Beautiful Joe
Chapter 22, 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.


"You don't mean to undervalue the advantages of a good education, do you, Mr. Wood?" said Mr. Maxwell.

"No, no; look at Harry there. Isn't he pegging away at his studies with my hearty approval? and he's going to be nothing but a plain, common farmer. But he'll be a better one than I've been though, because he's got a trained mind. I found that out when he was a lad going to the village school. He'd lay out his little garden by geometry, and dig his ditches by algebra. Education's a help to any man. What I am trying to get at is this, that in some way or other we're running more to brains and less to hard work than our forefathers did."

Mr. Wood was beating on the table with his forefinger while he talked, and every one was laughing at him. "When you've quite finished speechifying, John," said Mrs. Wood, "perhaps you'll serve the berries and pass the cream and sugar. Do you get yellow cream like this in the village, Mr. Maxwell?"

"No, Mrs. Wood," he said; "ours is a much paler yellow," and then there was a great tinkling of china, and passing of dishes, and talking and laughing, and no one noticed that I was not in my usual place in the hall. I could not get over my dread of the green creature, and I had crept under the table, so that if it came out and frightened Miss Laura, I could jump up and catch it.

When tea was half over, she gave a little cry. I sprang up on her lap, and there, gliding over the table toward her, was the wicked-looking green thing. I stepped on the table, and had it by the middle before it could get to her. My hind legs were in a dish of jelly, and my front ones were in a plate of cake, and I was very uncomfortable. The tail of the green thing hung in a milk pitcher, and its tongue was still going at me, but I held it firmly and stood quite still.

"Drop it, drop it!" cried Miss Laura, in tones of distress, and Mr. Maxwell struck me on the back, so I let the thing go, and stood sheepishly looking about me. Mr. Wood was leaning back in his chair, laughing with all his might, and Mrs. Wood was staring at her untidy table with rather a long face. Miss Laura told me to jump on the floor, and then she helped her aunt to take the spoiled things off the table.

I felt that I had done wrong, so I slunk out into the hall. Mr. Maxwell was sitting on the lounge, tearing his handkerchief in strips and tying them around the creature where my teeth had stuck in. I had been careful not to hurt it much, for I knew it was a pet of his; but he did not know that, and scowled at me, saying: "You rascal; you've hurt my poor snake terribly."

I felt so badly to hear this that I went and stood with my head in a corner. I had almost rather be whipped than scolded. After a while, Mr. Maxwell went back into the room, and they all went on with their tea. I could hear Mr. Wood's loud, cheery voice, "The dog did quite right. A snake is mostly a poisonous creature, and his instinct told him to protect his mistress. Where is he? Joe, Joe!"

I would not move till Miss Laura came and spoke to me. "Dear old dog," she whispered, "You knew the snake was there all the time, didn't you?" Her words made me feel better, and I followed her to the dining room, where Mr. Wood made me sit beside him and eat scraps from his hand all through the meal.