For the rest of the afternoon, and
indeed far into the night, our conversation consisted
almost entirely of conjectures regarding the probable
condition of things at the house. We both thought
we had done right, but we felt badly about it.
It was not hospitable, to be sure; but then I should
have no other holiday until next year, and our friends
could come at any time to see us.
The next morning old John brought
a note from Pomona. It was written with pencil
on a small piece of paper torn from the margin of a
newspaper, and contained the words, “Here yit.”
“So you’ve got company,”
said old John, with a smile. “That’s
a queer gal of yourn. She says I mustn’t
tell ’em you’re here. As if I’d
We knew well enough that old John
was not at all likely to do anything that would cut
off the nice little revenue he was making out of our
camp, and so we felt no concern on that score.
But we were very anxious for further
news, and we told old John to go to the house about
ten o’clock and ask Pomona to send us another
We waited, in a very disturbed condition
of mind, until nearly eleven o’clock, when old
John came with a verbal message from Pomona:
“She says she’s a-comin’
herself as soon as she can get a chance to slip off.”
This was not pleasant news. It
filled our minds with a confused mass of probabilities,
and it made us feel mean. How contemptible it
seemed to be a party to this concealment and in league
with a servant-girl who has to “slip off!”
Before long, Pomona appeared, quite out of breath.
“In all my life,” said
she, “I never see people like them two.
I thought I was never goin’ to get away.”
“Are they there yet?” cried Euphemia.
“How long are they going to stay?”
“Dear knows!” replied
Pomona. “Their valise came up by express
“Oh, we’ll have to go
up to the house,” said Euphemia. “It
won’t do to stay away any longer.”
“Well,” said Pomona, fanning
herself with her apron, “if you know’d
all I know, I don’t think you’d think
“What do you mean?” said Euphemia.
“Well, ma’am, they’ve
just settled down and taken possession of the whole
place. He says to me that he know’d you’d
both want them to make themselves at home, just as
if you was there, and they thought they’d better
do it. He asked me did I think you would be home
by Monday, and I said I didn’t know, but I guessed
you would. So says he to his wife, ’Won’t
that be a jolly lark? We’ll just keep house
for them here till they come. And he says he
would go down to the store and order some things,
if there wasn’t enough in the house, and he asked
her to see what would be needed, which she did, and
he’s gone down for ’em now. And she
says that, as it was Saturday, she’d see that
the house was all put to rights; and after breakfast
she set me to sweepin’; and it’s only by
way of her dustin’ the parlor and givin’
me the little girl to take for a walk that I got off
“But what have you done with
the child?” exclaimed Euphemia.
“Oh, I left her at old Johnses.”
“And so you think they’re
pleased with having the house to themselves?”
“Pleased, sir?” replied
Pomona; “they’re tickled to death.”
“But how do you like having
strangers telling you what to do?” asked Euphemia.
“Oh, well,” said Pomona,
“he’s no stranger, and she’s real
pleasant, and if it gives you a good camp out, I don’t
Euphemia and I looked at each other.
Here was true allegiance. We would remember this.
Pomona now hurried off, and we seriously
discussed the matter, and soon came to the conclusion
that while it might be the truest hospitality to let
our friends stay at our house for a day or two and
enjoy themselves, still it would not do for us to
allow ourselves to be governed by a too delicate sentimentality.
We must go home and act our part of host and hostess.
Mrs. Old John had been at the camp
ever since breakfast-time, giving the place a Saturday
cleaning. What she had found to occupy her for
so long a time I could not imagine, but in her efforts
to put in a full half-day’s work, I have no
doubt she scrubbed some of the trees. We had
been so fully occupied with our own affairs that we
had paid very little attention to her, but she had
probably heard pretty much all that had been said.
At noon we paid her (giving her, at
her suggestion, something extra in lieu of the midday
meal, which she did not stay to take), and told her
to send her husband, with his wagon, as soon as possible,
as we intended to break up our encampment. We
determined that we would pack everything in John’s
wagon, and let him take the load to his house, and
keep it there until Monday, when I would have the
tent and accompaniments expressed to their owner.
We would go home and join our friends. It would
not be necessary to say where we had been.
It was hard for us to break up our
camp. In many respects we had enjoyed the novel
experience, and we had fully expected, during the next
week, to make up for all our short-comings and mistakes.
It seemed like losing all our labor and expenditure,
to break up now, but there was no help for it.
Our place was at home.
We did not wish to invite our friends
to the camp. They would certainly have come had
they known we were there, but we had no accommodations
for them, neither had we any desire for even transient
visitors. Besides, we both thought that we would
prefer that our ex-boarder and his wife should not
know that we were encamped on that little peninsula.
We set to work to pack up and get
ready for moving, but the afternoon passed away without
bringing old John. Between five and six o’clock
along came his oldest boy, with a bucket of water.
“I’m to go back after the milk,”
“Hold up!” I cried.
“Where is your father and his wagon? We’ve
been waiting for him for hours.”
“The horse is si
I mean he’s gone to Ballville for oats.”
“And why didn’t he send and tell me?”
