By Frank R. Stockton
Treating of a Novel Style of Dwelling-house
Treating of a Novel Style of Boarder
Treating of a Novel Style of Girl
Treating of a Novel Style of Burglar
Pomona Produces a Partial Revolution in Rudder Grange
The New Rudder Grange
Treating of an Unsuccessful Broker and a Dog
Pomona Once More
We Camp Out
The Boarder's Visit
Lord Edward and the Tree-man
Pomona takes a Bridal Trip
In which two New Friends disport themselves
In which an Old Friend appears, and the Bridal Trip takes a Fresh Start
In which we take a Vacation and look for David Dutton
The Baby at Rudder Grange
The Other Baby at Rudder Grange
CHAPTER I. TREATING OF A NOVEL STYLE OF DWELLING HOUSE.
For some months after our marriage, Euphemia and I boarded. But we did not like it. Indeed, there was no reason why we should like it. Euphemia said that she never felt at home except when she was out, which feeling, indicating such an excessively unphilosophic state of mind, was enough to make me desire to have a home of my own, where, except upon rare and exceptional occasions, my wife would never care to go out.
If you should want to rent a house, there are three ways to find one. One way is to advertise; another is to read the advertisements of other people. This is a comparatively cheap way. A third method is to apply to an agent. But none of these plans are worth anything. The proper way is to know some one who will tell you of a house that will exactly suit you. Euphemia and I thoroughly investigated this matter, and I know that what I say is a fact.
We tried all the plans. When we advertised, we had about a dozen admirable answers, but in these, although everything seemed to suit, the amount of rent was not named. (None of those in which the rent was named would do at all.) And when I went to see the owners, or agents of these suitable houses, they asked much higher rents than those mentioned in the unavailable answers—and this, notwithstanding the fact that they always asserted that their terms were either very reasonable or else greatly reduced on account of the season being advanced. (It was now the fifteenth of May.)
Euphemia and I once wrote a book,—this was just before we were married,—in which we told young married people how to go to housekeeping and how much it would cost them. We knew all about it, for we had asked several people. Now the prices demanded as yearly rental for small furnished houses, by the owners and agents of whom I have been speaking, were, in many cases, more than we had stated a house could be bought and furnished for!
The advertisements of other people did not serve any better. There was always something wrong about the houses when we made close inquiries, and the trouble was generally in regard to the rent. With agents we had a little better fortune. Euphemia sometimes went with me on my expeditions to real estate offices, and she remarked that these offices were always in the basement, or else you had to go up to them in an elevator. There was nothing between these extremes. And it was a good deal the same way, she said, with their houses. They were all very low indeed in price and quality, or else too high.
One trouble was that we wanted a house in a country place, not very far from the city, and not very far from the railroad station or steamboat landing. We also wanted the house to be nicely shaded and fully furnished, and not to be in a malarial neighborhood, or one infested by mosquitoes.
"If we do go to housekeeping," said Euphemia, "we might as well get a house to suit us while we are about it. Moving is more expensive than a fire."
There was one man who offered us a house that almost suited us. It was near the water, had rooms enough, and some—but not very much—ground, and was very accessible to the city. The rent, too, was quite reasonable. But the house was unfurnished. The agent, however, did not think that this would present any obstacle to our taking it. He was sure that the owner would furnish it if we paid him ten per cent, on the value of the furniture he put into it. We agreed that if the landlord would do this and let us furnish the house according to the plans laid down in our book, that we would take the house. But unfortunately this arrangement did not suit the landlord, although he was in the habit of furnishing houses for tenants and charging them ten per cent. on the cost.
I saw him myself and talked to him about it.
"But you see," said he, when I had shown him our list of articles necessary for the furnishing of a house, "it would not pay me to buy all these things, and rent them out to you. If you only wanted heavy furniture, which would last for years, the plan would answer, but you want everything. I believe the small conveniences you have on this list come to more money than the furniture and carpets."
"Oh, yes," said I. "We are not so very particular about furniture and carpets, but these little conveniences are the things that make housekeeping pleasant, and,—speaking from a common-sense point of view,—profitable."
"That may be," he answered, "but I can't afford to make matters pleasant and profitable for you in that way. Now, then, let us look at one or two particulars. Here, on your list, is an ice-pick: twenty-five cents. Now, if I buy that ice-pick and rent it to you at two and a-half cents a year, I shall not get my money back unless it lasts you ten years. And even then, as it is not probable that I can sell that ice-pick after you have used it for ten years, I shall have made nothing at all by my bargain. And there are other things in that list, such as feather-dusters and lamp-chimneys, that couldn't possibly last ten years. Don't you see my position?"
I saw it. We did not get that furnished house. Euphemia was greatly disappointed.
"It would have been just splendid," she said, "to have taken our book and have ordered all these things at the stores, one after another, without even being obliged to ask the price."
I had my private doubts in regard to this matter of price. I am afraid that Euphemia generally set down the lowest price and the best things. She did not mean to mislead, and her plan certainly made our book attractive. But it did not work very well in practice. We have a friend who undertook to furnish her house by our book, and she never could get the things as cheaply as we had them quoted.
"But you see," said Euphemia, to her, "we had to put them down at very low prices, because the model house we speak of in the book is to be entirely furnished for just so much."
But, in spite of this explanation, the lady was not satisfied.
We found ourselves obliged to give up the idea of a furnished house. We would have taken an unfurnished one and furnished it ourselves, but we had not money enough. We were dreadfully afraid that we should have to continue to board.
It was now getting on toward summer, at least there was only a part of a month of spring left, and whenever I could get off from my business Euphemia and I made little excursions into the country round about the city. One afternoon we went up the river, and there we saw a sight that transfixed us, as it were. On the bank, a mile or so above the city, stood a canal-boat. I say stood, because it was so firmly imbedded in the ground by the river-side, that it would have been almost as impossible to move it as to have turned the Sphinx around. This boat we soon found was inhabited by an oyster-man and his family. They had lived there for many years and were really doing quite well. The boat was divided, inside, into rooms, and these were papered and painted and nicely furnished. There was a kitchen, a living-room, a parlor and bedrooms. There were all sorts of conveniences—carpets on the floors, pictures, and everything, at least so it seemed to us, to make a home comfortable. This was not all done at once, the oyster-man told me. They had lived there for years and had gradually added this and that until the place was as we saw it. He had an oyster-bed out in the river and he made cider in the winter, but where he got the apples I don't know. There was really no reason why he should not get rich in time.
Well, we went all over that house and we praised everything so much that the oyster-man's wife was delighted, and when we had some stewed oysters afterward,—eating them at a little table under a tree near by,—I believe that she picked out the very largest oysters she had, to stew for us. When we had finished our supper and had paid for it, and were going down to take our little boat again,—for we had rowed up the river,—Euphemia stopped and looked around her. Then she clasped her hands and exclaimed in an ecstatic undertone:
"We must have a canal-boat!"
And she never swerved from that determination.
After I had seriously thought over the matter, I could see no good reason against adopting this plan. It would certainly be a cheap method of living, and it would really be housekeeping. I grew more and more in favor of it. After what the oyster-man had done, what might not we do? HE had never written a book on housekeeping, nor, in all probability, had he considered the matter, philosophically, for one moment in all his life.
But it was not an easy thing to find a canal-boat. There were none advertised for rent—at least, not for housekeeping purposes.
We made many inquiries and took many a long walk along the water-courses in the vicinity of the city, but all in vain. Of course, we talked a great deal about our project and our friends became greatly interested in it, and, of course, too, they gave us a great deal of advice, but we didn't mind that. We were philosophical enough to know that you can't have shad without bones. They were good friends and, by being careful in regard to the advice, it didn't interfere with our comfort.
We were beginning to be discouraged, at least Euphemia was. Her discouragement is like water-cresses, it generally comes up in a very short time after she sows her wishes. But then it withers away rapidly, which is a comfort. One evening we were sitting, rather disconsolately, in our room, and I was reading out the advertisements of country board in a newspaper, when in rushed Dr. Heare—one of our old friends. He was so full of something that he had to say that he didn't even ask us how we were. In fact, he didn't appear to want to know.
"I tell you what it is," said he, "I have found just the very thing you want."
"A canal-boat?" I cried.
"Yes," said he, "a canal-boat."
"Furnished?" asked Euphemia, her eyes glistening.
"Well, no," answered the doctor, "I don't think you could expect that."
"But we can't live on the bare floor," said Euphemia; "our house MUST be furnished."
"Well, then, I suppose this won't do," said the doctor, ruefully, "for there isn't so much as a boot-jack in it. It has most things that are necessary for a boat, but it hasn't anything that you could call house-furniture; but, dear me, I should think you could furnish it very cheaply and comfortably out of your book."
"Very true," said Euphemia, "if we could pick out the cheapest things and then get some folks to buy a lot of the books."
"We could begin with very little," said I, trying hard to keep calm.
"Certainly," said the doctor, "you need make no more rooms, at first, than you could furnish."
"Then there are no rooms," said Euphemia.
"No, there is nothing but one vast apartment extending from stem to stern."
"Won't it be glorious!" said Euphemia to me. "We can first make a kitchen, and then a dining-room, and a bedroom, and then a parlor—just in the order in which our book says they ought to be furnished."
"Glorious!" I cried, no longer able to contain my enthusiasm; "I should think so. Doctor, where is this canal-boat?"
The doctor then went into a detailed statement. The boat was stranded on the shore of the Scoldsbury river not far below Ginx's. We knew where Ginx's was, because we had spent a very happy day there, during our honeymoon.
