We found the flock of turkeys, and Miss Laura admired their changeable colors very much. Some of them were very large, and I did not like them, for the gobblers ran at me, and made a dreadful noise in their throats.
Afterward, Mrs. Wood showed us some ducks that she had shut up in a yard. She said that she was feeding them on vegetable food, to give their flesh a pure flavor, and by-and-by she would send them to market and get a high price for them.
Every place she took us to was as clean as possible. “No one can be successful in raising poultry in large numbers,” she said, “unless they keep their quarters clean and comfortable.”
As yet we had seen no hens, except a few on the nests, and Miss Laura said, “Where are they? I should like to see them.”
“They are coming,” said Mrs. Wood. “It is just their breakfast time, and they are as punctual as clockwork. They go off early in the morning, to scratch about a little for themselves first.”
As she spoke she stepped off the plank walk, and looked off towards, the fields.
Miss Laura burst out laughing. Away beyond the barns the hens were coming. Seeing Mrs. Wood standing there, they thought they were late, and began to run and fly, jumping over each other’s backs, and stretching out their necks, in a state of great excitement. Some of their legs seemed sticking straight out behind. It was very funny to see them.
They were a fine-looking lot of poultry, mostly white, with glossy feathers and bright eyes. They greedily ate the food scattered to them, and Mrs. Wood said, “They think I’ve changed their breakfast time, and to-morrow they’ll come a good bit earlier. And yet some people say hens have no sense.”
* * * * *
A BAND OF MERCY
A few evenings after we came to Dingley Farm, Mrs. Wood and Miss Laura were sitting out on the veranda, and I was lying at their feet.
“Auntie,” said Miss Laura, “What do those letters mean on that silver pin that you wear with that piece of ribbon?”
“You know what the white ribbon means, don’t you?” asked Mrs. Wood.
“Yes; that you are a temperance woman, doesn’t it?”
“It does; and the star pin means that I am a member of a Band of Mercy. Do you know what a Band of Mercy is?”
“No,” said Miss Laura.
“How strange! I should think that you would have several in Fairport. A cripple boy, the son of a Boston artist, started this one here. It has done a great deal of good. There is a meeting to-morrow, and I will take you to it if you like.”
It was on Monday that Mrs. Wood had this talk with Miss Laura, and the next afternoon, after all the work was done, they got ready to go to the village.
“May Joe go?” asked Miss Laura.
“Certainly,” said Mrs. Wood; “he is such a good dog that he won’t be any trouble.”