Sake, A Story of
Ned and His Dog
by Mary D. Brine
There was no mistake about it. Ned and his mother were very poor, and
decidedly uncomfortable. Ned was so tired of living in one little room,
where all day long mamma sat by the window and sewed till the day-light
faded away; and sometimes, too, both he and mamma went to bed rather
hungry, and when the little boy used to pat his mother's thin cheeks
lovingly, after a sweet baby fashion he had, he could often feel the
tears in her eyes, when it was too dark for his bright blue eyes to
look upon her face. There was a cunning little dog, Fido, Ned's only
playmate, which also lived with them in that small room, and his chief
occupation was the constant wagging of a very bushy tail, and a
readiness to accept the slightest invitation for a frolic from his small
As for Fido's meals, he had grown so used to circumstances that I don't
believe he even remembered the taste of a good juicy bone such as he
used to have in Ned's old home before the days of poverty came. Never
mind what brought about a change of circumstances in the family, but
the change had come sadly enough, and Ned and mamma had only the memory
of the times gone by to comfort them. Fido had been a puppy in those
days—they were only two years back, after all—and if dogs can
remember, no doubt this doggie longed for the green fields and sunny
lanes in the pretty country town where he and Ned ran races together,
and never were hungry. The little boy was only six years old then, and
now, on the day before my story begins, mamma had celebrated his eighth
birthday by buying him a tiny sugar angel with gauze wings, which filled
Ned with awe and delight. Eat it? No, not he! it was far too lovely for
that; so he suspended the angelic toy by a string, and it soared above
Ned's bed day and night, keeping sweet watch over all things.
But to Fido, the shaggy-haired, pug-nosed companion of his days, and
sharer of his discomforts, Ned's heart clung with a love unbounded. He
laughed, and Fido laughed, or, that is to say, Fido barked, which
meant a laugh, of course. Ned cried, and Fido also wept, if a drooping
of ears and tail, and a decided downcast expression of countenance,
meant anything in the way of silent sympathy.
They were always together, and of the greatest comfort to one another,
so that the "alley boys" (as they were called who lived by the
tenement-house in which Ned lived) used to cry, jeeringly, whenever the
little boy appeared for a breath of air, "How are you, Ned, and how is
your dog?" or, to vary it occasionally, "How are you, doggie, and how is
I am telling this, so that my little readers can understand how hard it
was for the little boy to do what he did, after a time, for mamma's
It came about in this way. One afternoon late, when Mrs. Clarke had gone
to carry home some work, and Ned and Fido were having a regular frolic
on the floor, there came knocking at the door a Mrs. Malone, who
collected the rent due from the several lodgers in the miserable
building. With a frown on her face, when informed that Mrs. Clarke was
out, the woman had bidden the boy tell his mother that "she'd wait no
longer for the rent due her, and Mrs. Clarke might look out for
Ned had cowered before her threatening face, but Fido, far from feeling
any fear, had boldly barked at the intruder until he had nearly shaken
his bushy tail from his small body. That made Mrs. Malone angry; and
meeting Mrs. Clarke on the stairs, she repeated her threat to the weary,
tired woman, who presently entered the room in tears.
Ned soon learned that the man from whom his mother had obtained sewing
had dismissed some of his work-women, and Mrs. Clarke amongst them; and
now indeed there seemed distress before them. The boy was too young to
fully comprehend all his dear mother's woes, but his loving heart grew
sad and thoughtful, and he stood mournfully by the window looking up
into the sky, where he knew papa was so safely living. Poor little Fido
sat silently beside his master, wondering what had happened to break up
the frolic so suddenly; and altogether, while mamma prepared the simple
supper, things were very quiet and sad.
"Have you got much money, mamma?" asked Ned at last.
His mother could not help smiling at the question so plaintively asked.
"Enough for the rent, dear," she replied, trying to speak cheerily. "And
to-morrow maybe I'll find some new work. Don't look so sad, my little
Ned; we'll manage to get along in some way if we trust in the dear
Father above. You know we must have courage, Ned, and not despair."
"But I can't be glad when you cry, mamma," said the boy; and straightway
his soft cheek was laid against mamma's, and he comforted her with his
kisses till she smiled again, and the tears were all dried.
The next day mamma went out early, leaving Ned and Fido to take care of
the room. She little knew what plans had developed themselves in Ned's
small head during the night, when the little fellow had been unable to
sleep, and had tormented himself with wishing he was "a big boy, and
could earn money for his poor mamma." No, indeed, she knew nothing of
any plans on his part. So she had kissed his sweet lips, sighed to
herself over his pale cheeks, and telling him that she would not be home
until afternoon, and he would find luncheon for himself and Fido all
fixed on the closet shelf, had gone out into the streets to look for
work from store to store.
But Ned knew what he had to do before mamma's return, and no sooner had
she gone than he brushed his curly head, made himself neat and clean,
and lifted his Scotch cap from its peg behind the door. That was the
signal for Fido to sit up on his hind-legs and beg, as Ned had long
before taught him, when preparing for a race in the street; and now he
not only begged, but thumped his bushy tail impatiently against the
floor, saying, dog fashion, "Come, do hurry up." He didn't appear to
notice that his little master's face was sober this morning, and that
once two big tears gathered in the blue eyes which were usually such
merry eyes, as a boy's should be.
