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Rudder Grange Frank R. Stockton

Wet Blankets

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Lord Edward gave a short, peculiar bark as we shut the gate behind us, but whether it was meant as a fond farewell, or a hoot of derision, I cannot say.

We found everything as we left it at the camp, and we made our beds apparently dry. But I did not sleep well. I could not help thinking that it was not safe to sleep in a bed with a substratum of wet mattress, and I worried Euphemia a little by asking her several times if she felt the dampness striking through.

To our great delight, the next day was fine and clear, and I thought I would like, better than anything else, to take Euphemia in a boat up the river and spend the day rowing about, or resting in shady places on the shore.

But what could we do about the tent? It would be impossible to go away and leave that, with its contents, for a whole day.

When old John came with our water, milk, bread, and a basket of vegetables, we told him of our desired excursion, and the difficulty in the way. This good man, who always had a keen scent for any advantage to himself, warmly praised the boating plan, and volunteered to send his wife and two of his younger children to stay with the tent while we were away.

The old woman, he said, could do her sewing here as well as anywhere, and she would stay all day for fifty cents.

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This plan pleased us, and we sent for Mrs. Old John, who came with three of her children,--all too young to leave behind, she said,-- and took charge of the camp.

Our day proved to be as delightful as we had anticipated, and when we returned, hungry and tired, we were perfectly charmed to find that Mrs. Old John had our supper ready for us.

She charged a quarter, extra, for this service, and we did not begrudge it to her, though we declined her offer to come every day and cook and keep the place in order.

"However," said Euphemia, on second thoughts, "you may come on Saturday and clean up generally."

The next day, which was Friday, I went out in the morning with the gun. As yet I had shot nothing, for I had seen no birds about the camp, which, without breaking the State laws, I thought I could kill, and so I started off up the river-road.

I saw no game, but after I had walked about a mile, I met a man in a wagon.

"Hello," said he, pulling up; "you'd better be careful how you go popping around here on the public roads, frightening horses."

As I had not yet fired a single shot, I thought this was a very impudent speech, and I think so still.

"You had better wait until I begin to pop," said I, "before you make such a fuss about it."

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Rudder Grange
Frank R. Stockton

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