The next morning, they drove back into town for breakfast. The diner was situated across the street from the Mellen town hall, a large squarish building with an unlikely looking cupola facing the road. In front stood a white, three-­tiered drinking fountain with one bowl at person height, another lower, for horses, and a small dish near the ground whose purpose was not immediately clear. They were about to walk into the diner when a dog rounded the corner and trotted nonchalantly past. It was Captain. He was moving in a strangely light-footed way for such a solidly constructed dog, lifting and dropping his paws as if suspended by invisible strings and merely paddling along for steering. Edgar's grandfather stopped in the diner's doorway and watched. When Captain reached the front of the town hall, he veered to the fountain and lapped from the bowl nearest the ground.

"Come on," his buddy said. "I'm starving."

From along the alley beside the town hall came another dog, trailing a half-dozen pups behind. She and Captain performed an elaborate sashay, sniffing backsides and pressing noses into ruffs, while the pups bumbled about their feet. Captain bent to the little ones and shoved his nose under their bellies and one by one rolled them. Then he dashed down the street and turned and barked. The pups scrambled after him. In a few minutes, he'd coaxed them back to the fountain, spinning around in circles with the youngsters in hot pursuit while the mother dog stretched out on the lawn and watched, panting.

A woman in an apron walked out the door of the diner, squeezed past the two men, and looked on.

"That's Captain and his lady," she said. "They've been meeting there with the kids every morning for the last week. Ever since Violet's babies got old enough to get around."

"Whose babies?" Edgar's grandfather said.

"Why, Violet's." The woman looked at him as if he were an idiot. "The mama dog. That dog right there."

"I've got a dog named Violet," he said. "And she has a litter about that age right this moment back home."

"Well, what do you know," the woman said, without the slightest note of interest.

"I mean, don't you think that's sort of a coincidence? That I'd run into a dog with my own dog's name, and with a litter the same age?"

"I couldn't say. Could be that sort of thing happens all the time."

"Here's a coincidence happens every morning," his buddy interjected. "I wake up, I get hungry, I eat breakfast. Amazing."

"You go ahead," John Sawtelle said. "I'm not all that hungry anyway." And with that, he stepped into the dusty street and crossed to the town hall.


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