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BERNARD AND MOUTON:
A DOG'S TALE.
FROM TIZ FRENCH:
DY JOHN HUNTER.
THERE are many enjoyments of life that have been spoiled for me. Elegiac poets have forced every man who has the slightest particle of self-respect to keep his love for the moon a secret, and to hide himself in some retired nook, if he wishes to enjoy the quiet flow of a running stream. There is a little flower, in common parlance called the pansy; in the gardener's nomenclature known as the tri-colored violet. This little flower, so well known, has petals of the richest tint of violet, and of the softest velvety texture. For no consideration would I allow a pansy to show itself on my terrace. It is impossible for me to disconnect this poor flower from the silly allusions of which it has been the subject. The rose has been not less abused ; she, however, has triumphed over the poets. But still more shamefully has the poor dog been treated. Numberless stories have been made about him. Nothing is more common in these veritable relations, than for a sagacious dog to discover from the distracted behaviour of his master that he is in the most urgent need of twenty-seven francs ten sous; presto! Carlo is off like a flash, and in about half-an-hour returns with the desired sum.
Another dog chances to hear a person make some insulting allusions to his master; Sancho follows the insolent rascal beyond the barriers, tracks him to the edge of a solitary wood; suddenly springing upon him, he gives him a terrible bite, and brings back to his master, as a token of triumph and revenge, a piece of the pantaloons of the calumniator.
Other slanderers have not contented themselves with marvellous sto. ries about dogs; they have forced them, by dint of blows, to become learned ; they make them walk on their hind legs, make-believe dead, handle a stick like a musket, play dominos, tell the hour, distinguish colors. A German, it is said, has gone so far as to teach his cur to say papa.'
Droll scenes sometimes take place with dogs more or less learned. I remember being present one evening when a man brought his dog among an assemblage of honest cap-makers. Now when we speak of a dog in general, without specially designating his species, we take for granted that he is a spaniel ; in the same manner as when speaking of a soldier of the empire, the mind at once figures to itself a grenadier of the Old Guard, with his long capote, and cap nodding over his eyes.
'P'st! p’st! Medor? Medor ?
Medor makes his appearance, his head hanging down, and tail between his legs, for he knows very well that this is the signal for work.
Come, Medor, do the graceful, do the graceful!' To do the graceful consists in standing upright on the hind legs. Me. dor remains motionless upon all-fours.
The master gives the order in a more peremptory tone, and passes gradually, by successive intonations, to those of violent anger.
The dog runs under the bed. Menaces, cries cannot make him come out. The master softens his tone:
Come, Medor, good Medor! come to your master; come, my good little Medor !
The dog comes out, leaping and frisking about, and the master caresses him; in an instant the
animal recovers his gayety ; his eyes sparkle; he jumps up to the face of his master to lick his cheek.
The proprietor of the accomplished quadruped, who has given up the idea of making him do the graceful,' now expresses a wish that he will at least make himself dead.'
Come, Medor, good dog, be dead now.' The dog begins to caper about afresh; his eyes lose their lustre; he trembles with fear.
• Be dead! be dead! It is astonishing !- he always does it so well! Medor, make yourself dead ! Ah! ca ! will you make yourself dead ?'
The master raises his cane, the dog Alies off in a panic. Some benevolent individual, or a lucky chance, has left the door open ; Medor makes himself scarce, and goes to await his master in the street, in the midst of a pelting shower.
Poor devils! why cannot man content himself with the natural intelligence of the dog, and his affection, a thousand times more precious than his intelligence ?
The dog, man's truest friend; the only one that does not require that the object of his affection should have reason, for him to espouse his quarrels; the only one that does not restrict his friend to the limits, more or less confined, that he has assigned to himself; so gentle, so submissive to his master; so brave, so fierce, so implacable in his defence.
Listen to the story of a dog and a man; of two friends who loved each other with an equal affection; a circumstance which seldom occurs in human friendships, where it is usually one only who is the friend of the other. Happy indeed that one, when the other is not in reality his enemy an enemy the most to be dreaded ; an enemy who will destroy him by slow torments.
