A very funny and charming little book published in 1902, the diary
of a dog
, charting all its adventures over one day. The text was by Walter Emanuel
and the full-page drawings were by Cecil Aldin
. It is a slim, yellow, pocket-sized book, originally published by William Heinemann
and in recent years reissued by Eel Pie Publishing
: to be snapped up when you see it.
The dog is very inquisitive, and will eat anything (ribbon, coal, string, the cats' dinners, high-class confectionery, joints of meat for supper). He likes young Miss Brown, who pets him and sneaks titbits to him at dinner, and is disapproving of the older and crustier members of the family.
It begins in the early morning, when a man comes cautiously in through a window and tiptoes around looking for valuables. The dog makes friends and is rewarded with some tasty meat, but at one point the brute steps on his tail. The dog admits later that it was probably an accident, but at the time he starts making a furious noise about it, rousing the family and being declared a hero. He is rewarded with hugs and a piece of ribbon, which is beastly stuff and hardly worth eating.
The day is minutely chronicled hour by hour, often minute by minute, as he notes his encounters with the servants ("visited the kitchen folk. Boned some bones"), or the cat ("the crafty thing turns her back on me and pretends she likes it, wagging her tail"), or the kittens at dinnertime ("but I wish they would stop giving them that infernal fish, as I am getting heartily sick of it"), or things discovered upstairs. The entire packet of confectionery, for example. Elsewhere the cook is careless enough to leave out a fish covered in mayonnaise, which after bolting it he finds causes curious pains in his tummy. He finds old Mrs Brown's bedroom a convenient place to be sick in.
Feeling much better after this, he runs downstairs and shows off his regained health by dashing madly round the room, triumphantly landing on old Mr Brown's sleeping form. This causes an uproar, with young Miss Brown defending him and playing the burglar for all he's worth, but to no avail. The dog must be beaten as punishment. So Miss Brown beats him. "Quite nice, like being patted, but I yelp and do the old sad-eye", and after a little she leaves off and sneaks him a treat and tells him he mustn't jump on Daddy because he's the one who goes into the City to earn bones. "Something in that," the dog concedes. "Nice girl."
Young Mr Brown throws a bread pellet at him. An insult!. "Swallowed the insult." — After another melee with the cat his paw is scratched, and Miss Brown makes him a bread poultice for it, which he eats. — He nuzzles into the coal scuttle and helps himself to a few pieces of the best coal he's ever eaten. — He investigates the string dispenser. The family have a standard joke that he is so often eating string that they should just use him as the string dispenser and take a piece from his mouth when they need it. He regards this idea as demeaning. But he has to admit it makes him laugh.
Finally it's time to be led to the kennel and lights out. "Thus ends another dernd dull day." — I've loved this book all my life.
Damn it, where's my copy? I can't find it. All the quotes and incidents are from memory.