Beautiful Joe
Chapter 16


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.


"My dear niece," and a stout, middle-aged woman, with a red, lively face, threw both her arms around Miss Laura, "How glad I am to see you, and this is the dog. Good Joe, I have a bone waiting for you. Here is Uncle John."

A tall, good-looking man stepped up and put out a big hand, in which my mistress' little fingers were quite swallowed up. "I am glad to see you, Laura. Well, Joe, how d'ye do, old boy? I've heard about you."

It made me feel very welcome to have them both notice me, and I was so glad to be out of the train that I frisked for joy around their feet as we went to the wagon. It was a big double one, with an awning over it to shelter it from the sun's rays, and the horses were drawn up in the shade of a spreading tree. They were two powerful black horses, and as they had no blinders on, they could see us coming. Their faces lighted up and they moved their ears and pawed the ground, and whinnied when Mr. Wood went up to them. They tried to rub their heads against him, and I saw plainly that they loved him. "Steady there, Cleve and Pacer," he said; "now back, back up."

By this time, Mrs. Wood, Miss Laura and I were in the wagon. Then Mr. Wood jumped in, took up the reins, and off we went. How the two black horses did spin along! I sat on the seat beside Mr. Wood, and sniffed in the delicious air, and the lovely smell of flowers and grass. How glad I was to be in the country! What long races I should have in the green fields. I wished that I had another dog to run with me, and wondered very much whether Mr. Wood kept one. I knew I should soon find out, for whenever Miss Laura went to a place she wanted to know what animals there were about.

We drove a little more than a mile along a country road where there were scattered houses. Miss Laura answered questions about her family, and asked questions about Mr. Harry, who was away at college and hadn't got home. I don't think I have said before that Mr. Harry was Mrs. Wood's son. She was a widow with one son when she married Mr. Wood, so that Mr. Harry, though the Morrises called him cousin, was not really their cousin.

I was very glad to hear them say that he was soon coming home, for I had never forgotten that but for him I should never have known Miss Laura and gotten into my pleasant home.

By-and-by, I heard Miss Laura say: "Uncle John, have you a dog?"

"Yes, Laura," he said; "I have one to-day, but I sha'n't have one to-morrow."

"Oh, uncle, what do you mean?" she asked.

"Well, Laura," he replied, "you know animals are pretty much like people. There are some good ones and some bad ones. Now, this dog is a snarling, cross-grained, cantankerous beast, and when I heard Joe was coming, I said: 'Now we'll have a good dog about the place, and here's an end to the bad one.' So I tied Bruno up, and to-morrow I shall shoot him. Something's got to be done, or he'll be biting some one."

"Uncle," said Miss Laura, "people don't always die when they are bitten by dogs, do they?"

"No, certainly not," replied Mr. Wood. "In my humble opinion there's a great lot of nonsense talked about the poison of a dog's bite and people dying of hydrophobia. Ever since I was born I've had dogs snap at me and stick their teeth in my flesh; and I've never had a symptom of hydrophobia, and never intend to have. I believe half the people that are bitten by dogs frighten themselves into thinking they are fatally poisoned. I was reading the other day about the policemen in a big city in England that have to catch stray dogs, and dogs supposed to be mad, and all kinds of dogs, and they get bitten over and over again, and never think anything about it. But let a lady or a gentleman walking along the street have a dog bite them, and they worry themselves till their blood is in a fever, and they have to hurry across to France to get Pasteur to cure them. They imagine they've got hydrophobia, and they've got it because they imagine it. I believe if I fixed my attention on that right thumb of mine, and thought I had a sore there, and picked at it and worried it, in a short time a sore would come, and I'd be off to the doctor to have it cured. At the same time dogs have no business to bite, and I don't recommend any one to get bitten."

"But, uncle," said Miss Laura, "isn't there such a thing as hydrophobia?"