Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Floppy Ears and Whiskers
Timothy Edward was six years old. He was named Timothy after his great-grandfather Baker and Edward after his great-grandfather Robinson. Great-grandfather Baker always called him Timothy and great-grandfather Robinson always called him Edward, but everybody else called him Teddy.
Teddy had a little sister who was four years old. Her name was Sarah Elizabeth. She was named Sarah after her great-grandmother Baker and Elizabeth after her great-grandmother Robinson, but everybody called her Babs because she was the baby.
Teddy and Babs lived in a big city that was full of high buildings very close together. They lived with their daddy and mother in a big building that, Teddy said, wasn't so very high. Babs said, "No, but it isn't so very low." It was called an apartment house.
Teddy and Babs didn't live in the whole house but in a little part of it behind a door that had "11 A" painted on the outside. "11" meant that it was on the eleventh floor and "A" meant that the Robinsons lived there and not in "11 B" where Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins lived and not in "11 C" where Miss Horner lived.
When Teddy and Babs wanted to go out to play they had to push a button in the wall between two doors in the hall. Then they would wait and watch the hand on the clock over the door. It moved slowly; "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11," they would say. Then the door would open and there was the elevator to carry them down to the ground. Sometimes it was James who ran the elevator and sometimes it was Bill. Teddy and Babs would say, "Hello, James," or "Hello, Bill," and the elevator boys would say, "Hello, Teddy and Babs." The boys were always glad to see Teddy and Babs, but they were never glad to see what Teddy and Babs had with them, for they always had their tricycles or their scooters or their skates. Sometimes Teddy had his express wagon and Babs had her doll coach and all of these things took up a great deal of room in the elevator. Teddy and Babs thought it was a nuisance too, and they wished that they could leave all of their playthings downstairs right by the front door. Daddy said, "That wouldn't do at all," and Mother said that was the trouble with living in an apartment house.
Teddy and Babs didn't have any yard to play in, but they played in a big square that was across the street from the apartment house. All of the children who lived in the apartment houses around the square played there. It was a pretty square with cement walks and trees and grass and flower beds and a fountain with a pool where they could float little boats.
There was a statue of a billy goat in the square, too. He was made of bronze. Every day Teddy and Babs climbed upon his back and took a make-believe ride. The billy goat's horns and the top of his head shone like a bright new penny because all of the children who played in the square stroked him and patted him, and this made him very shiny in the patted places.
Teddy and Babs rode their tricycles on the cement walks, but they couldn't run on the grass or climb the trees or pick the flowers or go wading in the pool, and these were the things Teddy and Babs wanted very much to do. They wanted to almost as much as they wanted a puppy dog to play with, but Daddy said you couldn't have a dog in an apartment. It was bad enough having tricycles and scooters and express wagons and doll coaches. So Teddy and Babs patted the billy goat and wished for a puppy dog.
One day Teddy had a new boat. It was a sailboat. It was bright green on the outside and bright yellow on the inside, and it had a mast with two little white sails. There was a tiny red flag flying from the top of the mast. Teddy thought it was the most beautiful boat he had ever seen. He sat on the side of the pool and floated the boat, but there wasn't any breeze to move it across the pool. Teddy leaned over and blew the little boat. Away she went! When the boat stopped, he leaned over farther and blew her again. She sailed farther away. All the children stopped to look at Teddy's boat. This made Teddy feel very proud. He wanted his boat to go faster so he leaned way over the side of the pool and blew as hard as he could. He blew so hard that he lost his balance and Ker-Flop! went Teddy over the side of the pool right into the water.
"Oh! Oh!" shouted all of the children.
"Oh! Oh!" cried Babs, jumping up and down. "Teddy fell in! Teddy fell in!"
A little red-and-white spaniel and a little brindle Scottie dog began to bark very loud. They ran up and down and barked and barked.
Michael, the policeman, came running from the other side of the square. When he saw Teddy sitting in the pool and looking very scared, he cried, "Now, now, I'll get you out. You're not hurt a bit, but you sure do look wet. Haven't I told you to be careful when you float those boats?"
Michael lifted Teddy out of the pool and squeezed some of the water out of his little trousers and sweater. "Sure, if it hadn't been for the little dog calling me," said Michael, "you would have drowned for certain." All the children came running to the pool. They watched Michael take off his big coat and wrap it around Teddy. Then the policeman picked him up and carried him across the street into the apartment house. Babs ran after him carrying the little sailboat. When they stepped into the elevator, Bill said, "What happened, Teddy?"
