Beautiful Joe
Chapter 28, Page 2

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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.


CHAPTER XXVIII: THE END OF THE ENGLISHMAN (continued)

The horse they named "Scrub," because he could never be, under any circumstance, anything but a broken-down, plain-looking animal. He was put into the horse stable in a stall next Fleetfoot, and as the partition was low, they could look over at each other. In time, by dint of much doctoring, Scrub's hoofs became clean and sound, and he was able to do some work. Miss Laura petted him a great deal. She often took out apples to the stable, and Fleetfoot would throw up his beautiful head and look reproachfully over the partition at her, for she always stayed longer with Scrub than with him, and Scrub always got the larger share of whatever good thing was going.

Poor old Scrub! I think he loved Miss Laura. He was a stupid sort of a horse, and always acted as if he was blind. He would run his nose up and down the front of her dress, nip at the buttons, and be very happy if he could get a bit of her watch-chain between his strong teeth. If he was in the field he never seemed to know her till she was right under his pale-colored eyes. Then he would be delighted to see her. He was not blind though, for Mr. Wood said he was not. He said he had probably not been an over-bright horse to start with, and had been made more dull by cruel usage.

As for the Englishman, the master of these animals, a very strange thing happened to him. He came to a terrible end, but for a long time no one knew anything about it. Mr. Wood and Mr. Harry were so very angry with him that they said they would leave no stone unturned to have him punished, or at least to have it known what a villain he was. They sent the paper with the crest on it to Boston. Some people there wrote to England, and found out that it was the crest of a noble and highly esteemed family, and some earl was at the head of it. They were all honorable people in this family except one man, a nephew, not a son, of the late earl. He was the black sheep of them all. As a young man, he had led a wild and wicked life, and had ended by forging the name of one of his friends, so that he was obliged to leave England and take refuge in America. By the description of this man, Mr. Wood knew that he must be Mr. Barron, so he wrote to these English people, and told them what a wicked thing their relative had done in leaving his animals to starve. In a short time, he got an answer from them, which was, at the same time, very proud and very touching. It came from Mr. Barron's cousin, and he said quite frankly that he knew his relative was a man of evil habits, but it seemed as if nothing could be done to reform him. His family was accustomed to send a quarterly allowance to him, on condition that he led a quiet life in some retired place, but their last remittance to him was lying unclaimed in Boston, and they thought he must be dead. Could Mr. Wood tell them anything about him?

Mr. Wood looked very thoughtful when he got this letter, then he said, "Harry, how long is it since Barron ran away?"

"About eight weeks," said Mr. Harry.

"That's strange," said Mr. Wood. "The money these English people sent him would get to Boston just a few days after he left here. He is not the man to leave it long unclaimed. Something must have happened to him. Where do you suppose he would go from Penhollow?"

"I have no idea, sir," said Mr. Harry.

"And how would he go?" said Mr. Wood. "He did not leave Riverdale Station, because he would have been spotted by some of his creditors."

"Perhaps he would cut through the woods to the Junction," said Mr. Harry.

"Just what he would do," said Mr. Wood, slapping his knee. "I'll be driving over there to-morrow to see Thompson, and I'll make inquiries."