Part 3 out of 5
dog. He must be disposed of before anyone else is astir. How I hate
to take life."
He sauntered down the walk to the tool shed, went in and soon
came out leading a large, brown dog by a chain. This was Bruno.
He was snapping and snarling and biting at his chain as he went
along, though Mr. Wood led him very kindly, and when he saw me
he acted as if he could have torn me to pieces. After Mr. Wood
took him behind the barn, he came back and got his gun. I ran
away so that I would not hear the sound of it, for I could not help
feeling sorry for Bruno.
Miss Laura's room was on one side of the house, and in the second
story. There was a little balcony outside it, and when I got near I
saw that she was standing out on it wrapped in a shawl. Her hair
was streaming over her shoulders, and she was looking down into
the garden where there were a great many white and yellow
flowers in bloom.
I barked, and she looked at me. "Dear old Joe, I will get dressed
and come down."
She hurried into her room, and I lay on the veranda till I heard her
step. Then I jumped up. She unlocked the front door, and we went
for a walk down the lane to the road until we heard the breakfast
bell. As soon as we heard it we ran back to the house, and Miss
Laura had such an appetite for her breakfast that her aunt said the
country had done her good already.
CHAPTER XVIII MRS. WOOD'S POULTRY
AFTER breakfast, Mrs. Wood put on a large apron, and going into
the kitchen, said: "Have you any scraps for the hens, Adele? Be
sure and not give me anything salty."
The French girl gave her a dish of food, then Mrs. Wood asked
Miss Laura to go and see her chickens, and away we went to the
On the way we saw Mr. Wood. He was sitting on the step of the
tool shed cleaning his gun "Is the dog dead?" asked Miss Laura.
"Yes," he said.
She sighed and said: "Poor creature, I am sorry he had to be killed.
Uncle, what is the most merciful way to kill a dog? Sometimes,
when they get old, they should be put out of the way."
"You can shoot them," he said, "or you can poison them. I shot
Bruno through his head into his neck. There's a right place to aim
at. It's a little one side of the top of the skull. If you'll remind me
I'll show you a circular I have in the house. It tells the proper way
to kill animals. The American Humane Education Society in
Boston puts it out, and it's a merciful thing.
"You don't know anything about the slaughtering of animals,
Laura, and it's well you don't. There's an awful amount of cruelty
practiced, and practiced by some people that think themselves
pretty good. I wouldn't have my lambs killed the way my father
had his for a kingdom. I'll never forget the first one I saw
butchered. I wouldn't feel worse at a hanging now. And that white
ox, Hattie you remember my telling you about him. He had to be
killed, and father sent for the butcher. I was only a lad, and I was
all of a shudder to have the life of the creature I had known taken
from him. The butcher, stupid clown, gave him eight blows before
he struck the right place. The ox bellowed, and turned his great
black eyes on my father, and I fell in a faint."
Miss Laura turned away, and Mrs. Wood followed her, saying: "If
ever you want to kill a cat, Laura, give it cyanide of potassium. I
killed a poor old sick cat for Mrs. Windham the other day. We put
half a teaspoonful of pure cyanide of potassium in a long-handled
wooden spoon, and dropped it on the cat's tongue, as near the
throat as we could. Poor pussy she died in a few seconds. Do you
know, I was reading such a funny thing the other day about giving
cats medicine. They hate it, and one can scarcely force it into their
mouths on account of their sharp teeth. The way is, to smear it on
their sides, and they lick it off. A good idea, isn't it? Here we are at
the hen douse, or rather one of the hen houses."
"Don't you keep your hens all together?" asked Miss Laura.
"Only in the winter time," said Mrs. Wood, "I divide my flock in
the spring. Part of them stay here and part go to the orchard to live
in little movable houses that we put about in different places. I
feed each flock morning and evening at their own little house.
They know they'll get no food even if they come to my house, so
they stay at home. And they know they'll get no food between
times, so all day long they pick and scratch in the orchard, and
destroy so many bugs and insects that it more than pays for the
trouble of keeping them there."
"Doesn't this flock want to mix up with the other?" asked Miss
Laura, as she stepped into the little wooden house.
"No; they seem to understand. I keep my eye on them for a while
at first, and they soon find out that they're not to fly either over the
garden fence or the orchard fence. They roam over the farm and
pick up what they can get. There's a good deal of sense in hens, if
one manages them properly. I love them because they are such
We were in the little wooden house by this time, and I looked
around it with surprise. It was better than some of the poor people's
houses in Fairport. The walls were white and clean, so were the
little ladders that led up to different kinds of roosts, where the
fowls sat at night. Some roosts were thin and round, and some
were broad and flat. Mrs. Wood said that the broad ones were for a
heavy fowl called the Brahma. Every part of the little house was
almost as light as it was outdoors, on account of the large
Miss Laura spoke of it. "Why, auntie, I never saw such a light hen
Mrs. Wood was diving into a partly shut-in place, where it was not
so light, and where the nests were. She straightened herself up, her
face redder than ever, and looked at the windows with a pleased
"Yes, there's not a hen house in New Hampshire with such big
windows. Whenever I look at them, I think of my mother's hens,
and wish that they could have had a place like this. They would
have thought themselves in a hen's paradise. When I was a girl we
didn't know that hens loved light and heat, and all winter they used
to sit in a dark hencoop, and the cold was so bad that their combs
would freeze stiff, and the tops of them would drop off. We never
thought about it. If we'd had any sense, we might have watched
them on a fine day go and sit on the compost heap and sun
themselves, and then have concluded that if they liked light and
heat outside, they'd like it inside. Poor biddies, they were so cold
that they wouldn't lay us any eggs in winter."
"You take a great interest in your poultry, don't you, auntie?" said
"Yes, indeed, and well I may. I'll show you my brown Leghorn,
Jenny, that lay eggs enough in a year to pay for the newspapers I
take to keep myself posted in poultry matters. I buy all my own
clothes with my hen money, and lately I've started a bank account,
for I want to save up enough to start a few stands of bees. Even if I
didn't want to be kind to my hens, it would pay me to be so for
sake of the profit they yield. Of course they're quite a lot of
trouble. Sometimes they get vermin on them, and I have to grease
them and dust carbolic acid on them, and try some of my
numerous cures. Then I must keep ashes and dust wallows for
them and be very particular about my eggs when hens are sitting,
and see that the hens come off regularly for food and exercise. Oh,
there are a hundred things I have to think of, but I always say to
any one that thinks of raising poultry: 'If you are going into the
business for the purpose of making money, it pays to take care of
"There's one thing I notice," said Miss Laura, "and that is that your
drinking fountains must be a great deal better than the shallow
pans that I have seen some people give their hens water in."
"Dirty things they are," said Mrs. Wood; "I wouldn't use one of
them. I don't think there is anything worse for hens than drinking
dirty water. My hens must have as clean water as I drink myself,
and in winter I heat it for them. If it's poured boiling into the
fountains in the morning, it keeps warm till night. Speaking of
shallow drinking dishes, I wouldn't use them, even before I ever
heard of a drinking fountain. John made me something that we
read about. He used to take a powder keg and bore a little hole in
the side, about an inch from the top, then fill it with water, and
cover with a pan a little larger round than the keg. Then he turned
the keg upside down, without taking away the pan. The water ran
into the pan only as far as the hole in the keg, and it would have to
be used before more would flow in. Now let us go and see my
beautiful, bronze turkeys. They don't need any houses, for they
roost in the trees the year round."
We found the flock of turkeys, and Miss Laura admired their
changeable colors very much. Some of them were very large, and I
did not like them, for the gobblers ran at me, and made a dreadful
noise in their throats.
Afterward, Mrs. Wood showed us some ducks that she had shut up
in a yard. She said that she was feeding them on vegetable food, to
give their flesh a pure flavor, and by-and-by she would send them
to market and get a high price for them.
Every place she took us to was as clean as possible. "No one can
be successful in raising poultry in large numbers," she said, "unless
they keep their quarters clean and comfortable."
As yet we had seen no hens, except a few on the nests, and Miss
Laura said, "Where are they? I should like to see them."
"They are coming," said Mrs. Wood. "It is just their breakfast time,
and they are as punctual as clockwork. They go off early in the
morning, to scratch about a little for themselves first."
As she spoke she stepped off the plank walk and looked off
towards the fields.
Miss Laura burst out laughing. Away beyond the barns the hens
were coming. Seeing Mrs. Wood standing there, they thought they
were late, and began to run and fly, jumping over each other's
backs, and stretching out their necks, in a state of great excitement.
Some of their legs seemed slicking straight out behind. It was very
funny to see them.
They were a fine-looking lot of poultry, mostly white, with glossy
feathers and bright eyes. They greedily ate the food scattered to
them and Mrs. Wood said, "They think I've changed their breakfast
time, and to-morrow they'll come a good bit earlier. And yet some
people say hens have no sense."
CHAPTER XIX A BAND OF MERCY
A FEW evenings after we came to Dingley Farm, Mrs. Wood and
Miss Laura were sitting out on the veranda, and I was lying at their
"Auntie," said Miss Laura, "What do those letters mean on that
silver pin that you wear with that piece of ribbon?"
"You know what the white ribbon means, don't you?" asked Mrs.
"Yes; that you are a temperance woman, doesn't it?"
"It does; and the star pin means that I am a member of a Band of
Mercy. Do you know what a Band of Mercy is?"
"No," said Miss Laura.
"How strange! I should think that you would have several in
Fairport. A cripple boy, the son of a Boston artist, started this one
here. It has done a great deal of good. There is a meeting
to-morrow, and I will take you to it if you like."
It was on Monday that Mrs. Wood had this talk with Miss Laura,
and the next afternoon, after all the work was done, they got ready
to go to the village.
"May Joe go?" asked Miss Laura.
"Certainly," said Mrs. Wood; "he is such good dog that he won't be
I was very glad to hear this, and trotted along by them down the
lane to the road. The lane was a very cool and pleasant place.
There were tall trees growing on each side, and under them,
among the grass, pretty wild flowers were peeping out to look at us
as we went by.
Mrs. Wood and Miss Laura talked all the way about the Band of
Mercy. Miss Laura was much interested, and said that she would
like to start one in Fairport.
"It is a very simple thing," said Mrs. Wood. "All you have to do is
to write the pledge at the top of a piece of paper: 'I will try to be
kind to all harmless living creatures, and try to protect them from
cruel usage,' and get thirty people to sign it. That makes a band.