Michael said, "Man overboard, that's all."
"Teddy blew too hard," said Babs.
Teddy was still so scared he didn't say anything.
When Michael handed him over to his mother, Mrs. Robinson thanked the policeman again and again. Michael said he was glad he happened to be nearby and he didn't care if his coat was a little damp.
Teddy's mother took off Teddy's wet clothes and gave him a hot bath. Then she tucked him in his bed where it was nice and warm. Soon he was sound asleep.
That night at dinner Daddy heard all about how Teddy fell into the pool.
"It was that little spaniel with the floppy ears that saved my life," said Teddy. "He barked so loud Michael heard him."
"No, no, Teddy, it was the Scottie dog. He barked much louder," said Babs.
"No, it wasn't," said Teddy. "It was the little spaniel."
"I ought to know," said Babs. "I was on the outside. You were in the water and you couldn't hear."
"Yes, I could," replied Teddy. "We'll have a little dog someday, won't we, Daddy?"
"Someday," said Daddy, "when we live on a farm."
"It will be a spaniel with floppy ears, won't it, Daddy?" said Teddy.
"Ah, no, Daddy," said Babs. "I want a little Scottie dog. Scottie dogs have such nice whiskers."
"We'll see," said Daddy. "We'll see when we live on a farm."
"What is a farm?" asked Teddy.
"A farm," replied Daddy, "is a great big piece of ground with a lot of grass and trees and flowers, where you grow corn and wheat and hay and all kinds of vegetables, where there are cows and chickens and pigs and horses and a house without an elevator where you can leave the toys by the front door."
"Can you run on the grass?" asked Babs.
"Can you climb the trees?" asked Teddy.
"Can you pick the flowers?" asked Babs.
"Yes," replied Daddy, "you can do all those things."
"Oh, Daddy!" cried the children. "Let's live on a farm."
"Yes," said Mother, "let's."
One day Daddy came home from the office early. His face was all shiny with a surprise. "Pack up your overalls!" he shouted. "We are moving to a farm."
"Where there is grass and trees to climb?" cried Teddy.
"And flowers to pick and chickens and little pigs?" asked Babs.
"And a house with a front door to leave the toys beside?" asked Mother.
"Yes, yes," cried Daddy, "and a farmer who lives in the house across the road to do the farming."
"What will you do, Daddy?" asked Teddy.
"Oh, I'll catch trains to the city," replied Daddy, "and work in the office and think of you and Babs and Mother feeding the chickens and milking the cows, and then I'll catch another train home in the evening just in time to tuck the chickens and the cows into bed."
"Will there be a Scottie dog?" asked Babs.
"No, there will be a spaniel with floppy ears, won't there, Daddy?" said Teddy.
"Now that is one thing I forgot to find out," answered Daddy.
At last the day came when Teddy and Babs and their mother and daddy rode down in the elevator for the last time. They were off to the farm. They drove in Daddy's car miles and miles out into the country. Every time they passed a farm, Teddy and Babs would call out, "Is this it, Daddy?" and Daddy would say, "No, it's nicer than that."
Finally they reached the farm. The house stood on the side of a hill with the grass rolling down to a meadow. The grass was green and velvety smooth. The children ran on it shouting with glee. "Can we roll on the grass, Mother?" cried Teddy.
"Yes, indeed," said Mother, "roll."
Teddy and Babs lay down on the grass and rolled over and over all the way down to the meadow. Then they sat up and looked up into the branches of a big apple tree. "It's fun to live on a farm, isn't it?" said Babs.
"I'm going to climb that apple tree this afternoon," said Teddy.
"Urf, urf!" came a sharp bark from the house and down the hill to the children scampered a red-and-white spaniel puppy.
"Oh!" cried Teddy, as he took the puppy in his arms, "I told you it would be a spaniel. Look at his floppy ears."
Babs looked at the puppy. He was sweet and soft and silky and his big brown eyes were sad. But she did so want a Scottie. Babs' eyes were as sad as the puppy's and two big tears began to roll down her cheeks.
"Yip, yip!" came another sharp bark and down the hill rushed a little brindle Scottie. Babs jumped up and caught the puppy. She held him close to her cheek. She loved his rough coat. "My Scottie dog!" she said. "My Scottie dog with whiskers!"
Copyright © 1940 by Harcourt...