Part 5 out of 5
Tommy, not to want to hurt the geese. Let me see your switch,
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.
CHAPTER XXXIII PERFORMING ANIMALS
A WEEK or two after we got home, I heard the Morris boys
talking about an Italian who was coming to Fairport with a troupe
of trained animals, and I could see for myself whenever I went to
town, great flaming pictures on the fences, of monkeys sitting at
tables, dogs and ponies, and goats climbing ladders, and rolling
balls, and doing various tricks. I wondered very much whether they
would be able to do all those extraordinary things, but it turned out
that they did.
The Italian's name was Bellini, and one afternoon the whole
Morris family went to see him and his animals, and when they
came home, I heard them talking about it. "I wish you could have
been there, Joe," said Jack, pulling up my paws to rest on his
knees. "Now listen, old fellow and I'll tell you all about it. First of
all, there was a perfect jam in the town hall. I sat up in front, with
a lot of fellows, and had a splendid view. The old Italian came out
dressed in his best suit of clothes black broadcloth, flower in his
buttonhole, and so on. He made a fine bow, and he said he was
'pleased too see ze fine audience, and he was going to show zem ze
fine animals, ze finest animals in ze world.' Then he shook a little
whip that he carried in his hand, and he said 'zat zat whip didn't
mean zat he was cruel. He cracked it to show his animals when to
begin, end, or change their tricks.' Some boy yelled, 'Rats! you do
whip them sometimes,' and the old man made another bow, and
said, 'Sairteenly, he whipped zem just as ze mammas whip ze
naughty boys, to make zem keep still when zey was noisy or
"Then everybody laughed at the boy, and the Italian said the
performance would begin by a grand procession of all the animals,
if some lady would kindly step up to the piano and play a march.
Nina Smith you know Nina, Joe, the girl that has black eyes and
wears blue ribbons, and lives around the corner stepped up to the
piano, and banged out a fine loud march. The doors at the side of
the platform opened, and out came the animals, two by two, just
like Noah's ark. There was a pony with a monkey walking beside it
and holding on to its mane, another monkey on a pony's back, two
monkeys hand in hand, a dog with a parrot on his back, a goat
harnessed to a little carriage, another goat carrying a birdcage in its
mouth with two canaries inside, different kinds of cats, some
doves and pigeons, half a dozen white rats with red harness, and
dragging a little chariot with a monkey in it, and a common white
gander that came in last of all, and did nothing but follow one of
the ponies about.
"The Italian spoke of the gander, and said it was a stupid creature,
and could learn no tricks and he only kept it on account of its
affection for the pony. He had got them both on a Vermont farm,
when he was looking for show animals. The pony's master had
made a pet of him, and had taught him to come whenever he
whistled for him. Though the pony was only a scrub of a creature,
he had a gentle disposition, and every other animal on the farm
liked him. A gander, in particular, had such an admiration for him
that he followed him wherever he went, and if he lost him for an
instant, he would mount one of the knolls on the farm and stretch
out his neck looking for him. When he caught sight of him, he
gabbled with delight, and running to him, waddled up and down
beside him. Every little while the pony put his nose down, and
seemed to be having a conversation with the goose. If the farmer
whistled the pony and he started to run to him, the gander,
knowing he could not keep up, would seize the pony's tail in his
beak, and flapping his wings, would get along as fast as the pony
did. And the pony never kicked him. The Italian saw that this pony
would be a good one to train for the stage, so he offered the farmer
a large price for him, and took him away.
"Oh, Joe, I forgot to say, that by this time all the animals had been
sent off the stage except the pony and the gander, and they stood
looking at the Italian while he talked. I never saw anything as
human in dumb animals as that pony's face. He looked as if he
understood every word that his master was saying. After this story
was over, the Italian made another bow, and then told the pony to
bow. He nodded his head at the people, and they all laughed. Then
the Italian asked him to favor us with a waltz, and the pony got up
on his hind legs and danced. You should have seen that gander
skirmishing around, so as to be near the pony and yet keep out of
the way of his heels. We fellows just roared, and we would have
kept him dancing all the afternoon if the Italian hadn't begged 'ze
young gentlemen not to make ze noise, but let ze pony do ze rest of
his tricks.' Pony number two came on the stage, and it was too
queer for anything to see the things the two of them did. They
helped the Italian on with his coat, they pulled off his rubbers, they
took his coat away and brought him a chair, and dragged a table up
to it. They brought him letters and papers, and rang bells, and
rolled barrels, and swung the Italian in a big swing, and jumped a
rope, and walked up and down steps they just went around that
stage as handy with their teeth as two boys would be with their
hands, and they seemed to understand every word their master said
"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 his 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.
"The monkeys stood looking at him, and then there was the most
awful hullabaloo you ever beard. Such a barking and yelping, and
half a dozen dogs rushed on the stage, and didn't they trundle those
monkeys about. They nosed them, and pushed them, and shook
them, till they all ran away, all but Miss Green, who sat shivering
in a corner. After a while, she crept up to the dead dog, pawed him
a little, and didn't he jump up as much alive as any of them?
Everybody in the room clapped and shouted, and then the curtain
dropped, and the thing was over. I wish he'd give another
performance. Early in thc morning he has to go to Boston."
Jack pushed my paws from his knees and went outdoors, and I
began to think that I would very much like to see those performing
animals. It was not yet tea time, and I would have plenty of time to
take a run down to the hotel where they were staying, so I set out.
It was a lovely autumn evening. The sun was going down in a
haze, and it was quite warm. Earlier in the day I had heard Mr.
Morris say that this was our Indian summer, and that we should
soon have cold weather.