The boat was a good one, but superannuated. That, however, did not interfere with its usefulness as a dwelling. We could get it—the doctor had seen the owner—for a small sum per annum, and here was positively no end to its capabilities.
We sat up until twenty minutes past two, talking about that house. We ceased to call it a boat at about a quarter of eleven.
The next day I "took" the boat and paid a month's rent in advance. Three days afterward we moved into it.
We had not much to move, which was a comfort, looking at it from one point of view. A carpenter had put up two partitions in it which made three rooms—a kitchen, a dining-room and a very long bedroom, which was to be cut up into a parlor, study, spare-room, etc., as soon as circumstances should allow, or my salary should be raised. Originally, all the doors and windows were in the roof, so to speak, but our landlord allowed us to make as many windows to the side of the boat as we pleased, provided we gave him the wood we cut out. It saved him trouble, he said, but I did not understand him at the time. Accordingly, the carpenter made several windows for us, and put in sashes, which opened on hinges like the hasp of a trunk. Our furniture did not amount to much, at first. The very thought of living in this independent, romantic way was so delightful, Euphemia said, that furniture seemed a mere secondary matter.
We were obliged indeed to give up the idea of following the plan detailed in our book, because we hadn't the sum upon which the furnishing of a small house was therein based.
"And if we haven't the money," remarked Euphemia, "it would be of no earthly use to look at the book. It would only make us doubt our own calculations. You might as well try to make brick without mortar, as the children of Israel did."
"I could do that myself, my dear," said I, "but we won't discuss that subject now. We will buy just what we absolutely need, and then work up from that."
Acting on this plan, we bought first a small stove, because Euphemia said that we could sleep on the floor, if it were necessary, but we couldn't make a fire on the floor—at least not often. Then we got a table and two chairs. The next thing we purchased was some hanging shelves for our books, and Euphemia suddenly remembered the kitchen things. These, which were few, with some crockery, nearly brought us to the end of our resources, but we had enough for a big easy-chair which Euphemia was determined I should have, because I really needed it when I came home at night, tired with my long day's work at the office. I had always been used to an easy-chair, and it was one of her most delightful dreams to see me in a real nice one, comfortably smoking my pipe in my own house, after eating my own delicious little supper in company with my own dear wife. We selected the chair, and then we were about to order the things sent out to our future home, when I happened to think that we had no bed. I called Euphemia's attention to the fact.
She was thunderstruck.
"I never thought of that," she said. "We shall have to give up the stove."
"Not at all," said I, "we can't do that. We must give up the easy-chair."
"Oh, that would be too bad," said she. "The house would seem like nothing to me without the chair!"
"But we must do without it, my dear," said I, "at least for a while. I can sit out on deck and smoke of an evening, you know."
"Yes," said Euphemia. "You can sit on the bulwarks and I can sit by you. That will do very well. I'm sure I'm glad the boat has bulwarks."
So we resigned the easy-chair and bought a bedstead and some very plain bedding. The bedstead was what is sometimes called a "scissors-bed." We could shut it up when we did not want to sleep in it, and stand it against the wall.
When we packed up our trunks and left the boarding-house Euphemia fairly skipped with joy.
We went down to Ginx's in the first boat, having arranged that our furniture should be sent to us in the afternoon. We wanted to be there to receive it. The trip was just wildly delirious. The air was charming. The sun was bright, and I had a whole holiday. When we reached Ginx's we found that the best way to get our trunks and ourselves to our house was to take a carriage, and so we took one. I told the driver to drive along the river road and I would tell him where to stop.
When we reached our boat, and had alighted, I said to the driver:
"You can just put our trunks inside, anywhere."
The man looked at the trunks and then looked at the boat. Afterward he looked at me.
"That boat ain't goin' anywhere," said he.
"I should think not," said Euphemia. "We shouldn't want to live in it, if it were."
"You are going to live in it?" said the man.
"Yes," said Euphemia.
"Oh!" said the man, and he took our trunks on board, without another word.
It was not very easy for him to get the trunks into our new home. In fact it was not easy for us to get there ourselves. There was a gang-plank, with a rail on one side of it, which inclined from the shore to the deck of the boat at an angle of forty-five degrees, and when the man had staggered up this plank with the trunks (Euphemia said I ought to have helped him, but I really thought that it would be better for one person to fall off the plank than for two to go over together), and we had paid him, and he had driven away in a speechless condition, we scrambled up and stood upon the threshold, or, rather, the after-deck of our home.
It was a proud moment. Euphemia glanced around, her eyes full of happy tears, and then she took my arm and we went down stairs—at least we tried to go down in that fashion, but soon found it necessary to go one at a time. We wandered over the whole extent of our mansion and found that our carpenter had done his work better than the woman whom we had engaged to scrub and clean the house. Something akin to despair must have seized upon her, for Euphemia declared that the floors looked dirtier than on the occasion of her first visit, when we rented the boat.
But that didn't discourage us. We felt sure that we should get it clean in time.
Early in the afternoon our furniture arrived, together with the other things we had bought, and the men who brought them over from the steamboat landing had the brightest, merriest faces I ever noticed among that class of people. Euphemia said it was an excellent omen to have such cheerful fellows come to us on the very first day of our housekeeping.
Then we went to work. I put up the stove, which was not much trouble, as there was a place all ready in the deck for the stove-pipe to be run through. Euphemia was somewhat surprised at the absence of a chimney, but I assured her that boats were very seldom built with chimneys. My dear little wife bustled about and arranged the pots and kettles on nails that I drove into the kitchen walls. Then she made the bed in the bed-room and I hung up a looking-glass and a few little pictures that we had brought in our trunks.
Before four o'clock our house was in order. Then we began to be very hungry.
"My dear," said Euphemia, "we ought to have thought to bring something to cook."
"That is very true," said I, "but I think perhaps we had better walk up to Ginx's and get our supper to-night. You see we are so tired and hungry."
"What!" cried Euphemia, "go to a hotel the very first day? I think it would be dreadful! Why, I have been looking forward to this first meal with the greatest delight. You can go up to the little store by the hotel and buy some things and I will cook them, and we will have our first dear little meal here all alone by ourselves, at our own table and in our own house."
So this was determined upon and, after a hasty counting of the fund I had reserved for moving and kindred expenses, and which had been sorely depleted during the day, I set out, and in about an hour returned with my first marketing.
I made a fire, using a lot of chips and blocks the carpenter had left, and Euphemia cooked the supper, and we ate it from our little table, with two large towels for a table-cloth.
It was the most delightful meal I ever ate!
And, when we had finished, Euphemia washed the dishes (the thoughtful creature had put some water on the stove to heat for the purpose, while we were at supper) and then we went on deck, or on the piazza, as Euphemia thought we had better call it, and there we had our smoke. I say WE, for Euphemia always helps me to smoke by sitting by me, and she seems to enjoy it as much as I do.
And when the shades of evening began to gather around us, I hauled in the gang-plank (just like a delightful old draw-bridge, Euphemia said, although I hope for the sake of our ancestors that draw-bridges were easier to haul in) and went to bed.
It is lucky we were tired and wanted to go to bed early, for we had forgotten all about lamps or candles.
For the next week we were two busy and happy people. I rose about half-past five and made the fire,—we found so much wood on the shore, that I thought I should not have to add fuel to my expenses,—and Euphemia cooked the breakfast. I then went to a well belonging to a cottage near by where we had arranged for water-privileges, and filled two buckets with delicious water and carried them home for Euphemia's use through the day. Then I hurried off to catch the train, for, as there was a station near Ginx's, I ceased to patronize the steamboat, the hours of which were not convenient. After a day of work and pleasurable anticipation at the office, I hastened back to my home, generally laden with a basket of provisions and various household necessities. Milk was brought to us daily from the above-mentioned cottage by a little toddler who seemed just able to carry the small tin bucket which held a lacteal pint. If the urchin had been the child of rich parents, as Euphemia sometimes observed, he would have been in his nurse's arms—but being poor, he was scarcely weaned before he began to carry milk around to other people.
After I reached home came supper and the delightful evening hours, when over my pipe (I had given up cigars, as being too expensive and inappropriate, and had taken to a tall pipe and canaster tobacco) we talked and planned, and told each other our day's experience.
One of our earliest subjects of discussion was the name of our homestead. Euphemia insisted that it should have a name. I was quite willing, but we found it no easy matter to select an appropriate title. I proposed a number of appellations intended to suggest the character of our home. Among these were: "Safe Ashore," "Firmly Grounded," and some other names of that style, but Euphemia did not fancy any of them. She wanted a suitable name, of course, she said, but it must be something that would SOUND like a house and BE like a boat.
"Partitionville," she objected to, and "Gangplank Terrace," did not suit her because it suggested convicts going out to work, which naturally was unpleasant.
At last, after days of talk and cogitation, we named our house "Rudder Grange."
To be sure, it wasn't exactly a grange, but then it had such an enormous rudder that the justice of that part of the title seemed to over-balance any little inaccuracy in the other portion.
But we did not spend all our spare time in talking. An hour or two, every evening was occupied in what we called "fixing the house," and gradually the inside of our abode began to look like a conventional dwelling. We put matting on the floors and cheap but very pretty paper on the walls. We added now a couple of chairs, and now a table or something for the kitchen. Frequently, especially of a Sunday, we had company, and our guests were always charmed with Euphemia's cunning little meals. The dear girl loved good eating so much that she could scarcely fail to be a good cook.
We worked hard, and were very happy. And thus the weeks passed on.
CHAPTER II. TREATING OF A NOVEL STYLE OF BOARDER.
