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The Stray Lamb


Thorne Smith



MELVILLE LONG was ready to prove himself at last. He was now the proud possessor of much bad whisky and gin. A man in the blot was responsible for its quality. In spite of this damning fact the man continued to enjoy deep and unbroken slumber. Already Mr. Long rejoiced in three customers. His heart was hopeful, and Hebe's was in very much the same condition. But Hebe did not know all of her Melville. She had an inkling, but no real knowledge of the profundity of that engaging youth's ignorance of worldly affairs. Everything was set for the initial delivery.

Melville Long had selected his list of prospective customers more or less at random. He prepared it sketchily, according to the appearance of the homes he chanced to pass in his rather purposeless rambles. One house had especially impressed him, and into this house he had insinuated his ingratiating presence. That this house was the residence of Mr. Brickett, the most important bootlegger within a radius of twenty miles, was unknown to Mr. Long.

Mr. Brickett received his caller with his usual urbanity, believing him to be a new customer. His shock was therefore the greater when Mr. Long offered to sell him an unlimited supply of gin and whisky at a price well below Mr. Brickett's minimum.

Beneath this blow the bootlegger rallied gamely and lent an interested ear to his young competitor's plans. It seemed, according to Mr. Long, that all the bootleggers in the neighbourhood were slow and inordinately expensive poisoners. He, Melville Long, was going to put an end to all that. From now on, all other bootleggers would have to reckon with him. He had no doubt that within a month or so they would either move away or give up the game. Now, all of this interested Mr. Brickett a great deal more than Melville Long realised. And the fateful part of the interview was that both of them placed a certain amount of credence in the words of Mr. Long. In this smooth, well-turned-out young gentleman Mr. Brickett saw the potentialities of a dangerous if not successful rival. In himself Mr. Long saw the possible solution of the liquor question, and the longer he listened to himself talk the clearer and closer grew the solution.

The interview ended on a note of mutual confidence and respect, Mr. Brickett requesting Mr. Long to deliver two cases of gin and one of whisky on the evening now at hand. Upon the departure of the budding young bootlegger, Mr. Brickett got in touch with numerous minions of the law who had reason to love him well, and with these same minions arranged a little surprise party for Mr. Long on the evening of his virgin delivery.

It was to this party that Mr. Lamb in a state of blessed ignorance was being driven. He had been told by Hebe that it was to be a mere pleasure trip, a short spin in the cool of the evening. She wanted her father along to lend an atmosphere of eminent respectability to a rather dubious enterprise. And because she wanted to do well by her father she dropped by and picked up Sandra. Thus they sped with high hopes and hearts aglow to the scene of the treacherous ambush. Mr. Lamb afterwards remarked that the spot should be marked by a double cross.

The car drew up before the residence of Mr. Brickett, and on some flimsy pretext Melville Long, who had been driving, made it known that he had to see a man for a minute. He hurried into the house and was affectionately greeted by the double-dealing Mr. Brickett. If Mr. Long would unload the cases, Mr. Brickett would send some servants to carry them into the house. Mr. Long then returned to the automobile, and much to Mr. Lamb's surprise, extracted a box from the trunk on the rear of the car. Mr. Brickett's servants, it turned out, wore the livery of the police department, and when Mr. Long hurried forward with the box in his arms he found himself on the point of entrusting its safety to one of these gentlemen.

It can be said for Mr. Long that when light dawned in his mind it dawned with sudden clearness. In a blinding flash he saw and comprehended the situation. With a cry of warning he flung the box into Mr. Lamb's lap—that startled gentleman receiving it with a grunt of pain—and swinging himself to the running board urged Hebe to take the wheel and to drive practically anywhere at the highest attainable speed. The officer of the law dashed forward to lay hands on Melville Long, only to be met with that agile youth's foot in the pit of his undefended stomach. As several other officers rushed for the car Hebe got it started and swiftly under way. The chug of a motor-cycle appraised them of the fact that they were not to be unaccompanied.

Mr. Lamb removed the box from his lap and carefully placed it on the floor of the speeding car. Then he turned questioning eyes on Sandra.

"Is this to be our habitual method of progress?" he inquired. "Because if it is I'd prefer to alight and to let the merry whirl continue without my superfluous presence."

"Would you leave me here all alone?" demanded Sandra.

"Without a moment's hesitation, if you were mad enough to remain," Mr. Lamb replied. "Of course, I would much prefer your company."

