Charlie's Escape by Unknown

I HAVE some boy-cousins living in the country of whom I think a great deal. They write me letters quite often. I can hardly tell whose letters give me the most pleasure, the “big boys’,” who write me about their school, their colts and calves, their good times on the holidays, or the little printed letters I get from the “small boys,” telling me how many chickens they have and that they love me. I am sure I love them all, and hope they will grow to be good, true men.

Charlie is one of the “big boys.” Not very big, either—just thirteen years old, and rather small and slight for his years. A few weeks ago a neighbor of his father’s was going away, and got Charlie to do “the chores” for him during his absence—feed the young cattle, milk the cow and keep things in order about the barn. Charlie is an obliging boy, so he performed his task faithfully. If I had time, boys, I would just like to stop here and give you a little lecture on faithfulness, with Charlie for a model, for he is a “faithful boy.” But I want to tell my story. For two or three days Charlie went each morning to his neighbor’s barn, and after milking the cow turned all the creatures to pasture, and every night drove them home again. One morning, as he stood by the bars waiting for them all to pass out, a frisky year-old calf—“a yearling” the farmers call them—instead of going orderly over the bars, as a well-disposed calf should, just gave a side jump and shook her horns at Charlie. “Over with you!” called Charlie, and waved his hand at her. Miss Yearling either fancied this an insult or an invitation to single combat, for she again lowered her head and ran at Charlie, who had no stick, and so thought best to run from the enemy. He started for the stable door, but in his hurry and fright he could not open it, and while fumbling at the latch the creature made another attack. Charlie dodged her again, and one of her horns pierced the door nearly an inch. Again she ran at him, and with her nose “bunted” him off his feet. Charlie was getting afraid now, and called out to the folks in the house, “Oh, come and help me!” and right then he bethought him of something he had read in his father’s “Agriculturist” about a boy in similar danger, who saved himself by grasping the cow’s horns that had attacked him. So just as the yearling was about to try again if she could push him over, he took fast hold of each horn. But his situation was getting very unpleasant, for he was penned up in a corner, with the barn behind him, a high fence on one side and the now angry heifer in front. He had regained his feet, but was pushed and staggered about, for he was fast losing his strength. No wonder his voice had a quiver in it as he again shouted as loud as he could, “Oh, do come quick!” The lady in the house was busy getting breakfast, and heard no sound. A lady-visitor in one of the chambers heard the  first call, but thought it only boys at play. By and by the distressed shout again smote her ears, and this time she heard the words, “Help me!” She ran down stairs to the housekeeper, who opened the outside door and listened. Charlie’s voice was weak and faint now, and the fear came to the lady that he had fallen into the barn cellar. She ran quickly to the great door of the barn. “Where are you, Charlie?” “Come to the stable door,” answered back a faint, trembling voice. She quickly ran through the barn to that door, but she could not open it at first, for the heifer had pushed herself around till she stood broadside against the door. But the lady pushed hard and got the door open a little way, and seizing the big stable broom hit the naughty animal two or three heavy whacks that made her move around; and as soon as she opened the door wide, Charlie let go her horns, and she (the heifer), not liking the big broom-handle, turned and ran off as fast as her legs could go. The lady helped Charlie up and into the house, for he could hardly stand. He was bruised and lame, and the breath had almost left him. But after resting a while and taking some good warm drink, he tried to walk home; and though the lady helped him, he found it hard work, for he was so sore and bruised. Charlie’s mother was frightened enough to see her boy come home leaning on their neighbor’s arm and looking so pale. She helped him undress and lie down, and then she did just what your mother, little reader-boy, would do if you had such an escape as Charlie’s. She put her arms around her boy and said, “Let us thank the good Lord that you were not killed, my boy.” And do you think Charlie will ever forget his escape? I don’t. And I hope he will always thank “the good Lord” not only for the escape, but for his every blessing.