Why does Penny carry the feist when visiting the Forresters in The Yearling?

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Penny Baxter is about to maneuver a special trade with the Forresters in this scene from Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' novel, The YearlingPenny's small mongrel dog has just proven his utter worthlessness during the fight with Slewfoot, and Penny has hopes of giving him a new home. Before arriving at the Forresters' house, Penny lifts the dog into his arms and rides his horse up to the front porch. The Forresters greet him outside as Penny gently gets off the horse still holding the feist. The Forresters wonder why Penny carries the dog so lovingly, and he tells them that he's worried that the Forresters' large dogs may harm him. Later, Penny tells his tale about his battle with Slewfoot, carefully leaving out the cowardly actions of the feist. The Forresters assume that the mongrel is a marvelous hunting dog, noting that he did not receive a scratch during the fight with Slewfoot. Penny deliberately neglects to tell them the mongrel ran away at first sight of the bear, and Lem Forrester decides he wants the dog. When he offers Penny a fine shotgun in trade, Penny tells Lem the truth: The dog is worthless. But Lem demands the trade, and Penny accepts. Penny later tells his son that his words were truthful, but his intentions "were as crooked as the Oklawaha River."

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