Rudder Grange/Chapter 15
IN WHICH TWO NEW FRIENDS DISPORT THEMSELVES
"The nex' mornin' was fine an' nice," continued Pomona, "an' after our breakfast had been brought to us, we went out in the grounds to take a walk. There was lots of trees back of the house, with walks among 'em, an' altogether it was so oletimey an' castleish that I was as happy as a lark.
"'Come along. Earl Miguel,' I says; 'let us tread a measure 'neath these mantlin' trees.'
"'All right,' says he. 'Your Jiguel attends you. And what might our noble second name be? What is we earl an' earl-ess of?'
"'Oh, anything,' says I. 'Let's take any name at random.'
"'All right,' says he. 'Let it be random. Earl an' Earl-ess Random. Come along.'
"So we walks about, I feelin' mighty noble an' springy, an' afore long we sees another couple a-walkin' about under the trees.
"'Who's them?' says I.
"'Don't know,' says he, 'but I expect they're some o' the other boarders. The man said he had other boarders when I spoke to him about takin' us.'
"'Let's make-believe they're a count an' countess,' says I. 'Count an' Countess of—'
"'Milwaukee,' says he.
"I didn't think much of this for a noble name, but still it would do well enough, an' so we called 'em the Count and Countess of Milwaukee, and we kep' on a-meanderin'. Pretty soon he gets tired an' says he was agoin' back to the house to have a smoke, because he thought it was time to have a little fun which weren't all imaginations, an' I says to him to go along, but it would be the hardest thing in this world for me to imagine any fun in smokin'. He laughed an' went back, while I walked on, makin'-believe a page, in blue puffed breeches, was a-holdin' up my train, which was of light green velvet trimmed with silver lace. Pretty soon, turnin' a little corner, I meets the Count and Countess of Milwaukee, She was a small lady, dressed in black, an' he was a big fat man about fifty years old, with a greyish beard. They both wore little straw hats, exac'ly alike, an' had on green carpet slippers.
"They stops when they sees me, an' the lady she bows and says 'good-mornin',' an' then she smiles, very pleasant, an' asks if I was a-livin' here, an' when I said I was, she says she was too, for the present, and what was my name. I had half a mind to say the Earl-ess Random, but she was so pleasant and sociable that I didn't like to seem to be makin' fun, an' so I said I was Mrs. De Henderson.
"'An' I,' says she, 'am Mrs. General Andrew Jackson, widow of the ex-President of the United States. I am staying here on business connected with the United States Bank. This is my brother,' says she, pointin' to the big man.
"'How d'ye do?' says he, a-puttin' his hands together, turnin' his toes out, an' makin' a funny little bow. 'I am General Tom Thumb,' he says, in a deep, gruff voice, 'an' I've been before all the crown-ed heads of Europe, Asia, Africa, America, an' Australia—all a's but one—an' I'm waitin' here for a team of four little milk-white oxen, no bigger than tall cats, which is to be hitched to a little hay-waggon, which I am to ride in, with a little pitch-fork an' real farmer's clothes—only small. This will come to-morrow, when I will pay for it an' ride away to exhibit. It may be here now, an' I will go an' see. Good-bye.'
"'Good-bye, likewise,' says the lady. 'I hope you'll have all you're thinkin' you're havin' an' more too, but less if you'd like it. Farewell.' An' away they goes.
"Well, you may be sure, I stood there amazed enough, an' mad too when I heard her talk about my bein' all I was a-thinkin' I was. I was sure my husband—scarce two weeks old, a husband—had told all. It was too bad. I wished I had jus' said I was the Earl-ess of Random an' brassed it out.
"I rushed back an' foun' him smokin' a pipe on a back porch. I charged him with his perfidy, but he vowed so earnest that he had not told these people of our fancies, or ever had spoke to 'em, that I had to believe him.
"'I expec',' says he, 'that they're jus' makin'-believe—as we are. There aint no patent on make-believes.'
"This didn't satisfy me, an' as he seemed to be so careless about it, I walked away, an' left him to his pipe. I determined to go take a walk along some of the country roads, an' think this thing over for myself. I went aroun' to the front gate, where the woman of the house was a-standin' talkin' to somebody, an' I jus' bowed to her; for I didn't feel like sayin' anything, an walked past her."'Hello!' said she, jumpin' in front of me, an' shuttin' the gate. 'You can't go out here. If you want to walk you can walk about in the grounds. There's lots of shady paths.'
"'Can't go out!' says I. 'Can't go out! What do you mean by that?'
"'I mean jus' what I say,' said she, an' she locked the gate.
