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Title: Jack, the Fire Dog
Author: Wesselhoeft, Lily F.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Internet Archive)



JACK, THE FIRE DOG

[Illustration]



JACK, THE FIRE DOG


    BY
    LILY F. WESSELHOEFT
    AUTHOR OF “SPARROW THE TRAMP,” “JERRY THE BLUNDERER,”
    “DORIS AND HER DOG RODNEY,” ETC.


    _ILLUSTRATED BY_
    C. W. ASHLEY


    BOSTON
    LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY
    1927



    _Copyright, 1903_,

    BY LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY.

    _All rights reserved_


    PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA



ILLUSTRATIONS


  With a clatter of hoofs out they dashed, Jack
        bounding ahead                                   _Frontispiece_

  The young fireman bears the motionless form of
        the boy to the street                                _Page_ 10

  The sleigh stopped, and Sam and his grandpapa got out         “   50

  Sam was allowed to stay to lunch with Billy                   “  106

  His large, mild eyes had the sorrowful look that all
        dumb creatures have at leaving old friends              “  212

  He only looked at Sam very earnestly                          “  240



JACK THE FIRE-DOG



CHAPTER FIRST


ENGINE 33 was kept in a substantial brick building that stood on a
little hill in a pleasant part of the city. The brass shone so brightly
that you could see your face in it, and not a speck of dust or rust was
to be seen on any part of it, as it stood ready for use at a moment’s
notice. Directly over the shafts hung the harnesses, to be lowered down
upon the horses when they took their places in front of the engine; and
this was the work of an instant.

The floor was just as clean as the engine; and so were all parts of the
building. Three strong beautifully groomed gray horses stood in their
well-kept stalls, ready to dart out at the sound of the gong and fall
into their places before the engine.

Not a boy or girl in that part of the city but thought that Engine 33
was superior to all the other engines in the big city. She was always
the first at a fire, and she could throw a stream higher than any
of the others. One boy made a little verse on the subject, and his
companions thought it very beautiful, for it expressed their views
about Engine 33. This is the verse,—

    “Number Thirty-three
     Is fine as she can be.
     She’s never late
     And plays first-rate.”

Not only did the children think there was no other engine equal to
theirs, but so did Jack the Fire-Dog. Why, it was _his_ engine! Jack
lived in the engine-house and went to all the fires just as the horses
did. He never ventured far from the engine-house, but kept within
hearing of the gong that struck the alarm. How fast he raced back when
he heard that well-known sound, to be ready to start with the engine!
So eager was he to be on hand, that on one occasion when he could not
get the screen door at the head of the stairs open, he went _through_
it. Sometimes in winter Jack was harnessed to a little sled and carried
salt for the firemen to melt the snow on the hydrants, to keep them
clear in case of a fire.

Jack was a dog of no particular breed, spotted black and white like
a coach-dog, but larger and heavier in build. Those who knew Jack
did not care if he were not a well-bred dog, they loved him for his
intelligence and affectionate nature. The children in the neighborhood
were as proud of him as they were of the engine.

Our story opens on a cold evening in winter. The wind had been blowing
fiercely all day, catching up the light snow and scattering it wildly
about, until it was hard to tell whether it were snowing or not, so
full of snow was the sharp air. Toward the latter part of the afternoon
the wind began to go down, but as it grew less the air became colder,
and the mercury fell lower and lower, until it reached zero. It went
even lower than that, and at seven o’clock stood at eight below. A
dreadful night for our brave firemen to work in, but they never fail us.

Below, in the engine-house of Number 33, stands the engine ready for
duty, her shining brass reflecting a hundred-fold the lights that shine
on her. The horses are warm and comfortable in their stalls, and still,
except when one gives an occasional stamp or rubs against the side of
his stall. On the floor above, in their cosey, warm room, the firemen
are assembled. Some are reading, others talking together. One young man
is putting Jack through his tricks, of which he has a long list. He
has just told to what engine he belongs,—not in words, for Jack cannot
speak the human language. When he is asked what is his engine, and
the numbers of several are mentioned, he is silent until Number 33 is
called, then he gives a sharp bark.

This evening no sooner has he given his answer than the gong below
strikes, and in an instant men and dog are on their feet, and on the
way to the floor below. Jack rushes headlong down the long, steep
flight of stairs, while the firemen take a shorter cut by sliding down
the pole. In a very few seconds the horses have taken their places in
front of the engine, the harness is let down and fastened into place.
The fire is started under the boiler of the engine, the driver is in
his seat, the men in their places, and the three splendid grays dash
out of the engine-house, Jack circling about in front of them, almost
crazy with excitement, or running ahead to bark indignantly at any team
that happens to be in their path. Not long does he keep up his circling
and barking, for by the time they are at the foot of the hill the
horses have broken into a run, and Jack has all he can do to keep up
with them. He has worked off his excitement and is ready for business.

Such a stinging, cold night! The engine-wheels crunch the frozen snow
with a sharp, creaking sound, and the warning notes of the bugle ring
out loud and clear on the still air.

Sometimes an answering bark comes from the houses they pass, as the
engine dashes by. No dogs are out on such a night, but they all know
Jack and envy him his position as engine-dog. It is not always such fun
for Jack as they think it is, particularly on such a night as this.
However, Jack has a duty to perform as well as the firemen have, and he
does it just as fearlessly and nobly as they do.

The fire is at one of the extreme ends of the city, a small theatre
in a narrow street where tenement-houses and small shops are crowded
together regardless of regularity,—a court here and a narrow alley-way
there, but every square inch taken up with a building of some kind.
When our engine arrives, it is to find others that have not come from
such a distance hard at work, the deep throbs of the working engines
reaching far through the crisp air.

Engine 33 takes her stand, and while her men are attaching the hose
to the hydrant and preparing for action, Jack, as is his custom,
makes his rounds to see if all is going on as it should. He sees the
horses standing with their legs drawn closely together under them, as
they always do in cold weather, and well blanketed by the men who are
detailed for that purpose. Frozen pools and rivulets are standing on
the sidewalks and streets, and as the water comes out of the hose it is
turned to frozen spray. Jack’s thin coat of hair does not keep out the
cold very well, and he shivers as he steps over the icy ground. There
is no time to be wasted, however, and as soon as he is satisfied that
all is in working order, the Fire-Dog joins his own company. They are
ordered into a tenement-house that adjoins the burning theatre, and
from which smoke is thickly pouring.

The inhabitants of the tenement-house have thrown their bedding and
many other articles from the windows, or carried them down to the
street. Groups of people, lamenting and terrified, are huddled about
their property, hoping to save it. Scantily clothed in their sudden
exit, they shiver and moan in a manner pitiable to behold. Many
children are among the number, either in their mothers’ arms or huddled
together among their household goods, vainly trying to escape from the
biting air.

The men of Engine 33 are ordered to the roof of the tenement-house; and
in they rush, dragging the hose after them, plucky Jack keeping close
behind them. They have no easy task, for the narrow halls and stairways
are filled with smoke that blinds and suffocates them. It is slow work,
too, for they must stop occasionally to take breath at an open window.
Sometimes, too, one of them sinks to the floor, overpowered by the
thick smoke. On they go, however, dragging the long hose after them,
with valiant Jack always close behind them. At last the upper story is
reached, and the skylight through which they must reach the roof is
thrown open. Here, however, Jack stops, and running up to a closed door
sniffs for a moment, and then begins to whine and scratch.

It is only a kind of store-room, without windows or any opening to
admit the light, and is built under the stairway leading to the roof.
It seems impossible that any one could be there, but Jack’s whines and
scratching must mean something, and one of the men throws the door open.

Through the smoke and darkness nothing is seen at first; but in rushes
Jack, pounces upon something in one corner, tugging at it until he
succeeds in dragging it to the door. Then they see what it is,—a child;
and one of the men, the young man who put Jack through his tricks in
the engine-house, picks it up. Through the smoke and darkness they make
out that it is a boy, tall enough for a boy of seven, but how thin and
light! He is either in a stupor from the effects of the suffocating
smoke that filled the close room in which he was found, or else in a
faint. At all events, he lies motionless in the fireman’s arms.

It takes more time to write the event than it took for it to transpire.
The other men mount to the roof through the skylight, while the
man who picked up the boy forces his way through the blinding smoke
down to the street, closely followed by Jack. If it were not for the
responsibility for the boy he discovered, Jack would have followed the
men to the roof, for wherever they went he always followed.

The young fireman bears the motionless form of the boy to the street,
and singles out the group of tenants who had succeeded in escaping in
safety from the tenement-house.

“Which of you has left this child behind?” he sternly asks, looking at
the different family groups crowded together, vainly trying to keep
warm. “Whose is he?”

They are silent, and after waiting in vain for an answer he continues,—

“If you can’t answer, there are those who will know how to make you.
You can’t leave a child shut up like that in an out-of-the-way room
without being called to account.”

“Why, it’s the blind kid!” exclaims one of the men. “I forgot all about
him.”

[Illustration]

“People are not apt to forget their children at such a time,” replies
the fireman, looking about him at the children who are crowding around
their mothers. “This case shall be looked into.”

“He doesn’t belong to any of us,” replies the man.

“How came he to be shut up in that hole under the stairs, then?” asks
the fireman. “If it hadn’t been for the dog, he’d have been dead by
this time.”

“He followed some of the children home,” replies the man, “and has been
sleeping there for a few nights. I don’t know anything about him. I
forgot he was there, or I’d have looked out for him.”

The cold air seems to revive the child, for he stirs and moans.

“It’s the smoke,” says the fireman. “You are all right now, ain’t you,
young chap?”

“Yes,” replies the boy in a faint voice, but he makes no attempt to
rise to his feet.

“I’ll fix you up in good shape,” replies the fireman, carrying him
toward the engine. A wagon with blankets for the horses stands near
by, and a few are still left. One of these the fireman wraps about the
boy, and lays him on the floor of the wagon.

“Watch him, Jack!” he says to the Fire-Dog; and in an instant he is
back in the tenement-house to join his company on the roof and help
them fight the fire.

Faithful Jack cast a longing glance after the fireman’s retreating
figure, for it was the first time he had failed to follow at his heels;
then with a deep sigh he turned to the duty before him. With one bound
to the shaft of the wagon and another to the seat, he jumped down
beside the still form rolled up in the blanket.

Jack had heard the conversation between the fireman and the man from
the tenement-house, and he understood that this was a child without
friends or home, and with another sigh of disappointment he crept up
to the little figure that lay so still in the bottom of the wagon. The
blanket was drawn over the boy’s head, but Jack pushed his nose in to
see whether the little fellow were alive, he lay so quietly. He found
he was alive, though, for he started when Jack’s nose touched his face.
He felt very cold, and the Fire-Dog crept closer still and lay beside
him, hoping to add some warmth to the cold little figure.

For a time the two lay silently there, Jack keeping his intelligent
eyes open to everything that went on. He shivered with the cold, but
still kept his post. The horses stood with heads drooping and tails
hugged closely to them, and the deep, loud thuds of the working engines
stationed near the burning building seemed echoed by those at work
farther off. After a while the glare and showers of sparks ceased,
and dark volumes of smoke rose in their stead. Then the Fire-Dog knew
that the fire was out, and that Engine 33’s men would before long
be released. The engines still played upon the smouldering embers,
however, and it was some time before he was relieved.

They took the boy with them to the engine-house, for they knew that
the homeless tenants of the empty house could not take care of him,
even if they had been inclined. He could stay at the engine-house that
night, they decided, and in the morning they would hand him over to
the public charities. So he was wrapped up well and brought home in
the wagon, while Jack ran along by the side of the engine. Jack always
started out, as we have seen, bounding and circling in front of the
horses, but he came home sedately. The excitement was over, and he was
as tired as the men were.

They brought the boy into the engine-house and carried him up to the
warm room where we first made Jack’s acquaintance. He was placed in a
chair and the blanket taken off.

“Now let’s see what you look like,” said the fresh-faced young man who
had rescued him. “How are you now?”

“I’m all right,” replied the boy.

“Well, that’s hearty,” said the man.

He did not look hearty, though. His face was very pale and thin, and
he did not look about him as children do who have the use of their eyes.

“Can’t you see anything at all? Can you see me?” asked the young man.

“I can see a little mite of light if the lamps are lighted and if the
sun shines very bright,” replied the boy.

“I suppose you are hungry, aren’t you?”

“Not very,” replied the boy.

“When did you eat last? What did you have for supper?”

“I didn’t have any,” replied the boy.

“Well, what did you have for dinner, then?”

“I didn’t have any dinner, either.”

“Didn’t have any dinner, either?” repeated the young fireman. “When did
you eat last, for goodness’ sake?”

“Some of the children in the house brought me some of their breakfast.
They were very kind to me.”

“Well, that beats the Dutch!” exclaimed the young man. “You sit right
there till I come back!” and he rushed out of the room as speedily as
he answered the summons of the big gong below. In a short time he was
back with his arms full of packages which he proceeded to open hastily.
In one were sandwiches of thick rolls with pieces of ham in between,
in another a loaf of bread, some butter in another, and a small can of
milk in another. These he proceeded to place on a small table which he
drew up before the blind boy.

“There, begin on that,” he said, placing one of the sandwiches in the
boy’s hands.

“Thank you, sir,” said the boy; “you are very good.”

“You needn’t call me sir,” replied the young man; “my name is Reordan.”

“You don’t intend to have the kid eat all that stuff, do you, Reordan?”
asked one of the other firemen.

“Why, he hasn’t eaten anything since morning, and this such a cold
day,” replied Reordan.

“That’s no reason why you should kill him. He ought to come around to
it gradually. That’s the way they do when people are starved.”

So the boy was given another sandwich followed by a glass of milk, and
the firemen and Jack made a lunch off the rest. Then a bed was made up
for the boy in a snug corner, and he was covered with plenty of warm
clothing. He was so comfortable, from the warm air of the room and
the hearty meal, that it was not many minutes before he was in a deep
sleep. The Fire-Dog seated himself near by and watched him earnestly.

“I’d give a good deal to know what Jack is thinking about,” said one of
the men.

“He’s probably thinking over what’s best to do for the kid, and will
settle it in his mind before he goes to bed himself,” replied Reordan.

Jack responded by an appreciative glance and a wag of his tail, that
said as plainly as words could have done,—

“That is just it!”



CHAPTER SECOND


THE next morning when the firemen were up and dressed, the blind boy
was still asleep. He looked even paler by daylight than he had the
night before, and his thin cheeks and the dark circles under his eyes
gave him a pathetic look.

“It would be a pity to send the blind kid off while he looks like
that. Let’s put some flesh on his bones and some color into his cheeks
first,” said soft-hearted Reordan.

“How do you propose to manage? Taking care of kids and running
fire-engines don’t go very well together,” said the captain.

“The work sha’n’t suffer,” replied Reordan. “A chap of his age, and
blind at that, that has looked after himself, won’t need much tending,
and the little he’ll need to eat won’t lighten my pocket much.”

“Well, then, keep him for a day or so if you like, I’ve no objections,”
replied the captain. “Here’s something toward his keep;” and he placed
a bill in Reordan’s hand.

“We’ll all chip in,” said another. “Here, Jack, pass around the hat for
the blind kid.”

The Fire-Dog took the hat in his mouth with great alacrity, and gravely
went from one to another of the men, each one of whom put in some
change.

“Reordan shall be treasurer of the blind kid’s fund,” said one.

“There’s enough already to buy more than he can eat in a week,” replied
Reordan, shaking up the hat to enjoy the jingling sound of the coins.

“Please will you show me where I can wash?” asked a gentle voice; and
there stood the blind kid, who had approached unnoticed. “If you will
show me once, I can find it for myself afterwards.”

“Here you are, young man,” replied Reordan, leading him to the sink
where the men washed. “Here’s the water-faucet, and here’s the soap;
and while you’re making your toilet I’ll step out and fetch your
breakfast.”

“Why not take him along with us?” asked one of the men.

“He isn’t in just the rig for a cold morning,” replied Reordan. “The
looks of the thing, to say nothing of his own feelings, goes against
it. Wait till he has a hat and coat. I’ll fetch his breakfast, and
while he’s eating it we’ll go for ours.”

“And when we come back we’ll hear his story, and see what account he
has to give of himself,” said another.

The boy made himself quite tidy, considering the poor clothes he had
on; and the men, after seating him at the table with a good breakfast
before him, went out for theirs.

How good it did taste to the poor little waif! Only hot coffee and
buttered rolls, but it was a feast for the poor child, who for several
weeks had eaten his meals whenever he could get them, and little enough
at that.

As the boy sat contentedly eating his breakfast, a slight sound near
his feet attracted his attention. “Is that you, Jack?” he quickly asked.

Jack replied by licking his hand and pressing closely to his side.

“Dear Jack!” said the blind boy, fondly laying his cheek upon the
faithful dog’s head. “If you hadn’t nestled so closely to me last night
and kept me warm, I believe I should have frozen to death. Here, you
shall have part of my breakfast, I don’t need it all;” and he offered
the Fire-Dog a generous piece of his buttered roll.

Jack took the offering very reluctantly, as if he would have preferred
to have the blind boy eat it himself, but accepted it in order not to
hurt his new friend’s feelings.

“You eat so slowly, I don’t believe it tastes so good to you as it does
to me, Jack,” said the blind boy, as Jack slowly chewed the soft roll,
“and it has butter on it too. I should think you would like that.”

Jack was trying hard to dispose of a mouthful his kind little friend
had just given him when the firemen returned from their breakfast. In
fact, Jack _did_ like the bread, but he thought he ought not to take
the blind boy’s breakfast. He looked really ashamed of himself when the
men entered and Reordan remarked,—

“Why, you mustn’t give your breakfast away to Jack, young chap, you
must eat it yourself. We’ve brought him some leavings from the place
where we take our meals, that he likes a great deal better than what
you’ve got. Aren’t you hungry, kid? Don’t you like your breakfast?”

“Yes, indeed,” replied the boy, quickly. “It tastes splendid; but Jack
was so good to me last night that I wanted to give him some of it.”

“Don’t you worry about him, Sonny,” replied one of the men. “We’ll look
out for Jack all right;” and he opened a package of bones and scraps
of meat which he set before Jack.

“Now, if you’ve had all you want to eat,” said the captain, who just
then entered, “suppose you give an account of yourself.”

“Yes, sir,” replied the boy.

“Well,” said the captain, after waiting a moment in vain for the boy to
begin his story. “Where do you come from, and what’s your name? Haven’t
you got any father and mother?”

“My name is William,” replied the boy, “William Blake. I haven’t got
any father. He used to go to sea, and his ship got lost and they were
all drowned.”

“Haven’t you got any mother?” asked the captain.

The boy hesitated a moment. Then his lips began to tremble with
emotion, and after making several attempts to answer, he put his hands
before his sightless eyes and burst into violent weeping.

The tender-hearted men were overcome at the sight of the child’s
grief. He tried to stifle the sobs that shook his slender frame, but
his grief was too great for him to master. The brave men who never
hesitated to enter a burning building to rescue those who were in
danger, who never thought of their own lives when those of others were
menaced, broke down to see a little blind boy crying for his mother.

“Is your mother dead too?” asked the captain in a low voice, a great
contrast to his usual hearty tones.

“No, I don’t think she is. I don’t know,” sobbed the boy.

“Don’t you know where she is?” asked the captain, gently.

“No, sir,” replied the boy, trying hard to speak distinctly. “She fell
down, and she couldn’t speak to me nor move, and then they carried her
off in a wagon.”

“Don’t you know where they took her?”

“No, sir, they didn’t say anything about it.”

“Wasn’t there any one to look after you?”

“No, sir. There wasn’t any one who knew me.”

“What did you do then? Where did you go?”

“I didn’t know where to go. Some children came along and found me
crying, and they were real good to me. They said they knew a place
where I could stay until my mother came back. So they took me home with
them, and put me in a little room there was at the top of the house.”

“How did you manage to keep warm in this cold weather?”

“The children found some things to put over me. They got some hay from
a stable and made me a bed. It wasn’t very cold after I got used to it.”

“They probably took his mother to a hospital,” said the captain,
“unless she was—” He didn’t like to finish his sentence, for he had not
the heart to tell the poor boy that his mother might be dead.

“Come, little chap,” he continued, “dry your eyes and put a good face
on the matter. We will try to hunt up your mother, and we’ll look out
for you.”

“This is no place for a child,” said the captain later to the men. “You
can keep him here a day or two, and then you must turn him over to the
charities. Perhaps they’ll find his mother; at any rate, it is their
business to attend to such cases.”

The men thought this doctrine rather hard, and grumbled at it somewhat
among themselves. When, however, the next day, the captain brought in
a large bundle, saying briefly, as he laid it down, “Here is something
for the kid,” they changed their minds. The bundle contained a warm
overcoat, cap, and mittens.

The blind boy began at once to show the effects of the kind treatment
he now received. A better color came into his pale face and he grew
stronger every day. With this improvement of his body, his mind, too,
underwent a change. His face became cheerful and happy, and he was soon
playing about the engine-house with Jack.

“He begins to seem something like a child,” remarked Reordan one
evening, as Jack and the blind boy were playing together at “hide and
seek,” and the boy’s laugh rang out joyously whenever Jack found out
his hiding-place. “If he could only see, he’d be all right.”

It was astonishing how much the blind boy could do without the aid of
eyes, and in how many ways he succeeded in making himself useful. He
was never so happy as when he found he could do something for his kind
friends, and they often called upon him for little services that they
could have done much more quickly themselves, in order that he might
have the satisfaction of thinking he was of some use to them.

William was too long a name for such a small boy, in the opinion of the
firemen, so they used Billy instead. Several days passed, and yet Billy
was not turned over to the charities. An engine-house seems a strange
place for a child’s home, but Billy soon thought it the pleasantest
place in the world. Whenever the alarm sounded, Billy was as excited
even as Jack over it, and after the engine had clattered out of the
house, and the last sound of wheels and horses’ hoofs and Jack’s
barking had died away in the distance, Billy waited contentedly alone;
and every one, including Jack, was glad to see Billy’s face light up
with pleasure on their return. It was a touch of home life that was
very pleasant to these sturdy men who were denied the privilege of a
home.

“You ought not to keep the boy cooped up in this hot room all the
time,” remarked the captain one day. “Put on his things and send him
out on the sidewalk in the sun. No harm can come to him if he keeps in
front of the engine-house.”

So Billy had on his new coat and cap and mittens, and was led down to
the sidewalk, where the sun was shining brightly.

“Watch him, Jack!” was Reordan’s order, as the Fire-Dog followed them.

So Billy and Jack walked up and down in front of the engine-house,
Billy with his hand resting on Jack’s neck, and the intelligent dog
marching him back and forth with the regularity of a sentinel on guard.
The fresh air brought the color into Billy’s cheeks, and he looked very
happy and bright. When they had kept up this exercise for about half
an hour, two persons appeared, at whose approach Jack showed decided
symptoms of pleasure. He wagged his tail very fast, and whined with joy.

The new-comers were a middle-aged gentleman and a little boy somewhat
younger than Billy,—a bright-eyed, rosy-cheeked boy, with a very
independent air, and he carried a little basket in his hand. The
gentleman was the little boy’s grandfather. I wish I could describe
him as he really was, but the nearest I can come to it is to say that
he was just the kind every boy and girl would choose if they had a
whole world full of grandpapas to choose from. Such a pleasant smile
when he looked at you! And such a pleasant voice when he spoke to you!
Why, you felt happier all the rest of the day after meeting him if
he only shook hands with you and said, “How do you do?” His laugh was
even pleasanter still, and he laughed very often; and when he was not
laughing his eyes were, they had such a happy, cheerful expression.

Billy could not _see_ the pleasant face, but he could hear the pleasant
voice, and those who have not the use of their eyes have something
within them that tells them how people look. So Billy formed a picture
in his mind of the little boy’s grandpapa, and Billy smiled too when
the little boy’s grandpapa spoke, as everybody else did.

“Jack, Jack, I’ve brought something nice for you, old fellow,” said
the little boy, whose name was Sam, and who had been eying Billy very
intently.

“What little boy is this?” asked Sam’s grandpapa. “Seems to me this is
a new face.”

“Yes, sir,” replied the blind boy. “I am Billy.”

“Oh. You are Billy! Well, where did you come from?”

“It’s a boy we found one night at the North End, Mr. Ledwell, and he
is blind,” said Reordan, who stood in the door of the engine-house and
now approached, touching his hat respectfully. “He didn’t have any one
to look after him, and some children took him in tow and hid him in a
kind of closet at the top of the tenement-house they lived in. When the
house got on fire, they cleared out so sudden that nobody thought of
the blind kid. If it hadn’t been for Jack here, he’d ’a’ been smothered
in a short time, the smoke was so thick. It isn’t the first life Jack
has saved.”

“Good old boy,” said Mr. Ledwell, patting the faithful dog’s head;
while Jack wagged his tail gently and looked modestly down, for it
always embarrassed him to be praised for what he considered his duty.

Meanwhile Sam was unpacking his basket, and Jack tried to be polite and
not to stare greedily at the tempting contents. He could not resist
the temptation, however, of looking out of the corner of one eye. What
he saw fairly made his mouth water. There were slices of cold meat,
none of your thin delicate ones, but nice _thick_ slices, just the kind
every dog likes, and, most delicious of all, there was a large bone
with tender morsels of meat on it, to say nothing of several mouthfuls
of gristle. Jack couldn’t help lapping his chops, as he thought of the
good time he would have gnawing that bone and cracking it to get at the
rich tasting marrow inside.

Sam handed Jack a slice of the meat, and he gave it just one roll with
his tongue and then swallowed it whole. Meat tastes better to dogs
eaten in that way,—they think it takes the taste out of it to chew it
too much. Another and still another slice followed, while Sam looked
contentedly on, enjoying the operation as much as the dog did.

“I think you’d better save the rest for his dinner, Reordan,” remarked
Sam, with his decided air. “He can have this bone, too, then, and I
have brought some of the cake he likes so much. You had better keep
that for his dessert;” and Sam took out a package of cake neatly
wrapped in paper.

The crumbs that remained in the basket were emptied upon the snow in
front of the engine-house, and the crumbs from a roll added to them.
Several sparrows seated on the roof of the building peered anxiously
over, intending to seize the first opportunity that presented itself to
eat them.

“Don’t let the sparrows eat all of them, Reordan,” said Sam, who had
very strict ideas of justice; “they must save some for the pigeons.
How’s the little lame pigeon?”

“He seemed to be all right the last time I saw him,” replied Reordan.

“Does Dick the Scrapper fight him away as much as ever?” asked Sam.

“Well, yes, he does hustle him around considerable when they are
feeding and he gets in the way; but that’s always the way with animals,
you know. The strongest ones get the first chance, and the others have
to take back seats.”

“I think it’s a very mean way,” said Sam. “I should think you’d stand
there with a stick and keep the Scrapper off while the lame one eats.”

“Oh, we’ll look after the little lame fellow, never fear. He’s as fat
as a partridge. He gets tamer every day, too. Yesterday he lit right on
my hand and stayed there quite a spell.”

“I wish he’d come around now,” said Sam.

“He will turn up very likely before you go. They come around pretty
often. The sparrows get ahead of them, though, they are so cute.”

