Excerpt of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
(Page 2 of 12)
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But he didnt like the idea of a stranger neglecting one of Vis pups.
The best thing would be if he could place them all in the neighborhood
so he could keep tabs on them, watch them grow up, even if from a
distance. Surely there were half a dozen kids within an easy walk who
wanted a dog. People might think it peculiar, but they wouldnt mind if
he asked to see the pups once in while.
Then he and a buddy had gone up to the Chequamegon, a long drive
but worth it for the fishing. Plus, the Anti-Saloon League hadnt yet pen-
etrated the north woods, and wasnt likely to, which was another thing
he admired about the area. Theyd stopped at The Hollow, in Mellen,
and ordered a beer, and as they talked a man walked in followed by a dog,
a big dog, gray and white with brown patches, some mix of husky and
shepherd or something of that kind, a deep-chested beast with a regal
bearing and a joyful, jaunty carriage. Every person in the bar seemed to
know the dog, who trotted around greeting the patrons.
Thats a fine looking animal, John Sawtelle remarked, watching it
work the crowd for peanuts and jerky. He offered to buy the dogs owner
a beer for the pleasure of an introduction.
Names Captain, the man said, flagging down the bartender to col-
lect. With beer in hand he gave a quick whistle and the dog trotted over.
Cappy, say hello to the man.
Captain looked up. He lifted a paw to shake.
That he was a massive dog was the first thing that impressed Edgars
grandfather. The second thing was less tangible - something about his
eyes, the way the dog met his gaze. And, gripping Captains paw, John
Sawtelle was visited by an idea. A vision. Hed spent so much time with
pups lately he imagined Captain himself as a pup. Then he thought
about Vi - who was the best dog hed ever known until then - and about
Captain and Vi combined into one dog, one pup, which was a crazy
thought because he had far too many dogs on his hands already. He re-
leased Captains paw and the dog trotted off and he turned back to the
bar and tried to put that vision out of his mind by asking where to find
muskie. They werent hitting out on Clam Lake. And there were so many
little lakes around.
The next morning, they drove back into town for breakfast. The diner was
situated across the street from the Mellen town hall, a large squarish build-
ing with an unlikely looking cupola facing the road. In front stood a white,
three-tiered drinking fountain with one bowl at person height, another lower,
for horses, and a small dish near the ground whose purpose was not imme-
diately clear. They were about to walk into the diner when a dog rounded
the corner and trotted nonchalantly past. It was Captain. He was moving in
a strangely light-footed way for such a solidly constructed dog, lifting and
dropping his paws as if suspended by invisible strings and merely paddling
along for steering. Edgars grandfather stopped in the diners doorway and
watched. When Captain reached the front of the town hall, he veered to the
fountain and lapped from the bowl nearest the ground.
Come on, his buddy said. Im starving.
From along the alley beside the town hall came another dog, trailing a
half-dozen pups behind. She and Captain performed an elaborate sashay,
sniffing backsides and pressing noses into ruffs, while the pups bumbled
about their feet. Captain bent to the little ones and shoved his nose under
their bellies and one by one rolled them. Then he dashed down the street
and turned and barked. The pups scrambled after him. In a few minutes,
hed coaxed them back to the fountain, spinning around in circles with
the youngsters in hot pursuit while the mother dog stretched out on the
lawn and watched, panting.
Excerpted from The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
by David Wroblewski Copyright © 2008 by David Wroblewski. Excerpted by
permission of Ecco, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights
reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted
without permission in writing from the publisher.