Beautiful Joe
Chapter 37


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.


I have come now to the last chapter of my story. I thought when I began to write, that I would put down the events of each year of my life, but I fear that would make my story too long, and neither Miss Laura nor any boys and girls would care to read it. So I will stop just here, though I would gladly go on, for I have enjoyed so much talking over old times, that I am very sorry to leave off.

Every year that I have been at the Morrises', something pleasant has happened to me, but I cannot put all these things down, nor can I tell how Miss Laura and the boys grew and changed, year by year, till now they are quite grown up. I will just bring my tale down to the present time, and then I will stop talking, and go lie down in my basket, for I am an old dog now, and get tired very easily.

I was a year old when I went to the Morrises, and I have been with them for twelve years. I am not living in the same house with Mr. and Mrs. Morris now, but I am with my dear Miss Laura, who is Miss Laura no longer, but Mrs. Gray. She married Mr. Harry four years ago, and lives with him and Mr. and Mrs. Wood, on Dingley Farm. Mr. and Mrs. Morris live in a cottage near by. Mr. Morris is not very strong, and can preach no longer. The boys are all scattered. Jack married pretty Miss Bessie Drury, and lives on a large farm near here. Miss Bessie says that she hates to be a farmer's wife, but she always looks very happy and contented, so I think that she must be mistaken. Carl is a merchant in New York, Ned is a clerk in a bank, and Willie is studying at a place called Harvard. He says that after he finishes his studies, he is going to live with his father and mother.

The Morrises' old friends often come to see them. Mrs. Drury comes every summer on her way to Newport, and Mr. Montague and Charlie come every other summer. Charlie always brings with him his old dog Brisk, who is getting feeble, like myself. We lie on the veranda in the sunshine, and listen to the Morrises talking about old days, and sometimes it makes us feel quite young again. In addition to Brisk we have a Scotch collie. He is very handsome, and is a constant attendant of Miss Laura's. We are great friends, he and I, but he can get about much better than I can. One day a friend of Miss Laura's came with a little boy and girl, and "Collie" sat between the two children, and their father took their picture with a "kodak." I like him so much that I told him I would get them to put his picture in my book.

When the Morris boys are all here in the summer we have gay times. All through the winter we look forward to their coming, for they make the old farmhouse so lively. Mr. Maxwell never misses a summer in coming to Riverdale. He has such a following of dumb animals now, that he says he can't move them any farther away from Boston than this, and he doesn't know what he will do with them, unless he sets up a menagerie. He asked Miss Laura the other day, if she thought that the old Italian would take him into partnership. He did not know what had happened to poor Bellini, so Miss Laura told him.

A few years ago the Italian came to Riverdale, to exhibit his new stock of performing animals. They were almost as good as the old ones, but he had not quite so many as he had before. The Morrises and a great many of their friends went to his performance, and Miss Laura said afterward, that when cunning little Billy came on the stage, and made his bow, and went through his antics of jumping through hoops, and catching balls, that she almost had hysterics. The Italian had made a special pet of him for the Morrises' sake, and treated him more like a human being than a dog. Billy rather put on airs when he came up to the farm to see us, but he was such a dear, little dog, in spite of being almost spoiled by his master, that Jim and I could not get angry with him. In a few days they went away, and we heard nothing but good news from them, till last winter. Then a letter came to Miss Laura from a nurse in a New York hospital. She said that the Italian was very near his end, and he wanted her to write to Mrs. Gray to tell her that he had sold all his animals but the little dog that she had so kindly given him. He was sending him back to her, and with his latest breath he would pray for heaven's blessing on the kind lady and her family that had befriended him when he was in trouble.

The next day Billy arrived, a thin, white scarecrow of a dog. He was sick and unhappy, and would eat nothing, and started up at the slightest sound. He was listening for the Italian's footsteps, but he never came, and one day Mr. Harry looked up from his newspaper and said, "Laura, Bellini is dead." Miss Laura's eyes filled with tears, and Billy, who had jumped up when he heard his master's name, fell back again. He knew what they meant, and from that instant he ceased listening for footsteps, and lay quite still till he died. Miss Laura had him put in a little wooden box, and buried him in a corner of the garden, and when she is working among her flowers, she often speaks regretfully of him, and of poor Dandy, who lies in the garden at Fairport.