"I have formed two or three bands by keeping slips of paper ready,
and getting people that come to visit me to sign them. I call them
'Corresponding Bands,' for they are too far apart to meet. I send the
members 'Band of Mercy' papers, and I get such nice letters from
them, telling me of kind things they do for animals.
"A Band of Mercy in a place is a splendid thing. There's the
greatest difference in Riverdale since this one was started. A few
years ago, when a man beat or raced his horse, and any one
interfered, he said: 'This horse is mine; I'll do what I like with him.'
Most people thought he was right, but now they're all for the poor
horse, and there isn't a man anywhere around who would dare to
abuse any animal.
"It's all the children. They're doing a grand work, and I say it's a
good thing for them. Since we've studied this subject, it's enough
to frighten one to read what is sent us about our American boys
and girls. Do you know, Laura, that with all our brag about our
schools and colleges, that really are wonderful, we're turning out
more criminals than any other civilized country in the world,
except Spain and Italy? The cause of it is said to be lack of proper
training for the youth of our land. Immigration has something to do
with it, too. We're thinking too much about educating the mind,
and forgetting about the heart and soul. So I say now, while we've
got all our future population in our schools, saints and sinners,
good people and bad people, let us try to slip in something
between the geography, and history, and grammar that will go a
little deeper, and touch them so much, that when they are grown
up and go out in the world, they will carry with them lessons of
love and good-will to men.
"A little child is such a tender thing. You can bend it anyway you
like. Speaking of this heart education of children, as set over
against mind education, I see that many school-teachers say that
there is nothing better than to give them lessons on kindness to
animals. Children who are taught to love and protect dumb
creature, will be kind to their fellow-men when they grow up."
I was very much pleased with this talk between Mrs. Wood and
Miss Laura, and kept close to them so that I would not miss a
As we went along, houses began to appear here and there, set back
from the road among the trees. Soon they got quite close together,
and I saw some shops.
This was the village of Riverdale, and nearly all the buildings were
along this winding street. The river was away back of the village.
We had already driven there several times.
We passed the school on our way. It was a square, white building,
standing in the middle of a large yard. Boys and girls, with their
arms full of books, were hurrying down the steps and coming into
the street. Two quite big boys came behind us, and Mrs. Wood
turned around and spoke to them, and asked if they were going to
the Band of Mercy.
"Oh, yes, ma'am," said the younger one "I've got a recitation, don't
"Yes, yes; excuse me for forgetting," said Mrs. Wood, with her
jolly laugh. "And here are Dolly, and Jennie, and Martha," she
went on, as some little girls came running out of a house that we
The little girls joined us and looked so hard at my head and stump
of a tail, and my fine collar, that I felt quite shy, and walked with
my head against Miss Laura's dress.
She stooped down and patted me, and then I felt as if I didn't care
how much they stared. Miss Laura never forgot me. No matter how
earnestly she was talking, or playing a game, or doing anything,
she always stopped occasionally to give me word or look, to show
that she knew I was near.
Mrs. Wood paused in front of a building on the main street. A
great many boys and girls were going in, and we went with them.
We found ourselves in a large room, with a platform at one end of
it. There were some chairs on this platform and a small table.
A boy stood by this table with his hand on a bell. Presently he rang
it, and then every one kept still. Mrs. Wood whispered to Miss
Laura that this boy was the president of the band, and the young
man with the pale face and curly hair who sat in front of him was
Mr. Maxwell, the artist's son, who had formed this Band of Mercy.
The lad who presided had a ringing, pleasant voice. He said they
would begin their meeting by singing a hymn. There was an organ
near the platform and a young girl played on it, while all the other
boys and girls stood up, and sang very sweetly and clearly.
After they had sung the hymn, the president asked for the report of
their last meeting.
A little girl, blushing and hanging her head, came forward, and
read what was written on a paper that she held in her hand.
The president made some remarks after she had finished, and then
every one had to vote. It was just like a meeting of grown people,
and I was surprised to see how good those children were. They did
not frolic nor laugh, but all seemed sober and listened attentively.
After the voting was over, the president called upon John Turner to
give a recitation This was the boy whom we saw on the way there.
He walked up to the platform, made a bow, and said that he had
learned two stories for his recitation, out of the paper, "Dumb
Animals." One story was about a horse, and the other was about a
dog, and he thought that they were two of the best animal stories
on record. He would tell the horse story first.
"A man in Missouri had to go to Nebraska to see about some land.
He went on horseback, on a horse that he had trained himself, and
that came at his whistle like a dog. On getting into Nebraska, he
came to a place where there were two roads. One went by a river,
and the other went over the hill. The man saw that the travel went
over the hill, but thought he'd take the river road. He didn't know
that there was a quicksand across it, and that people couldn't use it
in spring and summer. There used to be a sign board to tell
strangers about it, but it had been taken away. The man got off his
horse to let him graze, and walked along till he got so far ahead of
the horse that he had to sit down and wait for him. Suddenly he
found that he was on a quicksand. His feet had sunk in the sand,
and he could not get them out. He threw himself down, and
whistled for his horse, and shouted for help, but no one came. He
could hear some young people singing out on the river, but they
could not hear him. The terrible sand drew him in almost to his
shoulders, and he thought he was lost. At that moment the horse
came running up, and stood by his master. The man was too low
down to get hold of the saddle or bridle, so he took hold of the
horse's tail, and told him to go. The horse gave an awful pull, and
landed his master on safe ground."
Everybody clapped his hands, and stamped when this story was
finished, and called out: "The dog story the dog story!"
The boy bowed and smiled, and began again. "You all know what
a 'round-up' of cattle is, so I need not explain. Once a man down
south was going to have one, and he and his boys and friends were
talking it over. There was an ugly, black steer in the herd, and they
were wondering whether their old yellow dog would be able to
manage him. The dog's name was Tige, and he lay and listened
wisely to their talk. The next day there was a scene of great
confusion. The steer raged and tore about, and would allow no one
to come within whip touch of him. Tige, who had always been
brave, skulked about for a while, and then, as if he had got up a
little spirit, he made a run at the steer. The steer sighted him, gave
a bellow, and, lowering his horns, ran at him. Tige turned tail, and
the young men that owned him were frantic. They'd been praising
him, and thought they were going to have it proven false. Their
father called out: 'Don't shoot Tige, till you see where he's running
to.' The dog ran right to the cattle pen. The steer was so enraged
that he never noticed where he was going, and dashed in after him.
Tige leaped the wall, and came back to the gate, barking and
yelping for the men to come and shut the steer in. They shut the
gate and petted Tige, and bought him a collar with a silver plate."
The boy was loudly cheered, and went to his seat. The president
said he would like to have remarks made about these two stories.
Several children put up their hands, and he asked each one to
speak in turn. One said that if that man's horse had had a docked
tail, his master wouldn't have been able to reach it, and would have
perished. Another said that if the man hadn't treated his horse
kindly, he never would have come at his whistle, and stood over
him to see what he could do to help him. A third child said that the
people on the river weren't as quick at hearing the voice of the man
in trouble as the horse was.
When this talk was over, the president called for some stories of
Another boy came forward, made his bow, and said, in a short,
abrupt voice, "My uncle's name is Henry Worthington. He is an
Englishman, and once he was a soldier in India. One day when he
was hunting in the Punjab, he saw a mother monkey carrying a
little dead baby monkey. Six months after, he was in the same
jungle. Saw same monkey still carrying dead baby monkey, all
shriveled up. Mother monkey loved her baby monkey, and
wouldn't give it up."
The boy went to his seat, and the president, with a queer look in
his face, said, "That's a very good story, Ronald if it is true."
None of the children laughed, but Mrs. Wood's face got like a red
poppy, and Miss Laura bit her lip, and Mr. Maxwell buried his
head in his arms, his whole frame shaking.
The boy who told the story looked very angry. He jumped up
again. "My uncle's a true man, Phil Dodge, and never told a lie in
The president remained standing, his face a deep scarlet, and a tall
boy at the back of the room got up and said, "Mr. President, what
would be impossible in this climate, might be possible in a hot
country like India. Doesn't heat sometimes draw up and preserve
The president's face cleared. "Thank you for the suggestion," he
said. "I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings; but you know there is
a rule in the band that only true stories are to be told here. We have
five more minutes for foreign stories. Has any one else one?"
CHAPTER XX STORIES ABOUT ANIMALS
A SMALL girl, with twinkling eyes and a merry face, got up, just
behind Miss Laura, and made her way to the front. "My dranfadder
says," she began, in a piping little voice, "dat when he was a little
boy his fadder brought him a little monkey from de West Indies.
De naughty boys in de village used to tease de little monkey, and
he runned up a tree one day. Dey was drowing stones at him, and a
man dat was paintin' de house druv 'em away. De monkey runned
down de tree, and shook hands wid de man. My dranfadder saw
him," she said, with a shake of her head at the president, as if she
was afraid he would doubt her.
There was great laughing and clapping of hands when this little
girl took her seat, and she hopped right up again and ran back.
"Oh, I fordot," she went on, in her squeaky, little voice, "dat my
dranfadder says dat afterward de monkey upset de painter's can of
oil, and rolled in it, and den jumped down in my dranfadder's flour
The president looked very much amused, and said, "We have had
some good stories about monkeys, now let us have some more
about our home animals. Who can tell us another story about a
Three or four boys jumped up, but the president said they would
take one at a time. The first one was this: A Riverdale boy was
walking along the bank of a canal in Hoytville. He saw a boy
driving two horses, which were towing a canal-boat. The first
horse was lazy, and the boy got angry and struck him several times
over the head with his whip. The Riverdale boy shouted across to
him, begging him not to be so cruel; but the boy paid no attention.
Suddenly the horse turned, seized his tormentor by the shoulder,
and pushed him into the canal. The water was not deep, and the
boy, after floundering about for a few seconds, came out dripping
with mud and filth, and sat down on the tow path, and looked at
the horse with such a comical expression, that the Riverdale boy
had to stuff his handkerchief in his mouth to keep from laughing.
"It is to be hoped that he would learn a lesson," said the president,
"and be kinder to his horse in the future. Now, Bernard Howe, your
The boy was a brother to the little girl who had told the monkey
story, and he, too, had evidently been talking to his grandfather. He
told two stories, and Miss Laura listened eagerly, for they were
The boy said that when his grandfather was young, he lived in
Fairport, Maine. On a certain day he stood in the market square to
see their first stage-coach put together. It had come from Boston in
pieces, for there was no one in Fairport that could make one. The
coach went away up into the country one day, and came back the
next. For a long time no one understood driving the horses
properly, and they came in day after day with the blood streaming
from them. The whiffletree would swing round and hit them, and
when their collars were taken off, their necks would be raw and
bloody. After a time, the men got to understand how to drive a
coach, and the horses did not suffer so much.
