By FRANCES TREGO MONTGOMERY
Mrs. Montgomery had the happy faculty of knowing just what the small boy and his sister like in stories, and she has the ability to give it to them.
The antics of the frolicsome Billy Whiskers make all the children chuckle as they turn the interesting pages.
|BILLY WHISKERS' KIDS|
|BILLY WHISKERS, JUNIOR|
|BILLY WHISKERS' TRAVELS|
|BILLY WHISKERS AT THE CIRCUS|
|BILLY WHISKERS AT THE FAIR|
|BILLY WHISKERS' FRIENDS|
|BILLY WHISKERS, JR., AND HIS CHUMS|
|BILLY WHISKERS' GRANDCHILDREN|
|BILLY WHISKERS' VACATION|
|BILLY WHISKERS KIDNAPED|
|BILLY WHISKERS' TWINS|
|BILLY WHISKERS IN AN AEROPLANE|
|BILLY WHISKERS IN TOWN|
|BILLY WHISKERS IN PANAMA|
|BILLY WHISKERS AT THE EXPO SITION|
|BILLY WHISKERS OUT WEST|
|BILLY WHISKERS IN THE SOUTH|
|BILLY WHISKERS IN CAMP|
|BILLY WHISKERS IN FRANCE|
|BILLY WHISKERS' ADVENTURES|
|BILLY WHISKERS IN THE MOVIES|
|BILLY WHISKERS OUT FOR FUN|
|BILLY WHISKERS' FROLICS|
|BILLY WHISKERS AT HOME|
Each volume is bound in boards, with cover, jacket and six full-page illustrations in colors. Scores of text illustrations.
POSTPAID PRICE, $1.25 EACH
THE SAALFIELD PUBLISHING CO.
mon1917.2007.001.0008.jpg [illustration - "DON' SHOOT! DON' SHOOT! I'SE NEBER GWAN TO STEAL NO MO' YO' MELONS" (PAGE 88) ]
IN THE SOUTH
Chicago AKRON, OHIO New York
MADE IN U.S.A.
The Saalfield Publishing Co.
|I The Ragamuffin Gang - - - - - - - - - - -||1|
|II Feasting on Strawberries at One Dollar a Quart - -||13|
|III The Witching Fountain - - - - - - - - - -||19|
|IV Billy and Nannie at the Movies - - - - - - - -||31|
|V Nannie and the Giant Negro - - - - - - - - -||39|
|VI Pinched By the Giant Crabs - - - - - - - - -||49|
|VII Ned Takes Billy and Nannie Sightseeing - - - -||57|
|VIII Billy and Nannie Raid the Flat Ice-Boxes - - - -||63|
|IX In a Southern Chicken Coop - - - - - - - -||69|
|X Uncle Tom Tells the Children Stories - - - - -||75|
|XI Little Darkies in a Watermelon Patch - - - - -||85|
|XII Billy Becomes Leader of a Flock of Goats - - - -||95|
|XIII The Runaways Return Home - - - - - - - -||107|
|XIV In Which a Few Unexpected Things Happen - - -||115|
|XV The Military Camp - - - - - - - - - - -||127|
|XVI Billy Objects to a Scrubbing - - - - - - - -||135|
|XVII Stubby and Button Are Found at Last - - - - -||145|
|“Don’ shoot! Don’ shot! I’se neber gwan to steal no mo’ yo’ melons!”|
|The boys turned and fled, with Billy and Nannie in close pursuit.|
|Billy gave him one last parting butt that sent him over the fence.|
|The cork flew out and all the contents went spurting in Nannie's face.|
|Billy gave a nimble spring and leaped clear over him.|
|The Captain landed right in the middle of the pond.|
THE RAGAMUFFIN GANG
Gee whiz, fellows! See what is coming up the street!" exclaimed Dick Strongarm, so nicknamed on account of his powerful arms. He was the acknowledged leader of a gang of mischievous boys who lived in the small city of Biloxi in Mississippi, on the Mississippi Bay.
"I don't see nothin'," replied one of the boys.
"Then you must be blind," returned Dick in a disgusted tone.
"Don't you see those two big goats down the street coming this way?"
"Yes, I see the goats, but what is there wonderful in seeing two goats in Biloxi, where goats can be seen on every street any day of the year?"
"Don't I know that? But who ever saw two such whopping
big ones as these, and so perfectly matched in size and as white as
snow? I never did, and I guess I have seen more than a hundred
more goats than any of you fellows here, for my father once owned
a herd of them, and I always had a pair to drive to a cute little
mon1917.2007.001.0014.jpg wagon I owned. Come on and help me catch them, for I am going to have these goats and take them home. Dad sold my goat and I have been wanting some ever since."
"Well, I must say that you are a cool hand!" spoke up one of the other boys. "I know you do not mind stealing apples and watermelons out of a garden or orchard, but to steal a pair of goats in broad daylight right off the main street of the city is going some, I can tell you!"
"Oh, shut up, and come along! Don't you suppose I saw there was no one with them before I asked you to come? Besides, those goats don't belong to anyone in Biloxi, or anywhere around here, for I know by sight every goat for miles about, as I have been looking for a pair of big ones for months and have not been able to find any half the size of these. Come or stay, just as you please, but Iam going to have those goats or eat my hat!"
"We'll go!" cried the gang in chorus, and off they ran, yelling like Comanche Indians.
And that is how it happened that Billy and Nannie were surprised on their sightseeing trip through the city in the unexpected manner of having seven boys circle around them, waving their arms and yelling like mad.
"You young idiots! " bleated Billy. "Do you think you can scare me,
who have seen wild Indians and barbarous Chinamen
mon1917.2007.001.0015.jpg circle around me with knives in their hands, intending to kill me, skin me, and throw me into a pot of boiling water to cook for their supper? You just watch and see who is going to get scared around here!" And Billy bleated to Nannie to charge on the gang and to keep butting them until not a boy was in sight.
"When I say three, charge. I'll go for the biggest boy in the bunch and you go for the next in size. And we will chase them until they climb a tree or run into the Bay."
All this time the boys were drawing in their circle smaller and smaller, coming closer and closer to Billy and Nannie, all the time yelling and dancing around and around them, thinking in their hearts that they had frightened the goats so that they were too dazed to move. Which made the next move of Billy and Nannie all the more surprising.
"One—two—three!" counted Billy, and each goat doubled up in a ball preparatory to making a bounding charge.
"Yup-lah!" yelled Dick, but the next yup-lah died in his throat, for something hard struck the small of his back and propelled him at double-quick pace straight down a side street to the Bay. There it gave him an extra hard butt, which sent him flying into the waters of the Bay, choking and gurgling for breath.
This done, Billy—for it was he—without so much as looking
at the boy, turned and went back to where he had left Nannie, to go
mon1917.2007.001.0016.jpg after another boy. But when he got there, no boy was on the street, and he saw Nannie pursuing a fleeing lad, who was yelling loudly for help as he ran down the street toward his home, hair standing straight up from fright. Just as he reached his gate and was trying to open it, Nannie caught up to him, and saved him the trouble of opening it by butting him clear over it. Then without a glance to see how he landed, she turned and went back, as Billy had, for another boy.
The two goats met and began looking in all directions for some boys, but none could they see until Billy, chancing to look up, spied a pair of legs hanging from a limb of a tree, and he knew where one boy had sought safety.
"Keep still until I give that gate a butt."
The boy could not see Billy from his peephole, so the first thing he knew, there was a sound like thunder in his ears, and the old wooden gate fell in ruins about his head. The last Billy and Nannie saw of that boy, he was running up a gravel walk toward the house as fast as his legs could carry him.
"We have disposed of three of the gang," remarked Billy. "I wonder where the rest are. I have just gotten my hand in, and should like nothing better than to chase a few more. Haven't had my blood heated up so for a long while. Let's look around and see if we can't find some more of those young rascals. They are probably a band of bad boys that have been annoying the people around here for some time, and it will do them good to have a little butting and hooking as punishment for what they have done to others."
"Listen!" said Nannie, raising her ears to hear the better. "I thought I heard someone sneeze quite close by."
"I don't see anyone," replied Billy.
"Neither do I," agreed his wife, " but there it goes again, only more smothered."
"There must be someone the other side of this high wall. One of the boys perhaps, or a gardener."
Just then they heard a peculiar choking cough, as if someone was trying to smother a sneeze. Looking up, they spied a boy right over their heads, sitting on a big, round stone ball that served as an ornament to a tall gate post. He was a most comical sight as his hair was all tossed and tumbled, his shirt torn, and one suspender had fallen from his shoulder. And there he sat, astride the ball, bare-footed and forlorn, making the most hideous faces in his effort to keep from sneezing so the goats would not discover him.
Both Nannie and Billy could not keep from laughing, but the boy, not knowing a goat laugh when he heard it, thought they were baaing that they were coming after him.
"Nannie, I believe that by standing on my hind legs, I can reach his toes," said Billy. " 'Wouldn't it be fun to take a nibble at them?"
"He will fall off if you do, for it is all he can manage to stick on that ball as it is," replied Nannie.
"I don't care if he does. It won't hurt him. He would tumble in the sand, and that is soft."
Seeing the goats had noticed him, the boy knew it was no use to keep still any longer, so began to call for help as loudly as he could, boohooing between calls like a young calf.
Billy could tell by the expression of the boy's face that he was a
sneaking, ill-tempered boy, and probably a coward at that, so he
mon1917.2007.001.0019.jpg stood on his hind legs, stretched out his long neck, and took a nibble at the boy's toes, which were pressed tightly against the ball to keep him from falling. If he moved them, he would lose his balance, and either fall on top of Billy, to be eaten alive, so he thought, or butted over into the garden of a man who had said he would brain him with his hoe if he ever caught him around there again. This was after he had found him stealing his nice ripe figs, for this man raised the finest figs in Biloxi, canned them and shipped them north to sell.
Now when the man, who was working in the further end of his garden plot, heard the cries for help, he came running to see what might be the matter. When he recognized the boy, he stopped short and began to laugh, crying, "Serves you right! Got come up with for once! Hope he chews all your toes off! Smart goat, that! Bet you hurt him!"
Just then a big collie dog came trotting
mon1917.2007.001.0020.jpg down the street. Seeing his enemy up a tree, as it were, he too stood up on his hind legs as Billy was doing and tried to reach the boy's toes, but he could not, so he took his revenge in barking. This boy had tied a tin can full of stones to his tail once, and ever since he had been looking for a chance to get even.
"Oh, oh! Mr. Smithers, do have a heart and save me! I can't stick on here much longer and if I fall off the dog will tear me to pieces and the goat will fill me full of holes with his long horns. Ouch! Ouch! He is pinching my toes awfully!"
Now in reality Billy was not hurting him much, but he was pretending that he was going to bite his toes off, turning back his upper lip and showing his long teeth.
Just then Billy did give him an extra hard nip and the boy lost his balance and fell into the garden, so the man ran up and gave him a prod and a slap with his hoe and told him to get out of his garden but that this time he would save him from the goat and dog. If he would run out his back gate, he would find himself on a side street and in this way he could dodge the goat and dog.
After the boy had disappeared the man came to the gate and opened it, as he wished to get a better look at such a smart goat as this one seemed to be. He was laughing and rubbing his hands on his knees with pleasure all the time he was talking to himself and looking at Billy.
“Bless my eye but you are a fine looking goat, and I bet no other goat can put it over on you, or any other animal, for that matter. Well, bless me if there ain't another one just as fine looking but not quite so big!"
Right here a thought occurred to him. His donkey that had pulled his vegetable cart around town for him had just died. Why not take these two goats in and use them instead? Happy thought! So he opened the gate and motioned to Billy to come in. Billy looked in and saw before him a perfectly kept vegetable garden, with fruit trees dotting it here and there, and grape-vines growing along the plaster-covered wall. It all looked most inviting, especially to a hungry goat, so Billy bleated to Nannie:
"Let's go in. I think he will treat us well and give us some of those nice fresh vegetables. If he doesn't, we'll help ourselves and then run away."
The pair of goats walked in his garden and followed the man to a shed, behaving as good as gold, and not even taking a nibble of the fresh green vegetables as they passed them by. But Billy was only biding his time, waiting to see if the man would not give them some. Woe betide him if he did not!
The man took them to an open shed, shook down a nice lot of
clean straw for a bed and another of hay for them to eat, just as he
had done for his donkey, never thinking that goats prefer vegetables
mon1917.2007.001.0022.jpg to hay. When he thought he had them fixed comfortably, he stood looking at them and rubbing his hands together as he pictured to himself how fine they would look when harnessed to his vegetable cart. How jealous his neighbors would be at his new turn-out!
Billy, who was whiffing the refreshing smell of the lettuce, cucumbers, carrots and beans, was growing impatient for him to move on into the house, so he and Nannie could steal out and help themselves to a dinner, and he bleated to Nannie:
"If the old stupid doesn't stop rubbing his hands together, I'll butt him so hard he will have to rub himself some other place!"
"Father! Father!" called a voice from the kitchen door. "Aren't you coming in to dinner? We rang the bell twice."
"Yes, yes! I am coming right away!"
"Well, go along then, you old poke!" thought Billy. "I am dying to butt you and send you into the kitchen headfirst."
At last the door closed on Mr. Smithers, and again he rubbed his hands together for joy as he told his daughters about the two big goats which had come to his gate.
FEASTING ON STRAWBERRIES AT ONE DOLLAR A QUART
At last the old goose has gone! " said Billy. " Now for a good supper! And from the looks of the garden, we should be able to have the best meal we have eaten in many a day. Anyway, it will beat a supper of cactus and sage grass all over the deck."
"Oh, Billy, will you ever forget that long, long, lonesome journey from El Paso here? Especially over the treeless plains of Texas, and through parts of Mexico? It gives me the shivers even to think of it!" And Nannie shook herself as if to be rid of the unpleasant memory.
"No, I never shall forget it if I live to be a hundred, or the way we felt when we came up to that clear looking lake at the edge of the desert, all tired and thirsty and ready to drop from heat and thirst, and then found it was poison alkali water, with enough alkali in it to kill us if we even took a sip, or take all the hair off our skins if we attempted to take a bath."
You see Billy and Nannie had just made the journey across the
continent from San Francisco, where they had been to visit the
mon1917.2007.001.0024.jpg Panama-American Exposition. After seeing it, they had intended returning home to the old farm in Wisconsin after wandering around in the Rocky Mountains for awhile. But when they got half way there, they decided to go to New Orleans and visit the South as they had the West. And that is how it happened that we find them in Biloxi, Mississippi. Having finished their visit at New Orleans, they were now making their way along the Gulf States to Florida.
While this conversation was going on they left the shed and were walking toward that part of the garden where the green carrot tops sparkled with dew in the moonlight, and the young onions stood up straight and tall next the fat, round cabbages. For several minutes they ate and ate without uttering a sound, for they were hungry, and the fresh, juicy vegetables tasted so good after the things they had been eating for so long.
mon1917.2007.001.0025.jpg [illustration - THE BOYS TURNED AND FLED, WITH BILLY AND NANNIE IN CLOSE PURSUIT. (PAGE 15) ]
"Billy, what are you sniffing at?" asked Nannie finally.
"Don't you smell ripe strawberries?" he asked.
Nannie raised her head and sniffed too.
"I surely do!" she said. "And they must be near by for us to get their fragrance so strongly."
"Why, here they are!" exclaimed Billy. "Right back of us, partly covered with this clean straw! The gardener has covered them to protect them from the cold, for these berries undoubtedly are intended for the New York market, and he is forcing them so he will get a pile more money for them. If he gets them North in the winter months out of season, he can get a dollar a box, but if he raises them for this market and the regular season, he won't get twelve cents a box."
Billy nosed the straw away from the berries, and there before his eyes lay the largest, reddest strawberries he had ever seen. "Nannie, look here, look here! Did you ever see anything so luscious looking? Now eat your fill, for there is half an acre of them all ripe and waiting to be picked. Yum, yum! Aren't they good?" said Billy as a big berry melted in his mouth.
"They certainly are the sweetest, best flavored berries I ever
ate, and I am fonder of strawberries than any other fruit. Most
goats like apples better, but I don't. The only thing that spoils my
enjoyment of them to the fullest extent is that we are stealing them
mon1917.2007.001.0028.jpg and the gardener will be so disappointed to find his berries gone in the morning. For evidently he intended to pick them to-morrow as they are just right for shipment. And he has probably figured out just what he is going to buy with the money, even before they are sold.”
"Bet your life he has, the old skinflint!" from Billy.
"Why, Billy, why do you call him names?"
"Because I hate a man who rubs his hands together the way he does. They are always mean and stingy. Anyway, if he was the nicest man on earth, I guess his berries aren't too good for the sweetest little goat in the whole big universe!"
"Oh, Billy, you are such a flatterer!"
"Nothing of the sort! I am only speaking the truth. And if more husbands would tell their wives that they appreciate them once in a while, it would save a lot of heart sobs."
"Well, I will only eat what I want and not step on any I can't eat," said Nannie. " Hark! What's that scraping sound just outside the wall? Sounds like someone trying to climb over."
Both goats stood perfectly still, facing in the direction from
which the sound came, and presently they saw a head slowly come
into view above the wall, and turn this way and that to look
cautiously around. Then another head appeared a little further
along the wall, and so on until seven heads belonging to the seven
mon1917.2007.001.0029.jpg bad boys of the town were sticking over the top of the wall and then the heads were followed by their bodies and bare legs and feet. On each boy's arm there swung a basket.
