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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 282 pages of information about The 30,000 Dollar Bequest and Other Stories.

“What is chicken, in Italian?” I asked.

“Pollo, podere.” (Podere is Italian for master.  It is a title of courtesy, and conveys reverence and admiration.) “Pollo is one chicken by itself; when there are enough present to constitute a plural, it is polli.”

“Very well, polli will do.  Which squad is detailed for duty next?”

“The Past Definite.”

“Send out and order it to the front—­with chickens.  And let them understand that we don’t want any more of this cold indifference.”

He gave the order to an aide, adding, with a haunting tenderness in his tone and a watering mouth in his aspect: 

“Convey to them the conception that these are unprotected chickens.”  He turned to me, saluting with his hand to his temple, and explained, “It will inflame their interest in the poultry, sire.”

A few minutes elapsed.  Then the squad marched in and formed up, their faces glowing with enthusiasm, and the file-leader shouted: 

“EBBI polli, I had chickens!”

“Good!” I said.  “Go on, the next.”

“AVEST polli, thou hadst chickens!”

“Fine!  Next!”

“EBBE polli, he had chickens!”

“Moltimoltissimo!  Go on, the next!”

“AVEMMO polli, we had chickens!”

“Basta-basta aspettatto avanti—­last man—­charge!”

“EBBERO polli, they had chickens!”

Then they formed in echelon, by columns of fours, refused the left, and retired in great style on the double-quick.  I was enchanted, and said: 

“Now, doctor, that is something like!  Chickens are the ticket, there is no doubt about it.  What is the next squad?”

“The Imperfect.”

“How does it go?”

Io Avena, I had, Tu AVEVI, thou hadst, Egli Avena, he had, NOI AV—­”

“Wait—­we’ve just had the hads.  What are you giving me?”

“But this is another breed.”

“What do we want of another breed?  Isn’t one breed enough?  Had is had, and your tricking it out in a fresh way of spelling isn’t going to make it any hadder than it was before; now you know that yourself.”

“But there is a distinction—­they are not just the same Hads.”

“How do you make it out?”

“Well, you use that first Had when you are referring to something that happened at a named and sharp and perfectly definite moment; you use the other when the thing happened at a vaguely defined time and in a more prolonged and indefinitely continuous way.”

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