Fairport was a pretty little town, and from the principal street one
could look out upon the blue water of the bay and see the island
opposite, which was quite deserted now, for all the summer
visitors had gone home, and the Island House was shut up.
I was running down one of the steep side streets that led to the
water when I met a heavily-laden cart coming up. It must have
been coming from one of the vessels, for it was full of
strange-looking boxes and packages. A fine-looking nervous horse
was drawing it, and he was straining every nerve to get it up the
steep hill. His driver was a burly, hard-faced man, and instead of
letting his horse stop a minute to rest he kept urging him forward.
The poor horse kept looking at his master, his eyes almost starting
from his head in terror. He knew that the whip was about to
descend on his quivering body. And so it did, and there was no one
by to interfere. No one but a woman in a ragged shawl who would
have no influence with the driver. There was a very good humane
society in Fairport, and none of the teamsters dared ill-use their
horses if any of the members were near. This was a quiet
out-of-the-way street, with only poor houses on it, and the man
probably knew that none of the members of the society would be
likely to be living in them. He whipped his horse, and whipped
him, till every lash made my heart ache, and if I had dared I would
have bitten him severely. Suddenly, there was a dull thud in the
street. The horse had fallen down. The driver ran to his head, but
he was quite dead. "Thank God!" said the poorly-dressed woman,
bitterly; "one more out of this world of misery." Then she turned
and went down the street. I was glad for the horse. He would never
be frightened or miserable again, and I went slowly on, thinking
that death is the best thing that can happen to tortured animals.
The Fairport hotel was built right in the centre of the town, and the
shops and houses crowded quite close about it. It was a high, brick
building, and it was called the Fairport House. As I was running
along the sidewalk, I heard some one speak to me, and looking up
I saw Charlie Montague. I had heard the Morrises say that his
parents were staying at the hotel for a few weeks, while their house
was being repaired. He had his Irish setter, Brisk, with him, and a
handsome dog he was, as he stood waving his silky tail in the
sunlight. Charlie patted me, and then he and his dog went into the
hotel. I turned into the stable yard. It was a small, choked-up place,
and as I picked my way under the cabs and wagons standing in the
yard, I wondered why the hotel people didn't buy some of the old
houses near by, and tear them down, and make a stable yard
worthy of such a nice hotel. The hotel horses were just getting
rubbed down after their day's work, and others were coming in.
The men were talking and laughing, and there was no sign of
strange animals, so I went around to the back of the yard. Here
they were, in an empty cow stable, under a hay loft. There were
two little ponies tied up in a stall, two goats beyond them, and
dogs and monkeys in strong traveling cages. I stood in the doorway
and stared at them. I was sorry for the dogs to be shut up on such a
lovely evening, but I suppose their master was afraid of their
getting lost, or being stolen, if he let them loose.
They all seemed very friendly. The ponies turned around and
looked at me with their gentle eyes, and then went on munching
their hay. I wondered very much where the gander was, and went a
little farther into the stable. Something white raised itself up out of
the brownest pony's crib, and there was the gander close up beside
the open mouth of his friend. The monkeys make a jabbering
noise, and held on to the bars of their cage with their little black
hands, while they looked out at me. The dogs sniffed the air, and
wagged their tails, and tried to put their muzzles through the bars
of their cage. I liked the dogs best, and I wanted to see the one they
called Bob, so I went up quite close to them. There were two little
white dogs, something like Billy, two mongrel spaniels, an Irish
terrier, and a brown dog asleep in the corner, that I knew must be
Bob. He did look a little like me, but he was not quite so ugly for
he had his ears and his tail.
While I was peering through the bars at him, a man came in the
stable. He noticed me the first thing, but instead of driving me out,
he spoke kindly to me, in a language that I did not understand. So I
knew that he was the Italian. How glad the animals were to see
him! The gander fluttered out of his nest, the ponies pulled at their
halters, the dogs whined and tried to reach his hands to lick them,
and the monkeys chattered with delight. He laughed and talked
back to them in queer, soft-sounding words. Then he took out of a
bag on his arm, bones for the dogs, nuts and cakes for the
monkeys, nice, juicy carrots for the ponies, some green stuff for
the goats, and corn for the gander.
It was a pretty sight to see the old man feeding his pets, and it
made me feel quite hungry, so I trotted home. I had a run down
town again that evening with Mr. Morris, who went to get
something from a shop for his wife. He never let his boys go to
town after tea, so if there were errands to be done, he or Mrs.
Morris went. The town was bright and lively that evening, and a
great many people were walking about and looking into the shop
When we came home, I went into the kennel with Jim, and there I
slept till the middle of the night. Then I started up and ran outside.
There was a distant bell ringing, which we often heard in Fairport,
and which always meant fire.
CHAPTER XXXIV A FIRE IN FAIRPORT
I HAD several times run to a fire with the boys, and knew that
there was always great noise and excitement. There was a light in
the house, so I knew that somebody was getting up. I don't think
indeed I know, for they were good boys that they ever wanted
anybody to lose property, but they did enjoy seeing a blaze, and
one of their greatest delights, when there hadn't been a fire for
some time, was to build a bonfire in the garden.
Jim and I ran around to the front of the house and waited. In a few
minutes, some one came rattling at the front door, and I was sure it
was Jack. But it was Mr. Morris, and without a word to us, he set
off almost running toward the town. We followed after him, and as
we hurried along other men ran out from the houses along the
streets, and either joined him; or dashed ahead. They seemed to
have dressed in a hurry, and were thrusting their arms in their
coats, and buttoning themselves up as they went. Some of them
had hats and some of them had none, and they all had their faces
toward the great red light that got brighter and brighter ahead of
us. "Where's the fire?" they shouted to each other. "Don't know
afraid it' s the hotel, or the town hall. It's such a blaze. Hope not.
