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Title: Gambolling with Galatea: a Bucolic Romance
Author: Dunham, Curtis
Language: English
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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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[Illustration: I WOULDN’T ROOST IN A CHERRY TREE

         (page 30)]


GAMBOLLING WITH GALATEA: A BUCOLIC ROMANCE

by

CURTIS DUNHAM

Author of “The Casino Girl in London,” “Two in a Zoo,” “The Golden
Goblin,” etc.

With Illustrations by  Oliver Herford


[Illustration]



Houghton Mifflin Company Boston & New York
The Riverside Press Cambridge
MDCCCCIX

Copyright, 1909, by Curtis Dunham and Houghton Mifflin Company

All Rights Reserved

Published May 1909

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                     _Preliminary and Confidential_


Fair reader (and unfair one, of either sex), I pray you be not dismayed
by the profundity of this discourse. Doubtless there are some
light-minded observers who would have seen in the natural phenomena
herein recorded the very quintessence of humor, the apotheosis of the
comical. Such pretenders to scientific and literary eminence would
entertain the same view of the noble Titanotherium Robustum, or the
sublime Stegosaurus Ungulatus. They would have cast merry doubts upon
the improving conversation between Balaam and his Ass; ridiculed the
psychic resources of the Birds of St. Francis d’Assisi; scoffed at the
gratitude of Æsop’s Lion; denied the acumen of the Jumping Frog of
Calaveras; yea, and presumed to say “scat” to the sacred Cat of
Bubastis.

Fair reader (or unfair one), be warned against all such triflers with
the important truths of nature. Life is earnest. Turn the page—read,
ponder, and be wise.

                                                                   C. D.



                               _Contents_


 PRELIMINARY AND CONFIDENTIAL                                        vii

                                _PART I_
 INITIATION OF THE TWO-LEGGED PARTNERS                                 1

                                _PART II_
 FAIR WARNING TO THE HORSELESS                                        39

                               _PART III_
 PIG-MALION AND GALATEA                                               67

                                _PART IV_
 THE OBSEQUIES OF BOS NEMO                                            98

                                _PART V_
 EQUUS MINOR, DETECTIVE                                              127

                                _PART VI_
 TAURUS CUPID, ESQ.                                                  157



                            _Illustrations_


 “_I wouldn’t roost in a cherry tree_” (_page 30_)          Frontispiece

 _The goat seemed to nod his approval_                                44

 _Sit perfectly still for five minutes while the gentleman
   takes your picture_                                                92

 _Seized her hand and kissed it ardently_                            126

 _The guests ate their turnips decorously_                           150

 _All the four-legged members of the firm had drawn near_            168



                        GAMBOLLING WITH GALATEA



                                   I
                _Initiation of the Two-Legged Partners_


The thing was incredible. It was intolerable—just cause for mutiny. Talk
about injustice, arrogant denial of the equal rights of man and beast!
Well, here was a spectacle calculated to make the heavens weep. Yet
never had a June sky revealed a deeper shade of blue for fleecy clouds
to sail upon. The wind that should have risen in a shriek of indignation
blew softly around the corner of the barn, and was laden with fragrance
from all the flowers that bloom. In the meadow just beyond the stone
fence, the tall grass waved gently, whispering contentment to the brook
that gurgled with happiness. Birds sang, grasshoppers chirped—

Clarence could stand it no longer. With his neck stretched far out of
his stall window, the colt lifted up his voice and whinnied
remonstrance.

“O Amanda! Why are we still prisoners, and the sun half-way up the roof
of heaven? It is an outrage, Amanda. Come quickly and let us out.”

Reginald—the round fat one with the tight kink in his tail—stood on his
hind-legs inside the barnyard fence under the colt’s nose, and voiced
his personal grievance in short sharp squeaks.

“Let me out, let me out, let me out! My trough is empty. My flattened
belly cleaves to my backbone.”

On either side of him were Mrs. Cowslip and Gustavius, with their heads
over the fence and their noses in the air.

“Amanda, O Amanda!” bawled the bull-calf, while his mother—she of the
liquid eyes and the crumpled horn—lowed her gentle reminder:—

“Good, kind Amanda, this yard is barren; in the pasture the long grass
is luscious. Amanda, O Amanda!”

And William, the big-horned and bearded one, butted foolishly at the
hinges of the barnyard gate.

The others gave no heed to William’s puerile devices. He was only an
addle-pated goat anyway, devoid of reasoning power and puffed up with
vanity. They put their noses together and considered the matter, the
bull-calf wrinkling his yellow muzzle at Clarence’s ear and dropping now
and then a superfluous comment. Ordinarily the colt, having an exalted
sense of his own superiority, would have indulged in no such familiarity
with a placid old cow and her lubberly calf; but it was plain that the
present occasion was one demanding the sinking of the individual in the
organization. So Clarence patiently reviewed the situation, inviting
their suggestions.

To go back to the events of the early morning. Why had that two-legged
tyrant, who always responded so promptly to the vulgar name of Gabe
whenever Amanda hailed him from the kitchen door, harnessed the mare and
driven off, leaving them deprived of their customary liberty, and
without a word of explanation? The act was contrary to the Professor’s
most sacred principle of equity for all living creatures, whether having
four legs or only two.

“And yet just now you led us in our supplications to Amanda,” observed
Mrs. Cowslip. “Why did you not remind the Professor of our—”

“Ah!” broke in Gustavius, “you can trust the Professor to understand the
needs of a bull-calf.”

“You don’t have to ask the Professor twice when you want your back
scratched,” grunted Reginald, his tail kinking tighter than ever with
delicious memories.

“The Professor has a large, round, and most inviting stomach,” commented
William. “Never before have I spared such a stomach. Yet never have I
felt the slightest inclination to butt the Professor.”

Mrs. Cowslip turned her mild eyes inquiringly on the colt. “I suggest,”
she said, “that we remind the Professor—”

“My gracious!” interrupted Clarence with impatience. “Can’t you fellows
remember anything over-night? The Professor drove off behind my mother
yesterday morning. There was a box beside him in the wagon. He wore his
high hat. Mother came home without him. There’s nobody left in the house
but Amanda and that two-legged Gabe.”

Just then Gustavius tossed his immature horns and bellowed:—

“Amanda! Amanda!”

With an apron over her head and a tin pail on her arm, Amanda had come
into view beyond the angle of the barn.

“She’s going to the strawberry-patch over beyond the orchard,” said
Clarence, excitedly. “Quick! Now, all together!”

Amanda had not the hardihood to ignore the resulting chorus of appeals
to her. But she passed quickly on out of sight, after turning long
enough to wave her hand and answer:—

“Jest be patient, you critters. Gabe’ll ’tend to you when he gits home.”

The colt nearly burst with indignation.

“That settles it,” he shrieked, lashing out with his heels so that there
was a great clatter of things loose in the barn. Then he drew back his
lips, baring his teeth, and began snapping at the latch-string of the
barn-door, which was just beyond his reach.

“It’s a pity,” said Mrs. Cowslip. “I’ve seen your mother let herself in
that way many a time, when she was full of grass and eager for her
midday nap.”

“If I was only out of here, I could reach that string,” grunted
Reginald, with one thought for the colt and two for himself.

“Oh, we know all about you,” retorted Clarence with exasperation. “If
you could get out you’d scoot for those artichokes down by the brook and
never look behind you, you fat, selfish, kink-tailed little beast.”

“Just you try me,” urged the pig, for he had great confidence in the
colt’s resources.

Once more their noses were close together, while Clarence instructed
them in the details of a desperate effort designed to gain freedom for
them all.

To contend with the smug incredulity of those millions of human kind who
spend their lives in little brick-and-mortar boxes set one on top of
another in long double rows is the fate of all chroniclers of the
important aspects of nature. But truth is mighty and will prevail. Let
us therefore proceed calmly with the facts.

When Clarence had repeated his instructions several times, Reginald gave
three sharp, intelligent grunts and ran straight to the barnyard gate.
With his stiffened snout he began furiously attacking the hard earth
beneath the lower bar.

“Not there, you idiot!” squealed the colt. “The other end. The other
end, where the iron hinges are!”

Reginald stood corrected. While the dirt flew from under the hinged end
of the gate, Gustavius galloped foolishly around the yard with his tail
aloft, and William, with a coolly calculating eye on those hinges,
backed away slowly, with significance understood by all the other
conspirators. Mrs. Cowslip looked on benignantly. Presently the pig got
his sturdy shoulders under the gate and heaved with all his might.
William, with head down, leaped to the assault. The crash of his horns
on those hinges reëchoed between orchard and wooded hills. But the gate
was raised only an inch or two, and Reginald stuck fast. His squeals as
he struggled would have melted a heart of stone. William backed away for
another assault. It was while he was in mid-air that Clarence shrilled:—

“Not the hinges! The pig, the pig!”

William understood. This time all the weight behind his horns landed
with a resounding smack on Reginald’s inviting posterior. In the midst
of heart-rending squeals the gate rose in the air and the barnyard
prisoners looked out on liberty. Instantly Reginald was off in the
direction of the artichokes.

“Stop!” shrieked Clarence. “As I’m a thoroughbred, you shall feel my
heels among your spareribs!”

Reginald looked back, and seeing immediate menace in the lowered horns
of Mrs. Cowslip and Gustavius, turned about, ran to the barn-door, stood
on his hind-legs, seized with his teeth the leather string at which the
colt was frantically snapping, gave one sharp pull—and the deed was
done. If Amanda, a moment later, had looked up from her
strawberry-picking, she would have seen, circling over the half-lawn,
half-pasture between the barn and the house, all tails in the air, a
triumphant procession consisting of one yearling colt, one cow with a
crumpled horn, one bull-calf, one he-goat making short stiff-legged
jumps with horns lowered, and one pig bringing up the rear with a tail
now so tightly kinked that it lifted his hind-quarters clear of the
ground at every second leap.

But Amanda’s mind was glued on strawberries; and for the present other
matters of moment require us, too, to leave the escaped prisoners to
their own devices.

                  *       *       *       *       *

Half a mile away the Poet and his sister sat on a boulder beside the
road. It was a semi-public road winding around the foot of a wooded
hill. Behind them, a mile away, was the railway station. That mile had
been mostly uphill, and the Poet did not love physical exercise. He was
tall and lean, with a geometrical figure composed mainly of acute
angles. When in a state of repose, it resembled a carpenter’s pocket
rule which protested at being entirely shut up. The Poet’s sister, on
the contrary, was mainly curves—those delicate, subtle curves that deny
the presence of bones, yet repel any suggestion of fat. She was young;
not too young—just young enough to have won the crowning glory of
spinsterhood. She had quantities of red hair, the kind of red hair that
always goes with that astonishingly transparent skin underneath which
scattering amber freckles come and go over-night. There was one now on
the side of her nose, which had a becomingly mirthful tilt at the end.
Her lips were full at the centre, carmine, and with finely shaped
corners which could not by any possibility be drawn downward. She wore a
solid pair of calfskin boots, with military heels which looked small
while being ample in size. Her dark walking-skirt barely reached the
interesting spot where her bootlaces were tied. Her waist, of a soft,
cream-tinted material, left her neck and throat bare—for which the Lord
be praised!—and a shapeless, yet shapely, fluffy white thing resting on
the coils of her hair seemed to absorb warmth from them. In short, you
will make no mistake when you keep your mind fixed on the Poet’s sister.

“Just around the next turn of the road, George,” she was saying, “our
little summer Elysium will burst upon your view.”

The Poet mopped the long, solemn countenance that was belied by his eyes
and his manner of speech.

“Galatea, I have observed that most things elysian in this life are
generally just around the corner. I am not impatient. I can wait. In
fact, I should prefer to have that first view burst upon me while I am
comfortably seated in the spring wagon of—What did I understand you to
say the gentleman’s name was, Galatea?”

“He is called Gabe.”

“Doubtless a corruption of Gabriel. I wonder if Gabriel blows his
trumpet for breakfast?”

Galatea’s lips parted in a musical ripple of laughter. The sight would
have caused a dentist to pass on, with misgivings about his future. The
Poet merely remarked:—

“Galatea, are you sure we brought our toothbrushes?” Whereupon the
dentist would have been heartened by the sight of a tiny point of gold
shining out of the crown of her left bicuspid.

“George, you lazy thing, come on. It’s only half a mile further. Gabriel
probably missed us at the station, and has returned by the main road.”

“Oh, well, if all roads lead to Elysium, I suppose it’s no use waiting
here.”

Slowly the Poet’s angles adjusted themselves to the upright position,
and he strode on beside his sister.

“So you really like the place, Galatea?”

“It’s lovely—just the spot to give you inspiration, George. I shall
expect great things of you, dear.”

“Will it inspire me to reduce the rhythm of Anacreon to ragtime, do you
think?”

“O George! And there are the Professor’s pets, you know—Mrs. Cowslip,
Clarence, Reginald, Gustavius, and William. I told you about them. The
Professor has the most wonderful knack of understanding domestic animals
and making them understand him. Really, they look upon him as one of
themselves. The Professor says we do our domestic animal pets great
injustice when we overlook their loyalty and intelligence, refusing to
meet them half-way in friendly companionship. Why, with only a little
encouragement they develop the most remarkable emotions, almost human in
their complexity; while their powers of expression develop
correspondingly. Positively the Professor and his cow, and colt, and
pig, and bull-calf,—William the goat, Napoleon the dog, and Cleopatra
the mare were away the day I called to arrange about the lease for the
summer,—are just one big happy family.”

Galatea’s cheeks were flushed with enthusiasm. The Poet’s eyes twinkled,
but his face remained long and solemn.

“What name does the pig answer to?”

“Reginald; but he’s a nice, clean pig.”

“Yes, of course, being a member of the Professor’s family. By the way,
did you have an opportunity to note Reginald’s table manners?”

“O George, how perfectly absurd!”

“Not necessarily. I give way to no man in my determination to do justice
to my fellow creatures, irrespective of the number of legs with which
they are equipped. As the Professor has left us in undisputed possession
for the next six months, there’s no telling what we may accomplish. What
sort of voice has Reginald?”

“George, I shan’t tell you another thing!”

“There, there. It merely occurred to me that, as neither you nor I nor
Arthur sings—By the way, Galatea, I suppose Arthur will run over
occasionally in his new automobile, the lucky beggar?”

“I lay claim to no advance information respecting Arthur’s intentions,”
answered the Poet’s sister, in cool, even tones. The flapping brim of
her headgear was between the Poet’s eyes and her cheek, suddenly turned
pink.

“Oh, well, I was only thinking what a boon Arthur’s banjo and my guitar
would turn out to be if the pig should develop a romantic tenor voice.
By Jove, Galatea! If that’s the place, I apologize for everything.”

They had reached the turn of the road that overlooked their summer
Elysium. The Poet distributed his joints over another roadside boulder,
while Galatea stood by his side, and gave his attention to the charming
scene in detail.

“Really, a fine, rambling old house surrounded by shaded verandas below,
and not too near the road. A stone-walled inclosure of half a dozen
acres sloping down to a pretty brook that flows under the lower wall
just below the barn—a comfortable red barn; a barn that isn’t red is
only half a barn. A kitchen-garden and an orchard, and the rest pasture
that is neat enough for a lawn. What romps we shall have, Galatea, with
the colt and the bull-calf! What’s that vine-covered affair reared
against the west gable of the house? Oh, a water-tank. Just so; there’s
a pipe connecting underground with the brook, and that wind-wheel on the
barn roof does the pumping. Good! I anticipate the luxury of an
occasional tub. I was afraid Elysium was like Germany—lots of romance
and no bathtubs. Galatea, we shall do—we shall do beautifully. But I
say, what’s that funny-looking thing on the peak of the house roof?”

“Isn’t it the chimney?”

“It looks to me like a saw-horse.”

They walked on. After passing through a grove of chestnuts, they had a
nearer and better view of the house.

“No, it isn’t a saw-horse,” said the Poet. “It moves. Did you see it?”

Galatea looked embarrassed.

“Galatea, the thing on our roof looks to me uncommonly like a
billy-goat. Galatea, it _is_ a billy-goat—I can make out his whiskers.”

“Yes,” Galatea admitted reluctantly, “it must be William.”

“Very well, I foresee trouble for William. I am quite willing to
collaborate with the Professor and take William to my bosom on equal
terms as a brother, but no billy-goat shall be the man higher up in _my_
family. William has got to get down off that roof.”

Presently they turned in at the gate—and then the Poet doubled up like a
jack-knife. Galatea plumped down on the grass and laughed till she
cried. A nice clean fat pig, with a sort of Elizabethan ruffle about his
neck, raised himself on his forelegs and sat at a little distance from
Galatea, grunting mild inquiries respecting the object of her call. The
ruffle was explained by the presence of several other articles of
feminine wearing apparel scattered about on the grass, evidently
undergoing the bleaching process. In making a selection for his own
adornment, the pig had not been quite discreet. A sleek and motherly
cow, with one crumpled horn, lay in the soft earth of a tulip-bed,
chewing her cud. Her total lack of humor was manifest in the complacent
glances which she bestowed upon her offspring, a reckless-looking
bull-calf, which wore a peach-basket unnecessarily on one of his
hind-legs. This scene of domestic contentment was further enhanced when
a saucy yearling colt put his head out through the kitchen window and
shook it knowingly at the intruders, as much as to say:—

“Go away, strangers. _We_ are at home, and _you_ ought to be.”

