word of the day: poltroons
Miss Bianca, leader of the Mouse Prisoners’ Aid Society, has come to The Orient (an unnamed country that may be India) to rescue a poor lad who has been condemned to be trampled by elephants. In the course of her mission Miss Bianca has befriended two attendants to the queen, and has asked their help getting to the elephant quarters.
She says it will only take them a few minutes to ferry her there in a pocket. Realizing who she is dealing with Miss Bianca adds this exhortation:
‘Only be brave —‘
‘Only we aren’t!’ cried Vanilla desperately. ‘We just aren’t brave — are we, Muslin?’
There was no need for Muslin’s affirmative nod. If Vanilla was shuddering again, Muslin’s teeth were now positively chattering. Never had Miss Bianca encountered such a brace of poltroons!
definition (Merriam-Webster): a spiritless coward
A brace is “a pair of something, typically of birds,” and poltroon comes from poultry. So Miss Bianca is calling her friends a couple of chickens.
Miss Bianca in the Orient
by Margery Sharp
illustrations by Erik Blegved
1970. Little, Brown, & Co., New York