Frank R. Stockton
Part 4 out of 4
"'But if the bank isn't open you can't pay for it when it does
come,' we heard the old lady a-sayin' as we hurried off.
"We didn't lose no time agoin' down to that station, an' it's lucky
we didn't, for a train for the city was comin' jus' as we got
there, an' we jumped aboard without havin' no time to buy tickets.
There wasn't many people in our car, an we got a seat together.
"'Now then,' says Jone, as the cars went abuzzin' along, 'I feel as
if I was really on a bridal-trip, which I mus' say I didn't at that
"An' then I said: 'I should think not,' an' we both bust out a-
laughin', as well we might, feelin' sich a change of surroundin's.
"'Do you think,' says somebody behind us, when we'd got through
laughin', 'that if I was to send a boy up to the cashier he would
either come down or send me the key of the bank?'
"We both turned aroun' as quick as lightnin', an' if there wasn't
them two lunertics in the seat behind us!
"It nearly took our breaths away to see them settin' there, staring
at us with their thimble eyes, an' a-wearin' their little straw
hats, both alike.
"'How on the livin' earth did you two got here?' says I, as soon as
I could speak.
"'Oh, we come by the same way you come--by the tem-per-ary stairs,'
says Mrs. Jackson. 'We thought if it was too late to draw any
money to-night, it might be well to be on hand bright an' early in
the mornin'. An' so we follered you two, as close as we could,
because we knew you could take us right to the very bank doors, an'
we didn't know the way ourselves, not never havin' had no occasion
to attend to nothin' of this kind before.'
"Jone an' I looked at each other, but we didn't speak for a minute.
"'Then,' says I, 'here's a pretty kittle o' fish.'
"'I should kinder say so,' says Jone. 'We've got these here two
lunertics on our hands, sure enough, for there ain't no train back
to Pokus tonight, an' I wouldn't go back with 'em if there was. We
must keep an eye on 'em till we can see the doctor to-morrow.'
"'I suppose we must,' said I, 'but this don't seem as much like a
bridal-trip as it did a while ago.'
"'You're right there,' says Jone.
"When the conductor came along we had to pay the fare of them two
lunertics, besides our own, for neither of 'em had a cent about
'em. When we got to town we went to a smallish hotel, near the
ferry, where Jone knowed the man who kep' it, who wouldn't bother
about none of us havin' a scrap of baggage, knowin' he'd get his
money all the same, out of either Jone or his father. The General
an' his sister looked a kind o' funny in their little straw hats
an' green carpet-slippers, an' the clerk didn't know whether he
hadn't forgot how to read writin' when the big man put down the
names of General Tom Thumb and Mrs. ex-President Andrew Jackson,
which he wasn't ex-President anyway, bein' dead; but Jone he
whispered they was travelin' under nommys dess plummys (I told him
to say that), an' he would fix it all right in the mornin'. An'
then we got some supper, which it took them two lunertics a long
time to eat, for they was all the time forgettin' what particular
kind o' business they was about, an' then we was showed to our
rooms. They had two rooms right across the hall from ours. We
hadn't been inside our room five minutes before Mrs. General
Jackson come a-knockin' at the door.
"'Look a-here,' she says to me, 'there's a unforeseen contingency
in my room. An' it smells.'
"So I went right in, an' sure enough it did smell, for she had
turned on all the gases, besides the one that was lighted.
"'What did you do that for?' says I, a-turnin' them off as fast as
"'I'd like to know what they're made for,' says she, 'if they isn't
to be turned on.'
"When I told Jone about this he looked real serious, an' jus' then
a waiter came upstairs an' went into the big man's room. In a
minute he come out an' says to Jone an' me, a-grinnin':
"'We can't suit him no better in this house.'
"'What does he want?' asks Jone.
"'Why, he wants a smaller bed,' says the waiter. 'He says he can't
sleep in a bed as big as that, an' we haven't none smaller in this
house, which he couldn't get into if we had, in my opinion,' says
"'All right,' says Jone. 'Jus' you go downstairs, an' I'll fix
him.' So the man goes off, still a-grinnin'. 'I tell you what it
is,' says Jone, 'it wont do to let them two lunertics have rooms to
themselves. They'll set this house afire or turn it upside down in
the middle of the night, if they has. There's nuthin' to be done
but for you to sleep with the woman an' for me to sleep with the
man, an' to keep 'em from cuttin' up till mornin'.'
"So Jone he went into the room where General Tom Thumb was a-
settin' with his hat on, a-lookin' doleful at the bed, an' says he:
"'What's the matter with the bed?'
"'Oh, it's too large entirely,' says the General. 'It wouldn't do
for me to sleep in a bed like that. It would ruin my character as
a genuine Thumb.'
"'Well,' says Jone, 'it's nearly two times too big for you, but if
you an' me was both to sleep in it, it would be about right,
"'Oh yes,' says the General. An' he takes off his hat, an' Jone
says good-night to me an' shuts the door. Our room was better than
Mrs. General Jackson's, so I takes her in there, an' the fust thing
she does is to turn on all the gases.
"'Stop that!' I hollers. 'If you do that again,--I'll--I'll break
the United States Bank tomorrow!'
"'How'll you do that?' says she.
"'I'll draw out all my capital,' says I.
"'I hope really you wont,' says she, 'till I've been there,' an'
she leans out of the open winder to look into the street, but while
she was a-lookin' out I see her left hand a-creepin' up to the gas
by the winder, that wasn't lighted. I felt mad enough to take her
by the feet an' pitch her out, as you an the boarder," said Pomona,
turning to me, "h'isted me out of the canal-boat winder."
This, by the way, was the first intimation we had had that Pomona
knew how she came to fall out of that window.
"But I didn't do it," she continued, "for there wasn't no soft
water underneath for her to fall into. After we went to bed I kep'
awake for a long time, bein' afraid she'd get up in the night an'
turn on all the gases and smother me alive. But I fell asleep at
last, an' when I woke up, early in the mornin', the first thing I
did was to feel for that lunertic. But she was gone!"
IN WHICH AN OLD FRIEND APPEARS AND THE BRIDAL TRIP TAKES A FRESH
"Gone?" cried Euphemia, who, with myself, had been listening most
intently to Pomona's story.
"Yes," continued Pomona, "she was gone. I give one jump out of bed
and felt the gases, but they was all right. But she was gone, an'
her clothes was gone. I dressed, as pale as death, I do expect,
an' hurried to Jone's room, an' he an' me an' the big man was all
ready in no time to go an' look for her. General Tom Thumb didn't
seem very anxious, but we made him hurry up an' come along with us.
We couldn't afford to leave him nowheres. The clerk down-stairs--a
different one from the chap who was there the night before--said
that a middle-aged, elderly lady came down about an hour before an'
asked him to tell her the way to the United States Bank, an' when
he told her he didn't know of any such bank, she jus' stared at
him, an' wanted to know what he was put there for. So he didn't
have no more to say to her, an' she went out, an' he didn't take no
notice which way she went. We had the same opinion about him that
Mrs. Jackson had, but we didn't stop to tell him so. We hunted up
an' down the streets for an hour or more; we asked every policeman
we met if he'd seen her; we went to a police station; we did
everything we could think of, but no Mrs. Jackson turned up. Then
we was so tired an' hungry that we went into some place or other
an' got our breakfast. When we started out ag'in, we kep' on up
one street an' down another, an' askin' everybody who looked as if
they had two grains of sense,--which most of 'em didn't look as if
they had mor'n one, an' that was in use to get 'em to where they
was goin.' At last, a little ways down a small street, we seed a
crowd, an' the minute we see it Jone an' me both said in our inside
hearts: 'There she is!' An' sure enough, when we got there, who
should we see, with a ring of street-loafers an' boys around her,
but Mrs. Andrew Jackson, with her little straw hat an' her green
carpet-slippers, a-dancin' some kind of a skippin' fandango, an' a-
holdin' out her skirts with the tips of her fingers. I was jus'
agoin' to rush in an' grab her when a man walks quick into the ring
and touches her on the shoulder. The minute I seed him I knowed
him. It was our old boarder!"
"It was?" exclaimed Euphemia.
"Yes it was truly him, an' I didn't want him to see me there in
such company, an' he most likely knowin' I was on my bridal-trip,
an' so I made a dive at my bonnet to see if I had a vail on; an'
findin' one, I hauled it down.
"'Madam,' says the boarder, very respectful, to Mrs. Jackson,
'where do you live? Can't I take you home?' 'No, sir,' says she,
'at least not now. If you have a carriage, you may come for me
after a while. I am waiting for the Bank of the United States to
open, an' until which time I must support myself on the light
fantastic toe,' an' then she tuk up her skirts, an' begun to dance
ag'in. But she didn't make mor'n two skips before I rushed in, an'
takin' her by the arm hauled her out o' the ring. An' then up
comes the big man with his face as red as fire. 'Look' here!' says
he to her, as if he was ready to eat her up. 'Did you draw every
cent of that money?' 'Not yet, not yet,' says she. 'You did, you
purse-proud cantalope,' says he. 'You know very well you did, an'
now I'd like to know where my ox-money is to come from.' But Jone
an' me didn't intend to wait for no sich talk as this, an' he tuk
the man by the arm, and I tuk the old woman, an' we jus' walked 'em
off. The boarder he told the loafers to get out an' go home, an'
none of 'em follered us, for they know'd if they did he'd a batted
'em over the head. But he comes up alongside o' me, as I was a'
walkin' behind with Mrs. Jackson, an' says he: 'How d'ye do,
Pomona?' I must say I felt as if I could slip in between two
flagstones, but as I couldn't get away, I said I was pretty well.
