The Red Book Of Animal Stories - online children's book

Stories of Animals, Fantastic and Mundane, Edited By Andrew Lang

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or has his eyes open can see that it is not the good people or the handsome people that have really been loved most and remembered longest, but the people who have made us laugh! Why, even the most wicked and gloomiest kings had their jesters, and often the jesters were able to tell the kings very disagreeable truths, or to beg off some poor wretch condemned to death, when a word from any one else would simply have sent him to share the fate of the criminal.
Now it may be doubted whether, even if he had had two legs, and had lived in the palmy days of long ago, Squouncer would ever have interfered to snatch people from the gallows. He was not (except where his food was concerned) a very courageous dog, and he never could make up his mind what he wanted to do, what he ought to do—and no one that goes through life on these principles will ever be a hero. Sometimes his master and mistressused to amuse themselves with this weakness of his. They would sit at each end of a long room, and one would call ' Squouncer.' Squouncer, who had very early been taught to come when he was called, rose at once and started to obey. ' Squouncer,' said a voice behind him before he had got half way. He stopped, listened, and turned slowly round. ' Squouncer' was again repeated from the further corner; and poor Squouncer halted again, and looked piteously from one to the other, but never thought of doing the only sensible thing, which was to lie down before the fire and pay no attention to anybody.
One dreadful day, a young black retriever suddenly appeared in the house. There ought to have been nothing disturbing in this, as the animal was friendly and playful, and quite ready to be polite to Squouncer—who was an older dog than he. But Squouncer's thoughts at once flew to dinner-time, and so did his master's and mistress's, and they determined to watch and see what would happen.
And what did happen was this. The two large tin plates were placed side by side in the tiled hall, each filled
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