The other story was about a team-boat, not a steamboat. More than
seventy years ago, they had no steamers running between Fairport
and the island opposite where people went for the summer, but
they had what they called a team-boat, that is, a boat with
machinery to make it go, that could be worked by horses. There
were eight horses that went around and around, and made the boat
go. One afternoon, two dancing masters, who were wicked
fellows, that played the fiddle, and never went to church on
Sundays, got on the boat, and sat just where the horses had to pass
them as they went around.
Every time the horses went by, they jabbed them with their
penknives. The man who was driving the horses at last saw the
blood dripping from them, and the dancing masters were found
out. Some young men on the boat were so angry that they caught
up a rope's end, and gave the dancing masters a lashing, and then
threw them into the water and made them swim to the island.
When this boy took a seat, a young girl read some verses that she
had clipped from a newspaper:
"Don't kill the toads, the ugly toads,
That hop around your door;
Each meal the little toad doth eat A hundred bugs or more.
"He sits around with aspect meek,
Until the bug hath neared,
Then shoots he forth his little tongue
Like lightning double-geared.
"And then he soberly doth wink,
And shut his ugly mug,
And patiently doth wait until
There comes another bug."
Mr. Maxwell told a good dog story after this. He said the president
need not have any fears as to its truth, for it had happened in his
boarding house in the village, and he had seen it himself. Monday,
the day before, being wash-day, his landlady lady had put out a
large washing. Among the clothes on the line was a gray flannel
shirt belonging to her husband. The young dog belonging to the
house had pulled the shirt from the line and torn it to pieces. The
woman put it aside and told him master would beat him. When the
man came home to his dinner, he showed the dog the pieces of the
shirt, and gave him a severe whipping. The dog ran away, visited
all the clothes lines in the village, till he found a gray shirt very
like his master's. He seized it and ran home, laying it at his
master's; feet, joyfully wagging his tail meanwhile
Mr. Maxwell's story done, a bright-faced boy, called Simon Grey,
got up and said, "You all know our old gray horse Ned. Last week
father sold him to a man in Hoytville, and I went to the station
when he was shipped. He was put in a box car. The doors were left
a little open to give him air, and were locked in that way. There
was a narrow, sliding door, four feet from the floor of the car, and,
in some way or other, old Ned pushed this door open, crawled
through it, and tumbled out on the ground. When I was coming
from school, I saw him walking along the track. He hadn't hurt
himself, except for a few cuts. He was glad to see me, and
followed me home. He must have gotten off the train when it was
going full speed, for he hadn't been seen at any of the stations, and
the trainmen were astonished to find the doors locked and the car
empty, when they got to Hoytville. Father got the man who bought
him to release him from his bargain, for he says if Ned is so fond
of Riverdale, he shall stay here."
The president asked the boys and girls to give three cheers for old
Ned, and then they had some more singing. After all had taken
their seats, he said he would like to know what the members had
been doing for animals during the past fortnight.
One girl had kept her brother from shooting two owls that came
about their barnyard. She told him that the owls would destroy the
rats and mice that bothered him in the barn, but if he hunted them,
they would go to the woods.
A boy said that he had persuaded some of his friends who were
going fishing, to put their bait worms into a dish of boiling water
to kill them before they started, and also to promise him that as
soon as they took their fish out of the water, they would kill them
by a sharp blow on the back of the head. They were all the more
ready to do this, when he told them that their fish would taste
better when cooked, if they had been killed as soon as they were
taken from the water into the air.
A little girl had gotten her mother to say that she would never
again put lobsters into cold water and slowly boil them to death.
She had also stopped a man in the street who was carrying a pair
of fowls with their heads down, and asked him if he would kindly
reverse their position. The man told her that the fowls didn't mind,
and she pursed up her small mouth and showed the band how she
said to him, "I would prefer the opinion of the hens." Then she said
he had laughed at her, and said, "Certainly, little lady," and had
gone off carrying them as she wanted him to. She had also
reasoned with different boys outside the village who were
throwing stones at birds and frogs, and sticking butterflies, and had
invited them to come to the Band of Mercy.
This child seemed to have done more than any one else for dumb
animals. She had taken around a petition to the village boys,
asking them not to search for birds' eggs, and she had even gone
into her father's stable, and asked him to hold her up, so that she
could look into the horses' mouths to see if their teeth wanted
filing or were decayed. When her father laughed at her, she told
him that horses often suffer terrible pain from their teeth, and that
sometimes a runaway is caused by a metal bit striking against the
exposed nerve in the tooth of a horse that has become almost
frantic with pain.
She was a very gentle girl, and I think by the way that she spoke
that her father loved her dearly, for she told how much trouble he
had taken to make some tiny houses for her that she wanted for the
wrens that came about their farm, She told him that those little
birds are so good at catching insects that they ought to give all
their time to it, and not have any worry about making houses. Her
father made their homes very small, so that the English sparrows
could not get in and crowd them out.
A boy said that he had gotten a pot of paint, and painted in large
letters on the fences around his father's farm: "Spare the toads,
don't kill the birds. Every bird killed is a loss to the country."
"That reminds me," said the president, "to ask the girls what they
have done about the millinery business."
"I have told my mother," said a tall, serious faced girl, "that I think
it is wrong to wear bird feathers, and she has promised to give up
wearing any of them except ostrich plumes."
Mrs. Wood asked permission to say a few words just here, and the
president said: "Certainly, we are always glad to hear from you."
She went up on the platform, and faced the roomful of children.
"Dear boys and girls," she began, "I have had some papers sent me
from Boston, giving some facts about the killing of our birds, and I
want to state a few of them to you: You all know that nearly every
tree and plant that grows swarms with insect life, and that they
couldn't grow if the birds didn't eat the insects that would devour
their foliage. All day long, the little beaks of the birds are busy.
The dear little rose-breasted gross-beak carefully examines the
potato plants, and picks off the beetles, the martins destroy weevil,
the quail and grouse family eats the chinchbug, the woodpeckers
dig the worms from the trees, and many other birds eat the flies
and gnats and mosquitoes that torment us so. No flying or crawling
creature escapes their sharp little eyes. A great Frenchman says
that if it weren't for the birds human beings would perish from the
face of the earth. They are doing all this for us, and how are we
rewarding them? All over America they are hunted and killed. Five
million birds must be caught every year for American women to
wear in their hats and bonnets. Just think of it, girls. Isn't it
dreadful? Five million innocent, hard-working, beautiful birds
killed, that thoughtless girls and women may ornament themselves
with their little dead bodies. One million bobolinks have been
killed in one month near Philadelphia. Seventy song-birds were
sent from one Long Island village to New York milliners.
"In Florida, cruel men shoot the mother bird. on their nests while
they are rearing their young. because their plumage is prettiest at
that time. The little ones cry pitifully, and starve to death. Every
bird of the rarer kinds that is killed, such as humming birds,
orioles and kingfishers, means the death of several others that is,
the young that starve to death, the wounded that fly away to die,
and those whose plumage is so torn that it is not fit to put in a fine
lady's bonnet. In some cases where birds have gay wings, and the
hunters do not wish the rest of the body, they tear off the wings
from the living bird, and throw it away to die.
"I am sorry to tell you such painful things, but I think you ought to
know them. You will soon be men and women. Do what you can
to stop this horrid trade. Our beautiful birds are being taken from
us, and the insect pests are increasing. The State of Massachusetts
has lost over one hundred thousand dollars because it did not
protect its birds. The gypsy moth stripped the trees near Boston,
and the State had to pay out all this money, and even then could
not get rid of the moths. The birds could have done it better than
the State, but they were all gone. My last words to you are, '
Protect the birds.'" Mrs. Wood went to her seat, and though the
boys and girls had listened very attentively, none of them cheered
her. Their faces looked sad, and they kept very quiet for a few
minutes. I saw one or two little girls wiping their eyes. I think they
felt sorry for the birds.
"Has any boy done anything about blinders and check-reins?"
asked the president, after a time.
A brown-faced boy stood up. "I had a picnic last Monday," he said;
"father let me cut all the blinders off our head-stalls with my
"How did you get him to consent to that?" asked the president.
"I told him," said the boy, "that I couldn't get to sleep for thinking
of him. You know he drives a good deal late at night. I told him
that every dark night he came from Sudbury I thought of the deep
ditch alongside the road, and wished his horses hadn't blinders on.
And every night he comes from the Junction, and has to drive
along the river bank where the water has washed away the earth
till the wheels of the wagon are within a foot or two of the edge, I
wished again that his horses could see each side of them, for I
knew they'd have sense enough to keep out of danger if they could
see it. Father said that might be very true, and yet his horses had
been broken in with blinders, and didn't I think they would be
inclined to shy if he took them off; and wouldn't they be frightened
to look around and see the wagon wheels so near. I told him that
for every accident that happened to a horse without blinders,
several happened to a horse with them; and then I gave him Mr.
Wood's opinion Mr. Wood out at Dingley Farm. He says that the
worst thing against blinders is that a frightened horse never knows
when he has passed the thing that scared him. He always thinks it
is behind him. The blinders are there and he can't see that he has
passed it, and he can't turn his head to have a good look at it. So
often he goes tearing madly on; and sometimes lives are lost all on
account of a little bit of leather fastened over a beautiful eye that
ought to look out full and free at the world. That finished father.
He said he'd take off his blinders, and if he had an accident, he'd
send the bill for damages to Mr. Wood. But we've had no accident.
The horses did act rather queerly at first, and started a little; but
they soon got over it, and now they go as steady without blinders
as they ever did with them."
The boy sat down, and the president said: "I think it is time that the
whole nation threw off this foolishness of half covering their
horses' eyes. Just put your hands up to your eyes, members of the
band. Half cover them, and see how shut in you will feel; and how
curious you will be to know what is going on beside you. Suppose
a girl saw a mouse with her eyes half covered, wouldn't she run?"
Everybody laughed, and the president asked some one to tell him
who invented blinders.
"An English nobleman," shouted a boy, "who had a wall-eyed
horse! He wanted to cover up the defect, and I think it is a great
shame that all the American horses have to suffer because that
English one had an ugly eye."
"So do I," said the president. "Three groans for blinders, boys."
And the children in the room made three dreadful noises away
down in their throats. Then they had another good laugh, and the
president became sober again. "Seven more minutes," he said;
"this meeting has got to be let out at five sharp."