And then the colt, the cow, the bull-calf, the pig wearing the
improvised ruffle, and the goat from his perch on the roof, united in a
glance of intense astonishment at the girl seated on the grass. Why was
she swaying her body up and down in that foolish fashion, while her
hands beat the air aimlessly and her throat emitted incomprehensible
gurgles, like the bull-calf with a turnip stuck in his gullet?

“Oh dear, oh dear!” choked Galatea. “Amanda’s stepped out somewhere, and
Bos, Equus and Co. are in full charge. The cow chewing her cud in the
tulip-bed—oh dear, oh dear! The bull-calf picking up stray
peach-baskets, and the colt in the kitchen—oh dear, oh dear! The pig
wearing one of Amanda’s—ha! ha! he! he!—one of Amanda’s newest aramatums
for a collar! Slap me on the back, George; I shall die—oh dear, oh dear!
And the goat overlooking things from the roof! Come and fan me, George.
Oh dear, oh dear!”

But the Poet had recovered his accustomed solemnity of visage. He stood
with arms folded, contemplating the goat.

“Bos, Equus and Co. are plainly within their rights,” he said,
“excepting the goat. The roof of our house is not a proper place for any
member of our family, two-legged or otherwise. William, come down from
there!”

The goat wrinkled his nose at the Poet. It was as though he had said:—

“Why should I waste words on a stranger and an interloper?”

“Come down, William. Come down, or I’ll assert the last remnant of my
authority as a two-legged person.”

William stamped his foot on the shingles in a manner plainly hostile.
The Poet picked up a good-sized cobble-stone.

“William, for the last time I warn you. Come down!”

The goat backed up two or three steps and shook his horns.

“Very well, William, your blood be on your own head”; and the Poet threw
the cobble-stone.

Now, as is well known, a goat has only one really vulnerable spot,
namely, his curved and bony nose. Furthermore, a goat’s nose—like the
beard of the prophet—is sacred. Therefore, when the cobble-stone, flying
straight from the Poet’s incautious hand, struck William forcibly upon
his most honored feature, the situation became grave. Stopping only to
make one grimace of anguish, partly physical but mainly of his outraged
soul, he ran to the west gable, leaped down upon the water-tank, thence
to the woodshed roof, and from there one leap landed him on the ground.
Measuring with his inflamed and malevolent eye his distance from the
Poet, he began backing slowly, with portent that could not be
misunderstood.

“O George, he’s going to butt you!” screamed Galatea. “Sit down! sit
down!”

But the Poet stood gazing at William like one fascinated. Having backed
to a distance satisfactory to his nice discrimination in such matters,
the goat lowered his nose and launched himself forward straight as an
arrow aimed for the lank, concave surface which indicated the Poet’s
stomachic region. Perhaps it was the goat’s waning enthusiasm over a
mark so little inviting,—at any rate the impact of his horns was only
sufficient to cause the Poet to sit down with promptness.

“O George, did he hurt you?” asked Galatea anxiously. “I told you to sit
down.”

“I believe I took your advice, Galatea,” said the Poet, looking about
him in a dazed manner.

The goat was slowly backing again. There was a look in his eye which
said more plainly than words:—

“Perchance you’ve had enough? If not, there’s more where that came
from.”

“Don’t get up, George,” said Galatea. “Don’t move. Sit where you are and
he’ll go away.”

“I’ve no intention of getting up,” answered the Poet. “I’m perfectly
comfortable where I am, thank you. Besides, I’m not one of those
low-spirited, truckling persons who insist on standing in the presence
of a superior.”

The cow, the bull-calf, the pig in his ruffle, and the colt looking out
of the kitchen window, were regarding the spectacle with evident
satisfaction. The goat, as though satisfied that his wounded honor had
been sufficiently avenged, began slowly consuming one of the white
garments bleaching on the grass.

In her excitement Galatea’s hat had escaped from its fastening and
fallen to the ground. Just now the sun shone through the branches of an
old cherry tree, converting her loosened coils of dark red hair into a
scarlet taunt which the bull-calf could not ignore. With hind-legs wide
apart, because of the peach-basket, he was pawing the earth with his
forefeet and uttering adolescent bellows of rage.

“Do you think, dear, that he means me?” asked the girl anxiously,
starting to rise.

“Yes, dear, it’s your turn,” replied the Poet complacently.

“But I’m—I’m sitting down.”

“It’s that red badge of provocation you carry about under your hat,
Galatea. Why in thunder did you take it off? Look out! He’s coming!”

The Poet rose, intending to intercept the bull-calf, whose progress was
somewhat impeded by the peach-basket; but, noticing the goat backing
away for another assault, he sat down again.

“Quick, Galatea! The cherry tree!”

There was a comfortable branch at about the height of a man’s shoulder,
with a wooden bench under it. With the bellowing bull-calf close at her
heels, Galatea ran to the bench and—not without a generous display of
striped hose—swung herself up to the branch, leaving the enemy pawing
the earth innocuously below.

“Galatea,” remarked the Poet solemnly, “I always said that those striped
ones of yours were unlucky. Do you remember?”

“Shut up, George!” Galatea tucked her little boots under her on the
branch, smoothed out her walking-skirt, and leaned against the trunk of
the tree with the manner of a young lady accustomed to the usages of the
very best society. George had the indecency to laugh.

“George, if I were a full-grown man I wouldn’t sit on the grass the
whole afternoon just because of a poor, innocent little billy-goat.”

“Galatea, if I were a perfectly proper, highly educated and accomplished
young lady just out of Vassar, I wouldn’t roost in a cherry tree just
because of an innocently inquiring bull-calf.”

Then they both laughed.

Just then the colt whinnied long and joyously.

“Giddap,” sounded a voice from the road.

A sleek-coated young bull-terrier, very much alert, bounded down the
path and stopped suddenly, as though divided between astonishment and
indignation at the sight of the cow in the tulip-bed.

“That must be Napoleon,” said Galatea. “Gabriel is returning.”

A spring-wagon, loaded with trunks and boxes, and drawn by an extremely
well-fed bay mare, whose driver, stoop-shouldered and sunburnt,
perspired uncomfortably in his Sunday clothes, came into view on the
driveway beyond the cherry tree, and stopped.

“How do you do, Gabriel?” said Galatea, smiling upon him from the cherry
tree.

“Pleased to meet you, Gabriel,” said the Poet affably, from his seat on
the grass.

For at least a minute the man in the wagon gazed upon the scene in
silence, slowly opening and closing his mouth. Then he jumped down,
remarking:—

“Jumpin’ Jehosephat! Sic’em, Napoleon!”

The terrier jumped for Mrs. Cowslip’s nose. She rose from the tulip-bed,
but stood at bay. There was a great clatter of hoofs in the kitchen, and
the colt ran out through the open door and began kicking up his heels
gleefully under his mother’s nose. The bull-calf, the goat, and the pig
arrayed themselves, as for an argument, beside the cow.

“Amanda!” bawled Gabriel. And then to the Poet: “Be you folks hurt, or
only skeered? I must a’ missed ye, waitin’ for t’ other train.”

“We’re only scared, I think,” answered the Poet, rising cautiously, with
one eye on the goat. Galatea slid down from her perch and joined them.

“Darn the critters!” said Gabriel. “It’s all Amanda’s fault. Of course
she had to go trapsin’ off somewhere. Amanda! O Amanda!”

Amanda appeared in the edge of the orchard, with a tin pail in her hand,
indicating with a wave of her apron that she was coming as fast as she
could with her heaping pail of strawberries.

“I locked ’em up,” said Gabriel. “But, laws, ’t aint no use lockin’ up
critters edicated by a college perfessor.”

“Fer th’ land sakes!” ejaculated Amanda, arriving breathlessly and
taking in the whole scene at a glance.

The pig went up to her, grunting amiably in his white ruffle.

“You shameless critter!” said Amanda, with her face aflame, as she tore
the indecorous garment from Reginald’s neck.

“Ha! ha! ho! ho! ho!” laughed Gabriel. “Serves ye right, Amanda, for
goin’ off an’ leavin’ edicated critters loose around th’ house.”

“Shoo!” said Amanda, waving her apron at Mrs. Cowslip, who merely gave
her a mild look of reproach.

“Git back to th’ barn, all of ye,” commanded Gabriel, with no better
result.

“Say it, Gabe,” said Amanda, stamping her foot.

“No,” answered Gabriel, “I mustn’t. It keeps their feelin’s hurt for a
hull day. Th’ Perfessor wouldn’t like it.”

“I don’t care, Gabe, you jest say it.”

“Say what?” asked the Poet, overcome with curiosity.

“W’y,” explained Gabriel, “ye see, it’s th’ Perfessor’s idee that these
critters are jest as good as he is. Ekel rights for man an’ beast, he
calls it. You bet they’re willin’, consarn ’em! It’s only when they want
to run th’ hull place that he resorts to extreme measures, as he says.
Then he shouts a queer, heathen word at ’em, an’ they sneak off like a
dog caught suckin’ eggs.”

Out of regard for the Professor’s feelings Gabriel proceeded with such
comparatively mild measures as flicking Mrs. Cowslip with his whip, and
trying ineffectually to push the bull-calf toward the barn. The colt
danced about, nipping at him with bared teeth. But it was Reginald who
brought things to a climax. The pig, escaping the teeth of the terrier,
ran between Gabriel’s legs, sending him sprawling on his back.

“Say it, Gabe,” called out Amanda.

“You bet I’ll say it!” Gabriel replied, rising and confronting the
four-footed mutineers, now grouped as though conscious that they had
carried matters a trifle too far. Throwing out his chest, Gabriel
thundered the single word:—

“ABRACADABRA!”

The effect was magical. The Poet and his sister could hardly believe
their eyes. Instantly, with head drooping in the most dejected manner,
the colt started toward the barn, followed by Mrs. Cowslip and the
bull-calf, their tails now drooping and sorrowful. Next went the goat
with conscience-smitten mien, and at the end of the melancholy file was
the pig, squealing plaintively, all the kink out of his tail.

“Wait a bit, this won’t do at all!” suddenly exclaimed the Poet, with
more excitement in his voice than his sister had ever before noted.

“Do ye want to be a friend to th’ critters?” inquired Gabriel.

“I’m going to be a brother to them,” said the Poet.

“And I’m going to be a sister to them, poor things!” said Galatea.
“Didn’t the Professor have some word with which he expressed his
forgiveness, and his love, with a gentle reproof and warning to be more
careful in the future?” she added, looking at Gabriel with soft appeal
in her eyes.

“Sartin’, sartin’.” Gabriel scratched his head. “I can’t jest remember.
It begun the same, with a-b ab—”

“Of course,” broke in the Poet. “The canonical form of pronouncing
absolution.”

He ran after the delinquents, calling them by name: “O Mrs. Cowslip!
Clarence! Gustavius! William! Reginald!”

They stopped and looked back penitently. Galatea ran to her brother’s
side. He held out his hands and cried:—

“ABSOLVO!”

“Absolvo, absolvo!” echoed Galatea.

Cheerfully, but with subdued spirits, Bos, Equus and Co. gathered about
their new friends, accepting their forgiveness with various tokens of
gratitude. The pig lay down at Galatea’s feet, grunting contentedly,
while the colt brushed her cheek with his velvet muzzle. The Poet felt a
warm nose in his hand, and was not amazed to find it was his late
enemy’s, the goat’s.

“Well, darn my skin!” said Gabriel.

“Galatea, I think we shall do very well—very well indeed,” said the
Poet.



                                   II
                    _Fair Warning to the Horseless_


Seated on the veranda, in a low lawn-chair which caused his long shanks
to thrust his angular knees up to the level of his chin, the Poet was
perusing the Odes of Horace in the original text, and pencilling their
English equivalent on the leaves of a small writing-pad. His handwriting
was large and careless. Every minute or two he tore a filled sheet from
the pad and dropped it on the edge of the veranda floor at his side. A
straggling honeysuckle vine concealed from him the fact that William was
present, and that, as each sheet fell to the floor, the goat was
consuming it with every evidence of appreciation. Probably never before
had a translation of Horace met with such instant success.

But presently William, becoming impatient at the Poet’s deliberation,
seized a sheet out of his hand and stood detected. At the same instant a
musical peal of laughter from the open window of the breakfast room
proved that the Poet’s sister had been a delighted witness of the
disaster. After one startled look about him, the Poet realized that the
goat’s attentions had been indeed thorough. He had recourse to his
customary whimsical philosophy.

“Galatea,” said the Poet gravely, “do you observe that the whole of my
manuscript has been accepted without reading? That is the highest
compliment possible to pay a poet.”

“And yet you hear it everywhere that the classic poets are not
appreciated nowadays.”

The girl, still laughing, joined her brother on the veranda. She was all
in pink—fluffy pink, with a fluffy pink thing flapping above her
mahogany tresses, producing an effect impossible to describe, fatal to
another woman, in her case charming. The goat put his forefeet on the
veranda and seemed to nod his approval.

“William,” said the Poet, “you have given me an idea—an idea which may
influence my whole career.”

“Why not?” commented Galatea. “Haven’t you and I been duly initiated as
members of the firm of Bos, Equus and Co.? Aren’t all our interests
mutual?” And again she laughed.

“I have long been undecided,” resumed the Poet, “as to whether my muse
is classical and for the few, or modern and for the many; or, indeed,
whether I should not give up poetry for the plough. William, it shall be
for you to decide. I will now compose something for the masses. If you
accept it instantly, as you have accepted my Horatian Odes—not for
publication, it is true, but—er—but for purposes best known to yourself,
I shall at once take steps to become an honest husbandman. If, however,
you decline what I am about to offer you, I shall consider myself a
properly ordained Poet of the People, and shall act accordingly.
William, a grave responsibility rests upon your discrimination.”

The goat nodded with an intelligent expression, his venerable beard
sweeping the floor.

“O George, how perfectly absurd!” laughed Galatea.

The Poet scribbled on his pad for a couple of minutes, tore off the
sheet, and offered it to William. The goat sniffed at it, and appeared
doubtful.

“You are quite right, William. Others have found my handwriting
illegible. I will read it to you.”

The Poet read:—

                 “Sir Mortimer’s poems of note
                 Were despised by his lady’s pet goat.
                   The goat said, ‘Oh pschutt!’
                   And proceeded to butt
                 Sir Mortimer into the moat.”

“Now, William, it’s up to you,” said the Poet, as his sister, regardless
of her fluffy pink finery, sat down on the floor and shrieked.

But already the goat, looking deeply embarrassed, was trotting off
toward the barn.

“That settles it,” said the Poet solemnly. “I am ordained Poet of the
People.”

Galatea got up, gurgling, and rested her flushed cheek on her brother’s
collar.

“George, you’re the most delicious old thing ever created.”

He held her off, regarding her curiously.

“All in pink? Nothing like pink to show dirt. Wherefore all this
regardlessness of expense, Galatea?”

She took a letter from her bosom and gave it to him.

“It’s from Arthur. It came in the morning mail. I didn’t want to disturb
you—and William—in your literary labors. You’d better read it now.”

The Poet read:—

“‘I’m taking a little spin out your way in my new Red Ripper. Will reach
your place about noon. If you’ve nothing else to do, we can have a whirl
down the old Post Road and back before two o’clock. Then I must be off
to Stamford on an important engagement about a portrait—in fact, it
means the price of this modest luxury on wheels. But do give me the two
hours. Think what poetic wonders George may accomplish in that time,
undistracted by your luminous presence.’”

[Illustration: THE GOAT SEEMED TO NOD HIS APPROVAL]

“‘Luminous presence’ isn’t bad,” commented the Poet. “That is, for
Arthur. Don’t you give him any of your impudence, Galatea. We can’t
afford to quarrel with people who can own Red Rippers.”

“Rubbish, George. Arthur is sometimes very trying. He isn’t half as
handsome as he thinks he is.”

“But you are, Galatea. Be charitable. You could do much worse than go
through life in—in a Red Ripper. Noon, did you say?”

The Poet looked at his watch. “Why, it’s eleven-forty already. Hello!
What’s the matter with our four-legged partners?”

Cleopatra, with Clarence at her side, had galloped up the driveway from
the bottom of the pasture, and stopped, with head up, snorting loudly at
something down the road. The colt could not snort as loudly as his
mother, but he made up by snorting twice as often. Mrs. Cowslip and
Gustavius, the bull-calf, quite in the dark as to the cause of the
excitement, but willing to become excited themselves, were stopping en
route to snatch an occasional mouthful of grass. Reginald’s short legs
were flying in the distance, while he uttered plaintive squeaks at being
left behind. The goat was giving him the assistance of an occasional
butt in the right direction. Napoleon, rudely awakened out of a deep
dream of peace, barked wildly from the edge of the veranda. Amanda came
out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron.

