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Rudder Grange Frank R. Stockton

The Baby at Rudder Grange

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"Yes," said I, "but you spend so much of your time in thinking how glad you will be to do that little, when it is to be done, that you can't give me any attention, at all."

"Now you have no cause to say that," she exclaimed. "You know very well--, there!" and away she ran. It had just begun to cry!

Naturally, I was getting tired of this. I could never begin a sentence and feel sure that I would be allowed to finish it. Nothing was important enough to delay attention to an infantile whimper.

Jonas, too, was in a state of unrest. He was obliged to wear his good clothes, a great part of the time, for he was continually going on errands to the village, and these errands were so important that they took precedence of everything else. It gave me a melancholy sort of pleasure, sometimes, to do Jonas's work when he was thus sent away.

I asked him, one day, how he liked it all?

"Well," said he, reflectively, "I can't say as I understand it, exactly. It does seem queer to me that such a little thing should take up pretty nigh all the time of three people. I suppose, after a while," this he said with a grave smile, "that you may be wanting to turn in and help." I did not make any answer to this, for Jonas was, at that moment, summoned to the house, but it gave me an idea. In fact, it gave me two ideas.

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The first was that Jonas's remark was not entirely respectful. He was my hired man, but he was a very respectable man, and an American man, and therefore might sometimes be expected to say things which a foreigner, not known to be respectable, would not think of saying, if he wished to keep his place. The fact that Jonas had always been very careful to treat me with much civility, caused this remark to make more impression on me. I felt that he had, in a measure, reason for it.

The other idea was one which grew and developed in my mind until I afterward formed a plan upon it. I determined, however, before I carried out my plan, to again try to reason with Euphemia.

"If it was our own baby," I said, "or even the child of one of us, by a former marriage, it would be a different thing; but to give yourself up so entirely to Pomona's baby, seems, to me, unreasonable. Indeed, I never heard of any case exactly like it. It is reversing all the usages of society for the mistress to take care of the servant's baby."

"The usages of society are not worth much, sometimes," said Euphemia, "and you must remember that Pomona is a very different kind of a person from an ordinary servant. She is much more like a member of the family--I can't exactly explain what kind of a member, but I understand it myself. She has very much improved since she has been married, and you know, yourself, how quiet and-- and, nice she is, and as for the baby, it's just as good and pretty as any baby, and it may grow up to be better than any of us. Some of our presidents have sprung from lowly parents."

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Rudder Grange
Frank R. Stockton

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