Beautiful Joe
Chapter 19, Page 2


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.


As we went along, houses began to appear here and there, set back from the road among the trees. Soon they got quite close together, and I saw some shops.

This was the village of Riverdale, and nearly all the buildings were along this winding street. The river was away back of the village. We had already driven there several times.

We passed the school on our way. It was a square, white building, standing in the middle of a large yard. Boys and girls, with their arms full of books, were hurrying down the steps and coming into the street. Two quite big boys came behind us, and Mrs. Wood turned around and spoke to them, and asked if they were going to the Band of Mercy.

"Oh, yes; ma'am," said the younger one "I've got a recitation, don't you remember?"

"Yes, yes; excuse me for forgetting," said Mrs. Wood, with her jolly laugh. "And here are Dolly, and Jennie, and Martha," she went on, as some little girls came running out of a house that we were passing.

The little girls joined us and looked so hard at my head and stump of a tail, and my fine collar, that I felt quite shy, and walked with my head against Miss Laura's dress.

She stooped down and patted me, and then I felt as if I didn't care how much they stared. Miss Laura never forgot me. No matter how earnestly she was talking, or playing a game, or doing anything, she always stopped occasionally to give me a word or look, to show that she knew I was near.

Mrs. Wood paused in front of a building on the main street. A great many boys and girls were going in, and we went with them. We found ourselves in a large room, with a platform at one end of it. There were some chairs on this platform and a small table.

A boy stood by this table with his hand on a bell. Presently he rang it, and then every one kept still. Mrs. Wood whispered to Miss Laura that this boy was the president of the band, and the young man with the pale face and curly hair who sat in front of him was Mr. Maxwell, the artist's son, who had formed this Band of Mercy.

The lad who presided had a ringing, pleasant voice. He said they would begin their meeting by singing a hymn. There was an organ near the platform, and a young girl played on it, while all the other boys and girls stood up, and sang very sweetly and clearly.

After they had sung the hymn, the president asked for the report of their last meeting.

A little girl, blushing and hanging her head, came forward, and read what was written on a paper that she held in her hand.

The president made some remarks after she had finished, and then every one had to vote. It was just like a meeting of grown people, and I was surprised to see how good those children were. They did not frolic nor laugh, but all seemed sober and listened attentively.