Written by Richard Barnum.
Mr. Sharp-horn was so surprised at what Lightfoot had done in leaping over the edge of the cliff that, for a second, he did not know what to do. Indeed Sharp-horn, who was running very fast, could hardly stop in time to save himself from sliding over.
“Look out there, Lightfoot!” he called. “I didn’t mean to make you do that. I wouldn’t have hurt you very much. Why did you jump?”
But Lightfoot could not answer now. He was falling down through the air. Indeed he, himself, hardly knew why he had jumped. He almost wished he had not.
Far down below he saw the shanty of the Widow Malony, and he saw the hard rocks and ground all around it. Somewhere down there Lightfoot would land, and he might get hurt. For he was not one of the kind of goats that are said to turn somersaults in the air, when they leap, and land on their big, curved horns.
“What’s the matter?” called Grandpa Bumper, as he heard Mr. Sharp-horn shouting in his bleating voice.
“Lightfoot has jumped over the edge!” called the other goat.
“Oh, my! He’ll be hurt!” cried Mrs. Sharp-horn. “You shouldn’t have chased him, Sharpy,” for sometimes she called her goat-husband that.
“I—I didn’t mean to make him jump,” went on Mr. Sharp-horn. “I was only trying to scare him away from our feeding place. He is too young to come up here. I’m sorry.”
“Oh, what a big jump he made!” cried Grandpa Bumper, for he knew it was about twenty-five feet from the rocky edge down to the ground below. “If he isn’t hurt it will be a wonder.”
Of course all this took place much more quickly than I can tell it. It was only a few seconds. Lightfoot was falling down and down, or, rather, he had jumped down.
And as he left the edge of the rocks, and looked below, he wished he had taken the butting from Mr. Sharp-horn. But it was too late now. And then, all of a sudden, Lightfoot did that which gained him the name of being a very wise young goat.
Below he saw the tin and board roof of the Malony shanty. It stood about fifteen feet high, and Lightfoot thought if he could land on that it would shorten his big jump. He would not have to go so far, and then he could leap down that much more easily.
So he gave himself a shake and a twist in the air, as some acrobats do in the circus, and as cats and goats do when they jump, and, instead of heading straight for the hard ground, Lightfoot aimed his four feet at the roof of the shanty.
Just then Mrs. Malony came out of the door to watch her son going down the street with the basket of clothes on his wagon.
“Look! Look, Mike!” called the widow. “Sure it’s a flyin’ goat Lightfoot is now. He’s falling’ down out of the sky!”
And indeed it did look so. But before Mike could answer, Lightfoot had landed on the roof of the shanty amid a great clattering of the boards and tin that kept out the rain. The roof was flat, and the boards were springy, so the goat sort of bounced up and down, like the man when he falls into the circus net.
And it was this that saved the goat from being hurt. He was shaken up a bit and jarred, but he had safely jumped from the top of the rocks to the roof of the shanty. From there it was easy to get down, for at one side was a shed, with a little lower roof, and when Lightfoot had leaped to this he had no trouble in jumping to a soft place on the ground just outside the kitchen door.
“Well, of all things!” exclaimed the Widow Malony. “You’re th’ jumpinest goat I ever had! You’re that light on your feet a clog-dancer would admire you. Sure it’s a fine goat you are!”
“We never had any goat to jump the likes of Lightfoot!” cried Mike, running back to see if his pet was hurt, for he loved Lightfoot better than any of the others. He patted the shaggy coat of the animal, and, looking at him, saw that he was not in the least harmed. Lightfoot felt a little pain, but he could not tell Mike about it.
“Oh, how did you ever dare do it?” asked Blackie, running up to Lightfoot with a piece of paste-paper in her mouth. “Weren’t you afraid?”
“I—I guess I didn’t have time to be,” answered Lightfoot. “I didn’t think they’d drive me away from up there.”
Mike went on with the washing when he found Lightfoot was not hurt, and Mrs. Malony went back to the shanty. From the edge of the rocks above the other goats looked down.
“Say, youngster,” called Mr. Sharp-horn to Lightfoot, “I didn’t mean to make you do that. Are you hurt?”
“Not a bit,” answered Lightfoot, who was beginning to feel a bit proud of himself now.
“That was a wonderful leap,” said Mrs. Sharp-horn.
“Indeed it was!” added Grandpa Bumper. “Of course I have made such leaps as that when I was younger, but I can’t any more. For a kid that was very good, Lightfoot.”
“He won’t be a kid much longer,” said Mrs. Sharp-horn. Then she said something in a low baa-a to her goat-husband.
“Why, yes,” answered Mr. Sharp-horn, “I guess, after this big leap he did to-day, Lightfoot can come up among us other goats now. You may come up to the top of the rocks whenever you like,” he went on to Lightfoot. “We won’t chase you away any more.”