“There wasn’t nobody to send,” answered
“You are not telling the truth,”
exclaimed Euphemia; “there is always some one
to send, in a family like yours.”
To this the boy made no answer, but
again said that he would go after the milk.
“We want you to bring no milk,”
I cried, now quite angry. “I want you to
go down to the station, and tell the driver of the
express-wagon to come here immediately. Do you
The boy declared he understood, and
started off quite willingly. We did not prefer
to have the express-wagon, for it was too public a
conveyance, and, besides, old John knew exactly how
to do what was required. But we need not have
troubled ourselves. The express-wagon did not
When it became dark, we saw that we
could not leave that night. Even if a wagon did
come, it would not be safe to drive over the fields
in the darkness. And we could not go away and
leave the camp-equipage. I proposed that Euphemia
should go up to the house, while I remained in camp.
But she declined. We would keep together, whatever
happened, she said.
We unpacked our cooking-utensils and
provisions, and had supper. There was no milk
for our coffee, but we did not care. The evening
did not pass gayly. We were annoyed by the conduct
of old John and the express-boy, though, perhaps,
it was not their fault. I had given them no notice
that I should need them.
And we were greatly troubled at the
continuance of the secrecy and subterfuge which now
had become really necessary, if we did not wish to
hurt our friends’ feelings.
The first thing that I thought of,
when I opened my eyes in the morning, was the fact
that we would have to stay there all day, for we could
not move on Sunday.
But Euphemia did not agree with me.
After breakfast (we found that the water and the milk
had been brought very early, before we were up) she
stated that she did not intend to be treated in this
way. She was going up to old John’s house
herself; and away she went.
In less than half an hour, she returned,
followed by old John and his wife, both looking much
as if they had been whipped.
“These people,” said she,
“have entered into a conspiracy against us.
I have questioned them thoroughly, and have made them
answer me. The horse was at home yesterday, and
the boy did not go after the express-wagon. They
thought that if they could keep us here, until our
company had gone, we would stay as long as we originally
intended, and they would continue to make money out
of us. But they are mistaken. We are going
At this point I could not help thinking
that Euphemia might have consulted me in regard to
her determination, but she was very much in earnest,
and I would not have any discussion before these people.
“Now, listen!” said Euphemia,
addressing the down-cast couple, “we are going
home, and you two are to stay here all this day and
to-night, and take care of these things. You
can’t work to-day, and you can shut up your
house, and bring your whole family here if you choose.
We will pay you for the service, although
you do not deserve a cent, and we will
leave enough here for you to eat. You must bring
your own sheets and pillowcases, and stay here until
we see you on Monday morning.”
Old John and his wife agreed to this
plan with the greatest alacrity, apparently well pleased
to get off so easily; and, having locked up the smaller
articles of camp-furniture, we filled a valise with
our personal baggage and started off home.
Our house and grounds never looked
prettier than they did that morning, as we stood at
the gate. Lord Edward barked a welcome from his
shed, and before we reached the door, Pomona came
running out, her face radiant.
“I’m awful glad to see
you back,” she said; “though I’d
never have said so while you was in camp.”
I patted the dog and looked into the
garden. Everything was growing splendidly.
Euphemia rushed to the chicken-yard. It was in
first-rate order, and there were two broods of little
yellow puffy chicks.
Down on her knees went my wife, to
pick up the little creatures, one by one, press their
downy bodies to her cheek, and call them tootsy-wootsies,
and away went I to the barn, followed by Pomona, and
soon afterward by Euphemia.
The cow was all right.
“I’ve been making butter,”
said Pomona, “though it don’t look exactly
like it ought to, yet, and the skim-milk I didn’t
know what to do with, so I gave it to old John.
He came for it every day, and was real mad once because
I had given a lot of it to the dog, and couldn’t
let him have but a pint.”
“He ought to have been mad,”
said I to Euphemia, as we walked up to the house.
“He got ten cents a quart for that milk.”
We laughed, and didn’t care.
We were too glad to be at home.
“But where are our friends?”
I asked Pomona. We had actually forgotten them.
“Oh! they’re gone out
for a walk,” said she. “They started
off right after breakfast.”
We were not sorry for this. It
would be so much nicer to see our dear home again
when there was nobody there but ourselves. In-doors
we rushed. Our absence had been like rain on
a garden. Everything now seemed fresher and brighter
and more delightful. We went from room to room,
and seemed to appreciate better than ever what a charming
home we had.
We were so full of the delights of
our return that we forgot all about the Sunday dinner
and our guests, but Pomona, whom my wife was training
to be an excellent cook, did not forget, and Euphemia
was summoned to a consultation in the kitchen.
Dinner was late; but our guests were
later. We waited as long as the state of the
provisions and our appetites would permit, and then
we sat down to the table and began to eat slowly.
But they did not come. We finished our meal,
and they were still absent. We now became quite
anxious, and I proposed to Euphemia that we should
go and look for them.
We started out, and our steps naturally
turned toward the river. An unpleasant thought
began to crowd itself into my mind, and perhaps the
same thing happened to Euphemia, for, without saying
anything to each other, we both turned toward the
path that led to the peninsula. We crossed the
field, climbed the fence, and there, in front of the
tent sat our old boarder splitting sticks with the
“Hurrah!” he cried, springing
to his feet when he saw us. “How glad I
am to see you back! When did you return?
