I have spoken of my pistol. During
the early part of our residence at Rudder Grange I
never thought of such a thing as owning a pistol.
But it was different now. I kept
a Colt’s revolver loaded in the bureau drawer
in our bedroom.
The cause of this change was burglars.
Not that any of these unpleasant persons had visited
us, but we much feared they would. Several houses
in the vicinity had been entered during the past month,
and we could never tell when our turn would come.
To be sure, our boarder suggested
that if we were to anchor out a little further at
night, no burglar would risk catching his death of
cold by swimming out to us; but Euphemia having replied
that it would be rather difficult to move a canal-boat
every night without paddle-wheels, or sails, or mules,
especially if it were aground, this plan was considered
to be effectually disposed of.
So we made up our minds that we must
fasten up everything very securely, and I bought a
pistol and two burglar-alarms. One of these I
affixed to the most exposed window, and the other
to the door which opened on the deck. These alarms
were very simple affairs, but they were good enough.
When they were properly attached to a window or door,
and it was opened, a little gong sounded like a violently
deranged clock, striking all the hours of the day
The window did not trouble us much,
but it was rather irksome to have to make the attachment
to the door every night and to take it off every morning.
However, as Euphemia said, it was better to take a
little trouble than to have the house full of burglars,
which was true enough.
We made all the necessary arrangements
in case burglars should make an inroad upon us.
At the first sound of the alarm, Euphemia and the girl
were to lie flat on the floor or get under their beds.
Then the boarder and I were to stand up, back to back,
each with pistol in hand, and fire away, revolving
on a common centre the while. In this way, by
aiming horizontally at about four feet from the floor,
we could rake the premises, and run no risk of shooting
each other or the women of the family.
To be sure, there were some slight
objections to this plan. The boarder’s
room was at some distance from ours, and he would probably
not hear the alarm, and the burglars might not be
willing to wait while I went forward and roused him
up, and brought him to our part of the house.
But this was a minor difficulty. I had no doubt
but that, if it should be necessary, I could manage
to get our boarder into position in plenty of time.
It was not very long before there
was an opportunity of testing the plan.
About twelve o’clock one night
one of the alarms (that on the kitchen window) went
off with a whirr and a wild succession of clangs.
For a moment I thought the morning train had arrived,
and then I woke up. Euphemia was already under
I hurried on a few clothes, and then
I tried to find the bureau in the dark. This
was not easy, as I lost my bearings entirely.
But I found it at last, got the top drawer open and
took out my pistol. Then I slipped out of the
room, hurried up the stairs, opened the door (setting
off the alarm there, by the way), and ran along the
deck (there was a cold night wind), and hastily descended
the steep steps that led into the boarder’s
room. The door that was at the bottom of the steps
was not fastened, and, as I opened it, a little stray
moonlight illumed the room. I hastily stepped
to the bed and shook the boarder by the shoulder.
He kept his pistol under his pillow.
In an instant he was on his feet,
his hand grasped my throat, and the cold muzzle of
his Derringer pistol was at my forehead. It was
an awfully big muzzle, like the mouth of a bottle.
I don’t know when I lived so
long as during the first minute that he held me thus.
“Rascal!” he said.
“Do as much as breathe, and I’ll pull the
I didn’t breathe.
I had an accident insurance on my
life. Would it hold good in a case like this?
Or would Euphemia have to go back to her father?
He pushed me back into the little patch of moonlight.
“Oh! is it you?” he said,
relaxing his grasp. “What do you want?
A mustard plaster?”
He had a package of patent plasters
in his room. You took one and dipped it in hot
water, and it was all ready.
“No,” said I, gasping a little. “Burglars.”
“Oh!” he said, and he put down his pistol
and put on his clothes.
“Come along,” he said, and away we went
over the deck.
When we reached the stairs all was dark and quiet
It was a matter of hesitancy as to going down.
I started to go down first, but the boarder held me
“Let me go down,” he said.
“No,” said I, “my wife is there.”
“That’s the very reason
you should not go,” he said. “She
is safe enough yet, and they would fire only at a
man. It would be a bad job for her if you were
killed. I’ll go down.”
So he went down, slowly and cautiously,
his pistol in one hand, and his life in the other,
as it were.
