|Audio CD Library Binding||2011|
|Library Binding (Reprint)||2008-04-18||£10.53|
|Audio CD (Unabridged)||2006-02-14||£12.63||3|
|Paperback (New Ed)||2004-01-15||£5.30||64|
|Audio CD (Unabridged)||2001-05|
|Audio Cassette (Unabridged)||2000-05||£20.58|
|School & Library Binding||1999-10||£11.90||145|
|School & Library Binding (Bound for Schools & Libraries ed.)||1997-01-01||£12.33||148|
|Audio Cassette (Unabridged edition)||1995-12-01||£7.99|
|Paperback (New Ed)||1995-06-01||£4.99||128|
|Paperback (New Ed)||1991-02-01||£2.99||128|
|Hardcover (Large Print)||1989-06-01||£10.40||211|
|Hardcover (Large Print edition)||1989-04-11||£7.50||168|
|Mass Market Paperback (Reissue)||1984-06-01||£2.11||10|
|Library Binding (Large Print)||1979-05-01||£5.58|
|Mass Market Paperback||1978-07-01|
|Mass Market Paperback||1978-07-01|
|Mass Market Paperback||1978-07-01|
|Mass Market Paperback (Unabridged edition)||1976-07-01||£1.95||128|
|Paperback (Unabridged edition)||1974-01-01||£1.20||126|
|Hardcover (Unabridged edition)||1974-01-01||£0.38||126|
|Hardcover (Unabridged edition)||1974-01-01||£0.75||152|
|Mass Market Paperback||1974|
|Paperback (Later Printing)||1968|
|Mass Market Paperback (Bantam Pathfinder ed)||1968||145|
|Mass Market Paperback (Reprint)||1965|
|Paperback (3rd Impression Thus)||1964|
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|Hardcover (9th. Impression)||1964||152|
|Mass Market Paperback||1963||126|
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|Mass Market Paperback||1962-01-01|
|Hardcover (7th Impression)||1962|
|Hardcover (Second (Revised) Edition)||1961-06-01||£10.50||152|
|Hardcover (FiFTTH EDITION)||1961|
|Hardcover (Seventh Printing)||1961|
|Mass Market Paperback (Reissue)||1920-01-01||£6.50||160|
|School & Library Binding||1789|
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By Sheila Burnford
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on 2018-02-13
TEEN AND YOUNG ADULT / Fiction, JUVENILE FICTION
Fans of Old Yeller, Where the Red Fern Grows, and Shiloh will love this timeless classic about two dogs and a cat that embark on a journey to return to their owner and inspired the movie Homeward Bound.
An inquisitive Labrador retriever, friendly bull terrier, and courageous Siamese cat set out through the Canadian wilderness to find their owner in this truly “incredible” adventure.
Instinct tells them that the way home lies to the west and together the three house pets face hunger, the natural elements, and wild forest animals as they make their way home to the family they love.
This beloved classic that inspired the movie Homeward Bound has captured the hearts of generations of readers. The lengths to which these three animals will go for each other and for their owner make for a thrilling and thoroughly unforgettable tale.
“Captivating! A tale of charm [and] high drama.”—The New York Times
“A classic.”—The Atlantic
“From the youngest child…to the oldest grown-up, there is something here for everyone.”—The Horn Book
“An incredible book! A beautiful story so moving that it stays in the mind constantly. It is a gem to be treasured.”—The St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“I have read The Incredible Journey with much enjoyment. Obviously the author has a great knowledge of animals and a great love for them.“—Joy Adamson, author of Born Free
“A clever story and evocative writing will keep animal lovers and adventure fans turning the pages.”—Common Sense Media
Pacific Northwest Young Reader’s Choice Award Winner
William Allen White Award Winner
Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award Winner
3D preview available at the top of this page...
