Beautiful Joe
Chapter 26, Page 4


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.


By this time we had left the river and the meadows far behind us, and were passing through a thick wood. The road was narrow and very broken, and Fleetfoot was obliged to pick his way carefully. "Why does the Englishman live in this out-of-the-way place, if he is so fond of city life?" said Miss Laura.

"I don't know," said Mr. Harry. "Father is afraid that he has committed some misdeed, and is in hiding; but we say nothing about it. We have not seen him for some weeks, and to tell the truth, this trip is as much to see what has become of him, as to make a demand upon him for the money. As he lives alone, he might lie there ill, and no one would know anything about it. The last time that we knew of his coming to the village was to draw quite a sum of money from the bank. It annoyed father, for he said he might take some of it to pay his debts. I think his relatives in England supply him with funds. Here we are at the entrance to the mansion of Penhollow. I must get out and open the gate that will admit us to the winding avenue."

We had arrived in front of some bars which were laid across an opening in the snake fence that ran along one side of the road. I sat down and looked about. It was a strange, lonely place. The trees almost met overhead, and it was very dim and quiet. The sun could only send little straggling beams through the branches. There was a muddy pool of water before the bars that Mr. Harry was letting down, and he got his feet wet in it. "Confound that Englishman," he said, backing out of the water, and wiping his boots on the grass. "He hasn't even gumption enough to throw down a load of stone there. Drive in, Laura, and I'll put up the bars." Fleetfoot took us through the opening, and then Mr. Harry jumped into the buggy and took up the reins again.

We had to go very slowly up a narrow, rough road. The bushes scratched and scraped against the buggy, and Mr. Harry looked very much annoyed.

"No man liveth to himself," said Miss Laura, softly. "This man's carelessness is giving you trouble. Why doesn't he cut these branches that overhang the road?"

"He can't do it, because his abominable laziness won't let him," said Mr. Harry. "I'd like to be behind him for a week, and I'd make him step a little faster. We have arrived at last, thank goodness."

There was a small grass clearing in the midst of the woods. Chips and bits of wood were littered about, and across the clearing was a roughly-built house of unpainted boards. The front door was propped open by a stick. Some of the panes of glass in the windows were broken, and the whole house had a melancholy, dilapidated look. I thought that I had never seen such a sad-looking place.

"It seems as if there was no one about," said Mr. Harry, with a puzzled face. "Barron must be away. Will you hold Fleetfoot, Laura, while I go and see?"

He drew the buggy up near a small log building that had evidently been used for a stable, and I lay down beside it and watched Miss Laura.