In this delightful way of living, only one thing troubled us. We didn't save any money. There were so many little things that we wanted, and so many little things that were so cheap, that I spent pretty much all I made, and that was far from the philosophical plan of living that I wished to follow.
We talked this matter over a great deal after we had lived in our new home for about a month, and we came at last to the conclusion that we would take a boarder.
We had no trouble in getting a boarder, for we had a friend, a young man who was engaged in the flour business, who was very anxious to come and live with us. He had been to see us two or three times, and had expressed himself charmed with our household arrangements.
So we made terms with him. The carpenter partitioned off another room, and our boarder brought his trunk and a large red velvet arm-chair, and took up his abode at "Rudder Grange."
We liked our boarder very much, but he had some peculiarities. I suppose everybody has them. Among other things, he was very fond of telling us what we ought to do. He suggested more improvements in the first three days of his sojourn with us than I had thought of since we commenced housekeeping. And what made the matter worse, his suggestions were generally very good ones. Had it been otherwise I might have borne his remarks more complacently, but to be continually told what you ought to do, and to know that you ought to do it, is extremely annoying.
He was very anxious that I should take off the rudder, which was certainly useless to a boat situated as ours was, and make an ironing-table of it. I persisted that the laws of symmetrical propriety required that the rudder should remain where it was—that the very name of our home would be interfered with by its removal, but he insisted that "Ironing-table Grange" would be just as good a name, and that symmetrical propriety in such a case did not amount to a row of pins.
The result was, that we did have the ironing-table, and that Euphemia was very much pleased with it. A great many other improvements were projected and carried out by him, and I was very much worried. He made a flower-garden for Euphemia on the extreme forward-deck, and having borrowed a wheelbarrow, he wheeled dozens of loads of arable dirt up our gang-plank and dumped them out on the deck. When he had covered the garden with a suitable depth of earth, he smoothed it off and then planted flower-seeds. It was rather late in the season, but most of them came up. I was pleased with the garden, but sorry I had not made it myself.
One afternoon I got away from the office considerably earlier than usual, and I hurried home to enjoy the short period of daylight that I should have before supper. It had been raining the day before, and as the bottom of our garden leaked so that earthy water trickled down at one end of our bed-room, I intended to devote a short time to stuffing up the cracks in the ceiling or bottom of the deck—whichever seems the most appropriate.
But when I reached a bend in the river road, whence I always had the earliest view of my establishment, I did not have that view. I hurried on. The nearer I approached the place where I lived, the more horror-stricken I became. There was no mistaking the fact.
The boat was not there!
In an instant the truth flashed upon me.
The water was very high—the rain had swollen the river—my house had floated away!
It was Wednesday. On Wednesday afternoons our boarder came home early.
I clapped my hat tightly on my head and ground my teeth.
"Confound that boarder!" I thought. "He has been fooling with the anchor. He always said it was of no use, and taking advantage of my absence, he has hauled it up, and has floated away, and has gone—gone with my wife and my home!"
Euphemia and "Rudder Grange" had gone off together—where I knew not,—and with them that horrible suggester!
I ran wildly along the bank. I called aloud, I shouted and hailed each passing craft—of which there were only two—but their crews must have been very inattentive to the woes of landsmen, or else they did not hear me, for they paid no attention to my cries.
I met a fellow with an axe on his shoulder. I shouted to him before I reached him:
"Hello! did you see a boat—a house, I mean,—floating up the river?"
"A boat-house?" asked the man.
"No, a house-boat," I gasped.
"Didn't see nuthin' like it," said the man, and he passed on, to his wife and home, no doubt. But me! Oh, where was my wife and my home?
I met several people, but none of them had seen a fugitive canal-boat.
How many thoughts came into my brain as I ran along that river road! If that wretched boarder had not taken the rudder for an ironing table he might have steered in shore! Again and again I confounded—as far as mental ejaculations could do it—his suggestions.
I was rapidly becoming frantic when I met a person who hailed me.
"Hello!" he said, "are you after a canal-boat adrift?"
"Yes," I panted.
"I thought you was," he said. "You looked that way. Well, I can tell you where she is. She's stuck fast in the reeds at the lower end o' Peter's Pint."
"Where's that?" said I.
"Oh, it's about a mile furder up. I seed her a-driftin' up with the tide—big flood tide, to-day—and I thought I'd see somebody after her, afore long. Anything aboard?"
I could not answer the man. Anything, indeed! I hurried on up the river without a word. Was the boat a wreck? I scarcely dared to think of it. I scarcely dared to think at all.
The man called after me and I stopped. I could but stop, no matter what I might hear.
"Hello, mister," he said, "got any tobacco?"
I walked up to him. I took hold of him by the lapel of his coat. It was a dirty lapel, as I remember even now, but I didn't mind that.
"Look here," said I. "Tell me the truth, I can bear it. Was that vessel wrecked?"
The man looked at me a little queerly. I could not exactly interpret his expression.
"You're sure you kin bear it?" said he.
"Yes," said I, my hand trembling as I held his coat.
"Well, then," said he, "it's mor'n I kin," and he jerked his coat out of my hand, and sprang away. When he reached the other side of the road, he turned and shouted at me, as though I had been deaf.
"Do you know what I think?" he yelled. "I think you're a darned lunatic," and with that he went his way.
I hastened on to Peter's Point. Long before I reached it, I saw the boat.
It was apparently deserted. But still I pressed on. I must know the worst. When I reached the Point, I found that the boat had run aground, with her head in among the long reeds and mud, and the rest of her hull lying at an angle from the shore.
There was consequently no way for me to get on board, but to wade through the mud and reeds to her bow, and then climb up as well as I could.
This I did, but it was not easy to do. Twice I sank above my knees in mud and water, and had it not been for reeds, masses of which I frequently clutched when I thought I was going over, I believe I should have fallen down and come to my death in that horrible marsh. When I reached the boat, I stood up to my hips in water and saw no way of climbing up. The gang-plank had undoubtedly floated away, and if it had not, it would have been of no use to me in my position.
But I was desperate. I clasped the post that they put in the bow of canal-boats; I stuck my toes and my finger-nails in the cracks between the boards—how glad I was that the boat was an old one and had cracks!—and so, painfully and slowly, slipping part way down once or twice, and besliming myself from chin to foot, I climbed up that post and scrambled upon deck. In an instant, I reached the top of the stairs, and in another instant I rushed below.
There sat my wife and our boarder, one on each side of the dining-room table, complacently playing checkers!
My sudden entrance startled them. My appearance startled them still more.
Euphemia sprang to her feet and tottered toward me.
"Mercy!" she exclaimed; "has anything happened?"
"Happened!" I gasped.
"Look here," cried the boarder, clutching me by the arm, "what a condition you're in. Did you fall in?"
"Fall in!" said I.
Euphemia and the boarder looked at each other. I looked at them. Then I opened my mouth in earnest.
"I suppose you don't know," I yelled, "that you have drifted away!"
"By George!" cried the boarder, and in two bounds he was on deck.
Dirty as I was, Euphemia fell into my arms. I told her all. She hadn't known a bit of it!
The boat had so gently drifted off, and had so gently grounded among the reeds, that the voyage had never so much as disturbed their games of checkers.
"He plays such a splendid game," Euphemia sobbed, "and just as you came, I thought I was going to beat him. I had two kings and two pieces on the next to last row, and you are nearly drowned. You'll get your death of cold—and—and he had only one king."
She led me away and I undressed and washed myself and put on my Sunday clothes.
When I reappeared I went out on deck with Euphemia. The boarder was there, standing by the petunia bed. His arms were folded and he was thinking profoundly. As we approached, he turned toward us.
"You were right about that anchor," he said, "I should not have hauled it in; but it was such a little anchor that I thought it would be of more use on board as a garden hoe."
"A very little anchor will sometimes do very well," said I, cuttingly, "when it is hooked around a tree."
"Yes, there is something in that," said he.
It was now growing late, and as our agitation subsided we began to be hungry. Fortunately, we had everything necessary on board, and, as it really didn't make any difference in our household economy, where we happened to be located, we had supper quite as usual. In fact, the kettle had been put on to boil during the checker-playing.
After supper, we went on deck to smoke, as was our custom, but there was a certain coolness between me and our boarder.
Early the next morning I arose and went upstairs to consider what had better be done, when I saw the boarder standing on shore, near by.
"Hello!" he cried, "the tide's down and I got ashore without any trouble. You stay where you are. I've hired a couple of mules to tow the boat back. They'll be here when the tide rises. And, hello! I've found the gang-plank. It floated ashore about a quarter of a mile below here."
In the course of the afternoon the mules and two men with a long rope appeared, and we were then towed back to where we belonged.
And we are there yet. Our boarder remains with us, as the weather is still fine, and the coolness between us is gradually diminishing. But the boat is moored at both ends, and twice a day I look to see if the ropes are all right.
The petunias are growing beautifully, but the geraniums do not seem to flourish. Perhaps there is not a sufficient depth of earth for them. Several times our boarder has appeared to be on the point of suggesting something in regard to them, but, for some reason or other, he says nothing.
CHAPTER III. TREATING OF A NOVEL STYLE OF GIRL.
One afternoon, as I was hurrying down Broadway to catch the five o'clock train, I met Waterford. He is an old friend of mine, and I used to like him pretty well.
"Hello!" said he, "where are you going?"
"Home," I answered.
"Is that so?" said he. "I didn't know you had one."
I was a little nettled at this, and so I said, somewhat brusquely perhaps:
"But you must have known I lived somewhere."
"Oh, yes! But I thought you boarded," said he. "I had no idea that you had a home."
