’Was time when Smallest went to Flat-in-Town for things-in-throat, which Vet-People cut out so he could sleep shut-mouth, and not ever catch cold. He said he would be dretful-good if we came after. So we wented with our Adar in dog-box-in-train. Guard People said we was Perfect Gentlemen.
Flat-in-Town were stinky. Smallest were sick-abed. Times after, he lay on couch-by-window-at-back which looks into garage-place. We sat in window because of cats.
One time ’was whistle-squeaky noises, and Frill Box, with legs under, came into garage-place. ’Was dog, like me and Slippers, with frilly collar. Plenty Smalls followed-tail. We told Smallest. He came to window in one. He said: ‘Hooray; Punch-and-Judy!’ Dirty Man, which was legs, came out from under Frill Box, and whistle-squeaked with things in front of teeth. Frill Dog walked with behind-legs and shaked hands with Smalls like Dirty Man told. Dirty Man went into Frill Box. Dollies came up on little sleepy-bench in front. One were all nose and bendy-back like which Smallest took off a Shiny-tree when he were pup. That Frill Dog came up on bench and bit Nose-Doll on nose. ’Was Scrap Blue Dollie came. ’Was plenty Scraps! NoseDoll put string round Blue Dollie and threw out over sleepy-bench and singed loud. ’Was finish. Dirty Man came out from under box, and showed his inside-hat to Smalls. They wented all away. He said: ‘Garn! You spend fortuns on the movies, you do, but when it comes-to-drammer, you run-like-ares.’ He whistle-squeaked and picked up Box and wented.
Time whiles after that, he came again. Smallest said James, which was up-with-the-washing ‘Take them down to see near-to.’ We wented on-lead, and sat in front-row. Frill Dog, which was called Toby Dog, did all those dash-parlour-tricks for Smalls again. We was ashamed, because he were same-like-us. We said. Toby Dog said back: ‘If I weren’t on-me-job, I’d give you something to sing for.’ . . . James took away quick. Toby Dog said: ‘Night-night! Don’t choke yourselves, lovies!’
Time whiles more, Dirty Man came again. Smallest could not go down because of throat. James went and talked him plenty. Man said it were high-class-show-for-crowned-edds, but he would wash-hisself-first. James told Missus. So, Dirty Man came up to Flat, and ’was highclass-show for Smallest and all-us and our Adar. But Toby Dog were slow and sorrowful. Dirty Man said Missus, it were like-master-like-man, because Toby Dog wore-hisself-out-giving-too-much-for-money, and he wanted rest-and-good-kind-home. That whiles, Toby Dog lay on back and rolled eyes like sick-pup. Adar said: ‘If those three get together, they will fight till dawn-o-day! Look at Slippers’s face!’ Missus said did-not-know-quite-what-Master-will-say. James said he could keep in garage at home, so he could-not-come-into-contracts with any one. So, ’was done, and Toby Dog was took down with James to be made well-dog. Three-four day-times after, we’wented down in dog-box-train. Nice Guard-People said Adar we was fit-for-show-as-we-stood.
