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The Glorious Pool
THE HOUSE BEAUTIFUL
WHEN the last sad sounds of the fleeing fireman had died on the night—or very early morning—air, Rex Pebble and his retinue still stood in front of the little garden gate of his mistress Spray Summers' house, wondering what next to do. A hold-up had to be arranged for the two mystified gentlemen gangsters who had accompanied the party home only on being promised that they might have their stick-up on the front lawn. That is, Elmer seemed adamant; Joe had really only come for the fun.
The party sadly lacked leadership. Its motives were many. Fascism was in urgent demand. Spray Summers' chief desire was to get home, and not far distant in her thoughts was a bed. Rex Pebble, to a not surprising degree, held similar notions, that is, if amended with a few last drinks. Major Lynnhaven Jaffey, after searching half the world around, suspected that at length he had found the ideal angel for his pet bank, in Joe the Brigand. Hal, a little ashamed of being away so long, rather hated to face his compatriot brothers-at-hose, though this dread was alleviated by the sounds of merriment that issued from the house. Nockashima, of the whole band, had the least complicated ideas: with a bottle of liquor in his hands, there was only one thing that really remained to be done, and that was to shake it up skillfully into tempting cocktails. Nockashima should have been house man to Jove, or Bacchus's bell boy: nothing delighted him so much as to relieve suffering mankind by the simple magic of alcohol.
Nockashima now addressed his mistress. "Early bird catch cocktail," the fellow put his thought axiomatically. "I go make same—providing sufficient glasses left in honorable establishment." Nocka vanished through the gate.
"You never have to worry about what to do next with that young Oriental around," breathed Spray with a sigh of relief and anticipation. "Shall we join the firemen?"
From Elmer there was a silence that, unseen, was a scowl. "I want to know——" began that young man.
"Yes, we know," returned Rex Pebble patiently. "But you can't start till you get inside. That's the first principle of burglaring. Haven't you even taught him that, Joe? You're a heck of a professor."
"He's persistent, Chief," replied Joe blithely. "Per-severance always wins. I'll bet you'll let him stick you up yet. Me for that nightgown that somebody mentioned."
"Nightcap," corrected Spray. "Remember, this is a nice house, and no monkey business."
Spray Summers, as hostess after her own peculiar fashion, led the way through the gate and down a pebble path to the veranda door. Off to the left of the party as they moved down the drive, the waters of the garden pool whispered in a slow night breeze. Their whisper was a dare to secret rendezvous, to something precious that few people would have suspected, for all the fresh lush summer loveliness of the garden and the clear deep beauty of the water. Spray Summers took Rex Pebble's hand in hers, in the dark. It was the first time they had been near the magic spot, the curious, kindly fountain of youth, since new strength and years came back to them. An evening had slipped by swiftly, on wings of adventure, and now, within the almost sacred precincts of the house again, Spray felt stirred as she had not in years. "We'll get rid of them all soon," she whispered. "If we don't, we'll let Elmer shoot them," Rex answered, pressing her hand tightly.
From within the house came continued noises of gayety and high joviality. "How shall we get them out?" asked Major Jaffey. "I'd like a quiet spot for a business conference."
"I must say, Major," declared Spray, "that you choose the damnedest moments for your multicolored activities that I ever heard of. First you appear out of the bushes minus clothes, stay with us all evening, appear to be on the verge of spending the night, and now you want me to drive out my favorite firemen so that you may have a conference in the house. Of all the brass." Spray laughed. "I think the best thing is just to spread ourselves here while we await Nockashima. Besides, the fire laddies may join us themselves at any moment."
"Can't you take it off?" asked Rex of Elmer, who was struggling to sit down on the stone terrace without entangling himself in his pistol.
"Never have yet," said Elmer doggedly.
"I should think it might be pretty uncomfortable at times," said Spray Summers with an evil look. "I can think of a couple of times, at least."
"Oh, he takes it off sometimes," Joe defended his true-blood comrade. "I think I know what you mean. Yes." Joe was subtle if not delicate.
