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The Peterkins Decide To Keep A Cow
by [?]

Not that they were fond of drinking milk, nor that they drank very much. But for that reason Mr. Peterkin thought it would be well to have a cow, to encourage the family to drink more, as he felt it would be so healthy.

Mrs. Peterkin recalled the troubles of the last cold winter, and how near they came to starving, when they were shut up in a severe snow-storm, and the water-pipes burst, and the milk was frozen. If the cow-shed could open out of the wood-shed such trouble might be prevented.

Tony Larkin was to come over and milk the cow every morning, and Agamemnon and Solomon John agreed to learn how to milk, in case Tony should be “snowed up,” or have the whooping-cough in the course of the winter. The little boys thought they knew how already.

But if they were to have three or four pailfuls of milk every day it was important to know where to keep it.

“One way will be,” said Mrs. Peterkin, “to use a great deal every day. We will make butter.”

“That will be admirable,” thought Mr. Peterkin.

“And custards,” suggested Solomon John.

“And syllabub,” said Elizabeth Eliza.

“And cocoa-nut cakes,” exclaimed the little boys.

“We don’t need the milk for cocoa-nut cakes,” said Mrs. Peterkin.

The little boys thought they might have a cocoa-nut tree instead of a cow. You could have the milk from the cocoa-nuts, and it would be pleasant climbing the tree, and you would not have to feed it.

“Yes,” said Mr. Peterkin, “we shall have to feed the cow.”

“Where shall we pasture her?” asked Agamemnon.

“Up on the hills, up on the hills,” exclaimed the little boys, “where there are a great many bars to take down, and huckleberry-bushes!”

Mr. Peterkin had been thinking of their own little lot behind the house.

“But I don’t know,” he said, “but the cow might eat off all the grass in one day, and there would not be any left for to-morrow, unless the grass grew fast enough every night.”

Agamemnon said it would depend upon the season. In a rainy season the grass would come up very fast, in a drought it might not grow at all.

“I suppose,” said Mrs. Peterkin, “that is the worst of having a cow,–there might be a drought.”

Mr. Peterkin thought they might make some calculation from the quantity of grass in the lot.

Solomon John suggested that measurements might be made by seeing how much grass the Bromwicks’ cow, opposite them, eat up in a day.

The little boys agreed to go over and spend the day on the Bromwicks’ fence, and take an observation.

“The trouble would be,” said Elizabeth Eliza, “that cows walk about so, and the Bromwicks’ yard is very large. Now she would be eating in one place, and then she would walk to another. She would not be eating all the time; a part of the time she would be chewing.”

The little boys thought they should like nothing better than to have some sticks, and keep the cow in one corner of the yard till the calculations were made.

But Elizabeth Eliza was afraid the Bromwicks would not like it.

“Of course, it would bring all the boys in the school about the place, and very likely they would make the cow angry.”

Agamemnon recalled that Mr. Bromwick once wanted to hire Mr. Peterkin’s lot for his cow.

Mr. Peterkin started up.

“That is true; and of course Mr. Bromwick must have known there was feed enough for one cow.”

“And the reason you didn’t let him have it,” said Solomon John, “was that Elizabeth Eliza was afraid of cows.”

“I did not like the idea,” said Elizabeth Eliza, “of their cow’s looking at me over the top of the fence, perhaps, when I should be planting the sweet peas in the garden. I hope our cow would be a quiet one. I should not like her jumping over the fence into the flower-beds.”