by Sheila Burnford Illustrations by Carl Burger DELACORTE PRESS
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. Text copyright ? 1960, 1961 by Sheila Burnford Text copyright renewed ? 1988 by Jonquil Graves, Juliet Pin, and Peronelle Robbins Cover art copyright ? 2018 by Vivienne To Interior illustrations copyright ? 1996 by Carl Burger All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York. Originally published in different form in Woman's Illustrated, London, in 1960 and subsequently published in the United States by McCall's magazine, in 1961. First published in hardcover in the United States by Little, Brown, Boston, in 1961. Subsequently published in the United States by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, New York, in 1996. Delacorte Press is a registered trademark and the colophon is a trademark of Penguin Random House LLC. Reprinted by arrangement with the author's estate. Visit us on the Web! rhcbooks.com Educators and librarians, for a variety of teaching tools, visit us at RHTeachersLibrarians.com Library of Congress Cataloging-'in-'Publication Data is available upon request. ISBN 978-0-385-32279-9 (hc) ? ISBN 978-0-307-77834-5 (ebook) The text of this book is set in 12.25-'point Sabon. Interior design by Leslie Mechanic Printed in the United States of America 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 Random House Children's Books supports the First Amendment and celebrates the right to read.
To My Parents, I. P. and W.G.C. Every, and to their grandchildren Peronelle, Jonquil and Juliet, who grew up under the despotic white paw of dear Bill
THE BEASTS I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain'd, I stand and look at them long and long. They do not sweat and whine about their condition, They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins, They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things, Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thosands of years ago, Not one is respectable or industrious over the whole earth. 'Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, 'Song of Myself,' 32
his journey took place in a part of Canada which lies in the northwestern part of the great sprawling province of Ontario. It is a vast area of deeply wooded wilderness''of endless chains of lonely lakes and rushing rivers. Thousands of miles of country roads, rough timber lanes, overgrown tracks leading to abandoned mines, and unmapped trails snake across its length and breadth. It is a country of far-'flung, lonely farms and a few widely scattered small towns and villages, of lonely trappers? shacks and logging camps. Most of its industry comes from the great pulp and paper companies who work their timber concessions deep in the very heart of the forests; and from the mines, for it is rich in minerals. Prospectors work through it; there are trappers and Indians; and sometimes hunters who fly into the virgin 1
lakes in small amphibious aircraft; there are pioneers with visions beyond their own life span; and there are those who have left the bustle of civilization forever, to sink their identity in an unquestioning acceptance of the wilderness. But all these human beings together are as a handful of sand upon the ocean shores, and for the most part there is silence and solitude and an uninterrupted way of life for the wild animals that abound there: moose and deer, brown and black bears; lynx and fox; beaver, muskrat and otter; fishers, mink and marten. The wild duck rests there and the Canada goose, for this is a fringe of the central migratory flyway. The clear tree-'fringed lakes and rivers are filled with speckled trout and steelheads, pike and pickerel and whitefish. Almost half the year the country is blanketed with snow; and for weeks at a time the temperature may stay many degrees below zero; there is no slow growth of spring, but a sudden short burst of summer when everything grows with wild abandon; and as suddenly it is the fall again. To many who live there, fall is the burnished crown of the year, with the crisp sunny days and exhilarating air of the Northland; with clear blue skies, and drifting leaves, and, as far as the eye can see, the endless panorama of glorious rich flaming color in the turning trees. This is the country over which the three travelers
