Next, the crate was carried out to an express wagon and loaded in along with a number of trunks. Del Mar had disappeared the moment he had locked the door, and the two men in the wagon, which was now bouncing along over the cobblestones, were strangers. There was just room in the crate for Michael to stand upright, although he could not lift his head above the level of his shoulders. And so standing, his head pressed against the top, a rut in the road, jolting the wagon and its contents, caused his head to bump violently.
The crate was not quite so long as Michael, so that he was compelled to stand with the end of his nose pressing against the end of the crate. An automobile, darting out from a cross-street, caused the driver of the wagon to pull in abruptly and apply the brake. With the crate thus suddenly arrested, Michael's body was precipitated forward. There was no brake to stop him, unless the soft end of his nose be considered the brake, for it was his nose that brought his body to rest inside the crate.
He tried lying down, confined as the space was, and made out better, although his lips were cut and bleeding by having been forced so sharply against his teeth. But the worst was to come. One of his fore-paws slipped out through the slats or bars and rested on the bottom of the wagon where the trunks were squeaking, screeching, and jigging. A rut in the roadway made the nearest trunk tilt one edge in the air and shift position, so that when it tilted back again it rested on Michael's paw. The unexpectedness of the crushing hurt of it caused him to yelp and at the same time instinctively and spasmodically to pull back with all his strength. This wrenched his shoulder and added to the agony of the imprisoned foot.
And blind fear descended upon Michael, the fear that is implanted in all animals and in man himself--THE FEAR OF THE TRAP. Utterly beside himself, though he no longer yelped, he flung himself madly about, straining the tendons and muscles of his shoulder and leg and further and severely injuring the crushed foot. He even attacked the bars with his teeth in his agony to get at the monster thing outside that had laid hold of him and would not let him go. Another rut saved him, however, tilting the trunk just sufficiently to enable his violent struggling to drag the foot clear.
At the railroad station, the crate was handled, not with deliberate roughness, but with such carelessness that it half- slipped out of a baggage-man's hands, capsized sidewise, and was caught when it was past the man's knees but before it struck the cement floor. But, Michael, sliding helplessly down the perpendicular bottom of the crate, fetched up with his full weight on the injured paw.
"Huh!" said Del Mar a little later to Michael, having strolled down the platform to where the crate was piled on a truck with other baggage destined for the train. "Got your foot smashed. Well, it'll teach you a lesson to keep your feet inside."
"That claw is a goner," one of the station baggage-men said, straightening up from an examination of Michael through the bars.
Del Mar bent to a closer scrutiny.