How's the water supply now? Bad time for a fire."
It was the hotel. We saw that as soon as we got on to the main
street. There were people all about, and a great noise and
confusion, and smoke and blackness; and up above, bright tongues
of flame were leaping against the sky. Jim and I kept close to Mr.
Morris's heels, as he pushed his way among the crowd. When we
got nearer the burning building, we saw men carrying ladders and
axes, and others were shouting directions, and rushing out of the
hotel, carrying boxes and bundles and furniture in their arms. From
the windows above came a steady stream of articles, thrown
among the crowd. A mirror struck Mr. Morris on the arm, and a
whole package of clothes fell on his head and almost smothered
him; but he brushed them aside and scarcely noticed them. There
was something the matter with Mr. Morris I knew by the worried
sound of his voice when he spoke to any one. I could not see his
face, though it was as light as day about us, for we had got jammed
in the crowd, and if I had not kept between his feet, I should have
been trodden to death. Jim, being larger than I was, had got
separated from us.
Presently Mr. Morris raised his voice above the uproar, and called,
"Is every one out of the hotel?" A voice shouted back, "I'm going
up to see."
"It's Jim Watson, the fireman," cried some one near. "He's risking
his life to go into that pit of flame. Don't go, Watson." I don't think
that the brave fireman paid any attention to this warning, for an
instant later the same voice said "He's planting his ladder against
the third story. He's bound to go. He'll not get any farther than the
"Where are the Montagues?" shouted Mr. Morris. "Has any one
seen the Montagues?"
"Mr. Morris! Mr. Morris!" said a frightened voice, and young
Charlie Montague pressed through the people to us. "Where's
"I don't know. Where did you leave him?" said Mr. Morris, taking
his hand and drawing him closer to him. "I was sleeping in his
room," said the boy, "and a man knocked at the door and said,
'Hotel on fire. Five minutes to dress and get out,' and papa told me
to put on my clothes and go downstairs, and he ran up to mamma."
"Where was she?" asked Mr. Morris, quickly.
"On the fourth flat. She and her maid Blanche were up there. You
know, mamma hasn't been well and couldn't sleep, and our room
was so noisy that she moved upstairs where it was quiet." Mr.
Morris gave a kind of groan. "Oh I'm so hot, and there's such a
dreadful noise," said the little boy, bursting into tears, "and I want
mamma." Mr. Morris soothed him as best he could, and drew him
a little to the edge of the crowd.
While he was doing this, there was a piercing cry. I could not see
the person making it, but I knew it was the Italian's voice. He was
screaming, in broken English that the fire was spreading to the
stables, and his animals would be burned. Would no one help him
to get his animals out? There was a great deal of confused
language. Some voices shouted, "Look after the people first. Let
the animals go." And others said, "For shame. Get the horses out."
But no one seemed to do anything, for the Italian went on crying
for help. I heard a number of people who were standing near us say
that it had just been found out that several persons who had been
sleeping in the top of the hotel had not got out. They said that at
one of the top windows a poor housemaid was shrieking for help.
Here in the street we could see no one at the upper windows, for
smoke was pouring from them.
The air was very hot and heavy and I didn't wonder that Charlie
Montague felt ill. He would have fallen on the ground if Mr.
Morris hadn't taken him in his arms, and carried him out of the
crowd. He put him down on the brick sidewalk, and unfastened his
little shirt, and left me to watch him, while he held his hands under
a leak in a hose that was fastened to a hydrant near us. He got
enough water to dash on Charlie's face and breast, and then seeing
that the boy was reviving, he sat down on the curbstone and took
him on his knee. Charlie lay in his arms and moaned. He was a
delicate boy, and he could not stand rough usage as the Morris
Mr. Morris was terribly uneasy. His face was deathly white, and he
shuddered whenever there was a cry from the burning building.
"Poor souls God help them. Oh, this is awful," he said; and then he
turned his eyes from the great sheets of flame and strained the
little boy to his breast. At last there were wild shrieks that I knew
came from no human throats. The fire must have reached the
horses. Mr. Morris sprang up, then sank back again. He wanted to
go, yet he could be of no use. There were hundreds of men
standing about, but the fire had spread so rapidly, and they had so
little water to put on it that there was very little they could do. I
wondered whether I could do anything for the poor animals. I was
not afraid of fire, as most dogs, for one of the tricks that the Morris
boys had taught me was to put out a fire with my paws. They
would throw a piece of lighted paper on the floor, and I would
crush it with my forepaws; and if the blaze was too large for that, I
would drag a bit of old carpet over it and jump on it. I left Mr.
Morris, and ran around the corner of the street to the back of the
hotel. It was not burned as much here as in the front, and in the
houses all around, people were out on their roofs with wet
blankets, and some were standing at the window watching the fire,
or packing up their belongings ready to move if it should spread to
them. There was a narrow lane running up a short distance toward
the hotel, and I started to go up this, when in front of me I heard
such a wailing, piercing noise, that it made me shudder and stand
still. The Italian's animals were going to be burned up and they
were calling to their master to come and get them out. Their voices
sounded like the voices of children in mortal pain. I could not
stand it. I was seized with such an awful horror of the fire that I
turned and ran, feeling so thankful that I was not in it. As I got into
the street I stumbled over something. It was a large bird a parrot,
and at first I thought it was Bella. Then I remembered hearing Jack
say that the Italian had a parrot. It was not dead, but seemed stupid
with the smoke. I seized it in my mouth, and ran and laid it at Mr.
