Eddie Greene was hurried home and put to bed, and a doctor was called. For a day or so he was watched over with tender solicitude by his mother, but he soon insisted on getting up, and the doctor said that the danger was past. His healthy young body recuperated rapidly and he suffered no serious effects from his harrowing experience. In a few days he was running about as well as ever, and his parents, watching him, had good reason to bless the brave dog that had saved their boy's life.
But with Remus it was different. Almost immediately he showed signs of having contracted a severe cold. Weakened as he was by exposure and exhausted by his almost superhuman struggles in the water, he was in no condition to combat the malady, and pneumonia set in.
For days he lay dangerously ill on his bed in Rome, while Jack hoped and prayed in vain for a noticeable turn for the better. Tom Poultice came down and diagnosed the case and left some medicine, but still Remus failed to show much improvement. Sam 294 Bumpus came, too, and did what he could, but he was forced to confess that the case was beyond his powers. Remus was very weak and seemed unable to rally. Jack Whipple was beside himself with anxiety.
When Remus had distemper he received visits from a good many of the boys in town, but that was nothing to the interest that was now displayed in him. The boys of the Humane Society hung about the Whipple gates at all hours of the day, vainly wishing that they might be of some help. Mr. Morton, Mr. Pierson, and other prominent citizens telephoned their inquiries. Mr. Fellowes came every day, and total strangers rang the doorbell to ask how the sick dog was getting on. All Boytown did its best to show honor and sympathy for the hero, but, alas, that brought no relief to the poor dog suffering on his bed in Rome.
For some time now Mrs. Whipple had been unconsciously displaying a different attitude toward the dogs. She never petted them; she was not yet ready to go quite so far. But she never said anything against dogs any more, and she had not concealed her pleasure and pride in the triumphs that had been won by both Romulus and Remus. And now that Remus was sick she made no attempt to conceal her anxiety, and answered all the inquiries patiently. One day Mr. Whipple observed her stealing out to Rome with a dish of 295 warm broth, while the boys were in school, and he couldn't help smiling a little. The mother's heart had been won over at last.
There came a day when Remus seemed to be getting worse instead of better, and Tom Poultice was sent for again. Mr. Hartshorn himself brought Tom over in the car from Thornboro. Tom tested the sick dog's temperature and general condition and shook his head solemnly.
"I'm afraid it's come to a crisis," said he.
"Nothing more you can do?" asked Mr. Hartshorn.
"I'm afraid not, sir," said Tom.
"Then there's no time to be lost," said Mr. Hartshorn. "We must send for Dr. Runkle. I ought to have done it before."
They jumped into the car and drove down to the telegraph office.
The next day Dr. Runkle appeared with Tom and Mr. Hartshorn. He was the Bridgeport veterinary surgeon that had come too late to save poor Rags. Mr. Hartshorn considered him the best veterinarian in the state.
With gentle, skilful hands he made a thorough examination.
"A bad case of pneumonia," said he. "The first thing to do is to get him into a warmer place. This 296 barn is all right for most things, but he needs some artificial heat now."
Mrs. Whipple was standing near, and Jack looked at her doubtfully. She did not hesitate. Apparently she had forgotten all about her vow never to allow the dogs into the house.
"Bring him right into the house," said she. "Jack, you go and get some of that burlap from the storeroom, and we'll make a bed for him in the kitchen."
Tom picked Remus up in his strong arms, and the little procession made its way up to the house. Bringing up the rear came Romulus, a subdued dog these last anxious days. His big eyes questioned the faces of his human friends for the meaning of it all. He could not speak, but no one showed a more genuine sympathy.
Never before had Romulus attempted to enter the house. Now he seemed to understand that the ban had been lifted. He followed quietly in through the door, and no one said him nay.
But I am happy to say that this story is not going to end sadly. I don't believe I could tell it if it did. Dr. Runkle stayed at Willowdale for three days, and each day he came down to attend his patient. At last his skill and knowledge and the constant careful nursing won the battle, and gradually Remus fought his way back to health. His splendid constitution and 297 stout heart stood him in good stead, and once the crisis was passed, recovery was rapid and certain.
