Yum Yum, A Pug by John Strange Winter

CHAPTER I

For a pug Yum-Yum was perfect, and let me tell you it takes a great many special sorts of beauty to give you a pug which in any way approaches perfection.

First, your true pug must be of a certain colour, a warm fawn-colour; it must have a proper width of chest and a bull-doggish bandiness about the legs; it must have a dark streak from the top of its head along its back towards the tail; it must have a double twist to that same tail, and three rolls of fat or loose skin, set like a collar about its throat; it must have a square mouth, an ink-black--no, no, a soot-black mask (that is, face) adorned with an infinitesimal nose, a pair of large and lustrous goggle-eyes, and five moles. I believe, too, that there is something very important about the shape and colouring of its toes; but I really don't know much about pugs, and this list of perfections is only what I have been able to gather from various friends who do understand the subject.

So let me get on with my story, and say at once that Yum-Yum possessed all these perfections. She may have had others, for she was without doubt a great beauty of her kind, and she certainly was blessed with an admirable temper, an angelic temper, mild as new milk, and as patient as Job's.

And Yum-Yum belonged to a little lady called Nannie Mackenzie.

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Yum-Yum: A Pug.

The Mackenzies, I must tell you, were not rich people, or in any way persons of importance; they had no relations, and apparently belonged to no particular family; but they were very nice people, and very good people, and lived in one of a large row of houses on the Surrey side of the river Thames, at that part which is called Putney.

Mr. Mackenzie was something in the city, and had not apparently hit upon a good thing, for there was not much money to spare in the house at Putney. I rather fancy that he was managing clerk to a tea-warehouse, but am not sure upon that point. Mrs. Mackenzie had been a governess, but of course she had not started life as a teacher of small children; no, she had come into the world in an upper room of a pretty country vicarage, where the olive branches grew like stonecrop, and most visitors were in the habit of reminding the vicar of certain lines in the hundred and twenty-seventh Psalm.

In course of time this particular olive plant, like her sisters, picked up a smattering of certain branches of knowledge, and, armed thus, went out into the wide world to make her own way. Her knowledge was not extensive; it comprised a fluent power of speaking her mother-tongue with a pleasant tone and correct accent, but without any very well-grounded idea of why and wherefore it was so. She also knew a little French of doubtful quality, and a little less German that was distinctly off colour. She could copy a drawing in a woodenly accurate kind of way, with stodgy skies made chiefly of Chinese white, and exceedingly woolly trees largely helped out with the same useful composition. At that time there was no sham about Nora Browne's pretensions to art--there they were, good, bad, or indifferent, and you might take them for what they were worth, which was not much. It was not until she had been Mrs. Mackenzie for some years that she took to "doing" the picture-galleries armed with catalogue and pencil, and talked learnedly about chiar-oscuro, about distance and atmosphere, about this school and that, this method or the other treatment. There were frequenters of the art-galleries of London to whom Mrs. Mackenzie, née Nora Browne, was a delightful study; but then, on the other hand, there was a much larger number of persons than these whom she impressed deeply, and who even went so far as to speak of her with bated breath as "a power" on the press, while, as a matter of fact, Mrs. Mackenzie's little paragraphs were very innocent, and not very remunerative, and generally won for the more or less weekly society papers in which they appeared a reputation for employing an art-critic who knew a good deal more about the frames than about the pictures within them.

However, all this is a little by the way! I really only give these details of Mrs. Mackenzie's doings to show that the family was, by virtue of their mother being a dabbler in journalism, in touch with the set which I saw the other day elegantly described as "Upper Bohemia."

Now in the circles of "Upper Bohemia" nobody is anybody unless they can do something--unless they can paint pictures or umbrella vases and milking-stools, unless they can sing attractively, or play some instrument beyond the ordinary average of skill, unless they can write novels or make paragraphs for the newspapers, unless they can act or give conjuring entertainments, or unless they can compose pretty little songs with a distinct motif, or pieces for the piano which nobody can make head or tail of. It is very funny that there should be so wide a difference necessary between the composition of music for the voice and music for the piano. For the first there must be a little something to catch the ear, a little swing in the refrain, a something to make the head wag to and fro; the words may be ever so silly if they are only bordering on the pathetic, and if the catch in the refrain is taking enough the rest of the song may be as silly as the words, and still it will be a success. But with a piece it is different. For that the air must be resolutely turned inside out, as it were, and apparently if the composer chances to light on one or two pretty bits, he goes back again and touches them up so as to make them match all the rest. It seems odd this, but the world does not stop to listen, but talks its hardest, and as at the end it says "How lovely!" I suppose it is all right.