passed, and it was in the fall that they traveled, in the days of Indian summer. John Longridge lived several miles from one of the small towns in an old stone house that had been in his family for several generations. He was a tall, austerely pleasant man of about forty, a bachelor, and a writer by profession, being the author of several historical biographies. He spent much of his time traveling and gathering material for his books, but always returned to the comfortable old stone house for the actual writing. He liked the house to himself during these creative periods, and for many years had enjoyed an ideal arrangement whereby his domestic wants were cared for by a middle-'aged couple, Mrs. Oakes and her husband, Bert, who lived in a small cottage about half a mile away. Mrs. Oakes came in every day to look after the house and cook the main meals. Bert was in charge of the furnace, the garden and all the odd jobs. They came and went about their business without disturbing Longridge, and there was complete accord among them all. On the eve of the incredible journey, towards the end of September, Longridge sat by a crackling log fire in his comfortable library. The curtains were drawn and the firelight flickered and played on the bookshelves and danced on the ceiling. The only other light in the room came from a small shaded lamp on a table by the deep armchair. It was a very peaceful
room and the only sound was the occasional crackling from the logs or the rustling of a newspaper, the pages of which Longridge turned with some difficulty, for a slender wheat-'colored Siamese cat was curled on his knee, chocolate-'colored front paws curved in towards one another, sapphire eyes blinking occasionally as he stared into the fire. On the floor, his scarred, bony head resting on one of the man's feet, lay an old white English bull terrier. His slanted almond-'shaped eyes, sunk deep within their pinkish rims, were closed; one large triangular ear caught the firelight, flushing the inside a delicate pink, so that it appeared almost translucent. Anyone unaccustomed to the rather peculiar points of bull terrier beauty would have thought him a strange if not downright ugly dog, with the naked, down-'faced arc of his profile, his deep-'chested, stocky body and whip-? tapered tail. But the true lover of an ancient and honorable breed would have recognized the blood and bone of this elderly and rather battered body; would have known that in his prime this had been a magnificent specimen of compact sinew and muscle, bred to fight and endure; and would have loved him for his curious mixture of wicked, unyielding fighter yet devoted and docile family pet, and above all for the irrepressible air of sly merriment which gleamed in his little slant eyes. He twitched and sighed often in his sleep, as old
dogs will, and for once his shabby tail with the bare patch on the last joint was still. By the door lay another dog, nose on paws, brown eyes open and watchful in contrast to the peacefulness radiated by the other occupants of the room. This was a large red-'gold Labrador retriever, a young dog with all the heritage of his sturdy working forebears in his powerful build, broad noble head and deep, blunt, gentle mouth. He lifted his head as Longridge rose from the chair, depositing the cat, with an apologetic pat, on the empty seat, and carefully moving his foot from under the old dog's head before walking across the room to draw one of the heavy curtains and look out. A huge orange moon was rising just above the trees at the far end of the garden, and a branch of an old lilac tree tap-'tapped in the light wind against the window pane. It was bright enough outside to see the garden in clear detail, and he noticed how the leaves had drifted again across the lawn even in the short time since it had been raked that afternoon, and that only a few brave asters remained to color the flower beds. He turned and crossed the room, flicking on another light, and opened a narrow cupboard halfway up the wall. Inside were several guns on racks and he looked at them thoughtfully, running his fingers lovingly down the smooth grain of the hand-'rubbed stocks, and finally lifted down a beautifully chased
and engraved double-'barreled gun. He 'broke? it and peered down the gleaming barrels; and as though at a signal the young dog sat up silently in the shadows, his ears pricked in interest. The gun fell back into place with a well-'oiled click and the dog whined. The man replaced the gun in sudden contrition, and the dog lay down again, his head turned away, his eyes miserable. Longridge walked over to make amends for his thoughtlessness, but as he bent down to pat the dog the telephone rang so suddenly and shrilly in the quiet room that the cat jumped indignantly off the chair and the bull terrier started clumsily to his feet. Longridge picked up the receiver, and presently the breathless voice of Mrs. Oakes was heard, accompanied by a high-'pitched, whining note in the distance. 'Speak up, Mrs. Oakes''I can hardly hear you.' 'I can hardly hear you either,' said the breathless voice distantly. 'There, is that better? I'm shouting now! What time are you leaving in the morning, Mr. Longridge? What's that? Could you talk louder'? 'About seven o'clock. I want to get to Heron Lake before nightfall,' he shouted, noting with amusement the scandalized expression of the cat. 'But there's no need for you to be here at that time, Mrs. Oakes.' 'What's that you said? Seven? Will it be all right if I don't come in until about nine? My niece is coming on