"But I have one, and a very pleasant home, too. You must excuse me for not stopping longer, as I must catch my train."
"Oh! I'll walk along with you," said Waterford, and so we went down the street together.
"Where is your little house?" he asked.
Why in the world he thought it was a little house I could not at the time imagine, unless he supposed that two people would not require a large one. But I know, now, that he lived in a very little house himself.
But it was of no use getting angry with Waterford, especially as I saw he intended walking all the way down to the ferry with me, so I told him I didn't live in any house at all.
"Why, where DO you live?" he exclaimed, stopping short.
"I live in a boat," said I.
"A boat! A sort of 'Rob Roy' arrangement, I suppose. Well, I would not have thought that of you. And your wife, I suppose, has gone home to her people?"
"She has done nothing of the kind," I answered. "She lives with me, and she likes it very much. We are extremely comfortable, and our boat is not a canoe, or any such nonsensical affair. It is a large, commodious canal-boat."
Waterford turned around and looked at me.
"Are you a deck-hand?" he asked.
"Deck-grandmother!" I exclaimed.
"Well, you needn't get mad about it," he said. "I didn't mean to hurt your feelings; but I couldn't see what else you could be on a canal-boat. I don't suppose, for instance, that you're captain."
"But I am," said I.
"Look here!" said Waterford; "this is coming it rather strong, isn't it?"
As I saw he was getting angry, I told him all about it,—told him how we had hired a stranded canal-boat and had fitted it up as a house, and how we lived so cosily in it, and had called it "Rudder Grange," and how we had taken a boarder.
"Well!" said he, "this is certainly surprising. I'm coming out to see you some day. It will be better than going to Barnum's."
I told him—it is the way of society—that we would be glad to see him, and we parted. Waterford never did come to see us, and I merely mention this incident to show how some of our friends talked about Rudder Grange, when they first heard that we lived there.
After dinner that evening, when I went up on deck with Euphemia to have my smoke, we saw the boarder sitting on the bulwarks near the garden, with his legs dangling down outside.
"Look here!" said he.
I looked, but there was nothing unusual to see.
"What is it?" I asked.
He turned around and seeing Euphemia, said:
It would be a very stupid person who could not take such a hint as that, and so, after a walk around the garden, Euphemia took occasion to go below to look at the kitchen fire.
As soon as she had gone, the boarder turned to me and said:
"I'll tell you what it is. She's working herself sick."
"Sick?" said I. "Nonsense!"
"No nonsense about it," he replied.
The truth was, that the boarder was right and I was wrong. We had spent several months at Rudder Grange, and during this time Euphemia had been working very hard, and she really did begin to look pale and thin. Indeed, it would be very wearying for any woman of culture and refinement, unused to house-work, to cook and care for two men, and to do all the work of a canal-boat besides.
But I saw Euphemia so constantly, and thought so much of her, and had her image so continually in my heart, that I did not notice this until our boarder now called my attention to it. I was sorry that he had to do it.
"If I were in your place," said he, "I would get her a servant."
"If you were in my place," I replied, somewhat cuttingly, "you would probably suggest a lot of little things which would make everything very easy for her."
"I'd try to," he answered, without getting in the least angry.
Although I felt annoyed that he had suggested it, still I made up my mind that Euphemia must have a servant.
She agreed quite readily when I proposed the plan, and she urged me to go and see the carpenter that very day, and get him to come and partition off a little room for the girl.
It was some time, of course, before the room was made (for who ever heard of a carpenter coming at the very time he was wanted?) and, when it was finished, Euphemia occupied all her spare moments in getting it in nice order for the servant when she should come. I thought she was taking too much trouble, but she had her own ideas about such things.
"If a girl is lodged like a pig, you must expect her to behave like a pig, and I don't want that kind."
So she put up pretty curtains at the girl's window, and with a box that she stood on end, and some old muslin and a lot of tacks, she made a toilet-table so neat and convenient that I thought she ought to take it into our room and give the servant our wash-stand.
But all this time we had no girl, and as I had made up my mind about the matter, I naturally grew impatient, and at last I determined to go and get a girl myself.
So, one day at lunch-time, I went to an intelligence office in the city. There I found a large room on the second floor, and some ladies, and one or two men, sitting about, and a small room, back of it, crowded with girls from eighteen to sixty-eight years old. There were also girls upon the stairs, and girls in the hall below, besides some girls standing on the sidewalk before the door.
When I made known my business and had paid my fee, one of the several proprietors who were wandering about the front room went into the back apartment and soon returned with a tall Irishwoman with a bony weather-beaten face and a large weather-beaten shawl. This woman was told to take a chair by my side. Down sat the huge creature and stared at me. I did not feel very easy under her scrutinizing gaze, but I bore it as best I could, and immediately began to ask her all the appropriate questions that I could think of. Some she answered satisfactorily, and some she didn't answer at all; but as soon as I made a pause, she began to put questions herself.
"How many servants do you kape?" she asked.
I answered that we intended to get along with one, and if she understood her business, I thought she would find her work very easy, and the place a good one.
She turned sharp upon me and said:
"Have ye stationary wash-tubs?"
I hesitated. I knew our wash-tubs were not stationary, for I had helped to carry them about. But they might be screwed fast and made stationary if that was an important object. But, before making this answer, I thought of the great conveniences for washing presented by our residence, surrounded as it was, at high tide, by water.
"Why, we live in a stationary wash-tub," I said, smiling.
The woman looked at me steadfastly for a minute, and then she rose to her feet. Then she called out, as if she were crying fish or strawberries:
The female keeper of the intelligence office, and the male keeper, and a thin clerk, and all the women in the back room, and all the patrons in the front room, jumped up and gathered around us.
Astonished and somewhat disconcerted, I rose to my feet and confronted the tall Irishwoman, and stood smiling in an uncertain sort of a way, as if it were all very funny; but I couldn't see the point. I think I must have impressed the people with the idea that I wished I hadn't come.
"He says," exclaimed the woman, as if some other huckster were crying fish on the other side of the street—"he says he lives in a wash-toob."
"He's crazy!" ejaculated Mrs. Blaine, with an air that indicated "policeman" as plainly as if she had put her thought into words.
A low murmur ran through the crowd of women, while the thin clerk edged toward the door.
I saw there was no time to lose. I stepped back a little from the tall savage, who was breathing like a hot-air engine in front of me, and made my explanations to the company. I told the tale of "Rudder Grange," and showed them how it was like to a stationary wash-tub—at certain stages of the tide.
I was listened to with great attention. When I had finished, the tall woman turned around and faced the assemblage.
"An' he wants a cook to make soup! In a canal-boat!" said she, and off she marched into the back-room, followed closely by all the other women.
"I don't think we have any one here who would suit you," said Mrs. Blaine.
I didn't think so either. What on earth would Euphemia have done with that volcanic Irishwoman in her little kitchen! I took up my hat and bade Mrs. Blaine good morning.
"Good morning," said she, with a distressing smile.
She had one of those mouths that look exactly like a gash in the face.
I went home without a girl. In a day or two Euphemia came to town and got one. Apparently she got her without any trouble, but I am not sure.
She went to a "Home"—Saint Somebody's Home—a place where they keep orphans to let, so to speak. Here Euphemia selected a light-haired, medium-sized orphan, and brought her home.
The girl's name was Pomona. Whether or not her parents gave her this name is doubtful. At any rate, she did not seem quite decided in her mind about it herself, for she had not been with us more than two weeks before she expressed a desire to be called Clare. This longing of her heart, however, was denied her. So Euphemia, who was always correct, called her Pomona. I did the same whenever I could think not to say Bologna—which seemed to come very pat for some reason or other.
As for the boarder, he generally called her Altoona, connecting her in some way with the process of stopping for refreshments, in which she was an adept.
She was an earnest, hearty girl. She was always in a good humor, and when I asked her to do anything, she assented in a bright, cheerful way, and in a loud tone full of good-fellowship, as though she would say:
"Certainly, my high old cock! To be sure I will. Don't worry about it—give your mind no more uneasiness on that subject. I'll bring the hot water."
She did not know very much, but she was delighted to learn, and she was very strong. Whatever Euphemia told her to do, she did instantly with a bang. What pleased her better than anything else was to run up and down the gang-plank, carrying buckets of water to water the garden. She delighted in out-door work, and sometimes dug so vigorously in our garden that she brought up pieces of the deck-planking with every shovelful.
Our boarder took the greatest interest in her, and sometimes watched her movements so intently that he let his pipe go out.
"What a whacking girl that would be to tread out grapes in the vineyards of Italy! She'd make wine cheap," he once remarked.
"Then I'm glad she isn't there," said Euphemia, "for wine oughtn't to be cheap."
Euphemia was a thorough little temperance woman.
The one thing about Pomona that troubled me more than anything else was her taste for literature. It was not literature to which I objected, but her very peculiar taste. She would read in the kitchen every night after she had washed the dishes, but if she had not read aloud, it would not have made so much difference to me. But I am naturally very sensitive to external impressions, and I do not like the company of people who, like our girl, cannot read without pronouncing in a measured and distinct voice every word of what they are reading. And when the matter thus read appeals to one's every sentiment of aversion, and there is no way of escaping it, the case is hard indeed.
From the first, I felt inclined to order Pomona, if she could not attain the power of silent perusal, to cease from reading altogether; but Euphemia would not hear to this.
"Poor thing!" said she; "it would be cruel to take from her her only recreation. And she says she can't read any other way. You needn't listen if you don't want to."
That was all very well in an abstract point of view; but the fact was, that in practice, the more I didn't want to listen, the more I heard.
