One afternoon, as I was hurrying down
Broadway to catch the five o’clock train, I
met Waterford. He is an old friend of mine, and
I used to like him pretty well.
“Hello!” said he, “where are you
“Home,” I answered.
“Is that so?” said he. “I didn’t
know you had one.”
I was a little nettled at this, and
so I said, somewhat brusquely perhaps:
“But you must have known I lived somewhere.”
“Oh, yes! But I thought
you boarded,” said he. “I had no idea
that you had a home.”
“But I have one, and a very
pleasant home, too. You must excuse me for not
stopping longer, as I must catch my train.”
“Oh! I’ll walk along
with you,” said Waterford, and so we went down
the street together.
“Where is your little house?” he asked.
Why in the world he thought it was
a little house I could not at the time imagine, unless
he supposed that two people would not require a large
one. But I know, now, that he lived in a very
little house himself.
But it was of no use getting angry
with Waterford, especially as I saw he intended walking
all the way down to the ferry with me, so I told him
I didn’t live in any house at all.
“Why, where do you live?” he exclaimed,
“I live in a boat,” said I.
“A boat! A sort of ‘Rob
Roy’ arrangement, I suppose. Well, I would
not have thought that of you. And your wife,
I suppose, has gone home to her people?”
“She has done nothing of the
kind,” I answered. “She lives with
me, and she likes it very much. We are extremely
comfortable, and our boat is not a canoe, or any such
nonsensical affair. It is a large, commodious
Waterford turned around and looked at me.
“Are you a deck-hand?” he asked.
“Deck-grandmother!” I exclaimed.
“Well, you needn’t get
mad about it,” he said. “I didn’t
mean to hurt your feelings; but I couldn’t see
what else you could be on a canal-boat. I don’t
suppose, for instance, that you’re captain.”
“But I am,” said I.
“Look here!” said Waterford;
“this is coming it rather strong, isn’t
As I saw he was getting angry, I told
him all about it, told him how we had hired
a stranded canal-boat and had fitted it up as a house,
and how we lived so cosily in it, and had called it
“Rudder Grange,” and how we had taken
“Well!” said he, “this
is certainly surprising. I’m coming out
to see you some day. It will be better than going
I told him it is the way
of society that we would be glad to see
him, and we parted. Waterford never did come
to see us, and I merely mention this incident to show
how some of our friends talked about Rudder Grange,
when they first heard that we lived there.
After dinner that evening, when I
went up on deck with Euphemia to have my smoke, we
saw the boarder sitting on the bulwarks near the garden,
with his legs dangling down outside.
“Look here!” said he.
I looked, but there was nothing unusual to see.
“What is it?” I asked.
He turned around and seeing Euphemia, said:
It would be a very stupid person who
could not take such a hint as that, and so, after
a walk around the garden, Euphemia took occasion to
go below to look at the kitchen fire.
As soon as she had gone, the boarder turned to me
“I’ll tell you what it is. She’s
working herself sick.”
“Sick?” said I. “Nonsense!”
“No nonsense about it,” he replied.
The truth was, that the boarder was
right and I was wrong. We had spent several months
at Rudder Grange, and during this time Euphemia had
been working very hard, and she really did begin to
look pale and thin. Indeed, it would be very
wearying for any woman of culture and refinement,
unused to house-work, to cook and care for two men,
and to do all the work of a canal-boat besides.
But I saw Euphemia so constantly,
and thought so much of her, and had her image so continually
in my heart, that I did not notice this until our
boarder now called my attention to it. I was sorry
that he had to do it.
“If I were in your place,” said he, “I
would get her a servant.”
“If you were in my place,”
I replied, somewhat cuttingly, “you would probably
suggest a lot of little things which would make everything
very easy for her.”
“I’d try to,” he answered, without
getting in the least angry.
Although I felt annoyed that he had
suggested it, still I made up my mind that Euphemia
must have a servant.
She agreed quite readily when I proposed
the plan, and she urged me to go and see the carpenter
that very day, and get him to come and partition off
a little room for the girl.
It was some time, of course, before
the room was made (for who ever heard of a carpenter
coming at the very time he was wanted?) and, when
it was finished, Euphemia occupied all her spare moments
in getting it in nice order for the servant when she
should come. I thought she was taking too much
trouble, but she had her own ideas about such things.
“If a girl is lodged like a
pig, you must expect her to behave like a pig, and
I don’t want that kind.”
So she put up pretty curtains at the
girl’s window, and with a box that she stood
on end, and some old muslin and a lot of tacks, she
made a toilet-table so neat and convenient that I
thought she ought to take it into our room and give
the servant our wash-stand.
