A Farewell Tour by A. A. Milne

This is positively Chum’s last appearance in print–for his own sake no less than for yours. He is conceited enough as it is, but if once he got to know that people are always writing about him in books his swagger would be unbearable. However, I have said good-bye to him now; I have no longer any rights in him. Yesterday I saw him off to his new home, and when we meet again it will be on a different footing. “Is that your dog?” I shall say to his master. “What is he? A Cocker? Jolly little fellows, aren’t they? I had one myself once.”

As Chum refused to do the journey across London by himself, I met him at Liverpool Street. He came up in a crate; the world must have seemed very small to him on the way. “Hallo, old ass,” I said to him through the bars, and in the little space they gave him he wriggled his body with delight. “Thank Heaven there’s one of ’em alive,” he said.

“I think this is my dog,” I said to the guard, and I told him my name.

He asked for my card.

“I’m afraid I haven’t one with me,” I explained. When policemen touch me on the shoulder and ask me to go quietly; when I drag old gentlemen from underneath motor-‘buses, and they decide to adopt me on the spot; on all the important occasions when one really wants a card, I never have one with me.

“Can’t give him up without proof of identity,” said the guard, and Chum grinned at the idea of being thought so valuable.

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I felt in my pockets for letters. There was only one, but it offered to lend me L10,000 on my note of hand alone. It was addressed to “Dear Sir,” and though I pointed out to the guard that I was the “Sir,” he still kept tight hold of Chum. Strange that one man should be prepared to trust me with L10,000, and another should be so chary of confiding to me a small black spaniel.

“Tell the gentleman who I am,” I said imploringly through the bars. “Show him you know me.”

“He’s really all right,” said Chum, looking at the guard with his great honest brown eyes. “He’s been with us for years.”

And then I had an inspiration. I turned down the inside pocket of my coat; and there, stitched into it, was the label of my tailor with my name written on it. I had often wondered why tailors did this; obviously they know how stupid guards can be.

“I suppose that’s all right,” said the guard reluctantly. Of course, I might have stolen the coat. I see his point.

“You–you wouldn’t like a nice packing-case for yourself?” I said timidly. “You see, I thought I’d put Chum on the lead. I’ve got to take him to Paddington, and he must be tired of his shell by now. It isn’t as if he were really an armadillo.”

The guard thought he would like a shilling and a nice packing-case. Wood, he agreed, was always wood, particularly in winter, but there were times when you were not ready for it.

“How are you taking him?” he asked, getting to work with a chisel. “Underground?”

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“Underground?” I cried in horror. “Take Chum on the Underground? Take—- Have you ever taken a large live conger-eel on the end of a string into a crowded carriage?”

The guard never had.

“Well, don’t. Take him in a taxi instead. Don’t waste him on other people.”

The crate yawned slowly, and Chum emerged all over straw. We had an anxious moment, but the two of us got him down and put the lead on him. Then Chum and I went off for a taxi.

“Hooray,” said Chum, wriggling all over, “isn’t this splendid? I say, which way are you going? I’m going this way?… No, I mean the other way.”

Somebody had left some of his milk-cans on the platform. Three times we went round one in opposite directions and unwound ourselves the wrong way. Then I hauled him in, took him struggling in my arms and got into a cab.

The journey to Paddington was full of interest. For a whole minute Chum stood quietly on the seat, rested his fore-paws on the open window and drank in London. Then he jumped down and went mad. He tried to hang me with the lead, and then in remorse tried to hang himself. He made a dash for the little window at the back; missed it and dived out of the window at the side; was hauled back and kissed me ecstatically in the eye with his sharpest tooth…. “And I thought the world was at an end,” he said, “and there were no more people. Oh, I am an ass. I say, did you notice I’d had my hair cut? How do you like my new trousers? I must show you them.” He jumped on to my lap. “No, I think you’ll see them better on the ground,” he said, and jumped down again. “Or no, perhaps you would get a better view if—-” he jumped up hastily, “and yet I don’t know—-” he dived down, “though, of course, if you—- Oh lor! this is a day,” and he put both paws lovingly on my collar.

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Suddenly he was quiet again. The stillness, the absence of storm in the taxi was so unnatural that I began to miss it. “Buck up, old fool,” I said, but he sat motionless by my side, plunged in thought. I tried to cheer him up. I pointed out King’s Cross to him; he wouldn’t even bark at it. I called his attention to the poster outside the Euston Theatre of The Two Biffs; for all the regard he showed he might never even have heard of them. The monumental masonry by Portland Road failed to uplift him.

At Baker Street he woke up and grinned cheerily. “It’s all right,” he said, “I was trying to remember what happened to me this morning–something rather miserable, I thought, but I can’t get hold of it. However, it’s all right now. How are you?” And he went mad again.

At Paddington I bought a label at the bookstall and wrote it for him. He went round and round my leg looking for me. “Funny thing,” he said as he began to unwind, “he was here a moment ago. I’ll just go round once more. I rather think … Ow! Oh, there you are!” I stepped off him, unravelled the lead and dragged him to the Parcels Office.

“I want to send this by the two o’clock train,” I said to the man the other side of the counter.

“Send what?” he said.

I looked down. Chum was making himself very small and black in the shadow of the counter. He was completely hidden from the sight of anybody the other side of it.

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“Come out,” I said, “and show yourself.”

“Not much,” he said. “A parcel! I’m not going to be a jolly old parcel for anybody.”

“It’s only a way of speaking,” I pleaded. “Actually you are travelling as a small black gentleman. You will go with the guard–a delightful man.”

Chum came out reluctantly. The clerk leant over the counter and managed to see him.

“According to our regulations,” he said, and I always dislike people who begin like that, “he has to be on a chain. A leather lead won’t do.”

Chum smiled all over himself. I don’t know which pleased him more–the suggestion that he was a very large and fierce dog, or the impossibility now of his travelling with the guard, delightful man though he might be. He gave himself a shake and started for the door.

“Tut, tut, it’s a great disappointment to me,” he said, trying to look disappointed, but his back would wriggle. “This chain business–silly of us not to have known–well, well, we shall be wiser another time. Now let’s go home.”

Poor old Chum; I had known. From a large coat pocket I produced a chain.

Dash it,” said Chum, looking up at me pathetically, “you might almost want to get rid of me.”

He was chained, and the label tied on to him. Forgive me that label, Chum; I think that was the worst offence of all. And why should I label one who was speaking so eloquently for himself; who said from the tip of his little black nose to the end of his stumpy black tail, “I’m a silly old ass, but there’s nothing wrong in me, and they’re sending me away!” But according to the regulations–one must obey the regulations, Chum.

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I gave him to the guard–a delightful man. The guard and I chained him to a brake or something. Then the guard went away, and Chum and I had a little talk….

After that the train went off.

Good-bye, little dog.

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