Beautiful Joe
Chapter 33, Page 2


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.


"The best trick of all was telling the time and doing questions in arithmetic. The Italian pulled his watch out of his pocket and showed it to the first pony, whose name was Diamond, and said, 'What time is it?' The pony looked at it, then scratched four times with his forefoot on the platform. The Italian said, 'Zat's good — four o'clock. But it's a few minutes after four — how many?' The pony scratched again five times. The Italian showed his watch to the audience, and said that it was just five minutes past four. Then he asked the pony how old he was. He scratched four times. That meant four years. He asked him how many days in a week there were; how many months in a year; and he gave him some questions in addition and subtraction, and the pony answered them all correctly. Of course, the Italian was giving him some sign; but, though we watched him closely, we couldn't make out what it was. At last, he told the pony that he had been very good, and had done his lessons well; if it would rest him, he might be naughty a little while. All of a sudden a wicked look came into the creature's eyes. He turned around, and kicked up his heels at his master, he pushed over the table and chairs, and knocked down a blackboard where he had been rubbing out figures with a sponge held in his mouth. The Italian pretended to be cross, and said, 'Come, come; this won't do,' and he called the other pony to him, and told him to take that troublesome fellow off the stage. The second one nosed Diamond, and pushed him about, finally bit him by the ear, and led him squealing off the stage. The gander followed, gabbling as fast as he could, and there was a regular roar of applause.

"After that, there were ladders brought in, Joe, and dogs came on; not thoroughbreds, but curs something like you. The Italian says he can't teach tricks to pedigree animals as well as to scrubs. Those dogs jumped the ladders, and climbed them, and went through them, and did all kinds of things. The man cracked his whip once, and they began; twice, and they did backward what they had done forward; three times, and they stopped, and every animal, dogs, goats, ponies, and monkeys, after they had finished their tricks, ran up to their master, and he gave them a lump of sugar. They seemed fond of him, and often when they weren't performing went up to him, and licked his hands or his sleeve. There was one boss dog, Joe, with a head like yours. Bob, they called him, and he did all his tricks alone. The Italian went off the stage, and the dog came on and made his bow, and climbed his ladders, and jumped his hurdles, and went off again. The audience howled for an encore, and didn't he come out alone, make another bow, and retire. I saw old Judge Brown wiping the tears from his eyes, he'd laughed so much. One of the last tricks was with a goat, and the Italian said it was the best of all, because the goat is such a hard animal to teach. He had a big ball, and the goat got on it and rolled it across the stage without getting off. He looked as nervous as a cat, shaking his old beard, and trying to keep his four hoofs close enough together to keep him on the ball.

"We had a funny little play at the end of the performance. A monkey dressed as a lady in a white satin suit and a bonnet with a white veil, came on the stage. She was Miss Green and the dog Bob was going to elope with her. He was all rigged out as Mr. Smith, and had on a light suit of clothes, and a tall hat on the side of his head, high collar, long cuffs, and he carried a cane. He was a regular dude. He stepped up to Miss Green on his hind legs, and helped her on to a pony's back. The pony galloped off the stage; then a crowd of monkeys, chattering and wringing their hands, came on. Mr. Smith had run away with their child. They were all dressed up, too. There were the father and mother, with gray wigs and black clothes, and the young Greens in bibs and tuckers. They were a queer-looking crowd. While they were going on in this way, the pony trotted back on the stage; and they all flew at him and pulled off their daughter from has back, and laughed and chattered, and boxed her ears, and took off her white veil and her satin dress, and put on an old brown thing, and some of them seized the dog, and kicked his hat, and broke his cane, and stripped his clothes off, and threw them in a corner, and bound his legs with cords. A goat came on, harnessed to a little cart, and they threw the dog in it, and wheeled him around the stage a few times. Then they took him out and tied him to a hook in the wall, and the goat ran off the stage, and the monkeys ran to one side, and one of them pulled out a little revolver, pointed it at the dog, fired, and he dropped down as if he was dead.