A crystal tinkle of ice in tall glasses unmistakably heralded the approach of Nockashima, the tireless, the all-faithful. The drinks were long and cool and potent. From the first sip there was a deceptive charm to them, a suggestion that if you like me, don't hesitate to drink me, because I'm perfectly harmless, just a little drink trying to get along. They were matchless for good taste and for kick, the kind of thing one's palate remembers with the first fresh taste of surprise, in spite of what may follow after.
Nockashima had switched on a wall light on the veranda before departing again for the house, and in the glow of this Elmer seemed gingerly to be sipping at his glass. It was plain that he wanted it but hated to give in. "Go on, old man," urged Major Jaffey, whose glass was half empty and who feared that one slow drinker might slow up the tempo of the party. "Dive in—it won't hurt you. I hear that a good drink now and again improves marksmanship."
"Yeah," coaxed Joe, equally well along, "lift it up like this and take a great big swallow, like a man." Joe tossed off the remainder of his glass.
"Well," said Elmer with more determination than grace, "I'm a sport. I guess I can take it. Down the barrel!" He tilted his glass and drained it, wiping his mouth on his sleeve with a gusty "Whew!"
"So that's that," whispered Spray to Rex. "You can just hand me that gun."
From the house Nockashima came trotting with great excitement. "Mist' Henry delighted with head of lion," he announced proudly. "Expect great comedy when exhibit self to visiting firemen."
"The breaks seem to be coming our way," commented Rex Pebble. "Here, Nocka, fill up these gentlemen's glasses." Nocka, still trembling with excitement over the amazing courage of Mr. Henry, the smell-less bloodhound, poured gurglingly from a tall pitcher with frosted sides. Elmer, less scowling, reclined against a pillar of the stone porch, and Joe, blissful as a cherub, opened a quiet financial harangue with Major Jaffey.
"I think," Spray Summers' voice was low in her lover's ear, "that you and I might sneak out for a little anniversary. What do you say?"
"You bet!" responded Rex. "Look here, Nocka," he addressed the diminutive servant, suppose you take the responsibility of removing those raving hyenas in there before the police arrive. Will you do that?"
"Great pleasure, boss," grinned the Japanese. "Solicit help from Mist' Hal and others and make quick work of fire chasers. You beat it." Nockoshima's vocabulary strained at no gnats for delicay of expression. Elmer was staring thoughtfully into the cool green depths of his glass as Rex and Spray stole away in the dark toward the pool. His eyes were large and full of wonder. drink
Nockashima first helped himself to a generous drink and then clapped his hands sharply, like a miniature Eastern potentate summoning his slave. "Hi, Mist' Henry, hi!" he called. A creature crept out of the shadows, its tail drooping, and lifting large sorrowful eyes. He came up to Nockashima, plastering his small yellow hand with a bright red tongue of just about the same size.
"Do you know what's the matter with that dog?" asked Hal, the fireman, bluntly.
"Have suspicions but not plenty evidence for statement," said Nockashima. "However, Mist' Henry potentially very fine dog."
"That's just it," remarked Hal, "and that's exactly where I disagree. I don't think he's potentially anything. That is to say, I don't think he's got any potentials at all."
Nockashima sighed with the air of one who is reluctant to accept the truth. "If Mist' Henry only develop interest in other bloodhounds," he moaned. "Apparently very much one-dog dog. No interest in anyone but me."
"What did he do with the lion's head?" asked Hal. "Did he chew it up?"
"No," returned Nockashima more brightly. "Mist' Henry apparently very fond of mask. Must have known lion in this or former existence."
"Here's an idea," proposed Hal. "This dog has some kind of complex. You know. I could spell it for you, but it doesn't matter. It's something he lacks and keeps thinking about all the time. Like not being able to smell. I wouldn't go around with my tail like that if I couldn't smell. We got to show Mr. Henry how to be a poker face."
"That easy," agreed Nockashima eagerly. "Let Mr. Henry wear lion's head for some time, get to thinking self lion, maybe roar, certainly sniff, give nostrils work-out."