"It is plain to see what they have come for," thought Billy. "Strawberries! And I bet they have watched this patch until they knew the very night that they must pick them to get them before the gardener gathered them and shipped them North."
At a low whistle from the leader, the seven boys dropped to the ground and made straight for the strawberry bed. They were nearly half way there before they spied Billy and Nannie standing right in the midst of the best bed of berries.
They all seemed to become aware of the goats at the same time, and when they caught sight of their enemies of the afternoon, they stopped as if turned to stone, and stared as if their eyes would pop out of their heads.
Billy bleated to Nannie to go after them, and as if the bleat had been an electric voice that had set them in motion, the boys turned and fled, with Billy and Nannie in close pursuit. The more the boys tried to find a footing for their toes, the less they could do in their hurry, and they stood in a line with arms extended upwards, pressing against the wall and jumping up and down in wild excitement, too scared to know what they were doing.
Of course Billy and Nannie on seeing this walked straight up
mon1917.2007.001.0030.jpg to them and butted them one by one over the wall. They had just sent the last boy over when Billy heard someone laugh behind him. Turning to look, he saw a young man holding his sides with merriment.
It seems the gardener's son had been out spending the evening and had just gotten home in time to see the two goats butting the bad boys of the town over the fence. And he knew by the baskets on their arms what they had come after, and was very thankful to Billy and Nannie for what they had done.
“But what beats me," said the man to himself," is where you two came from. Father must have bought you to pull his vegetable cart, since his donkey is dead. Now your work is done, you better get out of that strawberry bed before you mash the fruit, for perhaps you don't know that berries are selling at two cents apiece up North." Saying which, he led them into the shed and then went into the house.
"His mentioning the donkey," said Billy to Nannie, "reminds me that we better get out of here now we have had a fine supper, for if we don't, we will be hitched to a cart to-morrow and made to pull it all over town in the deep sand. So let's skedaddle. The gardener will think the strawberries we ate were taken by the boys before we butted them over the wall. It is a good thing we were here, or by now he would not have had a single berry left."
Cautiously they crept by the house and out the gate, disappearing down the street.
Early the next morning at daylight the gardener called his son to get up and help him pick berries, as he wished them all picked before the sun was up, for he knew they would keep so much better if picked and packed while it was cool.
The gardener reached his berry patch first and threw up his hands in horror when he saw tracks in the sand and the straw pushed away from where his choicest berries had been the night before.
"Thieves! Thieves have been here and stolen dollars and dollars worth of berries! Thunder and blixen! I will skin them alive if I catch them! Jake, Jake! Come here and see how many berries the thieves have stolen."
Just then he recognized the footprints in the sand as those of goats, and he fairly frothed at the mouth, he was so angry to think his goats had been the thieves, and that he had carelessly neglected to tie them securely. It was his own fault, which made it all the worse for the man to bear. For when in the wrong, he always looked for someone on whom to lay the blame.
"It is your fault, Jake," he said to his son. " You should have stayed at home and seen that those goats were tied."
"Why, father, I did not even know you had any goats!"
“Well, you should! And you would, if you ever stayed at home, but you are always gallivanting around somewhere, and never about when you should be."
Now this was not true, but Jake knew by sad experience not to contradict or answer back when his father was in a rage, for no matter what he did, his father would turn and twist it around to make it seem he was in the wrong, and would go on working himself up into such a temper that he would throw anything that came handy at his son.
At last the gardener talked himself out. Then Jake told him that if it had not been for the goats, he would not have had a berry left, and how he saw the goats butt the boys one after the other over the wall the night before. At this his father rubbed his hands together with joy, and mumbled to himself, "Good goats! Good goats! I'll give them a double amount of hay for butting those thieving rascals!"
THE WITCHING FOUNTAIN
After they had left the garden, Billy and Nannie trotted up the street, looking for a place where they could spend the rest of the night. Soon they came to a pretty little park with a fountain playing in a white marble basin close beside a vine-covered rustic seat.
On seeing it Billy exclaimed, "Just the place for us! We can get a drink and then take a bath in the fountain without being disturbed. It is so late at night that there will be nobody around to drive us out."
"Oh, what a pretty park!" said Nannie. "And how good it smells, with the roses and wisteria climbing over everything! It reminds me of California more than any place I have yet been in the South. Especially with those big palms and century plants all through it."
"Hush!" warned Billy. "I hear footsteps on the stone pavement outside."
And the two goats stood as still as statues behind a wide-spreading Australian palm, and peeped through its foliage. They soon saw a policeman walking slowly along, swinging his club and whistling to himself. When he had passed by, the goats came out, and after taking a good drink, they jumped into the fountain, splashed around and then stood still, letting the water fall on them and send a shower of cooling drops all over them. They were standing thus when a pair of lovers entered the park and walked straight toward the fountain.
Billy whispered to Nannie, "Don't move, and they will think we are statues. Lovers are always partly blind, I have heard tell, and with this spray falling over us like a veil, they will never notice that we are alive."
The last words were just out of his mouth when the lovers reached the brim of the fountain. They stood for a minute or two dabbling their hands in the water, and then the man spied the vine- covered seat.
"Come, dear, let's sit down on this lovely seat. It is too fine an evening to go home. The moon makes it light as day, and the nightingales are singing in the trees. This tiny park was just made for lovers, I think."
“But Harold, it is so terribly late! I must go home, though I hate to more than you do."
“Well, just sit down for five little minutes and then we will go."
Of course she sat down and that is the last they thought of minutes, moonlight or nightingales, for they were clasped in each other's arms, her head upon his shoulder.
Billy and Nannie were growing tired of standing so still, pretending they were statues, especially as the water was running in one of Billy's ears, which was not pleasant as it felt so cold. And the tiny stream that was running down Nannie's nose was tickling so that she could not stand it another second without sneezing.
Just then the lover asked his lady-love if she really cared for him. And before she could answer, Billy roared out, "Baa! "
They jumped as if they had been shot, and looked in every direction to see who was making fun of them, for Billy's "Baa!" had not sounded so much like the bleat of a goat as the voice of a man who was disgusted at their love-making.
"Oh, Harold, there is someone behind this seat, I know!"
The man hurried to look about, but of course there was no one.
“We must have imagined it," he declared, "for if it had been anyone, we would surely have seen them as the whole park is bathed in moonlight."
"I am sure it was someone, Harold," insisted the girl, " and we must go."
"Well, just one more kiss then, darling," and he took her in his arms for one last embrace when " Baa! Baa! " rang out on the still night air. And the lovers took to their heels and fled.
As they went out of the park, the policeman came in, still swinging his club and whistling. He too walked straight to the fountain, took off his helmet, wet his head, took a long drink out of the cup that was chained to the fountain, and then walked over to the bench and stretched himself out for a little nap.
He was just about to drop off to sleep—or had he been asleep and dreaming, or was he dreaming still, for the big white goat in the fountain had flapped its marble ear? He was sure it had, for he was looking straight at its head when it did it. Yes, he was right! It was wobbling that ear again. This time he sat up straight and stared, but the ear did not move again, and he decided it was the spray of water falling off the ear that made it look as if it had flapped. And he settled himself on the seat and fell off into another doze and was soon snoring.
“Now is our time, Nannie," said Billy, " to jump out and run."
So out they bounded and wandered off down the street until they came to a big yard with lots of trees and shrubs dotting it, and nice green grass. They turned in here and went to sleep under the limbs of one of the low-growing bushes.
They were just settled for the night when the
policeman awoke, rubbed his eyes, stared at
the fountain, then rubbed his
what did he
see in the
but the figure of a little Cupid pouring water out of a big shell in place of the
two goats! He got up, went close to the fountain, stared at the figure
of the little Cupid, walked around the fountain, scratched his head
and mumbled to himself, " The fountain is bewitched! That is
what it is, and I am going to get back on my beat again before I,
too, am bewitched!" And he walked out of the park as fast as he
mon1917.2007.001.0038.jpg could go, never daring to turn and look back.
Billy and Nannie were awakened the next morning by the cries of ten little negro boys dancing around the bushes under which they were sleeping. At first Nannie was dreadfully frightened for she thought from their color and yup-lahs that they were Indians that had come to kill them. But when she got her eyes opened wider, she saw a bunch of the most forlorn looking boys she had ever seen. The whole crowd did not have on enough clothes to make one full suit. If a boy had a pair of trousers, he would have no coat, and probably no shirt. If he wore a shirt, he had only a couple of big patches to take the place of pants, or else the pants belonged to father or elder brother and were miles too big and always falling off, being held on by a string in place of suspenders. As for hats, one had a brim and no crown, another a crown and no brim, but most of them had no hats at all.
"What do you suppose they want of us, Billy?"
"I am sure I don't know. I guess they happened on us accidentally, and are afraid we will hook them if they come nearer. Don't be afraid. Those little fellows won't hurt us. It is only the big, rough, white boys that will try to do that."
"Here, you nigger ragamuffins! What are you circling around
those bushes for? " called a boy about eight years old, as he came
running up the street with a big, long riding whip in his hand,
mon1917.2007.001.0039.jpg followed by two or three other lads.
"We have found two big white goats," called back one of the little negro boys.
"You have, have you? Well, get out of here, and let us see them," and with no cause whatever, he began to slash the little negro boys with his long whip.
This made Billy's blood boil, and as the white boy was trying to catch another of the negroes who was running away from him, Billy made a bound from out of the bush and gave the boy such a butt in the middle of his back that he thought it was broken straight in two. Worse than that, a second butt sent him flying over the rose hedge, and he landed on a stone pile.
The boys with him did not wait for Billy to come back, but fled up the street, never even daring to take the time to look to see if the big billy-goat was coming after them.
Billy and Nannie now started to walk away, and kept on until they came out on the main street of the town. They were still sauntering along when Billy stopped suddenly before a drug store window and began staring into it as if he intended to jump through the glass the next minute.
"What in the world are you staring at, Billy?" asked Nannie.
Billy only made a face for her to keep still, and then she noticed
that he was only pretending to be interested in what he saw in the
mon1917.2007.001.0040.jpg window, while the thing he really was interested in was what two gentlemen were saying as they stood in the doorway of the store. So she walked on slowly, so as not to attract attention. She had gone to the end of the block and waited there some time before Billy joined her.
"Now tell me what the two said, for I know it must have been very interesting to have kept you listening so long."
"Well, I stayed to find out about this place. One of the men lives here, and the other is from the North, and wanted to know about the place. So I just listened, and if you would care to hear a little history, I will repeat what the man said."
"Yes, I would like very much to hear what he said, for that is the only way we goats have of learning anything about history or other interesting things."
"In the first place," began Billy, "he said that this city is the third oldest in the United States of America. St. Augustine in Florida is the second, and Santa Fe, away out in New Mexico, is the very oldest."
"But what is the name of this place?"
"Don't you know? " asked Billy in surprise.
"No, I never heard anyone say."
"Its name is Biloxi, and it has nine thousand inhabitants, but
a great many of those are negroes. But the thing he said which surprised
mon1917.2007.001.0041.jpg me most is that this city is one of the largest oyster and shrimp shipping centers in the United States, and that beautiful shell road we traveled on all the way from New Orleans here along the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi Bay was made of crushed and rolled oyster shells."
"It is no wonder then that it is so white and hard," said Nannie. "I wondered why it was so white and hard and all the rest of the soil on each side was sandy."
"Well, now you know the reason. I also learned that the water this city is on is not the Gulf of Mexico, but the Bay of Mississippi, and that that long island you see only a half or three-quarters of a mile from the shore is one of a chain of islands that separate the Bay from the Gulf. The islands have the names of animals. That one is Deer Island, another is called Cat Island, and so on.
"The gentleman said that all these old-fashioned colonial houses in their big grounds and the new bungalows along the shore belong to rich Southerners and Northerners who come here to enjoy the lovely, mild climate. The families from the north come in the winter to enjoy the sunshine and green trees, and to feast on the fresh vegetables and fruit and to fish for a pastime, while the families of the Southerners come from the inland southern states to be cool and to go in bathing and to fish in the summer.
"He said that Jefferson Davis, the celebrated southern General, used to live here, just outside of Biloxi, and that his lovely estate had been turned into a home for Confederate soldiers."
"I guess that is all you need tell me now. I don't care much for history, and if you tell me more now, I will forget all of it.”
“Here, you goats, get along der! Don’t be standin’ blockin’ de way!” called an old darkey who was driving a poor old donkey hitched to a dilapidated old wagon, the harness being made principally of strings and pieces of old leather. “Git up there, Rastus! Git a move on ye!”
And off he drove, but Rastus did not get up or go one step faster even though Uncle Tom jerked the lines and hit him with a slender switch with a bunch of leaves at the end, which made it look more like a fly brush than a whip.
BILLY AND NANNIE AT THE MOVIES
As long as we are now on the main street of the city, we better keep on it and see what there is to see, for from what I have already seen, I don't think this place much like a city. It is more like a town, as it has only one main street and all the side streets but two or three are narrow, old-fashioned streets, with high brick or stone walls. And the houses are built after the Spanish style, with veranda both upstairs and down. One can't see much of their yards because the walls shut off the view unless you go to the gates and peek through."
"Look, Billy! See that big, white goat up the street! He is nearly as large as you are. I wonder what he is looking at so intently. He has not moved since I first laid eyes on him."
"I am sure I don't know. But let's go see."
When they drew nearer, they found the goat was a stuffed one and that he was used to advertise a moving-picture show that had a goat in it. All around were pictures of goats doing all sorts of stunts, climbing ladders, fighting big bulldogs and jumping hurdles.
"This must be a theatre," said Billy. " Come on! Let's go in and see the performance."
It was a moving-picture show and at that moment no one was going in, so Billy and Nannie stepped inside.
At first it was so dark after the bright sunlight that they could not see where they were going, as the only light place in the building was on the stage. The two goats stood still in the aisle, and watched what was going on on the stage as interestedly as any of the spectators. They had seen a big, black goat do wonderful tricks, and Billy was admiring his cleverness, and Nannie was thinking what a handsome goat he was, when a ferocious, big-jawed bulldog bounded on the stage and attacked the goat. For a long time the goat kept the dog off with his long horns or front feet, for he fought most of the time standing on his hind legs, striking out with his forefeet, or else lowering his head and burying his horns in the dog, or backing off for another butt.
But at last Billy could see that the goat was getting tired, and that the dog was more ferocious every minute. And when the goat stopped and fell on his back as he tried to avoid the dog's onslaught, Billy could stand it no longer.
He flew down the aisle of the little theatre and jumped on the
stage to help the goat. He did not know that this goat was only a
picture goat. It seemed so real that he thought the goat and dog
mon1917.2007.001.0047.jpg were alive, and he never noticed that they were not until he tried to hook the dog and his long horns went clear through the canvas upon which the pictures were being thrown. And there he stood with his head held fast in the canvas, for it was some time before Billy realized just what he had done.
Of course it caused great commotion in the theatre, and the film was stopped. Some people laughed, while others called, “Throw him out!" angry at having their fun spoiled.
As for the
men at the back
of the stage, all
they knew was
that the canvas
was shaking as if
about to fall over
on them, and that
two sharp points
were sticking through. One of the stage hands went up and grabbed
hold of these two points and began to pull, not knowing that they
were horns attached to a billy-goat's head. He thought that some
bad boy had just stuck these sharp points through the screen for
mon1917.2007.001.0048.jpg meanness. But he soon found out what they were, for Billy gave a mighty pull backwards, which jerked his horns out of the man's hands and then he doubled himself up for a bounding butt, and clear through the canvas he went straight as a bullet, tearing a great hole in the cloth.
As he went through, he hit the man that had had hold of his horns, and laid him flat on his back on the stage, and then he walked over him. The other stage hands stood open-mouthed with surprise, but Billy did not notice them. All he was thinking about was how to get out. Seeing a long, dark passage that he thought must lead to an outer door, he started for it. A man standing beside it thought Billy was after him, so he started on a run down the long hallway, which really led to the dressing-rooms used by the actors and actresses, for this movie place used to be a theatre, and, in fact, was yet used for plays on many occasions.
The man simply flew, and so did Billy. But Billy was looking for a door, and really paying no attention to the fellow. Arrived at the end of the passage, the man opened a door that led into one of the actor's rooms, and was about to shut Billy out, but he wasn't quite quick enough, for Billy's two horns kept the door from closing. The man let go the knob, bounded over a couch and hid behind some dresses that were hanging on the wall.
Once again in the hall, Billy saw a door across the way standing ajar, so he pushed it slowly open and peeked in. What he saw was a scrub-woman down on her knees washing the floor. On hearing the door squeak, she looked up and saw the head of a big, white goat with a long beard standing gazing at her.
Now she was a tidy woman, and knew the ways of goats. Thinking that Billy was going to butt her, she decided she would go after him first, so she grabbed her bucket of suds and threw it all over him. Instead of frightening him away, as she had hoped, this only made him angry, and he jumped through the doorway at her. Seeing him coming, she began to roll over and over on the floor toward a bed, under which she intended to be out of his way. But she did not quite make her refuge in time, and he gave her a butt that sent her flying under the bed, where she lay screaming for help.
On hearing her cries, the men upstairs came to her rescue, but were met by a big billy-goat that chased them down the passage in a hurry. Once out of the hallway and back on the stage, one man tried to climb a tree painted on a stage screen, being too much frightened to notice it was only a painted tree and not a real one.
