Beautiful Joe
Chapter 21, 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.


When we reached the house, we got a joyful surprise. There was a trunk standing on the veranda, and as soon as Mrs. Wood saw it, she gave a little shriek: "My dear boy!"

Mr. Harry was there, sure enough, and stepped out through the open door. He took his mother in his arms and kissed her, then he shook hands with Miss Laura and Mr. Maxwell, who seemed to be an old friend of his. They all sat down on the veranda and talked, and I lay at Miss Laura's feet and looked at Mr. Harry. He was such a handsome young man, and had such a noble face. He was older and graver looking than when I saw him last, and he had a light, brown moustache that he did not have when he was in Fairport.

He seemed very fond of his mother and of Miss Laura, and however grave his face might be when he was looking at Mr. Maxwell, it always lighted up when he turned to them. "What dog is that?" he said at last, with a puzzled face, and pointing to me.

"Why, Harry," exclaimed Miss Laura, "don't you know Beautiful Joe, that you rescued from that wretched milkman?"

"Is it possible," he said, "that this well-conditioned creature is the bundle of dirty skin and bones that we nursed in Fairport? Come here, sir. Do you remember me?"

Indeed I did remember him, and I licked his hands and looked up gratefully into his face. "You're almost handsome now," he said, caressing me with a firm, kind hand, "and of a solid build, too. You look like a fighter — but I suppose you wouldn't let him fight, even if he wanted to, Laura," and he smiled and glanced at her.

"No," she said; "I don't think I should; but he can fight when the occasion requires it." And she told him about our night with Jenkins.

All the time she was speaking, Mr. Harry held me by the paws, and stroked my body over and over again. When she finished, he put his head down to me, and murmured, "Good dog," and I saw that his eyes were red and shining.

"That's a capital story, we must have it at the Band of Mercy," said Mr. Maxwell. Mrs. Wood had gone to help prepare the tea, so the two young men were alone with Miss Laura. When they had done talking about me, she asked Mr. Harry a number of questions about his college life, and his trip to New York, for he had not been studying all the time that he was away.

"What are you going to do with yourself, Gray, when your college course is ended?" asked Mr. Maxwell.

"I am going to settle right down here," said Mr. Harry.

"What, be a farmer?" asked his friend.

"Yes; why not?"

"Nothing, only I imagined that you would take a profession."

"The professions are overstocked, and we have not farmers enough for the good of the country. There is nothing like farming, to my mind. In no other employment have you a surer living. I do not like the cities. The heat and dust, and crowds of people, and buildings overtopping one another, and the rush of living, take my breath away. Suppose I did go to a city. I would sell out my share of the farm, and have a few thousand dollars. You know I am not an intellectual giant. I would never distinguish myself in any profession. I would be a poor lawyer or doctor, living in a back street all the days of my life, and never watch a tree or flower grow, or tend an animal, or have a drive unless I paid for it. No, thank you. I agree with President Eliot, of Harvard. He says scarcely one person in ten thousand betters himself permanently by leaving his rural home and settling in a city. If one is a millionaire, city life is agreeable enough, for one can always get away from it; but I am beginning to think that it is a dangerous thing, in more ways than one, to be a millionaire. I believe the safety of the country lies in the hands of the farmers; for they are seldom very poor or very rich. We stand between the two dangerous classes — the wealthy and the paupers."