I went on a journey to acquaint myself with my province, in a two-horse wagon with a lot of fodder and a tin bucket rattling in the back. The bucket was required for the horses to drink from. I traveled through a country of hilts and pine groves that gave way to stretches of forest, where tangles of smoke hovered over the roofs of houses, as if they were on fire, for they were chimneyless cabins; I crossed districts of fields and lakes. It was so interesting to be moving, to give the horses their reins, and wait till, in the next valley, a village slowly appeared, or a park with the white spot of a manor inside it. And always we were barked at by a dog, assiduous in its duty. That was the beginning of the century; this is its end. I have been thinking not only of the people who lived there once but also of the generations of dogs accompanying them in their everyday bustle, and one night -- I don't know where it came from -- in a predawn sleep, that funny and tender phrase composed itself: a road-side dog.