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7 \\NWoo) h NNW s 2 It 's two steps down and 'way, 'way back, From my big window stretches far the garden this little room of mine; green and cool; It is n’t very large and the walls are dear The wise old trees peep in; they love to and low; watch my rosy vine. They 're covered with gold trellises on which I have a little table that my great-aunt used a pretty vine in school, Winds all about, and in and out the pink- And my mother's set of dishes which now, est roses grow. of course, are mine.

& I have a little chest of drawers, a tiny sofa too, D o | of And such a queer old-fashioned chair my 3. & o §) grandma gave to me. - #: 6 * >! And when my darling daddy comes, what V - do you think I do? ^ LM I play he is Prince Charming and invite W him in for tea.

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THE MASTER OF HOUNDS By MERRITT P. ALLEN

BACK in the eighties, Doctor Storm fell heir to several millions and, desiring a countryplace, went up on the Vermont shore of Lake Champlain, a dozen or so miles from Burlington, and bought four thousand acres of farmland. He spent the next twenty years in improving the place, erecting magnificent buildings, interlacing the woods and fields with shrubbery-bordered macadam roads, capping the barren knolls with pines, introducing fine stock of every kind, and doing various other things that fancy and wellpaid experts suggested. When the doctor's son Harry came into his own it seemed that he could add nothing to the place. But Harry, who was something of a sportsman, had traveled, and, among other things, had hunted to hounds in England. He found it so much to his liking, that when he returned he brought with him twenty pure-bred English foxhounds, half-adozen hunting-horses, and Andy Madden, Master of Hounds. That autumn the hills and valleys of Storm Acres rang to the mellow notes of the hunting-horn, the cry of the pack, and the shouts of the huntsmen. From year to year it was repeated, until “The Hunt” was an institution there. Time kept on and eventually took the doctor with it, never to return. Young Harry became middle-aged—a man of affairs, but still a man of sport; the pack increased to sixty or more; the horses, to a score; and Andy, now old Andy, had many assistants. It is no small task to master five dozen active foxhounds, to be responsible for each individual's health, behavior, and training, and at the same time keep an eye on twenty

horses, which is also part of the master's .

work, for when the hunt comes he must

answer for everything. Andy and his wife had a cottage on the sunny side of a pinecrested hill, but he spent the most of his time in the ring barn. It was an enormous building, with a covered ring in the center so large that in bad weather the hunters, both canine and equine, could be exercised there. Around this ring were the stables and kennels, with convenient grain-rooms and hay-lofts for the horses, and refrigerators and kitchen where the dogs' food was kept and prepared. Behind these stretched paddocks and pastures, pens and runs half concealed among the trees. One winter, death came quickly to a neighbor and his wife, but spared their sixyear-old son. “We can not let the lad go to the orphanage,” said Andy and his wife, so they kept the boy. He was a stalwart, upstanding little fellow, this George, and not once did his foster-parents regret their decision. On the first day he accompanied Andy to the ring barn, and from that moment his life centered there. It was like introducing a duck to a pond. Home from school, he would lay his books on the table, get into his old clothes, and away he would go to busy himself among the horses and dogs. He grew up with the colts and puppies, as other children do with human playmates. He spoke their language, it almost seemed, so well did they understand each other. “A lad after my own heart,” Andy would say, and gave the boy a freer hand and greater responsibility. When he was ten he could ride like a Cossack, and that summer he began exercising the hounds. To take a dog out on a leash for a stroll is one thing; but to mount a high-spirited, eager thoroughbred and go tearing across country for twenty miles in charge of sixty or seventy great bellowing, leaping, hunt-hungry foxhounds is quite another. But George did it day after day and reveled in it, for it was life to him as to them, the sweetest kind of life. As autumn approached, the mounts and pack were always put in shape for the hunt; or rather, their training began in early summer. Wild foxes could not be depended upon to be obliging when desired, so a pen of captive ones were kept on hand. The best one or two of these would be released on the great day, but they were too choice for everyday use, so the hounds were trained in another manner: a bag was filled with litter from the fox-pen, attached to a rope, and dragged behind a horse. This gave the true scent and trained the pack to holding the trail almost as well as a live fox could do. Not a dog but would have followed that bag to the end of the earth if he had the strength. The summer he was sixteen, George graduated from high school. He would not consider further indoor life, so Andy and his wife wisely decided that college, to a boy who does not want it, is useless, and dropped the subject. Shortly after that, Andy had a talk with Harry Storm. “I am sorry to tell you, sir,” he began, as they leaned over the paddock admiring Comet, the finest horse that ever trod Storm Acres, “but you will be getting a new master of hounds soon.” The millionaire looked up quickly, for he loved the old man. “Why, Andy, what 's the trouble?” he asked. “The rheumatiz is after me,” Andy answered slowly. “When the first frost comes I can't sit a horse short of murder.” “But, Andy, the hunt will not be the hunt without you. There is no one to handle the pack.” “If you will allow a suggestion, I think the boy George could.” “He is only a boy.” “An uncommon one, if I do say it.” “I have watched him some. Does he really understand dogs?” “Understand 'em? Pardon, sir, but he understands 'em better than you understand your own children. He knows every dog as the palm of his hand, and they know him.” “And horses?” “The same. He 's exercised Comet for a year. He 'd give his life for a horse or dog.” “He might do in the field, but could he keep them in condition out of season?”