And finally, after Ned had written, in a very scrawly hand, "Dear mamma,
Fido and I are going to take a walk just a little while," and placed the
queer little note where his mother would see it if she came home before
him, the two friends went down the narrow stairs, and through the alley
into the street which led toward the City Hall. Fido looked inquiringly
into his master's face to see what could be the reason that he walked so
quietly along this morning, instead of, as heretofore, racing and
chasing his four-footed little comrade from block to block. But Ned was
swallowing several lumps in his throat, and had no heart for a frolic.
It was not long before the City Hall Square was reached; and a little
timidly, now that he was in so large and strange a place alone, Ned
seated himself upon the broad stone lower step of the great building,
and lifted Fido in his arms. Then he mustered courage, and cried,
feebly, although he fancied his voice was very loud and brave: "Anybody
want to buy a dog? Dog to sell. Want a dog?"
But nobody seemed to hear him, and the noise of the streets frightened
our poor little fellow into silence for a while. So he buried his face
in Fido's shaggy back, and tried not to cry.
"Oh, my doggie Fido!" he murmured, "you've truly got to be sold. Oh
dear! it is awfully hard, and I'll 'most die without you. But you must
be sold, 'cause mamma is so poor."
Fido wriggled about, and objected to being held in Ned's arms, when he
wanted to frisk about on the broad pavement; and so he whined and
snarled a little, and even ventured a growl—something very rare with
gentle Fido. But Ned did not dare let him go, and so held the tighter,
until doggie tried the persuasive powers of his little tongue, and
kissed his master's hand over and over again.
Then pretty soon a policeman came by, and eyed Ned severely. That was a
terrible scare for the youngster, and he said, eagerly, "Please, sir, I
ain't doing anything. I'm only waiting to sell my dog, 'cause my
mother's so poor."
The burly guardian of the peace laughed and went his way, and Ned
breathed freely again. But somebody had chanced to hear his words—a boy
of ten or twelve years—and he came near to look at the dog in Ned's
"Will you buy him, boy?" asked Ned, earnestly. "I'll sell him real
cheap; and, you see, I must take mamma some money to-day."
The boy was ready enough to make the purchase, but though he turned his
pockets inside out, he could not rake and scrape from them more than the
sum of one dollar.
"Here's all I've got," he said. "My grandpa gives me lots of money; but
it's all spent but this, and you won't sell him for a dollar, I
Ned's eyes sparkled. "Oh yes, I will, too," he replied. "Oh yes, indeed.
A dollar is a hundred cents, and I never had so many cents in my life,
boy. You may take him now. Only let me kiss him good-by, please."
His voice faltered a little toward the last, as he hugged the dog
tightly to his heart, and the tears streamed presently from his brave
eyes, in spite of all the winking and blinking to keep them back.
"Oh, my Fido! my own little doggie!" was all he could say, while the dog
wagged his tail, and wondered what the fuss was about.
"There, now you'll have to go," Ned said at last, smothering one more
sob, and loosening his arms. "Take him, boy, please, quick as you can."
The boy promised to be very kind and good to Fido, and attempted to lift
him from Ned's knee. But to this Fido would not agree, expressing his
dislike of the new and extraordinary arrangement, which he couldn't
comprehend, by a growl and short bark.
Ned apologized. "You see, I've had him an awful long time, ever since I
was a little fellow, and I s'pose he don't want to leave me."
So the new master tied a string to Fido's collar, and Ned said, gravely,
"Now, Fido, you smile and look pleasant, like a good dog;" and then the
two old friends parted, Fido whining and tugging to break his string,
and Ned wiping his eyes on his jacket sleeve as he hurried toward his
He reached it just after mamma had come in, and his little note was in
her hand. With a choking sob, he sprang into her arms, and thrust the
dollar—small silver pieces—into her hand. "Take it, mamma—oh, take it
quick!" he cried, and then came the explanation concerning his morning's
work. It was told with many tears and sobs, in which mamma was not
ashamed to join, as she folded her brave little son in her arms.
For her sake he had parted with his one loved treasure, and his reward
was great when she kissed and called him her comfort and little helper.
But she did not let him know how almost useless his sacrifice had been,
since the dollar would go but a small way toward the relief of their
necessities. Oh no, she let him feel happy in the thought that he "had
helped dear mamma," and the thought went far toward softening the grief
of parting with his pet.
So days went by, until one morning Mrs. Clarke decided to answer in
person an advertisement that called for "A Housekeeper," and took her
son with her, lest he should miss more than ever his old companion and
The house to which they were directed was a large, handsome house,
having beside the door a small gilt sign bearing the name of Dr. ——. A
spruce black servant admitted them, and presently the doctor entered the
room. Satisfactory arrangements were made, the gentleman not objecting
to Ned, whose plaintive little face strangely attracted him. And with a
heart full of joy and gratitude Mrs. Clarke rose to take her leave,
until she could return and enter upon her duties. But a boy came
whistling through the hall, and presently—oh, the joy of it!—what
should rush, with a scamper and joyous bark, pell-mell upon little Ned,
but his own Fido! Such a shout of gladness! and Ned sat fairly upon the
floor, and hugged his dog again and again, while the boy—none other
than the doctor's grandson—explained to the bewildered old gentleman
that "this was the boy who had sold him the dog."
So now, you see, it all turned out happily, and henceforth Fido had
two masters, both of whom he served, although I think the largest part
of his canine heart was given to the old and first master.
And as for Ned, once in a while he asked mamma this question—not
because it hadn't been answered over and over, but because it kept
suggesting itself to his heart—"Oh, mamma, isn't it the funniest
And the reply was always, "Yes, Ned, it really is."