Beautiful Joe
Chapter 20

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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.


CHAPTER XX: STORIES ABOUT ANIMALS

A small girl, with twinkling eyes and a merry face, got up, just behind Miss Laura, and made her way to the front. "My dranfadder says," she began, in a piping little voice, "dat when he was a little boy his fadder brought him a little monkey from de West Indies. De naughty boys in de village used to tease de little monkey, and he runned up a tree one day. Dey was drowing stones at him, and a man dat was paintin' de house druv 'em away. De monkey runned down de tree, and shook hands wid de man. My dranfadder saw him," she said, with a shake of her head at the president, as if she was afraid he would doubt her.

There was great laughing and clapping of hands when this little girl took her seat, and she hopped right up again and ran back. "Oh, I fordot," she went on, in her squeaky, little voice, "dat my dranfadder says dat afterward de monkey upset de painter's can of oil, and rolled in it, and den jumped down in my dranfadder's flour barrel."

The president looked very much amused, and said, "We have had some good stories about monkeys, now let us have some more about our home animals. Who can tell us another story about a horse?"

Three or four boys jumped up, but the president said they would take one at a time. The first one was this: A Riverdale boy was walking along the bank of a canal in Hoytville. He saw a boy driving two horses, which were towing a canal-boat. The first horse was lazy, and the boy got angry and struck him several times over the head with his whip. The Riverdale boy shouted across to him, begging him not to be so cruel; but the boy paid no attention. Suddenly the horse turned, seized his tormentor by the shoulder, and pushed him into the canal. The water was not deep, and the boy, after floundering about for a few seconds, came out dripping with mud and filth, and sat down on the tow path, and looked at the horse with such a comical expression, that the Riverdale boy had to stuff his handkerchief in his mouth to keep from laughing.

"It is to be hoped that he would learn a lesson," said the president, "and be kinder to his horse in the future. Now, Bernard Howe, your story."

The boy was a brother to the little girl who had told the monkey story, and he, too, had evidently been talking to his grandfather. He told two stories, and Miss Laura listened eagerly, for they were about Fairport.

The boy said that when his grandfather was young, he lived in Fairport, Maine. On a certain day he stood in the market square to see their first stage-coach put together. It had come from Boston in pieces, for there was no one in Fairport that could make one. The coach went away up into the country one day, and came back the next. For a long time no one understood driving the horses properly, and they came in day after day with the blood streaming from them. The whiffle-tree would swing round and hit them, and when their collars were taken off, their necks would be raw and bloody. After a time, the men got to understand how to drive a coach, and the horses did not suffer so much.

The other story was about a team-boat, not a steamboat. More than seventy years ago, they had no steamers running between Fairport and the island opposite where people went for the summer, but they had what they called a team-boat, that is, a boat with machinery to make it go, that could be worked by horses. There were eight horses that went around and around, and made the boat go. One afternoon, two dancing masters, who were wicked fellows, that played the fiddle, and never went to church on Sundays, got on the boat, and sat just where the horses had to pass them as they went around.

Every time the horses went by, they jabbed them with their penknives. The man who was driving the horses at last saw the blood dripping from them, and the dancing masters were found out. Some young men on the boat were so angry that they caught up a rope's end, and gave the dancing masters a lashing, and then threw them into the water and made them swim to the island.