A tall girl at the back of the room rose, and said: "My little cousin
has two stories that she would like to tell the band."
"Very well," said the president; "bring her right along."
The big girl came forward, leading a tiny child that she placed in
front of the boys and girls. The child stared up into her cousin's
face, turning and twisting her white pinafore through her fingers.
Every time the big girl took her pinafore away from her, she
picked it up again. "Begin, Nannie," said the big girl, kindly.
"Well, Cousin Eleanor," said the child, "you know Topsy,
Graham's pony. Well, Topsy would run away, and a big, big man
came out to papa and said he would train Topsy. So he drove her
every day, and beat her, and beat her, till he was tired, but still
Topsy would run away. Then papa said he would not have the poor
pony whipped so much, and he took her out a piece of bread every
day, and he petted her and now Topsy is very gentle, and never
"Tell about Tiger," said the girl.
"Well, Cousin Eleanor," said the child, "you know Tiger, our big
dog. He used to be a bad dog, and when Dr. Fairchild drove up to
the house he jumped up and bit at him. Dr. Fairchild used to speak
kindly to him, and throw out bits of meat, and now when he
comes, Tiger follows behind and wags his tail. Now, give me a
The girl had to give her a kiss, right up there before every one, and
what a stamping the boys made. The larger girl blushed and
hurried back to her seat, with the child clinging to her hand.
There was one more story, about a brave Newfoundland dog, that
saved eight lives by swimming out to a wrecked sailing vessel, and
getting a rope by which the men came ashore, and then a lad got
up whom they all greeted with cheers, and cries of, "The Poet! the
Poet!" I didn't know what they meant, till Mrs. Wood whispered to
Miss Laura that he was a boy who made rhymes, and the children
had rather hear him. speak than any one else in the room.
He had a snub nose and freckles, and I think he was the plainest
boy there, but that didn't matter, if the other children loved him.
He sauntered up to the front, with his hands behind his back, and a
very grand manner.
"The beautiful poetry recited here to-day," he drawled, "put some
verses in my mind that I never had till I came here to-day." Every
one present cheered wildly, and he began in a sing song voice:
"I am a Band of Mercy boy,
I would not hurt a fly,
I always speak to dogs and cats,
When'er I pass them by.
"I always let the birdies sing,
I never throw a stone,
I always give a hungry dog
A nice, fat, meaty bone.
I wouldn't drive a bob-tailed horse,
Nor hurry up a cow,
Then he forgot the rest. The boys and girls ,were so sorry. They
called out, "Pig," "Goat," "Calf," "Sheep," "Hens," "Ducks," and all
the other animals' names they could think of, but none of them was
right, and as the boy had just made up the poetry, no one knew
what the next could be. He stood for a long time staring at the
ceiling, then he said, "I guess I'll have to give it up."
The children looked dreadfully disappointed. "Perhaps you will
remember it by our next meeting," said the president, anxiously.
"Possibly, said the boy, "but probably not. I think it is gone
forever." And he went to his seat.
The next thing was to call for new members. Miss Laura got up
and said she would like to join their Band of Mercy. I followed her
up to the platform, while they pinned a little badge on her, and
every one laughed at me. Then they sang, "God Bless our Native
Land," and the president told us that we might all go home.
It seemed to me a lovely thing for those children to meet together
to talk about kindness to animals. They all had bright and good
faces, and many of them stopped to pat me as I came out. One
little girl gave me a biscuit from her school bag.
Mrs. Wood waited at the door till Mr. Maxwell came limping out
on his crutches. She introduced him to Miss Laura, and asked him
if he wouldn't go and take tea with them. He said he would be very
happy to do so, and then Mrs. Wood laughed; and asked him if he
hadn't better empty his pockets first. She didn't want a little toad
jumping over her tea table, as one did the last time he was there.
CHAPTER XXI MR. MAXWELL AND MR. HARRY
MR. MAXWELL wore a coat with loose pockets, and while she
was speaking, he rested on his crutches, and began to slap them
with his hands. "No; there's nothing here to-day," he said; "I think I
emptied my pockets before I went to the meeting."
Just as he said that there was a loud squeal: "Oh, my guinea pig,"
he exclaimed; "I forgot him," and he pulled out a little spotted
creature a few inches long. "Poor Derry, did I hurt you?" and he
soothed it very tenderly.
I stood and looked at Mr. Maxwell, for I had never seen any one
like him. He had thick curly hair and a white face, and he looked
just like a girl. While I was staring at him, something peeped up
out of one of his pockets and ran out its tongue at me so fast that I
could scarcely see it, and then drew back again. I was
thunderstruck. I had never seen such a creature before. It was long
and thin like a boy's cane, and of a bright green color like grass,
and it had queer shiny eyes. But its tongue was the strangest part of
it. It came and went like lightning. I was uneasy about it, and
began to bark.
"What's the matter, Joe?" said Mrs. Wood; "the pig won't hurt
But it wasn't the pig I was afraid of, and I kept on barking. And all
the time that strange live thing kept sticking up its head and
putting out its tongue at me, and neither of them noticed it.
"It's getting on toward six," said Mrs. Wood; "we must be going
home. Come, Mr. Maxwell."
The young man put the guinea pig in his pocket, picked up his
crutches, and we started down the sunny village street. He left his
guinea pig at his boarding house as he went by, but he said nothing
about the other creature, so I knew he did not know it was there.
I was very much taken with Mr. Maxwell. He seemed so bright and
happy, in spite of his lameness, which kept him from running
about like other young men. He looked a little older than Miss
Laura, and one day, a week or two later, when they were sitting on
the veranda, I heard him tell her that he was just nineteen. He told
her, too, that his lameness made him love animals. They never
laughed at him, or slighted him, or got impatient, because he could
not walk quickly. They were always good to him, and he said he
loved all animals while he liked very few people.
On this day as he was limping along, he said to Mrs. Wood: "I am
getting more absent-minded every day. Have you heard of my
"No," she said.
"I am glad," he replied. "I was afraid that it would be all over the
village by this time. I went to church last Sunday with my poor
guinea pig in my pocket. He hasn't been well, and I was attending
to him before church, and put him in there to get warm, and forgot
about him. Unfortunately I was late, and the back seats were all
full, so I had to sit farther up than I usually do. During the first
hymn I happened to strike Piggy against the side of the seat. Such
an ear-splitting squeal as he set up. It sounded as if I was
murdering him. The people stared and stared, and I had to leave
the church, overwhelmed with confusion."
Mrs. Wood and Miss Laura laughed, and then they got talking
about other matters that were not interesting to me, so I did not
listen. But I kept close to Miss Laura, for I was afraid that green
thing might hurt her. I wondered very much what its name was. I
don't think I should have feared it so much if I had known what it
"There's something the matter with Joe," said Miss Laura, when we
got into the lane. "What is it, dear old fellow?" She put down her
little hand, and I licked it, and wished so much that I could speak.
Sometimes I wish very much that I had the gift of speech, and then
at other times I see how little it would profit me, and how many
foolish things I should often say. And I don't believe human beings
would love animals as well, if they could speak.
When we reached the house, we got a joyful surprise. There was a
trunk standing on the veranda, and as soon as Mrs. Wood saw it,
she gave a little shriek: "My dear boy!"
Mr. Harry was there, sure enough, and stepped out through the
open door. He took his mother in his arms and kissed her, then he
shook hands with Miss Laura and Mr. Maxwell, who seemed to be
an old friend of his. They all sat down on the veranda and talked,
and I lay at Miss Laura's feet and looked at Mr. Harry. He was such
a handsome young man, and had such a noble face. He was older
and graver looking than when I saw him last, and he had a light,
brown mustache that he did not have when he was in Fairport.
He seemed very fond of his mother and of Miss Laura, and
however grave his face might be when he was looking at Mr.
Maxwell, it always lighted up when he turned to them. "What dog
is that?" he said at last, with a puzzled face, and pointing to me.
"Why, Harry," exclaimed Miss Laura, "don't you know Beautiful
Joe, that you rescued from that wretched milkman?"
"Is it possible," he said, "that this well-conditioned creature is the
bundle of dirty skin and bones that we nursed in Fairport? Come
here, sir. Do you remember me?"
Indeed I did remember him, and I licked his hands and looked up
gratefully into his face. "You're almost handsome now," he said,
caressing me with a firm, kind hand, "and of a solid build, too.
You look like a fighter but I suppose you wouldn't let him fight,
even if he wanted to, Laura," and he smiled and glanced at her.
"No," she said; "I don't think I should; but he can fight when the
occasion requires it." And she told him about our night with
All the time she was speaking, Mr. Harry held me by the paws, and
stroked my body over and over again. When she finished, he put
his head down to me, and murmured, "Good dog," and I saw that
his eyes were red and shining.
"That's a capital story, we must have it at the Band of Mercy," said
Mr. Maxwell. Mrs. Wood had gone to help prepare the tea, so the
two young men were alone with Miss Laura. When they had done
talking about me, she asked Mr. Harry a number of questions
about his college life, and his trip to New York, for he had not
been studying all the time that he was away.
"What are you going to do with yourself, Gray, when your college
course is ended?" asked Mr. Maxwell.
"I am going to settle right down here," said Mr. Harry.
"What, be a farmer?" asked his friend.
"Yes; why not?"
"Nothing, only I imagined that you would take a profession."
"The professions are overstocked, and we have not farmers enough
for the good of the country. There is nothing like farming, to my
mind. In no other employment have you a surer living. I do not like
the cities. The heat and dust, and crowds of people, and buildings
overtopping one another, and the rush of living, take my breath
away. Suppose I did go to a city. I would sell out my share of the
farm, and have a few thousand dollars. You know I am not an
intellectual giant. I would never distinguish myself in any
profession. I would be a poor lawyer or doctor, living in a back
street all the days of my life, and never watch a tree or flower
grow, or tend an animal, or have a drive unless I paid for it. No,
thank you. I agree with President Eliot, of Harvard. He says
scarcely one person in ten thousand betters himself permanently by
leaving his rural home and settling in a city. If one is a millionaire,
city life is agreeable enough, for one can always get away from it;
but I am beginning to think that it is a dangerous thing, in more
ways than one, to be a millionaire. I believe the safety of the
country lies in the hands of the farmers; for they are seldom very
poor or very rich. We stand between the two dangerous classes the
wealthy and the paupers."
"But most farmers lead such a dog's life," said Mr. Maxwell.
"So they do; farming isn't made one-half as attractive as it should
be," said Mr. Harry.
