Joe and Blinky, from Harper's
Blinky was a poor dirty little puppy whom somebody had lost, and
somebody else had stolen, and whose miserable little life was a burden
to himself until Joe found him. It happened one warm day in July that
Joe, whose bright eyes were always pretty wide open, saw a group of
youngsters eagerly clustering about an object which appeared to interest
them very much. This object squirmed, gasped, and occasionally kicked,
to the great amusement of the little crowd, who liked excitement of any
sort. Joe put his head over the shoulders of the children, and saw a
wretched little dog in the agonies of a convulsion. Now, instead of
giving him pleasure, this sight pained him grievously, as did any
suffering, and Joe pushed his way through the crowd, asking whose dog it
was. No one claimed it; and Joe was watched with great interest, and
warned most zealously, as he took the poor little creature by the nape
of its neck to the nearest pump.
"You'd better look out. He's mad. See if he isn't."
"What yer goin' to do?—kill him? My father's got a pistol; I'll run and
"No, you needn't," said Joe.
There was no pound in the town, and so the dog was worthless, and after
a while the crowd of children found something else to interest them.
Joe bathed the little dog, and rubbed it, and soothed its violent
struggles, and carried it away to a quiet corner on the steps of a house
where a great elm-tree made a refreshing shade. Here he sat a long time,
watching his little patient, and glad to find it getting quieter and
quieter, until it fell fast asleep in his arms. Joe did not move, so
pleased was he to relieve the poor little creature, whose thin flanks
revealed a long course of suffering. There were few passers in the
street, and Joe had no school duties, thanks to its being vacation, so
he was free to do as he chose. After more than an hour the poor little
dog opened its eyes, which were so dazzled by the light that Joe at once
named him Blinky, and presently a hot red little tongue was licking
Joe's big brown hand. That was enough for Joe; it was as plain a "thank
you" as he wanted, and he carried his stray charge home to share his
From that day Joe was seldom seen without Blinky; and after many good
dinners, and plenty of sleep without terrible dreams of tins tied to his
tail, Blinky began to grow handsome, and Joe to be very proud of him.
Blinky slept under Joe's bed, woke him every morning with a sharp little
bark, as much as saying, "Wake up, lazy fellow, and have a frolic with
me," and then bounced up beside him for a game. And how he frisked when
Joe took him out! The only thing he did not enjoy was his weekly
scrubbing, and the combing with an old coarse toilet comb which
followed. But he bore it patiently for Joe's sake. Vacation came to an
end, and school began. This was as sore a trial to Blinky as to Joe, for
of course he could not be allowed in school, though he left Joe at the
door with most regretful and downcast looks, which said plainly, "This
is injustice; you and I should never be parted," and he was always
waiting when school was out.
Joe hated school; he would much rather have been chestnutting in the
woods, gay with their crimson and yellow leaves, or chasing the
squirrels with Blinky; but he knew he had to study, if ever he was to be
of any use in the world, and so he tried to forget the delights of
roaming, or the charms of Blinky's company. But when the first snow
came, how hard it was to stick at the old books! How delicious was the
frosty air, and how pure and fresh the new-fallen snow, waiting to be
made use of as Joe so well knew how!
"Duty first," said Joe to himself, as with shovel and broom he cleared
the path in the court-yard, and shovelled the kitchen steps clean. He
did it so well that his father tossed him some pennies—for he was
saving up to buy Blinky a collar—and he turned off with a light heart
for school, with Blinky at his heels.
The school-mistress had a hard time that day; all the boys were wild
with fun, one only of them not sharing the glee. This one was a little
chap whose parents had sent him up North from Georgia to his relatives,
the parents being too poor after the war to maintain their family. He
was a skinny little fellow, always shivering and snuffling, and his name
Now Bob wasn't a favorite. The boys liked to tease him, called him
"Little Reb," and he in turn disliked them, and was ever ready to report
their mischievous pranks to the teacher. If there was anything pleasant
about the boy, no one knew it, because no one took the trouble to find
out. Bob did not relish the snow; he was pinched and blue, and whenever
he had the chance was huddling up against the stove; besides, he liked
to read, and would rather have staid in all day with a book of fairy
tales than shared the gayest romp they could have suggested. This
afternoon Joe had made so many mistakes in his arithmetic examples that
he was obliged to stay late, and do them over; but he was sorely
annoyed and tempted at hearing the shouts and cries of joy with which
the boys saluted each other as they escaped from the school-room, and he
spoke very crossly when a little voice at his elbow said,
"Please may I go home with you?"