"I was so mad that I could have pushed her over an' broke the gate, but I thought that if there was anything of that kind to do I had a husband whose business it was to attend to it, an' so I runs aroun' to him to tell him. He had gone in, but I met Mrs. Jackson an' her brother.
"'What's the matter?' says she, seein' what a hurry I was in.
"'That woman at the gate, I sayd, almost chokin' as I spoke, ' won't let me out.'
"'She won't? ' said Mrs. Jackson. 'Well that's a way she has. Four times the Bank of the United States has closed its doors before I was able to get there, on account of that woman's obstinacy about the gate. Indeed, I have not been to the Bank at all yet; for of course it is of no use to go after banking hours."
"'An' I believe, too,' said her brother in his heavy voice, 'that she has kept out my team of little oxen. Otherwise it would be here now.'
"I couldn't stand any more of this, an' ran into our room where my husband was. When I told him what had happened he was real sorry.
"'I didn't know you thought of going out,' he said, 'or I would have told you all about it. An' now sit down an' quiet yourself, an' I'll tell you jus' how things is.' So down we sits, an' says he, jus' as carm as a summer cloud; 'My dear, this is a lunertic asylum. Now, don't jump,' he says; 'I didn't bring you here because I thought you was crazy, but because I wanted you to see what kind of people they was who imagined themselves earls and earlesses, an' all that sort o' thing, an' to have an idea how the thing worked after you'd been doing it a good while an' had got used to it. I thought it would be a good thing, while I was Earl Jiguel and you was a noble earless, to come to a place where people acted that way. I knowed you had read lots o' books about knights and princesses an' bloody towers, an' that you knowed about all them things, but I didn't suppose you did know how them same things looked in these days, an' a lunertic asylum was the only place where you could see 'em. So I went to a doctor I know'd,' he says, ' an' got a certificate from him to this private institution, where we could stay for a while an' get posted on romantics.'
"'Then,' says I, 'the upshot was that you wanted to teach a lesson.'
"'Jus' that,' says he.
"'All right,' says I; 'it's teached. An' now let's get out of this as quick as we kin.'
"'That'll suit me,' he says, 'an' we'll leave by the noon train. I'll go an' see about the trunk bein' sent down.'
"So off he went to see the man who kept the house, while I falls to packin' up the trunk as fast as I could."
"Weren't you dreadfully angry at him?" asked Euphemia, who, having a romantic streak in her own composition, did not sympathize altogether with this heroic remedy for Pomona's disease.
"No, ma'am," said Pomona, "not long. When I thought of Mrs. General Jackson and Tom Thumb, I couldn't help thinkin' that I must have looked pretty much the same to my husband, who, I knowed now, had only been makin'-believe to make-believe. An', besides, I couldn't be angry very long for laughin', for when he come back in a minute, as mad as a March hare, an' said they wouldn't let me out nor him nuther, I fell to laughin' ready to crack my sides.
"'They say,' said he, as soon as he could speak straight, 'that we can't go out without another certificate from the doctor. I told 'em I'd go myself an' see him about it, but they said no, I couldn't, for if they did that way everybody who ever was sent here would be goin' out the next day to see about leavin'. I didn't want to make no fuss, so I told them I'd write a letter to the doctor, and tell him to send an order that would soon show them whether we could go out or not. They said that would be the best thing to do, an' so I'm goin' to write it this minute'—which he did.
"'How long will we have to wait?' says I, when the letter was done.
"'Well,' says he, 'the doctor can't get this before to-morrow mornin', an' even if he answers right away, we won't get our order to go out until the next day. So we'll jus' have to grin an' bear it for a day an' a half.'
"'This is a lively old bridal-trip,' said I—'dry falls an' a lunertic asylum.'
"'We'll try to make the rest of it better,' said he.
"But the next day wasn't no better. We stayed in our room all day, for we didn't care to meet Mrs. Jackson an' her crazy brother, an' I'm sure we didn't want to see the mean creatures who kept the house. We knew well enough that they only wanted us to stay so that they could get more board-money out of us."
"I should have broken out," cried Euphemia. "I would never have stayed an hour in that place after I found out what it was, especially on a bridal trip."
"If we'd done that," said Pomona, "they'd have got men after us, an' then everybody would have thought we was real crazy. We made up our minds to wait for the doctor's letter, but it wasn't much fun. An' I didn't tell no romantic stories to fill up the time. We sat down an' behaved like the commonest kind o' people. You never saw anybody sicker of romantics than I was when I thought of them two loons that called themselves Mrs. Andrew Jackson and General Tom Thumb. I dropped Miguel altogether, an' he dropped Jiguel, which was a relief to me, an' I took strong to Jonas, even callin' him Jone, which I consider a good deal uglier an' commoner even than Jonas. He didn't like this much, but said that if it would help me out of the Miguel, he didn't care.