Mr. Maxwell smiled. "Attractive farming. Just sketch an outline of
that, will you, Gray?"
"In the first place," said Mr. Harry, "I would like to tear out of the
heart of the farmer the thing that is as firmly implanted in him as it
is in the heart of his city brother the thing that is doing more to
harm our nation than anything else under the sun."
"What is that?" asked Mr. Maxwell, curiously.
"The thirst for gold. The farmer wants to get rich, and he works so
hard to do it that he wears himself out soul and body, and the
young people around him get so disgusted with that way of getting
rich, that they go off to the cities to find out some other way, or at
least to enjoy themselves, for I don't think many young people are
animated by a desire to heap up money."
Mr. Maxwell looked amused. "There is certainly a great exodus
from country places cityward," he said. "What would be your plan
for checking it?"
"I would make the farm so pleasant, that you couldn't hire the boys
and girls to leave it. I would have them work, and work hard, too,
but when their work was over, I would let them have some fun.
That is what they go to the city for. They want amusement and
society, and to get into some kind of a crowd when their work is
done. The young men and young women want to get together, as is
only natural. Now that could be done in the country. If farmers
would be contented with smaller profits and smaller farms, their
houses could be nearer together. Their children would have
opportunities of social intercourse, there could be societies and
clubs, and that would tend to a distribution of literature. A farmer
ought to take five or six papers and two or three magazines. He
would find it would pay him in the long run, and there ought to be
a law made, compelling him to go to the post office once a day."
Mr. Maxwell burst out laughing. "And another to make him mend
his roads as well as mend his ways. I tell you Gray, the bad roads
would put an end to all these fine schemes of yours. Imagine
farmers calling on each other on a dark evening after a spring
freshet. I can see them mired and bogged, and the house a mile
ahead of them."
"That is true," said Mr. Harry, "the road question is a serious one.
Do you know how father and I settle it?"
"No," said Mr. Maxwell.
"We got so tired of the whole business, and the farmers around
here spent so much time in discussing the art of roadmaking, as to
whether it should be viewed from the engineering point of view, or
the farmers' practical point of view, and whether we would require
this number of stump extractors or that number, and how many
shovels and crushers and ditchers would be necessary to keep our
roads in order, and so on, that we simply withdrew. We keep our
own roads in order. Once a year, father gets a gang of men and
tackles every section of the road that borders upon our land, and
our roads are the best around here. I wish the government would
take up this matter of making roads and settle it. If we had good,
smooth, country roads, such as they have in some parts of Europe,
we would be able to travel comfortably over them all through the
year, and our draught animals would last longer, for they would
not have to expend so much energy in drawing their loads."
CHAPTER XXII WHAT HAPPENED AT THE TEA TABLE
FROM my station under Miss Laura's chair, I could see that all the
time Mr. Harry was speaking, Mr. Maxwell, although he spoke
rather as if he was laughing at him, was yet glancing at him
When Mr. Harry was silent, he exclaimed, "You are right, you are
right, Gray. With your smooth highways, and plenty of schools,
and churches, and libraries, and meetings for young people, you
would make country life a paradise, and I tell you what you would
do, too; you would empty the slums of the cities. It is the slowness
and dullness of country life, and not their poverty alone, that keep
the poor in dirty lanes and tenement houses. They want stir and
amusement, too, poor souls, when their day's work is over. I
believe they would come to the country if it were made more
pleasant for them."
"That is another question," said Mr. Harry, "a burning question in
my mind the labor and capital one. When I was in New York,
Maxwell, I was in a hospital, and saw a number of men who had
been day laborers. Some of them were old and feeble, and others
were young men, broken down in the prime of life. Their limbs
were shrunken and drawn. They had been digging in the earth, and
working on high buildings, and confined in dingy basements, and
had done all kinds of hard labor for other men. They had given
their lives and strength for others, and this was the end of it to die
poor and forsaken. I looked at them, and they reminded me of the
martyrs of old. Ground down, living from hand to mouth,
separated from their families in many cases they had had a bitter
lot. They had never had a chance to get away from their fate, and
had to work till they dropped. I tell you there is something wrong.
We don't do enough for the people that slave and toil for us. We
should take better care of them, we should not herd them together
like cattle, and when we get rich, we should carry them along with
us, and give them a part of our gains, for without them we would
be as poor as they are."
"Good, Harry I'm with you there," said voice behind him, and
looking around, we saw Mr. Wood standing in the doorway, gazing
down proudly at his step-son.
Mr. Harry smiled, and getting up, said, "Won't you have my chair,
"No, thank you; your mother wishes us to come to tea. There are
muffins, and you know they won't improve with keeping."
They all went to the dining-room, and I followed them. On the
way, Mr. Wood said, "Right on top of that talk of yours, Harry, I've
got to tell you of another person who is going to Boston to live."
"Who is it?" said Mr. Harry.
"Lazy Dan Wilson. I've been to see him this afternoon. You know
his wife is sick, and they're half starved. He says he is going to the
city, for he hates to chop wood and work, and he thinks maybe
he'll get some light job there."
Mr. Harry looked grave, and Mr. Maxwell said, "He will starve,
that's what he will do."
"Precisely," said Mr. Wood, spreading out his hard, brown hands,
as he sat down at the table. "I don't know why it is, but the present
generation has a marvelous way of skimming around any kind of
work with their hands. They'll work their brains till they haven't
got any more backbone than a caterpillar, but as for manual labor,
it's old-timey and out of fashion. I wonder how these farms would
ever have been carved out of the backwoods, if the old Puritans
had sat down on the rocks with their noses in a lot of books, and
tried to figure out just how little work they could do, and yet
"Now, father," said Mrs. Wood, "you are trying to insinuate that
the present generation is lazy, and I'm sure it isn't. Look at Harry.
He works as hard as you do."
"Isn't that like a woman?" said Mr. Wood, with a good-natured
laugh. "The present generation consists of her son, and the past of
her husband. I don't think all our young people are lazy, Hattie; but
how in creation, unless the Lord rains down a few farmers, are we
going to support all our young lawyers and doctors? They say the
world is getting healthier and better, but we've got to fight a little
more, and raise some more criminals, and we've got to take to
eating pies and doughnuts for breakfast again, or some of our
young sprouts from the colleges will go a begging."
"You don't mean to undervalue the advantages of a good
education, do you, Mr. Wood?" said Mr. Maxwell.
"No, no; look at Harry there. Isn't he pegging away at his studies
with my hearty approval? and he's going to be nothing but a plain,
common farmer. But he'll be a better one than I've been though,
because he's got a trained mind. I found that out when he was a lad
going to the village school. He'd lay out his little garden by
geometry, and dig his ditches by algebra. Education's a help to any
man. What I am trying to get at is this, that in some way or other
we're running more to brains and less to hard work than our
Mr. Wood was beating on the table with his forefinger while he
talked, and every one was laughing at him. "When you've quite
finished speechifying, John," said Mrs. Wood, "perhaps you'll
serve the berries and pass the cream and sugar Do you get yellow
cream like this in the village, Mr. Maxwell?"
"No, Mrs. Wood," he said; "ours is a much paler yellow," and then
there was a great tinkling of china, and passing of dishes, and
talking and laughing, and no one noticed that I was not in my usual
place in the hall. I could not get over my dread of the green
creature, and I had crept under the table, so that if it came out and
frightened Miss Laura, I could jump up and catch it.
When tea was half over, she gave a little cry. I sprang up on her
lap, and there, gliding over the table toward her, was the
wicked-looking green thing. I stepped on the table, and had it by
the middle before it could get to her. My hind legs were in a dish
of jelly, and my front ones were in a plate of cake, and I was very
uncomfortable. The tail of the green thing hung in a milk pitcher,
and its tongue was still going at me, but I held it firmly and stood
"Drop it, drop it!" cried Miss Laura, in tones of distress, and Mr.
Maxwell struck me on the back, so I let the thing go, and stood
sheepishly looking about me. Mr. Wood was leaning back in his
chair, laughing with all his might, and Mrs. Wood was staring at
her untidy table with rather a long face. Miss Laura told me to
jump on the floor, and then she helped her aunt to take the spoiled
things off the table.
I felt that I had done wrong, so I slunk out into the hall. Mr.
Maxwell was sitting on the lounge, tearing his handkerchief in
strips and tying them around the creature where my teeth had stuck
in. I had been careful not to hurt it much, for I knew it was a pet of
his; but he did not know that, and scowled at me, saying: "You
rascal; you've hurt my poor snake terribly."
I felt so badly to hear this that I went and stood with my head in a
corner. I had almost rather be whipped than scolded. After a while,
Mr. Maxwell went back into the room, and they all went on with
their tea. I could hear Mr. Wood's loud, cheery voice, "The dog did
quite right. A snake is mostly a poisonous creature, and his instinct
told him to protect his mistress. Where is he? Joe, Joe!"
I would not move till Miss Laura came and spoke to me. "Dear old
dog," she whispered, "you knew the snake was there all the time,
didn't you?" Her words made me feel better, and I followed her to
the dining room, where Mr. Wood made me sit beside him and eat
scraps from his hand all through the meal.
Mr. Maxwell had got over his ill humor, and was chatting in a
lively way. "Good Joe," he said, "I was cross to you, and I beg your
pardon It always riles me to have any of my pets injured. You
didn't know my poor snake was only after something to eat. Mrs.
Wood has pinned him in my pocket so he won't come out again.
Do you know where I got that snake, Mrs. Wood?"
"No," she said; "you never told me."
"It was across the river by Blue Ridge," he said. "One day last
summer I was out rowing, and, getting very hot, tied my boat in the
shade of a big tree. Some village boys were in the woods, and,
hearing a great noise, I went to see what it was all about. They
were Band of Mercy boys, and finding a country boy beating a
snake to death, they were remonstrating with him for his cruelty,
telling him that some kinds of snakes were a help to the farmer,
and destroyed large numbers of field mice and other vermin. The
boy was obstinate. He had found the snake, and he insisted upon
his right to kill it, and they were having rather a lively time when I
appeared. I persuaded them to make the snake over to me.
Apparently it was already dead. Thinking it might revive, I put it
on some grass in the bow of the boat. It lay there motionless for a
long time, and I picked up my oars and started for home. I had got
half way across the river, when I turned around and saw that the
snake was gone. It had just dropped into the water, and was
swimming toward the bank we had left. I turned and followed it.
"It swam slowly and with evident pain, lifting its head every few
seconds high above the water, to see which way it was going. On
reaching the bank it coiled itself up, throwing up blood and water.
