Champion by Mrs.
L. G. Morse
Hetty had five brothers and sisters, and Champion, the dog, felt that he
had too much to do. There were plenty of people in the cottage at Lenox,
where they lived in summer, to take care of the children, but there is a
certain sort of responsibility which dogs of good, sound character are
not willing to intrust to anybody. The baby was always with his mother
or nurse, and Champion found it easy to take care of the other little
ones, for they were not allowed to venture outside of the garden gate,
and if that were carelessly left open, he had only to station himself in
front of it, and to gently tumble them over on the grass if they
attempted to pass through it. He had never hurt them, and their mother
thought that they could not be under any better protection than that of
good old faithful "Cham."
But Hetty, who was seven years old, and Rudolph, who was nine, worried
the dog terribly, and caused him to wear almost a perpetual scowl of
anxiety upon his face. He evidently looked upon them as not old enough
to be trusted by themselves, and it was a serious annoyance to him that
they were too big to be rolled over on the grass, and so kept within the
limits of the garden.
One lovely summer morning Hetty was missing. She had run away with a
beautiful ripe plum, which her cousin Francis had picked in order to
show her that the bloom upon it was exactly the color of old "Greylock"
in the distance. So she climbed the nearest hill, to compare the colors
of the mountain and the plum. Looking away over the valley, the child
saw too much beauty all at once. Clasping her hands behind her, she took
in a long sweet breath of morning air, and did not know what it was that
filled her whole soul with joy. She laughed aloud up at the clear sky,
and spreading her arms as if they were the wings of a bird, she ran down
the hill-side. Oh, there were so many robins! And butterflies flew
around her in little clouds. The fields were like fairy-land, they were
so full of flowers. She picked baby daisies, and put them inside of the
wild-carrot heads, not in blossom yet, which grew in the shape of nests.
When she climbed over a stone wall to the road, a squirrel ran across
her path, into the woods on the opposite side. "There!" she whispered,
softly, "maybe I can find his hole." And she ran after him.
It was a great pity that Champion had so much to do that morning. When
dinner was ready, and no Hetty appeared, Rudy called the dog, and asked,
"Cham, where's Hetty?"
Champion whined piteously, and looked first down the road, then up at
Rudy, and then down the road again.
"Come and eat some dinner, Rudy," said his mother, shading her eyes, and
looking anxiously toward the woods. "Hetty will feel hungry, and come
home soon now." But she looked proudly after Rudy when he clapped his
hat on with a thump, and said, "Never you mind about me, mother; I'll
eat more if I find Het first," and went racing after Champion, who
bounded over the ground as if he meant to run all the way to the
At the edge of the woods Rudy waited, and whistled to Cham. "Hold on!"
he said; "maybe she's hiding." And for a while he looked about the
laurel bushes in the places where they were accustomed to play, and
I'll go no more a-roving
With thee, fair maid."
But after a while he ceased his singing, and answered one of Champion's
whines by ramming his hands in his pockets, and saying, "Look a-here,
Cham! If anything has happened to Het, I'll—" The thought brought such
a film over his honest brown eyes that he had to rub his cuff over them
a good many times before he could see well enough to go on with his
search. Fortunately, dogs don't cry tears, and Champion's eyes seemed to
grow brighter as Rudy's grew dim. He seemed to say to himself: "If Rudy
is going to give up, and cry about it, I've got to take matters into my
own hands. Hetty's got to be found, and I can't waste my time waiting
for a boy to get the better of his feelings. He oughtn't to have any
feelings until after our business is settled!" And Champion gave Rudy's
boot a good-by lick, and raced away alone.
Rudy dried his eyes, and had no more idea than the dog had of giving up
the search. Dogs are just as apt to misunderstand boys as boys are to
Rudy ran over woods and fields, up and down the neighboring hills,
calling Hetty and Champion, whistling and shouting, until he was hoarse.
He could not find Hetty, and Champion did not return.
After a while he got angry at the dog, and said, between his teeth,
"I'll give it to Cham for running away from me, just when I want him to
help me find Het!" But his anger melted into grief when the terrible
thought came that perhaps some dreadful thing had happened to his
sister. Once he lay down flat upon his face, and cried aloud at the
sudden memory of how he had teased her that very morning by running away
with one of her doll's shoes, which he had only just that moment
switched out of his pocket. In a few moments, however, he jumped up
again, looked at the little shoe tenderly, and tied it carefully in a
corner of his handkerchief, saying, "There! I'll give it back the minute
I find her, and I'll fix her something for the baby-house, to make up."
He started off once more, this time without stopping to think where
Hetty would be likely to go, only rushing about in a sort of desperate
way, calling her by name, and shouting for Cham.
He stopped on top of a high hill called the Ledge, and looked down the
steep side of it a moment. Hark! He certainly heard the whine of a dog.
He clambered down a little way, and called his loudest. The dog's whine
answered him again. With a new hope in his heart, he called, and
listened until the whine grew louder and louder, and he recognized
Cham's bark. Catching at branches, stumbling, sliding, and blundering,
he made his way down the hill-side, until suddenly the dog's bark was
almost at his ears. And at last, there, farther round the side, on a
ledge, just where a light motion would send her rolling down a steep
declivity, lay Hetty; and Champion-stanch old Champion—sat upright
before her, like a brave, resolute soldier on guard, pricking up his
ears, barking loud in answer to Rudy's calls, his body quivering all
over, and his feet restless on the ground. But Rudy knew that Hetty
could roll no farther, and that Champion would sit there until help
came. He did not wait to waken Hetty, but climbing to her, he patted
Cham on the head, and bade him watch her till he returned. Then he
planted a rough, glad, boyish kiss on her unconscious cheek, and hurried
home as he had never hurried in his life before.
The mother's pride in her boy that night made her face shine, as she sat
by Hetty, who lay on the sofa, waited upon by everybody, because of her
ankle, which was slightly sprained. And she said nothing about the chips
Rudy was making, against all regulations, on the floor, as he was
whittling into shape a bench for Hetty's doll's kitchen.
"I'll tell you what, though, Het," said Rudy, "when you want to go off
again to see whether mountains are plum-colored or not, you'd better
take somebody along who knows that a carrot-weed's a flower, and that
stumps and stones are stumps and stones. You'd better take a
person—like me, you know," he said, winking comically at Hetty—"who
won't mistake a frightened squirrel for the king of the brown elves off
on a hunting spree, or for anything else that never was born, except
inside of your topsy-turvy head."
Hetty laughed, and blushed rosy red. "I guess I won't," she said; "but
if you had found yourself, Rudy, sliding and tumbling and running like
lightning down that hill, I guess your head would have been
topsy-turvy for once. And I don't know which is the funniest, to faint
away, or to wake up and find Cham licking me. Dear, good, darling Cham!
I never will go away again without Cham."
Champion licked Rudy's face as he and the boy rolled over on the rug
together, and blinked at both the children as if he understood and quite
approved of Hetty's good resolution.