It was his only surcease. And as a rule, it was a poor one. For seldom did he have enough ready money to buy wholesale forgetfulness. More often he was able to purchase only enough hard cider or fuseloil whisky to make him dull and vaguely miserable.
It was on his way home one Saturday night from such a rudimentary debauch at Hampton that his Adventure had its small beginning.
For a half mile or so of Link's homeward pilgrimage--before he turned off into the grass-grown, rutted hill trail which led to his farm--his way led along a spur of the state road which linked New York City with the Ramapo hill country.
And here, as Link swung glumly along through the springtide dusk, his ears were assailed by a sound that was something between a sigh and a sob--a sound as of one who tries valiantly to stifle a whimper of sharp pain.
Ferris halted, uncertain, at the road edge; and peered about him. Again he heard the sound. And this time he located it in the long grass of the wayside ditch. The grass was stirring spasmodically, too, as with the half-restrained writhings of something lying close to earth there.
Link struck a match. Shielding the flame, he pushed the tangle of grass to one side with his foot.
There, exposed in the narrow space thus cleared and by the narrower radius of match flare, crouched a dog.
The brute was huddled in a crumpled heap, with one foreleg stuck awkwardly out in front of him at an impossible angle. His tawny mass of coat was mired and oil streaked. In his deep-set brown eyes burned the fires of agony.