When we was home, we rabbited round borders for bones, which we had hid-in case of hungries. They was took-all! Slippers said: ‘it are that dash-Toby-Dog! C’m with, and house-train him!’ We winded him in Wall Garden. We said loud. He did not say. He made his eyes ringy-white round edges. He putted his head under his front. He lifted up behind. He rolled behind-ends-over-heads. He rolled at us! First ’was whitey-eyes: then backends rolling at! We had never seen like that. It were vile undogful! But we did not run. When he rolled quite close, we went back. When he made singings like sick dog, we went back more quick to Own Gods on lawn. Master said me: ‘Hullo, Boots! You look as if something had ruffled your self-esteem. What’s the fuss?’ I did not say. I helped him smoke-pipe like I always do. Harry-with-Spade came and said ’was rabbit in vegetable-gardens. Master got two-bang-gun and went. We heeled quick. Toby Dog came out of garage, full-of-his-dash-self. He said: ‘What is?’ Slippers said: ‘Come and see.’ Slippers went into cabbages, and bolted rabbit, which are his ’complishment. Master fired over me and killed. Toby Dog went away like-smoke. Master sent me to back-door with rabbit to give our Adar, which are one of my ’complishments. We went-find Toby Dog. He were on turn in boot-box where James keeps shiney-feet-things. He said: ‘What was? What was?’ We said: ‘Two-bang business.’ He said: ‘I cannot do! I am afraid! I can not do!’ Slippers said: ‘You are one dash-common-coward-thief-skug-dog! Where are bones?’ Toby Dog told. We digged up and took which was left to old Labrador Kennel for safeness. We told Ravager. He were pleased of seeing us back. Toby Dog came round corner. He said: ‘I may be skug-dog, but I am not fool. Let me in on your game, and I will let you in on mine.’ Ravager said: ‘What are your dirty game?’ He said: ‘Rats.’ And he said he held rat-records at three pubz. W e said: ‘What are pubz?’ He said: ‘Lummy! You make me ache!’ And he said pubz were where E went after is job. Slippers said: ‘What are E?’ Toby Dog said: ‘Im-which-is-Own-God.’ I said: ‘What are job?’ He said: ‘What gets you your grub.’ I said: ‘That are our Adar when bell goes for Own Gods’ Middle Eats, which are Lunch.’ He said: ‘You know fat lots, you do!’ Ravager said: ‘No scrappin’! Real-rat to Toby Dog. Job is same as business. After business is trough and sleepy-bench everywhere.’ Slippers said: ‘His business is dash-parlour-tricks.’ And he said about Dirty Man and high-class-show. But he did not say about that in Wall Garden, which we had seen, because we was ashamed. Ravager said: ‘Do parlour-tricks!’ Toby Dog walked with behind-legs long whiles. He said there was not six-dogs-in-the-perfession like him. He said about rat-records which he held, which E, which were Own God, made betz-on. And he said how James had taken him over to Walk when he came down, and Mister-Kent-Peoples brought plenty-rats to try-out. And he killed eight in half a minute on barn-floor. He said James and Mister-Kent was dretful pleased, and was going-to-skin-the-village-alive as soon as odds-was-right. We did not understand.
Slippers said: ‘If you are all this dash-fine-dog, why did Im push you off on James and Missus?’ Toby Dog said: ‘It is end of London-season for Im. E don’t need me awhile. So I play sick-dog and E sells me to nice-kind-people for good-ome. Presently, E will come along and make whistle-squeak. I will hear and go back to me job. P’raps it will be Frill Box and Dollies. P’raps it will be leading blind-man across Marble Arch.’ Ravager said: ‘Is E blind?’ Toby Dog said: ‘Blind-enough to get pennies-in-my-cup.’ Ravager said: ‘I am as near blind-as-makes-no-odds. I am sorry of E.’ I told how Ravager had been blinded by nicekind-hen-killer-ladies. Toby Dog said: ‘If I had been along ’twould not have happened.’ I were dretful angry. Ravager said: ‘Drop it, Stoopid! Go and eat grass.’
So ’was walk-about in back-gardens. Presently whiles, James brought cage of rats. And tipped out. I killed one. Slippers one. Toby Dog killed four which ran all different ways. James made-much-of, and said they would peel-thebreeches-off-the-village. Toby Dog were full-of-hisself. Slippers said: ‘’Ware two-bang-gun! Rabbit it, tripe-hound!’ ‘Was big say-and-say. Ravager came up from kennel. He said: ‘What is silly-row now?’ We told. Ravager sat and said: ‘I do not like two-bang-guns, and my mother Regan did not. Toby Dog is not tripe-hound. He cannot help himself. It’s same as you with swimming.’ I said: ‘We have long hairs and low-clearance, James says. Of course we do not like water.’ Ravager said: ‘’Same with Toby Dog.’ He told us off plenty for rudenesses, and went for sleep-in-fern near The Kennels in Park. Toby Dog said after: ‘That is one proper-sort! That is real-true-dog-gent which I will not ever forget!’
’Was bell from house, which our Adar rings for us to help Smallest ride with Moore and Taffy. We rabbited. Toby Dog said: ‘I come with.’
