Beautiful Joe
Chapter 21, 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.


"But most farmers lead such a dog's life," said Mr. Maxwell.

"So they do; farming isn't made one-half as attractive as it should be," said Mr. Harry.

Mr. Maxwell smiled. "Attractive farming. Just sketch an outline of that, will you, Gray?"

"In the first place," said Mr. Harry, "I would like to tear out of the heart of the farmer the thing that is as firmly implanted in him as it is in the heart of his city brother — the thing that is doing more to harm our nation than anything else under the sun."

"What is that?" asked Mr. Maxwell, curiously.

"The thirst for gold. The farmer wants to get rich, and he works so hard to do it that he wears himself out soul and body, and the young people around him get so disgusted with that way of getting rich, that they go off to the cities to find out some other way, or at least to enjoy themselves, for I don't think many young people are animated by a desire to heap up money."

Mr. Maxwell looked amused. "There is certainly a great exodus from country places cityward," he said. "What would be your plan for checking it?"

"I would make the farm so pleasant, that you couldn't hire the boys and girls to leave it. I would have them work, and work hard, too, but when their work was over, I would let them have some fun. That is what they go to the city for. They want amusement and society, and to get into some kind of a crowd when their work is done. The young men and young women want to get together, as is only natural. Now that could be done in the country. If farmers would be contented with smaller profits and smaller farms, their houses could be nearer together. Their children would have opportunities of social intercourse, there could be societies and clubs, and that would tend to a distribution of literature. A farmer ought to take five or six papers and two or three magazines. He would find it would pay him in the long run, and there ought to be a law made compelling him to go to the post office once a day."

Mr. Maxwell burst out laughing. "And another to make him mend his roads as well as mend his ways. I tell you Gray, the bad roads would put an end to all these fine schemes of yours. Imagine farmers calling on each other on a dark evening after a spring freshet. I can see them mired and bogged, and the house a mile ahead of them."

"That is true," said Mr. Harry, "the road question is a serious one. Do you know how father and I settle it?"

"No," said Mr. Maxwell.

"We got so tired of the whole business, and the farmers around here spent so much time in discussing the art of roadmaking, as to whether it should be viewed from the engineering point of view, or the farmers' practical point of view, and whether we would require this number of stump extractors or that number, and how many shovels and crushers and ditchers would be necessary to keep our roads in order, and so on, that we simply withdrew. We keep our own roads in order. Once a year, father gets a gang of men and tackles every section of the road that borders upon our land, and our roads are the best around here. I wish the government would take up this matter of making roads and settle it. If we had good, smooth, country roads, such as they have in some parts of Europe, we would be able to travel comfortably over them all through the year, and our draught animals would last longer, for they would not have to expend so much energy in drawing their loads."