The other man got hold of a rope that was hanging from one of
the rafters, and tried to climb it, but he only got up a short distance
mon1917.2007.001.0050.jpg when Billy gave him a butt that sent him swinging back and forth through the wings like mad.
Just then Billy felt a draft, and following it he soon found himselfout in the alley behind the theatre. He baaed and baaed for Nannie, and was about to give up calling her when he heard an answering baa out in the street. He hurried to meet her, but what was his surprise to see not Nannie, but a perfectly strange goat turn into the alley.
"Excuse me," said Billy. "I thought you were my wife."
"And I thought you were my brother calling me," replied the strange goat, " as he told me to meet him in the alley back of the theatre. I think I just saw a big negro leading, or I should say trying to lead your wife, for she was hooking and butting him some- thing terrible. I take it she was your wife, because she was nearly as big as you are, and a stranger to me. Knowing all the goats in town, I am pretty sure she will turn out to be your wife."
"I thank you very much," said Billy. "Could you tell me in which direction they went?"
"Yes, I'll show you."
So the stranger goat led Billy around the corner of the building to the front of the theatre and told him that the negro was leading her down the street. They both looked up and down the street as far as they could see, but there was no one leading a goat.
“If you will excuse me, I'll hurry after them," said Billy. "They can't have gone far. Thank you so much, and good afternoon!"
"My, isn't he a handsome goat? And so polite! I would like to be his wife," and with a sigh the little old maid goat stood and watched Billy running down the street, pushing sauntering people to one side, butting lazy negroes into the gutter and bounding over little children playing in his way. Straight down the street he went, keeping up a continual baaing so Nannie could hear him if she had been shut in any back yard.
At last he came to the end of the street without so much as getting a glimpse of her.
"I shall have to go back and retrace my steps more slowly, and look in all the sheds and back yards I come to. And if I don't find her then, I shall start on the side streets, for more than likely that is where she is now. Think I'll begin on this side street right here."
Billy walked slowly along, peeping through pale fences, running into yards where the gates stood open, and jumping fences where he could not open the gates and the premises looked as if a goat might be tied in some of the outhouses. But no Nannie could he find, although he hunted for hours, and until quite worn out. Then he ate a few mouthsful of grass and lay down beside the road for a few winks of sleep.
NANNIE AND THE GIANT NEGRO
In the meantime poor little frightened Nannie was crying her eyes out for Billy, but not so much for herself as for fear something dreadful had happened to him. She was afraid that the man at the theatre would kill him for butting a hole through the movie screen.
As soon as she had seen Billy disappear through the canvas, she
had run out of the theatre and around to the back of the building,
but after waiting some time in vain for him to appear, she went back
to the front to watch for him there. She was just giving up hope of
his coming that way when the man in the box office called out to a
big negro over six feet tall, and with big head and broad shoulders,
"Sambo, grab that goat!" and the big negro, the largest man
Nannie had ever seen, grabbed her as he quickly stepped out of a
dark corner beside her. She struggled to free herself, but she might
just as well have saved her strength for the negro was strong as a
giant, and whenever she tried to pull away, he would give her head
mon1917.2007.001.0054.jpg a twist that would nearly break her neck. So she decided to go along peaceably with him, but watch her chance to slip away when he left her, wherever that was going to be.
He led her down the street for two or three blocks, then turned into a very narrow side street, where there was nothing but shanties, tumble-down sheds and dried-up looking palm trees. After going nearly the whole length of this street, he turned into the worst looking place on the street, and dragged Nannie after him into the back yard. Their arrival caused a flutter among a group of little children, who flew in all directions like a flock of black- birds. They evidently were afraid of this man, whoever he was.
He stalked straight to a shed, never so much as turning his eyes on any of the children, who were now watching to see all that was going on from behind barrels, tubs and old carts, and through cracks in the fence.
When he reached the shed, he opened the door and pushed Nannie in, giving her a kick as she passed him. Coming in from the bright sunlight, the shed was as black as a black cat and she could not see a thing, so she stood still until her eyes became accustomed to the dim light. Then she lay down and licked her poor slender leg which the cruel man had kicked and nearly broken with his big, clumsy foot. Presently she became aware that there was someone else in the shed beside herself, for she could hear breathing. She stuck up her ears to listen. Yes, there it was again—the regular breathing. Peering into the corner from which it came, she saw a white hunting dog lying on a bunch of straw intently watching her. At first she was awfully frightened, for Nannie had a deadly fear of dogs, and she was about to jump up and try to butt the door down when the dog spoke to her in such a mild voice that it took all her fear away.
"Don't be afraid of me," he said. "I take it that you too have
been stolen as I was and brought here to await the reward that will
be offered for our return. I have been here three days now, and I
am almost starved. But that is not the worst, for when he has been
mon1917.2007.001.0056.jpg drunk, he has kicked me. He abuses me terribly and says, ‘Take that!' as he hits me with a long whip. ‘I'll make them pay for you! They haven't offered enough yet, but I know they will because they are fond of you. Fond of you, you miserable, measly pup, you!’”
"Oh, don't tell me any more," said Nannie. "It is too terrible. We will try to escape to-night. If he hears us and comes after us, I'll butt him in the stomach and run my horns into him besides. I never like to hurt anyone if I can help it, but when it comes to butting anyone as cruel as he is I can do it without feeling badly. I wondered when I came in why all the children ran and hid. Now I know. He must be mean to them and beat them."
"Yes, he whips them cruelly for nothing when he comes home in an ugly humor."
"Now I shall take pleasure in butting him and burying my horns in him. I am afraid no longer, but just fighting mad. I don't get that way often, but my husband says that when I do, you want to stand from under and climb a tree if there is one handy."
Presently they stopped talking and both fell asleep. They had
been sleeping about an hour when Nannie was awakened by the
welcome sound of Billy's voice close outside the shed on the alley
side. He had had his short rest and then gotten up and begun his
search again. He was about to pass the shed Nannie was in when
mon1917.2007.001.0057.jpg he thought he smelt goat, and stopping to stick his nose up close to the crack in the old shed had not only smelt goat, but had seen Nannie asleep on the middle of the floor, with what he thought was another goat over in the corner. Then he baaed her name softly so as not to frighten her, but still loud enough to waken her.
"Oh, Billy, I am so glad that you have come! Butt down the shed and come in. There is a nice dog here I want you to meet, and I also want you to help us plan some way to get even with the negro who brought us both here. He is so cruel to children and animals that we want to punish him in some way. You are so clever at thinking out plans, you must come in and stay around here until we make him suffer as he has made innocent children and animals suffer."
"I am with you," said Billy. "Get away so the boards won't
mon1917.2007.001.0058.jpg fall on you when I butt in the shed." Then, "Here I come!" and with a mighty butt the old wooden boards came flying through the opening like a cannon ball. "Gee! I made an awful noise! Enough to awaken the whole neighborhood, for it is now late at night."
Really he had not roused the whole neighborhood, but he had attracted the attention of someone, and that someone was the very negro they wished to punish. He was just coming home after spending an evening playing craps, a game of which the negroes are very fond, and having lost what little money he had, was in a frightful temper and was intending to take it out by beating his poor abused wife and children.
On hearing the noise in the shed, he chuckled to himself, "It is that goat I shut in there trying to get out. I’ll see if she will try to escape after I give her a knock or two over the head with this club," and he picked up an old baseball bat in the untidy yard.
Billy, Nannie and the dog were all peeping through wide cracks in the shed, watching him come toward them and listening to all he said.
"So you would hit my dear little wife and this inoffensive dog over the head with that club, would you," panted Billy to himself as he watched the negro come nearer and nearer the shed, and he prepared himself to give the fellow a butt that would send him into
mon1917.2007.001.0060.jpg [illustration - BILLY GAVE HIM ONE LAST PARTING BUTT THAT SENT HIM OVER THE FENCE] (PAGE 46)
the middle of the back yard the minute he opened the shed door.
Now his hand was on the latch—now the door was open and the man stood plumb in the middle of it. But that was not the only plumb thing around there, for Billy gave a bound forward out of the darkness, hit the man in the pit of the stomach so hard that it sent him flying back into the yard over tubs, boards and barrels and landed him beside a hogshead of water, standing on his head. And before you could say Jack Robinson, Billy was out of the shed and had butted the hogshead of water over on the negro, who spluttered and splashed and nearly choked to death, for he had had his mouth wide open calling for help when the whole hogshead of water went over him.
Billy, Nannie and the dog stood still and watched him struggling, sputtering and strangling, pleased grins on each of their faces. Billy baaed, "How do you like it, you old ace of Spades? Hurry up! I am waiting to give you another! This one was for the kick you gave my wife. The next will be for the way you treated this dog, and the others I intend to give you will be for the way you have treated your wife, children and all the dumb animals you ever come near."
Of course the man did not know what Billy was saying, so
crawled slowly to his feet and started for the house, all bent over
and holding his hands over his stomach. Billy waited until he had
mon1917.2007.001.0062.jpg taken three steps, then ran behind him and gave him a butt in the seat of his pants that straightened him up in a jiffy and sent him flying back across the yard and into the open door of the shed, where he landed on the broken and splintered boards.
By this time the negro was yelling loudly for help with all his might. But the negroes in that section of the city slept soundly, and no one heard his cries for help and to come to his rescue.
He was just
up again and go-
ing to try to escape
up the alley before Billy reached him again when Billy came bounding into the shed and hooked him out through the hole he had made
to come in. Once in the alley, he hooked and butted the fellow until
mon1917.2007.001.0063.jpg he looked like a rag bag with the clothes flying out of it. But Billy had no more pity than the man had had on his inoffensive victims, and he kept on butting and hooking him until he had gotten him clear to the end of the alley. There he gave him one last parting butt that sent him clear over a pale fence and he fell on top of an ash barrel, where he lay unconscious until morning.
"There!" said Billy. "I guess he won't steal any more dogs or abuse any person or animal for one while!" and the three ran off down the side street that led to the Bay of Mississippi, there to take a good swim in the warm salt water to revive them and wash their white coats clean.
"I tell you what, Mr. Whiskers, the way you did up that big, black bully did my heart good! Most negroes are gentle and kind to animals, and I think this man must be an exception to the rule, for he certainly was a brute, and I bet hereafter he will be especially kind to goats, if he is not to any other animal or person."
Which proved to be the case. He was kind not only to goats, but to his own family as well. He never told anyone what had happened to him, and his family and friends wondered and wondered what could have occurred to change this man and make him as gentle as a lamb.
PINCHED BY THE GIANT CRABS
The water was nice and warm, and Billy and Nannie were enjoying themselves greatly listening to their new friend's tales of the South and how he went hunting with his master through the long grass of the marshes for ducks, wild geese and other game, where the sleepy alligators lay like logs along the streams sunning themselves in the deep, dark mud. He also told how one alligator had nearly bitten him in two when swimming these streams. The alligator had been looking for his supper under the water and he had not known it was there until he had heard its great jaws snap together, having only just missed him. The only thing that had saved him had been that his master had seen the alligator after his dog with jaws open, when, quick as a flash, he raised his rifle and fired straight down the monster's throat.
"I tell you what, we have exciting times down here hunting
and fishing, for you know the waters of our Bay and Gulf are about
the best in the South for catching tarpon and other big fish. Tarpon
are gamey fish, big as a man, and when hooked they fight like the
mon1917.2007.001.0066.jpg very dickens. They jump straight out of the water, double themselves up like a bow and then off they go through the water like a flash. And unless the fisherman knows their tricks, they will either pull him over the side of his boat into the water as they swim off with his hook and line, or else upset the boat by slashing around under it. They weigh from two to three hundred pounds, and my master caught the largest one last season that has been landed in years. I tell you what, if you two will stop here for a few days until I have had time to run home and let my master know I am not dead, I'll steal off some night and take you into the swamps, just to show you what a real live Southern swamp is. Night is the time to see them, when all the living creatures come out of their haunts and nests and the big snakes—bigger than your four legs put together— uncoil themselves and glide through the tall grass after their prey. But the spookiest things to me in the whole swamp are the will-o'- the-wisps that flit here and there, looking like little white lanterns swung by farmers as they go hither and thither over the swamp."
"Goodness, gracious me!" exclaimed Nannie. "It all sounds
interesting enough, but I should be afraid of my life to go. I am
deathly afraid of snakes and those as big as you say they are would
kill me outright just to look at them. As for alligators, I would run
a mile if one so much as winked an eye at me, for I have heard they
like goats and darkey babies just as much as dogs. No, thank you,
mon1917.2007.001.0067.jpg I prefer to hear about it instead of seeing it."
But Billy winked at the dog, whose name was Ned, that he would go with him some time. He intended to wait until Nannie was asleep some night and then steal off and go with Ned to see the horrors of the swamp. For where there was any danger, there Billy loved to be.
Right here a pitiful baa from Nannie brought both Ned and Billy to the spot to see what had caused her to cry out as if in pain. And when she began to limp on three legs, Ned knew what was the matter. He knew that a big crab had fastened itself onto her leg while all three had been splashing around in the water as they were talking.
“Oh, oh oh! Billy, something has got hold of my leg and is trying to pinch it off!” wailed Nannie.
"Try to walk out here where there is shallow water, so I can see what it is," said Billy.
"I can't move, it hurts so. And when I lift up my leg, it hurts worse!"
“Well, I will stick my head under the water and see what it is, dear. Don't cry! " said Billy, who could stand anything but to have Nannie weep. Like all strong men and nice boys, he could not stand it to see anyone cry or in pain.
Billy stuck his head under the water and when he opened his eyes he saw a big crab had one of his pinching claws around Nannie's leg. Billy opened his mouth to bite it off, when it let go her leg and fastened itself to his right ear. At the same moment another crab got tangled up in his beard, so when he raised his head out of the water there were two giant crabs holding on to him.
Ned had to laugh, Billy looked so funny when his head came out of the water with a crab holding on one ear and dangling over one eye; and another swinging in his beard, trying to get out.
"You look like the Old Man of the Sea you hear people talk about," said Ned.
"Well, you need not laugh! It doesn't feel very good to have a pair of pincers nearly meeting in your ear. Wait until one fastens itself on you, and I bet your howl can be heard a mile!"
The words were no more than out of Billy's mouth when a
terrible howl rent the air. A big crab had grabbed Ned in the
stomach and another by his tail. He waded out of the water and
went howling down the street, the crab on his tail bounding around
like mad, hitting the sidewalk with every bound the dog made, but
mon1917.2007.001.0069.jpg it would not let go. Neither would the crab hanging to Ned's stomach. At last the one on his tail hit a stone, which broke off the claw, and the crab fell to the ground, but the one on his stomach still held on until Ned reached home, where he nearly knocked his master over in his mad haste to get to his dog house.
"Why, Ned, old fellow, where have you been all these days? Come here! You look thin as a shad, and scared to death."
When he came up to his master, he bent over him and said, "Where did you get this chunk of mud that is sticking to you? And you are as wet as a rat! Ouch! Your mud ball turns out to be a crab and he has loosened his hold on you to grab my finger! Lucky for me, I jerked my hand away before he got a good hold. I know now where you have been—out on one of the crab boats. I suppose they thought they would steal you and go hunting. Good dog to run away and come back to your old master! They don't any of them treat you any better than I do, do they? " and he stood stroking his head and talking to him when all of a sudden Ned shot from between his legs and ran out of the yard and disappeared down the street as if the Old Nick was after him.
"What can be the matter with that dog? That's what I should like to know. He acts as if he had taken leave of his senses!"
And that is just what the dog himself thought. Here he had
neglected his new friends when they were in trouble, just because
mon1917.2007.001.0070.jpg a crab had pinched him, and one of these friends had saved him from being beaten and starved nearly to death! Oh, it was a shame, and he felt like a common cur for doing it. Hence his flight back to them when the thought struck him of what a coward he had been.
Billy and Nannie were as much surprised to see him coming back as they had been to see him run away. When he reached them he found them both lying in the sun, with Billy licking the wound on Nannie's leg made by the crab, while she licked the one on his ear. They were so close together they looked like one goat with two heads.
Ned came slinking up to them, apologizing at every step.
"Oh, that is all right," said Billy. "They hurt like everything, and we don't blame you for running off for help."
"Well, I guess they were hurting you as much as they were me, but you did not run off. No; there was no excuse for me playing the coward, and I can't tell you how ashamed and sorry I am. When you are rested and your wounds feel better, if you will follow me, I will take you to my home, and I know my master will give you a nice, soft bed of straw to sleep on and all the fresh vegetables you can eat. I can count on him being good to you, for he just loves all animals."
"Some day I will take you around and show you the oyster beds, and where and how they catch the crabs and shrimp, and then to the factories where they can them ready for shipment. After that we will go out on the pier and see them fish for gar."
"What is gar? I never heard the word before," asked Billy.
"It is a big fish that looks like an alligator. Here is where we turn in, and there is my master sitting on that box whittling while he whistles to himself. That is the way he always does when he is thinking. Now I guess he is trying to puzzle out why I left him in such a hurry."
"By the dancing pickaninnies, what is that dog bringing home but two of the finest looking goats I ever set eyes on! So these are the friends you have been with, eh? Well, now I do give up altogether trying to think out where you have been."
Ned's master treated them royally, as Ned had said he would, and gave them enough to eat for three meals, besides plenty of nice, fresh water to drink and a soft bed to sleep on.
NED TAKES BILLY AND NANNIE SIGHTSEEING
Billy," said Ned the next morning, " what do you say to our going on a sightseeing tour?"