'I heared you was on your bridal trip,' says he ag'in; 'is this
it?' It was jus' like him to know that, an' as there was no help
for it, I said it was. 'Is that your husband?' says he, pointin'
to Jone. 'Yes,' says I. 'It was very good in him to come along,'
says he. 'Is these two your groomsman and bridesmaid?' 'No sir,'
says I. 'They're crazy.' 'No wonder,' says he. 'It's enough to
drive 'em so, to see you two,' an' then he went ahead an' shook
hands with Jone, an' told him he'd know'd me a long time; but he
didn't say nuthin' about havin' histed me out of a winder, for
which I was obliged to him. An' then he come back to me an' says
he, 'Good-mornin', I must go to the office. I hope you'll have a
good time for the rest of your trip. If you happen to run short o'
lunertics, jus' let me know, and I'll furnish you with another
pair.' 'All right,' says I; 'but you mustn't bring your little
"He kinder laughed at this, as we walked away, an' then he turned
around an' come back, and says he, 'Have you been to any the-ay-
ters, or anything, since you've been in town?' 'No,' says I, 'not
one.' 'Well,' says he, 'you ought to go. Which do you like best,
the the-ay-ter, the cir-cus, or wild-beasts?' I did really like
the the-ay-ter best, havin' thought of bein' a play-actor, as you
know, but I considered I'd better let that kind o' thing slide jus'
now, as bein' a little too romantic, right after the 'sylum, an' so
I says, 'I've been once to a circus, an' once to a wild-beast
garden, an' I like 'em both. I hardly know which I like best--the
roarin' beasts, a-prancin' about in their cages, with the smell of
blood an' hay, an' the towerin' elephants; or the horses, an' the
music, an' the gauzy figgers at the circus, an' the splendid
knights in armor an' flashin' pennants, all on fiery steeds, a-
plungin' ag'in the sides of the ring, with their flags a-flyin' in
the grand entry,' says I, real excited with what I remembered about
"'Well,' says he, 'I don't wonder at your feelin's. An' now,
here's two tickets for to-night, which you an' your husband can
have, if you like, for I can't go. They're to a meetin' of the
Hudson County Enter-mo-logical Society, over to Hoboken, at eight
"'Over to Hoboken!' says I; 'that's a long way.'
"'Oh no, it isn't,' says he. 'An' it wont cost you a cent, but the
ferry. They couldn't have them shows in the city, for, if the
creatures was to get loose, there's no knowin' what might happen.
So take 'em, an' have as much fun as you can for the rest of your
trip. Good-bye!' An' off he went.
"Well, we kep' straight on to the doctor's, an' glad we was when we
got there, an' mad he was when we lef' Mrs. Jackson an' the General
on his hands, for we wouldn't have no more to do with 'em, an' he
couldn't help undertaking' to see that they got back to the asylum.
I thought at first he wouldn't lift a finger to get us our trunk;
but he cooled down after a bit, an' said he hoped we'd try some
different kind of institution for the rest of our trip, which we
said we thought we would.
"That afternoon we gawked around, a-lookin' at all the outside
shows, for Jone said he'd have to be pretty careful of his money
now, an' he was glad when I told him I had two free tickets in my
pocket for a show in the evenin.'
"As we was a-walkin' down to the ferry, after supper, says he:
"'Suppose you let me have a look at them tickets.'
"So I hands 'em to him. He reads one of 'em, and then he reads the
other, which he needn't 'a' done, for they was both alike, an' then
he turns to me, an' says he:
"'What kind of a man is your boarder-as-was?'
"It wasn't the easiest thing in the world to say jus' what he was,
but I give Jone the idea, in a general sort of way, that he was
"'So I should think,' says he. 'He's been tryin' a trick on us,
and sendin' us to the wrong place. It's rather late in the season
for a show of the kind, but the place we ought to go to is a
"'What on earth are you talkin' about?' says I, dumbfoundered.
"'Well,' says he, 'it's a trick he's been playin'. He thought a
bridal trip like ours ought to have some sort of a outlandish wind-
up, an' so he sent us to this place, which is a meetin' of chaps
who are agoin' to talk about insec's,--principally potato-bugs, I
expec'--an' anything stupider than that, I s'pose your boarder-as-
was couldn't think of, without havin' a good deal o' time to
"'It's jus' like him,' says I. 'Let's turn round and go back,'
which we did, prompt.
"We gave the tickets to a little boy who was sellin' papers, but I
don't believe he went.
"'Now then,' says Jone, after he'd been thinkin' awhile, 'there'll
be no more foolin' on this trip. I've blocked out the whole of the
rest of it, an' we'll wind up a sight better than that boarder-as-
was has any idea of. To-morrow we'll go to father's an' if the old
gentleman has got any money on the crops, which I expec' he has, by
this time, I'll take up a part o' my share, an' we'll have a trip
to Washington, an' see the President, an' Congress, an' the White
House, an' the lamp always a-burnin' before the Supreme Court, an'--'
"'Don't say no more, says I, 'it's splendid!'
"So, early the nex' day, we goes off jus' as fast as trains would
take us to his father's, an' we hadn't been there mor'n ten
minutes, before Jone found out he had been summoned on a jury.
"'When must you go?' says I, when he come, lookin' a kind o' pale,
to tell me this.
"'Right off,' says he. 'The court meets this mornin'. If I don't
hurry up, I'll have some of 'em after me. But I wouldn't cry about
it. I don't believe the case'll last more'n a day.'
"The old man harnessed up an' took Jone to the court-house, an' I
went too, for I might as well keep up the idea of a bridal-trip as
not. I went up into the gallery, and Jone, he was set among the
other men in the jury-box.
"The case was about a man named Brown, who married the half-sister
of a man named Adams, who afterward married Brown's mother, and
sold Brown a house he had got from Brown's grandfather, in trade
for half a grist-mill, which the other half of was owned by Adams's
half-sister's first husband, who left all his property to a soup
society, in trust, till his son should come of age, which he never
did, but left a will which give his half of the mill to Brown, and
the suit was between Brown and Adams and Brown again, and Adams's
half-sister, who was divorced from Brown, and a man named Ramsey,
who had put up a new over-shot wheel to the grist-mill."
"Oh my!" exclaimed Euphemia. "How could you remember all that?"
"I heard it so often, I couldn't help remembering it," replied
Pomona. And she went on with her narrative.
"That case wasn't a easy one to understand, as you may see for
yourselves, and it didn't get finished that day. They argyed over
it a full week. When there wasn't no more witnesses to carve up,
one lawyer made a speech, an' he set that crooked case so straight,
that you could see through it from the over-shot wheel clean back
to Brown's grandfather. Then another feller made a speech, and he
set the whole thing up another way. It was jus' as clear, to look
through, but it was another case altogether, no more like the other
one than a apple-pie is like a mug o' cider. An' then they both
took it up, an' they swung it around between them, till it was all
twisted an' knotted an' wound up, an' tangled, worse than a skein
o' yarn in a nest o' kittens, an' then they give it to the jury.
"Well, when them jurymen went out, there wasn't none of 'em, as
Jone tole me afterward, as knew whether is was Brown or Adams as
was dead, or whether the mill was to grind soup, or to be run by
soup-power. Of course they couldn't agree; three of 'em wanted to
give a verdict for the boy that died, two of 'em was for Brown's
grandfather, an' the rest was scattered, some goin' in for damages
to the witnesses, who ought to get somethin' for havin' their char-
ac-ters ruined. Jone he jus' held back, ready to jine the other
eleven as soon as they'd agree. But they couldn't do it, an' they
was locked up three days and four nights. You'd better believe I
got pretty wild about it, but I come to court every day an' waited
an' waited, bringin' somethin' to eat in a baskit.
"One day, at dinner-time, I seed the judge astandin' at the court-
room door, a-wipin' his forrid with a handkerchief, an' I went up
to him an' said, 'Do you think, sir, they'll get through this thing
"'I can't say, indeed,' said he. 'Are you interested in the case?'
"'I should think I was,' said I, an' then I told him about Jone's
bein' a juryman, an' how we was on our bridal-trip.
"'You've got my sympathy, madam,' says he, 'but it's a difficult
case to decide, an' I don't wonder it takes a good while.'
"'Nor I nuther,' says I, 'an' my opinion about these things is,
that if you'd jus' have them lawyers shut up in another room, an'
make 'em do their talkin' to theirselves, the jury could keep their
minds clear, and settle the cases in no time.'
"'There's some sense in that, madam,' says he, an' then he went
into court ag'in.
"Jone never had no chance to jine in with the other fellers, for
they couldn't agree, an' they were all discharged, at last. So the
whole thing went for nuthin.
"When Jone come out, he looked like he'd been drawn through a pump-
log, an' he says to me, tired-like,
"'Has there been a frost?'
"'Yes,' says I, 'two of 'em.'
"'All right, then,' says he. 'I've had enough of bridal-trips,
with their dry falls, their lunatic asylums, and their jury-boxes.
Let's go home and settle down. We needn't be afraid, now that
there's been a frost.'"
"Oh, why will you live in such a dreadful place?" cried Euphemia.
"You ought to go somewhere where you needn't be afraid of chills."
