One sultry moonless night, a leopard escaped from a circus and slunk away into the shadows of a city. The chief of police dogs assigned to the case a German shepherd named Plunger and a plainclothes bloodhound named Plod.
Plod was a slow, methodical sleuth, but his uniformed partner was restless and impatient. Plod set the pace until Plunger snapped, “We couldn’t catch a turtle this way,” and bounded along the trail like a whippet.
He got lost. When Plod found him, half an hour later, the bloodhound said, “It is better to get somewhere slowly than nowhere fast.”
“Repose is for the buried,” said the police dog. “I even chase cats in my dreams.”
“I don’t,” said the bloodhound. “Out of scent, out of mind.”
As they went along, each in his own way, through the moonlessness, they exchanged further observations on life.
“He who hunts and turns away may live to hunt another day,” commented Plod.
“Runs away, you mean,” sneered Plunger.
“I never run,” said the bloodhound. “It’s no good trailing a cat when you’re out of breath, especially if the cat isn’t. I figured that out myself. They call it instinct.”
“I was taught to do what I do, and not to do what I don’t,” the police dog said. “They call it discipline. When I catch cats, cats stay caught,” he added.
“I don’t catch them, I merely find out where they are,” the bloodhound said quietly.
The two dogs suddenly made out a great dark house looming in front of them at the end of a lane. “The trail ends right here, twenty feet from that window,” the bloodhound said, sniffing a certain spot. “The leopard must have leaped into the house from here.”
The two dogs stared into the open window of the dark and silent house.
“I was taught to jump through the open windows of dark houses,” said Plunger.
“I taught myself not to,” said Plod. “I wouldn’t grab that cat if I were you. I never grab a leopard unless it is a coat.” But Plunger wasn’t listening.
“Here goes,” he said jauntily, and he jumped through the window of the dark and[Pg 133] silent house. Instantly there was a racket that sounded to the keen ears of the bloodhound like a police dog being forcibly dressed in women’s clothes by a leopard, and that is precisely what it was.
All of a moment, Plunger, dressed in women’s clothes from hat to shoes, with a pink parasol thrust under his collar, came hurtling out the window. “I had my knee on his chest, too,” said the bewildered police dog plaintively.
The old sleuth sighed. “He lasteth longest and liveth best who gets not his knee on his quarry’s chest,” murmured Plod, in cloudy English but fluent Bloodhound.
MORAL: Who would avoid life’s wriest laughter should not attain the thing he’s after.
Two Dogs By James Thurber
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