES had appointed Steve field trial chairman, a thankless job of a thousand details. On the Sunday of the open all-age he arrived early at the trial grounds, to find Eager Moorehead already there, his long frame draped in old hunting clothes, lounging under a big willow with Sport lying beside him. Smythe-Jones was there too, sitting in his flashy red convertible with his peroxide-blond wife and he looked coldly at Steve as he passed.

Steve walked over to Eager and said, “Hello, stupid. Why didn’t you stay home?”

Eager pulled out his wallet. “Who takes my entry fee? You?”

Steve nodded. “If you insist. Twelve bucks.”

Just then Nancy drove up and got out of her own little car. Ethel SmytheJones gave her a tentative, toothy smile. Nancy looked through her and walked on toward the willow tree.

As she approached, Steve whistled softly. She had bought herself an

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outfit. Her round felt hat exactly matched the suede trim of her whipcord jacket and skirt. The down-soft English flannel shirt was like the bluish-grey of her eyes, and her shapely legs emerged from ankle-high, custommade boots.

On most women, reflected Steve, field trial clothes look like gunny sacks. Not on Nancy. Her curves still show in all the right places.

Nancy ignored her husband, directed a sceptical frown at Sport, then turned to Steve and said, “Did you get a load of that Smythe-Jones woman? She’s wearing pearls. Pearls with riding breeches!”

Eager said, “Hey, Steve. I read in the paper your pup won the novice yesterday. What happened to SmytheJones’ dog?”

“He had a bit of tough luck and fell on his face in the first series,” grinned Steve. “Smythe-Jones was wild. He’s going to win the all-age now, or die. He has four Labradors entered. He’s even dusted off old Tar Baby.”

Just then the judges arrived and Steve scurried away to round up the official guns and the birds boys and get things under way.

TT TURNED out to be a screwball

open stake from start to finish. It was hot for late September and the big marsh used for the land work was dry and dusty. Scenting was bad and the faster, big-time dogs that were careless of their marking, depending too much on their noses, were out of luck, overrunning their birds badly. In the first series fifteen out of twenty-five starters failed to find both pheasants. Three of Smythe-Jones’ entries failed, including one young field trial champion, and suddenly he had only one hope left in the trial, the ancient Tar Baby. Smythe-Jones was furious and complained bitterly to the judges that the test was unfair.

To Steve’s amazement, Sport was one of the ten survivors of this killing

Being the only postentry, he was the last dog up, and when his number was called and Moorehead ambled up to the line with the ungainly big dog, there were titters from the gallery. Steve looked around and spotted Nancy hiding behind a clump of sumac, her face crimson with embarrassment.

Then Sport’s pheasants were shot, two long hard falls, and Steve thought, poor Moorehead.

But Sport went out at a deliberate gallop and retrieved first one and then the other. He wasn’t fast enough to outrun his nose. You wouldn’t call it a stylish job, but be got his birds with no fuss or trouble, and the second guessers in the gallery stopped laughing. As Eager led the dog out of line he waved triumphantly at Steve.

The crowd moved down toward the river. Nancy came out of hiding and Steve fell into step beside her.

“Miracles do happen,” he said. “Your dog is still in the trial. That’s more than Smythe-Jones can say for three of his.” Nancy looked thoughtfully at Eager and Sport, who were walking on ahead.

For the second series, a single shackled duck was to be dropped far out in the river, beyond the decoys, in the swift current. There was a slight delay while Steve and a state trooper rowed across to the public picnic grove on the far side to chase off a bunch of rowdies who had been hitting the beer too hard and who thought it funny to line the far bank and whistle at the dogs. But they left quietly.

The dogs had trouble with this test. WhenSport’s turn came, he sat watching intently as his duck was thrown from

the boat. Then he hit the water with a splash that got another laugh, but a friendly one this time, from the large gallery. Steve moaned as he saw the dog start straight for the decoys.

But Sport remembered his lesson and went on through the decoys and he was swimming strongly out toward the spot where he’d seen the duck fall, his great forepaws beating at the water like paddles. But lie wasn’t wise to the current and the duck was drifting fast. It looked hopeless to Steve.

Suddenly the duck, far downstream, flapped a wing. A normal dog couldn’t have seen it, but Sport, his long neck sticking up out of the water like a periscope, did see it, and be changed course and he got the duck. Steve slowly shook his head. It couldn’t happen, but it did.

Only five dogs got through this series. Smythe-Jones’ Tar Baby, a wise old champion, was the only one who seemed to have no trouble figuring out the river current and did a good job. His owner strutted around among the crowd, in better spirits now, accepting congratulations on his dog’s performance.

He crossed Nancy’s trail and Steve heard her say, “Hello, Harry Jones.” “Smythe-Jones,” he corrected her, flushing faintly. “Er, hello, Nancy.” Eager walked up with Sport. Nancy looked Smythe-Jones in the eye and said, “You know my husband, of course.”

“How do you do,” mumbled SmytheJones, his face now crimson.

“I have introduced you twice, myself,” Nancy said relentlessly.

“Funny,” said Eager Moorehead. “ƒ don’t remember.”

Smythe-Jones fled, a defeated man. Then Nancy turned and looked at Sport and she reached out hesitantly and pulled his ear.

Eager beamed. “What a dog! Steve, did you see him go through those decoys? Never even looked at them.” Steve sighed.

“Listen,” he said, “you lucky lunatic. Do you realize you’ve got a chance to win the open all-age? There are only five dogs left. Right now, I’d say Sport is first and Tar Baby second. You’d better pray the judges have seen enough.”