But all these people stand in the very middle of "Upper Bohemia," and, as a pebble dropped into the water makes circles and ever-widening circles on the smooth surface, so do the circles which constitute "Upper Bohemia" widen and widen until eventually they merge into the world beyond! There are the amateurs and the reciters, and the artists who put "decorative" in front of the word which denotes their calling, and then put a hyphen between the two! And there are the thought-readers, and the palmists, and the people who have invented a new religion! All these are in the ever-widening circles of "Upper Bohemia." And outside these again come the fashionable lady-dressmakers and the art-milliners, the trained nurses and the professors of cooking. After these you may go on almost ad libitum, until the circle melts into professional life on the one hand and fashionable life on the other.

You have perhaps been wondering, my gentle reader, what all this can possibly have to do with the pug, Yum-Yum, which belonged to a little girl named Nannie Mackenzie. Well, it really has something to do with it, as I will show you. First, because it tells you that this was the set of people to whom the Mackenzies belonged and took a pride in belonging. It is true that they had a stronger claim to belong to a city set; but you see Mrs. Mackenzie had been brought up in the bosom of the Church, and thought more of the refined society in "Upper Bohemia" than she did of all the money bags to be found east of Temple Bar! In this I think she was right; in modern London it does not do for the lion to lie down with the lamb, or for earthenware pipkins to try sailing down the stream with the iron pots. In "Upper Bohemia," owing to the haziness of her right of entry, Mrs. Mackenzie was quite an important person; in the city, owing to various circumstances--shortness of money, most of all--Mrs. Mackenzie was nowhere.

Mrs. Mackenzie had not followed the example of her father and mother with regard to the size of her family; she had only three children, two girls and a boy--Rosalind, Wilfrid, and Nannie.

At this time Nannie was only ten years old, a pretty, sweet, engaging child, with frank blue eyes and her mother's pretty trick of manner, a child who was never so happy as when she had a smart sash on with a clean white frock in readiness for any form of party that had happened to come in her way.

Wilf was different. He was a grave, quiet boy of thirteen, already working for a scholarship at St. Paul's School, and meaning to be a great man some day, and meanwhile spending all his spare hours collecting insects and gathering specimens of fern leaves together.

Above Wilf was Rosalind, and Rosalind was sixteen, a tall, willowy slip of a girl, with a pair of fine eyes and a passion for art. I do not mean a passion for making the woodenly accurate drawings with stodgy clouds and woolly trees which had satisfied her mother's soul and made her so eminently competent to criticise the work of other folk--no, not that, but a real passion for real art.

Now the two Mackenzie girls had had a governess for several years, a mildly amiable young lady of the same class, and possessed of about the same amount of knowledge as Mrs. Mackenzie herself had been. She too made wooden drawings with stodgy clouds and woolly trees, and she painted flowers--such flowers as made Rosalind's artistic soul rise within her and loathe Miss Temple and all her works, nay, sometimes loathe even those good qualities which were her chiefest charm.

Rosalind wanted to go further a-field in the art world than either her mother's paragraphs or Miss Temple's copies; she wanted to join some well-known art-class, and, giving up everything else, go in for real hard, grinding work.

But it could not be done, for, as I have said, money was not plentiful in the house at Putney, and there was always the boy to be thought of, and also there was Nannie's education to finish. To let Rosalind join an expensive art-class would mean being without Miss Temple, and Mrs. Mackenzie felt that to do that would be to put a great wrong upon little Nannie, for which she would justly be able to reproach her all her life long.

