quotes_feb17_2008.htm

(February 17th to 23rd)



Format: Triple

The bull was ploughing along in the dust, fifty yards behind, rolling in his run, and smiling as bull-terriers will. I heard Vixen squeal; half a dozen of the curs closed in on her; a white streak came up behind me; a cloud of dust rose near Vixen, and, when it cleared, I saw one tall pariah with his back broken, and the bull wrenching another to earth. Vixen retreated to the protection of my whip, and the bull paddled back smiling more than ever, covered with the blood of his enemies. .

  

This is from “Garm, a Hostage” in Actions and Reactions.

One night, the narrator encounters his friend Private Stanley Ortheris, very drunk and disorderly and in danger of imminent arrest. He takes him home, and sends him back in the morning, clean and tidy, with a disarming note to his officer which wards off punishment. Three days later Stanley comes to call, bringing his magnificent bull-terrier, whom he insists on leaving as a hostage for his good behaviour. After the bull-terrier has rescued his own little dog, Vixen, from a pack of savage strays, the narrator christens him “Garm”, after the legendary Garm of the Bloody Breast. In the end, after Garm and Stanley have endured the agonies of separation, they are reunited, happily and for good.


Where I sat, he sat and stared; where I walked, he walked beside, head stiffly slewed over one shoulder in single-barrelled contemplation of me. He never gave tongue, never closed in for a caress, seldom let me stir a step alone. And, to my amazement, Malachi, who suffered no stranger to live within our gates, saw this gaunt, growing, green-eyed devil wipe him out of my service and company without a whimper.

   

This is from “The Dog Hervey” in “A Diversity of Creatures.

A lonely and desolate woman pours all her affection into Harvey, a strange squinting little dog, which for her represents a man who had been kind to her years ago. When Harvey gets distemper, the narrator agrees to look after him for a time, and finds there is something uncanny and strangely human about the sickly little beast.


John and Dinah faced each other before the fire. His feet, as he sat, were crossed at the ankles. Dinah moved forward to the crotch thus presented, jammed her boat-nosed head into it up to the gullet, pressed down her chin till she found the exact angle that suited her, tucked her forelegs beneath her, grunted, and went to sleep, warm and alive. When John moved, she rebuked him…

   

This is from “The Woman in his life” in Limits and Renewals.

John Marden had served as an engineer officer in the Great War, and afterwards has a serious breakdown, triggered by overwork. His former batman gives him a little Aberdeen terrier, to which he becomes deeply attached. When, out in the fields, the dog becomes caught by a root deep down a rabbit hole, John clambers in at risk to his life, and rescues her. In overcoming his old wartime terrors of being trapped underground, he is cured.

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