Read CHAPTER V - POMONA PRODUCES A PARTIAL REVOLUTION IN RUDDER GRANGE. of Rudder Grange , free online book, by Frank R. Stockton, on ReadCentral.com.

Euphemia began to take a great deal of comfort in her girl.  Every evening she had some new instance to relate of Pomona’s inventive abilities and aptness in adapting herself to the peculiarities of our method of housekeeping.

“Only to think!” said she, one afternoon, “Pomona has just done another very smart thing.  You know what a trouble it has always been for us to carry all our waste water upstairs, and throw it over the bulwarks.  Well, she has remedied all that.  She has cut a nice little low window in the side of the kitchen, and has made a shutter of the piece she cut out, with leather hinges to it, and now she can just open this window, throw the water out, shut it again, and there it is!  I tell you she’s smart.”

“Yes; there is no doubt of that,” I said; “but I think that there is danger of her taking more interest in such extraordinary and novel duties than in the regular work of the house.”

“Now, don’t discourage the girl, my dear,” she said, “for she is of the greatest use to me, and I don’t want you to be throwing cold water about like some people.”

“Not even if I throw it out of Pomona’s little door, I suppose.”

“No.  Don’t throw it at all.  Encourage people.  What would the world be if everybody chilled our aspirations and extraordinary efforts?  Like Fulton’s steamboat.”

“All right,” I said; “I’ll not discourage her.”

It was now getting late in the season.  It was quite too cool to sit out on deck in the evening, and our garden began to look desolate.

Our boarder had wheeled up a lot of fresh earth, and had prepared a large bed, in which he had planted turnips.  They made an excellent fall crop, he assured us.

From being simply cool it began to be rainy, and the weather grew decidedly unpleasant.  But our boarder bade us take courage.  This was probably the “equinoctial,” and when it was over there would be a delightful Indian summer, and the turnips would grow nicely.

This sounded very well, but the wind blew up cold at night, and there was a great deal of unpleasant rain.

One night it blew what Pomona called a “whirlicane,” and we went to bed very early to keep warm.  We heard our boarder on deck in the garden after we were in bed, and Euphemia said she could not imagine what he was about, unless he was anchoring his turnips to keep them from blowing away.

During the night I had a dream.  I thought I was a boy again, and was trying to stand upon my head, a feat for which I had been famous.  But instead of throwing myself forward on my hands, and then raising my heels backward over my head, in the orthodox manner, I was on my back, and trying to get on my head from that position.  I awoke suddenly, and found that the footboard of the bedstead was much higher than our heads.  We were lying on a very much inclined plane, with our heads downward.  I roused Euphemia, and we both got out of bed, when, at almost the same moment, we slipped down the floor into ever so much water.

Euphemia was scarcely awake, and she fell down gurgling.  It was dark, but I heard her fall, and I jumped over the bedstead to her assistance.  I had scarcely raised her up, when I heard a pounding at the front door or main-hatchway, and our boarder shouted: 

“Get up!  Come out of that!  Open the door!  The old boat’s turning over!”

My heart fell within me, but I clutched Euphemia.  I said no word, and she simply screamed.  I dragged her over the floor, sometimes in the water and sometimes out of it.  I got the dining-room door open and set her on the stairs.  They were in a topsy-turvy condition, but they were dry.  I found a lantern which hung on a nail, with a match-box under it, and I struck a light.  Then I scrambled back and brought her some clothes.

All this time the boarder was yelling and pounding at the door.  When Euphemia was ready I opened the door and took her out.

“You go dress yourself;” said the boarder.  “I’ll hold her here until you come back.”

I left her and found my clothes (which, chair and all, had tumbled against the foot of the bed and so had not gone into the water), and soon reappeared on deck.  The wind was blowing strongly, but it did not now seem to be very cold.  The deck reminded me of the gang-plank of a Harlem steamboat at low tide.  It was inclined at an angle of more than forty-five degrees, I am sure.  There was light enough for us to see about us, but the scene and all the dreadful circumstances made me feel the most intense desire to wake up and find it all a dream.  There was no doubt, however, about the boarder being wide awake.

“Now then,” said he, “take hold of her on that side and we’ll help her over here.  You scramble down on that side; it’s all dry just there.  The boat’s turned over toward the water, and I’ll lower her down to you.  I’ll let a rope over the sides.  You can hold on to that as you go down.”

I got over the bulwarks and let myself down to the ground.  Then the boarder got Euphemia up and slipped her over the side, holding to her hands, and letting her gently down until I could reach her.  She said never a word, but screamed at times.  I carried her a little way up the shore and set her down.  I wanted to take her up to a house near by, where we bought our milk, but she declined to go until we had saved Pomona.

So I went back to the boat, having carefully wrapped up Euphemia, to endeavor to save the girl.  I found that the boarder had so arranged the gang-plank that it was possible, without a very great exercise of agility, to pass from the shore to the boat.  When I first saw him, on reaching the shelving deck, he was staggering up the stairs with a dining-room chair and a large framed engraving of Raphael’s Dante ­an ugly picture, but full of true feeling; at least so Euphemia always declared, though I am not quite sure that I know what she meant.

“Where is Pomona?” I said, endeavoring to stand on the hill-side of the deck.

“I don’t know,” said he, “but we must get the things out.  The tide’s rising and the wind’s getting up.  The boat will go over before we know it.”

“But we must find the girl,” I said.  “She can’t be left to drown.”