I took it up carefully, carried it home, and nursed it. It soon got
better, and has been a pet of mine ever since."
After tea was over, and Mrs. Wood and Miss Laura had helped
Adele finish the work, they all gathered in the parlor. The day had
been quite warm, but now a cool wind had sprung up, and Mr.
Wood said that it was blowing up rain.
Mrs. Wood said that she thought a fire would be pleasant; so they
lighted the sticks of wood in the open grate, and all sat round the
Mr. Maxwell tried to get me to make friends with the little snake
that he held in his hands toward the blaze, and now that I knew
that it was harmless I was not afraid of it; but it did not like me,
and put out its funny little tongue whenever I looked at it.
By-and-by the rain began to strike against the windows, and Mr.
Maxwell said, "This is just the night for a story. Tell us something
out of your experience, won't you, Mr. Wood?"
"What shall I tell you?" he said, good-humoredly. He was sitting
between his wife and Mr. Harry, and had his hand on Mr. Harry's
"Something about animals," said Mr. Maxwell. "We seem to be on
that subject to-day."
"Well," said Mr. Wood, "I'll talk about something that has been
running in my head for many a day. There is a good deal of talk
nowadays about kindness to domestic animals; but I do not hear
much about kindness to wild ones. The same Creator formed them
both. I do not see why you should not protect one as well as the
other. I have no more right to torture a bear than a cow. Our wild
animals around here are getting pretty well killed off, but there are
lots in other places. I used to be fond of hunting when I was a boy;
but I have got rather disgusted with killing these late years, and
unless the wild creatures ran in our streets, I would lift no hand to
them. Shall I tell you some of the sport we had when I was
"Yes, yes!" they all exclaimed.
CHAPTER XXIII TRAPPING WILD ANIMALS
"WELL Mr. Wood began: "I was brought up, as you all know, in
the eastern part of Maine, and we often used to go over into New
Brunswick for our sport. Moose were our best game. Did you ever
see one, Laura?"
"No, uncle," she said.
"Well, when I was a boy there was no more beautiful sight to me
in the world than a moose with his dusky hide, and long legs, and
branching antlers, and shoulders standing higher than a horse's.
Their legs are so long that they can't eat close to the ground. They
browse on the tops of plants, and the tender shoots and leaves of
trees. They walk among the thick underbrush, carrying their horns
adroitly to prevent their catching in the branches, and they step so
well, and aim so true, that you'll scarcely hear a twig fall as they
"They're a timid creature except at times. Then they'll attack with
hoofs and antlers whatever comes in their way. They hate
mosquitoes, and when they're tormented by them it's just as well to
be careful about approaching them. Like all other creatures, the
Lord has put into them a wonderful amount of sense, and when a
female moose has her one or two fawns she goes into the deepest
part of the forest, or swims to islands in large lakes, till they are
able to look out for themselves.
"Well, we used to like to catch a moose, and we had different ways
of doing it. One way was to snare them. We'd make a loop in a
rope and hide it on the ground under the dead leaves in one of their
paths. This was connected with a young sapling whose top was
bent down. When the moose stepped on the loop it would release
the sapling, and up it would bound, catching him by the leg. These
snares were always set deep in the woods, and we couldn't visit
them very often; Sometimes the moose would be there for days,
raging and tearing around, and scratching the skin off his legs.
That was cruel. I wouldn't catch a moose in that way now for a
"Another way was to hunt them on snow shoes with dogs. In
February and March the snow was deep, and would carry men and
dogs. Moose don't go together in herds. In the summer they wander
about over the forest, and in the autumn they come together in
small groups, and select a hundred or two of acres where there is
plenty of heavy undergrowth, and to which they usually confine
themselves. They do this so that their tracks won't tell their
enemies where they are.
"Any of these places where there were several moose we called a
moose yard. We went through the woods till we got on to the
tracks of some of the animals belonging to it, then the dogs
smelled them and went ahead to start them. If I shut my eyes now I
can see one of our moose hunts. The moose running and plunging
through the snow crust, and occasionally rising up and striking at
the dogs that hang on to his bleeding flanks and legs. The hunters'
rifles going crack, crack, crack, sometimes killing or wounding
dogs as well as moose. That, too, was cruel.
"Two other ways we had of hunting moose: Calling and stalking.
The calling was done in this way: We took a bit of birch bark and
rolled it up in the shape of a horn. We took this horn and started
out, either on a bright moonlight night, or just at evening, or early
in the morning. The man who carried the horn hid himself, and
then began to make a lowing sound like a female moose. He had to
do it pretty well to deceive them. Away in the distance some
moose would hear it, and with answering grunts would start off to
come to it. If a young male moose was coming, he'd mind his
steps, I can assure you, on account of fear of the old ones; but if it
was an old fellow, you'd hear him stepping out bravely and rapping
his horns against the trees, and plunging into any water that came
in his way. When he got pretty near, he'd stop to listen, and then
the caller had to be very careful and put his trumpet down close to
the ground, so as to make a lower sound. If the moose felt doubtful
he'd turn; if not, he'd come on, and unlucky for him if he did, for
he got a warm reception, either from the rifles in our hands as we
lay hid near the caller, or from some of the party stationed at a
"In stalking, we crept on them the way a cat creeps on a mouse. In
the daytime a moose is usually lying down. We'd find their tracks
and places where they'd been nipping off the ends of branches and
twigs, and follow them up. They easily take the scent of men, and
we'd have to keep well to the leeward. Sometimes we'd come upon
them lying down, but, if in walking along, we'd broken a twig, or
made the slightest noise, they'd think it was one of their mortal
enemies, a bear creeping on them, and they'd be up and away.
Their sense of hearing is very keen, but they're not so quick to see.
A fox is like that, too. His eyes aren't equal to his nose.
"Stalking is the most merciful way to kill moose. Then they haven't
the fright and suffering of the chase."
"I don't see why they need to be killed at all," said Mrs. Wood. "If I
knew that forest back of the mountains was full of wild creatures, I
think I'd be glad of it, and not want to hunt them, that is, if they
were harmless and beautiful creatures like the deer."
"You're a woman," said Mr. Wood, "and women are more merciful
than men. Men want to kill and slay. They're like the Englishman,
who said 'What a fine day it is; let's go out and kill something.'"
"Please tell us some more about the dogs that helped you catch the
moose, uncle," said Miss Laura. I was sitting up very straight
beside her listening to every word Mr. Wood said, and she was
fondling my head.
"Well, Laura, when we camped out on the snow and slept on
spruce boughs while we were after the moose, the dogs used to be
a great comfort to us. They slept at our feet and kept us warm.
Poor brutes, they mostly had a rough time of it. They enjoyed the
running and chasing as much as we did, but when it came to
broken ribs and sore heads, it was another matter. Then the
porcupines bothered them. Our dogs would never learn to let them
alone. If they were going through the woods where there were no
signs of moose and found a porcupine, they'd kill it. The quills
would get in their mouths and necks and chests, and we'd have to
gag them and take bullet molds or nippers, or whatever we had,
sometimes our jack-knives, and pull out the nasty things. If we got
hold of the dogs at once, we could pull out the quills with our
fingers. Sometimes the quills worked in, and the dogs would go
home and lie by the fire with running sores till they worked out.
I've seen quills work right through dogs. Go in on one side and
come out on the other."
"Poor brutes," said Mrs. Wood. "I wonder you took them."
"We once lost a valuable hound while moose hunting," said Mr.
Wood. "The moose struck him with his hoof and the dog was
terribly injured. He lay in the woods for days, till a neighbor of
ours, who was looking for timber, found him and brought him
home on his shoulders. Wasn't there rejoicing among us boys to
see old Lion coming back. We took care of him and he got well
"It was good sport to see the dogs when we were hunting a bear
with them. Bears are good runners, and when dogs get after them,
there is great skirmishing. They nip the bear behind, and when
they turn, the dogs run like mad, for a hug from a bear means sure
death to a dog. If they got a slap from his paws, over they'd go.
Dogs new to the business were often killed by the bears."
"Were there many bears near your home, Mr. Wood?" asked Mr.
"Lots of them. More than we wanted. They used to bother us
fearfully about our sheep and cattle. I've often had to get up in the
night, and run out to the cattle. The bears would come out of the
woods, and jump on to the young heifers and cows, and strike
them and beat them down, and the cattle would roar as if the evil
one had them. If the cattle were too far away from the house for us
to hear them, the bears would worry them till they were dead.
"As for the sheep, they never made any resistance. They'd meekly
run in a corner when they saw a bear coming, and huddle together,
and he'd strike at them, and scratch them with his claws, and
perhaps wound a dozen before he got one firmly. Then he'd seize it
in his paws, and walk off on his hind legs over fences and anything
else that came in his way, till he came to a nice, retired spot, and
there he'd sit down and skin that sheep just like a butcher. He'd
gorge himself with the meat, and in the morning we'd find the
other sheep that he'd torn, and we'd vow vengeance against that
bear. He'd be almost sure to come back for more, so for a while
after that we always put the sheep in the barn at nights and set a
trap by the remains of the one he had eaten.
"Everybody hated bears, and hadn't much pity for them; still they
were only getting their meat as other wild animals do, and we'd no
right to set such cruel traps for them as the steel ones. They had a
clog attached to them, and had long, sharp teeth. We put them on
the ground and strewed leaves over them, and hung up some of the
carcass left by the bear near by. When he attempted to get this
meat, he would tread on the trap, and the teeth would spring
together, and catch him by the leg. They always fought to get free.
I once saw a bear that had been making a desperate effort to get
away. His leg was broken, the skin and flesh were all torn away,
and he was held by the tendons. It was a foreleg that was caught,
and he would put his hind feet against the jaws of the trap, and
then draw by pressing with his feet, till he would stretch those
tendons to their utmost extent.
"I have known them to work away till they really pulled these
tendons out of the foot, and got off. It was a great event in our
neighborhood when a bear was caught. Whoever caught him blew
a horn, and the men and boys came trooping together to see the
sight. I've known them to blow that horn on a Sunday morning, and
I've seen the men turn their backs on the meeting house to go and
see the bear."
"Was there no more merciful way of catching them than by this
trap?" asked Miss Laura.
"Oh, yes, by the deadfall that is by driving heavy sticks into the
ground, and making a boxlike place, open on one side, where two
logs were so arranged with other heavy logs upon them, that when
the bear seized the bait, the upper log fell down and crushed him
to death. Another way was to fix a bait in a certain place, with
cords tied to it, which cords were fastened to triggers of guns
placed at a little distance. When the bear took the bait, the guns
went off, and he shot himself.