"That's jus' what I thought, ma'am," returned Pomona. "But Jone
an' me got a disease-map of this country an' we looked all over it
careful, an' wherever there wasn't chills there was somethin' that
seemed a good deal wuss to us. An' says Jone, 'If I'm to have
anything the matter with me, give me somethin' I'm used to. It
don't do for a man o' my time o' life to go changin' his
"So home we went. An' there we is now. An' as this is the end of
the bridal-trip story, I'll go an' take a look at the cow an' the
chickens an' the horse, if you don't mind."
Which we didn't,--and we gladly went with her over the estate.
IN WHICH WE TAKE A VACATION AND LOOK FOR DAVID DUTTON.
It was about noon of a very fair July day, in the next summer, when
Euphemia and myself arrived at the little town where we were to
take the stage up into the mountains. We were off for a two weeks'
vacation and our minds were a good deal easier than when we went
away before, and left Pomona at the helm. We had enlarged the
boundaries of Rudder Grange, having purchased the house, with
enough adjoining land to make quite a respectable farm. Of course
I could not attend to the manifold duties on such a place, and my
wife seldom had a happier thought than when she proposed that we
should invite Pomona and her husband to come and live with us.
Pomona was delighted, and Jonas was quite willing to run our farm.
So arrangements were made, and the young couple were established in
apartments in our back building, and went to work as if taking care
of us and our possessions was the ultimate object of their lives.
Jonas was such a steady fellow that we feared no trouble from tree-
man or lightning rodder during this absence.
Our destination was a country tavern on the stage-road, not far
from the point where the road crosses the ridge of the mountain-
range, and about sixteen miles from the town. We had heard of this
tavern from a friend of ours, who had spent a summer there. The
surrounding country was lovely, and the house was kept by a farmer,
who was a good soul, and tried to make his guests happy. These
were generally passing farmers and wagoners, or stage-passengers,
stopping for a meal, but occasionally a person from the cities,
like our friend, came to spend a few weeks in the mountains.
So hither we came, for an out-of-the-world spot like this was just
what we wanted. When I took our places at the stage-office, I
inquired for David Dutton, the farmer tavern-keeper before
mentioned, but the agent did not know of him.
"However," said he, "the driver knows everybody on the road, and
he'll set you down at the house."
So, off we started, having paid for our tickets on the basis that
we were to ride about sixteen miles. We had seats on top, and the
trip, although slow,--for the road wound uphill steadily,--was a
delightful one. Our way lay, for the greater part of the time,
through the woods, but now and then we came to a farm, and a turn
in the road often gave us lovely views of the foot-hills and the
valleys behind us.
But the driver did not know where Dutton's tavern was. This we
found out after we had started. Some persons might have thought it
wiser to settle this matter before starting, but I am not at all
sure that it would have been so. We were going to this tavern, and
did not wish to go anywhere else. If people did not know where it
was, it would be well for us to go and look for it. We knew the
road that it was on, and the locality in which it was to be found.
Still, it was somewhat strange that a stage-driver, passing along
the road every week-day,--one day one way, and the next the other
way,--should not know a public-house like Dutton's.
"If I remember rightly," I said, "the stage used to stop there for
the passengers to take supper."
"Well, then, it aint on this side o' the ridge," said the driver;
"we stop for supper, about a quarter of a mile on the other side,
at Pete Lowry's. Perhaps Dutton used to keep that place. Was it
called the 'Ridge House'?"
I did not remember the name of the house, but I knew very well that
it was not on the other side of the ridge.
"Then," said the driver, "I'm sure I don't know where it is. But
I've only been on the road about a year, and your man may 'a' moved
away afore I come. But there aint no tavern this side the ridge,
arter ye leave Delhi, and, that's nowhere's nigh the ridge."
There were a couple of farmers who were sitting by the driver, and
who had listened with considerable interest to this conversation.
Presently, one of them turned around to me and said:
"Is it Dave Dutton ye're askin' about?"
"Yes," I replied, "that's his name."
"Well, I think he's dead," said he.
At this, I began to feel uneasy, and I could see that my wife
shared my trouble.
Then the other farmer spoke up.
"I don't believe he's dead, Hiram," said he to his companion "I
heered of him this spring. He's got a sheep-farm on the other side
o' the mountain, and he's a livin' there. That's what I heered, at
any rate. But he don't live on this road any more," he continued,
turning to us. "He used to keep tavern on this road, and the
stages did used to stop fur supper--or else dinner, I don't jist
ree-collect which. But he don't keep tavern on this road no more."
"Of course not," said his companion, "if he's a livin' over the
mountain. But I b'lieve he's dead."
I asked the other farmer if he knew how long it had been since
Dutton had left this part of the country.
"I don't know fur certain," he said, "but I know he was keeping
tavern here two year' ago, this fall, fur I came along here,
myself, and stopped there to git supper--or dinner, I don't jist
It had been three years since our friend had boarded at Dutton's
house. There was no doubt that the man was not living at his old
place now. My wife and I now agreed that it was very foolish in us
to come so far without making more particular inquiries. But we
had had an idea that a man who had a place like Dutton's tavern
would live there always.
"What are ye goin' to do?" asked the driver, very much interested,
for it was not every day that he had passengers who had lost their
destination. "Ye might go on to Lowry's. He takes boarders
But Lowry's did not attract us. An ordinary country-tavern, where
stage-passengers took supper, was not what we came so far to find.
"Do you know where this house o' Dutton's is?" said the driver, to
the man who had once taken either dinner or supper there.
"Oh yes! I'd know the house well enough, if I saw it. It's the
fust house this side o' Lowry's."
"With a big pole in front of it?" asked the driver.
"Yes, there was a sign-pole in front of it."
"An a long porch?"
"Oh! well!" said the driver, settling himself in his seat. "I know
all about that house. That's a empty house. I didn't think you
meant that house. There's nobody lives there. An' yit, now I come
to remember, I have seen people about, too. I tell ye what ye
better do. Since ye're so set on staying on this side the ridge,
ye better let me put ye down at Dan Carson's place. That's jist
about quarter of a mile from where Dutton used to live. Dan's wife
can tell ye all about the Duttons, an' about everybody else, too,
in this part o' the country, and if there aint nobody livin' at the
old tavern, ye can stay all night at Carson's, and I'll stop an'
take you back, to-morrow, when I come along."
We agreed to this plan, for there was nothing better to be done,
and, late in the afternoon, we were set down with our small trunk--
for we were traveling under light weight--at Dan Carson's door.
The stage was rather behind time, and the driver whipped up and
left us to settle our own affairs. He called back, however, that
he would keep a good lookout for us to-morrow.
Mrs. Carson soon made her appearance, and, very naturally, was
somewhat surprised to see visitors with their baggage standing on
her little porch. She was a plain, coarsely dressed woman, with an
apron full of chips and kindling wood, and a fine mind for detail,
as we soon discovered.
"Jist so," said she, putting down the chips, and inviting us to
seats on a bench. "Dave Dutton's folks is all moved away. Dave
has a good farm on the other side o' the mountain, an' it never did
pay him to keep that tavern, 'specially as he didn't sell liquor.
When he went away, his son Al come there to live with his wife, an'
the old man left a good deal o' furniter and things fur him, but
Al's wife aint satisfied here, and, though they've been here, off
an' on, the house is shet up most o' the time. It's fur sale an'
to rent, both, ef anybody wants it. I'm sorry about you, too, fur
it was a nice tavern, when Dave kept it."
We admitted that we were also very sorry, and the kind-hearted
woman showed a great deal of sympathy.
"You might stay here, but we haint got no fit room where you two
At this, Euphemia and I looked very blank. "But you could go up to
the house and stay, jist as well as not," Mrs. Carson continued.
"There's plenty o' things there, an' I keep the key. For the
matter o' that, ye might take the house for as long as ye want to
stay; Dave 'd be glad enough to rent it; and, if the lady knows how
to keep house, it wouldn't be no trouble at all, jist for you two.
We could let ye have all the victuals ye'd want, cheap, and there's
plenty o' wood there, cut, and everything handy."
We looked at each other. We agreed. Here was a chance for a rare
good time. It might be better, perhaps, than anything we had
The bargain was struck. Mrs. Carson, who seemed vested with all
the necessary powers of attorney, appeared to be perfectly
satisfied with our trustworthiness, and when I paid on the spot the
small sum she thought proper for two weeks' rent, she evidently
considered she had done a very good thing for Dave Dutton and
"I'll jist put some bread, an' eggs, an' coffee, an' pork, an'
things in a basket, an' I'll have 'em took up fur ye, with yer
trunk, an' I'll go with ye an' take some milk. Here, Danny!" she
cried, and directly her husband, a long, thin, sun-burnt, sandy-
headed man, appeared, and to him she told, in a few words, our
story, and ordered him to hitch up the cart and be ready to take
our trunk and the basket up to Dutton's old house.
When all was ready, we walked up the hill, followed by Danny and
the cart. We found the house a large, low, old-fashioned farm-
house, standing near the road with a long piazza in front, and a
magnificent view of mountain-tops in the rear. Within, the lower
rooms were large and low, with quite a good deal of furniture in
them. There was no earthly reason why we should not be perfectly
jolly and comfortable here. The more we saw, the more delighted we
were at the odd experience we were about to have. Mrs. Carson
busied herself in getting things in order for our supper and
general accommodation. She made Danny carry our trunk to a bedroom
in the second story, and then set him to work building a fire in a
great fire-place, with a crane for the kettle.
