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The Big Dog's Lesson

by W. O. Stoddard

"There they are, Uncle Joe, the Dorking chickens, just where I found them."

"Pulled all to pieces."

"It was Mr. Bates's yellow dog—I know it was; and they've let him out again to-day. He'll be over, and kill some more."

"No, he won't, Parry," said Uncle Joe, as he leaned over the barn-yard fence. "Don't you see what I've done for him?"

"You've let the chickens all out. Yes, and there's Bayard. Isn't he pretty?"

"Yes, he's pretty enough, but that isn't all. What did we name him Bayard for?"

"'Cause he isn't afraid. But won't he hurt some of the other roosters?"

"I've shut 'em up. See him!"

The game-cock was indeed a beautiful fowl, and he seemed to know it too, for he was strutting around in the warm sun, and stopping every minute or so to flap his wings and crow. His comb and wattles were of a bright crimson, his wings and feathers of a brilliant black and red, and his long, arching tail feathers were remarkably graceful and glossy. He was not a large fowl, but he was a very well-shaped and handsome one.

"There comes that dog, Uncle Joe, right over the fence."

"Yes, there he comes."

"Won't you throw a stone at him, and drive him away?"

"Then he'd come again, some time when we were not here to throw stones at him."

Mr. Bates's yellow dog was a very big one. Perhaps he was not altogether a bad dog, either, but he had a sad weakness for teasing any animal smaller than himself. Cats, sheep, chickens, anything defenseless, would have been wise to keep out of his way if they could.

The two poor Dorking chickens had not been able to get away from him the day before, and so they had lost their feathers and their lives.

He had jumped the barn-yard fence now in search of more helpless chickens, and more of what he called fun.

A snap of his great jaws would have been enough to kill any fowl in that yard, and it would have crushed the life out of one of the little yellow "peepers" the old hens were now clucking to, if he had but put a paw on it.

But Bayard, the game-cock, was neither a Dorking, nor an old hen, nor a chicken, and he did not run an inch when the big dog came charging so fiercely toward him. He did but lower his head and step a little forward.

"Oh, Uncle Joe! He will be torn all to pieces."

"No, he won't. See!"

It was done almost too quickly for Parry to see, but the sharp spurs of the beautiful "bird" had been driven smartly into the nose of the big yellow dog, and the latter was pawing at it with a doleful whine.

The game-cock had not done with the barn-yard invader. He meant to follow that matter up till he had finished it.

"Clip!" he had hit him again—in the left shoulder this time—and the dog's whine changed to a howl.

Another, a deep one, in the fleshy part of one of his hind-legs; for Bayard seemed disposed to dance all around him.

That was enough, and Mr. Bates's yellow pet turned and ran yelping toward the nearest fence, while his conqueror flapped his wings and crowed most vigorously, and every hen in the yard clucked her admiration of his prowess.

Parry, too, clapped his hands, and felt as if he wanted to crow.

"He's such a little fellow, Uncle Joe, to fight such a big dog as that!"

"With teeth and claws, too, and a hundred times stronger than he."

"Did you know he could beat him?"

"Of course I did."

"He knew just how to use his spurs, didn't he?"

"That's it, Parry. He didn't have much, but he knew just what to do with it."

"Guess the dog knows it too now. He won't chase any more of our chickens."

"He'll keep out of this yard for a while. He's got his lesson."

So had Parry, and Uncle Joe would not let him forget it. It would be a shame, he said, for any boy to be less wise than a game-cock, and not to be able to use all the natural gifts he had.