He rode on a few steps and halted, turning in the saddle.
“Thou, too, Phyllis,” he called. “God ‘ll mind the look o’ thy master; see that ye bring him safe.”
The little filly began to rear and call, the mother to answer. For days she called and trembled, with wet eyes, listening for the voice that still answered, though out of hearing, far over the hills. And Trove, too, was lonely, and there was a kind of longing in his heart for the music in that voice of the stranger.
The Uphill Road
For Trove it was a day of sowing. The strange old tinker had filled his heart with a new joy and a new desire. Next morning he got a ride to Hillsborough—fourteen miles—and came back, reading, as he walked, a small, green book, its thin pages covered thick with execrably fine printing, its title “The Works of Shakespeare.” He read the book industriously and with keen pleasure. Allen complained, shortly, that Shakespeare and the filly had interfered with the potatoes and the corn.
The filly ceased to take food and sickened for a time after the dam left her. Trove lay in the stall nights and gave her milk sweetened to her liking. She grew strong and playful, and forgot her sorrow, and began to follow him like a dog on his errands up and down the farm. Trove went to school in the autumn—“Select school,” it was called. A two-mile journey it was, by trail, but a full three by the wagon road. He learned only a poor lesson the first day, for, on coming in sight of the schoolhouse, he heard a rush of feet behind him and saw his filly charging down the trail. He had to go back with her and lose the day, a thought dreadful to him, for now hope was high, and school days few and precious. At first he was angry. Then he sat among the ferns, covering his face and sobbing with sore resentment. The little filly stood over him and rubbed her silky muzzle on his neck, and kicked up her heels in play as he pushed her back. Next morning he put her behind a fence, but she went over it with the ease of a wild deer and came bounding after him. When, at last, she was shut in the box-stall he could hear her calling, half a mile away, and it made his heart sore. Soon after, a moose treed him on the trail and held him there for quite half a day. Later he had to help thrash and was laid up with the measles. Then came rain and flooded flats that turned him off the trail. Years after he used to say that work and weather, and sickness and distance, and even the beasts of the field and wood, resisted him in the way of learning.
He went to school at Hillsborough that winter. His time, which Allen gave him in the summer, had yielded some forty-five dollars. He hired a room at thirty-five cents a week. Mary Allen bought him a small stove and sent to him, in the sleigh, dishes, a kettle, chair, bed, pillow, and quilt, and a supply of candles.