Meanwhile Sam’s grandpapa was talking to the captain about the little
blind boy who had been so suddenly thrown upon their hands. Sam knew
what they were talking about, and he felt sure that his grandpapa would
find some way to make the blind boy happy, for Grandpapa could do
anything, he thought. Sam felt very sorry that the little boy could not
see, and he looked at him a long time. At last he said,—

“Hallo, Billy!”

“Hallo!” answered Billy in his soft voice; and the acquaintance was
begun.

“Here come the pigeons,” said Reordan, as a flock of birds came
sweeping around the corner of the street, and alighted in front of the
children. They at once began gobbling up the crumbs scattered for them,
while the sparrows flew down, and darting in among them, seized upon
the largest ones right from under the pigeons’ very eyes, flying up to
the roof to eat them in safety.

Among the pigeons was a speckled black and white one with very pink
feet; but one of his feet he kept drawn up against his soft feathers
and hopped about on the other one. He did not have a very fair chance
with the other stronger pigeons, for they crowded him out of the way,
and even pecked him when he attempted to seize upon a piece of bread.
The most quarrelsome of the pigeons was a handsome dark blue one with
rainbow feathers on his neck that glistened in the sunlight. This was
Dick the Scrapper. He had a very bold air, as if he had a better
right to the food than the others had. Sam was very indignant at his
treatment of the lame pigeon, and suddenly drove them all off except
the little lame one. The little speckled pigeon seemed to understand
what this was done for, and remained behind and ate a hearty meal. The
others were not much afraid of Sam, for they were very tame, but every
time they attempted to alight he would shoo them away. This he kept
up until he thought that the lame pigeon had eaten all he wanted, and
then he allowed the others to return. He picked up the lame pigeon and
it nestled contentedly in his arm. Billy caressed it too, and the two
children began to talk together, while Jack stood near by, wagging his
tail approvingly.

At last Mr. Ledwell came back to where the children were playing with
the lame pigeon, and they heard him say to the captain,—

“This will do very well for a little while, but of course you can’t
keep him here. We must find some other place for him.”

These words made Billy feel very sad, for he had become much attached
to his new home, and thought that if he were sent away, he would be
homeless and friendless again. The little pigeon who was lying in his
arms heard it too, and his bright eyes saw the look of disappointment
that came over the blind boy’s face. Jack, too, heard it, and made up
his mind that Billy should not leave the engine-house unless he went
too.

“I rather think that as I was the means of saving the boy’s life, I
have a right to say something about the matter,” said Jack to himself.
“They all think a great deal of me, and if I say he shall stay, I
rather think he _will_ stay.”



CHAPTER THIRD


“GRANDPAPA,” said Sam, as the two walked home together, “isn’t it too
bad about Billy?”

“It certainly is,” replied Grandpapa.

“Something must be done about it,” said Sam; then he walked silently
for a while, thinking very hard. At last he said,—

“Grandpapa, God made me. Did the same man make you?”

“Yes,” replied Grandpapa, “I suppose he did.”

“Don’t you know for certain?” asked Sam, for Grandpapa’s eyes were
smiling hard.

“Oh, yes,” replied Grandpapa, “of course I do.”

“Well, I’ve been thinking it over,” said Sam, “and I’ll tell you what
I’m going to do. I’m going to pray to God every night to make Billy
see.”

“It will be a very good plan,” replied Grandpapa.

“You see I always pray for what I want most at Christmas time,” said
Sam.

“And it comes, doesn’t it?” asked Grandpapa.

“Yes,” replied Sam, “it always comes. I prayed real hard for a pony
last Christmas, and I got one, you know.”

“Yes, I know,” said Grandpapa, his eyes still smiling as he watched the
earnest face of his grandson.

“I asked for a black pony with a star on his forehead, and it came just
exactly right. So, you see,” continued Sam, “that if I ask God every
night to make Billy see, He will be sure to do it.”

“I hope so,” said Grandpapa.

“Why, it wouldn’t be half so hard as it was to hustle around to find
just the kind of pony I asked for.”

“So I should think,” replied Grandpapa. “Black ponies with white stars
on their foreheads are not so easy to find.”

“No,” said Sam, thoughtfully, “I know it. How long will it be before
Christmas comes, Grandpapa?”

“Only a very short time,—about two weeks.”

“Well, I shall just tell God that He needn’t bother about that
dog-cart,” said Sam, with his determined nod. “I shall tell Him that I
would rather He would make Billy see.”

“That is a good idea, Sam,” said Grandpapa. “I know you would enjoy
having poor Billy see as you do, much more than you would to have your
dog-cart.”

“Yes,” replied Sam with a little sigh, for he had been looking forward
for a long time to the pleasure of driving his pony in a dog-cart. “I
can ride him just as well as not.”

By this time they had reached home, and Sam hurried up the steps, he
was so eager to tell Grandmamma about Billy. Sam’s papa and mamma were
travelling in Europe, with his little sister Anne, and he was staying
with his grandparents. He was so fond of them that he was not at all
lonely.

“I miss Anne very much, and I should like to see Papa and Mamma,” he
had remarked to his nurse Mary one day; “but grandpapas and grandmammas
let you do a great many more things than papas and mammas do.”

“Oh, you mustn’t say that,” Mary had replied.

“Mary,” Sam had said very earnestly, “how would you like to be spanked
with a hair-brush?”

Mary had made no reply to this argument; and Sam, in response to her
silence, had said with the positive air of one who has had experience,—

“Well, then!”

On this day Sam found his grandmamma seated in her sunny sewing-room,
and he was in such a hurry to tell her all about Billy that he gave her
a very confused idea of the matter. The fire and Jack and the little
blind boy became so mixed up in his story that it was some time before
she understood the case.

Now Sam’s grandmamma was just exactly as nice for a grandmamma as his
grandpapa was for a grandpapa, and Sam loved one just as well as the
other. “The only difference is that Grandmamma was never a little boy
like me, same as Grandpapa was,” Sam used to say.

“We must see what can be done for the poor child,” said Grandmamma when
Sam had finished his story.

Then Sam told his plan about asking God to make Billy see, and
Grandmamma thought it an excellent plan, only that perhaps it couldn’t
be brought about by Christmas, because the time was very near.

“But don’t you see, Grandmamma,” said Sam, “that if God doesn’t have to
hunt around for the dog-cart, it will be a great deal easier to make
Billy see?”

So, when Sam went to bed that night, he said his simple prayer in this
way,—

“Oh, dear God, you needn’t bother about that dog-cart, if you will
only make poor Billy see as I do; and please take care of Papa and
Mamma, and don’t let the ship tip over; and take care of Grandpapa and
Grandmamma too, and make Sam a good boy.”

“You haven’t prayed for your little sister,” said Grandmamma, as Sam’s
prayer came to a sudden end.

“Oh, Anne sleeps with Nora, she’s all right,” replied Sam, confidently.

The next day Sam said to his grandpapa,—

“Can’t I go to the park to-day to feed the birds and squirrels?”

“I think you can,” replied Grandpapa, “and how should you like to take
Billy too?”

“Why, he can’t see, you know, so it wouldn’t be any fun for him,” said
Sam.

“But _you_ can see,” said Grandpapa, “and you can lend him your eyes.”

Sam looked so puzzled at this that his grandpapa explained: “You can
tell him what you see, and he can imagine how everything looks. He
will see the picture with his mind instead of with his eyes. That is
imagination.”

“It is a very strange thing,” said Sam, thoughtfully.

“You see that blind people think so much about what they cannot see,
that they make a great many pictures in their minds. If they were not
able to do that, they would be very lonely.”

Then Sam hurried down to ask Cook to give him some bread for the birds,
and to fill a basket with nuts for the squirrels. He also took some
canary and hemp seeds in a little package. By the time this was done,
the sleigh had driven up to the door, and Sam and his grandpapa started
on their expedition, Sam throwing kisses to his grandmamma at the
window so long as the house was in sight. Then they turned the corner
and soon reached the engine-house.

Billy’s pale face grew quite rosy when he was told of the sleigh-ride
he was to have, and in a moment his warm coat and cap were on and he
was led to the sleigh by Sam, who took great care of him for fear he
should make a misstep. The Fire-Dog followed closely at his heels, and
watched him put into the big sleigh and securely tucked in with the
warm fur robe.

“Can’t Jack go too?” asked Sam, as he saw the wistful expression in the
faithful dog’s eyes.

“Certainly, if he will,” replied Grandpapa.

Jack, however, was not the dog to neglect his duties, and in spite of
Sam’s and Billy’s alluring calls, he gently but firmly wagged his tail,
to express his regret at being obliged to refuse their invitation. As
they drove off, he looked mournfully after them so long as the sleigh
was in sight, then he gave a sigh of disappointment and lay down in
front of the engine-house, where he could enjoy the passing, and
occasionally pass the time of day with some dog friend, or make the
acquaintance of some stranger passing through the city, for Jack was a
social dog. Here, too, he was within hearing of the gong.

Meanwhile the sleigh continued on its way to the park, the faces of the
two little boys beaming with pleasure,—Billy’s at the unusual treat
of a sleigh-ride, and Sam’s from watching the happiness of the little
blind boy.

Sam was so eager to point out to Billy everything of interest to him,
that he was kept busy describing the objects of interest they passed.
The grandpapa’s face reflected the happiness in the two boys’ faces,
and his pleasant smile grew very tender as he saw the delight of the
blind boy in the scenes his poor blind eyes could not see.

When, as they passed a group of merry, shouting boys building a snow
fort which Sam reported faithfully to his little friend, and Billy,
quite excited at Sam’s description had wistfully asked, “Are they all
seeing children, Sam?” Sam, greatly distressed at the question, had
replied, “There is one fellow that looks kind of blind,—he’s having
an awfully good time, though;” then Grandpapa’s smile grew more tender
still, and he told the two boys about the schools where those who could
not see were taught to do whatever those who could see did.

“Can they play the way the seeing children do?” asked Billy, eagerly.

“Yes,” replied Grandpapa, “and we will send you to one of them.”

Billy was silent, and seemed to be thinking about something.

“Should you not like to go, Billy?” asked Sam’s grandpapa. “The
children are very happy there.”

“I would rather find my mother,” replied Billy, with a quiver of the
lips.

“We will find her, never fear,” replied kind-hearted Mr. Ledwell,
who could never bear to see anybody unhappy; and he began a story so
interesting that Billy was soon listening intently and had forgotten
for the time about the dear mother whom he wanted so much to see. By
the time the story was ended, the houses were farther and farther
apart, then snow-covered fields were passed, and Sam was kept busy
in describing the frozen ponds where boys and girls were skating and
playing, and the hillsides down which they were coasting. Then woods
with real forest trees appeared, and Sam explained that they were now
in the park. Here and there a gray squirrel’s bright eyes peeped down
upon the sleigh, and Sam reported just how they whisked their bushy
tails and ran from bough to bough, occasionally stopping to take a peep.

As they went farther into the park, a colony of sparrows would now and
then fly up from a clump of bushes, and hurry away as if the sleigh
contained a party of ferocious hunters, instead of two kind little boys
bringing them food. They took care to keep the sleigh in sight, for Sam
and his basket were old friends, and they knew the feast in store for
them. So they followed at a distance, for sparrows like to consider
themselves martyrs, and to act as if they were a persecuted set. This
is not to be wondered at, when we remember the way they have been
treated. Their nests have been torn down, they have been driven from
one place to another, and they have been made to feel that they are not
wanted anywhere.

Suddenly there arose on the still, frosty air discordant cries, and Sam
exclaimed,—

“There come the blue jays, Billy! Oh, you don’t know how handsome they
are, with their tufts standing straight up on their heads, and their
beautiful blue and white bodies and wings!”

“Are they as big as the pigeons?” asked Billy, for he had held the
little black and white lame pigeon in his arms and knew just what size
they were.

“Not quite so large as a pigeon,” replied Sam, “but fully as large as a
robin. They are awfully quarrelsome fellows, though; just hear how hard
they are scolding now.”

“Will they come and eat the crumbs?” asked Billy.

“Yes, and get the biggest share of them too,” replied Sam.

“We had better stop here,” said Mr. Ledwell, as they came to an open,
sunny spot.

So the sleigh stopped, and Sam and his grandpapa got out and helped
Billy out, who looked as happy and eager as Sam did. He did not look
about him, though, as Sam did, and see that the sparrows had stationed
themselves on neighboring trees, all ready to begin their feast so soon
as the crumbs were scattered. Neither did he see the bright flashes
of blue as the jays alighted on the trees near by, nor the tame and
nimble squirrels who came closer than the birds, hopping over the snow
to Sam’s very feet. All these things Sam explained, however, and Billy
understood.

Billy, too, threw the crumbs, and held nuts in his hand for the
squirrels, laughing with delight as he felt the trusting little
creatures eat from his fingers.

All at once arose a blithe song of “Chickadee-dee-dee-dee;” and a flock
of little chickadees came flying up, quite out of breath with their
hurry.

[Illustration]

“Chickadee-dee-dee-dee,” they all cried together, as they bustled about
to pick up what crumbs they could; and their song said as plainly as
words could have done,—

“Are we too late? I do hope you have left some for us.”

They were so sweet-tempered about it, not even losing temper when the
greedy sparrows darted in and seized crumbs from under their very
beaks, that it was impossible not to love them.

“Such dear little black caps as they have!” said Sam. “Here, you great
greedy jay, you let that little fellow’s crumbs alone!”

A blue jay had snatched a crumb away from one of the little chickadees,
but the chickadee only replied blithely, “Chickadee-dee-dee-dee!” which
in bird language meant: “No matter! Plenty more to be had! A little
thing like that does not matter.”

This both the little boys understood the chickadee to say, for those
who love animals learn to understand much of their language.

Then arose a hoarse cry of “Caw! caw! caw!” and several coal-black
crows flew down at a distance. They did not come boldly into the midst
of the group of feeding birds, because they preferred always to conduct
their business with great secrecy. One would occasionally walk on the
outskirts of the party with an air of great indifference, pretending
not to see what was going on; then suddenly he would dart in their
midst and seize upon a particularly large crumb, and, hurrying off with
it, stand with his back to the others, eating it in the slyest manner,
as if he expected at any moment to have it taken away from him.

There was one bird that even Sam’s bright eyes did not see. He had a
timid look, as if he could not make friends so easily as the social
chickadees. He crept along a large tree that grew near the spot where
the birds and squirrels were feeding, and creeping in the same cautious
manner on the under side of a large bough that stretched out toward
the spot, hung head downward, watching intently what went on beneath
him. None of the birds took the slightest notice of him, but his quick
eyes glanced at them all, and finally rested on the face of the blind
boy, who patiently listened to the explanations of the kind friend who
loaned him the use of his eyes.

This shy little bird who watched the two boys so narrowly, was the
nuthatch. As soon as the sleigh had driven away, the nuthatch came down
from the tree, creeping along the trunk, head downward, and seized upon
the fine kernel of a nut a squirrel was eating.

The chickadees were loudly singing the praises of the visitors who
had brought them such a delicious treat. Even the blue jays, who were
usually very chary of their praise, had a pleasant word for their
friend Sam, who so often brought them food.

“There was a strange boy with him,” cawed an old crow. “Who knows
anything about him?”

“He was not a seeing child,” chirped the nuthatch. “He could not see
the blue sky, nor the trees, nor any of us. Who can he be?”

“We know all about him,” twittered the sparrows. “It is the blind boy
who lives in the engine-house. Fire-Jack saved his life; we see him
very often.”

Then an incessant twittering arose from the sparrows, who were in such
a hurry to tell all they knew that they all talked at once.



CHAPTER FOURTH


AFTER the two boys had driven off to the park to feed the birds, Jack,
as we have seen, watched the sleigh so long as it was in sight. Then he
lay down in a sunny spot in front of the engine-house door, where he
would be warm and at the same time see the passing. Dogs, of course,
interested him most, and this was such a thoroughfare that he saw a
good many of them.

The dogs that interested him the most were those from out of town who
were passing through the city, following a carriage or team. It was
very pleasant to meet an old acquaintance in that way, and exchange a
few words with him, for Jack was such a business dog that he allowed
himself few pleasures, and did not have the opportunity of roaming
about the city that dogs enjoy so much. Out-of-town dogs were very
interesting because they didn’t take on any airs, and often told him
things about their country homes that he liked to hear.

The most irritating of all dogs are the dogs that are in carriages.
They take on a very superior air that all dogs who are not driving
dislike particularly. In fact, as they pass, they often make insulting
remarks to the less fortunate dogs who go on foot. Also dogs who are
driving are very jealous of others who are enjoying the same privilege,
and often talk most impertinently to one another.

Several dogs in carriages passed while Jack lay in the door of the
engine-house, and they either looked straight ahead and turned up their
noses, pretending not to see him, or else they made some insolent
remark. Jack paid no attention whatever to them, knowing that nothing
would irritate them so much as to find that their impertinence had no
effect upon him.

A large, amiable farm-dog following a charcoal wagon particularly
interested the Fire-Dog. He stopped a few minutes in order to tell the
little news he had, which was that the hens were on a strike and had
refused to lay any more until they were furnished with warmer quarters.

“That accounts for the high price of eggs,” said Jack; “I thought
something was wrong. Well, I hope they will get what they want. Give
them the compliments of Jack the Fire-Dog, and tell them to _stick_.”

“There is one other piece of news,” said the farm-dog. “One of my
neighbors is missing. He is a little yellow dog with a black pug nose,
and answers to the name of Toby. Followed his team into the city with a
load of wood one day last week and hasn’t been seen since. If you come
across him, let us know, will you? The city is awfully confusing to
country dogs.”

“I will be on the lookout for him,” said Jack. “‘Yellow dog with a
black pug nose, answers to the name of Toby.’ Say,” continued Jack, as
the other was starting to run after his team, “what shall I do with him
if I happen to find him, which isn’t at all likely?”

“Keep him till I come by next week, or send him home if he knows the
way;” and the farm-dog ran after his team, that was now nearly out of
sight.

For a while nothing of especial interest happened to divert the
Fire-Dog. He took several naps, keeping one eye open to see what was
going on about him. Suddenly he started and opened both eyes. A group
of children were coming toward him, one of them leading a dog by a
string. Something about the children attracted Jack’s attention. They
were not very warmly clothed for the season of the year, but they
seemed happy and good-natured. They were evidently very fond of their
dog, for they stopped often to pat him and speak to him.

“Where have I seen those children?” asked Jack of himself. “I am sure I
have seen them before;” and he tried hard to recall their faces.

“I have it!” he exclaimed at last. “It was the night of the fire when
we found the blind kid, and they are the children who looked after him.”

He looked at the dog the children were leading. “‘Yellow dog with a
black pug nose, answers to the name of Toby.’ Well, who would have
thought I should hear from him so soon? Hallo, Toby! is that you?”

“Yes,” replied Toby; “but who are you, and how do you happen to know my
name?”

Jack quickly arose and stepped up to the little yellow dog. The
children good-naturedly waited for them to exchange the time of day,
during which time Jack managed to explain to Toby his interview with
the large farm-dog. “I did not expect to hear from you so soon,” said
Jack, “but now that I have, we must make our plans in a hurry. I
suppose you want to go back to your old home?”

“Of course I do. After having a whole town to roam about in, it isn’t
very pleasant to be tied up in an old shed.”

“Why didn’t you run away?” asked Jack.

“I wasn’t sure of my way. It is terribly confusing to a country dog to
find his way about in a city. Besides, these children are very good to
me, and I was afraid of falling into worse hands.”

“You know how to slip your collar, I suppose?” asked Jack.

“Sometimes I can, but this strap is pretty tight,” replied Toby.

“I see that your education has been neglected, so I will give you a few
instructions given me by an old bull-dog, Boxer by name, who could slip
any collar that was ever invented.”

“I should be very glad to hear them,” replied little Toby.

“Well, first you back out just as far as your rope will allow you to
go. Then you gradually work your head from side to side, with your
chin well up in the air, kind of wriggling your head free. If your
collar is tight, that doesn’t always work; so next you lie flat on your
back, keeping your nose as high up as you can get it. You can kind of
ease it up with your fore feet, too. You do just as I’ve told you and
you’ll find yourself free in time. I stump any one to make a collar
that these rules won’t work on.”

“I’ll do my best,” said little Toby.

“The bull-dog I told you of, did a thing once that I wouldn’t have
believed if I hadn’t known it to be a fact. He had slipped so many
collars that they had a sort of harness made for him with a strap that
went back of his fore legs. Well, one morning they found that he had
slipped that. It beats the Dutch how he managed to do it, but he did
it all right. It took him all night to do it, and in the morning they
found him all used up, and lying as if he were dead. He was quite
an old dog then, and not so strong as he used to be, but you know
bull-dogs never give up anything they undertake.”

“Did he get well?” asked Toby, much interested.

“I’ll tell you. As I said before, he lay like a dead dog, and it was
warm and sunny out of doors, so they carried him out and laid him in
the sun. After a while he seemed to take an interest in things about
him,—wagged his tail when they spoke to him and all that. Bull-dogs are
awfully affectionate, you know. Then they began to have a little hope
for him, when who should come along but another dog he knew? There had
been some bad blood between the two, and what do you think? No sooner
does my old friend catch sight of the other than up he jumps and runs
after him. Of course he was too feeble to do anything in the fighting
line, but his intentions were good.”

“Wasn’t the excitement too much for him?” asked Toby, anxiously.

“Not a bit of it. It did him good,—limbered him up and set him right on
his legs. Bull-dogs are tough.”

“I should like to know him,” said Toby, modestly. “He must be a
remarkable dog.”

“He certainly is,” replied the Fire-Dog. “I should like to introduce
you, but the fact is, we are not on speaking terms now. He means well,
Boxer does, but he’s kind of jealous-minded. You see it gives me quite
a position to run with the engine, and Boxer, he feels equal to the
business, and it kind of riles him to see me setting off to a fire. I
suppose he thinks I feel smart of myself and am taking on airs. It is
just as you have been brought up. Now, if Boxer had been brought up in
the Fire Department, his natural pluck would have taken him through the
worst fire that ever was. The more he got singed, the farther he would
venture in.”

“Do you ever meet now?” asked Toby.

“Yes, quite often; he lives near by. We don’t look at one another,
though, as we pass, except perhaps out of the corners of our eyes.
Boxer, he always shivers and his eyes kind of bulge, and he walks on
tiptoe. You know that bull-dogs are awfully sensitive, and they always
shiver when they are excited, but it isn’t the shiver of a cowardly
dog. You had better look out for a bull-dog when you see him shiver,
for he isn’t in the state of mind to take much from another dog when
he’s in that condition. He laps his chops too, then.”

The children had been waiting all this time, the boy who held Toby by a
string occasionally giving him a gentle pull as a reminder that it was
time to go. They patted Jack, while they peered curiously in through
the open door at the engine that stood ready for use at a moment’s
notice. They thought it was time to start for home, as they had quite a
distance to go. So Toby took leave of his new friend, casting longing
glances behind him as he was pulled along.

“He appears to be a well-meaning sort of fellow,” said Jack to himself,
“but he doesn’t look to me smart enough to apply the rules I have given
him. A dog of character like Boxer would have brought it about by
himself. However; it’s as well that we are not all made alike.”

Jack’s attention was before long diverted from the subject of his
new acquaintance by the return of his charge Billy, who greeted him
so affectionately that warm-hearted Jack forgot everything else and
escorted his charge into the engine-house to see that he got safely up
the steep stairs.

Meanwhile Mr. Ledwell and Sam drove down town to do a few errands. One
of them was to leave an order at a bake-shop, and as the sleigh stopped
before the door, they noticed a group of children, one of them holding
by a string a little yellow dog with a black pug nose. They were gazing
eagerly in at the tempting display of cakes in the large windows, and
Sam noticed that the little dog seemed to eye them just as longingly as
the children did.

Now Sam’s grandpapa was just the kind of man that any child or animal
would appeal to if he were in trouble, and as he stepped out of the
sleigh and walked by the group of children, he looked at them in his
usual pleasant manner.

“Mister,” said a voice very timidly, “will you please to give me a cent
to buy something to eat?”

The voice came from a little girl, the youngest of the children.

“Why, Maysie, you mustn’t ask for money; that’s begging,” said the boy
who was holding the dog.

“What do you want to eat, little girl?” asked Mr. Ledwell’s kind voice.

“Cake,” replied Maysie, emboldened by the pleasant eyes that seemed to
be always smiling.

“Well, look in at that window,” said Mr. Ledwell, “and tell me what
kind of cake you think you would like to eat.”

Maysie’s mind was evidently already made up, for she at once pointed to
a plate of rich pastry cakes with preserve filling.

“That kind,” replied Maysie, promptly.

“Could you eat a whole one, do you think?” asked Mr. Ledwell.

“Yes,” replied Maysie, eagerly.

“Could you eat _two_, do you think?” asked Mr. Ledwell.

“Yes,” replied Maysie, promptly.

“Do you think you could eat three of them?” asked Mr. Ledwell.

“Yes,” replied Maysie.

“Well, do you think you could eat four?”

“I’d try,” replied Maysie, confidently.

“Wait here a minute,” said Mr. Ledwell, “and I will see what I can do.”

The children crowded around the window, and eagerly watched the young
woman behind the counter fill a large paper bag with cakes from every
plate in the window, the largest share being taken from the plate of
pastry cakes that had been Maysie’s choice.

Mr. Ledwell glanced at the faces peering in at the window, following
eagerly every motion of the young woman with the paper bag. The little
yellow dog was no less interested than the children, and had been held
up in the boy’s arms, that he might obtain a better view. From this
group Mr. Ledwell’s eyes fell on his little grandson, who was standing
up in the sleigh to see what was going on, and whose bright face was
aglow with pleasure at the prospect of the treat in store for the group
at the window.

“It would be hard to say whether they or Sam are the happiest,” said
Mr. Ledwell to the young woman behind the counter, as he took the paper
bag and left the store.

“Or the generous man who takes the trouble to give so much pleasure to
others,” added the young woman to herself, as she glanced at his kind
face.

“Here, little girl,” said Mr. Ledwell, handing the paper bag to Maysie.
“Now what will you do with all these good things?”

“We’ll divide them between ourselves,” replied Maysie, promptly.

“And the dog,” said the boy. “He must have his share, because he’s seen
them same as we have.”

“Yes, Johnny, of course the dog,” assented Maysie.

“And Mother,” said the older sister.

“Of course, Mother,” agreed Maysie. “Come on!” and off started Maysie,
firmly grasping her bag of cakes.

“Why, Maysie, you forgot to thank the gentleman,” said the elder sister.

“Her face has thanked me already,” said Mr. Ledwell.

Maysie, however, thus reminded of her manners, turned and said,—

“Oh, thank you, sir, _so much_.”

Instantly Maysie was off, followed by her brother and sister.

“Grandpapa,” said Sam, as Mr. Ledwell took his seat in the sleigh, “I
think you are the very best grandpapa in town.”

“I am glad you do, Sam,” said Grandpapa.

“Now, if God will only make Billy see, we shall be all right,” said
Sam, with his decided nod. “I shall pray to Him every night and ask Him
to, and He is so good and kind that I’m pretty sure He will do it.”



