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|Rudder Grange||Frank R. Stockton|
Treating of a Novel Style of Boarder
|Page 2 of 5||
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.
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Frank R. Stockton
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