Chink, the Development of a Pup
Chink was the name of a little puppy. Chink thought he was a clever little dog. And so he was, but not in the way he imagined. He was not a fierce dog, and he was not very strong or quick, but he was a very noisy, good-natured and silly pup. His master, Bill Aubrey, was an old mountaineer and had a camp in a quiet corner of Yellowstone Park. Bill's camp, before we came, was a. very lonely place, but he had for a companion this funny, woolly little dog.
Chink was never still for five minutes. He did everything his master told him to do except to keep still. He always tried to do something that was absurd and impossible. For example, he once spent a whole morning trying to run up a tall, straight pine-tree in whose branches there was a defiant squirrel.
He spent some weeks trying to catch one of the picket-pin gophers that lived on the prairie near the camp. These little animals have a clever trick: they sit up very straight on their hind legs, holding their paws close to their bodies, so that at a distance they look exactly like picket-pins. A camper, wanting to picket his- horse at night, will go toward a gopher, but will find out his mistake only after the gopher has run into his hole in the ground with a defiant chirrup.
One day Chink made up his mind to catch one of these gophers. Of course, he tried to do it in his own original way, which was the wrong way, as usual. When he was about a quarter of a mile from the gopher, Chink began to steal forward. He crawled on his breast from one bush to another for about a hundred yards. But he was too much excited to crawl, and rising on his feet, he walked straight toward the gopher. The gopher sat near his hole and watched Chink's tactics; he understood the situation quite well.
After a few minutes of such very open tactics, Chink, in his excitement, forgot all about caution, and began to run forward. Then, barking, he rushed toward the gopher, who sat like a picket-pin, with his paws close to his body until Chink was quite near him. At that moment the gopher ran into his hole with a defiant chirrup. Then, using his hind feet, he threw a lot of sand right into Chink's mouth.
The whole thing amused us very much, but Chink continued to run after the gophers every day. He did not catch any gophers, but he did not give up. Perseverance, he believed, must win in the end. And indeed it did. One day he made a fine attempt to catch a very large gopher. He carried out all his absurd tactics as before and caught the gopher. But this time it was a real wooden picket-pin. There is no doubt that a dog knows when he has made a fool of himself, for Chink avoided us and went behind the tent, and did not come out for a long time.
However, he soon forgot about this incident, for he was a good-natured little pup, and very active. He did everything with the maximum of energy and the minimum of caution. He ran after and barked at every wagon and horseman that passed and every cow that grazed. If the cat from the guard-house was near our camp or Bill's camp, Chink felt that it was his solemn duty to chase her back to the soldiers at the guard-house. Twenty times a day he dashed after an old hat that Bill threw into a wasp's nest with the order, "Fetch it!"
It took time, but Chink began to learn slowly that there were long whips and big, fierce dogs with wagons; that horses had teeth in their heels; that cows had clubs on their heads; and that wasps were not butterflies. Yes, it took a long time, but the pup began to develop into a real dog, with good dog-sense.
However, he had an adventure with a large coyote that developed his character and made it strong. This coyote lived not far from our camp. He evidently knew, as all the animals in the Park did, that the government allowed no man to shoot, trap or hunt the wild animals in the Park, — especially in this part, close to the guard-house, with soldiers always on guard. So, knowing this, the coyote came to the camp each night for scraps. At first, as his tracks in the sand showed, he went all around the camp, but was afraid to come very near. Then we began to hear his strange song just after sunset or about sunrise. At last we found his tracks in the sand around the scrap-bucket each morning. Then, growing bolder, he came to the camp sometimes in the daytime. Soon he was there not only every night, but nearly all day, stealing whatever he could or sitting on a small hill a short distance from the camp.
One morning, as he sat on a bank about fifty yards from our camp, Bill, wishing to have some fun, said to Chink: "Chink, do you see that coyote over there laughing at us? Go and chase him away."
Chink always did what his master told him, and dashed after the coyote, who ran off. There was a pretty good race for a quarter of a mile, but it was nothing to the race that began when the coyote turned round and dashed after Chink. The little dog ran as fast as he could to get back to the camp. But the coyote was quicker and soon overtook him, biting him first on one side, then on the other. Chink yelped and howled. When he at last dashed into the camp, we, I am afraid, laughed with the coyote.
"Well," I said, "the puppy is not getting the sympathy he deserves from us. He has done only what we have told him."
One more experience like that, and Chink decided to let that coyote alone in the future.