“For the land sakes, what ails the critters?” she asked of Gabriel, who
had run up from the potato-patch, armed with his hoe.

Gabriel ran to the side of the colt, glanced down the road, and came
back laughing.

“It’s one of them there hossless buggies,” he said. “The mare never
could stand the sight of ’em, and the colt takes after her. They take it
as a personal insult for a buggy to go humpin’ along like that without a
hoss to pull it.”

“It’s Arthur,” said Galatea. “He’s made better time than he expected to,
and he’ll be unbearable.”

The whirr of the wheels was now audible. Cleopatra and Clarence, with a
final snort of rage, put their heads between their forelegs, slashed out
vindictively behind, and galloped off to the far side of the driveway.
The Red Ripper turned in swiftly from the road, giving Mrs. Cowslip the
fright of her life as she plunged, bellowing, to the rear of her defiant
equine comrades. At sight of the shining red enamel, Gustavius, for one
instant, contemplated a valiant charge, but thought better of it barely
in time to save his skin, if not his dignity.

As though to make the affront beyond all forgiveness, the driver of the
red thing steered straight on toward the barn, then, describing a
graceful circle about his outraged spectators, returned and came to an
abrupt halt near the gateway. He lifted his cap to Galatea with easy
grace, and jumped from his seat to take the Poet’s outstretched hand.

“Good boy. You did that with almost human intelligence.” The Poet’s eyes
twinkled—the nearest approach to a smile in which he had ever been known
to indulge.

“Yes; rather neat, I call it. Isn’t she a beauty? Only two tons weight
and forty horsepower; maximum of sixty-nine miles an hour on a level
road; climbs hills like a goat; the only sparking device that never
hitches—”

“Kind to women and children and stands without hitchin’,” drawled the
Poet.

“Quit your kidding, George,” and then, at a loud snort from Cleopatra:
“I say, George, who’re your friends?”

“Including Galatea and myself, they’re Bos, Equus and Co.”

“Oh, freedom of the place—part of the family, eh? You’re a queer chap,
George. They don’t seem quite friendly. I hate to break up a happy home,
you know.”

“It does look like it, Arthur. The mare can’t bear the sight of a
vehicle that is independent of her services. The bull-calf resents its
brilliant color. Besides, they all hang together on general principles.
However, Galatea and I still retain a few of our characteristics
unchanged by these associations. We forgive you.”

Gabriel and Amanda returned to their duties in potato-patch and kitchen.
The Poet went into the house, leaving the Artist with Galatea on the
veranda. She had given him her hand with a bewildering smile, but as he
immediately began to chatter interminably about his automobile and the
great things he was going to do in the way of speed, her red lips shaped
themselves into a curl that was not so pleasant, and if he had noticed
the satirical little side glances she gave him now and then, his tone
would have been much less complacent.

The Artist was really an excellent fellow, stalwart, straight-limbed,
and undeniably handsome. His type originated with the new generation of
popular fiction illustrators. You would instantly recognize his
smooth-shaven face, his straight nose, and his determined chin for those
of the plain American young hero who walks unconcernedly into the
boudoir of the Crown Princess of Grossbock (who falls desperately in
love with him at first sight), and presently rescues her from the very
foot of the throne, dashing with her in his arms through a whole
regiment of Hussars, without turning a hair. It was not to be expected
that such a hero would remain sacred to the romances over which little
girls weep tears of joy and longing. The daughter of Isaac Ickleheimer
called her father’s attention to him one day, and ever since then he has
adorned the advertising pages of the magazines, attired in the most
lovely ready-to-wear clothes, with shoulders more than human.

But the Artist couldn’t help this, any more than he could help
chattering about his new automobile to a girl who was dying to have soft
nothings whispered in her ear. After a while Galatea, realizing that
such hopes were doomed to disappointment for the present, abruptly
choked off the dissertation on Red Rippers by dragging the Artist in to
luncheon.

With the human element thus eliminated, now occurred one of those scenes
which gave to the present chronicler his chief inspiration.

The red thing being quiescent, Cleopatra and Clarence had ceased their
snorting and were approaching cautiously, with occasional coy
side-prancings, yet with a curiosity in their eyes that was not unmixed
with vindictiveness. Mrs. Cowslip and Gustavius grazed near by, with one
eye open to developments. William surveyed the red thing speculatively,
evidently wondering whether it offered a profitable opportunity for
butting, while Reginald, the pig, less imaginative than the others,
rubbed one of his fat sides tentatively against a rubber tire.

“Not so bad,” grunted Reginald. “A bit too smooth, that’s all; don’t
seem to take hold like the Professor’s finger-nails—”

“Look at that fool pig,” whinnied Clarence to his mother. “Reginald has
no dignity. I wouldn’t demean myself by such condescension to an enemy
with such a vile-smelling breath.”

“That proves that the thing is really alive,” commented Cleopatra. “It’s
eaten something that don’t agree with it.”

“It’s breath smells just like Gabe’s lantern when he’s late with his
work in the barn,” said Mrs. Cowslip, coming up, with Gustavius by her
side, shaking his sharp sprouts of horns truculently.

The pig braced himself against a corner of the metal framework in front,
and grunted with more unction:—

“Ah! this is better.”

“Why don’t the thing show signs of life?” complained Cleopatra. “Then
I’d know where to plant my heels. It was lively enough a little while
ago.”

Gustavius, with calf-like bellows of provocation, was exercising his
sharp little horns on one of the rubber tires.

“Why should you be so incensed against such a lumbering old thing?”
asked Mrs. Cowslip, with a placid glance at the mare. “Seems to me you
ought to be grateful to any sort of wagon that would leave you free to
enjoy yourself.”

“Trust an old cow not to see an inch beyond her own nose,” snorted
Cleopatra contemptuously. “Do you suppose I’d be welcome in this family
if I wasn’t useful? There’s nothing for me to do except pull the buggy,
or Gabe’s wagon. Why, even that delightful red-headed girl, who always
has sugar in her pocket, helps Amanda in the garden.”

“True,” admitted Mrs. Cowslip. “And I give milk.”

“Lucky for you,” said Cleopatra significantly. “When I think of my
Clarence and your Gustavius, I tremble.”

Mrs. Cowslip looked startled. “What do you mean, Cleopatra?”

“I don’t want to alarm you, my dear, but I can’t forget that day when
Gabe got into the calf’s pen with a sharp knife in his hand.”

“I’ve heard of such calamities to my race,” whimpered Mrs. Cowslip, her
moist nose turning pale; “but it never occurred to me that a child of
mine—”

“It was Amanda who dragged Gabe and his knife away,” continued
Cleopatra. “Her words ring in my ears yet. She said: ‘O Gabe, wait till
he’s older and we can roast him. I do love roast beef’; that’s what
Amanda said.”

Mrs. Cowslip sidled affectionately up to Gustavius, who was still
worrying the rubber tire with his sharp sprouts of horns, and licked his
cheek tenderly.

“Don’t bother me, mother,” said the thoughtless bull-calf. “I feel that
I’m making an impression on this thing.”

“If you do,” said Cleopatra, “and it shows signs of life, just you watch
me, that’s all;” and, laying back her ears, she experimented with her
heels to be sure that they were in good working order.

“Me, too,” said Clarence, following his mother’s example with a
significance not to be misunderstood.

“If you’re really making an impression,” bleated William to Gustavius,
backing away and shaking his horns, “one good, swift butt ought to do
the business.”

Gustavius moved his hind quarters to one side, and bored away with one
horn as hard as he could.

“Clear the track,” bleated the goat; “I’m coming!”

On came William with a rush that astonished even himself. The last leap
was twelve good feet in mid-air. With his neck stiffened like a rod of
steel, the roots of his horns struck the rubber tire squarely just below
the boring sprout of Gustavius. There was an explosion and a fierce puff
of something in their faces that sent both the goat and the bull-calf
back on their haunches.

“It’s alive! It’s alive!” shrieked Cleopatra, as she wheeled about,
filled with the joy of battle.

Lashing out with her heels at the red thing amidships, the mare’s heels
clattered among the driving-levers most ominously. Clarence’s heels,
being out of range in his excitement, did no damage. They looked around,
snorting, awaiting the enemy’s retort. To their surprise the red thing
remained motionless.

“Pshaw!” exclaimed Cleopatra, “what’s the use of attacking such a
spiritless creature, anyway?”

“In my opinion you’ve killed it,” said Mrs. Cowslip. “I never saw such a
smash in my life.”

“It was I who finished the thing,” boasted Gustavius, finding himself
unhurt. “I felt its last breath in my face.”

William turned away in disgust.

The pig, engrossed with his own selfish pursuit of new dermatological
sensations, had been only momentarily disturbed by these events. He felt
that something was lacking.

“If I could only get my back under something,” he complained. “I wonder
if it’s safe to crawl under the thing?”

Reginald investigated, and was interested. “There’s a lot of little
jiggers under there that look as though they’d just fit my back.”

He got down on his fore-knees and wriggled under the red thing,
grunting, while the others still debated together on ways and means.

During luncheon Galatea’s mood had softened. She was no longer piqued at
the Artist’s detailed accounts of the wonders of his new automobile.
Arthur, in a moment of intelligence, had squeezed her hand under the
table.

“In case of a break-down of any kind,” observed the Poet, “I suppose you
carry all sorts of tools and materials for repairs?”

“I never give the matter a thought,” said the Artist. “She’s such a
perfect piece of mechanism that she can’t break down.”

“But suppose you should run over a pig, or a cow, and—”

“Oh, in that case I dare say the tool box might come handy.”

“Or punctured a tire?”

“The Red Ripper’s tires are warranted puncture-proof”; and the Artist
entered into a long technical description of the new and improved
process which had produced the Red Ripper’s impregnable tires. Galatea
sighed several times, but it was useless.

“After all,” drawled the Poet at the first opening caused by a fish-bone
sticking in the Artist’s throat, “you can’t make a sympathetic companion
of an automobile as you can of a horse. Why, Galatea and I have the most
improving conversations with Cleopatra and the pig.”

“Yes,” chimed in Galatea eagerly, “even Gustavius, the bull-calf,
understands everything we say to him. It all proves the Professor’s
theory that we don’t give these domestic pets half the credit they
deserve for intelligent and affectionate interest in us and our
affairs.”

“I’ve heard of your Professor and his crazy theories about animals,”
said the Artist, having swallowed the fish-bone. “I’ll bet you do just
as he did—you keep your pockets full of sugar for the mare, and you
scratch the pig’s back.”

“Arthur, you haven’t the first conception—”

“No, Arthur,” broke in the Poet, seeing the fire in his sister’s eyes,
“you couldn’t even see that Cleopatra was aware that your Red Ripper is
a menace to her means of livelihood.”

“Pooh! George, the mare isn’t used to automobiles, that’s all.”

The Artist looked at his watch. “I think we had better be going,
Galatea; I’ve just twenty-five minutes in which to whirl you thirty
miles and back.”

Galatea disappeared, and returned in a moment with her fluffy pink
costume, hat and all, covered by a hooded cloak of gray silk which
became her exceedingly. The Artist put on his cap and gloves. At that
instant a series of heart-rending squeals filled the air.

“Something has happened to Reginald!” exclaimed the Poet, and his long
legs flew as he rushed to the rescue.

When Galatea and the Artist caught up with him, he was on his stomach
half under the Red Ripper, tugging with all his might at one of
Reginald’s hind legs. The pig’s squeals grew louder and more hopeless.
Cleopatra, the colt, the cow, the bull-calf, and the goat, huddled
together, looked on from a distance with expressions of wondering
innocence. Napoleon barked furiously at the Poet’s waving legs. Gabriel
came running up with a fence-rail on his shoulder. The Poet emerged,
perspiring and baffled.

“The critter’s stuck, darn him!” said Gabriel. “We must lift the
machine.”

He thrust one end of the rail under the Red Ripper’s frame. “Now, all
together!”

The Poet and the Artist joined Gabriel with their shoulders under the
rail, the machine rose an inch or two, and Reginald, choking a final
squeal in his throat, scrambled out. At least three square inches of his
back were ravished of their bristles. Not a particle of kink remained in
Reginald’s tail. Straight for the barn he ran, emitting short grunts of
relief and contrition.

“Great snakes!” exclaimed the Artist. “Look at that rear tire. There’s a
hole in it you could throw a dog into.”

Nobody could offer any explanation, the bull-calf having forgotten all
about it. The Artist’s eye suddenly lighted on the bent driving-levers,
and for half a minute his language was far from polite.

“I warned you about Cleopatra,” said the Poet; “but you wouldn’t give
the mare credit for sufficient intelligence to protect her personal
interests.”

“Do you think, Arthur, that we will be able to whirl thirty miles and
back in twenty-five minutes with a flat tire?” inquired Galatea
innocently.

“Of course you can,” said the Poet solemnly. “The Red Ripper is such a
perfect piece of mechanism that she can do it on three wheels.”

“That’s right, rub it in,” said the Artist. “When I came out here I
didn’t count on being hoodooed by these four-legged friends of yours
that can do everything but talk.”

“They can talk too,” retorted Galatea wickedly; “and they don’t confine
their harangues to automobiles, either.”

The Artist winced. Galatea had one more shot for him.

“If you positively must be in Stamford at three o’clock, I’m sure
Cleopatra will be only too glad to oblige you.”

“The blacksmith down to the station can fix you up in ten minutes,”
spoke up Gabriel. “He’s a reg’lar genius at tinkerin’ up hossless
buggies.”

“It’s mostly down-hill to the station,” said the Poet; “I’m sure
Cleopatra will be charmed to assist the Red Ripper that far.”

Galatea sat down on the ground and laughed.

“Gosh, yes,” said Gabriel, starting for the barn. “I’ll go an’ git her
harness.”

The Artist surrendered. He sat down beside Galatea, while the Poet
looked the other way, and whispered things that made her eyes shine.

When Gabriel reappeared with the harness, a whiffletree and a stout
chain, Cleopatra’s complete understanding of the situation could not be
doubted. She thrust out her head for the collar, welcomed the bridle,
and before the straps were buckled trotted proudly into position before
the vehicle, which was now no better than an ordinary buggy.

“Isn’t she a dear?” said Galatea.

“All aboard; git in,” said Gabriel. “Mind and be careful about the
brake—it’s down-hill.”

With a grimace the Artist placed himself in the chauffeur’s seat.
Gabriel handed him the reins.

“I’ll foller an’ bring back the mare,” he said. “Giddap, old gal.”

Cleopatra looked around, shook her head, and refused to budge. Gabriel
laughed, and looked at Galatea.

“You’ll have to git in. You can’t fool the mare; she sees you’re dressed
for drivin’.”

The Poet, with great gravity, helped his sister up beside the Artist.
Galatea took the reins. At her cheerful, familiar chirrup Cleopatra
stretched her fine muscles, and, while the colt pranced about, kicking
up his heels in irrepressible joy at this warning to the horseless,
dragged the ponderous, vanquished enemy into the road and away. Never
before stepped a mare of pedigree so proudly, nor trailed along a Red
Ripper so ignobly.



                                  III
                        _Pig-Malion and Galatea_


“Galatea!” hailed the Poet from the bottom of the stairs.

“Yes, George?”

“There’s a letter from Arthur. Come down.”

“I can’t, this moment. Je suis en déshabillé.”

“I thought so; your voice sounds full of pins. But you don’t need to air
your Vassar French. The pig isn’t listening.”

“My French prose is better than your English verse. What does Arthur
say?”

“He’ll be out here early.”

“What for?”

“Girl, have a care! While you are about it, make the most of the small
charms with which the good Lord has endowed you.”

“I will, brother mine; I’m expecting Reginald to have his back
scratched.”

Truth to tell, the pig was already contemplating a call with that object
in view. Since early morning Cleopatra and her yearling colt, Mrs.
Cowslip and Gustavius, and William, the big-horned one, had diligently
cropped the dewy grass of the lower lawn until their sides bulged, while
Reginald was so replete with artichokes that he was constrained to sit
on his haunches and grunt stuffily while making occasional rude comments
on the gluttony of his comrades.

“You have often reproved me for being greedy,” grunted Reginald as the
colt harvested a luscious bunch a yard from where he sat, “yet I have
never tried to eat up the whole pasture between sunrise and noon.”

“Don’t give me any of your impudence,” retorted Clarence, with his mouth
full, “or I’ll shut my teeth on one of your ridiculous, flapping ears.”

“If you gave milk,” commented Mrs. Cowslip, “you would understand the
necessity of a stomach filled with something better than artichokes.”

“Ha! ha!” laughed the pig, with his mouth wide open. “The sides of your
son bulge like the sides of the barrel in which Gabe keeps your
breakfast of bran. Ha! ha! does Gustavius give milk?”

“Let me at him, mother,” said the bull-calf, waving his tail aloft and
lowering his horns. “I’ll teach him!”

“No, you don’t,” said the pig, showing surprising agility. “You greedy
fellows annoy me; I’m going to the house and get that red-headed girl to
scratch my back.”

