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by [?]

“Leave Moufflou?” said Lolo, “why, I never leave him; he wouldn’t know what to do without me all the afternoon.”

“Yes, leave him,” said his mother. “I don’t want you to take him with you. Don’t let me tell you again.” So Lolo turned around and went down the stairs, feeling very sad at leaving his dear Moufflou even for a short time. But the hours went by, and when night-time came he hurried back to the little old home. He stood at the bottom of the long, dark stairway and called “Moufflou! Moufflou!” but no doggie came; then he climbed half-way up to the landing and called again, “Moufflou!” but no little white feet came pattering down. Up to the top of the stairs went poor tired Lolo and opened the door.

“Why, where is my Moufflou?” he said.

The mother had been crying, and she looked very sad and did not answer him for a moment.

“Where is my Moufflou?” asked Lolo again, “what have you done with my dear Moufflou?”

“He is sold,” the mother said at last, “sold to the gentleman who has the little lame boy. He came here to-day, and he likes the dog so much and his little boy was so pleased at the pretty tricks he does, that he told me he would give a great deal of money if I would sell him the dog. Just think, Lolo, he gave me so much money that we can pay somebody now to go to the war for Tasso.”

But before she had finished talking, Lolo began to grow white and cold and to waver to and fro, so that his little crutch could hardly support him. When she had done he called out, “My Moufflou–my Moufflou sold!” and he threw his hands up over his head and fell all in a heap on the floor, his poor little crutch clattering down beside him. His mother took him up and laid him on his bed, but all night long he tossed to and fro, calling for his dog. When the morning came, his little hands and his head were very, very hot, and by and by the doctor came and said he had a fever. He asked the mother what it was the little boy was calling for, and she told him that it was his dog, and that he had been sold. The doctor shook his head, and then went away.

Day after day poor Lolo lay on his bed. His hair had been cut short, he did not know his brothers and sisters, nor his mother, and his little aching head went to and fro, to and fro, on the pillow from morning till night. Once Tasso went to the hotel to find the gentleman. He was going to tell him to take the money and give him back the dog; but the gentleman had gone many miles away on the cars and taken Moufflou with him. So every day Lolo grew weaker, until the doctor said that he must die very soon.

One afternoon they were all in the room with him. The windows were wide open. His mother sat by his bed and the children on the floor beside her; even Tasso was at home helping to take care of his little brother. All was so still that you could hear poor Lolo’s faint breath, when–suddenly–there was a scampering and a pattering of little feet on the stairs, and a white poodle dashed into the room and jumped on the bed. It was Moufflou! but you would never have known him, for he was so thin that you could count all his bones. His curls were dirty and matted, and full of sticks and straws and burrs; his feet were dusty and bleeding, and you could tell in a moment that he had traveled a great many miles. When he jumped on the bed, Lolo opened his eyes a little. He saw it was Moufflou, and laid one little thin hand on the dog’s head; then he turned on his pillow, closed his eyes, and went quietly to sleep. Moufflou would not get off the bed, and would eat nothing unless they brought it to him there. He only lay close by his little master, with his brown eyes wide open, looking straight into his face. By and by the doctor came, and said that Lolo was really a little better, and that perhaps he might get well now. The mother and Tasso were very glad indeed, but they knew that the gentleman would come back for his dog, and they scarcely knew what to do, nor what to say to him. Lolo grew a little stronger every day, and at the end of a week a man came upstairs asking if Moufflou was there. They had taken him a long way off, but he had run away from them one day, and they had never been able to find him. Tasso asked the messenger to let Moufflou stay until he had seen the gentleman, and he took the money and put on his hat and went with him to the hotel. The sick boy was in the room with his father, and Tasso went straight to them and told them all about it: that Lolo nearly died without his dear Moufflon, that day after day he lay in his bed calling for the dog, and that at last one afternoon Moufflon came back to them, thin and hungry and dirty, but so glad to see his little master again. Nobody knew, said Tasso, how he could have found his way so many miles alone, but there he was, and now he begged the gentleman to be so kind as to take back the money. He would go and be a soldier, if he must; but Lolo and his dog must never be parted again.

The gentleman told Tasso that he seemed to be a kind brother, and that he might keep the money and the dog too, if only he would find them another poodle and teach him to be as wise and faithful as Moufflou was. Tasso was so glad that he thanked them again and again, and hurried home to tell Lolo and his mother the good news. He soon found a poodle almost as pretty as Moufflou, and every day Lolo, who has grown strong now, helps Tasso to teach him all of Moufflon’s tricks.

Sometimes Lolo turns and puts his arms around Moufflon’s neck and says,–

“Tell me, my Moufflou, how you ever came back to me, over all the rivers, and all the bridges, and all the miles of road?”

Moufflou can never answer him, but I think he must have found his way home because he loved his master so much; and the grown people always say, “Love will find out the way.”