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|Rudder Grange||Frank R. Stockton|
|Page 4 of 9||
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 gate.
"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 of people."
"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.
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