Chapter 3 Speculative remarks with which the reader may or may not agree—A_ld woman—Hopes and wishes commingled with hard facts—The dog Crusoe’_ducation begun.
It is pleasant to look upon a serene, quiet, humble face. On such a face di_ichard Varley look every night when he entered his mother’s cottage. Mr_arley was a widow, and she had followed the fortunes of her brother, Danie_ood, ever since the death of her husband. Love for her only brother induce_er to forsake the peaceful village of Maryland, and enter upon the wild lif_f a backwoods settlement. Dick’s mother was thin, and old, and wrinkled, bu_er face was stamped with a species of beauty which _never_ fades—the beaut_f a loving look. Ah! the brow of snow and the peach-bloom cheek may snare th_eart of man for a time, but the _loving look_ alone can forge that adamantin_hain that time, age, eternity, shall never break.
Mistake us not, reader, and bear with us if we attempt to analyse this loo_hich characterised Mrs Varley. A rare diamond is worth stopping to glance at, even when one is in a hurry! The brightest jewel in the human heart is worth _hought or two! By a _loving look_ , we do not mean a look of love bestowed o_ beloved object. That is common enough, and thankful should we be that it i_o common in a world that’s over-full of hatred. Still less do we mean tha_mile and look of intense affection with which some people—good peopl_oo—greet friends and foe alike, and by which effort to work out their _bea_déal_ of the expression of Christian love, they do signally damage thei_ause, by saddening the serious and repelling the gay. Much less do we mea_hat _perpetual_ smile of good-will which argues more of personal comfort an_elf-love than anything else. No, the loving look we speak of is as ofte_rave as gay. Its character depends very much on the face through which i_eams. And it cannot be counterfeited. Its _ring_ defies imitation. Like th_louded sun of April, it can pierce through tears of sorrow; like the noontid_un of summer, it can blaze in warm smiles; like the northern lights o_inter, it can gleam in depths of woe—but it is always the same, modified, doubtless, and rendered more or less patent to others, according to th_atural amiability of him or her who bestows it. No one can put it on. Stil_ess can any one put it off. Its range is universal; it embraces all mankind, though, _of course_ , it is intensified on a few favoured objects; its seat i_n the depths of a renewed heart, and its foundation lies in love to God.
Young Varley’s mother lived in a cottage which was of the smallest possibl_imensions consistent with comfort. It was made of logs, as, indeed, were al_he other cottages in the valley. The door was in the centre, and a passag_rom it to the back of the dwelling divided it into two rooms. One of thes_as subdivided by a thin partition, the inner room being Mrs Varley’s bedroom, the outer Dick’s. Daniel Hood’s dormitory was a corner of the kitchen, whic_partment served also as a parlour.
The rooms were lighted by two windows, one on each side of the door, whic_ave to the house the appearance of having a nose and two eyes. Houses of thi_ind have literally got a sort of _expression_ on—if we may use the word—thei_ountenances. _Square_ windows give the appearance of easy-going placidity; _longish_ ones, that of surprise. Mrs Varley’s was a surprised cottage, an_his was in keeping with the scene in which it stood, for the clear lake i_ront, studded with islands, and the distant hills beyond, composed a scene s_urprisingly beautiful that it never failed to call forth an expression o_stonished admiration from every new visitor to the Mustang Valley.
“My boy,” exclaimed Mrs Varley, as her son entered the cottage with a bound, “why so hurried to-day? Deary me! where got you the grand gun?”
“Won it, mother!”
“Won it, my son?”
“Ay, won it, mother. Druve the nail _almost_ , and would ha’ druve i_altogether_ had I bin more used to Joe Blunt’s rifle.”
Mrs Varley’s heart beat high, and her face flushed with pride as she gazed a_er son, who laid the rifle on the table for her inspection, while he rattle_ff an animated and somewhat disjointed account of the match.
“Deary me! now that was good; that was cliver. But what’s that scraping at th_oor?”
“Oh! that’s Fan; I forgot her. Here! here! Fan! Come in, good dog,” he crie_ising and opening the door.
Fan entered and stopped short, evidently uncomfortable.
“My boy, what do ye with the major’s dog?”
“Won her too, mother!”
“Won her, my son?”
“Ay, won her, and the pup too; see, here it is!” and he plucked Crusoe fro_is bosom.
Crusoe, having found his position to be one of great comfort, had fallen int_ profound slumber, and on being thus unceremoniously awakened, he gave fort_ yelp of discontent that brought Fan in a state of frantic sympathy to hi_ide.
“There you are, Fan, take it to a corner and make yourself at home. Ay, that’_ight, mother, give her somethin’ to eat; she’s hungry, I know by the look o’ her eye.”
“Deary me, Dick,” said Mrs Varley, who now proceeded to spread the youth’_id-day meal before him, “did ye drive the nail three times?”
“No, only once, and that not parfetly. Brought ’em all down at one shot—rifle, Fan, an’ pup!”
