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Hit Or Miss
by [?]


“Twa dogs, that were na thrang at hame,
Forgather’d ance upon a time.”–BURNS.

One morn–it was the very morn
September’s sportive month was born–
The hour, about the sunrise, early;
The sky gray, sober, still, and pearly,
With sundry orange streaks and tinges
Through daylight’s door, at cracks and hinges:
The air, calm, bracing, freshly cool,
As if just skimm’d from off a pool;
The scene, red, russet, yellow, laden,
From stubble, fern, and leaves that deaden,
Save here and there a turnip patch,
Too verdant with the rest to match;
And far a-field a hazy figure,
Some roaming lover of the trigger.
Meanwhile the level light perchance
Pick’d out his barrel with a glance;
For all around a distant popping
Told birds were flying off or dropping.
Such was the morn–a morn right fair
To seek for covey or for hare–
When, lo! too far from human feet
For even Ranger’s boldest beat,
A Dog, as in some doggish trouble,
Came cant’ring through the crispy stubble,
With dappled head in lowly droop,
But not the scientific stoop;
And flagging, dull, desponding ears,
As if they had been soak’d in tears,
And not the beaded dew that hung
The filmy stalks and weeds among.

His pace, indeed, seem’d not to know
An errand, why, or where to go,
To trot, to walk, or scamper swift–
In short, he seem’d a dog adrift;
His very tail, a listless thing,
With just an accidental swing,
Like rudder to the ripple veering,
When nobody on board is steering.

So, dull and moody, canter’d on
Our vagrant pointer, christen’d Don;
When, rising o’er a gentle slope,
That gave his view a better scope,
He spied, some dozen furrows distant,
But in a spot as inconsistent,
A second dog across his track,
Without a master to his back;
As if for wages, workman-like,
The sporting breed had made a strike,
Resolv’d nor birds nor puss to seek,
Without another paunch a week!

This other was a truant curly,
But, for a spaniel, wondrous surely;
Instead of curvets gay and brisk,
He slouch’d along without a frisk,
With dogged air, as if he had
A good half mind to running mad;
Mayhap the shaking at his ear
Had been a quaver too severe;
Mayhap the whip’s “exclusive dealing”
Had too much hurt e’en spaniel feeling,
Nor if he had been cut, ’twas plain
He did not mean to come again.

Of course the pair soon spied each other;
But neither seem’d to own a brother;
The course on both sides took a curve,
As dogs when shy are apt to swerve;
But each o’er back and shoulder throwing
A look to watch the other’s going,
Till, having clear’d sufficient ground,
With one accord they turn’d them round,
And squatting down, for forms not caring,
At one another fell to staring;
As if not proof against a touch
Of what plagues humankind so much,
A prying itch to get at notions
Of all their neighbor’s looks and motions.
Sir Don at length was first to rise–
The better dog in point of size,
And, snuffing all the ground between,
Set off, with easy jaunty mien;
While Dash, the stranger, rose to greet him,
And made a dozen steps to meet him–
Their noses touch’d, and rubb’d awhile
(Some savage nations use the style),
And then their tails a wag began,
Though on a very cautious plan,
But in their signals quantum suff.
To say, “A civil dog enough.”