"Good idea! You go first, as you know the way, and Nannie and I will follow you."
They were soon on the shore of the Bay, headed for the oyster factories.
"Look, Billy, how shallow the water is out there. Don't you see all those little treetops sticking out of the water? They look like young saplings, as they have no branches, only a bunch of leaves on the top."
"They are not growing there, Mrs. Whiskers," said Ned. "They are poles to stake off where the oyster beds are."
"You don't mean it! " exclaimed Nannie. "I thought oysters clung to rocks and around the piers."
"Yes, some of them do. But those are only little scrub oysters,
or oysters that live on the refuse that floats by them. The big, sweet
mon1917.2007.001.0074.jpg oysters that feed on clean things live in oyster beds on the bottom of the ocean, and wherever you see one of those tall, slender poles there is an oyster bed. Do you see that queer looking chicken-coop affair away out on the other side of the bed, set high on sticks above the water?"
"Yes; what is it?"
"It is where the guard of the oyster bed stays. If someone did
not guard them, a
tramp sailing sloop
would come along
and steal all the oysters. These beds
belong to different
firms that care for
them and gather the
oysters when they
have grown the size
they want them.
Then they take
them to their factories, where they pick them over, shell them, can
them or pack them raw, and send them North and all over the country. For these oysters, they claim, have a particularly fine flavor. I
wish I could remember how many thousand cans, casks and bushels
mon1917.2007.001.0075.jpg were sent out last year. It would astonish you. Look quickly at that man wading in the water just off shore. See, he has a queer-shaped net. Watch and you will see him dip it in the water quickly, take something out, and put it in the basket he has on his arm, and walk on. He is after shrimp that abound in these waters. The big firms send out men in boats, with big nets, for them, but this man is out to get only enough for his restaurant. He keeps a little oyster house at the end of the pier, where the fashionable people from the North like to go just for a lark. He serves all kinds of shell fish to them, and I have heard said his shrimp salad, baked oysters and soft shell crabs can't be beaten. He makes a specialty of hot oyster sandwiches."
"That is a new one to me," said Billy. "I have heard of all kinds of sandwiches, but never of an oyster one."
"What are those children doing out on that pier? They all seem to have something that they are pulling in and out of the water."
"Oh, they are fishing for crabs like the ones that caught on you and Billy."
"For mercy sakes! They will get their fingers and toes bitten off. Not one of them has a pair of shoes on."
"No danger for them! They have handled crabs from the
time they were out of the cradle. And, if you will believe it, I
mon1917.2007.001.0076.jpg once saw a little baby sitting on the floor playing with one whose big pincers had been pulled off. The crab would crawl away from the baby on its other legs, and when it got just so far it would be jerked back by the baby, for it had a string tied around its body, with the other end tied around the baby's waist. It never got very near the baby, for the child's mother saw that it did not. She kept one eye on it as she washed her clothes close by. It amused the baby to see the crab crawl. Do you see those three sail-boats loaded to the water's edge with oysters? They have just come in from the oyster beds, and are making for that long pier you see jutting out into the Bay. They will unload their oysters into small hand cars pushed principally by negroes down to that big factory on the shore at the other end of the pier. How would you like to walk out on that pier and see what they do to the oysters from the time they come off the ships until they are in the cans?"
"Oh, I would love to," said Nannie.
The three trotted along until they came to the pier where the oyster boats stopped. They ran out to the end and stood watching the men unload the oysters into what looked like big packing boxes on wheels which ran on a narrow railed track. As soon as one car was filled, a man stepped up behind and pushed it down to the factory. There were two lines of track, one for the cars going and the other for the cars coming from the cannery. Consequently it
mon1917.2007.001.0077.jpg [illustration - THE CORK FLEW OUT AND ALL THE CONTENTS WENT SPURTING IN NANNIE'S FACE. (PAGE 66) ]
did not take long to unload a vessel in this way.
"Gracious, don't they look like dirty things, with the seaweed and sand sticking to their shells!" said Nannie.
"Now, let's follow one of the cars back to the cannery building," suggested Ned.
This they did. And here they saw a row of bins into which the oysters from the cars were emptied. Behind each bin stood a man or woman, or sometimes a boy or girl about fourteen years old. Some were white, some were black, and all were working together. Each person was armed with a broad-bladed knife, with which they opened the oysters by Pressing it between the thin edges of the shell and prying it open. Then with one scoop the oyster was dug out, popped into a bucket hung on the bin beside them, and the shells thrown in a heap.
Now, of course, these oysters get the dirty seaweed and the
sand off the shell on them, so before they are put in the cans they
are placed in a big vat and washed in clear, cold water, after which
mon1917.2007.001.0080.jpg they are put in cans and kegs, labeled, weighed, and then are ready for shipment.
The shrimp are put up in the same way, only they are thrown in boiling water alive. Their shell is a greenish hue before they go in, but when they come out it is a bright pinkish red. Men, women, boys and girls then peel off their shell, and they come out looking like a big, fat, pink worm, all curled up. Break one in two and taste it, and you will find their meat is as white and firm as a lobster's, and tastes very much like it, only more sweet, if anything.
"Gracious, I can't see how people can eat them!" said Nannie. "They look too much like worms to suit me!"
BILLY AND NANNIE RAID THE FLAT ICE-BOXES
Billy and Nannie were taking a short cut through an alley to the park, where they intended eating some of the grass and drinking out of the fountain, for they were very thirsty and hungry. Passing an apartment building, Billy happened to look through an open gate, and he saw the cook of one of the families living in an upper story setting the things out of the ice-box on a wooden bench preparatory to scrubbing the refrigerator.
"Now is our chance, Nannie, to get a good luncheon."
"I don't see much of a chance in this old alley, with nothing but ash cans and garbage barrels. For my part, I would rather starve to death than to eat out of one of them."
"My dear, don't you know me well enough by this time to know I never could ask you to do such a thing? But just cast your eyes up to that upper flat and tell me what you see."
"I may be stupid, but I don't see anything but a woman scrubbing out an ice-box. Nothing very appetizing in that, is there?"
"No, my dear. But don't you see what she is setting on that shelf while she does it?"
“To be sure! I surely am a stupid!"
"My plan is for us to hide here in the alley until she goes in the house. Then the minute she disappears through the door, we must run for dear life and get something off that shelf before she gets back."
"But, Billy, I never can do it! It is up six flights of steep stairs. And by the time I got to the top, I should be so out of breath that she could hear me wheezing."
"I'll run ahead and you come as fast as you can. And if you can't make it, I'll bring you something."
The two goats waited and waited for her to go in, but she scrubbed away, and never once went into the house. And she was at last putting the things back in the ice-box, when they heard a telephone bell ring.
"I hope to goodness that is her telephone, and that she will have to answer it. If it is, it will give us just the chance we want," said Billy.
"It is! It is!" exclaimed Nannie.
As the cook threw her scrubbing brush down and rose to her feet, Billy ran through the gate and fairly flew up the stairs, while Nannie went panting after.
Billy made it all right, and was soon feasting on celery, radishes
and lettuce, wondering why Nannie did not come, and also thinking
mon1917.2007.001.0083.jpg what a fine chance they had for he could hear the cook talking to her beau over the telephone. At least he judged it must be her beau from snatches of the conversation he caught, as it went like this:
"Am dat you, honey? I declar' to goodness I sure thought you was dead. Go long, now! You just givin' me taffy! Why don't I say I love you? 'Kase I don't! . . . You think I do and am pertendin' I don't? Well, just you come 'round heah and heah what I tell you to youah face! . . . Say, I can't stan' heah talkin' to a lazy niggah like you a ny longah!"
And while she talked, Billy gobbled down the vegetable intended for the family’s dinner, and ended by licking the custard out of a pie. Then he thought,
“What in the world is keeping Nannie?”
He left the good things and went down two or three steps to peer down on the landing of the flat below, to see if she was there.
And just as he looked, things began to happen.
Nannie was standing eating out of a basket of groceries that a delivery boy had left in front of a kitchen door. In it was a bottle of ginger ale that had gotten warm from the sun shining on it, and as Nannie nosed round in the basket the cork flew out and all the contents went flying and spurting in her face, blinding her for a minute.
At the very moment the cork came out of the bottle, the cook in the upper flat came out on her porch and one look at her shelf showed her someone had eaten up her vegetables and pie. She glared around, expecting to see a mischievous darkey boy's face peeping at her from some hiding place. But instead, she saw a big, white goat disappearing down the steps. He was too far from her for her to hit him with a mop or broom, so she picked up the bucket of scrub water and threw it all over him, and followed that up with the mop and scrubbing brush, waving her arms frantically all the time.
Nannie got the ginger ale out of her eyes, and was just starting
down the stairs when the scrubbing brush that had been intended for
Billy hit her squarely in the back, which made her wince. She and
Billy were down the steps of the fourth flat when they saw a man
coming up with a sack of potatoes over his shoulder. He was so
stooped over with the weight of them that he did not see the goats,
and the first he knew that there was anyone on the stairs but himself,
he felt someone trying to push past him. It nearly knocked him off
mon1917.2007.001.0085.jpg his feet and he was just righting himself when Nannie tried to pass by, and her extra push overbalanced him completely and over he went backwards, potato sack and all. And when he landed at the bottom, he came down so hard that he made mashed potatoes of the contents of the sack. A few were not mashed, and with these he began to pelt Billy and Nannie as they ran out of the yard.
After this escapade, they trotted along until they came out on the main shopping street and as they were quietly walking along they came to a store with a window full of post-cards, at which they stopped to look.
"Oh, Billy, do look at this picture of a cunning little darkey baby! Doesn't it look all eyes? And those boys eating watermelon! Doesn't it look good? I wish it was watermelon season, for I just love it. Do tell me, what is all that white stuff those darkeys are picking in a field? It looks like a field of snowballs."
"Oh, that is cotton that people's clothes are made of. Cotton is the principal wealth of the Southern States, and along the Gulf of Mexico, all but Florida. See that folder of pictures there? The first shows them planting the cotton, the next where it is in bloom, the third where it is being picked, and the next as it is being hauled to the cotton gins, and the last where it is made up into bales ready to be shipped to the cotton mills to be made into cloth."
"I wish we could see them do all these things to it, don't you?"
"We could if this were only the time of year for it, but it isn't even planted now."
"It seems to me we have seen pretty nearly everything there is to see in this city. And I say we hasten on to some other place."
"I am ready to go any time," agreed Billy, " but I expect we should wait to say good-bye to Ned."
"No need to wait for that, for he has gone hunting and there is no knowing when he will be back. He will understand."
"I know what we can do. We can go around there and leave word with one of the horses to tell him we left good-bye for him, and for him to come to see us if he ever gets as far North as Fond du Lac, as that is near the farm where we live."
And after doing this, the two goats hunted out the mail road that leads to Mobile, as that was the next city they wished to visit, it being the largest and principal city of Alabama. They found this road a continuation of the splendid white shell road that runs all along the Gulf of Mexico from New Orleans away up North.
IN A SOUTHERN CHICKEN COOP
Billy and Nannie had not gone very far down the road until they came to a most attractive looking plantation. The fences were well kept up, instead of being ready to fall down, the gates were on their hinges, and all the servants' cabins had been freshly white- washed. These had been the cabins of slaves at one time, but now paid servants lived in them.
As the goats approached, they saw that the gate leading to the stable yard was open, and after cautiously peeking inside to see if there were any cross dogs about, they slowly walked into the yard and lay down for a little snooze on a nice, clean pile of straw.
Billy did not know how long he had been asleep when he was awakened suddenly. On opening his eyes he saw a man approaching in the darkness, for the moon had long since set. He carried a lantern, and as he passed not twenty feet away, Billy could see that he was old and stooped.
"I'll suah git dat sassy rooster to-night, for I seen whar him
go to roost early dis ebenin'," he was mumbling to himself. "Dis am
mon1917.2007.001.0088.jpg de tird time I've tried to kotch him. But him have been too almighty smart for me in me old age. Him have roosted high up in a tree 'stead of gwine in de chicken house. 'Deed him knowed I was ol’ and can't climb no trees no more to git him. But to-night him followeddat nice, fat pullet inside whareber she leads, eben if him may git his neck wrung for followin', jes' as a young man follows his best gal. I sot on the woodpile and watched dem. chickens go to roost, and I know whar ebery fat pullet and old hen am a sleepin’ dis heah minute.”
Just then Billy sneezed and the old man shook with fright and quickly put out his light.
some time. Then the old darkey struck a match and carefully peered
around from behind a strawstack behind which he had hid. Seeing
no one, he struck another match and relit his lantern. Then, with
mon1917.2007.001.0089.jpg cautious steps and eyes rolling in every direction, he approached the chicken house window and began to clamber in, though it was a hard task, for he was stiff and the window was high from the ground.
All was still for some time. Then the old darkey struck a match and carefully peered around from behind a strawstack behind which he had hid. Seeing no one, he struck another match and relit his lantern. Then with cautious steps and eyes rolling in every direction, he approached the chicken house window and began to clamber in, though it was a hard task for he was stiff and the window was high from the ground.
On noticing this, Billy thought he would give him a boost, so he quietly walked up behind him and gave him a gentle butt. Of course the old negro thought some person had done it, most likely his master, so he called out, "Massa Harry, I neber come to steal no chicken, 'deed I didn't! I just came to see if dat contrary white rooster gone to sleep on his perch and not on de floor where de rats and weasels kin kotch him. 'Kase I knowed you want a chicken dinnah nex' Sunday when de preacher am a-comin' to dinnah. An' I done got out my nice warm bed to come down heah and see if dem fowls war all right. 'Deed I did, Massa Harry! Suah thing!"
Not seeing his master's face peering at him through the window,
he stopped talking and peeked out. Seeing no one, not even Billy,
mon1917.2007.001.0090.jpg as he had run around the chicken house, the old darkey carefully stepped over to where the long coveted white rooster and pullet were perched side by side, heads tucked under their wings. And before they had time to even get their heads out from under their wings, they found themselves flopping around in the bag the old darkey had thrust them into to carry them away. They were too surprised even to squawk, and he was just going to try to get out through the window, having found the door was locked, when he saw a man coming towards the coop in the dim light, for it was now break of day. He moved back from the window and crouched in a corner.
Presently a face appeared in the window, and in the dim light he recognized his beloved son. Before he could recover from his horror of discovering that his son, whom he had always thought so good, was a chicken thief, the younger man lay sprawling at his feet, crying in a weak, frightened voice:
"Oh, Massa Harry, I didn't come to steal no chickens! I didn't, suah! I jus' come to see if the weasels kotched anv chickens in de night, 'deed I did!"
You see, Billy had slipped up behind him and given him a butt through the window, just as he had his father.
Then to the young darkey's dismay, a ray of light struck him full in the face and a deep voice said:
The light disappeared, and the terrified boy fell on his face on the floor of the chicken house and began to pray for mercy, for he thought the ray of light came straight from the Lord. He kept saying, "Lord, hab mercy on me, and fo'gib dis misahable sinnah jes' dis once, and I'll neber, no neber steal anudder chicken long as I lib! 'Deed I won't!"
The light again shone on his face, and the same voice solemnly replied:
"Go and sin no mo'. Youah sins be fo'gibben you."
With trembling limbs the boy climbed out of the window and ran for home as if he thought the devil, not God, was after him.
When his footsteps could be heard no longer, his father gave a sigh of relief, and then and there dropped to his knees and prayed that the good Lord would forgive him for stealing chickens at night and posing as a good old preacher in the day time all his life long.
"Deah Lord," he prayed, "ef you please done and go and fo'gib me jes' dis once and not let ma boy know his ol’ daddy is a sinful, deceitful old niggah preacher, I'll go down on ma knees to bless you!”
And after praying a long time, he arose and slowly and painfully
mon1917.2007.001.0092.jpg fully crawled through the window. As he walked away Billy and Nannie heard him still muttering to himself: "'Deed I had a close call! An' de Lord war mighty good not to let ma boy fin' out his ol’ daddy war a chicken thief!"
UNCLE TOM TELLS THE CHILDREN STORIES
THE first thing they came to the next morning on their travels was a lovely, old-fashioned southern home, and near the house, under a big live-oak tree, they saw an old, gray-haired darkey who looked as if he might be Mrs. Stowe's Uncle Tom come to life again. On one of his knees sat a sweet-faced little girl with long, yellow curls falling far over her shoulders over a dainty white dress, while on the other knee was a handsome, sturdy little fellow with big, blue eyes, rosy cheeks and short, dark hair. Both children gazed with wrapt expressions up into the darkey's face as if fearful of losing one word that fell from his lips.
A little way from them sat a big, fat, colored mammy with a good-natured face, singing darkey lullabies to a darling little baby in long clothes that she was trying to lull to sleep as she listened to the tales her husband was telling the children, for the old negro was her husband. Everyone on the plantation called him Uncle Tom and her Aunt Dinah.
"Oh, Uncle Tom, that was a lovely story! Now tell us another
mon1917.2007.001.0094.jpg about when you were a little boy picking cotton in the cotton fields. And how you used to play hide-and-seek around the bales of cotton at lunch hour, or go swimming in the river in the shade of the willow trees. And then when you got to be a young man, how you and Aunt Dinah were married and how grandfather gave you a little cabin for yourselves. And how you bought an old mule that you used to drive to church, and how he balked every single Sunday in the middle of the road before a bridge and would not go over it, though you whipped, scolded and even petted him. And how he stopped all the other people on the road because it was too narrow for them to pass. And how at last you found that by giving him an apple he would go on over the bridge, but with a jerk and a bound that nearly threw Aunt Dinah over backwards, or, if it did not throw her over altogether, the jar always knocked her hat to one side and made her furious, for she was very prim in those days, you said."