However, for the coyote, it was a new and pleasant amusement. He came now every day to the camp, knowing quite well that no one would dare to shoot him. Besides, the locks of all our guns had seals on them, and there were soldiers everywhere on guard to see that we did not break the law. So, every day the coyote came and waited for poor Chink. When the little dog went even a hundred yards from the camp alone, the coyote ran after him and bit him and chased him back to his master's tent.
This went on day after day, until Chink was so terrified that he did not dare to go even fifty yards from the tent alone. And even if he went with us, that fierce and impudent coyote was also there, trying to bite poor Chink and spoiling all his pleasure in the walk with us. We tried to strike the coyote with our whips, or threw stones at him, but each time he ran off. That coyote grew more impudent every day until little Chink's life became a real reign of terror.
Then Bill Aubrey moved his camp further up the river, where there was more grass for the horses, as he said. But it soon turned out that he wanted to be alone while he enjoyed a bottle of whiskey that he got somewhere. However, one bottle was nothing for him. The next morning he got on his horse, and said: "Chink, you watch the tent," and rode away over the mountains to the nearest saloon, leaving Chink in the tent.
Now, Chink was a silly little dog, for he was only a pup, but he was a faithful watch-dog. His master knew that very well. Late in the afternoon a mountaineer passed by the tent, and stopping a short distance from the camp, shouted: "Hello there, Bill! Oh Bill!" But getting no answer, he went up to the door and there, as he told Bill later, "a funny-looking pup met me." It was Chink, of course, who warned him, with many fierce growls, to go away. So the mountaineer went away.
Evening came and Chink was very hungry, but there was no master to give him some food. There was some bacon in a bag in the tent. But his master had told him to "watch it," and Chink was ready to starve rather than touch it. He went outside the tent, hoping to find a mouse or something to eat, when suddenly that coyote fell on him. Chink dashed back into the tent.
He was still a puppy, and a little fool in many ways. But he remembered his duty and that gave him strength. The moment that coyote tried to follow him into the tent — his master's tent —Chink forgot all his fears and turned on the enemy fiercely like a little demon.
Animals feel the force of right and wrong; they understand courage and cowardice. All the force of right was with the frightened little dog, and both animals seemed to know it. The coyote retreated, growling fiercely, but he did not enter the tent. Then began a real siege, for the coyote came back in a little while and walked around the tent. Often he went up to the open door where poor little Chink, really half-dead with fear, at once met him bravely, and did not let him enter.
All this time Chink had nothing to eat. Once or twice a day he went out and got a drink in the stream close to the tent. And that was all. Of course, he could make a hole in the bag of bacon and eat some of the bacon; or he could go to our tent and get a good meal. But no! Chink developed into a true dog. He could not betray his master's trust. He was ready to die at his post, if necessary, while that master was away in the town drinking.
For four days and four nights of misery, this heroic little dog kept the tent and everything in the tent safe from the coyote. On the fifth morning, Bill, not drunk now, realized that he was not at home and that only a little dog guarded his camp in the mountains. As he did not want any more whiskey, he got on his horse and rode toward his camp. When he was not far from the camp, he suddenly remembered that Chink w7as without food.
"Hope that little beast hasn't spoilt all my bacon," he thought, and he" rode faster until he came to the tent. And there he saw the big, fierce coyote and poor little Chink, growling and snapping at each other.
"Well, what do you think of that!" exclaimed Bill. "I forgot all about that coyote. Poor Chink! What a time he had here! It's wonderful the coyote hasn't killed him and destroyed the tent."
Brave little Chink! His legs shook under him with fear and hunger, but it was clear that he was as ready as ever to die in defence of the camp. The mountaineer understood the situation at once. And when Bill saw that all the bacon was in the bag, he realized that Chink had eaten nothing since he left the camp almost five days ago. And when the puppy, weak and trembling, crawled up and looked in his face and licked his hand, as if to say: "I've done what you told me," it was too much for Bill. The tears were in his eyes as he went to get food for the little hero.
Then he turned to Chink and said, "Chink, old pard, I've treated you dirty, but you have always treated me white. I'll never go away again and not take you with me. And now, Chink, there isn't much more that I can do for you, since you don't drink, but I'm going to make your life happy. And I'm going to do it now."
He took his rifle, the pride of his heart, broke the government seals and went to the door. The coyote was there, sitting a short distance from the camp, as usual, with a grin on his face. The rifle cracked, and Chink's reign of terror was over.
Of course the soldiers came and said that Bill broke the laws of the Park. Of course they took away his gun and destroyed it. Of course they ordered Bill to leave the Park at once and told him never to return. But what did it all matter?
"It's all right," said old Bill, "I've done the right thing by my pard, — my pard that always treated me white."