By this time Melville had climbed into the back of the car and was about to join the busily occupied Hebe in the front seat.

"Melville, my boy," asked Mr. Lamb, "may I ask what is in this box that made that officer so angry?"

"It's just this way," muttered Long, struggling forward to hide his confusion. "They're all that way, Mr. Lamb. Don't mind them."

"I wouldn't mind them in the least," Mr. Lamb replied, "if they didn't display such feverish interest in us."

By this time the telephone in Mr. Brickett's home had been pressed into active service. The key points throughout the country and the state were warned to be on the look out for Mr. Lamb's automobile, the licence number of which was given, with a business-like description of the automobile itself and its occupants.

Hebe had wheeled into a rough dirt road, and for a few minutes they thought they had lost the motor-cycle policeman, but as she stopped the car to enable Long to change places with her they heard a faint but persistent throbbing behind them. Looking back they made out the motor-cycle and its implacable rider bounding along in the distance. Both were having rough going of it.

Then began a grim chase, which Mr. Lamb to this day views with alarm and disapproval. On the rutted dirt road they more than held their own with the motor-cycle, but when this road abruptly deposited them on a main thoroughfare, the persevering policeman began to gain. And when the road eventually placed them in the dead centre of a thriving village they were indeed in great trouble, because it was here that two state troopers, also equipped with motor-cycles, joined the chase. These alert and determined gentlemen were of a different calibre from that of the flying motor's former Nemesis. They believed in producing revolvers and pointing them at things. The sound of shooting brought joy to their hearts, and they now began to enjoy themselves to their hearts' content. As the automobile hurriedly cleared the town they yanked out their guns and gave the party ahead what is sometimes known as what for, or a piece of their collective minds. The revolvers spoke eloquently in Mr. Lamb's ears. He heard the whistle of bullets going by at full speed, and he knew that those self-same bullets were busily looking for them. This knowledge brought him scant satisfaction.

"Our two new escorts," he observed to his daughter, "seem to have an even greater capacity for anger than that other chap. Do you know why they're trying to murder us all?"

"Well, major, his daughter called back to him, "this automobile happens to be loaded to the scuppers with gin and whisky, and it seems that our guilty secret is known to practically the entire universe."

"I knew nothing about it," replied Mr. Lamb, lurching heavily against Sandra.

"You're the 'practically' part," said Hebe. "Now everybody knows except possibly an old gentleman on the extreme peak of Mount Shasta."

"Does it so happen," continued Mr. Lamb, as the automobile skidded around a corner and the shooting died away, "that a few samples are lying within easy reach?"

Hebe produced a bottle from a side pocket and passed it to her father. Mr. Lamb received the gin with undisguised relief.

"I might as well be poisoned as shot," he remarked, raising the bottle to his lips. "If I must meet death face to face I'd prefer to be wearing a broad, fatuous smile."

"You're not alone in your preference," said Sandy "My throat is parched with panic."

Mr. Lamb handed her the bottle.

"No foolishness, remember," he warned her. "This is to be serious drinking."

Sandra gulped a few swallows of extremely vile gin, relinquished the bottle to Hebe and turned her deep, passionate eyes on the man at her side.

"I'd love to meet death with you," she murmured. "With your kiss on my lips and our bullet-riddled bodies locked in a last embrace."

"Bleeding profusely from every pore," added Mr. Lamb. "Hebe, pass me that bottle quickly. This woman is turning me numb."

Mr. Lamb drank deeply, clinging with one hand to theswaying car. Sandra relieved him of the bottle and followed his example. Melville Long was too busy to drink. If there was one thing that young man knew it was roads. In his own roadster he had explored the highways and byways of the entire state. He was in the way of being an animated road map. He now called on his knowledge and played a little trick on the state troopers, still hidden from view by a bend in the road.

Turning the car sharply, he drove it at full speed up what appeared to be a private driveway leading to a farmhouse. The road curved round the house and continued surprisingly on through a field of corn, down a short but steep incline, followed the arc of a meadow, and at last lost itself in the shadows of a forest. It was not a road for a large, heavy automobile, but Mr. Long made it so to-day. Once in the forest he stopped the car and silently took the bottle from Hebe. When he removed it from his lips it was good only for disposal. Hebe produced another one and passed it back to het father. Melville Long got out and listened. For the moment they seemed safe from pursuit.

