Beautiful Joe
Chapter 15, Page 5


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.


In a few seconds the bundle was done up, and we were joyfully hastening to the train. It was only a few miles to Riverdale, so the conductor let me stay in the car with Miss Laura. She spread her coat out on the seat in front of her, and I sat on it and looked out of the car window as we sped along through a lovely country, all green and fresh in the June sunlight. How light and pleasant this car was — so different from the baggage car. What frightens an animal most of all things, is not to see where it is going, not to know what is going to happen to it. I think that they are very like human beings in this respect.

The lady had taken a seat beside Miss Laura, and as we went along, she too looked out of the window and said in a low voice:

"What is so rare as a day in June,
Then, if ever, come perfect days."

"That is very true," said Miss Laura; "how sad that the autumn must come, and the cold winter."

"No, my dear, not sad. It is but a preparation for another summer."

"Yes, I suppose it is," said Miss Laura. Then she continued a little shyly, as her companion leaned over to stroke my cropped ears "You seem very fond of animals."

"I am, my dear. I have four horses, two cows, a tame squirrel, three dogs, and a cat."

"You should be a happy woman," said Miss Laura, with a smile.

"I think I am. I must not forget my horned toad, Diego, that I got in California. I keep him in the green-house, and he is very happy catching flies and holding his horny head to be scratched whenever any one comes near."

"I don't see how any one can be unkind to animals," said Miss Laura, thoughtfully.

"Nor I, my dear child. It has always caused me intense pain to witness the torture of dumb animals. Nearly seventy years ago, when I was a little girl walking the streets of Boston, I would tremble and grow faint at the cruelty of drivers to over-loaded horses. I was timid and did not dare speak to them. Very often, I ran home and flung myself in my mother's arms with a burst of tears, and asked her if nothing could be done to help the poor animals. With mistaken, motherly kindness, she tried to put the subject out of my thoughts. I was carefully guarded from seeing or hearing of any instances of cruelty. But the animals went on suffering just the same, and when I became a woman, I saw my cowardice. I agitated the matter among my friends, and told them that our whole dumb creation was groaning together in pain, and would continue to groan, unless merciful human beings were willing to help them. I was able to assist in the formation of several societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals, and they have done good service. Good service not only to the horses and cows, but to the nobler animal, man. I believe that in saying to a cruel man, 'You shall not overwork, torture, mutilate, nor kill your animal, or neglect to provide it with proper food and shelter,' we are making him a little nearer the kingdom of heaven than he was before. For 'Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.' If he sows seeds of unkindness and cruelty to man and beast, no one knows what the blackness of the harvest will be. His poor horse, quivering under a blow, is not the worst sufferer. Oh, if people would only understand that their unkind deeds will recoil upon their own heads with tenfold force — but, my dear child, I am fancying that I am addressing a drawing-room meeting — and here we are at your station. Good-bye; keep your happy face and gentle ways. I hope that we may meet again some day." She pressed Miss Laura's hand, gave me a farewell pat, and the next minute we were outside on the platform, and she was smiling through the window at us.