My two heroes had a great resemblance to each other; both were the result of a promiscuous intercourse, a chance union, a crossing of breeds. The man was neither large nor small; rather meagre than fat; tolerably ugly; his features were a confused and incongruous assemblage ; you would have sought in vain in his face for the type of any race or family; he was neither black nor fair, nor was he exactly tawny.
The other friend was also the product of a fortuitous conjunction. Neither his sire or dam belonged to any particular species, and he partook of the peculiarities of both. His short ears, partly turned back, were Newfoundland. His thin yellow hair came from the terrier; his long muzzle from the grey-hound; one of his paws was white, the others of no particular color. He was one of those mongrels which puzzled Buffon, and made him give up the nomenclature of the races of dogs after he had classified more than eighty different species. Each loved the other the more because no one else would have loved them; for be
side their ugliness they were wretchedly poor ; and poverty is not apt to attract friends, either among dogs or men. They breakfasted rarely, for this repast, which with more favored animals, bipeds as well as quadrupeds, usually begins the day, is not for beggars, who must eat their morsel as they chance to get it; they dined as it happened, sometimes badly, sometimes indifferently, and supped never; sleep supplied the place of this latter repast ; sleep, the soothing friend who holds existence in suspense, and leaves nothing to be wished for but the sense of annihilation.
Both man and dog, when they had no money, slept as it chanced, upon the bank of the river, upon the sand of the Quay d'Orsay ; upon the old straw-beds of the body-guards. There were body-guards in those days.
The name of the dog was Mouton, that of the man Bernard. Their names had no particular effect upon them ; did them neither harm nor good; th man might have been called Mouton, and the dog Bernard, and nobody could have said aught against it, seeing there was nothing in their air or figure to affirm or belie their cognomens.
Bernard, for want of being master of one, followed a variety of trades, and the most laborious and ill-paid naturally fell to his lot. As Mouton could do nothing toward gaining a livelihood, he followed his master wherever he went; shared his crusts, licked his hands, warmed his feet at night - fondled and loved him.
One winter Mouton fell sick ; Bernard was obliged to leave him two whole days upon the straw of the Quay d'Orsay. On the third day there was no more straw. Mouton shivered with cold and fever upon the damp ground. Bernard in despair carried him to a dog.doctor to be cured. The doctor required eight days' pay in advance. Bernard sold his jacket and his last shirt to satisfy him. Mouton's disease was very severe.
Bernard came to see him every day, and passed all his spare moments with his sick friend.
The time for enrolling conscripts came; Bernard was obliged to go. This would have been delightful if Mouton had been in a condition to accompany him, for in the regiment there is bread, lodging and clothes; but Mouton could not yet walk. Bernard raised a little money by the sale of his clothes, payed the veterinary-surgeon two months in advance, and took his departure. The regiment changed its quarters frequently. Bernard had but one source of anxiety, and that was his dog. He scraped together a little money, sous by sous, and sent it to the doctor. On one occasion he intrusted the little pittance to a comrade who was going to Paris on furlough. The worthless fellow drank the money up on the way.
One day Bernard received a letter. It bore the post-marks of all the places through which the regiment had passed. It was dated fifteen days previously, and was from the dog-doctor. This person had not received the last remittance of Bernard, and he now announced to him that if Mouton's board (he had been perfectly cured for some time) was not paid within a fortnight, he would be sold to pay expenses.
A cold tremor ran through Bernard; his heart beat violently ; he ran to his colonel, letter in hand, but as soon as he tried to speak, his
voice broke into sobs. He could only stretch forth the fatal missive and exclaim : • Mouton ! poor Mouton ! sold !'
The colonel thought him crazy ; there was something however so real in his grief, that the colonel consoled him, reässured him, and made him relate his story.
• My colonel,' exclaimed he, when he had concluded the tale of his dog, in the name of all you love best in the world, let me go to Mouton ; let me go, or I will go without leave. I will run away – I will desert. I must see Mouton ; I will not have him sold. Heavens! Mouton sold !'
• But,' said the colonel, even if I give you leave of absence, how will you travel ? You know that soldiers receive nothing for travelling expenses, when on furlough.'
* Oh! I will beg; nobody will refuse me a morsel of bread, and straw to lie upon. My good colonel, do, for heaven's sake, let me go!