But all this time we had no girl,
and as I had made up my mind about the matter, I naturally
grew impatient, and at last I determined to go and
get a girl myself.
So, one day at lunch-time, I went
to an intelligence office in the city. There
I found a large room on the second floor, and some
ladies, and one or two men, sitting about, and a small
room, back of it, crowded with girls from eighteen
to sixty-eight years old. There were also girls
upon the stairs, and girls in the hall below, besides
some girls standing on the sidewalk before the door.
When I made known my business and
had paid my fee, one of the several proprietors who
were wandering about the front room went into the
back apartment and soon returned with a tall Irishwoman
with a bony weather-beaten face and a large weather-beaten
shawl. This woman was told to take a chair by
my side. Down sat the huge creature and stared
at me. I did not feel very easy under her scrutinizing
gaze, but I bore it as best I could, and immediately
began to ask her all the appropriate questions that
I could think of. Some she answered satisfactorily,
and some she didn’t answer at all; but as soon
as I made a pause, she began to put questions herself.
“How many servants do you kape?” she asked.
I answered that we intended to get
along with one, and if she understood her business,
I thought she would find her work very easy, and the
place a good one.
She turned sharp upon me and said:
“Have ye stationary wash-tubs?”
I hesitated. I knew our wash-tubs
were not stationary, for I had helped to carry them
about. But they might be screwed fast and made
stationary if that was an important object. But,
before making this answer, I thought of the great
conveniences for washing presented by our residence,
surrounded as it was, at high tide, by water.
“Why, we live in a stationary wash-tub,”
I said, smiling.
The woman looked at me steadfastly
for a minute, and then she rose to her feet.
Then she called out, as if she were crying fish or
The female keeper of the intelligence
office, and the male keeper, and a thin clerk, and
all the women in the back room, and all the patrons
in the front room, jumped up and gathered around us.
Astonished and somewhat disconcerted,
I rose to my feet and confronted the tall Irishwoman,
and stood smiling in an uncertain sort of a way, as
if it were all very funny; but I couldn’t see
the point. I think I must have impressed the
people with the idea that I wished I hadn’t come.
“He says,” exclaimed the
woman, as if some other huckster were crying fish
on the other side of the street “he
says he lives in a wash-toob.”
“He’s crazy!” ejaculated
Mrs. Blaine, with an air that indicated “policeman”
as plainly as if she had put her thought into words.
A low murmur ran through the crowd
of women, while the thin clerk edged toward the door.
I saw there was no time to lose.
I stepped back a little from the tall savage, who
was breathing like a hot-air engine in front of me,
and made my explanations to the company. I told
the tale of “Rudder Grange,” and showed
them how it was like to a stationary wash-tub at
certain stages of the tide.
I was listened to with great attention.
When I had finished, the tall woman turned around
and faced the assemblage.
“An’ he wants a cook to
make soup! In a canal-boat!” said she, and
off she marched into the back-room, followed closely
by all the other women.
“I don’t think we have
any one here who would suit you,” said Mrs.
I didn’t think so either.
What on earth would Euphemia have done with that volcanic
Irishwoman in her little kitchen! I took up my
hat and bade Mrs. Blaine good morning.
“Good morning,” said she, with a distressing
She had one of those mouths that look exactly like
a gash in the face.
I went home without a girl. In
a day or two Euphemia came to town and got one.
Apparently she got her without any trouble, but I am
She went to a “Home” Saint
Somebody’s Home a place where they
keep orphans to let, so to speak. Here Euphemia
selected a light-haired, medium-sized orphan, and
brought her home.
The girl’s name was Pomona.
Whether or not her parents gave her this name is doubtful.
At any rate, she did not seem quite decided in her
mind about it herself, for she had not been with us
more than two weeks before she expressed a desire
to be called Clare. This longing of her heart,
however, was denied her. So Euphemia, who was
always correct, called her Pomona. I did the
same whenever I could think not to say Bologna which
seemed to come very pat for some reason or other.
As for the boarder, he generally called
her Altoona, connecting her in some way with the process
of stopping for refreshments, in which she was an
She was an earnest, hearty girl.
She was always in a good humor, and when I asked her
to do anything, she assented in a bright, cheerful
way, and in a loud tone full of good-fellowship, as
though she would say:
“Certainly, my high old cock!
To be sure I will. Don’t worry about it give
your mind no more uneasiness on that subject.
I’ll bring the hot water.”
She did not know very much, but she
was delighted to learn, and she was very strong.
