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0105_001E V. A Friend of Justice Henry van Dyke

Section I.

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What did Pichou know about that ominous sign? No one had ever told him. He had no looking-glass. He ran up to the porch where the men were sitting, as innocent as a Sunday-school scholar coming to the superintendent's desk to receive a prize. But when old Grant, who had grown pursy and nervous from long living on the fat of the land at Ottawa, saw the black patch and the gleaming eye, he anticipated evil; so he hitched one foot up on the porch, crying "Get out!" and with the other foot he planted a kick on the side of the dog's head.

Pichou's nerve-centres had not been shaken by high living. They acted with absolute precision and without a tremor. His sense of justice was automatic, and his teeth were fixed through the leg of the chief factor's boot, just below the calf.

For two minutes there was a small chaos in the post of the Honourable Hudson's Bay Company at Mingan. Grant howled bloody murder; MacIntosh swore in three languages and yelled for his dog- whip; three Indians and two French-Canadians wielded sticks and fence-pickets. But order did not arrive until Dan Scott knocked the burning embers from his big pipe on the end of the dog's nose. Pichou gasped, let go his grip, shook his head, and loped back to his quarters behind the barn, bruised, blistered, and intolerably perplexed by the mystery of life.

As he lay on the sand, licking his wounds, he remembered many strange things. First of all, there was the trouble with his mother

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She was a Labrador Husky, dirty yellowish gray, with bristling neck, sharp fangs, and green eyes, like a wolf. Her name was Babette. She had a fiendish temper, but no courage. His father was supposed to be a huge black and white Newfoundland that came over in a schooner from Miquelon. Perhaps it was from him that the black patch was inherited. And perhaps there were other things in the inheritance, too, which came from this nobler strain of blood Pichon's unwillingness to howl with the other dogs when they made night hideous; his silent, dignified ways; his sense of fair play; his love of the water; his longing for human society and friendship.

But all this was beyond Pichou's horizon, though it was within his nature. He remembered only that Babette had taken a hate for him, almost from the first, and had always treated him worse than his all-yellow brothers. She would have starved him if she could. Once when he was half grown, she fell upon him for some small offence and tried to throttle him. The rest of the pack looked on snarling and slavering. He caught Babette by the fore-leg and broke the bone. She hobbled away, shrieking. What else could he do? Must a dog let himself be killed by his mother?

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The Ruling Passion
Henry van Dyke

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