Beautiful Joe
Chapter 15, Page 3


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.


She took me up to the filter and let some water run in her hand, and gave it to me to lap. Then she sat down and I leaned my head against her knees, and she stroked my throat gently.

There were some people sitting about the room, and, from their talk, I found out what had taken place. There had been a freight train on a side track at this station, waiting for us to get by. The switchman had carelessly left the switch open after this train went by, and when we came along afterward, our train, instead of running in by the platform, went crashing into the freight train. If we had been going fast, great damage might have been done. As it was, our engine was smashed so badly that it could not take us on; the passengers were frightened; and we were having a tedious time waiting for another engine to come and take us to Riverdale.

After the accident, the trainmen were so busy that Miss Laura could get no one to release me.

While I sat by her, I noticed an old gentleman staring at us. He was such a queer-looking old gentleman. He looked like a poodle. He had bright brown eyes, and a pointed face, and a shock of white hair that he shook every few minutes. He sat with his hands clasped on the top of his cane, and he scarcely took his eyes from Miss Laura's face. Suddenly he jumped up and came and sat down beside her.

"An ugly dog, that," he said, pointing to me.

Most young ladies would have resented this, but Miss Laura only looked amused. "He seems beautiful to me," she said, gently.

"H'm, because he's your dog," said the old man, darting a sharp look at me. "What's the matter with him?"

"This is his first journey by rail, and he's a little frightened."

"No wonder. The Lord only knows the suffering of animals in transportation," said the old gentleman. "My dear young lady, if you could see what I have seen, you'd never eat another bit of meat all the days of your life."

Miss Laura wrinkled her forehead. "I know— I have heard," she faltered. "It must be terrible."

"Terrible — it's awful," said the gentleman. "Think of the cattle on the western plains. Choked with thirst in summer, and starved and frozen in winter. Dehorned and goaded on to trains and steamers. Tossed about and wounded and suffering on voyages. Many of them dying and being thrown into the sea. Others landed sick and frightened. Some of them slaughtered on docks and wharves to keep them from dropping dead in their tracks. What kind of food does their flesh make? It's rank poison. Three of my family have died of cancer. I am a vegetarian."

The strange old gentleman darted from his seat, and began to pace up and down the room. I was very glad he had gone, for Miss Laura hated to hear of cruelty of any kind, and her tears were dropping thick and fast on my brown coat.

The gentleman had spoken very loudly, and every one in the room had listened to what he said. Among them, was a very young man, with a cold, handsome face. He looked as if he was annoyed that the older man should have made Miss Laura cry.

"Don't you think, sir," he said, as the old gentleman passed near him in walking up and down the floor, "that there is a great deal of mock sentiment about this business of taking care of the dumb creation? They were made for us. They've got to suffer and be killed to supply our wants. The cattle and sheep, and other animals would over-run the earth, if we didn't kill them."

"Granted," said the old man, stopping right in front of him. "Granted, young man, if you take out that word suffer. The Lord made the sheep, and the cattle, and the pigs. They are his creatures just as much as we are. We can kill them, but we've no right to make them suffer."

"But we can't help it, sir."

"Yes, we can, my young man. It's a possible thing to raise healthy stock, treat it kindly, kill it mercifully, eat it decently. When men do that I, for one, will cease to be a vegetarian. You're only a boy. You haven't traveled as I have. I've been from one end of this country to the other. Up north, down south, and out west, I've seen sights that made me shudder, and I tell you the Lord will punish this great American nation if it doesn't change its treatment of the dumb animals committed to its care."