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Leo, The Dog

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Ford Boner raay livo to be a vpit old man- lie is "goiugon" fif teen now- but it is likely that he will always recollect what occnrred on a certain dark evening in August, two years ago. Ford's falher and mother were traveling in Europe tiiat suinmcr, henee Ford, whowas all the rest of the}-ear aboarding-school bov of the iirst water, spent liis vacation at'iiis Uncle Pepper's country place. Ford's chief companion from day to day, as be scrambled among the rocky spurs, was Leo. Leo was a Scotch greyhound. Major Pepper's particular pet. Now one curious trait of his dld equal honor to his head and heart. He bad been bought atBlack'sHollow, a village - if a store, which was also a post-office and six or seven dwelling3, can be called a village- about two miles further up the road, aniong the monntains. Regularly, once or twice a week, would Leo slip off in the morning for a whole day's visiting with any four-legged Dlaymates whose society he hadfornierfy relished at Black's Hollow. On such occasions Ford had to ramble on the heights alone. Now Amzi Spinner, Major Pepper's hired man, had a brother, who kept tlie post-office and store at the Hollow. As soon as Amzi discovered Leo's trick of going so frequently thither of his own will, it seemed good to him to teach the dog to e&rry a letter there with safety and dispatch, whenever told to do so. Amzi would tie his missive securely about the bright-eyed, little dog's neck, and say in his Yankee drawl: "Naow, Leo, yon jest make tracks for the village, double-quick. Do you understand? That letter' d onght to git to the store. Be off?" Leo would leap away, barking joyfully, and in an hour return to seek Amzi in the Beid or barn, collared with an answer from Lol, Spinner. In this way the dog became, in alimited sense, the messenger and postman of the family, when occasion prompted, and n vëry quick and faithful one. It was the last Thursday in August, when Major Pepper, finishing his second cup oi coffee at breakfast, exclaimed to his wife. "There, Helen, I forgot to teil you last night that if you want to go to the town in the phaiton with me today, and give this afternoon lo piekinó- out those carpeta, it'll snit me eapitally." Aunt Pepper laughed. "Why does s man always choosejustthe wrong day ol all othera?" she saidmerrily. "Amzi and Mira (Mira was Amzi's wife nud Aunt Pepper's cc;ok ) wanted to go to Ne w York to-day 10 altend to that wedding - hei sister' .s voii rocolleot, Thev starte( eari.v (at 4 o"clock) for the station, and 1 don't ex peet them back untii long after we're in bed to-night. I cau't leave the house and Ford to take care of themselves." "Oh, yes, you eau," laughed Uncle Pepper. "Ford might go along, if it wouldn't be a hot and stupid day in town for him, we shall be so busy. Leave him a good luncheon, and let him keep house by himself for once. Leo will help him. You wouldn't mind it, eh Ford?"' Ford laughed, too, and said that ho rather guessed cot. "We'll not be later in gettiug home tlian six o'clock, I suppóse," saïd Aunt Pepper, reluctantly consenting. "Oh, dear, no," replied the major, "and Ford will have a fine appetite for a late dinner." A half hour later Ford and Leo, the one with his hand and the other witli his active, if unimportant, tivii, wavcd major and Mrs. Peppei" good-bye from the broad piazza, and then turned themselves about to begin the work of passing a jolly day together. Ford did not like to leave the house for any length of time. A woodon swing he was conlrivicg in the garden, the arrangement of his collection of Indian relies, and a letter to his voorn-mate at the school - oneHarry North - took up all the forenoon. ïhis latfer, or letter business, was still on hand, and Ford was scratching away at it in the summer-house, when Loo suddenly growled. Then he sprang up, barking violently. A strange gentleman was leisurely drawing near tbo pair of friends. Ford