Philippe was now old enough to drive the dog-cart to market alone. He went each day, with Baby Rose perched on top of the vegetables, laughing and gurgling with joy. All the way to town, Philippe sang with his little sister. When they reached the market, he set the baby upon the counter. […]
2 Philippe’s puppy, Trompke (tromp-key) came to town with them today. Trompke loved Philippe. Today was the first time he had been allowed to follow the cart to the town market. He was wild with excitement.
3 "Stop barking, Trompke!" said Philippe, as he arranged the vegetables on the stand.
4 "Lie down, Trompke," cried Baby Rose. And Trompke lay at the baby’s feet.
5 Just then Philippe noticed someone in the booth next to their own. This booth had not been used for a very long time. […]
6 Philippe smiled at the man, who was staring at the two children. Then the man looked down at the puppy, which was whining unhappily at Philippe’s feet.
7 "Keep him quiet," said the man angrily.
8 Philippe answered, "He means no harm. He is only excited. It’s his first trip to town."
9 The man did not answer but turned toward his vegetables. Philippe was puzzled. He had never before met anyone like his neighbor.
10 The man wore ragged clothes, and his face was sunburned. His eyes were coal black and seemed to flash fire. He had a wild look about him. He was tall and moved like a cat. Suddenly he leaned over toward Philippe.
11 "Keep that dog quiet, will you?" he snarled. The man’s flashing eyes gleamed as he replied, "He keeps the people away. Nobody has come to buy at the booths yet. It is the fault of that dog."
12 Philippe could only smile at such stupidity. To think that a little whining dog could keep people away! But the man seemed nervous…
13 Philippe looked down at the man’s vegetables. For the first time he noticed that they were not fresh. They were wilted and stale.
14 "It is no wonder the people do not buy," thought Philippe. But he felt sorry, nevertheless. When the crowd had left, and the selling was over, he turned to the man.
15 "I am sorry," he said. "But—"
16 Philippe was going to tell him that people will not buy stale vegetables. But the man interrupted him.
17 "Thank you, but I do not need your advice," he said.