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Rudder Grange Frank R. Stockton

The Baby at Rudder Grange

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"But this one is a girl," I said.

"Well then," replied Euphemia, "she may be a president's wife."

"Another thing," I remarked, "I don't believe Jonas and Pomona like your keeping their baby so much to yourself."

"Nonsense!" said Euphemia, "a girl in Pomona's position couldn't help being glad to have a lady take an interest in her baby, and help bring it up. And as for Jonas, he would be a cruel man if he wasn't pleased and grateful to have his wife relieved of so much trouble. Pomona! is that you? You can bring it here, now, if you want to get at your clear-starching."

I don't believe that Pomona hankered after clear-starching, but she brought the baby and I went away. I could not see any hope ahead. Of course, in time, it would grow up, but then it couldn't grow up during my vacation.

Then it was that I determined to carry out my plan.

I went to the stable and harnessed the horse to the little carriage. Jonas was not there, and I had fallen out of the habit of calling him. I drove slowly through the yard and out of the gate. No one called to me or asked where I was going. How different this was from the old times! Then, some one would not have failed to know where I was going, and, in all probability, she would have gone with me. But now I drove away, quietly and undisturbed.

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About three miles from our house was a settlement known as New Dublin. It was a cluster of poor and doleful houses, inhabited entirely by Irish people, whose dirt and poverty seemed to make them very contented and happy. The men were generally away, at their work, during the day, but there was never any difficulty in finding some one at home, no matter at what house one called. I was acquainted with one of the matrons of this locality, a Mrs. Duffy, who had occasionally undertaken some odd jobs at our house, and to her I made a visit.

She was glad to see me, and wiped off a chair for me.

"Mrs. Duffy," said I, "I want to rent a baby."

At first, the good woman could not understand me, but when I made plain to her that I wished for a short time, to obtain the exclusive use and control of a baby, for which I was willing to pay a liberal rental, she burst into long and violent laughter. It seemed to her like a person coming into the country to purchase weeds. Weeds and children were so abundant in New Dublin. But she gradually began to see that I was in earnest, and as she knew I was a trusty person, and somewhat noted for the care I took of my live stock, she was perfectly willing to accommodate me, but feared she had nothing on hand of the age I desired.

"Me childther are all agoin' about," she said. "Ye kin see a poile uv 'em out yon, in the road, an' there's more uv 'em on the fince. But ye nade have no fear about gittin' wan. There's sthacks of 'em in the place. I'll jist run over to Mrs. Hogan's, wid ye. She's got sixteen or siventeen, mostly small, for Hogan brought four or five wid him when he married her, an' she'll be glad to rint wan uv 'em." So, throwing her apron over her head, she accompanied me to Mrs. Hogan's.

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Rudder Grange
Frank R. Stockton

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