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  Rudder Grange Frank R. Stockton

The Other Baby at Rudder Grange

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I drove slowly home, and little Pat lay very quiet, looking up steadily at me with his twinkling blue eyes. For a time, everything went very well, but happening to look up, I saw in the distance a carriage approaching. It was an open barouche, and I knew it belonged to a family of our acquaintance, in the village, and that it usually contained ladies.

Quick as thought, I rolled up Pat in his shawl and stuffed him under the seat. Then rearranging the lap-robe over my knees, I drove on, trembling a little, it is true.

As I supposed, the carriage contained ladies, and I knew them all. The coachman instinctively drew up, as we approached. We always stopped and spoke, on such occasions.

They asked me after my wife, apparently surprised to see me alone, and made a number of pleasant observations, to all of which I replied with as unconcerned and easy an air as I could assume. The ladies were in excellent spirits, but in spite of this, there seemed to be an air of repression about them, which I thought of when I drove on, but could not account for, for little Pat never moved or whimpered, during the whole of the interview.

But when I took him again in my lap, and happened to turn, as I arranged the robe, I saw his bottle sticking up boldly by my side from between the cushions. Then I did not wonder at the repression.

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When I reached home, I drove directly to the barn. Fortunately, Jonas was there. When I called him and handed little Pat to him I never saw a man more utterly amazed. He stood, and held the child without a word. But when I explained the whole affair to him, he comprehended it perfectly, and was delighted. I think he was just as anxious for my plan to work as I was myself, although he did not say so.

I was about to take the child into the house, when Jonas remarked that it was barefooted.

"That won't do," I said. "It certainly had socks on, when I got it. I saw them."

"Here they are," said Jonas, fishing them out from the shawl, "he's kicked them off."

"Well, we must put them on," I said, "it won't do to take him in, that way. You hold him."

So Jonas sat down on the feed-box, and carefully taking little Pat, he held him horizontally, firmly pressed between his hands and knees, with his feet stuck out toward me, while I knelt down before him and tried to put on the little socks. But the socks were knit or worked very loosely, and there seemed to be a good many small holes in them, so that Pat's funny little toes, which he kept curling up and uncurling, were continually making their appearance in unexpected places through the sock. But, after a great deal of trouble, I got them both on, with the heels in about the right places.

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Rudder Grange
Frank R. Stockton

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