Morris's feet. He wrapped it in his handkerchief, and laid it beside
I sat, and trembled, and did not leave him again. I shall never
forget that dreadful night. It seemed as if we were there for hours,
but in reality it was only a short time. The hotel soon got to be all
red flames, and there was very little smoke. The inside of the
budding had burned away, and nothing more could be gotten out.
The firemen and all the people drew back, and there was no noise.
Everybody stood gazing silently at the flames. A man stepped
quietly up to Mr. Morris, and looking at him, I saw that it was Mr.
Montague. He was usually a well-dressed man, with a kind face,
and a head of thick, grayish brown hair. Now his face was black
and grimy, his hair was burnt from the front of his head, and his
clothes were half torn from his back. Mr. Morris sprang up when
he saw him, and said "Where is your wife?"
The gentleman did not say a word, but pointed to the burning
building. "Impossible!" cried Mr. Morris. "Is there no mistake?
Your beautiful young wife, Montague. Can it be so?" Mr. Morris
was trembling from head to foot.
"It is true," said Mr. Montague, quietly. "Give me the boy." Charlie
had fainted again and his father took him in his arms, and turned
"Montague!" cried Mr. Morris, "my heart is sore for you. Can I do
"No, thank you," said the gentleman, without turning around; but
there was more anguish in his voice than in Mr. Morris's, and
though I am only a, dog, I knew that his heart was breaking.
CHAPTER XXXV BILLY AND THE ITALIAN
MR. MORRIS stayed no longer. He followed Mr. Montague along
the sidewalk a little way, and then exchanged a few hurried words
with some men who were standing near, and hastened home
through streets that seemed dark and dull after the splendor of the
fire. Though it was still the middle of the night, Mrs. Morris was
up and dressed and waiting for him. She opened the hall door with
one hand and held a candle in the other. I felt frightened and
miserable, and didn't want to leave Mr. Morris, so I crept in after
"Don't make a noise," said Mrs. Morris. "Laura and the boys are
sleeping, and I thought it better not to wake them. It has been a
terrible fire, hasn't it? Was it the hotel?" Mr. Morris threw himself
into a chair and covered his face with his hands.
"Speak to me, William!" said Mrs. Morris, in a startled tone. "You
are not hurt, are you?" and she put her candle on the table and
came and sat down beside him.
He dropped his hands from his face, and tears were running down
his cheeks. "Ten lives lost," he said; "among them Mrs.
Mrs. Morris looked horrified, and gave a little cry, "William, it
can't be so!"
It seemed as if Mr. Morris could not sit still. He got up and walked
to and fro on the floor. "It was an awful scene, Margaret. I never
wish to look upon the like again. Do you remember how I
protested against the building of that deathtrap. Look at the wide,
open streets around it, and yet they persisted in running it up to the
sky. God will require an account of those deaths at the hands of the
men who put up that building. It is terrible this disregard of human
lives. To think of that delicate woman and her death agony." He
threw himself in a chair and buried his face in his hands.
"Where was she? How did it happen? Was her husband saved, and
Charlie?" said Mrs. Morris, in a broken voice.
"Yes; Charlie and Mr. Montague are safe. Charlie will recover
from it. Montague's life is done. You know his love for his wife.
Oh, Margaret! when will men cease to be fools? What does the
Lord think of them when they say, 'Am I my brother's keeper?' And
the other poor creatures burned to death their lives are as precious
in his sight as Mrs. Montague's."
Mr. Morris looked so weak and ill that Mrs. Morris, like a sensible
woman, questioned him no further, but made a fire and got him
some hot tea. Then she made him lie down on the sofa, and she sat
by him till day-break, when she persuaded him to go to bed. I
followed her about, and kept touching her dress with my nose. It
seemed so good to me to have this pleasant home after all the
misery I had seen that night. Once she stopped and took my head
between her hands, "Dear old Joe," she said, tearfully, "this a
suffering world. It's well there's a better one beyond it."
In the morning the boys went down town before breakfast and
learned all about the fire. It started in the top story of the hotel, in
the room of some fast young men, who were sitting up late playing
cards. They had smuggled wine into their room and had been
drinking till they were stupid. One of them upset the lamp, and
when the flames began to spread so that they could not extinguish
them, instead of rousing some one near them, they rushed
downstairs to get some one there to come up and help them put out
the fire. When they returned with some of the hotel people, they
found that the flames had spread from their room, which was in an
"L" at the back of the house, to the front part, where Mrs.
Montague's room was, and where the housemaids belonging to the
hotel slept. By this time Mr. Montague had gotten upstairs, but he
found the passageway to his wife's room so full of flames and
smoke, that, though he tried again and again to force his way
through, he could not. He disappeared for a time, then he came to
Mr. Morris and got his boy, and took him to some rooms over his
bank, and shut himself up with him. For some days he would let no
one in; then he came out with the look of an old man on his face,
and his hair as white as snow, and went out to his beautiful house
in the outskirts of the town.
Nearly all the horses belonging to the hotel were burned. A few
were gotten out by having blankets put over their heads, but the
most of them were so terrified that they would not stir.
The Morris boys said that they found the old Italian sitting on an
empty box, looking at the smoking ruins of the hotel. His head was
hanging on his breast, and his eyes were full of tears. His ponies
were burned up, he said, and the gander, and the monkeys, and the
goat, and his wonderful performing dogs. He had only his birds
left, and he was a ruined man. He had toiled all his life to get this
troupe of trained animals together, and now they were swept from
him. It was cruel and wicked, and he wished he could die. The
canaries, and pigeons, and doves, the hotel people had allowed
him to take to his room, and they were safe. The parrot was lost an
educated parrot that could answer forty questions, and, among
other things, could take a watch and tell the time of day.
