Louisa May Alcott: Jo's Boys

Chapter 5. VACATION

Everyone was glad of a holiday next morning, and all lingered over the breakfast-table, till Mrs Jo suddenly exclaimed:

'Why, there's a dog!' And on the threshold of the door appeared a great deer-hound, standing motionless, with his eyes fixed on Dan.

'Hallo, old boy! Couldn't you wait till I came for you? Have you cut away on the sly? Own up now, and take your whipping like a man,' said Dan, rising to meet the dog, who reared on his hind legs to look his master in the face and bark as if uttering an indignant denial of any disobedience.

'All right; Don never lies.' And Dan gave the tall beast a hug, adding as he glanced out of the window, where a man and horse were seen approaching:

'I left my plunder at the hotel over night, not knowing how I should find you. Come out and see Octoo, my mustang; she's a beauty.' And Dan was off, with the family streaming after him, to welcome the newcomer.

They found her preparing to go up the steps in her eagerness to reach her master, to the great dismay of the man, who was holding her back.

'Let her come,' called Dan; 'she climbs like a cat and jumps like a deer. Well, my girl, do you want a gallop?' he asked, as the pretty creature clattered up to him and whinnied with pleasure as he rubbed her nose and slapped her glossy flank.

'That's what I call a horse worth having,' said Ted, full of admiration and delight; for he was to have the care of her during Dan's absence.

'What intelligent eyes! She looks as if she would speak,' said Mrs Jo.

'She talks like a human in her way. Very little that she don't know. Hey, old Lass?' and Dan laid his cheek to hers as if the little black mare was very dear to him.

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