CHAPTER FIFTH


MAYSIE, firmly grasping her bag of cakes, rushed through the crowded
sidewalks and street-crossings, darting in among the carriages and
teams with the skill that only a child brought up in a large city
possesses. Sometimes she passed under the very nose of a horse, and it
seemed as if she must certainly be run over, but she always came out
safe and sound. Her brother and sister, with Toby, followed wherever
she went, but found it difficult to keep up with her. She was always
some distance ahead of them, and paid no attention to their calls to
stop for them to catch up with her.

“Stop, can’t you?” called out Johnny, who was leading Toby, and who
always picked him up and carried him across the most crowded streets.
“Stop and divy up! They ain’t all yours.”

“I’m going to, Johnny,” replied Maysie, still continuing her rapid
gait. “Just a few blocks more, and then I’ll stop.”

So away they all went once more, little Toby as eager as the children
for the share that had been promised him. They had gradually left
behind them the pleasant part of the city where the bake-shop was
situated, and had reached a part where the streets and sidewalks were
narrower and the houses smaller and closer together. When they came to
a place where building was going on, Maysie came to a stop, and seating
herself on a low pile of boards, announced her intention of dividing
the contents of the paper bag. Johnny seated himself by her side,
placing Toby in his lap, and Hannah, the elder sister, took a seat near
by.

They were not a quarrelsome family, and seemed to feel perfectly
confident that Maysie would do the right thing by them and divide
fairly. They edged as closely to the paper bag as they could get, and
took long sniffs of the delicious odors wafted toward them.

“The dog has got to have his share, too,” said Johnny, as Maysie had
helped them all around and had not included Toby.

“Each of us can give him a piece of ours,” replied Maysie, breaking off
a generous piece of hers and handing it to the little dog.

“No,” said Johnny, firmly, “you agreed to go divies with him, and he
heard it, and you’ve got to do it;” and Johnny hugged Toby closely to
him, while the little dog looked gratefully into his face and wagged
his tail in response.

“Well, then,” said Maysie, “he can have his share;” and she placed one
of the largest cakes before Toby, who ate it in such large mouthfuls
that it had disappeared and he had lapped up all the crumbs before the
children were half through with theirs.

“He eats so fast,” said Maysie, “that he can’t get the good of it.”

Toby tried to explain in the animal language that she was
mistaken,—that dogs had proved by experience that they got more taste
from their food by swallowing it whole than they did by eating it
slowly, and that every sensible dog ate in that way. “A few lap-dogs
and such as that may nibble at their food,” explained Toby, “but you
can’t go by them.”

This explanation was lost upon the children, however, because they
couldn’t understand the animal language Toby spoke in. They thought he
was asking for another cake.

“You must wait until we are ready for the second help,” said Johnny, at
the same time offering him a piece of his own cake.

Toby tried to make them understand that this was not what he said, but
it was of no use, they didn’t know what his whining meant.

“I shouldn’t wonder if he were cold,” suggested Hannah, whereupon
good-hearted Johnny unbuttoned his coat and wrapped it around the
little dog as well as he could.

“How can I be so mean as to leave these kind children, when they share
everything with me?” said Toby to himself. “I do miss those fields to
roam about in, though!” and he sighed as he thought of his country home.

At last the cakes were eaten, and one of each kind left to be taken
home to Mother. These were carefully wrapped up, and the party started
for home.

It was a poor place, their home, but they had never known a better
one, and they were such happy, contented children that they really
enjoyed more than some children who have beautiful homes and clothes,
and everything that money can buy; for, after all, it is not money and
beautiful things that bring happiness. Often those who have the least
of these are the most contented and happy, if they are blessed with
sweet tempers and cheerful natures.

In the rear of the tenement-house where the children lived, was a shed.
It was a dark, cheerless affair, but in it the children had made a bed
of some straw that a stable-man near by had given them, and here they
had kept Toby. It was not very warm, but it was better than no shelter;
and then Toby had been brought up in the country, and he was not quite
so sensitive to the cold as dogs who are kept in city houses are.

“It seems awfully cold here,” said Johnny, as he looked about the bleak
shed. The door had long since disappeared, and the raw winter air
entered through the large opening.

“He looks kind of shivery,” said Hannah. “Perhaps, if we tell Mother
about him, she will let us keep him in the house.”

“I don’t believe she will,” said Johnny, “because whenever I have asked
her to let us keep a dog, she said we couldn’t afford it, they ate so
much.”

“Let’s try,” said Hannah. “It is going to be awfully cold to-night.
Maysie can tell her, because she lets her do so many more things than
she does the rest of us.”

This was true. Little Maysie, the baby of the family, had been indulged
and petted more than the rest, because she had not been so rugged as
they were. When they all had the measles and whooping-cough, Maysie
it was who had them the hardest. Maysie, too, had been very ill with
pneumonia. Thus they had gotten into the habit of letting her have
her way whenever any important question was at hand. So it was not
strange that Maysie, in spite of a happy and generous nature, had taken
advantage of the situation and become a little wilful. It is quite
natural it should be so, when she so often heard Mother say, “Oh, give
it to Maysie, she has been so sick, you know;” or, “Let Maysie do it,
because she isn’t so strong as you are.”

So, when Hannah proposed that Maysie should be the one to tell Mother
that they had been keeping a dog for the last week, and ask her to let
them take it into the house to live, Maysie answered confidently,—

“All right, I’ll ask her.”

“That will settle my business,” said Toby to himself, as the children
trooped up the dark and narrow stairways of the tenement-house. “No
chance for me now to slip my collar. So here I shall have to stay, and
good-bye to the fields I love so much.”

The children went up to the very top tenement of the house, and stopped
a moment before opening the door.

“Give her the cakes before you tell her about the dog, Maysie,” said
Johnny in a loud whisper.

“Of course I shall,” replied Maysie, shrewdly. “Don’t I know she will
be more likely to give in after she sees the beautiful cakes?”

They found the table set for the simple supper, and their mother busily
sewing. The father of the family worked in a machine-shop, and in busy
seasons the work went on by night as well as by day; so the children
saw little of their father, who, when he worked nights, was obliged to
sleep part of the day.

The mother looked up as the children entered the room. Care and hard
work had left their impress on her face, for it was thin and worn, but
it brightened as her eyes fell on the faces of the happy children.

“I was afraid that something had happened to you,” said the mother.
“What kept you so long?”

“We couldn’t find the house at first,” said Hannah; “and when we did
find it, they made us wait until the lady looked at the work to see if
it suited. She says she shall have some more for you in a few days.”

“And we stopped to look in at the windows of a fine shop where they
sell all kinds of lovely cakes, and a beautiful, kind gentleman asked
me would I like some, and I said I would, and he went inside and bought
me a great bag full of the most beautiful ones you ever saw, and we
brought one of each kind home to you, Mother dear,” said Maysie,
putting the package of cakes in her mother’s lap.

“I hope you didn’t ask him for any?” said Mother.

“N—o,” replied Maysie, somewhat embarrassed. “I didn’t ask him for
cakes, did I?” she asked, turning to her brother and sister.

“You didn’t ask him out and out, but you asked him for a cent, and he
asked what did you want it for, and you said, ‘Cake,’” replied Hannah.

“Why, Maysie,” said Mother, reproachfully, “that is real begging! The
gentleman thought you were a little beggar girl.”

“I can’t help it,” said Maysie, beginning to cry. “The cakes did look
so nice, and I wanted to see if they would taste as nice as they
looked. He needn’t have given me so many. I only asked for just one
cent.”

“Well, don’t ever do it again, dear,” said Mother; for Maysie was
making herself very miserable over the affair, and she couldn’t bear
to see Maysie unhappy. “I guess that there’s no harm in doing it this
once. I don’t wonder you wanted to get a taste of the nice cakes. It’s
kind of tantalizing to see them before your very eyes and never to know
how they taste.”

“I will never ask any one to give me a cent again,” said Maysie between
her sobs; but Maysie was never unhappy long at a time, so she soon
regained her cheerfulness, and came to the conclusion that she had not
done such a very bad thing after all.

All this time Johnny had been standing behind the stove, keeping Toby
out of sight. This was hard to do, for Toby was a restless little
fellow, and Johnny knew that if he should move about much, his feet
would make such a noise on the bare floor that he would be discovered
before Maysie would have time to plead for him. Johnny at last
succeeded in catching Maysie’s eye, and gave her to understand that it
was high time to broach the subject; and Maysie, who never allowed the
grass to grow under her feet, began at once.

“Mother dear,” she said, going up to her mother and giving her an
affectionate hug and kiss, “we saw a poor little dog who didn’t have
any home, and he was so cold and hungry! Can’t we just take him in? He
won’t be any trouble at all.”

“No,” replied Mother, firmly, “we haven’t any room for dogs. They eat a
lot, and are a great bother. No, you can’t.”

“But he is so little he will hardly eat anything, and we can each of us
save him a little mite from our share every day, and then you see it
won’t cost anything. Do say ‘yes,’ Mother dear;” and Maysie grew more
affectionate than ever.

“No,” said Mother, firmly, “you mustn’t think of it. Father would never
allow it. He doesn’t like to have dogs around.”

“We will keep him out of Father’s way,” pleaded Maysie. “He would be
ever so much company for me when I am sick and have to stay in, and the
others away at school. It’s awfully lonesome for me then.”

Mother thought of the many days when little Maysie was laid up with the
colds that always lasted so long and made her so pale and weak, and she
began to give way. It was true that a little playmate at those times
would amuse the poor child, and after all it could not cost much to
keep a little dog. The greatest obstacle in the way was Father. What
would he say?

The children, eagerly watching their mother’s face, saw these signs of
weakening, and were sure that they had gained their cause. Toby, too,
with his true dog’s instinct, saw it even sooner than the children
did, and before Johnny knew what he was about, gave a sudden jerk to
the cord that held him. It slipped through Johnny’s fingers, and Toby,
finding himself free, quickly ran up to the mother’s side, and sitting
up on his hind legs, begged with all his might to be allowed to stay.

“Mercy on us,” exclaimed the astonished mother. “You don’t mean to say
that you have brought him here already?”

Toby looked so small and thin, and his eyes had such a pleading
expression, that the mother’s soft heart was touched. “You poor little
fellow,” she said, picking him up and stroking him gently, “I think we
can spare enough to keep you from starving.”

“We have kept him tied up in the shed a whole week,” said Johnny,
boldly, “and it hasn’t cost a bit more. I wouldn’t mind being a little
hungry myself, to save something for him.”

“I don’t think it will be necessary to go so far as that,” replied
Mother. “What troubles me most is to keep him from annoying Father. You
know he isn’t fond of dogs, and he mustn’t be troubled when he works so
hard.”

“He is a real quiet dog,” said Johnny. “I don’t believe he will disturb
him a mite.”

So Toby’s fate was settled, and he had a good supper and a share of the
cakes besides, for Mother could not be prevailed upon to eat them all
herself, and divided them with the others, Toby included.

Then came the important question of sleeping quarters. The cold
shed was not to be thought of, and it ended by the indulgent mother
consenting to his sleeping at the foot of Johnny’s bed. This was good
news for Toby, who was always lonesome when he had to sleep all by
himself. So the dog’s heart was no less happy than the children’s, and
they all went cheerfully to bed so soon as it was decided what was to
be done with Toby.

Johnny’s room was small and dark, not larger than a good-sized closet,
but it seemed as luxurious as a palace to little Toby after the dark,
cold shed. He was put to bed at Johnny’s feet after an affectionate
leave-taking by the two girls. For a while he lay very still, but as
soon as Johnny was asleep, he crept toward the head of the bed, and at
last settled himself so closely to the sleeping boy that he could lick
the hand that lay outside the bed-clothes.

“You are so kind to me,” said Toby to himself, “that I don’t believe I
should have the heart to run away, even if I could. I should like to
get a glimpse of the beautiful fields, though.”

So saying, the grateful little dog closed his eyes, and in a few
moments he, too, was fast asleep, and dreaming that he was racing over
his beloved fields, with Johnny close at his heels.



CHAPTER SIXTH


KIND-HEARTED Mr. Ledwell had already started inquiries concerning
the blind boy’s mother. In a large city where there are so many
institutions for receiving these unfortunate cases, this takes much
time. Then, at the time the sick woman was taken away, she was
unconscious, and, if she were still living, perhaps she was still too
ill to tell her name. Mr. Ledwell also consulted an oculist in regard
to Billy’s eyes, and he expressed an opinion that Billy’s sight might
be restored. First, however, there must be an operation, and, to
prepare for that, Billy must have the best of care, in order to become
as strong as possible. Life in an engine-house, kind as the men were
to him, was not the place to bring this about. He ought to have a
woman’s care,—one who would bathe and dress him, and give him the most
nourishing food to eat.

Such a woman Mr. Ledwell found. She had been nurse to Sam’s father,
and had received so many kindnesses from the family that she was only
too happy to return some of the favors she had received from them. She
was now a widow, and lived in a quiet street not very far from the
engine-house.

At first Billy took the idea of the change very much to heart. He
couldn’t bear the thought of leaving his kind friends and Jack. He was
a very obedient little fellow, though, and when the state of affairs
was explained to him, and he was promised frequent visits from his
friends, Jack included, he tried to make the best of it.

“Only think, Billy, you will be able to see the blue sky and the faces
of your friends,” said Mr. Ledwell, “and your good friend Jack who
saved your life; and by and by we shall find your mother, and you can
see her, which will be the best of all.”

Billy had used the eyes of others for so long that he did not realize
how much he should gain; but he tried to be as cheerful as possible,
because he wanted to please those who had been so good to him.

One morning Mr. Ledwell and Sam called to take him to his new home.
As Reordan dressed his little friend for the last time, it was well
that Billy could not see; for the tender-hearted fireman was so sorry
to part with his little charge that he looked very sad. Although
Billy could not _see_ the grief in Reordan’s face, he felt it in the
tones of his voice and in the gentle touch of his hand, and the tears
were running down the blind boy’s face. This sight was too much for
tender-hearted Reordan, whose own eyes began to look very moist.

Sam looked from one to the other, and his usually bright, happy face
grew serious. He tried hard to keep back the tears, but they would
come, in spite of the effort he made. At last, with the tears running
over his cheeks, he burst out,—

“I don’t see what there is to cry about. I am praying to God to make
Billy see, and I know He will do it.”

“You are right, Sam,” said his grandpapa. “There _isn’t_ anything to
cry about. Billy is going to a pleasant home, and by and by he will see
us all, and we shall find his mother, and he will be as happy as he can
be.”

Jack all this time had been eagerly watching the faces about him. He
could never bear to see anybody unhappy, and there he sat, softly
crying to himself, and doing his best not to make any noise about it.
He looked as if he wanted to remind them that all would come out right
in the end, but they were not thinking of him. So, when Mr. Ledwell
expressed exactly what Jack wanted to say, he could not contain himself
any longer and broke into a loud howl.

“There!” exclaimed Reordan, “now that we have set Jack going, I guess
it’s about time for us to stop. You’re all right, aren’t you, Kid?”

“Y—s,” sobbed Billy.

“So there isn’t any need to worry. Come on, Kid!” and suddenly catching
up the little boy, Reordan seated him upon one of his broad shoulders,
and set off at a rapid gait for the sleigh.

“Good-bye, Kid! Come and see us soon!” the firemen called out; and the
blind boy answered their good-byes all the way to the sleigh.

There was such a bustle in starting, the horses, who had grown
impatient at waiting, setting the sleigh-bells a-ringing as they pawed
the snow and fidgeted about in their harnesses, that Billy grew quite
excited, and became cheerful again. He waved his farewells as the
sleigh drove off, and called out “Good-bye” so long as his voice could
be heard.

“Poor little kid!” said Reordan; “I wouldn’t have believed that it
would be so hard to part with him.”

Jack looked after the sleigh with sad eyes and drooping tail, then
silently went back to the engine-house and lay down where he could
hear the bell if it struck. He hoped it would, for Jack was so strictly
business-like that he never liked to give way to his feelings. He lay
still for some time, thinking of Billy’s pleasant ways and the good
company he always was, and he grew sadder and sadder. Hardest of all
was it to hear the firemen say that they didn’t believe the operation
on his eyes would be successful, and that he would probably always be
blind. Jack was beginning to think that he would not be able to bear
the suspense much longer, when all at once the gong in the engine-house
struck.

In an instant the firemen and Jack were all on their feet, every
thought of the blind boy lost in the hurry and excitement of starting
to the fire. A minute more, and the engine was on its way, the horses
dashing along at full speed, with Jack tearing madly ahead, the notes
of the bugle clearing the crowded streets as if by magic.

It was a hard fire to fight, for the building was high and lightly
built, and by the time our engine reached the spot, flames were pouring
out of the lower stories. Ladders were placed against the burning
building, and the firemen mounted them to reach the roof. Among the
men on the roof were those of Engine 33. Jack watched them hard at
work, and longed to be with them. Sometimes they had carried him up the
ladders, but not to such a height as this.

Jack felt hurt and neglected, for was he not one of the company? He was
anxious, too, for how could they manage without him? It would not look
well if any of his friends should see him standing there safely on the
ground, while the lives of the rest of the company were in danger. Jack
would have preferred to walk into the midst of the blaze rather than be
thought a coward.

All at once a thought struck him. The next building was of the same
height as the burning one. Jack remembered that when a building was
burning in the lower stories, so that the firemen could not enter it,
they often reached the roof through a neighboring one. The Fire-Dog
always acted promptly, and in an instant he was at the door of the
adjoining building. It was an hotel, and he had not many seconds to
wait before some one came out. In a twinkling in crowded Jack, before
the door had time to swing back, and he was on his way to the stairs.

In the excitement caused by the fire, nobody noticed a strange dog
hurrying through the halls and up the stairways, and Jack soon reached
the upper story. The firemen were there before him, and the skylight
through which they had gone was left open. They were playing on the
roof of the hotel as well as into the burning building.

Jack crossed over the streams of water that were running over the roof,
and joined his company. Keeping as close as possible to his particular
friend Reordan, he followed his every movement; and Reordan, hard at
work, with no thought for anything but the duty before him, was glad
of the dog’s company. This feeling was not expressed in words, but a
glance of his eye as the Fire-Dog found him was as good as words for
faithful Jack, who held himself ready to share the fireman’s fate,
whatever it might be.

While hard at work, the chief espied Jack. “How did that dog get up
here?” he asked in astonishment.

“Up the ladder, sir,” replied Reordan, promptly; for he never lost an
opportunity to show off Jack’s intelligence.

“Well, that beats the Dutch,” said the chief. “It isn’t natural for a
dog to mount ladders. He’ll come to a bad end.”

“The chief doesn’t like Jack,” said Reordan to himself. “I must keep
him out of his way, or there’ll be an order to get rid of him. Keep
close, Jack, old boy!”

Jack too understood by the chief’s tone and by the expression of his
face that he was no favorite with him, for dogs often _feel_ the way
people think of them even more than people do. “I shall take care to
keep out of _his_ way,” said Jack to himself, as he followed his friend
Reordan about.

The firemen’s work was over at last, and Jack betook himself to the
street by the way he had come, and by the time his company had reached
the street there was Jack, standing by the horses’ heads ready to
start. The men, wet and tired, jumped upon the engine, and they started
for home, Jack trotting leisurely along the sidewalk, as was his custom
after a fire. Now that the excitement of the fire was over, he was
beginning to think how lonely it would be in the engine-house without
his little companion Billy.

“Nobody there to hug me and say, ‘Glad to see you back, you brave old
Jack! I wonder if you saved any little boy’s life to-day, Jack.’ No, I
shall not hear those pleasant words any more. How lonesome it will be!”

With these thoughts in his mind, whom should he see coming towards
him but his old friend the bull-dog Boxer? He was a white dog, and
he usually looked very clean, for he was always bathed once a week.
He had told Jack about it, for he didn’t enjoy the operation,
they scrubbed him so hard and used carbolic soap, which was very
disagreeable to him. They usually managed to let some of the suds get
into his eyes, and it made them smart dreadfully. This bath always took
place on Monday, after the maids were through washing, and Jack smiled
to himself as he recalled how Boxer often managed to be out of the way
when washing morning came around. This was Monday morning, and Jack
said to himself, “I’d be willing to bet a good-sized bone that Boxer
got around that bath to-day.”

It certainly looked as if he had, for Boxer’s white coat looked very
dingy against the white snow. It looked rough, too, and there was an
ugly gash over one of his eyes. “He’s been in a fight,” said Jack to
himself. “I don’t doubt he’s been having a beautiful time.”

So soon as Boxer espied Jack coming towards him his whole appearance
changed. His tail stood up straight and stiff, his hair rose in a
ridge along his spine, and he walked on tiptoe as if he were treading
on eggs and didn’t want to break them. His eyes grew fierce-looking and
seemed to bulge more than ever, although he had naturally very full
eyes. He licked his chops, too, and seemed to swell to twice his usual
size. All the time he looked straight ahead as if he didn’t see Jack at
all.

“Now this is too absurd, to keep up such a feeling,” said Jack to
himself, for thinking about little Billy had put him in a very soft
mood. So he stopped just as he was opposite his old friend.

“Hallo, Boxer!” he called in a pleasant voice.

Boxer, however, did not return the salutation, although he settled down
to a walk and seemed to be shivering.

“It seems to me that such old friends as we ought not to pass one
another in this way. What’s the use in quarrelling? Life is too short
for that. Come over this afternoon and see me. I’ve got some fine
bones that have been buried a long time, and they must be about mellow
by this time. Come over, and we’ll try ’em and talk over old times
together.”

While Jack was making this amiable speech, Boxer was walking on tiptoe
in a circle about him, and looking at him out of the corners of his
eyes. When a dog does that it means that he wants to pick a quarrel,
and he holds himself ready to spring on the other dog at the first
disagreeable word he utters. Jack, however, would not utter that word,
he was determined to make peace.

“There are no friends like old friends,” said Jack, pleasantly, “and I
can’t afford to lose any of mine. Don’t let a few hasty words keep us
apart any longer. I’m sure I’m sorry for my part of the affair, and I
can’t say any more than that.”

Boxer stopped walking about in circles, and seemed to be swallowing
something that stuck in his throat. The ridge on his back went down,
too, and his tail didn’t stand up as stiffly. These are signs that a
dog has given up his intention of fighting.

“The quarrel was not of my making,” he growled at last.

“I’m willing to take all the blame of it,” replied Jack, who was
thankful to find his old friend coming around, for he knew that a
bull-dog couldn’t be expected to do this at once. “I’ve lots to tell
you. You don’t know anything about the blind kid who’s been stopping
with us. I’ll tell you about him and about the little yellow dog Toby
who was lost, and how I happened to come across him. I gave him your
rules about slipping a collar. You know you taught them to me. I doubt
if he’s a dog of enough character to carry it out. He looked kind of
weak in his mind.”

“If he’s that kind of a dog, he’d better stay where he is,” growled
Boxer.

“I wouldn’t wonder if he did,” replied Jack, “but we’ll see. He seemed
to have a great respect for you when I told him about you, and said he
should like to meet you.”

This was very gratifying to Boxer’s feelings, and his reserve began to
thaw still more. Good-natured Jack saw the advantage he had gained, and
took his leave, saying,—

“Well, be sure and come over this afternoon and we’ll talk things
over. The blind kid’s story is very interesting. I should like to do
something for him, and we’ll think what can be done. Two heads are
better than one, you know, and yours is worth more than mine any day.”

“I’ll come around if I find time,” replied Boxer, for Jack’s tactful
words had done their work, and Boxer’s voice had lost so much of its
growl that it sounded quite natural again.

“Good-bye, then,” said Jack; and Boxer responded cheerfully, for at
heart he was glad to be at peace with his old friend, although his
nature was such that he could not have brought it about by himself,
even if Jack had met him two-thirds of the way.

“Now he’ll go home and have his bath, and it will cool his brain, and
he will be all right by afternoon,” said Jack to himself, as he betook
himself to the engine-house. “He gave in pretty well for a bull-dog,
and it didn’t hurt me a bit to take more than my share of the blame. My
shoulders are broad enough to bear it.”



CHAPTER SEVENTH


IT is time to follow the little blind boy to his new home. After a
short time the sleigh turned into a quiet, narrow street and stopped
before a small house. There was a look of unusual neatness about it,
from the carefully brushed steps to the freshly washed windows and
spotless curtains. The small bay window of the front parlor was filled
with plants and trailing vines, and in the midst of them hung a shining
brass bird-cage, the bird singing so loudly that his blithe voice
reached the ears of the occupants of the sleigh.

The front door was thrown open, not just far enough for a person to
enter, but _wide_ open as if in welcome, and in the doorway stood a
stout woman with gray hair and a motherly, smiling face.

“Here is the new boy I have brought you, Mrs. Hanlon,” said Mr.
Ledwell, “and I think you will find him as good as they make them.”

“I am sure I shall, sir,” she replied in a cheery voice that just
suited her pleasant face; as she looked down at the blind boy’s patient
face, she added to herself, “poor little soul!”

“You must manage to make him as plump and rosy as Sam is,” said Mr.
Ledwell. “If you can’t do it, I don’t know who can.”

“I will do my best, sir, never fear,” replied Mrs. Hanlon; “but come
in out of the cold, sir. I hope you will be satisfied with the room
I’ve fixed up for the little boy. I took the front chamber up one
flight, because you said he must have all the sun he could get, and the
furniture you sent for it is beautiful.”

She led the way upstairs, holding Billy fast by the hand. The blind
boy’s keen instinct, as soon as he heard the pleasant voice and felt
the kind touch of her hands, told him into what motherly care he had
fallen, and he followed her with perfect confidence. She opened the
door of the chamber that was now to be his, and even Sam, accustomed to
every luxury in his beautiful home, thought this one of the prettiest
rooms he had ever seen.

“Oh, Billy,” he exclaimed excitedly, “you don’t know how pretty it is.
There’s a little white bed with beautiful pink roses all over it, and
a little white bureau, and white chairs, and there are pretty white
curtains at the windows tied back with pink ribbons; and there are such
be-au-ti-ful plants in the window, and there are real nice pictures
hanging around. There’s a dog that looks just like Fire-Jack.”

“This is your own little room, Billy,” said kind Mr. Ledwell, “and I
hope you will be very happy here. Before long, you know, you will be
able to see for yourself how everything looks.”

“Yes,” said Sam, eagerly, “it’s only a few days now until Christmas,
and I’m praying away like everything.”

“Oh, the dear child!” said Mrs. Hanlon, watching Sam’s excited face.

“It may not come quite so soon as Christmas, Sam,” Grandpapa said.

“Oh, yes, it will, Grandpapa,” replied Sam, confidently. “It’s to be my
Christmas present, you know. Didn’t my little pony come when I asked
for it?”

“Well, I hope it will,” answered Grandpapa, “but you mustn’t be
disappointed if it doesn’t come the very day you expect it.”

“Why, of course it will! You see if it doesn’t!” said Sam, with his
decided nod.

Mrs. Hanlon had indeed made a very attractive room with the aid of the
furniture Mr. Ledwell had so generously given. “He is one who never
does anything by halves,” Mrs. Hanlon had said, when she saw the neat
white furniture. A cheap, brightly figured spread for the bed and
simple curtains for the windows, in which she placed a few of her many
plants, made a pretty, cosey room. Mr. Ledwell had also sent a few
pictures of children and animals that would take the fancy of any boy
or girl.

“Well,” said Mr. Ledwell, at last, “now that we have seen Billy so
comfortably settled in his new home, we must be thinking about our own
home. Grandmamma will think we are lost if we are not in season for
lunch.”