As the evenings were often cool, we sat in our dining-room, and the partition between this room and the kitchen seemed to have no influence whatever in arresting sound. So that when I was trying to read or to reflect, it was by no means exhilarating to my mind to hear from the next room that:
"The la dy ce sel i a now si zed the weep on and all though the boor ly vil ly an re tain ed his vy gor ous hold she drew the blade through his fin gers and hoorl ed it far be hind her dryp ping with jore."
This sort of thing, kept up for an hour or so at a time, used to drive me nearly wild. But Euphemia did not mind it. I believe that she had so delicate a sense of what was proper, that she did not hear Pomona's private readings.
On one occasion, even Euphemia's influence could scarcely restrain me from violent interference.
It was our boarder's night out (when he was detained in town by his business), and Pomona was sitting up to let him in. This was necessary, for our front-door (or main-hatchway) had no night-latch, but was fastened by means of a bolt. Euphemia and I used to sit up for him, but that was earlier in the season, when it was pleasant to be out on deck until quite a late hour. But Pomona never objected to sitting (or getting) up late, and so we allowed this weekly duty to devolve on her.
On this particular night I was very tired and sleepy, and soon after I got into bed I dropped into a delightful slumber. But it was not long before I was awakened by the fact that:
"Sa rah did not fl inch but gras ped the heat ed i ron in her un in jur ed hand and when the ra bid an i mal a proach ed she thr ust the lur id po ker in his—"
"My conscience!" said I to Euphemia, "can't that girl be stopped?"
"You wouldn't have her sit there and do nothing, would you?" said she.
"No; but she needn't read out that way."
"She can't read any other way," said Euphemia, drowsily.
"Yell af ter yell res oun ded as he wil dly spr rang—"
"I can't stand that, and I won't," said I. "Why don't she go into the kitchen?—the dining-room's no place for her."
"She must not sit there," said Euphemia. "There's a window-pane out. Can't you cover up your head?"
"I shall not be able to breathe if I do; but I suppose that's no matter," I replied.
The reading continued.
"Ha, ha! Lord Mar mont thun der ed thou too shalt suf fer all that this poor—"
I sprang out of bed.
Euphemia thought I was going for my pistol, and she gave one bound and stuck her head out of the door.
"Pomona, fly!" she cried.
"Yes, sma'am," said Pomona; and she got up and flew—not very fast, I imagine. Where she flew to I don't know, but she took the lamp with her, and I could hear distant syllables of agony and blood, until the boarder came home and Pomona went to bed.
I think that this made an impression upon Euphemia, for, although she did not speak to me upon the subject (or any other) that night, the next time I heard Pomona reading, the words ran somewhat thus:
"The as ton ish ing che ap ness of land is ac count ed for by the want of home mar kets, of good ro ads and che ap me ans of trans por ta ti on in ma ny sec ti ons of the State."
CHAPTER IV. TREATING OF A NOVEL STYLE OF BURGLAR.
I have spoken of my pistol. During the early part of our residence at Rudder Grange I never thought of such a thing as owning a pistol.
But it was different now. I kept a Colt's revolver loaded in the bureau drawer in our bedroom.
The cause of this change was burglars. Not that any of these unpleasant persons had visited us, but we much feared they would. Several houses in the vicinity had been entered during the past month, and we could never tell when our turn would come.
To be sure, our boarder suggested that if we were to anchor out a little further at night, no burglar would risk catching his death of cold by swimming out to us; but Euphemia having replied that it would be rather difficult to move a canal-boat every night without paddle-wheels, or sails, or mules, especially if it were aground, this plan was considered to be effectually disposed of.
So we made up our minds that we must fasten up everything very securely, and I bought a pistol and two burglar-alarms. One of these I affixed to the most exposed window, and the other to the door which opened on the deck. These alarms were very simple affairs, but they were good enough. When they were properly attached to a window or door, and it was opened, a little gong sounded like a violently deranged clock, striking all the hours of the day at once.
The window did not trouble us much, but it was rather irksome to have to make the attachment to the door every night and to take it off every morning. However, as Euphemia said, it was better to take a little trouble than to have the house full of burglars, which was true enough.
We made all the necessary arrangements in case burglars should make an inroad upon us. At the first sound of the alarm, Euphemia and the girl were to lie flat on the floor or get under their beds. Then the boarder and I were to stand up, back to back, each with pistol in hand, and fire away, revolving on a common centre the while. In this way, by aiming horizontally at about four feet from the floor, we could rake the premises, and run no risk of shooting each other or the women of the family.
To be sure, there were some slight objections to this plan. The boarder's room was at some distance from ours, and he would probably not hear the alarm, and the burglars might not be willing to wait while I went forward and roused him up, and brought him to our part of the house. But this was a minor difficulty. I had no doubt but that, if it should be necessary, I could manage to get our boarder into position in plenty of time.
It was not very long before there was an opportunity of testing the plan.
About twelve o'clock one night one of the alarms (that on the kitchen window) went off with a whirr and a wild succession of clangs. For a moment I thought the morning train had arrived, and then I woke up. Euphemia was already under the bed.
I hurried on a few clothes, and then I tried to find the bureau in the dark. This was not easy, as I lost my bearings entirely. But I found it at last, got the top drawer open and took out my pistol. Then I slipped out of the room, hurried up the stairs, opened the door (setting off the alarm there, by the way), and ran along the deck (there was a cold night wind), and hastily descended the steep steps that led into the boarder's room. The door that was at the bottom of the steps was not fastened, and, as I opened it, a little stray moonlight illumed the room. I hastily stepped to the bed and shook the boarder by the shoulder. He kept HIS pistol under his pillow.
In an instant he was on his feet, his hand grasped my throat, and the cold muzzle of his Derringer pistol was at my forehead. It was an awfully big muzzle, like the mouth of a bottle.
I don't know when I lived so long as during the first minute that he held me thus.
"Rascal!" he said. "Do as much as breathe, and I'll pull the trigger."
I didn't breathe.
I had an accident insurance on my life. Would it hold good in a case like this? Or would Euphemia have to go back to her father?
He pushed me back into the little patch of moonlight.
"Oh! is it you?" he said, relaxing his grasp. "What do you want? A mustard plaster?"
He had a package of patent plasters in his room. You took one and dipped it in hot water, and it was all ready.
"No," said I, gasping a little. "Burglars."
"Oh!" he said, and he put down his pistol and put on his clothes.
"Come along," he said, and away we went over the deck.
When we reached the stairs all was dark and quiet below.
It was a matter of hesitancy as to going down.
I started to go down first, but the boarder held me back.
"Let me go down," he said.
"No," said I, "my wife is there."
"That's the very reason you should not go," he said. "She is safe enough yet, and they would fire only at a man. It would be a bad job for her if you were killed. I'll go down."
So he went down, slowly and cautiously, his pistol in one hand, and his life in the other, as it were.
When he reached the bottom of the steps I changed my mind. I could not remain above while the burglar and Euphemia were below, so I followed.
The boarder was standing in the middle of the dining-room, into which the stairs led. I could not see him, but I put my hand against him as I was feeling my way across the floor.
I whispered to him:
"Shall we put our backs together and revolve and fire?"
"No," he whispered back, "not now; he may be on a shelf by this time, or under a table. Let's look him up."
I confess that I was not very anxious to look him up, but I followed the boarder, as he slowly made his way toward the kitchen door. As we opened the door we instinctively stopped.
The window was open, and by the light of the moon that shone in, we saw the rascal standing on a chair, leaning out of the window, evidently just ready to escape. Fortunately, we were unheard.
"Let's pull him in," whispered the boarder.
"No," I whispered in reply. "We don't want him in. Let's hoist him out."
"All right," returned the boarder.
We laid our pistols on the floor, and softly approached the window. Being barefooted, out steps were noiseless.
"Hoist when I count three," breathed the boarder into my ear.
We reached the chair. Each of us took hold of two of its legs.
"One—two—three!" said the boarder, and together we gave a tremendous lift and shot the wretch out of the window.
The tide was high, and there was a good deal of water around the boat. We heard a rousing splash outside.
Now there was no need of silence.
"Shall we run on deck and shoot him as he swims?" I cried.
"No," said the boarder, "we'll get the boat-hook, and jab him if he tries to climb up."
We rushed on deck. I seized the boat-hook and looked over the side. But I saw no one.
"He's gone to the bottom!" I exclaimed.
"He didn't go very far then," said the boarder, "for it's not more than two feet deep there."
Just then our attention was attracted by a voice from the shore.
"Will you please let down the gang-plank?" We looked ashore, and there stood Pomona, dripping from every pore.
We spoke no words, but lowered the gangplank.
She came aboard.
"Good night!" said the boarder, and he went to bed.
"Pomona!" said I, "what have you been doing?"
"I was a lookin' at the moon, sir, when pop! the chair bounced, and out I went."
"You shouldn't do that," I said, sternly.
"Some day you'll be drowned. Take off your wet things and go to bed."
"Yes, sma'am—sir, I mean," said she, as she went down-stairs.
When I reached my room I lighted the lamp, and found Euphemia still under the bed.
"Is it all right?" she asked.
"Yes," I answered. "There was no burglar. Pomona fell out of the window."
"Did you get her a plaster?" asked Euphemia, drowsily.
"No, she did not need one. She's all right now. Were you worried about me, dear?"
"No, I trusted in you entirely, and I think I dozed a little under the bed."
In one minute she was asleep.
The boarder and I did not make this matter a subject of conversation afterward, but Euphemia gave the girl a lecture on her careless ways, and made her take several Dover's powders the next day.
