The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford


The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford

Author:Sheila Burnford [Burnford, Sheila]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 978-0-307-77834-5
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Published: 2011-01-04T16:00:00+00:00


7

THE TWO DOGS were in very low spirits when they continued their journey without the cat. The old dog in particular moped badly, for the cat had been his constant close companion for many years—ever since the day when a small, furiously hissing kitten, with comically long black-stockinged legs and a nearly white body, had joined the Hunter family. This apparition had refused to give one inch of ground to the furious and jealous bull terrier, who was an avowed cat hater, and the terror of the nearby feline population; instead it had advanced, with every intention of giving battle evident in the tiny body. The dog, for the first time and last time in his life, capitulated. That day a bond had been formed between them, and thereafter they had been inseparable. The kitten, surprisingly enough, had no love for cats either, so they formed a wickedly humorous partnership that waged unceasing war against them. When they sallied forth together the neighborhood emptied suddenly of not only cats but of dogs as well. They had mellowed with the years, however, and were now more tolerant, exacting only the dutiful homage they felt to be their due as conquerors. They had opened their ranks only to the gentle young dog when he arrived years later; but, fond as they were of him, the affection they bore for one another was something quite apart.

Now the dogs were thrown completely on their own resources. The Labrador did his best and tried to initiate the other into the art of frog and field mouse hunting, but the terrier’s eyesight was too poor for him to have much success. But they were luckier than usual: once they surprised a large fisher in the very act of dispatching a porcupine. The shy fisher disappeared in one swift fluid movement at their approach, leaving the slain, outstretched porcupine, and the dogs enjoyed a feast that day such as they had never known before, the flesh being sweet and tender.

Another time the young dog caught a bittern, who had stood like a frozen statue on the edge of a lake, his long neck topped by the slim head flowing into a line down to the elongated body, and nothing moving but an apprehensive, blinking eye. He took off as the dog sprang, but his awkward clumsy flight, the long legs trailing, was not fast enough. The flesh was stringy and fishy, but it was all gobbled down voraciously, nothing remaining but the beak and feet.

One day they skirted a small farm, where, wary though he was of human beings, the young dog was hungry enough to cross an open field within sight of the farm and snatch one of a flock of chickens feeding there. They were still crouched over the mess of blood and scattered feathers, when they heard an angry shout, and saw the figure of a man at the far corner of the field, and a black collie running ahead, snarling as it came towards them.



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