“Oh, no, I don’t think she will,” answered Sam.

Then Grandpapa saw that Sam evidently had something on his mind,
because he was not ready to start, as he usually was. “What is it,
Sam?” he asked.

“I am thinking that it will be kind of lonesome here for Billy the very
first day,” replied Sam. “Couldn’t I stay to lunch with him?”

“I think it would be more polite to wait till you are invited, Sam,”
said Mr. Ledwell.

“Oh, do let him stay to dinner, sir,” said Mrs. Hanlon, eagerly. “He
hasn’t been here for a long time, and I have missed him dreadfully.”

“I am afraid it will put you to too much trouble,” answered Mr. Ledwell.

“No, indeed, sir, it’s no trouble at all. It’s a real pleasure.”

“Well, if you are sure he will not be in the way, I will leave him.”

So Sam was allowed to stay to lunch, with Billy, and it would be hard
to say which was the more pleased with the arrangement.

One of the greatest treats Sam knew, was to occasionally make a visit
to this old friend of the family. He was treated like a king on these
visits, for Mrs. Hanlon thought that nothing could be too good for the
son of the baby she had nursed. She always cooked the dishes she knew
he liked, and then followed what he liked best of all,—stories about
his papa when he was a little boy.

“I think these are the very prettiest dishes I ever saw,” said Sam, as
they sat down at the neatly spread table in the cosey dining-room. “I
wish we had some just like them.”

[Illustration]

“They ain’t much by the side of the beautiful ones you have at home.”

“Oh, yes, they are,” replied Sam. “You ought to see them, Billy.
They’ve got beautiful red and yellow flowers painted all around the
edges.”

“Things always look and taste better to us when we’re out visiting than
when we’re at home,” said Mrs. Hanlon. “I don’t see what makes you like
to come here so well, Sam, when you have everything so nice at home.”

“I like your _food_,” replied Sam, “it is a great deal nicer than what
we have.”

“Well, I never!” exclaimed Mrs. Hanlon.

Somehow it happened that the dinner was what Sam liked best, and he
thought it very strange; but Mrs. Hanlon wanted the little blind boy to
feel at home as soon as possible, and she had what she thought the boys
would like.

There was beafsteak that Sam liked so much, and baked potatoes,
that Mrs. Hanlon always let him open and spread himself, and sweet
cranberry sauce, exactly the way he liked it, and hot biscuits, as
white and fluffy as cotton wool when he broke them open, so much nicer
than the cold rolls or bread and butter he had at home. Then, when they
had eaten all these things, there was a nice little pudding with the
cold, hard sauce Sam liked so well.

The best part of this was that Sam was allowed to prepare his own food
all by himself, instead of having it cut up for him just as if he were
a baby. To be sure, his knife sometimes slipped when he was cutting
his meat, and a little gravy would be spilled on the white tablecloth;
and once or twice a piece of meat flew off his plate and lighted in
the middle of the table, but Mrs. Hanlon didn’t care one bit, and she
thought he did splendidly, so Sam didn’t feel badly at all about it.

Poor Billy had to have his food prepared for him, but he managed to
feed himself very well, and everything tasted as good to him as it did
to Sam. There was very little talking during the dinner, both boys
were so hungry, but when they were through and Mrs. Hanlon was washing
the dishes in the little pantry, they followed her there. Sam told
her all about the Christmas presents he was to give, all except the
one he had for her, and he told her she must hang up the very largest
stocking she had, and he was afraid the present wouldn’t go in then.
She must hang up one for Billy, too, he said, because he would have
some presents.

“Does Santa Claus bring all the presents, Sam?” asked poor little
Billy, whose experience in presents had been very limited.

“No,” replied Sam, very decidedly, “I don’t believe he does. Why, he
couldn’t get around to all the places, you know. Even God Himself would
have to hustle.”

“Did I ever tell you what your papa did one Christmas, Sam?” asked Mrs.
Hanlon.

“No, you never did. Do tell us, please.”

“Well,” said Mrs. Hanlon, as she wrung out her dishcloth, “you two boys
go into the parlor, and just as soon as I get my dishes put away I’ll
come in and tell you about it.”

So the two boys went into the parlor to wait for the promised story,
and Sam, to while away the time, told Billy about the present he had
for Mrs. Hanlon, first extracting a solemn promise that he would keep
the secret to himself, and not on any account breathe a word of it to
Mrs. Hanlon. Billy having pledged his word, Sam in a loud whisper,
which could easily have reached the ears of their hostess if she had
happened to be listening, explained that his Grandmamma had bought a
warm fur muff for her, and that he had bought her a beautiful necktie,
all with his own money which he had saved for the purpose.

“Now be sure you don’t tell her, Billy, for it would spoil all her
pleasure if she knew what was coming;” and Billy once more promised
solemnly not to breathe a word about it.

“You mustn’t hint, either, Billy, for that is just as bad; she might
guess, you know;” and Billy promised to be on his guard.

Soon Mrs. Hanlon came in, and seating herself in her sewing-chair, took
up some mending and announced that she was ready to begin her story.
Sam drew a low chair close to hers for Billy, seating himself directly
in front of her, where he could keep his eyes on her face and not lose
a single word.

“We’re all ready, Mrs. Hanlon,” said Sam, hitching his hassock a little
nearer in his impatience to have her begin.

“Well, Sam, when your papa was a little boy younger than you are, he
had a little bank made of iron and painted to look just like a real
bank where they keep money. It had a chimney on top with a hole big
enough to drop a nickel in, and he used to save all he got and drop
them in that way. He said he was going to keep putting them in until it
was full, and then he was going to open it and buy Christmas presents
with the money. It would have taken a bank as big as the State House to
hold nickels enough to buy all the presents he promised. He was going
to give me a gold watch and chain and ever so many other things that
cost ever so much. And he was going to give Cook a silk dress and a
pair of gold spectacles, and if he had money enough he said he should
buy her a little horse and carriage to take her to church in, because
she had grown kind of lame standing on her feet so much cooking. He had
promised all the others just as handsome presents, and he was so happy
talking about them that we enjoyed them as much as if we really had
them.

“Well, a few days before Christmas he was out walking with me, and we
passed a store not far from where we lived that was full of beautiful
candy of all kinds. In front of the windows there was a group of poor
children looking in and enjoying the bright paper boxes and plates
piled up with tempting candy.

“They were all talking together and saying what kinds of candy they
would give one another if they had money enough to buy it. They looked
real happy, too, choosing the candy they didn’t have any money to buy.

“‘Poor things!’ I said, ‘I don’t suppose they will have any Christmas
presents at all.’

“‘Haven’t they got any money at all?’ your papa asks.

“‘No, I don’t suppose they ever had a cent of their own, unless
somebody gave it to them.’

“‘Don’t they ever have any candy at all, or any Christmas presents?’
asks your papa.

“‘I don’t believe they do,’ I answers, ‘but they look just as happy as
if they did, and candy isn’t good for little folks, it makes them sick.’

“‘It doesn’t make me sick,’ says your papa, ‘and it tastes real good.’

“He looked very hard at the children, and I could see he felt very
badly about their not having any candy, and pretty soon I took him
home, for I didn’t want him to worry.

“Well, after we got home, your grandmamma called me into her chamber to
do something for her, and I left your papa looking out of the nursery
window at the passing. I often left him alone with the door open, and
he played nicely by himself. It took me quite a little time to do what
your grandmamma wanted of me, and when I went back to the nursery, not
a sign of your papa was to be seen. I thought perhaps he had slipped
down to the kitchen, he was so fond of talking to Cook, so I didn’t
feel anxious about him; but when I went down to the kitchen and found
he was not there, I can tell you I was pretty well scared. I hunted
through the house, but not a soul had seen him. The parlor girl said
she had heard the front door open a little while before, but she didn’t
notice who went out.

“All at once I thought of those children looking in at the candy store,
that your father had felt so sorry for. So off I started for it, and I
can tell you it didn’t take me very long to get there. Well, what do
you think I saw?”

“I don’t know,” replied Sam, breathlessly; “what was it?”

“Well, there stood your papa without any hat or coat on, and with his
little bank under one arm. He had unlocked it, and he was giving out
the nickels to the children just as fast as he could take them out,
bless his warm little heart! I never saw such a sight of children as
there were about him; where they could come from in such a little time
was a mystery; but there they were, crowding around him, and as fast as
one got a nickel, off he would run, and I don’t doubt sent others back
too.

“I can see your papa now just as plain as if it was yesterday. There
he stood in his little black velvet suit, with his hair blowing every
which way, and his eyes shining like stars, he was so happy.

“He didn’t seem at all surprised to see me, and called out, just as
happy, ‘They can have Christmas presents now, Mary. They have all got
some money, and they can buy just what they’ve a mind to.’

“‘What in the world shall I do without my gold watch and chain, and all
the other nice presents you were going to give me?’ I says.

“He looks rather crestfallen for a minute, as if that side of the
question hadn’t occurred to him before; then he says brightly,—

“‘You won’t mind waiting till next Christmas, will you, Mary? Papa will
give me some money to buy something for you with, and these poor little
children didn’t have any money at all.’”

“What did Grandpapa and Grandmamma say to him when he got home?” asked
Sam.

“Oh, bless you, they didn’t mind. He was a real chip off the old block.
In their family giving comes as easily as breathing.”

Other stories followed this one, and by and by the sleigh came to
take Sam home; and Billy bade him good-bye without a single homesick
feeling. What little homeless child _could_ have failed to feel at home
in such surroundings?



CHAPTER EIGHTH


A FLOCK of pigeons were walking about in front of the engine-house,
picking up the handful of grain that one of the firemen had thrown out
to them. They were not _all_ walking about, to speak accurately,—one,
the little black and white lame pigeon, was hopping, with one little
pink foot held closely against his warm feathers. Jack the Scrapper,
the large handsome dark-blue pigeon with the rainbow neck, was darting
in and out among the flock, seizing upon the largest grains, and
pecking at every pigeon who came in his way.

The pigeons always got out of the way when they saw the Scrapper coming
towards them. Sometimes a bold young pigeon would face him, and stand
his ground for a while, but he didn’t keep up his resistance very
long. The Scrapper was so much stronger and bolder that he always got
the better of the others in the end, and was worse than ever after
these triumphs.

The nearest the Scrapper ever came to defeat was when he was attacked
by the six-months white squab. The squab was large and strong for his
age, and as _good_-natured as the Scrapper was _ill_-natured. He had
long borne the Scrapper’s bullying ways with an ill grace, and once
seeing the bully peck sharply one of the mother pigeons who had meekly
brought up several broods in a most judicious manner, the spirited
squab could contain himself no longer, and flew at the bully with great
fury. Young as the white squab was, the Scrapper had to exert himself
to subdue him, and the valiant squab held out to the last. Although
conquered by brute force, his spirit was as dauntless as ever, and
he vowed dire vengeance so soon as he should have grown to his full
strength.

The white squab had mild eyes and a gentle disposition. He never
picked a quarrel, but never took an insult or saw the weak abused if he
could help it. These traits made him very popular with the flock, and
many of the older pigeons, as they saw him growing stronger and larger,
foretold that Dick the Scrapper would have to look out for himself
when the plucky squab should have attained his growth. Meanwhile
the squab himself said nothing on the subject, but went on his way
good-naturedly, growing stronger every day and pluming his feathers
with great care. He showed no fear of the Scrapper and never got out of
his way as the others did, but it was noticed that the Scrapper never
tried to take the white squab’s food away, nor ever pecked at him to
make him get out of his path. Perhaps he too saw how strong and big the
plucky squab was growing.

This day the flock of pigeons were feeding in front of the
engine-house, and the sparrows soon joined them, hopping in and out
among the pigeons so adroitly that even the Scrapper often found his
food vanish from before his very eyes just as he was on the eve of
picking it up. While they were thus engaged, the two dogs, Jack and
Boxer, came around the corner of the engine house, each with a bone in
his mouth, and they lay down in the sun in front of the engine-house to
eat their lunch in quiet.

The sparrows eyed the two dogs eagerly, hoping that something would be
left for them, for sparrows like to pick a bone as well as dogs do; and
the pigeons walked about, bobbing their pretty heads and cooing to each
other in low tones.

The two dogs were a long time at their repast, for it takes time for a
dog to crack a bone and get at the marrow, which is the sweetest morsel
of all. Not a word passed between them until the bones had been cracked
and the marrow eaten; then they allowed the sparrows to approach and
get what morsels they could from the pieces left.

After they had both lapped their chops in a genteel manner, they began
to talk about the matter that so interested the Fire-Dog.

“Now that the blind kid is so well looked after, the next step is to
find his mother. Mr. Ledwell is trying to hunt her up, but it takes
time.”

“The humans go about those things in such a round-about way,” said
Boxer, who was in an excellent humor after his savory lunch. “If they
knew enough to trust us a little more, they would do better.”

“I believe that the woman is dead,” said the Fire-Dog.

“No, she isn’t,” twittered a voice near by, and one of the sparrows
lighted in front of the two dogs. “No, she isn’t dead, for I’ve seen
her, and know just where she is.”

“How did you happen to find out so much?” asked Jack. “It is more than
likely that it isn’t Billy’s mother at all. You never saw her.”

“Yes, I have seen her,” twittered the sparrow. “We were there when she
fell down on the sidewalk, and we waited around until the ambulance
came and took her away. We flew after it, too, to see what was going
on, and we saw it stop before a big building, and saw them take her out
and carry her in.”

“Very likely she was dead,” said Jack. “_You_ couldn’t tell that, or
she may have died since.”

“No, she wasn’t dead. I could tell by the way they carried her. I know
she hasn’t died since, because I’ve seen her since through the window.
I light on a big tree that grows in front of the window, and I can see
just as plainly as if I were in the room.”

“It all sounds very well,” said business-like Jack, “but for all that
you may be mistaken. It may have been some other woman.”

“I am _not_ mistaken,” chirped the sparrow. “Here is a pigeon who has
talked with her, and he can tell you more about her than I can. I don’t
believe in trusting people too far, so I keep out of reach, but this
speckled pigeon can tell you more about her than I can. Come on, Pepper
and Salt, and tell Jack the Fire-Dog what you know about the blind
kid’s mother.”

The black and white pigeon hopped fearlessly up to the two dogs, and
modestly began his story:—

“You see, I can go ‘most anywhere because I’m lame and nobody would
hurt a lame pigeon.”

“Except Dick the Scrapper,” cooed a young pigeon in tones too low to
reach the Scrapper himself.

“Our friend the sparrow here had told me about the sick woman. He was
pretty sure it was the blind kid’s mother, but he didn’t dare to go too
near. (You know some people don’t like to have sparrows around.) So I
agreed to light on the window-sill and try to find out more. The sick
woman has begun to sit up now, and every day at about noon she sits in
an armchair close to the window. She looks awfully sick yet. Well, the
nurse who takes care of her sprinkled some crumbs on the window-sill,
and when I ate them she was ever so pleased. ‘I believe he would let us
touch him, he looks so tame,’ she said one day; and the nurse said, ‘I
don’t believe it, he’d fly off if you put your hand out towards him.’ I
didn’t, though, and she was more pleased still when I hopped in and let
her stroke my feathers. ‘Poor little thing, he’s lame!’ she said when
she saw my crippled foot. ‘Oh, how my poor little boy would love you!
He couldn’t _see_ you, though, for he’s blind!’ and then she fell to
crying and wondering what had become of her poor blind boy. The nurse
tried to comfort her, and I did my best to make her understand that the
blind kid was all right; but she didn’t take in what I said. I go to
see her every day, and rack my brains to think of some way of bringing
them together. I’ve tried to make Reordan follow me, but he hadn’t
sense enough to know what I wanted. So what can we do about it?”

“Nothing that I know of,” replied Jack. “So long as humans can’t
understand our language so well as we understand theirs, they will be
greatly hampered. It is a great misfortune.”

The bull-dog Boxer had listened with much interest to the stories of
the sparrow and the pigeon, occasionally licking his chops or shivering
slightly,—signs that he was deeply moved. As the Fire-Dog finished his
remark, he growled out,—

“Force them to it! That’s the only way!”

“But how?” asked the Fire-Dog. “That’s easier said than done. How would
you propose going to work?”

“Seize them by the trouser’s leg and _make_ them follow you.”

“And be taken for a mad dog,” remarked Jack.

“I shouldn’t care what they took me for,” replied Boxer, “so long as I
carried my point. If I once got a good grip, they’d follow.”

“Unless the trousers gave way,” remarked the Fire-Dog. “I’d bet on your
grip, Boxer. But, after all, that wouldn’t work, you know. We’ve got to
wait until the humans find out about it in their own slow way.”

A country wagon came by just then, and away fluttered the pigeons and
sparrows. Under the wagon trotted the large farm-dog who had told the
Fire-Dog about Toby.

“Any news of Toby?” he called out when he caught sight of the Fire-Dog.

“Not much. I know where he is, though. I’ve seen him.”

“You don’t say so? Well, why doesn’t he come home? He hasn’t gone back
on his old friends, has he? They say city life is kind of enticing. I
never had any desire to try it myself.”

“He has fallen into kind hands,” replied the Fire-Dog. “They are poor
people, but kind. I gave him your message, and he said he meant to
escape the first chance that offered. He may and then again he may not.
He struck me as kind of soft. Not a great deal of spirit, I should say.”

“You struck it right,” replied the farm-dog. “There isn’t a
better-meaning dog than Toby, but he isn’t very strong-minded.”

“From what I have heard about him, he must be a perfect fool,” growled
Boxer.

“Have you seen him?” inquired the farm-dog, bristling at once, for dogs
don’t like to have their friends insulted.

“No, and I don’t want to,” growled Boxer. “Hearing is bad enough, let
alone seeing.”

“Will you be kind enough to make that statement again?” asked the
farm-dog, marching up to the bull-dog with his legs and tail very
stiff, and a ridge of hair standing up straight on his back.

“As many times as you like,” replied the bull-dog, who had risen to his
feet and had begun to walk in a wide circle around the farm-dog.

“Now look here,” said the Fire-Dog, “fighting isn’t allowed on our
premises. If you want to fight, you must do it somewhere else. For my
part, I don’t see any occasion for fighting. I’ve led such a busy life
that I haven’t had any time to waste in that way, even if I had had the
inclination for it.”

“This is a question of honor,” replied the farm-dog, “and there is
only one way for dogs of spirit to settle it. Your friend there has
insulted a friend of mine, and unless he takes back his words we will
fight it out.”

“Take back my words?” growled Boxer. “What do you take me for?”

At this point a sudden and unexpected interruption came. The gong in
the engine-house struck sharply. The three grays came rushing out of
their stalls, and took their places in front of the engine. The harness
was let down from the pulleys that held it, and fastened into place.
The fire under the boiler was lighted, the driver was in his seat, the
men on the engine, and with a clatter of hoofs out they dashed, Jack
barking his maddest and bounding ahead in such excitement that all
other thoughts were driven out of his head.

As for the two dogs who a moment before were ready to engage in mortal
combat, they were so engrossed by the sudden interruption and the
excitement, that for the time everything else was forgotten. To the
farm-dog this was a novel sight, different from the way they did things
in his quiet town, and not a particle of the scene escaped him. The
bull-dog, with his natural pertinacity, was the first to return to
the subject of their late quarrel; but the farm-dog’s owner, who had
missed him, came back to hunt him up, and led him off, much to his
disappointment and the bull-dog’s also.

“Wait till the next time!” he snarled as he was led away.

“You’ll find me on hand!” growled Boxer.

Boxer was not usually so ill-natured as he appeared in this episode,
but it is true that he was of a peppery disposition, and not averse to
picking a quarrel. He would have given anything to have been a fire-dog
like Jack, and his disposition had become rather soured in consequence.
He was a steadfast friend, on the whole, and would have given his life,
if necessary, for his old friend Jack, whose good disposition made him
beloved of all.

So Boxer departed for home, thinking hard all the way, for he was a
conscientious dog in spite of his pugnacious temper, and, although he
would not have acknowledged it, he secretly wished that he had not been
so disagreeable to the farm-dog.

“What is the reason,” said Boxer to himself, “that when I so much
desire friends, I do the very thing to turn them against me? I suppose
it is because I was born so and can’t help it.”

If the farm-dog had seen the bull-dog on his return, playing with
his master’s little children, he would never have recognized him as
the same dog. They rolled over together on the floor, and no lap-dog
could have been gentler or more considerate than the bull-dog with his
massive jaws and grim expression. Thus it is with bull-dogs.



CHAPTER NINTH


WE must not forget Toby, the little yellow dog with the black,
turned-up nose. We left him comfortable and happy in his new home.
The children grew fonder of him every day, and their mother found him
no trouble at all and a cheerful companion when her children were at
school. He was a quiet little fellow, and after the children had left
for school and the morning’s housework was done, the mother would take
up her sewing, while Toby would seat himself near by where he could
watch her as she sewed. Whenever she looked up and glanced toward him
he would wag his tail and smile in the way dogs smile. If she spoke to
him, how fast his tail would go, and he would almost lose his balance
on the chair, he wriggled so hard. The affectionate little dog had
not forgotten how kindly she had received him the night the children
brought him into the house, and he felt very grateful to her.

Then, when the children came home, what a rejoicing there was! Little
Toby always heard their steps on the stairs before the mother did. At
the first sound he would prick up his ears and move just the tip of his
tail, for he was not _quite_ sure if the steps he heard were really
those of the children. Then, as the steps came nearer and he felt a
little more certain, his tail moved a little faster; and at last, when
there was no longer any doubt, his tail wagged as fast as he could make
it go, and he would run whining to the door. How he did wriggle his
little body as he jumped on them and tried hard to tell them how glad
he was to see them!

Then Johnny, and usually the two girls also, would take him out for
a run before supper. It was not like the runs he used to have in the
fields in his country home, but it was very pleasant after being pent
up in those small rooms.

The most unpleasant part of this new life was the fact that great care
had to be taken in order to keep him out of the way of the father of
the family, who did not like dogs. Whenever the children heard their
father’s step on the stairs, they always caught Toby up and whisked him
into Johnny’s little dark room, where he had to stay, as still as a
mouse, so long as the father was in the house. This was easily enough
done at night, but in the daytime it was pretty hard for the active
little dog to stay quietly in the dark room where there was not even a
window to look out of.

The father of the family, who didn’t like dogs, was just the kind of
man whom dogs didn’t like any better than he did them. Somehow or other
he always found dogs to be in his way. If a dog happened to be taking
a nap on the floor or on the sidewalk, instead of stepping to one side
so as not to disturb him, he always growled, “It is strange dogs
always manage to lie just where they are most in the way.” Or if a dog
barked to let people know somebody was coming, he would exclaim, “What
a nuisance that dog is with his barking!” In fact, whatever a dog does
is considered to be the wrong thing by such people, so it is no wonder
that dogs are not fond of them.

Toby had seen the father through a crack of the door and had heard his
voice, and he understood just what kind of a man he was, and that it
would be safer for him to keep out of his way.

Things went on in this way for almost a week, Toby being always hustled
out of sight so soon as the father’s step was heard on the stairs. At
last, however, Toby forgot all prudence and betrayed himself.

It was a clear, cold night, and Toby had been taken out by Johnny for a
run. The air was so crisp and cold that it was just right for a smart
run, and the boy and dog returned with sharp appetites for supper.
Toby’s keen little turned-up nose smelt the savory fumes of sausage
long before they reached the top story, and he knew that a portion
of it would be his—it would be mixed with bread and moistened with
hot water and perhaps a little gravy, but Toby knew just how good it
would taste. His sense of smell had not deceived him; as they entered
the kitchen, there were the sausages still sizzling on the stove and
smelling better even than they had at a distance.

“You shall have your share when we are through, little fellow,” said
the mother in her kind voice; and Toby knew she would keep her promise,
even if she went without any herself.

The table was set, the sausages dished, and the family seated around
the table, while Toby watched them with greedy eyes and watering mouth.
Suddenly the mother exclaimed,—

“There is Father coming! Run and put the dog out of sight, Johnny; he
mustn’t be bothered by him.”

So Johnny caught Toby up in his arms and hustled him off into his dark
room. He couldn’t bear to leave the little fellow alone in the dark;
so he left the door just ajar, that a crack of light might enter to
comfort him.

Toby had heard the step and recognized it long before the mother had,
but he didn’t want to leave those tempting sausages. They didn’t come
his way every day.

“Father is tired to-night,” said the mother in a low tone to the
children, “so you must be very good and quiet.”

The children knew by experience that when Father was tired he was
always cross and easily irritated. Mother was often tired, too, but it
did not make her cross, and the children learned to keep out of the way
as much as possible when Father came home “tired,” as he so often did.

There was never much conversation when Father was “tired,” and Toby
in his dark hiding-place could hear the rattling of dishes and could
smell the delicious odor of the sausages. Father had not been expected
so early, and Mother had bought a nice piece of steak for his supper,
but there was not time to cook it then, so the supply of sausages was
rather short. Each of the children, as was their custom since Toby had
been an inmate of the family, saved a little piece for him; but they
were very fond of sausages, and they did not have such luxuries very
often, so it really required no little sacrifice on their part. As for
Maysie, the piece she laid aside for Toby grew smaller and smaller as
she made up her mind to take just one more taste and then another. At
last it dwindled down to almost the size of a pea, and Maysie said to
herself,—

“It isn’t worth while to save such a little piece, it won’t be even a
taste;” so she ate that too.

The mother, however, seeing how small a portion the little dog was
likely to receive, ate very little of her portion.

At last the silence was broken by Maysie, who could never keep still
very long.

“There was a fire to-day right back of our schoolhouse, mother,” she
said, “and there were ever and ever so many engines there, and do you
mind the big black and white dog that came to our fire and found little
blind Billy? Well, he was there, too, and I patted him and he was very
kind to me.”

“He probably belonged to one of the engines,” replied Mother. “I have
heard that dogs sometimes do and that they go to fires whenever the
engine goes.”

“And a fine nuisance they must be, too!” muttered Father. “The men must
be fools to stand it. They always manage to get in the way when they
are least wanted.”

Now Toby from the next room had heard every word of the conversation.
When Maysie told about the black and white dog that belonged to one
of the fire-engines, Toby at once recalled the dog answering to that
description whom he had seen lying in front of the engine-house, and
who had taken such an interest in him. When he heard Father speaking of
him as a “nuisance,” it was too much for Toby, and, forgetting that he
was not to show himself, he darted through the partly opened door, and
boldly presenting himself before the startled family, declared that it
was not true, that the black and white engine-dog was _not_ a nuisance,
but a kind and obliging fellow!

“Where in the world did that dog come from?” demanded the father,
angrily. “How comes he to be snarling and growling around here?”

Although Toby was doing his best to defend the character of his friend
and was quite eloquent in dog language, it sounded to the ears of the
family like snarling and growling.

The children were too frightened to answer, and Mother undertook to
explain.

“It is a poor little lost dog the children found,” she said. “He was
half-starved and cold, and I let them take him in. He is a good little
fellow and doesn’t do any harm.”

“Doesn’t do any harm!” growled Father. “It is no harm, is it, to eat us
out of house and home, I suppose? I don’t work hard to feed lazy dogs,
let me tell you.”