When he reached the bottom of the
steps I changed my mind. I could not remain above
while the burglar and Euphemia were below, so I followed.
The boarder was standing in the middle
of the dining-room, into which the stairs led.
I could not see him, but I put my hand against him
as I was feeling my way across the floor.
I whispered to him:
“Shall we put our backs together and revolve
“No,” he whispered back,
“not now; he may be on a shelf by this time,
or under a table. Let’s look him up.”
I confess that I was not very anxious
to look him up, but I followed the boarder, as he
slowly made his way toward the kitchen door. As
we opened the door we instinctively stopped.
The window was open, and by the light
of the moon that shone in, we saw the rascal standing
on a chair, leaning out of the window, evidently just
ready to escape. Fortunately, we were unheard.
“Let’s pull him in,” whispered the
“No,” I whispered in reply. “We
don’t want him in. Let’s hoist him
“All right,” returned the boarder.
We laid our pistols on the floor,
and softly approached the window. Being barefooted,
out steps were noiseless.
“Hoist when I count three,” breathed the
boarder into my ear.
We reached the chair. Each of us took hold of
two of its legs.
“One two three!”
said the boarder, and together we gave a tremendous
lift and shot the wretch out of the window.
The tide was high, and there was a good deal of water
around the boat.
We heard a rousing splash outside.
Now there was no need of silence.
“Shall we run on deck and shoot him as he swims?”
“No,” said the boarder,
“we’ll get the boat-hook, and jab him if
he tries to climb up.”
We rushed on deck. I seized the
boat-hook and looked over the side. But I saw
“He’s gone to the bottom!” I exclaimed.
“He didn’t go very far
then,” said the boarder, “for it’s
not more than two feet deep there.”
Just then our attention was attracted by a voice from
“Will you please let down the
gang-plank?” We looked ashore, and there stood
Pomona, dripping from every pore.
We spoke no words, but lowered the gangplank.
She came aboard.
“Good night!” said the boarder, and he
went to bed.
“Pomona!” said I, “what have you
“I was a lookin’ at the
moon, sir, when pop! the chair bounced, and out I
“You shouldn’t do that,” I said,
“Some day you’ll be drowned. Take
off your wet things and go to bed.”
“Yes, sma’am sir, I mean,”
said she, as she went down-stairs.
When I reached my room I lighted the
lamp, and found Euphemia still under the bed.
“Is it all right?” she asked.
“Yes,” I answered.
“There was no burglar. Pomona fell out of
“Did you get her a plaster?” asked Euphemia,
“No, she did not need one.
She’s all right now. Were you worried about
“No, I trusted in you entirely,
and I think I dozed a little under the bed.”
In one minute she was asleep.
The boarder and I did not make this
matter a subject of conversation afterward, but Euphemia
gave the girl a lecture on her careless ways, and
made her take several Dover’s powders the next
An important fact in domestic economy
was discovered about this time by Euphemia and myself.
Perhaps we were not the first to discover it, but
we certainly did find it out, and this fact
was, that housekeeping costs money. At the end
of every week we counted up our expenditures it
was no trouble at all to count up our receipts and
every week the result was more unsatisfactory.
“If we could only get rid of
the disagreeable balance that has to be taken along
all the time, and which gets bigger and bigger like
a snow-ball, I think we would find the accounts more
satisfactory,” said Euphemia.
This was on a Saturday night.
We always got our pencils and paper and money at the
end of the week.
“Yes,” said I, with an
attempt to appear facetious and unconcerned, “but
it would be all well enough if we could take that snow-ball
to the fire and melt it down.”
“But there never is any fire
where there are snow-balls,” said Euphemia.
“No,” said I, “and that’s
just the trouble.”
It was on the following Thursday,
when I came home in the evening, that Euphemia met
me with a glowing face. It rather surprised me
to see her look so happy, for she had been very quiet
and preoccupied for the first part of the week.
So much so, indeed, that I had thought of ordering
smaller roasts for a week or two, and taking her to
a Thomas Concert with the money saved. But this
evening she looked as if she did not need Thomas’s
“What makes you so bright, my
dear?” said I, when I had greeted her.
“Has anything jolly happened?”
“No,” said she; “nothing
yet, but I am going to make a fire to melt snow-balls.”
