So away they went, and Ethel all the time wondered whom the fairy could possibly mean by her friends; but they went so fast that, before she had time to do much thinking, Ethel found herself in a great, green meadow, bright and fresh and cool. Soon they came to a tree with spreading branches; and there, lying under it and resting in its shade, was a gentle looking creature with soft eyes, long smooth horns, and a hairy dress of red and white.
“Here,” said the fairy, “is one of your friends, and a very good friend she is too.” “Oh,” said Ethel, “now I know whom you mean by my friends!”
I wonder who can tell me why the fairy called the cow Ethel’s friend. Yes, because without this friend Ethel would miss her cup of milk at breakfast and the golden butter for her bread.
Ethel gave the white star on the cow’s forehead a gentle pat and, looking into her great dark eyes, she said, “Surely you are my friend, Bossy.” But the fairy said, “Come on, little girl, there are many more friends to see.” So Ethel visited all the friendly animals,—the sheep with their woolly coats, the pigs in their sty, the chickens, the ducks and the geese in the barnyard, the pigeons in their home on the roof, the great clever collie in his kennel; and she found that she owed something to every one of them.
Just as she was giving Rover a farewell pat, old Dobbin, harnessed to the farm wagon, came clattering up to the barn. “Here comes the best friend of all!” cried Ethel. “What should we do without Dobbin to carry the milk and the butter and the eggs to the city, to draw the wood and the coal that keep us warm, to help the farmer plow and harrow the ground in the springtime, to draw in the hay and the grain in the autumn, and to trot cheerfully along the country road when the children take a ride? Oh! I hope the farmer gives him a good, dry bed to sleep upon, a manger of hay and a measure of oats when he is hungry. I hope he combs and smooths Dobbin’s black coat well, and puts a blanket on his back when the weather is cold. I’m sure the farmer wouldn’t cut off Dobbin’s shiny black tail for the world, for how could Dobbin drive away the flies that trouble him, without his tail? I know that there is always plenty of fresh water for Dobbin to drink whenever he is thirsty, and that, sometimes, the children give him a lump of sugar to eat. The farmer never lets Dobbin lose a shoe, I’m sure, for fear he might go lame, but always takes him to the blacksmith if only a nail is loose.”
Buzz z z z! buzz z z z! sounded close to Ethel’s ear. She opened her eyes and looked about. There she sat upon a bench in the park. The sun had gone down behind the tall buildings, and it was almost dark. The pretty elfin in green had vanished. Her country friends were nowhere to be seen. A bee’s gauzy wings and yellow legs were disappearing in the distance. “There goes another of my friends,” said Ethel, “I think he must have come to tell me that it is time to go home.”