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Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"

PASTORAL                                40

would expand upon the subject of the really good dogs
that he had known, and the one really good dog that he
had himself possessed. He had been offered forty pounds
for it; but a good collie was worth more than that, more
than anything, to a £ herd' ; he did the herd's work for
him. ' As for the like of them! ' he would cry, and
scornfully indicate the scouring tails of his assistants.

Once—I translate John's Lallan, for I cannot do it
justice, being born Britannis in inontibus, indeed, but
alas ! inerudito sceculo—once, in the days of his good dog?
he had bought some sheep in Edinburgh, and 011 the way
out, the road being crowded, two were lost. This was
a reproach to John, and a slur upon the dog ; and both
were alive to their misfortune. Word came, after some
days, that a farmer about Braid had found a pair of
sheep ; and thither went John and the dog to ask for
restitution. But the farmer was a hard man and stood
upon his rights. f How were they marked ? ' he asked ;
and since John had bought right and left from many
sellers and had no notion of the marks—' Very well,'
said the farmer, * then it's only right that I should keep
them.'—' Well,' said John, s it's a fact that I cannae tell
the sheep ; but if my dog can, will ye let me have them ? '
The farmer was honest as well as hard, and besides I dare
say he had little fear of the ordeal; so he had all the sheep
upon his farm into one large park, and turned John's dog
into their midst. That hairy man of business knew Ms
errand well; he knew that John and he had bought two
sheep and (to their shame) lost them about Boroughmuir-
head; he knew besides (the Lord knows how, unless by
listening) that they were come to Braid for their recovery;
and without pause or blunder singled out, first one and
then another, the two waifs. It was that afternoon the
forty pounds were offered and refused. And the shepherd
and his dog—what do I say ? the true shepherd and his
man—set of! together by Fairmilehead in jocund humour,
and ' smiled to ither' all the way home, with the two
recovered ones before them. So far, so good ; but intelli-
gence may be abused. The dog, as he is by little man's
inferior in mind, is only by little his superior in virtue ;