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The Cow
by [?]

For the enlightenment of city milkmen who never saw a cow, it may be well to state that this more or less useful animal does not resemble a pump in the slightest particular. A cow has four feet, but the subsequent one on the right side is her main reliance. With this foot she can strike a blow that no man or woman born can elude. It resembles a load of drunken chain-shot, and searches every cubic yard of atmosphere in a two-acre lot for a victim before it stops. She is also provided with a caudal appendage that ends in a patent fly-brush. This she uses to wrap around the neck of the milkmaid to prevent her getting away before she has a chance to kick her health corset off and upset the milk.

A cow will eat anything she can steal, from an ear of corn to a hickory shirt. She will leave a square meal especially ordered for her, and gotten up by an imported chef, to fill her measly hide full of straw from a boarding-house bedtick, if she can only steal it. She will work at a crack in a neighbor’s barn for six mortal hours, and wear her tongue as thin as a political platform to get an old corn-cob, when she knows she can have a bushel of corn, all shelled, by going home for it. She is a born thief, a natural marauder. Any cow that has been given opportunities for gleaning knowledge can open a gate that fastens with a combination lock, get into a garden, do fifty dollars’ worth of damage and be six blocks away before the infuriated owner can ram a charge of slugs into a muzzle-loading gun.

The man who has not lived in a small town, where one-half the inhabitants keep cows and expect them to forage their living off the other half, will never fully realize what he has missed unless he starts a daily paper or falls down stairs with the cook stove. When Mrs. B. and I first went into partnership we decided to raise our own garden truck. It is the usual mistake of youngsters. During the long winter evenings they sit by the fire and plan their garden. A 640-acre farm, covered a foot deep with patent fertilizers, mortgages and other modern improvements, would not produce the amount of stuff two moonstruck young amateur gardeners confidently expect to yank from a patch of dirt but little bigger than a postage stamp. Thirty dollars for tools and seeds, ninety-seven dollars’ worth of labor, and four times that amount of worry and vexation of spirit, results in some forty dollars’ worth of “garden sass,” which is promptly referred to the interior department of the neighbors’ cows.

I soon learned that an ordinary gate catch was no bar to the educated cattle in my neighborhood, so I added a bolt. That puzzled them for a night or two, but they soon learned the combination and filled themselves so full of cabbage that cost me two dollars a head to raise, that they couldn’t get out by way of the gate, and I had to knock down a panel of fence to get rid of them. That evening I brought home a double-barreled shot gun, a log-chain and a padlock that would have baffled a cracksman. I chained up the gate, gave the key to Mrs. B. to lose, loaded the gun halfway to the muzzle with tenpenny nails and resolved to hold the fort by main strength. It was a bright moonlight night, and I sat up with a corncob pipe and a robust determination to have fresh beef for breakfast if that padlock failed to do its duty.

About 9 o’clock an old brindle cow came browsing up to the front gate. She took a long survey of the house to see if we had all gone to bed. Having satisfied herself on that point, she inserted her horns between the bars of the front gate and gave it a gentle shake. She looked at the house again to see if the noise had aroused us. Finding all quiet, she went to work on the bolt, first with her horns and then with her tongue. In ten minutes she had it drawn, and started to come in. She was evidently surprised to find herself still on the outside. Two or three of her companions came up and they held a consultation.