Isn’t this splendid?”
“What?” I said, as we shook hands.
“Why this,” he cried,
pointing to the tent. “Don’t you see?
We’re camping out.”
“You are?” I exclaimed,
looking around for his wife, while Euphemia stood
motionless, actually unable to make a remark.
“Certainly we are. It’s
the rarest bit of luck. My wife and Adele will
be here directly. They’ve gone to look for
water-cresses. But I must tell you how I came
to make this magnificent find. We started out
for a walk this morning, and we happened to hit on
this place, and here we saw this gorgeous tent with
nobody near but a little tow-headed boy.”
“Only a boy?” cried Euphemia.
“Yes, a young shaver of about
nine or ten. I asked him what he was doing here,
and he told me that this tent belonged to a gentleman
who had gone away, and that he was here to watch it
until he came back. Then I asked him how long
the owner would probably be away, and he said he supposed
for a day or two. Then a splendid idea struck
me. I offered the boy a dollar to let me take
his place: I knew that any sensible man would
rather have me in charge of his tent, than a young
codger like that. The boy agreed as quick as
lightning, and I paid him and sent him off. You
see how little he was to be trusted! The owner
of this tent will be under the greatest obligations
to me. Just look at it!” he cried.
“Beds, table, stove, everything anybody
could want. I’ve camped out lots of times,
but never had such a tent as this. I intended
coming up this afternoon after my valise, and to tell
your girl where we are. But here is my wife and
In the midst of the salutations and
the mutual surprise, Euphemia cried:
“But you don’t expect
to camp out, now? You are coming back to our
“You see,” said the ex-boarder,
“we should never have thought of doing anything
so rude, had we supposed you would have returned so
soon. But your girl gave us to understand that
you would not be back for days, and so we felt free
to go at any time; and I did not hesitate to make this
arrangement. And now that I have really taken
the responsibility of the tent and fixtures on myself,
I don’t think it would be right to go away and
leave the place, especially as I don’t know where
to find that boy. The owner will be back in a
day or two, and I would like to explain matters to
him and give up the property in good order into his
hands. And, to tell the truth, we both adore
camping-out, and we may never have such a chance again.
We can live here splendidly. I went out to forage
this morning, and found an old fellow living near by
who sold me a lot of provisions even some
coffee and sugar and he’s to bring
us some milk. We’re going to have supper
in about an hour; won’t you stay and take a
camp-meal with us? It will be a novelty for you,
at any rate.”
We declined this invitation, as we
had so lately dined. I looked at Euphemia with
a question in my eye. She understood me, and gently
shook her head. It would be a shame to make any
explanations which might put an end to this bit of
camp-life, which evidently was so eagerly enjoyed
by our old friend. But we insisted that they should
come up to the house and see us, and they agreed to
dine with us the next evening. On Tuesday, they
must return to the city.
“Now, this is what I call real
hospitality,” said the ex-boarder, warmly grasping
my hand. I could not help agreeing with him.
As we walked home, I happened to look
back and saw old John going over the fields toward
the camp, carrying a little tin-pail and a water bucket.
The next day, toward evening, a storm
set in, and at the hour fixed for our dinner, the
rain was pouring down in such torrents that we did
not expect our guests. After dinner the rain
ceased, and as we supposed that they might not have
made any preparations for a meal, Euphemia packed up
some dinner for them in a basket, and I took it down
to the camp.
They were glad to see me, and said
they had a splendid time all day. They were up
before sunrise, and had explored, tramped, boated,
and I don’t know what else.
My basket was very acceptable, and
I would have stayed awhile with them, but as they
were obliged to eat in the tent, there was no place
for me to sit, it being too wet outside, and so I
soon came away.
We were in doubt whether or not to
tell our friends the true history of the camp.
I thought that it was not right to keep up the deception,
while Euphemia declared that if they were sensitive
people, they would feel very badly at having broken
up our plans by their visit, and then having appropriated
our camp to themselves. She thought it would be
the part of magnanimity to say nothing about it.
I could not help seeing a good deal
of force in her arguments, although I wished very
much to set the thing straight, and we discussed the
matter again as we walked down to the camp, after breakfast
There we found old John sitting on
a stump. He said nothing, but handed me a note
written in lead-pencil on a card. It was from
our ex-boarder, and informed me that early that morning
he had found that there was a tug lying in the river,
which would soon start for the city. He also
found that he could get passage on her for his party,
and as this was such a splendid chance to go home
without the bother of getting up to the station, he
had just bundled his family and his valise on board,
and was very sorry they did not have time to come
up and bid us good-bye. The tent he left in charge
of a very respectable man, from whom he had had supplies.
That morning I had the camp-equipage
packed up and expressed to its owner. We did
not care to camp out any more that season, but thought
it would be better to spend the rest of my vacation
at the sea-shore.
Our ex-boarder wrote to us that he
and his wife were anxious that we should return their
visit during my holidays; but as we did not see exactly
how we could return a visit of the kind, we did not
try to do it.