So intensely satisfied with himself that the kink in his tail tightened
to the verge of discomfort, Reginald scampered across the lawn and up
the steps leading to the veranda. With his forefeet on the top step he
halted at a gruff challenge from Napoleon. The bull-terrier, with teeth
unpleasantly visible, barred his way to the door.

“My goodness,” said the pig, with easy assurance, “how you startled me!
You were always such a joker.” And Reginald got his forefeet on the
veranda floor.

“Now, that’s the limit,” growled Napoleon. “One step farther, and I’ll
have your ears in ribbons.”

“You don’t know how handsome you are when you put on that fierce look,”
said the pig in flattering tones. “Any stranger would believe you in
earnest. But you and I know each other.”

“What do you want?” growled Napoleon, somewhat mollified in spite of
himself by the pig’s flattery.

“I’ve nothing to conceal from you, Napoleon. I never have. I’ve come to
get that lovely red-headed girl to scratch my back.”

“You’ll have to wait; she’s inside.”

“I’ll go right in,” grunted Reginald complacently; “no trouble at all, I
assure you. Just step one side, Napoleon, and I won’t disturb you in the
least.”

“You’ll come right in?” Napoleon was boiling with indignation. “Who ever
heard of a pig in the parlor? You’ll get right out of here before I make
you.”

Reginald assumed a look of injured amazement as he replied: “Is it
possible, Napoleon, that you really mean to do me this injustice? Have
you forgotten that we are all on terms of equality here?”

“Not in the parlor,” growled Napoleon. “No pig gets into our parlor, not
if I know it.”

“But you go into the parlor whenever you please,” grumbled Reginald.

“It’s part of my business to go all over the house and see that there’s
no trespassing. That’s what’s been expected of us dogs ever since the
world began. Amanda raised an awful row that time the colt got in the
kitchen. But I wasn’t to blame, being away from home with Gabe and
Cleopatra.”

The pig, with all the stubbornness of his race, refused to be convinced.

“The Professor used to invite me in often,” he complained. “The
red-headed girl would, too, I’m sure, if she knew I was here.”

“No, she wouldn’t. She’s busy with that automobile chap. Can’t you hear
their voices through the window?”

Reginald listened. Yes, it was the voice he loved so well—when
accompanied by the delicious sensation of one of Amanda’s cast-off
nutmeg-graters being rubbed smartly up and down his spine. It was cool
and even, and was saying:—

“No, Arthur, I won’t go for a walk, thank you. I don’t think I like you
very well to-day. You explain that you walked over from the station out
of regard for the feelings of Cleopatra and Clarence, and yet you are
wholly oblivious of my feelings. You come out here without your Red
Ripper on an ideal day for a spin, and then you add insult to injury by
talking of nothing else. Arthur, I hate your Red Ripper, I despise its
phenomenally perfect sparking device, I loathe its triple-speed gear—”

The pig lifted up his voice in supplication. It was not in vain. Galatea
emerged upon the veranda, smiling a welcome to Reginald, whom the Artist
regarded with dark looks of resentment.

“Good-morning, Reginald; won’t you be seated?” she said brightly,
dragging forward an easy-chair.

The intelligent pig scrambled into the chair, making confidential little
throaty grunts out of the side of his mouth into the ear of his hostess.
The bull-terrier satisfied his dignity by barking one brief comment for
Reginald’s benefit:—

“Now what do you think? This isn’t the parlor. Perhaps you’ll understand
after this that the veranda is the limit, for a pig.”

“Hush, Napoleon,” commanded the red-headed girl. “Here, get up beside
Reginald and make him feel at home.”

It was a wide chair. After but one instant of disgusted hesitation, the
bull-terrier obeyed.

“What has the terrier done that he should be so humiliated?” asked the
Artist, who had even more than the average man’s respect for dogs as
compared with other domestic animals.

The girl ignored the question. There was something odd and unfamiliar in
her manner, a peculiar glint in her eye, her full lips were drawn in a
straighter line than usual. Having no professional interest in the
scene, the Artist—unluckily for him—observed none of these ominous
signs. Galatea shook her finger in the terrier’s face.

“Napoleon, your manner toward Reginald is not cordial. Sit closer!”

The terrier meekly obeyed. The pig gave him an expansive smile. The
Artist began an impulsive protest:—

“Oh, now, I say, Galatea—”

“Napoleon! Reginald! Salute each other!”

The dog thumped the chair with his tail, the pig grunted amiably, and
they pressed their cheeks together like affectionate children. The lank
figure and solemn visage of the Poet appeared in the door.

“What is Napoleon’s crime that he should suffer such punishment?” he
inquired.

“Just as I was remarking,” began the Artist; “but—”

“That will do,” said the girl, taking no notice of these comments. “Now
sit up and look pleasant; you are about to have your pictures taken by a
very celebrated artist.”

Both Reginald and Napoleon assumed attitudes really remarkable for their
ease and naturalness.

“Ahem!” began the Artist, growing very red in the face, and stopped
abruptly at a coolly inquiring glance from Galatea.

“Do I understand,” she inquired frigidly, “that you take the absurd
position of Paderewski, Calvé, Jean de Reszke, and other public
favorites, and disdain to exhibit your art upon social occasions?”

“Not at all,” answered the Artist hastily, while the Poet regarded them
solemnly, but with a twinkle in his eye. “No, but—Well, you see, I—I am
not accustomed to have pigs sit to me for their portraits—at least, not
upon social occasions.”

“It is perhaps as well that you should understand fully that Reginald is
a personal friend of mine, and that we are on terms, not only of
sympathetic affection, but of perfect equality.” And the girl placed her
arm about the pig’s neck with a caressing touch that sent him into a
transport of appreciative grunts.

“If I thought that you were guying me—”

The girl turned upon him sharply. “Have I ever insinuated that you were
guying me when you compelled me to listen for hours to mechanical
details about your Red Ripper? I, to whom poets are proud to read their
original manuscripts in advance of publication?”

“Arthur,” said the Poet gravely, “Galatea is right. This is a case of
love me, love my pig. Your professional pride need not suffer. In fact,
the result of your labors may bear appropriately a title that is
classical.” He turned to his sister. “Galatea, I assume that you are to
be in the picture—you will sit with the pig?”

“Certainly,” said the girl, as a swift glance of understanding passed
between brother and sister.

“Why, then, just consider, Arthur,” said the Poet cheerfully, “you can
send your picture to the Fall Exhibition catalogued as, ‘Pig-Malion and
Galatea.’”

The girl laughed in spite of herself. Even the over-serious Artist was
not proof against a conceit so pungent. But Galatea’s mood puzzled and
disturbed him, for he really loved her as self-complacent young men
often do love girls of keen wit and analytical minds.

“Unfortunately,” he said, “I have no drawing materials with me.”

“I can supply them,” replied the girl, rising.

Reginald grunted reproachfully and started to scramble down from the
chair.

“O Reginald, forgive me. I had forgotten you came to have your poor back
scratched.”

She turned to the Artist. “Arthur, kindly hand me that nutmeg-grater
over by the honeysuckle vine.”

The Artist obeyed. The pig grunted in grateful anticipation. Galatea
applied the nutmeg-grater where she knew by experience it would do the
most good. Napoleon sniffed disgustedly, jumped down from the chair, and
went to the Poet for consolation.

“Now, Arthur,” said the girl presently, handing him the nutmeg-grater,
“you attend to Reginald while I go for the drawing materials.”

The Artist took the unfamiliar instrument, looked at it, and then at the
pig, and then at Galatea. He seemed dazed. As has been remarked before
in this truthful narrative, the Artist was a most correct and proper
young man. He was fashionably dressed, and with excellent taste. He
would have considered it a crime to wear a cravat that disagreed by so
much as a single dot or stripe from the prevailing mode. The thought of
having in any way transgressed the rules of good form, as laid down in
the exclusive club of which he was a member, would have tortured him for
weeks. Could he conscientiously scratch a pig’s back—with a cast-off
nutmeg-grater?

Galatea drew up a chair close to that occupied by Reginald. “Come,
Arthur; you will not find Reginald ungrateful.”

“Galatea,” said the Artist, with a supplicating glance into the girl’s
eyes as he moved toward the vacant chair, “when I leave this evening
will you walk part way to the station with me?”

“Are you going to be a true friend to my friend—to Reginald?”

The Poet had strolled to the other end of the veranda.

“Yes, Galatea. You could have no friend who would be unworthy of my
friendship.” In spite of the nutmeg-grater in his hand, in spite of the
waiting pig, his manner and his voice were romantic.

“Yes, Arthur, then I will walk with you to the station.” But the smile
she gave him was reflective, and at least half of it rested on the pig.

The Artist sat down obediently and applied the nutmeg-grater with a will
to Reginald’s back. Galatea disappeared within the house. Presently she
was heard calling to her brother. The Poet followed her. He found her in
the library, sitting limply in a straight-backed chair and holding her
handkerchief to her mouth. With a gesture of warning she dragged him
into her own little den off the library, closed the door, and gave her
merriment full rein. The Poet regarded her solemnly. Presently she was
able to speak, though her phrases were interrupted by convulsions of
cachinnation.

“George, it is perfectly clear—that in one respect Arthur—is
hopeless—Never, never, never—never in this world will he acquire the
slightest sense of humor. Think of it! At this moment—with an old
nutmeg-grater, he is scratching a pig’s back—with all the
seriousness—and attention to detail—that he would give to a portrait
of—the Empress of Russia—George, a little while ago I was angry with
Arthur. I thought him stupid, self-sufficient, insufferable. But now,
when I think of him out there—irreproachably attired—scratching
Reginald’s back—with all the grave politeness—and earnestness—with which
he would hand around cups of tea at one of Mrs. Van Rensellaer’s
afternoons—I—I almost love him.”

The Poet had not even smiled.

“Galatea,” he said, without a trace of his customary solemn banter,
“don’t you carry this thing too far with Arthur. He’s as good as gold.
He’s a young man among a million.”

“George, Arthur is more than human. I won’t have it. He’s got to let
himself down, like ordinary people.”

“He is a man of honor—honor that is deep-rooted, ancestral.”

“He is a slave to the perfectly correct forms endorsed by the
Knickerbocker Club.”

“He is a gentleman. He lives in the country upon acres that are his own,
and is a father to those who serve him.”

“He is sacred to the memory of ‘noblesse oblige,’ and he rubs it in.”

“Galatea, you are an impudent and improvident young woman. As your legal
guardian I would feel justified in locking you in your room, and keeping
you there until you could realize the blessings you have and the
opportunities that are open to you.”

“George, you are becoming almost as stupid as Arthur is. I wouldn’t have
thought it of you. Listen. I am going to reform Arthur. I admit he’s
worth saving. It is hopeless ever to expect him to develop a sense of
humor, but he shall at least cultivate a sympathetic interest in Bos,
Equus and Co.”

She took from her desk and thrust into the Poet’s hands pencils and a
sheet of Bristol board.

“Take these to Arthur, please. I’ll join you in a minute.”

The Poet shook his head doubtfully, but obeyed. The girl stood for a
moment with her finger on her lip, smiling. Then she took from a
work-basket needles and thread and a yard or two of faded pink ribbon,
and, picking up a somewhat dilapidated specimen of the fluffy chiffon
headgear which she affected, she returned demurely to the veranda where
the Artist was still painstakingly exercising the nutmeg-grater on
Reginald’s back. The pig lifted his nose and grunted in her face, with
language that could not be misunderstood:—

“Ah, at last! Our mutual friend here has been doing his best, but he
falls short of exactly the right touch. Evidently he’s inexperienced.”

“Thank you, Arthur,” said Galatea amiably, accepting the post which the
Artist surrendered to her. “Reginald says you have been very attentive.
Now he will reciprocate by posing in his very best manner. Attention,
Reginald!”

The pig assumed a serious and dignified expression. The girl sat beside
him, placing the chiffon affair daintily over his ears. The Artist
seated himself opposite with pencils and drawing-board. The Poet leaned
against the veranda rail and looked over the Artist’s shoulder. His long
visage had resumed its customary expression of whimsical solemnity. The
Artist’s manner was unaffectedly professional.

“Does the hat belong to the pose?” he asked.

“Yes,” said Galatea. “The idea is that of a girl thoughtful for the
comfort of her dumb friend. To protect his head from the rays of the
July sun she places upon it the hat taken from her own head, already
well protected by nature.”

“True,” commented the Poet. “I’ve often thought how chagrined the July
sun must feel when he attempts to vie with your blazing topknot.”

“As a matter of fact,” went on Galatea composedly, “the flies have been
worrying poor Reginald’s ears terribly. Hereafter he shall have the same
protection as other civilized beings.”

The Artist’s pencil moved swiftly. With needle and thread Galatea
attached a pink ribbon to each side of the hat,—while Reginald grunted
confidential inquiries in her ear,—and then tied them in a bow under his
fat chin.

“There, Reginald, you’re perfectly lovely. Now if you’ll promise to sit
perfectly still for five minutes, while the gentleman takes your
picture, I’ll give your back my personal attention.” And she showed him
the nutmeg-grater.

“Your goodness of heart is only exceeded by your beauty,” grunted the
grateful pig as plainly as words could have said it. “Believe me, I
shall always be responsive to your slightest wish.”

“I have an idea,” said the Poet. “If you will excuse me I will go and
indite a Dissertation on a Pig That was Not Roasted.” And he disappeared
into the house.

From time to time Galatea stole a glance at the Artist’s face. It had
the composure of a painter whose mind is concentrated on his subject and
who feels that he is doing conscientious work. A look of more than
admiration came into the girl’s eyes. They grew tender. The
nutmeg-grater had dropped from her hand, and she was deaf to the
wheedling grunts of Reginald. Presently she seemed troubled, as though
dissatisfied with herself.

“Arthur,” she said gently, “I didn’t expect you to do more than make a
rough sketch.”

“Oh, that’s all right, Galatea. This is a new and valuable experience to
me. I’ve neglected animals. I couldn’t have a better chance than this.
Would you mind asking Reginald to turn his face a trifle to the left?
There—that’s splendid.”

The girl bit her lip and tapped with her foot on the floor. She even
gave Reginald an impatient glance.

“I never realized until now,” said the Artist, as he took a steady look
at Reginald’s profile, “how much expression there is in a pig’s face.”

“Indeed?” said Galatea shortly.

“Of course Reginald is an exceptional pig. He has advantages, and
associations, which few pigs enjoy.”

A sharp retort leaped to the girl’s lips, but a glance at the Artist’s
perfectly serious and preoccupied expression caused her to stifle it.

“I had a horse once,” he went on, as he limned Reginald’s snout with a
sure hand, “who actually smiled in the most convincing manner. There was
no mistaking it. I suppose that was because I spent so much time with
him. After all, it is not so wonderful if domestic animals do acquire
traits of some human friend who gains their confidence and their
affection.”

Now this was one of Galatea’s favorite arguments. But, strangely enough,
the Artist’s endorsement of it in the present situation did not seem to
appeal to her. She drew her chair away from Reginald’s, ignoring his
reproaches, and asked:—

“Wouldn’t you rather finish your sketch some other time?”

“No; I am ashamed now that I did not accept your suggestion with greater
enthusiasm—Look up, Reginald! that’s the idea—in the beginning. That
double curve where the jowl meets the neck is different from anything
I’ve seen in another subject. Unless you’re tired, I’ll be grateful for
four or five minutes longer.”

He had hardly glanced at the girl. Clearly the pig was claiming his
whole attention. She turned upon Reginald a look that paralyzed him with
amazement, and then addressed the Artist in her softest voice:—

“Do you think your automobile will be safe where you left it, Arthur?”

“Oh, yes, perfectly. Look! the intelligence of Reginald is wonderful. I
was just wishing for a more serious expression, and he has already
assumed it. Wonderful, really wonderful!”

“If some mischievous boy should tamper with the rubber tires, I should
feel to blame,” said Galatea. “There are no boys about here.”

“No danger. Now if you’ll lift that bit of chiffon out of Reginald’s
eyes—Oh, you frightened the poor chap!”

Galatea turned her back on the pig. Once more she tried to show her
amicable intentions.

“I didn’t quite understand your explanation of your new sparking device,
Arthur. Does the spark ignite the gasolene? Or does the gasolene ignite
the—”

“Yes, that’s right—Would you mind giving me one look at Reginald with
the hat off? I want to be sure about that right ear.”

Galatea snatched the hat off so rudely that the pig squeaked his sense
of unmerited rebuke. The Artist drew a few rapid lines and heaved a sigh
of satisfaction. He held up the sketch for Galatea’s inspection.

“Do you think it will pass?”

“Magnificent,” she said, barely glancing at it. “Thank you so much. Now,
if you must go, I’ll get my hat and walk with you.”

[Illustration: SIT PERFECTLY STILL FOR FIVE MINUTES WHILE THE GENTLEMAN
TAKES YOUR PICTURE]

“Oh, will you? It is early. We can turn into that picturesque old
wood-road, and you can easily get back before dusk.”

