Beautiful Joe
Chapter 24, 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.


"What kind of an animal is that?" asked Mr. Maxwell.

"It is a lynx, belonging to the cat species. They used to prowl about the country killing hens, geese, and sometimes sheep. They'd fix their tushes in the sheep's neck and suck the blood.

"They did not think much of the sheep's flesh. We ran them down with dogs. They'd often run up trees, and we'd shoot them. Then there were rabbits that we caught, mostly in snares. For musk-rats, we'd put a parsnip or an apple on the spindle of a box trap. When we snared a rabbit, I always wanted to find it caught around the neck and strangled to death. If they got half through the snare and were caught around the body, or by the hind legs, they'd live for some time, and they'd cry just like a child. I like shooting them better, just because I hated to hear their pitiful cries. It's a bad business this of killing dumb creatures, and the older I get, the more chicken-hearted I am about it."

"Chicken-hearted — I should think you are," said Mrs. Wood. "Do you know, Laura, he won't even kill a fowl for dinner. He gives it to one of the men to do."

"Blessed are the merciful," said Miss Laura, throwing her arm over her uncle's shoulder. "I love you, dear Uncle John, because you are so kind to every living thing."

"I'm going to be kind to you now," said her uncle, "and send you to bed. You look tired."

"Very well," she said, with a smile. Then bidding them all good-night, she went upstairs. Mr. Wood turned to Mr. Maxwell. "You're going to stay all night with us, aren't you?"

"So Mrs. Wood says," replied the young man, with a smile.

"Of course," she said. "I couldn't think of letting you go back to the village such a night as this. It's raining cats and dogs — but I mustn't say that, or there'll be no getting you to stay. I'll go and prepare your old room next to Harry's." And she bustled away.

The two young men went to the pantry for doughnuts and milk, and Mr. Wood stood gazing down at me. "Good dog," he said; "you look as if you sensed that talk to-night. Come, get a bone, and then away to bed."

He gave me a very large mutton bone, and I held it in my mouth, and watched him opening the woodshed door. I love human beings; and the saddest time of day for me is when I have to be separated from them while they sleep.

"Now, go to bed and rest well, Beautiful Joe," said Mr. Wood, "and if you hear any stranger round the house, run out and bark. Don't be chasing wild animals in your sleep, though. They say a dog is the only animal that dreams. I wonder whether it's true?" Then he went into the house and shut the door.