"No," she protested. "I'm going. And I'm going because I'm thinking of the same thing that's troubling you. I'm thinking of those forest fires and of what you said about the wind changing and--"
"Come on!" repeated the Master; starting for the garage.
Which shows how maudlinly foolish two otherwise sane people can be; when they are lucky enough to own such a dog as Sunnybank Lad. Naturally, the right course, at so cold and late an hour of the autumn night, and after a long day of packing and motoring and unpacking, was to go to bed; and to trust to luck that the wise old collie would find his way back again. Instead, the two set off on a twenty-mile wildgoose chase, with worried faces and fast-beating hearts. It did not occur to either of them to stay at home; or to send someone else on the long, frosty drive in search of the missing dog.
Lad had watched the preparations for departure with increasing worry. Also, the abnormally sensitive old fellow was wretchedly unhappy. Except at dog-shows, he had never before been tied up. And at such shows, the Mistress and the Master were always on hand to pet and reassure him. Yet, here, he had suffered himself to be tied by a smelly rope to the rotting post of a lean-to, by a comparative stranger. And, in the open ground below the hillock, his deities moved back and forth without so much as an upward glance at him.
Then, to his dismay, truck and car had made off down the mountainside; and he had been left alone in his imprisonment. Except for a single unheard bark of protest, Lad made no effort to call back the departing humans. Never before had they forsaken him. And he had full trust that they would come back in a few minutes and set him free.
When the car halted, a half-mile below, Lad felt certain his faith was about to be justified. Then, as it moved on again, he sprang to the end of his short rope, and tried to break free and follow.
Then came the dying away of the chugging motor's echoes; and silence rolled up and engulfed the wilderness hilltop.
Lad was alone. They had gone off and left him. They had with never a word of goodby or a friendly command to watch camp until their return. This was not the dog's first sojourn in camp. And his memory was flawless. Always, he recalled, the arrival and the loading of the truck and the striking of tents had meant that the stay was over and that at the party was going home.