"That's right," said Hal, "but that ain't all." Hal cupped one hand over Nockashima's right ear and whispered, "This guy Elmer, he's like Mr. Henry. He wants to shoot somebody just to show how big he is. Suppose we get Mr. Henry and Elmer to get my pals out. That would be teaming 'em up!" Hal laughed softly. He was immensely pleased with his own idea.
"Gland idea," exclaimed Nockashima enthusiastically. "Combine good and bad points of situation. Great aid Mist' Henry and Mist' Elmer; big bounce for visiting firemen."
"I think that idea could be celebrated with a few more drinks, then," said Hal, quick to lose no quarter, or cocktail. "Or is there any left?"
"Always plenty in shakers of Summers house," returned the small fellow hospitably. "If no, can go out quickly for more." Nockashima poured liberally from the seemingly inexhaustible pitcher that served in place of the silver shakers now greatly in demand by the convention of heroes in the kitchen. In pouring, he did not spare Elmer, the reluctant drinker who had by this time become completely won over to the charms of blood-cheering alcohol and lay semiprone against the stone pillar, lost apparently in contemplation of some gigantic pilfery.
On nimble feet Nockashima sped into the house, pitcher in hand, returning in a split second with a fresh supply of drinks and the ferocious phony lion's head. Mr. Henry, as averred by his faithful friend the Japanese, may not have definitely feared the thing, but he certainly displayed no great affection for it. Nockashima placed the head on the veranda and urged the bloodhound to examine it. With slow, slouching, cautious steps, the lanky creature moved round it, drinking in its every repulsive feature with his sad, distrustful eyes, and making now and again a pathetic attempt to resuscitate his long-lost sense of smell, if such a sense had ever indeed thrilled those ponderous nostrils. Mr. Henry turned regretfully to the Japanese; he appeared in effect to shake his head. You may have imagined that I cared for it, his look seemed to say, and I don't want to disappoint you, but heaven knows I can't see why I should have anything whatever to do with it. What's it for?
"Tsch, tsch!" muttered the Oriental, chagrined. "Mist' Henry exhibit no distress, but also show no great pleasure."
"I could hardly say he seemed thrilled," said Hal scathingly. "It's what we say about some of the fire horses, there are more plugs than the iron ones on the corner. Try putting it on him."
Nockashima adjusted the grinning lion's head over Mr. Henry's drooping visage. Nothing happened. The figure stood still, a ridiculous blend of lion and bloodhound, the face looking pleased as Punch, the shaggy knees and legs of the brute sagging under its weather-beaten, bone-ridged body. The face swung slowly from side to side in a grotesque combination of radiant and dismal regard. Take it off, said Mr. Henry, it's no use. I can't smell, I have no emotions, as a bloodhound I'm a total wash-out. Nockashima seemed on the point of tears. Carefully and tenderly as though he were lifting back the shroud of a dear one recently passed away, he removed the lion's mask from the drooping bloodhound's shoulders. Mr. Henry had not changed his expression; he half stood, half sat, gazing at his proxy master with disconsolate incompetence.
"Here," said Hal, the fireman, "have a drink." He proffered his glass, out of sympathy and understanding, to the dog.
"That's a good idea," commented Joe, who, in his absorption with the unexpected delights of alcohol so freely dispensed, was beginning to tire of Major Lynnhaven Jaffey's steady quiet drone of sales talk on the merits of the proposed banking scheme. "And while you're at it, you might give me one—that is, if you can spare it from the cur."
"Him no cur," defended Nockashima, generously fillng Joe's extended glass. "Him bloodhound of noble blood greatly afflicted with multitude of sorrows of life. No blame for Mist' Henry. Suppose honorable stick-up man unable to stick up?"
"That's Elmer," admitted Joe readily. "Look at him. Dozing. Not doing a damned thing. Not even trying to get the lay of the land. I mean that in a clean way. Give him a drink too. Let Hal feed the hound a drink and I'll feed Elmer one." With none too gentle hands, Joe pried open Elmer's mouth and poured a glass of drink into it. Elmer gave no signs of feeling, other than a half absent-minded air of gratitude.