"It would not do, my dear," she said to Rosalind, when her elder daughter was one day holding forth on the glories which might one day be hers if only she could get her foot upon this, the lowest rung of the ladder by which she would fain climb to fame and fortune; "and really I don't see the sense or reason of your being so anxious to follow art as a profession. I am sure you paint very well. That little sketch of wild roses you did last week was exquisite; indeed, I showed it to Miss Dumerique when I was looking over her new art-studio in Bond Street. She said it would be charming painted on a thrush's-egg ground for a milking-stool or a tall table, or used for a whole suite of bedroom or boudoir furniture. I'm sure, my dear, you might make quite an income----"

"Did Miss Dumerique offer to do one--to let me do any work of that kind for her?" Rosalind broke in impatiently.

"No, she did not," Mrs. Mackenzie admitted, "but----"

"But, depend upon it, she is at work on the idea long before this," cried Rosalind. She knew Miss Dumerique, and had but small faith in any income from that quarter, several of her most cherished designs having suggested ideas to that gifted lady.

"If I only had twenty pounds, twenty pounds," Rosalind went on, "it would give me such a help, such a lift I should learn so much if I could spend twenty pounds; and it's such a little, only the price of the dress Mrs. Arlington had on the other day, and she said it was so cheap--'Just a cheap little gown, my dear, to wear in the morning.' Oh! if only I had the price of that gown."

"Rosalind, my dear," cried Mrs. Mackenzie, "don't say that--it sounds so like envy, and envy is a hateful quality."

"Yes, I know it is, but I do want twenty pounds so badly," answered Rosalind in a hopeless tone.

Mrs. Mackenzie began to sob weakly. "If I could give it to you, Rosalind, you know I would," she wailed, "but I haven't got it. I work and work and work and strain every nerve to give you the advantages; ay, and more than the advantages that I had when I was your age. But I can't give you what I haven't got--it's unreasonable to ask it or to expect it."

"I didn't either ask or expect it," said Rosalind; but she said it under her breath, and felt that, after all, her mother was right--she could not give what she had not got.

It was hard on them both--on the girl that she could not have, on the mother that she could not give! Rosalind from this time forth kept silence about her art, because she knew that it was useless to hope for the impossible--kept silence, that is, from all but one person. And yet she could not keep her thoughts from flying ever and again to the art-classes and the twenty pounds which would do so much for her. So up in the room at the top of the house, where she dabbled among her scanty paints and sketched out pictures in any colours that she happened to have, and even went so far in the way of economy as to utilize the leavings of her mother's decorative paints--hedge-sparrow's-egg-blue, Arabian brown, eau de Nil, Gobelin, and others equally unsuitable for her purpose,--Rosalind Mackenzie dreamed dreams and saw visions--visions of a great day when she would have paints in profusion and art-teaching galore. There was not the smallest prospect of her dreams and visions coming true, any more than, without teaching and without paints, there was of her daubs growing into pictures, and finding places on the line at the Academy and the New. It is always so with youth. It hopes and hopes against hope, and when hope is dead, there is no longer any youth; it is dead too.

"There are youthful dreamers,
Building castles fair, with stately stairways;
Asking blindly
Of the Future what it cannot give them."

CHAPTER II

But there was one person to whom Rosalind Mackenzie poured out all that was in her mind,--that was her ten-year-old sister, Nannie. In Nannie she found a ready and a sympathetic listener; moreover, in Nannie's mind there was no doubt, no hesitation in believing that if Rosalind only had that twenty pounds there would be nothing to keep her back, nothing to prevent her sailing on right ahead into the roseate realms of fame and glory! If only she had that twenty pounds!

Now Nannie undoubtedly had a very gay and jovial disposition. She was always ready for fun and excitement, and had no tendency or any desire to carve out a line for herself, as her brother and sister had both had before they had reached her age. Yet she had what was better in many people's eyes, a very tender heart and a very affectionate nature; and her tender heart was wrung and wrung again at the thought of her sister's unsatisfied longings and the great future that was being blighted, all for the want of twenty pounds.

