I thought it was a beautiful place. Miss Laura had been here before, but not for some years, so she, too, was looking about quite eagerly.
“Welcome to Dingley Farm, Joe,” said Mrs. Wood, with her jolly laugh, as she watched me jump from the carriage seat to the ground. “Come in, and I’ll introduce you to pussy.”
“Aunt Hattie, why is the farm called Dingley Farm?” said Miss Laura, as we went into the house. “It ought to be Wood Farm.”
“Dingley is made out of ‘dingle,’ Laura. You know that pretty hollow back of the pasture? It is what they call a ‘dingle.’ So this farm was called Dingle Farm till the people around about got saying ‘Dingley’ instead. I suppose they found it easier. Why, here is Lolo coming to see Joe.”
Walking along the wide hall that ran through the house was a large tortoise-shell cat. She had a prettily marked face, and she was waving her large tail like a flag, and mewing kindly to greet her mistress. But when she saw me what a face she made. She flew on the hall table, and putting up her back till it almost lifted her feet from the ground, began to spit at me and bristle with rage.
“Poor Lolo,” said Mrs. Wood, going up to her. “Joe is a good dog, and not like Bruno. He won’t hurt you.”
I wagged myself about a little, and looked kindly at her, but she did nothing but say bad words to me. It was weeks and weeks before I made friends with that cat. She was a young thing, and had known only one dog, and he was a bad one, so she supposed all dogs were like him.
There was a number of rooms opening off the hall, and one of them was the dining room where they had tea. I lay on a rug outside the door and watched them. There was a small table spread with a white cloth, and it had pretty dishes and glassware on it, and a good many different kinds of things to eat. A little French girl, called Adele, kept coming and going from the kitchen to give them hot cakes, and fried eggs, and hot coffee. As soon as they finished their tea, Mrs. Wood gave me one of the best meals that I ever had in my life.
* * * * *
MR. WOOD AND HIS HORSES
The morning after we arrived in Riverdale I was up very early and walking around the house. I slept in the woodshed, and could run outdoors whenever I liked.
The woodshed was at the back of the house, and near it was the tool shed. Then there was a carriage house, and a plank walk leading to the barnyard.
I ran up this walk, and looked into the first building I came to. It was the horse stable. A door stood open, and the morning sun was glancing in. There were several horses there, some with their heads toward me, and some with their tails. I saw that instead of being tied up, there were gates outside their stalls, and they could stand in any way they liked.