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The Cow
by [?]

Old Brindle worked at the chain awhile, but it was no use. They were puzzled. They took a long look at the gate, shook it viciously with their horns, then turned impatiently away, like a man who has run four blocks to a bank, only to find “closed” staring him in the face. Several more cows came up, and when they were shown the new jewelry they acted hurt and proceeded to hold an indignation meeting and pass a vote of censure, after which one old she-pirate broke a horn trying to lift the gate off its hinges. After this mishap they acted so discouraged that I concluded they had given it up; but they hadn’t. Old Brindle returned to the attack. She spent half an hour “monkeying” with the gate, and then stopped short and began to study. She had more gall than a ward heeler, more tenacity than an office- seeker, more brains than a boodle alderman. In just ten minutes by the town clock she had the problem solved. With her horn she lifted the chain over the top of the gate- post and walked in, as proud as a boy with a sore toe. I felt like a homicide as I raised the double-barreled gun and pulled both triggers. I felt worse after I had crawled out of the cistern, where the perfidious gun had kicked me, and learned that I had missed the whole drove and sent a hatful of slugs and nails into a neighbor’s china closet. I broke the gun over Old Brindle’s vertebrae and followed up the attack with the garden-fork. After I had chased the entire drove back and forth over the garden a dozen times, and seen what was left of my summer’s work inextricably mixed with the sub-soil, fallen over the wheelbarrow and ruined a $14 pair of trousers, a constable came and arrested me for discharging firearms inside the corporate limits. A young theological gosling, who has since died of excessive goodness, preferred a charge of cruelty to animals against me, and my neighbor sued for the price of his china and got judgment. Old Brindle died and the court decided that it was my duty to buy her. I found her meat too tough for eating and her hide too full of garden-fork holes to be available for sole-leather.

If the retail butchers are to be believed, the cow is a calf until there is no more room on her horn for rings. She seldom lives to be too old to be carved up with a buzz-saw and a cold-chisel and sold as veal.

After she has passed her time of usefulness in the dairy; when she has forgotten how to give four quarts of milk per diem and then kick it over the dewy-lipped maid who has carefully culled it from the maternal fount, the thrifty farmer drives her upon the railway track, wrecks a train with her, then sues the company for $150 damages. Of course the company kicks worse than ever the cow did, but the farmer secures an intelligent jury of brother agriculturalists and the soulless corporation has to come to taw.

Her consort is less brilliant and more impulsive. He has a surly, unsocial disposition and uncertain temper, but can be very polite when he chooses. He has been known to neglect his regular business to assist an embarrassed young man over a rail fence, or entertain a party of picnickers from the city. He has a natural antipathy for red flags, and will cross a forty-acre field to make a mop rag of one and rub its bearer’s nose in the mud–an example that might be advantageously followed by the Chicago authorities.

The calf is one of the most interesting studies in the science of natural history. In its earliest youth it wears long wobbly legs and an expression of angelic innocence; but before it is a week old it knows more than some men who have been honored with high offices and expensive funerals. The calf will eat anything it can swallow, and what it can’t get through its neck it will chew and suck the juice. Tablecloths, hickory shirts, store pants, lace curtains, socks, in fact the entire range of articles familiar to the laundry are tid-bits to the calf. A calf that has any ambition to distinguish himself will leave the maternal udder any time to chew one leg off a new pair of “boughten” pantaloons or absorb the flowing narrative of a “biled” shirt. The calf learns bad habits as readily as an Indian, and the man who did not have a youthful masculine bovine for partner in his boyish deviltry looks back upon a barren and uneventful youth.