But always the tardy realization that the journey was more painful to the dog than to himself gave Link a fresh grip on his determination. And at last,--a long and tiring last,--they reached the tumble-down farmhouse where Link Ferris kept bachelor's hall.
Laying his patient on the kitchen table, Link lighted a candle and went in search of such rude appliances as his father had been wont to keep in store for any of the farm's animals that might be injured.
Three times as a lad Link had seen his father set the broken leg of a sheep, and once he had watched the older man perform a like office for a yearling heifer whose hind leg had become wedged between two brookside stones and had sustained a compound fracture. From Civil War hospital experience the father had been a deft bonesetter. And following his recollection of the old man's methods, Link himself had later set the broken leg of one of his lambs. The operation had been a success. He resolved now to duplicate it.
Slowly and somewhat clumsily he went to work at the injured dog. The collie's brave patience nerved him to greater tenderness and care. A veterinary would have made neater work of the bonesetting, but hardly could have rendered the job more effective.
When the task was achieved Link brought his patient a bowl of cold water--which the collie drank greedily--and some bread and meat scraps which the feverish patient would not touch.
As he worked at his bonesetting task, Ferris had more chance to study his new acquisition. The dog was young--probably not more than two years old. The teeth proved that. He wore a thin collie collar with no inscription on its silver band.
Even to Link's inexperienced eye he was an animal of high breeding and of glorious beauty. Link told himself he would perhaps get as much as ten dollars for the return of so costly a pet. And he wondered why the golden prospect did not seem more alluring.
Three times in the night Link got up to give the collie fresh water and to moisten and re-adjust the bandages. And, every time, the sight of his rescuer would cause the dog's tail to thump a joyous welcome and would fill the dark eyes with a loving gratitude which went straight to Ferris's lonely heart.