Yet what could a little girl of ten years old do towards getting such a sum as that together? Just nothing! Why, if the sum was shillings instead of pounds, she would still find it utterly beyond her power and out of her grasp! She thought and she thought, but thinking did not help matters! She lay awake at night puzzling her little brain, but that did no good, and Nannie's face grew a good deal paler, and set her mother wondering if the house was unhealthy, or thinking that perhaps the air from the river was damp and injurious.

It was about this time that Yum-Yum, the pug which had been given to Nannie by one of her mother's friends two years before, suddenly became the person of the most importance in the household at Putney; for behold one fine morning when Nannie came down to breakfast, Yum-Yum presented her with three babies, three dear wee pugs, which sent Nannie into ecstasies and made her forget for a few days all about Rosalind's unsatisfied longings, and her craving after higher things than at present were attainable to her.

"You think they're real beauties, don't you, Father?" said Nannie anxiously.

"Yes, they are great beauties," said Mr. Mackenzie, holding one little snub-nosed pug up and examining it closely.

"And what should you think that they are worth, Father?" Nannie asked.

"Worth? Oh! that would depend a good deal on how they turn out. Their pedigree is a very fair one; and at the end of six weeks or two months they might be worth three or four guineas apiece--more, for that matter."

Nannie fairly gasped, and she clutched hold of her father's arm. "Oh! daddy dear," she exclaimed, "do you really, really think I might be able to get any thing like that for them?"

"Oh! yes, I think so," he answered, smiling at her earnestness. "But, Nannie, why do you want this money so much? Have you set your mind on a watch and chain?"

"Oh! no, dear daddy," she answered eagerly, "it's not for myself at all; it's poor Rosalind I'm thinking of"--and forthwith she poured into her father's surprised but sympathetic ear all the story of Rosalind's artistic longings, her craving for better art-lessons, for all the good things that may be had for the sum of twenty pounds.

Long before the story came to an end Mr. Mackenzie had drawn his little daughter very closely to him, and I fancy he was thinking, when she came to the end of it, more of the goodness of his Nannie's heart than of the greatness of Rosalind's future.

"My Nannie," he said tenderly, "my generous, kind-hearted little woman! Rosalind ought to love you dearly for----"

"Rosalind does love me dearly, daddy," Nannie explained; "only she can't help wanting to be a painter--it's in her, you know, and it's choking her. And Rosalind doesn't know a word about it. She wouldn't want me to sell Yummy's pups for her. Only you know, daddy, we can't keep three dogs besides Yummy; and we may just as well sell them as give them away, and then Rosalind would be able to have some of the lessons that she wants so badly."

Mr. Mackenzie smiled at Nannie's voluble information. "Well, well, you shall sell the pups and make Rosalind happy," he said; then after a moment added, "You know, Nannie, that I am not rich--in fact, I am very poor, but I will make the sum up to ten pounds, and Rosalind can go on thus far, at all events."

Well, a few weeks passed over, and the secret was rigidly kept between Mr. Mackenzie and Nannie. More than once Mrs. Mackenzie grumbled at the expense and the trouble Yummy's three babies were in the kitchen, and one afternoon when she came in from Town, she said--"Oh, Nannie, Lady Gray would like to have one of Yummy's puppies. I told her I thought you would let her have first choice."

"Then her ladyship must pay five guineas for it, my dear," said Mr. Mackenzie promptly. "Nannie and I are going to sell the puppies this time."

Mrs. Mackenzie rather lifted her eyebrows. "Oh! if that is so," she said, "of course Lady Gray must stand on one side. But what are you going to do with the money, Nannie? Buy yourself a watch?"

"No, Mother, but----" and Nannie looked anxiously at her father, who quickly came to the rescue, and evaded the question--which at that moment was an awkward one, for Rosalind was present.

It is probable that Mr. Mackenzie gave his wife just a hint of what was a-foot, for she asked no more questions about the puppies, and made no further complaints of the extra food and milk which Yummy required at this time.

And in due course, after a good deal of correspondence through the columns of the Queen and the Exchange and Mart, one by one the three little pugs went away from the house at Putney to homes of their own, and Nannie in return became the proud possessor of no fewer than eight golden sovereigns.