Whatever Euphemia told her to do, she did instantly
with a bang. What pleased her better than anything
else was to run up and down the gang-plank, carrying
buckets of water to water the garden. She delighted
in out-door work, and sometimes dug so vigorously in
our garden that she brought up pieces of the deck-planking
with every shovelful.
Our boarder took the greatest interest
in her, and sometimes watched her movements so intently
that he let his pipe go out.
“What a whacking girl that would
be to tread out grapes in the vineyards of Italy!
She’d make wine cheap,” he once remarked.
“Then I’m glad she isn’t
there,” said Euphemia, “for wine oughtn’t
to be cheap.”
Euphemia was a thorough little temperance woman.
The one thing about Pomona that troubled
me more than anything else was her taste for literature.
It was not literature to which I objected, but her
very peculiar taste. She would read in the kitchen
every night after she had washed the dishes, but if
she had not read aloud, it would not have made so
much difference to me. But I am naturally very
sensitive to external impressions, and I do not like
the company of people who, like our girl, cannot read
without pronouncing in a measured and distinct voice
every word of what they are reading. And when
the matter thus read appeals to one’s every
sentiment of aversion, and there is no way of escaping
it, the case is hard indeed.
From the first, I felt inclined to
order Pomona, if she could not attain the power of
silent perusal, to cease from reading altogether; but
Euphemia would not hear to this.
“Poor thing!” said she;
“it would be cruel to take from her her only
recreation. And she says she can’t read
any other way. You needn’t listen if you
don’t want to.”
That was all very well in an abstract
point of view; but the fact was, that in practice,
the more I didn’t want to listen, the more I
As the evenings were often cool, we
sat in our dining-room, and the partition between
this room and the kitchen seemed to have no influence
whatever in arresting sound. So that when I was
trying to read or to reflect, it was by no means exhilarating
to my mind to hear from the next room that:
“The la dy ce sel
i a now si zed the weep on and all though the boor
ly vil ly an re tain ed his vy gor ous hold she
drew the blade through his fin gers and hoorl ed it
far be hind her dryp ping with jore.”
This sort of thing, kept up for an
hour or so at a time, used to drive me nearly wild.
But Euphemia did not mind it. I believe that she
had so delicate a sense of what was proper, that she
did not hear Pomona’s private readings.
On one occasion, even Euphemia’s
influence could scarcely restrain me from violent
It was our boarder’s night out
(when he was detained in town by his business), and
Pomona was sitting up to let him in. This was
necessary, for our front-door (or main-hatchway) had
no night-latch, but was fastened by means of a bolt.
Euphemia and I used to sit up for him, but that was
earlier in the season, when it was pleasant to be out
on deck until quite a late hour. But Pomona never
objected to sitting (or getting) up late, and so we
allowed this weekly duty to devolve on her.
On this particular night I was very
tired and sleepy, and soon after I got into bed I
dropped into a delightful slumber. But it was
not long before I was awakened by the fact that:
“Sa rah did not fl inch but
gras ped the heat ed i ron in her un in jur ed
hand and when the ra bid an i mal a proach ed
she thr ust the lur id po ker in his ”
“My conscience!” said
I to Euphemia, “can’t that girl be stopped?”
“You wouldn’t have her
sit there and do nothing, would you?” said she.
“No; but she needn’t read out that way.”
“She can’t read any other way,”
said Euphemia, drowsily.
“Yell af ter yell res oun ded as he wil dly
spr rang ”
“I can’t stand that, and
I won’t,” said I. “Why don’t
she go into the kitchen? the dining-room’s
no place for her.”
“She must not sit there,”
said Euphemia. “There’s a window-pane
out. Can’t you cover up your head?”
“I shall not be able to breathe
if I do; but I suppose that’s no matter,”
The reading continued.
“Ha, ha! Lord Mar
mont thun der ed thou too shalt suf
fer all that this poor ”
I sprang out of bed.
Euphemia thought I was going for my
pistol, and she gave one bound and stuck her head
out of the door.
“Pomona, fly!” she cried.
“Yes, sma’am,” said
Pomona; and she got up and flew not very
fast, I imagine. Where she flew to I don’t
know, but she took the lamp with her, and I could
hear distant syllables of agony and blood, until the
boarder came home and Pomona went to bed.
I think that this made an impression
upon Euphemia, for, although she did not speak to
me upon the subject (or any other) that night, the
next time I heard Pomona reading, the words ran somewhat
“The as ton ish ing che
ap ness of land is ac count ed for by the want
of home mar kets, of good ro ads and che
ap me ans of trans por ta ti on
in ma ny sec ti ons of the State.”