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Chapter 14 Beautiful Joe by Marshall Saunders

What was the wretch doing in the house with my dear Miss Laura? I thought I would go crazy. I scratched at the door, and barked and yelped. I sprang up on it, and though I was quite a heavy dog by this time, I felt as light as a feather.

It seemed to me that I would go mad if I could not get that door open. Every few seconds I stopped and put my head down to the doorsill to listen. There was a rushing about inside the room, and a chair fell over, and some one seemed to be getting out of the window.

This made me worse than ever. I did not stop to think that I was only a medium-sized dog, and that Jenkins would probably kill me, if he got his hands on me. I was so furious that I thought only of getting hold of him.

In the midst of the noise that I made, there was a screaming and a rushing to and fro upstairs. I ran up and down the hall, and half-way up the steps and back again. I did not want Miss Laura to come down, but how was I to make her understand? There she was, in her white gown, leaning over the railing, and holding back her long hair, her face a picture of surprise and alarm.

“The dog has gone mad,” screamed Miss Bessie. “Nurse, pour a pitcher of water on him.”

The nurse was more sensible. She ran downstairs, her night-cap flying, and a blanket that she had seized from her bed, trailing behind her. “There are thieves in the house,” she shouted at the top of her voice, “and the dog has found it out.”

She did not go near the dining-room door, but threw open the front one, crying, “Policeman! Policeman! help, help, thieves, murder!”

Such a screaming as that old woman made! She was worse than I was. I dashed by her, out through the hall door, and away down to the gate, where I heard some one running. I gave a few loud yelps to call Jim, and leaped the gate as the man before me had done.

There was something savage in me that night. I think it must have been the smell of Jenkins. I felt as if I could tear him to pieces. I have never felt so wicked since. I was hunting him, as he had hunted me and my mother, and the thought gave me pleasure.

Old Jim soon caught up with me, and I gave him a push with my nose, to let him know I was glad he had come. We rushed swiftly on, and at the corner caught up with the miserable man who was running away from us.

I gave an angry growl, and jumping up, bit at his leg. He turned around, and though it was not a very bright night, there was light enough for me to see the ugly face of my old master.

He seemed so angry to think that Jim and I dared to snap at him. He caught up a handful of stones, and with some bad words threw them at us. Just then, away in front of us, was a queer whistle, and then another one like it behind us. Jenkins made a strange noise in his throat, and started to run down a side street, away from the direction of the two whistles.

I was afraid that he was going to get away, and though I could not hold him, I kept springing up on him, and once I tripped him up. Oh, how furious he was! He kicked me against the side of a wall, and gave me two or three hard blows with a stick that he caught up, and kept throwing stones at me.

I would not give up, though I could scarcely see him for the blood that was running over my eyes. Old Jim got so angry whenever Jenkins touched me, that he ran up behind and nipped his calves, to make him turn on him.

Soon Jenkins came to a high wall, where he stopped, and with a hurried look behind, began to climb over it. The wall was too high for me to jump. He was going to escape. What shall I do? I barked as loudly as I could for some one to come, and then sprang up and held him by the leg as he was getting over.

I had such a grip, that I went over the wall with him, and left Jim on the other side. Jenkins fell on his face in the earth. Then he got up, and with a look of deadly hatred on his face, pounced upon me. If help had not come, I think he would have dashed out my brains against the wall, as he dashed out my poor little brothers' against the horse's stall. But just then there was a running sound. Two men came down the street and sprang upon the wall, just where Jim was leaping up and down and barking in distress.

I saw at once by their uniform and the clubs in their hands, that they were policemen. In one short instant they had hold of Jenkins. He gave up then, but he stood snarling at me like an ugly dog. “If it hadn't been for that cur, I'd never a been caught. Why,” and he staggered back and uttered a bad word, “it's me own dog.”

“More shame to you,” said one of the policemen, sternly; “what have you been up to at this time of night, to have your own dog and a quiet minister's spaniel dog a chasing you through the street?”

Jenkins began to swear and would not tell them anything. There was a house in the garden, and just at this minute some one opened a window and called out: “Hallo, there, what are you doing?”

“We're catching a thief, sir,” said one of the policemen, “leastwise I think that's what he's been up to. Could you throw us down a bit of rope? We've no handcuffs here, and one of us has to go to the lock-up and the other to Washington street, where there's a woman yelling blue murder; and hurry up, please, sir.”

The gentleman threw down a rope, and in two minutes Jenkins' wrists were tied together, and he was walked through the gate, saying bad words as fast as he could to the policeman who was leading him. “Good dogs,” said the other policeman to Jim and me. Then he ran up the street and we followed him.

As we hurried along Washington street, and came near our house, we saw lights gleaming through the darkness, and heard people running to and fro. The nurse's shrieking had alarmed the neighborhood. The Morris boys were all out in the street only half clad and shivering with cold, and the Drurys' coachman, with no hat on, and his hair sticking up all over his head, was running about with a lantern.

The neighbors' houses were all lighted up, and a good many people were hanging out of their windows and opening their doors, and calling to each other to know what all this noise meant.