the early bus and I'd like to meet her. But I don't like to leave the dogs alone too long.' .' .' .' 'Of course you must meet her,' he answered, shouting really loudly now as the humming noise increased. 'The dogs will be fine. I'll take them out first thing in the morning, and''? 'Oh, thanks, Mr. Longridge''I'll be there around nine without fail. What's that you said about the animals? (Oh, you pernickety, dratted old line!) Don't you worry about them; Bert and me, we'll see.' .' .' . Tell old Bodger? .' .' . bringing marrow bone. Oh, wait till I give that operator a piece of my mi''? But just as Longridge was gathering strength for a last bellow into the mouthpiece the line went dead. He put the receiver back with relief and looked across the room at the old dog who had climbed stealthily into the armchair and sat lolling back against the cushions, his eyes half closed, awaiting the expected reproof. He addressed him with the proper degree of ferocity, telling him that he was a scoundrelly opportunist, a sybaritic barbarian, a disgrace to his upbringing and his ancestors, 'AND'''and he paused in weighty emphasis'? 'a very ? .' .' . bad? .' .' . dog!' At these two dread words the terrier laid his ears flat against his skull, slanted his eyes back until they almost disappeared, then drew his lips back over his
teeth in an apologetic grin, quivering the end of his disgraceful tail. His parody of sorrow brought its usual reprieve: the man laughed and patted the bony head, then enticed him down with the promise of a run. So the old dog, who was a natural clown, slithered half off the chair and stood, with his hindquarters resting on the cushions, waving his tail and nudging the cat, who sat like an Egyptian statue, eyes half closed, head erect, then gave a throaty growl and patted at the pink and black bull-'terrier nose. Then together they followed the man to the door, where the young dog waited to fall in behind the little procession. Longridge opened the door leading on to the garden, and the two dogs and the cat squeezed past his legs and into the cool night air. He stood under the trellised porch, quietly smoking his pipe, and watched them for a while. Their nightly routine never varied''first the few minutes of separate local investigation, then the indefinable moment when all met again and paused before setting off together through the gap in the hedge at the bottom of the garden and into the fields and woods that lay beyond. He watched until they disappeared into the darkness (the white shape of the bull terrier showing up long after Longridge was unable to distinguish the other two), then knocked his pipe out against the stone step and reentered the house. It would be half an hour or more before they returned.
Longridge and his brother owned a small cabin by the shores of remote Heron Lake, about two hundred miles away; and twice a year they spent two or three weeks there together, leading the life they loved: spending many hours in companionable silence in their canoe, fishing in spring and hunting in the autumn. Usually he had simply locked up and left, leaving the key with Mrs. Oakes so that she could come in once or twice a week and keep the house warm and aired. However, now he had the animals to consider. He had thought of taking them all to a boarding kennel in the town, but Mrs. Oakes, who loved the assorted trio, had protested vigorously and assented that she herself would look after them 'rather than have those poor dumb animals fretting themselves into a state in some kennel, and probably half starved into the bargain.' So it had been arranged that she and Bert would look after the three animals. Bert would be working around the garden, anyway, so that they could be outside most of the time and Mrs. Oakes would feed them and keep her eye on them while she was working in the house. When he had finished packing, Longridge went into the library to draw the curtains, and seeing the telephone he was reminded of Mrs. Oakes. He had forgotten to tell her to order some coffee and other things that '
10 he had taken from the store cupboard. He sat down at the desk and drew out a small memo pad. Dear Mrs. Oakes, he wrote, Please order some more coffee and replace the canned food I've taken. I will be taking the dogs (and Tao too, of course!)? .' .' . Here he came to the end of the small square of paper, and taking another piece he continued:? .' .' . out for a run before I leave, and will give them something to eat, so don't let our greedy white friend tell you he is starving! Don't worry yourselves too much over them''I know they will be fine. He wrote the last few words with a smile, for the bull terrier had Mrs. Oakes completely in thrall and worked his advantage to the full. He left the pages on the desk under a glass paperweight; then opened the door in answer to a faint scratch. The old dog and the cat bounded in to greet him with their usual affection, bringing the fresh smell of the outdoors with them. The young dog followed more sedately and stood by, watching aloofly, as the other whipped his tail like a lash against the man's legs, while the cat pressed against him purring in a deep rumble; but he wagged his tail briefly and politely when the man patted him. The cat walked into the library to curl up on the warm hearth. Later when the ashes grew cold he would move to the top of the radiator, and then, sometime in the middle of the night, he would steal upstairs and curl up beside
