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  Rudder Grange Frank R. Stockton

Lord Edward and the Tree-man

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It was winter at Rudder Grange. The season was the same at other places, but that fact did not particularly interest Euphemia and myself. It was winter with us, and we were ready for it. That was the great point, and it made us proud to think that we had not been taken unawares, notwithstanding the many things that were to be thought of on a little farm like ours.

It is true that we had always been prepared for winter, wherever we had lived; but this was a different case. In other days it did not matter much whether we were ready or not; but now our house, our cow, our poultry, and indeed ourselves, might have suffered,--there is no way of finding out exactly how much,--if we had not made all possible preparations for the coming of cold weather.

But there was a great deal yet to be thought of and planned out, although we were ready for winter. The next thing to think of was spring.

We laid out the farm. We decided where we would have wheat, corn, potatoes, and oats. We would have a man by the day to sow and reap. The intermediate processes I thought I could attend to myself.

Everything was talked over, ciphered over, and freely discussed by my wife and myself, except one matter, which I planned and worked out alone, doing most of the necessary calculations at the office, so as not to excite Euphemia's curiosity.

I had determined to buy a horse. This would be one of the most important events of our married life, and it demanded a great deal of thought, which I gave it.

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The horse was chosen for me by a friend. He was an excellent beast (the horse), excelling, as my friend told me, in muscle and wit. Nothing better than this could be said about a horse. He was a sorrel animal, quite handsome, gentle enough for Euphemia to drive, and not too high-minded to do a little farm-work, if necessary. He was exactly the animal I needed.

The carriage was not quite such a success. The horse having cost a good deal more than I expected to pay, I found that I could only afford a second-hand carriage. I bought a good, serviceable vehicle, which would hold four persons, if necessary, and there was room enough to pack all sorts of parcels and baskets. It was with great satisfaction that I contemplated this feature of the carriage, which was a rather rusty-looking affair, although sound and strong enough. The harness was new, and set off the horse admirably.

On the afternoon when my purchases were completed, I did not come home by the train. I drove home in my own carriage, drawn by my own horse! The ten miles' drive was over a smooth road, and the sorrel traveled splendidly. If I had been a line of kings a mile long, all in their chariots of state, with gold and silver, and outriders, and music, and banners waving in the wind, I could not have been prouder than when I drew up in front of my house.

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Rudder Grange
Frank R. Stockton

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