When the policeman appeared with Jim and me at his heels, quite a crowd gathered around him to hear his part of the story. Jim and I dropped on the ground panting as hard as we could, and with little streams of water running from our tongues. We were both pretty well used up. Jim's back was bleeding in several places from the stones that Jenkins had thrown at him., and I was a mass of bruises.

Presently we were discovered, and then what a fuss was made over us. “Brave dogs! noble dogs!” everybody said, and patted and praised us. We were very proud and happy, and stood up and wagged our tails, at least Jim did, and I wagged what I could. Then they found what a state we were in. Mrs. Morris cried, and catching me up in her arms, ran in the house with me, and Jack followed with old Jim.

We all went into the parlor. There was a good fire there, and Miss Laura and Miss Bessie were sitting over it. They sprang up when they saw us, and right there in the parlor washed our wounds, and made us lie down by the fire.

“You saved our silver, brave Joe,” said Miss Bessie; “just wait till my papa and mamma come home, and see what they will say. Well, Jack, what is the latest?” as the Morris boys came trooping into the room.

“The policeman has been questioning your nurse, and examining the dining-room, and has gone down to the station to make his report, and do you know what he has found out?” said Jack, excitedly.

“No what?” asked Miss Bessie.

“Why that villain was going to burn your house.”

Miss Bessie gave a little shriek. “Why, what do you mean?”

“Well,” said Jack, “they think by what they discovered, that he planned to pack his bag with silver, and carry it off; but just before he did so he would pour oil around the room, and set fire to it, so people would not find out that he had been robbing you.”

“Why we might have all been burned to death,” said Miss Bessie. “He couldn't burn the dining-room without setting fire to the rest of the house.

“Certainly not,” said Jack, “that shows what a villain he is.”

“Do they know this for certain, Jack?” asked Miss Laura.

“Well, they suppose so; they found some bottles of oil along with the bag he had for the silver.”

“How horrible! You darling old Joe, perhaps you saved our lives,” and pretty Miss Bessie kissed my ugly, swollen head. I could do nothing but lick her little hand, but always after that I thought a great deal of her.

It is now some years since all this happened, and I might as well tell the end of it. The next day the Drurys came home, and everything was found out about Jenkins. The night they left Fairport he had been hanging about the station. He knew just who were left in the house, for he had once supplied them with milk, and knew all about their family. He had no customers at this time, for after Mr. Harry rescued me, and that piece came out in the paper about him, he found that no one would take milk from him. His wife died, and some kind people put his children in an asylum, and he was obliged to sell Toby and the cows. Instead of learning a lesson from all this, and leading a better life, he kept sinking lower.

He was, therefore, ready for any kind of mischief that turned up, and when he saw the Drurys going away in the train, he thought he would steal a bag of silver from their sideboard, then set fire to the house, and run away and hide the silver. After a time he would take it to some city and sell it.

He was made to confess all this. Then for his wickedness he was sent to prison for ten years, and I hope he will get to be a better man there, and be one after he comes out.

I was sore and stiff for a long time, and one day Mrs. Drury came over to see me. She did not love dogs as the Morrises did. She tried to, but she could not.

Dogs can see fun in things as well as people can, and I buried my muzzle in the hearth-rug, so that she would not see how I was curling up my lip and smiling at her.

“You are a good dog,” she said, slowly. “You are” then she stopped, and could not think of anything else to say to me. I got up and stood in front of her, for a well-bred dog should not lie down when a lady speaks to him. I wagged my body a little, and I would gladly have said something to help her out of her difficulty, but I couldn't. If she had stroked me it might have helped her; but she didn't want to touch me, and I knew she didn't want me to touch her, so I just stood looking at her.

“Mrs. Morris,” she said, turning from me with a puzzled face, “I don't like animals, and I can't pretend to, for they always find me out; but can't you let that dog know that I shall feel eternally grateful to him for saving not only our property for that is a trifle but my darling daughter from fright and annoyance, and a possible injury or loss of life?”

“I think he understands,” said Mrs. Morris. “He is a very wise dog.” And smiling in great amusement, she called me to her and put my paws on her lap. “Look at that lady, Joe. She is pleased with you for driving Jenkins away from her house. You remember Jenkins?”

I barked angrily and limped to the window.

“How intelligent he is,” said Mrs. Drury. “My husband has sent to New York for a watchdog, and he says that from this on our house shall never be without one. Now I must go. Your dog is happy, Mrs. Morris, and I can do nothing for him, except to say that I shall never forget him, and I wish he would come over occasionally to see us. Perhaps when we get our dog he will. I shall tell my cook whenever she sees him to give him something to eat. This is a souvenir for Laura of that dreadful night. I feel under a deep obligation to you, so I am sure you will allow her to accept it.” Then she gave Mrs. Morris a little box and went away.

When Miss Laura came in, she opened the box, and found in it a handsome diamond ring. On the inside of it was engraved: “Laura, in memory of December 20th, 18. From her grateful friend, Bessie.”

The diamond was worth hundreds of dollars, and Mrs. Morris told Miss Laura that she had rather she would not wear it then, while she was a young girl. It was not suitable for her, and she knew Mrs. Drury did not expect her to do so. She wished to give her a valuable present, and this would always be worth a great deal of money.

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