An important fact in domestic economy was discovered about this time by Euphemia and myself. Perhaps we were not the first to discover it, but we certainly did find it out,—and this fact was, that housekeeping costs money. At the end of every week we counted up our expenditures—it was no trouble at all to count up our receipts—and every week the result was more unsatisfactory.
"If we could only get rid of the disagreeable balance that has to be taken along all the time, and which gets bigger and bigger like a snow-ball, I think we would find the accounts more satisfactory," said Euphemia.
This was on a Saturday night. We always got our pencils and paper and money at the end of the week.
"Yes," said I, with an attempt to appear facetious and unconcerned, "but it would be all well enough if we could take that snow-ball to the fire and melt it down."
"But there never is any fire where there are snow-balls," said Euphemia.
"No," said I, "and that's just the trouble."
It was on the following Thursday, when I came home in the evening, that Euphemia met me with a glowing face. It rather surprised me to see her look so happy, for she had been very quiet and preoccupied for the first part of the week. So much so, indeed, that I had thought of ordering smaller roasts for a week or two, and taking her to a Thomas Concert with the money saved. But this evening she looked as if she did not need Thomas's orchestra.
"What makes you so bright, my dear?" said I, when I had greeted her. "Has anything jolly happened?"
"No," said she; "nothing yet, but I am going to make a fire to melt snow-balls."
Of course I was very anxious to know how she was going to do it, but she would not tell me. It was a plan that she intended to keep to herself until she saw how it worked. I did not press her, because she had so few secrets, and I did not hear anything about this plan until it had been carried out.
Her scheme was as follows: After thinking over our financial condition and puzzling her brain to find out some way of bettering it, she had come to the conclusion that she would make some money by her own exertions, to help defray our household expenses. She never had made any money, but that was no reason why she should not begin. It was too bad that I should have to toil and toil and not make nearly enough money after all. So she would go to work and earn something with her own hands.
She had heard of an establishment in the city, where ladies of limited means, or transiently impecunious, could, in a very quiet and private way, get sewing to do. They could thus provide for their needs without any one but the officers of the institution knowing anything about it.
So Euphemia went to this place, and she got some work. It was not a very large bundle, but it was larger than she had been accustomed to carry, and, what was perfectly dreadful, it was wrapped up in a newspaper! When Euphemia told me the story, she said that this was too much for her courage. She could not go on the cars, and perhaps meet people belonging to our church, with a newspaper bundle under her arm.
But her genius for expedients saved her from this humiliation. She had to purchase some sewing-cotton, and some other little things, and when she had bought them, she handed her bundle to the woman behind the counter, and asked her if she would not be so good as to have that wrapped up with the other things. It was a good deal to ask, she knew, and the woman smiled, for the articles she had bought would not make a package as large as her hand. However, her request was complied with, and she took away a very decent package, with the card of the store stamped on the outside. I suppose that there are not more than half a dozen people in this country who would refuse Euphemia anything that she would be willing to ask for.
So she took the work home, and she labored faithfully at it for about a week, She did not suppose it would take her so long; but she was not used to such very plain sewing, and was much afraid that she would not do it neatly enough. Besides this, she could only work on it in the daytime—when I was away—and was, of course, interrupted a great deal by her ordinary household duties, and the necessity of a careful oversight of Pomona's somewhat erratic methods of doing her work.
But at last she finished the job and took it into the city. She did not want to spend any more money on the trip than was absolutely necessary, and so was very glad to find that she had a remnant of pocket-money sufficient to pay her fare both ways.
When she reached the city, she walked up to the place where her work was to be delivered, and found it much farther when she went on foot than it had seemed to her riding in the street cars. She handed over her bundle to the proper person, and, as it was soon examined and approved, she received her pay therefor.
It amounted to sixty cents. She had made no bargain, but she was a little astonished. However, she said nothing, but left the place without asking for any more work. In fact she forgot all about it. She had an idea that everything was all wrong, and that idea engrossed her mind entirely. There was no mistake about the sum paid, for the lady clerk had referred to the printed table of prices when she calculated the amount due. But something was wrong, and, at the moment, Euphemia could not tell what it was. She left the place, and started to walk back to the ferry. But she was so tired and weak, and hungry—it was now an hour or two past her regular luncheon time—that she thought she should faint if she did not go somewhere and get some refreshments.
So, like a sensible little woman as she was, she went into a restaurant. She sat down at a table, and a waiter came to her to see what she would have. She was not accustomed to eating-houses, and perhaps this was the first time that she had ever visited one alone. What she wanted was something simple. So she ordered a cup of tea and some rolls, and a piece of chicken. The meal was a very good one, and Euphemia enjoyed it. When she had finished, she went up to the counter to settle. Her bill was sixty cents. She paid the money that she had just received, and walked down to the ferry—all in a daze, she said. When she got home she thought it over, and then she cried.
After a while she dried her eyes, and when I came home she told me all about it.
"I give it up," she said. "I don't believe I can help you any."
Poor little thing! I took her in my arms and comforted her, and before bedtime I had convinced her that she was fully able to help me better than any one else on earth, and that without puzzling her brains about business, or wearing herself out by sewing for pay.
So we went on in our old way, and by keeping our attention on our weekly balance, we prevented it from growing very rapidly.
We fell back on our philosophy (it was all the capital we had), and became as calm and contented as circumstances allowed.
CHAPTER V. POMONA PRODUCES A PARTIAL REVOLUTION IN RUDDER GRANGE.
Euphemia began to take a great deal of comfort in her girl. Every evening she had some new instance to relate of Pomona's inventive abilities and aptness in adapting herself to the peculiarities of our method of housekeeping.
"Only to think!" said she, one afternoon, "Pomona has just done another VERY smart thing. You know what a trouble it has always been for us to carry all our waste water upstairs, and throw it over the bulwarks. Well, she has remedied all that. She has cut a nice little low window in the side of the kitchen, and has made a shutter of the piece she cut out, with leather hinges to it, and now she can just open this window, throw the water out, shut it again, and there it is! I tell you she's smart."
"Yes; there is no doubt of that," I said; "but I think that there is danger of her taking more interest in such extraordinary and novel duties than in the regular work of the house."
"Now, don't discourage the girl, my dear," she said, "for she is of the greatest use to me, and I don't want you to be throwing cold water about like some people."
"Not even if I throw it out of Pomona's little door, I suppose."
"No. Don't throw it at all. Encourage people. What would the world be if everybody chilled our aspirations and extraordinary efforts? Like Fulton's steamboat."
"All right," I said; "I'll not discourage her."
It was now getting late in the season. It was quite too cool to sit out on deck in the evening, and our garden began to look desolate.
Our boarder had wheeled up a lot of fresh earth, and had prepared a large bed, in which he had planted turnips. They made an excellent fall crop, he assured us.
From being simply cool it began to be rainy, and the weather grew decidedly unpleasant. But our boarder bade us take courage. This was probably the "equinoctial," and when it was over there would be a delightful Indian summer, and the turnips would grow nicely.
This sounded very well, but the wind blew up cold at night, and there was a great deal of unpleasant rain.
One night it blew what Pomona called a "whirlicane," and we went to bed very early to keep warm. We heard our boarder on deck in the garden after we were in bed, and Euphemia said she could not imagine what he was about, unless he was anchoring his turnips to keep them from blowing away.
During the night I had a dream. I thought I was a boy again, and was trying to stand upon my head, a feat for which I had been famous. But instead of throwing myself forward on my hands, and then raising my heels backward over my head, in the orthodox manner, I was on my back, and trying to get on my head from that position. I awoke suddenly, and found that the footboard of the bedstead was much higher than our heads. We were lying on a very much inclined plane, with our heads downward. I roused Euphemia, and we both got out of bed, when, at almost the same moment, we slipped down the floor into ever so much water.
Euphemia was scarcely awake, and she fell down gurgling. It was dark, but I heard her fall, and I jumped over the bedstead to her assistance. I had scarcely raised her up, when I heard a pounding at the front door or main-hatchway, and our boarder shouted:
"Get up! Come out of that! Open the door! The old boat's turning over!"
My heart fell within me, but I clutched Euphemia. I said no word, and she simply screamed. I dragged her over the floor, sometimes in the water and sometimes out of it. I got the dining-room door open and set her on the stairs. They were in a topsy-turvy condition, but they were dry. I found a lantern which hung on a nail, with a match-box under it, and I struck a light. Then I scrambled back and brought her some clothes.
All this time the boarder was yelling and pounding at the door. When Euphemia was ready I opened the door and took her out.
"You go dress yourself;" said the boarder. "I'll hold her here until you come back."
I left her and found my clothes (which, chair and all, had tumbled against the foot of the bed and so had not gone into the water), and soon reappeared on deck. The wind was blowing strongly, but it did not now seem to be very cold. The deck reminded me of the gang-plank of a Harlem steamboat at low tide. It was inclined at an angle of more than forty-five degrees, I am sure. There was light enough for us to see about us, but the scene and all the dreadful circumstances made me feel the most intense desire to wake up and find it all a dream. There was no doubt, however, about the boarder being wide awake.
"Now then," said he, "take hold of her on that side and we'll help her over here. You scramble down on that side; it's all dry just there. The boat's turned over toward the water, and I'll lower her down to you. I'll let a rope over the sides. You can hold on to that as you go down."
I got over the bulwarks and let myself down to the ground. Then the boarder got Euphemia up and slipped her over the side, holding to her hands, and letting her gently down until I could reach her. She said never a word, but screamed at times. I carried her a little way up the shore and set her down. I wanted to take her up to a house near by, where we bought our milk, but she declined to go until we had saved Pomona.
