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PAGE 5

The Water Goats
by [?]

“Are they near by, Mike?” asked Casey, much interested.

“Naw,” said Toole. “‘Twill be some time till I git thim. Th’ last he heard of thim they were swimmin’ in th’ Lake of Geneva.”

“Is it far, th’ lake?” asked Casey.

“I disremimber how far,” said Toole. “‘Tis in Africa or Asia, or mebby ’tis in Constantinople. Wan of thim countries it is, annyhow.”

But to his cousin Dennis he wrote:

“Dear Dennis–I will take them two dongolas. Crate them good and solid. Do not send them till I tell you. Send the bill to me. Your affectionate cousin alderman Michael Toole. Ps Make bill for two hundred dollars a piece. Business is business. This is between us two. M. T.”

A Keeper of the Water Goats had been selected with the utmost care, combining in the choice practical politics with a sense of fitness. Timothy Fagan was used to animals–for years he had driven a dumpcart. He was used to children–he had ten or eleven of his own. And he controlled several votes in the Fourth Ward. His elevation from the dump-cart of the street cleaning department to the high office of Keeper of the Water Goats was one that Dugan believed would give general satisfaction.

When the goats arrived in Jeffersonville the two heavy crates were hauled to Alderman Toole’s back yard to await the opening of the park, and there Mayor Dugan and Goat Keeper Fagan came to inspect them. Alderman Toole led the way to them with pride, and Mayor Dugan’s creased brow almost uncreased as he bent down and peered between the bars of the crates. They were fine goats. Perhaps they looked somewhat more dejected than a goat usually looks–more dirty and down at the heels than a goat often looks–but they were undoubtedly goats. As specimens of ordinary Irish goats they might not have passed muster with a careful buyer, but no doubt they were excellent examples of the dongola.

“Ye have done good, Mike,” said the mayor. “Ye have done good! But ain’t they mebby a bit off their feed–or something?”

“Off their feed!” said Toole. “An’ who wouldn’t be, poor things? Mind ye, Dugan, thim is not common goats–thim is dongolas–an’ used to bein’ in th’ wather con-continuous from mornin’ till night. ‘Tis sufferin’ for a swim they be, poor animals. Wance let thim git in th’ lake an’ ye will see th’ difference, Dugan. ‘Twill make all th’ difference in th’ worrld t’ thim. ‘Tis dyin’ for a swim they are.”

“Sure!” said the Keeper of the Water Goats. “Ye have done good, Mike,” said the mayor again. “Thim dongolas will be a big surprise for th’ people.”

They were. They surprised the Keeper of the Goats first of all. The day before the park was to be opened to the public the goats were taken to the park and turned over to their official keeper. At eleven o’clock that morning Alderman Toole was leaning against Casey’s bar, confidentially pouring into his ear the story of how the dongolas had given their captors a world of trouble, swimming violently to the far reaches of Lake Geneva and hiding among the bulrushes and reeds, when the swinging door of the saloon was banged open and Tim Fagan rushed in. He was mad. He was very mad, but he was a great deal wetter than mad. He looked as if he had been soaked in water over night, and not wrung out in the morning.

“Mike!” he whispered hoarsely, grasping the little alderman by the arm. “I want ye! I want ye down at th’ park.”

A chill of fear passed over Alderman Toole. He turned his face to Fagan and laid his hand on his shoulder.

“Tim,” he demanded, “has annything happened t’ th’ dongolas?”

“Is annything happened t’ th’ dongolas!” exclaimed Fagan sarcastically. “Is annything wrong with thim water goats? Oh, no, Toole! Nawthin’ has gone wrong with thim! Only they won’t go into th’ wather, Mike! Is annything gone wrong with thim, did ye say? Nawthin’! They be in good health, but they are not crazy t’ be swimmin’. Th’ way they do not hanker t’ dash into th’ water is marvellous, Mike. No water for thim!”