The Animal Story Book - online children's book

Edited By Andrew Lang And With Numerous Illustrations By H. J. Ford

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There never was a more faithful watch-dog than the great big-limbed, heavy-headed mastiff that guarded Sir Harry Lee's Manor-house, Ditchley, in Oxfordshire.1 The sound of his deep growl was the terror of all the gipsies and vagrants in the county, and there was a superstition among the country people, that he was never known to sleep. Even if he was seen stretched out on the stone steps leading up to the front entrance of the house, with his massive head resting on his great fore-paws, at the sound of a footfall, however distant, his head would be raised, his ears fiercely cocked, and an ominous stiffening of the tail would warn a stranger that his movements were being closely watched, and that on the least suspicion of anything strange or abnormal in his behaviour, he would be called to account by Leo. Strangely enough, the mastiff had never been a favourite of his master's The fact that dogs of his breed are useless for purposes of sport, owing to their unwieldy size and defective sense of smell, had prevented Sir Harry from taking much no­tice of him. He looked upon the mastiff merely as a watch-dog. The dog would look after him, longing to be allowed to join him in his walk, or to follow him when he rode out, through the lanes and fields round his house, but poor Leo's affection received little encouragement. So long as he guarded the house faithfully by day and
1 More about this gentleman and his dog may be read in Wood-stocky by Sir Walter Scott.
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