Nancy’s eyes were wide. “Really, Steve? He might win ?”

Steve nodded. “So help me.” “Okay,” she said. “I’ll pray. Let me hold the dog, Moorehead. For luck.” Eager, slightly dazed, handed her the leash.

The judges were in a long huddle. Finally they summoned Steve, and told him they wanted one more series, a handling test on a blind retrieve, through decoys and across water. This one will finish Sport, thought Steve. Too bad.

Eager said, “Well, it’s only another duck for the big boy to retrieve.” But Steve noticed be was having trouble lighting his cigarette.

THE FIVE handlers, four pros and Eager, were instructed to hold their dogs behind the gallery, so the dogs couldn’t see what was going on. A duck was hidden in a clump of weeds on the far shore of the river, just below the picnic grove.

The first dog was then brought up, a Golden Retriever from St. Louis, and he had a tough time. But after endless whistling and shouting and waving of arms his handler finally persuaded him across the river and at last he found the duck on shore and started swimming back with it.

Nancy, holding Sport behind the crowd, nudged Steve and said, “Look at Smythe-Jones. Isn’t he letting Tar Baby peek?”

Steve walked over and told him bluntly to take the dog behind the gallery. Smythe-Jones blustered that he hadn't heard the instructions, hut lie went. Nancy watched him closely, while the next two dogs failed completely to get across the river.

Then Tar Baby’s number was called.

When the tricky pro who bandied for Smythe-Jones sent Tar Baby into the water, he gave the dog a line far upstream, instead of directly across the river, and Steve wondered why. Then he saw Tar Baby immediately swim downstream. The handler blasted angrily on his whistle and handsignalled the dog upstream again, but the dog stubbornly kept swimming down.

Then Steve knew why Smythe-Jones had insisted on using the river, it was obvious now his trainer, a man who was not popular with the other pros, had been working his dogs here before the trial, a downright crooked trick, training them to swing far downstream for ducks drifting in the current.

And now the judges had crossed him up by planting a duck on land, across the river, where it couldn’t drift. Steve chuckled, watching Smythe - Jones, whose face grew more and more purple as the handler blasted his whistle and frantically waved his arms, and the dog stubbornly zigzagged farther and farther downstream, until he finally disappeared around a bend. SmytheJones was out of the trial.

Then Eager came and took Sport from Nancy. She clutched at Steve’s arm and he could feel her trembling. Her face was white and she began twisting her program into shreds as Eager stepped into the blind with Sport.

The big dog took ofT from the bank spread-eagled and hit the water with his customary splash. But this time he had seen no duck and heard no shot. He swam straight for the nearest decoy. Just as his huge mouth opened to grab it, Eager blasted on his whistle.

“No!” lie shouted desperately. Sport looked around, surprised, and started for the next one. There were eight decoys in that stool, and one by one Eager called Sport off each of them, while Steve’s heart was in his mouth. Then Eager waved him hack, and the dog turned and started straight across the river.

He swam on, rising high for a look every little while, seeing nothing, hut going on across, humoring the boss. He went ashore not ten yards from where the duck was planted and scrambled clumsily up the hank.

Then his head darted down in the weeds and the gallery gasped, “He has it!” And Sport was hack in the river, returning. The gallery, now completely won by this funny-looking Labrador, was out of hand, and the judges had to appeal for silence while the dog was coming in to deliver.

Sport climbed up the near bank and trotted toward the blind, where Eager stood waiting, beaming broadly. And then suddenly the gallery groaned, as one man. Steve looked again at the dog.

What was that object in his mouth? Not a duck, but whatt

And then Steve saw. Sport proudly offered up to Eager—an empty beer bottle.

There was silence in the gallery.

Those picnickers, groaned Steve. They left the bottle over there.

Eager’s face was white. He slowly reached down and took the bottle from the dog, and tossed it in the river. Then he snapped his leash on Sport and started walking blindly toward his car.

Steve turned and saw Nancy running toward her husband.

“Moorehead!” she cried. “Where do

you think you’re going? You send that dog back for the duck.”

“He’s all through,” said Eager, sadly. Nancy said, “You send him back!” Eager hesitated and stole a look at the judges. Their backs were turned. He stepped back into the blind, unsnapped the leash, and sent Sport into the river again. This time he went straight through the decoys and straight across the river. SmytheJones rushed beefing to the judges that this was most irregular. Nancy glared at him and he subsided into red-necked silence, while Sport climbed up the far bank. This time he picked up what was unmistakably a duck and returned with it. The gallery applauded wildly.

THE ST. LOUIS Golden won the trial.

The judges told Steve to announce their regret that they could award no other places, since no other dogs had completed all the tests.

“But Sport did,” Nancy protested indignantly.

“Yes,” said Steve, “but unfortunately, he threw in an extra one.”

“I don’t care,” she insisted, with womanly logic. “He got the duck. He did the best job. He should win.”

She was down on the ground with her arms around Sport’s wet shaggy neck, to the detriment of her new outfit.

Eager said, “Steve, when is the next trial?” That daffy look was in his eye.

Lord help us, thought Steve. Now he’s discovered field trials.

“Never mind,” sighed Nancy. “You can keep Sport in the house.” Sport ran a long damp tongue over her makeup and beat the ground with his tail.

“But mind you Moorehead,” she added firmly. “He’s to stay off the dining room table.”

“What do you mean, dining room table?” demanded Eager. “This is no trick dog. This is a field trial dog.” ^