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The Water Goats
by [?]

“Dennis Toole, Franklin Zoo,” he read, “Dongolas won’t swim. How do you make them swim? Telegraph at once. Michael Toole.”

He laid the telegram across his knees and looked at it as if it was some strange communication from another sphere. He pushed his hat to one side of his head and scratched the tuft of red hair thus bared.

“‘Dongolas won’t swim!”‘ he repeated slowly. “An’ how do I make thim swim? I wonder does Cousin Mike take th’ goat t’ be a fish, or what? I wonder does he take swimmin’ to be wan of th’ accomplishments of th’ goat?” He shook his head in puzzlement, and frowned at the telegram. “Would he be havin’ a goat regatta, I wonder, or was he expectin’ th’ goat t’ be a web-footed animal? ‘Won’t swim!’ he repeated angrily. ‘Won’t swim!’ An’ what is it to me if they won’t swim? Nayther would I swim if I was a goat. ‘Tis none of me affair if they will not swim. There was nawthin’ said about ‘swimmin’ goats.’ Goats I can give him, an’ dongola goats I can give him, an jumpin’ goats, an’ climbin’ goats, an’ walkin’ goats, but ’tis not in me line t’furnish submarine goats. No, nor goats t’ fly up in th’ air! Would anny one,” he said with exasperation, “would anny one that got a plain order for goats ixpict t’ have t’ furnish goats that would hop up off th’ earth an’ make a balloon ascension? ‘Tis no fault of Dennis Toole’s thim goats won’t swim. What will Mike be telegraphin’ me nixt, I wonder? ‘Dear Dennis: Th’ goats won’t lay eggs. How do ye make thim?’ Bye, have ye a piece of paper t’ write an answer t’ me cousin Mike on?”

The Keeper of the Water Goats and Alderman Toole were sitting on a rustic bench looking sadly at the water goats when the Jeffersonville telegraph messenger brought them Dennis Toole’s answer. Alderman Toole grasped the envelope eagerly and tore it open, and Fagan leaned over his shoulder as he read it:

“Michael Toole, Alderman, Jeffersonville,” they read. “Put them in the water and see if they will swim. Dennis Toole.”

“Put thim in th’ wather!” exclaimed Alderman Toole angrily. “Why don’t ye put thim in th’ wather, Fagan? Why did ye not think t’ put thim in th’ wather?” He looked down at his soaking clothes, and his anger increased. “Why have ye been tryin’ t’ make thim dongolas swim on land, Fagan?” he asked sarcastically. “Or have ye been throwin’ thim up in th’ air t’ see thim swim? Why don’t ye put thim in th’ wather? Why don’t ye follow th’ instructions of th’ expert dongola water goat man an’ put thim in th’ wather if ye want thim t’ swim?”

Fagan looked at the angry alderman. He looked at the dripping goats.

“So I did, Mike,” he said seriously. “We both of us did.”

“An’ did we!” cried Alderman Toole in mock surprise. “Is it possible we thought t’ put thim in th’ wather whin we wanted thim t’ swim? It was in me mind that we tied thim to a tree an’ played ring-around-a-rosy with thim t’ induce thim t’ swim! Where’s a pencil? Where’s a piece of paper?” he cried.

He jerked them from the hand of the messenger boy. The afternoon was half worn away. Every minute was precious. He wrote hastily and handed the message to the messenger boy.

“Fagan,” he said, as the boy disappeared down the path at a run, “raise up yer spirits an come an’ give th’ water goats some more instructions in th’ ginteel art of swimmin’ in th’ wather.”

Fagan sighed and arose. He walked toward the dejected water goats, and, taking the nearest one by the horns yanked it toward the lake. The goat was too weak to do more than hold back feebly and bleat its disapproval of another bath. The more lessons in swimming it received the less it seemed to like to swim. It had developed a positive hatred of swimming.