"Oh," said the Mistress, with a sigh of renunciation, "I suppose we'll have to advertise it; and watch the 'Lost and Found' columns, too. But--wouldn't it be glorious if nobody should see our advertisement or--or ever advertise for it? It's so lovely! I hate to think it may belong to somebody who can't appreciate it as I do."
Now, Laddie had lived on the Place for many more years than he could remember. And he had spent the bulk of that time in studying the faces and the voices and the moods of these two people whom he worshiped. Moreover, he had an intelligence that is not given to most dogs,--even to collies--and a queer psychic twist to his brain that had puzzled his owners as much as it had delighted them:
Watching the Mistress, now, with his classic head on one side and his deep-set dark eyes fixed on her eager face, he saw that his roadway gift had made her very happy. Also, that her caressing hand on his head showed pride in what he had done. And this, as ever, thrilled the old dog, to the very soul.
He wagged his plumed tail, in gladness, and thrust his nose into her palm and began to "talk" in gleeful treble. To none but the Mistress and the Master would Lad deign to "talk." And, none listening to him could doubt he was trying to copy the human voice and human meanings.
"Dear old Laddie!" praised the Mistress, running her fingers through his lion-like ruff. "GOOD Laddie!, Thank you, ever so much! Nobody but a very, VERY wonderful collie named Lad could have had the perfect taste to pick out such a parasol. And now we're going to have a whole handful of animal crackers, for reward."
The crooningly sweet voice, the petting, the gift of animal crackers of which he was childishly fond--all these delighted Lad beyond measure. And they confirmed him in the belief that he had done something most laudable.
What he had done was to pick up a stray object, away from home, and bring it to the Mistress. He knew that. And that was all he knew. But, having won high praise for the deed, he resolved then and there to repeat it.
Which proves that old dogs can be taught new tricks. And which started all the trouble.