“You should be a happy woman,” said Miss Laura, with a smile.
“I think I am. I must not forget my horned toad, Diego, that I got in California. I keep him in the green-house, and he is very happy catching flies and holding his horny head to be scratched whenever any one comes near.”
“I don’t see how any one can be unkind to animals,” said Miss Laura, thoughtfully.
“Nor I, my dear child. It has always caused me intense pain to witness the torture of dumb animals. Nearly seventy years ago, when I was a little girl walking the streets of Boston, I would tremble and grow faint at the cruelty of drivers to over-loaded horses. I was timid and did not dare speak to them. Very often, I ran home and flung myself in my mother’s arms with a burst of tears, and asked her if nothing could be done to help the poor animals. With mistaken, motherly kindness, she tried to put the subject out of my thoughts. I was carefully guarded from seeing or hearing of any instances of cruelty. But the animals went on suffering just the same, and when I became a woman, I saw my cowardice. I agitated the matter among my friends, and told them that our whole dumb creation was groaning together in pain, and would continue to groan, unless merciful human beings were willing to help them. I was able to assist in the formation of several societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals, and they have done good service. Good service not only to the horses and cows, but to the nobler animal, man. I believe that in saying to a cruel man, ’You shall not overwork, torture, mutilate, nor kill your animal, or neglect to provide it with proper food and shelter,’ we are making him a little nearer the kingdom of heaven than he was before. For ’Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.’ If he sows seeds of unkindness and cruelty to man and beast, no one knows what the blackness of the harvest will be. His poor horse, quivering under a blow, is not the worst sufferer. Oh, if people would only understand that their unkind deeds will recoil upon their own heads with tenfold force—but, my dear child, I am fancying that I am addressing a drawing-room meeting—and here we are at your station. Good-bye; keep your happy face and gentle ways. I hope that we may meet again some day.” She pressed Miss Laura’s hand, gave me a farewell pat, and the next minute we were outside on the platform, and she was smiling through the window at us.
* * * * *
“My dear niece,” and a stout, middle-aged woman, with a red, lively face, threw both her arms around Miss Laura, “How glad I am to see you, and this is the dog. Good Joe, I have a bone waiting for you. Here is Uncle John.”
A tall, good-looking man stepped up and put out a big hand, in which my mistress’ little fingers were quite swallowed up. “I am glad to see you, Laura. Well, Joe, how d’ye do, old boy? I’ve heard about you.”