Story type: Literature
“Oh Toby, my dear old Toby, you portly and princely Pug!
“You know it’s bad for you to lie in the fender:–Father says that’s what makes you so fat–and I want you to come and sit with me on the Kurdistan rug.
“Put your lovely black nose in my lap, and I’ll count your great velvet wrinkles, and comfort you with kisses.
“If you’ll only keep out of the fender–Father says you’ll have a fit if you don’t!–and give good advice to your poor Little Missis.
“Father says you are the wisest creature he knows, and you are but eight years old, and three months ago I was six.
“And yet mother says I’m the silliest little girl that she ever met with, because I am always picking up tricks.
“She does not know where I learnt to stand on one leg (unless it was from a goose), but it has made one of my shoulders stick out more than the other.
“It wasn’t the goose who taught me to whistle up and down stairs. I learnt that last holidays from my brother.
“The baker’s man taught me to put my tongue in my cheek when I’m writing copies, for I saw him do it when he was receipting a bill.
“And I learn’t to wrinkle my forehead, and squeeze up my eyes, and make faces with my lips by imitating the strange doctor who attended us when we were ill.
“It was Brother Jack himself who showed me that the way to squint is to look at both sides of your nose.
“And then, Toby–would you believe it?–he turned round last holidays and said–‘Look here, Tiny, if the wind changes when you’re making that face it’ll stay there, and remember you can’t squint properly and keep your eye on the weathercock at the same time to see how it blows.’
“But boys are so mean!–and I catch stammering from his school friend–‘Tut-tut-tut-tut-Tom,’ as we call him–but I soon leave it off when he goes.
“I did not learn stooping and poking out my chin from any one; it came of itself. It is so hard to sit up; but mother says that much my worst trick.
“Is biting my finger nails; and I’ve bitten them nearly all down to the quick.
“She says if I don’t lose these tricks, and leave off learning fresh ones, I shall never grow up like our pretty great-great-grandmamma.
“Do you know her, dear Toby? I don’t think you do. I don’t think you ever look at pictures, intelligent as you are!
“It’s the big portrait, by Romney, of a beautiful lady, sitting beautifully up, with her beautiful hands lying in her lap.
“Looking over her shoulder, out of lovely eyes, with a sweet smile on her lips, in the old brocade Mother keeps in the chest, and a pretty lace cap.
“I should very much like to be like her when I grow up to that age; Mother says she was twenty-six.
“And of course I know she would not have looked so nice in her picture if she’d squinted, and wrinkled her forehead, and had one shoulder out, and her tongue in her cheek, and a round back, and her chin poked, and her fingers all swollen with biting;–but, oh, Toby, you clever Pug! how am I to get rid of my tricks?
“That is, if I must give them up; but it seems so hard to get into disgrace.
“For doing what comes natural to one, with one’s own eyes and legs, and fingers, and face.”
“Remove your arms from my neck, Little Missis–I feel unusually apoplectic–and let me take two or three turns on the rug.
“Whilst I turn the matter over in my mind, for never was there so puzzled a pug!
“I am, as your respected Father truly observes, a most talented creature.
“And as to fit subjects for family portraits and personal appearance–from the top of my massive brow to the tip of my curly tail, I believe myself to be perfect in every feature.
“And when my ears are just joined over my forehead like a black velvet cap, I’m reckoned the living likeness of a late eminent divine and once popular preacher.
“Did your great-great-grandmamma ever take a prize at a show? But let that pass–the real question is this:
“How is it that what I am most highly commended for, should in your case be taken amiss?
“Why am I reckoned the best and cleverest of dogs? Because I’ve picked up tricks so quickly ever since I was a pup.
“And if I couldn’t wrinkle my forehead and poke out my chin, and grimace at the judges, do you suppose I should ever have been–Class Pug. First Prize–Champion and Gold Cup?
“We have one thing in common–I do not find it easy to sit up.
“But I learned it, and so will you. I can’t imagine worse manners than to put one’s tongue in one’s cheek; as a rule, I hang mine gracefully out on one side.
“And I’ve no doubt it’s a mistake to gnaw your fingers. I gnawed a good deal in my puppyhood, but chewing my paws is a trick that I never tried.
“How you stand on one leg I cannot imagine; with my figure it’s all I can do to stand upon four.
“I balance biscuit on my nose. Do you? I jump through a hoop (an atrocious trick, my dear, after one’s first youth–and a full meal!)–I bark three cheers for the Queen, and I shut the dining-room door.
“I lie flat on the floor at the word of command–In short, I’ve as many tricks as you have, and every one of them counts to my credit;
“Whilst yours–so you say–only bring you into disgrace, which I could not have thought possible if you had not said it.
“Indeed–but for the length of my experience and the solidity of my judgment–this would tempt me to think your mamma a very foolish person, and to advise you to disobey her; but I do not, Little Missis, for I know
“That if you belong to good and kind people, it is well to let them train you up in the way in which they think you should go.
“Your excellent parents trained me to tricks; and very senseless some of them seemed, I must say:
“But I’ve lived to be proud of what I’ve been taught; and glad too that I learned to obey.
“For, depend upon it, if you never do as you’re told till you know the reason why, or till you find that you must;
“You are much less of a Prize Pug than you might have been if you’d taken good government on trust.”
* * * * *
“Take me back to your arms, Little Missis, I feel cooler, and calmer in my mind.
“Yes, there can be no doubt about it. You must do what your mother tells you, for you know that she’s wise and kind.
“You must take as much pains to lose your tricks as I took to learn mine, long ago;
“And we may all live to see you yet–‘Class Young Lady. First Prize. Gold Medal–of a Show.’”
“Oh, Toby, my dear old Toby, you wise and wonderful Pug!
“Don’t struggle off yet, stay on my knee for a bit, you’ll be much hotter in the fender, and I want to give you a great, big hug.
“What are you turning round and round for? you’ll make yourself giddy, Toby. If you’re looking for your tail, it is there, all right.
“You can’t see it for yourself because you’re so fat, and because it is curled so tight.
“I daresay you could play with it, like Kitty, when you were a pup, but it must be a long time now since you’ve seen it.
“It’s rather rude of you, Mr. Pug, to lie down with your back to me, and a grunt, but I know you don’t mean it.
“I wanted to hug you, Toby, because I do thank you for giving me such good advice, and I know every word of it’s true.
“I mean to try hard to follow it, and I’ll tell you what I shall do.
“Nurse wants to put bitter stuff on the tips of my fingers, to cure me of biting them, and now I think I shall let her.
“I know they’re not fit to be seen, but she says they would soon become better.
“I mean to keep my hands behind my back a good deal till they’re well, and to hold my head up, and turn out my toes; and every time I give way to one of my tricks, I shall go and stand (on both legs) before the picture, and confess it to great-great-grand-mamma.
“Just fancy if I’ve no tricks left this time next year, Toby! Won’t that show how clever we are?
“I for trying so hard to do what I’m told, and you for being so wise that people will say–‘That sensible pug cured that silly little girl when not even her mother could mend her.’
“—-Ah! Bad Dog! Where are you slinking off to?–Oh, Toby, darling! do, do take a little of your own good advice, and try to cure yourself of lying in the fender!”