In the midst of the work, Johnny and Michael came along.
"That guy says he wouldn't take him for a gift," Johnny reported to his employer.
"All right, all right, put him back in the kennels," Collins ordered hurriedly.--"Now, you fellows, all ready! 'Home, Sweet Home!' Go to it, Fisher! Now keep the time the rest of you! . . . That's it. With a full orchestra you're making motions like the tune.--Faster, you, Simmons. You drag behind all the time."
And the accident happened. Johnny, instead of immediately obeying the order and taking Michael back to the kennels, lingered in the hope of seeing the orchestra leader whirled chattering around on his stool. The violinist, within a yard of where Michael sat squatted on his haunches, played the notes of "Home, Sweet Home" with loud slow exactitude and emphasis.
And Michael could not help it. No more could he help it than could he help responding with a snarl when threatened by a club; no more could he help it than when he had spoiled the turn of Dick and Daisy Bell when swept by the strains of "Roll Me Down to Rio"; no more could he help it than could Jerry, on the deck of the Ariel, help singing when Villa Kennan put her arms around him, smothered him deliciously in her cloud of hair, and sang his memory back into time and the fellowship of the ancient pack. As with Jerry, was it with Michael. Music was a drug of dream. He, too, remembered the lost pack and sought it, seeing the bare hills of snow and the stars glimmering overhead through the frosty darkness of night, hearing the faint answering howls from other hills as the pack assembled. Lost the pack was, through the thousands of years Michael's ancestors had lived by the fires of men; yet remembered always it was when the magic of rhythm poured through him and flooded his being with visions and sensations of that Otherwhere which in his own life he had never known.
Compounded with the waking dream of Otherwhere, was the memory of Steward and the love of Steward, with whom he had learned to sing the very series of notes that now were being reproduced by the circus-rider violinist. And Michael's jaw dropped down, his throat vibrated, his forefeet made restless little movements as if in the body he were running, as truly he was running in the mind, back to Steward, back through all the ages to the lost pack, and with the shadowy lost pack itself across the snowy wastes and through the forest aisles in the hunt of the meat.
The spectral forms of the lost pack were all about him as he sang and ran in open-eyed dream; the violinist paused in surprise; the men poked the monkey leader of the monkey orchestra and whirled him about wildly raging on his revolving stool; and Johnny laughed. But Harris Collins took note. He had heard Michael accurately follow the air. He had heard him sing--not merely howl, but SING.
Silence fell. The monkey leader ceased revolving and chattering. The men who had poked him held poles and wires suspended in their hands. The rest of the monkey orchestra merely shivered in apprehension of what next atrocity should be perpetrated. The violinist stared. Johnny still heaved from his laughter. But Harris Collins pondered, scratched his head, and continued to ponder.