Jess, A Dog Story

by Unknown

'Now, Lottie and Carrie,' said Mrs. Sefton, coming out into the garden just as the daylight was beginning to fade, 'it is time to be indoors; bring your things and come in.'

'Oh, Mother!' cried both the little girls, 'we are just in the middle of our game; do please let us stay a little longer.'

But their mother shook her head. 'I can't possibly do that,' she answered. 'You will never be at school in time to-morrow unless you are in bed by eight o'clock. Don't stop to talk about it, but come, like good children.'

Then Carrie took up the dolls which were lying on the grass, while Lottie loaded herself with the little basket-chair and the three-legged stool, and in a very short time the two sisters were in the snug white beds.

'Good-night,' said Mother, as she kissed them both. 'You have been good girls to-day, and in the morning I shall have something nice to tell you.'

'Tell us to-night, please—tell us to-night,' they pleaded. But Mother was not to be moved, and the thought of what that something nice might be kept Lottie and Carrie awake till the darkness had really come on.

But though they were late in going to sleep, you may be sure they were awake early in the morning. They helped each other to dress, and were downstairs reminding Mother of her promise long before they were expected.

'I shall know now how to make you get up in good time,' Mrs. Sefton said, laughing; 'but come along, it is not only something to tell, but something to show you.'

She led them to the tool-house at the bottom of the garden, and there, tied to a nail in the wall, was a pretty little black-and-tan dog—a terrier.

'This is a present which your uncle has sent you,' Mrs. Sefton said. 'You are to have it for your very own—its name is Jess. Stand up, Jess, and show your mistresses how you can beg.'

Jess stood up on her hind legs, and crossed her paws in such a funny way that Lottie danced about with delight. Carrie was timid and hung back; she did not like to say so, but she was really rather afraid of the new pet. This was silly, but Carrie was only a little girl; in a short time, when she saw how good and gentle Jess really was, she too forgot her fears.

Lottie and Carrie went to school together. Now that they had Jess they were always glad when school hours were over, and they could run home to play. Jess was as pleased to see them back as the children were to come, and all through the summer they learned to be better and better friends with the little terrier.

But after the summer holidays Lottie went away for a while, to visit some friends, and Carrie was left to go to school by herself. She was very lonely and dull without her sister. When one is only six years old, a fortnight seems such a long time, and at last Carrie settled that she could not go to school another day without Lottie.

Then she did a very foolish thing. After she was sent to school, she turned back and hid herself in the tool-house at the bottom of the garden. She had heard her mother say at breakfast that she was going out for the forenoon, and Carrie thought that she would just wait till there was no one at home, and then come out from her hiding-place and play.

Mrs. Sefton had a long walk to take, and as soon as possible she put on her bonnet, and then, thinking that her little girl was safe at school, she locked up the house, and started on her errand, leaving Jess to run about the garden and take care of things.

Carrie heard her mother close the front door, and then she came out from the tool-house. She had thought that it would be very nice to stay at home and play, but she soon began to feel lonely and frightened, and to wish that she had not deceived her mother.

'Oh, Jess!' she said to the little dog, 'I wish I had been good and gone to school!'

Jess looked up at Carrie, and wagged her tail, but she could do nothing more to comfort her little mistress.

Carrie walked up and down, feeling ready to cry.

'I never shall be able to stay here all by myself till Mother comes back,' she thought. 'I will try and get over the wall.'

Now, the garden wall was high, and just as Carrie, by a great effort, had managed to reach the top, her foot slipped, and she fell heavily down on to the mould.

She was so much hurt that she fainted away, and then it was the dog's turn to be distressed. Jess walked round and round the little fallen girl, and, finding that she could do nothing to help, she set up a piteous bark, and barked so long and so loudly that she drew the attention of the neighbours.

'Whatever is that dog of the Seftons' barking at?' one woman inquired of her husband; and Mr. Curtis, who was a shoemaker, and worked at home, stopped a moment to listen.

'I don't like the sound,' he said, presently. 'It's as though there was something the matter, and Mrs. Sefton is out, for I saw her go past the window.'

'Perhaps it would be best for you to go and see,' his wife said, and though he could ill spare the time, kind-hearted Mr. Curtis put down the boot which he was mending, and ran down the lane till he reached the garden wall.

Then he soon saw what was the matter. There was Jess with her paws on Carrie's frock, while Carrie was lying quite white and still.

The shoemaker carried the poor child to his own cottage, while his wife went to look for Mrs. Sefton.

Carrie proved to be badly hurt; she had to lie in bed a good while, and you may be sure that her mother and Lottie, and all her friends, were very grieved and anxious about her.

But every one praised good, faithful Jess, who had brought help to her little mistress; and when Lottie came back, and Carrie got quite well, as I am glad to say she did at last, Jess was a greater pet than ever.