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Secret Agent Barkwell

"Hey, Marshall, the Chief wants to see you in his office right away."

Marshall Bright, Agent 000, quickly stuffed a comic book into his desk drawer. He raced into the Chief's office. "Do you have a new assignment for me, Chief?"

"Take a look at these, Bright," said the Chief. Half a dozen newspaper clippings were spread out on his desk. "Do you see anything unusual?"

"Hmmm," said Bright, bending over to examine the clippings. One had a headline: DOG SAVES BOY FROM FIRE. The picture showed a dachshund wearing a tam o'shanter lowering a child from a burning building into the arms of a fireman.

Another, headlined: DOG SAVES GIRL FROM DROWNING, showed a retriever with a tam towing a girl to safety. Each of the other clippings pictured a dog rescuing someone in need. All the dogs were different breeds, but each one was wearing a tam o'shanter.

Bright straightened up and stared at the Chief. "No, I don't see anything unusual."

"The hat, Bright! The hat! How do you explain it?"

Bright thought a moment. "Maybe it's the same dog in disguise?"

"A Saint Bernard disguised as a chihuahua?" the Chief roared. "No, it's obviously an organization behind all this. But we need those dogs! It's your job to contact the organization."

For the next three days, Agent 000 spent all his working hours in his car, listening to the radio. He had it tuned to the police calls. Finally there was a call: "Car 214 proceed to 26 Main. A dog has cornered two robbers in a jewelry store."

Bright sped to the scene of the crime. When he arrived, the police were leading the two robbers to their squad car. A police dog in a tam o'shanter was trotting down the street.

"Hey, dog," yelled Bright. "Stop a minute! I want to talk to you."

Marshall Bright's first guess was closer to the truth than he knew. The dog he was chasing was Barkwell, a dog with a mysterious power. When Barkwell turned and saw a man with a dogcatcher's net chasing him in a car, he reacted instantly. Before Bright could blink, the police dog had changed into a greyhound. Swiftly he raced off down the street.

Marshall Bright gunned his engine and sped after the greyhound. On they went, past red lights and stop signs, dodging cars and trucks and pedestrians, and out past the city limits. The greyhound was swift. But little by little the car was gaining.

The car zoomed ahead. The net closed over the fleeing Barkwell. But then -- the greyhound suddenly turned into a tiny chihuahua. It leaped through one of the holes in the netting. Before Marshall Bright could jam on the brakes, Barkwell dashed across the road and disap- peared into the bushes.

Later, in the Chief's office, Bright tried to explain. "Honest, Chief. First he was a police dog, then he was a greyhound. And just as I had him in the net, he turned into a chihuahua."

"He what!?! Bright, if I had any other agents free, I would ask you to take a real long vacation."

"I've got another idea, Chief," Bright said quickly. "Why don't we put an ad in the paper? Maybe the dog will answer it."

"Get out of my office, Bright!" the Chief roared.

Marshall Bright refused to give up. He put an ad in the paper: "DOG WITH TAM: Your country needs you. Call 555-1000."

The next day the telephone rang. Bright answered it and heard: "Bow-wow! Bow- wow!"

Agent 000's face brightened. "Oh, it's you! Come over to our office right away." And he gave Barkwell the address.

Thirty minutes later, Bright led Barkwell into the Chief's office.

"Here he is, Chief, uh…" Bright turned to the dog. "What's your name?"

Barkwell trotted to the Chief's desk, picked up a pen in his paw, and neatly printed: BARKWELL.

"We have an important assignment for you, Barkwell," said the Chief. "A scientist on the Other Side wants to 'come to our country.

Only he's blind. We need you to guide him across the border. Agent 000, here, will meet you after you get back across the border."

Barkwell slipped across the border as a tiny chihuahua. The guards never even noticed him. Then he turned into a greyhound and raced swiftly across the fields to the town where the scientist lived. In the town he checked the street signs. (Barkwell could read and bark in sixty languages.)

When he reached the scientist's house, he turned into the tiniest of chihuahuas. He slipped through the crack under the door. Then he turned into a seeing eye dog and trotted up the stairs. He scratched at the scientist's bedroom door.

A white-haired man with a cane opened the door. "Ah, you're the seeing eye dog who was to lead me across the border," he said. "But where is the agent who came with you?"

"I am the agent," Barkwell barked in Morse code. But the man did not seem to understand.

"Come, dog, we'll wait for the agent," the man said, reaching down toward Barkwell. Suddenly Barkwell sniffed the man's hand. Something was wrong! This man did not smell like the scientist's letter. He was an imposter!

Barkwell leaped toward the doorway. "Wait!" the man shouted. He whipped out a gun and aimed at Barkwell. Bang! But the shot missed. Barkwell was now a chihuahua. He slipped under the door and out of the house.

Now he turned into a bloodhound and followed the imposter's trail across town. He came to the house where the scientist was being held. He changed into the largest great dane you ever saw. He stood up on his hind legs and looked into all the windows. He saw the scientist, alone in a back room. He picked up a large tree branch and smashed in the window.

Quickly he barked out a message in Morse code. The scientist climbed out the window and leaped onto Barkwell's back. They raced off to the border and hid until dark. Then Barkwell carried the scientist across the border to safety.




©1973, 2013 The Silversteins