Jack Morris told him that they had it safe at home, and that it was
very much alive, quarrelling furiously with his parrot Bella. The
old man's face brightened at this, and then Jack and Carl, finding
that he had had no breakfast, went off to a restaurant near by, and
got him some steak and coffee. The Italian was very grateful, and
as he ate, Jack said the tears ran into his coffee cap. He told them
how much he loved his animals, and how it "made ze heart bitter
to hear zem crying him to deliver zem from ze raging fire."
The boys came home, and got their breakfast and went to school.
Miss Laura did not go out She sat all day with a very quiet, pained
face and could neither read nor sew, and Mr. and Mrs. Morris were
just as unsettled. They talked about the fire in low tones, and I
could see that they felt more sad about Mrs. Montague's death than
if she had died in an ordinary way. Her dear little canary Barry,
died with her. She would never be separated from him, and his
cage had been taken up to the top of the hotel with her. He
probably died an easier death than his poor mistress. Charley's dog
escaped, but was so frightened that he ran out to their house,
outside the town.
At tea time, Mr. Morris went down town to see that the Italian got
a comfortable place for the night. When he came back, he said that
he had found out that the Italian was by no means so old a man as
he looked and that he had talked to him about raising a sum of
money for him among the Fairport people, till he had become quite
cheerful, and said that if Mr. Morris would do that, he would try to
gather another troupe of animals together and train them.
"Now, what can we do for the Italian?" asked Mrs. Morris. "We
can't give him much money, but we might let him have one or two
of our pets. There's Billy, he's a bright, little dog, and not two years
old yet. He could teach him anything."
There was a blank silence among the Morris children. Billy was
such a gentle, lovable, little dog, that he was a favorite with every
one in the house. "I suppose we ought to do it," said Miss Laura, at
last; "but how can we give him up?"
There was a good deal of discussion, but the end of it was that
Billy was given to the Italian. He came up to get him, and was very
grateful, and made a great many bows, holding his hat in his hand.
Billy took to him at once, and the Italian spoke so kindly to him,
that we knew he would have a good master. Mr. Morris got quite a
large sum of money for him, and when he handed it to him, the
poor man was so pleased that he kissed his hand, and promised to
send frequent word as to Billy's progress and welfare.
CHAPTER XXXVI DANDY THE TRAMP
ABOUT a week after Billy left us, the Morris family, much to its
surprise, became the owner of a new dog.
He walked into the house one cold, wintry afternoon and lay
calmly down by the fire. He was a brindled bull-terrier, and he had
on a silver-plated collar with "Dandy" engraved on it. He lay all
the evening by the fire, and when any of the family spoke to him,
he wagged his tail, and looked pleased. I growled a little at him at
first, but he never cared a bit, and just dozed off to sleep, so I soon
He was such a well-bred dog, that the Morrises were afraid that
some one had lost him. They made some inquiries the next day,
and found that he belonged to a New York gentleman who had
come to Fairport in the summer in a yacht. This dog did not like
the yacht. He came ashore in a boat whenever he got a chance, and
if he could not come in a boat, he would swim. He was a tramp,
his master said, and he wouldn't stay long in any place. The
Morrises were so amused with his impudence, that they did not
send him away, but said every day, "Surely he will be gone
However, Mr. Dandy had gotten into comfortable quarters, and he
had no intention of changing them, for a while at least. Then he
was very handsome, and had such a pleasant way with him, that
the family could not help liking him. I never cared for him. He
fawned on the Morrises, and pretended he loved them, and
afterward turned around and laughed and sneered at them in a way
that made me very angry. I used to lecture him sometimes, and
growl about him to Jim, but Jim always said, "Let him alone. You
can't do him any good. He was born bad. His mother wasn't good.
He tells me that she had a bad name among all the dogs in her
neighborhood. She was a thief and a runaway." Though he
provoked me so often, yet I could not help laughing at some of his
stories, they were so funny.
We were lying out in the sun, on the platform at the back of the
house, one day, and he had been more than usually provoking, so I
got up to leave him. He put himself in my way, however, and said,
coaxingly, "Don't be cross, old fellow. I'll tell you some stories to
amuse you, old boy. What shall they be about?"
"I think the story of your life would be about as interesting as
anything you could make up," I said, dryly.
"All right, fact or fiction, whichever you like. Here's a fact, plain
and unvarnished. Born and bred in New York. Swell stable. Swell
coachman. Swell master. Jewelled fingers of ladies poking at me,
first thing I remember. First painful experience being sent to vet. to
have ears cut."
"What's a vet.?" I said.
"A veterinary animal doctor. Vet. didn't cut ears enough. Master
sent me back. Cut ears again. Summer time, and flies bad. Ears got
sore and festered, flies very attentive. Coachman set little boy to
brush flies off, but he'd run out in yard and leave me. Flies awful.
Thought they'd eat me up, or else I'd shake out brains trying to get
rid of them. Mother should have stayed home and licked my ears,
but was cruising about neighborhood. Finally coachman put me in
dark place; powdered ears, and they got well."
"Why didn't they cut your tail, too?" I said, looking at his long,
slim tail, which was like a sewer rat's.
"'Twasn't the fashion, Mr. Wayback; a bull-terrier's ears are clipped
to keep them from getting torn while fighting."
"You're not a fighting dog," I said.
"Not I. Too much trouble. I believe in taking things easy."
"I should think you did," I said, scornfully. "You never put yourself
out for any one, I notice; but, speaking of cropping ears, what do
you think of it?"
"Well," he said, with a sly glance at my head, "it isn't a pleasant
operation; but one might well be out of the world as out of the
fashion. I don't care, now my ears are done."
"But," I said, "think of the poor dogs that will come after you."
"What difference does that make to me?" he said. "I'll be dead and
out of the way. Men can cut off their ears, and tails, and legs, too,
if they want to."