It were first ride after Flat-in-Town. ’Was bit-of-a-circus with Taffy because, Moore said, that bone-idle-stable-boy had not exercised enough. But Smallest’s legs was grown, and Taffy got-no-change. Smallest were a bit full-of-hisself. Moore said back: ‘Don’t be too proud, Master Digby! Seats-and-hands is Heaven’s gifts.’ Smallest were dretful ’shamed, because he is Champion Reserve Smallest. Moore said: ‘Not but what you’ve good-right-to.’ Ravager picked all us up in fern near The Kennels. Moore said ‘Ravager has been ailing ever since that motor hit him. I don’t like it.’ Ravager whimpered-to-name. Smallest said: ‘Hush! He knows.’ Moore said: ‘There’s not much he don’t know.’ And he said Ravager had took to lying-out-in-the-fern after Smallest went to Flat, so he could hear Hounds sing on Benches at morning-times for old-sake’s-sake. Smallest said: ‘Has Uncle Billy found out yet about Upstart?’ Moore said: ‘I told you too-much-for-your-age after our Lame Fox run. I ’ope you don’t carry tales betwixt me and ’is Lordship.’ Smallest said: ‘Catch me! But I cannot ever be proper Master Fox-hounds ’less you tell me all what you know?’ Moore redded over front-of-face. He said: ‘Thank you, Master Digby. When your time comes you’ll ’ave to deal with such as Upstart. He has the looks-of-a-Nangel and the guts-of-a-mongrel.’ And Moore said Rosemary did Upstart’s work for him, which was great-grand-daughter of Regan, and ran near-as-mute-as-the-old-lady. And he had watched Upstart at fault time and again, and Rosemary whimpering-in-his-ear to tip-him-the-office, and he taking-all-the-credit. And if, for-any-reason, she was not out, his second-string was Loiterer, which was a soft tail-hound, but with wonderful-tender-nose. And he had watched Upstart at a check play thorn-in-foot till Loiterer came up and put-him-wise. But he said, ’is Lordship was set on Upstart going to Peterborough, which are where Hounds go for Crampion Reserves, and the pity was his looks-and-manners-made-it-a-cert. He said Upstart was born impostor, same as Usurper his sire, which-should-never-’ave-been, but ’is Lordship was misled by his looks, and would not-listen-to-advice. And he said Umbrage-his-Ma were a real-narsty-one on her-side-of-things. He said plenty-more-lots which I forgot. After pull-up, he said: ‘Now, Master Digby, you have known the Hounds since you fell into the meal-bin in your petticoats. What do you think?’ Smallest said: ‘I could hunt any country in all the world with you and three couple which I were let choose. And, if Ravager were well-dog, I would make Uncle Billy present of the odd-couple.’ Moore redded all fresh over face. He said: ‘Lord love you! I shall be pushing-up-the-daisies long before that! But you ’ave it in you. You ’ave all three in you—Hound, Fox, and Horse! But, to get those three couple four-days-a-week, we have to put up with trash-like-Upstart.’
After whiles, ’was gallop. Slippers and Ravager went with. Toby Dog said me, sitting: ‘That were rummy rat that man showed about that dash-clever dog. Tell again.’ So I told about Upstart which I do not like, and how he got Musketeer help him fight Egoist for Ravager’s place on sleepy-bench that night which Ravager did not cast up. And choked Musketeer after. And were glutton at the break-up-and-eat, which are not proper-game for lead-hounds, Ravager says, and did never go-in-for. Toby Dog said: ‘It is cruel-ard on perfessional dog to be knocked out of his job for no fault of hisn, like that real-old-dog-gent of yours.’ I said: ‘You are not half-bad-dog.’ He said: ‘I am perfessional. I do not tell all I can do, but I will put you up to proper rattings.’ So we wented to Walk and ricked round ricks. He showed how to chop rats-one-chop-one-rat, and not ever to shake, because it loses-time-on-the-count, he said. He told about rat-match at pub-in-village, where he were backed against Fuss, Third Hunt Terrier, which he said were pretty lady-dog which he could give ten rats in the minute and scratch-hisself-at-same-time.
Then we wented back to Labrador Kennel. Ravager was home and told us off proper for shirking-gallop. Slippers came too, because Smallest were at lesson. He said me he were pleased of Toby Dog not keeping with Smallest, because he did not want Smallest to care for. I said: ‘That Toby Dog does not want Smallest. He is dash-clever dog which does not do more ever than kill his rat. Leave alone!’
