Lightfoot, the Leaping Goat, Ch.3 🐐

Written by Richard Barnum.

In a few days Lightfoot felt better, though his bruises and cuts still hurt a little. But, with Blackie, he managed to get to the top of the rocks, and there, eating the sweet grass and lying stretched out in the sun, he was soon himself again and could jump as well as ever. He told the other goats about his adventure with the trolley car, and they all said he was brave.
It was more than a month after he had been butted into the ditch by the trolley car that Lightfoot once more wandered down that same street. He felt hungry for some pasty paper from a tomato can, and he wanted to see if any had fallen from a trash wagon.
Lightfoot looked up and down the street. He did not see a can but he did see a little girl, and she was standing in the middle of the trolley track, almost in the spot where Lightfoot had stood when he was hurt.
“I wonder if she is going to try to knock a car off the track,” thought Lightfoot. And just then, the little girl, who was about four years old, turned her back and stooped to pick up her doll, which had dropped from her arms to the ground.
As she did so, around the corner of the street, came a trolley car, just like the one that had hit Lightfoot. The motorman happened to be looking the other way, and did not see the little girl. She was so focused on her doll that she did not hear the rumble of the car, and the motorman, still looking the other way, did not ring his bell.
“That little girl will be hurt!” cried Lightfoot “She can never knock the car off the track if I couldn’t. I must save her! I must push her off the rails.”
Then, with a loud “Baa-a-a-a!” Lightfoot trotted on to the tracks in front of the car, and, as the little girl straightened up he gently put his head against her back and slowly pushed her from the tracks, leaping away himself just in time, as the car rolled right over the place where the little girl had been standing.
With a clang of the bell the trolley car came to a stop, the motorman putting the brakes on hard. Then he jumped off the front platform and ran to where the little girl had sat down in the grass at the side of the tracks. She had sat down rather hard, for Lightfoot had pushed her with more force than he intended. He was so anxious to get her out of the way of one of those charging cars that once upon a time had hurt him so.

“What is it?”
“What’s the matter?”
“What happened?”
The passengers in the trolley car, surprised by the sudden way it stopped, called to one another as they hurried out. They saw the little girl sitting in the grass, holding her doll by one leg. They saw Lightfoot, the goat, standing nearby as though keeping guard over the little girl, and they saw the motorman holding the shiny handle, by which he had turned on and off the electricity that made the car go.
“Oh, what’s the matter?” asked a small boy who had gotten off the car with his mother. “Did the goat bite the little girl?”
“No, my dear. Goats don’t bite. They butt you with their horns.”
“I don’t want any goat to butt me!” and the little boy hid behind his mother’s skirt.

Then the little girl, sitting on the grass, made up her mind to cry. Up to now she had not quite known whether to laugh or to cry, but suddenly she felt that she had been hurt, or scared, or something, and the next thing, of course, was to cry.
Tears came into her pretty blue eyes, she wiped them away with the dress of her doll and then she sobbed:
“Get away you bad goat you! Go ’way! I don’t like you! You—you tried to bite me!”
She had heard the little boy say that. But the little boy, getting brave as he saw that Lightfoot did not seem to want to bite, or butt either, anyone, came from behind his mother’s skirt and said:
“Goats don’t bite, little girl; they butt. My mamma says so, and if you are hurt she’ll kiss you and make it all better.”
Some of the passengers laughed on hearing this, and the lady with the little boy went to where the little girl was sitting on the grass, picked her up in her arms and wiped away her tears.
“There, my dear,” she said. “You’re not hurt. See the pretty goat. He won’t hurt you.”
“You’re right there!” exclaimed the motorman. “He saved her from being hurt by my car, that’s what he did.”
“What do you mean?” asked the conductor.
“I mean the goat butted the little girl off the tracks, just as the lady said goats do. She was standing on the tracks, picking up her doll, when my car came along. I wasn’t paying much attention, and I was almost on her when the goat saw what the trouble was and pushed her off the tracks with his head. He didn’t really butt her, but he got her out of the way just in time.”
“He’s a smart goat,” said one of the men who had been riding in the trolley car.
“He is that!” exclaimed the motorman. “And now that I look at him I remember him. He’s the goat we knocked off the track about two months ago. Don’t you remember?” he asked, turning to the conductor.
“Sure enough he is,” agreed the conductor, and he explained to the passengers the accident, or adventure, that had happened to Lightfoot, as I told it to you before.

“He must have remembered how the car hurt him,” said the lady with the little boy, “and he didn’t want the child to be hurt. He is a smart goat!
“Does anyone know where the little girl lives?” asked the lady. “She should not be allowed to stay here near the tracks.”
None of the passengers knew the child, nor did the motorman or conductor. As they were wondering what to do along came Mike Malony.

“Hello, Lightfoot!” called Mike as he saw his goat. And then, as he noticed the crowd, the stopped trolley car and the little girl, he asked:
“What’s the matter? Is Tessie hurt?”
“No one is hurt, I’m thankful to say,” replied the motorman; “but the little girl might have been only for the goat. Do you know her?”
“Sure, she’s Tessie Rooney. She lives near me,” explained Mike. “I’ll take her home if you like.”
“I wish you would,” said the lady who had given Tessie a five cent piece, which to Tessie was almost as much as a dollar. The child forgot all about her tears and what had happened to her.
“Sure I’ll take her home,” said Mike, kindly.
“Do you know whose goat that is?” asked the lady, as her little boy whispered something to her.
“That’s mine,” said Mike proudly. “And there is no better jumping goat in these parts.”
“Nor smarter goat either,” said the motorman, and Mike, to his surprise, learned what his pet had done.