11 the old dog. It was useless shutting the bedroom door, or any other door of the house for that matter, for the cat could open them all, latches or doorknobs. The only doors that defeated him were those with porcelain handles, for he found it impossible to get a purchase on the shiny surface with his long monkeylike paws. The young dog padded off to his rug on the floor of the little back kitchen, and the bull terrier started up the steep stairs, and was already curled in his basket in the bedroom when Longridge himself came to bed. He opened one bright, slanted eye when he felt the old blanket being dropped over him, then pushed his head under the cover, awaiting the opportunity he knew would come later. The man lay awake for a while, thinking about the days ahead and of the animals, for the sheer misery in the young dog's eyes haunted him. They had come to him, this odd and lovable trio, over eight months ago, from the home of an old and dear college friend. This friend, Jim Hunter, was an English professor in a small university about two hundred and fifty miles away. As the university owned one of the finest reference libraries in the province, Longridge often stayed with him and was, in fact, godfather to the Hunters? nine-'year-'old daughter, Elizabeth. He had been staying with them when the invitation came from an English university, asking the professor to deliver a series of lectures which would
12 involve a stay in England of nearly nine months, and he had witnessed the tears of his goddaughter and the glum silence of her brother, Peter, when it was decided that their pets would have to be boarded out and the house rented to the reciprocal visiting professor. Longridge was extremely fond of Elizabeth and Peter, and he could understand their feelings, remembering how much the companionship of a cocker spaniel had meant when he himself was a rather lonely child, and how he had grieved when he was first separated from it. Elizabeth was the self-'appointed owner of the cat. She fed and brushed him, took him for walks, and he slept at the foot of her bed. Eleven-'year-'old Peter had been inseparable from the bull terrier ever since the small white puppy had arrived on Peter's first birthday. In fact, the boy could not remember a day of his life when Bodger had not been part of it. The young dog belonged, in every sense of the word, heart and soul to their father, who had trained him since puppyhood for hunting. Now they were faced with the realization of separation, and in the appalled silence that followed the decision Longridge watched Elizabeth's face screw up in the prelude to tears. Then he heard a voice, which he recognized with astonishment to be his own, telling everybody not to worry, not to worry at all''he would take care of everything! Were not he and the animals
13 already well known to one another? And had he not plenty of room, and a large garden'? .' .' . Mrs. Oakes? Why, she would just love to have them! Everything would be simply wonderful! Before the family sailed they would bring the dogs and the cat over by car, see for themselves where they would sleep, and write out a list of instructions, and he, personally, would love and cherish them until their return. So one day the Hunter family had driven over and the pets had been left, with many tearful farewells from Elizabeth and last-'minute instructions from Peter. During the first few days Longridge had almost regretted his spontaneous offer: the terrier had languished in his basket, his long arched nose buried in the comfort of his paws, and one despairing, martyred eye haunting his every movement; and the cat had nearly driven him crazy with the incessant goatlike bleating and yowling of a suffering Siamese; the young dog had moped by the door and refused all food. But after a few days, won over perhaps by Mrs. Oakes's sympathetic clucking and tempting morsels of food, they had seemed to resign themselves, and the cat and the old dog had settled in, very comfortably and happily, showing their adopted master a great deal of affection. It was very apparent, however, how much the old dog missed children. Longridge at first had wondered where he disappeared to some afternoons; he eventually