"Oh, no!" piped up the little boy. "Don't tell that story! Tell us about when you went coon or possum hunting."
"Yes, tell us about the time the little possum fooled the dog and got away from you," agreed his sister.
"All right, honey, Ah'll tell you about the cunningest little possum you eber did see.
"It happened dis heah way. Aunt Dinah said as how she war
tired ob habin' turkey foah Thanksgibin' yeah in and yeah out, and
mon1917.2007.001.0095.jpg she wished I'd move ma lazy bones and git her a possum foah a Thanksgibin' dinnah. Den she went on to tell what else she would hab at dat dinnah until ma mouf do watah somethin' awful ober dem candied sweet pertaties, mashed turnips, cranberry sauce and mince pie, so Ah put on ma coonskin cap, kase it war mighty col', wid lots of frost in de air, and Ah called me old houn' Libbah foh to go with me."
"What made you call your dog such an ugly name, Uncle Tom?" asked the little girl.
"Kase he war the uglies', thinnes' long-eared pup you eber see, an' he war jes' the color ob a piece of libbah."
"You mean liver, not libbah.”
"Dat is all right, ma honey. Dey mean jes' the same thing, only ma ol’ tongue won't say it youah way."
“Oh, Evelyn, don’t interrupt all the time,” said the little boy, whose name was Lee Jackson.
"Well, as I war sayin', dat ugly pup went out to look foah
possum. It bein' about sundown, it war jes' the best time to hunt
um. So we struck out for de timbah, where I knowed they lived.
An', suah enough, we'd jes' got inside the woods when Libbah give
a bay an' struck out on de trail of somethin', runnin' with his nose
close to de groun'. An' soon he stopped runnin' and began barkin'
up a tree! He sot down on his haunches and bay as if callin' to de
mon1917.2007.001.0096.jpg moon to come down and help him. Den he would run roun' and roun' de tree. I could see him doin' dis all de time as I hurried toward him. An' when I kotched up to dat tree, what do you think I seen but de pretties' li'l rolypoly, fat possum a-sittin' up in de crotch ob de tree a-lookin' down at us!
"I hated to shoot, kase I knowed it would blow him all to pieces. So I jes' made up ma min' I'd club him out o' dat tree, and when he fell, Libbah could kotch an' hol' on to him. Well, I threwed and threwed sticks an' stones at dat possum till ma ahms ached and nary a one hit him. He jus' sot there an' grinned down at us! At las' I lose all my patience an' I up and threw a stone dat hit him in de head, and he fell out ob dat tree right at Libbah's feet, stone dead. Libbah gib him a smell or two an' poked him roun' with his nose. Then he walked off and lay down as much as to say, 'He am dead, so dere is nothin' for me to do.'
"Then I took a look at him, knowin' how almighty smaht dem
possums is, a-playin' dey was dead. Why, I have knowed hunters
to kick um, pick um up by de tail or one leg, throw um down, and
eben after dat dey would keep on playin' dead foah a long while and
then squint out of one eye to see if the dogs an' hunters war gone.
An' if no one was lookin', they would jump up an' scamper away.
So to make sure dis one war dead, I rolled him ovah with ma foot,
picked him up and raised his eyelid to make suah he war dead, and
mon1917.2007.001.0097.jpg then I throwed him down and him fell all limp and lay still with his head between his legs an' I called to Libbah:
"'Ah guess this fellah is dead suah enough. So we'll jes' leave him heah till we come back.'
"An' we started to walk off when somethin' made me look back, an' dar war dat possum uncurlin' hisself, and him war off into the woods befoah Ah could pick up mah gun an' shoot. An' I kin tell you, honey, I war a pretty mad man — I war mad clean through to see mah Thanksgibin' dinnah runnin' off like dat when I war so suah of it. And neber did I trust another possum, but Ah always pick him up and take him with me."
“Oh, I like that story!" exclaimed Evelyn.
"Tell us about the swamps where the big alligators and poisonous snakes live," said Lee. "And how you used to shoot them from the boat when you were cook on the Oklawaha River in Florida."
"Oh, Lee, you don't really want to hear about those horrid alligators and awful snakes, do you?"
"Yes, 'cause they make me shiver and I like stories that make me creepy once in a while."
"Now, Nannie," whispered Billy, " we are going to hear about those awful swamps they have in the South like the one Ned talked about. Do you remember?"
"Yes, I remember. But I would rather hear about them than see them."
"S-s-h! Stop talking," cautioned Billy. "He is beginning his story and I don't want to lose a word."
"Well, when I war about twenty-one, I war took foah cook on one of the queerest little steamahs you eber did see. It war built that a-way kase it war to run on the crookedest, narrowest ribber that eber hab a steamboat line run on it."
"How was it built, Uncle Tom? " asked Lee.
"It war built so narrow that th' passengahs had to sleep in
berths only two and a half feet wide, and less dan five feet long.
And when they went to bed, they had to sleep on one side, close up
against de wall, and let dar knees stick out de odder way. Kase if
they laid the odder way, they would suah fall out. And if the person
had long legs, they jes' have to eder stick 'em out ovah de foot ob de
berth or else curl 'em up. The aisle between war so narrow two
mon1917.2007.001.0099.jpg people couldn't pass each odder. But the boats had to be built dat way kase de ribber war as narrow as it war crooked."
"If it was such a narrow, crooked river, why did people want to travel on it? " asked Evelyn.
"Kase, chile, it war de only way how de people from de Norf could see de big cypress swamps whar de big 'gators lib and the hissin' moccasin snakes crawled an' the long legged loons that have a call what soun's perzacly like a lost child a-cryin'. They could go on dis ribber without any discomfort to umselves, or danger ob gettin' bit by some of them creepin', crawlin' 'gators and lizards and insec's dat lib der. About nine o'clock in de mornin' the peoples would come down on de dock and go aboard, and sit on top of de cabin whar de chairs was placed foah 'em, to listen to de music of de banjos and de singin' ob de darkies as they watched the beauties of de ribber as de little steamah twisted and puffed aroun' de sharpes' curves you eber hear tell ob a boat takin'."
"But what did the passengers see on the river?" asked Evelyn.
"Don' be in sich a hurry, honey. I'se comin' to dat. Well, as
I war a-sayin', all de people war sittin' on top ob de cabin, lookin'
and lookin' fo' de sleepin"gators in de mud or on a log aside de
ribber, whar dey had come out to sun umselves. One of de
passengahs would spy a 'gator and him would cry out, 'Dar's one!' an'
eberybody would jump up and cry, 'Whar? Whar?' An' someone
mon1917.2007.001.0100.jpg else would say, 'Ah don' see anythin' but a big log.' And den someone would fiah a pistol and de log would roll into de ribber, or else open its mouf as if yawnin', showin' all its long, white teeth. And den it too would slowly sink under de watah.
"And de beauty ob dat ribber was dat de wattah war so clear an' pure dat yo' could see de bottom, though it war fohty feet deep. Fo' it had come right from Silvah Springs with nothin' to dirty it on de way.
"But de queerest thing war dat eberythin' anyone throwed in got all silvah lookin'. Dat was why de spring at de ribber's head war called Silvah Springs. De passengahs would throw ovah anythin' they got in der hands and watch it sink to de bottom, turnin' to silvah as it went. An' while dey watched dere things go down, they would see big, big turtles, as big as de top ob a barrel, go swimmin' by, an li'l an' big fish ob all kinds, and sometimes befo' what dey had thrown in reached de bottom, it would fall on de back of a 'gator half hidden in de mud. Eberythin' would be still for a while and all yo' could heah would be the puff ob de steamah or the screech ob a frightened bird, until someone would call out, 'Oh, see that big snake asleep on that limb ob de tree hangin' ovah de wattah!' and as de li'l steamah glided by eberyone had a chance to see de big brown mocassin befo' he had time to slide out ob sight.
“But though de trip up war excitin', it war nothin' to de one comin' back, fo' dat war made at night, when all de queer creatures ob de swamp war awake an' out fo' food. And yo' could hear dem ol’ black 'gators a-gnashin' der teeth, the hiss ob de serpents an' the blood curdlin' cry ob de loons as dey flew through de forest frightened off der nests by de bright light ob de burnin' pine knots on de front ob de steamah, a-purpose to make de forest light as day so de passengahs could see all de strange night things dat inhabited de big, black forest dat bordered de ribber.
"But dar war no land animals, like foxes, bears an' wolves in dis forest, kase dar war no land fo' dem to step on. All war wattah an' roots ob trees and long grass, fo' yo' mus' remembah dis war a swamp. An' I tell you what, chillen, dem war weird sights and soun's we used to see an' heah on dat ribber by de light ob de moon when it war out or by de pine knots a-burnin'. An' I use to pray de good Lor' not to let us hab a breakdown, kase dar war no land to walk on, or wattah to swim in, or nothin' or no place to go whar dar wasn't 'gators to chew yo' up, snakes to bite yo' or pizenous insec's to sting yo'."
"My, but I would like to go on that steamer some day," said Lee. "I'd just like to get a crack at those alligators with my little gun and see them slip into the water when you wake them up."
But the children heard no more stories just then for someone called Uncle Tom to the house.
Billy and Nannie slipped away unobserved, and Uncle Tom never knew he had two very interested listeners to his tales beside the little boy and girl on his knees.
The goats traveled all that day and went to sleep early that night so as to be well rested to see the sights of Mobile which Billy calculated they should reach the next day, when the hunt for Stubby and Button would begin again in earnest.
LITTLE DARKIES IN A WATERMELON PATCH
BILLY and Nannie were now many miles from Biloxi, and had been on the road two or three days. It was toward sunset and fast growing dark when they saw in the gathering gloom a number of queer, black shapes dart across the road ahead of them and disappear through a hole in an osage orange hedge.
"Whatever can those little impish darkies be after the other side of that hedge?" asked Billy.
“I am sure I can't guess," replied Nannie.
"Listen!" exclaimed Billy. "I hear someone behind us talking. Let's lie down in this gutter, where they can't see us, and listen to what they are saying. Then we can tell what they are up to. It is no good, whatever it is, or they would not be sneaking along so quietly and crawling through the hedge."
"Hi there, Sambo! Wait until I kotch up with you!" called a loose-jointed boy with a shuffling gait, about twelve years old, to a rolypoly, fat boy about as broad as he was long, with a huge, smiling mouth full of glistening, white teeth.
“What you want to tell me? Hurry dem loose bones of your'n along then and kotch up to me. I done can't wait foah no lazy-boned niggah when ma teeth am waterin' foah watermelon! 'Sides, ef yo' don' get a move on yo', dem pesky little niggahs we jes' see crawl under dat hedge will swipe dat big melon we been watchin' to get jes' ripe and juicy enough to pick."
At the thought of someone else getting their choice, big melon, the two boys flew past where Billy and Nannie were hid in the ditch without even getting a gleam of their white coats. As soon as they had passed, Billy and Nannie climbed out of the gutter and peeked through the hedge, and by the light of a sickle moon that had just slipped from behind a cloud, they saw five little darkies sitting in a row, each with his teeth and half his face buried in a slice of melon as big as his head. There they all sat, facing Billy and Nannie, eating their beloved watermelon with the juice running between their fingers as they bit into the luscious pieces that reached from ear to ear. And one and all were perfectly oblivious to the fact that trouble was fast approaching them from behind. For as Billy and Nannie looked, they saw an old planter with a long, white beard and thin, skinny legs creeping up on them, a shotgun in one hand and holding on to a stout rope that held in check a bulldog. Both dog and man seemed anxious to get close to the boys before they suspected they were there.
When within forty feet of the group, the planter lowered his gun, took aim and fired at their backs, letting go the dog at the same time.
"Oh, Billy, he is going to shoot them! Let's warn them," baaed Nannie.
But any warning would have been too late, for as Nannie spoke they felt the tingle of little white beans on their ears and sides and then they knew that the planter was only trying to scare the boys, not kill them. And though Nannie and Billy were hit by several of the stray beans, they did not notice it as their attention was too much taken up by what was going on in the melon patch.
One shot hit the loose-jointed boy squarely on the back. He
jumped as if he had been sitting on a spring and it had suddenly
been released, and threw up his arms as if shot through the heart.
The slice of melon he had been eating went up in the air and came
mon1917.2007.001.0106.jpg down on top of the planter's head, breaking in two when it hit. Then Rattle-Bones, as his chums called him, lit out for the hedge with the bulldog in hot pursuit, both headed straight for the place where Billy and Nannie were peeking through.
"I'll save him," thought Billy. "When the dog comes through the hedge, I'll butt him over into the melon patch again, and give Rattle-Bones a chance to escape."
"Oh, Billy, look quick! See what the fat boy is doing!"
And when Billy looked, he saw Rolypoly, as the fat lad was nicknamed, rolling over and over on the ground, crying, "Don' shoot! Don' shoot! I'se neber gwan to steal no mo' yo' melons again! 'Deed I ain't, Mars Sampson, ef yo' jest pint dat gun somewher'else and don' shoot me!"
But all the time the planter kept peppering away at him as he rolled. While his attention was taken up with Rolypoly, the other three little darkies made their escape through the hedge which Rolypoly soon reached and rolled under. The minute he was through, he jumped up and scurried down the road as fast as his short, fat legs could carry him. And by the time the planter reached the hedge to look over, not a darkey was in sight, but there in their place stood two big, white goats looking up into his face.
"Ha, my friends, what are you doing here?" he exclaimed on
seeing them. "Stay on that side of the hedge and we will be friends.
mon1917.2007.001.0107.jpg Come this side, and I am your enemy, and will shoot or set the dog on you. Good-night!" and he trudged off to see what damage the darkies had done to his melon patch and how much fruit they had eaten or stolen.
"Good-night, Mr. Longbeard! I don't think we will heed your warning, but come over into the patch and taste some of your fine melons. We have heard of the delicious watermelons that are raised in the South by the carload for the northern market, and also that their flavor and luscious juiciness is beyond compare. And by the time your gray head touches your pillow, we will be tasting one or two of the melons in your three-acre patch. And I don't think out of the hundreds and hundreds of melons you have that you should grudge a couple of northern goats one or two."
The planter had scarcely reached his house when Billy and
Nannie walked up to the hole through which the little darkies had
crawled, and Billy boldly pushed his head through. But alas, alack!
mon1917.2007.001.0108.jpg He got no further than his head for, as I said before, the hedge was of osage orange and had long thorns on it, which caught in his long beard and the hair on his sides and legs and he was held as in a vise. If he moved, the thorns either stuck into his flesh or pulled his hair out by the roots.
"Baa! Baa! Baa! Gee, but these things do stick! And if I move, they will pull half my hair out, if they don't skin me entirely! Don't come any nearer, Nannie, or you will be in the same fix I am!"
At this moment both goats heard a low growl and, looking in the direction from which it came, they saw the planter's bulldog standing watching them. He growled:
"Ha, ha, Mr. Goat! I have you now just where I want you! For I see you are enjoying yourself as much as I did when you gave me a butt a while ago."
"Oh, shut up! " snapped Billy, "or when I get loose, I'll butt you over the moon!" And Billy began to squirm to get loose, but the more he squirmed and wriggled, the tighter he was entangled in the hedge, and the more the dog laughed and jeered at him.
"My, but you are getting prettier and prettier every minute, with the green leaves mixed in your long, white hair. And the expression on your face is angelic! I know a painter would love to paint you just as you are!"
“Keep still, I tell you, or I will get after you even if I have to skin myself to do it!
But the dog kept right on talking to Billy, grinning and swinging his tail with delight. The more frantic Billy grew, the more he enjoyed it. And to annoy Billy the more, he kept coming closer and closer until he was so near that Billy could feel his breath on his face, though he could not quite reach him.
All this time Billy kicked and squirmed until his legs were bleeding and his hair was being torn out by the handful. Then the climax came.
The dog had just said he guessed he would drive the other goat into the hedge, as it would be more fun with two goats squirming in the hedge than one. This was too much for Billy. He knew what he was enduring and to see his beloved little wife suffering as he was now was more than he could stand. So with one mighty plunge forward, he tore himself loose and landed on the dog.
It was all done so quickly that the dog had not time to move.
For a minute or two they fought desperately. Then Nannie saw a
dark object go flying heavenward, and she knew Billy had gotten
the best of his tormentor and had given him a tremendous butt.
Billy stood and watched the dog go higher and higher and it really
seemed as if he were going to keep on until he went over the pale
moon that was sailing through the sky looking down at all this commotion
mon1917.2007.001.0110.jpg But what goes up must come down. At last the dog began to fall and Billy said to himself, "He will surely break his back when he hits the ground, coming from such a height!"
Plung! A dull thud, and the dog struck the earth. Billy was about to turn and walk away when he saw the dog get up and start to crawl away. Billy would have let him go, thinking he had been punished enough, but just then the dog stopped and growled at him, showing all his teeth. This was too much for Billy, and he started for the dog, who, on seeing him coming, stuck his tail between his legs and tried to slink away. Seeing Billy was gaining on him, he tried to run faster, but could not. His legs were shaking with fright, a thing he could not understand, for he had never been afraid of anything before in his life, and he could not understand how the
mon1917.2007.001.0112.jpg [illustration - BILLY GAVE A NIMBLE SPRING AND LEAPED CLEAR OVER HIM (PAGE 125)]
prize fighting bulldog of the county could fear a goat. While he was thinking these thoughts, and for the first time realizing how he had made little dogs, pigs, cows, and chickens feel when he was chasing them, Billy caught up to him and sticking his long horns under him, gave him a toss that landed him in the hedge.