“He eats very little,” said Mother, as she looked at poor Toby, who
stood shivering with fear as he heard the harsh tones of the father
of the family, and began to realize how imprudent he had been. “The
children each save a little from their portions, and it doesn’t cost
any more to keep him.”

“Turn him out!” ordered Father. “Here, you cur! you get out of this;”
and as he held the door open, out darted the little dog, expecting to
feel Father’s heavy boot as he went through.

Downstairs rushed poor Toby, so frightened it was a wonder he didn’t
fall headlong on his way. When he reached the street and felt the cold
night air, he stood still, uncertain where to go. The cold air had
seemed very pleasant to him when he had run races with Johnny, with the
prospect of a good supper and warm quarters before him; but now what
had he to look forward to? Roaming about the streets all night, hungry
and cold, was very different. The wind was sharp, and it blew through
Toby’s thin hair as he crouched on the steps of the tenement-house.
All at once he bethought him of the old shed where he had been tied
before the children had taken him into the house. It was cold and
cheerless, but better than nothing.

Toby groped his way to the shed, and sought the farther corner where
his bed had been made before. As he approached, a large rat started up.
Toby could hear him as he scurried away. There was a very little of the
straw left that the children had made his bed of; probably the rats had
carried the rest off to make their beds.

Toby sat down and tried to think what he had better do. He thought of
the warm, light kitchen from which he had been so cruelly driven, and
of the children crying to see him sent out into the cold. He recalled,
too, the kind and patient face of the mother of the family, and the
many kindnesses he had received at her hands.

“What a difference there is in people!” murmured poor Toby to himself,
as he thought of the kind reception he had met from the mother, and
then of the harsh voice that had sent him out into the cold night.

“Well, crying won’t mend matters,” said Toby to himself. “I’ll wait
until daylight, and then I’ll try my luck at finding my old home.”

He crouched upon the thin layer of straw which was all that protected
him from the cold floor of the shed. The bleak wind blew in through the
door, and forced its way through the large cracks in the sides of the
building, and Toby grew colder and colder. To stay there and perhaps
freeze to death some cold night was out of the question, and Toby made
up his mind that he would start out as soon as daylight dawned, and try
to find his way to the kind engine-dog who had been so good to him.

“If I were not so small that anybody could easily pick me up and carry
me off, I shouldn’t care so much; but I’m so small I shouldn’t stand
much chance.”

By and by Toby’s quick ears caught the sound of footsteps that he knew
were coming his way. “I thought she would hunt me up,” said Toby to
himself; “it is just like her.”

The steps came nearer and nearer, and at last, standing in the doorway
of the shed, he could see in the darkness the dim outlines of the form
of the children’s mother. “Doggy, Doggy!” she called softly, “are you
there?”

“Here I am!” answered Toby with a bark of joy, and with a bound he was
at her feet and trying to jump up and lick her hands.

“I have brought you something to eat, poor little fellow!” said the
kind woman, as she set a plate before him. It was the larger part of
her sausage that she had saved for him, mixed with bread and potato,
and it was warm. How good it did taste to the hungry little dog! and it
put warmth into his half-frozen little body, too.

The kind woman stayed for some time, petting the little dog and telling
him how sorry she was for him; and Toby tried hard in his dog’s way to
say that she need not feel so bad about it, and that he didn’t mind it
much, for he couldn’t bear to see her kind heart so touched. She had
brought a piece of an old woollen shawl with her, and before she left
she wrapped him up in it and told him she would bring him some dinner
the next day.

Then Toby was left alone once more, and the wind blew in at the open
door and through the wide cracks, and the rats scurried by him; but
Toby didn’t mind all this so much as he did before, because the warm
food had put warmth into his body and the kind words had warmed his
heart. He even fell asleep under the old woollen shawl, and when he
next opened his eyes the first rays of daylight were stealing in
through the doorway.

Toby started up at once, for he had intended to start even earlier
than this. As he passed to the street, he glanced up at the home from
which he had been driven. He had hoped to catch a glimpse of one of the
children or of the mother, but instead of that he heard on the stairs
the heavy tread of the father starting out to his work, and away sped
Toby without stopping to look behind him.

Jack the Fire-Dog was right in his estimate of Toby’s character. He was
not a dog of much strength of mind, and instead of hiding out of sight
until the man he so dreaded had passed, and then quietly making up his
mind which way he should go, as a stronger-minded dog would have done,
he rushed blindly along until he was out of breath. Then he stopped and
looked about him. Everything was new and strange to him. What should he
do?



CHAPTER TENTH


THE more Toby tried to think out a plan for action, the more undecided
he became, as is always the way with weak natures. The sun was now up,
and the great city was stirring with life. Wagons from the outlying
towns were coming into the city, shops were being opened, and sidewalks
and front steps were being washed and swept. But in the midst of all
this busy life not a soul had a thought for the poor little lost dog.
One boy, carrying a can of milk, did stop to pat him, but he had no
time to waste, and passed on.

“Oh, what shall I do? What _shall_ I do?” moaned Toby, helplessly.
“Such a big, big world, and no place for me!”

At the corner of a distant street he saw a group of dogs, all larger
than he was. They seemed, by the sound of their voices, to be
quarrelling, and Toby did not dare venture near them. He knew by
experience that when dogs are in a quarrelsome state of mind they are
on the lookout for some object upon which to vent their excitement,
and it was more than likely that they would turn the current of this
excitement upon him, a stranger in the city. City dogs, too, as a
general thing, do not like dogs from the country.

While Toby looked, the voices grew louder and more angry, and Toby knew
that the next move would be a general scrimmage, in which each dog
would blindly fight with the one nearest him, or, what was worse still,
all of them would attack one of the number. It is only the meanest kind
of dogs who do that, but tramp-street dogs are apt to do it. “What if
they should all fall upon me?” said timid little Toby; and without
stopping to see more, off he set at full speed.

The streets were now broader, and there were dwelling-houses
everywhere, instead of shops. Gradually the city was growing farther
and farther away, and before long fields and groups of trees were seen.
Toby turned into a broad avenue, and suddenly found himself in the
country. Broad fields lay around him, and just beyond appeared forest
trees. A pond, now frozen over, stood in one of the fields, and on
it were groups of happy children skating or playing games. Toby had
never heard of a park, and he wondered to see the roads so level and
everything so trim and neat. He stopped to rest and watch the children
on the ice. Soon the attention of the children was attracted to him.

Toby was fond of children, and when he saw a little boy coming towards
him he began to wag his tail in greeting. Then he jumped upon him and
tried to express his pleasure at meeting anybody who had a kind word
for him.

“Poor little fellow!” said the boy, stooping to pat the lost dog. “I am
afraid you are lost, and I think I had better take you to the Home.”
As he spoke, he took a leash from his pocket and was about to fasten it
to Toby’s collar, when away darted Toby as fast as his legs could carry
him.

“The foolish little dog!” exclaimed the boy, as he rolled up his leash
and put it back in his pocket. “I could have found a nice home for you
if you hadn’t been so silly.”

Toby did not know that this boy had saved the lives of many stray dogs
by taking them to the Home provided for those unfortunates. He always
carried a leash in his pocket for that purpose, and his bright young
eyes were very quick to detect a stray dog.

All that Toby knew about these public homes was what he had seen and
heard of the poorhouse in his native town. He had seen old men and
women sitting out on the benches under the trees in the summer time,
and he had seen their faces looking out of the windows in the winter
time. They looked to him very listless and forlorn, but he did not
know what would have been the fate of these aged people if they had
not had the shelter of this home. He had also heard people say, “Why,
I had rather go to the poorhouse than do that,” and so he had come to
consider that going to such an institution was about the worst thing
that could happen to anybody. A poorhouse for dogs Toby thought must be
a dreadful place, and he resolved that he would rather roam the streets
at the risk of starving or freezing than allow himself to be taken to
one.

So Toby ran until he reached the woods that he saw before him, and when
he found that the boy was not following him he slackened his pace.
Everything seemed very quiet and peaceful about him. Occasionally a
crow cawed from one of the tall hemlocks, the harsh voices of blue-jays
reached him from the clumps of neighboring trees, and the squirrels,
running along the branches or jumping from tree to tree, chatted in a
friendly manner with one another. Sparrows were there also, as happy
and satisfied with themselves as if their constant twittering were
melodious songs.

Toby watched all these inhabitants of the woods with great interest,
for the country-bred dog had often watched them, and he knew their
ways. It was soon evident to Toby that these little creatures were
expecting something to take place, and something of a pleasant nature,
too, for they were all in a happy mood. The sparrows flew backward
and forward, sometimes disappearing for a while, but always turning
up again as cheerful as ever. A flock of pigeons also appeared, and,
alighting on the snow, some walked about in search of any stray morsels
of food which might have been overlooked, while others took advantage
of this opportunity to put their plumage in order.

Toby, curious to see what it could be that these little creatures were
expecting, secreted himself behind a clump of barberry bushes and
waited. He thought his presence was not noticed, but he was mistaken.
The bright little eyes of the nuthatch were on him, and he was trying
his best to find out something about the stranger. Creeping along
the under side of a large limb that grew near the spot where Toby sat
hidden, the bright eyes watched every motion, for nuthatches are timid
birds and very suspicious of strangers.

All at once the sparrows who had disappeared from sight came flying
back in great excitement, twittering as they flew: “Coming! Coming! He
is almost here!” and immediately secured favorable positions on the
outskirts of the party.

No sooner had the sparrows settled themselves, than a sleigh drawn
by two handsome horses was seen approaching at a rapid rate. In the
sleigh were two little boys and a middle-aged gentleman. One of the
boys sprang out as soon as the sleigh stopped, and Toby noticed that he
had a basket in his hand. The other boy sat still until the gentleman
alighted and lifted him carefully out.

“Here they are, Billy!” exclaimed the little boy who had jumped out.
“They are all here, and Dick the Scrapper is here too, just as cross
as ever. Oh, you ought to see how handsome the squirrels look!”

“Can’t he see for himself, without that smart little chap telling him?”
muttered Toby to himself.

“No, he can’t,” replied a voice from above. “Don’t you see that he is
not a seeing child?”

Toby started, to find that he had been overheard, and looking up saw
the little nuthatch hanging head downward, eying him sharply.

“I didn’t know you were there,” murmured Toby, taken greatly by
surprise.

“I know you didn’t. I’ve been watching you for some time, and I can see
that you are a lost dog.”

Meanwhile Sam was scattering the contents of his basket far and wide,
reserving the finest of the nuts to tempt the squirrels to eat from
his hand. He did not forget the little blind boy, and gave the largest
share to him to hold.

As Toby looked from the face of the little boy who was lending his
eyes to his blind friend to the genial one of his grandpapa, he began
to be puzzled. “Where have I seen those faces before?” he said to
himself. “I am sure I have seen them somewhere. I know I have heard the
gentleman’s voice, too. You don’t hear such a pleasant one every day;”
and Toby shuddered as he recalled the harsh tones of the father of the
family.

Suddenly the vision of three children and a little dog looking
longingly in at the tempting display of a bake-shop rose before Toby’s
eyes, and he exclaimed aloud: “I have it! That is the gentleman who
gave the cakes to little Maysie! and how good they did taste!”

“I thought I heard a dog bark!” cried the little boy who had brought
the basket. “Didn’t you hear him, Grandpa?”

“Yes,” replied the gentleman, “and it came from behind those bushes.”

Sam ran around the clump of barberry bushes, and there crouched Toby,
trembling with excitement and anxiety. The kindly expression in the
little boy’s face, and the pleasant tones of his voice, however, won
the confidence of the timid little dog, and he made no resistance when
Sam stooped and took him up in his arms.

“He is a lost dog,” said Grandpapa, gently stroking Toby’s head. “It
will never do for him to wander around in this bleak place. We must
look after him.”

“I will wrap him up in the fur robe, and then he will be as warm as
toast,” replied Sam, carrying the little dog to the sleigh. When he was
placed in one corner of the roomy sleigh, on the soft cushion, and the
warm fur robe securely tucked about him, Toby was as comfortable as any
dog could hope to be.

Sam did not linger so long as usual this morning, feeding the birds and
squirrels. Finding a stray dog was an unusual excitement for him, and
he was eager to look after him. So he quickly emptied the contents of
his basket upon the snow, and the party started for home, leaving the
crumbs and nuts to be eaten at leisure.

Toby sat between the two boys, each having an arm around him, and the
sleigh started. Toby had never had a sleigh-ride before, and the rapid
motion of the sleigh, with the jingling of the bells quite excited him.
He sat up very straight, and pricked up his ears, while his little
black turned-up nose sniffed the fresh cool air.

“I can keep him, can’t I, Grandpapa?” asked Sam, hugging the little dog
closely to him; and Toby listened anxiously for the answer.

“I am afraid Grandmamma would not like the idea of having him around
the house,” replied Grandpapa. “A city house isn’t a good place to keep
a dog in.”

“But I could keep him tied up in the washroom.” Toby looked anxiously
from one to the other, while his fate was being settled.

“Oh, he would be a very unhappy little dog tied up by himself, Sam,”
said Grandpapa.

“Well, he could play out in the back yard, you know, and he could go to
drive with us,” pleaded Sam.

“He wouldn’t be happy kept so, Sam. He would feel like a little
prisoner. I am sure by his looks that he came from the country, and he
has probably had open fields to run about in. I don’t believe he was
ever kept tied.”

“What can we do with him, then?” asked Sam. “If he can’t tell us where
his home is, how can we take him back? I hope you don’t mean to have
the poor little fellow lost again;” and Sam’s face grew as anxious as
Toby’s.

“Of course I mean to provide for him, Sam,” said Grandpapa. “It is true
we can’t take him to his own home, as he isn’t able to speak and tell
us where it is, but we will do the next best thing. We will take him
to the Home that receives all the stray dogs and cats that are taken
there. It is called the ‘Animal Rescue League.’”

At these words Toby took alarm and gave a great bound to free himself.
In another instant he would have leapt from the sleigh, but Sam was
ready for him and tightened his grasp on the foolish little fellow.

“Why, he tried to jump out of the sleigh,” said Sam. “Do you suppose he
heard what you said, Grandpapa?”

“Dogs often seem to understand what is said about them,” replied
Grandpapa; “but he would be very foolish to object to being taken to
such a pleasant place. He will have the kindest care until a good home
is found for him.”

“Will they let him play?” asked Sam, greatly interested, and continuing
to keep a strong hold upon the struggling Toby.

“Certainly they will, and he will find other dogs there too. I don’t
doubt he will have a fine time.”

Foolish Toby kept up his struggles at intervals, for he couldn’t bear
the thought of being taken to the Home. “A dog’s poorhouse, that is
what it is,” he said to himself.

“I wonder how they happened to think of making a home for dogs that are
lost,” said Sam.

“I can tell you what I know about it,” said Grandpapa. “A very
tender-hearted lady who loves dogs and cats, thought there should be
some place in the city where lost and neglected animals could be sent.
So she went about to see people, and wrote letters about it until she
got people sufficiently interested to give money towards it. Then they
hired a house in the middle of the city, and all the stray dogs and
cats people find are taken there and kindly cared for.”

“That lady must be very kind,” said Sam, thoughtfully. “I should like
to see her.”

“Perhaps you will some day. They had a Christmas-tree for the dogs and
cats last year, and I’m told they all had a fine time.”

Sam burst out laughing, and Billy laughed too, to think of a
Christmas-tree for dogs and cats.

“I suppose they put on it all sorts of things that dogs and cats
like,” said Sam, “bones and cakes and all such things.”

“Perhaps they put on some things for them to play with,” said Billy,
who had listened with great interest to all Mr. Ledwell had said about
the Home.

“I shouldn’t wonder if they did,” said Grandpapa.

“And I guess they put saucers of milk and plates of nice food under the
tree,” said Billy, who had a good deal of imagination.

Toby listened to this conversation and ceased to struggle. All this
sounded very well, if it were true, but he expected to find at the Home
dogs sitting about listlessly, just as he had seen the old people at
the poorhouse in his town. The story of the Christmas-tree pleased him
greatly. “Perhaps, after all, it is not so bad as I expected,” said
Toby to himself, as the sleigh stopped.

“Here we are!” said Grandpapa, as he got out and took Toby in his arms.

“It doesn’t look like a Home,” said poor Toby to himself. He had
expected to see a large brick building standing by itself like the
poorhouse. “It looks just like the other houses.”

“Don’t be afraid, little fellow,” said Mr. Ledwell, as he felt Toby
tremble. “Nobody is going to hurt you. You stay in the sleigh with
Billy, Sam. I will bring you both to see the little dog when he feels
at home.”

Mr. Ledwell entered the house and set the little dog on the floor. Poor
Toby was so limp from fear that he could hardly stand, but remained in
the spot where he was placed with drooping head and tail.

“I have brought you a new dog,” said Mr. Ledwell, addressing a
rosy-cheeked young woman. “Have you a place for him?”

“He doesn’t take up much room, that is certain,” replied the young
woman, stooping to pat the frightened little creature. “Yes, I guess we
can manage it.”

At these words in rushed two little terriers, and bouncing upon the
limp and terrified Toby, at once knocked him over in their attempt to
engage him in play.

“You ought to be more polite to strangers,” said the rosy-cheeked young
woman, picking up Toby and putting him on a chair out of the reach of
the two lively terriers, who pretended that they had treed their game
and took short runs up to the chair, barking themselves into a state of
great excitement.

“We’ll give him something to eat, and he’ll soon be all right,” said
the pleasant young woman.

The excitement of the terriers over the new arrival had telegraphed
the news throughout the Home, and the deep voices of large dogs and
the high voices of smaller ones all extended a welcome to the little
wanderer. Their tones told of kind treatment and comfort, and Toby was
comforted. “How different,” he thought, “from a poorhouse! This must be
a good place!”



CHAPTER ELEVENTH


ON the morning of the day before Christmas Sam awoke unusually early,
and jumped out of bed so soon as his eyes were fully open.

“I must hurry as fast as I can,” he said to Mary, “for I shall be
awfully busy all day;” and while he was dressing he talked about the
presents he was to give. “And the best of all is the present I am going
to have myself,” he added. “I suppose you know what that is.”

“Is it the little dog-cart for your pony it is?” asked Mary.

“No, indeed it is not!” exclaimed Sam, contemptuously. “It is something
ever and ever so much better than that. Just think, poor Billy is going
to see, and I sha’n’t have to lend him my eyes any more.”

“Won’t that be nice!” said Mary; but his grandpapa from the door of his
dressing-room heard Sam’s words with a heavy heart.

“What shall we do about it?” he asked Grandmamma when he had repeated
their little grandson’s words. “I think we ought to explain about the
operation that Billy must undergo; but we have let him think so long
that Billy will see by Christmas he will take it very hard. I thought
the boy would be all right by Christmas time, and I wanted Sam to be
spared the pain of knowing what poor Billy would have to go through.”

“I thought so, too,” replied Grandmamma, “and I don’t like to disturb
Sam’s innocent faith. I don’t know how he will take it.”

At this point in burst Sam, full of excitement.

“I shall have to hustle around to get through before night,” he said
in his decided way. “We shall have to start right after breakfast to
get the wreaths and things to hang up, sha’n’t we, Grandmamma? And we
mustn’t forget to bring some for Billy, too, you know.”

“Wouldn’t you rather spend the money in something Billy could enjoy
more?” asked Grandmamma. “You know wreaths and garlands are only to
look at, and poor Billy can’t see yet.”

“But he _will_ see them to-morrow, don’t you see?” said Sam,
triumphantly. “You forget, Grandmamma, about my Christmas present, I
guess.”

“My dear boy,” said Grandmamma, gently, “don’t feel so sure about
Billy’s seeing exactly on Christmas Day. It may come a little later,
you know.”

“Oh, no, it won’t!” replied Sam, decidedly. “You will see, Grandmamma!”
and he was off before his grandmother could answer.

So soon as breakfast was over, during which Sam was so excited that he
ate very little, the sleigh came around to the door, and Sam and his
grandmother started for the evergreens. It was quite a long drive to
the big market, for they always bought them there, because the little
boy enjoyed so much seeing the large building arrayed in its Christmas
dress.

The streets, as they approached the business part of the city, were
crowded even at that early hour. Everybody carried packages, and
every face seemed to have caught the spirit of Christmas, which is
a loving and generous spirit. The shop windows were gay with bright
colors and garlands of evergreen, and groups of people were collected
in front of the most attractive of these windows. In one of them was
a real Christmas scene, and Sam wanted so much to look at it that his
grandmother told the driver to stop. By standing up on the seat of the
sleigh, Sam got a splendid view. It was a winter scene, with snow on
the trees and on the ground, and there was Santa Claus sitting in his
little sleigh, which was piled full of presents, and four beautiful
little reindeer were harnessed to it. The crowd in front of this
window reached out to the street, and on the outside, waiting to take
advantage of an opening to slip through and get a view of the window,
were three children, a boy and two girls.

Mrs. Ledwell, who was always ready to see just what was needed, caught
sight of these children who were waiting so patiently for their turn to
come. Seeing them look toward the sleigh and at Sam, who was so intent
in watching the beautiful Santa Claus that he had not noticed them, she
saw that they looked as if they recognized her little grandson.

“Say, Maysie,” said the boy, pulling his little sister by the sleeve,
“do you mind the time when the gentleman gave us the nice cakes?”

“Of course I does,” replied Maysie, promptly.

“That is the same sleigh he was in, and the same horses, and it is the
same boy, for I minded the fur cap of him.”

Mrs. Ledwell beckoned to the children to come nearer. “Did you say you
had seen this little boy before?” she asked kindly.

“Yes, once,” replied Johnny, promptly.

“It was the time the gentleman gave us the cakes,” said Maysie,
eagerly. “They tasted awful good;” and Maysie almost smacked her lips
at the thought of them.

The elder sister gave Maysie’s dress a little pull. “I’m not going to
ask for any,” replied Maysie, in a loud whisper, “so you needn’t twitch
my dress so hard.”

A smile came over Mrs. Ledwell’s face. “Would you like to buy some
cakes to-day?” she asked.

“Yes,” replied Maysie, promptly, “but I’d rather buy a doll.”

“Why, Maysie,” said her sister, reproachfully, “I should think you’d be
ashamed of yourself.”

“I ain’t,” replied Maysie, without any appearance of mortification.
“She asked me, so there!”

“Yes, I asked her,” said Mrs. Ledwell, “and there is no harm in telling
what she wants most, for Santa Claus is about, you know, at this time,
and he has very sharp ears.”

“Do you suppose he heard what I said?” asked Maysie, straining her neck
to get a glimpse of the Santa Claus in the window.

“I shouldn’t be surprised if he did,” replied Mrs. Ledwell. “You will
find out to-morrow. Now tell me where you live, Maysie.”

Maysie rattled off the address in a loud voice, for she hoped that
Santa Claus would overhear it and send the doll she wanted so much.

Mrs. Ledwell then left Sam sitting in the sleigh, and entered the
store. She picked out a beautiful doll, a pretty chatelaine bag, and a
boy’s sled, and ordered them to be sent to the address Maysie had given
her. Then with a glow at her warm heart, to think of the pleasure these
gifts would carry with them, she joined her little grandson.

“Do you remember to have seen those children before, Sam?” she asked,
as they drove along.

“Yes, I remember them,” replied Sam. “They were looking in at the cakes
in the bake-shop window, and Grandpapa bought them a great bagful of
them. They looked as if they didn’t have cakes every day, Grandpapa
said.”

Sam had taken no special notice of the dog the little boy had with him
on that occasion, or he would probably have recognized the lost dog he
had found in the park as the same one.

The market was soon reached, and Sam and his grandmother went up
the steps. The front of the large building was piled high with long
garlands of evergreen for trimming, and green wreaths bright with red
berries. Christmas-trees and branches of holly filled every vacant
nook. Here also were groups of children, eager to obtain as many
glimpses as possible of the Christmas pleasures they could not expect
to have.

Mrs. Ledwell’s tender heart was touched at the sight of the little
patient faces, and her ready hand went straight to her well-filled
purse. She knew by experience that these little people would be there,
and had provided a goodly supply of change. “Sam,” she said to her
little grandson, “would you like to give those children something for
Christmas?”

“Yes, indeed I should, Grandmamma,” replied the little boy, delightedly.

Each child seized the coin Sam held out to him, and darted away with
his prize with the speed of the wind. Very few stopped to express
thanks for the gift, but the happy faces spoke more eloquently than
words could have done.

“They remind me of chickens snatching up a worm and running off
that the others may not take it away from them,” said Mrs. Ledwell
to herself, as she watched the little waifs darting off with their
presents.

“I just wish Grandpapa could have seen how happy those little children
looked to think they could buy something for Christmas,” said Sam, as
he followed his grandmother into the market.

“Oh, Grandpapa is feeling very happy to-day,” she replied, “for he has
been sending Christmas dinners to a great many little boys and girls.”

“It _smells_ just like Christmas here, doesn’t it, Grandmamma?” said
Sam, as they passed down the long building, the stalls on both sides
tastefully decorated with evergreens and bright berries.

“Now, Sam,” said Grandmamma, stopping before one of the stalls, “we
must pick out a nice turkey for Mrs. Hanlon and Billy.”

“You must give me a very nice turkey, Mr. Spear,” said Sam, trying to
talk as Grandpapa did.

“I’ll do the best I can for you,” replied Mr. Spear; and after looking
over a pile of turkeys he selected a fine, plump one and placed it
before the little boy.

“I don’t like the looks of that bird,” said Sam, with a very decided
air.

“Why, Sam,” said his grandmother, “what do you mean?”

“I don’t like the looks of those legs,” said Sam in the same decided
manner.

“What is the matter with them?” asked Mr. Spear, greatly amused at the
little boy’s grown-up air.

“I don’t like the color of them,” persisted Sam.

“Why, what color do you expect them to be?” asked Mr. Spear, trying to
keep from smiling. “I don’t know what other color they could very well
be.”

“Oh, yes, they could!” replied Sam, shrewdly. “I want a turkey with
yellow legs, because they are the best.”

“I don’t know as I ever saw a turkey with yellow legs,” replied Mr.
Spear, gravely. “If I had one, I would give it to you.”

“Why, Sam,” said Grandmamma, who had been greatly amused at the
conversation, “what made you ask for a turkey with yellow legs? They
are always lead-color, like this one.”

“Grandpapa always asks for _yellow_-legged ones. He says the
blue-legged ones are not fit to eat,” replied Sam, “and you know that
Grandpapa is _very particular_.”

“I guess he’s thinking of _chickens_,” said Mr. Spear, “and has got
’em kind of mixed up with turkeys in his mind.”

“That must be it,” replied Mrs. Ledwell. “Well, I will have this one
and another just like it. You would like to send one to the little
children we saw looking at Santa Claus, wouldn’t you, Sam?”

Then cranberries and apples and potatoes were bought to go with the
turkeys, and some huge squashes took Sam’s fancy so greatly that one
was sent with each turkey.

After that, wreaths and garlands were selected and piled upon the seat
opposite Sam and his grandmother, and they drove home, the fragrance
from the evergreens mingling with the crisp air.

After lunch, came what Sam considered about the best part of Christmas,
the pleasant task of distributing presents at the houses of their
friends. Sam liked to do this all by himself, it gave him such a
grown-up feeling. So soon after lunch the sleigh was brought around
and piled high with packages of every size and shape, each one neatly
addressed. Then Sam was tucked in on the back seat all by himself, and
he looked like a little rosy Santa Claus, with his fur cap, the fur
robes, and the presents piled high about him.