Galatea took the sketch into the house, and presently returned wearing a
hat which was merely a fresher copy of the one which the Artist had
replaced on Reginald’s ears.

“Shall we invite Reginald to accompany us?” he asked. “He’s been so
good.”

Galatea’s indignant surprise nearly betrayed her. She managed to nod
assent.

“Come, Reginald,” said the Artist, cheerily.

The pig scrambled down, squeaking his delight, and the odd trio, all at
cross-purposes and none aware of it but the girl, passed out through the
gate and strolled down the road. Galatea was silent. The Artist glanced
at her with a troubled look, but her head was bent and the flapping
chiffon thing on her coils of mahogany-colored hair concealed her eyes
from his view. The Artist’s star was in the ascendant, but he was the
last who would have known it. It was a situation that called for
blundering—and the Artist could be trusted to blunder.

“It was good of you to give me that chance with the pig,” he said.

“Reginald!” exclaimed the girl. “Reginald, run home, at once,” and she
stamped her foot at the astonished pig.

With plaintive squeaks Reginald obeyed, making his short legs fly back
over the road.

They walked on in silence until they had entered the shadows of the
wood-road. Suddenly Galatea sat down on a stump, put her handkerchief to
her eyes, and began to sob.

“Why, Galatea, what have I done!” The Artist turned pale. “Are you ill?
Shall I go for help—for a doctor?”

An emphatic shake from the shapeless chiffon thing.

“Do you want to be alone? Shall I leave you?”

Another shake—and more sobs.

The Artist fell on his knees beside the stump and dared to take her
hand.

“Galatea, never in this world could I knowingly give you one moment’s
pain. You know how I love you, and I know how hopeless is my love. I
shall continue to love you to my dying day, and there is no sacrifice I
would not make to see you happy. Tell me, Galatea, how I have offended
you.”

She raised her head and looked at him steadily. He wondered that she did
not look her displeasure. Instead, there was something in her
expression—he could not think what—that made his heart thump.

“Arthur,” she said, “will you do just as I tell you?”

“Only try me, Galatea.”

“Stand out there, in the middle of the road.”

He did so. She rose and faced him at arm’s length.

“In the first place, don’t you dare to interrupt or contradict me.”

He bowed, wondering.

“Arthur, I’m a mean, low, deceitful creature, and I don’t deserve any
consideration whatever from anybody. Just now I’ve made up my mind to
reform—but that will take time. I want you to come out to see us often
and note how I’m getting on. Now, look over your left shoulder.”

He turned his face from her. Quick as a flash she leaned forward, her
lips brushed his cheek, and the next instant she had turned and was
flying down the road homeward. He stretched out his arms and started in
pursuit of her, crying out:—

“Galatea! Stop! Come back!”

Then he remembered her commands, and, seeing that she ran faster than
ever, prudently turned his steps in the opposite direction. But he
couldn’t feel his feet touch the ground. Yet, in the midst of his tumult
of exultation, he was puzzled. Suddenly he smote himself on the chest
and exclaimed:—

“Of course. It’s because I had sense enough to be polite to the pig.”



                                   IV
                      _The Obsequies of Bos Nemo_


Not all was gladness and light in the entwined lives of Bos, Equus and
Co. There came a day early in July when the confidence of Galatea and
the Poet in their four-legged partners was stretched almost to the
breaking-point. But for the wisdom of the Poet, which assured him that,
after all, civilization is only a thin veneer which is liable to crack
open under stress of provocation and reveal the savage man or the
unenlightened beast, Mrs. Cowslip and her bull-calf, on that memorable
day, would have been condemned to solitary confinement in the barn,
while Napoleon, the bull-terrier, would have fallen victim to the
flimsiest of circumstantial evidence.

Ordinarily the activities of Bos, Equus and Co. did not have their daily
awakening until at least an hour of sunshine had striven with the
dew-laden meadow. Gabriel’s duties were light, and rheumatic warnings
urged him against braving early damps. Amanda, most energetic of
housewives, refrained from disturbing her pots and pans out of regard
for the Poet and his sister, who dearly loved that last hour of slumber
made more sweet by the chirpings of early birds under their windows.

On this particular morning the dozing Poet was conscious that the voices
of the birds were eclipsed by ominous rumblings which, instead of
arousing him to complete consciousness, plunged him into the midst of a
perilous adventure. He was on the deck of an ocean liner enveloped in
the dense fogs of that awesome region off the Banks of Newfoundland. His
body and soul were shaken by the vibrations of the siren, whose
long-drawn warning was being echoed from out of the mists. No, it was
not an echo—it was another siren. Its menace was growing louder! A
ghastly gray shape hove near. The officer on the bridge seemed frozen
with terror. The relentless ocean, scoffing at sirens and rudders, was
hurling two ships into a fatal embrace. The Poet jumped for a
life-preserver, striking his head violently upon—upon an old-fashioned
walnut bedpost.

Then he realized that it was the melancholy voice of Mrs. Cowslip,
interrupted by lamenting bellows from Gustavius, that had so nearly
brought him to a watery grave. He ran to the open window, and heard
Amanda complaining:

“Gabe, what on earth is the matter with the critters? For the land sakes
do git up!”

From his window the Poet could see Mrs. Cowslip and the bull-calf side
by side, with their necks stretched out over the barnyard gate, sending
forth their lamentations toward the bottom of the pasture, where the
brook ran under the stone-wall into a thicket of old willow trees
heavily encumbered with wild grapevines. He could hear Cleopatra and
Clarence clattering about uneasily on the floor of their stalls, while
Reginald squealed for his breakfast with more than his usual insistence,
and their neighbors in the hennery cackled inquiringly.

Gabriel was kicking on his boots outside the kitchen door when the Poet
and Galatea hurried down, eager to know how they could calm the feelings
of their four-legged partners.

“Oh, pshaw!” said Gabriel, seizing a tin milk-pail, “critters are like
folks; they have their ornery spells without knowin’ what’s the matter
with ’em.”

“I never saw Mrs. Cowslip paw the dust up over her head before,” said
Galatea. “See! Now Gustavius is doing it.”

“She’s giving her offspring lessons in some mysterious rites of her
species,” said the Poet oracularly. “I shall investigate and make a note
of it.”

“No, it’s instinct,” said Gabriel, as the Poet and his sister
accompanied him to the barnyard. “You can edicate critters till you’re
blue in the face. You can teach ’em to act like human folks almost, and
then some day, all of a sudden, they’ll forgit everything and do the
same fool things their great-grandmothers did.”

Gabriel entered the barnyard with a three-legged stool, butted his head
into the flank of Mrs. Cowslip, and proceeded to play a pleasant tune on
the bottom of the tin pail. Gustavius was not distracted by this
familiar operation. Suddenly he redoubled his bellowings over the
barnyard gate. Mrs. Cowslip wavered between surges of emotion and her
respect for Gabriel.

“So, boss,” commanded the man with the half-filled pail between his
knees. And then, as Mrs. Cowslip switched her tail in his face: “Stand
still, darn ye!”

Such language at such a time was not wise. Mrs. Cowslip, ignoring
intervening obstacles, rushed to join Gustavius in a duet of
lamentation, leaving Gabriel on his back with the milk-pail overturned
into his protesting bosom. He rose, gasping, with arms hanging limp like
a man trying to get as far away from his clothes as possible. At that
moment Amanda emerged wildly from the hennery, screaming:—

“Gabe! Gabe! They’s only four eggs under the speckled hen!”

“What’s that?” asked Gabriel, startled out of his fury at Mrs. Cowslip,
although he could feel streams of warm milk trickling down into his
boots. “Only four, Amanda? The hull dozen was there, yesterday. I took
the hen off an’ counted ’em.”

They looked at each other as though stunned by a calamity too dreadful
for words. Amanda was first to recover her speech. Her eye traveled down
Gabriel’s soaking garments to the tin pail bottom up on the ground, and,
with the genuine feminine logic which men find so charming in such
moments, she said:—

“Gabe, I do believe you’ve spilled all the morning’s milk!”

“No,” drawled the Poet soothingly, “he has it all in his pockets.”

“Hush, George,” said Galatea. And then to Amanda:—

“Were the eggs valuable ones?”

“Valuable!” exclaimed Gabriel. “They was only one settin’ of ’em in th’
hull county. Amanda was crazy for ’em, and so was Si Blodgett, darn the
old hypocrite! He and Amanda bid against each other till I had to pay
fifty cents apiece for them eggs!”

“Oh dear!” said Galatea. “Then they weren’t hen’s eggs at all?”

“Hen eggs? I should say not. They were Golden Guinea eggs, and no more
to be had for love or money.”

Mrs. Cowslip and Gustavius lowed dismally, casting dust upon their
heads.

“There’s sympathy for you,” observed the Poet. “Never tell me again that
a cow lacks intelligence, or a bull-calf perspicacity. Any one can see
that they’re bemoaning disaster to those eggs.”

“For the land sakes, Gabe, turn the critters out,” said Amanda.

“No,” said the Poet solemnly, disregarding Galatea’s warnings not to
trifle with disaster, “they must be held as witnesses; a crime has been
committed.”

Just then Napoleon crawled under the fence, lifted one front paw, cocked
one ear, and looked inquiringly in the face of the dripping Gabriel.
Amanda seemed startled by a sudden suspicion.

“Gabe,” she said, “do you suppose the dog—”

“I’ll settle that in two shakes of a lamb’s tail,” said Gabriel, who had
already divined Amanda’s suspicion.

He took the whimpering terrier by the collar and dragged him toward the
gate.

“Wait a bit; not so fast,” said the Poet. “Where’s your evidence against
Napoleon?”

Gabriel pointed to certain yellow stains about the terrier’s muzzle.

“That’s egg—Golden Guinea egg at fifty cents apiece. Open the gate,
Mandy.”

“What are you going to do?” demanded the Poet. “You can’t condemn and
execute a member of the firm of Bos, Equus and Co. on one little bit of
circumstantial evidence.”

“No, indeed not,” said Galatea.

“But I can give him the third degree, darn him, an’ make him confess,”
declared Gabriel, who, as constable of the township, had taken pains to
post himself on the latest police methods.

The suspected criminal, his accusers, and his two champions, proceeded
to the hennery and to the nest of the incubating speckled hen, amid a
chorus of cackling inquiries. Straight up to the ravished nest Napoleon
was led. The speckled hen pecked him sharply on the nose. Napoleon
yelped.

“There!” exclaimed Galatea. “It’s perfectly plain that the hen could
defend herself against a small dog like Napoleon.”

“Lift her off the nest,” said Gabriel.

The speckled hen squawked, but Amanda was firm. Galatea lifted up the
terrier and rubbed his nose in the nest.

“What did I tell ye?” said Gabriel in triumph. “D’ye see the guilty look
in his face?”

“It isn’t guilt,” declared Galatea hotly; “it’s reproach—reproach for
your unjust suspicions.”

“It’s righteous indignation,” said the Poet.

“It’s guilt,” said Amanda, restoring the hen to her four eggs. “When a
dog has been stealin’ eggs, an’ you rub his nose in the nest, he always
looks that way.”

“Besides, there’s the yaller on his nose,” said Gabriel. “Napoleon,
you’re goin’ to git th’ lickin’ of your lifetime.”

“Wait,” said Galatea. “That’s yellow paint on Napoleon’s nose. I
repainted some croquet balls yesterday, and he’s been playing with
them.”

“Ah,” said the Poet, “think of all the innocent men who have been hanged
on circumstantial evidence.”

“It’s egg,” said Gabriel stubbornly.

“It’s paint,” said Galatea. “Gabriel, don’t you dare punish Napoleon.”

“At least it’s a case for the experts,” observed the Poet. “We must have
a chemical analysis of Napoleon’s nose before he can be convicted.”

“Gosh!” said Gabriel, “what a lot of fuss all on account of a dog.”

“You forget,” said Galatea. “Napoleon is a member of our family; we’re
all on terms of equality here.”

During this argument for and against the guilt of Napoleon, Clarence,
with his head through a small window in the wall which separated his
stall from the hennery, had been an interested spectator. As though to
indicate his approval of Galatea’s last remark, he bared his teeth and
nipped Gabriel sharply in the region of his hip pocket.

“Ouch!” said Gabriel.

“One more witness for the defense,” said the Poet. “Hello, what’s this?”

A ragged-edged square of dark woolen cloth, with a blue stripe, hung
from a rusty nail in the ledge of the window through which Clarence had
withdrawn his head in dodging a slap from Gabriel.

“Behold!” said the Poet, displaying the bit of cloth, which was about
the size of a man’s hand. “Behold proof of Napoleon’s innocence!”

“How d’ye make that out?” demanded Gabriel.

“By the process known as inductive reasoning; the same kind of reasoning
which enabled Edgar Allan Poe to solve the Nassau Street murder mystery
after the police had given it up. It is perfectly plain that the thief
who stole those eight expensive eggs wore trousers of the same pattern
as this bit of cloth. In taking the eggs from the nest he stood where
you were standing, Gabriel, when Clarence nipped you. The speckled hen
was not to be ravished of her eggs without a struggle. She pecked and
she squawked. Clarence heard her and flew to the rescue. He put his head
through the window, as he did just now, and he nipped the thief just as
he nipped you, Gabriel—that is, in the region of the hip pocket. Only in
this case Clarence knew that he was dealing with a violator of the law,
and he nipped deep. His teeth tore away and hung upon that waiting nail
the clue which will one day convict the criminal. Look for the man whose
dark, blue-striped trousers have a patch over or near the hip pocket.
How strange are the ways of justice!”

“Well, I swan to man!” said Gabriel.

Amanda was twisting the corners of her apron nervously. Gabriel gave her
a stern glance.

“Mandy, have you been losin’ any more keys of the henhouse?”

“I missed one yesterday,” said Amanda meekly. “Maybe I left it in the
lock, havin’ my hands full of fresh eggs.”

Gabriel snorted. He released Napoleon, who ran to Galatea for
consolation, and got it; and then the court adjourned to the barnyard,
where Mrs. Cowslip and Gustavius were still lamenting.

“I suggest,” said the Poet, “that, as the case is tolerably clear
against the man with the blue-striped trousers, we excuse these somewhat
doubtful witnesses, who seem to have troubles of their own.”

Thereupon all the four-legged members of Bos, Equus and Co. were turned
loose, and the two-legged members repaired to the house in search of
their belated breakfast.

During the next hour the agony of mind displayed by Mrs. Cowslip and
Gustavius was somewhat eased by the fresh flavor of the dew-washed grass
with which they set about restoring the rotundity of their sleek bodies.
But they grazed always in the direction of the stone fence where the
brook ran under it, and ever and anon they lifted up their half-filled
mouths and mourned as eloquently as could be expected of a cow and a
bull-calf in such circumstances.

William, he of the big horns and whiskers, who was similarly
employed,—there being no succulent sheets or pillow-slips left out to
bleach at so early an hour,—regarded his melancholy companions with a
coldly critical eye. Reginald could be heard grunting thankfully among
the artichokes. It was Cleopatra and Clarence who, alone, had sufficient
good breeding to accompany their morning repast with amiable
conversation.

“Mother,” the colt was saying, “what do you make of the extraordinary
conduct of Mrs. Cowslip and her offspring? Is it colic, or is the
weather going to change?”

“My son,” replied Cleopatra between nibbles, “when you have lived as
long as I have, you will cease all attempts to discover the motives
which actuate the cow kind. Beings of that species have no intelligence.
They have only a sort of blind instinct and an emotional capacity which
stamps them as primitive in the extreme, and therefore unworthy to
associate on equal terms with our highly intellectual race.”

Clarence turned this chunk of wisdom over in his mind several times,
and, being unable to assimilate it, observed:—

“I overheard Mrs. Cowslip saying something to Gustavius about smelling
death in the air this morning. I at once counted noses, and none of the
family was missing.”

“That reminds me, my son, that the cow kind have a strange custom which
probably dates back to some prehistoric ancestor as superstitious and
unphilosophic as themselves. I refer to their custom of holding unseemly
ceremonies over their dead. I remember once—”

“But, mother,” interrupted Clarence,—for the colt was young and
Cleopatra was an indulgent parent,—“there are none of the cow kind in
our family except Mrs. Cowslip and Gustavius. You can see for yourself
that they are both alive.”

“Haven’t I told you, my son, that out in the great world beyond the
stone fence—which you may visit some day when you are older—there are
many families like ours, including the cow kind?”

“Now I understand, mother; perhaps some Gustavius of the great world
beyond the stone fence has met with a violent death, and our Gustavius
and his mother feel some intimation of it in the breeze which comes from
that direction.”

“My son,” said Cleopatra, with a proud glance at her offspring, “I see
daily evidences that the development of your intelligence does credit to
my teaching. Doubtless you have hit upon the right solution of this
mystery. Observe: Mrs. Cowslip and her son, as they graze, proceed
steadily in the direction of the stone fence. It would not surprise me
if you should soon see with your own eyes some such ceremony as I have
mentioned.”