So ’was done. Toby Dog keeped with James about rats ’cept when he went rides with Smallest and us. One time Moore made that bone-idle-stable-boy lay drag to teach Taffy jumps and ditches for cubbing-times. It were dust-bin-herring-tails which I knew. Ravager said drags was stink-pot-stuff and wented home. (Me with.) So Toby Dog led. Time after that time, Smallest took him on lawn and said: ‘Do tricks!’ Toby Dog sat and scratched ears. Smallest smacked head and said: ‘You are impostor like Upstart!’ Toby Dog said us after: ‘Catch me working overtime for any one ’cept Im and your real-true-dog-gent!’ He speaked plenty to Ravager about hunting and hounds and all those things because he said he were perfessional and wanted to know about Ravager’s perfession. Ravager liked, and told plenty back. And Toby Dog showed me real rattings and the watch-two-while-you-kill-one game. I sat out in fern with Ravager, which were my true friend since we was almost pups. And Smallest made Taffy jump-like-fleas, Moore said. So we was all happy dogs, that times.
Then ’was rat-match in village. Toby Dog said it were a cert, but he would give Fuss a look-in for looks’ sake. That were night before Bell-Day, and strong Shiny Plate. Slippers and me did walk-abouts in gardens waiting-for-result. (We are not tied up ever now since, that man came over garden-wall to see about the broccoli and were nipped on behinds going-back-over.) Toby Dog came home after match, which he had winned by what-you-dash-like. He said he had winded Dirty Man outside Spotted-Hound-pub in village. We said: ‘What rat do you run now?’ He said: ‘E will need all day to sleep-it-off. E will come to-morrow night. I am glad, because E is Own God. But I am sorry, because you two and your true-old-gent-dog have done me well, and I ad-oped to pay all ’fore I sloped. But E is Own God. When E comes, I go with.’ We said: ‘Sorry too.’ We all went walk-abouts (’was hedgehogs) and sat.
Next day-time was Bell-Day and no-silly-weekend-visitors, Smallest said. We wented all for Middle Eats to Big House, where Proper Man lives, which are called Uncle Billy. Only ’cepting Ravager, which lay out in fern by the Kennels like always. Toby Dog had went to help James collect-debtz-out-of-that-dash-swindling-stable-boy about rat-match. So we did not see.
At Middle Eats was Master-Missus and Smallest and Proper Man and Proper Missus and my friend Butler, which I like, and a new Peoples which was called Jem, which was Master of some Hounds from some-place-else. ‘Was plenty Own Gods’ say-and-say about hounds-and-feet and those things. Smallest did not say, like he does not ever about Hounds. (’Cept to Moore.)
After coffee-sugar, my friend Butler asked me into laundry-yard to help about rat-in-ivy. I chopped. (’Was cheese.) Butler made carrot-basket for all-Peoples to give Tall Horses. So, ’was walk-to-Kennels, which is always Bell-Day-rat after Middle Eats. I picked up Ravager in fern. He said: ‘Run along with. I never go. I am no Hound any more.’ I wented into yard with all-Peoples.
’Was Moore which called out Hounds by ones to stand for biscuit. ’Was plenty more say-and-say about legs-and-feet. Smallest did not say, but all hounds speaked him small and soft on flags. That Master Jem said: ‘Why, Diggy-boy, they seem to know you as well as Moore!’ Smallest said back: ‘How vewy odd!’ because he does not like old Nursey-Thick-names casting-up. (Same as me when my Adar says ‘Bootles.’) Missus said small: ‘Digby! Behave!’ Moore called out Upstart quick, and so ’was loud say-and-say about looks and manners and Belvoir-tans. (We played fleas-on-tum.)