Whenever they stopped to leave a present, Sam would run up the steps
and always leave word that the present must not on any account be seen
until Christmas morning. He left Billy’s and Mrs. Hanlon’s presents
until the last because he took the most interest in them and wanted to
make a call on them, besides.

Sam found them both in the cosey parlor, Mrs. Hanlon sewing and at the
same time telling stories to the little blind boy. Billy had improved
very much in appearance in this new home. He was never left alone, as
he had to be so much of the time at the engine-house, and his face lost
much of the sad expression it had before he came here. Both Mrs. Hanlon
and Billy were delighted to see their little visitor, who came in with
his arms piled high with packages and his face beaming with happiness.

“You mustn’t either of you look into the packages or try to find out
what is in them,” he said, as he laid them down on the sofa.

“No, indeed, we shouldn’t think of such a thing,” Mrs. Hanlon assured
him. “There wouldn’t be any surprise for us if we knew what we were
going to have.”

Sam made quite a little call, and told Billy about his visit to the
big market and what he saw there; and then he told him about the three
children he saw trying to look in at the window where Santa Claus was.
He told him all about that wonderful Santa Claus, too, how exactly like
a real live man he looked, about the four beautiful little reindeer
harnessed to his sleigh, and how natural the snow and the trees looked.

Billy listened to all this with great interest, and seemed to enjoy it
as much as if he had seen it as Sam had. When Sam told him about the
three children, and said that the little one who wanted a doll so much
was called “Maysie,” Billy said,—

“Why, that was the name of one of the children who were so good to me
that time they took my mother away.”

“Perhaps it was the same one,” said Sam. Billy, however, could not tell
how the little girl looked, so they could not be sure.

“If I see them again,” said Sam, “I will ask them if they are the same
ones.”

When Sam thought it was time for him to go, he repeated his
instructions in regard to the presents, and extracted a promise from
both not to exercise any undue curiosity to find out what their
presents were. When Mrs. Hanlon followed him to the door, he confided
to her that his present to Billy was a little fire-engine that would
throw a real stream of water, and he thought it would be of great use,
as they could water the plants with it. “We can make believe there is a
fire and can turn the hose on just as real engines do,” he added.

“It must be beautiful,” said Mrs. Hanlon, “but I wish the poor child
could _see_ it;” and she gave a deep sigh.

“But he _will_,” replied Sam, brightly. “You haven’t forgotten what I
told you about my Christmas present, have you?”

“No, indeed, I remember; I only hope you won’t be disappointed!”

“Of course it will come. It is sure to,” replied Sam, confidently.
“Didn’t my little pony come all right?” And with a happy good-bye Sam
ran down the steps and jumped into the sleigh.

“Dear little soul!” said Mrs. Hanlon, looking after him as he waved his
hand gayly at her. “How disappointed he will be!” and the tears stood
in her kind eyes as she closed the door and joined the little blind
boy.



CHAPTER TWELFTH


WHEN Sam went to bed that night, he pulled his window-shades to the
very top of the window, that he might awake as early as possible.
This arrangement had the desired effect, for when Mary came in he had
examined all the presents that were in his Christmas stocking and was
nearly dressed besides.

“I will tell you why I am in such a hurry,” he said in answer to Mary’s
look of surprise. “I want to go over to see Billy the very first thing.”

“Oh, you must wait until after breakfast,” said Mary. “It is a very
cold morning, and Billy is probably abed and fast asleep yet.”

“Oh, no, he isn’t,” said Sam. “He’ll be sure to be up. So give me my
coat and cap, Mary, please.”

“Indeed, your grandmamma wouldn’t like to have you go out so early,”
said Mary, “and such a beautiful breakfast as Cook has got!”

“I don’t care about that, Mary,” replied Sam, decidedly. “I _must_ see
Billy the very first thing. I know the way very well.”

In vain Mary tried to persuade the little boy to wait until after
breakfast, but he was so persistent she knew he would go alone if she
refused to go with him; so she very reluctantly agreed to go. She dared
not disturb his grandparents at so early an hour, or she would have
appealed to them to decide the matter. So the two started out on their
expedition.

Sam had never been in the streets at so early an hour. The sun rises
late at this season of the year, and its bright rays were just
streaming over the tall house-tops as Sam and Mary sallied forth.
Most of the families in the neighborhood were still in bed, but the
houses were being put in order for the day. Front steps were being
swept down, front doors dusted, parlor shades drawn up, and sidewalks
cleaned. Colonies of sparrows perched among the trees and secreted in
the branches of the vines that grew against the houses, had not yet
finished their morning hymns, and their joyous twittering was heard on
every side.

The air was so cold that Mary made her little charge walk briskly, and
by the time they reached Mrs. Hanlon’s house his cheeks were glowing.
They found Billy dressed and holding the engine in his lap. Sam gave
a keen glance at the little blind boy, who sat passing his hands
caressingly over the beautiful toy, but his eyes were not bent upon
it,—they were fixed straight before him in the same old way.

“Billy,” cried Sam earnestly, as he watched the blind boy’s patient
face, “can you see it with your eyes?”

“No,” replied Billy, cheerfully, “but I know just how it looks because
I can feel it, you know.”

“Can’t you really see the pretty red wheels and the shining brass and
everything?” said Sam, very earnestly. “Try real hard, Billy, and
perhaps you can.”

“No,” said Billy, gently, “but you can tell me all about it, and we can
play with it all the same.”

A great change came over Sam. The bright color left his cheeks, and his
lips began to quiver. Kindly Mrs. Hanlon knew what was going on in the
little boy’s mind, and she tried to take him in her motherly arms to
comfort him; but he broke away from her and ran downstairs and out of
the door. Mary followed him, but she found it hard to keep pace with
him as he rushed at full speed along the streets. He paid no heed to
her entreaties to stop, and arrived breathless at his grandpapa’s house.

Mrs. Ledwell, who was about to go down to breakfast, was startled to
see her little grandson appear in such a breathless and excited state.

“Grandmamma,” he exclaimed, “I am never going to pray to God again as
long as I live!”

“Why, Sam!” exclaimed his astonished grandmother, “what do you mean?”

“Billy can’t see,” he answered, “and here I have been praying and
praying for all this time; and Mary says there is a pony dog-cart for
me in the stable, and I didn’t want it! I just wanted to have Billy
see!” and Sam threw himself upon the lounge and burst into a violent
fit of sobbing.

Mrs. Ledwell hardly knew what to do, but she did the best thing she
could possibly have done. She let the little boy expend the violence of
his grief, and then she seated herself by him and gently stroked the
hair back from his hot forehead. When the weeping grew less violent and
she knew the little boy could listen, she said,—

“You must remember, Sam, that there are a great many little boys and
girls all over the world asking God for different things, and he can’t
answer all at once. It takes a long time, you know, so you must be
patient and wait a little longer.”

“But I didn’t ask for anything else,” sobbed Sam, “and he has gone and
sent me the dog-cart, after all; and I was _very particular_ to say
that I didn’t want it.”

“By next summer, Sam, I am quite sure that Billy can see, and think
what fine drives you and he can have together!”

“Summer is a long way off,” replied Sam, “and I _did_ so want Billy to
see _now_!”

“We can’t have things come about just as we want them, my dear little
boy,” said Grandmamma.

“I sha’n’t pray any more, just the same,” said Sam, decidedly.

“Billy is in a comfortable home and has found kind friends, and
Grandpapa will soon find out where his mother is; and then by and by
Billy will see, and then how happy he will be! There are a great many
little boys worse off than Billy is, so if I were you I would try to be
patient.”

Sam was silent for a while, and his grandmother knew that he was
thinking the matter over in his sensible mind.

“I suppose there must be an awful lot of boys and girls asking God for
all sorts of things,” he said.

“Indeed, there are,” said Grandmamma, “and just think how much happier
Billy is than he was when you first saw him!”

“Well,” said Sam in his old decided manner, “I guess I had better keep
on praying a little while longer.”

“I think so, too, dear,” replied Grandmamma; “and now we’ll go down
to breakfast and be as cheerful as we can, because if we look unhappy
we shall make everybody about us so, and we want all to have a very
pleasant Christmas.”

So Sam, like the sensible, conscientious little fellow he was, wiped
his eyes very carefully with his pocket-handkerchief and assumed a
cheerful smile,—very much the kind of expression, his grandmother
thought, that people have when they are sitting for a photograph and
the artist tells them to “look pleasant.” It was rather a forced smile,
to be sure, but before breakfast was half over, Grandpapa, under
whose genial influence nobody could be long unhappy, had brought real
smiles back to the little boy’s face, and they were laughing and joking
together as if there were no such things as unhappiness and suffering
in all the world.

“Now I will tell you my plan,” said Grandmamma, “and you can see how
you like it. I shall be busy this morning, for I must call on my old
ladies at the Home and see if they are having a happy Christmas, but
I propose that you two take a nice sleigh-ride and invite Billy to go
with you. Then you can bring him home for lunch, and in the afternoon
a few boys and girls are coming, and you can play games together. How
does my plan strike you?”

“It strikes me very pleasantly,” replied Grandpapa, “and will suit me
exactly, for I have to see a man who lives out of town and shall be
glad of the company of the youngsters. What do you say, Sam?”

“I think it will be very nice,” replied Sam, “and I guess Billy will
think so too.”

“Suppose we stop at the ‘Animal Rescue League’ and see how our little
dog is getting on,” said Grandpapa.

“Can’t we take some cakes to him?” asked Sam. “I don’t believe he knows
it is Christmas.”

“Yes, we will take cakes enough to go all around,” said Grandpapa.

A little later, Sam and his grandpapa, with a box full of cookies and
sweet biscuits, called for Billy. The little blind boy was delighted
at the prospect of such a happy day, and he beamed with smiles as his
faithful friend Sam led him carefully down the steps to the sleigh,
while Mrs. Hanlon, looking just as happy, watched them from the door.

“What have you in that package that you take such care of?” asked Mr.
Ledwell, who observed that the little boy carried a package in one hand.

“It is a Christmas present for Jack,” replied Billy.

“Why, Grandpapa, we forgot all about him!” exclaimed Sam. “Isn’t it too
bad?”

“We have cakes enough to spare him a few,” replied Grandpapa.

“Of course, I couldn’t forget about Jack,” said Billy, “because he
saved my life, you know.”

“The dear little soul has been worrying about what to give Jack for
a Christmas present,” said Mrs. Hanlon. “He has saved up some of the
money you gave him for presents, and I told him I thought Jack would
appreciate some nice bones more than anything else. So what does he do
but ask the butcher to sell him some of the very nicest bones he had,
with plenty of meat on them.”

“And what do you think, Sam? When I told him they were for Jack, he
wouldn’t take any money for them! He said he should like to give
something towards a present for the Fire-Dog, because he is such a nice
dog.”

“You see,” said Billy confidentially to Sam, as they drove to the
engine-house, “I can make a present to Mrs. Hanlon now, because the
butcher wouldn’t let me pay for Jack’s present. Do you suppose she
would mind if it doesn’t come just exactly at Christmas?”

“I don’t believe she would mind _very much_,” replied Sam, who
remembered that the Christmas present he so much wanted did not come on
time.

“Will you go with me some day and buy something for her, Sam?”

“Yes,” replied Sam, “and we will pick out something real nice!”

The Fire-Dog was at home and rejoiced to see them, especially the
little blind boy whose life he had saved. He was much gratified too,
at the present Billy brought him. One large bone was given him, which
he at once took in his mouth and walked off with to eat by himself,
a proud and happy dog. The rest of the package was left in Reordan’s
charge to be given according to his judgment, and a dessert from Sam’s
box of cakes was added.

There was not time to stop and watch Jack enjoy his repast, as the
boys would have liked to do, so they had to leave before he was half
through. Jack was very hungry, but he was such a polite dog that he
never forgot his good manners, and whenever the boys spoke to him,
wagged his tail and smiled, to let them know how much he appreciated
the attention.

“You ought to see how he enjoys that bone, Billy,” said Sam, as they
drove off; and Billy looked just as happy as if he had seen it.

Such a barking as greeted them when they entered the building of the
Animal Rescue League! All the dogs who were around came running to see
who it was and to find out if another stray dog had been brought in;
and among them, barking his loudest, was little Toby, as happy and as
much at home as any of them. He recognized his old friends at once, and
tried by every means a dog knows, to express his gratitude.

“They act as if they know it is Christmas,” said Sam.

“So they do,” said the man who had charge of them, “and they are
going to have a Christmas-tree just like folks. They do seem to know
something is up, they and the cats too. The cats are going around with
their tails straight up in the air, and they play with one another just
as if they had lost their senses.”

“This little boy has brought some cakes for the dogs,” said Mr.
Ledwell; and Sam presented his box.

“They will come in very handy when they have the tree,” replied the man.

Then the visitors were taken over the building and shown all the
inmates, even to some big dogs out in the yard. All looked happy and
contented, and showed the best of care. Some kittens especially took
the children’s fancy, and Sam explained to Billy how they looked when
they were playing. One was lying on his back, kicking, clawing and
biting a worsted ball he had to play with, and another was running
sideways with his back arched and his tail fluffed out, as if he were
dreadfully frightened at something; while another had pounced upon one
of them and made believe he was going to eat him up. The mother of this
lively family was pretending to take a nap, but her half-opened eyes
and fond and happy purring showed that she was enjoying the romps of
her darlings as much as they did themselves.

It was hard for the children to leave this entertaining place, and
especially hard to resist the affectionate entreaties of the dogs, who
were delighted to see visitors. They had to go, however, for a long
drive out of town was before them, and they departed after a while, all
the dogs who could reach the windows barking a joyous farewell as they
drove off.



CHAPTER THIRTEENTH


SOMEHOW or other on Christmas morning everything takes on a festive,
joyous tone. The very sleigh-bells seem to ring out more merrily than
usual, and the children’s voices in their play seem more joyous than
on other days. Even the shy sparrows seem to grow bolder, and twitter
more loudly than usual. The dogs, too, seem possessed of unusually gay
spirits, and bound through the streets as if they were thinking of the
good Christmas dinner that awaits them.

The two little boys in the sleigh felt this Christmas influence and
partook of the prevailing joyous spirit. We will leave them for a time
and return to some other acquaintances,—the three children who had
cared for the lost Toby.

Great was the grief of the children when they saw the little dog turned
out into the cold, dark streets, but they did not dare to express
their feelings before their father. Directly after supper they went to
bed, and the mother soon went in to their rooms to comfort them. The
two girls were nearly heart-broken, but the mother reminded them that
the little dog would be likely to seek the shed for shelter, and she
promised to look after him and give him a good supper.

“He wanted some of the sausages so much,” sobbed Maysie, “and I ate up
the piece I was saving for him, and I am so sorry!”

“He shall have some sausage, dear, so don’t worry so about him. I will
cover him up with something warm, and in the morning you can take him
to the home for lost dogs. They will find a good place for him, I am
sure, a much better one than we could give him.”

This hopeful prospect comforted the little girls, and from them the
mother sought Johnny in his dark bedroom. He was lying very still,
and answered in a voice that he tried to make sound as usual, but the
mother knew he was trying hard to make it cheerful. As with a loving
hand she put back the hair from his forehead, she felt it hot, and as
her hand brushed against his cheeks she found them moist, and she knew
he had been crying, although he tried so hard to conceal the fact.

“Don’t fret about the little dog, Johnny,” said the kind mother. “He’ll
be sure to go to the shed where you kept him before, and I’ll look
after him.”

“It was so mean to send him out, and this such a cold night, too!”
exclaimed Johnny, indignantly.

“Hush, dear!” said the gentle mother. “You mustn’t forget that Father
is tired and things worry him. He didn’t mean to be unkind.”

“It was awfully mean,” replied Johnny, “and him such a little fellow,
too!”

Then the mother told of her plan to send the little dog to the refuge
provided for all homeless animals, and, as she drew the pleasant
picture of the home the little wanderer would be sure to find, Johnny
allowed himself to be comforted as his sisters had been, and, feeling
that Mother would look after the wandering dog, he forgot his anxieties
and fell asleep.

We have seen how the mother found the forsaken dog and fed and warmed
him, and how he at last found shelter in the very home to which they
intended to carry him.

The following morning when the children hastened to the shed they found
it empty, and great was their grief. They searched for him for days, of
course without avail. Oh, if they could have seen the little creature
in the happy home he had found!

On Christmas morning they were almost wild with delight at the presents
kind Mrs. Ledwell had sent them. As for Maysie, she could hardly
believe that she was the owner of such a beautiful doll, and she
handled it with great awe.

“I really believe that Santa Claus heard what I said!” exclaimed
Maysie. “You know the lady said he had very sharp ears.”

The big turkey, too, gave the children almost as much pleasure, and
they crowded around the mother while she cleaned it, and singed off the
pin-feathers by holding it over a piece of burning newspaper. They had
to see it safely stowed away in the oven, too; such a large, handsome
turkey had never come their way before.

“Now you had better all go and take a walk in the streets where the
nice houses are,” said Mother. “The windows will be all trimmed up
with wreaths and garlands, and perhaps you will get a sight of some
Christmas-trees, for people often have them Christmas Eve.”

The mother thought it as well to get the children out of the way for a
while, for she did not have a Christmas dinner to cook every day, and
she wanted to do full justice to all the good things sent them; and how
could she do this with three curious children following her about and
getting under foot at every step?

So the three started, Hannah wearing her new chatelaine bag in a
position in which she decided it would show to the greatest advantage,
Johnny proudly drawing his new sled after him, and Maysie with her doll
perched on her arm in a position to show off her beautiful clothes and
at the same time take in the sights. The lost dog was not forgotten,
and at every step they were on the lookout, hoping to catch a glimpse
of him at any moment.

Their way led by the engine-house, in front of which lay the Fire-Dog,
finishing one of the large bones that the blind boy had brought him for
a Christmas present. They stopped to pat him and to look at a flock of
pigeons feeding there. They watched the large blue pigeon, Dick the
Scrapper, who walked in among them snapping up the best morsels and
pecking any of the pigeons who came in his way. They noticed, too, the
handsome white squab, so strong and yet so mild-looking; but the one
that pleased them most of all was the lame black and white pigeon. He
was so tame that he ate out of their hands and even allowed them to
stroke his feathers.

The lame pigeon soon began to act in a very strange manner. He would
fly a few steps, and then look back at the children as if he expected
them to follow him. This he did so many times the children were certain
this was what he wanted. So they followed, and as soon as the little
lame pigeon saw this he flew off again, waiting for them to overtake
him. This was kept up until the children found themselves in a part of
the city where they had never before been.

“We mustn’t go any farther,” said Hannah, “or we shall be late for
dinner, and Mother will be anxious.”

“I am very hungry,” said Maysie, as visions of the beautiful turkey
roasting in the oven rose before her mind, “and my feet are very tired
too.”

“It can’t be much farther,” said Johnny, “and I am certain that the
little pigeon wants something. You just sit on my sled, Maysie, and
I’ll give you a ride.”

This plan was very agreeable to Maysie, and she seated herself on the
sled with her doll in her lap, while her brother and sister drew her
over the snow.

They had not much farther to go. To their surprise the lame pigeon
turned in at a driveway and flew toward a large brick building enclosed
by high walls.

“What can it mean?” said Hannah. Perhaps the little lame pigeon didn’t
mean anything, after all.

But the little lame pigeon did mean something. He had recognized the
children as the ones who took little Billy home when his mother had
fallen in the street, and he had taken this means to induce them to
follow him and discover the sick woman at one of the windows of the
hospital. With a noisy fluttering of his wings he flew up to one of the
windows and alighted on the sill. A pale, sick-looking woman was seated
in a chair close to the window, and the children saw a nurse come to
the window and open it. In hopped the little lame pigeon and alighted
on an arm of the sick woman’s chair.

“Why, Johnny!” exclaimed Hannah. “Do you mind the face of the sick
woman up there? It is blind Billy’s mother.”

“How do you know it is?” asked Johnny. “You never saw her but the once.”

“I know that, but I minded her hair, because it is just like Billy’s,
so soft and curly, and she looks just the way Billy’s mother looked.”

“Perhaps they brought her here because it is a place where they put
sick people,” said Johnny, who was convinced by his sister’s positive
manner.

“Now, if we only knew where Billy is, it would be all right,” said
Hannah.

“Perhaps she has found him,” said Johnny.

“I don’t believe she has, because she would look happy, and just see
the sad look of her!”

The sick woman did indeed present a forlorn appearance, even the
children’s young eyes could detect that, as she sat with her head laid
against the back of the chair, stroking the feathers of the little
pigeon.

They stood looking up at the window for some time, and gazing curiously
at the large building before them.

“I suppose it is full of sick people,” said Johnny.

“I wonder if there are any little children there!” said Hannah. “Do you
suppose the sick people know it is Christmas Day?”

This reminded Maysie of the Christmas dinner cooking at home, and she
exclaimed:

“I am just as hungry as I can be, and I know it is ever so long after
dinner-time.”

The other two children now became aware of the fact that they were
hungry too, and, fearing to be late to dinner, they set off on a run
toward home, with Maysie on the sled. Before they had gone far, they
heard the jingle of sleigh-bells and the voices of children coming up
behind them, and seeing a large sleigh and pair of horses in the road,
they drew the sled to one side to allow it to pass.

In the sleigh sat a gentleman and two little boys. The children at once
recognized the pleasant face of the gentleman. He was the one who had
bought the cakes for Maysie. It would have been strange if they had not
recognized him, for where was there another such sweet-tempered, happy
countenance, and who else possessed such a pleasant, genial voice? So
intent were they in watching the gentleman that they did not look at
the two boys who were with him until just as the sleigh, which went
slowly, was opposite them, they caught a glimpse of the little blind
boy.

“Billy! Oh, Billy! Is that you?” screamed the two elder children in one
breath.

“Stop!” called Mr. Ledwell to the driver, and the sleigh stopped in
front of the children.

The blind boy had heard their voices, and recognized them with the
quick perception that the blind possess. He turned quite pale with
excitement, and stood up in the sleigh.

“Where are you?” he cried, feeling about him with outstretched hands.

“Here we are,” said Hannah, coming close to the sleigh. “The three of
us are here. Oh, Billy, we didn’t know what had become of you and we
were awfully sorry.”

“And your mother is over in that big house yonder!” exclaimed Johnny,
excitedly. “We saw her sitting up at the window, and she looks awful
sick!”

“Oh, Mother! Mother!” screamed Billy, struggling to free himself from
the fur robe in order to get out of the sleigh. “Please, Mr. Ledwell,
let me go to my mother! Oh, what shall I do? What shall I do?” and the
poor child, feeling his utter helplessness, sank back upon his seat and
burst into tears.

“Try to compose yourself, Billy,” said Mr. Ledwell, kindly, “and we
will find out all about it, and if your mother is really here you
shall be taken to her at once.”

He then questioned the children, who told him about the lame pigeon
who made them follow him, and who flew up to a window of the big house
where they saw Billy’s mother.

“I am sure it was Billy’s mother,” said Hannah, positively, “because I
minded her hair and the look of her face.”

Mr. Ledwell turned back, and going in to the hospital made inquiries
concerning the sick woman the children had seen at the window. They
were not mistaken, and in a few minutes Billy was in his mother’s arms.

After the excitement of the meeting had passed, Billy told his mother
all that had happened since the dreadful day when she was taken away
from him. He told of the kind children who had given him all they had
to give, a shelter and what food they could spare, and how Jack the
Fire-Dog saved his life. He told, too, about the kind-hearted firemen
and his life at the engine-house, and about Sam and his grandpapa and
the comfortable home he now had.

The poor woman could not find words to thank the kind gentleman who
had done so much for her blind son, and when she tried to express her
gratitude to him, he told her the best way to do it was to get well as
fast as possible and come and live with her son.

“I am anxious to find work, so that I can take care of him,” said the
sick woman. “As soon as I am well I am sure I can find something to do.”

“The first thing to be done is to get strong,” said Mr. Ledwell, “and
then we will think about working. I propose that as soon as you are
well enough you go to Billy, where you can have the best of care.
You will improve much faster there than you can here, surrounded by
sickness and suffering.”

The patient was pronounced not able to leave the hospital just then,
but was promised that she should go so soon as it was deemed prudent.

So Billy took leave of his mother, happy at the promise of a visit the
next day. They found Sam with the three children seated in the sleigh,
and the new sled tied to one of the runners.

“I thought we had better take the children home, because they were
afraid they would be late to their Christmas dinner,” Sam explained.
“Do you think they will crowd you very much, Grandpapa? We will squeeze
as close together as we can, and Maysie is almost a baby, you know.”

“I shouldn’t mind a little crowding on Christmas Day,” said Grandpapa.
“Here, Baby, you can sit in my lap.”

“I am as big as Johnny,” replied Maysie, who was ambitious to be
considered big.

Sam looked just as happy as Billy, thinking that the little blind boy
had found his mother. He sat silent for some time, and his grandpapa,
seeing his thoughtful, happy face, said,—

“Well, Sam, what are you thinking about?”

“I am thinking how glad I am that Billy has found his mother,” he
replied, “and I guess God thought He’d send this Christmas present
because He didn’t find time to send the one I asked for.”

So Sam’s Christmas turned out to be a much happier one than he had
thought it was going to be, and the three children who had helped bring
about this happy state of affairs reached home just as the big turkey
was taken out of the oven.



CHAPTER FOURTEENTH


IT is some time since we have heard from the engine-house, and a change
has taken place since we last looked in. The off horse was quite old,
and the headlong speed at which the horses were obliged to go whenever
an alarm was sounded, began to tell heavily on him. He was an ambitious
fellow, and strained every nerve to keep pace with his mates and do his
share of the work, but he was a tired horse when the scene of the fire
was reached, and soon an order came for the off horse to give up his
place to a younger and stronger one.

This order filled the kind hearts of the company with sorrow, for
old Jim was a great favorite. When the news reached them, there was
silence for a while, then warm-hearted Reordan burst out impetuously,—

“If old Jim goes, I go too. There isn’t one of us that has done his
work faithfuller than old Jim has!”

“That’s so, he’s done his duty right slap up. What would the others
be without old Jim, I’d like to know? They always take their cue from
him,” said another.

“I’ve always made it as easy as I could for old Jim,” said the driver,
“and have done my best to make the other two do their share of the
work; but the knowing old fellow won’t have it, and isn’t satisfied
unless his nose is just a grain ahead of the others, so he can feel he
is doing his share and a little more.”

“He’s acted just like a Christian,” said another, “and if we do our
duty as well as old Jim has done his, we sha’n’t have anything to
answer for.”

“Get rid of him!” exclaimed a young man. “A nice return to make for his
faithful service! It makes me sick to think how horses are turned off
when they begin to lose their usefulness! Just think of old Jim sold to
some old junk pedler or such, and being starved and beaten after all
the good work he has done! It wouldn’t break the Fire Department to
pension him, and they ought to do it!”

“They _ought_ to, but whether they _will_ is another thing,” said
Reordan. “They will say that they can’t afford to pension off all the
old horses in the department.”

“Well, if they can’t afford it, _we_ can,” replied the young man. “What
do you say to starting a fund for old Jim’s support, and boarding him
out for the rest of his life?”

