For some reason, not altogether understood
by me, there seemed to be a continued series of new
developments at our home. I had supposed, when
the events spoken of in the last chapter had settled
down to their proper places in our little history,
that our life would flow on in an even, commonplace
way, with few or no incidents worthy of being recorded.
But this did not prove to be the case. After a
time, the uniformity and quiet of our existence was
This disturbance was caused by a baby,
not a rude, imperious baby, but a child who was generally
of a quiet and orderly turn of mind. But it disarranged
all our plans; all our habits; all the ordinary disposition
It was in the summer-time, during
my vacation, that it began to exert its full influence
upon us. A more unfortunate season could not have
been selected. At first, I may say that it did
not exert its full influence upon me. I was away,
during the day, and, in the evening, its influence
was not exerted, to any great extent, upon anybody.
As I have said, its habits were exceedingly orderly.
But, during my vacation, the things came to pass which
have made this chapter necessary.
I did not intend taking a trip.
As in a former vacation, I proposed staying at home
and enjoying those delights of the country which my
business in town did not allow me to enjoy in the working
weeks and months of the year. I had no intention
of camping out, or of doing anything of that kind,
but many were the trips, rides, and excursions I had
I found, however, that if I enjoyed
myself in this wise, I must do it, for the most part,
alone. It was not that Euphemia could not go with
me there was really nothing to prevent it
was simply that she had lost, for the time, her interest
in everything except that baby.
She wanted me to be happy, to amuse
myself, to take exercise, to do whatever I thought
was pleasant, but she, herself, was so much engrossed
with the child, that she was often ignorant of what
I intended to do, or had done. She thought she
was listening to what I said to her, but, in reality,
she was occupied, mind and body, with the baby, or
listening for some sound which should indicate that
she ought to go and be occupied with it.
I would often say to her: “Why
can’t you let Pomona attend to it? You
surely need not give up your whole time and your whole
mind to the child.”
But she would always answer that Pomona
had a great many things to do, and that she couldn’t,
at all times, attend to the baby. Suppose, for
instance, that she should be at the barn.
I once suggested that a nurse should
be procured, but at this she laughed.
“There is very little to do,”
she said, “and I really like to do it.”
“Yes,” said I, “but
you spend so much of your time in thinking how glad
you will be to do that little, when it is to be done,
that you can’t give me any attention, at all.”
“Now you have no cause to say
that,” she exclaimed. “You know very
well , there!” and away she ran.
It had just begun to cry!
Naturally, I was getting tired of
this. I could never begin a sentence and feel
sure that I would be allowed to finish it. Nothing
was important enough to delay attention to an infantile
Jonas, too, was in a state of unrest.
He was obliged to wear his good clothes, a great part
of the time, for he was continually going on errands
to the village, and these errands were so important
that they took precedence of everything else.
It gave me a melancholy sort of pleasure, sometimes,
to do Jonas’s work when he was thus sent away.
I asked him, one day, how he liked it all?
“Well,” said he, reflectively,
“I can’t say as I understand it, exactly.
It does seem queer to me that such a little thing should
take up pretty nigh all the time of three people.
I suppose, after a while,” this he said with
a grave smile, “that you may be wanting to turn
in and help.” I did not make any answer
to this, for Jonas was, at that moment, summoned to
the house, but it gave me an idea. In fact, it
gave me two ideas.
The first was that Jonas’s remark
was not entirely respectful. He was my hired
man, but he was a very respectable man, and an American
man, and therefore might sometimes be expected to
say things which a foreigner, not known to be respectable,
would not think of saying, if he wished to keep his
place. The fact that Jonas had always been very
careful to treat me with much civility, caused this
remark to make more impression on me. I felt
that he had, in a measure, reason for it.
The other idea was one which grew
and developed in my mind until I afterward formed
a plan upon it. I determined, however, before
I carried out my plan, to again try to reason with
“If it was our own baby,”
I said, “or even the child of one of us, by a
former marriage, it would be a different thing; but
to give yourself up so entirely to Pomona’s
baby, seems, to me, unreasonable. Indeed, I never
heard of any case exactly like it. It is reversing
all the usages of society for the mistress to take
care of the servant’s baby.”
“The usages of society are not
worth much, sometimes,” said Euphemia, “and
you must remember that Pomona is a very different kind
of a person from an ordinary servant. She is
much more like a member of the family I
can’t exactly explain what kind of a member,
but I understand it myself. She has very much
improved since she has been married, and you know,
yourself, how quiet and and, nice she is,
and as for the baby, it’s just as good and pretty
as any baby, and it may grow up to be better than
any of us. Some of our presidents have sprung
from lowly parents.”
“But this one is a girl,” I said.
“Well then,” replied Euphemia, “she
may be a president’s wife.”
“Another thing,” I remarked,
“I don’t believe Jonas and Pomona like
your keeping their baby so much to yourself.”
“Nonsense!” said Euphemia,
“a girl in Pomona’s position couldn’t
help being glad to have a lady take an interest in
her baby, and help bring it up. And as for Jonas,
he would be a cruel man if he wasn’t pleased
and grateful to have his wife relieved of so much trouble.
Pomona! is that you? You can bring it here, now,
if you want to get at your clear-starching.”
I don’t believe that Pomona
hankered after clear-starching, but she brought the
baby and I went away. I could not see any hope
ahead. Of course, in time, it would grow up,
but then it couldn’t grow up during my vacation.
Then it was that I determined to carry out my plan.
I went to the stable and harnessed
the horse to the little carriage. Jonas was not
there, and I had fallen out of the habit of calling
him. I drove slowly through the yard and out
of the gate. No one called to me or asked where
I was going. How different this was from the old
times! Then, some one would not have failed to
know where I was going, and, in all probability, she
would have gone with me. But now I drove away,
quietly and undisturbed.
