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|Rudder Grange||Frank R. Stockton|
The New Rudder Grange
|Page 1 of 7||
I have before given an account of the difficulties we encountered when we started out house-hunting, and it was this doleful experience which made Euphemia declare that before we set out on a second search for a residence, we should know exactly what we wanted.
To do this, we must know how other people live, we must examine into the advantages and disadvantages of the various methods of housekeeping, and make up our minds on the subject.
When we came to this conclusion we were in a city boarding-house, and were entirely satisfied that this style of living did not suit us at all.
At this juncture I received a letter from the gentleman who had boarded with us on the canal-boat. Shortly after leaving us the previous fall, he had married a widow lady with two children, and was now keeping house in a French flat in the upper part of the city. We had called upon the happy couple soon after their marriage, and the letter, now received, contained an invitation for us to come and dine, and spend the night.
"We'll go," said Euphemia. "There's nothing I want so much as to see how people keep house in a French flat. Perhaps we'll like it. And I must see those children." So we went.
The house, as Euphemia remarked, was anything but flat. It was very tall indeed--the tallest house in the neighborhood. We entered the vestibule, the outer door being open, and beheld, on one side of us, a row of bell-handles. Above each of these handles was the mouth of a speaking-tube, and above each of these, a little glazed frame containing a visiting-card.
"Isn't this cute?" said Euphemia, reading over the cards. "Here's his name and this is his bell and tube! Which would you do first, ring or blow?"
"My dear," said I, "you don't blow up those tubes. We must ring the bell, just as if it were an ordinary front-door bell, and instead of coming to the door, some one will call down the tube to us."
I rang the bell under the boarder's name, and very soon a voice at the tube said:
Then I told our names, and in an instant the front door opened.
"Why, their flat must be right here," whispered Euphemia. "How quickly the girl came!"
And she looked for the girl as we entered. But there was no one there.
"Their flat is on the fifth story," said I. "He mentioned that in his letter. We had better shut the door and go up."
Up and up the softly carpeted stairs we climbed, and not a soul we saw or heard.
"It is like an enchanted cavern," said Euphemia. "You say the magic word, the door in the rock opens and you go on, and on, through the vaulted passages--"
"Until you come to the ogre," said the boarder, who was standing at the top of the stairs. He did not behave at all like an ogre, for he was very glad to see us, and so was his wife. After we had settled down in the parlor and the boarder's wife had gone to see about something concerning the dinner, Euphemia asked after the children.
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Frank R. Stockton
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