Ellis Butler.

That Pup





If that is all, I said, I will move the stake. I will put him on the other side of the street.

If you would like him any better there, said the dog-catcher, you can move him, but it would make no difference to me. Then he would be on the private property of the man who owns the property across the street.

But, my good man, I said, how is a man to get rid of a dog he does not want?

The dog-catcher frowned.

That, he said, seems to be one of the things our lawmakers have not thought of. But whatever you do, I advise you to be careful. Do not try any underhand methods, for now that my attention has been called to the dog, I shall have to watch his future and see that he is not badly used. I am an officer of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals as well as a dog-catcher, and I warn you to be careful what you do with that dog.

Then he got on his wagon again and drove away.

The next morning I was a nervous wreck, for Fluff had howled all night, and Murchison came over soon after breakfast. He was accompanied by Brownlee and Massett.

Now, I am the last man in the world to do anything that my neighbors would take offense at, he said, as soon as they were seated on my porch, and Brownlee and Massett love dogs as few men ever love them; but something has to be done about Fluff. The time has come when we must sleep with our windows open, and neither Massett nor Brownlee nor I got a minute of sleep last night.

Neither did I, I said.

That is different entirely, said Murchison. Fluff is your dog, and if you want to keep a howling dog, you would be inclined to put up with the howl, but we have no interest in the dog at all. We do not own him, and we consider him a nuisance. We have decided to ask you to get rid of him. It is unjust to your neighbors to keep a howling dog. You will have to get rid of Fluff.

Exactly! said Massett. For ten nights I have not slept a wink, and neither has Murchison, nor has Brownlee

Nor I, I added.

Exactly! said Massett. And four men going without sleep for ten nights is equal to one man going without sleep forty nights, which would kill any man. Practically, Fluff has killed a man, and is a murderer, and as you are responsible for him, it is the same as if you were a murderer yourself; and as you were one of the four who did not sleep, you may also be said to have committed suicide. But we do not mean to give you into the hands of the law until we have remonstrated with you. But we feel deeply, and the more so because you could easily give us some nights of sleep in which to recuperate.

If you can tell me how, I said, I will gladly do it. I need sleep more at this minute than I ever needed it in my life.

Very well, said Massett; just get out your shotgun and show it to Fluff. When he sees the gun he will run. He will take wings like a duck, and while he is away we can get a few nights rest.

That will be something. And if we are not in good condition by that time, you can show him the shotgun again. Why! he exclaimed, as he grew enthusiastic over his idea, you can keep Fluff eternally on the wing!

I felt that I needed a vacation from Fluff. I unchained him and went in to get my shotgun. Then I showed him the shotgun, and we had two good nights of sleep. After that, whenever we felt that we needed a few nights in peace, I just showed Fluff the shotgun and he went away on one of his flying trips.

But it was Brownlee Brownlee knew all about dogs who first called my attention to what he called the periodicity of Fluff.

Now, you would never have noticed it, he said one day when Murchison and I were sitting on my porch with him, but I did. That is because I have studied dogs. I know all about dogs, and I know Fluff can run. This is because he has greyhound blood in him. With a little wolf. That is why I studied Fluff, and how I came to notice that every time you show him the shotgun he is gone just forty-eight hours. Now, you go and get your shotgun and try it.

So I tried it, and Fluff went away as he always did; and Brownlee sat there bragging about how Fluff could run, and about how wonderful he was himself to have thought of the periodicity of Fluff.

Did you see how he went? he asked enthusiastically. That gait was a thirty-mile-an-hour gait. Why, that dog travels he travels He took out a piece of paper and a pencil and figured it out. In forty-eight hours he travels fourteen hundred and forty miles! He gets seven hundred and twenty miles from home!

It doesnt seem possible, said Murchison. No, said Brownlee frankly, it doesnt. He went over his figures again. But that is figured correctly, he said. If but maybe I did not gauge his speed correctly. And I didnt allow for stopping to turn around at the end of the out sprint. What we ought to have on that dog is a pedometer. If I owned a dog like that, the first thing I would get would be a pedometer.

I told Brownlee that if he wished I would give him Fluff, and he could put a pedometer, or anything else, on him; but Brownlee remembered he had some work to do and went home.

But he was right about the periodicity of Fluff. Almost on the minute at the end of forty-eight hours Fluff returned, and Brownlee and Murchison, who were there to receive him, were as pleased as if Fluff had been going away instead of returning.

That dog, said Brownlee, is a wonderful animal. If Sir Isaac Newton had that dog, he would have proved something or other of universal value by him. That dog is plumb full of ratios and things, if we only knew how to get them out of him. I bet if Sir Isaac Newton had had Fluff as long as you have had him he would have had a formula all worked out x/y(2xz-dog)=2(4ab-3x) or something of that kind, so that anyone with half a knowledge of algebra could figure out the square root of any dog any time of the day or night. I could get up a Law of Dog myself if I had the time, with a dog like Fluff to work on. If one dog travels fourteen hundred and forty miles at the sight of a gun, how far would two dogs travel? All that sort of thing. Stop! he ejaculated suddenly. If one dog travels forty-eight hours at the sight of one gun, how far would he travel at the sight of two guns? Murchison, he cried enthusiastically, Ive got it! Ive got the fundamental law of periodicity in dogs! Go get your gun, he said to me, and I will get mine.

He stopped at the gate long enough to say:

I tell you, Murchison, we are on the verge of a mighty important discovery a mighty important discovery! If this thing turns out right, we will be at the root of all dog nature. We will have the great underlying law of scared dogs.