“Do you want to sell the goat?” asked the lady. “My little boy would like him. I have an idea that I could hitch him to a cart and have him pull my boy around. One of our neighbor’s children has a little pony named Tinkle, and they have great fun riding him around. My boy is too small for a pony, but a goat might be good for him. Will you sell him to me—Lightfoot I think you said his name was?”
“Well, ma’am, I don’t wish to be impolite to you, but I can’t sell Lightfoot,” said Mike slowly, and he put his hand on the goat’s head. “You see I’ve had him ever since he was a little kid, and I like him too much to sell him.”
The lady saw how Mike felt about it, so she said kindly:
“Well, never mind, my boy. I wouldn’t want to take your pet away from you, any more than I’d want my little boy to lose his, if he had one. It’s all right. But you are lucky to have such a good goat.”
Yes ma’am; I think so myself. Come on now, Tessie. I’ll take you home, and if ever you come by yourself on the trolley tracks again I’ll never give you another piggyback ride.”
“Oh, then I won’t ever come,” said Tessie, her hand in Mike’s. “And will you give me a piggyback ride now?”
“Yes,” promised Mike; and amid the laughter of the trolley car passengers Mike took the little girl up on his back and trotted off, making believe he was a horse. Lightfoot ran alongside, and, seeing him, Tessie said:
“Lightfoot pushed me so hard I sat down in the grass, Mike.”
“Well, it’s a good thing he did, Tessie, else you might have been harder hit by the car. Now, now you take my advice and keep away from the tracks or, remember, no more piggyback rides!”

A day or so after that Mike, going up to the top of the rocks to take some salt to his mother’s goats, saw Lightfoot leaping about, kicking up his heels and shaking his horns.
“Sure it’s a fine goat you are entirely, as my dear mother would say,” said Mike softly. “And I wish I could do it.”
Lightfoot, coming up to get some of the salt, which he licked from Mike’s hand, did not know what the boy was saying. Even if he had understood the words he would not have known what they referred to.
Mike went on, talking to himself.
“If only I could do it,” he said, “it would be great! I could drive home with the washings, and then, maybe, I could earn money with you. I wonder if I could make it myself? I could get the wheels, and a big soap box—
“Hmmm. No,” went on Mike, after a moment of thought, “that wouldn’t do. It would be all right for taking home the washings, but not to give rides for money. I’ve got to get a regular goat harness and a wagon. How can I do it?”
Now you know what Mike was thinking of. He had heard the lady speak of a pony cart, and he wanted a goat wagon for Lightfoot. If he had that he could, as he said, drive home with the big baskets of clean clothes to his mother’s customers. Then Mike had an idea he could give rides to children in the goat wagon, and so earn money.
“But where can I get the wagon and harness?” he asked himself over and over again.

At last, when he had talked the matter over with his friend Timothy Muldoon, the railroad gate-tender, in his little shanty at the foot of the street, Mike got the idea.
“Sure, why don’t you advertise in the papers?” asked Tim, as Mike called him. “That’s what everybody does that has anything to sell or wants to buy. Advertise for a goat wagon and harness. Sometimes goats can’t use them anymore, and the folks that own them sell them.”
“But it costs money to advertise,” objected Mike.
“Sure and won’t the paper you work for trust you?” asked Tim.
“The paper I work for?” repeated Mike, wonderingly.
“I mean the one you deliver for at night,” for Mike had a paper route for an evening paper, the Journal.
“They ought to know you there,” went on Tim. “Tell the advertising man what you want, and that you’ll pay him when you can.”
“I’ll do it!” cried Mike, and he did. When, rather timidly, he explained to the man at the desk in the office what he wanted, and told him that he had delivered the Journal for several years, a bargain was made.
The man would put the advertisement in the paper for Mike, saying he wanted to buy a second-hand goat wagon and harness. He was to pay for the advertisement at the rate of two cents each day, for the Widow Malony and her son were so poor that even two cents counted.
“And you can easily make up that two cents by getting two new customers for the paper,” said Tim, when Mike told him what had happened.
“Yes. But how am I going to pay for the goat wagon and harness in case someone has it to sell?” Mike questioned.
“Well, maybe I have a bit of a nest egg laid away,” said Tim, with a smile. “I might lend you the money, and when you get rich you can pay me. Or whoever sells the outfit might let your mother make up the amount by washing. We’ll see about that.”

To Mike’s delight he had two answers to his advertisement. One was for a very fine goat wagon and harness, but the price asked was more than even Tim would advise paying.
“You can get that, or one like it, when you’ve made a hundred dollars on the goat rides,” said Tim to Mike.
The other outfit was just about right, Tim and Mike thought, and the man who had the wagon and harness for sale said Mrs. Malony could pay for it by doing washing and ironing. So, after Mike had paid for the advertisement, no more money needed to be paid out.
“Sure, Lightfoot, now there’ll be grand times for you!” cried Mike as he came home one day with the wagon and harness.

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