Cleopatra and Clarence continued their nibbling in silence, while each
kept one speculative eye upon the comrades whom they considered so far
beneath them. William evidently had pleasurable anticipations, also, for
he postponed his usual morning observation of the surrounding country
from the woodshed roof. Presently he was observed to rear his horns
aloft and stamp one foot menacingly.

“Look at that fool goat, mother,” said Clarence. “He’s forever looking
for trouble.”

Cleopatra raised her head and looked off down the road. Then she went on
quietly nibbling.

“Can you see anything, mother?” asked Clarence, who was thrilling with
curiosity.

“Nothing, my son—nothing but that strange young man in the buggy that
runs without my assistance.”

“Gracious!” exclaimed the colt, kicking up his heels gleefully. “Now
we’ll have fun.”

“No, my son, the uncanny thing is beneath our notice.”

Clarence looked at his mother in astonishment.

“The other time that evil-smelling red thing came swooping into our
front yard,” he said, “you kicked two ribs out of it because you said it
was a menace to our means of livelihood.”

“Hush, my son. Were they not compelled, after all, to rely on my
services to get the thing off the premises? With a slight injury it had
no more life in it than an ordinary buggy. I thought of this while I was
dragging the clumsy affair to the blacksmith shop. No, my son, that
sputtering red thing with the shocking bad breath is a false alarm. Our
occupation is safe.”

Indeed, the Artist, as he gracefully turned his Red Ripper into the
driveway and stopped near the veranda, was relieved to notice that its
late enemies gave it only an indifferent glance. He was attired from top
to toe in the most irreproachable new automobile togs, and in his
buttonhole was an orchid of price—purple, shading delicately into pink.
The Artist’s spirits appeared to be as high as his boutonnière was
high-priced. It was as though some invisible herald had announced: “Lo,
the bridegroom cometh.” The truth is, it was the Artist’s first visit
since the day of Galatea’s impulsive act of penitence in the wood-road,
and he still thrilled with the memory of the swift kiss she had left
upon his cheek the instant before she sped away. All this was well
enough; but it was impossible for the Artist not to blunder. His present
blunder was in being over-confident in the memory of that kiss.

The moment the Poet’s mahogany-haired sister, in a trig costume of
glossy white linen, including the prettiest of high-heeled little
slippers, came out upon the veranda and cast her eye over the
immaculate, exultant visitor, you would have been sorry for him—sorry
that God had not gifted him with a modicum of subtlety in matters
feminine.

“Good-morning, Arthur.”

Galatea’s voice was as cool as one of Amanda’s unplucked cucumbers.

Arthur sprang lightly up the steps, and, screened by the honeysuckle
vine, seized her hand and kissed it ardently.

“Why, Arthur! Are you ill? Has the sun affected your head?”

“Don’t play with me, Galatea, I’m too happy—so happy that I’m serious.
The time has come for us to understand each other.”

Galatea looked curiously at the much-kissed hand.

“Arthur, you’ll forgive me if I confess to doubts about ever being able
to understand you.”

“Dear—don’t, don’t say that, after that moment in the wood-road.”

“The wood-road?” She put her finger pensively to her lip. “Oh, yes, now
I remember. I brushed a mosquito off your cheek.”

The Artist would not be warned—it was not his fault, he was built that
way. He took her hand again.

“Galatea! Galatea! For the first time you let me tell you how much I
love you. You confessed that you had not treated me with consideration,
and you asked me to come often and note the progress of your
reformation.”

Here the Artist paused and kissed Galatea’s hand a great many more
times. He did not see the mischief in her eyes as she drew her hand away
and asked:—

“Arthur, tell me, why do you do that?”

“Why do I kiss your hand?”

“Yes.”

“Perhaps it is because I have not courage to kiss your—Galatea, why did
you kiss my cheek in the wood-road?”

A series of throaty bellows were wafted to their ears from the direction
of the stone fence at the bottom of the meadow. Galatea drew the Artist
toward the end of the veranda where there was a clear view.

“Oh, Arthur! Look at Mrs. Cowslip! She’ll kill poor Gustavius!”

The bull-calf’s situation was indeed precarious. He was neatly balanced
on his stomach on top of the stone fence, while his mother, with frantic
bellows, after the manner of her kind was endeavoring to boost him over
with her horns. Gabriel was hastening to the scene, with a pitchfork in
his hand, and Napoleon, forgetful of late humiliations, barking at his
heels. Cleopatra and Clarence were snorting their alarm from a little
distance. It remained for William to relieve the general tension by
planting a terrific butt with such precision that Gustavius, launched
headlong from the fence, made his first actual acquaintance with the
great world beyond. Before Gabriel with his pitchfork could head off
Mrs. Cowslip, she, with a mighty leap and scramble, joined her
offspring, and together, bellowing, they rushed into the tangle of
willows and wild grapevines. Gabriel followed with Napoleon.

Galatea, having alarmed the Poet, hurried with her brother and the
Artist down the meadow. Before they reached the fence, Gabriel’s head
appeared over it. He waved the pitchfork, addressing Galatea.

“Git back! Git back! A cow funeral ain’t no place for wimmen folks!”

“Oh, Mrs. Cowslip must be dead,” sobbed Galatea, restraining the Artist
as the Poet hurried on and shot his long legs over the stone fence.
“Poor, dear, good Mrs. Cowslip! Promise me, Arthur, that you’ll save
Gustavius.”

She was clinging to his arm beseechingly. Arthur experienced one of his
rare moments of real intelligence. He drew a long breath, and thrust out
his chest.

“And if I succeed, Galatea?”

“Oh, if you succeed, Arthur,—dear Arthur,—I shall try and remember, some
day, to tell you how much I—how much I really love you.”

The Artist had the most excellent good sense to kiss her fervently, on
the lips, and the superlative intelligence thereon to leave her and rush
to the rescue of Gustavius. Galatea returned to the house, went into the
library, and for quite half an hour kept her eyes fixed on one page of a
book that was upside down.

The spectacle that met the Poet’s gaze as he burst through the grapevine
thicket caused him to exclaim:—

“The obsequies of Bos Nemo, as I’m a sinner!”

The truth of this remark was obvious. On the margin of the brook,
whither his instinct had prompted him to crawl when fatally stricken
with what Gabriel explained was “the black leg,” lay the lifeless body
of a strange steer, nameless so far as any one present knew; and near
by, with their noses to the ground while they pawed dust over their
shoulders, Mrs. Cowslip and Gustavius, according to the custom of their
kind, were bellowing and mooing the last rites for the dead. In vain
Gabriel prodded them with his pitchfork; the obsequies continued with an
increasing display of emotion.

“This is news to me,” said the Artist, when Gabriel had explained that
horned cattle never neglect to hold funeral ceremonies over the dead of
their kind. “It’s like a wake—barring the pipes and bottles.”

“Darn the critters’ skins,” said Gabriel; “when that cow an’ bull-calf
come out of their tantrum they’re goin’ to be locked in the barn to
think it over the rest of the day.”

“No,” said the Poet, “that’s not according to the rules and regulations
that govern the firm of Bos, Equus and Co. Equal rights and privileges
to all, irrespective of the individual equipment as to legs—that’s our
constitution, Gabriel. Mrs. Cowslip has just as much right to her
funeral as I have to mine. Besides, can’t you see, she’s teaching
Gustavius the orthodox bovine ceremony.”

Leaving the Poet and Gabriel in charge of the mourners, being assured
that their grief would presently wear itself out, the Artist hastened
back to Galatea. He found her in the library, and his thrilling tale of
how he saved the life of Gustavius merited all the reward it inspired.

[Illustration: SEIZED HER HAND AND KISSED IT ARDENTLY]



                                   V
                        _Equus Minor, Detective_


“Of all the crazy notions!” sniffed Amanda.

She was filling glass jars with raspberries out of a kettle on the
roaring kitchen stove, while Gabriel screwed down the metal tops,
perspiring freely in the super-heated midsummer temperature.

“Pshaw!” said Gabriel, “this here Poet an’ his sister ain’t a bit
crazier’n the Professor was. D’ye recollect what the Professor said
’bout ‘the emotional capacities of so-called dumb animals,’—I seem to
hear his lingo now,—jest before he went away, after playin’ his flute in
the barnyard till pretty near midnight?”

“The Professor was a nice man,” admitted Amanda, “but when it came to
dealin’ with critters he was crazy as a bedbug.”

“I dunno, Mandy. I sneaked out to th’ barn that night, an’ th’ way th’
cow an’ calf took to th’ Professor’s music made my flesh creep. You
know, Mandy, they ain’t nothin’ in natur’ so doggone stubborn an’
foolish as a bull-calf—not even a pig. Well, you ought ‘a’ seen th’ ca’m
an’ peaceful way that bull-calf laid his chin on the Professor’s
shoulder an’ bla-a-ted softly to himself when th’ slow an’ solemn tunes
was bein’ played.”

“Gabe, you tend to them jars an’ quit your jokin’.”

“Honest, Mandy, true as I live an’ breathe. An’ when the Professor see I
was lookin’ on, he stopped playin’ an said to me: ‘Gabriel,’ says he,
‘give me time, an’ I’ll teach this bull-calf to sing the doxology.’ An’
I’m darned if I don’t believe he’d ‘a’ done it.”

“I’ve heard dogs howl when somebody played the fiddle,” observed Amanda,
“an’ that’s all there was to it. You can’t say the Professor ever had
the crazy notion this here Poet has of givin’ a birthday party to a
yearlin’ colt.”

“’T ain’t th’ Poet, Mandy; it’s his red-headed sister. She was out to
th’ barn th’ first thing this mornin’, while I was milkin’, an’ braided
th’ colt’s mane full of red and blue ribbons. I saw her kiss Clarence on
the nose an’ wish him many happy returns o’ th’ day.”

“For the land sakes!” said Amanda.

“She got me to fix up a table in the shade of the old chestnut on th’
lawn, out of a barn door an’ a couple of sawhorses. There’s goin’ to be
a birthday dinner at two o’clock, an’ all th’ critters are invited.”

“Be you goin’, Gabe?” inquired Amanda, with subtle sarcasm.

“Gosh, no! The dog an’ I ain’t speakin’ since that trouble ’bout th’
Golden Guinea eggs. You know it’s reely Napoleon that’s givin’ th’
party.”

“Gabe, you jest go ’long!”

“Honest, Mandy. That’s th’ Poet’s idee. He says th’ dog couldn’t do less
after th’ colt savin’ him from that lickin’, ‘count o’ them eggs.”

“Well, I never!” Amanda sat down and fanned herself with her apron.

“Yes; an’ they’s goin’ to be speech-makin’ an’ music. That there artist
chap is comin’ out with his banjo, an’ while the critters are eatin’ an’
drinkin’ he an’ th’ Poet with his guitar are goin’ to play duets, jest
like they do in them high-toned restaurants down to New York. I heard
’em talkin’ it over when I was fixin’ up the table out under the
chestnut.”

“Be you sure the artist-chap’s comin’, Gabe?” asked Amanda, all at once
losing interest in the main topic.

“W’y, yes. W’y not? Anything wrong, Mandy?”

“I dunno; she’s been treatin’ him awful cool the last few days.”

Gabriel laughed. “I was awful gone on a red-headed girl once
myself,—long ’fore I met you, Mandy,—an’ I tell you they keep you
guessin’. You never know how to take ’em. It’s always a toss-up what to
say or do when you court a red-headed girl. One day you can grab her and
kiss her behind the door, an’ she’ll act as if she wanted to thank you
for it, an’ the very next day she’ll go into tantrums if you even wink
at her. I tell ye, Mandy, my red-headed girl kept me guessin’ which way
she’d jump till I got so thin I couldn’t cast a shadder.”

“Served you right,” snapped Amanda. “Men are so stupid. I s’pose when
you got so thin she could see right through you, she was thankful to
settle down as an old maid.”

“No,” said Gabriel solemnly, “she married and proved a great blessin’ to
her husband.”

“You don’t say! How could that be?”

“W’y, ye see,” drawled Gabriel, “he was th’ livin’ skeleton in a circus,
an’ a month after th’ weddin’ he’d lost so much flesh that they doubled
his salary.”

Then they both jumped guiltily at the sound of another voice:—

“May I come into your kitchen, Amanda?”

It was Galatea. She was biting her lips, which were hardly more
brilliant than her mass of mahogany hair, and her eyes twinkled.

“I merely wanted to ask Gabriel if he has time to pull some young
carrots, turnips, and red beets for our birthday party. George has dug
some artichokes for Reginald.” Then she added: “Of course you’re coming
to the party? There’ll be music, you know—guitar and banjo duets.”

“Sartin, sartin,” said Gabriel with alacrity.

“You’ll want some loaf-sugar for the mare and her colt,” said Amanda,
bustling about.

“How good of you! Now I’ll go and give Napoleon his instructions as host
of the occasion.”

With the exception of the bull-terrier, all the four-legged members of
the family had their noses together in the shade of some willows down by
the brook. They were exchanging views on a matter that puzzled them
greatly. Cleopatra was apprehensive about the ribbons entwined in
Clarence’s mane.

“I’ve half a notion,” she was saying to her gayly decorated colt, “that
you and I had better take to our heels till this thing’s over, whatever
it means. It’s too much like what I’ve seen at the County Fair in my
time—yearling colts fixed up that way led off by some strange man and
never heard of again.”

“It’s all right, mother,” said Clarence, who was very proud of his
ribbons. “You can trust that red-headed girl. When she put these pretty
things on me, she laughed and kissed me on the nose. Besides, look at
that fool pig.”

Truly, Reginald did look rather foolish with the fine bouquet that was
tied in the kink of his tail with a bit of yellow ribbon.

“That’s all I got when I went up to the house to get my back scratched,”
grunted Reginald. “But Gustavius was no better off. He wanted that
long-legged chap to rub his silly little horns, but was sent away with
that jimcrack over his ears.”

Reginald referred to a garland which had given the bull-calf quite an
ancient Roman look until Mrs. Cowslip had eaten half of it. But this was
no more than fair, as Gustavius had done as much for his mother, whose
crumpled horn still retained some twisted stems of daisies and
dandelions. As for William, no amount of butting could have freed him
from the trelliswork of wire, silver foil, and sunflowers of which his
sturdy horns were the foundation. He seemed grieved and humiliated over
it.

“And you, yourself, mother,” resumed Clarence, “are included in some
scheme of general festivity. Never have I seen the luxuriant hair of
your tail crimped so beautifully.”

“It may be that the Professor is returning,” suggested Mrs. Cowslip. “I,
for my part, shall welcome him warmly.”

“Ah,” said Reginald, “when you mention the Professor I am thrilled by
the most delicious memories. I seem to feel his highly cultivated
fingers along my grateful spine at this moment.”

Suddenly Gustavius gave a truculent little bellow, and shook his horns.

“By the fat on my ribs, it’s the dog!” said Reginald, who secretly liked
Napoleon as little as did the bull-calf, with memories of sharp teeth
nipping his heels; “I marvel at his condescension!”

“What did I tell you, mother?” said Clarence. “No one ever heard of a
dog being led off, yet look at the ribbons on Napoleon.”

The terrier was truly a gorgeous spectacle as he trotted proudly down
the pasture. A decoration of red, white, and blue ribbons crossed his
broad chest diagonally, passing under one foreleg, the two ends being
tied in a large bow on his shoulders. The colt advanced to meet him.
They had always been staunch friends from their mutual infancy; so
friendly, in fact, that when Amanda was away and Clarence expressed a
desire to go into the kitchen in search of stray tidbits, Napoleon
always managed to be looking the other way. Now, as they met, the colt
with head lowered and ears pointed forward in token of the utmost
amiability and good will, the terrier leaped up, licking his velvet nose
and barking eagerly:—

“You are to come up to the house at once, old chum; everything is
ready.”

“Is Amanda away, and the kitchen door open?” asked Clarence.

“Oh, this is different,” said Napoleon hastily. “It’s the red-headed
girl’s affair. What do you say to young turnips, and carrots, and lumps
of sugar afterwards?”

“Will there be enough for mother, too?” asked Clarence, taking care not
to speak loud enough to excite anticipations liable to disappointment.

“Yes, for everybody,” barked Napoleon so that all could hear; “you’re
all to come at once.”

“Well,” grumbled Gustavius, with a shake of his sprouting horns, “you
needn’t be so stuck up about it.”

“I had an engagement with the red-headed girl, anyway,” grunted
Reginald, starting for the house at a fast trot.

“You just head off that pig, Napoleon, or he’ll make a mess of
everything,” said the colt. “Come on, mother!”

With Clarence and Cleopatra in the lead, and Reginald sent squealing
back to the rear with Napoleon’s teeth at his heels, the summoned guests
proceeded, with rather more decorum than was to be expected, to the
banquet table under the old chestnut, where Galatea awaited them
smilingly, with outstretched hands. Catching sight of several inviting
peck measures on the table, Mrs. Cowslip and Gustavius broke into a
trot, with the result that the last dozen yards were a neck-and-neck
race, except for Reginald, whose fat legs forced him to squeal
plaintively along behind. As the guests arrived, Gabriel and Amanda
hastened out from the kitchen, while the Poet, doubled up over his
guitar, and the Artist, holding his banjo gracefully, with their backs
to the chestnut tree, strummed forth a spirited march.