"The rear mudguards have been dented by five bullets, and there are two holes in the body," he announced with his usual optimistic smile. " It's lucky they didn't hit the trunk. The thing's full of grog."

"An act of God," breathed Sandra.

Daylight was growing thin, and the late summer night was about to open for business. Mr. Lamb was making inroads in the new bottle. The gin was taking effect. He could hardly have felt better.

"Melville," he asked, "would you mind telling me the name of that near customer of yours? A shade of memory has just passed across my rapidly receding brain."

"Name of Brickett," Long answered a little bitterly. "Seemed to be a pleasant sort of man."

"Oh, he is," Mr. Lamb continued. "He's one of the pleasantest and most progressive bootleggers in the neighbourhood. I've done business with him myself."

An expression of infinite pity welled up in Hebe's eyes as she regarded her future husband.

"Darling," she said, "you've proved yourself far beyond any reasonable doubt, and what you've proved is that you're the world's worst bootlegger barring none."

"I'm not even that," the young man answered moodily. "Haven't sold even one bottle yet. Didn't ever get started."

"And what, may I ask, was the reason for all this illicit enterprise?" asked Mr. Lamb.

Melville looked helplessly at Hebe, and she put her hand on his.

"Well, you see, major," she explained. "We were trying to get married and it was all my fault. I suggested the idea to this billiard ball with a view to obtaining quick and ample funds. I thought it would be better than his just doing nothing. He absolutely refused to ruin me."

Mr. Lamb looked at the pair with sad, reproachful eyes.

"He's absolutely ruined me," he said at last. "And between you, you have made us all eligible for full membership in the Atlanta Country Club. Your short cut to matrimony leads but to the jug. If you succeed in getting me out of this fix alive I'll carry you both in my arms to the nearest church and not leave the place until you are married to a turn."

"Let's have a drink on that," suggested Sandy. "It sounds like a sporting proposition to me."

The second bottle went the way of the first, and a third was pressed into service. This time they switched to whisky with the aid of a corkscrew attached to a versatile pocket-knife in the possession of Melville Long. Merely as a matter of interest Mr. Lamb also sampled this unworthy liquor, then leaned back against the seat.

"Damn the torpedoes," he quoted to his probable son-in-law. "Get me back to my bed, and I'll settle a fortune on Hebe."

He rested his head on Sandra's shoulder and became a very quiet and contented man. As the car sped through the woods slumber claimed him for her own. Sandra, too, for lack of anything better to do, dropped into a light sleep, and failed to notice how heavy the head on her shoulder was growing. Hebe and Long kept their eyes to the front.

Some time later when the automobile drew up at an innocent-looking roadside garage to replenish the nearly exhausted supply of petrol, the pair continued sleeping. Nor did either sleeper awake until the sound of coarse, commanding voices penetrated their remoteness.

Sandra sat up with a start, only to find that the automobile was completely surrounded by state troopers. She turned to Mr. Lamb to inform him of this disheartening fact, then stopped with her mouth open.

"Hebe," she said in a low voice, "just turn round and look at your father."

Hebe stopped insulting the state troopers and obeyed Sandra's urgent request. Her mouth also hung suspended. Then she closed it and swallowed hard several times. Mr. Lamb woke up and looked helplessly about him. He knew he was something else again, but for the life of him he could not make out what it was.

"Come out of there," an unpleasant voice broke in. "We want to search the back of this car."

The man thrust in an inquiring head, then immediately abandoned his inquiry. It is to be questioned if any man ever changed his plans so swiftly and radically. His head was no sooner in than it was out. And no sooner was it out than his voice made horrid sounds.

"May God save us all," he announced. "They've got a live lion in the back of that car"—and leaping on the nearest motor-cycle, he disappeared down the road.

"So that's what I am," thought Mr. Lamb with a thrill of pride. "Well, here's where I assert myself to the limit of my capacity."

With an ear-splitting roar of mock rage, he jumped heavily to the road and scattered disorder among the troopers. Some of them left on foot, some of them left on motor-cycles, some of them seemed to have discarded both methods of leaving in favour of flying. The fact remains that where there was once a compact little gathering of state troopers, there was now not a single trooper. A few abandoned motor-cycles remained behind, but had it not been for these therewas no evidence that a state trooper had ever been within miles of the spot. High up on the top of the petrol pump the garage owner looked on the scene of desolation and felt very lonely indeed. Nor would he come down in spite of the urgings of Sandra and Hebe and the apparent amiability of the lion. They left the man aloft, and drove noisily down the road, everyone talking at once save Mr. Lamb, who was practising up on his growls and modestly receiving the congratulations of his three companions in flight.

