John Scott's Affectionate Pup
by Ellis Parker Butler
One of the most touching things in nature is the affection of a dog for its master. Authors have wept over this before now. Indeed, in some cases, canine affection would make a cube of billiard chalk weep.
John Scott has an affectionate dog. It is a young dog, but joyful, and he keeps it in the cellar at night. The dog and the furnace are great friends, probably because contrasted natures agree well; the dog's nature is warm, and the furnace's nature is cold. But the pup simply adores John Scott.
A few nights ago John Scott left the banquet of the Petonic Club at one o'clock in the morning, when his wife had told him positively to be home at ten-thirty. She had told him, also, to drink but one cocktail. That was all the cocktails he drank, but in the bright lexicon of banquets there are other drinks. The carefree yet dignified manner in which John Scott wended his homeward way gave proof that he had studied the lexicon.
He was not intoxicated. He could still lift his feet as he walked, but when he had lifted a foot he waved it in the air a moment before he decided just where to set it down, and it did not always hit the exact spot he had selected. But his brain was clear as a bell. He remembered that he must put coal in the furnace before he went to bed.
When he opened the cellar door the pup was asleep on his bed in a box, but by the time John Scott had descended the cellar stairs the pup and its affectionate nature were wide awake. The pup gave one little bark of joy and rushed across the cellar like a rubber shoe fired out of a cannon, and stopped itself by making a flying tackle with its teeth on the hem of one of the legs of John Scott's dress trousers. John Scott swayed, put out a hand, and sat down on the floor, and the pup affectionately climbed into his lap and, putting two coal-dusty paws on John Scott's shirt bosom, kissed him.
This evidence of canine affection was too much for John Scott. He compared it with the reception he would probably receive from Mrs. Scott, and he was so affected that he hugged the pup to his bosom and wept. Then he placed the pup carefully on the cellar floor and stood up. The pup immediately got between his feet, threw him twice as he walked to the coal bin, and, when he bent down to pick up the coal scoop, grabbed the tail of his dress coat in a death grip.
Mr. Scott divested himself of the pup by taking off his coat and hanging it on a nail -- the one the poker hangs on. All indications pointed to a permanent suspension of the pup. The pup hung to the coattail and the coat hung on the nail, and Mr. Scott turned to the coal bin. He raised the scoop, ready to plunge it into the coal, but as he did so he paused. The pup was standing on the coal, just where the scoop was about to scoop up coal. At intervals the pup would dash down and worry the heel of Mr. Scott's dress trousers, but whenever the scoop approached the coal the pup got in front of it. Sometimes Mr. Scott scooped up the pup, and sometimes he missed the pup, the coal, and the bin; but whenever he got coal he got the pup, too. If, by chance, he got coal in the scoop without any pup, the pup showed its canine affection by jumping into the scoop. Then the coal and the pup would slide off the scoop onto the floor.
Not for worlds would John Scott have shoveled the affectionate pup into the furnace, but he saw that he was likely to do so any minute if he continued to fool with the scoop. There was but one way to get the coal into the furnace without cremating the pup. So John Scott proceeded in that way. He sat on the coal and held the pup in his lap and threw the coal, piece by piece, at the furnace door.
And this was the only basis for Mrs. John Scott's unjust suspicion that John Scott had taken more than one cocktail at the Petonic Club banquet. She came to the head of the cellar stairs to see what was bombarding the tin sides of the furnace, and she saw John Scott sitting on the coal in his shirt sleeves, weeping over the affection of the pup, and throwing coal at the furnace with his left hand, while the pup nestled inside his dress waistcoat and kissed his face. And she accused him of having taken more than one cocktail!
But a woman never knows how the affection of a canine affects a tenderhearted Petonic Club banqueter. The love of a dog for its master will touch the heart of the strongest man.