Lad cared more for motoring than for any other amusement. In moments of stress he sometimes ran to the garage and curled himself up in the tonneau; as though in hope someone might take pity on his unhappiness and give him a drive. And, usually, somebody did.
Now, turning back, rebuffed, from the forest gallop, he caught sight of the car. Not in the garage, either; but at the front door; where its presence could mean nothing except an immediate ride.
With one high spring, Lad had cleared the ground and was over the closed tonneau door and amid a ruck of luggage and rugs. The rear seat was filled by a steamer-trunk, strapped tightly in place there. And the bottom of the car was annoyingly crowded by bumpy bags and other gear.
Still, by the simple and ancestral process of turning himself around several times, Lad was able to clear enough space on the floor to permit of his lying down; albeit in a very compact bunch.
He settled himself into place on the floor with a satisfied jounce which loosened a car-rug draped over the trunk. Down slithered the rug; and fell athwart the dog's shaggy back and one of the bags. It was not heavy enough to annoy Lad or hurt his feelings. And its draped folds served as the top of a sort of cave for him. On the whole, Lad rather enjoyed the rug's descent. It made his narrow resting-place snugger and warmer on this chilly early morning. Patiently, Lad lay there; waiting for the car to start.
He did not have long to wait. In another minute or two, the Mistress and the Master came out from breakfast; and got into the front seat. Then the car was breasting the winding slope of the drive, in first speed; the faint jar of the engine sending undulations over the mahogany-and-white coat of the stowaway dog. And, in a minute more, they were out on the smooth highway, headed for the distant Catskills.
Now, Lad had not the remotest notion he was a stowaway. On the few times when it had not been convenient to take him on drives, the Master had always bidden him stay at home. And when, at such times, the dog chanced already to be its the car, he had been ordered back to earth. There, was no way for Lad to know, this morning, that neither of the car's other occupants had seen him as he lay curled up on the floor, three-quarters hidden under the fallen rug. The luggage had been arranged in the tonneau, before breakfast. And nobody had given a second glance at it since then.
The sun was rising over a new-made world, alive with summer glory and thrilling with bird-songs. The air, later in the day, would be warm. But, at sunrise, it was sharp and bracing. The mystic wonder and the hush of dawn were still brooding over the earth. The hard white road stretched out, like a winding river, between banks of dew-gleaming verdure. The mountain-tops were glowing with the touch of the sun. In the deeper valleys floated a shimmering dusk.