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health comes first.

“He could. But I could help him with that for some time yet, you being willing.” Comet the magnificent thrust his nose into his master's hand, but Storm paid no attention. “I hate to think of giving you up, Andy,” he said slowly, “but certainly your I must not be selfish. I will consider the boy because of your recommendation; but I would like a chance to try him out, to see what stuff he is made of.” Less than a week later he had the chance. It came on a night when a groom, the only man who slept in the ring barn, was away and had hired George to take his place. There was seldom anything to do there, but the groom was supposed to make the rounds once during the night to see that everything was all right. There was no stated hour for this, but George was awake at two o'clock and so started out. He walked leisurely along the south hall and out upon the balcony that ran completely around the ring twelve feet from the ground. This balcony had been built for convenience in connecting the different rooms on the second floor, and was also used as a grand stand by those who cared to watch the horses being trained below, for from any part of it the whole ring was visible. As part of his watchman's duty, George snapped on the long row of arc-lights—and stopped in his tracks. On the far side of the ring was a motor-truck, and in the truck was Comet! At the flashing of the lights, two men dropped a plank bridge they were lifting, and up which they had led the horse into the truck, and sprang into the cab. Horse-thieves!— the thought chilled George—horse-thieves, who had forced the lock on the big gates and were making away with Comet, probably over the border into Canada; with Comet, the pride of Storm Acres, one of the most valuable hunting-horses in America! Without a plan of action, George ran along the gallery. There was a moment's delay in starting the motor, but as the boy reached a point above the gates the truck started. He thought of jumping down upon it as it passed, but saw that that would be useless as well as dangerous. At his feet lay the scent-bag, full of litter from the foxpen, ready for the early morning hunt. It was always kept up there, well away from the hounds and convenient to throw down to a man on horseback. George snatched it up, and, with it, the long rope to which it was attached—a small, but very strong, rope looped at one end to be slipped over a saddle pommel. He had a sudden wild hope that with that rope he might lasso one of the truck's headlights and by a sharp yank tear it loose and perhaps put out both lights.

"THERE WAS A PANDEMONIUM OF YELPS AND BARKS AND THE PACK Peou RED OUT”

That would hinder the thieves some. He pulled the loop wide, leaned over the balcony as the truck shot beneath, and threw. Too late! The rope hit the top of the cab, glanced off, and settled harmlessly and firmly about the last stake in the body. Rope, bag, and all were snapped from George's hands and disappeared through the gate. The thieves had escaped. Comet was gone!

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considerable distance" to a house where there was one. By the time he got there, aroused the sleeping occupant, rang up Harry Storm, who must gather a party before he could start the pursuit, the thieves would have a long start; and no one would know, besides, in which direction they had gone. There was no night telephone service, so some one would have to go to the village three miles distant and get the operator up before a general alarm could be sent out. It seemed an endless task, when every second was so precious. As he stood undecided, he noticed the mark in the road dust made by the scent-bag when it was dragged away behind the truck, and he had an idea. It was a daring idea, one that suited the moment's necessity for quick action, and he acted. Running across the ring, he entered the stable where Dash, Comet's hunting mate, was kept, and in record time had saddled and bridled that surprised horse. Mounting, he cantered across the ring and, without getting down, threw open the kennel door, took the big hunting-horn from its peg, and blew a long blast. Instantly there was a pandemonium of yelps and barks and the pack poured out. The dogs blinked in the bright electric light, but acted mechanically from habit. Old Bruce, the great leader, sprang into his place, and a minute later had picked up the scent at the gate and was away into the night, the