"Now, you bullhead, stay there and see who laughs last!" and with this parting remark, Billy and Nannie trotted down the road.
BILLY BECOMES LEADER OF A FLOCK OF GOATS
Billy and Nannie were trotting along the highway at a good fast pace, not stopping to eat or even look at the scenery, and only turning out for automobiles and wagons to pass and to wait until the dust cleared away, when Billy exclaimed: "Nannie, I can't stand this dirt any longer! Let's go up the first side road we come to and lie in the shade until it gets cooler."
"Very well. I think it would be a good plan too, for this dust is stifling me, and the glare on this white shell road is blinding me too."
They had traveled up a side road just a short distance when they spied a long line of trees, and they hurried on and were about to lie down in their shade when, chancing to look through the fence, they saw a herd of goats just the other side of the rail from themselves. They were all fast asleep so Billy and Nannie stood and looked them over carefully.
There were goats of all colors and sizes, from the big, white
ones—white as Billy himself, though not nearly so large—down to
mon1917.2007.001.0116.jpg tiny, spotted, baby goats no larger than a good-sized puppy, with the sweetest little faces you ever saw.
Nannie went crazy over the little ones, as they reminded her of her children and grandchildren when they were small. Besides, Nannie was extravagantly fond of baby goats, so she said:
"Billy, we must stop here a while until I go over into that lot and pet those darling kids."
"Well, be careful that those old Billy fathers don't think you have come to kidnap them and in consequence come after you and butt you over the fence. I'll stay here and snooze while you go fondle the kids."
"Oh, no! You come with me. I am afraid to go alone!"
"No, you are not. I'll keep watch this side of the fence, and if any goat or person goes to hurt you, I will jump the fence and be after them before they have time to hurt you."
"Oh, but I want you to come with me," insisted Nannie. "You know you are fond of pretty, dear little baby goats."
"Yes, if they are my own children or grandchildren. Otherwise, I don't take any interest in them."
"Well, be sure you keep an eye on me until you are certain they will not hurt me before you allow yourself to go to sleep."
"Indeed, I will!" he assured her, and Nannie trotted along
the fence looking for a place to squeeze through. But she found
mon1917.2007.001.0117.jpg none, for there was a barbed wire stretched between the rails so the goats could not crawl through.
She followed the fence all the way around the lot and was about to give up when she came to a gate up near the corner that led into the barnyard. It looked rather rickety, and she knew with one butt of her strong head she could knock it down, but she did not quite like to make her entrance into a strange flock of peaceful goats by butting the gate down. And she was standing there hesitating what to do when she saw a flight of stairs that ran up to the top of the fence, with a little platform at the top. This platform was used when the owner of the flock wished to sell a goat or auction several of them off. Then he and the would-be purchaser would mount the stairs and from the platform they could have a fine view of all the goats in the field as they were so much higher than they.
In a jiffy Nannie was up on this platform, standing looking at the goats one by one, trying to decide which she thought was the prettiest, for then she intended to go into the lot and pet it. At last she found one that suited her for it looked exactly like one of her little twin grandchildren, being marked identically the same, with black spots around its eyes and the same little white streak down its nose, with two little horns sticking up between its ears.
"Oh, you darling!" she exclaimed, and was about to jump down and run to it when she saw that all the old goats were rising to their feet and looking at her, while the mothers were calling to their babies to come to them. So instead of jumping down just then, Nannie stood still to see what they would do next, and looking over their heads, she spied Billy with his nose pushed through the fence, watching also.
Presently the goats began to walk slowly toward her, talking among themselves as they came.
One said, "Did you ever see such a beautiful face on a goat? And what long, silky hair she has!"
"Where do you suppose she came from?" said another. "No goats down here grow so large as she is."
"I'm going to invite her to join us," said the leader of the flock. So he hurried toward her with the whole flock closely following him.
“Good afternoon," bleated the leader. "Pretty warm day we are having! Won't you join us and come over by our watering trough and get a good, cold drink of fresh water? It comes from a deep well."
"Oh, thank you so much! There is nothing I should like better than a good cold drink of water. Would you mind extending your invitation to my husband?"
"Certainly not! But I do not see him."
Then Nannie laughed. "Of course you do not! He is waiting for me the other side of the fence."
"If you will show me where he is," offered the leader, "I will run over and ask him to join us."
"Don't bother to do that. I will just call him," and Nannie raised her voice and baaed, "Billy, come over here! Oh," turning to the leader, "I beg your pardon! I do not know to whom I am indebted for this kind invitation!"
"Oh, my name is Two Spot or Deuce, from the two spots on my side that look exactly like the deuce of spades, or so they say. Never having seen a pack of playing cards, I don't know whether it is an appropriate name or not."
He turned his side toward Nannie so she could see, and, sure enough, there were two black spots on his white side, looking exactly like the deuce of spades.
“Billy! Billy!" called Nannie. "Mr. Two Spot, the leader of this flock, has invited us to join them and go get a drink of fresh, cool, well water."
At the mention of a cool drink Billy stopped to hear no more, but gave one bound and was over the fence running toward them before they could all turn to see from which direction Nannie's husband was coming.
"Did you see him jump that high fence?" gasped one of the goats. "There isn't one of us who can jump so high."
"My, isn't he big? I never saw such a big goat," said another.
The leader turned to Nannie and said, "I have told you my name. Would you mind telling me yours?"
"I beg your pardon!" exclaimed Nannie. "How stupid of me, but I forgot all about it. It is Mrs. Billy Whiskers. My husband was named Whiskers because his whiskers were so unusually long and they grew in exactly the shape of a man's beard."
By this time Billy had come up to the platform on which Nannie stood, and right there Nannie introduced him to Mr. Two Spot and then everyone was introduced to everyone else, and after Nannie had jumped down from the platform they all started for the drinking trough under some big trees.
After all had drunk their fill, they went under the shade of
the trees, and some stood while others lay down and Billy, after
mon1917.2007.001.0121.jpg much coaxing, told them of his travels in foreign parts and of how he and Nannie had just come from the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco.
"A couple of our very dear friends were with us," said Billy, "but on the way home they decided to go by another route and visit the Roosevelt Dam. We were all to meet again in New Orleans, but somehow we missed them, and I am getting anxious for fear some harm has come to them, or the Indians have captured them and are holding them in captivity."
"What did your friends look like?" asked Two Spot.
"One was a little yellow dog, with a stubby tail, and the other was a very large black cat with big, yellow eyes. The dog's name is Stubby and the cat is Button."
"I thought so," said Two Spot. "They passed through here about a week ago, and asked if we had seen two magnificent white goats go by our place. They stopped over night, and then went on to Mobile. Said they had missed you in New Orleans, and feared you had grown tired of waiting for them as they were ten days overdue, or else you had both been killed or shut up somewhere."
"That is Stubby and Button, sure enough," said Nannie." Always worrying about something happening to us the minute we are out of their sight."
"You see," said Billy, "we have known each other for years
mon1917.2007.001.0122.jpg and have traveled all over the world together. Out West, in China, Japan, Panama, Europe, the West Indies, Bermuda, and the Middle and Northern States. So you see we have a deep interest in each other. And in all the wide, wide world there never was a dog with a bigger heart than Stubby has, or a cat with a truer one than owned by our friend Button."
"They both did seem like mighty fine fellows, and they were so interesting we all hated to see them go. You see, we none of us know much of the world down here as we have never traveled even as far as New Orleans or Mobile. So when traveled people like you and your wife and friends come along, we can't get enough of you. And we do hope you will stop with us for a long, long while."
"I am sure that is very kind of you," answered Billy, "but if our friends have gone on ahead, we will have to hurry on or they will get so far ahead of us that we will not be able to catch up to them. But I tell you what you had better do. Some of you old bachelors and bachelor girls, widowers and widows better come along with us, and we will do our best to show you the country. There is only one thing that you will have to have to be good travelers, and that is lots of grit to take the hard knocks as they come and not be afraid of man or beast. For each one will have to fight his own battles and skirmish for himself when it comes to food."
Before Billy told them all this about half the flock thought
mon1917.2007.001.0123.jpg they would like to go, but when they heard that they would have to endure hardships and fight big dogs and cruel boys, all but two or three bachelors and one old maid backed out. While they were laying plans as to the best time to leave, their master appeared on the platform with a big man who carried a wooden mallet in his hand. When they saw this, they all groaned aloud and shivered with fright, for this man was the auctioneer, and it meant that father and mother would be separated and sold to different parties, while their children would be scattered all over the Southern States. Lovers would be parted too, never to meet again. Some would get good masters and some cruel. Some would be sold to draw children's carts. Others would go to the butcher. So you see they had good cause to groan and shiver.
Then they heard the man with the auctioneer's mallet say, "I can't come until day after to-morrow, but I will be here at nine thirty sharp, so you can advertise the sale for that hour."
And the goats watched the two men go down the steps off the platform and the auctioneer drive away.
"To think of it!" said Two Spot. "From that very platform human beings were sold in slave times, and fathers and mothers parted and children torn from their arms."
"Yes, but thank God, they can't do that any more since Abraham
Lincoln freed the slaves in these Southern States of yours," replied
mon1917.2007.001.0124.jpg Billy. "Cheer up, all of you! I will tell you how you can dodge that auction at least. Run off with me to-night, and we will travel all night and all day to-morrow, and get as far away as possible before day after to-morrow, the time set for the auction. Nannie and I will help you if you get into a fight and also to find good food and water, for we are used to looking out for ourselves. All of you can go but the mothers with little kids too young to travel, and these your master doesn't intend to sell anyway. Then when the danger is past, the fathers of these little kids can come back and get their wives and children some night and run off with them."
"Oh, thank you, Mr. Whiskers, for showing us a way to avoid being sold," they cried in chorus.
"Now you must promise to do just as I tell you," said Billy.
And they all bleated that they would.
"Well, the first thing to do is to go to sleep and get all the rest
you can until dark, and your master has gone to bed. Then you
mon1917.2007.001.0125.jpg will feel fresh and rested for your journey, for it will be hard and fast traveling for some of you who are not used to keeping up a steady gait mile after mile. But it must be done to-night, even if you get so tired you could drop, or your master will overtake us and drive you all back to be sold."
They all agreed to do just as he said, and the fathers and mothers surrounded by their children all went to sleep in groups, the lovers in twosomes, and the widows and widowers by themselves, each wishing they were married again so as to have someone to talk to and share their troubles with them, and each vowed to marry again as soon as possible.
It was difficult for them to go to sleep, they were so excited, but at last they did, and were surprised when roused by Billy to find it was midnight and time to start. And oh, how sleepy and frightened they were! The little kids were so cross at being wakened out of a sound slumber, they refused to walk, so many fathers and mothers stayed behind to take their chances at being sold with their children.
THE RUNAWAYS RETURN HOME
When all the goats were awake and standing in a group waiting for Billy to give the signal to start, old Two Spot said, "While we are waiting for Mr. Whiskers to get ready to go, we might as well be moving over toward the gate, so as to be ready to pass through the moment it is open."
Billy happened to overhear him, and just as all the goats' heads were turned in the direction of the gate ready to move toward it, Billy baaed, "Right about face!"
They turned as quickly as if a string had been around each goat's neck and he had been jerked about.
When they were all facing him, he said, "Friends, I overheard Mr. Two Spot tell you all to walk over to the gate. Only a few minutes before I had told you to congregate here and keep as quiet as possible. Now what I want to know is which of us you consider the leader, and which you are going to follow."
They all baaed in chorus, "You ! You!" while Two Spot
baaed the very loudest of all, and tried to apologize for interfering
mon1917.2007.001.0128.jpg with Billy's plans, saying he had not the slightest intention of doing so, but thought he was helping him.
"Right here," explained Billy," I wish to tell you all that the success of as many plans have been ruined by the good intentions of well meaning friends as by scheming enemies. And before we start, I wish it understood that my commands are to be carried out to the letter. Do just what I tell you to do. I am here to do the thinking and the planning, and you to do the obeying. You must follow me blindly and have enough faith in me to do it willingly, or I will resign and you must choose another leader.
"I never stop to explain why I wish a thing done, but I'll say this much to show you that I had reason for you all to stand still in a bunch until I gave the command to start. I saw your master looking out of his window, and I did not wish him to see you in the bright moonlight as you left the pasture. It would mean his following you and driving you back. Besides, I do not intend to lead you through the pasture gate as it is right up close to the house, where he could easily hear the patter of your hoofs in the lane. You may think me conceited, but I have had years of experience leading flocks of goats and sheep, and I never lost one of all the flocks under my care, although I was often surrounded by hungry wolves trying to get at the goats. Now if I am not mistaken Two Spot has never led any flock but this one and even then he has had no experience in
mon1917.2007.001.0129.jpg [illustration - THE CAPTAIN LANDED RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE POND. (PAGE 144)]
defending you from harm, as there was really nothing to protect you from in this sheltered pasture. Now all those in favor of my being the leader baa Aye!"
And it sounded as if every goat responded.
“Now everyone in favor of Two Spot baa Aye!”
And one lone, weak voice was heard. It was Two Spot’s wife sending in a vote for her beloved mate.
Of course Billy carried the vote.
“Thank you, friends,” he said. “And please remember our watchwords are to be instant obedience. Now if you are ready, we will start out this side of the pasture, which is the furthest away from the house, and leads directly to the side road I intend to follow.”
“Fool of a goat!” whispered an old Nannie to her husband. “Doesn’t he know there isn’t any gate there and that there is no way to get out of this pasture except by the gate up opposite the house? It will serve him right to be fooled. He is too conceited, in my opinion, and it will do his pride good to get a fall.”
On, on the flock walked, nearer and nearer the fence, close at
Billy’s hells until at least they were directly in front of the fence not
ten feet away. The old Nannie was chuckling to herself, waiting
for Billy’s pride to have a tumble, when what in the world was that
crazy goat doing now but butting down the fence? How dare he
mon1917.2007.001.0132.jpg do such an unheard of thing? Yes, and he not only butted it once, and made a whole section of it lay over on the ground, but he butted a second section and down it fell, going over like a row of nine-pins.
"Now, friends," baaed Billy, "onward march! Follow me at a quick trot until I call a halt. No matter whether you get tired or not, keep going. I can't stop until we are several miles from here. And those who drop out will have to find their way back as best they can. I can't look after them. It would endanger the many for one to come back or to halt to look after one or two. We must travel fast until we have put many miles between us and are safely hidden from your master. To-night will be the test, showing who are brave and strong enough to seek their fortunes out in the world, and who are so weak that they will have to be taken care of all their lives.”
“Oh, hear him talk!” said the grumbling old Nannie. "I
mon1917.2007.001.0133.jpg for one am going to stop right here and go back and lie down in my favorite place under the trees in the shelter by the watering trough. You better come too, William," she urged her husband. "You are too old to start out to seek pastures new."
And with a sigh and a longing look ahead, William turned and followed his wife back to their old sleeping place. He had been ruled by her too many years to rebel now.
Over the tumbled fence Billy led his followers, Nannie close at his heels. For three miles he kept up a steady trot, up hill and down, commanding his flock to hide in the underbrush along the roadside whenever they heard anyone coming and until they had driven by.
Once in passing a house two big dogs rushed after them. Billy attacked the larger and Nannie tried to attend to the other, but the flock was so panic-stricken that instead of keeping close to Billy and doing what he told them, they turned tail and ran for home, with the dogs snapping at their heels as they ran.
This attack cleared out all the mothers with their little kids
and the cowards among the old goats, for which Billy was truly
thankful. He had never approved of the mothers with little ones
coming along in the first place, or the very old goats, and he would
have positively forbidden them to do so, only he knew that at the
first show of danger or an attack on the road that they would run
mon1917.2007.001.0134.jpg home. So he thought it best for them to find out for themselves that they were never born to be adventurous travelers than for him to forbid them coming. In that case they would always have thought they belonged to the brave, but now they would know that they did not.
After Billy had butted both the dogs over the fence into their own yard, what was now left of the flock started on again, traveling faster than ever, for they had gotten their second wind, and besides fear lent haste to their steps. They made the next two miles in great shape. Here they came to a little brook and Billy called a halt for two reasons. One was to give them a rest and a good drink, and the other was to look over his flock and see how many were missing.
He had started with twenty-five. Now he had ten, and half of them looked as if they would be glad of a chance to desert.
It seemed to the goats that they had only gotten nicely fixed to
rest their legs and take a nice nap when Billy baaed, "We must be
up and off again. And this time we must make ten miles before we
stop, for in the morning your master will be after us on horseback
the minute he discovers that you are not in the pasture. Thirty
miles will be nothing for him to travel on a fast horse. I will try
and throw him off our track by going in the first woods we reach so
he cannot see our tracks in the dust. Then instead of coming out on
mon1917.2007.001.0135.jpg the same road, we can strike across country and it will take him some time to find us, if ever he does."
