By F. N. Stratton
Publication name and date unknown.
Alfred Rider was in the market for a good bird dog, and all Kokomo knew it. In fact, Alf was anxious that it be generally known that anyone seeking a purchaser for either a pointer or a setter with a good and sufficient pedigree need go no further than the City National Bank, wherein Alf ruled as president and chief stockholder.
Alf had discovered soon after coming to the town that its wealthiest businessmen were active members of the Kokomo Gun Club, a jovial and fraternal band that descended en masse each fall upon the broad plains of Illinois in search of the savory prairie chicken and the elusive quail. As the members of this club, having a proper preference for unperforated skins and un-crippled dogs, made it a sine qua non that applicants should have some practical knowledge of the eccentricities of a gun, Alf had been persistently posing as one of the mightiest nimrods that ever flushed a bird, for Alf had an eye for business — and deposits.
Now, in truth and in fact, the only game Alf had ever hunted was the great American game in which aces and flushes are the chief trophies, and the only birds he had ever flushed were those so intimately connected to the great American dollar.
Therefore, when he was finally admitted to membership, he realised forcefully that he must immediately and secretly go into training in order to make his bluff good when he should attend the fall hunt.
So it was quite natural that when he received the telephone message from Matthews, the local express agent, he should take with him Jib Gay, the club’s president, to see the dog, for what Jib didn’t know about dogs was not worth itemizing.
Alf knew this, but he didn’t know that Jib had him sized up right from the start, and that both Jib and Matthews loved a practical joke as well as a day’s sport in the field.
It is only fair to state that Alf entertained some doubt when he saw the dog. He was a doubtful looking dog. He sat in the crate in the express office with drooping head and an expression of ennui and utter disgust. His ears had evidently usurped the material that should have been used in his tail, his legs were attached at different angles, he was hairy in some places and hairless in others and he lacked that air of chic and aplomb that distinguishes the bird-dog of ancient and honorable lineage.
“Philippine pointer, by smoke,” Jib ejaculated.
"Sh-h-h said Matthews, warningly; “don’t talk so loud. Let Alf surprise the boys this fall. Shipped here by mistake. Meant for Kankakee. Fellow there won’t accept him now because of delay. Shipper says if I can get eighty dollars and charges to let him go rather than return. Had him sold for a hundred. See, here’s the bill.”
Jib encouraged the brute to stand up by poking him in the protruding ribs, looked into his mouth, examined his feet and then stood back and surveyed him critically.
“Alf, you’re in luck. If the Government never gets anything else out of those islands, the discovery of that breed of dog will square the bill. Watched a couple of ’em at work out East last fall and never saw anything like it. Just look at that eye — and those legs. Of course, he’s poor and fagged out now from the trip, but in a week you won’t know him. You know the shipper’s name, Alf. No kennels like his in the country.”
“Yes; he’s undoubtedly a fine specimen,” said Alf, judicially, “but it strikes me that eighty dollars is a pretty stiff figure for an untrained pup.”
“What, for a genuine Philippine pointer? Say, Alf, if you don’t want him, he’s mine. I’ll train him on the q.t. this summer and then have the laugh on you this fall.”
“I’d have jumped at him myself,” said Matthews, with a sigh, “but I’m devilish short right now.”
“I’ll take him,” said Rider, eagerly, “and you fellows keep quiet till this fall.”
He gave Matthews his check for eighty dollars, plus eight dollars and fifty cents charges, with instructions to deliver the prize at his house after dark that night.
How or just when he made the discovery that he had bought an itinerant mongrel, sired by an unknown and damned by everybody that kept flower beds or made garden was never learned. Alf was game and suffered smilingly and silently. He even attended the club’s banquet, given, so the cards of invitation announced, at an expense of eighty-eight dollars and fifty cents, donated by “our distinguished member and dog connoisseur, Mr. Alfred Rider.”
But he didn’t go with the club that fall. He was not well, he said, and had most urgent business at home.
Of course, Jib went and took his wife, as usual, leaving his home, 220 North Main street, unoccupied.
On Tuesday evening the following advertisement appeared in the local papers:
WANTED—Dogs, for dog and pony show. Any size or color. Good prices. Deliver, Thursday afternoon, at 220 North Main street, side entrance.
Wednesday morning Jib received a telegram:
Meet me at bank Friday morning without fail. Important.––Alfred Rider.
Jib was one of the heaviest depositors, and with dire foreboding of financial disaster he lost no time in embarking upon the next train, due in Kokomo at 11.45 P.M., Thursday.
Early Thursday afternoon an almost endless procession began the invasion of Jib’s premises, men and boys with “goods in hand.” At the side entrance they read this placard in large letters:
Out of town, back tonight. Tie dogs in yard. Will pay at my office to-morrow morning. “—J. Gay.
At midnight Jib hurriedly rushed through his front gate and fell over a large dog. He then arose and trod on small dog, who protested noisily, inaugurating a chorus that could have been heard from Dan to Beersheba. Then Jib discovered that his front lawn was full of dogs; likewise the back yard. Every tree and shrub, every post and pillar of fence and verandah, every object to which a rope could be fastened was adorned by a dog. There were big dogs and little dogs, smooth dogs and woolly dogs, white, black, yellow and spotted dogs, and those that didn’t howl barked. Jib couldn’t count them, but he estimated the number at one hundred and fifty and let it go at that. Some were good-tempered and some were not. Two large and ferocious brutes anchored to the side porch Jib was obliged to shoot in order to enter the house.
Jib was mad. When several of his neighbors asked him, from their bedroom windows, if he purposed to keep that row up all night he made remarks that caused them to shut their windows and mouths simultaneously. When he had severed about one hundred and fifty ropes, chased the menagerie off the premises, hoisted the two carcasses over the back fence and viewed the damage to shrubbery, flower beds and young trees, he said bad things about Alf Rider.
To the clamorous crowd that surrounded his office next morning he emphatically and violently denied all liability, and when the canine owners started angrily for 220 North Main street to retake their property he fled.
Next day he was made defendant in two law suits instituted by the owners of the murdered dogs, whose testimony on the witness stand upon the question of value indicated, as was remarked by Alf Rider, that the dear deceased were certainly genuine Philippine pointers.
When he had finished fighting the suits, paying lawyers and repairing damaged premises, he dropped in at the bank and shook hands with Rider.
“It’s on me, Alf,” he said. “You got off easy. Let’s quit.”