First Page Project Gutenberg Header Page 113 of 193 Next Page Last Page CHAPTER XXIII - Michael, Brother of Jerry

CHAPTER XXIII

Came the crate. Because Del Mar brought it into the baggage-room, Michael was suspicious of it. A minute later his suspicion was justified. Del Mar invited him to go into the crate, and he declined. With a quick deft clutch on the collar at the back of his neck, Del Mar jerked him off his footing and thrust him in, or partly in, rather, because he had managed to get a hold on the edge of the crate with his two forepaws. The animal trainer wasted no time. He brought the clenched fist of his free hand down in two blows, rat-tat, on Michael's paws. And Michael, at the pain, relaxed both holds. The next instant he was thrust inside, snarling his indignation and rage as he vainly flung himself at the open bars, while Del Mar was locking the stout door.

Next, the crate was carried out to an express wagon and loaded in along with a number of trunks. Del Mar had disappeared the moment he had locked the door, and the two men in the wagon, which was now bouncing along over the cobblestones, were strangers. There was just room in the crate for Michael to stand upright, although he could not lift his head above the level of his shoulders. And so standing, his head pressed against the top, a rut in the road, jolting the wagon and its contents, caused his head to bump violently.

The crate was not quite so long as Michael, so that he was compelled to stand with the end of his nose pressing against the end of the crate. An automobile, darting out from a cross-street, caused the driver of the wagon to pull in abruptly and apply the brake. With the crate thus suddenly arrested, Michael's body was precipitated forward. There was no brake to stop him, unless the soft end of his nose be considered the brake, for it was his nose that brought his body to rest inside the crate.

He tried lying down, confined as the space was, and made out better, although his lips were cut and bleeding by having been forced so sharply against his teeth. But the worst was to come. One of his forepaws slipped out through the slats or bars and rested on the bottom of the wagon where the trunks were squeaking, screeching, and jigging. A rut in the roadway made the nearest trunk tilt one edge in the air and shift position, so that when it tilted back again it rested on Michael's paw. The unexpectedness of the crushing hurt of it caused him to yelp and at the same time instinctively and spasmodically to pull back with all his strength. This wrenched his shoulder and added to the agony of the imprisoned foot.

And blind fear descended upon Michael, the fear that is implanted in all animals and in man himself--_the fear of the trap_. Utterly beside himself, though he no longer yelped, he flung himself madly about, straining the tendons and muscles of his shoulder and leg and further and severely injuring the crushed foot. He even attacked the bars with his teeth in his agony to get at the monster thing outside that had laid hold of him and would not let him go. Another rut saved him, however, tilting the trunk just sufficiently to enable his violent struggling to drag the foot clear. Next Page

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Life is a disease; and the only difference between one man and another is the stage of the disease at which he lives. You are always at the crisis: I am always in the convalescent stage.
George Bernard Shaw