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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!