Master Jack

Master Jack

Master Jack was a bulldog puppy, just about so big. He had brown eyes and a black pug nose. He had funny little bows in his front legs. When he was dressed up to go to a birthday party, he wore a blue ribbon bow under his chin. He tried to be good. Sometimes he would stick out his tongue when he tried to talk, but for all that he was a very fine puppy.

When Master Jack reached the third grade he was the fastest runner in his class. Sometimes he would get himself dizzy turning in circles, trying to catch his tiny tail. He learned to do tricks such as standing on his head, turning somersaults, and jumping over sticks. He loved to play ball and to see how high he could jump. He played and ran hard all the long week when he was not in school, but on Sunday Master Jack had nothing to do.

One day Jack's mother said to Jack's father—who was a good old dog, snoozing by the fireplace—"Father, it seems to me we ought to take Jack to Sunday church school. It isn't right for him not to be brought up like all the good dogs in our neighborhood. I don't want my Jack to be a young heathen! After all, Jack, himself, wants to go to Sunday school because they have happy times there."

Jack's father said, "Well, Mother, if you will take Jack to Sunday school, I think its a grand idea. I'll stay here and guard the house in case there's a fire or burglars."

That Saturday night Mother gave Jack such a scrubbing as he had never had before. She got a tub and put Jack into it. At first, he shivered while she poured water over his back and washed him all over with soap. She scrubbed behind Jack's ears. She washed his paws and trimmed his nails. It really made Jack feel good. On Sunday morning, looking shiny and clean, he said, "I want to go to Sunday school."

So Jack went to Sunday school every week. When Jack's birthday came, all the puppies in the department stood on their hind legs and sang "Happy Birthday to You." Jack took his birthday money from the pocket of his best red jacket, which he wore only on Sun days, and all the puppies cocked their ears to hear the coins tinkle,
tinkle as Jack dropped them into the birthday bank. Jack, too, soon learned to join the songs and activities you call handwork but Jack's teacher called pawwork, and he had just the nicest and happiest time making a colored stained-glass window with the other puppies. Master Jack felt that he really belonged, because all the other puppies liked him, and his teacher was so wonderful. He trotted home from Sunday school with his Sunday school story paper in his mouth, wagging his stubby tail for joy, till it nearly fell off.

All the next week, Jack's mother helped him read his Sunday school home reading book of Bible stories. She was interested, too. Jack learned the memory verse, and he had an unusually good time in the department. He felt ashamed for the puppies who didn't try to learn the memory verse, and who had spent their money for candy, when they were supposed to have put it in the Sunday school offering. He was cross, too, at the puppies who always came to Sunday school late. Jack was always on time and tried to help his teacher by getting there early.

So it was that, on one fine Sunday morning, when dandelions had stopped blooming and their places had been taken by yellow buttercups and beautiful daisies, Jack's mother said to Jack's father, "Father, did you know that our Jack is being promoted today to the Junior Department in Sunday school? He is to take part in the Bible story dramatization in the Promotion Day program at our church." Now, when Jack's father heard that, he raised his head and pricked up his ears. "Mother," he asked, "do you mean to say that my Jack is going to have a speaking part at the puppies' promotion?" "That's just what I mean," said Jack's mother proudly. "Our Jack is on the program and he's a perfect wow. You know he's getting to be a big dog now.

"Well, Jack's father shook himself, shaved off some of his longest whiskers, put on his best jacket and his spectacles and walked to church in his grandest manner with Mother and Master Jack. As Jack walked down the aisle and climbed the stairs with the other puppies to the platform, Jack's father leaned way over the end of the pew in order to get a good view of his own son Jack. When his turn came to speak, Jack stood on his hind legs, bowed to the right and left, rolled his eyes, made just the proper gesture with his paw, and never forgot a single word of his speech. He spoke loudly and clearly. All the older dogs in the congregation—the fathers and mothers—nodded to each other, when Jack finished, whispering behind their paws, "That was nice. Whose puppy is that?" And when some of the dogs whispered back, "Why, that's Mister Jack's puppy," Master Jack's father was so proud his neck began to swell way out until it nearly burst his brass-studded leather collar.

After church they all walked home together, little Jack carrying the red geranium plant which the teacher gave to all the puppies to take home on puppies' Promotion Day. Jack's father was feeling so grand he said, "I say, Mother, this Sunday school idea is pretty nice after all, isn't it? I believe I'll join Every Dog's Brotherhood Class, myself, so that I can go to Sunday school with Jack hereafter. I don't think he should have to go alone. Why don't you join the Ladies' Class?" "I'd love to," replied Jack's mother.

So now every Sunday there's really a sight to behold in that town. Jack's father, dressed in his finest, walks on one side; Jack's mother, looking very proud, with her nose tilted in the air, walks on the other side; and between them is Jack himself, wearing his blue ribbon bow and his best red jacket, all going down the street together to the church. As they pass by the houses, from the windows and from the verandas, the other dogs watch them go by—those careless dogs who have never been brought up properly and therefore often stay home from church. They are greatly impressed by this church-going family and they say to one another, "Well, we must admit that of all the dogs in this town, those three are the happiest dogs we know." And to that sentiment Jack, himself, who loves to go to Sunday school with his parents, responds with a proud and a loud "Bow wow!"

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