Beautiful Joe
Chapter 13

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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 XIII: THE BEGINNING OF AN ADVENTURE

The first winter I was at the Morrises', I had an adventure. It was a week before Christmas, and we were having cold, frosty weather. Not much snow had fallen, but there was plenty of skating, and the boys were off every day with their skates on a little lake near Fairport.

Jim and I often went with them, and we had great fun scampering over the ice after them, and slipping at every step.

On this Saturday night we had just gotten home. It was quite dark outside, and there was a cold wind blowing, so when we came in the front door, and saw the red light from the big hall stove and the blazing fire in the parlor they looked very cheerful.

I was quite sorry for Jim that he had to go out to his kennel. However, he said he didn't mind. The boys got a plate of nice, warm meat for him and a bowl of milk, and carried them out, and afterward he went to sleep. Jim's kennel was a very snug one. Being a spaniel, he was not a very large dog, but his kennel was as roomy as if he was a great Dane. He told me that Mr. Morris and the boys made it, and he liked it very much, because it was large enough for him to get up in the night and stretch himself, when he got tired of lying in one position.

It was raised a little from the ground, and it had a thick layer of straw over the floor. Above was a broad shelf, wide enough for him to lie on, and covered with an old catskin sleigh robe. Jim always slept here in cold weather, because it was farther away from the ground.

To return to this December evening. I can remember yet how hungry I was. I could scarcely lie still till Miss Laura finished her tea. Mrs. Morris, knowing that her boys would be very hungry, had Mary broil some beefsteak and roast some potatoes for them; and didn't they smell good!

They ate all the steak and potatoes. It didn't matter to me, for I wouldn't have gotten any if they had been left. Mrs. Morris could not afford to give to the dogs good meat that she had gotten for her children, so she used to get the butcher to send her liver, and bones, and tough meat, and Mary cooked them, and made soup and broth, and mixed porridge with them for us.

We never got meat three times a day. Miss Laura said it was all very well to feed hunting dogs on meat, but dogs that are kept about a house get ill if they are fed too well. So we had meat only once a day, and bread and milk, porridge, or dog biscuits, for our other meals.

I made a dreadful noise when I was eating. Ever since Jenkins cut my ears off, I had had trouble in breathing. The flaps had kept the wind and dust from the inside of my ears. Now that they were gone my head was stuffed up all the time. The cold weather made me worse, and sometimes I had such trouble to get my breath that it seemed as if I would choke. If I had opened my mouth, and breathed through it, as I have seen some people doing, I would have been more comfortable, but dogs always like to breathe through their noses.

"You have taken more cold," said Miss Laura, this night, as she put my plate of food on the floor for me. "Finish your meat, and then come and sit by the fire with me. What! do you want more?"

I gave a little bark, so she filled my plate for the second time. Miss Laura never allowed any one to meddle with us when we were eating. One day she found Willie teasing me by snatching at a bone that I was gnawing. "Willie," she said, "what would you do if you were just sitting down to the table feeling very hungry, and just as you began to eat your meat and potatoes, I would come along and snatch the plate from you?"

"I don't know what I'd do" he said, laughingly; "but I'd want to wallop you."

"Well," she said, "I'm afraid that Joe will 'wallop' you some day if you worry him about his food, for even a gentle dog will sometimes snap at any one who disturbs him at his meals; so you had better not try his patience too far." Willie never teased me after that, and I was very glad, for two or three times I had been tempted to snarl at him.