Gustapher Plogs and the Spotted Cow
by Ellis Parker Butler
The Hon. Gustapher Plogs is one of the most prominent citizens of Ringtail County, and is stout for his size, principally around the belt. He is known far and near as the only man with nerve enough to wear a cutaway coat on week days, and is representative from our county in the state house. We all wish he lived in Chubbtown, but he comes down once in a while, and the other day he came down in his automobile.
Gustapher's automobile is small but nervy, being one of the vintage of ten years ago, with a handle in front and an exclamatory noise, and when Gustapher gets aboard he fills it so full that the springs slap together like castanets.
The other day he came into Chubbtown. He had an old-fashioned honker on his car, and when he pressed the rubber bulb it gave forth a honk-honk that was like a low wail of sorrow. He was coming into town along the Gratz Hollow road, honking every little while on general principles, last Wednesday, and thinking no evil, and at the same time Silas Prowse's cow was eating grass sadly and mourning the recent loss of her calf, which had become veal a short time before. The cow was about a mile from Gustapher, but the moment she heard the honker she pricked up her ears and uttered a low moo of distress and started for Gustapher on the lope. When Gustapher came over the rise of the hill he saw the cow and the cow saw him, and he honked to warn the cow off his right of way, but instead of getting out of the way, she uttered a low cry of joy and sped toward Gustapher. So he honked again, and at that the cow fairly laughed with happiness and broke into a gallop straight toward Gustapher.
Gustapher had never seen a cow act in just that way, and he didn't know what to make of it, so he brought his car to a stop and took hold of the bulb of his honker and honked at the cow for all he was worth. The cow stopped straight in front of him and looked at the automobile with a puzzled air, and when they had stood there for a minute or two she looked up at Gustapher with a wistful, pleading look in her eyes.
For quite a while Gustapher did not know what the cow wanted. He thought maybe the heat had driven her insane and the more so because she began to get mad. Then he gave her a warning honk, and she immediately quieted down and resumed her puzzled but satisfied look; but when he didn't honk she grew angry. They stood there at least half an hour, mooing and honking back and forth. Every time the cow would moo Gustapher had to honk, and every time he honked the cow would moo, but you can't expect a state representative in a cutaway coat to sit all day in an automobile honking for the pleasure of a spotted cow. So he started his car slowly and kept up a steady low honking and the cow trotted along at his side like a large coach dog.
But the more Gustapher thought about it the more he felt that it would not be dignified to enter town paced by a spotted cow, and as his old teapot of an automobile couldn't go as fast as the cow could lope, he hardly knew what to do about it. And right there was where he realized that his horn made a honk exactly similar to the bleat of a calf and that the cow did not care a fig for him or his automobile -- all she cared for was the low, pleading honk of his horn.
So Gustapher unscrewed the honker, and after he had studied the cow awhile he tied the horn on the cow's fore leg, and then he made her hoist up her foot, and he tied the bulb on the bottom of her foot. Well, if you ever saw a joyous cow it was that one when she set her foot on the ground and the honker honked forth in a low, calf-like moo. She practiced a few minutes, raising and lowering her foot, and in a little while she could honk as well as Gustapher himself. She was perfectly satisfied and happy, and Gustapher went on into town, and did his business, and as he passed the cow on his way home she honked at him joyfully.
About two months after that Gustapher was at the state house, when he received a post card from Silas Prowse. It said: "I wisht if you can you would get the State Secretary of Agriculture to tell what is the matter with my cow. Long about two months ago she had her calf took away, and she got peevish and started into a decline, but some vettinary tied a sort of business to her foot and she picked up again. But now the blamed foot business don't work, and she's peevish again and has a high temperature."
As soon as the Hon. Gustapher Plogs read that post card he put on his hat and took the train for home, and got into his automobile and started along the road to Chubbtown, and sure enough, at the top of the Gratz Hollow road was the cow, looking steadily and hopefully in his direction, and as soon as she saw him she gave a whoop of joy and started for him, and when she reached the automobile she stopped and held up her foot.
Gustapher saw what was the matter right away -- the cow had a puncture in the honker bulb. He jumped out of his automobile and got out his repair kit and mended the puncture, and the cow tried the honker gently and it honked all right! Well, sir, she went right up to Gustapher and kissed him on the left cheek, although she had always been a modest cow. But she was that grateful.
When he got back to the state house he wrote a letter to Silas Prowse and explained all about it, and he didn't hear any more from the cow for quite a while, and then he got word from Silas. "I wisht you would come and get your honker off my cow," the letter said. "She's got another calf and between the honker and the new calf she's most distracted. She thinks she's got twins."