Of course I was very anxious to know
how she was going to do it, but she would not tell
me. It was a plan that she intended to keep to
herself until she saw how it worked. I did not
press her, because she had so few secrets, and I did
not hear anything about this plan until it had been
Her scheme was as follows: After
thinking over our financial condition and puzzling
her brain to find out some way of bettering it, she
had come to the conclusion that she would make some
money by her own exertions, to help defray our household
expenses. She never had made any money, but that
was no reason why she should not begin. It was
too bad that I should have to toil and toil and not
make nearly enough money after all. So she would
go to work and earn something with her own hands.
She had heard of an establishment
in the city, where ladies of limited means, or transiently
impecunious, could, in a very quiet and private way,
get sewing to do. They could thus provide for
their needs without any one but the officers of the
institution knowing anything about it.
So Euphemia went to this place, and
she got some work. It was not a very large bundle,
but it was larger than she had been accustomed to carry,
and, what was perfectly dreadful, it was wrapped up
in a newspaper! When Euphemia told me the story,
she said that this was too much for her courage.
She could not go on the cars, and perhaps meet people
belonging to our church, with a newspaper bundle under
But her genius for expedients saved
her from this humiliation. She had to purchase
some sewing-cotton, and some other little things, and
when she had bought them, she handed her bundle to
the woman behind the counter, and asked her if she
would not be so good as to have that wrapped up with
the other things. It was a good deal to ask, she
knew, and the woman smiled, for the articles she had
bought would not make a package as large as her hand.
However, her request was complied with, and she took
away a very decent package, with the card of the store
stamped on the outside. I suppose that there are
not more than half a dozen people in this country
who would refuse Euphemia anything that she would
be willing to ask for.
So she took the work home, and she
labored faithfully at it for about a week, She did
not suppose it would take her so long; but she was
not used to such very plain sewing, and was much afraid
that she would not do it neatly enough. Besides
this, she could only work on it in the daytime when
I was away and was, of course, interrupted
a great deal by her ordinary household duties, and
the necessity of a careful oversight of Pomona’s
somewhat erratic methods of doing her work.
But at last she finished the job and
took it into the city. She did not want to spend
any more money on the trip than was absolutely necessary,
and so was very glad to find that she had a remnant
of pocket-money sufficient to pay her fare both ways.
When she reached the city, she walked
up to the place where her work was to be delivered,
and found it much farther when she went on foot than
it had seemed to her riding in the street cars.
She handed over her bundle to the proper person, and,
as it was soon examined and approved, she received
her pay therefor.
It amounted to sixty cents. She
had made no bargain, but she was a little astonished.
However, she said nothing, but left the place without
asking for any more work. In fact she forgot all
about it. She had an idea that everything was
all wrong, and that idea engrossed her mind entirely.
There was no mistake about the sum paid, for the lady
clerk had referred to the printed table of prices
when she calculated the amount due. But something
was wrong, and, at the moment, Euphemia could not
tell what it was. She left the place, and started
to walk back to the ferry. But she was so tired
and weak, and hungry it was now an hour
or two past her regular luncheon time that
she thought she should faint if she did not go somewhere
and get some refreshments.
So, like a sensible little woman as
she was, she went into a restaurant. She sat
down at a table, and a waiter came to her to see what
she would have. She was not accustomed to eating-houses,
and perhaps this was the first time that she had ever
visited one alone. What she wanted was something
simple. So she ordered a cup of tea and some rolls,
and a piece of chicken. The meal was a very good
one, and Euphemia enjoyed it. When she had finished,
she went up to the counter to settle. Her bill
was sixty cents. She paid the money that she had
just received, and walked down to the ferry all
in a daze, she said. When she got home she thought
it over, and then she cried.
After a while she dried her eyes,
and when I came home she told me all about it.
“I give it up,” she said.
“I don’t believe I can help you any.”
Poor little thing! I took her
in my arms and comforted her, and before bedtime I
had convinced her that she was fully able to help me
better than any one else on earth, and that without
puzzling her brains about business, or wearing herself
out by sewing for pay.
So we went on in our old way, and
by keeping our attention on our weekly balance, we
prevented it from growing very rapidly.
We fell back on our philosophy (it
was all the capital we had), and became as calm and
contented as circumstances allowed.