When she had done all she could, it was nearly dark, and after
lighting a couple of candles, she left us, to go home and get
supper for her own family.
As she and Danny were about to depart in the cart, she ran back to
ask us if we would like to borrow a dog.
"There aint nuthin to be afeard of," she said; "for nobody hardly
ever takes the trouble to lock the doors in these parts, but bein'
city folks, I thought ye might feel better if ye had a dog."
We made haste to tell her that we were not city folks, but declined
the dog. Indeed, Euphemia remarked that she would be much more
afraid of a strange dog than of robbers.
After supper, which we enjoyed as much as any meal we ever ate in
our lives, we each took a candle, and after arranging our bedroom
for the night, we explored the old house. There were lots of
curious things everywhere,--things that were apparently so "old
timey," as my wife remarked, that David Dutton did not care to take
them with him to his new farm, and so left them for his son, who
probably cared for them even less than his father did. There was a
garret extending over the whole house, and filled with old
spinning-wheels, and strings of onions, and all sorts of antiquated
bric-a-brac, which was so fascinating to me that I could scarcely
tear myself away from it; but Euphemia, who was dreadfully afraid
that I would set the whole place on fire, at length prevailed on me
to come down.
We slept soundly that night, in what was probably the best bedroom
of the house, and awoke with a feeling that we were about to enter
on a period of some uncommon kind of jollity, which we found to be
true when we went down to get breakfast. I made the fire, Euphemia
made the coffee, and Mrs. Carson came with cream and some fresh
eggs. The good woman was in high spirits. She was evidently
pleased at the idea of having neighbors, temporary though they
were, and it had probably been a long time since she had had such a
chance of selling milk, eggs and sundries. It was almost the same
as opening a country store. We bought groceries and everything of
We had a glorious time that day. We were just starting out for a
mountain stroll when our stage-driver came along on his down trip.
"Hello!" he called out. "Want to go back this morning?"
"Not a bit of it," I cried. "We wont go back for a couple of
weeks. We've settled here for the present."
The man smiled. He didn't seem to understand it exactly, but he
was evidently glad to see us so well satisfied. If he had had time
to stop and have the matter explained to him, he would probably
have been better satisfied; but as it was, he waved his whip to us
and drove on. He was a good fellow.
We strolled all day, having locked up the house and taken our lunch
with us; and when we came back, it seemed really like coming home.
Mrs. Carson with whom we had left the key, had brought the milk and
was making the fire. This woman was too kind. We determined to
try and repay her in some way. After a splendid supper we went to
The next day was a repetition of this one, but the day after it
rained. So we determined to enjoy the old tavern, and we rummaged
about everywhere. I visited the garret again, and we went to the
old barn, with its mows half full of hay, and had rare times
climbing about there. We were delighted that it happened to rain.
In a wood-shed, near the house, I saw a big square board with
letters on it. I examined the board, and found it was a sign,--a
hanging sign,--and on it was painted in letters that were yet quite
I called to Euphemia and told her that I had found the old tavern
sign. She came to look at it, and I pulled it out.
"Soldiers and sailors!" she exclaimed; "that's funny."
I looked over on her side of the sign, and, sure enough, there was
"They must have bought this comprehensive sign in some town," I
said. "Such a name would never have been chosen for a country
tavern like this. But I wish they hadn't taken it down. The house
would look more like what it ought to be with its sign hanging
"Well, then," said Euphemia, "let's put it up." I agreed instantly
to this proposition, and we went to look for a ladder. We found
one in the wagon-house, and carried it out to the sign-post in the
front of the house. It was raining, gently, during these
performances, but we had on our old clothes, and were so much
interested in our work that we did not care for a little rain. I
carried the sign to the post, and then, at the imminent risk of
breaking my neck, I hung it on its appropriate hooks on the
transverse beam of the sign-post. Now our tavern was really what
it pretended to be. We gazed on the sign with admiration and
"Do you think we had better keep it up all the time?" I asked of my
"Certainly," said she. "It's a part of the house. The place isn't
complete without it."
"But suppose some one should come along and want to be
"But no one will. And if people do come, I'll take care of the
soldiers and sailors, if you will attend to the farmers and
I consented to this, and we went in-doors to prepare dinner.
The next day was clear again, and we rambled in the woods until the
sun was nearly down, and so were late about supper. We were just
taking our seats at the table when we heard a footstep on the front
porch. Instantly the same thought came into each of our minds.
"I do believe," said Euphemia, "that's somebody who has mistaken
this for a tavern. I wonder whether it's a soldier or a farmer or
a sailor; but you had better go and see."
I went to see, prompted to move quickly by the new-comer pounding
his cane on the bare floor of the hall. I found him standing just
inside of the front door. He was a small man, with long hair and
beard, and dressed in a suit of clothes of a remarkable color,--
something of the hue of faded snuff. He had a big stick, and
carried a large flat valise in one hand.
He bowed to me very politely.
"Can I stop here to-night?" he asked, taking off his hat, as my
wife put her head out of the kitchen-door.
"Why,--no, sir," I said. "This is not a tavern."
"Not a tavern!" he exclaimed. "I don't understand that. You have
a sign out."
"That is true," I said; "but that is only for fun, so to speak. We
are here temporarily, and we put up that sign just to please
"That is pretty poor fun for me," said the man. "I am very tired,
and more hungry than tired. Couldn't you let me have a little
supper at any rate?"
Euphemia glanced at me. I nodded.
"You are welcome to some supper," she said, "Come in! We eat in
the kitchen because it is more convenient, and because it is so
much more cheerful than the dining-room. There is a pump out
there, and here is a towel, if you would like to wash your hands."
As the man went out the back door I complimented my wife. She was
really an admirable hostess.
The individual in faded snuff-color was certainly hungry, and he
seemed to enjoy his supper. During the meal he gave us some
account of himself. He was an artist and had traveled, mostly on
foot it would appear, over a great part of the country. He had in
his valise some very pretty little colored sketches of scenes in
Mexico and California, which he showed us after supper. Why he
carried these pictures--which were done on stiff paper--about with
him I do not know. He said he did not care to sell them, as he
might use them for studies for larger pictures some day. His
valise, which he opened wide on the table, seemed to be filled with
papers, drawings, and matters of that kind. I suppose he preferred
to wear his clothes, instead of carrying them about in his valise.
After sitting for about half an hour after supper, he rose, with an
uncertain sort of smile, and said he supposed he must be moving
on,--asking, at the same time, how far it was to the tavern over
"Just wait one moment, if you please," said Euphemia. And she
beckoned me out of the room.
"Don't you think," said she, "that we could keep him all night?
There's no moon, and it would be a fearful dark walk, I know, to
the other side of the mountain. There is a room upstairs that I
can fix for him in ten minutes, and I know he's honest."
"How do you know it?" I asked.
"Well, because he wears such curious-colored clothes. No criminal
would ever wear such clothes. He could never pass unnoticed
anywhere; and being probably the only person in the world who
dressed that way, he could always be detected."
"You are doubtless correct," I replied. "Let us keep him."
When we told the good man that he could stay all night, he was
extremely obliged to us, and went to bed quite early. After we had
fastened the house and had gone to our room, my wife said to me,
"Where is your pistol?"
I produced it.
"Well," said she, "I think you ought to have it where you can get
"Why so?" I asked. "You generally want me to keep it out of sight
"Yes; but when there is a strange man in the house we ought to take
"But this man you say is honest," I replied. "If he committed a
crime he could not escape,--his appearance is so peculiar."
"But that wouldn't do us any good, if we were both murdered," said
Euphemia, pulling a chair up to my side of the bed, and laying the
pistol carefully thereon, with the muzzle toward the bed.
We were not murdered, and we had a very pleasant breakfast with the
artist, who told us more anecdotes of his life in Mexico and other
places. When, after breakfast, he shut up his valise, preparatory
to starting away, we felt really sorry. When he was ready to go,
he asked for his bill.
"Oh! There is no bill," I exclaimed. "We have no idea of charging
you anything. We don't really keep a hotel, as I told you."
"If I had known that," said he, looking very grave, "I would not
have stayed. There is no reason why you should give me food and
lodgings, and I would not, and did not, ask it. I am able to pay
for such things, and I wish to do so."
We argued with him for some time, speaking of the habits of country
people and so on, but he would not be convinced. He had asked for
accommodation expecting to pay for it, and would not be content
until he had done so.
"Well," said Euphemia, "we are not keeping this house for profit,
and you can't force us to make anything out of you. If you will be
satisfied to pay us just what it cost us to entertain you, I
suppose we shall have to let you do that. Take a seat for a
minute, and I will make out your bill."
So the artist and I sat down and talked of various matters, while
my wife got out her traveling stationery-box, and sat down to the
dining-table to make out the bill. After a long, long time, as it
appeared to me, I said:
"My dear, if the amount of that bill is at all proportioned to the
length of time it takes to make it out, I think our friend here
will wish he had never said anything about it."
"It's nearly done," said she, without raising her head, and, in
about ten or fifteen minutes more, she rose and presented the bill
to our guest. As I noticed that he seemed somewhat surprised at
it, I asked him to let me look over it with him. The bill, of
which I have a copy, read as follows:
July 12th, 187-
To the S. and S. Hotel and F. and M. House.
To 1/3 one supper, July 11th, which supper consisted of:
1/14 lb. coffee, at 35 cts. 2 cts.