So I went back to the boat, having carefully wrapped up Euphemia, to endeavor to save the girl. I found that the boarder had so arranged the gang-plank that it was possible, without a very great exercise of agility, to pass from the shore to the boat. When I first saw him, on reaching the shelving deck, he was staggering up the stairs with a dining-room chair and a large framed engraving of Raphael's Dante—an ugly picture, but full of true feeling; at least so Euphemia always declared, though I am not quite sure that I know what she meant.
"Where is Pomona?" I said, endeavoring to stand on the hill-side of the deck.
"I don't know," said he, "but we must get the things out. The tide's rising and the wind's getting up. The boat will go over before we know it."
"But we must find the girl," I said. "She can't be left to drown."
"I don't think it would matter much," said he, getting over the side of the boat with his awkward load. "She would be of about as much use drowned as any other way. If it hadn't been for that hole she cut in the side of the boat, this would never have happened."
"You don't think it was that!" I said, holding the picture and the chair while he let himself down to the gang-plank.
"Yes, it was," he replied. "The tide's very high, and the water got over that hole and rushed in. The water and the wind will finish this old craft before very long."
And then he took his load from me and dashed down the gang-plank. I went below to look for Pomona. The lantern still hung on the nail, and I took it down and went into the kitchen. There was Pomona, dressed, and with her hat on, quietly packing some things in a basket.
"Come, hurry out of this," I cried. "Don't you know that this house—this boat, I mean, is a wreck?"
"Yes, sma'am—sir, I mean—I know it, and I suppose we shall soon be at the mercy of the waves."
"Well, then, go as quickly as you can. What are you putting in that basket?"
"Food," she said. "We may need it."
I took her by the shoulder and hurried her on deck, over the bulwark, down the gang-plank, and so on to the place where I had left Euphemia.
I found the dear girl there, quiet and collected, all up in a little bunch, to shield herself from the wind. I wasted no time, but hurried the two women over to the house of our milk-merchant. There, with some difficulty, I roused the good woman, and after seeing Euphemia and Pomona safely in the house, I left them to tell the tale, and ran back to the boat.
The boarder was working like a Trojan. He had already a pile of our furniture on the beach.
I set about helping him, and for an hour we labored at this hasty and toilsome moving. It was indeed a toilsome business. The floors were shelving, the stairs leaned over sideways, ever so far, and the gang-plank was desperately short and steep.
Still, we saved quite a number of household articles. Some things we broke and some we forgot, and some things were too big to move in this way; but we did very well, considering the circumstances.
The wind roared, the tide rose, and the boat groaned and creaked. We were in the kitchen, trying to take the stove apart (the boarder was sure we could carry it up, if we could get the pipe out and the legs and doors off), when we heard a crash. We rushed on deck and found that the garden had fallen in! Making our way as well as we could toward the gaping rent in the deck, we saw that the turnip-bed had gone down bodily into the boarder's room. He did not hesitate, but scrambled down his narrow stairs. I followed him. He struck a match that he had in his pocket, and lighted a little lantern that hung under the stairs. His room was a perfect rubbish heap. The floor, bed, chairs, pitcher, basin—everything was covered or filled with garden mold and turnips. Never did I behold such a scene. He stood in the midst of it, holding his lantern high above his head. At length he spoke.
"If we had time," he said, "we might come down here and pick out a lot of turnips."
"But how about your furniture?" I exclaimed.
"Oh, that's ruined!" he replied.
So we did not attempt to save any of it, but we got hold of his trunk and carried that on shore.
When we returned, we found that the water was pouring through his partition, making the room a lake of mud. And, as the water was rising rapidly below, and the boat was keeling over more and more, we thought it was time to leave, and we left.
It would not do to go far away from our possessions, which were piled up in a sad-looking heap on the shore; and so, after I had gone over to the milk-woman's to assure Euphemia of our safety, the boarder and I passed the rest of the night—there was not much of it left—in walking up and down the beach smoking some cigars which he fortunately had in his pocket.
In the morning I took Euphemia to the hotel, about a mile away—and arranged for the storage of our furniture there, until we could find another habitation. This habitation, we determined, was to be in a substantial house, or part of a house, which should not be affected by the tides.
During the morning the removal of our effects was successfully accomplished, and our boarder went to town to look for a furnished room. He had nothing but his trunk to take to it.
In the afternoon I left Euphemia at the hotel, where she was taking a nap (she certainly needed it, for she had spent the night in a wooden rocking-chair at the milk-woman's), and I strolled down to the river to take a last look at the remains of old Rudder Grange.
I felt sadly enough as I walked along the well-worn path to the canal-boat, and thought how it had been worn by my feet more than any other's, and how gladly I had walked that way, so often during that delightful summer. I forgot all that had been disagreeable, and thought only of the happy times we had had.
It was a beautiful autumn afternoon, and the wind had entirely died away. When I came within sight of our old home, it presented a doleful appearance. The bow had drifted out into the river, and was almost entirely under water. The stern stuck up in a mournful and ridiculous manner, with its keel, instead of its broadside, presented to the view of persons on the shore. As I neared the boat I heard a voice. I stopped and listened. There was no one in sight. Could the sounds come from the boat? I concluded that it must be so, and I walked up closer. Then I heard distinctly the words:
"He grasp ed her by the thro at and yell ed, swear to me thou nev er wilt re veal my se cret, or thy hot heart's blood shall stain this mar bel fib or; she gave one gry vy ous gasp and—"
It was Pomona!
Doubtless she had climbed up the stern of the boat and had descended into the depths of the wreck to rescue her beloved book, the reading of which had so long been interrupted by my harsh decrees. Could I break in on this one hour of rapture? I had not the heart to do it, and as I slowly moved away, there came to me the last words that I ever heard from Rudder Grange:
"And with one wild shry ik to heav en her heart's blo od spat ter ed that prynce ly home of woe—"
CHAPTER VI. THE NEW RUDDER GRANGE.
I have before given an account of the difficulties we encountered when we started out house-hunting, and it was this doleful experience which made Euphemia declare that before we set out on a second search for a residence, we should know exactly what we wanted.
To do this, we must know how other people live, we must examine into the advantages and disadvantages of the various methods of housekeeping, and make up our minds on the subject.
When we came to this conclusion we were in a city boarding-house, and were entirely satisfied that this style of living did not suit us at all.
At this juncture I received a letter from the gentleman who had boarded with us on the canal-boat. Shortly after leaving us the previous fall, he had married a widow lady with two children, and was now keeping house in a French flat in the upper part of the city. We had called upon the happy couple soon after their marriage, and the letter, now received, contained an invitation for us to come and dine, and spend the night.
"We'll go," said Euphemia. "There's nothing I want so much as to see how people keep house in a French flat. Perhaps we'll like it. And I must see those children." So we went.
The house, as Euphemia remarked, was anything but flat. It was very tall indeed—the tallest house in the neighborhood. We entered the vestibule, the outer door being open, and beheld, on one side of us, a row of bell-handles. Above each of these handles was the mouth of a speaking-tube, and above each of these, a little glazed frame containing a visiting-card.
"Isn't this cute?" said Euphemia, reading over the cards. "Here's his name and this is his bell and tube! Which would you do first, ring or blow?"
"My dear," said I, "you don't blow up those tubes. We must ring the bell, just as if it were an ordinary front-door bell, and instead of coming to the door, some one will call down the tube to us."
I rang the bell under the boarder's name, and very soon a voice at the tube said:
Then I told our names, and in an instant the front door opened.
"Why, their flat must be right here," whispered Euphemia. "How quickly the girl came!"
And she looked for the girl as we entered. But there was no one there.
"Their flat is on the fifth story," said I. "He mentioned that in his letter. We had better shut the door and go up."
Up and up the softly carpeted stairs we climbed, and not a soul we saw or heard.
"It is like an enchanted cavern," said Euphemia. "You say the magic word, the door in the rock opens and you go on, and on, through the vaulted passages—"
"Until you come to the ogre," said the boarder, who was standing at the top of the stairs. He did not behave at all like an ogre, for he was very glad to see us, and so was his wife. After we had settled down in the parlor and the boarder's wife had gone to see about something concerning the dinner, Euphemia asked after the children.
"I hope they haven't gone to bed," she said, "for I do so want to see the dear little things."
The ex-boarder, as Euphemia called him, smiled grimly.
"They're not so very little," he said. "My wife's son is nearly grown. He is at an academy in Connecticut, and he expects to go into a civil engineer's office in the spring. His sister is older than he is. My wife married—in the first instance—when she was very young—very young in deed."
"Oh!" said Euphemia; and then, after a pause, "And neither of them is at home now?"
"No," said the ex-boarder. "By the way, what do you think of this dado? It is a portable one; I devised it myself. You can take it away with you to another house when you move. But there is the dinner-bell. I'll show you over the establishment after we have had something to eat."
After our meal we made a tour of inspection. The flat, which included the whole floor, contained nine or ten rooms, of all shapes and sizes. The corners in some of the rooms were cut off and shaped up into closets and recesses, so that Euphemia said the corners of every room were in some other room.
Near the back of the flat was a dumb-waiter, with bells and speaking-tubes. When the butcher, the baker, or the kerosene-lamp maker, came each morning, he rang the bell, and called up the tube to know what was wanted. The order was called down, and he brought the things in the afternoon.
All this greatly charmed Euphemia. It was so cute, so complete. There were no interviews with disagreeable trades-people, none of the ordinary annoyances of housekeeping. Everything seemed to be done with a bell, a speaking-tube or a crank.