"Sometimes it took a good many bullets to kill them. I remember
one old fellow that we put eleven into, before he keeled over. It
was one fall, over on Pike's Hill. The snow had come earlier than
usual, and this old bear hadn't got into his den for his winter's
sleep. A lot of us started out after him. The hill was covered with
beech trees, and he'd been living all the fall on the nuts, till he'd
got as fat as butter. We took dogs and worried him, and ran him
from one place to another, and shot at him, till at last he dropped.
We took his meat home, and had his skin tanned for a sleigh robe.
"One day I was in the woods, and looking through the trees espied
a bear. He was standing up on his hind legs, snuffing in every
direction, and just about the time I espied him, he espied me. I had
no dog and no gun, so I thought I had better be getting home to my
dinner. I was a small boy then, and the bear, probably thinking I'd
be a mouthful for him anyway, began to come after me in a
leisurely way. I can see myself now going through those woods hat
gone, jacket flying, arms out, eyes rolling over my shoulder every
little while to see if the bear was gaining on me. He was a
benevolent-looking old fellow, and his face seemed to say, 'Don't
hurry, little boy.' He wasn't doing his prettiest, and I soon got away
from him, but I made up my mind then, that it was more fun to be
the chaser than the chased.
"Another time I was out in our cornfield, and hearing a rustling,
looked through the stalks, and saw a brown bear with two cubs.
She was slashing down the corn with her paws to get at the ears.
She smelled me, and getting frightened. began to run. I had a dog
with me this time, and shouted and rapped on the fence, and set
him on her. He jumped up and snapped at her flanks, and every
few instants she'd turn and give him a cuff, that would send him
yards away. I followed her up, and just back of the farm she and
her cubs took into a tree. I sent my dog home, and my father and
some of the neighbors came. It had gotten dark by this time, so we
built a fire under the tree, and watched all night, and told stories to
keep each other awake. Toward morning we got sleepy, and the
fire burnt low, and didn't that old bear and one cub drop right
down among us and start off to the woods. That waked us up. We
built up the fire and kept watch, so that the one cub, still in the
tree, couldn't get away. Until daylight the mother bear hung
around, calling to the cub to come down."
"Did you let it go, uncle?" asked Miss Laura.
"No, my dear, we shot it."
"How cruel!" cried Mrs. Wood.
"Yes, weren't we brutes?" said her husband; "but there was some
excuse for us, Hattie. The bears ruined our farms. This kind of
hunting that hunts and kills for the mere sake of slaughter is very
different from that. I'll tell you what I've no patience with, and
that's with these English folks that dress themselves up, and take
fine horses and packs of dogs, and tear over the country after one
little fox or rabbit. Bah, it's contemptible. Now if they were
hunting cruel, man-eating tigers or animals that destroy property, it
would be different thing."
CHAPTER XXIV THE RABBIT AND THE HEN
"YOU had foxes up in Maine, I suppose Mr. Wood, hadn't you?"
asked Mr. Maxwell.
"Heaps of them. I always want to laugh when I think of our foxes,
for they were so cute. Never a fox did I catch in a trap, though I'd
set many a one. I'd take the carcass of some creature that had died,
a sheep, for instance, and put it in a field near the woods, and the
foxes would come and eat it. After they got accustomed to come
and eat and no harm befell them, they would be unsuspecting. So
just before a snowstorm, I'd take a trap and put it this spot. I'd
handle it with gloves, and I'd smoke it, and rub fir boughs on it to
take away the human smell, and then the snow would come and
cover it up, and yet those foxes would know it was a trap and walk
all around it. It's a wonderful thing, that sense of smell in animals,
if it is a sense of smell. Joe here has got a good bit of it."
"What kind of traps were they, father?" asked Mr. Harry.
"Cruel ones steel ones. They'd catch an animal by the leg and
sometimes break the bone. The leg would bleed, and below the
jaws of the trap it would freeze, there being no circulation of the
blood. Those steel traps are an abomination. The people around
here use one made on the same principle for catching rats. I
wouldn't have them on my place for any money. I believe we've got
to give an account for all the unnecessary suffering we put on
"You'll have some to answer for, John, according to your own
story," said Mrs. Wood.
"I have suffered already," he said. "Many a night I've lain on my
bed and groaned, when I thought of needless cruelties I'd put upon
animals when I was a young, unthinking boy and I was pretty
carefully brought up, too, according to our light in those days. I
often think that if I was cruel, with all the instruction I had to be
merciful, what can be expected of the children that get no good
teaching at all when they're young."
"Tell us some more about the foxes, Mr. Wood," said Mr.
"Well, we used to have rare sport hunting them with fox-hounds.
I'd often go off for the day with my hounds. Sometimes in the early
morning they'd find a track in the snow. The leader for scent would
go back and forth, to find out which way the fox was going. I can
see him now. All the time that he ran, now one way and now
another on the track of the fox, he was silent, but kept his tail aloft,
wagging it as a signal to the hounds behind. He was leader in
scent, but he did not like bloody, dangerous fights. By-and-by, he
would decide which way the fox had gone. Then his tail, still kept
high in the air, would wag more violently. The rest followed him
in single file, going pretty slow, so as to enable us to keep up to
them. By-and-by, they would come to a place where the fox was
sleeping for the day. As soon as he was disturbed he would leave
his bed under some thick fir or spruce branches near the ground.
This flung his fresh scent into the air. As soon as the hounds
sniffed it, they gave tongue in good earnest. It was a mixed, deep
baying, that made the blood quicken in my veins. While in the
excitement of first fright, the fox would run fast for a mile or two,
till he found it an easy matter to keep out of the way of the hounds.
Then he, cunning creature, would begin to bother them. He would
mount to the top pole of the worm fence dividing the fields from
the woods. He could trot along here quite a distance and then make
a long jump into the woods. The hounds would come up, but could
not walk the fence, and they would have difficulty in finding
where the fox had left it. Then we saw generalship. The hounds
scattered in all directions, and made long detours into the woods
and fields. As soon as the track was lost, they ceased to bay, but
the instant a hound found it again, he bayed to give the signal to
the others. All would hurry to the spot, and off they would go
baying as they went.
"Then Mr. Fox would try a new trick. He would climb a leaning
tree, and then jump to the ground. This trick would soon be found
out. Then he'd try another. He would make a circle of a quarter of
a mile in circumference. By making a loop in his course, he would
come in behind the hounds, and puzzle them between the scent of
his first and following tracks. If the snow was deep, the hounds
had made a good track for him. Over this he could run easily, and
they would have to feel their way along, for after he had gone
around the circle a few times, he would jump from the beaten path
as far as he could, and make off to other cover in a straight line.
Before this was done it was my plan to get near the circle; taking
care to approach it on the leeward side. If the fox got a sniff of
human scent, he would leave his circle very quickly, and make
tracks fast to be out of danger. By the baying of the hounds, the
circle in which the race was kept up could be easily known. The
last runs to get near enough to shoot had to be done when the
hounds' baying came from the side of the circle nearest to me. For
then the fox would be on the opposite side farthest away. As soon
as I got near enough to see the hounds when they passed, I stopped.
When they got on the opposite side, I then kept a bright lookout for
the fox. Sometimes when the brush was thick, the sight of him
would be indistinct. The shooting had to be quick. As soon as the
report of the gun was heard, the hounds ceased to bay, and made
for the spot. If the fox was dead, they enjoyed the scent of his
blood. If only wounded, they went after him with all speed.
Sometimes he was overtaken and killed, and sometimes he got into
his burrow in the earth, or in a hollow log, or among the rocks.
"One day, I remember, when I was standing on the outside of the
circle, the fox came in sight. I fired. He gave a shrill bark, and
came toward me. Then he stopped in the snow and fell dead in his
tracks. I was a pretty good shot in those days."
"Poor little fox," said Miss Laura. "I wish you had let him get
"Here's one that nearly got away," said Mr. Wood. "One winter's
day, I was chasing him with the hounds. There was a crust on the
snow, and the fox was light, while the dogs were heavy. They ran
along, the fox trotting nimbly on the top of the crust and the dogs
breaking through, and every few minutes that fox would stop and
sit down to look at the dogs. They were in a fury, and the
wickedness of the fox in teasing them, made me laugh so much
that I was very unwilling to shoot him."
"You said your steel traps were cruel things, uncle," said Miss
Laura. "Why didn't you have a deadfall for the foxes as you had for
"They were too cunning to go into deadfalls. There was a better
way to catch them, though. Foxes hate water, and never go into it
unless they are obliged to, so we used to find a place where a tree
had fallen across a river, and made a bridge for them to go back
and forth on. Here we set snares, with spring poles that would
throw them into the river when they made struggles to get free, and
drown them. Did you ever hear of the fox, Laura, that wanted to
cross a river, and lay down on the bank pretending that he was
dead, and a countryman came along, and, thinking he had a prize,
threw him in his boat and rowed across, when the fox got up and
"Now, uncle," said Miss Laura, "you're laughing at me. That
couldn't be true."
"No, no," said Mr. Wood, chuckling; "but they're mighty cute at
pretending they're dead. I once shot one in the morning, carried
him a long way on my shoulders, and started to skin him in the
afternoon, when he turned around and bit me enough to draw
blood. At another time I dug one out of a hole in the ground. He
feigned death. I took him up and threw him down at some
distance, and he jumped up and ran into the woods."
"What other animals did you catch when you were a boy?" asked
"Oh, a number. Otters and beavers we caught them in deadfalls
and in steel traps. The mink we usually took in deadfalls, smaller,
of course, than the ones we used for the bears. The musk-rat we
caught in box traps like a mouse trap. The wild-cat we ran down
like the loup cervier "
"What kind of an animal is that?" asked Mr. Maxwell.
"It is a lynx, belonging to the cat species. They used to prowl about
the country killing hens, geese, and sometimes sheep. They'd fix
their tusks in the sheep's neck and suck the blood. They did not
think much of the sheep's flesh. We ran them down with dogs.
They'd often run up trees, and we'd shoot them. Then there were
rabbits that we caught, mostly in snares. For musk-rats, we'd put a
parsnip or an apple on the spindle of a box trap. When we snared a
rabbit, I always wanted to find it caught around the neck and
strangled to death. If they got half through the snare and were
caught around the body, or by the hind legs, they'd live for some
time, and they'd cry just like a child. I like shooting them better,
just because I hated to hear their pitiful cries. It's a bad business
this of killing dumb creatures, and the older I get, the more
chicken-hearted I am about it."