And that is really the end of the story, though by no means the end of Romulus and Remus. They were destined to live to a ripe old age, much honored in Boytown, and to win many triumphs on field and bench. I need not tell you how happy Jack Whipple was to have his beloved dog restored to health and strength again. The rest of the family were hardly less so, and all Boytown rejoiced. I will only tell what a few of the people said and did, because Remus, you will agree, deserved all the honors and all the love that could be heaped upon him.
The first day that Jack was allowed to take Remus out into the sunshine for a little airing, there was one who watched them from the kitchen window. It was Irish Delia, who had objected so strenuously when the puppies had first been brought into her kitchen. When Jack, smiling happily, brought the dog in again, and Remus, whose legs were still a bit unsteady, walked over to his dish for a drink of water, Delia could restrain herself no longer. She flopped down on her knees beside him, and putting her arms about him, sobbed unrestrainedly into his soft coat.
"Ach, Remus, dear," she cried, "ye niver knew it, but I loved ye like me own brother."
And what did Tom Poultice say after the danger 298 was over? He placed a kindly hand on Jack's shoulder and said, "I read a book once called 'The Mill on the Floss,' and there was a chap in it named Bob Jakin—just a hordinary chap like me. One day 'e says to a lady, 'e says, 'Hev a dog, Miss. They're better friends nor any Christian.' I've always thought 'e was right, Jacky, and I think so now more than ever."
Mr. Hartshorn didn't say much. He was not the demonstrative kind, but everyone knew what he thought. One day he told the boys that he had just received a letter from a cousin of his in the West who was a sheep man.
"He hates dogs," said Mr. Hartshorn, "worse than coyotes. He always makes fun of my sentimentality, as he calls it, and can't say too much against an animal that can furnish neither eggs, milk, wool, nor meat. He calls the dog a useless creature. I sat down and wrote him what Remus did on Hulse's Pond, and asked him if he had ever heard of a sheep that had saved a human life. I guess that will hold him for awhile."
Sam Bumpus didn't say much, either. He just stroked Remus's head and patted his flank, and then remarked, "I've sometimes thought life was a pretty tough proposition, but I reckon so long as there's boys an' dogs in the world, we can manage to stagger along an' bear up under it."
299 What other people said didn't matter so much as what they did. Mr. Morton quietly started a little affair of his own, and after he had made numerous calls on business acquaintances of his, a little ceremony took place in the Whipple yard, just outside of Rome. A committee called, consisting of Mr. Morton, Mr. Pierson, and Mr. Fellowes, and after a short speech was made by the banker, a bronze medal was presented to Remus.
"It isn't to be hidden away in a drawer somewhere," explained Mr. Morton. "He's to wear it on his collar, and if he loses it, we'll get him another one."
One side of the medal bore the words, "Presented to Remus by the citizens of Boytown." On the other side was a setter's head and the words, "For heroism in saving human life."
April came again to Boytown, and with it the bluebirds and robins, the pussy willows and red maple blossoms, and the green buds of the dogwoods that watched over the resting-place of Rags on the hill. With it, too, came strength to the graceful limbs of Remus. There were warm, sunny days, when it was good for dogs and boys to be out of doors, and there were crisp, cool evenings, when a crackling fire on the hearth was pleasant.
Let us bid farewell to our friends as they sit before 300 their open fires, Sam Bumpus in his lonely shack, but not unhappy any more, Mr. and Mrs. Hartshorn side by side in the big house at Willowdale, and the Whipples in their pleasant sitting-room on Washburn Street. At one side of the table sits Mrs. Whipple, sewing, with a look of contentment on her face, mingled with pride as she watches the two fine young fellows who are her sons. At the other side of the table Mr. Whipple is reading aloud from that wonderful story, "Greyfriars Bobby." Remus lies comfortably stretched out on one side of the hearth and Romulus on the other, for they are no longer banished to Rome. The house is none too good for them. And about each happy dog's neck are entwined a loving master's arms.