Beautiful Joe
Chapter 32, Page 3

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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 XXXII: OUR RETURN HOME (continued)

"What was the name of that old fellow," said Mr. Maxwell, abruptly, "who had a beautiful swan that came every day for fifteen years, to bury its head in his bosom and feed from his hand, and would go near no other human being?"

"Saint Hugh, of Lincoln. We heard about him at the Band of Mercy the other day," said Miss Laura.

"I should think that he would have wanted to have that swan in heaven with him," said Mr. Maxwell. "What a beautiful creature it must have been. Speaking about animals going to heaven, I dare say some of them would object to going, on account of the company that they would meet there. Think of the dog kicked to death by his master, the horse driven into his grave, the thousands of cattle starved to death on the plains — will they want to meet their owners in heaven?"

"According to my reckoning, their owners won't be there," said Mr. Harry. "I firmly believe that the Lord will punish every man or woman who ill-treats a dumb creature just as surely as he will punish those who ill-treat their fellow-creatures. If a man's life has been a long series of cruelty to dumb animals, do you suppose that he would enjoy himself in heaven, which will be full of kindness to every one? Not he; he'd rather be in the other place, and there he'll go, I fully believe."

"When you've quite disposed of all your fellow-creatures and the dumb creation, Harry, perhaps you will condescend to go out into the orchard and see how your father is getting on with picking the apples," said Mrs. Wood, joining Miss Laura and the two young men, her eyes twinkling and sparkling with amusement.

"The apples will keep, mother," said Mr. Harry, putting his arm around her. "I just came in for a moment to get Laura. Come, Maxwell, we'll all go."

"And not another word about animals," Mrs. Wood called after them. "Laura will go crazy some day, through thinking of their sufferings, if some one doesn't do something to stop her."

Miss Laura turned around suddenly. "Dear Aunt Hattie," she said, "you must not say that. I am a coward, I know, about hearing of animals' pains, but I must get over it, I want to know how they suffer. I ought to know, for when I get to be a woman, I am going to do all I can to help them."

"And I'll join you," said Mr. Maxwell, stretching out his hand to Miss Laura. She did not smile, but looking very earnestly at him, she held it clasped in her own. "You will help me to care for them, will you?" she said.

"Yes, I promise," he said, gravely. "I'll give myself to the service of dumb animals, if you will."

"And I, too," said Mr. Harry, in his deep voice, laying his hand across theirs. Mrs. Wood stood looking at their three fresh, eager, young faces, with tears in her eyes. Just as they all stood silently for an instant, the old village clergyman came into the room from the hall. He must have heard what they said, for before they could move he had laid his hands on their three brown heads. "Bless you, my children," he said, "God will lift up the light of his countenance upon you, for you have given yourselves to a noble work. In serving dumb creatures, you are ennobling the human race."