Words and pictures carefully recreate a summer day in Iowa in 1916, but Mr. Hartwick never makes quite clear what he is doing there. The story is short and simple: at the blacksmith's Tom meets a stranger with a creature called the farivox that he says is rare and gifted with speech and up for sale for ten dollars. When Tom, quite taken with the animal, leaves to get the money to buy him, he is sure that the farivox speaks (the word is ""hurry""), but by the time he counts out his $9.37 savings and returns some bottles to get the rest, the stranger is gone. Later Tom's science teacher does some research on the farivox but the episode never comes into focus. Even the animal's one-word imperative, ""hurry,"" seems oddly incompatible with Hartwick's avowed conservationist message, and the whimsical open ending (did-he-or-didn't the farivox speak) does nothing to support the solemn little essays that frame the action.