The only trouble was that there was no woods in sight, and they were on a main road, which made it bad also, for there were barbed wire fences on each side. These Billy could not butt down, and his flock could not jump them. So all he could do was to hurry them on ahead in the hopes of coming to a woods or a side road of some kind. But though they traveled all night, he found no good place to hide, and they grew footsore and weary and half were crying as they limped along.
just given the command
for them to stop for breakfast and a
little rest when he saw a cloud of
dust appear away down
mon1917.2007.001.0136.jpg the road over which they had just come, and as he gazed he saw it was two men on horseback that were making all the dust and that they were coming toward them at a fast gallop. Billy never took his eyes off them until he made sure who they were. He soon found that what he feared was true. It was the master of the goats coming for them, accompanied by the auctioneer.
The two men rode right into their midst, and began cracking their long whips right and left, at which every one of Billy's followers took to their heels and ran for home as fast as they could go, never so much as baaing a good-bye to him and Nannie.
And if the truth must be told, Billy gave a big sigh of relief to see them go!
IN WHICH A FEW UNEXPECTED THINGS HAPPEN
After all the other goats had been driven back, Billy and Nannie trotted along in silence, each busy with their own thoughts, but had they spoken, it would have been found that they were both thinking the same thing, and that was how easily one's plans can be broken. Here, in the twinkling of an eye, the fond hopes of twenty-five goats had been dashed to pieces by two men with long-lashed whips on horseback. And the very goat who had talked so much about what he would do should anyone come to drive them back, bragging how he would butt them, and never go back, no matter how hard they lashed him with their whips or prodded him with sticks, was the very first to turn tail and leg it for home when he heard the long black whip whiz through the air with its cruel, stinging sound. Not even a hair of his skin had been touched, but still he ran and ran, never stopping until he was safely back in the home lot, lying under the trees as if he had never left, hoping in that way to make the men think he never had.
"Why, Billy! How can you feel that way when it will disappoint them so?"
"Because I have just been thinking that I was a fool ever to suggest such an idea to them, as for them to try and escape in a bunch. One or two of the bravest could have done it, but twenty- five of them, and half of that number kids at that, was preposterous. Why, they could not have done it even if they had been experienced travelers, and used to dodging people and foraging for themselves. Did you notice how tired and worried the mothers looked, and how cross their babies were? To say nothing of the sour looks of the old father goats? And here we had not been on the road but part of a night and one day! They had lived in captivity too long to know how to take care of themselves. Gee but I am glad I am out of it! Don't know where my brains were when I even thought of such a thing. Must have been in my tail and I whisked all the sense out of it. Do you know, Nannie, I really believe that if we had gone much further that those old goats would all have attacked me? And then they would soon have been fighting over who should be their leader. It is that way with men, when a band sets out to do an unlawful thing. And why should it not be so with goats?"
"Hush!" said Nannie, listening. "I hear the tramp of horses' feet coming on a gallop this way."
“You are right, Nan! It is those men coming back. Hide quickly, for they may be after us. I'll stand here and take care of myself and they will find that it is no meek goat they have to deal with."
"Oh, but Billy, hear the crack of their long whips! They may strike you. And if they do, the lash will cut a piece right out of your side."
"Don't fear, dear. Hide back of those rocks, and lie down under the bushes, so they can't see you."
Down the road came the men on a fast gallop, swinging their whips over their heads as they came, cracking the lashes so they sounded like firecrackers going off. This noise frightened the horses so that they were all but unmanageable.
Billy stood in the middle of the road, waiting for them, for he had it all planned as to what he would do when they came up.
"There is the old rapscallion now!" called one of the men. "My, but he is a fine specimen! He ought to bring fifty dollars on the block," said the other.
Just when one of the men had gotten to within striking distance
of Billy and was swinging the long lash around his head as the cowboys do their lassoes, Billy charged at his horse, going right under
the swinging lash and also under the horse. For on seeing Billy
coming toward him the horse had turned to run and Billy got there
mon1917.2007.001.0140.jpg just in time to go clean under his stomach instead of between his legs as he had intended doing. The beast became unmanageable, threw his rider and ran snorting down the road toward home. The surprised rider on finding himself on the ground sat dazed for a second, it had all happened so quickly. Then he saw Billy coming back for him, and he was trying to get on his feet and reach his whip, which had fallen from his hand, when Whack! he got a butt that sent him twelve feet into the air, and landed him over a fence in a sugar cane field. And he was mighty glad of the protection the tall stalks of the sugar cane gave him, for now he could get up and that giant goat could not see him. While this was taking place the other man’s horse had become frightened, bolted, and ran. And the rider let him go, for he did not care to wait for his turn to come, as he was pretty sure the goat would make for him when he had finished with his friend.
"Billy, you certainly are a terror! I saw it all at the risk of being discovered. I had to peek to see how you were going to protect yourself against the mounted men. You may have your faults, but one thing is certain, you are no coward! I don't believe there is another goat this side of the Mason-Dixon Line that would have stood his ground and not turned and run when he saw two men with long whips riding down on them, about ready to strike."
"Gee, it was funny the way the tables were turned on them, wasn't it?" And Billy laughed until his sides shook.
Billy and Nannie trotted along for some time, when all of a
sudden they came out of a deep woods that lined each side of the road
and there in the middle of the clearing stood a darkey cabin, made
of rough hewn logs just piled on top of each other, without any
plaster between them to keep out the wind. There were no doors or
windows, only holes where the glass should have been. Neither was
there any chimney but only a stove pipe sticking out of a hole in the
roof. There was one log before the door which was used as a doorstep, and on this at one end sat an old negro with snow white hair.
Behind him in the doorway sat a woman who must have weighed
two hundred pounds, with a month-old baby in her arms. Behind
her in the cabin could be seen a very, very old negro woman, with a
white ruffled cap on her head, while outside leaning against the cabin
mon1917.2007.001.0142.jpg or rolling on the ground were children, both boys and girls, ranging from one to eight years old. They all belonged to the fat woman, and the old man and woman were her parents. The most remarkable part of all was that they all lived and slept in the one room in the miserable little eight-by-ten cabin.
When Billy saw them, he exclaimed, "I don't see how they exist, let alone live, herded in one small room like pigs!"
In fact, there was nothing in sight to eat but a few sickly looking cornstalks. There was no garden—nothing but a little patch of corn. Still they all seemed happy and some were singing and dancing to the clapping of their grandfather's hands.
"Why don't they plant some vegetables in their garden?" asked Nannie. "At least potatoes and cabbages?"
"Because, my dear, they are too lazy to even get the ground ready to plant them, or to hoe the ground after they are planted. They would rather starve than work. I suppose they exist on what the old grandfather and father bring home that has been given to them in Biloxi, or on the little money they get from doing an hour or two of work."
"I wonder they even take the trouble to plant the corn then."
"They plant that because when the corn is ripe they pound it into a coarse flour to make their hoe cake. They can live on nothing but hoe cake and a few beans for weeks."
“What is hoe cake?"
"Oh, it is a cake made of coarse corn meal and water and a pinch of salt."
"Look, Billy! Did you ever see such thin pigs in your life or any with such long, sharp noses and long, thin legs?"
"They are regular razor-backed hogs," explained Billy. "They are called razor-backed because they are so thin their backbone is supposed to be as thin and sharp as a razor. They run wild in the forests and live on the nuts and roots. That is why their noses are so long and pointed. They have to dig for roots and nose around for other things to eat, for they are never fed like our pigs in the North are. The darkeys have nothing to give them. They run wild until winter, then when the negroes are about starved out, they kill a hog and cut him up into bacon, hams, souse, sausage and so forth. And you can rest assured that there isn't a part of him that is not eaten, even to his tail and beady eyes. I hear they boil the eye and eat it like we would a boiled egg."
"Ugh! Billy, you make me feel sick even to listen to you," said Nannie.
"Hark! I hear wheels on the road," said Billy. "I thought so! It is the father coming home. Did you ever see such a thin mule or such a dilapidated wagon? It looks as if it would fall to pieces if one only sneezed at it."
"Come," said Nannie. "Let's sneak by and find some nice mossy bed to sleep on. I am getting very tired and sleepy."
It was all very well to say sneak by, but with eight pair of bright black eyes alert for anything passing on the road, there was small chance of their getting by unmolested, especially with their white hair.
"Oh, mammy, look! Look at dem goats goin' down the road!" and eight pairs of legs began to move more or less fast, according to their length and age, toward Billy and Nannie.
"Come on, Nannie, we can outrun them any time!" called Billy.
Which they did, but not until the two oldest boys had chased them some time. The goats had just left them behind and were entering the forest again when Nannie took an unexpected somersault. She was running in the middle of the road over some oyster shells that had been thrown there in the morning waiting for the steam crusher to come and grind them into powder, to mend the road, when she mistook an old brown razor-backed hog for a shadow, and before she knew it, she had taken a header over him and came down flat on her back.
When Billy saw what had happened, of course he thought the
razor-back had attacked her, for they are very cross when chased
away from the oyster shells. They nose around in them for any
mon1917.2007.001.0145.jpg oysters or pieces of oysters that may still be sticking to the shells. So Billy went for him, but instead of running away, as Billy thought he would do, the hog stood still, ready to fight, and as Billy expected to find open space where the hog had stood when he got there, he was surprised to have his head come in contact with a hard, bony substance, and the impact sent him flying back several feet. This made him angry, as well as the hog, and they both charged on each other at the same time. For a while it looked pretty bad for Billy as the hog attacked him with long, gleaming teeth and tried to rip him open with his long tusks.
But as the hog charged at him, Billy gave a nimble spring and
leaped clear over him, which surprised the hog so that he did not
know what to do for a second, and he ran straight ahead, squealing
with anger, and looking in all directions for his enemy. He never
thought of looking behind him, though he did look straight up in
the air. You see just as he lowered his head and turned it a little to
mon1917.2007.001.0146.jpg one side with jaw sticking up to get at Billy better, he closed his eyes. Consequently he did not see where Billy had disappeared to, and all he saw was empty space, and his head hit nothing at all.
While he was running ahead looking for his foe, Billy sneaked up behind him and gave him a butt that sent him flying yards ahead where he fell in amongst a bank of sharp prickly cactus. And while he was trying to extricate himself, Billy and Nannie proceeded on their journey.
They had not gone far when they came to a clear little stream
that flowed from a spring of deliciously cool water up on a little
knoll covered with big live-oak trees and overlooking the Bay of
Mississippi. These trees were over two hundred and fifty years old,
and their branches were as big around as one ordinary tree trunk up
North. Instead of their branches growing out straight, they curled
and twisted like snakes when in motion. They were so long and
wide that their shadow covered a space over fifty feet square. And
on these branches was a moss with tiny ferns growing out of it. The
peculiarity of this moss is that it dries up quickly and looks as if
dead, but at the first rain it freshens up, turns green again and
clothes the limbs of the trees with a beautiful soft green. One name
for it is Everlasting, as it seems never to die, but revives with every
shower. These trees are among the most beautiful in all the world,
and they are well beloved as they deserve to be with their ever green,
mon1917.2007.001.0147.jpg brilliant, shining leaves. They are wonderfully beautiful for as they shed one set of leaves, others take their place so fast that they always look clothed with verdure. Of all trees they are the most ideal for making seats in their branches. This is a favorite way of making summer houses in Biloxi and all along the Gulf shore.
It was under trees like this that Billy and Nannie found the spring, drank their fill, and then bathed in it, before they lay down on a bed of soft green moss, where they slept peacefully until morning.
THE MILITARY CAMP
Bright and early the next morning Billy and Nannie were awakened by the singing of the birds in the trees above their heads.
"Do listen, Billy! Don't they sound sweet?"
"Yes, very, but we must not stop to listen to them or we will never overtake Stubby and Button, for it is they who are ahead of us, I feel sure, after what the goats told us. By the way, I wonder if the goats have gotten over their fright and have arrived safely at their home without those men hitting them too hard with their long whips."
"I think," said Nannie, "if you wish to start soon that we better eat a little breakfast up here under the trees around the spring, where the grass is clean and cool. It tastes so much better than that along the roadside, which is all covered with dust."
"Yes, and I just hate dusty grass. It makes such a mud paste in one's mouth."
So they started and for an hour and a half they kept to the main road, traveling as fast as they could. They were trotting along close together with heads lowered, looking neither to the right nor left when Billy's quick ear caught the sound of military music, and he recognized it as the call to arms. For you must know that Billy had been a mascot in the army in the war between the Japanese and the Russians several years before.
"Oh, how I love the sound of a military band! The music is so inspiring, and it seems to me I could walk forever to march music and. never tire. Let's hurry and see what it is behind these woods, for the sound comes from that direction."
In less than five minutes
they came out of the woods
and on their left they saw a big military encampment with the soldiers coming out of their tents to form in line. Soon the company
mon1917.2007.001.0151.jpg was formed, and their captain gave the command for them to march, issued in a clear, commanding voice.
"My, but he has a fine voice for a commander! I love to hear a good, strong voice give the orders as much as I hate to hear a man with a little, weak, wheezing voice try to give them. Some men seem born to command. But look at that little poppinjay of a band leader! See all the airs he is putting on! Nan, if he doesn't stop strutting like that, I shall feel obliged to butt him into a cocked hat."
"See, Billy, see! They are marching straight toward us."
Sure enough, they came straight toward where the two goats
stood. When within twenty feet of them, their captain called,
"Company halt! Right about face!" And the company came to a
standstill, with their backs toward Billy and Nannie. As they stood
at attention stiff and straight, and in a long single line, Billy did
one of the most awful things of his life. And he never could tell
why he did it, either. It was just an irresistible desire to butt those
men and see them fall over stiff and straight on their faces like a
row of nine-pins. With a bound he left Nannie's side and beginning
at one end, he went biff! butt! bing! biff ! butt! bang! until not
a man was standing, and all lay on their faces with legs stretched
out straight behind them. At this moment their captain, who
had been walking away from them, turned to issue the command
for them to march forward, when lo! what did he see but his soldiers
mon1917.2007.001.0152.jpg lying face down, stretched out as if dead. And the queerest part of all was that they all looked exactly alike and as if they had been killed instantly with a shot through the heart. He knew this could not be the case, for not a shot had he heard. But as he looked, one by one the soldiers began to come to life, and he ran to see what he could do for them. At the same time Billy spied the drum major still waving his baton and going through his antics as Billy called the signals he was making with his baton. Trum, trum, trum-a-lum, lum! sounded the drum. When biff! and the drum major went flying up in the air, and a second later something hard hit him in the middle of the back and up he went like a sky rocket, with legs and arms flying out in all directions as if he were a jumping-jack and someone was pulling the string. His helmet went whirling through the air and came down right side up and settled down on the head of one of the buglers, completely covering his head and face. Everything was in confusion and the captain was calling out commands that the soldiers were too dazed to hear or obey. And Billy was watching the trouble he had made with a broad grin on his face. When he heard the command given for the company to break ranks and catch that goat, he saw pandemonium break loose. Soldiers, officers and men all ran hither and thither trying to capture Billy and Nannie.
They would think they had them cornered when they were
either butted or the goats leaped over their heads. At last seeing a
mon1917.2007.001.0153.jpg door open, Billy ran in to get away from five men who were pursuing him, and he found himself in a bedroom with a very, very fat lady sitting in an invalid chair by a low window. As Billy came in the door, she jumped from her chair and squeezed herself through the small window. How she ever did it no one knew unless her flesh was so soft that it slid up and down and adjusted itself to the small space so she could get through. She fell all in a heap, but stayed down only a second, then was up and flying across the parade ground, calling, "Charlie! Charlie!" at the top of her voice.
Charlie was the given name of the captain of the company, and the fat lady was his wife.
You may think it was funny for her to run across the open space of the parade ground, but it was not half as queer as the bare idea that she could run at all, for you must know that for the last five years this lady had imagined she could not walk, or even take a step. Hence the wheeled chair she was sitting in when Billy entered her room. Her terrible fright had effected a cure, and she had fled from Billy, never stopping to think whether or not she could move.
The Captain was too dumfounded to move when he saw his wife come tumbling out of the window and thought someone must be throwing her out, but when he saw her running to him, his surprise and joy at seeing her on her feet knew no bounds, and he hurried to meet her. She fell fainting in his arms, and just as she did so he looked up and saw Billy standing at the window looking out. He quickly gave an order for none of the soldiers or men to hurt a hair of the goat's head as he had been the means of making his wife walk.
When she came out of the swoon, she was very much surprised to find herself laid out on the grass of the parade ground, with her head on her husband's knee, and still more surprised when she found she had not only come there herself, but had run after climbing out of the window.
"Me, with my two hundred pounds, come through that small window? Never! I might believe a good deal, but that I came through that window and ran here never!"
Just then Billy's head appeared at the window, and with a
shriek she threw up her arms, jerked herself loose from her husband
and ran toward the open road. She was thus running when all of
a sudden it occurred to her that she actually was using her feet, and
running at that. She was so overcome with joy to find that she could
use her feet that she kept on running and running, and it was some
mon1917.2007.001.0155.jpg time before her husband could overtake her. When he did she threw her arms around his neck and sobbed for joy. And big man that he was, he also cried for joy. She had been badly kicked by a billy-goat when a child and had never gotten over her deadly fear of the animals. But now that a goat had done her such a good turn, she determined to conquer her fear of them, and she asked the Captain if he would not keep the goat just for a mascot. This of course he said he would be delighted to do, and you may rest assured that Billy and Nannie had a good dinner that day and a soft bed of straw on which to sleep, out in a shed near the regiment's horses.
This was only a recruiting camp, where the new men were drilled to be soldiers. For it was rumored that the United States of America might have war with Mexico, and if so they would need more soldiers in a hurry. Consequently they had established these camps all over the country in different States so as to have enough soldiers if real war came. But everyone was praying there would be no such struggle, for the people of the United States hate war and always try to keep out of it if possible.