14 found out that the terrier went to the playground of the little rural school, where he was a great favorite with the children, timing his appearance for recess. Knowing that the road was forbidden to him, because of his poor sight and habit of walking stolidly in the middle, he had found a short cut across the intervening fields. But the young dog was very different. He had obviously never stopped pining for his own home and master; although he ate well and his coat was glossy with health, he never maintained anything but a dignified, unyielding distance. The man respected him for this, but it worried him that the dog never seemed to relax, and always appeared to be listening''longing and waiting for something far beyond the walls of the house or the fields beyond. Longridge was glad for the dog's sake that the Hunters would be returning in about three weeks, but he knew that he would miss his adopted family. They had amused and entertained him more than he would have thought possible, over the months, and he realized tonight that the parting would be a real wrench. He did not like to think of the too-quiet house that would be his again. He slept at last, and the dreaming, curious moon peeped in at the window to throw shafts of pale light into the rooms and over each of the sleeping occupants. They woke the cat downstairs, who stretched and yawned, then leaped without visible effort onto the
15 windowsill, his gleaming eyes, with their slight cast, wide open and enormous, and only the tip of his tail twitching as he sat motionless, staring into the garden. Presently he turned, and with a single graceful bound crossed to the desk; but for once he was careless, and his hind leg knocked the glass paperweight to the floor. He shook the offending leg vigorously, scattering the pages of Longridge's note''sending one page off the desk into the air, where it caught the upward current of hot air from the wall register and sailed across the room to land in the fireplace. Here it slowly curled and browned, until nothing remained of the writing but the almost illegible signature at the bottom. When the pale fingers of the moon reached over the young dog in the back kitchen he stirred in his uneasy sleep, then sat upright, his ears pricked''listening and listening for the sound that never came: the high, piercing whistle of his master that would have brought him bounding across the world if only his straining ears could hear it. And lastly the moon peered into the upstairs bedroom, where the man lay sleeping on his side in a great four-poster bed; and curled against his back the elderly, comfort-'loving white bull terrier slept in blissful, warm content.
17 t here was a slight mist when John Longridge rose early the following morning, having fought a losing battle for the middle of the bed with his uninvited bedfellow. He shaved and dressed quickly, watching the mist roll back over the fields and the early morning sun break through. It would be a perfect fall day, an Indian summer day, warm and mellow. Downstairs he found the animals waiting patiently by the door for their earlymorning run. He let them out, then cooked and ate his solitary breakfast. He was out in the driveway, loading up his car when the dogs and cat returned from the fields. He fetched some biscuits for them and they lay by the wall of the house in the early sun, watching him. He threw the last item into the back of the car, thankful that he had already packed the guns and hunting equipment 2
18 before the Labrador had seen them, then walked over and patted the heads of his audience, one by one. 'Be good,' he said. 'Mrs. Oakes will be here soon. Good-'by, Luath,' he said to the Labrador. 'I wish I could have taken you with me, but there wouldn't be room in the canoe for three of us.' He put his hand under the young dog's soft muzzle. The golden-'brown eyes looked steadily into his, and then the dog did an unexpected thing: he lifted his right paw and placed it in the man's hand. Longridge had seen him do this many a time to his own master and he was curiously touched and affected by the trust it conveyed, almost wishing he did not have to leave immediately just after the dog had shown his first responsive gesture. He looked at his watch and realized he was already late. He had no worries about leaving the animals alone outside, as they had never attempted to stray beyond the large garden and the adjacent fields; and they could return inside the house if they wished, for the kitchen door was the kind that closed slowly on a spring. All that he had to do was shoot the inside bolt while the door was open, and after that it did not close properly and could be pushed open from the outside. They looked contented enough, too''the cat was washing methodically behind his ears''the old dog sat on his haunches, panting after his run, his long pink tongue