"Dandy," I said, angrily, "you're the most selfish dog that I ever
"Don't excite yourself," he said, coolly. "Let me get on with my
story. When I was a few months old, I began to find the stable yard
narrow and wondered what there was outside of it. I discovered a
hole in the garden wall, and used to sneak out nights. Oh, what fun
it was. I got to know a lot of street dogs, and we had gay times,
barking under people's windows and making them mad, and
getting into back yards and chasing cats. We used to kill a cat
nearly every night. Policeman would chase us, and we would run
and run till the water just ran off our tongues, and we hadn't a bit
of breath left. Then I'd go home and sleep all day, and go out again
the next night. When I was about a year old, I began to stay out
days as well as nights. They couldn't keep me home. Then I ran
away for three months. I got with an old lady on Fifth Avenue, who
was very fond of dogs. She had four white poodles, and her
servants used to wash them, and tie up their hair with blue ribbons,
and she used to take them for drives in her phaeton in the park, and
they wore gold and silver collars. The biggest poodle wore a ruby
in his collar worth five hundred dollars. I went driving, too, and
sometimes we met my master. He often smiled, and shook his head
at me. I heard him tell the coachman one day that I was a little
blackguard, and he was to let me come and go as I liked."
"If they had whipped you soundly," I said, "it might have made a
good dog of you."
"I'm good enough now," said Dandy, airily. "The young ladies who
drove with my master used to say that it was priggish and tiresome
to be too good. To go on with my story: I stayed with Mrs. Judge
Tibbett till I got sick of her fussy ways She made a simpleton of
herself over those poodles. Each one had a high chair at the table,
and a plate, and they always sat in these chairs and had meals with
her, and the servants all called them Master Bijou, and Master Tot,
and Miss Tiny, and Miss Fluff. One day they tried to make me sit
in a chair, and I got cross and bit Mrs. Tibbett, and she beat me
cruelly, and her servants stoned me away from the house."
"Speaking about fools, Dandy," I said, "if it is polite to call a lady
one, I should say that that lady was one. Dogs shouldn't be put out
of their place. Why didn't she have some poor children at her table,
and in her carriage, and let the dogs run behind?"
"Easy to see you don't know New York," said Dandy, with a laugh.
"Poor children don't live with rich, old ladies. Mrs. Tibbett hated
children, anyway. Then dogs like poodles would get lost in the
mud, or killed in the crowd if they ran behind a carriage. Only
knowing dogs like me can make their way about." I rather doubted
this speech; but I said nothing, and he went on patronizingly:
"However, Joe, thou hast reason, as the French say. Mrs. Judge
Tibbett didn't give her dogs exercise enough. Their claws were as
long as Chinamen's nails, and the hair grew over their pads, and
they had red eyes and were always sick, and she had to dose them
with medicine, and call them her poor, little, 'weeny-teeny
sicky-wicky doggies.' Bah! I got disgusted with her. When I left
her, I ran away to her niece's, Miss Ball's. She was a sensible
young lady, and she used to scold her aunt for the way in which
she brought up her dogs. She was almost too sensible, for her pug
and I were rubbed and scrubbed within an inch of our lives, and
had to go for such long walks that I got thoroughly sick of them. A
woman, whom the servants called Trotsey, came every morning,
and took the pug and me by our chains, and sometimes another
dog or two, and took us for long tramps in quiet streets. That was
Trotsey's business, to walk dogs, and Miss Ball got a great many
fashionable young ladies who could not exercise their dogs, to let
Trotsey have them, and they said that it made a great difference in
the health and appearance of their pets. Trotsey got fifteen cents an
hour for a dog. Goodness, what appetites those walks gave us, and
didn't we make the dog biscuits disappear? But it was a slow life at
Miss Ball's. We only saw her for a little while every day. She slept
till noon. After lunch she played with us for a little while in the
greenhouse, then she was off driving or visiting, and in the evening
she always had company, or went to a dance, or to the theatre. I
soon made up my mind that I'd run away. I jumped out of a
window one fine morning, and ran home. I stayed there for a long
time. My mother had been run over by a cart and killed, and I
wasn't sorry. My master never bothered his head about me, and I
could do as I liked. One day when I was having a walk, and
meeting a lot of dogs that I knew, a little boy came behind me, and
before I could tell what he was doing, he had snatched me up, and
was running off with me. I couldn't bite him, for he had stuffed
some of his rags in my mouth. He took me to a tenement house, in
a part of the city that I had never been in before. He belonged to a
very poor family. My faith, weren't they badly off six children, and
a mother, and father, all living in two tiny rooms. Scarcely a bit of
meat did I smell while I was there. I hated their bread and
molasses, and the place smelled so badly that I thought I should
"They kept me shut up in their dirty rooms for several days; and
the brat of a boy that caught me slept with his arm around me at
night. The weather was hot and sometimes we couldn't sleep, and
they had to go up on the roof. After a while, they chained me up in
a filthy yard at the back of the house, and there I thought I should
go mad. I would have liked to bite them all to death, if I had dared.
It's awful to be chained, especially for a dog like me that loves his
freedom. The flies worried me, and the noises distracted me, and
my flesh would fairly creep from getting no exercise. I was there
nearly a month, while they were waiting for a reward to be offered.
But none came; and one day, the boy's father, who was a street
peddler, took me by my chain and led me about the streets till he
sold me. A gentleman got me for his little boy, but I didn't like the
look of him, so I sprang up and bit his hand, and he dropped the
chain, and I dodged boys and policemen and finally got home
more dead than alive, and looking like a skeleton. I had a good
time for several weeks, and then I began to get restless and was off
again. But I'm getting tired; I want to go to sleep."