Then Proper Missus put hand-before-front-teeth. So, all-Peoples went to see Tall Horses, ’cept Smallest and Moore. Then Toby Dog came round corner from Tall Horse Kennels, all small and dusty-looking. He said us, out of side-mouth: ‘Lummy, what a swine! If he don’t scare, I’m a goner. Head my rat!’ He made his eyes ringy-white all round, like in Wall Garden. He putted down his head under, and hunched up all his behinds, and rolled himself that undogful way which we had seen. But worse! It were horrabel! Upstart uphackled. But we headed Toby Dog’s rat. We singed: ‘What is? Oh, we are afraid!’ Toby Dog made screamy-draggly noise like cat-pups. And rolled at! Upstart bolted out of yard same as pup-for-cutty-whip, and bolted into fern where Ravager were. We heard plenty yowl-and-kai-yai. Toby Dog unringed his eyes, and was little cheap skug-dog, which walked away. All-Peoples at Horse Kennels came back and said loud about what-on-earth-was-the-matterof-Upstart. Moore said seemingly-he-had-took-offence-at-the-terrier’s-doings, and went-off-like-fire-works. That Master Jem said it were dretful-catching-fits, which play-deuce-and-all-with-Packs. Proper Man were angry. Smallest said: ‘Won’t he be all right for Peterborough, Uncle Billy?’ Proper Man said: ‘Dash Peterborough! Dash jackal! Never trust Usurper-blood, Moore! I warned you at the time.’ Soon whiles, Upstart came back singing snuff-and-butter, Moore said. Moore did not like, and turned him into Kennels which did not like, because he were beaten-hound and telling-it. ’Was big Bench-scrap! Moore went in and rated proper. Smallest looked through window, where Ravager had looked when he came blinded. He said: ‘Hooray! Musketeer has took Upstart’s place and Upstart has Loiterer’s—right at edge by door!’
Soon whiles, all-Peoples went back to tea saying say-and-say about fits. Smallest walked behind with Slippers and me. Time whiles he danced. We helped. We picked up Ravager in fern. I said: ‘We heard. Did you get?’ Ravager said: ‘I could not help. He fell over me like blind dog. I got him across the loins and wrenched him on his back. But he was in a hurry. What began it?’ I told all what Toby Dog had done to Upstart. Ravager said: ‘That is a dash-odd-little-dog, but I like him. He hunts with his head. ‘’What was the Bench-row about afterwards?’ I told how Upstart had lost benchplace to Musketeer and had been gived Loiterer’s. Ravager said: ‘Good rat to Toby Dog! That place was colder than Cotswold when I was a young ’un. Now I am happy!’ We wented all in, and plenty things under tea-table. Ravager did not take. He sat by Proper Man, head-on-knee. Proper Man said: ‘What’s brought you back to your old ’legiance, old fellow? You belong to Digby now.’ Ravager said soft and kissed hand. Proper Man said: ‘’Queer as his Mother before him!’ After lots more say-and-say we all wented home ’cross Park. Smallest danced and singed loud till kennel-up. We went upstairs to help, like always when Guvvy lets. Ravager came with. That dash-Guvvy said him rudenesses on the stairs. Adar said her: ‘Beg pardon, Miss, but no one ever questions the old gentleman’s comings-and-goings in this house.’ Ravager tail-thumped and kissed Smallest’s two hands at pyjarm-time. He went down stairs slow, because he never-comes-up-to-the-top-landing. He said me: ‘Now I am all-round-happy-hound. Come see me later, Stoopid. I’ve something to tell you.’ I helped Master-Missus spend-happy-evening, like I do, till Adar came to take out and give night-bones.
After, I went for walk-abouts with Slippers, because Shiny Plate were shiny-strong. James came and called Toby Dog, which he could not find. And dashed and wented. Toby Dog came out behind rhubarb-pots. He asked about Upstart. We told. He were happy dog. He said he had near-given-Alsatians-fits-that-way. He asked if old true-gent-dog Ravager were pleased of his doings. He said he could not go-see him, because he were on-dooty expecting Im which was Own God any minute now. And he said he were plenty skug-cur about that two-bang business which were not perfessional. We said he were wonderful brave dog about Upstart, which me and Slippers would not have taken on. He said: ‘Fairy Ann! Fairy Ann!’ But he were most-happy dog. Presently whiles ’was whistle-squeak down lane by Orchard. Toby Dog said: ‘That’s Im. S’long!’ He wented all little through hedge. Dirty Man said outside: ‘Oh! You’ve come, ’ave yer? Come orn!’
Please, that is finish all about Toby Dog, which Ravager liked. (Me too.)
Slippers went-to-bone. I wented Labrador Kennel to speak Ravager, and opied door with my nose like I can.