“Well, well, now that was cliver; but—” Here the old woman paused and looke_rave.
“But what, mother?”
“You’ll be wantin’ to go off to the mountains now, I fear me, boy.”
“Wantin’ _now_!” exclaimed the youth earnestly; “I’m _always_ wantin’. I’v_in wantin’ ever since I could walk; but I won’t go till you let me, mother, that I won’t!” And he struck the table with his fist so forcibly that th_latters rung again.
“You’re a good boy, Dick; but you’re too young yit to ventur’ among the Red- skins.”
“An’ yit, if I don’t ventur’ young, I’d better not ventur’ at all. You know, mother dear, I don’t want to leave you; but I was born to be a hunter, an_verybody in them parts is a hunter, and I can’t hunt in the kitchen you know, mother!”
At this point the conversation was interrupted by a sound that caused youn_arley to spring up and seize his rifle, and Fan to show her teeth and growl.
“Hist! mother; that’s like horses’ hoofs,” he whispered, opening the door an_azing intently in the direction whence the sound came.
Louder and louder it came, until an opening in the forest showed the advancin_avalcade to be a party of white men. In another moment they were in ful_iew—a band of about thirty horsemen, clad in the leathern costume, and arme_ith the long rifle of the far west. Some wore portions of the gaudy India_ress which gave to them a brilliant, dashing look. They came on straight fo_he block-house, and saluted the Varleys with a jovial cheer as they swep_ast at full speed. Dick returned the cheer with compound interest, an_alling out, “They’re trappers, mother, I’ll be back in an hour,” bounded of_ike a deer through the woods, taking a short cut in order to reach the block- house before them. He succeeded, for, just as he arrived at the house, th_avalcade wheeled round the bend in the river, dashed up the slope, and cam_o a sudden halt on the green. Vaulting from their foaming steeds they tie_hem to the stockades of the little fortress, which they entered in a body.
Hot haste was in every motion of these men. They were trappers, they said, o_heir way to the Rocky Mountains to hunt and trade furs. But one of thei_umber had been treacherously murdered and scalped by a Pawnee chief, and the_esolved to revenge his death by an attack on one of the Pawnee villages. The_ould teach these “red reptiles” to respect white men, they would, come of i_hat might; and they had turned aside here to procure an additional supply o_owder and lead.
In vain did the major endeavour to dissuade these reckless men from thei_urpose. They scoffed at the idea of returning good for evil, and insisted o_eing supplied. The log hut was a store as well as a place of defence, and a_hey offered to pay for it there was no refusing their request—at least so th_ajor thought. The ammunition was therefore given to them, and in half an hou_hey were away again at full gallop over the plains on their mission o_engeance. “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.” But these me_new not what God said, because they never read His Word, and did not own Hi_way.
Young Varley’s enthusiasm was considerably damped when he learned the erran_n which the trappers were bent. From that time forward he gave up all desir_o visit the mountains in company with such men, but he still retained a_ntense longing to roam at large among their rocky fastnesses, and gallop ou_pon the wide prairies.
Meanwhile he dutifully tended his mother’s cattle and sheep, and contente_imself with an occasional deer-hunt in the neighbouring forests. He devote_imself also to the training of his dog Crusoe—an operation which at firs_ost him many a deep sigh.
Every one has heard of the sagacity and almost reasoning capabilities of th_ewfoundland dog. Indeed, some have even gone the length of saying that wha_s called instinct in these animals is neither more nor less than reason. And, in truth, many of the noble, heroic, and sagacious deeds that have actuall_een performed by Newfoundland dogs incline us almost to believe that, lik_an, they are gifted with reasoning powers.
But every one does not know the trouble and patience that is required in orde_o get a juvenile dog to understand what its master means when he i_ndeavouring to instruct it.
Crusoe’s first lesson was an interesting, but not a very successful one. W_ay remark here that Dick Varley had presented Fan to his mother to be he_atch-dog, resolving to devote all his powers to the training of the pup. W_ay also remark, in reference to Crusoe’s appearance (and we did not remark i_ooner, chiefly because up to this period in his eventful history he wa_ittle better than a ball of fat and hair), that his coat was mingled jet- black and pure white, and remarkably glossy, curly, and thick.
A week after the shooting match Crusoe’s education began. Having fed him fo_hat period with his own hand, in order to gain his affection, Dick took hi_ut one sunny forenoon to the margin of the lake to give him his first lesson.
And here again we must pause to remark that, although a dog’s heart i_enerally gained in the first instance through his mouth, yet, after it i_horoughly gained, his affection is noble and disinterested. He can scarcel_e driven from his master’s side by blows, and even when thus harshly repelle_s always ready, on the shortest notice and with the slightest encouragement, to make it up again.
Well, Dick Varley began by calling out, “Crusoe! Crusoe! come here, pup.”
Of course Crusoe knew his name by this time, for it had been so often used a_ prelude to his meals, that he naturally expected a feed whenever he hear_t. This portal to his brain had already been open for some days; but all th_ther doors were fast locked, and it required a great deal of careful pickin_o open them.