“Napoleon,” said Galatea, “take your place at the head of the table.”

The terrier leaped into the host’s chair, put his paws on the cloth, and
awaited further instructions.

“Come, Clarence; as the guest of honor you will stand on Napoleon’s
right, and, Cleopatra, your place is by the side of your son.”

With a pat on the nose for each, the girl brought them to their places.
Meanwhile Gabriel had coaxed Mrs. Cowslip and Gustavius, with William,
to places opposite them, while Amanda prudently stood guard over the
peck measures. Galatea poured balm upon the wounded feelings of Reginald
by inviting him to take the chair at the foot of the table. It was a
most fortunate arrangement. The pig would have died rather than show
himself inferior to Napoleon in the matter of table manners.

“Galatea, what’s the first course?” sang out the Poet.

“Turnips _au naturel_, George, with chicken _à la Marengo_ for
Napoleon.”

The Poet, for the first time in his life, almost smiled.

“Arthur,” he said, “I think ‘The Battle of Waterloo with Variations’
will go well with Napoleon’s chicken _à la Marengo_.”

Rendered more than usually docile by the music, the guests ate their
turnips decorously from the hands of Galatea, Amanda, and Gabriel, while
Napoleon, as host, nibbled daintily at his special dish. When the
chicken and the turnips had disappeared, the host and his guests looked
expectantly at Galatea. Napoleon thumped his short tail against the back
of his chair. The music ended with a flourish.

“George,” said Galatea, “Napoleon requests you to make a few appropriate
remarks.”

The Poet laid aside his instrument, unfolded his lank limbs, and strode
to the side of Napoleon, fixing his earnest gaze on Clarence, the guest
of honor, who pricked up his ears. The other guests—whose usual morning
indulgence in grass and artichokes had eliminated the fiercer gustatory
pangs—were round-eyed and attentive. Amanda caressed Mrs. Cowslip’s
crumpled horn to hide her embarrassment at being a party to such
foolishness, while Gabriel chuckled inwardly.

“Clarence,” began the Poet, “and fellow members of the flourishing firm
of Bos, Equus and Co., we have come together upon this happy occasion to
declare a dividend of mutual confidence and esteem. The occasion—which
may have escaped the notice of some of you—is the first anniversary of
the birth of one of our youngest, yet most enthusiastic members.
Clarence, many happy returns of this day. We salute you.”

The Poet bowed to the colt, who nodded his head intelligently.

“Yes, yes!” barked Napoleon excitedly; words could not have said it
plainer.

“Gosh!” whispered Gabriel to Amanda, “who would have believed it?”

“Clarence,” resumed the speaker, “the host of this joyful occasion”—he
turned to Napoleon, who nearly wagged himself off his chair—“desires to
express publicly his thanks for the great service you rendered him in
that dark hour”—here the Poet frowned and shook a reproving finger at
the chuckling Gabriel—“when he faced unjust punishment on the monstrous
charge of having ravished the nest of the speckled hen. Then and there,
Clarence, you rebuked the short-sighted minion of the law by nipping him
smartly in the same sensitive region where you had nipped the real
marauder, tearing from him the clue which will sooner or later bring him
to justice.”

The Poet took from his pocket a ragged square of blue-striped dark cloth
and submitted it for Clarence’s inspection. The colt laid back his ears
and nipped at it. The Poet cast a glance of solemn triumph around the
table.

“Friends and partners,” he said, “do we need any further evidence that
it was indeed Clarence who was a witness of the crime, and performed
this service for Napoleon and for justice?”

The point was overwhelmingly conceded.

“Doggone my skin!” whispered Gabriel to Amanda, “th’ colt remembers that
rag by th’ smell!”

The Poet put the damning evidence back in his pocket. Suddenly Amanda
nudged Gabriel.

“Of all things, Gabe, here comes Si Blodgett with a basket on his arm!”

An undersized, sanctimonious person, with a smooth upper lip and a tuft
on his chin, carrying a covered basket, was approaching from the
driveway. He seemed pained at the evidences of festivities progressing.
When he had approached within a few yards of the banquet-table he put
down the basket carefully and said:

“Brother Gabriel, Sister Amanda, what is the meaning of this unseemly
scene of levity?”

The Poet looked interested.

“If, as your manner indicates,” he said suavely, “you don’t approve of
this little celebration, I recommend that you address your remarks to
headquarters. I speak for the host,—Napoleon, here at the head of the
table,—who is giving a birthday party to our friend and comrade,
Clarence.”

He waved his hand at the colt, and paused expectantly. The visitor
rolled up his eyes and raised his hands.

“Vanity, vanity, all is vanity!”

“Oh, your name must be Blodgett,” said the Poet. “I’ve often heard you
mentioned. Won’t you join us?”

“I would join you in prayer,” groaned Si Blodgett. “Would that I might
snatch you from the seat of the scornful.”

Gabriel chuckled. The Poet turned to the guest of honor, and continued:—

“In conclusion, Clarence, and fellow members of Bos, Equus and Co., I
wish to say for those of us to whom nature has given but two legs
instead of four, but has made partial compensation by bestowing upon us
the power of speech, that we are proud to claim you as friends, as
partners, as equals—”

“Stop!” groaned Si Blodgett, with hand upraised. “Remember Moses and the
golden calf!”

“Look here, Si,” said Gabriel, “don’t you slander our bull-calf. He
ain’t gold. He’ll be doggone good beef some day.”

“Oh, ye unregenerate!” almost screamed Si Blodgett. “Soon ye will be
bowing down to wood and stone!”

“Galatea,” said the Poet, “what’s the next course?”

“Carrots, George.”

While Si Blodgett continued to groan unavailingly, the carrots were
served. The Poet resumed his instrument, and never before was that
classic, “Hiawatha,” adapted for banjo and guitar, so inspiringly
rendered. It was repeated until Galatea produced the dessert of loaf
sugar, and Si Blodgett showed signs of frothing at the mouth over the
ungodliness of the scene. As Galatea tripped around the table, dropping
lumps of sugar into grateful mouths, Si Blodgett came forward,
stretching his arms across the table to Gabriel. He had failed to notice
that the colt was keeping one eye on him, with the accompanying ear laid
back.

“Oh, brother, brother,” he said, “beware—”

Whatever the warning was to be, it was cut short by a grunt caused by
the colt thrusting his hind quarters brusquely into Si Blodgett’s
stomach.

“Darn th’ critter!” exclaimed the exhorter, with an astonishing change
of voice and sentiment. And he slapped Clarence smartly on the flank.

“Lookout, Si!” shouted Gabriel. “Th’ colt don’t like ye.”

Si Blodgett dodged barely in time to escape Clarence’s heels. The other
guests were becoming restless. The Poet and the Artist joined Galatea
beside Napoleon’s chair. The exhorter went and picked up his basket,
and, approaching Gabriel, said:—

“It is our duty to be good to those who despitefully use us. Brother
Gabriel, hearin’ you’ve been disapp’inted in your hatchin’ of Golden
Guinea eggs, and havin’ a couple o’ pair of the chicks to sell, I came
over to offer you the first chance. They’re scarce, you know. I’ll take
four dollars a pair.”

For the space of at least a minute there was amazed and breathless
silence. Even the Poet found himself speechless. Amanda stared at Si
Blodgett, and then at Gabriel, whose eyes were fixed on the basket while
he opened and closed his mouth dumbly. At length speech burst from him.

“Si Blodgett, where’d ye git the eggs to hatch out them Golden Guinea
chicks o’ yourn?”

“The Lord cares for them that serve Him,” said the prudent exhorter. “I
got them eggs where you got yourn, an’ what’s more, I only paid twenty
cents apiece for ’em.”

“You was there, Si Blodgett, biddin’ agin’ me,” said Gabriel, doubling
up his huge fists, “an’ you heard th’ guarantee that there wa’n’t no
more Golden Guinea eggs for sale in th’ hull county.”

“That was true, Brother Gabriel; but, ye see, I’d already bought mine
three days before, an’ they wa’n’t for sale, neither.”

Gabriel gurgled and managed to swallow part of his wrath.

“Give us a look at them chicks,” he said.

Si Blodgett knelt down on the grass and picked at the knot of the string
that held the cloth over his basket.

“George!” exclaimed Galatea in a startled whisper, “look! That man’s
trousers are of dark cloth with a blue stripe!”

“Yes, but wait a bit. Look at Napoleon and the colt.”

The terrier had jumped down from his chair and was growling, with
bristling crest. Clarence, with ears laid back, had turned about and was
shaking his head at the man on his knees, whose back was toward him.

The knot was refractory. Si Blodgett’s coat-tails fell apart, revealing
a key-chain, one end of which disappeared in his hip pocket.

[Illustration: THE GUESTS ATE THEIR TURNIPS DECOROUSLY]

“There!” whispered Galatea. “See that patch!”

“Wait!” said the Poet. “The psychological moment approaches—Ah!”

With a sudden rush the colt fell upon Si Blodgett’s rear, nipped
savagely at the region of his hip pocket, and backed away triumphantly
with his teeth closed on a chain from which a bunch of keys dangled. The
man yelled in fright, then, seeing what was in the colt’s mouth, as
Gabriel sprang forward to capture the aggressor, he jumped up,
exclaiming:

“Never mind, Gabe; he’ll drop ’em in a minute.”

“Clarence!” said Galatea softly.

The colt took a high-kicking turn about the chestnut tree, swinging the
keys from his teeth, and then trotted up to the girl and dropped them in
her hand. Si Blodgett reached for them, but Amanda was too quick for
him.

“W’y, of all things,” she said, holding one of the keys in a firm grip,
“if here ain’t that lost key of our henhouse!”

Si Blodgett’s face turned red, then pale, and then he laughed nervously.

“Ye don’t say, Sister Amanda. I was wonderin’ if it was yourn, the day I
found it in—in th’ road.”

Gabriel was beginning to look dangerous, but he couldn’t resist a thrust
at Amanda.

“What do ye go ’round sowin’ henhouse keys for, Mandy? Expect to raise a
crop of ’em?”

“I left that key in the henhouse door,” said Amanda stubbornly, “an’
that’s all there is to it.”

“O Lord, how long, how long!” groaned Si Blodgett, returning to his
exhorter manner. “But I don’t bear malice. I’ll take my basket and go on
my way in peace.”

“You’ll stop right where you are, Si Blodgett!” thundered Gabriel.

“Oh—er—Mr. Blodgett,” drawled the Poet, coming forward amiably. “I
believe you have the reputation of being an earnest worker in—er—in the
Lord’s vineyard?”

“If some have been brought to the throne of grace through my
exhortations, it’s only the Lord’s mercy. I make no boast. I will be
humble. I will take my basket and go.”

He stooped to pick up the basket, above whose rim peeped four little
Guinea chicks. The Poet’s gentle hand restrained him.

“Perhaps you’d better go, Mr. Blodgett—presently. But if I were you I’d
leave the basket, and—er—its contents.”

“I—I don’t quite understand,” said Si Blodgett weakly.

“Why,” said the Poet mildly, “one who is engaged in your chosen work
of—er—of saving souls ought to neglect no opportunity of pointing a
useful moral. Now, here is this little matter of circumstantial evidence
which seems to convict a—er—a holy man of robbing his neighbor’s
hennery.”

“Prove it! prove it! I defy ye!” snarled Si Blodgett.

“Be calm, Mr. Blodgett. Let us consider the subject from the standpoint
of the exhorter. Imagine yourself addressing an assemblage of young
men—young men who are a little wild, we will say, who have raided
watermelon patches, and are in a fair way to break into their neighbors’
henneries. Think of the effect upon those young minds when you tell them
about the lost key of a looted henroost found in your pocket!”

Si Blodgett laughed. “What does a key prove?”

“Then,” continued the Poet, “you go on to tell about the contributory
evidence—the fact that the real thief wore dark trousers with a blue
stripe, just like your own.”

“How do ye know he did?” snarled Si Blodgett, casting an uneasy glance
down the legs of his dark trousers with their blue stripe.

“Just like your own,” the Poet went on, “because, as the real thief was
carrying off the valuable eggs he’d come for, a yearling colt put his
head through a window into the hennery and playfully nipped him in the
region of his hip pocket, tearing away a ragged square of cloth, which
was found hanging to a nail on the window-ledge the next morning.”

The Poet took Clarence’s trophy from his pocket and examined it
reflectively. Si Blodgett’s knees shook, and his mouth hung open.

“Finally,” said the Poet, “you might drive home your useful moral by
explaining to your young hearers that your own dark trousers with their
blue stripe bore a patch the exact size and shape of the square of cloth
torn from those of the robber of henroosts—Why, Mr. Blodgett!”

At mention of the patch, the exhorter had turned and fled toward the
road.

“Hi, there! Si! Si Blodgett!” yelled Gabriel.

“No,” said the Poet, restraining him. “You have a good, serviceable
basket, and four fine, lusty Golden Guinea chicks—worth four dollars a
pair. Don’t be greedy.”

“Clarence, you’re a wonder!” said Galatea, with her arm about the colt’s
neck.

“Mandy,” said Gabriel, “you put these here chicks with their brothers
an’ sisters in th’ henhouse—an’ don’t go ’round sowin’ no more keys.”



                                   VI
                          _Taurus Cupid, Esq._


As jocund Summer merged into placid Autumn, Gustavius throve mightily
and waxed fat. His shoulders broadened, his voice deepened, his
sharp-pointed horns acquired a high polish through painstaking friction
upon every available object, and became rigidly embedded in his
thickening skull. He could summon the red glow to his eyes in moments of
anger, and he exulted in the knowledge that his stout heart was bursting
with courage. Gustavius was putting bull-calfhood forever behind him,
and each day brought him increased yearnings for valorous deeds.

In view of this physical and moral transformation, Gustavius wondered at
his tolerance of the familiarities still recklessly practiced by his
comrades. But how could he stoop so low as to enforce respect from a pig
or a goat? The dog was eliminated from the problem, because it was a
dog’s natural prerogative to nip at the heels of superiority and avoid
punishment by flight. As for the mare, she was uniformly courteous, and
the playfulness of the colt disarmed him.

Concerning the two-legged members of the family, Gustavius felt himself
the victim of hereditary respect for the sternly authoritative person
called Gabe, and there was something so soothing in the manner of the
lank, long-limbed man who spent most of his time lounging about the
veranda that it was impossible to offer him any sort of challenge. The
red-headed girl—ah! Gustavius was not ashamed to confess to himself that
the bare sight of her made him glow with docile affection.

“And yet,” said Reginald impudently,—for Gustavius’s later reflections
had unconsciously resolved themselves into speech, as he stood with his
comrades in the afternoon shade of the willows,—“and yet a bit of
anything else as red as that girl’s hair sends you into convulsions of
rage. Talk about inconsistency—”

“Shut up, pig!” said Clarence. “You’re jealous.”

Suddenly Gustavius began to bellow and paw the earth.

“What disturbs you, my son?” inquired Mrs. Cowslip, between the finish
of one cud and the beginning of another.

“It’s that rank outsider again, who is forever butting in with that
vile-smelling red wagon,” said Gustavius, lifting his nose toward the
lawn. “He angers me beyond words. I’ve laid for him a hundred times, but
he hasn’t a drop of sporting blood in his body; he’s forever hanging on
to the skirts of the red-headed girl.”

Galatea and the Artist, carrying a long, flat box between them, were
walking about the lawn midway between the house and the willows.
Presently they found a smooth, level space, opened the box, and
proceeded to drive into the ground two gaudily painted stakes and some
arches of wire.

“It’s very annoying the way that chap’s always about nowadays,” admitted
Reginald. “I was just thinking of going up to get my back scratched, but
it’s no use now.”

“My time will come one of these days,” said Gustavius. “Just let me
catch that chap alone once, that’s all!” And he began industriously
sharpening his horns on the stone fence.

It was nothing short of wonderful, the influence unconsciously exerted
by the Poet’s sister over these four-legged comrades whom she had
captivated on the very day of her arrival, as you cannot fail to
remember. Now Mrs. Cowslip, Cleopatra, Clarence, Reginald, and William,
who ordinarily prided himself on his independence of action, left the
grateful shade of the willows, and, with perfunctory nibblings at grass,
of which they were already over-full, slowly approached the scene of
preparations for that ancient and honorable game called croquet. Soon
that influence was too powerful even to be resisted by Gustavius,
notwithstanding the hated presence of the Artist, and he moved sulkily
after the others.

The Artist was pensive, and occasionally, as his adoring glance rested
on Galatea’s graceful figure, he sighed. His attention being thus
divided, it was not strange that he should miss the second arch.

“How foolish of you!” she said. “I can now save you further exertions by
taking your ball around with me.”

Being already past the first side arch and in position for the middle
one, with the Artist’s ball an easy victim, she was able to make good
her promise. The Artist could not regret his inevitable defeat; it left
him free to follow Galatea about and pour into her ears a lover’s woes.

