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The Mysterious Moo

Once there was a cow with a very strange moo. Whenever the cow mooed, the birds stopped singing, the worms stopped churning, and even the farmer stopped plowing in the fields. Everything was quiet. For they were all asleep.

At first the farmer did not realize why he fell asleep so often while he was doing his chores. But soon he discovered that it happened only when his cow mooed.

"This will never do!" he exclaimed. "I will have to get another cow." So one morning the farmer took his cow to another farmer down the road. The other farmer, who did not know about the cow's strange moo, agreed to buy her. He was just about to pay for her, when she suddenly mooed. Both farmers immediately fell asleep.

The cow looked at them for a few minutes, and then wandered off. Down the road she ambled, stopping every now and then to munch some clover at the edge of the nearby fields.

As the cow walked along, she mooed every now and then. She left a trail of sleeping animals behind her. There were two rabbits, a dog, two horses, a fox, and several dozen field mice -- all asleep. As she ambled down the middle of the road, a large truck stopped.

"Hey, cow! Get over to the side of the road!" the driver shouted.

The cow turned around and mooed. Instantly the driver fell asleep with his head hanging out of the truck window.

On the cow went. Soon she reached the nearby town. As she walked down the street, cars honked their horns at her. Finally she stopped at the center of town, where the two main streets crossed. Cars were coming at her from all directions. Brakes screeched, horns honked, and people shouted. The policeman waved his nightstick.

The cow was frightened. She did not know where to go. And she could not move anyway, because of all the cars. So she just stood there right in the middle of the two main streets. The noise got louder and louder.

The cow mooed.

Suddenly everything was quiet. The honking stopped. The shouting stopped. All the people in the cars were asleep. The policeman was asleep. People who had been walking down the street were asleep, too. Even the people who had been looking out of their windows were asleep.

Telephones in the middle of town began to ring. But nobody answered them. Everyone was still sound asleep. In a nearby town, a woman called her local police station. "There's something wrong over in Centerville. My daughter-in-law doesn't answer her phone. And her next-door neighbor doesn't answer her phone, either!"

The police chief sighed. He put in a call to the Centerville police station. But no one answered. He scratched his head and called one of his radio cars. "Car 6, check out the Centerville area. There's something funny going on there."

Soon there was a report from the radio car, "There's some kind of traffic jam in the middle of town, Chief. I can't get any farther in the car, so I'm going to park here and proceed on foot."

The police chief waited for another report -- and waited, and waited. But there was no sound from the radio. For the cow had mooed again, and the patrolman was now stretched out on the sidewalk of Main Street, fast asleep.

The worried police chief called State Police headquarters. They sent a helicopter over the area. "Hey!" the pilot yelled over his radio. "It looks like some kind of disaster area! Bodies all over the place! Maybe it's some kind of plague!"

The State Police chief called the Governor, and he called out the National Guard. Soon twenty soldiers with gas masks were racing down Main Street. With guns held ready, they surrounded the area. They did not know what to expect, but they were ready for anything.

The cow mooed.

A few hours later, the farmer who owned the cow heard on his radio, "Tanks have surrounded Centerville. Jets are providing air covers. The army is about to move in. Keep tuned for the latest developments."

The farmer turned to his son. "Could that be our cow causing all that trouble? We ought to do something. But if we go near her, she'll just put us to sleep, too."

"I have an idea," said the farmer's son. And off he went. When the boy reached the edge of town, the soldiers would not let him pass. He insisted that he knew what to do. Finally they took him to the General, who was in charge of everything.

"I know what to do, General!" the farmer's son cried.

"Shush, Sonny," said the General. "I'm busy. My men are just moving in." He turned back to his radio.

Out of the speaker came a voice. "We've surrounded Main Street, Sir. The tanks are moving in. Everyone we've seen seems to be alive, but unconscious, Sir. The only thing moving is a cow, right in the middle of Main Street. We're getting closer now, Sir."

The boy tugged at the General's sleeve. "General, General, don't let them get any closer! I know the answer -- this!" He pulled out a pair of earmuffs and popped them onto his ears.

The General and his staff burst out laughing.

Just then a voice came from the radio again. "I've reached the cow now, General. Everything seems all right." Over the radio, the General and his staff heard the cow moo.

Then the radio was silent. The soldiers on Main Street were all asleep. Back at headquarters, the General was asleep. And so was his staff. But the farmer's son was not. With his ear muffs on, he had not heard the cow moo. The boy walked into town, past all the sleeping soldiers and the sleeping people. He walked up to the cow, took her halter, and led her out.

The next day the farmer and his son fenced in a plot of land in the far pasture. Wearing earmuffs, they led the cow over and closed her inside. There she lived contentedly.



©1972, 2013 The Silversteins