Mr. Harry was chaffing Mr. Maxwell very much, and was telling him that any one who entertained him was in for a traveling menagerie. They had a great deal of fun over it, and Mr. Maxwell said that he had had that pretty, white hen as a pet for a long time in Boston. Once when she ha$ some little chickens, a frightened rabbit, that was being chased by a dog, ran into the yard. In his terror he got right under the hen’s wings, and she sheltered him, and pecked at the dog’s eyes, and kept him off till help came. The rabbit belonged to a neighbor’s boy, and Mr. Maxwell bought it from him. From the day the hen protected him, she became his friend, and followed him everywhere.
I did not wonder that the rabbit wanted to see his master. There was something about that young man that made dumb animals just delight in him. When Mrs. Wood mentioned this to him he said, “I don’t know why they should—I don’t do anything to fascinate them.”
“You love them,” she said, “and they know it. That is the reason.”
* * * * *
A HAPPY HORSE
For a good while after I went to Dingley Farm I was very shy of the horses, for I was afraid they might kick me, thinking that I was a “bad dog” like Bruno. However, they all had such good faces, and looked at me so kindly, that I was beginning to get over my fear of them.
Fleetfoot, Mr. Harry’s colt, was my favorite, and one afternoon, when Mr. Harry and Miss Laura were going out to see him, I followed them. Fleetfoot was amusing himself by rolling over and over on the grass under a tree, but when he saw Mr. Harry, he gave a shrill whinny, and running to him, began nosing about his pockets.
“Wait a bit,” said Mr. Harry, holding him by the forelock. “Let me introduce you to this young lady, Miss Laura Morris. I want you to make her a bow.” He gave the colt some sign, and immediately he began to paw the ground and shake his head.
Mr. Harry laughed and went on: “Here is her dog Joe. I want you to like him, too. Come here, Joe.” I was not at all afraid, for I knew Mr, Harry would not let him hurt me, so I stood in front of him, and for the first time had a good look at him. They called him the colt, but he was really a full-grown horse, and had already been put to work. He was of a dark chestnut color, and had a well-shaped body and a long, handsome head, and I never saw, in the head of a man or beast, a more beautiful pair of eyes than that colt had—large, full, brown eyes they were that he turned on me almost as a person would. He looked me all over as if to say: “Are you a good dog, and will you treat me kindly, or are you a bad one like Bruno, and will you chase me and snap at my heels and worry me, so that I shall want to kick you?”
I looked at him very earnestly and wagged my body, and lifted myself on my hind legs toward him. He seemed pleased and put down his nose to sniff at me, and then we were friends. Friends, and such good friends, for next to Jim and Billy, I have loved Fleetfoot.