Then Melville Long, without much effort, conceived another bright idea. He drove swiftly and directly to the sea coast—to a place of sand and pines, where a secluded hotel dreamed away a peaceful, fragrant existence among the trees that for ever held in their arms the far-off throb of the surf. The lights were out in the hotel when the automobile rolled up the gravel drive. They had previously decided what they were going to do with Mr. Lamb. The lion was to become a dog. They had figured out exactly how to do it. Mr. Lamb alone was sceptical. He failed to see how he could compress himself into a dog, no matter how hard he squeezed. However, since the party had decided to make a dog of him, he was perfectly willing to co-operate to the best of his ability. It had taken nearly half a case of liquor to get him into this pliable frame of mind. He was now a trifle unsteady on his feet. Instead of stepping quietly out of the automobile he fell through the door held open by Sandra, and spread himself over the drive.

"Come on, major," pleaded Hebe. " This will never do. Wait till we get our rooms."

The thought of a comfortable bed gave the lion the strength to rise. Then began the transformation. As if they had previously rehearsed the scene, each member of the party bore down on Mr. Lamb with an auto-mobile robe. In these they completely muffled him. Even Melville Long's raincoat was pressed into service.

"Now squeeze yourself together, major," his daughter urged him. "That's the boy. Squeeze hard, hump your back and walk low to the ground."

The young lady was red with exertion as she tied the robes about the contorted form of the lion. From time to time Sandra was forced to retire as her mirth got the better of her. Low pants and grunts issued from the lion. Only his nose and eyes were now visible, his tail having been firmly strapped to his stomach. From the blankets his eyes peered out wistfully — hopefully — upon his three companions. Sandy could not meet those eyes bearing the mute question of, "Do I look much like a dog?"

When she had finished her operations, Hebe stepped back and surveyed her handiwork.

"He doesn't look much like a dog," she admitted, "but then again, he doesn't look much like a lion, and after all that's what we want."

"He doesn't look like anything else on the face of God's world," pronounced Melville Long. "We've got as much right to call him a dog as any other animal."

"Now, major," continued Hebe, "remember this, and for heaven's sake don't laugh. You're a sick dog and an extremely self-effacing one. You're shy and you don't like strangers. Now show us how you can walk. Just think of a beetle and crawl along."

Thinking hard of a beetle, Mr. Lamb crouched to the ground and, hunching up to his utmost, took a few trial steps. The effect was irresistible. It was heightened by the obvious earnestness of the lion. The three witnesses of this odd scene sat down on the running-board of the automobile and clung to their stomachs. Sandra was aching all over. And when the lion peered wanly back at them over his shoulder for some indication of approval, she collapsed into Hebe's arms.

"Come on everybody," said Hebe in a low voice. "I've taken a lot of trouble with that lion, now we've got to get him in. That will do very well, major," she continued, going over to the crouched and muffled object. "Just keep up the harmless deception till we reach our rooms."

Collecting several suit-cases containing nothing but gin and whisky, Long rang the hotel night-bell and waited on the broad veranda until a light appeared in the reception room. When a sleepy-eyed clerk with bushy hair and a large, smooth, well-fed face appeared at the door, the young man made known his needs and was invited to enter with his party.

"Ah, yes," Long said to his clerk in as nonchalant a voice as he could muster, when the robed lion made his mincing entrance. " I'd forgotten our most important member—one sick dog. I take personal charge of him myself."

From behind his counter the clerk looked in astonishment at Mr. Lamb, who cast his eyes down and gazed demurely at the floor.

"Do you say that's a dog?" the clerk demanded.

Melville Long laughed falsely as Hebe bent over her father and gave him a pat of encouragement.

"Of course he's a dog," put in Sandy. "What would you call him if he isn't a dog?"

"Well, miss," replied the clerk thoughtfully, " I don't rightly know just what I'd call him. He's unlike anything I ever saw before, or ever hope to see again. Are you certain he's all right? This is a very quiet hotel, you know. It's a sort of retreat for nervous persons—wrecks."

