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Michael Post by :Francisco_Aloy Category :Essays Author :Heywood Broun Date :November 2011 Read :1662

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The man who gave us Michael said that he was a Shetland terrier. Frankly, I don't believe there is any such thing; unless Michael is it. But there is no denying a Scotch strain of some sort. There is a good deal of John Knox about Michael. He recognizes no middle ground. There was no difficulty, for instance, in convincing Michael of the wickedness of some manifestations of the grossness which is mortality, but it has been impossible to make him accept any working compromise such as those by which men and dogs live. He can see no reason why there should be any geographical limits or bounds to badness.

There is a certain fierce democracy in that. Michael thinks no less of a backyard or a sidewalk than he does of a parlor. Or perhaps it would be better to say he thinks no more of a parlor. Repentance comes to him more easily than reformation. And yet I have an enormous respect for Michael's point of view as I understand it. He doesn't want to burn, of course, but he has no patience with dogs who blandly hope to attain salvation by leading lamp-post lives.

In some things I would have Michael more practical. That man who brought him here said that his father was an excellent mouser. I have come to wonder whether the legitimacy of Michael is beyond question. Doubt struck me the other day in the kitchen when I saw an over-venturesome mouse clinging precariously to a window curtain and swinging back and forth not more than a foot from the ground.

"Look, Michael," I said, "it's a mouse!"

I tried to say it with the same intensity as "Voila un sousmarin!" or "It's gold, pardner!" or something of the sort, but Michael looked at my finger instead of the mouse and wagged his tail. He backed away from me playfully and bounced around a little and barked. Indeed, he backed into the curtain and the tail of the mouse went swish, swish across his back, but Michael continued to wag. I have some little hope that this particular mouse will not come back for a time. He was visibly terrified, but of course it would be impossible to predict any permanent condition of shock. At any rate, by a supreme effort he mastered his panic. Wrenching himself loose from the curtain, he jumped and landed on Michael's back. Then he hopped to the floor and disappeared behind the potato barrel. Michael sat down slowly and scratched himself.

Last week I thought I detected a real fusion of Michael's undoubted idealism and direct practical action. Somebody brought The New York American into the house and left it on the floor. When I came in I found that Michael had torn it to shreds. He had been particularly severe with the editorial page. I patted him and gave him some warm milk. To-day I discovered he had mutilated a third edition of The Tribune. And upon inquiry I learned that he would chew almost anything except The New Republic. His teeth are not quite sharp enough for such heavy paper yet. It is just possible that there is some more subtle reason for the exception. Sometimes I think that Michael has a "New Republic" mind.

(The end)
Heywood Broun's essay: Michael

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