by Eric Knight
Characters (main): Lassie – the collie
Young Joe – Lassie’s former owner
Joe Carraclough – Young Joe’s father
Mrs. Carraclough – Young Joe’s mother and Joe Carraclough’s wife
The Duke of Rudling – Lassie’s new owner
Lassie, as a habit for five years, waited for the boy by the school gate… again. The family sold her to the Duke of Rudling because they could not afford to keep her. Yet, the dog was not aware that things have changed. She only knew the affection and friendship that she shared with the boy.
The boy brought her home, hoping that by some miracle his parents would agree to take Lassie back. The parents acted indifferently at first but only because they could not bear to see her again. It was difficult enough to part with someone that has been a constant companion – no, a member of the family for so long. They must fear that they might accede to the son’s wish.
They returned Lassie to her new owner. Young Joe said things, painful things to Lassie to make her stay away for good. This time, there was no dog to wait by the school gate. He learned later that the Duke took her to Scotland.
The father said Scotland was much too far from Yorkshire, about four hundred miles for a man to travel. It was much farther for a dog that travels blindly and can only use its instinct. It could take a thousand miles filled with danger over moors, rivers, bridges and towns where there were officials to capture stray dogs. A kind and understanding couple took care of it and tried to keep it, but they had to let go when it showed discontent by refusing food. How then that all these, including rain, fog, snow and the sun did not deter a dog from its course?
Lassie has come home again! She was waiting by the school gate as she used to do.
She was barely recognizable and so weak that she could only ‘whine in a weak, happy crying way’ when the boy hugged her.
The family nursed her back to health but Young Joe knew he could not keep her for long. He begged his mother, crying openly, to keep Lassie. Her tone when she answered that he must not want things in life like that was also almost begging.
She knew defeat when she heard her son’s unexpected reply: ‘ It ain’t that, mother. Ye don’t understand. Don’t ye see – it ain’t me that wants her. It’s her that wants us! Tha’s wha made her come all them miles. It’s her that wants us, so terrible bad!’
When the Duke came, Joe Carraclough disguised Lassie’s appearance but he only asked a question so as not to lie for he was an honest man.
The Duke could not believe his eyes. Four hundred, five hundred miles! He saw passed the filthy and ragged appearance to the pads of Lassie’s scarred paw. He stared at it quietly for a long time. Finally, he stood up and proclaimed that he never owned such a dog.
Before he left the Duke offered a job to Joe Carraclough who just got fired from his work. His niece teased him that he had to buy the man (Carraclough) before he could get the dog.
See full story: Call of Adventure, p. 189. The Crowell-Collier Publishing Company, 1962
, by Eric Knight, copyright 1938 by The Curtis Publishing Company, was first published in the Saturday Evening Post
, Dec. 17, 1938. An expended novel-length version is published by John C. Winston Co.’