"Chicken-hearted I should think you are," said Mrs. Wood. "Do
you know, Laura, he won't even kill a fowl for dinner. He gives it
to one of the men to do."
"'Blessed are the merciful,'" said Miss Laura, throwing her arm
over her uncle's shoulder. "I love you, dear Uncle John, because
you are so kind to every living thing."
"I'm going to be kind to you now," said her uncle, "and send you to
bed. You look tired."
"Very well," she said, with a smile. Then bidding them all
good-night, she went upstairs. Mr. Wood turned to Mr. Maxwell.
"You're going to stay all night with us, aren't you?"
"So Mrs. Wood says," replied the young man, with a smile.
"Of course," she said. "I couldn't think of letting you go back to the
village such a night as this. It's raining cats and dogs but I mustn't
say that, or there'll be no getting you to stay. I'll go and prepare
your old room next to Harry's." And she bustled away.
The two young men went to the pantry for doughnuts and milk,
and Mr. Wood stood gazing down at me. "Good dog," he said;
"you look as if you sensed that talk to-night. Come, get a bone, and
then away to bed."
He gave me a very large mutton bone, and I held it in my mouth,
and watched him opening the woodshed door. I love human
beings; and the saddest time of day for me is when I have to be
separated from them while they sleep.
"Now, go to bed and rest well, Beautiful Joe," said Mr. Wood,
"and if you hear any stranger round the house, run out and bark.
Don't be chasing wild animals in your sleep, though. They say a
dog is the only animal that dreams. I wonder whether it's true?"
Then he went into the house and shut the door.
I had a sheepskin to lie on, and a very good bed it made. I slept
soundly for a long time; then I waked up and found that, instead of
rain pattering against the roof, and darkness everywhere, it was
quite light. The rain was over, and the moon was shining
beautifully. I ran to the door and looked out. It was almost as light
as day. The moon made it very bright all around the house and
farm buildings, and I could look all about and see that there was no
one stirring. I took a turn around the yard, and walked around to
the side of the house, to glance up at Miss Laura's window. I
always did this several times through the night, just to see if she
was quite safe. I was on my way back to my bed, when I saw two
small, white things moving away down the lane. I stood on the
veranda and watched them. When they got nearer, I saw that there
was a white rabbit hopping up the road, followed by a white hen.
It seemed to me a very strange thing for these creatures to be out
this time of night, and why were they coming to Dingley Farm?
This wasn't their home. I ran down on the road and stood in front
Just as soon as the hen saw me, she fluttered in front of the rabbit,
and, spreading out her wings, clucked angrily, and acted as if she
would peck my eyes out if I came nearer.
I saw that they were harmless creatures, and, remembering my
adventure with the snake, I stepped aside. Besides that, I knew by
their smell that they had been near Mr. Maxwell, so perhaps they
were after him.
They understood quite well that I would not hurt them, and passed
by me. The rabbit went ahead again and the hen fell behind. It
seemed to me that the hen was sleepy, and didn't like to be out so
late at night, and was only following the rabbit because she
thought it was her duty.
He was going along in a very queer fashion, putting his nose to the
ground, and rising up on his hind legs, and sniffing the air, first on
this side and then on the other, and his nose going, going all the
He smelled all around the house till he came to Mr. Maxwell's
room at the back. It opened on the veranda by a glass door, and the
door stood ajar. The rabbit squeezed himself in, and the hen stayed
out. She watched for a while, and when he didn't come back, she
flew upon the back of a chair that stood near the door, and put her
head under her wing.
I went back to my bed, for I knew they would do no harm. Early in
the morning, when I was walking around the house, I heard a great
shouting and laughing from Mr. Maxwell's room. He and Mr.
Harry had just discovered the hen and the rabbit; and Mr. Harry
was calling his mother to come and look at them. The rabbit had
slept on the foot of the bed.
Mr. Harry was chaffing Mr. Maxwell very much, and was telling
him that any one who entertained him was in for a traveling
menagerie. They had a great deal of fun over it, and Mr. Maxwell
said that he had had that pretty, white hen as a pet for a long time
in Boston. Once when she had some little chickens, a frightened
rabbit, that was being chased by a dog, ran into the yard. In his
terror he got right under the hen's wings, and she sheltered him,
and pecked at the dog's eyes, and kept him off till help came. The
rabbit belonged to a neighbor's boy, and Mr. Maxwell bought it
from him. From the day the hen protected him, she became his
friend, and followed him everywhere.
I did not wonder that the rabbit wanted to see his master. There
was something about that young man that made dumb animals just
delight in him. When Mrs. Wood mentioned this to him be said, "I
don't know why they should I don't do anything to fascinate them."
"You love them," she said, "and they know it. That is the reason."
CHAPTER XXV A HAPPY HORSE
FOR a good while after I went to Dingley Farm I was very shy of
the horses, for I was afraid they might kick me, thinking that I was
a bad dog like Bruno. However, they all had such good faces, and
looked at me so kindly, that I was beginning to get over my fear of
Fleetfoot, Mr. Harry's colt, was my favorite, and one afternoon,
when Mr. Harry and Miss Laura were going out to see him, I
followed them. Fleetfoot was amusing himself by rolling over and
over on the grass under a tree, but when he saw Mr. Harry, he gave
a shrill whinny, and running to him, began nosing about his
"Wait a bit," said Mr. Harry, holding him by the forelock. "Let me
introduce you to this young lady, Miss Laura Morris. I want you to
make her a bow." He gave the colt some sign, and immediately he
began to paw the ground and shake his head.
Mr. Harry laughed and went on: "Here is her dog Joe. I want you to
like him, too. Come here, Joe." I was not at all afraid, for I knew
Mr. Harry would not let him hurt me, so I stood in front of him,
and for the first time had a good look at him. They called him the
colt, but he was really a full-grown horse, and had already been put
to work. He was of a dark chestnut color, and had a well-shaped
body and a long, handsome head, and I never saw, in the head of a
man or beast, a more beautiful pair of eyes than that colt had large,
full, brown eyes they were that he turned on me almost as a person
would. He looked me all over as if to say: "Are you a good dog,
and will you treat me kindly, or are you a bad one like Bruno, and
will you chase me and snap at my heels and worry me, so that I
shall want to kick you?"
I looked at him very earnestly and wagged my body, and lifted
myself on my hind legs toward him. He seemed pleased and put
down his nose to sniff at me, and then we were friends. Friends,
and such good friends, for next to Jim and Billy, I have loved
Mr. Harry pulled some lumps of sugar out of his pocket, and
giving them to Miss Laura, told her to put them on the palm of her
hand and hold it out flat toward Fleetfoot. The colt ate the sugar,
and all the time eyed her with his quiet, observing glance, that
made her exclaim: "What wise-looking colt!"
"He is like an old horse," said Mr. Harry, "When he hears a sudden
noise, he stops and looks all about him to find an explanation."
"He has been well trained," said Miss Laura.
"I have brought him up carefully," said Mr. Harry. "Really, he has
been treated more like a dog than a colt. He follows me about the
farm and smells everything I handle, and seems to want to know
the reason of things."
"Your mother says," replied Miss Laura, "that she found you both
asleep on the lawn one day last summer, and the colt's head was on
Mr. Harry smiled and threw his arm over the colt's neck. "We've
been comrades, haven't we, Fleetfoot? I've been almost ashamed of
his devotion. He has followed me to the village, and he always
wants to go fishing with me. He's four years old now, so he ought
to get over those coltish ways. I've driven him a good deal. We're
going out in the buggy this afternoon, will you come?"
"Where are you going?" asked Miss Laura.
"Just for a short drive back of the river, to collect some money for
father. I'll be home long before tea time."
"Yes, I should like to go," said Miss Laura "I shall go to the house
and get my other hat."
"Come on, Fleetfoot," said Mr. Harry. And he led the way from the
pasture, the colt following behind with me. I waited about the
veranda, and in a short time Mr. Harry drove up to the front door.
The buggy was black and shining, and Fleetfoot had on a
silver-mounted harness that made him look very fine. He stood
gently switching his long tail to keep the flies away, and with his
head turned to see who was going to get into the buggy. I stood by
him, and as soon as he saw that Miss Laura and Mr. Harry had
seated themselves, he acted as if he wanted to be off. Mr. Harry
spoke to him and away he went, I racing down the lane by his side,
so happy to think he was my friend. He liked having me beside
him, and every few seconds put down his head toward me.
Animals can tell each other things without saying a word. When
Fleetfoot gave his head a little toss in a certain way, I knew that he
wanted to have a race. He had a beautiful even gait, and went very
swiftly. Mr. Harry kept speaking to him to check him.
"You don't like him to go too fast, do you?" said Miss Laura.
"No," he returned. "I think we could make a racer of him if we
liked, but father and I don't go in for fast horses. There is too much
said about fast trotters and race horses. On some of the farms
around here, the people have gone mad on breeding fast horses. An
old farmer out in the country had a common cart-horse that he
suddenly found out had great powers of speed and endurance. He
sold him to a speculator for a big price, and it has set everybody
wild. If the people who give all their time to it can't raise fast
horses I don't see how the farmers can. A fast horse on a farm is
ruination to the boys, for it starts them racing and betting. Father
says he is going to offer a prize for the fastest walker that can be
bred in New Hampshire. That Dutchman of ours, heavy as he is, is
a fair walker, and Cleve and Pacer can each walk four and a half
miles an hour."
"Why do you lay such stress on their walking fast?" asked Miss
"Because so much of the farm work must be done at a walk.
Ploughing, teaming, and drawing produce to market, and going up
and down hills. Even for the cities it is good to have fast walkers.
Trotting on city pavements is very hard on the dray horses. If they
are allowed to go at a quick walk, their legs will keep strong much
longer. It is shameful the way horses are used up in big cities. Our
pavements are so bad that cab horses are used up in three years. In
many ways we are a great deal better off in this new country than
the people in Europe, but we are not in respect of cab horses, for in
London and Paris they last for five years. I have seen horses drop
down dead in New York just from hard usage. Poor brutes, there is
a better time coming for them though. When electricity is more
fully developed we'll see some wonderful changes. As it is, last
year in different places, about thirty thousand horses were released
from those abominable horse cars, by having electricity introduced
on the roads. Well, Fleetfoot, do you want another spin? All right,
my boy, go ahead."
Away we went again along a bit of level road. Fleetfoot had no
check-rein on his beautiful neck, and when he trotted, he could
hold his head in an easy, natural position. With his wonderful eyes