rose and stepped out of li is retreat. "I heg pardon for interrupting you, sir,'' began the stranger, very pleasantly, "but are your father aniA luother at home to-day?" "My father and mother ore in Europe, sir," replied Ford; "but - " "Ah - oh - I see," continued tho civil stranger. "I had forjjotten tliátmy old friends, Major and Mrs. Pepper, hadno chridren. ís your unele at home?" Tui sorry, "sir," replied Ford, "but they have both driven to towu this Baorniiig, and will not be back till eveuing. Be quiet, Leo!" for Leo persisted in showing his teeth, and making sundry impolite noises, not to say growls, while he eyed the polite newcomer very much as if he had been a snake. "A fino dog that," vemarked tho stranger, earelcssly. ' '""ell, since I am unlucky enough to miss your unele, could 1 see that excellent man he eniploys here, Amzi - Amzi - dear me, I cannot just remember his name." The strange gentleman had a clear, rich voice. He was by the way, a stout, well-made young man, with a dark eravat. "Sorry again, sir," replied Ford, "but Amzi and Mira are away, too, until late this evening. It just happens so. Couldn't I take your message for unele? Leo, be still, 1 teil you!" "You're very kind, my dear boy," said the unknown gentleman, looking at his wntch and backing out of the summer-house graeefully, ''bui I won't troublo you. I should prefer riding over f rom my place to-morrow evening! Please teil your good unolo that Mr. Alexander Kingbolt, he will remember my name, called on business, and will sec hiiu to-morrow evening, if possible, at eight. Good-bye." And Mr. Alexander Kingbolt,' whistling svveetly "ïhere's one more river to cross,"stepped into a light buggy standing without the gate. Another gentleman sat n it. and tho two rodo away, talking rapidly. The oftersoon shadows grew long; the twilight closed iu; Ford and Leo sat together, the boy with his hand on tho dog's head. Botli bogan to fcel Boraewhat lonesome. ut least, Ford did. Why in the world did not the pheeton como toiliny up the steop mountiiin roait? Halloal a white owl lluttered ncrowthe lawn int o an acacia. Ford liail long desircd to uscertain thal particular owl's private address. He dashed aftci1 it, ano" Leo bore him company. üp through the darls garden bini. boy and dog sped. Presenlly Fonl siinped ;ui:l lel:. He nttered a ;ry when lio roso, and found tl) at ho could put hls lelt foot to tho ground ony }-th a pain that sickened hini, so sevcrely liad liis fall strained il. Vory" slowly and painfully Ford limped iuLo the garden again. his unlucky foot feeling more miserable every step." All at once he looked through tho trees and.saw lighls in the din room of his uuele's house. Major Pepper and Auut Helen w back, doubtless much disturbeel to know wherc in tho world Ford and Leo had gone, or sinec whathour of the day. As he drew nearer the closed shutters he caught tho sound of low, strangc voices, the faint clink of a harnmer. Could it be possiblc that anything was auiiss? Ford was frightened, but prudent. "Leo," said ho very softly, but almost Rternly, to the dog, whosc cars we-e ou the alert, too. "lie down!" Leo obeycd. Forgettiug his painful foot in his broatuless exeitement, Ford erept down along the back of the house. The voices cauie clearly trom within. "And we'd better be quick about it," somebody was saying. A robbery it surely was. Ford turned the blind and looked within the diningroom. A lamp was lit. The safe wkerein Major Pepper usually kept his papers and any largo sum of mone.v hehappened to have in the house for a day or so, was rollod out lo the middleof the room. Over it leaned i tall, well-dressed man, impatiently direeting anotherman, who knelt beföro it, and was working at the old-fashioned look with some tools he had evidentlv brought for the purpose. Ford causht sight of a profile, and the sound of "One more riVer to cross," whistled very gently. The man workintr at the safe door was Mr. Alexander KÍngbolt. An exeeedingly frightened bov was Ford