“And may Blackie come up with me and eat the sweet grass?” asked Lightfoot, having a kind thought for his little friend.
“Can she climb that far?” asked Grandpa Bumper.
“I’ll help her,” offered Lightfoot.
“Then you may both come,” went on the old grandfather goat who ruled over the rest. “Your grass down there is getting pretty dry,” he went on. “Come up whenever you want to. And, Lightfoot, don’t try any more such risky jumps as that. You might break a leg.”
So, after all, you see, Lightfoot’s big jump turned out to be a good thing for him and Blackie. After Lightfoot had rested a bit he and Blackie went up to the top of the rocks, Lightfoot helping Blackie over the rough places, and soon all the Widow Malony’s animals were cropping the sweet grass on top of the high rocks.
Lightfoot’s leap was talked about among the goats for many a day after that. The goat grew bigger and stronger, and every chance he found he practiced jumping until he could do almost as well as Mr. Sharp-horn, who was the best leaper of all the goats in Shanty-town.
Day after day Lightfoot would practice jumping and climbing among the rocks, sometimes alone and sometimes with Blackie. One day, when he had made a very hard jump from one rock to another, he heard some boy-and-girl-talk in the road in front of the widow’s shanty. Looking down, Lightfoot saw a small cart drawn by a pony, and seated in the cart was a man, and with him were two children.
“Oh, look, George!” called the little girl, “there’s that nice goat we saw when we were going to the circus, the day we got back Tinkle, our pony.”
“So it is, Mabel,” answered the boy. “Could we ever have a goat, Daddy?” he asked his father as the pony cart stopped.
“Oh, I guess not,” said the man. “Tinkle is enough for you.” Then to Mrs. Malony, who came to the front gate, he said: “That’s a fine goat you have.”
“Sure an’ you may well say that. You’re the gentleman who went past here a few days ago, aren’t you?”
“Yes. I was on my way to the circus, and it was there we got back my children’s pony which had been stolen.”
“Well, I’m glad you have him back,” said the Widow Malony, with a twinkle in her kind, Irish-blue eyes. “You should have seen Lightfoot leap from the top of the rocks to the roof of my shanty one day.”
“Did he really do that?” asked George.
“He did,” and Mrs. Malony told them about it.
Meanwhile Tinkle, the trick pony, of whom I have told you about, was having a little talk with Lightfoot.
“Were you really stolen?” asked Lightfoot, when Tinkle told some of his adventures.
“Indeed I was. And did you really jump from the top of those rocks?”
“I did,” answered the leaping goat, holding his head high and feeling very proud.
“That’s more than I could do, though I can do circus tricks,” said Tinkle. “There’s been a book written about me and my tricks and adventures.”
“You don’t tell me!” cried Lightfoot. “But what’s a book?”
Before Tinkle could answer Mr. Farley, the father of George and Mabel, called good-by to the Widow Malony and drove on with the children in the pony cart.
“Good-bye!” called Tinkle to Lightfoot. “If ever you get to the circus ask Tum Tum, the jolly elephant, or Mappo, the merry monkey, about me.”
“I will,” promised Lightfoot, “though I never expect to go to a circus.”
“Sure they were nice little children,” said Mrs. Malony, “and it was a fine pony cart they had. How would you like to pull a stylish cart like that, Lightfoot?” she asked as she went back in the shanty to finish her washing.
For many days after this Lightfoot lived around the shanty learning to leap and do other things that goats have to do in this world. And one day he had an adventure that was not exactly pleasant.
Lightfoot was getting to be quite a big goat now, and sometimes he wandered away farther than he had ever gone before. Two or three streets from where the Malony shanty was built ran an electric car line. At first Lightfoot did not know what it was, but the other goats told him that people rode in the strange, yellow cars which went rolling along in such an unusual way on the shiny rails, a bell clanging in front.
One afternoon Lightfoot wandered down to the trolley tracks. An ash wagon had passed a little while before, and the goat had seen a tin can fall from it with a big, red, tomato-paper pasted on it.
“I’ll get that paper and eat off the paste,” thought Lightfoot.
The can was in the middle of the tracks. Lightfoot began nosing it, tearing off the paper and eating small pieces. It tasted very good to him.
Suddenly there was the clanging of a bell, and along came a car, headed straight for Lightfoot. The goat looked up.
“Bother!” he exclaimed to himself. “You’ll have to wait until I finish my lunch,” he went on. “I’m not going to hurry out of the way for you. I’m as good as you!” Lightfoot wanted his own way, you see.
But goats have no rights on a trolley track, though Lightfoot did not know this. The motorman clanged his bell, and cried:
“Get off the tracks, you goat, or I’ll bump into you!”