To these Mr. Mackenzie added the two which he had promised to make up the sum of ten pounds, and then Nannie had the supreme joy of going to Rosalind--who was hard at work in her studio painting a sunset in tints so startling that her artist soul was sick within her--and flinging her offering in a shower into her lap.

"Why, what is this, Nannie?" Rosalind cried, half frightened.

"It's your lessons, Rosie," Nannie cried, "or at least as much of them as you can get for ten pounds; and I'm so glad, dear, dear Rosie, to be able to help you, you don't know," and happy Nannie flung her arms round her sister, almost crying for joy.

"But where did you get it? Oh, the pugs! I forgot them," Rosalind cried. "Oh! but Nannie, my dear, darling, unselfish sister, I can't take your money in this way----"

"You must," Nannie answered promptly.

"But your watch--you've longed so for a watch, you know," said the elder girl.

"Well, I have, but I can long a bit more," returned Nannie philosophically. "I shall like it all the better when I do get it."

"I can't take it, darling," Rosalind urged.

"Oh! yes, you can, if you try," continued Nannie. "And as for my watch, why, when you are a great swell painter you can buy me one--a real beauty--and I shall like it ever so much better than any other one in all the world."

Rosalind clasped Nannie close to her heart.

"My Nannie, my Nannie," she cried, "I shall never be as brave and helpful as you are. While I have been grumbling, and growling, and railing at fate, you have been putting your shoulder to the wheel, and----. Oh! Nannie, Nannie, it is good of you! It is good! I shall never forget it. The first penny I earn, dear, shall be yours; and I will never forget what my dear little sister has done for me, never--never, as long as I live."

A few days after this Rosalind was hard at work in the studio of the artist for whose teaching she had longed for so many weary months. And how she did work!

"I have one pupil who works," her maestro got into the habit of saying. "Some of you have a natural gift; you have a correct eye, and you have firm touch. Every one of you might make progress if you tried. But there is only one of you all who works. That is Miss Mackenzie."

But, all too soon, Rosalind's ten pounds melted away, until they had all gone. And, as there was no more where they had come from, Rosalind's lessons must also come to an end!

"Oh! Mother, can't you do anything to help Rosie?" Nannie cried in piteously beseeching accents the night before Rosalind was to go to the studio for the last time.

"Nannie," answered Mrs. Mackenzie reproachfully, "don't you think I would if I could?"

"Daddy, can you do nothing?" Nannie implored.

"My little one, I am so poor just now," he answered.

So poor Nannie went to bed in bitter disappointment for her sister's trial. She felt that it was very, very hard upon Rosalind, who had worked almost day and night that she might profit by every moment of the time she was at the studio. Yes, it was very, very hard.

However, Rosalind was brave, and put a good face upon the matter.

"Don't worry about it, my Nannie," she said just before she got into bed. "After all, I've learnt a great deal while I have been able to go to Mr. Raymond, and perhaps, after a time, daddy may be able to help me to go again, and I may do some work that will sell, and then I shall be able to go again. So don't worry yourself, my darling, for you can't help me this time. You see, Yummy hasn't got any more pups to sell."

But Nannie had got an idea, and all through the hours of that long night it stayed with her with the pertinacity of a nightmare. Still, whatever it was, she did not say a word about it to Rosalind, and when Rosalind looked round for her when she was ready to start for the studio in the morning, she was nowhere to be seen.

"Where is Nannie?" she asked.

"Oh! she's out in the garden," Mrs. Mackenzie answered.

"Well, I haven't time to go down; but don't let her worry about me, will you, Mother?" said Rosalind anxiously.

"No, no; I will look after her," Mrs. Mackenzie answered vaguely.

So Rosalind went off fairly satisfied.

"I have come for my last lesson, Mr. Raymond," she said, with rather an uncertain smile, as she bade the maestro good-morning.

"Oh! well, well; we must have a talk about that," he answered good-naturedly.

Rosalind shook her head a little sadly, and took her place without delay--to her every moment was precious.

But, though this was her last lesson, she was not destined to do much work that day, for, as soon as she opened her little paint-box, which she had taken home the previous day that she might do some work in the early morning, she saw lying on the top of the paints a little note, addressed in Nannie's round child's hand to "Rosalind."

