[Emily was walking on the moors when she came across a campsite. A mastiff was chained, obviously thirsty, and when Emily brought him water, he bit her, at which point she noticed that the dog's collar was abrading his neck. She determined to remove him from his abusive situation, and decided to call him Keeper. Just then, a man approaches.]
. . . tell me who you are and why you’re pawing through my things.”
“I’m not sure I want to talk with a man who abuses animals and terrorizes young women.”
He frowned. “I’ve never abused an animal in my life.”
Emily couldn’t help but nod her approval of his priorities. She, too, would put a dog’s welfare ahead of a girl’s. “He had no food or water. I’d call that abuse, wouldn’t you?”
The man ducked under the canvas door and strode over to the rocks by the campfire. Emily followed, grateful to escape the confined space. The man held up a bowl, slick with moisture, that had been turned over. “I left him water, but he’s excitable and knocks it over often as not.”
“Oh.” Her hand dropped to Keeper’s head and massaged the knobs on his skull. “But why was he tied up?”
“I’ve had an intruder,” he said, not noticing Emily’s instinctive flinch. “But as you can see, he’s a terrible watchdog.”
“His collar was too small,” Emily accused.
“Because he’s growing so fast. I ordered a new one last week.” A genial smile appeared on his face; Emily liked the way it made his eyes crinkle. “Is the inquisition over?”
“For now,” Emily said begrudgingly. The bite wound on her arm ached as though to punish her for misjudging the man.
[Emily and Harry discover that they knew each other as children and share a common love of books. They remember they were fast friends, Harry has a problem, and he and Emily soon hash together a plan to set things right. They anticipate the adventure and the successful outcome.]
There was a roll of distant thunder. Both Harry and Emily had been raised on the moors and knew how quickly a storm could overtake them. “You should get home,” Harry said.
“I’ll come back tomorrow and tell you what I’ve learned.” As Emily turned to leave, Keeper got to his feet and began to follow her.
“Roland, Roland, get back here, boy!” He called after the mastiff, but the dog didn’t respond. “Emily— that’s my dog!”
“Dogs choose their own owners.” Emily shrugged.
“Perhaps in your imagination,” Harry protested. “In the real world, I paid three guineas for that animal.”
“Then you should have been a better friend to him.” She saw him draw breath to argue and held up her hand. “I accept your explanation that you were trying to be a good master— but apparently he has not.” Harry glanced from the dog to Emily and back again.
“Fine. I’ll lend him to you. To keep you safe on the moors. But I will expect his return.”
“The only danger I’ve seen on the moors is you,” Emily said. “I’ll take good care of him.” She started for home, Keeper at her heels.
Btw. this is the seventh book in a row of four star reads. I'm far enough along to predict that this is not the book that breaks the chain.