“I don’t think it would matter much,” said he, getting over the side of the boat with his awkward load.  “She would be of about as much use drowned as any other way.  If it hadn’t been for that hole she cut in the side of the boat, this would never have happened.”

“You don’t think it was that!” I said, holding the picture and the chair while he let himself down to the gang-plank.

“Yes, it was,” he replied.  “The tide’s very high, and the water got over that hole and rushed in.  The water and the wind will finish this old craft before very long.”

And then he took his load from me and dashed down the gang-plank.  I went below to look for Pomona.  The lantern still hung on the nail, and I took it down and went into the kitchen.  There was Pomona, dressed, and with her hat on, quietly packing some things in a basket.

“Come, hurry out of this,” I cried.  “Don’t you know that this house ­this boat, I mean, is a wreck?”

“Yes, sma’am ­sir, I mean ­I know it, and I suppose we shall soon be at the mercy of the waves.”

“Well, then, go as quickly as you can.  What are you putting in that basket?”

“Food,” she said.  “We may need it.”

I took her by the shoulder and hurried her on deck, over the bulwark, down the gang-plank, and so on to the place where I had left Euphemia.

I found the dear girl there, quiet and collected, all up in a little bunch, to shield herself from the wind.  I wasted no time, but hurried the two women over to the house of our milk-merchant.  There, with some difficulty, I roused the good woman, and after seeing Euphemia and Pomona safely in the house, I left them to tell the tale, and ran back to the boat.

The boarder was working like a Trojan.  He had already a pile of our furniture on the beach.

I set about helping him, and for an hour we labored at this hasty and toilsome moving.  It was indeed a toilsome business.  The floors were shelving, the stairs leaned over sideways, ever so far, and the gang-plank was desperately short and steep.

Still, we saved quite a number of household articles.  Some things we broke and some we forgot, and some things were too big to move in this way; but we did very well, considering the circumstances.

The wind roared, the tide rose, and the boat groaned and creaked.  We were in the kitchen, trying to take the stove apart (the boarder was sure we could carry it up, if we could get the pipe out and the legs and doors off), when we heard a crash.  We rushed on deck and found that the garden had fallen in!  Making our way as well as we could toward the gaping rent in the deck, we saw that the turnip-bed had gone down bodily into the boarder’s room.  He did not hesitate, but scrambled down his narrow stairs.  I followed him.  He struck a match that he had in his pocket, and lighted a little lantern that hung under the stairs.  His room was a perfect rubbish heap.  The floor, bed, chairs, pitcher, basin ­everything was covered or filled with garden mold and turnips.  Never did I behold such a scene.  He stood in the midst of it, holding his lantern high above his head.  At length he spoke.

“If we had time,” he said, “we might come down here and pick out a lot of turnips.”

“But how about your furniture?” I exclaimed.

“Oh, that’s ruined!” he replied.

So we did not attempt to save any of it, but we got hold of his trunk and carried that on shore.

When we returned, we found that the water was pouring through his partition, making the room a lake of mud.  And, as the water was rising rapidly below, and the boat was keeling over more and more, we thought it was time to leave, and we left.

It would not do to go far away from our possessions, which were piled up in a sad-looking heap on the shore; and so, after I had gone over to the milk-woman’s to assure Euphemia of our safety, the boarder and I passed the rest of the night ­there was not much of it left ­in walking up and down the beach smoking some cigars which he fortunately had in his pocket.

In the morning I took Euphemia to the hotel, about a mile away ­and arranged for the storage of our furniture there, until we could find another habitation.  This habitation, we determined, was to be in a substantial house, or part of a house, which should not be affected by the tides.

During the morning the removal of our effects was successfully accomplished, and our boarder went to town to look for a furnished room.  He had nothing but his trunk to take to it.

In the afternoon I left Euphemia at the hotel, where she was taking a nap (she certainly needed it, for she had spent the night in a wooden rocking-chair at the milk-woman’s), and I strolled down to the river to take a last look at the remains of old Rudder Grange.

I felt sadly enough as I walked along the well-worn path to the canal-boat, and thought how it had been worn by my feet more than any other’s, and how gladly I had walked that way, so often during that delightful summer.  I forgot all that had been disagreeable, and thought only of the happy times we had had.

It was a beautiful autumn afternoon, and the wind had entirely died away.  When I came within sight of our old home, it presented a doleful appearance.  The bow had drifted out into the river, and was almost entirely under water.  The stern stuck up in a mournful and ridiculous manner, with its keel, instead of its broadside, presented to the view of persons on the shore.  As I neared the boat I heard a voice.  I stopped and listened.  There was no one in sight.  Could the sounds come from the boat?  I concluded that it must be so, and I walked up closer.  Then I heard distinctly the words: 

“He grasp ed her by the thro at and yell ed, swear to me thou nev er wilt re veal my se cret, or thy hot heart’s blood shall stain this mar bel fib or; she gave one gry vy ous gasp and ­”

It was Pomona!

Doubtless she had climbed up the stern of the boat and had descended into the depths of the wreck to rescue her beloved book, the reading of which had so long been interrupted by my harsh decrees.  Could I break in on this one hour of rapture?  I had not the heart to do it, and as I slowly moved away, there came to me the last words that I ever heard from Rudder Grange: 

“And with one wild shry ik to heav en her heart’s blo öd spat ter ed that prynce ly home of woe ­”