Hal, too, was quick to take Mr. Henry in hand. "Here," said the young fireman, "drink this." Mr. Henry sidled over and obediently opened his cavernous jaws. The dog wrapped his great tongue around the glass—in fact, so recklessly that Hal clung to the stem with alarm lest he swallow glass and all.
"First time Mist' Henry ever take drink," murmured Nockashima, shaking his head as though his sense of morals, whatever they were in their obscure Oriental way, had been violated. If it was the first time the dog had taken to drink, however, he did not give indication of his inexperience. He lapped up the liquid and seemed to call for another round. "My God!" exclaimed Hal, examining the glass. "It's a good thing you didn't offer him the bottle. If you ask me, I think Mr. Henry's a silent drinker. Let's see what he'll do with another one. That one just wet his whistle."
"Beware drunken bloodhound," warned Nockashima. "Very much alarmed consequences Mist' Henry's heavy drink. Never can tell what happen." Hal ignored this sage advice. "Rats!" he said, "another drink will do the dog good. I think I'll have one with him. Here's to you, Henry, old boy, old boy," toasted his companion. The dog responded with what was the nearest approach to a smile of joy that anyone remembered to have seen written on his features. He gave a cross between a wheeze and asnort, ending in a low, melodious howl that brought Elmer's eyes open with a start, cut short the Major's monologue and caused a sharp, sudden quiet within the Spray Summers menage. With Mr. Henry's long last note lingering in the air, there was dramatic silence for a moment. The hubbub resumed, filling the dark, sweet-smelling garden and the veranda with a low buzz that might have been made by a ladies' aid society drinking spiked punch.
Mr. Henry, licking his lips monstrously, downed his second highball. Eyes focused on the creature. Stretching both front legs luxuriously, he wagged his head foolishly from side to side and glanced coyly at Hal, his benefactor, then at Nockashima, his future source of supply. With a new grace the dog ambled over to the Japanese and gazed into the depths of the silver pitcher in his hand. "No, no, Mist' Henry," remonstrated Nockashima, throwing Hal a reproachful look. "Now see, Mist' Henry practically confirmed drunkard. His fate in your hands now." The small yellow man appeared to waive all responsibility for the bloodhound, to wash his hands of the whole affair. "You put Mist' Henry to bed," he said to Hal.
"Leave him alone," returned that young man. "I think he's getting on fine. That's what's the matter with the brute. You've been sissifying him. What if he can't smell? He can drink, can't he? A dog's got to have some kind of fun."
But it was at this point that Mr. Henry really became alarming in behavior. With the pitcher upright in Nockashima's hand, it seemed impossible to get a drop of liquid out. The dog realized this and made a sudden lunge which landed Nockashima, amazed beyond words, in a sitting position on the lawn. The pitcher was now on the ground. Mr. Henry tentatively put forth one paw to tilt it over. With admirable dispatch Nockashima recovered his bearing. He snatched the pitcher off the ground, stubbornly folding his arms about it. Mr. Henry seemed to consider, then, with great deliberation, as though he wished to injure no one, but was equally determined to have his way, the bloodhound laid a ponderous paw on either of the little man's shoulders and pressed him to the earth. Just to make his intentions clear, that he bore no ill feeling, he swiped his great red tongue twice across the man's face and, standing on Nocka's chest, sank his mouth into the pitcher. There was a deep gulping sound, like the noise of an old-fashioned cistern when the bucket reaches the surface and begins to imbibe water for its return voyage.
Hal rose hastily and rushed to Nockashima's aid. He was too late. The man was not hurt, though stunned. Mr. Henry, having cleaned up the pitcher, calmly moved off Nocka's chest and began, first lumberingly, then with a sort of childish gayety, to cavort about the lawn. Not since he was a pup, if even then, had the bloodhound appeared so full of pep. He tore off apparently in pursuit of imaginary bones that had been pitched to him, cutting great circles about the lawn and then lunging into the circle of light like a locomotive out of a tunnel. With a tremendous bound he leaped across the huddled figures of Major Lynnhaven Jaffey and Joe, who were practically embracing one another in their panic. Elmer rubbed his eyes as the bounding creature stopped long enough to place a thick alcoholic tongue on his cheek.