· A soldier ought not to beg; and beside, when you arrive at Paris, what will you do then? If you cannot pay the doctor, he will sell the dog, spite of your presence.'
I know not what I shall do, but I will not let him sell Mouton. He is my only friend. Had it not been for him, his caresses, his knowing and friendly look, I should long ago have thrown myself off the PontRoyal. I will not let him sell Mouton. How happy he will be to see me again! I will implore the doctor; I will throw myself at his feet. If he will not give him up, I will kill him! He shall not sell him. I will pay him in small sums. Ah! if that vile Stanislas had not robbed me, Mouton's board would have been paid. I will scrape up, sous by sous, enough to pay the doctor. I never go to the tavern, or any place to spend money. Oh! my good colonel, do let me go !!
The colonel gave him three louis, and said: “Go, seek Mouton !
Bernard kissed the hands of his benefactor. The colonel dismissed him to get his furlough.
Bernard had two hundred leagues two travel. He set off in fine spirits, with his furlough in a little tin box, and his three louis carefully pinned together in his pocket. He marched stoutly along, braving fatigue, rain and wind, in the thoughts of again seeing his old friend.
· Poor Mouton !' said he to himself, “how happy shall we now be ! warm quarters at night; plenty to eat every day ; I shall have time to wash you and comb you, till you are as fine as a fiddle, and you will not have to wait for me at the doors any more when I run on errands; every one will love you; soldiers love dogs; you will be your own master in the barracks, and even the sub-officers will give you bones to pick. I will rub you down till you shine again when I take you to my good colonel. And then, in the long hours when I am off duty, instead of going to the tavern, I will take a walk with you. How amazed you will be to see me so well-dressed, and eating three times a day!'
Thoughts like these gave him energy to proceed. The twentieth day he reached Paris, completely worn out with fatigue. Without stopping, he however ran immediately to the dog-doctor's. The medical man was very busy ; and Bernard was told to wait. He asked to see his dog; the servant had but recently come, and did not know Bernard.
He replied that his orders were positive to let no one enter the kennel without a permit from the doctor. Do you know
my dog ?? said Bernard; "his name is Mouton.' No,' replied the servant ; "here all the dogs are called Ps't! He is yellow,' added Bernard, with a white paw.' • There are eight yellow ones here, and I have never noticed what color their paws are.
Bernard walked to and fro in the ante-chamber, in an agony of impatience : Mouton was there, separated from him by a single door; Mouton sad and disconsolate. What joy to see him once more; how he would yelp, and frisk about ! "I will take him with me; we will go together, never more to part.'
. My friend,' said the servant, you may now enter.'
Bernard hastened toward the doctor, and drew from his pocket the last louis and a half which remained to him.
Sir,' said he, 'I have come to get Mouton; I have come for my dog.'
The veterinarian did not recognize him. • Your dog is called Mouton ??
Yes, Sir — Mouton.' ‘On what day was he brought here ?' One Saturday ; in February.' • What are his marks ? · He is yellow, with a white paw.'
"Ah! here it is: Mouton ; yellow; hair close-shaven; white paw; this is all very right.'
Ah!' said Bernard, with a sigh which seemed to come from the very bottom of his heart.
• He has been sold five days ago, in default of payment of his board.' Bernard had well nigh sunk to the ground. After a few moments of silence, he cried out :
Sold ! • Yes, sold five days ago in default of payment of his board; there were due twelve francs : the sale only produced eight; you can pay me the difference of four francs, for which I will give you a receipt.'
"Where is he?
Where is Mouton ?' cried Bernard, in a voice of thunder.
• Rue Regrattière, Isle of St. Louis; I do not know the number, nor the name of the purchaser.'
Bernard hastened to the rue Regrettiere ; he traversed it a dozen times in every direction. But it was Sunday, and all the shops were closed. He passed the night at a miserable little inn in the neighborhood. At day-break he recommenced his promenade in the rue Regrattière, peering into shops, entering doors, questioning porters, and receiving more rebuffs than civil answers.
The second day, as he passed the door of a nail-maker, a workman called • Médor!'' On hearing a dog called, Bernard turned round: VOL. XXIV.