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The Water Goats
by [?]

“Hist!” said Toole uneasily, glancing around to see that no one but Casey was in hearing. “Mebby ye have not started thim right, Tim.”

“Mebby not,” said Fagan angrily. “Mebby I do not know how t’ start th’ water goat, Toole! Mebby there is one way unbeknownst t’ me. If so, I have not tried it. But th’ forty-sivin other ways I have tried, an’ th’ goats will not swim. I have started thim backwards an’ I have started thim frontwards, an’ I have took thim in by th’ horns an’ give thim lessons t’ swim, an’ they will not swim! I have done me duty by thim, Mike, an’ I have wrastled with thim, an’ rolled in th’ lake with thim. Was it t’ be swimmin’ teacher t’ water goats ye got me this job for?”

“Hist!” said Toole again. “Not so loud, Tim! Ye haven’t told Dugan have ye?”

“I have not!” said Tim, with anger. “I have not told annybody annything excipt thim goats an’ what I told thim is not dacint hearin’. I have conversed with thim in strong language, an’ it done no good. No swimmin’ for thim! Come on down an’ have a chat with thim yersilf, Toole. Come on down an’ argue with thim, an persuade thim with th’ soft sound of yer voice t’ swim. Come on down an’ git thim water goats used t’ th’ water.”

“Ye don’t understand th’ water goat, Tim,” said Toole in gentle reproof. “I will show ye how t’ handle him,” and he went out, followed by the wet Keeper of the Water Goats.

The two water goats stood at the side of the lake, wet and mournful, tied to two strong stakes. They looked weary and meek, for they had had a hard morning, but as soon as they saw Tim Fagan they brightened up. They arose simultaneously on their hind legs and their eyes glittered with deadly hatred. They strained at their ropes, and then, suddenly, panic-stricken, they turned and ran, bringing up at the ends of their ropes with a shock that bent the stout stakes to which they were fastened. They stood still and cowered, trembling.

“Lay hold!” commanded Toole. “Lay hold of a horn of th’ brute till I show ye how t’ make him swim.”

Through the fresh gravel of the beach the four feet of the reluctant goat ploughed deep furrows. It shook its head from side to side, but Toole and Fagan held it fast, and into the water it went.

“Now!” cried Alderman Toole. “Git behind an’ push, Tim! Wan! Two! Three! Push!”

Alderman Toole released his hold and Keeper of the Water Goats Fagan pushed. Then they tried the other goat. It was easier to try the other water goat than to waste time hunting up the one they had just tried, for it had gone away. As soon as Alderman Toole let it go, it went. It seemed to want to get to the other end of the park as soon as possible, but it did not take the short cut across the lake–it went around. But it did not mind travel–it went to the farthest part of the park, and it would have gone farther if it could. So Alderman Toole and Keeper Fagan tried the other water goat. That one went straight to the other end of the park. It swerved from a straight line but once, and that was when it shied at a pail of water that was in the way. It did not seem to like water.

In the Franklin Zoo Dennis Toole had just removed the lid of his tin lunch-pail when the telegraph boy handed him the yellow envelope. He turned it over and over, studying its exterior, while the boy went to look at the shop-worn brown bear. The zoo keeper decided that there was no way to find out what was inside of the envelope but to open it. He was ready for the worst. He wondered, unthinkingly, which one of his forty or more cousins was dead, and opened the envelope.