Skip to Content
Indiana University

Search Options

View Options

Stories, Dreams and Allegories. Schreiner, Olive, 1855–1920.
no next
page: 111

The Adventures of Master Towser

page: 113



SMALL TOWSER sat with his tail in a puddle of mud. The puddle was small, but so was his tail. His nose was turned down to the paving‐stones; there were two drops running down towards the tip of it, but they weren’t raindrops, though the afternoon was sad and cloudy enough—they came from his eyes. Presently, out of the swell gate of the house over the way came a most respectable‐looking dog, of a very comfortable appearance, and as big as eight Towsers, for he was a mastiff.

“Why don’t you take your tail out of the puddle?” asked the comfortable‐looking dog.

Towser gave it a feeble little splutter in the mud: he didn’t know why he let it hang there, except that he was miserable.

“Starve you over at your house?” inquired the comfortable dog.

“No,” said Towser, “there are dishes of bones and nice little bits of fat in the kitchen.”

“Other dogs bite you?”

“No.” Towser shook his head.

page: 114

“Have to sleep out in the cold?”

“No, I’ve got a house,” said Towser.

“You’re a nice gentlemanly‐looking little dog; you oughtn’t to be unhappy. What’s the matter?” asked the comfortable‐looking dog.

“I’m not any good,” said Towser.

The big dog didn’t comprehend.

“I want someone to love me,” said Towser; “I want to help somebody; I want to be of use.”

“Love!” said the big dog. “Did you ever smell it?”

“No,” said Towser.

“Or see anybody eat it?”


“Or sleep on it?”


“Then what use is it?” said the big dog; and he went away.

Shortly after that Towser got up off the stone, and took his little tail out of the mud. He shook his little ears and let the two drops run off his nose.

“I’ll go and seek for someone that needs me,” said Towser; and so he started on his travels.


“I must look as pleasant as I can,” said Towser, as he went down the street; and he perked up his little ears. He really was a pretty terrier, with long page: 115 silky hair. Presently he saw a boy walking on the pavement. He was ragged, he looked as if he hadn’t had any dinner or breakfast either. Towser’s heart ached for him. He looked very lonely.

“I’m sure he would like a nice little dog like me to be a companion to him,” said Towser. “Yes, he wants me; I won’t trouble him for food, because everyone gives me something when I go to the back doors, because of my big eyes.”

So Towser began dancing a little dance of affection, shaking his ears and looking from under them with his round eyes. This proceeding was meant to say, “I want to love you.”

“Doggy, Doggy, Doggy!” said the little solitary boy, standing still and holding out his fingers; “Doggy, Doggy, Doggy.”

So Towser came close up, just curling into a ball with excitement. He didn’t know whether he should lick the little boy’s hands first or his feet.

“There!” said the little boy. He gave Towser a powerful kick on the tip of his black nose.

When he looked back, Towser was standing quite still, with a great singing in his ears. Then the little lonely boy laughed.

When the singing had left off, Towser trotted away down the street. He wasn’t so ready to caper now. He saw several little lonely boys as he passed, but he didn’t think they wanted him.

page: 116

At last he got to the outskirts of the town. There was a bonny little house with roses and creepers all round. He went to the back door and put his fore‐feet on the step, and looked in to see if there was anybody wanted him. A lady lay on a sofa in one corner; she had not walked for ten years, and her eyes were heavy with pain.

“Dear little creature, where do you come from?” she said.

Towser made a motion with his fore‐feet, to explain that he would come in if he were invited.

The lady said, “Come in,” and he sat down on the rug before her and the lady felt his ears.

“Beautiful ears,” she said, “come!”

Towser jumped up on to the sofa beside her.

“I never saw such large eyes,” said the lady. “Dear little dog, if I can I shall keep you for my own,” and she made a place for him on her chest.

He lay with his paw close to her chin, and looked as loving as he could. Presently he licked her chin, and she said he had a soft little tongue. When her lunch came she fed him with brandy and egg out of a spoon. He didn’t like it, it burnt his throat, but he drank it.

“She wants me awfully, I can just see that,” said Towser, “and I’ll stay with her as long as I live.”

The lady had him taken to her bedroom that night, and a nice little rug laid for him across the foot of page: 117 her bed. In the night, when she woke to cough, he walked up to her face and licked it, and she covered him with the blankets till there was just the tip of his black nose sticking out.

“The big, comfortable dog said love was nothing, but it’s something,” said Towser, “and it’s nice ”; and he put his little muzzle against her cheek. Next day he danced before her, and tried to catch his tail when she looked sad.