"Indeed," said the ex-boarder, "if it were not for people tripping over the wires, I could rig up attachments by which I could sit in the parlor, and by using pedals and a key-board, I could do all the work of this house without getting out of my easy-chair."
One of the most peculiar features of the establishment was the servant's room. This was at the rear end of the floor, and as there was not much space left after the other rooms had been made, it was very small; so small, indeed, that it would accommodate only a very short bedstead. This made it necessary for our friends to consider the size of the servant when they engaged her.
"There were several excellent girls at the intelligence office where I called," said the ex-boarder, "but I measured them, and they were all too tall. So we had to take a short one, who is only so so. There was one big Scotch girl who was the very person for us, and I would have taken her if my wife had not objected to my plan for her accommodation.
"What was that?" I asked.
"Well," said he, "I first thought of cutting a hole in the partition wall at the foot of the bed, for her to put her feet through."
"Never!" said his wife, emphatically. "I would never have allowed that."
"And then," continued he, "I thought of turning the bed around, and cutting a larger hole, through which she might have put her head into the little room on this side. A low table could have stood under the hole, and her head might have rested on a cushion on the table very comfortably."
"My dear," said his wife, "it would have frightened me to death to go into that room and see that head on a cushion on a table—"
"Like John the Baptist," interrupted Euphemia.
"Well," said our ex-boarder, "the plan would have had its advantages."
"Oh!" cried Euphemia, looking out of a back window. "What a lovely little iron balcony! Do you sit out there on warm evenings?"
"That's a fire-escape," said the ex-boarder. "We don't go out there unless it is very hot indeed, on account of the house being on fire. You see there is a little door in the floor of the balcony and an iron ladder leading to the balcony beneath, and so on, down to the first story."
"And you have to creep through that hole and go down that dreadful steep ladder every time there is a fire?" said Euphemia.
"Well, I guess we would never go down but once," he answered.
"No, indeed," said Euphemia; "you'd fall down and break your neck the first time," and she turned away from the window with a very grave expression on her face.
Soon after this our hostess conducted Euphemia to the guest-chamber, while her husband and I finished a bed-time cigar.
When I joined Euphemia in her room, she met me with a mysterious expression on her face. She shut the door, and then said in a very earnest tone:
"Do you see that little bedstead in the corner? I did not notice it until I came in just now, and then, being quite astonished, I said, 'Why here's a child's bed; who sleeps here?' 'Oh,' says she, 'that's our little Adele's bedstead. We have it in our room when she's here.' 'Little Adele!' said I, 'I didn't know she was little—not small enough for that bed, at any rate.' 'Why, yes,' said she, 'Adele is only four years old. The bedstead is quite large enough for her.' 'And she is not here now?' I said, utterly amazed at all this. 'No,' she answered, 'she is not here now, but we try to have her with us as much as we can, and always keep her little bed ready for her.' 'I suppose she's with her father's people,' I said, and she answered, 'Oh yes,' and bade me good-night. What does all this mean? Our boarder told us that the daughter is grown up, and here his wife declares that she is only four years old! I don't know what in the world to make of this mystery!"
I could give Euphemia no clue. I supposed there was some mistake, and that was all I could say, except that I was sleepy, and that we could find out all about it in the morning. But Euphemia could not dismiss the subject from her mind. She said no more,—but I could see—until I fell asleep—that she was thinking about it.
It must have been about the middle of the night, perhaps later, when I was suddenly awakened by Euphemia starting up in the bed, with the exclamation:
"I have it!"
"What?" I cried, sitting up in a great hurry. "What is it? What have you got? What's the matter?"
"I know it!" she said, "I know it. Our boarder is a GRANDFATHER! Little Adele is the grown-up daughter's child. He was quite particular to say that his wife married VERY young. Just to think of it! So short a time ago, he was living with us—a bachelor—and now, in four short months, he is a grandfather!"
Carefully propounded inquiries, in the morning, proved Euphemia's conclusions to be correct.
The next evening, when we were quietly sitting in our own room, Euphemia remarked that she did not wish to have anything to do with French flats.
"They seem to be very convenient," I said.
"Oh yes, convenient enough, but I don't like them. I would hate to live where everything let down like a table-lid, or else turned with a crank. And when I think of those fire-escapes, and the boarder's grandchild, it makes me feel very unpleasantly."
"But the grandchild don't follow as a matter of course," said I.
"No," she answered, "but I shall never like French flats."
And we discussed them no more.
For some weeks we examined into every style of economic and respectable housekeeping, and many methods of living in what Euphemia called "imitation comfort" were set aside as unworthy of consideration.
"My dear," said Euphemia, one evening, "what we really ought to do is to build. Then we would have exactly the house we want."
"Very true," I replied; "but to build a house, a man must have money."
"Oh no!" said she, "or at least not much. For one thing, you might join a building association. In some of those societies I know that you only have to pay a dollar a week."
"But do you suppose the association builds houses for all its members?" I asked.
"Of course I suppose so. Else why is it called a building association?"
I had read a good deal about these organizations, and I explained to Euphemia that a dollar a week was never received by any of them in payment for a new house.
"Then build yourself," she said; "I know how that can be done."
"Oh, it's easy enough," I remarked, "if you have the money."
"No, you needn't have any money," said Euphemia, rather hastily. "Just let me show you. Supposing, for instance, that you want to build a house worth—well, say twenty thousand dollars, in some pretty town near the city."
"I would rather figure on a cheaper house than that for a country place," I interrupted.
"Well then, say two thousand dollars. You get masons, and carpenters, and people to dig the cellar, and you engage them to build your house. You needn't pay them until it's done, of course. Then when it's all finished, borrow two thousand dollars and give the house as security. After that you see, you have only to pay the interest on the borrowed money. When you save enough money to pay back the loan, the house is your own. Now, isn't that a good plan?"
"Yes," said I, "if there could be found people who would build your house and wait for their money until some one would lend you its full value on a mortgage."
"Well," said Euphemia, "I guess they could be found if you would only look for them."
"I'll look for them, when I go to heaven," I said.
We gave up for the present, the idea of building or buying a house, and determined to rent a small place in the country, and then, as Euphemia wisely said, if we liked it, we might buy it. After she had dropped her building projects she thought that one ought to know just how a house would suit before having it on one's hands.
We could afford something better than a canal-boat now, and therefore we were not so restricted as in our first search for a house. But, the one thing which troubled my wife—and, indeed, caused me much anxious thought, was that scourge of almost all rural localities—tramps. It would be necessary for me to be away all day,—and we could not afford to keep a man,—so we must be careful to get a house somewhere off the line of ordinary travel, or else in a well-settled neighborhood, where there would be some one near at hand in case of unruly visitors.
"A village I don't like," said Euphemia: "there is always so much gossip, and people know all about what you have, and what you do. And yet it would be very lonely, and perhaps dangerous, for us to live off somewhere, all by ourselves. And there is another objection to a village. We don't want a house with a small yard and a garden at the back. We ought to have a dear little farm, with some fields for corn, and a cow, and a barn and things of that sort. All that would be lovely. I'll tell you what we want," she cried, seized with a sudden inspiration; "we ought to try to get the end-house of a village. Then our house could be near the neighbors, and our farm could stretch out a little way into the country beyond us. Let us fix our minds upon such a house and I believe we can get it."
So we fixed our minds, but in the course of a week or two we unfixed them several times to allow the consideration of places, which otherwise would have been out of range; and during one of these intervals of mental disfixment we took a house.
It was not the end-house of a village, but it was in the outskirts of a very small rural settlement. Our nearest neighbor was within vigorous shouting distance, and the house suited us so well in other respects, that we concluded that this would do. The house was small, but large enough. There were some trees around it, and a little lawn in front. There was a garden, a small barn and stable, a pasture field, and land enough besides for small patches of corn and potatoes. The rent was low, the water good, and no one can imagine how delighted we were.
We did not furnish the whole house at first, but what mattered it? We had no horse or cow, but the pasture and barn were ready for them. We did not propose to begin with everything at once.
Our first evening in that house was made up of hours of unalloyed bliss. We walked from room to room; we looked out on the garden and the lawn; we sat on the little porch while I smoked.
"We were happy at Rudder Grange," said Euphemia; "but that was only a canal-boat, and could not, in the nature of things, have been a permanent home."
"No," said I, "it could not have been permanent. But, in many respects, it was a delightful home. The very name of it brings pleasant thoughts."
"It was a nice name," said Euphemia, "and I'll tell you what we might do: Let us call this place Rudder Grange—the New Rudder Grange! The name will do just as well for a house as for a boat."
I agreed on the spot, and the house was christened.
Our household was small; we had a servant—a German woman; and we had ourselves, that was all.
I did not do much in the garden; it was too late in the season. The former occupant had planted some corn and potatoes, with a few other vegetables, and these I weeded and hoed, working early in the morning and when I came home in the afternoon. Euphemia tied up the rose-vines, trimmed the bushes, and with a little rake and hoe she prepared a flower-bed in front of the parlor-window. This exercise gave us splendid appetites, and we loved our new home more and more.
Our German girl did not suit us exactly at first, and day by day she grew to suit us less. She was a quiet, kindly, pleasant creature, and delighted in an out-of-door life. She was as willing to weed in the garden as she was to cook or wash. At first I was very much pleased with this, because, as I remarked to Euphemia, you can find very few girls who would be willing to work in the garden, and she might be made very useful.
But, after a time, Euphemia began to get a little out of patience with her. She worked out-of-doors entirely too much. And what she did there, as well as some of her work in the house, was very much like certain German literature—you did not know how it was done, or what it was for.