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The Squire's Fun

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Squire Doolittle was a farmer, fL and joll}7, who liked fun, but alwny preferred it at some one else's expense If he could play a trick upon one c his sons, he enjoyed it hugely. As consequence, the boys did not revei ence him very much, and were alway trying some practical joke upon thei father. Sometimes they succeeded, bu not often. "l'm too oíd a íish to be caught b' the pin hooks of boys," he would say when some plan of theirs had miscar ried and the joke was turned upon them selves, much to his delight and theii chagrin. "You've heard of weasuls, havent you? Yes? Well, weasels, espeeiaily old weasels, never sleep." "We must get a laugh against him in some way, said Torn. "He's toe provoking! I'd give a dollar to trick him in such a way that he wouldn't like to hearit." "Sio would I,' said John. "And Fd make it two," said Robert. 'But we're hardly sharp enough. That's the trouble." It happened that the squire was in the haymow in the barn when this conversation took place, and the boys were sitting on some boxes on the barn floor. He chuckled as he listened, and i moment later called out from his loftv perch, "L'll teil you what l'll do, boys. When you get a good joke on me, 1 buy each one of you a hat. " The boys looked foolish. Butfinally, because thev had nothing else to say, they accepted the challenge, and in a halt' hearted sort of way, set their wits to work to earn the hals. In the squire's flock of .heep was an old ram called David. The animal had a chronic spite against the whole human farnily, and never lost an opportuhity of exhibiting it to any individual of the family that crossed his path. If a stranger entered the yard or pasture where David was, the poor man was fortúnate if he was notknocked down as raddsnlj as if he had neen struck by lightnmg. The ram al ways attacked fin im the roar. He would get behind the object of his attack, curb his neck, shuthis eyes. and charge! Asmay be imagined, the great horns of the animal, baeked up by the momentum gathered by his charge, gave anything but a pleasant sensation when they came in contact with the legs ol his unsuspecting victim. Generally a board was strapped to his horns, over his woolly face, to obstruct his range of rision and serve as a warning to strangers of his warlike propensities. But he often contrived to tear it from his head - and then, alssforhis unsuspecting victim. The boys enjoyed niany an hour of fun with David. The sheep pasture came up to the barnyard on one side, and a creek ran along bv both. Where the pasture came to the creek there was a very high bank, and this bank was stoep. The Doolittle boys used to get upoa a narrow rock that was justunder the edge of the bank. Here, when they stood up, all of their bodies above the waist could be seen above the level of the pasture. Placing themselves in this position, they would attract the attention of old David by calling and shaking their bate at him. He was al ways ready for battle. With lowered head. curbed neck and snort of anger, he would rush at them with his eye3 closed. Taking advau.age of this peculiarity, the boys would drop üown behind the bank, and David would go over them and into the water, with a plunge that wonld have done credit t-j a NewfoundLmd dog. Theti he would get back to tho shore, looking wrathfuí and sheepisli; but he could not be indueed to renew the attack again at thattime. His memory, however, was poor, or his puguaeity was too strong for his discretion, for ík anhour, if the boys carne back and showed themselves above the bank, he was ready for another charge. Perhaps the foolish animal thought tfcat some time he would be too quick for them. The squire had often watched thï' sport, and laughed at David's reckle.-tsnessandfvt hisappearance as he plungi: into the water and came forth witli wc wool and disgusted and wrathful aspect. Ona aay the squiro was in the barn yard, salting the eows. He had a half bushei measure in his hand, and as he lookcd over the fence into the sheep pasture, and saw David watching him, he held up the measure and shook it al the old fellow. David gave a snort of deflance, and began to curb his neok and shake his hoad. as if challenging the squire to corubat. 1 wonder if Iecmldn't trick the old fellow in the same way that the boyfool him?" thought the deacon. fie looked about the yard, cautiously. Hisons were not in sight. and he coucluded he wouid have alaugh at David's expense. Crawlinn; througti the fence, he reached the rock on which the boys stood in their encounters with David. The ram had not seen him. VVhen th1 squire raised himse.1' cautiously and looked over the bank, David was watching the barnyard, and evidently wondering what had become of the man who had just challenged him. "Hi, David!" cried the squire, holding the half bushei measure out before him as a target for the sheep to aim at. "Hi, David!" David "hi-ed" at once. He gave a grand flourish, as if to say, "Look out there!"' then charged. Unfortunately for the squire, lie was so exciled over the fun that he forgot himself completely, and only thought about the half-bushel measure. Instead of dropping out of the sheep's wav, he swung the measure on one side, in his excitement forgetting that David ahvays shuthis eyes when ne charged, and aimed for the object before him when he closed thora. The consequence was that the ram did not follow the nieasure, but bolted straight for the place where he last saw it, struck tlie poor squire squaru in the stomach and he and David ivent over the bank and into the creekas if shot out of a cannon. "Wall, Isnum!" sputtered the squire, as he made his way to the bank. "1 forgot all about dodging. I do b'leeve i he old reprobate's broke my stornaclie I in, by the way it feels. Yon old irascal!" he screamed to David, whoso air was ono of victory, as hc stood on the pasture side of the fence, making deliant motions with bis head at the dcacon, who hadclambered out of tho water on the barnyard side; 'I'do like to break youroldneck! I shan't get over this for a month, if I ever do. I wouldn't have been so bruised for live dollars. I'm glad the boys didn't see me." He made his way up to the bank and toward the barn, under cover of the fence. He didn't want any one at the house to see hiin in his wet clothes, As ho opened the barn door, a broadside of laughter saluted his ears, from the hay-mow in the end of the barn toward the creek. He knew theD that the boys hour of triumph had come. They had seen bis discomfiture. "I say, father!" irreverently called out Tom, in a voice choked with laughter. "You didn't scrooch quickcnough. Next time you'll know bette" how to do it." "What became of the half-bushel?" asked John, and Rob screamed, "H, David!" in such a way that notwitlistanding hU pain the squire was halfinclined to laugh himself. "I- I aeknowledge that David was too much for me that time," said the squire. looking very red and foolish. "Laugh a way, boys, if it does you any good. "Whafs the price of hats?" askod John. "Well, but the joke wasn't yours," said the squire. "But I'l! teil you what I'll do. If you won'tsay anything about this foolish affair, I'll buy the hats, and give you a day's fishing'anv time you want." "We agree! we agree!" cried the boys. But the story leaked out in some way. and the squiro had to endure a good deal of sly laughter from his fun-loving neighbors. But he never quite forgave old David, and although he (lid not say so, he had a teeling of unqualilied satisfaction when he heard one day that the old sheep's neck had been broken ¦ in a fight.


Ann Arbor Courier
Old News