"Billy, what are you laughing at?" asked Nannie that night as they were lying on their bed of straw after a good dinner.
"Oh, at the way that fat woman legged it across the parade ground. But how she ever squeezed her two hundred pounds through that window beats me!"
“Of course they will be very nice to us," said Nannie, "if we stay here. But we must be going on. Do you propose waiting until night, or going pretty soon?"
"I haven't made up my mind yet. I was just being lazy. This southern climate always makes me feel lazy. Didn't you have to laugh to yourself, Nan, when they were trying to tie us with these thick ropes? As if any rope that was ever woven of hemp could tie us up so we could not get loose!"
"They are pretty thick. Don't you think we had better begin to chew them apart now, for it will take us some time?"
"Perhaps we had," answered Billy.
So the two lay down close beside each other and began to chew on their ropes.
BILLY OBJECTS TO A SCRUBBING
Having done this trick many times before in their lives, it did not take them long to chew the ropes into a pulp and from that into strings and strands which soon fell apart and freed them. And a few moments after that they were trotting side by side across the parade ground toward the entrance. They were about to slip by unnoticed when a sleepy sentinel called, "Halt! Who goes there?"
Receiving no answer, he was alert in a second and, drawing his sword, he barred the way with it.
Billy was about to butt the weapon out of his way when he discovered it was a sword with a long, sharp blade instead of just a club as he had at first taken it to be, and he drew back quickly.
"So it is you, old Mr. Billy, trying to run away, is it? And just the day we need you in the parade, at that! Oh, no, you need not try to edge around toward my coat tail to butt me, either! You can just save your butts for someone else. Now make tracks for your quarters before I waste a little powder on you and your pretty wife."
So Billy and Nannie were forced to return to their shed. They had been there but a short time when Billy got up and went to the back and began to peer through the cracks and knot holes.
"Say, Nannie, I have discovered that this shed looks right onto the woods outside the camp grounds. And I am going to butt a board off so we can squeeze through and get away. I'd like to see any old sentinel stop me when I wish to go!"
"Hark! What is that?" asked Nannie.
"It is the reveille."
"Well, what is the reveille?"
"It is the bugle call at sunrise for the soldiers to turn out. I always love to hear it when played by a good bugler. We had a dandy good one in the regiment to which I belonged in the Japanese- Russian War. They seem to be unusually lively this morning, and I say we stop awhile and see what is going on."
They did not have to wait long for soon a couple of soldiers with a can of luster paint and an extra rope appeared in the shed door, and said:
"Good-morning, Mr. and Mrs. Whiskers! We have come to make you beautiful, for you are to march to Mobile with our Company as their mascot this afternoon. There is to be a reunion of all the troops in this section of the Southern States."
"This way, Briggs!" called a corporal to one of two soldiers
mon1917.2007.001.0159.jpg who were carrying a tub half filled with water. " Bring the tub right in the shed! You see, old boy, you and your wife are to be scrubbed with warm water and soap until your coats are as white as the driven snow. Then your horns and hoofs are to be gilded."
"Not if I know myself!" thought Billy. "I hate soap. It irritates my skin and gets into my eyes and makes them smart, and it gets in my mouth and tastes like spoiled butter. Just let one of you try to put me in that tub of water and you will find it will take half of your regiment to do it. And there will be many lame and black-and-blue men laying round that tub."
"Well, did you ever! " exclaimed the corporal. "These two smart Alec goats have chewed their ropes apart and were about to depart from our midst, I should judge, if we had not come along just when we did. Set the tub in the middle of the shed. Have you got the can of soft soap?"
"That is good, for soft soap makes a much better lather than cake soap to wash dogs or goats and it penetrates to the skin quicker. All ready? Put the big goat in the tub first, Jenkins."
Bold as brass, Jenkins walked up to Billy and was about to
take hold of his horns and lead him to the tub. Then, without moving a foot or changing the expression of his face, Billy lowered his
head and butted Jenkins straight through the door, nearly knocking
mon1917.2007.001.0160.jpg the door from its hinges as he hit it on his way out.
Everyone looked too surprised for words. Then the corporal regained his scattered senses and gave the command for Billy's legs to be tied and then to place him in the tub.
As well try to catch and bind a whirlwind as a cross goat. Billy made one jump on the corporal, clearing the tub as he went. He hit the corporal in the pit of the stomach, which doubled him up like a ball, and he went through the side of the rickety old shed as if it had been made of paper.
Next Billy jumped straight up in the
air, gave a baa, came down, and looked
around for another victim. Seeing a rolypoly soldier
staring at him with
and bulging eyes, he leaped for him just as the fellow came to his
senses and tried to pass. They collided, and the soldier went rolling
out of the shed and over and over like a rubber ball. There was just
one man left now. He was a tall, thin Southerner, so tall that by
reaching up he could touch the rafters. Seeing Billy preparing to
mon1917.2007.001.0161.jpg come at him, he stretched his arms up, grabbed hold of a cross beam and swung his feet up. But not a second too soon, for Billy made a plunge at him, intending to butt him in the corner. But to his surprise, his head hit no soft man, but the hard boards at the back of the shed, and he hit them with such a whack that the board flew off and precipitated Billy outside.
As Billy was gathering his wits together and wondering what had happened, he heard the Captain's voice the other side of the shed saying:
"Corporal Swift, why this delay in getting the goats in shape for the parade?"
Right here the Captain noticed how deathly pale the corporal looked and that he was holding both hands over his stomach as if in great pain.
"Are you ill, Corporal? You seem to be in great distress."
"I am, sir! That cursed Billy goat butted me straight through the side of the shed. Jenkins went through the door and Pat went rolling head over heels down the hill just a moment ago."
"Where is the goat now? " asked the Captain.
"Inside the shed, sir."
"I'll have a look at him."
"Oh, I pray you, Captain, don't! For the love of mercy, and as you value your life, don't go inside that shed! He will butt you as he has us."
“Do you think I am afraid of any goat that was ever born? I should say not! I am going in, and you will see that I shall lead him out quiet as a lamb. It is only tact you need when dealing with goats, not force." And into the shed he stepped.
The corporal stood waiting to see him come flying out heels over head. So did the other men who had now picked themselves up and were waiting to see the result.
The corporal heard him say, "Nice goatie! Nice goatie! Come here, let me pat you!"
You see the goat he saw in the shed was Nannie, who was standing quietly in one corner, not Billy, for he was still outside, where he had landed after his surprising butt at the Southerner.
"Captain, is that you? I beg of you get out of this shed as fast as ever you can. Go while there is yet time!" pleaded a voice above him.
Looking up, the Captain spied the long, lanky Southerner still holding to the rafters.
"You coward!" exclaimed the Captain. "What are you doing up there? You men must be crazy! This goat is as quiet as a lamb. Come, goatie, outside, until I show these cowards how to handle a goat. Come down, Davis! I'll protect you!"
"But, Captain, that is not—”
But the rest of the sentence the Captain never heard. He had
mon1917.2007.001.0163.jpg taken hold of one of Nannie's horns and was leading her out to show the soldiers and the corporal how to manage goats and saying, "See how easy it is if you just use tact?" when what was that which struck him in the back like a ball made of tacks with the points out, and began pushing him across the parade ground in front of all the companies which were drilling? He could not turn around to see for Billy was pushing him too hard and making him step high and lively.
The goat never moved his head an inch, but kept up a steady push with his horns planted in the small of the Captain's back. On, on they went, straight for the frog pond. The Captain saw at last where he was headed and tried his best to dodge those horns at his back. But it was no use. He had to walk fast or be knocked down.
He was within twenty-five feet of the pond when he called for help. This he hated to do as he had called the men cowards and bragged what he could do with goats. And now his pride was to have a fall before his whole regiment. Think of it! A ducking in a frog pond!
“Help! Help!" he called.
Aid was on the way, but it came too late, for Billy gave him an extra boost that sent him up in the air five feet and when he came down, he landed right in the middle of the pond and disappeared for a moment under the water lily leaves. When he came up, he was a sorry sight, with all the roots and leaves of the lilies sticking to his hair and trailing down over his shoulders.
And the first words he uttered when he climbed out of the pond were, "Shoot that goat!"
On hearing this, Billy ran across the parade ground to the shed as fast as ever he could, baaing for Nannie to follow him. Just outside the shed, he baaed, " Nannie, we must hurry! The Captain has given orders for me to be shot. It is a good thing that this shed stands on the border of the woods, for now we can escape and hide before they get their guns and find us."
For twenty minutes Billy and Nannie ran faster than they had
ever run in their lives. At last they came to a barn with the door
standing open. Seeing no one around, they ran in the barnyard and
into the barn. Once inside, they spied a slanting ladder that led
up into the hayloft. Up this they clambered as nimbly as cats
and when once there, they went to the darkest corner and lay
down, covering themselves with the hay. They stayed as quiet as
mice, for fear the farmer would come and find them. In less than
mon1917.2007.001.0165.jpg half an hour they heard the farmer come home and he began putting up his horses.
"Oh, Billy, if he should decide to give them some hay and come up here for it, and discover us! He would tell the soldiers where we are."
"Listen!" said Billy. "I hear the patter of horses' hoofs coming in a gallop down the road from the direction of the camp. They are hunting us on horseback!"
"Oh, Billy, I am so afraid! I am all in a tremble!”
"Don't be afraid, little wife! We are safe. No one saw us enter here. And if anyone comes up here to capture us, I'll butt them off the ladder onto the barn floor and they will break their necks one after the other as fast as they try to climb up. Sssh! Don't talk! The farmer might hear us."
"Hello!" called a soldier on horseback, drawing up alongside the road. "Mr. Sheepstakes, did you see two goats pass your place within the hour?"
"No, but I have just come home."
"Well, then, did you pass any on the road?"
"Yes, I passed a flock of goats, but I did not see just two alone."
"Were there two big, white ones in the flock?"
"Yes, there were white ones, but I did not notice how big they were. Have you lost some goats?"
But the soldier had not waited to listen to more. He had heard all he cared to: that there were two white goats in the flock, and he took it for granted the two he was pursuing had joined this flock.
"There, dear!" comforted Billy. "That fool has jumped at conclusions and gone off in a hurry, expecting to capture us. Well, he has lost his chance! He will never find us now. We will stay here until dark, and the farmer has gone to bed. Then we will eat some of this fresh hay, steal a few vegetables out of his garden, and go on our way. And if I don't miss my guess, we will be in Mobile by morning, for I do not think it is far from here."
"But what if the farmer should lock the barn door?" said Nannie. "We could not get out."
"Oh, Nan, will you never learn that no barn doors were ever made that could keep me in if I wanted to get out?"
"Well, I think we better take a little snooze now so as to be rested when it is time to start," suggested Nannie.
And soon the two were fast asleep.
STUBBY AND BUTTON ARE FOUND AT LAST
Billy and Nannie had been asleep only about half an hour, when Billy was wakened suddenly by he knew not what. Being a very light sleeper at the best of times, he did not think much of this, for he knew that the slightest sudden sound would rouse him. Nevertheless, he was all ears, waiting to see if the noise that had wakened him would not be repeated.
Now it had been the falling of a spade and pitchfork that went rattling to the floor of the barn below that had disturbed him. He listened for some time, but hearing nothing more was just falling off asleep again when his quick ear caught the sound of padded footsteps on the barn floor below them.
Yes, there were muffled steps, and they were coming toward the ladder to the hayloft where he and Nannie were.
"It must be tramps looking for a place to sleep," he thought.
"And they must have bound rags on their feet so as to make no
noise. Well, they .will have the surprise of their lives when they
get up here and find they have two goats for bedfellows; that is, if
mon1917.2007.001.0168.jpg they don't take us for long-bearded men in the dark and flee."
Billy kept his eyes on the spot where the top of the ladder touched the hayloft, and by a streak of moonlight that fell aslant across the loft, he could see anyone that came up the ladder without being seen. So he held his breath and listened.
Presently a little dog appeared at the hop of the ladder.
"Ho, ho!" thought Billy. "The tramps have a dog, have they? That will make it more interesting, and I can see where things will begin to happen soon. For instance, a dog will be butted out the window by a big, white goat, and two or three tramps will be butted off the ladder the moment they set foot in the loft."
"Bow-wow!" barked the dog in a low, cautious voice.
"Mew!" answered a cat.
"Well I never!" said Billy to himself. "If that dog isn't Stubby and that cat Button, I'll lose my guess! Of all the surprises I ever had in my life, this beats them. Now just wait and see me give them a surprise! And afterwards I'll awaken Nannie and we can all watch her eyes stick out with surprise."
Just then a huge black cat appeared at the top of the ladder. In the faint light he looked as large as the dog himself. In fact, he was as tall, but not quite so heavy.
"Sure it is they," exclaimed Billy. "Gee, but it does my eyes
good to see those fellows safe and well once again! For when we
mon1917.2007.001.0169.jpg separated out West, none of us knew when or where we would meet again, if ever."
"This way, Button ! Let's go over in that dark corner out of the moonlight and lie down."
And side by side, the two approached where Billy and Nannie lay hidden.
"Bow-wow!" barked Stubby. "Who is there?"
For Billy had kicked some hay over his head to partly hide himself and make Stubby's and Button's surprise all the greater when he shook it off.
"Bow-wow, bow-wow!" which meant, "If you don't tell me who you are, I'll make you."
Billy never moved a muscle, but the next thing he knew, Stubby was clawing the hay off his head.
"Billy Whiskers!" exclaimed Stubby. "By all that is wonderful, where in the world did you come from, and how do you happen to be here hiding?"
"To whom are you talking, Stubby, or are you just talking to yourself?" mewed Button.
"No, I am not talking to myself. But come and see to whom I am talking."
And just then Button got a glimpse of Billy's horns and Nannie's back.
“Billy and Nannie, as sure as I am alive! If this isn't luck, I don't know what is! For we have been trying to find you for weeks."
"And we you," said Billy. "And mighty glad I am to find you. Come over here and lie down in this dark corner where we won't be seen should anyone come up the ladder and give a casual glance around. Then Nannie and I will give an account of ourselves and you can tell us what has befallen you since we parted."
Presently they were all cosily huddled together, and Stubby said:
"Now that we are nicely and comfortably fixed, Billy, you and Nannie must tell us all that has happened to you since last we met out West."
And as this story is what happened to them I will not repeat it but let you little boys and girls read it and find out for yourselves.
The Billy Whiskers Game
A million delighted youngsters have read the
BILLY WHISKERS BOOKS
THERE'S A LAUGH ON EVERY PAGE
The same delighted youngsters (and their parents too) will play the new board game where Billy DOES all the things the stories tell.
THERE'S A LAUGH AT EVERY PLAY
The Billy Whiskers Game
The Game's The Thing!"
Billy Whiskers Series
The antics of frolicsome Billy Whiskers, that adventuresome goat Mrs. Montgomery writes about in these stories make all the boys and girls chuckle—and every story that is issued about him is pronounced by them "better than the last."
|2.||Billy Whiskers’ Kids|
|3.||Billy Whiskers, Junior|
|4.||Billy Whiskers' Travels|
|5.||Billy Whiskers at the Circus|
|6.||Billy Whiskers at the Fair|
|7.||Billy Whiskers' Friends|
|8.||Billy Whiskers, Jr., and His Chums|
|9.||Billy Whiskers' Grandchildren|
|10.||Billy Whiskers' Vacation|
|11.||Billy Whiskers Kidnaped|
|12.||Billy Whiskers’ Twins|
|13.||Billy Whiskers in an Aeroplane|
|14.||Billy Whiskers in Town|
|15.||Billy Whiskers in Panama|
|17.||Billy Whiskers at the Exposition|
|18.||Billy Whiskers Out West|
|19.||Billy Whiskers in the South|
|20.||Billy Whiskers in Camp|
|21.||Billy Whiskers in France|
|22.||Billy Whiskers' Adventures|
|23.||Billy Whiskers in the Movies|
|24.||Billy Whiskers Out for Fun|
|25.||Billy Whiskers' Frolics|
|26.||Billy Whiskers at Home|
BOUND IN BOARDS
COVER IN COLORS
PROFUSE TEXT ILLUSTRATIONS
PULL-PAGE DRAWINGS IN COLORS
THE SAALFIELD PUBLISHING COMPANY--AKRON, OHIO
By FRANCES TREGO MONTGOMERY
and the Irrepressibles
at Buena Vista Farm
Seven city boys and as many city girls are turned loose to spend a whole summer on a farm.
This lively chronicle of their doings just bubbles over with fun and good times.
Cloth bound, quarto, lavishly illustrated with halftones on almost every page.$1.50
The Wonderful Electric Elephant
One reviewer says: "Mrs. Montgomery's books are touched with the sparkle of real genius. It's a delight to travel in her company."
And indeed it is a privilege for boys and girls to visit the strange lands to which the Electric Elephant transports them— there's wonder on every page.
Cloth bound, 12mo, profuse illustrations.
On a Lark to the Planets
"It's an assurance of happiness for any young person to possess this volume," declares The Birmingham Ledger.
Cloth bound, 12mo, scores of illustrations,
The Adventures of a Frisky Fox Terrier
And that he is frisky will be the verdict of the happy youngsters, for Zip frolics through these pages in a most delightful way, bringing many an adventure in his wake.
Bound in boards, many text illustrations, four full-page drawings in colors.... $0.75
THE SAALFIELD PUBLISHING CO.