What could they say, but one thing, for courage and generosity go hand
in hand, and to men who daily risk their lives to save those of others,
as do our brave firemen, a dollar doesn’t look so big as it does to
smaller natures.

After this decision the hearts of all were lightened, but parting with
their old friend came hard.

“Let’s get him out of the way before the new horse comes,” said
Reordan. “It would hurt his feelings to see a new horse in the stall
that has been his for so long.”

The others felt as Reordan did, and just before the new horse arrived,
old Jim came out of his stall for the last time. The intelligent
creature turned his eyes on the men gathered to bid him farewell, and
rubbed his nose affectionately against the shoulders of those who stood
nearest him.

“He knows he’s being sent off just as well as we do,” said one, “and
he’s trying to say good-bye to us.”

He certainly did know it, for his large, mild eyes had the sorrowful
look that all dumb creatures have at leaving old friends.

“He looks kind of reproachful,” said one, “just as if he thought we
hadn’t appreciated the good work he’s done for us.”

[Illustration]

The men had bought a warm blanket for the old horse, knowing that he
was going to a country stable which was not so warm as his stall in
the engine-house. This was buckled on him, and he was led away. At the
door he hesitated a moment, and looked back at his old home; then, with
drooping head, he left for his new quarters.

“Be good to him,” said the captain to the man who had come to take the
old horse to his new home. “The best you’ve got isn’t any too good for
old Jim.”

“We’ll take good care of him,” replied the man. “You don’t need to
worry about him.”

They watched the old horse so long as he was in sight, and nothing was
said for some time. Then Reordan spoke,—

“Well, it’s a comfort to think we’ve done the best we could for the old
horse. He’ll have plenty to eat and a good place to sleep in, and he
will have as comfortable an old age as we can give him.”

Jack the Fire-Dog had, of course, known what was going on, and his
heart was every bit as sad as the men’s.

“I suppose I’m a fool to feel so bad about it,” he confided to his
friend Boxer, “but I can’t help it. We’ve been to a good many fires
together, first and last, old Jim and I. My turn will come next, I
suppose. I’m not so young as I once was, and old dogs are in the way.”

Such remarks as these had a most depressing effect upon his friend
Boxer, for there is no dog more attached to his friends and more
sympathetic than a bull-dog, although he is so reserved that he does
not find it easy to express his feelings.

Boxer pondered over the situation, and the more he thought about it the
more convinced he became that something _must_ be done. He was on hand
when the old engine-horse was taken away from the home that had been
his for so long, and, as he looked at his friend Jack’s mournful face
and heard him softly crying to himself, Boxer could bear it no longer.

“It is true that they will be sending him away next,” he muttered to
himself; and as his indignation increased he cast his eyes about for
something upon which to vent his anger. The man leading old Jim away
caught his attention, and without stopping to consider the justice of
his act, in true bull-dog fashion he rushed after them and seized the
man by the leg of his trousers.

A commotion at once arose. Old Jim, startled at the sudden attack,
started back, twitching the halter-rope out of the man’s hand, while
the man struggled to free his leg from the bull-dog’s grip.

A bull-dog’s grip is a very peculiar thing. When he becomes excited,
his jaws, which are very strong and formed differently from those of
other dogs, become tightly locked. A spasm of the jaw seizes him, and
it is impossible for him to unlock them himself until the spasm has
passed. So Boxer held on, with his eyes set and his feet braced.

Now that old Jim was free, he stood still and looked on to see how the
affair was coming out. He was not the only spectator, for quite a crowd
collected at once. Varied was the advice given to make the bull-dog
loose his grip, and poor Boxer would have been roughly handled had not
Reordan seen the commotion and run to the spot. In a twinkling he had
out a sulphur match, and, lighting it, held it as near the dog’s nose
as he could without burning it.

The suffocating fumes of the sulphur match did their work, and Boxer
gasped for breath. Thus his jaws were unlocked, and the man was freed.
After such an excitement a dog always feels weak and shaky, and Boxer
returned to his friend Jack with drooping tail and unsteady legs.

“Well, I never before saw a bull-dog made to quit his hold that way,”
said one of the on-lookers.

“It’s the best way,” replied Reordan. “It’s a bull-dog’s nature to hold
on when once he gets started, and he doesn’t know how to stop. There’s
no use pounding him to make him let go. He simply can’t do it till the
spasm in his jaw lets up, and I don’t know any better way to bring it
about than this.”

“What did he tackle me for, anyway?” asked the man. “I didn’t do
anything to him, and the first thing I knew he grabbed me by the leg.”

“He probably thought you didn’t have any business to take the horse
off. He hangs round the engine-house a good deal;” and Reordan stroked
old Jim’s nose, for the old horse had come up behind him and put his
head over his shoulder.

“Well, if my trousers stood that, I guess they’ll stand all the work
I’ll give ’em for quite a spell,” said the farmer good-naturedly, as
he took Jim’s halter and started for home. “Say,” he added, as he saw
Reordan’s eyes resting sadly on old Jim, “don’t you worry about the
horse. I’ll look after him all right.”

This assurance lightened Reordan’s heart, and he returned to the
engine-house feeling that the best had been done for old Jim that could
be done.

The new off-horse arrived that day,—a fine young gray, with all the
restless life that only a young creature possesses. He was a superb
fellow, and he knew it, judging from the proud way in which he carried
himself. He was so full of life that he couldn’t bring himself to
walk sedately, but entered the engine-house with a springy step that
showed his colt days were not far behind him. When he was brought to
a stand-still, he pawed the floor in an impatient manner, as if he
demanded instant attention.

“Do they expect that colt to take the place of old Jim?” asked one of
the men.

“Oh, he’ll learn the whole business in a short time,” replied the man
who brought him. “He’s very intelligent.”

“Well, if the department don’t mind laying out their money in repairs,
I don’t doubt he’ll learn in time, but I don’t like the look of his
eye,” said the driver.

“What’s the matter with his eye?” demanded the man.

“It’s a skittish eye,” replied the driver,—“shows too much of the white
to suit me.”

“I’d be willing to pay for all the machines he smashes,” replied the
man; but the driver did not change his mind.

The new off-horse took possession of old Jim’s stall as if it were
his by right, and made himself at home immediately. He was very
intelligent, it is true, and he learned his duties very soon, but
still his youth was against him. He started off with the engine as
if the whole thing were great sport and gotten up especially for his
entertainment; and if the other two horses had not kept him back, there
would have been a runaway engine the very first time he was taken out.
He enjoyed _going_ to a fire of all things, because he could use his
strong muscles and let off some of the young life he didn’t know what
to do with, but he didn’t like coming back. The other two horses were
quite ready to go home at a gentle trot, but not so the new horse; and
as they lumbered along he felt that it devolved upon him to give a
little style to the team. He certainly did it, and many turned to watch
the fine knee action and spirited bearing of the new engine-horse.

One day his youthful spirits got the better of the new horse. The
department was called out to a fire in the business section of the
city, and Engine 33 left the engine-house in a mad rush at full speed,
as usual. When about half-way down the slope of the hill, a man on a
bicycle came suddenly around the corner from a side street. The new
horse was taken by surprise and shied badly. All the movements of such
a powerful young horse are vigorous, and the engine was thrown against
a lamp-post and wrecked.

When the chief heard of the accident, he remembered the dog who always
ran in front of the engine, and he at once said that the dog was the
cause of the accident and that they must get rid of him. “It is enough
to make any horse shy to have a dog getting under his feet,” he said.

It was in vain for the firemen to explain that Jack had nothing
whatever to do with the accident; the chief refused to be convinced.

The order concerning Jack, however, was not obeyed, for how could they
part with their old friend Jack?

The driver was right in his opinion of the new horse. He certainly
_was_ skittish, and before long a second accident came. This time the
order to get rid of Jack must be obeyed, and the question arose what to
do with him.

Mr. Ledwell being the kind of man to whom everybody in trouble
appealed, Reordan at once sought him and told him the story. “We can’t
have old Jack killed,” he said, “because he is one of us!”

“Of course you can’t,” replied Mr. Ledwell, “we must find a good home
for him.”

“You see, sir, Jack has been in the business so many years he wouldn’t
feel at home anywhere except in an engine-house, and if we gave him to
any other company the chief would find it out, and ’twould be just as
bad. I don’t see what we can do. The poor fellow would grieve himself
to death if he wasn’t in the Fire Department.”

“And so he shall be,” replied Mr. Ledwell, heartily. “There is an
engine in the town where I live in the summer, and I’ll write and ask
them to take Jack. They will be sure to do it.”

Reordan’s face brightened. “It would be very kind of you, sir, and just
like you. After Jack got used to it, he’d be sure to feel at home, and
the men couldn’t help liking him.”

“Of course they will,” replied Mr. Ledwell, “and we shall look after
him too. Sam will make it his special business to see that he is well
cared for.”

So Jack’s fate was settled, and, with a heart even sadder at parting
than were those of the firemen, he was taken to his new home. Boxer was
quite desperate in his grief, and wanted to make an assault on every
one at once and settle the matter in that way; but gentle-hearted Jack
accepted his fate with the same fortitude that had led him to follow
through the thickest of the fire the fortunes of the firemen he so
loved.



CHAPTER FIFTEENTH


JACK’S new home was in a sea-coast town about an hour’s journey by
rail. A baggage car does not afford much opportunity for seeing the
country. Even if it did, Jack was not in a mood to enjoy it, for if
ever there were a homesick dog, Jack was one. When the train stopped
at Seaport and Jack was released, the wind was blowing fresh from the
ocean, and the sun was shining brightly.

When Nature does her best to make things bright for us, we feel her
cheery influence. So it was with Jack, and he began to look about him
with some interest. The engine-house which was to be Jack’s future
home was situated in the centre of the town. It was a small wooden
structure, very unlike the fine brick building where Jack had lived so
long. The men received him kindly and with interest, for Mr. Ledwell
had written a glowing account of Jack’s sagacity and usefulness, but
Jack did not feel happy. How could a dog of his years and experience be
expected to feel at home in a new place and among new people?

Jack showed his gratitude in his dog’s way for all the kindness shown
him, but his occupation was gone. He never ran with the engine again,
for he couldn’t go with his old company. In vain the men tried to
induce him to follow. He resisted every invitation, and watched the
engine start for a fire with perfect indifference.

“He is only homesick. He will be all right when he gets used to us,”
the men said; but they were mistaken. The faithful dog, who had
stood by the company of Engine 33 so long and valiantly, lost all
his interest in the Fire Department. When an alarm sounded, he would
sometimes start to his feet from force of habit, but his interest
went no further. He would sit and watch the engine leave without
manifesting the slightest concern.

When this account of Jack reached the ears of his old friends of
Company 33, they could hardly believe it, for they had supposed that
he would feel at home in an engine-house. If he had been a young dog,
he probably would have adapted himself quickly to the change, but the
saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is true in most cases.

One day one of the engine men of the town of Seaport went to the city,
and, in order to see what would come of it, took Jack with him. As they
neared the engine-house which had been Jack’s home for so many years, a
change came over him as he recognized familiar objects. His ears were
pricked, his tail no longer drooped, and he hurried along at a rapid
pace. When he reached the engine-house, he turned in at the entrance
and ran upstairs as if he had never been away. The day with his old
friends was a happy one, and Jack seemed as contented and as much at
home as of old. The subject of his not caring to follow the engine was
talked over, and one of the men, in order to try him, went below and
sounded the alarm. In an instant Jack was on his way downstairs in the
old way, and when they saw his disappointment at the trick played upon
him, they were sorry for him, for it made them understand how much the
Fire-Dog grieved for his old home.

After this visit Jack seemed more reconciled to his new surroundings.
He soon made the acquaintance of all the children in town, and endeared
himself to them by his gentle and affectionate ways. They began to
bring him the things dogs are known to relish, as the children who
lived near his old home used to do. Surrounded by so much kindness, no
dog could have been unhappy, and Jack gradually became accustomed to
his new life. It is true the excitement of running with the engine was
no longer his, but other pleasures came into his life. Before long he
became known to all the townspeople, and they began to tell anecdotes
of his sagacity.

Mr. Ledwell, who felt a pity for the faithful dog who was banished from
his old home, ordered the butcher in Seaport to furnish the Fire-Dog
with bones, and every morning at the same hour Jack walked sedately to
the butcher’s shop and got his bone. So it became a standing joke that
old Jack had an account at the butcher’s.

After his visit to the city, when Jack was beginning to cultivate the
social side of his nature by making and receiving calls, which he had
little time to do in the busy life at the city engine-house, he made
the acquaintance of a very affable young dog who greatly pleased him.
So much did he enjoy the new friendship that he went to the greatest
length a dog can go in the way of friendship,—he showed him the place
where he buried his bones and treated him to a generous supply. The new
acquaintance, however, proved to be unworthy of the trust reposed in
him, and went secretly to the spot and helped himself.

When the Fire-Dog discovered that the new friend had taken this mean
advantage of his generosity, he at once cut his acquaintance. When
they met, as they frequently did, the Fire-Dog always looked straight
ahead as if he didn’t see him at all. This course of behavior was very
humiliating to the culprit, and he felt the disgrace much more than any
other course Jack could have pursued, for nothing humiliates a human
being or an animal so much as to be ignored.

Now that Jack was no longer a business dog, it was astonishing how
much time he found in which to amuse himself. He had in the old days,
as we have seen, found no time to indulge in the social pleasures
in which dogs take so much delight, such as running the streets and
calling on dog friends. The only pleasures he then had were the visits
of the children who lived near the engine-house, an occasional call
from Boxer, or a chance meeting with some dog passing through the
city. As we have seen, he had not been popular with the dogs of his
neighborhood, on account of the jealousy his important position excited
in them. Now that he had retired to private life, this objection was
removed, and the Fire-Dog’s loving and amiable nature made him a host
of friends among his kind.

There were certain houses where Jack made daily calls. He went with
great regularity to these houses, as if he felt the care of them and
must see that everything was going on in a satisfactory manner. He
always took up his position on the door-steps or piazza and waited
patiently until some one invited him to enter. If nobody happened to
notice that he was there, it seemed to make no difference to Jack. He
would wait a reasonable time, and then take his leave, calling at the
next house on his list.

Still another pleasure fell to Jack’s lot. He all at once took up the
habit of going to church, and every Sunday Jack was to be seen at one
of the churches in Seaport. He slipped in quietly and took a modest
position in the back part of the church, where he was in nobody’s way.
He sat very still through the service, usually taking short naps during
the sermon, but he was always wide awake and attentive during the
singing, which apparently afforded him great enjoyment. He went to one
church after another, as if testing them to see which suited his taste
the best, and finally settled upon the Methodist, attending services
with great regularity. It was supposed to be the character of the music
which made Jack choose this denomination, for the cheerful, hopeful
vein that pervades the Methodist hymns seemed to be particularly
acceptable to him.

This church-going habit was, of course, no objection, as the
intelligent dog made no disturbance during service, and went and
came with the greatest propriety. Before long, however, the children
in the congregation discovered that Jack was a regular attendant at
church, and from that time there was a craning of necks to obtain a
look at the Fire-Dog, and whispered questions and other signs which
showed that the young members of the congregation were more intent
upon watching Jack than they were upon the service. When this state
of affairs became apparent, word was sent to the engine-house that
Jack must be kept at home on Sunday. So the following Sunday Jack was
locked up in the engine-house, and a miserable morning he passed,
softly whining to himself when he heard the church-bells summoning the
congregation.

The next Sunday morning when the firemen looked for Jack to shut him
up, the Fire-Dog was nowhere to be found. In vain they hunted and
called; there was no response. But Jack attended services that morning
at the Baptist Church. The following Saturday night Jack was secured,
and he passed the next day locked up in the engine-house, a very
unhappy dog; and the firemen thought they had at last found a way to
keep the Fire-Dog away from church, by securing him on Saturday night.
They were mistaken, however, for the next Saturday night not a trace
was to be found of knowing Jack. The next morning he slipped into the
Universalist Church as the swinging door was opened by a tardy arrival,
and he took up his old position in the corner. He was one of the first
to pass out of the open doors when the service was ended, and very few
knew of his presence.

After this, the firemen decided it was not much use to attempt to keep
Jack from attending church, so they let matters take their course; and
as he went sometimes to one and sometimes to another of the churches,
no further complaints were made. If he succeeded in slipping in when
some one was entering, he took advantage of the chance and entered;
but if no such opportunity offered, he seated himself outside where he
could hear the singing. When the congregation came out, he joined them
and walked sedately home.

After Jack’s departure, his old friend Boxer grieved for him long, and
seemed to take comfort in visiting the Fire-Dog’s old home. He passed
a great part of his time there, watching the men and the horses, and
gradually came to be there most of the time. He seemed to feel it his
duty to guard the property, and sat for hours in front of the house,
watching the pigeons and sparrows when they came for the food that was
regularly thrown out to them.

Here Boxer’s duty ended. He was observed to watch the engine start
off to a fire with great interest, bustling about while the hurried
preparations were going on, and barking himself hoarse with excitement
as the horses dashed out of the engine-house and disappeared down the
hill. He watched them with longing eyes, but could never be induced to
follow them, much as he seemed to long to do it. The men concluded that
he considered this had been his friend Jack’s privilege, and that he
was too loyal to his old friend to usurp his rights.

Boxer also took great pleasure in the visits of the children who still
came to the engine-house, and they soon became very fond of him,
although at first the youngest among them were rather afraid of his big
mouth and rather savage expression. Among his visitors were Sam and
Billy, and many choice morsels of food he received from their hands.

So we see that although he did not take the Fire-Dog’s place, he had a
place of his own in the hearts of the firemen and the young visitors
who came so often to the engine-house.



CHAPTER SIXTEENTH


BILLY’S mother was soon well enough to be taken to Mrs. Hanlon’s
pleasant home, and, surrounded by the comforts that kind woman knew
so well how to give, she improved rapidly in health and spirits. The
happiness of being once more with her blind boy did more than anything
else to restore her lost health, for, although but a short time had
elapsed since she awoke to consciousness after her severe illness and
learned that she was separated from her boy, the anxiety and grief of
her loss had delayed her recovery.

Her eyes now followed his every movement and change of expression, and
again and again Billy had to repeat the story of his experiences. Sam
continued to come every day to visit his friend, and the gay spirits
and energy he brought with him helped the sick woman on the road to
health. He often brought news of the Fire-Dog, too, and of Boxer, who
had established himself at the engine-house. He told them also about
the pigeons, the sparrows, the lively chickadees, and the other winter
inhabitants of the park, and Billy’s mother was just as interested in
them all as Billy himself was.

She could tell beautiful stories, too, of the time when she was a
little girl and lived on a big farm. Sam never wearied of hearing about
the calves and sheep and the clumsy oxen, who are so intelligent,
although their minds work so slowly. Billy’s mother, too, knew how to
draw pictures of all the animals she told them about; and although
Billy couldn’t see them, Sam could, and it made Billy very happy to
know that his mother could do something to give pleasure to the little
friend who had done so much for him.

“If I only could _see_, I think I could draw things,” Billy said one
day, “because I know just how they ought to go.”

“Do you think you could draw Jack?” asked Sam.

“I think I could,” replied Billy, “because my hands know how he looks.”

“Take a pencil and see how good a picture you can make,” said his
mother.

So Billy made a picture of the Fire-Dog, as he thought he looked,
and, considering that he was blind and had never been taught to use a
pencil, he did very well.

“It looks just like Jack, all but the spots,” said Sam, “but of course
you couldn’t make them because you couldn’t see them. I’ll paint them
in for you.”

After this, Billy began to make pictures of the things he could pass
his hands over, and it helped many an hour to pass pleasantly.

Soon came a time when the oculist whom Mr. Ledwell had consulted
about Billy’s eyes decided that the boy’s health was now sufficiently
established to make it safe to operate. So Billy was put to sleep and
the operation performed, but for many days afterwards he had to be kept
in a dark room. Without his mother to sit by him and take care of him,
this would have been a trying time for Billy; but with her by his side
he was perfectly contented to wait patiently for the time to come when
he should be like the seeing children.

All this time Sam was not allowed to see the blind boy, and the time
seemed very long to him. He had many boy playmates, but not one of them
was so dear to him as the little blind boy to whom he had so patiently
loaned his eyes. He was persuaded at last to try his new dog-cart, for
by this time the snow had disappeared, and his black pony with the
star on his forehead had been brought in from the country. There was a
new russet harness, too, that became the pony beautifully, and Sam was
allowed to drive alone in the park behind the big carriage, for the
pony was gentle and Sam a good driver.

At last came a day when Sam was told he could visit Billy, and he was
in a state of great excitement. “Do you suppose Billy can see yet?” he
asked his grandmamma.

“You must find out and tell me about it when you come back,” replied
Grandmamma; and Sam thought she looked just as she always did when she
had a pleasant surprise for him.

So off Sam started, and he hurried along at such a pace that Mary had
to almost run to keep up with him. As they approached the house, there
stood Billy at the parlor window, looking out from among the plants. As
Sam approached, he noticed that the blind boy did not stand still with
the patient look on his face and his eyes looking straight ahead in the
old way. His eyes followed Sam’s movements with an eager expression,
as those look who are not quite sure they recognize a friend. As Sam
ran up the steps, however, the blind boy’s face grew brighter, as if he
were now sure Sam was the one he thought he was.

“Billy can see! Billy can see!” he exclaimed excitedly. “I am sure he
can, Mary! Didn’t you see him look right at me and kind of smile?” and
he burst into the house and into the parlor.

As Sam entered, Billy was standing in the middle of the room quite
pale from excitement, but he didn’t say a word. He only looked at Sam
very earnestly, at his bright eyes and rosy cheeks and his sturdy
figure. He always before seemed so glad to see Sam and greeted him so
affectionately that Sam didn’t know what to think of the change in
Billy’s manner, which was shy, as if a strange boy had come to see him.

“You can see now, can’t you, Billy?” asked Sam.

“Yes,” replied Billy.

“Aren’t you glad you can see?” asked Sam; for he was disappointed to
find that Billy did not express more joy at seeing him, when he himself
was so glad for Billy. “Didn’t you know me when you saw me?”

“I thought perhaps it was you, but I wasn’t sure,” replied Billy.

[Illustration]

“I should think you’d be as glad as anything, now that you can see,”
said Sam.

Billy’s mother, who had seen the meeting between the two children,
thought it time to explain matters to Sam.

“You see, Sam,” she said, “everything is so new to Billy that he must
become accustomed to seeing.”

“He always used to know me just as soon as I came,” replied Sam, “and
now he acts as if he didn’t know me at all.”

“He knew you by your step and your voice,” replied Billy’s mother, “but
he didn’t know how you really looked before. His mind made a picture of
you, but it was so different from the real _you_ that he must get used
to the new one.”

Sam understood now why Billy had looked at him as if he did not know
him. “Of course he didn’t know me, because he had never _seen_ me
before,” he said. “I wonder what sort of a looking fellow he thought I
was. What color did you think my eyes were, Billy?”

“I don’t know what seeing people call it,” replied Billy.

“You see, he will have to learn the names of the colors and a great
many other things, too,” explained Billy’s mother.

“I should think he would know them,” said Sam. “Anne is only four years
old, and she has known them ever so long.”

“Your little sister can see, you know,” said Billy’s mother.

“I suppose it makes a difference,” said Sam. “He’ll soon learn, though,
won’t he?”

A new world was opened to Billy, and there were a great many things
besides the names of colors for him to learn. Everything about him
seemed so wonderful! The beauty about us, which those who are gifted
with sight take as a matter of course, filled this newly awakened soul
with wonder and admiration. The blue sky and the trees, whose buds were
now bursting into their new life, the birds, and the blossoming plants
in the parlor window, were a source of constant delight to him. His
greatest pleasure was in drawing the objects that most pleased him.
These were so well done that Mr. Ledwell gave him a box of paints, and
the boy was so happy in this new work it was hard to get him to leave
it long enough to take the exercise he so much needed.

“I want to see Billy as sturdy as Sam,” Mr. Ledwell said to his mother.
“He must go to school and play with other boys, or we shall have a
girl-boy, which we don’t want. There is nothing that makes a boy so
independent as roughing it with other boys.”

“I am afraid they will ridicule him for being different from them,”
said Billy’s mother. “You know he has been kept from other children on
account of his blindness.”

“I know it, and that is why he needs the companionship of other boys,”
said Mr. Ledwell.

“But boys are so rough, and sometimes they are unkind to sensitive boys
like Billy.”

“Boys are not unkind as a general thing; they are only thoughtless.
Billy will become over-sensitive if you keep him tied to your
apron-strings. He will have to meet all kinds of people, you know.”

So one morning Billy was sent to school with Sam, who called for him.
As Billy’s mother, standing at the open door, watched the two boys
start off together, the contrast between them was very marked, and she
felt that Mr. Ledwell’s advice was of the very best. Billy, with the
blue glasses that he was obliged to wear when out of doors, his blond
hair falling in curly rings about his delicate face, which was radiant
with smiles because he was at last going to a “seeing school” like
other boys, did indeed have the air of a boy who has not mingled with
other boys.

Sam trudged along on the outside of the sidewalk, his strong, sturdy
figure in striking contrast to Billy’s slender one. Billy’s mother
watched them so long as they were in sight. Then she slowly entered the
house, saying to herself,—

“Poor boy, what a hard time he will have before he gets to be like
other boys!”

Meanwhile, the two boys went on, Sam feeling very important to be
entrusted with the care of Billy, and chatting all the way about his
school-life. His grandmother had sent Mary with him, fearing the two
boys would be careless in crossing the streets, but Sam’s dignity was
hurt at this precaution.

“I am not a baby, Mary, to have a nurse tagging around after me,” he
said, as soon as he was out of sight of his grandmother’s window, “so
you can just go back again.”

This Mary did not dare do, as she had directions to keep with the
boys; so after a serious conversation between her and her independent
charge, they compromised matters in this way: Mary was to be allowed
to follow at a respectful distance on the opposite sidewalk, provided
she would not attempt to speak to Sam or make any sign to show that she
had any connection with him. In this way Mary could keep an eye on her
two charges and be on hand if her services were required. Sam threw
occasional side glances in Mary’s direction to see if she were keeping
the contract faithfully.

The two boys proceeded on their way for some time, Sam using great
caution in piloting his friend across the streets, for Billy was afraid
of being run over by the teams and carriages which were so constantly
coming. The city sights were so new to the poor child, it was hard for
him to calculate how long it would take for the teams he saw coming
their way to reach them. This gave him a timid, undecided air, and Sam
would often say when Billy stopped, fearing to cross, “Come along,
Billy, there’s plenty of time to get over.” At this Billy would gain
courage and start, but he always reached the other side before Sam did.

“Whatever you do, Billy, don’t ever stop half-way across and run back
again,” Sam said, when Billy had been particularly nervous. “If you do,
you’ll be sure to be run over, because the drivers don’t know what you
are going to do. It would be better to stand still and let them turn
out for you. They won’t run over you if you stand still.” And Billy,
who thought Sam knew all about such things, promised to take his advice.

At the next corner they met a group of older boys on their way to
school. They were in the mood to find amusement in anything that came
their way, and as soon as they caught sight of the two little boys, one
of their number called out, “Hullo, Blue Glasses!”

