Beautiful Joe
Chapter 11

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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.


CHAPTER XI: GOLDFISH AND CANARIES

The Morris boys were all different. Jack was bright and clever, Ned was a wag, Willie was a book-worm, and Carl was a born trader.

He was always exchanging toys and books with his schoolmates, and they never got the better of him in a bargain. He said that when he grew up he was going to be a merchant, and he had already begun to carry on a trade in canaries and goldfish. He was very fond of what he called "his yellow pets," yet he never kept a pair of birds or a goldfish, if he had a good offer for them.

He slept alone in a large, sunny room at the top of the house. By his own request, it was barely furnished, and there he raised his canaries and kept his goldfish.

He was not fond of having visitors coming to his room, because, he said, they frightened the canaries. After Mrs. Morris made his bed in the morning, the door was closed, and no one was supposed to go in till he came from school. Once Billy and I followed him upstairs without his knowing it, but as soon as he saw us he sent us down in a great hurry.

One day Bella walked into his room to inspect the canaries. She was quite a spoiled bird by this time, and I heard Carl telling the family afterward that it was as good as a play to see Miss Bella strutting in with her breast stuck out, and her little, conceited air, and hear her say, shrilly, "Good morning, birds, good morning! How do you do, Carl? Glad to see you, boy."

"Well, I'm not glad to see you," he said, decidedly, "and don't you ever come up here again. You'd frighten my canaries to death." And he sent her flying downstairs.

How cross she was! She came shrieking to Miss Laura. "Bella loves birds. Bella wouldn't hurt birds. Carl's a bad boy."

Miss Laura petted and soothed her, telling her to go find Davy, and he would play with her. Bella and the rat were great friends. It was very funny to see them going about the house together. From the very first she had liked him, and coaxed him into her cage, where he soon became quite at home, — so much so that he always slept there. About nine o'clock every evening, if he was not with her, she went all over the house, crying: "Davy! Davy! time to go to bed. Come sleep in Bella's cage."

He was very fond of the nice sweet cakes she got to eat, but she never could get him to eat coffee grounds — the food she liked best.

Miss Laura spoke to Carl about Bella, and told him he had hurt her feelings, so he petted her a little to make up for it. Then his mother told him that she thought he was making a mistake in keeping his canaries so much to themselves. They had become so timid, that when she went into the room they were uneasy till she left it. She told him that petted birds or animals are sociable and like company, unless they are kept by themselves, when they become shy. She advised him to let the other boys go into the room, and occasionally to bring some of his pretty singers downstairs, where all the family could enjoy seeing and hearing them, and where they would get used to other people besides himself.

Carl looked thoughtful, and his mother went on to say that there was no one in the house, not even the cat, that would harm his birds.

"You might even charge admission for a day or two," said Jack, gravely, "and introduce us to them, and make a little money."

Carl was rather annoyed at this, but his mother calmed him by showing him a letter she had just gotten from one of her brothers, asking her to let one of her boys spend his Christmas holidays in the country with him.

"I want you to go, Carl," she said.

He was very much pleased, but looked sober when he thought of his pets. "Laura and I will take care of them," said his mother, "and start the new management of them."

"Very well," said Carl, "I will go then; I've no young ones now, so you will not find them much trouble."