His heart was heavy with helpless wrath. Again and again, in the course of their drives, he and the Mistress had sickened at sight of mutely eloquent little bodies left in mid-road or tossed in some ditch,--testimony to the carelessness and callous hoggishness of autoists. Some few of these run-over dogs,--like poor Lady,--had of course tempted fate; spurred on by that strange craving which goaded them to fly at cars. But the bulk of them had been strolling peacefully along the highways or crossing to or from their own dooryards, when the juggernauts smashed them into torture or into instant death.
The Master reflected on the friendly country folk who pay taxes for the scenery and for the fine roads which make motoring so pleasant;--and on the reward so many motorists bestow upon these rural hosts of theirs by wanton or heedless murder of pet animals. For the first time, he could understand how and why farmers are tempted to strew glass or tacks in the road to revenge the slaying of a beloved dog.
For the next few days, until his shoulder was again in condition to bear his eighty-pound weight on it, Lad was kept indoors or on the veranda. As soon as he was allowed to go out alone, the big collie went straight to the spot where last he had seen Lady's body. Thence, he a made a careful detour of the Place,--seeking for--something. It was two days before he found what he sought.
In the meantime,--as ever, since his mate's killing,--he ate practically nothing; and went about in a daze.
"He'll get over it presently," prophesied the Master, to soothe his wife's worry.
"Perhaps so," returned the Mistress. "Or perhaps not. Remember he's a collie, and not just a human."
On the third day, Lad's systematic quartering of the Place brought him to the tiny new mound, far beyond the stables. Twice, he circled it. Then he lay down, very close beside it; his mighty head athwart the ridge of upflung sod.
There,--having seen him from a distance,--the Master came across to speak to him. But at sight of the man, the collie got up from his resting place and moved furtively away.