" " sugar, " 14 " 1 "
1/6 qt. milk, " 6 " 1 "
1/2 loaf bread " 6 " 3 "
1/8 lb. butter " 25 " 3 1/8 "
1/2 " bacon " 25 " 12 1/2 "
1/16 pk. potatoes at 60 cts. per bush 15/16 "
1/2 pt. hominy at 6 cts 3 "
1/3 of total 09 1/48 cts.
To 1/3 one breakfast, July 12th (same as
above, with exception of eggs instead of
bacon, and with hominy omitted),
1/3 total 08 1/48 "
To rent of one room and furniture, for one
night, in furnished house of fifteen rooms
at $6.00 per week for whole house 05 3/8 "
Amount due 22 17/24 cts.
The worthy artist burst out laughing when he read this bill, and so
"You needn't laugh," said Euphemia, reddening a little. "That is
exactly what your entertainment cost, and we do not intend to take
a cent more. We get things here in such small quantities that I
can tell quite easily what a meal costs us, and I have calculated
that bill very carefully."
"So I should think, madam," said the artist, "but it is not quite
right. You have charged nothing for your trouble and services."
"No," said my wife, "for I took no additional trouble to get your
meals. What I did, I should have done if you had not come. To be
sure I did spend a few minutes preparing your room. I will charge
you seven twenty-fourths of a cent for that, thus making your bill
twenty-three cents--even money."
"I cannot gainsay reasoning like yours, madam," he said, and he
took a quarter from a very fat old pocket-book, and handed it to
her. She gravely gave him two cents change, and then taking the
bill, receipted it, and handed it back to him.
We were sorry to part with our guest, for he was evidently a good
fellow. I walked with him a little way up the road, and got him to
let me copy his bill in my memorandum-book. The original, he said,
he would always keep.
A day or two after the artist's departure, we were standing on the
front piazza. We had had a late breakfast--consequent upon a long
tramp the day before--and had come out to see what sort of a day it
was likely to be. We had hardly made up our minds on the subject
when the morning stage came up at full speed and stopped at our
"Hello!" cried the driver. He was not our driver. He was a tall
man in high boots, and had a great reputation as a manager of
horses--so Danny Carson told me afterward. There were two drivers
on the line, and each of them made one trip a day, going up one day
in the afternoon, and down the next day in the morning.
I went out to see what this driver wanted.
"Can't you give my passengers breakfast?" he asked.
"Why, no!" I exclaimed, looking at the stage loaded inside and out.
"This isn't a tavern. We couldn't get breakfast for a stage-load
"What have you got a sign up fur, then?" roared the driver, getting
red in the face.
"That's so," cried two or three men from the top of the stage. "If
it aint a tavern, what's that sign doin' there?"
I saw I must do something. I stepped up close to the stage and
looked in and up.
"Are there any sailors in this stage?" I said. There was no
response. "Any soldiers? Any farmers or mechanics?"
At the latter question I trembled, but fortunately no one answered.
"Then," said I, "you have no right to ask to be accommodated; for,
as you may see from the sign, our house is only for soldiers,
sailors, farmers, and mechanics."
"And besides," cried Euphemia from the piazza, "we haven't anything
to give you for breakfast."
The people in and on the stage grumbled a good deal at this, and
looked as if they were both disappointed and hungry, while the
driver ripped out an oath, which, had he thrown it across a creek,
would soon have made a good-sized millpond.
He gathered up his reins and turned a sinister look on me.
"I'll be even with you, yit," he cried as he dashed off.
In the afternoon Mrs. Carson came up and told us that the stage had
stopped there, and that she had managed to give the passengers some
coffee, bread and butter and ham and eggs, though they had had to
wait their turns for cups and plates. It appeared that the driver
had quarreled with the Lowry people that morning because the
breakfast was behindhand and he was kept waiting. So he told his
passengers that there was another tavern, a few miles down the
road, and that he would take them there to breakfast.
"He's an awful ugly man, that he is," said Mrs. Carson, "an' he'd
better 'a' stayed at Lowry's, fur he had to wait a good sight
longer, after all, as it turned out. But he's dreadful mad at you,
an' says he'll bring ye farmers, an' soldiers, and sailors, an'
mechanics, if that's what ye want. I 'spect he'll do his best to
git a load of them particular people an' drop 'em at yer door. I'd
take down that sign, ef I was you. Not that me an' Danny minds,
fur we're glad to git a stage to feed, an' ef you've any single man
that wants lodgin' we've fixed up a room and kin keep him
Notwithstanding this warning, Euphemia and I decided not to take in
our sign. We were not to be frightened by a stage-driver. The
next day our own driver passed us on the road as he was going down.
"So ye're pertickler about the people ye take in, are ye?" said he,
smiling. "That's all right, but ye made Bill awful mad."
It was quite late on a Monday afternoon that Bill stopped at our
house again. He did not call out this time. He simply drew up,
and a man with a big black valise clambered down from the top of
the stage. Then Bill shouted to me as I walked down to the gate,
looking rather angry I suppose:
"I was agoin' to git ye a whole stage-load, to stay all night, but
that one'll do ye, I reckon. Ha, ha!" And off he went, probably
fearing that I would throw his passenger up on the top of the stage
The new-comer entered the gate. He was a dark man, with black hair
and black whiskers and mustache, and black eyes. He wore clothes
that had been black, but which were now toned down by a good deal
of dust, and, as I have said, he carried a black valise.
"Why did you stop here?" said I, rather inhospitably. "Don't you
know that we do not accommodate--"
"Yes, I know," he said, walking up on the piazza and setting down
his valise, "that you only take soldiers, sailors, farmers, and
mechanics at this house. I have been told all about it, and if I
had not thoroughly understood the matter I should not have thought
of such a thing as stopping here. If you will sit down for a few
moments I will explain." Saying this, he took a seat on a bench by
the door, but Euphemia and I continued to stand.
"I am," he continued, "a soldier, a sailor, a farmer, and a
mechanic. Do not doubt my word; I will prove it to you in two
minutes. When but seventeen years of age, circumstances compelled
me to take charge of a farm in New Hampshire, and I kept up that
farm until I was twenty-five. During this time I built several
barns, wagon-houses, and edifices of the sort on my place, and,
becoming expert in this branch of mechanical art, I was much sought
after by the neighboring farmers, who employed me to do similar
work for them. In time I found this new business so profitable
that I gave up farming altogether. But certain unfortunate
speculations threw me on my back, and finally, having gone from bad
to worse, I found myself in Boston, where, in sheer desperation, I
went on board a coasting vessel as landsman. I remained on this
vessel for nearly a year, but it did not suit me. I was often
sick, and did not like the work. I left the vessel at one of the
Southern ports, and it was not long after she sailed that, finding
myself utterly without means, I enlisted as a soldier. I remained
in the army for some years, and was finally honorably discharged.
So you see that what I said was true. I belong to each and all of
these businesses and professions. And now that I have satisfied
you on this point, let me show you a book for which I have the
agency in this country." He stooped down, opened his valise, and
took out a good-sized volume. "This book," said he, "is the 'Flora
and Fauna of Carthage County;' it is written by one of the first
scientific men of the country, and gives you a description, with an
authentic wood-cut, of each of the plants and animals of the
county--indigenous or naturalized. Owing to peculiar advantages
enjoyed by our firm, we are enabled to put this book at the very
low price of three dollars and seventy-five cents. It is sold by
subscription only, and should be on the center-table in every
parlor in this county. If you will glance over this book, sir, you
will find it as interesting as a novel, and as useful as an
"I don't want the book," I said, "and I don't care to look at it."
"But if you were to look at it you would want it, I'm sure."
"That's a good reason for not looking at it, then," I answered.
"If you came to get us to subscribe for that book we need not take
up any more of your time, for we shall not subscribe."
"Oh, I did not come for that alone," he said. "I shall stay here
to-night and start out in the morning to work up the neighborhood.
If you would like this book--and I'm sure you have only to look at
it to do that--you can deduct the amount of my bill from the
subscription price, and--"
"What did you say you charged for this book?" asked Euphemia,
stepping forward and picking up the volume.
"Three seventy-five is the subscription price, ma'am, but that book
is not for sale. That is merely a sample. If you put your name
down on my list you will be served with your book in two weeks. As
I told your husband, it will come very cheap to you, because you
can deduct what you charge me for supper, lodging, and breakfast."
"Indeed!" said my wife, and then she remarked that she must go in
the house and get supper.
"When will supper be ready?" the man asked, as she passed him.
At first she did not answer him, but then she called back:
"In about half an hour."
"Good," said the man; "but I wish it was ready now. And now, sir,
if you would just glance over this book, while we are waiting for
I cut him very short and went out into the road. I walked up and
down in front of the house, in a bad humor. I could not bear to
think of my wife getting supper for this fellow, who was striding
about on the piazza, as if he was very hungry and very impatient.
Just as I returned to the house, the bell rang from within.
"Joyful sound!" said the man, and in he marched. I followed close
behind him. On one end of the table, in the kitchen, supper was
set for one person, and, as the man entered, Euphemia motioned him
to the table. The supper looked like a remarkably good one. A cup
of coffee smoked by the side of the plate; there was ham and eggs
and a small omelette; there were fried potatoes, some fresh
radishes, a plate of hot biscuit, and some preserves. The man's
"I am sorry," said he, "that I am to eat alone, for I hoped to have
your good company; but, if this plan suits you, it suits me," and
he drew up a chair.
