Beautiful Joe
Chapter 27, 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.


Miss Laura dropped the paper. "Uncle, did he leave those animals to starve?"

"Didn't you notice," said Mr. Wood, grimly, "that there wasn't a wisp of hay inside that shanty, and that where the poor beasts were tied up the wood was knawed and bitten by them in their torture for food? Wouldn't he have sent me that note, instead of leaving it here on the table, if he'd wanted me to know? The note isn't dated, but I judge he's been gone five or six days. He has had a spite against me ever since I lent him that hundred dollars. I don't know why, for I've stood up for him when others would have run him out of the place. He intended me to come here and find every animal lying dead.

"He even had a rope around the pig's neck. Harry, my boy, let us go and look after them again. I love a dumb brute too well to let it suffer, but in this case I'd give two hundred dollars more if I could make them live and have Barron know it."

They left the room, and Miss Laura sat turning the sheet of paper over and over, with a kind of horror in her face. It was a very dirty piece of paper, but by-and-by she made a discovery. She took it in her hand and went out-doors. I am sure that the poor horse lying on the grass knew her. He lifted his head, and what a different expression he had now that his hunger had been partly satisfied. Miss Laura stroked and patted him, then she called to her cousin, "Harry, will you look at this?"

He took the paper from her, and said: "That is a crest shining through the different strata of dust and grime, probably that of his own family We'll have it cleaned, and it will enable us to track the villain. You want him punished, don't you?" he said, with a little, sly laugh at Miss Laura.

She made a gesture in the direction of the suffering horse, and said, frankly, "Yes, I do."

"Well, my dear girl," he said, "father and I are with you. If we can hunt Barron down, we'll do it." Then he muttered to himself as she turned away, "She is a real Puritan, gentle, and sweet, and good, and yet severe. Rewards for the virtuous, punishments for the vicious," and he repeated some poetry:

"She was so charitable and so piteous,
She would weep if that she saw a mouse
Caught in a trap, if it were dead or bled."

Miss Laura saw that Mr. Wood and Mr. Harry were doing all that could be done for the cow and horse, so she wandered down to a hollow at the back of the house, where the Englishman had kept his pig. Just now, he looked more like a greyhound than a pig. His legs were so long, his nose so sharp, and hunger, instead of making him stupid like the horse and cow, had made him more lively. I think he had probably not suffered so much as they had, or perhaps he had had a greater store of fat to nourish him. Mr. Harry said that if he had been a girl, he would have laughed and cried at the same time when he discovered that pig. He must have been asleep or exhausted when we arrived, for there was not a sound out of him, but shortly afterward he had set up a yelling that attracted Mr. Harry's attention, and made him run down to him. Mr. Harry said he was raging around his pen, digging the ground with his snout, falling down and getting up again, and by a miracle, escaping death by choking from the rope that was tied around his neck.

Now that his hunger had been satisfied, he was gazing contentedly at his little trough that was half full of good, sweet milk. Mr. Harry said that a starving animal, like a starving person, should only be fed a little at a time; but the Englishman's animals had always been fed poorly, and their stomachs had contracted so that they could not eat much at one time.

Miss Laura got a stick and scratched poor piggy's back a little, and then she went back to the house. In a short time we went home with Mr. Wood. Mr. Harry was going to stay all night with the sick animals, and his mother would send him things to make him comfortable. She was better by the time we got home, and was horrified to hear the tale of Mr. Barron's neglect. Later in the evening, she sent one of the men over with a whole box full of things for her darling boy, and a nice, hot tea, done up for him in a covered dish.

When the man came home, he said that Mr. Harry would not sleep in the Englishman's dirty house, but had slung a hammock out under the trees. However, he would not be able to sleep much, for he had his lantern by his side, all ready to jump up and attend to the horse and cow. It was a very lonely place for him out there in the woods, and his mother said that she would be glad when the sick animals could be driven to their own farm.