True Stories About Cats and DogsbyMrs. Eliza Lee Follen
In a pretty, quiet village in New England lived Mary Chilton. Shewas a widow. She had two sons; and it was the occupation and thehappiness of her life to do all she could to make her boys good andhappy. I should say to help and teach them to be good and happy; forboys and girls must make themselves good; and then, of course, theywill be happy; and no one can be made good or happy against hiswill.
I hear some boy or girl who reads this say, “How old were they, andwhat were their names?” No boy can get along with another boy tillhe knows his name and age, and so, that you may be sure that theywere real, live boys, I will tell you these important facts. Theeldest was called Frank, and was nine years old. His brother wascalled Harry, and was seven. They were very much like other boys,somewhat disposed to have their own way in every thing, and a littlevexed when they could not do as they pleased; sometimes reallywishing to do right, and be obedient, and make their mother happy.
The little fellows were fond of saying to their mother that whenthey grew bigger they should take care of her; and the idea that shedepended upon them for her happiness often made them stop and thinkwhen they were disposed to do a wrong thing.
When Harry said to Frank, “Mother will be so sorry if we do it,”Frank would stop and think, and that was enough.
Stop and think. Grand words, and worth attending to. I believe that,if boys and girls would only keep these words well in mind, therewould be only a small number of really naughty children.
It was a custom with this good and faithful mother to have a littletalk with her boys, every night before their bed time, of what hadpassed during the day. Sometimes she told them stories, sometimesthey repeated poetry.
The hours they passed in this way were the happiest in the wholeday. Some of their twilight talks and stories Mrs. Chilton wrotedown, thinking they might amuse some little cousins, who lived at adistance. Perhaps some other little boys and girls may like to hearthem too.
One evening, early in November, when tea was over, and the teathings were removed; when the nice hearth was swept clean, and thegreat wood fire was blazing brightly, and sending forth its cheeringlight and heat through the whole room, Frank and Harry had takentheir accustomed places, one on each side of their mother who wassitting on the old-fashioned sofa. Each one appropriated a hand tohimself, when they both, almost in the same breath, said to her,”You promised us, Mother, if we were good boys, to tell us a storythis evening. Now, have we not been good boys all day?”
“Yes, you have,” she replied; “you have not quarrelled, and you havegot your lessons well; and I will gladly perform my promise. But Ihardly know whether I can remember or make up any story to tell you.However, I will do my best. What sort of a story will you have?”
“I,” said Frank, “should like a real good true story about a dog, orany other animal.”
“And I like a made-up story best,” said Harry.
“I have an anecdote of a dog for you, Frank, which a friend relatedto me the other day, and which I determined to remember to tell you,as I recollected your love for dogs. The lady who told me the storyis an English woman. She was in the place where the thing happened,at the very time, and knew the dog and his master.
An English gentleman had a small dog, I think a terrier; he took itwith him across the English Channel to Calais which, you know, is inFrance. He had business there, and remained some time. One day hispoor little dog was severely treated by a French dog, much largerthan himself.
The little terrier knew that he could not punish the big French dog.For some days you might see him with his head hanging down as wellas his tail, and a most melancholy expression in his face. At last,he disappeared. His master, who was very fond of him, made everyinquiry after him. In vain–his little four-footed friend wasnowhere to be found.
One day, not long after, in walked the terrier, bringing with him adog much larger than himself. He and his big friend looked very busyand important, as if they had on hand some weighty affair totransact. They showed how seriously they were cogitating, by curlingup their tails even more than common.
The terrier, after receiving gratefully his master’s caresses, andtaking care that his great friend should receive his full share ofthe food which was given them, led the way, through the court yard,to the front of the house. There they took their place, and sat fora long time, looking as solemn as two judges hearing a cause, or twodeacons at church watching some troublesome boys.
It seems the little terrier had been to England, and told of the badtreatment he had received from the large French dog, and had broughtover a great dog friend to avenge the insult.
Patiently they sat for some time, looking up street.
At length, the terrier began to prick up his ears, and, in doglanguage, he told his big friend that the enemy was approaching.They waited quietly till he was near them, and then they both sprangupon the cowardly fellow, gave him a good drubbing, and sent him offwith his tail between his legs.
After this, the big English dog, without looking round to see whatthey did, and said, and how they looked in France, wagging his tailwith great satisfaction, and perhaps saying to the little dog thathe could not understand French, and pitied him for having a masterwho could endure living in a foreign land, especially France, hisdogship walked aboard a packet, and, with a solemn face and self-satisfied, triumphant air, without paying his passage, and with histail turned towards France and the ship’s company, placed himself inthe forward part of the vessel, and so returned to his native land.
“Hurrah for dogs!” cried Harry, clapping his hands. “I say they areas good as men any day. They say, Mother, that the Indians believetheir dogs will go to heaven with them. Will they, Mother?”
“We know nothing of the future state of animals, Harry. We only know that they are more gentle and intelligent the more kind we are to them. The most savage animals are tamed by constant kindness. Who does not remember Sir Walter Scott’s pet pig? The reason why the pigwas so fond of his master was that Sir Walter had not treated him piggishly, but humanely.