Free THE WHITE WOLF by Franklin Gregory

Book: THE WHITE WOLF by Franklin Gregory Read Free Book Online
Authors: Franklin Gregory
“Where's Heinrich?”
    Freda, in slow motion, turned around and wiped her red hands on her checked apron.
    “In the barn perhaps you find him. maybe.”
    She stared at him questioningly, her hands akimbo on her wide hips.
    “That dog of his. He’s killed one of my ducks.” Pierre said.
    She shook her head unbelievingly.
    “Nein. The duck Fritz would not kill.” Then she muttered something that Pierre, turning to go, did not quite catch. Had he still been looking at her, he would have seen a curious sight; Freda making a sign familiar to any Pennsylvania Dutch believer in hexerei —the sign of the horned fingers.
    Pierre walked the two hundred feet across the back lawn to the barn. The barn, screened Irom the house by large oaks, was of a later date than the house. It had been built by a German immigrant, and was of an architecture distinct from the English Colonial of Fountain Head. It was of stone and frame and it was fronted by a large portico.
    Under the eaves, visible to Pierre as he approached, two odd symbols enclosed by a circle were painted on the wood. Casual observation might lead one to think they were mere decorations. But a study would have shown that there was no balance; that there were no such symbols on the other side of the barn. Had you asked Heinrich what they were, he would have shrugged:
    “Just for nice.”
    But Pierre, regarding them, knew that they were gruttafoos—the toad’s foot—and that they kept the livestock from harm by evil spirits. He mused:
    “Wish they’d keep my ducks from Fritz.” He added, “Silly idea.”
    His thoughts reverted with amusement to that night at the club when he hail made out such a good case for the' supernatural. “Too good a case,” he considered. Still, all in all, queer things did happen in the world. What was Hardt, anyway, but a modern warlock- poking about with the greatest mystery of all, the mind?
    Heinrich appeared from the barn, a rake in his hand. Pierre walked up to him and shoved his hands in the pockets of his leather jacket.
    “That dog of yours,” he began.
    Heinrich, gaunt and tall in blue denim overalls that were faded by many washings, leaned on the rake.
    “When I let you bring him here, you promised there wouldn’t be any trouble. Well, he's killed one of my ducks.”
    Heinrich looked at Pierre sorrowfully.
    “Fritz killed a duck?”
    “That’s what I said.”
    Heinrich shook his head with wondering slowness.
    “It can’t be so. Mr. Pierre. Fritz—too much I know Fritz. Gentle is Frit. Old is Fritz. Good I feed Fritz. I make out it don’t make sense. Mr. Pierre.”
    There was actual alarm in his brown lace. He leaned more heavily on the rake. He stared down at the rake’s teeth.
    “Look. Mr. Pierre. Mandel’s dog there is. That is Bryn over at the village near. In the township made Mandel Bryn keep. But loose again is Bryn.”
    Pierre said with determination, “Get Fritz.”
    PIERRE tramped over to Manning Trent’s house that night. The way led along the old Post Road through the north end of his own land, around to the back of the high hill, down into a gully and then up a rising slope. It was through woods until he reached the wide lawn of Trent's house.
    It was a moonless night, but the stars were out and by their light Pierre could see the big stone Norman house which Trent’s father had built in the ’80's as a country seat. It was solid and substantial and its wide front porch, running the length of the house, faced the State Highway a quarter of a mile distant. You could see the lights of automobiles on the road. Some of the cars turned into the narrower country road leading east to the village; and when they did, from the porch you saw only the occasional flicker of a red tail-light.
    Mrs. Trent, a lean wooden-faced woman who never let her husband forget that her own family arrived in Philadelphia

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