Everyone, including Mr. Lamb, felt that they had come to the right place. As Melville Long was signing the register in such a way that Hebe became his sister and Sandra Rush her friend, Mr. Lamb suddenly remembered his daughter's admonition about laughing. No sooner had he remembered this than he was seized with an uncontrollable desire to laugh. His legs gave way completely, and, sinking to the floor, his body shook with suppressed mirth as a gasping noise escaped his lips.

With blotter in hand the clerk forgot every other consideration in his interest in the convulsed animal.

"What's wrong with him now?" he asked.

Long, studiously averting his eyes from the great, quivering hulk at his feet, looked impassively at the clerk.

"A bit of a chill, I guess," he replied. "It's the night air. A very delicate dog, that, and an expensive one. Only a few in captivity—I mean, only a few grow to manhood."

"Or attain their majority," put in Hebe sarcastically.

She bent tenderly down over the now hysterical lion and gave him a vicious jab in the ribs, from which the poor creature grunted so explosively that the clerk jumped back.

"There, there, Fifi," she said. "Be a good doggie or you'll get no nice warm medicine to make you sleep."

At the inappropriate appellation of Fifi, Sandra broke down completely. Throwing her arms on the counter she hid her head in them and rocked her body to and fro in agony. The clerk scratched his mop of a head in perplexity, looked closely at the register, then giving everything up as hopeless, led the way to the rooms.

This entailed the mounting of several flights of stairs, a difficult task for Mr. Lamb in his present strapped and highly compressed condition. To add to his discomfort his robes began to slip off, and Nebe and Sandra were forced to hold them on as he dragged himself up the interminable stairs. Once the clerk looked back, and the sight he caught of the straining lion was enough to keep him from looking back again.

When finally the door had closed behind the mystified man, Mr. Lamb burst his bonds and lay exhausted on the floor. Sandra flung herself on the bed and Hebe sank down in a chair. From the bed came a series of muffled gasps. Sandra was still at it. Mr. Lamb, trailing robes behind him, walked to the bed and gently spanked the prostrate form of Sandra. Gentle as it was, the spanking was sufficiently firm to bring her back to sobriety. She sat up on the bed, then suddenly threw her arms round the lion's neck.

"Fifi!" she cried. "Fifi, us girls must stick together."

Mr. Lamb drew back and, looking at his daughter, made it clear by a wave of his paw that he desired to retire. Sandra was all for sleeping with her Fifi, but compromised with tucking him into bed. This he permitted her to do with bad grace.

"I don't quite like sleeping with a drunken lion, even though he is your father," Melville Long told Hebe in a low voice. "He's gentle enough now, but suppose he should dream he was back in the jungle? He might make a meal out of me and never even remember it."

"The major," replied Hebe with dignity, "is very careful about the quality of the food he consumes. One bite out of you, and his jaws would automatically cease to function."

With this little parting speech Hebe led Sandra to their own room. Sandra blew a kiss to her Fifi, who gazed back at her with large glassy eyes.

In spite of the precautions taken by Hebe the next morning to lock the sleeping lion in before they went down to breakfast, the chambermaid, after repeated knocking, entered the room with no difficulty by means of her master key. It is to be doubted if even God clearly understood her prayer, so incoherent were her ideas when she pulled down the rumpled bed clothing and came face to face with a lion. Even then she did not move. The terrible sight had robbed her limbs of volition. It was not until the lion awoke and gave her a lazy cuff on a place usually associated with juvenile chastisement that she thought about going. As she left the room her limbs moved jerkily, as if she were walking with snowshoes attached to her feet.

"There's a lion in 46," she informed the clerk. " He's asleep and he has a mouth."

The day clerk smiled indulgently at the maid's terror, the night clerk having omitted to give him an account of the late arrivals of the previous night.

"Yes, I know," he replied soothingly. "There's an elephant in 82. Go up and give him his bath."

The maid liked her job, so she did not stop to argue, but within a surprisingly short time a rumour was circulated about that among its other distinguished guests the hotel also entertained a lion. Support was given to this rumour when at noontime an order was telephoned from 46 to send up half a dozen large steaks. The order was duly delivered and consumed, but the waiter who delivered the steaks had no opportunity to see the consumer. When Sandra, Hebe, and Mr. Long appeared in the dining-room for luncheon the kitchen was thrown into an even more feverish state of speculation. A sick dog, no matter how rapid his recovery, could not possibly eat six large steaks. Therefore it stood to reason that the dog was not a dog at all, but a lion.

