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Rudder Grange Frank R. Stockton

Pomona's Novel

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Euphemia and I exclaimed, with one voice, against this. We had just reached the most exciting part, and, I added, we had heard nothing yet about that affair of the taxes.

"You see, sir," said Pomona, "it took me so long to write out the chapters about my birth, my parentage, and my early adventures, that I hadn't time to finish up the rest. But I can tell you what happened after that jus' as well as if I had writ it out." And so she went on, much more glibly than before, with the account of the doings of the lightning-rod man.

"There was that wretch on top of the house, a-fixin' his old rods and hammerin' away for dear life. He'd brought his ladder over the side fence, where the dog, a-barkin' and plungin' at the boy outside, couldn't see him. I stood dumb for a minute, an' then I know'd I had him. I rushed into the house, got a piece of well-rope, tied it to the bull-dog's collar, an' dragged him out and fastened him to the bottom rung of the ladder. Then I walks over to the front fence with Lord Edward's chain, for I knew that if he got at that bull-dog there'd be times, for they'd never been allowed to see each other yet. So says I to the boy, 'I'm goin' to tie up the dog, so you needn't be afraid of his jumpin' over the fence,'--which he couldn't do, or the boy would have been a corpse for twenty minutes, or may be half an hour. The boy kinder laughed, and said I needn't mind, which I didn't. Then I went to the gate, and I clicked to the horse which was standin' there, an' off he starts, as good as gold, an' trots down the road. The boy, he said somethin' or other pretty bad, an' away he goes after him; but the horse was a-trottin' real fast, an' had a good start."

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"How on earth could you ever think of doing such things?" said Euphemia. "That horse might have upset the wagon and broken all the lightning-rods, besides running over I don't know how many people."

"But you see, ma'am, that wasn't my lookout," said Pomona. "I was a-defendin' the house, and the enemy must expect to have things happen to him. So then I hears an awful row on the roof, and there was the man just coming down the ladder. He'd heard the horse go off, and when he got about half-way down an' caught a sight of the bull-dog, he was madder than ever you seed a lightnin'-rodder in all your born days. 'Take that dog off of there!' he yelled at me. 'No, I wont, says I. 'I never see a girl like you since I was born,' he screams at me. 'I guess it would 'a' been better fur you if you had,' says I; an' then he was so mad he couldn't stand it any longer, and he comes down as low as he could, and when he saw just how long the rope was,--which was pretty short,--he made a jump, and landed clear of the dog. Then he went on dreadful because he couldn't get at his ladder to take it away; and I wouldn't untie the dog, because if I had he'd 'a' torn the tendons out of that fellow's legs in no time. I never see a dog in such a boiling passion, and yet never making no sound at all but blood-curdlin' grunts. An' I don't see how the rodder would 'a' got his ladder at all if the dog hadn't made an awful jump at him, and jerked the ladder down. It just missed your geranium-bed, and the rodder, he ran to the other end of it, and began pullin' it away, dog an' all. 'Look-a-here,' says I, 'we can fix him now; and so he cooled down enough to help me, and I unlocked the front door, and we pushed the bottom end of the ladder in, dog and all; an' then I shut the door as tight as it would go, an' untied the end of the rope, an' the rodder pulled the ladder out while I held the door to keep the dog from follerin', which he came pretty near doin', anyway. But I locked him in, and then the man began stormin' again about his wagon; but when he looked out an' see the boy comin' back with it,--for somebody must 'a' stopped the horse,--he stopped stormin' and went to put up his ladder ag'in. 'No, you don't,' says I; 'I'll let the big dog loose next time, and if I put him at the foot of your ladder, you'll never come down.' 'But I want to go and take down what I put up,' he says; 'I aint a-goin' on with this job.' ' No,' says I, 'you aint; and you can't go up there to wrench off them rods and make rain-holes in the roof, neither.' He couldn't get no madder than he was then, an' fur a minute or two he couldn't speak, an' then he says, 'I'll have satisfaction for this.' An' says I, 'How? 'An' says he, 'You'll see what it is to interfere with a ordered job.' An' says I, 'There wasn't no order about it;' an' says he, 'I'll show you better than that;' an' he goes to his wagon an' gits a book. 'There,' says he, 'read that.' 'What of it? 'says I 'there's nobody of the name of Ball lives here.' That took the man kinder aback, and he said he was told it was the only house on the lane, which I said was right, only it was the next lane he oughter 'a' gone to. He said no more after that, but just put his ladder in his wagon, and went off. But I was not altogether rid of him. He left a trail of his baleful presence behind him.

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Rudder Grange
Frank R. Stockton

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