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Rudder Grange Frank R. Stockton

Lord Edward and the Tree-man

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Then we unharnessed him. I say we, for Euphemia stood by and I explained everything, for some day, she said, she might want to do it herself. Then I led him into the stable. How nobly he trod, and how finely his hoofs sounded on the stable floor!

There was hay in the mow and I had brought a bag of oats under the seat of the carriage.

"Isn't it just delightful," said Euphemia, "that we haven't any man? If we had a man he would take the horse at the door, and we should be deprived of all this. It wouldn't be half like owning a horse."

In the morning I drove down to the station, Euphemia by my side. She drove back and Old John came up and attended to the horse. This he was to do, for the present, for a small stipend. In the afternoon Euphemia came down after me. How I enjoyed those rides! Before this I had thought it ever so much more pleasant and healthful to walk to and from the station than to ride, but then I did not own a horse. At night I attended to everything, Euphemia generally following me about the stable with a lantern. When the days grew longer we would have delightful rides after dinner, and even now we planned to have early breakfasts, and go to the station by the longest possible way.

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One day, in the following spring, I was riding home from the station with Euphemia,--we seldom took pleasure-drives now, we were so busy on the place,--and as we reached the house I heard the dog barking savagely. He was loose in the little orchard by the side of the house. As I drove in, Pomona came running to the carriage.

"Man up the tree!" she shouted.

I helped Euphemia out, left the horse standing by the door, and ran to the dog, followed by my wife and Pomona. Sure enough, there was a man up the tree, and Lord Edward was doing his best to get at him, springing wildly at the tree and fairly shaking with rage.

I looked up at the man, he was a thoroughbred tramp, burly, dirty, generally unkempt, but, unlike most tramps, he looked very much frightened. His position, on a high crotch of an apple-tree, was not altogether comfortable, and although, for the present, it was safe, the fellow seemed to have a wavering faith in the strength of apple-tree branches, and the moment he saw me, he earnestly besought me to take that dog away, and let him down.

I made no answer, but turning to Pomona, I asked her what this all meant.

"Why, sir, you see," said she, "I was in the kitchen bakin' pies, and this fellow must have got over the fence at the side of the house, for the dog didn't see him, and the first thing I know'd he was stickin' his head in the window, and he asked me to give him somethin' to eat. And when I said I'd see in a minute if there was anything for him, he says to me, 'Gim me a piece of one of them pies,'--pies I'd just baked and was settin' to cool on the kitchen table! 'No, sir,' says I, 'I'm not goin' to cut one of them pies for you, or any one like you.' 'All right!' says he. 'I'll come in and help myself.' He must have known there was no man about, and, comin' the way he did, he hadn't seen the dog. So he come round to the kitchen door, but I shot out before he got there and unchained Lord Edward. I guess he saw the dog, when he got to the door, and at any rate he heard the chain clankin', and he didn't go in, but just put for the gate. But Lord Edward was after him so quick that he hadn't no time to go to no gates. It was all he could do to scoot up this tree, and if he'd been a millionth part of a minute later he'd 'a' been in another world by this time."

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Rudder Grange
Frank R. Stockton

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