"Stop!" said Euphemia, advancing between him and the table. "You
are not to eat that. This is a sample supper. If you order a
supper like it, one will be served to you in two weeks."
At this I burst into a roar of laughter; my wife stood pale and
determined, and the man drew back, looking first at one of us, and
then at the other.
"Am I to understand--?" he said.
"Yes," I interrupted, "you are. There is nothing more to be said
on this subject. You may go now. You came here to annoy us,
knowing that we did not entertain travelers, and now you see what
you have made by it," and I opened the door.
The man evidently thought that a reply was not necessary, and he
walked out without a word. Taking up his valise, which he had put
in the hall, he asked if there was any public-house near by.
"No," I said; "but there is a farm-house a short distance down the
road, where they will be glad to have you." And down the road he
went to Mrs. Carson's. I am sorry to say that he sold her a "Flora
and Fauna" before he went to bed that night.
We were much amused at the termination of this affair, and I
became, if possible, a still greater admirer of Euphemia's talents
for management. But we both agreed that it would not do to keep up
the sign any longer. We could not tell when the irate driver might
not pounce down upon us with a customer.
"But I hate to take it down," said Euphemia; "it looks so much like
"Do not trouble yourself," said I. "I have an idea."
The next morning I went down to Danny Carson's little shop,--he was
a wheelwright as well as a farmer,--and I got from him two pots of
paint--one black and one white--and some brushes. I took down our
sign, and painted out the old lettering, and, instead of it, I
painted, in bold and somewhat regular characters, new names for our
On one side of the sign I painted:
And on the other side:
"Now then," I said, "I don't believe any of those people will be
traveling along the road while we are here, or, at any rate, they
won't want to stop."
We admired this sign very much, and sat on the piazza, that
afternoon, to see how it would strike Bill, as he passed by. It
seemed to strike him pretty hard, for he gazed with all his eyes at
one side of it, as he approached, and then, as he passed it, he
actually pulled up to read the other side.
"All right!" he called out, as he drove off. "All right! All
Euphemia didn't like the way he said "all right." It seemed to
her, she said, as if he intended to do something which would be all
right for him, but not at all so for us. I saw she was nervous
about it, for that evening she began to ask me questions about the
traveling propensities of soap-makers, upholsterers, and dentists.
"Do not think anything more about that, my dear," I said. "I will
take the sign down in the morning. We are here to enjoy ourselves,
and not to be worried."
"And yet," said she, "it would worry me to think that that driver
frightened us into taking down the sign. I tell you what I wish
you would do. Paint out those names, and let me make a sign. Then
I promise you I will not be worried."
The next day, therefore, I took down the sign and painted out my
inscriptions. It was a good deal of trouble, for my letters were
fresh, but it was a rainy day, and I had plenty of time, and
succeeded tolerably well. Then I gave Euphemia the black-paint pot
and the freedom of the sign.
I went down to the creek to try a little fishing in wet weather,
and when I returned the new sign was done. On one side it read:
On the other:
"You see," said euphemia, "if any individuals mentioned thereon
apply for accommodation, we can say we are full."
This sign hung triumphantly for several days, when one morning,
just as we had finished breakfast, we were surprised to hear the
stage stop at the door, and before we could go out to see who had
arrived, into the room came our own stage-driver, as we used to
call him. He had actually left his team to come and see us.
"I just thought I'd stop an' tell ye," said he, "that ef ye don't
look out, Bill'll get ye inter trouble. He's bound to git the best
o' ye, an' I heared this mornin', at Lowry's, that he's agoin' to
bring the county clerk up here to-morrow, to see about yer license
fur keepin' a hotel. He says ye keep changin' yer signs, but that
don't differ to him, for he kin prove ye've kept travelers
overnight, an' ef ye haven't got no license he'll make the county
clerk come down on ye heavy, I'm sure o' that, fur I know Bill.
An' so, I thought I'd stop an' tell ye."
I thanked him, and admitted that this was a rather serious view of
the case. Euphemia pondered a moment. Then said she:
"I don't see why we should stay here any longer. It's going to
rain again, and our vacation is up to-morrow, anyway. Could you
wait a little while, while we pack up?" she said to the driver.
"Oh yes!" he replied. "I kin wait, as well as not. I've only got
one passenger, an' he's on top, a-holdin' the horses. He aint in
any hurry, I know, an' I'm ahead o' time."
In less than twenty minutes we had packed our trunk, locked up the
house, and were in the stage, and, as we drove away, we cast a last
admiring look at Euphemia's sign, slowly swinging in the wind. I
would much like to know if it is swinging there yet. I feel
certain there has been no lack of custom.
We stopped at Mrs. Carson's, paid her what we owed her, and engaged
her to go up to the tavern and put things in order. She was very
sorry we were going, but hoped we would come back again some other
summer. We said that it was quite possible that we might do so;
but that, next time, we did not think we would try to have a tavern
of our own.
THE BABY AT RUDDER GRANGE.
For some reason, not altogether understood by me, there seemed to
be a continued series of new developments at our home. I had
supposed, when the events spoken of in the last chapter had settled
down to their proper places in our little history, that our life
would flow on in an even, commonplace way, with few or no incidents
worthy of being recorded. But this did not prove to be the case.
After a time, the uniformity and quiet of our existence was
This disturbance was caused by a baby, not a rude, imperious baby,
but a child who was generally of a quiet and orderly turn of mind.
But it disarranged all our plans; all our habits; all the ordinary
disposition of things.
It was in the summer-time, during my vacation, that it began to
exert its full influence upon us. A more unfortunate season could
not have been selected. At first, I may say that it did not exert
its full influence upon me. I was away, during the day, and, in
the evening, its influence was not exerted, to any great extent,
upon anybody. As I have said, its habits were exceedingly orderly.
But, during my vacation, the things came to pass which have made
this chapter necessary.
I did not intend taking a trip. As in a former vacation, I
proposed staying at home and enjoying those delights of the country
which my business in town did not allow me to enjoy in the working
weeks and months of the year. I had no intention of camping out,
or of doing anything of that kind, but many were the trips, rides,
and excursions I had planned.
I found, however, that if I enjoyed myself in this wise, I must do
it, for the most part, alone. It was not that Euphemia could not
go with me--there was really nothing to prevent--it was simply that
she had lost, for the time, her interest in everything except that
She wanted me to be happy, to amuse myself, to take exercise, to do
whatever I thought was pleasant, but she, herself, was so much
engrossed with the child, that she was often ignorant of what I
intended to do, or had done. She thought she was listening to what
I said to her, but, in reality, she was occupied, mind and body,
with the baby, or listening for some sound which should indicate
that she ought to go and be occupied with it.
I would often say to her: "Why can't you let Pomona attend to it?
You surely need not give up your whole time and your whole mind to
But she would always answer that Pomona had a great many things to
do, and that she couldn't, at all times, attend to the baby.
Suppose, for instance, that she should be at the barn.
I once suggested that a nurse should be procured, but at this she
"There is very little to do," she said, "and I really like to do
"Yes," said I, "but you spend so much of your time in thinking how
glad you will be to do that little, when it is to be done, that you
can't give me any attention, at all."
"Now you have no cause to say that," she exclaimed. "You know very
well--, there!" and away she ran. It had just begun to cry!
Naturally, I was getting tired of this. I could never begin a
sentence and feel sure that I would be allowed to finish it.
Nothing was important enough to delay attention to an infantile
Jonas, too, was in a state of unrest. He was obliged to wear his
good clothes, a great part of the time, for he was continually
going on errands to the village, and these errands were so
important that they took precedence of everything else. It gave me
a melancholy sort of pleasure, sometimes, to do Jonas's work when
he was thus sent away.
I asked him, one day, how he liked it all?
"Well," said he, reflectively, "I can't say as I understand it,
exactly. It does seem queer to me that such a little thing should
take up pretty nigh all the time of three people. I suppose, after
a while," this he said with a grave smile, "that you may be wanting
to turn in and help." I did not make any answer to this, for Jonas
was, at that moment, summoned to the house, but it gave me an idea.
In fact, it gave me two ideas.
The first was that Jonas's remark was not entirely respectful. He
was my hired man, but he was a very respectable man, and an
American man, and therefore might sometimes be expected to say
things which a foreigner, not known to be respectable, would not
think of saying, if he wished to keep his place. The fact that
Jonas had always been very careful to treat me with much civility,
caused this remark to make more impression on me. I felt that he
had, in a measure, reason for it.
The other idea was one which grew and developed in my mind until I
afterward formed a plan upon it. I determined, however, before I
carried out my plan, to again try to reason with Euphemia.
"If it was our own baby," I said, "or even the child of one of us,
by a former marriage, it would be a different thing; but to give
yourself up so entirely to Pomona's baby, seems, to me,
unreasonable. Indeed, I never heard of any case exactly like it.
It is reversing all the usages of society for the mistress to take
care of the servant's baby."
"The usages of society are not worth much, sometimes," said
Euphemia, "and you must remember that Pomona is a very different
kind of a person from an ordinary servant. She is much more like a
member of the family--I can't exactly explain what kind of a
member, but I understand it myself. She has very much improved
since she has been married, and you know, yourself, how quiet and--
and, nice she is, and as for the baby, it's just as good and pretty
as any baby, and it may grow up to be better than any of us. Some
of our presidents have sprung from lowly parents."
