Beautiful Joe
Chapter 10, 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.


The boys were throwing water on the dogs, and pulling their tails, and hurling stones at them, but they could not separate them. Their heads seemed locked together, and they went back and forth over the stones, the boys crowding around them, shouting, and beating, and kicking at them.

"Stand back, boys," said Miss Laura; "I'll stop them." She pulled a little parcel from her purse, bent over the dogs, scattered a powder on their noses, and the next instant the dogs were yards apart, nearly sneezing their heads off.

"I say, Missis, what did you do? What's that stuff? Whew, it's pepper!" the boys exclaimed.

Miss Laura sat down on a flat rock, and looked at them with a very pale face. "Oh, boys," she said, "why did you make those dogs fight? It is so cruel. They were playing happily till you set them on each other. Just see how they have torn their handsome coats, and how the blood is dripping from them."

"'Taint my fault," said one of the lads, sullenly. "Jim Jones there said his dog could lick my dog, and I said he couldn't — and he couldn't, neither.

"Yes, he could," cried the other boy; "and if you say he couldn't, I'll smash your head."

The two boys began sidling up to each other with clenched fists, and a third boy, who had a mischievous face, seized the paper that had had the pepper in it, and running up to them shook it in their faces.

There was enough left to put all thoughts of fighting out of their heads. They began to cough, and choke, and splutter, and finally found themselves beside the dogs, where the four of them had a lively time.

The other boys yelled with delight, and pointed their fingers at them, "A sneezing concert. Thank you, gentlemen. 'Angcore, angcore'!"

Miss Laura laughed too, she could not help it, and even Billy and I curled up our lips. After a while they sobered down, and then finding that the boys hadn't a handkerchief between them, Miss Laura took her own soft one, and dipping it in a spring of fresh water near by, wiped the red eyes of the sneezers.

Their ill humor had gone, and when she turned to leave them, and said, coaxingly, "You won't make those dogs fight any more, will you?" they said, "No, sirree, Bob."

Miss Laura went slowly home, and ever afterward when she met any of those boys, they called her "Miss Pepper."

When we got home we found Willie curled up by the window in the hall, reading a book. He was too fond of reading, and his mother often told him to put away his book and run about with the other boys. This afternoon Miss Laura laid her hand on his shoulder and said, "I was going to give the dogs a little game of ball, but I'm rather tired."

"Gammon and spinach," he replied, shaking off her hand, "you're always tired."

She sat down in a hall chair and looked at him. Then she began to tell him about the dog fight. He was much interested, and the book slipped to the floor. When she finished he said, "You're a daisy every day. Go now and rest yourself." Then snatching the balls from her, he called us and ran down to the basement. But he was not quick enough though to escape her arm. She caught him to her and kissed him repeatedly. He was the baby and pet of the family, and he loved her dearly, though he spoke impatiently to her oftener than either of the other boys.