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Rudder Grange Frank R. Stockton

The Baby at Rudder Grange

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That lady was washing, but she cheerfully stopped her work while Mrs. Duffy took her to one side and explained my errand. Mrs. Hogan did not appear to be able to understand why I wanted a baby-especially for so limited a period,--but probably concluded that if I would take good care of it and would pay well for it, the matter was my own affair, for she soon came and said, that if I wanted a baby, I'd come to the right place. Then she began to consider what one she would let me have. I insisted on a young one--there was already a little baby at our house, and the folks there would know how to manage it.

"Oh, ye want it fer coompany for the ither one, is that it?" said Mrs. Hogan, a new light breaking in upon her. "An' that's a good plan, sure. It must be dridful lownly in a house wid ownly wan baby. Now there's one--Polly--would she do?"

"Why, she can run," I said. "I don't want one that can run."

"Oh, dear!" said Mrs. Hogan, with a sigh, "they all begin to run, very airly. Now Polly isn't owld, at all, at all."

"I can see that," said I, "but I want one that you can put in a cradle--one that will have to stay there, when you put it in."

It was plain that Mrs. Hogan's present stock did not contain exactly what I wanted, and directly Mrs. Duffy exclaimed! "There's Mary McCann--an' roight across the way!"

Mrs. Hogan said "Yis, sure," and we all went over to a little house, opposite.

"Now, thin," said Mrs. Duffy, entering the house, and proudly drawing a small coverlid from a little box-bed in a corner, "what do you think of that?"

"Why, there are two of them," I exclaimed.

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"To be sure," said Mrs. Duffy. "They're tweens. There's always two uv em, when they're tweens. An' they're young enough."

"Yes," said I, doubtfully, "but I couldn't take both. Do you think their mother would rent one of them?"

The women shook their heads. "Ye see, sir," said Mrs. Hogan, "Mary McCann isn't here, bein' gone out to a wash, but she ownly has four or foive childther, an' she aint much used to 'em yit, an' I kin spake fer her that she'd niver siparate a pair o' tweens. When she gits a dozen hersilf, and marries a widow jintleman wid a lot uv his own, she'll be glad enough to be lettin' ye have yer pick, to take wan uv 'em fer coompany to yer own baby, at foive dollars a week. Moind that."

I visited several houses after this, still in company with Mrs. Hogan and Mrs. Duffy, and finally secured a youngish infant, who, having been left motherless, had become what Mrs. Duffy called a "bottle-baby," and was in charge of a neighboring aunt. It seemed strange that this child, so eminently adapted to purposes of rental, was not offered to me, at first, but I suppose the Irish ladies, who had the matter in charge, wanted to benefit themselves, or some of their near friends, before giving the general public of New Dublin a chance.

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Rudder Grange
Frank R. Stockton

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