Beautiful Joe
Chapter 32, Page 4

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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)

Then he sat down in a chair and looked at them. He was a venerable old man, and had long, white hair, and the Woods thought a great deal of him. He had come to get Mrs. Wood to make some nourishing dishes for a sick woman in the village, and while he was talking to her, Miss Laura and the two young men went out of the house. They hurried across the veranda and over the lawn, talking and laughing, and enjoying themselves as only happy young people can, and with not a trace of their seriousness of a few moments before on their faces.

They were going so fast that they ran right into a flock of geese that were coming up the lane. They were driven by a little boy called Tommy, the son of one of Mr. Wood's farm laborers, and they were chattering and gabbling, and seemed very angry. "What's all this about?" said Mr. Harry, stopping and looking at the boy. "What's the matter with your feathered charges, Tommy, my lad?"

"If it's the geese you mean," said the boy, half crying and looking very much put out, "it's all them nasty potatoes. They won't keep away from them."

"So the potatoes chase the geese, do they," said Mr. Maxwell, teasingly.

"No, no," said the child, pettishly; "Mr. Wood he sets me to watch the geese, and they runs in among the buckwheat and the potatoes, and I tries to drive them out, and they doesn't want to come, and," shamefacedly, "I has to switch their feet, and I hates to do it, 'cause I'm a Band of Mercy boy."

"Tommy, my son," said Mr. Maxwell, solemnly, "you will go right to heaven when you die, and your geese will go with you."

"Hush, hush," said Miss Laura; "don't tease him," and putting her arm on the child's shoulder, she said, "You are a good boy, Tommy, not to want to hurt the geese. Let me see your switch, dear."

He showed her a little stick he had in his hand, and she said, "I don't think you could hurt them much with that, and if they will be naughty and steal the potatoes, you have to drive them out. Take some of my pears and eat them, and you will forget your trouble." The child took the fruit, and Miss Laura and the two young men went on their way, smiling, and looking over their shoulders at Tommy, who stood in the lane, devouring his pears and keeping one eye on the geese that had gathered a little in front of him, and were gabbling noisily and having a kind of indignation meeting, because they had been driven out of the potato field.

Tommy's father and mother lived in a little house down near the road. Mr. Wood never had his hired men live in his own house. He had two small houses for them to live in, and they were required to keep them as neat as Mr. Wood's own house was kept. He said that he didn't see why he should keep a boarding house, if he was a farmer, nor why his wife should wear herself out waiting on strong, hearty men, that had just as soon take care of themselves. He wished to have his own family about him, and it was better for his men to have some kind of family life for themselves. If one of his men was unmarried, he boarded with the married one, but slept in his own house.

On this October day we found Mr. Wood hard at work under the fruit trees. He had a good many different kind of apples. Enormous red ones, and long, yellow ones that they called pippins, and little brown ones, and smooth-coated sweet ones, and bright red ones, and others, more than I could mention. Miss Laura often pared one and cut off little bits for me, for I always wanted to eat whatever I saw her eating.

Just a few days after this, Miss Laura and I returned to Fairport, and some of Mr. Wood's apples traveled along with us, for he sent a good many to the Boston market. Mr. and Mrs. Wood came to the station to see us off. Mr. Harry could not come, for he had left Riverdale the day before to go back to his college. Mrs. Wood said that she would be very lonely without her two young people, and she kissed Miss Laura over and over again, and made her promise to come back again the next summer.

I was put in a box in the express car, and Mr. Wood told the agent that if he knew what was good for him he would speak to me occasionally, for I was a very knowing dog, and if he didn't treat me well, I'd be apt to write him up in the newspapers. The agent laughed, and quite often on the way to Fairport, he came to my box and spoke kindly to me. So I did not get so lonely and frightened as I did on my way to Riverdale.

How glad the Morrises were to see us coming back. The boys had all gotten home before us, and such a fuss as they did make over their sister. They loved her dearly, and never wanted her to be long away from them. I was rubbed and stroked, and had to run about offering my paw to every one. Jim and little Billy licked my face, and Bella croaked out, "Glad to see you, Joe. Had a good time? How's your health?"

We soon settled down for the winter. Miss Laura began going to school, and came home every day with a pile of books under her arm. The summer in the country had done her so much good that her mother often looked at her fondly, and said the white-faced child she sent away had come home a nut-brown maid.