Friday, March 28, 2014

"Who could doubt...he had a Soul"

From the time I entered 1st grade until we moved while I was in 4th we lived in a house rented from a Miss Kidder who had been one of Dad's elementary teachers. Long retired, she owned a house on Vernal Avenue in what was then Milton Junction. We lived on the first floor and an outside stairway led to her apartment on the second floor. I often climbed those stairs to spend time with her. She entertained me by teaching me "Authors" or by reading to me. The books I recall were all by Albert Payson Terhune and were each about collies. From them I developed an enduring affection for collies. I discover that many of those books have come into public domain and are available at ManyBooks.net: Free ebooks by Albert Payson Terhune. The most famous of his books, Lad: A Dog, isn't there (although a later collection of Lad stories is) but can be found at Gutenburg in all the same electronic formats. Goodreads has this to say about Lad:
First published in 1919, Albert Payson Terhune's Lad: A Dog is actually a collection of immensely popular magazine stories. The hero is an extraordinary collie named Lad, "a thoroughbred in spirit as well as in blood." In each tale, Lad exhibits his pure strength of character as he fights off burglars, rescues an invalid child from a poisonous snake, wins ribbons in dog shows, and otherwise leads a dog-hero's life. .... [N]early every story [begins] with a fight scene [and] has the same authorial mini-lecture on the difference in fighting technique between collies and bulldogs. But Lad is a character who has poked his muzzle into a million hearts, and new generations of dog lovers will also appreciate his loyalty and courage. As Terhune himself wrote, "few...bothered to praise the stories, themselves. But all of them praised Lad, which pleased me far better."
From the first story in the book:
Lad was an eighty-pound collie, thoroughbred in spirit as well as in blood. He had the benign dignity that was a heritage from endless generations of high-strain ancestors. He had, too, the gay courage of a d'Artagnan, and an uncanny wisdom. Also who could doubt it, after a look into his mournful brown eyes he had a Soul.