Now Lightfoot knew very little indeed about trolley cars. He did not know how strong they were. And so, as he stood between the rails, chewing the paper from the can, and saw the big yellow car clanging its way toward him, Lightfoot stamped his hoofs, shook his horns and said to himself:
“Well, do as you please, but I’m not going to move until I finish eating. I guess I can butt as hard as you!”
“Get out of there!” called the motorman again. But Lightfoot did not understand. The car slowed up a little, but still came on.
“Bump into him, Bill!” called the conductor to the motorman, and the next instant the fender of the street car struck Lightfoot’s lowered horns, and tossed him to one side over into a ditch full of weeds.
“Oh, dear! I’m hurt this time, sure!” thought poor Lightfoot. “I thought I could knock that car off the track, but, instead, it knocked me off! Oh, dear!”
For a few seconds after Lightfoot had been tossed into the ditch full of weeds the goat could not get up or even move. The trolley car clanged on its way down the tracks.
“What happened?” asked some of the passengers.
“Oh, a goat got on the track and the motorman had to knock him off,” explained the conductor.
“I hope you didn’t hurt him,” said a little girl sitting in a front seat to the motorman.
“No, I didn’t,” answered the motorman. “But I just had to get him out of the way. I would never hurt any animal, for my children have a dog and a cat, and I love them as much as they do. The goat really butted into me as much as I did into him.”
And this, in a way, was true. If Lightfoot had stood still, and had not tried to hit the fender of the car with his horns, he would have been easily pushed to one side. But he had to learn his lesson, and, like the lessons boys and girls have to learn, all are not easy or pleasant ones.
So poor Lightfoot lay groaning in the ditch among the weeds as the trolley car went on. At least he groaned as much as a goat can groan, making a sort of bleating noise.
“Oh, dear!” he thought. “Never again will I do such a thing as this! I will stick to jumping, for I can do that and not be hurt. I wonder if any of my legs or my horns are broken?”
Lightfoot, lying on his side in the ditch, shook his head. His horns seemed to be alright. Then he tried to scramble to his feet. He felt several pains and aches, but, to his delight, he found that he could get up, though he was a bit shaky.
“Well, none of my legs are broken, anyhow,” said Lightfoot to himself. “But I ache all over. I guess I’ll go home.” Home, to Lightfoot, meant the rocks around the shanty of the widow and her son.
As Lightfoot limped from the ditch to the road he passed a puddle of water. He could see himself in this, as you boys and girls can see yourselves in a mirror. The sight that met his eyes made Lightfoot gasp.
“I’d never know myself!” he said sadly. Well might he say that. One of his legs was cut, and his side was scratched and bruised. “I’m a terrible looking sight,” he said.
He walked along, limping, until he came within sight of the shanty. From behind it came Blackie.
“Why Lightfoot!” she cried in surprise. “Where in the world have you been? I’ve been looking everywhere for you. Why! what has happened to you?”
“I—I tried to butt a trolley car off the tracks,” said the boy-goat. “I was eating some pasty paper off a tomato can that fell from an ash wagon, when the car came along. I wouldn’t get out of the way and—well, it knocked me into the ditch. Oh, dear!”
“I’m so sorry,” said Blackie sympathetically. “Come on up to the top of the rocks and you can roll in the soft grass. Maybe that will make you feel better.”
“No, I don’t believe I could climb to the top of the rocks now,” said Lightfoot. “I am too sore and stiff. I’ll just lie down here in the shade.”
“Do,” said the kind Blackie, “and I’ll bring you some nice brown paper I found.”
Goats love brown paper almost as much as they do the kind that has paste on it and that comes off cans. For brown paper is made from things that goats like to eat, though of course it is not good for girls and boys any more than hay or grass.
“Well, what’s the matter with you, Lightfoot?” asked Grandpa Bumper, the old goat, as he came scrambling down the rocks a little later to get a drink of water from the pail near the kitchen door. “What happened to you?”
“I got in the way of a trolley car,” said Lightfoot, and he told what had happened.
“Well, let that be a lesson to you,” said the old goat-man. “You are a strong goat-boy, and a fine jumper, but the strongest goat amongst us is not able to butt against a trolley car. I once heard of an elephant trying to butt a locomotive with his head.”
“I wonder if he is any relation to Tum Tum,” said Lightfoot, who was beginning to feel a little better now.
“Who is Tum Tum?” asked Grandpa Bumper.
“Oh, he is a jolly elephant who lives in a circus. I met a trick pony named Tinkle, who once was in the circus, and Tinkle told me all about Tum Tum.”
“I’m sure I don’t know about Tum Tum,” went on the old goat. “And I never saw a circus, though I have heard of them.”
“Maybe I’ll be in one some day,” murmured Lightfoot.
“Well, whatever you do, never again try to butt a trolley car,” advised the old goat, and Lightfoot said he never would.