Beautiful Joe
Chapter 20, Page 6

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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 (continued)

There was one more story, about a brave Newfoundland dog, that saved eight lives by swimming out to a wrecked sailing vessel, and getting a rope by which the men came ashore, and then a lad got up whom they all greeted with cheers, and cries of, "The Poet! the Poet!" I didn't know what they meant, till Mrs. Wood whispered to Miss Laura that he was a boy who made rhymes, and the children had rather hear him speak than any one else in the room.

He had a snub nose and freckles, and I think he was the plainest boy there, but that didn't matter, if the other children loved him. He sauntered up to the front, with his hands behind his back, and a very grand manner.

"The beautiful poetry recited here to-day," he drawled, "put some verses in my mind that I never had till I came here to-day." Everyone present cheered wildly, and he began in a singsong voice:

"I am a Band of Mercy boy,
I would not hurt a fly,
I always speak to dogs and cats,
When'er I pass them by.

"I always let the birdies sing,
I never throw a stone,
I always give a hungry dog
A nice, fat, meaty bone.

"I wouldn't drive a bob-tailed horse,
Nor hurry up a cow,
I——"

Then he forgot the rest. The boys and girls were so sorry. They called out, "Pig," "Goat," "Calf," "Sheep," "Hens," "Ducks," and all the other animals' names they could think of, but none of them was right, and as the boy had just made up the poetry, no one knew what the next could be. He stood for a long time staring at the ceiling, then he said, "I guess I'll have to give it up."

The children looked dreadfully disappointed. "Perhaps you will remember it by our next meeting," said the president, anxiously.

"Possibly", said the boy, "but probably not. I think it is gone forever." And he went to his seat.

The next thing was to call for new members. Miss Laura got up and said she would like to join their Band of Mercy. I followed her up to the platform, while they pinned a little badge on her, and every one laughed at me. Then they sang, "God Bless our Native Land," and the president told us that we might all go home.

It seemed to me a lovely thing for those children to meet together to talk about kindness to animals. They all had bright and good faces, and many of them stopped to pat me as I came out. One little girl gave me a biscuit from her school bag.

Mrs. Wood waited at the door till Mr. Maxwell came limping out on his crutches. She introduced him to Miss Laura, and asked him if he wouldn't go and take tea with them. He said he would be very happy to do so, and then Mrs. Wood laughed; and asked him if he hadn't better empty his pockets first. She didn't want a little toad jumping over her tea table, as one did the last time he was there.