19 lolling out of his grinning mouth; and the Labrador lay quietly by his side. Longridge started the car and waved to them out of the window as he drove slowly down the drive, feeling rather foolish as he did so. 'What do I expect them to do in return'? he asked himself with a smile. 'Wave back? Or shout 'Good-'bye'? The trouble is I've lived too long alone with them and I'm becoming far too attached to them.' The car turned around the bend at the end of the long tree-'lined drive and the animals heard the sound of the engine receding in the distance. The cat transferred his attention to a hind leg; the old dog stopped panting and lay down; the young dog remained stretched out, only his eyes moving and an occasional twitch of his nose. Twenty minutes passed by and no move was made; then suddenly the young dog rose, stretched himself, and stood looking intently down the drive. He remained like this for several minutes, while the cat watched closely, one leg still pointing upwards; then slowly the Labrador walked down the driveway and stood at the curve, looking back as though inviting the others to come. The old dog rose too, now, somewhat stiffly, and followed. Together they turned the corner, out of sight. The cat remained utterly still for a full minute, blue eyes blazing in the dark mask. Then, with a curious
20 hesitating run, he set off in pursuit. The dogs were waiting by the gate when he turned the corner, the old dog peering wistfully back, as though he hoped to see his friend Mrs. Oakes materialize with a juicy bone; but when the Labrador started up the road he followed. The cat still paused by the gate, one paw lifted delicately in the air''undecided, questioning, hesitant; until suddenly, some inner decision reached, he followed the dogs. Presently all three disappeared from sight down the dusty road, trotting briskly and with purpose. About an hour later Mrs. Oakes walked up the driveway from her cottage, carrying a string bag with her working shoes and apron, and a little parcel of tidbits for the animals. Her placid, gentle face wore a rather disappointed look, because the dogs usually spied her long before she got to the house and would rush to greet her. 'I expect Mr. Longridge left them shut inside the house if he was leaving early,' she consoled herself. But when she pushed open the kitchen door and walked inside, everything seemed very silent and still. She stood at the foot of the stairs and called them, but there was no answering patter of running feet, only the steady tick-'tock of the old clock in the hallway. She walked '
21 through the silent house and out into the front garden and stood there calling with a puzzled frown. 'Oh, well,' she spoke her thoughts aloud to the empty, sunny garden, 'perhaps they've gone up to the school.' .' .' . It's a funny thing, though,' she continued, sitting on a kitchen chair a few minutes later and tying her shoelaces, 'that Puss isn't here''he's usually sitting on the window sill at this time of the day. Oh, well, he's probably out hunting''I've never known a cat like that for hunting, doesn't seem natural somehow!' She washed and put away the few dishes, then took her cleaning materials into the sitting room. There her eye was caught by a sparkle on the floor by the desk, and she found the glass paperweight, and after that the remaining sheet of the note on the desk. She read it through to where it said: 'I will be taking the dogs (and Tao too, of course!)? .' .' . ,' then looked for the remainder. 'That's odd,' she thought, 'now where would he take them? That cat must have knocked the paperweight off last night'? the rest of the note must be somewhere in the room.' She searched the room but it was not until she was emptying an ash tray into the fireplace that she noticed the charred curl of paper in the hearth. She bent down and picked it up carefully, for it was obviously very brittle, but even then most of it crumbled away and she was left with a fragment which bore the initials J. R. L.
22 'Now, isn't that the queerest thing,' she said to the fireplace, rubbing vigorously at the black marks on the tile. 'He must mean he's taking them all to Heron Lake with him. But why would he suddenly do that, after all the arrangements we made? He never said a word about it on the telephone''but wait a minute, I remember now''he was just going to say something about them when the line went dead; perhaps he was just going to tell me.' While Mrs. Oakes was amazed that Longridge would take the animals on his vacation, it did not occur to her to be astonished that a cat should go along too, for she was aware that the cat loved the car and always went with the dogs when Longridge drove them anywhere or took them farther afield for walks. Like many Siamese cats, he was as obedient and as trained to go on walks as most dogs, and would always return to a whistle. Mrs. Oakes swept and dusted and talked to the house, locked it and returned home to her cottage. She would have been horrified to the depths of her kindly, well-'ordered soul if she had known the truth. Far from sitting sedately in the back of a car traveling north with John Longridge, as she so fondly visualized, the animals were by now many miles away on a deserted country road that ran westward. '