"But this one is a girl," I said.
"Well then," replied Euphemia, "she may be a president's wife."
"Another thing," I remarked, "I don't believe Jonas and Pomona like
your keeping their baby so much to yourself."
"Nonsense!" said Euphemia, "a girl in Pomona's position couldn't
help being glad to have a lady take an interest in her baby, and
help bring it up. And as for Jonas, he would be a cruel man if he
wasn't pleased and grateful to have his wife relieved of so much
trouble. Pomona! is that you? You can bring it here, now, if you
want to get at your clear-starching."
I don't believe that Pomona hankered after clear-starching, but she
brought the baby and I went away. I could not see any hope ahead.
Of course, in time, it would grow up, but then it couldn't grow up
during my vacation.
Then it was that I determined to carry out my plan.
I went to the stable and harnessed the horse to the little
carriage. Jonas was not there, and I had fallen out of the habit
of calling him. I drove slowly through the yard and out of the
gate. No one called to me or asked where I was going. How
different this was from the old times! Then, some one would not
have failed to know where I was going, and, in all probability, she
would have gone with me. But now I drove away, quietly and
About three miles from our house was a settlement known as New
Dublin. It was a cluster of poor and doleful houses, inhabited
entirely by Irish people, whose dirt and poverty seemed to make
them very contented and happy. The men were generally away, at
their work, during the day, but there was never any difficulty in
finding some one at home, no matter at what house one called. I
was acquainted with one of the matrons of this locality, a Mrs.
Duffy, who had occasionally undertaken some odd jobs at our house,
and to her I made a visit.
She was glad to see me, and wiped off a chair for me.
"Mrs. Duffy," said I, "I want to rent a baby."
At first, the good woman could not understand me, but when I made
plain to her that I wished for a short time, to obtain the
exclusive use and control of a baby, for which I was willing to pay
a liberal rental, she burst into long and violent laughter. It
seemed to her like a person coming into the country to purchase
weeds. Weeds and children were so abundant in New Dublin. But she
gradually began to see that I was in earnest, and as she knew I was
a trusty person, and somewhat noted for the care I took of my live
stock, she was perfectly willing to accommodate me, but feared she
had nothing on hand of the age I desired.
"Me childther are all agoin' about," she said. "Ye kin see a poile
uv 'em out yon, in the road, an' there's more uv 'em on the fince.
But ye nade have no fear about gittin' wan. There's sthacks of 'em
in the place. I'll jist run over to Mrs. Hogan's, wid ye. She's
got sixteen or siventeen, mostly small, for Hogan brought four or
five wid him when he married her, an' she'll be glad to rint wan uv
'em." So, throwing her apron over her head, she accompanied me to
That lady was washing, but she cheerfully stopped her work while
Mrs. Duffy took her to one side and explained my errand. Mrs.
Hogan did not appear to be able to understand why I wanted a baby-
especially for so limited a period,--but probably concluded that if
I would take good care of it and would pay well for it, the matter
was my own affair, for she soon came and said, that if I wanted a
baby, I'd come to the right place. Then she began to consider what
one she would let me have. I insisted on a young one--there was
already a little baby at our house, and the folks there would know
how to manage it.
"Oh, ye want it fer coompany for the ither one, is that it?" said
Mrs. Hogan, a new light breaking in upon her. "An' that's a good
plan, sure. It must be dridful lownly in a house wid ownly wan
baby. Now there's one--Polly--would she do?"
"Why, she can run," I said. "I don't want one that can run."
"Oh, dear!" said Mrs. Hogan, with a sigh, "they all begin to run,
very airly. Now Polly isn't owld, at all, at all."
"I can see that," said I, "but I want one that you can put in a
cradle--one that will have to stay there, when you put it in."
It was plain that Mrs. Hogan's present stock did not contain
exactly what I wanted, and directly Mrs. Duffy exclaimed! "There's
Mary McCann--an' roight across the way!"
Mrs. Hogan said "Yis, sure," and we all went over to a little
"Now, thin," said Mrs. Duffy, entering the house, and proudly
drawing a small coverlid from a little box-bed in a corner, "what
do you think of that?"
"Why, there are two of them," I exclaimed.
"To be sure," said Mrs. Duffy. "They're tweens. There's always
two uv em, when they're tweens. An' they're young enough."
"Yes," said I, doubtfully, "but I couldn't take both. Do you think
their mother would rent one of them?"
The women shook their heads. "Ye see, sir," said Mrs. Hogan, "Mary
McCann isn't here, bein' gone out to a wash, but she ownly has four
or foive childther, an' she aint much used to 'em yit, an' I kin
spake fer her that she'd niver siparate a pair o' tweens. When she
gits a dozen hersilf, and marries a widow jintleman wid a lot uv
his own, she'll be glad enough to be lettin' ye have yer pick, to
take wan uv 'em fer coompany to yer own baby, at foive dollars a
week. Moind that."
I visited several houses after this, still in company with Mrs.
Hogan and Mrs. Duffy, and finally secured a youngish infant, who,
having been left motherless, had become what Mrs. Duffy called a
"bottle-baby," and was in charge of a neighboring aunt. It seemed
strange that this child, so eminently adapted to purposes of
rental, was not offered to me, at first, but I suppose the Irish
ladies, who had the matter in charge, wanted to benefit themselves,
or some of their near friends, before giving the general public of
New Dublin a chance.
The child suited me very well, and I agreed to take it for as many
days as I might happen to want it, but to pay by the week, in
advance. It was a boy, with a suggestion of orange-red bloom all
over its head, and what looked, to me, like freckles on its cheeks;
while its little nose turned up, even more than those of babies
generally turn--above a very long upper lip. His eyes were blue
and twinkling, and he had the very mouth "fer a leetle poipe," as
Mrs. Hogan admiringly remarked.
He was hastily prepared for his trip, and when I had arranged the
necessary business matters with his aunt, and had assured her that
she could come to see him whenever she liked, I got into the
carriage, and having spread the lap-robe over my knees, the baby,
carefully wrapped in a little shawl, was laid in my lap. Then his
bottle, freshly filled, for he might need a drink on the way, was
tucked between the cushions on the seat beside me, and taking the
lines in my left hand, while I steadied my charge with the other, I
prepared to drive away.
"What's his name?" I asked.
"It's Pat," said his aunt, "afther his dad, who's away in the
"But ye kin call him onything ye bike," Mrs. Duffy remarked, "fer
he don't ansther to his name yit."
"Pat will do very well," I said, as I bade the good women farewell,
and carefully guided the horse through the swarms of youngsters who
had gathered around the carriage.
THE OTHER BABY AT RUDDER GRANGE.
I drove slowly home, and little Pat lay very quiet, looking up
steadily at me with his twinkling blue eyes. For a time,
everything went very well, but happening to look up, I saw in the
distance a carriage approaching. It was an open barouche, and I
knew it belonged to a family of our acquaintance, in the village,
and that it usually contained ladies.
Quick as thought, I rolled up Pat in his shawl and stuffed him
under the seat. Then rearranging the lap-robe over my knees, I
drove on, trembling a little, it is true.
As I supposed, the carriage contained ladies, and I knew them all.
The coachman instinctively drew up, as we approached. We always
stopped and spoke, on such occasions.
They asked me after my wife, apparently surprised to see me alone,
and made a number of pleasant observations, to all of which I
replied with as unconcerned and easy an air as I could assume. The
ladies were in excellent spirits, but in spite of this, there
seemed to be an air of repression about them, which I thought of
when I drove on, but could not account for, for little Pat never
moved or whimpered, during the whole of the interview.
But when I took him again in my lap, and happened to turn, as I
arranged the robe, I saw his bottle sticking up boldly by my side
from between the cushions. Then I did not wonder at the
When I reached home, I drove directly to the barn. Fortunately,
Jonas was there. When I called him and handed little Pat to him I
never saw a man more utterly amazed. He stood, and held the child
without a word. But when I explained the whole affair to him, he
comprehended it perfectly, and was delighted. I think he was just
as anxious for my plan to work as I was myself, although he did not
I was about to take the child into the house, when Jonas remarked
that it was barefooted.
"That won't do," I said. "It certainly had socks on, when I got
it. I saw them."
"Here they are," said Jonas, fishing them out from the shawl, "he's
kicked them off."
"Well, we must put them on," I said, "it won't do to take him in,
that way. You hold him."
So Jonas sat down on the feed-box, and carefully taking little Pat,
he held him horizontally, firmly pressed between his hands and
knees, with his feet stuck out toward me, while I knelt down before
him and tried to put on the little socks. But the socks were knit
or worked very loosely, and there seemed to be a good many small
holes in them, so that Pat's funny little toes, which he kept
curling up and uncurling, were continually making their appearance
in unexpected places through the sock. But, after a great deal of
trouble, I got them both on, with the heels in about the right
"Now they ought to be tied on," I said, "Where are his garters?"
"I don't believe babies have garters," said Jonas, doubtfully, "but
I could rig him up a pair."
"No," said I; "we wont take the time for that. I'll hold his legs
apart, as I carry him in. It's rubbing his feet together that gets
As I passed the kitchen window, I saw Pomona at work. She looked
at me, dropped something, and I heard a crash. I don't know how
much that crash cost me. Jonas rushed in to tell Pomona about it,
and in a moment I heard a scream of laughter. At this, Euphemia
appeared at an upper window, with her hand raised and saying,
severely: "Hush-h!" But the moment she saw me, she disappeared
from the window and came down-stairs on the run. She met me, just
as I entered the dining-room.