He came back with his shotgun carefully hidden behind him, and then he and I showed Fluff the two guns simultaneously. For one minute Fluff was startled. Then he vanished. All we saw of him as he went was the dust he left in his wake. Massett had come over when Brownlee brought over his gun, and Murchison and I sat and smoked while Massett and Brownlee fought out the periodicity of Fluff. Brownlee said that for two guns Fluff would traverse the same distance as for one, but twice as quickly; but Massett said Brownlee was foolish, and that anyone who knew anything about dogs would know that no dog could go faster than Fluff had gone at the sight of one gun. Massett said Fluff would travel at his regular one-gun speed, but would travel a two-gun distance. He said Fluff would not be back for ninety-six hours. Brownlee said he would be back in forty-eight hours, but both agreed that he would travel twenty-eight hundred and eighty miles. Then Murchison went home and got a map, and showed Brownlee and Massett that if Fluff traveled fourteen hundred miles in the direction he had started he would have to do the last two hundred miles as a swim, because he would strike the Atlantic Ocean at the twelve hundredth mile. But Brownlee just turned up his nose and sneered. He said Fluff was no fool, and that when he reached the coast he would veer to the north and travel along the beach for two hundred miles or so. Then Massett said that he had been thinking about Brownlees theory, and he knew no dog could do what Brownlee said Fluff would do sixty miles an hour. He said he agreed that a dog like Fluff could do thirty miles an hour if he did not stop to howl, because his howl represented about sixty horse power, but that no dog could ever do sixty miles an hour. Then Brownlee got mad and said Massett was a born idiot, and that Fluff not only could do sixty miles, but he could keep on increasing his speed at the rate of thirty miles per gun indefinitely. Then they went home mad, but they agreed to be on hand when Fluff returned. But they were not. Fluff came home in twenty-four hours, almost to the minute.

When I went over and told Brownlee, he wouldnt believe it at first, but when I showed him Fluff, he cheered up and clapped me on the back.

I tell you, he exclaimed, we have made a great discovery. We have discovered the law of scared dogs. A dog is scared in inverse ratio to the number of guns! Now, it wouldnt be fair to try Fluff again without giving him a breathing spell, but to-morrow I will come over, and we will try him with four guns. We will work this thing out thoroughly, he said, before we write to the Academy of Science, or whatever a person would write to, so that there will be no mistake. Before we give this secret to the world we want to have it complete. We will try Fluff with any number of guns, and with pistols and rifles, and if we can get one we will try him with a cannon. We will keep at it for years and years. You and I will be famous.

I told Brownlee that if he wanted to experiment for years with Fluff he could have him, but that all I wanted was to get rid of him; but Brownlee wouldnt hear of that. He said he would buy Fluff of me if he was rich enough, but that Fluff was so valuable he couldnt think of buying him. He would let me keep him. He said he would be over the next day to try Fluff again.

So the next day he and Murchison and Massett came over and held a consultation on my porch to decide how many guns they would try on Fluff. They could not agree. Massett wanted to try four guns and have Fluff absent only half a day, but Brownlee wanted to have me break my shotgun in two and try that on Fluff. He said that according to the law of scared dogs, a half a gun, working it out by inverse ratio, would keep Fluff away for twice as long as one gun, which would be ninety-six hours; and while they were arguing it out Fluff came around the house unsuspectingly and saw us on the porch. He gave us one startled glance and started north by northeast at what Brownlee said was the most marvelous rate of speed he ever saw. Then he and Massett got down off the porch and looked for guns, but there were none in sight. There wasnt anything that looked the least like a gun. Not even a broomstick. Brownlee said he knew what was the matter Fluff was having a little practice run to keep in good condition, and would be back in a few hours; but, judging by the look he gave us as he went, I thought he would be gone longer than that.

I could see that Brownlee was worried, and as day followed day without any return of Fluff, Murchison and I tried to cheer him up, showing him how much better we all slept while Fluff was away; but it did not cheer up poor Brownlee. He had set his faith on that dog, and the dog had deceived him. We all became anxious about Brownlees health he moped around so; and just when we began to be afraid he was going into a decline he cheered up, and came over as bright and happy as a man could be.

I told you so! he exclaimed joyfully, as soon as he was inside my gate. And it makes me ashamed of myself that I didnt think of it the moment I saw Fluff start off. You will never see that dog again.

I told Brownlee that that was good news, anyway, even if it did upset his law of scared dogs; but he smiled a superior smile.

Disprove nothing! he said. It proves my law. Didnt I say in the first place that the time a dog would be gone was in inverse ratio to the number of guns? Well, the inverse ratio to no guns is infinite time that is how long Fluff will be gone; that is how long he will run. Why, that dog will never stop running while there is any dog left in him. He cant help it it is the law of scared dogs.

Do you mean to say, I asked him, that that dog will run on and on forever?

Exactly! said Brownlee proudly. As long as there is a particle of him left he will keep on running. That is the law.

Maybe Brownlee was right. I dont know. But what I would like to know is the name of some one who would like a dog that looks like Fluff, and is his size, and that howls like him and that answers to his name. A dog of that kind returned to Murchisons house a long time before infinity, and I would like to get rid of him. Brownlee says it isnt Fluff; that his law couldnt be wrong, and that this is merely a dog that resembles Fluff. Maybe Brownlee is right, but I would like to know some one that wants a dog with a richly melodious voice.

THE END

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