"Great Fujiyama!" exclaimed Nockashima, giving way to his tallest expletive. "Mist' Henry mad with drink. How will ever explain to boss unusual behavior of pet?"
"I don't think you need to worry about that," said Hal as he dodged an affectionate forward pass. "Mr. Henry's not anybody's pet now. The world's Mr. Henry's pet."
What to do with a stewed bloodhound? Nockashima called and wheedled. It was no use. The creature knew the pitcher was empty, and that was that. Elmer was the first member of the party to suffer from serious attack.
Some instinct—could it have been a reviving sense of smell?—led the beast to rush the stick-up artist, languishing on the veranda, and, pinning him down, to lap up what remained of drink in his glass. It was some time before the print of importunate claws smoothed out of Elmer's face.
"Damn you, Joe!" sang out the attacked one. "You not only stop me from my work, but you get me into a dog-fight. What did he do to me, sting me or bite me?"
Mr. Henry sprang happily here and there, racing off into the shadows of the garden, only to tear back in search of companions. He would whirl first up to one, then to another, until Hal, realizing his desire, timidly ran away with the dog. When they emerged a second later from the dark, Hal was limping in apparent agony. "He plays too rough," the fireman complained. "I never met such a dog. Whose bloodhound is he, anyhow?"
"Mist' Rex' bloodhound," returned Nockashima, "and he going to be plenty sore when he sees condition of pet. Heaven knows what Miss Spray say!"
"The thing to worry about is what we'll do," said Hal, a victim, "because this has got to stop. He's a regular lion." Hal stopped short. "Say, that's an idea," he exclaimed, "why not put the lion's head on Mr. Henry now? Hell's bells, what a lion he'd make!"
Nockashima was in a quandary. He didn't want to take Mr. Henry indoors in this shameful condition, nor did he wish to call for help. The suggestion was not a bad one. It would cut off Mr. Henry's sight, and there was no telling what might happen. It couldn't be worse than having a mad dog at large on the premises. "Here, Mist' Henry, hi, come, nice bloodhound," lured the deceptive Japanese, pretending to produce a flask from his pocket. Mr. Henry slowed up in a whirling circle, bewildered with doubt. He didn't really know whether he should have another drink or not. Enough was enough; he had lost all sense of inferiority, and he was certainly the center of attention, if not of alarm. Mr. Henry's life long ambition had been to be a catastrophe, and this seemed his big chance—only if he didn't get too tight. One li'l' drink. The dog hesitated. He moved cautiously to Nockashima's side.
Suddenly, from behind, the lion's head was clapped over his shoulders. Mr. Henry emitted a long, soul-rending protest that again brought complete blanketing silence to the house and its environs. No heart could have heard that anguished howl in the night without missing a beat.
Mr. Henry had put his whole being into it, a magnificent, ravishing cry of outraged merriment, but it did not produce results. The lion's head stayed on. Fortunately for Mr. Henry, though he could not see, he could breathe through the lion's nostrils. He snorted and uttered a second howl. There was silence. Mr. Henry felt a grey surge of disgust sweep over him. What bad sports humans were! Here they go and get a bloodhound tight and then they wouldn't play. It wasn't fair. Everything began to seem muddled and confused; Mr. Henry's canine values were completely upset. He felt like running right out of the garden gate and never coming back. By gosh, thought Mr. Henry, he would—and forthwith he started at a gallop in the direction of what he imagined must be the gate.
In all fairness to his human playmates, or drunken associates, it must be said that Mr. Henry was properly warned. As the hound leaped off into the darkness, it is possible that Nockashima, spiritually psychic to the demands of inebriated characters, canine or human, may have guessed his intention. That is, to make off with himself, out into the great wide world, where no bloodhound is obliged to drink white man's liquor and not have white man's fun.
"Be careful," shouted the house man to the rapidly retreating figure. "If wish long sprint in woods, do not head for fountain."
"God knows what that crazy mutt will do next," complained Hal, rubbing his thigh. "He certainly stepped all over me."
"What you expect?" demanded the Japanese man curtly. "You kennel snatcher! Go feed nice dog all gin—best Tom Collins Nockashima made in three summers—and expect him to behave as in Book of Etiquette. I only uneasy about Mist' Henry's whereabouts now."
