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Duck Lake
Chapter XII. Jonas finds the Red Cow

AFTER concluding his purchase of the red cow, Jonas wandered into the neighbourhood of the bear-trap and Chubb’s old lodge. He was not far astray in his calculations, for within a quarter of a mile of the scene of the conflict between the cow and the bear he found Bossy and her lusty calf.

Out of the bark of some red willows he twisted a good long rope. The cow was quiet enough when Jonas went to put the rope around her neck, but it was a different thing when he attempted to lead her. She jerked Jonas back so quickly that he was thrown to the ground. Jonas jumped up and looked at the cow in the greatest of surprise. Bossy looked very meekly at him. When Jonas tried again to lead her she resisted as before, though with no such success in upsetting him.

Taking another method, Jonas tried to drive her. He succeeded for a while beyond his most sanguine expectations, for Bossy led him at a lively pace over rocks, roots, and fallen logs, dashing through creeks and splashing through muddy marshes. Jonas endeavoured many a time to ease the pace, but with no success until the cow stopped, stalk still, to take a breath. And she took a good many ere she moved again ! For a little while she looked wildly around, but when she saw her calf coming down the hill behind her, she lowered her head and assumed an air of general meditation.

Wet to his thighs and bespattered with mud, Jonas was also glad to rest. But as night was coming on, he wished to be at the Parsonage ere dark. So he intimated to Bossy his desire to advance. The cow, however, did not deign to notice his request. Jonas took up a stick and beat her. Bossy flipped her tail in disapproval, but moved not.

Jonas then carried his rope ahead, put it round a tree, and attempted to pull her, as he had helped voyageurs pull a boat up a stiff rapid. But he only pulled the cow to her knees, her toes did not ccme an inch ahead. When Jonas relaxed his hold, Bossy dropped on her side, brought up a cud and began calmly to chew it.

Jonas coaxed her, pulled her, and in his desperation clubbed her; but all to no purpose. The red cow would not move.

The calf was not far away, and a new idea struck Jonas. Untying the rope from the cow’s neck, he caught the calf. Twisting a noose, he put it over the calf’s head, and placed a rope on each side, to use as a pair of lines. He had no sooner completed his work than he saw the cow spring to her feet, making for him with dangerous intent. He found it advantageous to keep the calf between him and the cow. Still, the cow’s action seemed to give the necessary incentive to the calf, for between the man and its mother it started off in the right path, and kept up its pace grandly. But Jonas had to keep his lines well in hand, for he had many a tussle with the frisky calf to keep it from going into the woods. Several times it was questionable whether he would win or not, but the arrival of the cow settled it. The calf seemed as anxious to keep away from his mother’s horns as it did from Jonas. So in the end Jonas triumphed, and he came into the Parsonage lot on the run, his calf the full length of the lines ahead of him, and the red cow not far behind.

The teacher, who was in charge of Chubb when Jonas arrived, came hastily out to learn the cause of the racket. When he saw Jonas covered from head to heels with mud, hanging on to a lively calf, he laughed.

‘What have you been confiscating now, Jonas?’ he shouted.

‘No confiscat. Jonas buy red cow. Tell you soon. Get breath now,’ stammered Jonas, as he tripped the calf and brought it to a standstill.

The teacher came to the rescue, as well as his laughter would allow him. The red cow was caught and tied. Then the two men went into the house, and a change of clothes was found for Jonas while he put his own to dry.

Jonas then explained his transaction.

'Splendid, Jonas, splendid!’ said the teacher. ‘The milk will be just the thing for Chubb, and for the preacher too. But, Jonas, we had better fix up a place for either cow or calf in the stable.’

‘Perhaps, for sure, for both,’ replied Jonas.

After they had had an early tea, the men set to work, and soon a corner was boxed off for the calf, and an extra stall made for the cow.

The teacher had some difficulty in explaining Jonas’ deal to Hewitt, but he eventually overcame the scruples of that conscientious man by declaring emphatically that the cow had been properly bought and paid for. Thus the red cow, at least, became part of the Parsonage property.

Chubb was greatly delighted at the acquisition, and was restless to get that calf and his cub together. If their mothers had no desire to fulfil prophecy, perhaps he could induce the young ones to lie down in peace together.

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