"What IN the world!" she breathlessly exclaimed.
"This," said I, taking Pat into a better position in my arms, "is
"Your--baby!" said Euphemia. "Where did you get it? what are you
going to do with it?"
"I got it in New Dublin," I replied, "and I want it to amuse and
occupy me while I am at home. I haven't anything else to do,
except things that take me away from you."
"Oh!" said Euphemia.
At this moment, little Pat gave his first whimper. Perhaps he felt
the searching glance that fell upon him from the lady in the middle
of the room.
I immediately began to walk up and down the floor with him, and to
sing to him. I did not know any infant music, but I felt sure that
a soothing tune was the great requisite, and that the words were of
small importance. So I started on an old Methodist tune, which I
remembered very well, and which was used with the hymn containing
"Weak and wounded, sick and sore,"
and I sang, as soothingly as I could:
"Lit-tle Pat-sy, Wat-sy, Sat-sy,
Does he feel a lit-ty bad?
Me will send and get his bot-tle
He sha'n't have to cry-wy-wy."
"What an idiot!" said Euphemia, laughing in spite of her vexation.
"No, we aint no id-i-otses
What we want's a bot-ty mik."
So I sang as I walked to the kitchen door, and sent Jonas to the
barn for the bottle.
Pomona was in spasms of laughter in the kitchen, and Euphemia was
trying her best not to laugh at all.
"Who's going to take care of it, I'd like to know?" she said, as
soon as she could get herself into a state of severe inquiry.
"Some-times me, and some-times Jonas,"
I sang, still walking up and down the room with a long, slow step,
swinging the baby from side to side, very much as if it were grass-
seed in a sieve, and I were sowing it over the carpet.
When the bottle came, I took it, and began to feed little Pat.
Perhaps the presence of a critical and interested audience
embarrassed us, for Jonas and Pomona were at the door, with
streaming eyes, while Euphemia stood with her handkerchief to the
lower part of her face, or it may have been that I did not
understand the management of bottles, but, at any rate, I could not
make the thing work, and the disappointed little Pat began to cry,
just as the whole of our audience burst into a wild roar of
"Here! Give me that child!" cried Euphemia, forcibly taking Pat
and the bottle from me. "You'll make it swallow the whole affair,
and I'm sure its mouth's big enough."
"You really don't think," she said, when we were alone, and little
Pat, with his upturned blue eyes serenely surveying the features of
the good lady who knew how to feed him, was placidly pulling away
at his india-rubber tube, "that I will consent to your keeping such
a creature as this in the house? Why, he's a regular little Paddy!
If you kept him he'd grow up into a hod-carrier."
"Good!" said I. "I never thought of that. What a novel thing it
would be to witness the gradual growth of a hod-carrier! I'll make
him a little hod, now, to begin with. He couldn't have a more
"I was talking in earnest," she said. "Take your baby, and please
carry him home as quick as you can, for I am certainly not going to
take care of him."
"Of course not," said I. "Now that I see how it's done, I'm going
to do it myself. Jonas will mix his feed and I will give it to
him. He looks sleepy now. Shall I take him upstairs and lay him
on our bed?"
"No, indeed," cried Euphemia. "You can put him on a quilt on the
floor, until after luncheon, and then you must take him home."
I laid the young Milesian on the folded quilt which Euphemia
prepared for him, where he turned up his little pug nose to the
ceiling and went contentedly to sleep.
That afternoon I nailed four legs on a small packing-box and made a
bedstead for him. This, with a pillow in the bottom of it, was
very comfortable, and instead of taking him home, I borrowed, in
the evening, some baby night-clothes from Pomona, and set about
preparing Pat for the night.
This Euphemia would not allow, but silently taking him from me, she
put him to bed.
"To-morrow," she said, "you must positively take him away. I wont
stand it. And in our room, too."
"I didn't talk in that way about the baby you adopted," I said.
To this she made no answer, but went away to attend, as usual, to
Pomona's baby, while its mother washed the dishes.
That night little Pat woke up, several times, and made things
unpleasant by his wails. On the first two occasions, I got up and
walked him about, singing impromptu lines to the tune of "weak and
wounded," but the third time, Euphemia herself arose, and declaring
that that doleful tune was a great deal worse than the baby's
crying, silenced him herself, and arranging his couch more
comfortably, he troubled us no more.
In the morning, when I beheld the little pad of orange fur in the
box, my heart almost misgave me, but as the day wore on, my courage
rose again, and I gave myself up, almost entirely, to my new
charge, composing a vast deal of blank verse, while walking him up
and down the house.
Euphemia scolded and scolded, and said she would put on her hat and
go for the mother. But I told her the mother was dead, and that
seemed to be an obstacle. She took a good deal of care of the
child, for she said she would not see an innocent creature
neglected, even if it was an incipient hod-carrier, but she did not
relax in the least in her attention to Pomona's baby.
The next day was about the same, in regard to infantile incident,
but, on the day after, I began to tire of my new charge, and Pat,
on his side, seemed to be tired of me, for he turned from me when I
went to take him up, while he would hold out his hands to Euphemia,
and grin delightedly when she took him.
That morning I drove to the village and spent an hour or two there.
On my return I found Euphemia sitting in our room, with little Pat
on her lap. I was astonished at the change in the young rascal.
He was dressed, from head to foot, in a suit of clothes belonging
to Pomona's baby; the glowing fuzz on his head was brushed and made
as smooth as possible, while his little muslin sleeves were tied up
with blue ribbon.
I stood speechless at the sight.
"Don't he look nice?" said Euphemia, standing him up on her knees.
"It shows what good clothes will do. I'm glad I helped Pomona make
up so many. He's getting ever so fond of me, ze itty Patsy, watsy!
See how strong he is! He can almost stand on his legs! Look how
he laughs! He's just as cunning as he can be. And oh! I was going
to speak about that box. I wouldn't have him sleep in that old
packing-box. There are little wicker cradles at the store--I saw
them last week--they don't cost much, and you could bring one up in
the carriage. There's the other baby, crying, and I don't know
where Pomona is. Just you mind him a minute, please!" and out she
I looked out of the window. The horse still stood harnessed to the
carriage, as I had left him. I saw Pat's old shawl lying in a
corner. I seized it, and rolling him in it, new clothes and all, I
hurried down-stairs, climbed into the carriage, hastily disposed
Pat in my lap, and turned the horse. The demeanor of the youngster
was very different from what it was when I first took him in my lap
to drive away with him. There was no confiding twinkle in his eye,
no contented munching of his little fists. He gazed up at me with
wild alarm, and as I drove out of the gate, he burst forth into
such a yell that Lord Edward came bounding around the house to see
what was the matter. Euphemia suddenly appeared at an upper window
and called out to me, but I did not hear what she said. I whipped
up the horse and we sped along to New Dublin. Pat soon stopped
crying, but he looked at me with a tear-stained and reproachful
The good women of the settlement were surprised to see little Pat
return so soon.
"An' wasn't he good?" said Mrs. Hogan as she took him from my
"Oh, yes!" I said. "He was as good as he could be. But I have no
further need of him."
I might have been called upon to explain this statement, had not
the whole party of women, who stood around burst into wild
expressions of delight at Pat's beautiful clothes.
"Oh! jist look at 'em!" cried Mrs. Duffy. "An' see thim leetle
pittycoots, thrimmed wid lace! Oh, an' it was good in ye, sir, to
give him all thim, an' pay the foive dollars, too."
"An' I'm glad he's back," said the fostering aunt, "for I was a
coomin' over to till ye that I've been hearin' from owle Pat, his
dad, an' he's a coomin' back from the moines, and I don't know what
he'd a' said if he'd found his leetle Pat was rinted. But if ye
iver want to borry him, for a whoile, after owle Pat's gone back,
ye kin have him, rint-free; an' it's much obloiged I am to ye, sir,
fur dressin' him so foine."
I made no encouraging remarks as to future transactions in this
line, and drove slowly home.
Euphemia met me at the door. She had Pomona's baby in her arms.
We walked together into the parlor.
"And so you have given up the little fellow that you were going to
do so much for?" she said.
"Yes, I have given him up," I answered.
"It must have been a dreadful trial to you," she continued.
"Oh, dreadful!" I replied.
"I suppose you thought he would take up so much of your time and
thoughts, that we couldn't be to each other what we used to be,
didn't you?" she said.
"Not exactly," I replied. "I only thought that things promised to
be twice as bad as they were before."
She made no answer to this, but going to the back door of the
parlor she opened it and called Pomona. When that young woman
appeared, Euphemia stepped toward her and said: "Here, Pomona, take
They were simple words, but they were spoken in such a way that
they meant a good deal. Pomona knew what they meant. Her eyes
sparkled, and as she went out, I saw her hug her child to her
breast, and cover it with kisses, and then, through the window, I
could see her running to the barn and Jonas.
"Now, then," said Euphemia, closing the door and coming toward me,
with one of her old smiles, and not a trace of preoccupation about
her, "I suppose you expect me to devote myself to you."
I did expect it, and I was not mistaken.
Since these events, a third baby has come to Rudder Grange. It is
not Pomona's, nor was it brought from New Dublin. It is named
after a little one, who died very young, before this story was
begun, and the strangest thing about it is that never, for a
moment, does it seem to come between Euphemia and myself.
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