For the remainder of the afternoon Sandra read the newspaper to Mr. Lamb, who alternately drank and drowsed. When it was about time for dinner she departed, promising to provide bountifully for him on her return. Not being Hebe, she forgot to lock the door.

It did not take many minutes for Mr. Lamb to become terribly, terribly lonely. He crawled out of his bed and wondered what he could do with himself.

"Can't do much with a lion," he thought discontentedly. "Nobody wants you around. Nobody understands."

He had been cooped up in the house all day. A bit of a walk would do him a world of good. It was dark now and almost everybody was dressing for dinner, his party having gone down early in order to tend to his needs. He did not doubt for a minute that he could get himself out of the hotel without being observed by a single human eye.

Mr. Lamb went to the door and tried the knob. It turned easily under the pressure of his paws. He was out of the room in a moment. Now, the hall was a narrow hall, and Mr. Lamb had been perfectly right in assuming that the majority of the guests of the hotel would be in their rooms dressing for dinner. Another thing, Mr. Lamb's tail was long and large. And this long tail thumped imperatively against the doors on either side, as Mr. Lamb made his stately progress down the hall. It was an interesting study of human reactions to the unexpected presence of a lion.

The first summons of the lion's tail was answered by an elderly gentleman wearing horn-rimmed glasses and an undershirt. To this gentleman Mr. Lamb bowed apologetically. For a moment the old fellow did not stir. He peered myopically at the lion as if disbelieving the evidence of his eyes, then closed the door slowly as suspicion grew to certainty. The other guests were more expeditious in their reactions. One lady hurrying out to dinner unfortunately received the lion's tail full in the pit of her stomach, and was toppled to the floor. Her terror was heightened by Mr. Lamb's elaborate attempts to show her that the whole incident had been purely accidental. Her screams caused other doors to open, and the lion was discovered in the act of what appeared to be an attack on a prostrate woman, but which in reality was nothing more than a courteous endeavour to make gentlemanly reparations for an unavoidable occurrence.

What had once been a mysterious rumour now became an appalling fact. Few guests appeared at dinner that night. They preferred to remain hungry but safe, behind locked and barricaded doors. Not quite satisfied with this precaution some of the more painstaking guests were later unwillingly hauled forth from under beds and the depths of closets.

During this brief period the hotel was decidedly no place for nervous people, although it was occupied by many.

Not altogether unaware of the disturbance he had created, Mr. Lamb made an exit through a side door and was now wandering pensively about in the pines. At last he came to the sea and poised himself on a rock. It was a beautiful night—a night of stars, silence, and beguiling breezes, laden with the healing scent of salt and pine.

A man and a maid, new to the place, but obviously not to each other, were walking along the beach.

"What a lovely spot for a statue," exclaimed the maid, pointing to the lion motionless on the rock.

"Funny," said the man, "we haven't seen it on any of the picture postcards."

They hurried up to the lion and examined it in the darkness.

"Remarkably lifelike," murmured the maid.

"And so are you," said the man, leaning against the lion's flanks and taking the maid in his arms.

Mr. Lamb promptly sat down and the couple slid to the rocks.

"Did you push it over?" asked the maid.

"God, no," whispered the man. "The damn thing's alive."

After this they covered their heads and lay perfectly still, each one wondering about how much of the other remained undevoured. When at last they gathered enough courage to look up, the lion was gone. That night they conducted themselves with a certain amount of discretion.

Mr. Lamb found the hotel in a condition of frantic activity. During his absence the state troopers had appeared, this time fortified with a machine-gun. He was just in time to see his automobile bearing Hebe, Sandra, and Long dash madly down the driveway. Troopers were rushing from all directions, and the machine-gun was brought into action. The troopers had no intention of getting too close to the lion they assumed to be in the car.

And Mr. Lamb was equally reluctant to be left alone with a machine-gun and a chorus of state troopers. He longed for the company of his friends. Casting dignity to the winds, he uttered a loud roar of protest and doubling his body under him made the gravel fly.

"Run, lion, run," he urged himself. " Prove yourself now."

Gravel sprayed out behind him. His tail was close to the ground. This did not prevent it from being slightly nicked by a machine-gun bullet.

The car was waiting for him at the end of the drive, and without stopping for the formality of opening the door he lurched over the side. Theautomobile jumped ahead and continued hurriedly along the road.

"Off again, major," said Sandra resignedly. " How's your head?"

Mr. Lamb was not worrying about his head. His thoughts lay with his tail.

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