Книга Three Men on the Bummel. Содержание - Chapter XI

"I beg your pardon, what was that you said about our milk?"

"I said nothing about your milk," retorts the other dog, in a tone of gentle innocence. "I merely said it was a fine day, and asked the price of chalk."

"Oh, you asked the price of chalk, did you? Would you like to know?"

"Yes, thanks; somehow I thought you would be able to tell me."

"You are quite right, I can. It's worth-"

"Oh, do come along!" says the old lady, who is tired and hot, and anxious to finish her round.

"Yes, but hang it all; did you hear what he hinted about our milk?"

"Oh, never mind him! There's a tram coming round the corner: we shall all get run over."

"Yes, but I do mind him; one has one's proper pride. He asked the price of chalk, and he's going to know it! It's worth just twenty times as much-"

"You'll have the whole thing over, I know you will," cries the old lady, pathetically, struggling with all her feeble strength to haul him back. "Oh dear, oh dear! I do wish I had left you at home."

The tram is bearing down upon them; a cab-driver is shouting at them; another huge brute, hoping to be in time to take a hand, is dragging a bread cart, followed by a screaming child, across the road from the opposite side; a small crowd is collecting; and a policeman is hastening to the scene.

"It's worth," says the milk dog, "just twenty-times as much as you'll be worth before I've done with you."

"Oh, you think so, do you?"

"Yes, I do, you grandson of a French poodle, you cabbage-eating-"

"There! I knew you'd have it over," says the poor milk-woman. "I told him he'd have it over."

But he is busy, and heeds her not. Five minutes later, when the traffic is renewed, when the bread girl has collected her muddy rolls, and the policeman has gone off with the name and address of everybody in the street, he consents to look behind him.

"It IS a bit of an upset," he admits. Then shaking himself free of care, he adds, cheerfully, "But I guess I taught him the price of chalk. He won't interfere with us again, I'm thinking."

"I'm sure I hope not," says the old lady, regarding dejectedly the milky road.

But his favourite sport is to wait at the top of the hill for another dog, and then race down. On these occasions the chief occupation of the other fellow is to run about behind, picking up the scattered articles, loaves, cabbages, or shirts, as they are jerked out. At the bottom of the hill, he stops and waits for his friend.

"Good race, wasn't it?" he remarks, panting, as the Human comes up, laden to the chin. "I believe I'd have won it, too, if it hadn't been for that fool of a small boy. He was right in my way just as I turned the corner. YOU NOTICED HIM? Wish I had, beastly brat! What's he yelling like that for? BECAUSE I KNOCKED HIM DOWN AND RAN OVER HIM? Well, why didn't he get out of the way? It's disgraceful, the way people leave their children about for other people to tumble over. Halloa! did all those things come out? You couldn't have packed them very carefully; you should see to a thing like that. YOU DID NOT DREAM OF MY TEARING DOWN THE HILL TWENTY MILES AN HOUR? Surely, you knew me better than to expect I'd let that old Schneider's dog pass me without an effort. But there, you never think. You're sure you've got them all? YOU BELIEVE SO? I shouldn't 'believe' if I were you; I should run back up the hill again and make sure. YOU FEEL TOO TIRED? Oh, all right! don't blame me if anything is missing, that's all."

He is so self-willed. He is cock-sure that the correct turning is the second on the right, and nothing will persuade him that it is the third. He is positive he can get across the road in time, and will not be convinced until he sees the cart smashed up. Then he is very apologetic, it is true. But of what use is that? As he is usually of the size and strength of a young bull, and his human companion is generally a weak-kneed old man or woman, or a small child, he has his way. The greatest punishment his proprietor can inflict upon him is to leave him at home, and take the cart out alone. But your German is too kind-hearted to do this often.

That he is harnessed to the cart for anybody's pleasure but his own it is impossible to believe; and I am confident that the German peasant plans the tiny harness and fashions the little cart purely with the hope of gratifying his dog. In other countries-in Belgium, Holland and France-I have seen these draught dogs ill— treated and over-worked; but in Germany, never. Germans abuse animals shockingly. I have seen a German stand in front of his horse and call it every name he could lay his tongue to. But the horse did not mind it. I have seen a German, weary with abusing his horse, call to his wife to come out and assist him. When she came, he told her what the horse had done. The recital roused the woman's temper to almost equal heat with his own; and standing one each side of the poor beast, they both abused it. They abused its dead mother, they insulted its father; they made cutting remarks about its personal appearance, its intelligence, its moral sense, its general ability as a horse. The animal bore the torrent with exemplary patience for awhile; then it did the best thing possible to do under the circumstances. Without losing its own temper, it moved quietly away. The lady returned to her washing, and the man followed it up the street, still abusing it.

A kinder-hearted people than the Germans there is no need for. Cruelty to animal or child is a thing almost unknown in the land. The whip with them is a musical instrument; its crack is heard from morning to night, but an Italian coachman that in the streets of Dresden I once saw use it was very nearly lynched by the indignant crowd. Germany is the only country in Europe where the traveller can settle himself comfortably in his hired carriage, confident that his gentle, willing friend between the shafts will be neither over-worked nor cruelly treated.

Chapter XI

Black Forest House: and the sociability therein-Its perfume— George positively declines to remain in bed after four o'clock in the morning-The road one cannot miss-My peculiar extra instinct— An ungrateful party-Harris as a scientist-His cheery confidence— The village: where it was, and where it ought to have been— George: his plan-We promenade a la Francais-The German coachman asleep and awake-The man who spreads the English language abroad.

There was one night when, tired out and far from town or village, we slept in a Black Forest farmhouse. The great charm about the Black Forest house is its sociability. The cows are in the next room, the horses are upstairs, the geese and ducks are in the kitchen, while the pigs, the children, and the chickens live all over the place.

You are dressing, when you hear a grunt behind you.

"Good-morning! Don't happen to have any potato peelings in here? No, I see you haven't; good-bye."

Next there is a cackle, and you see the neck of an old hen stretched round the corner.

"Fine morning, isn't it? You don't mind my bringing this worm of mine in here, do you? It is so difficult in this house to find a room where one can enjoy one's food with any quietness. From a chicken I have always been a slow eater, and when a dozen-there, I thought they wouldn't leave me alone. Now they'll all want a bit. You don't mind my getting on the bed, do you? Perhaps here they won't notice me."

While you are dressing various shock heads peer in at the door; they evidently regard the room as a temporary menagerie. You cannot tell whether the heads belong to boys or girls; you can only hope they are all male. It is of no use shutting the door, because there is nothing to fasten it by, and the moment you are gone they push it open again. You breakfast as the Prodigal Son is generally represented feeding: a pig or two drop in to keep you company; a party of elderly geese criticise you from the door; you gather from their whispers, added to their shocked expression, that they are talking scandal about you. Maybe a cow will condescend to give a glance in.

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