About three miles from our house was
a settlement known as New Dublin. It was a cluster
of poor and doleful houses, inhabited entirely by Irish
people, whose dirt and poverty seemed to make them
very contented and happy. The men were generally
away, at their work, during the day, but there was
never any difficulty in finding some one at home, no
matter at what house one called. I was acquainted
with one of the matrons of this locality, a Mrs. Duffy,
who had occasionally undertaken some odd jobs at our
house, and to her I made a visit.
She was glad to see me, and wiped off a chair for
“Mrs. Duffy,” said I, “I want to
rent a baby.”
At first, the good woman could not
understand me, but when I made plain to her that I
wished for a short time, to obtain the exclusive use
and control of a baby, for which I was willing to
pay a liberal rental, she burst into long and violent
laughter. It seemed to her like a person coming
into the country to purchase weeds. Weeds and
children were so abundant in New Dublin. But
she gradually began to see that I was in earnest,
and as she knew I was a trusty person, and somewhat
noted for the care I took of my live stock, she was
perfectly willing to accommodate me, but feared she
had nothing on hand of the age I desired.
“Me childther are all agoin’
about,” she said. “Ye kin see a poile
uv ‘em out yon, in the road, an’ there’s
more uv ’em on the fince. But ye nade have
no fear about gittin’ wan. There’s
sthacks of ’em in the place. I’ll
jist run over to Mrs. Hogan’s, wid ye. She’s
got sixteen or siventeen, mostly small, for Hogan
brought four or five wid him when he married her,
an’ she’ll be glad to rint wan uv ’em.”
So, throwing her apron over her head, she accompanied
me to Mrs. Hogan’s.
That lady was washing, but she cheerfully
stopped her work while Mrs. Duffy took her to one
side and explained my errand. Mrs. Hogan did not
appear to be able to understand why I wanted a baby-especially
for so limited a period, but probably concluded
that if I would take good care of it and would pay
well for it, the matter was my own affair, for she
soon came and said, that if I wanted a baby, I’d
come to the right place. Then she began to consider
what one she would let me have. I insisted on
a young one there was already a little baby
at our house, and the folks there would know how to
“Oh, ye want it fer coompany
for the ither one, is that it?” said Mrs. Hogan,
a new light breaking in upon her. “An’
that’s a good plan, sure. It must be dridful
lownly in a house wid ownly wan baby. Now there’s
one Polly would she do?”
“Why, she can run,” I
said. “I don’t want one that can run.”
“Oh, dear!” said Mrs.
Hogan, with a sigh, “they all begin to run, very
airly. Now Polly isn’t owld, at all, at
“I can see that,” said
I, “but I want one that you can put in a cradle one
that will have to stay there, when you put it in.”
It was plain that Mrs. Hogan’s
present stock did not contain exactly what I wanted,
and directly Mrs. Duffy exclaimed! “There’s
Mary McCann an’ roight across the
Mrs. Hogan said “Yis, sure,”
and we all went over to a little house, opposite.
“Now, thin,” said Mrs.
Duffy, entering the house, and proudly drawing a small
coverlid from a little box-bed in a corner, “what
do you think of that?”
“Why, there are two of them,” I exclaimed.
“To be sure,” said Mrs.
Duffy. “They’re tweens. There’s
always two uv em, when they’re tweens.
An’ they’re young enough.”
“Yes,” said I, doubtfully,
“but I couldn’t take both. Do you
think their mother would rent one of them?”
The women shook their heads.
“Ye see, sir,” said Mrs. Hogan, “Mary
McCann isn’t here, bein’ gone out to a
wash, but she ownly has four or foive childther, an’
she aint much used to ’em yit, an’ I kin
spake fer her that she’d niver siparate
a pair o’ tweens. When she gits a dozen
hersilf, and marries a widow jintleman wid a lot uv
his own, she’ll be glad enough to be lettin’
ye have yer pick, to take wan uv ’em fer
coompany to yer own baby, at foive dollars a week.
I visited several houses after this,
still in company with Mrs. Hogan and Mrs. Duffy, and
finally secured a youngish infant, who, having been
left motherless, had become what Mrs. Duffy called
a “bottle-baby,” and was in charge of
a neighboring aunt. It seemed strange that this
child, so eminently adapted to purposes of rental,
was not offered to me, at first, but I suppose the
Irish ladies, who had the matter in charge, wanted
to benefit themselves, or some of their near friends,
before giving the general public of New Dublin a chance.
The child suited me very well, and
I agreed to take it for as many days as I might happen
to want it, but to pay by the week, in advance.
It was a boy, with a suggestion of orange-red bloom
all over its head, and what looked, to me, like freckles
on its cheeks; while its little nose turned up, even
more than those of babies generally turn above
a very long upper lip. His eyes were blue and
twinkling, and he had the very mouth “fer
a leetle poipe,” as Mrs. Hogan admiringly remarked.
He was hastily prepared for his trip,
and when I had arranged the necessary business matters
with his aunt, and had assured her that she could
come to see him whenever she liked, I got into the
carriage, and having spread the lap-robe over my knees,
the baby, carefully wrapped in a little shawl, was
laid in my lap. Then his bottle, freshly filled,
for he might need a drink on the way, was tucked between
the cushions on the seat beside me, and taking the
lines in my left hand, while I steadied my charge
with the other, I prepared to drive away.
“What’s his name?” I asked.
“It’s Pat,” said his aunt, “afther
his dad, who’s away in the moines.”
“But ye kin call him onything
ye bike,” Mrs. Duffy remarked, “fer
he don’t ansther to his name yit.”
“Pat will do very well,”
I said, as I bade the good women farewell, and carefully
guided the horse through the swarms of youngsters who
had gathered around the carriage.