The color came into Billy’s cheeks, and Sam looked very defiant.

“Trying to be a girl? Look at his nice curls! Ain’t they sweet?” said
another.

“What’s your name, Sissy?” called the largest of the group, a boy
several years older than the two little boys. At the same time he took
hold of Billy and made him stop. “What’s your name, I say!”

The slight and sensitive Billy, tightly held by the larger and stronger
boy, was about to reply meekly, when Sam called out, “Don’t you tell
him your name! It’s none of his business what your name is!”

“Oh, it isn’t, is it! He shall tell me his name and you shall tell me
yours, too, and tell it first;” and letting Billy go, he seized Sam by
the collar. “Come, out with it! Now what is it?”

“It’s none of your business,” replied Sam, stoutly, struggling to free
himself from the strong grasp of the boy.

“Come, let the little fellow alone,” said one of his companions.

“He’s got to answer my question first. Come, youngster, what’s your
name?” and he gave him a shake as he spoke.

“You let me alone!” cried Sam, who was working himself into a very
excited state, and trying his best to free himself. “You just wait
until I get hold of you!”

Billy had been standing helplessly by, wanting to assist Sam, but not
knowing how to do it. At last, when he saw his best friend struggling
in the grasp of the big boy, he suddenly became desperate, and,
throwing down his luncheon basket, flew at the big boy and began
hammering at his back with his weak fists.

All this had taken place in a much shorter time than it takes to relate
it, and Mary, from the other side of the street, had seen what was
going on, but she feared that Sam would resent her interference, so she
watched to see that matters did not go too far. When Billy made his
sudden attack, she quickly crossed over and released Sam from the big
boy’s grasp.

“It’s a fine business for a big fellow like you to be after picking a
quarrel with two little fellows! Why don’t you take one of your own
size?”

The boy did really seem to be ashamed of himself, particularly as his
friends did not uphold him, and he joined them in rather a shamefaced
manner. Sam, however, was not satisfied with the settlement of the
quarrel, and made a rush after him, but Mary caught him in time and
held him fast.

“I’ll tell you what _your_ name is,” he shouted, while he struggled to
free himself from Mary’s tight grasp. “It’s a mean old bully! And you
just wait till the next time I get a chance, that’s all!”

“It’s a shame for little boys to be fighting like the beasts that don’t
know any better,” said Mary. “What would your grandmamma say if she
came to hear of it? She would think it was just awful!”

“I don’t know about that,” said Sam, shrewdly.

Mary did not cross to the other side of the street again, but kept with
her charges, and, until the schoolhouse was reached, improved the time
in lecturing the two boys on the sin of fighting. Billy listened very
meekly, and even Sam received the lecture in silence; but when Mary
left them at the door, he said very seriously,—

“Mary, I sha’n’t _begin_ a fight, but if a fellow hits me he’s got to
look out!”

When Mary on her return related the story to Sam’s grandmamma and
grandpapa, and told how valiantly Billy had gone to the rescue of his
friend, Sam’s grandpapa only smiled with his eyes and said, “He’ll do!”



CHAPTER SEVENTEENTH


BILLY’S mother was now so well that she was eager to begin work. “You
have done so much for us,” she said to Mr. Ledwell, “that I cannot
accept any more.”

“Have you thought of anything special to do?” asked Mr. Ledwell.

“I have thought a great deal about it,” she replied, “and I should be
glad of any work that will support us. Since I have been so long idle
I have realized, as I never did before, the fact that there are many
children thrown upon the charity of the world as my boy was, but very
few fall into such kind hands as he did. There are institutions to care
for just such children, and if I could get a situation in one of them
I should put my whole heart into the work, remembering the helpless
position my boy was in. In caring for other forsaken children I would
work off some of the deep sense of gratitude I feel.”

“It is a good scheme,” replied Mr. Ledwell, “and we will try to find
a place for you. Feeling as you do, you are just the one to look
after the poor little waifs. It takes time, though, to obtain such a
position, and meantime I can give you employment in my business.”

So Billy’s mother began work at once, and at the end of the first week
was able to hand to Mrs. Hanlon a sum for her own and Billy’s board.

Billy gained in strength and health every day, and soon was able to lay
aside the blue spectacles.

“I should think you would have your hair cut just as short as it can
be,” Sam one day suggested to his friend. “You see, it curls so that
the fellows think it makes you look like a girl.”

So Billy gave his mother no peace until his hair was cut so short that
there was no chance for it to form the curly rings to which the other
boys so much objected, and Sam pronounced it a great improvement.

With the short hair Billy also acquired an air of confidence which made
him look more like other boys, and he was no longer singled out as a
butt for their rough jokes. He learned very fast, and his love for
drawing helped to make him popular; for on stormy days, when the boys
could not go out at recess, it was a great pleasure to have Billy draw
pictures for them. His greatest pleasure was to draw on the blackboard,
and his sketches, done with a bold, free hand, often gave as much
pleasure to the teacher as they did to the pupils.

Before long came the time for Sam to go with his grandparents to
their country home. Such good friends had the two boys become, that a
separation would have been very hard for both. They were so unlike that
each had a good influence on the other. Sam, full of spirit and health,
would much rather spend his time out of doors than in learning his
lessons, while Billy liked nothing better than to sit indoors, working
hard at his drawing, or conscientiously studying his lessons, that he
might keep up with the other children who had not been deprived of the
use of their eyes.

Mr. Ledwell, who looked out so well for every one, proposed to Billy’s
mother that she should live in a little house on his grounds that had
been built for his gardener’s family. The present gardener, however,
had no family, and lived with the other men employed on the place, and
the house would make a cosey, comfortable home for Billy and his mother.

The latter by this time had obtained the situation she so much
desired,—which was to look after homeless children. Her duty was to
take these little waifs to homes that were willing to receive them,
and to see that the little ones were happy and well cared for after
being placed. This, of course, took her away from home all through the
day, and she often returned tired from her day’s work. Giving so much
motherly care to the neglected ones, who needed it so sadly, prevented
her from giving her own boy the care he ought to have, and a pleasant
way out of the difficulty was found by having good Mrs. Hanlon come
down to the little cottage and take care of it and of Billy. In this
way Billy was not neglected, and his mother could earn money for their
support.

It was a happy day for the two boys when they alighted at the little
station of Seaport. It was quite a distance to Sam’s grandpapa’s place,
so they drove there in one of the station carriages. Billy noticed how
glad all were to see Sam. Everybody seemed to know him, and to have
a pleasant word for him, from the station master down to the colored
porter. Sam was just as glad to see them, too, and asked after their
families and how they had been through the long, cold winter.

It made Billy very happy to see how much everybody loved Sam, and for
every kind word and look given to his friend he was more gratified
than if he had received them himself. The grateful boy never forgot for
a moment how kindly and generously his friend had received him when he
was blind and forsaken.

As they passed the different houses in the village, Sam was kept busy
in hailing old acquaintances and hearing their cordial “Glad to see you
back again.”

They passed the engine-house, and there on the sidewalk in front of it
lay Jack the Fire-Dog. Although he had never _seen_ him before, Billy
knew him even before Sam’s keen eyes discovered him. At the boys’
call the dog pricked up his ears and gazed searchingly at them; then,
with all the power of his eloquent eyes and wagging tail, he tried to
express his joy at meeting these old friends.

Of course the boys couldn’t go by without stopping for a moment,—no
human boys could do that. So out they piled in a hurry, and before
the carriage had come to a stop they were hugging and caressing their
faithful friend. “Does he look anything as you thought he did, Billy?”
asked Sam.

“Yes, just, only a great deal handsomer. Do you suppose he knows I am a
seeing boy now, Sam?” asked Billy, anxiously.

“I shouldn’t wonder if he did, because I saw him looking at your eyes
awful sharp the first thing.”

“I shouldn’t wonder if he did, either,” said one of the firemen who had
witnessed the meeting between the old friends. “He’s awfully knowing.”

They could not stop so long as they would have liked, however, because
the driver of the station carriage was in a hurry to get back; so they
had to leave the Fire-Dog. “You shall come to see us every day,” Sam
called out, as the carriage started again, for the dog’s wistful eyes
said how sorry he was to have them go; and the Fire-Dog did not wait
for a second invitation, but presented himself about five minutes after
the boys had reached home.

“First of all, I must take you about to show you everything on the
place,” Sam said to Billy. So off they started, the boys followed
closely by Jack, who seemed much older than he had in the days when he
used to run with Engine 33.

First of all, there were the stables to be visited, where in a paddock
was the black pony with the star on his forehead. He came trotting up
to the fence to see the boys and rub his nose against them and beg for
sugar. They had no sugar to give him, but a few handfuls of grass did
just as well. After he found they had no more for him, he lay down and
rolled over; then, after shaking himself, he came for more grass.

These stables were wonderful places, and had in them everything that
boys, and most girls, love. There was a new colt only a few weeks old,
but as tall as the black pony with the star in his forehead, although
his legs were longer and not so prettily formed, and he had a short,
bushy tail. Clumsy as he looked, however, he could run fast, for, after
looking anxiously at the boys for an instant with his large, mild
eyes, he darted off at full speed to join his mother at the other end
of the field.

There was a litter of pups belonging to one of the grooms, young
bull-terrier pups, with little fat, round bodies and very blunt, pink
noses; and the mother dog evidently thought amiable Jack a fierce
ogre, who wanted to eat them up, for she flew at him with great fury
when he only wanted to admire them. So she had to be shut up in the
harness-room, where she tore at the door and growled and barked so long
as the boys and Jack stayed near her pups.

There were two little kittens, too, and they also seemed to consider
innocent Jack a dangerous sort of fellow, for they arched their backs
and spit at him whenever he happened to look their way.

When the stables had been explored, the two boys and Jack ran down to
the beach. The tide was out, and they could walk far out on the smooth
sand. This was very beautiful, but Sam’s favorite nook was the little
cove where the fiddler-crabs lived. He was never tired of watching them
at low tide, and trying to find out whether each had his own particular
hole to hide in, or whether they darted into the first one they came to
when surprised.

The two boys each singled out a crab and tried to keep his eyes on him
to watch his movements, but they all looked so much alike that it was
very confusing, and after an hour spent in this way Sam was no wiser
than he was before.

Then the shells that had been washed up in the hard storms of the
winter before, how beautiful they were, and how exciting it was to pick
them out of the line of seaweed in which they were entangled! Billy had
never dreamed of such pleasures, and they were as good as new to Sam,
now that he had a companion to enjoy them with him. Thus the two happy
boys spent the forenoon, while Jack wandered about the beach, sniffing
into holes and examining the skeletons of the horse-shoes and crabs
that had been thrown up by the winter storms. They found many delicate
skeletons of baby horse-shoes, some not much larger than a silver
quarter of a dollar, and perfect in shape.

“We must make a collection of curiosities,” Billy said,—“shells and
horse-shoes and all such things.”

“I can show you where there are beautiful stones,” said Sam. “I have
got a little bookcase where we can keep them, and we can label them
just as they do in the Museum.”

As Sam spoke, the clear notes of a horn were heard from the direction
of the house. “That’s for me,” said Sam. “They always blow that horn
when they want me, and I guess it’s about time for lunch.”

So the two boys went toward the house, carrying as many of their
“curiosities” as they could take, and Jack followed.

The fresh sea air had sharpened the appetites of the boys, and of Jack,
too, but they spent as little time at the table as possible, they were
in such a hurry to go back to their play on the beach.

In these pleasures the days passed so rapidly that Sam’s birthday came
around before he had thought it was anywhere near the time for it. Jack
appeared every day with great regularity, and never let them out of
his sight. Even while they were eating their meals, he lay under the
dining-room windows, in order that he might be on hand if they required
his services.

“What should you like to do to celebrate your birthday, Sam?” asked his
grandpapa one morning at the breakfast table.

“I know what I should _like_ to do,” replied Sam, who usually knew just
what he wanted, “but I don’t suppose there is any chance of my doing
it.”

“What is it, Sam?”

“Well, you know those children who were so good to Billy? The ones you
gave the cakes to, you know. Billy and I have been thinking how much
they would like to be here and run on the beach and see the colt and
the puppies. Billy said if he had lots of money he would just send for
them to come here and have a good time. It is awfully hot in that part
of the city where they live, Billy says, and it smells awfully bad,
too.”

“I know it does, Sam,” replied Grandpapa, very seriously, “and I wish
we could take all the children out of the hot city and let them run
about in the fields and on the beach as you and Billy do.”

“I _knew_ it couldn’t be done,” said Sam with a sigh.

“We can’t take care of _all_ the children in the city, Sam,” replied
Grandpapa, “but I think we can manage to give these three a taste of
the country.”

“Oh, Grandpapa!” exclaimed Sam, and he was so overcome with joy at
the prospect that he couldn’t find words to say how happy he was. His
grandmother was very particular about his table manners, so he said,
“Please excuse me a minute, Grandmamma,” and, jumping down from his
chair, ran up to his grandfather and put his arms about him and hugged
him until his face was quite red from the effort. “I think you are the
very kindest man I ever saw, Grandpapa,” he said.



CHAPTER EIGHTEENTH


MR. LEDWELL was fully as kind as his little grandson thought him. That
very day he went to several of the townspeople to ascertain if any of
them were willing to take three city children as boarders for a few
weeks. At last he found what he wanted. A young married woman with no
children of her own was glad to oblige the man who was such a favorite
with everybody, and at the same time earn a little money; for money is
scarce in the country, where the means for earning it are so much less
than in the city.

On a beautiful morning about a week later, the three children, beaming
with happiness, alighted at Seaport station, to find Sam and Billy on
the platform looking eagerly for them. Yet when they met, the natural
shyness that children feel at meeting those whom they seldom see,
overcame the three new-comers, and they found no words to express the
pleasure and gratitude that was in their hearts, although their happy
faces spoke for them. Sam, always business-like, was the first to speak
and conduct them to the wagonette which was to take them to their
boarding-place. When they were seated in the wagonette, facing one
another, Maysie at last found voice,—

“Hallo, Billy!” she said, her face wreathed in smiles.

They were all a little shy of Sam at first, but they soon felt at
their ease, for he pointed out the objects of interest as they drove
along, and told them about the colt, the puppies, the kittens, and the
wonderful things they would find on the beach.

“Is it hot in the city?” asked Sam.

“Just!” replied Johnny, briefly.

“I saw a horse that was killed entirely by the hot sun,” said Maysie.

“He wasn’t dead, Maysie,” said Johnny; “it is just overcome he was.
They took him off in a big cart to the hospital.”

Soon the engine-house was passed, and there sat Jack, who knew them
as soon as they came in sight. Sam insisted on taking him in, and
Jack, who seldom had the pleasure of a drive, was very glad of the
opportunity.

“He looks like the dog I saw to the fire that day I told you of,” said
Maysie.

“It can’t be the same one,” replied Hannah, “for that one runs with one
of the city engines, and he wouldn’t be so far from home.”

“But it _is_ the same,” said Billy; and always glad to tell how
faithful Jack saved his life on the night of the fire, he told the
story to them, and how Jack happened to be so far away from his old
home.

When they stopped at the pretty farm-house where the city children were
to stay, a pleasant-faced woman came out to meet them and show them
the rooms they were to occupy, and Sam and Billy left them there,
promising to come for them in the afternoon, to show them all the
things they had told them about.

The sweet air, the green fields, and the singing birds were what these
city children had never before enjoyed, and nothing was lost on them.
There was only one drawback to their perfect happiness, and that was
the fact that Mother was not there to enjoy it with them.

“If Mother could only be here, too,” said Hannah, “how beautiful it
would be!”

“But she said she should enjoy it just as much as we did, when we got
home and told her about it,” said Maysie.

“I know she said so,” replied Hannah, “but it ain’t like smelling the
beautiful air and seeing the fields and things.”

“But she won’t have so much work to do while we are away, and there
won’t be no noise nor nothing,” said Maysie, who always took a hopeful
view of things.

“The house will seem awful lonesome to her,” said Johnny, whom
Hannah’s remark had made a little homesick.

“She told us to have as good a time as we could,” said Maysie, “and
I’ve made up my mind to see everything and tell her all about it. Do
you mind how pleased Mother is when we tell her things we’ve seen?”

“I know,” said Hannah with a sigh, “but I wish Mother could be here all
the same.”

“But she _can’t_, you know,” said hopeful Maysie, “so what’s the use of
fretting about what can’t be helped?”

“Maysie is right,” said Hannah, after a moment’s silence, for she began
to see into what an unhappy mood they were drifting. “The best thing
we can do is to get as strong and well as we can, and then we can help
Mother more when we get home.”

“That’s so,” replied Johnny, once more cheerful; “and it’s the
pocketful of shells and nice stones I’ll take home to her,—those the
boy told us of.”

“And the day we go home we’ll take her a big bunch of the flowers the
fields is full of,” said Hannah.

“And the kitten the boy promised me!” said Maysie.

“I don’t believe Father would let us keep a kitten,” said Johnny. “You
know about the little dog!”

“Kittens isn’t dogs,” replied Maysie, confidently. “I know he wouldn’t
send a kitten out on us.”

“I guess he wouldn’t mind a kitten,” said Hannah, “because they keep
the mice away. I heard him tell Mother one day that she ought to get a
cat or the mice would eat us out of house and home.”

So they agreed that it would be safe to introduce a kitten into their
home, and in talking over the pleasant surprises they intended to give
Mother they were soon their old cheerful selves.

Only those who have always lived in a city can understand fully the
state of bliss these children lived in during their stay in the
country. Hunting for eggs in the hen-house and barn, discovering
stolen nests, going to the pasture for the cows, and watching the
process of milking, riding to the hayfield in the empty hay-rigging,
and, after treading down the load, making a deep nest in the hay and
riding back to the barn,—particularly enjoying the jolt as the heavy
wagon went over the high threshold,—then the pleasure of sliding down
from the top of the high load into the farmer’s arms!—that was the best
of all.

In these simple country pleasures, in the company of Sam and Billy, and
the enjoyment of Mr. Ledwell’s beautiful place, the days flew rapidly
by, leaving as they went traces of the fresh air and sunlight on their
blooming cheeks and sun-browned skins. Almost before they knew it, the
time for which they had been invited had passed, and their faces grew
long when they thought of leaving these blissful scenes. The calves,
the hens, and the pigs—especially the new litter of pigs, with their
pink skins and funny little wrinkled noses—how could they make up their
minds to leave them?

Then, just when everything looked most hopeless, came a pleasant
surprise. The farmer’s wife, with whom they had been boarded, said she
had become so attached to them, and had found them so helpful and such
good company, that she wanted them to stay two whole weeks more; yes,
she did! And she said they were the best-mannered children she had ever
had in her house, besides!

These compliments pleased Sam and Billy as much as they did the three
children to whom they referred, and little Maysie resolved to repeat
them to Mother the next time she was reproved for her manners.

As for Jack the Fire-dog, after the arrival of the three city children
he spent more time than ever on Mr. Ledwell’s premises. Since he could
not be with his old engine and his beloved company, he could feel
interest in no other engine; but there were the dear children, and
Jack had always been accustomed to the company of children and could
not live without them. So by degrees Jack established himself on the
Ledwell estate, and from sleeping there on extremely hot nights came
to sleep there every night. It was very pleasant sleeping under the
large elms, with the sea-breezes wafted to him, or on cool nights,
in the roomy stable, where he could smell the sweet hay overhead and
hear the bull pups nestling in their sleep in their box from the room
beyond; for the mother of the pups had become reconciled to Jack since
he had no intention of hurting her babies, and even allowed him to play
with them, now they had grown large and strong.

It was a very fortunate thing for the pups and their mother and the
horses and every one on the place, too, that Jack had seen fit to take
up his abode on the premises—but we will tell what happened.

One night when the man whose duty it was to close the stable was about
to lock up, he caught sight of Jack lying under the large elm-tree in
front of the stable.

“‘Twill be cold, old boy, before morning,” he said to Jack as he held
the door open, “and I advise you to come inside.”

Jack had been thinking the same thing himself, so he got up and went
in to his bed in the harness-room. The heavy door was rolled to and
locked, and the man went upstairs to his room on the floor above.

A night-watchman is usually employed where valuable horses are kept,
and usually there was one on Mr. Ledwell’s place, but for the past two
nights he had been at his home ill from a cold, and the premises were
left unguarded.

Jack curled up in his comfortable bed, listening for a while to the
heavy steps of the men overhead, the occasional stamping from the
horses’ stalls, or the rattling of their halter chains against their
iron mangers; to the occasional nestling of the pups as they stirred in
their sleep and crowded one another in their attempts to obtain more
room; to the rising wind that shook the drooping boughs of the big
elm outside. It was very pleasant to listen to these sounds from his
comfortable bed in the harness-room, and, while listening to them, Jack
fell asleep. He had acquired the habit of sleeping with one ear open
during his old life in the engine-house, and the habit was so firmly
rooted that it would never leave him. This night he awoke every few
minutes, starting at every sound. Once he jumped to his feet, dreaming
that he was in the old engine-house, and that the gong had just struck.

It was no gong, however, but only the sharp noise made by one of the
horses as he gave his halter chain a sudden jerk, and Jack was wide
awake now and listening with all his might.

What makes the Fire-Dog so restless, and why does he keep his keen nose
up in the air, sniffing so eagerly, then suddenly start to his feet and
run about the floor of the large stable, peering in at every corner
and cranny, and then with a whine dart up the staircase leading to the
floor above? The wire door used in summer time swings inward, and as
Jack bounds against it, it flies open and he stands inside. It is a
good-sized room with two beds in it, the occupants fast asleep.

There is no doubt now as to what brought Jack here. A decided smell
of smoke pervades the room, increasing every moment, oozing through
the crevices of the partition which separates this room from the lofts
beyond, where the hay is stored. The turned-down lamp that is always
kept lighted at night, in case of a sudden call, shows dimly through
the gathering haze, and the Fire-Dog knows that there is not a moment
to lose. With one leap he stands by the side of the man who let him
into the stable a few hours before. He is fast asleep, and Jack’s
loud barks only cause him to stir and turn over in his sleep. But the
Fire-Dog has not been brought up in an engine-house for nothing, and
he knows the horrors of a fire at night. He now pounces upon the heavy
sleeper, pawing him frantically with his strong paws, while his loud
barking is shrill with the warning he tries so hard to express.

He succeeds at last in rousing the heavy sleeper and at the same time
the occupants of the other bed. They take in the situation at once,
and in an instant are on their feet. They snatch up some articles
of clothing and run for the stairs, putting them on as they go. The
rolling door is thrown open, and their voices send out the startling
cry of “Fire! Fire!”

The loud cry is borne on the night air to the stable beyond, where the
farm-horses and cows are kept, and where other men are sleeping, and
there the alarm is taken up and sent on to the house, where the family
are fast asleep.

There is nothing that arouses one more suddenly and fills one with
more alarm than the cry of “Fire!” in the middle of the night. In a
few minutes all the people living on the place are aroused. The alarm
is sounded for the only engine in town, but what can one engine a mile
distant accomplish when a stable filled with hay is on fire?

The first thought is for the horses; and they, terrified at the noise
and excitement and fast-gaining fire, refuse to leave their stalls,
running back when they are released so soon as they catch sight of
the flames. So blankets and carriage robes are hastily caught up and
thrown over their heads, that they may not see the flames, and in that
way they are led through the burning stable in safety and turned loose
in the field, where they stand watching the commotion about them and
snorting with terror.

Then the carriages are run out and harnesses caught down from the pegs
where they hang, and carried to a place of safety. Meanwhile the fire
steadily sweeps on its way, bursting through the roof and sending
volumes of smoke and flame high up into the dark sky. The big elm that
drooped its graceful branches over the burning building, shivers and
moans like a live creature in pain, as the tongues of flame lick its
fresh green leaves and shrivel them with their hot breath.

Every man and woman on the place is awake and on the spot, and the high
wind is taking the smoke and flames of the burning building directly in
the line of the stable where the farm-horses and cows are kept. These
are taken out blindfolded, as the horses in the other stable have been,
for the heat from the burning hay, the summer’s heavy crop, is intense,
and the strong wind hurls blazing embers against the shingled roof.

It is evident that this stable will go like the other before long,
and men are on the roof, stamping out the fire as often as it catches
on the dry shingles. Then they do what is often done in country towns
where the fire department is of little use. Two lines of men and women
stand between the farm-stable and the well, while pails are hurriedly
filled with water and passed from hand to hand along one line until
they finally are handed up to the men on the roof, to be dashed over
the heated shingles. Then the empty pails are passed down the other
line to the well. In this way, the roof is kept wet and the burning
embers are made harmless. Before the pails have been passed along the
lines many times, the engine comes tearing up the driveway, the horses
at full speed, and draws up before the burning stable. It is too late
to be of any service there, but the other buildings can be saved, and
the hose is quickly unwound and attached to the well. The deep thuds
of the working engine are soon heard, and the hose is turned upon the
farm-stable. Every throb of the engine sends the water higher and
higher, until a broad, full stream strikes the ridgepole and sends
rivulets running over the surface of the slanting roof. In less than
five minutes more service is done than the lines of hard-working men
and women could accomplish in an hour.

All this time the Fire-Dog, but for whose warning many lives would have
been lost, is going in and out among the workers, with the same air of
responsibility that he had always worn in the old days when he went to
fires with Company 33. He threads his way among the crowd, which has
collected, exactly as he used to, looking about to assure himself that
everything is as it should be. When Sam and Billy appear on the scene,
excited and awestruck, he stations himself by their side and never
leaves them for an instant, as if he fears harm might come to them if
he were not there to watch over them.

The anxiety comes to an end at last. The stable where the fire started
is a pile of black and smoking embers, but the farm-stable with its
sheds and paddocks is saved, and not a life lost, even to the kittens
and puppies; and of old Jack, whose sagacity has brought this about,
what a hero they make when the story is made known! The children cannot
love him any more, because they already love him as much as they can,
but every man and woman on the place has a kind word and a caress for
the faithful Fire-Dog. If he were not the most modest dog that ever
lived, his head would certainly be turned, for the facts even reach
the newspapers, and the whole story is told that everybody may read
it. It does not make him one bit conceited, the dear old Fire-Dog, and
he would do the same thing right over again, even if every hair on his
body should be singed. When, however, a handsome collar with a broad
brass plate, on which is engraved in large letters

       JACK THE FIRE-DOG

         PRESENTED BY

    HIS GRATEFUL FRIENDS,

is placed on his neck, then you may be sure his heart swells with pride
and gratitude.

If only there were time enough, how we should like to tell a little
more about Jack’s friends,—how Sam grew up to be a man very like
his grandfather and made a great many people happy; how Billy grew
strong and manly and at last became an artist and was able to make a
comfortable home for his mother; how the three city children went home
well and happy and came back for many summers, until Johnny was old
enough to take a position in Mr. Ledwell’s business, where he made
himself so useful that he rose a little higher in position each year;
how helpful Hannah became to Mother, and what good care she took of the
pretty house to which they moved in the beautiful town of Seaport;
how Maysie turned out to be a very capable business woman; how Father
enjoyed the new home in the country, and did not so often come home
tired as he used to in the city.

We can only hint briefly at these things, however, for it is time to
say good-bye to the dear old Fire-Dog and his friends.


       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber’s Note:

Page 116, “of” changed to “off” (off the old block)





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