Jul 21, 2005

HR, 19

"I was not always a stray. I come from a long line of beloved pets, always serving the Maslow family. My mother, bless her departed soul, gave birth to me as the last of seven. As seven was too much for one household, I was given to a relative, my mistress' father, Old Man Maslow. He was a good master, but for the times he'd been at the bottle. It was a lonely life: he fed me and took me for walks and I brought him his newspapers and stayed away when he drank."

"I was still a pup at the time and not very intimidating. My master wanted a dog who could keep prowlers out of the yard. He owned a vacant lot a few miles away. When the dog-catchers caught the General on that property, they questioned my master first. When my master saw the General, he adopted him on the spot. You see, the General's a very intimidating looking dog."

"As a young pup, I was overjoyed to have a friend, but the General would have none of it. He thrashed me once just to show his strength and then he ignored me. He did relish the task of guarding the house from intruders and gave chase as long as the chain my master kept him on would allow."

"It was shortly after the General arrived that my master began to change. One night he threw out all of his whiskey bottles. He softened a lot towards me; he petted me a lot. He tried to pet the General, too, but he'd have none of that.

"For the first time since I'd been there, the master's daughter came to visit, bringing her own baby daughter with her. The master was so happy that night that he gave both me and the general steaks to eat."

"His daughter came over more and more frequently and took to leaving her baby with my master for an hour or two at a time. She was a beautiful little child, around two years of old in human years. Her name was Macy. She had the prettiest blonde hair you ever saw, and soft, chubby hands she used to pat me with. She charmed all of us: my master, me and, especially, the General."

"The General wouldn't allow anyone to get near him, but Macy; she could do whatever she liked with him. They were a fine pair. And I loved her, too. Having her around made me as protective of that house as the General. Between the two of us, no one was going to harm her."

Hubert stopped and kept silent for a moment. Harlequin would have thought he looked sad, but he always did. He continued:

"There's something I should explain about the General. He'd had a rough past. Never told me everything, but I saw it clear enough. Wicked masters, the hard life as a stray, fights all the time. He was always on the edge."

"One day, my master had run up the stairs to grab a wooden toy he'd carved for Macy (awful fond of woodwork, my master was); he'd set her down on the floor between me and the General. The mailman had just come and the General hated that. He was growling at the window and barking to scare him away. Then the mailman disappeared behind the door. Smelled him strong as paint, though. The General was scratching at the door and whining angrily. I was a little worried, too; I barked at the door a few times."

"Macy, poor little child. Got so excited that she jumped on the General's back. The General was so mad with hate for the mailman that he snarled and turned on her without thinking. Such a terrible shriek. She was bit real bad on the face. The General was horrified and he started to lick at her cuts anxiously to stop the bleeding. My master had come running when he heard Macy and he charged down the stairs and kicked us away from her. He snatched up Macy, all red in the face and swearing and crying.

A few minutes later Macy's mother rushed in and snatched her away from my master. They had a terrible fight and she ran off with Macy in her arms. I never saw the child again."

"Master found a bottle and got drunk that night. He brought out his shotgun and started coming for us. The General panicked as soon as he saw it and scrambled for the door. He dragged me along with him. We ran like the devil was chasing us. We spent the night in the lot the General first got found in. Never saw my master again after that."

"The General has never been the same. He got this idea that all men were bad and that they'd done the harm to Macy. He got the idea that no dog should obey them, or allow themselves to be tamed. He wanted to return to the the ancient ways of the dog: the Pack. He despised me because I whimpered and wanted to go home, but he made me the first member of his pack.

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