Bonner. "So, then, they cauuot possibly gat iver tho bridge?'' said Mr. Kingbolt, plying his chisel. "AU tho plauks are up and hid away till we go down, I teil yon," replied the other, "and a red lantern hung across it." "The bridge," Ford kuew at once, must mean a narrow, rongh structure across the stream jast beforo tho road from town wound up the niountaiu. "They're Hkely on their way around by the other oue. it'll'take them till midnight." Thero was a pause. Then said Mr. Kingbolt, out of beath, "Wherc do you suppose that boy and the dog are?" "Lost ou the mountain, I daiv say. But if they come back before we get through, we can ñx them somehow." Ford slipped from below the window. The boy uoderstood all. Many honsos in the "town had been robbed lately. The "gang" had in some way learned that Major Pepper was oceaionaliy obligcd to keep large amounts of mouey in his louely country house. They had ohosen their day earefully, madeor else altered their plans that very morning, thanks to Ford's owu poüteuess in anjwering Mr. Kingbolt's questions. By a triek they had sent Major and Mrs. Pepper :. ren ml by their longest routo for liome. The wholc thing was a hastily, but clcveriy. planned scheme. And Ford cou'.ddo nothini - alone; the nearest housea in the village two miles up the mo'.ii 'ain; his swollen foot! Had he fo'olten Leo? The thought dorted iuto uis ooufused mind like a üash. lic li.nieii forward into a ray of iight, and gciiliy ilrew out liis peucil, and the euvclope, .still undirected, in whieh was his 'lottnr to Harry Korth. Hij managed to control his exeitement and terror cuoiigh to crawl upon it:- "Thero are buigiare in our house. Come quick, somelofiv. 'TOltD BONNElt." The oiivelopc was secured by Ford's shee-string lo the grayhound's neok"Bo very quiet, Leo." he kept whisper. ing, altuost beseechiüjrly, as he led the dog as we!! us ho could down tho far sido of the garden, along tho fence, and some distauce np l he road, lest Leo should bark. "Quiok, Leo! to tho post-office - te the posl-otlice!" he cried, tromblingly, pushing and poiuting the dog oü". f,eo refused to go. He did not uuderstand all this raysterj. Ford feltfor a stick and shook it athim. Loo bounded away siler.-tly up the stoep. Ford feil. half sat down, on the grass. He never knew how long it was beforo he was siarted from lii? stupor by hearing steak. iy steps approach down the road. He strained his young eyes to makö out a doz"n tall figures moving noiselessly lo.vanl his hiding place. Fhey were the aslonished men from the villagc, roused from their circle of gessip around the stoop of the store by Leo's advent and extraordinary excitemeut. The letter had been discovertd at once bvT Amzi's brother himself, who, like the rest, with stockiugs drawn over his boots, headed the party. Ford intercepted them and made his hurried ezplanation. "Stay bere," said Lot Spinner, "UU ve cali you." They leaped the garden wall. Afew ninutes later Ford heard shouts, and the sound of a gun or lwo, and a strugfle on the house piazza. "They've got 'em!" he exclaimed, delight and relief getting the best of his long fright and pain. And so thoy had; for when Lot Spinner came up and carried the bov down to the house, "Mr. Alexander Kingbolt" - afterward put into jail as Dennis Leary - his comrades and their tools were all secured undor rudo guarcüansliip togetiier. Ford joined in the cheers of him, when at eleven o' dock Major and Mrs. Pepper rode hurriedly up to the brightly-lit houso to hear the end of the story which the village poople of t!io niountaiu had stopi)ed them, hurrving toward home, to teil. Soon after arrived Amzi and Myrn, more explanations and much more ado made ovv.c Ford and Leo thao either of them relished. "Tiio scamps would havo got away viin a cnupiu of thousanil dollars, Ford," exclaimed the major acrain and igain. '"'It aas some mouey that a nan was to cali here to get to-morrow morning." So mnoh for a brave boy 's coolnoss nnd an obedient dojf's inielligence. -


Ann Arbor Courier
Old News