Ravager said: ‘Who is?’ I said: ‘Boots.’ He said: ‘I know that, but Who Else came in with?’ I said: ‘Only Boots.’ He said ‘There is Some-one-else-more! Look!’ I said ‘Toby Dog has gone back to Im. Slippers has kennelled-up. It is only me-by-selfs. But I am looking.’ ‘Was only Ravager and me everywhere. Ravager said: ‘Sorry! I am getting blinder every day. Come and sit close, Stoopid.’ I jumped on sleepy-bench, like always, night-times. He said: ‘Sit closer. I am cold. Curl in between paws, so I can lay head-onback.’ So ’was.
Presently whiles, he said: ‘If this black frost holds, good-bye hunting.’ I said: ‘It is warm leaves-on night, with Shiny plate and rabbits-in-grass.’ He said: ‘I’ll take your word for it,’ and put head on my back, long whiles all still. Then he said: ‘I know now what it was I meant to tell you, Stoopid. Never wrench a hound as heavy as yourself at my time of life. It plays the dickens with your head and neck.’ And he hickied. I said: ‘Sick-up, and be comfy.’ He said: ‘It is not tum-hickey. It is in throat and neck. Lie a bit closer.’ He dropped head and sleeped. Me too. Presently whiles, he said: ‘Give me my place on the Bench or I’ll have the throat out of you!’ I said: ‘Here is all own bench and all own place.’ He said: ‘Sorry! I were with the old lot.’ Then he dropped head-on-me and sleep-hunted with hounds which he knew when he came up from Walk. I heard and I were afraid. I hunched-up-back to wake him. He said, all small, ‘Don’t go away! I am old blind hound! I am afraid! I am afraid of kennel-that-moves! I cannot see where here is!’ I said: ‘Here is Boots.’ He said: ‘Sorry! You are always true friend of Ravager. Keep close, in case if I bump.’ He sleeped more, and Shiny Plate went on across over. Then he said: ‘I can see! ’Member Bucket on my head? ’Member Cow-pups we was whacked for chasing-pounds-off? ’Member Bull-in-Park? I can see all those things, Stoopid. I am happy-hound! Sorry if I were a noosance!’
So he sleeped long whiles. Me too, next to chest between paws. When I unsleeped, Shiny Plate was going-to-ground, and hen-gents was saying at Walk, and fern-in-Park was all shiny. Ravager unsleeped slow. He yawned. He said, small: ‘Here is one happy hound, with ’nother happy day ahead!’ He shaked himself and sat up. He said loud: ‘It is morning! Sing, all you Sons of Benches! Sing!’ Then he fell down all-one-piece, and did not say. I lay still because I were afraid, because he did not say any more. Presently whiles, Slippers came quiet. He said: ‘I have winded Something which makes me afraid. What is?’ I said: ‘It is Ravager which does not say any more. I am afraid, too.’ He said: ‘I are sorry, but Ravager is big strong dog. He will be all right soon.’ He wented away and sat under Smallest’s window, in case of Smallest singing-out at getting-up-time, like he always does. I waited till my Adar opened kitchen-curtains for brekker. I called. She came quick. She said: ‘Oh, my Bootles! Me poor little Bootles!’ Ravager did not say her anything. She wented away to tell. I sat with, in case if he might unsleep. Soonwhiles, all-Peoples came—Smallest, Master-Missus, and Harry-with-Spade. Slippers too, which stayed by his Smallest and kissed hands to make him happy-pup. They took up to Orchard. Harry digged and put under like bone. But it were my Ravager. Smallest said dretful loud, and they wented away—all—all—’cept my Adar which sat on wheel-barrow and hickied. I tried to undig. She picked up, and carried to kitchen, and held me tight with apron over heads and hickied loud. They would not let me undig more. There was tie-up. After what whiles, I went for walk-abouts, in case if p’raps I could find him. I wented to his lie-down in fern. I wented to Walk and Wood Ride and Micefield, and all those old places which was. He were not there. So I came back and waited in Orchard, where he cast up blinded that night, which were my true friend Ravager, which were always good to me since we was almost pups, and never minded of my short legs or because I were stoopid. But he did not come . . . .
Please, this is finish for always about Ravager and me and all those times.
Please, I am very little small mis’able dog!. . . I do not understand! . . . I do not understand!