Beautiful Joe
Chapter 19, 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.


After the voting was over, the president called upon John Turner to give a recitation. This was the boy whom we saw on the way there. He walked up to the platform, made a bow, and said that he had learned two stories for his recitation, out of the paper, "Dumb Animals." One story was about a horse, and the other was about a dog, and he thought that they were two of the best animal stories on record. He would tell the horse story first.

"A man in Missouri had to go to Nebraska to see about some land. He went on horseback, on a horse that he had trained himself, and that came at his whistle like a dog. On getting into Nebraska, he came to a place where there were two roads. One went by a river, and the other went over the hill. The man saw that the travel went over the hill, but thought he'd take the river road. He didn't know that there was a quicksand across it, and that people couldn't use it in spring and summer. There used to be a sign board to tell strangers about it, but it had been taken away. The man got off his horse to let him graze, and walked along till he got so far ahead of the horse that he had to sit down and wait for him. Suddenly he found that he was on a quicksand. His feet had sunk in the sand, and he could not get them out. He threw himself down, and whistled for his horse, and shouted for help, but no one came. He could hear some young people singing out on the river, but they could not hear him. The terrible sand drew him in almost to his shoulders, and he thought he was lost. At that moment the horse came running up, and stood by his master. The man was too low down to get hold of the saddle or bridle, so he took hold of the horse's tail, and told him to go. The horse gave an awful pull, and landed his master on safe ground."

Everybody clapped his hands, and stamped when this story was finished, and called out: "The dog story — the dog story!"

The boy bowed and smiled, and began again. "You all know what a 'round-up' of cattle is, so I need not explain. Once a man down south was going to have one, and he and his boys and friends were talking it over. There was an ugly, black steer in the herd, and they were wondering whether their old yellow dog would be able to manage him. The dog's name was Tige, and he lay and listened wisely to their talk. The next day there was a scene of great confusion. The steer raged and tore about, and would allow no one to come within whip touch of him. Tige, who had always been brave, skulked about for a while, and then, as if he had got up a little spirit, he made a run at the steer. The steer sighted him, gave a bellow, and, lowering his horns, ran at him. Tige turned tail, and the young men that owned him were frantic. They'd been praising him, and thought they were going to have it proven false. Their father called out: 'Don't shoot Tige, till you see where he's running to.' The dog ran right to the cattle pen. The steer was so enraged that he never noticed where he was going, and dashed in after him. Tige leaped the wall, and came back to the gate, barking and yelping for the men to come and shut the steer in. They shut the gate and petted Tige, and bought him a collar with a silver plate."

The boy was loudly cheered, and went to his seat. The president said he would like to have remarks made about these two stories.

Several children put up their hands, and he asked each one to speak in turn. One said that if that man's horse had had a docked tail, his master wouldn't have been able to reach it, and would have perished. Another said that if the man hadn't treated his horse kindly, he never would have come at his whistle, and stood over him to see what he could do to help him. A third child said that the people on the river weren't as quick at hearing the voice of the man in trouble as the horse was.

When this talk was over, the president called for some stories of foreign animals.

Another boy came forward, made his bow, and said, in a short, abrupt voice, "My uncle's name is Henry Worthington. He is an Englishman, and once he was a soldier in India. One day when he was hunting in the Punjab, he saw a mother monkey carrying a little dead baby monkey. Six months after, he was in the same jungle. Saw same monkey still carrying dead baby monkey, all shriveled up. Mother monkey loved her baby monkey, and wouldn't give it up."

The boy went to his seat, and the president, with a queer look in his face, said, "That's a very good story, Ronald — if it is true."

None of the children laughed, but Mrs. Wood's face got like a red poppy, and Miss Laura bit her lip, and Mr. Maxwell buried his head in his arms, his whole frame shaking.

The boy who told the story looked very angry He jumped up again. "My uncle's a true man, Phil. Dodge, and never told a lie in his life."

The president remained standing, his face a deep scarlet, and a tall boy at the back of the room got up and said, "Mr. President, what would be impossible in this climate, might be possible in a hot country like India. Doesn't heat sometimes draw up and preserve things?"

The president's face cleared. "Thank you for the suggestion," he said. "I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings; but you know there is a rule in the band that only true stories are to be told here. We have five more minutes for foreign stories. Has any one else one?"