The next moment maestro and pupils were alike startled by the sight of Rosalind Mackenzie with her face hidden in her hands, sobbing as if her heart would break.

"My dear child," cried the maestro, running to her side, "how now! What is the matter? Pray tell me, my dear, tell me."

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"'My dear child, what is the matter?'"

Then little by little Rosalind sobbed out the whole story--how she had longed and pined for these lessons, how her little sister Nannie had sacrificed herself to help her, and then at last she put into the maestro's hand the little note which she had brought from home in the paint-box.

"Darling Rosalind," the maestro read aloud, "I thought of a way to help you last night, but I did not tell you about it, because I know you would stop it. You know that Mrs. Clarke, who bought Yummy's little son, said she would give ten guineas for her any day, so I'm going to get Father to take her there this afternoon, and you shall have the money. I don't think I shall mind parting with her much.--NANNIE."

Mr. Raymond took off his glasses and wiped them.

"Upon my word," he muttered in an uncertain voice; "upon my word!"

"The darling!" cried one pupil.

"Is she fond of the dog?" asked another.

"Fond of her!" Rosalind echoed; "why, Yummy is the very idol of her heart. She has had her from a puppy; it would break the child's heart to part with her. Why, I would die," she said passionately, "before I would let her do it. I would go out as a charwoman, and scrub floors for my living all the days of my life, rather than do such a mean thing. Mr. Raymond," she went on, "I must go back at once, or I may be too late. I must lose my lesson--I can't help that. But I must go back--for, look at the poor little letter; all tears and----" and there Rosalind broke down into tears and sobs again; but, all the same, she gathered her brushes together, and began to pack up all her belongings.

The maestro stood for a moment in deep thought, but, as Rosalind put her hat on and resolutely dried her eyes, he spoke to the others who were standing around.

"I should very much like to see this out," he said, "and, if you will set me free this morning, I will give you each an extra lesson to make up for the interrupted one to-day. What do you say?"

"Yes! yes!" they all cried.

So the old painter and Rosalind went back to the house at Putney together, and at the door Rosalind put an eager question to the maid who opened it for them.

"My mother?" she asked.

"Mrs. Mackenzie is dressing to go out, Miss Rosalind," the maid answered.

"And Miss Nannie?"

"I believe Miss Nannie is in the garden," was the reply.

So Rosalind led the maestro out into the garden, where they soon espied Nannie curled up in a big chair, with Yummy in her arms. She did not notice their approach; indeed, she was almost asleep, worn out by the violence of her grief at the coming parting with Yummy, and was lying with her eyes closed, her cheek resting against the dog's satin-smooth head.

Rosalind flung herself down upon her knees before the chair, and took child and dog into her arms.

"My own precious little sister, my unselfish darling," she cried; "as if I would let you part with the dear doggy for my sake! I couldn't, Nannie, my dear, I couldn't--I couldn't part with Yummy myself. But I shall never forget it, Nannie--my dear, unselfish Nannie."

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"My own precious little sister, my unselfish darling," she cried.

Nannie looked past her sister towards the tall old painter standing behind her.

"Your lessons," she faltered, with quivering lips.

"My little heroine," said the old painter tenderly, "your sister is my favourite among all my pupils. I would rather," he went on, laying his hand on Rosalind's shoulder--"I would rather teach one real worker such as she is for love, than fifty of the usual kind who come to me. She is just the real worker one might expect with such a sister."

"You will go on teaching Rosalind," Nannie cried in a bewildered way, "for nothing?"

"I will, gladly," the maestro answered; "and, in return, you shall come one day, and bring the pug, and let me paint a picture of you both."

And then the old man went away, leaving the sisters, in the fulness of their joy, together.

For him this had been somewhat of a new experience--a pleasant one. They were young, and he was old; but he went back to his pictures with a heart fresh and young as it had not been for years, asking of himself a question out of the pages of a favourite poet: "Shall I thank God for the green summer, and the mild air, and the flowers, and the stars, and all that makes the world so beautiful, and not for the good and beautiful beings I have known in it?"