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pack at his heels in full cry. George pressed hard after on Dash, and the hunt was on. The way led past Andy's house, and the old man, aroused by the clamor, was at his bedroom window. “They have stolen Comet and taken him away in a truck,” George shouted, barely pulling up. “I 'm after them with the hounds. Give the alarm and follow us.” And he was off into the woods. “Comet!” Andy cried, gripping the window-sill. “Stolen Comet!” And then in a husky voice, “Ah! the splendid lad!” The pack tore along the hard road, through the woods, down the hill, up, down, and on into the main road. George paused, watched them a moment, and galloped to the gatekeeper's door. “They 're going north,” he yelled at a wondering face in an upstairs window. “Come down here and when Mr. Storm or Andy comes along tell him they have gone north.” He loosened his reins and was away like an arrow. This was a hunt, the greatest hunt of their lives, and horse and boy thrilled with it. The magnificent thoroughbred sailed like a swallow down the long smooth road. Ahead in the starlight sped the pack, a roadful of clamorous black and white and tan going full tilt. This was a hunt! A hunt—a hunt— a hunt—a hunt! The galloping hoofs seemed to beat out the words, and the boy's pulses caught up the rhythm—a hunt—a hunt—a hunt—a hunt—on into the night. George could not guess where the truck was, but he knew it must be miles away. He had no idea of catching it, but thought the dogs might trail it until Harry Storm had telephoned ahead for help and taken up the pursuit in one of his fast cars. In this way no unnecessary time would be lost. If the thieves were taking the straight road to Canada, they would pass through Burlington, where the police would stand a good chance of getting them. On the other hand, knowing that they were pursued, would they not take to the back roads through the more thinly populated districts? That was a question for the dogs to settle. George thanked his lucky stars for the fluke by which he had brought the scent-bag into play, and hoped that the rope would hold. After three miles, old Bruce swerved to the right and led the pack up a steep, stony cross-road. The thieves were afraid to enter the city. This was a region of many pastures and few houses, a wild country well

wooded with thick second growth. It was dark under the trees, and the road grew worse and worse until it seemed almost impassable for a truck, but the pack kept steadily on, less noisy now and more businesslike. They emerged from the woods, and Bruce turned again to the right, the dogs behind him flowing over, under, and through a fourboard gate. Dash cleared it with a will, and George laughed for joy while in mid air. They were in a pasture now, without a sign of a road to follow, and it occurred to the boy that perhaps the thieves had not intended to reach Canada that night. This piece of wild land might belong to one of the gang, and would furnish a fairly safe hiding-place until the first heat of the search was over. There was a thousand-to-one chance against any one being able to follow them this far in the night; and once safely here, they could conceal the truck and Comet in the woods and bide their time to venture out again. At these thoughts, George became uneasy. He was no coward, but he had no special desire to tackle two desperate and armed men empty handed. The sky was beginning to lighten with the summer dawn, and as Dash climbed the pasture hill the boy turned in his saddle and looked over the country, but there was no sign of Storm's car, no sound, no light except that in the lighthouse across the lake. Probably Storm and Andy had lost the trail at one of the turnings. George faced ahead resolutely; let come what might, he was going to stick by the pack and see the thing through. A fine hunter he would be to turn back when the trail became fresh! At the top of the hill the indefatigable Dash was off again, this time through clumps of sweet-fern, witch-hazel and white birch. In the increasing light, George began to catch glimpses of the truck tracks, and at the same time the cry of the pack increased, as it always did when they were getting “warm.” Dash understood and lengthened his stride eagerly. They rounded a knoll and came upon the hounds huddled at the edge of a clearing. In the center of the clearing stood a man with a revolver that spoke unhesitatingly at sight of horse and rider. A bullet clipped the boy's shoulder, and more from surprise than pain he cried out. Foxhounds are not man-hunters, but they are dogs, and any dog will fight for his master. At sound of George's cry, old Bruce loosed a growl and lunged at the man. The gun spoke again—six times; two dogs went down,

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