A salvo of handclaps greeted the eminently just decision. And Chum left the ring, to find a score of gratulatory hands stretched forth to pat him. Quite a little crowd escorted him back to his bench.
A dozen people picked acquaintance with Link. They asked him all sorts of questions as to his dog. Link made monosyllabic and noncommittal replies to all of these--even when the great Col. Cyrus Marden himself deigned to come over to the collie section and stare at Chum, accompanying his scrutiny with a volley or patronizing inquiries.
From the bystanders Link learned something of real interest--namely, that one of the "specials" was a big silver cup, to be awarded to "best collie of either sex"; and that after the females should have been, judged, the winning female and Chum must appear in the ring together to compete for this trophy.
Sure enough, in less than thirty minutes Chum was summoned to the ring. There, awaiting him, was a dainty and temperamental merle, of the Tazewell strain. Exquisite and high-bred as was this female competitor, Judge Leighton wasted little time on the examination before giving Ferris a tricolored ribbon, whose possession entitled him to one of the shimmering silver mugs in the near-by trophy case.
After receiving full assurance that the big cup should be his at the close of the show, Link returned to Chum's bench in ecstasy and sat down beside his tired dog, with one arm thrown lovingly round the collie's ruff. Chum nestled against his triumphant master, as Link fondled his bunch of ribbons and went over, mentally, every move of his triumphal morning.
The milling and changing groups of spectators in front of Bench 65 did not dwindle. Indeed, as the morning went on, they increased. People kept coming back to the bench and bringing others with them. Some of these people whispered together. Some merely stared and went away. Some asked Ferris carefully worded questions, to which the shyly happy mountaineer replied with sheepish grunts.
The long period of judging came at last to an end. And the "Best Dog in Show" special was called.
Into the ring Ferris escorted Chum, amid a multitude of fellow winners, representing one male or female of every breed exhibited. Leighton and another judge stood in the ring's center, and around them billowed the heterogeneous array. The two went at their Gargantuan task with an expert swiftness. Mercilessly, dog after dog was weeded out and gated. At last, Chum and two others were all remaining of the many which had thronged the ring. The spectators were banked, five deep and breathless, round the ropes.