"The dog has had three drinks or more," put in Major Jaffey. The confusion had been a great break for Joe, for in the midst of the clamor he had been able to remove himself somewhat from the Major's wave length and no longer had drilled into him comparative bank earnings for the last ten years. "I've only had four, and I'm not nearly so well behaved. If I had my youth back again, I'd scamper around the yard and do somersaults myself."
At this moment there was a loud splash. It was the sort of sound that could only be made by the unexpected contact of a whirling object with a large expanse of water. The splash was quickly followed by a loud and terrible howl.
"Something dreadfully wrong now," remarked Nockashima with fatalistic philosophy. "No ordinary dive. That accident of two bodies—water and other body."
"Could that poor hound have jumped into the——" Joe left his question unanswered. It was quite clear what had happened: Mr. Henry had taken the wrong direction. He had headed straight into the garden pool.
"The poor brute," commiserated Major Jaffey. "I do hope that he has not drowned himself."
"Poor brute more likely drowned if stayed in present company than in pool," commented Nockashima dryly. "Other people's liquor flow freely."
"That was a crack," interposed Joe, "which I have no idea of hearing. Consider it erased, rubbed out. Wiped off."
From the direction of the pool came another howl, this howl curiously less distinct. There were no further splashings. Nockashima and Hal were collecting themselves with an idea of stopping this bloodhound suicide, if that was his idea, when an object emerged from the darkness that would have stopped a magician in Baghdad. Half lion, half pup, it pranced up, wagging its stubby tail and begging for affection.
"You can't tell me," said Joe rubbing his eyes, "that bloodhounds breed that fast. And even if I believed that, I wouldn't believe they'd be born with fake lions' heads on. What a nightmare!" Joe hid his eyes.
The joyous malformation, which seemed utterly delighted with life, was undoubtedly the old Mr. Henry, now become a new Mr. Henry. His small sleek backsides wiggled mischievously, and his tail stood up as pert and emphatic as an exclamation point. His body was thin, like a colt's, but there was youth in it, and a careless abandon that was completely new to Mr. Henry.
"Only one thing do now," said Nockashima, as the first to recover his wits, "and that, use Mist' Henry to help scare away firemen."
"I want to be in on this." Hal rose and followed Nockashima, who was leading Mr. Henry toward the house. "I've always felt some of the fellows needed stirring up, and now I want to see how they'll take it."
"Bring Elmer," Major Jaffey instructed Joe, "because we want to let him see how a real stick-up is staged, and after that, if there's anything left, we'll let him play with that pistol of his." Joe, practically shouldering Elmer, staggered in the rear of the procession.
To firemen, absent from the station for hours in search of a blaze that never appeared, and lured away from the gentle art of fire-fighting by such odd-pursuits as blotting up a few drinks and playing around with a French maid, the sudden sight of a Japanese face is not calculated to improve public confidence. And if, in addition to all these things, the face be accompanied by a bounding half-dog, half-lion affair, the effect is likely to be quite upsetting. Such was the combined effect of Nockashima and Mr. Henry when Elmer, pressing jealously to the fore, produced his gun and brandished it in the doorway. The place was cleared instantly. There were several hurried words of protest, but for the most part the kitchen and the premises were clean-swept of firemen.
"Holy mackerel!" whispered the station lieutenant, "if that isn't Hal with them!"
"The house is screwy, Lieutenant," advised another, who helped to lead in the disorderly retreat of the department. "I've known that ever since that girl Fifi got started."
"Got started what?" Even in his haste the lieutenant could not suppress his curiosity.
"Oh, surprising a fellow with pretty intimate business now and then, especially as a fellow goes to sit down."
"Oh, that," said the lieutenant. "Come on, we'll never get away if we start to talk about the monkey business of this house, including that gal."
"What have we been drinking?" asked one fellow in consternation, as he peered from his hiding place behind the large electric stove. "I thought there was something wrong about getting this whole joint free, including the French one."