"You're not very polite," I said, "to offer to tell a story, and then go
to sleep before you finish it."
"Look out for number one, my boy," said Dandy, with a yawn; "for
if you don't, no one else will," and he shut his eyes and was fast
asleep in a few minutes.
I sat and looked at him. What a handsome, good-natured,
worthless dog he was. A few days later, he told me the rest of his
history. After a great many wanderings, he happened home one
day just as his master's yacht was going to sail, and they chained
him up till they went on board, so that he could be an amusement
on the passage to Fairport.
It was in November that Dandy came to us, and he stayed all
winter. He made fun of the Morrises all the time, and said they had
a dull, poky, old house, and he only stayed because Miss Laura
was nursing him. He had a little sore on his back that she soon
found out was mange. Her father said it was a bad disease for dogs
to have, and Dandy had better be shot; but she begged so hard for
his life, and said she would cure him in a few weeks that she was
allowed to keep him. Dandy wasn't capable of getting really angry,
but he was as disturbed about having this disease as he could be
about anything. He said that he had got it from a little, mangy dog,
that he had played with a few weeks before. He was only with the
dog a little while, and didn't think he would take it, but it seemed
he knew what an easy thing it was to get.
Until he got well he was separated from us. Miss Laura kept him
up in the loft with the rabbits, where we could not go; and the boys
ran him around the garden for exercise. She tried all kinds of cures
for him, and I heard her say that although it was a skin disease, his
blood must be purified. She gave him some of the pills that she
made out of sulphur and butter for Jim, and Billy, and me, to keep
our coats silky and smooth. When they didn't cure him, she gave
him a few drops of arsenic every day, and washed the sore, and,
indeed his whole body, with tobacco water or carbolic soap. It was
the tobacco water that cured him.
Miss Laura always put on gloves when she went near him, and
used a brush to wash him, for if a person takes mange from a dog,
they may lose their hair and their eyelashes. But if they are careful,
no harm comes from nursing a mangy dog, and I have never
known of any one taking the disease.
After a time, Dandy's sore healed, and he was set free. He was
right glad, he said, for he had got heartily sick of the rabbits. He
used to bark at them and make them angry, and they would run
around the loft, stamping their hind feet at him, in the funny way
that rabbits do. I think they disliked him as much as he disliked
them. Jim and I did not get the mange. Dandy was not a strong
dog, and I think his irregular way of living made him take diseases
readily. He would stuff himself when he was hungry, and he
always wanted rich food. If he couldn't get what he wanted at the
Morrises', he went out and stole, or visited the dumps at the back
of the town.
When he did get ill, he was more stupid about doctoring himself
than any dog that I have ever seen. He never seemed to know when
to eat grass or herbs, or a little earth, that would have kept him in
good condition. A dog should never be without grass. When Dandy
got ill he just suffered till he got well again, and never tried to cure
himself of his small troubles. Some dogs even know enough to
amputate their limbs. Jim told me a very interesting story of a dog
the Morrises once had, called Gyp, whose leg became paralyzed by
a kick from a horse. He knew the leg was dead, and gnawed it off
nearly to the shoulder, and though he was very sick for a time, yet
in the end he got well.
To return to Dandy. I knew he was only waiting for the spring to
leave us, and I was not sorry. The first fine day he was off, and
during the rest of the spring and summer we occasionally met him
running about the town with a set of fast dogs. One day I stopped
and asked him how he concealed himself in such a quiet place as
Fairport, and he said he was dying to get back to New York, and
was hoping that his master's yacht would come and take him away.
Poor Dandy never left Fairport. After all, he was not such a bad
dog. There was nothing really vicious about him, and I hate to
speak of his end. His master's yacht did not come, and soon the
summer was over, and the winter was coming, and no one wanted
Dandy, for he had such a bad name. He got hungry and cold, and
one day sprang upon a little girl, to take away a piece of bread and
butter that she was eating. He did not see the large house-dog on
the door sill, and before he could get away, the dog had seized
him, and bitten and shaken him till he was nearly dead. When the
dog threw him aside, he crawled to the Morrises, and Miss Laura
bandaged his wounds, and made him a bed in the stable.
One Sunday morning she washed and fed him very tenderly, for
she knew he could not live much longer. He was so weak that he
could scarcely eat the food that she put in his mouth, so she let him
lick some milk from her finger. As she was going to church, I
could not go with her, but I ran down the lane and watched her out
of sight. When I came back, Dandy was gone. I looked till I found
him. He had crawled into the darkest corner of the stable to die,
and though he was suffering very much, he never uttered a sound. I
sat by him and thought of his master in New York. If he had
brought Dandy up properly he might not now be here in his silent
death agony. A young pup should be trained just as a child is, and
punished when he goes wrong. Dandy began badly, and not being
checked in his evil ways, had come so this. Poor Dandy! Poor,
handsome dog of a rich master! He opened his dull eyes, gave me
one last glance, then, with a convulsive shudder, his torn limbs
were still. He would never suffer any more.
When Miss Laura came home, she cried bitterly to know that he
was dead. The boys took him away from her, and made him a
grave in the corner of the garden.
CHAPTER XXXVII THE END OF MY STORY
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
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.
Bella, the parrot, lives with Mrs. Morris, and is as smart as ever. I
have heard that parrots live to a very great age. Some of them even
get to be a hundred years old. If that is the case, Bella will outlive
all of us. She notices that I am getting blind and feeble, and when I
go down to call on Mrs. Morris, she calls out to me, "Keep a stiff
upper lip, Beautiful Joe. Never say die, Beautiful Joe. Keep the
game a-going, Beautiful Joe."