“Now, Crusoe, come here.”
Crusoe bounded clumsily to his master’s side, cocked his ears, and wagged hi_ail—so far his education was perfect. We say he bounded _clumsily_ , for i_ust be remembered that he was still a very young pup, with soft, flabb_uscles.
“Now, I’m goin’ to begin yer edication, pup; think o’ that.”
Whether Crusoe thought of that or not we cannot say, but he looked up in hi_aster’s face as he spoke, cocked his ears very high, and turned his hea_lowly to one side, until it could not turn any further in that direction; then he turned it as much to the other side, whereat his master burst into a_ncontrollable fit of laughter, and Crusoe immediately began barkin_ociferously.
“Come, come,” said Dick, suddenly checking his mirth, “we mustn’t play, pup, we must work.”
Drawing a leathern mitten from his belt, the youth held it to Crusoe’s nose, and then threw it a yard away, at the same time exclaiming in a loud, distinc_one, “ _Fetch it_.”
Crusoe entered at once into the spirit of this part of his training; he dashe_leefully at the mitten, and proceeded to worry it with intense gratification.
As for “ _Fetch it_ ,” he neither understood the words nor cared a straw abou_hem.
Dick Varley rose immediately, and rescuing the mitten, resumed his seat on _ock.
“Come here, Crusoe,” he repeated.
“Oh! certainly, by all means,” said Crusoe—no! he didn’t exactly _say_ it, bu_eally he _looked_ these words so evidently, that we think it right to le_hem stand as they are written. If he could have finished the sentence h_ould certainly have said, “Go on with that game over again, old boy; it’_uite to my taste—the jolliest thing in life, I assure you!” At least, if w_ay not positively assert that he would have said that, no one else ca_bsolutely affirm that he wouldn’t.
Well, Dick Varley did do it over again, and Crusoe worried the mitten ove_gain—utterly regardless of “ _Fetch it_.”
Then they did it again, and again, and again, but without the slightes_pparent advancement in the path of canine knowledge,—and then they went home.
During all this trying operation Dick Varley never once betrayed the slightes_eeling of irritability or impatience. He did not expect success at first; h_as not, therefore, disappointed at failure.
Next day he had him out again—and the next—and the next—and the next again, with the like unfavourable result. In short, it seemed at last as if Crusoe’_ind had been deeply imbued with the idea that he had been born expressly fo_he purpose of worrying that mitten, and he meant to fulfil his destiny to th_etter.
Young Varley had taken several small pieces of meat in his pocket each day, with the intention of rewarding Crusoe when he should at length be prevaile_n to fetch the mitten, but as Crusoe was not aware of the treat that awaite_im, of course the mitten never was “fetched.”
At last Dick Varley saw that this system would never do, so he changed hi_actics, and the next morning gave Crusoe no breakfast, but took him out a_he usual hour to go through his lesson. This new course of conduct seemed t_erplex Crusoe not a little, for on his way down to the beach he pause_requently and looked back at the cottage, and then expressively up at hi_aster’s face. But the master was inexorable; he went on and Crusoe followed, for _true_ love had now taken possession of the pup’s young heart, and h_referred his master’s company to food.
Varley now began by letting the learner smell a piece of meat which he eagerl_ought to devour, but was prevented, to his immense disgust. Then the mitte_as thrown as heretofore, and Crusoe made a few steps towards it, but being i_o mood for play he turned back.
“ _Fetch it_ ,” said the teacher.
“I won’t,” replied the learner mutely, by means of that expressive sign— _no_oing it_.
Hereupon Dick Varley rose, took up the mitten, and put it into the pup’_outh. Then, retiring a couple of yards, he held out the piece of meat an_aid, “ _Fetch it_.”
Crusoe instantly spat out the glove and bounded towards the meat—once more t_e disappointed.
This was done a second time, and Crusoe came forward _with the mitten in hi_outh_. It seemed as if it had been done accidentally, for he dropped i_efore coming quite up. If so it was a fortunate accident, for it served a_he tiny fulcrum on which to place the point of that mighty lever which wa_estined ere long to raise him to the pinnacle of canine erudition. Dic_arley immediately lavished upon him the tenderest caresses and gave him _ump of meat. But he quickly tried it again lest he should lose the lesson.
The dog evidently felt that if he did not fetch that mitten he should have n_eat or caresses. In order, however, to make sure that there was no mistake, Dick laid the mitten down beside the pup, instead of putting it into hi_outh, and, retiring a few paces, cried, “ _Fetch it_.”
Crusoe looked uncertain for a moment, then he _picked up_ the mitten and lai_t at his master’s feet. The lesson was learned at last! Dick Varley tumble_ll the meat out of his pocket on the ground, and, while Crusoe made a heart_reakfast, he sat down on a rock and whistled with glee at having fairl_icked the lock, and opened _another_ door into one of the many chambers o_is dog’s intellect!