Beautiful Joe
Chapter 9, Page 2


Please be aware that this book was originally published in 1894 and may contain words, descriptions, or other passages that may be considered offensive today.


After Mr. Morris left the room, the door opened and Miss Laura came in. She knew nothing about the parrot and was very much surprised to see it. Seating herself at the table, she held out her hands to it. She was so fond of pets of all kinds, that she never thought of being afraid of them. At the same time, she never laid her hand suddenly on any animal. She held out her fingers and talked gently, so that if it wished to come to her it could. She looked at the parrot as if she loved it, and the queer little thing walked right up and nestled its head against the lace in the front of her dress. "Pretty lady," she said, in a cracked whisper, "give Bella a kiss."

The boys were so pleased with this and set up such a shout, that their mother came into the room and said they had better take the parrot out to the stable. Bella seem to enjoy the fun. "Come on, boys," she screamed, as Henry Smith lifted her on his finger. "Ha, ha, ha — come on, let's have some fun. Where's the guinea pig? Where's Davy, the rat? Where's pussy? Pussy, pussy, come here. Pussy, pussy, dear, pretty puss."

Her voice was shrill and distinct, and very like the voice of an old woman who came to the house for rags and bones. I followed her out to the stable, and stayed there until she noticed me and screamed out, "Ha, Joe, Beautiful Joe! Where's your tail? Who cut your ears off?"

I don't think it was kind in the cabin boy to teach her this, and I think she knew it teased me, for she said it over and over again, and laughed and chuckled with delight. I left her and did not see her till the next day, when the boys had got a fine, large cage for her.

The place for her cage was by one of the hall windows; but everybody in the house got so fond of her that she was moved about from one room to another.

She hated her cage, and used to put her head close to the bars and plead, "Let Bella out; Bella will be a good girl. Bella won't run away."

After a time the Morrises did let her out, and she kept her word and never tried to get away. Jack put a little handle on her cage door so that she could open and shut it herself, and it was very amusing to hear her say in the morning, "Clear the track, children! Bella's going to take a walk," and see her turn the handle with her claw and come out into the room. She was a very clever bird, and I have never seen any creature but a human being that could reason as she did. She was so petted and talked to that she got to know a great many words, and on one occasion she saved the Morrises from being robbed.

It was in the winter time. The family was having tea in the dining room at the back of the house, and Billy and I were lying in the hall watching what was going on. There was no one in the front of the house. The hall lamp was lighted, and the hall door closed, but not locked. Some sneak thieves, who had been doing a great deal of mischief in Fairport, crept up the steps and into the house, and, opening the door of the hall closet, laid their hands on the boys' winter overcoats.

They thought no one saw them, but they were mistaken. Bella had been having a nap upstairs, and had not come down when the tea bell rang. Now she was hopping down on her way to the dining room, and hearing the slight noise below, stopped and looked through the railing. Any pet creature that lives in a nice family hates a dirty, shabby person. Bella knew that those beggar boys had no business in that closet.

"Bad boys!" she screamed, angrily. "Get out — get out! Here, Joe, Joe, Beautiful Joe. Come quick. Billy, Billy, rats — Hie out, Jim, sic 'em boys. Where's the police. Call the police!"

Billy and I sprang up and pushed open the door leading to the front hall. The thieves in a terrible fright were just rushing down the front steps. One of them got away, but the other fell, and I caught him by the coat, till Mr. Morris ran and put his hand on his shoulder.

He was a young fellow about Jack's age, but not one-half so manly, and he was sniffling and scolding about "that pesky parrot." Mr. Morris made him come back into the house, and had a talk with him. He found out that he was a poor, ignorant lad, half starved by a drunken father. He and his brother stole clothes, and sent them to his sister in Boston, who sold them and returned part of the money.

Mr. Morris asked him if he would not like to get his living in an honest way, and he said he had tried to, but no one would employ him. Mr. Morris told him to go home and take leave of his father and get his brother and bring him to Washington street the next day. He told him plainly that if he did not he would send a policeman after him.

The boy begged Mr. Morris not to do that, and early the next morning he appeared with his brother. Mrs. Morris gave them a good breakfast and fitted them out with clothes, and they were sent off in the train to one of her brothers, who was a kind farmer in the country, and who had been telegraphed to that these boys were coming, and wished to be provided with situations where they would have a chance to make honest men of themselves.