Trove was three days in Brier Dale after he came out of the woods. The filly was now a sleek and shapely animal, past three years of age. He began at once breaking her to the saddle, and, that done, mounting, he started for Robin’s Inn. He carried a game rooster in a sack for the boy Tom. All came out with a word of welcome; even the small dog grew noisy with delight Tunk Hosely, who had come to work for Mrs. Vaughn, took the mare and led her away, his shoulder leaning with an added sense of horsemanship. Polly began to hurry dinner, fussing with the table, and changing the position of every dish, until it seemed as if she would never be quite satisfied. Covered with the sacred old china and table-linen of her grandmother, it had, when Polly was done with it, a very smart appearance indeed. Then she called the boys and bade them wash their hands and faces and whispered a warning to each, while her mother announced that dinner was ready.
“Paul, what’s an adjective?” said the teacher, as they sat down.
“A word applied to a noun to qualify or limit its meaning,” the boy answered glibly.
“Right! And what adjective would you apply to this table?”
The boy thought a moment.
“Grand!” said he, tentatively.
“Correct! I’m going to have just such a dinner every day on my farm.”
“Then you’ll have to have Polly too,” said Tom, innocently.
“Well, you can spare her.”
“No, sir,” the boy answered. “You ain’t good to her; she cries every time you go away.”
There was an awkward silence and the widow began to laugh and Polly and Trove to blush deeply.
“Maybe she whispered, an’ he give her a talkin’ to,” said Paul.
“Have you heard about Ezra Tower?” said Mrs. Vaughn, shaking her head at the boys and changing the topic with shrewd diplomacy.
“Much; but nothing new,” said Trove.
“Well, he swears he’ll never cross the Fadden bridge or speak to anybody in Pleasant Valley.”
“The taxes. He don’t believe in improvements, and when he tried to make a speech in town-meeting they all jeered him. There ain’t any one good enough for him to speak to now but himself an’—an’ his Creator.”
In the midst of dinner, they heard an outcry in the yard. Tom’s game-cock had challenged the old rooster, and the two were leaping and striking with foot and wing. Before help came the old rooster was badly cut in the neck and breast. Tunk rescued him, and brought him to the woodshed, where Trove sewed up his wounds. He had scarcely finished when there came a louder outcry among the fowls. Looking out they saw a gobbler striding slowly up the path and leading the game-cock with a firm hold on the back of his neck. The whole flock of fowls were following. The rooster held back and came on with long but unequal strides, Never halting, the turkey led him into the full publicity