"Let the other dog loose," said the tramp, "and I'll do the same to him, and then to you!"
"Come on!" ordered Miss Gregory.
"Yes'm," replied the tramp, and obeyed.
"Get the barn door open," directed Miss Gregory. "Leave Gruden alone unless he interferes; but, if he does, knock him down."
"Yes'm," said the tramp, while Gruden, hovering, cursed them feverishly.
"You think I'll let you stop in my barn?" he roared, as they entered its vast, sweet-scented darkness. "You think I'll 'ave pikies [tramps] an' rick-burners makin' free with me? I'll show you thieves!"
"Show us a light," suggested Miss Gregory, "unless you'd prefer to have us striking matches among all this hay?"
He choked at that; his curses and threats strangled in his throat. But the threat stirred him, and he carried his lantern to the door of the barn, and stood, chewing his lip and working his heavy eyebrows like a frantic ape, while they laid the woman to rest on a pile of fragrant hay.
2013 SFR GALAXY AWARD WINNER
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