"That was wrong to begin with," whispered the lieutenant, who crouched beside the man. "What is the creature? I seem to remember having seen the Jap before."
"I'd say it's half and half," was the answer. "Half beast and half pet. That is, if it's real."
Mr. Henry, filled with drink and the glamour of youth, roped about the kitchen, practically dragging Nockashima after him. Fifi, still preoccupied with the cocktail shaker, over which, in the absence of Nockashima, she had been mistress, had not noticed the uproar. Firemen are apt to do anything, Fifi had learned, and they seemed al-ways ready to start off at the sound of a gong. Something came nosing at her back. "Go 'way," said the girl. "Now, now, go 'way." She reached behind her, intending to slap the playful fireman, when her hand encountered something new and strange. It was somewhat bearded, it had an unusually large mouth, even for a fireman. Fifi raised her hand a bit. No fireman that she knew had such heavy brows. There was a loud sniff, a sniff like a dog. Fifi thought with scorn of Mr. Henry and his lack of smelling ability; at least, if the house was beset with firemen, there weren't any dogs around. The girl helped herself to a small drink and looked around, charitably intending to give the playful fellow a taste of her highball.
"Oh, mon dieu!" the cry rang throughout the building. Rex Pebble and Spray Summers, blissfully resting beside the pool, heard it and started for the house. They could hardly believe it, but it seemed that something was either happening or about to happen which they had never imagined possible with a Frenchwoman.
"Take eet away," cried the girl. "Eet is hor-ri-ble. You feelthy man!" she screeched at Nockashima. Mr. Henry was delighted with this show of attention. He bounded about the prostrate girl, quite out of control, and in touching the corners of the room, caused the heroes of many fires to cower in their hiding places. For the first time in her experience Fifi willingly embraced a Japanese. With a quick motion she grabbed the little man and clung to him in terror.
Rex and Spray at this moment appeared in the door-way. The room was a wreck. Glasses graced the floor, over which Mr. Henry tore in ecstasy, tail waggling, lion's head tossing. Fifi hid her eyes on Nockashima's shoulder.
There was hardly a sign of a fireman, except for stray helmets here and there, and a coat or two piled on the stove.
With amazement the mistress of the house gazed on the scene of recent revelry, and at the creature which romped about the room.
"If I didn't recognize the symptoms," said Spray, "I wouldn't know what it was."
Mr. Henry paused for a second to whiff generously at his mistress's feet. It was a new sensation for the creature. He drew enormous breaths and smelled rapturously. It was as though a man long blind for the first time beheld the sunlight. Mr. Henry, restored to puppydom, had regained his sense of smell. And he meant to use it.
"Well, he seems to be shaking a mean nostril at your feet," said Rex. "You lose your corns, and Mr. Henry regains his smell. That's fair."
"Let's forget my corns," retorted Spray, "and see what can be done to clear up this bacchanale. Here, Henry old fellow," she said, picking up a fireman's helmet, "smell this out."
The bloodhound took an eager whiff and reeled off. From corners firemen emerged.
"Not that I don't want to be hospitable," called Spray as they poured forth into the night, "but it's time all good firemen got to bed."
"Is this Elmer's cue?" inquired Joe enthusiastically from the doorway. "Can he hold up the Fire Department? He's rarin' to go."
Nockashima, pushing the weeping Fifi away, hastened after the exiting firemen. "That our idea, madam," he said over his shoulder. "Mist' Elmer devote pistol to fleeing figures."
Elmer leered in the doorway, a face in the night. In trembling fingers he held a revolver. "Can I now?" he asked. "Can I let 'em have it?"
"I think that would be a very fitting climax to the party," remarked Rex Pebble. "Yes, let 'em have it." Elmer whirled about unsteadily. There were loud reports on the night air, and in the distance much shouting of unmentionable words.
"Mist' Henry like March," philosophized Nockashima, "come in like lamb, go out like lion." For mingled with Elmer's shots was a clamor like the far-off baying of the hounds in a posse pursuit of escaping convicts.
Spray Summers calmly, with hands on slim, alluring hips, surveyed the scene of hilarity. It was anything but a house beautiful, but it never lacked for excitement.
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