“Sweetheart, why do you continue so cold and distant to me? One would
suppose that when a girl is engaged—”

“Arthur, take your foot away from that arch!”

With beautiful precision she made the long “split” stroke, and was safe
for the first stake.

“As I was saying, dear, when a girl is engaged—”

“Arthur! you are trying to make me miss the stake! Can’t you play fair?”

“I’m not playing at all, darling. I can’t play. I can’t eat. I can’t
sleep. One would expect a little mercy from a girl who wears his
engagement—”

“There! you moved your ball just as I was about to strike for it!”

The Artist groaned and replaced the ball. She plumped her own into it
dexterously from half-way across the field, and proceeded on the home
stretch.

“I don’t know how long I’m going to stand this suspense,” sighed the
Artist, “and yet you resist all my pleadings to name the day—”

“Arthur, _I_ am playing croquet. Will you kindly stand one side?”

She played safely up to the last arch.

“If the date was fixed, dear, I think I could bear your lack
of—enthusiasm; that is, if the date were reasonably near—”

“Can’t you keep away from the handle of my mallet, Arthur? Now I’m
staked on your ball, and must risk all on one last stroke.”

“Oh, you’ll make it,” groaned the Artist. “I wish that ball was my head.
Any sort of attention would be better than none at all. I’ve lost all
hope of getting another kiss—”

“Ha! Whitewashed! whitewashed!” sang the girl, dancing about the stake.
“Perhaps there’s some other game you play?”

The Artist sat down on the grass with his head in his hands.

“Does your head ache, Arthur?”

“My heart aches. Darling, have pity on me and name the day when we two—”

“Why, certainly—Wednesday.”

The Artist leaped to his feet.

“Day after to-morrow—how happy you make me!”

“Oh, I haven’t decided on any _particular_ Wednesday.”

He threw himself back on the grass.

“But I’ve a feeling that it will be _some_ Wednesday, Arthur, dear.”

Then she stooped over quickly and kissed him.

“I wondered whether Arthur would have sufficient diplomacy to let you
win, Galatea,” said the Poet, with a perfectly straight face, his
approach having been unobserved; “but it seems that I did him an
injustice.”

“I don’t know what you mean,” said Galatea with dignity; “but if you
want to make it a three-handed game, I’ll undertake to whitewash you
both.”

“Oh, there’s nothing in it for me,” drawled the Poet aggravatingly;
“however, I’m obliging by nature; I don’t mind simplifying things for
Arthur.”

Galatea, with her nose in the air, sent her ball through the first two
arches with a single stroke, and with the two thus gained took position,
made the third arch, and with a swift safe drive for the middle one,
which she missed, found herself well out of the way of hostile balls.

“There,” she said; “I don’t mind giving you the advantage by starting
first.”

“Your generosity deserves a better reward,” said the Poet, as he
selected a mallet with great care, “but some twenty years’ observation
of the game has taught me that the croquet field is where friendship
ceases.”

The Poet’s lank, knobby figure was about as symmetrical as that of a
daddy-longlegs, but he had the eye of a champion marksman, and no nerves
at all. He followed his sister’s tactics, and improved upon them. He
took his position at the third arch with such nicety that in striking
through it he sent his ball to within a yard of where Galatea’s lay.

“Any odds?” he asked coolly, as he clicked them together.

Galatea was scornfully silent. The Poet’s “split” for position at the
centre arch was defective, and with brutal disregard of the Artist’s
feelings he took position directly in line with the two first arches.

“Arthur,” ordered Galatea, “come straight through and use your two
strokes to get George’s ball.”

“Oh, well, if you’re going to play partners against me!” And the Poet
threw down his mallet.

“There’s no rule against coaching,” snapped Galatea.

But the Artist’s mind was not on croquet. The game resolved itself into
a contest between the Poet and his sister as to which should take the
greatest liberties with his ball. Thus they were neck and neck at the
centre arch on the home stretch, with the Artist still at his second
arch. Galatea missed, and the Poet found himself in cocksure position
for the last two arches and the stake.

By this time all the four-legged members of the firm of Bos, Equus and
Co. had drawn near and were watching the progress of the game with
lively curiosity. Reginald, with his customary assurance, now advanced
with ingratiating grunts out of the side of his mouth, and rubbed his
side against the Poet’s leg, who had a sudden inspiration.

“Two to one I can make it with the pig’s legs for arches,” he said.

Galatea experienced renewed hope. The Poet cajoled Reginald into
standing between the two arches with his kinked tail resting upon the
one nearest the stake. There was a narrow, though clear, space between
his legs, in line with the arches.

[Illustration: ALL THE FOUR-LEGGED MEMBERS OF THE FIRM HAD DRAWN NEAR]

“Attention, Reginald!” and the Poet struck his ball with just the
requisite force to send it through the two arches.

Unfortunately, at that instant Reginald sat down, and the ball, striking
his fat stomach, bounced hopelessly out of position. Galatea dropped on
the grass and shrieked.

“I’ll give you the game,” said the Poet. “It’s an antiquated pastime,
anyhow.”

“Sour grapes,” laughed Galatea.

“Not at all. I’ve thought of an improvement, that’s all,” said the Poet.
“Stay where you are, Reginald. William, come here.”

The goat put his nose in the Poet’s hand and followed him to the other
end of the field, where he suffered himself to be stationed between the
two arches opposite the pig. Over the two arches on one side the Poet
stationed Cleopatra and Clarence, and opposite them Mrs. Cowslip and
Gustavius. The bull-calf wrinkled his yellow nose and looked mutinous,
while his comrades seemed much gratified. Then the Poet went calmly
around the field and pulled up all the arches, except the centre one,
and said:—

“There, all we lack is a camel or an elephant for the centre—but nothing
is perfect in this world, at the start.”

“George,” said Galatea, wiping her eyes, “for out-and-out idiocy you
certainly take the prize.”

“Not at all. That’s what’s said at first about every great discoverer.
There hasn’t been a single improvement in this game in seven hundred
years. Now for the first time in history you’re going to see croquet
played with living arches—Ouch!”

Clarence had made a sudden playful leap from his position and nipped the
Poet’s lean thigh. He was led back and admonished so severely that he
meekly refrained from making any further demonstrations.

With perfect gravity the Poet led Galatea and the Artist in a game of
croquet calculated to make history. If Mrs. Cowslip had not kicked the
Poet’s ball clear off the field when it bounced smartly against her
tenderest pastern, and if Gustavius had not destroyed the Artist’s nerve
by bellowing hoarsely in his ear at a critical moment, it would have
been a bewildering success.

“Anyway,” said the Poet, when Galatea had won through rank favoritism on
the part of Reginald, who refrained from sitting down in _her_ critical
moment, “anyway, we’ve given one more demonstration that all are born
free and equal in the firm of Bos, Equus and Co., even when it comes to
croquet.”

“One thing I don’t understand,” said the Artist, who, being in love, was
quite hopelessly serious, “and that is how you manage these animals
turned out loose this way, when they become unruly, as all animals are
apt to at times.”

“The learned Professor of whom we rented this place, and who attended to
their early education, didn’t neglect that point,” answered the Poet,
with a solemn glance at Galatea which brought before her mind’s eye a
vision of their first exciting experience with William and Gustavius.
“In times of mutiny one magic word uttered by the Professor brought them
to their senses completely humbled.”

“Indeed!” said the Artist. “This is most interesting. I’ve heard of such
methods being used by animal trainers. What is that word, George?”

“Its efficacy, Arthur, consists in the rarity of its use. It is
pronounced only as a last resort, as familiarity would breed contempt
for it. The word, Arthur, is”—and he whispered in the Artist’s
ear—“Abracadabra.”

And Galatea related the circumstances of their single observation of its
potency,—as recorded in the early part of this veracious chronicle,—with
special stress on the advantages offered by a low-limbed cherry tree in
case of pursuit by an enraged bull-calf.

“What you have told me is really wonderful,” said the Artist. “Never
again will I doubt that domestic animals are possessed of reasoning
powers, as well as capacity for affection.”

“Here comes Gabriel,” said Galatea. “He looks alarmed. I wonder what has
happened?”

Gabriel caught his breath and said, addressing the Poet:—

“Si Blodgett fell off a haystack an’ thinks he’s goin’ to die. He wants
to confess about them eggs.”

“Oh, the poor man!” said Galatea.

“This isn’t the first time I’ve been mistaken for a clergyman—that is,
at first sight,” said the Poet. “Is he really badly hurt, Gabriel?”

“They ain’t no bones broke, but Si’s groanin’ somethin’ terrible an’
says it’s his insides.”

“But he can’t want _me_,” said the Poet. “Why, I put together the links
of circumstantial evidence that proved he stole the eggs.”

“That’s jest it. Si says you’re th’ Lord’s instrument sent to awaken his
sleepin’ conscience—darn him!—an’ he’s afraid of hell-fire if you don’t
come an’ hear his confession.”

“Poor man!” said Galatea, with tears in her eyes. “Come, George, I’ll go
with you. It’s only a step. Arthur, you wait here; we’ll soon be back.”

Conducted by Gabriel, they disappeared down the road, and the Artist was
alone with his fate. He had no premonition of disaster. He lay on the
grass with his eyes closed, wrapped in the joys and miseries of being in
love.

The living croquet-arches, with one impulse, got their heads together
and considered the situation.

“I, for one, shall go and take a look around the kitchen,” said
Clarence.

“It’s the roof of the house for me,” said William; “I haven’t had a good
view of the surrounding country since strawberry-time.”

“What about that chap on the grass?” asked Gustavius. “What will he be
doing?”

“That reminds me,” said Reginald; “now’s your chance, Gustavius. You’ve
been longing to catch him alone.”

The bull-calf shook his horns sulkily. “I kind of hate to do it. He
seems to be a friend of the red-headed girl.”

“Besides, my son,” observed Mrs. Cowslip, “none of our race ever attacks
a sleeping person.”

“Leave that to me,” said Reginald; “it’s time an example should be made
of these outsiders.”

Clarence agreed with him. They began circling around the prostrate
enemy, gradually drawing nearer, nipping at his legs or arms and darting
away, until at length Clarence’s teeth brought their victim to his feet
with a yell of mingled surprise and pain. But the Artist was not of a
vengeful disposition.

“Ha! ha!” he laughed, “you’re spoiling for a frolic, I see!”

He ran toward the colt and then turned, as though inviting pursuit. The
invitation was accepted with a unanimity that thoroughly alarmed the
Artist. Even Mrs. Cowslip and Cleopatra were making hostile
demonstrations, while William was backing away with a significance that
caused the Artist to seize a croquet mallet as he dodged about the
field. This was enough for the bull-calf, who began bellowing and pawing
the earth, while his eyes turned red.

“Good fellows! good boys!” said the Artist, holding out his hand.

But they gathered about him closer yet, with snorts, bellows, and grunts
which convinced the Artist it was time to exert authority. So he shouted
in a stern voice:—

“Away! To the barn, all of you!”

For answer the indignant pig ran between his legs, all but upsetting
him, and the others crowded in closer yet. Thoroughly frightened, the
Artist decided that extreme measures were justifiable. Recalling the
magic word whispered in his ear by the Poet, he raised his hand and
thundered:—

“ABRACADABRA!”

The effect was instantaneous, but disconcerting. After one instant of
general stupefaction, Clarence stood on his hind-legs with his forefeet
beating the air, and addressed his companions in a shrill whinny, which
they readily understood to mean:—

“What! Shall a miserable interloper presume so far!”

“Let me at him!” roared the bull-calf, with horns low and tail high.

The Artist turned and fled, with Gustavius bellowing at his heels, urged
on by his comrades following close behind. Straight for the house sped
the fugitive. The low-limbed cherry tree was nearer, and, luckily, he
remembered it in time. Having sufficient presence of mind at the last
moment to fling his forty-dollar Panama hat into Gustavius’s face, he
swung himself into the tree, and was safe.

Gustavius kept one eye on him while practicing on the hat, which was
presently only an expensive memory.

Clarence, finding the kitchen door open, walked in. By way of a
rain-water barrel, the woodshed, and the water-tank, William mounted to
the peak of the house roof and proceeded to enjoy the prospect. Reginald
made himself comfortable in a veranda rocker. Mrs. Cowslip found the
soft earth of the tulip-bed conducive to somnolence and cud-chewing,
while Cleopatra grazed near by on some late pansies. Such was the scene
that presented itself to Galatea when she returned alone, having found
Si Blodgett more scared than hurt.

“Why, Arthur!” she exclaimed. “What are you doing up there?”

“Call off your bull-calf, and I’ll come down and tell you.” The Artist
was annoyed.

“Gustavius? Why, he wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

“Wouldn’t he? Just look at my forty-dollar Panama!”

“Oh, Arthur, surely there must be some mistake—some misunderstanding.”

“It’s past the misunderstanding stage when I’m treed like this.”

“You must have said something that offended Gustavius. He’s terribly
sensitive, poor fellow!”

“Said something! I treated them like friends and fellow citizens till
they all set upon me at once; then, seeing it was a conspiracy, I said
‘Abracadabra,’ of course.”

“Oh, Arthur! You forgot that you had no right—that you were not a member
of our family—yet.”

“They seemed to remember it all right—especially the bull-calf. I nearly
burst a blood-vessel getting up here.”

“It is really most unfortunate, Arthur.” She looked about her, at the
late pansies, at the tulip-bed, and at the house roof, and said
reproachfully: “William! Mrs. Cowslip! Cleopatra!”

The goat came meekly down from the roof. The cow and the mare walked
slowly off toward the barn, much mortified.

“You don’t seem to mind Gustavius—and me,” complained the Artist.

Galatea sat on the grass and took off her hat.

“You may come down presently, Arthur. I have long wanted to say certain
things to you, but you are so impulsive in your—in various ways, that it
seemed necessary for me to wait for some such opportunity as this, when
you are—otherwise occupied. Arthur, you have pressed me to name a day
for a certain ceremony—”

She was interrupted by a bellow from Gustavius, consequent upon a sudden
movement of the Artist, who immediately concluded _not_ to forsake his
perch.

“_Must_ you interrupt me, Arthur?”

“I didn’t; it was the bull-calf; I don’t bellow.”

“Well, Arthur, I _would_ oblige you and set a date for our wedding if I
were quite sure that we understand each other.”

“Galatea, there’s nothing to understand except that I love you to the
extinction of every other thought or feeling, and always shall.” He
paused to regain his balance, for the tree was a small one, and swayed
under the stress of his emotion.

“Then, dear, if I set an early date, will you promise faithfully to love
me in all my moods, no matter what I say or do, and never be angry, or
dispute with me about anything?”

“Bless you, my darling! I swear it!”

“Have you no misgivings, Arthur?”

“None, none! Not one!”

“Not even when you remember that my hair is red?”

“I adore red hair!”

“But not on other girls, Arthur?”

“No; only on you, darling.”

“Thank you, Arthur, dear. If the second Wednesday in October, five weeks
hence, will suit you, then you may come down and kiss me.”

“Galatea!”

Gustavius pawed the earth, and he hesitated.

“Can a bull-calf stand between you and me, Arthur?”

“Never!” He leaped far out from the tree and took her in his arms.

Gustavius gave them one glance and walked away in disgust. Being only a
bull-calf, he did not realize that he had accomplished in a single
afternoon something which had baffled the little rosy god himself for
more than a year.

The sound of voices in the road brought the lovers back to earth.

“It’s all over,” said the Poet, catching sight of them. “Si Blodgett has
confessed everything, and his insides don’t hurt him any more.”

Gabriel had intercepted the rural delivery; he gave Galatea a letter
bearing a foreign postmark. She tore open the envelope, read two pages,
and exclaimed:—

“O George, it’s from the Professor! Just listen to this:—

“‘Finding the cause of the higher education of domestic animals much
farther advanced in Germany than in America, I have decided to locate
permanently in Berlin, where some promising pupils have been placed in
my charge, including a young ram with a wonderful talent for algebra. I
am therefore offering for sale the place which you leased from me, at
the very reasonable price of seven thousand five hundred to _you_,
knowing that my former pupils will thus continue in good hands.’”

“Too bad,” sighed the Poet; “I’ve often wished I’d been born a plumber.”

“Galatea,” said the Artist, “would you really like to have this place
for your own?”

“Oh, Arthur, it makes me weep to think of leaving Gustavius, and
Clarence, and Reginald—”

“And Cleopatra, and Mrs. Cowslip, and William, and Napoleon,” added the
Poet.

“You shall not leave them,” said the Artist, beaming upon them both.
“Give me the Professor’s address, Galatea, and you shall have a deed of
the place on the second Wednesday in October.”

“Eh, what’s that—the second Wednesday in October?” said the Poet.

“Why, on that happy date,” said the Artist, as Galatea flung her arms
about his neck, “Bos, Equus and Co. are to take in a new partner.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                          The Riverside Press
                        CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS
                                U. S. A.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



Transcriber’s note:

 1. Silently corrected typographical errors.

 2. Retained anachronistic and non-standard spellings as printed.





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