The little dog and the big dog

Once upon a time there were two dogs who were great friends. One of them was small and one was large, and they were called Little Dog and Big Dog all the days of their lives, and had no other names.

Little Dog barked at everything he saw. He barked at the cat and he barked at the kittens; he barked at the cow and he barked at the calf; he barked at his own shadow; and he even barked at the moon in the sky with a “Bow-wow-wow!” and a “Bow-wow-wow!”

Big Dog had a very loud bark, “Bow-wow! Bow-wow!” but he barked only when he had something to say. And everybody listened to him.

Now one day as the two dogs sat together in the sunshine, Big Dog said to Little Dog:— “Come, let us go to see our friend, the king.”

Little Dog thought this was a splendid plan, and they left at once. Big Dog walked along the road with his tail curled over his back, and his head held high. “There is no need of haste,” he said, but Little Dog thought there must be.

“I shall get there first,” he called, as he scampered ahead, but he came back as fast as he had gone.

“Oh, Big Dog, Big Dog,” he said, “we cannot go to see the king.”

“Why not?” asked Big Dog. “Has he gone away from home?”

“I don’t know” answered Little Dog, who was almost out of breath, “but a little farther on there is a great river, and we can never get across.”

But Big Dog would not turn back. “I must see this great river,” he said, and he walked on as quietly as before. Little Dog followed him, and when they came to the river Big Dog jumped in, splish! splash! and began to swim.

“Wait, wait,” cried Little Dog, but Big Dog only answered, “Don’t be afraid.”

So in jumped Little Dog, splish! splash! too, for he did not want to be left behind. He was terribly frightened, but he paddled himself along with his four feet just as he saw Big Dog doing, and when he was safe across the river, which was not half so wide as he had thought, he barked at it as if he had never been afraid at all.

“Bow-wow-wow-wow! You cannot keep us from the king,” he said, and he was off and away before Big Dog had shaken the water from his coat. But in less time than it takes to tell it, Big Dog spied him running back with his tail hanging down and his ears drooping.

“Oh, Big Dog, Big Dog!” he cried. “We cannot go to see the king, for in the wood there is a bear, and she will eat us both for her supper. I heard her say so myself.”

Then Big Dog made haste to the wood, barking loudly:— “Bow-wow! Bow-wow! I am not afraid! I am not afraid!” and when the bear heard him she ran to her home as fast as she could.

“I can eat honey for my supper,” she said; and the two dogs saw no more of her.

Now by this time Little Dog had run so fast and barked so much that he was tired. “I do not want to go to see the king,” he said; and he lay down in the road and put his head between his two front paws. But Big Dog said, “I smell a bone,” and Little Dog jumped up in a hurry again. Sniff! sniff!—where could it be? The two dogs put their noses close to the ground and followed the scent till they came to the turn of the road; and there sat a woodcutter eating his supper of bread and lamb chops by his fire.

Little Dog wanted to run up and beg for something, but Big Dog would not go with him. “It is more polite to wait,” he said; and he sat down on the other side of the road. Little Dog sat down beside him, and they waited and waited; but at last the man finished his chops and threw the bones to the dogs, which was just what Big Dog had hoped he would do. Oh, how good they tasted!

“Where shall we sleep tonight?” asked Little Dog, when he had eaten his share.

“Oh, never fear,” answered Big Dog, “we will find a place;” and when they had gone on their way they very soon came to a house in the wood. The door was open, and Big Dog put his head inside to see if anybody was at home. Nobody lived there, however, but a barn swallow, so the dogs went in and lay down to rest on some hay in the corner.

“We must be off early,” said Big Dog; but when they woke up next morning the door was fastened tight; for the wind had blown by in the night and slammed it into its place. When Big Dog saw this he was in great distress.

“Oh, Little Dog! Little Dog!” he cried. “I fear we can never go to see the king, for the door is closed, and there is no one to open it.”

“But we can go through the hole under the door,” answered Little Dog; and when Big Dog looked, there, sure enough, at the bottom of the door, where a board had rotted away, was a hole just large enough for a little dog to creep through. Little Dog put his nose through and his head through, and then wriggle, wriggle, he was out and barking merrily.

“Come on, Big Dog,” he called; but Big Dog could not go. He could not even get his head through the hole.

“You must go on alone,” he said to Little Dog “and when you have come to the king’s palace, and have told him about me, perhaps he will send me help.”

But Little Dog did not wait until he reached the king’s palace to ask for help. “Bow-wow-wow-wow! Listen to me,” he barked, as he ran down the road. “Big Dog, my friend, is shut up in the house in the wood, and cannot go to see the king. Bow-wow-wow-wow!”

At first there were only birds to hear him, but then he saw a woodcutter with an axe on his shoulder.

“Bow-wow-wow-wow! Listen to me,” barked Little Dog. “Big Dog, my friend, is shut up in the house in the wood and cannot go to see the king. Bow-wow-wow-wow!” But the woodcutter did not understand a word he said.

“Whew! whew!” he whistled, which meant, “Come, little doggie, follow me;” but Little Dog had no time to play.

He hurried on as fast as he could, and by and by he met the woodcutter’s wife going to town with a basket of eggs on her arm. “Bow-wow-wow-wow! Listen to me. Big Dog, my friend, is shut up in the house in the wood, and cannot go to see the king,” barked Little Dog. But the woodcutter’s wife did not understand a word he said.

“You noisy little dog,” she cried. “You have startled me so that it is a wonder every egg in my basket is not broken,” and she shook her skirts to get rid of him.

“Nobody will listen to me,” thought Little Dog, as he scampered on, but just then he spied a little boy with a bundle of sticks on his back. He was the woodcutter’s little boy; and—do you believe it?—he understood every word that Little Dog said, and followed him to the house.

When they drew near they heard Big Dog calling for help:— “Bow-wow! Bow-wow! Come and let me out. Come and let me out.”

“Bow-wow! we are coming,” answered Little Dog.

“We are coming,” said the woodcutter’s little boy; and the very next minute Big Dog was free.

The king’s palace was not far from the wood, and the two dogs were soon at their journey’s end. The king was so pleased to see them that he made a great feast for them, and invited the woodcutter’s little boy because he was their friend. After the feast Big Dog and Little Dog were sent home in the king’s own carriage; and all the rest of their lives they were even better friends than before they went traveling together.