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0105_001E Rudder Grange Frank R. Stockton

Lord Edward and the Tree-man

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There was a wagon-gate at one side of the front fence which had never been used except by the men who brought coal, and I got out and opened this, very quietly, so as not to attract the attention of Euphemia. It was earlier than I usually returned, and she would not be expecting me. I was then about to lead the horse up a somewhat grass-grown carriage-way to the front door, but I reflected that Euphemia might be looking out of some of the windows and I had better drive up. So I got in and drove very slowly to the door.

However, she heard the unaccustomed noise of wheels, and looked out of the parlor window. She did not see me, but immediately came around to the door. I hurried out of the carriage so quickly that, not being familiar with the steps, I barely escaped tripping.

When she opened the front door she was surprised to see me standing by the horse.

"Have you hired a carriage?" she cried. "Are we going to ride?"

"My dear," said I, as I took her by the hand, "we are going to ride. But I have not hired a carriage. I have bought one. Do you see this horse? He is ours--our own horse."

If you could have seen the face that was turned up to me,--all you other men in the world,--you would have torn your hair in despair.

Afterward she went around and around that horse; she patted his smooth sides; she looked, with admiration, at his strong, well-formed legs; she stroked his head; she smoothed his mane; she was brimful of joy.

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When I had brought the horse some water in a bucket--and what a pleasure it was to water one's own horse!--Euphemia rushed into the house and got her hat and cloak, and we took a little drive.

I doubt if any horse ever drew two happier people. Euphemia said but little about the carriage. That was a necessary adjunct, and it was good enough for the present. But the horse! How nobly and with what vigor he pulled us up the hills and how carefully and strongly he held the carriage back as we went down! How easily he trotted over the level road, caring nothing for the ten miles he had gone that afternoon! What a sensation of power it gave us to think that all that strength and speed and endurance was ours, that it would go where we wished, that it would wait for us as long as we chose, that it was at our service day and night, that it was a horse, and we owned it!

When we returned, Pomona saw us drive in,--she had not known of our ride,--and when she heard the news she was as wild with proud delight as anybody. She wanted to unharness him, but this I could not allow. We did not wish to be selfish, but after she had seen and heard what we thought was enough for her, we were obliged to send her back to the kitchen for the sake of the dinner.

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Rudder Grange
Frank R. Stockton

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