“Oh, I’m a dear, nice, happy little dog; she does love me so. She couldn’t live without me; I’m such a comfort to her,” said Towser. He wished he’d been six months younger, then he’d have six months more to live.

So weeks passed.

One afternoon a lady came in.

“I’ve brought Nola home,” she said, “so much better for her change to the sea‐side; here she is.” And the lady put down on the floor the most snow‐white terrier (Towser was brown), all soft with curls, and with little sleepy eyes.

“She looks better,” said the lady—“dear Nola.”

Nola climbed quietly up on the sofa and curled herself up in a little nest and shut her eyes.

Towser stood looking on. He thought he would jump on the sofa, too.

“Down, Towser, down!” said the lady.

Then Towser went and got behind the crimson page: 118 curtain, with only his nose and two bright eyes peeping out. At last tea‐time came, and there was a dish of milk put down on the floor. Nola got off the sofa and went to drink some; Towser came out, and put his little black muzzle in too. As soon as the curly white one saw it, she lifted her pink nose, and got quietly back on the sofa.

“Nola won’t drink with Towser,” said the lady; “take him to the kitchen and give him a nice basin of milk with plenty of cream on it.”

Then Nola got off the sofa again; but Towser wouldn’t go to the kitchen. He got behind the curtain and looked out with his great saucers of eyes.

“It’ll be bed‐time soon, and I am sure she is wanting me badly to lick her chin. I’m sure she is wishing it was bed‐time,” said Towser.

“Make a comfortable bed for Towser in the kitchen, and be sure it’s nice and soft,” said the lady.

Towser wouldn’t get into the bed; he sat on the stone looking at the fire. He wondered if a coal had got into his heart. He felt so wicked.

“I wonder what is the matter with Towser,” said the lady the next day; “he used to be such a nice little dog, always so lively.”

Then Towser got up, and began dancing about after his tail, and then he got on the sofa, and began playing with the lady’s fingers and rings. Then the page: 119 white curly one opened her eyes slowly and got oil the sofa.

“Nola, Nola, come here! Down, Towser, down!” said the lady.

Then Towser went out in the garden and sat in the gravelled path looking up at the sun. I don’t know how he felt.

“Towser’s such a nice little dog” said the lady one day; “quite the nicest little dog I’ve ever seen. I wish I could get someone to take him away; some‐one who would be kind to him.”

Now Towser, didn’t wait to be given away to a very kind person. I fancy he had a pain at his heart. He put his tail close between his hind legs, and went out at the back door.


Towser sat alone in a wood. He leaned his head on a stone at his side. He was thinking; you could see that by his big, round eyes.

“I made somebody happy, that’s a great comfort,” said he (for all that there were tears running down his nose). “I must be happy; I must think I once made somebody happy ”—here his little chest swelled out immensely. “It doesn’t matter if you’re not loved if only you’ve made somebody happy. Yes, I won’t want to be loved any more, I’ll just try to page: 120 help people, and then I’ll be happy too. You mustn’t want to be loved; just to be good.”

So he took his head off the stone and went trotting away through the wood. Presently he saw a country boy before him carrying a flitch of bacon; not long after from the bushes at the path‐side burst a gipsy‐looking fellow.

After a minute, the rough fellow said to the boy, “Give me your bacon.”

Said the boy, “No.”

The man said, “I can make you; there is nobody near.”

He took hold of the bacon; the boy began to struggle. He knelt upon the boy. Then every hair upon Towser’s little body stood on end, and his tail was stiffened out. He forgot he was Towser, he forgot he wanted to be loved, he forgot everything, and flew at the trousers of the gipsy man. Then the gipsy man thought there was someone coming, ran away, and left the boy and the bacon.

Towser stood in the middle of the path barking furiously. He was in great excitement.

Slowly the country fellow got up; his face was purple with rage. He cut a little stick from the bush growing by; it wasn’t thicker than his finger; Towser’s backbone was not thicker either.

“So, you stand here barking at me, do you?” said the country fellow. “Why don’t you go after page: 121 your master? You want to bite me! do you? do you? do you?”

Towser thought his little backbone would be broken, and when the stick hit his little skull it was terribly sore. The country fellow held him fast with one hand; he was so small he wasn’t much to hold, and beat him on his little fore‐feet, and in his eye; then he took up his bacon, and walked away.

Towser went into the brushwood close by, and sat down on his tail and lifted his nose to the sky. The one eye was shut up, but the other was wide open, and the water running out of it.

If he ever went home and became a comfortable, respectable dog, I don’t know; the last I saw of him he was sitting there in that wood.

Eastbourne, March 1882.
no next