"No," said Joe.
Joe turned, and saw that it was Bob. This provoked him still more. "I
said no, 'tell-tale.' What do I want to be bothered with you?"
Bob turned away, disappointed. Joe kept on at his lesson; it was very
perplexing, and he was out of humor. Besides, the fun outside was
increasing; he could hear the roars of laughter, the whiz of the flying
snow-balls, and the gleeful crows of the conquering heroes. He was the
only one in the school-room. Presently there was a hush, a sort of
premonitory symptom of more mischief brewing outside, which provoked his
curiosity to the utmost.
"Five times ten, divided by three, and— Oh, I can't stand this," said
Joe, as he gave a push to his slate, and ran to the window.
The boys had gone off to the farthest corner of the vacant lot on which
the school-house stood, and by the appearance of things were preparing
to have an animated game of foot-ball; but by the gestures and general
drift of motions Joe saw, to his horror, that poor little Bob was
evidently to be the victim. Already they were rolling him in the snow,
and cuffing him about as if he were made of India rubber, and deserved
no better treatment.
Joe's conscience woke up in a minute, for he knew that if he had allowed
Bob to wait for him as he had wanted to do, the boys would not have
dared to touch him, and he felt ashamed of his unkindness and ill humor
as he saw the results.
The child was getting fearfully maltreated, as Joe saw, not merely on
account of their dislike for him, but because in their gambols the boys
were lost to all sense of the cruelty they were practicing, and they
tossed him about regardless of the fact that his bones could be broken
or his sinews snapped.
Cramming his books in his bag, and snatching up his cap, Joe dashed out
of the door. Blinky was ready for him, and did not know what all this
haste meant, but dashed after his master, as in duty bound.
"I say, fellers, stop that!" he shouted, repeating the "stop that!" as
loud as his lungs could make the exertion. The din was so great that it
was some moments before they heard him, but Blinky barked at their
heels, and helped to arrest their attention.
"Stop! what shall we stop for?" asked one of the bigger and rougher
"You are doing a mean, hateful thing—that's why."
"Oho! that's because you haven't a share in it," was the sneering reply.
"If you'll stop, I'll run the gauntlet for you," said Joe. There was a
pause. Perhaps that would be better than foot-ball; besides, Joe never
got mad, and little Bob was crying hard. "Let Bob go home, fair and
square, and I'll run," repeated Joe.
"All right," they shouted. "Come on, then."
Joe helped to uncover Bob, shook the snow off his clothes, wiped his
eyes with the cuff of his coat, and sent him on his way. Then the boys
formed two lines, each with as many snow-balls as he could hurriedly
make, and Joe prepared for the run. Blinky was furious, and as Joe
shouted, "Fire away!" and started down the line, he barked himself
hoarse. Hot and heavy came the balls, or rather cold and fast they fell
on Joe's back and head and school bag. But he was a good runner, and
tore like mad from his pursuers, screaming, as he ran, "Fire away! fire
away!" until he reached a cellar door, where he knew he could take
refuge. Here he halted; but Blinky was in a rage at having his master
thus used. Joe did not mind it in the least, and was as full of fun as
he could be. When he got home he found his mother making apple pies; she
had baked one in a saucer for him. It looked delicious, but as he was
about to bite it, he said, "Mother, may I just run over to Mrs. Allen's
for a minute?"
"Oh yes," was the reply.
Wrapping up the pie in a napkin, he carried it with him. By the side of
the stove, with his head aching and bound up in a handkerchief, he found
poor little Bob. Without a word, he stuffed the nice little pie in Bob's
hands, and then rushed out again.
It is hardly necessary to say that in the future Blinky had a rival, and
that rival was Bob.