Mrs. Morris says that she doesn't know where Bella picks up her
slang words. I think it is Mr. Ned who teaches her, for when he
comes home in the summer he often says, with a sly twinkle in his
eye, "Come out into the garden, Bella," and he lies in a hammock
under the trees, and Bella perches on a branch near him, and he
talks to her by the hour. Anyway, it is in the autumn after he leaves
Riverdale that Bella always shocks Mrs. Morris with her slang
I am glad that I am to end my days in Riverdale. Fairport was a
very nice place, but it was not open and free like this farm. I take a
walk every morning that the sun shines. I go out among the horses
and cows, and stop to watch the hens pecking at their food. This is
a happy place, and I hope my dear Miss Laura will live to enjoy it
many years after I am gone.
I have very few worries. The pigs bother me a little in the spring,
by rooting up the bones that I bury in the fields in the fall, but that
is a small matter, and I try not to mind it. I get a great many bones
here, and I should be glad if I had some poor, city dogs to help me
eat them. I don't think bones are good for pigs.
Then there is Mr. Harry's tame squirrel out in one of the barns that
teases me considerably. He knows that I can't chase him, now that
my legs are so stiff with rheumatism, and he takes delight in
showing me how spry he can be, darting around me and whisking
his tail almost in my face, and trying to get me to run after him, so
that he can laugh at me. I don't think that he is a very thoughtful
squirrel, but I try not to notice him.
The sailor boy who gave Bella to the Morrises has got to be a
large, stout man, and is the first mate of a vessel. He sometimes
comes here, and when he does, he always brings the Morrises
presents of foreign fruits and curiosities of different kinds.
Malta, the cat, is still living, and is with Mrs. Morris. Davy, the rat,
is gone, so is poor old Jim. He went away one day last summer,
and no one ever knew what became of him. The Morrises searched
everywhere for him, and offered a large reward to any one who
would find him but he never turned up again. I think that he felt he
was going to die, and went into some out-of-the-way place. He
remembered how badly Miss Laura felt when Dandy died, and he
wanted to spare her the greater sorrow of his death. He was always
such a thoughtful dog, and so anxious not to give trouble. I am
more selfish. I could not go away from Miss Laura even to die.
When my last hour comes, I want to see her gentle face bending
over me, and then I shall not mind how much I suffer.
She is just as tender-hearted as ever, but she tries not to feel too
badly about the sorrow and suffering in the world, because she
says that would weaken her, and she wants all her strength to try to
put a stop to some of it. She does a great deal of good in Riverdale,
and I do not think that there is any one in all the country around
who is as much beloved as she is.
She has never forgotten the resolve that she made some years ago,
that she would do all that she could to protect dumb creatures. Mr.
Harry and Mr. Maxwell have helped her nobly. Mr. Maxwell's
work is largely done in Boston, and Miss Laura and Mr. Harry
have to do the most of theirs by writing, for Riverdale has got to be
a model village in respect of the treatment of all kinds of animals.
It is a model village not only in that respect, but in others. It has
seemed as if all other improvements went hand in hand with the
humane treatment of animals. Thoughtfulness toward lower
creatures has made the people more and more thoughtful toward
themselves, and this little town is getting to have quite a name
through the State for its good schools, good society, and good
business and religious standing. Many people are moving into it, to
educate their children.. The Riverdale people are very particular
about what sort of strangers come to live among them.
A man, who came here two years ago and opened a shop, was seen
kicking a small kitten out of his house. The next day a committee
of Riverdale citizens waited on him, and said they had had a great
deal of trouble to root out cruelty from their village, and they didn't
want any one to come there and introduce it again, and they
thought he had better move on to some other place. The man was
utterly astonished, and said he'd never heard of such particular
people. He had had no thought of being cruel. He didn't think that
the kitten cared; but now when he turned the thing over in his
mind, he didn't suppose cats liked being kicked about any more
than he would like it himself, and he would promise to be kind to
them in future. He said, too, that if they had no objection, he
would just stay on, for if the people there treated dumb animals
with such consideration, they would certainly treat human beings
better, and he thought it would be a good place to bring up his
children in. Of course they let him stay, and he is now a man who
is celebrated for his kindness to every living thing; and he never
refuses to help Miss Laura when she goes to him for money to
carry out any of her humane schemes.
There is one most important saying of Miss Laura's that comes out
of her years of service for dumb animals that I must put in before I
close and it is this. She says that cruel and vicious owners of
animals should be punished, but to merely thoughtless people,
don't say "Don't" so much. Don't go to them and say, "Don't
overfeed your animals, and don't starve them and don't overwork
them, and don't beat them," and so on through the long list of
hardships that can be put upon suffering animals, but say simply to
them, "Be kind. Make a study of your animals' wants, and see that
they are satisfied. No one can tell you how to treat your animal as
well as you should know yourself, for you are with it all the time,
and know its disposition, and just how much work it can stand, and
how much rest and food it needs, and just how it is different from
every other animal. If it is sick or unhappy, you are the one to take
care of it; for nearly every animal loves its own master better than
a stranger, and will get well quicker under his care."
Miss Laura says that if men and women are kind in every respect
to their dumb servants, they will be astonished to find how much
happiness they will bring into their lives, and how faithful and
grateful their dumb animals will be to them.
Now, I must really close my story. Good-bye to the boys and girls
who may read it; and if it is not wrong for a dog to say it, I should
like to add, "God bless you all." If in my feeble way I have been
able to impress you with the fact that dogs and many other animals
love their masters and mistresses, and live only to please them, my
little story will not be written in vain. My last words are, "Boys
and girls, be kind to dumb animals, not only because you will lose
nothing by it, but because you ought to; for they were placed on
the earth by the same Kind Hand that made all living creatures."