"Well, on the mornin' of the next day I went into the little front room that they called the office, to see if there was a letter for us yet, an' there wasn't nobody there to ask. But I saw a pile of letters under a weight on the table, an' I just looked at these to see if one of 'em was for us, an' if there wasn't the very letter Jone had written to the doctor! They'd never sent it! I rushes back to Jone an' tells him, an' he jus' set an' looked at me without sayin' a word. I didn't wonder he couldn't speak.
"I'll go an' let them people know what I think of 'em,' says I.
"'Don't do that,' said Jone, catchin' me by the sleeve. 'It won't do no good. Leave the letter there, an' don't say nothin' about it. We'll stay here till afternoon quite quiet, an' then we'll go away. That garden wall isn't high.'
"'An' how about the trunk?' says I.
"'Oh, we'll take a few things in our pockets, an' lock up the trunk, an' ask the doctor to send for it when we get to the city.'
"'All right,' says I. An' we went to work to get ready to leave.
"About five o'clock in the afternoon, when it was a nice time to take a walk under the trees, we meandered quietly down to a corner of the back wall, where Jone thought it would be rather convenient to get over. He hunted up a short piece of board, which he leaned up ag'in the wall, an' then he put his foot on the top of that an' got hold of the top of the wall an' climbed up, as easy as nuthin'. Then he reached down to help me to step on to the board. But jus' as he was a-goin' to take me by the hand: 'Hello!' say he. 'Look a-there!' An' I turned round an' looked, an' if there wasn't Mrs. Andrew Jackson an' General Tom Thumb a-walkin' down the path.
"'What shall we do?' says I.
"'Come along,' says he. 'We ain't a-goin' to stop for them. Get up, all the same.'
"I tried to get up as he said, but it wasn't so easy for me on account of my not bein' such a high stepper as Jone, an' I was a good while a-gettin' a good footin' on the board.
"Mrs. Jackson an' the General, they came right up to us an' set down on a bench which was fastened between two trees near the wall. An' there they set, a-lookin' steady at us with their four little eyes, like four empty thimbles.
"'You appear to be goin' away,' says Mrs. Jackson.
"'Yes,' says Jone from the top of the wall. 'We're a-goin' to take a slight stroll outside, this salu-brious evenin'.'
"'Do you think,' says she, 'that the United States Bank would be open this time of day?'
"'Oh, no,' says Jone, 'the banks all close at three o'clock. It's a good deal after that now.'
"'But if I told the officers who I was, wouldn't that make a difference?' says she. 'Wouldn't they go down an' open the bank?'
"'Not much,' says Jone, givin' a pull which brought me right up to the top o' the wall an' almost clean down the other side with one jerk. 'I never knowed no officers that would do that. But,' says he, a kind o' shuttin' his eyes so that she wouldn't see he was lyin', 'we'll talk about that when we come back.'
"'If you see that team of little oxen,' says the big man, 'send 'em round to the front gate.'
"'All right,' says Jone; an' he let me down the outside of the wall as if I had been a bag o' horse-feed.
"'But if the bank isn't open you can't pay for it when it does come,' we heard the old lady a-sayin' as we hurried off.
"We didn't lose no time a-goin' down to that station, an' it's lucky we didn't, for a train for the city was comin' jus' as we got there, an' we jumped aboard, without havin' no time to buy tickets. There wasn't many people in our car, an' we got a seat together.
"'Now, then,' says Jone, as the cars went a-buzzin' along, 'I feel as if I was really on a bridal trip, which I mus' say I didn't at that there asylum.'
"An' then I said: 'I should think not,' an' we both bust out a-laughin', as well we might, feelin' sich a change of surroundin's.
"'Do you think,' says somebody behind us, when we'd got through laughin', 'that if I was to send a boy up to the cashier he would either come down or send me the key of the bank?'
"We both turned aroun' as quick as lightnin', an' if there wasn't them two lunertics in the seat behind us!
"It nearly took our breaths away to see them settin' there, staring at us with their thimble eyes, an' a-wearin' their little straw hats, both alike.
"'How on the livin' earth did you two get here?' says I, as soon as I could speak.
"'Oh, we come by the same way you come—by the tem-per-ary stairs,' says Mrs. Jackson. 'We thought if it was too late to draw any money to-night, it might be well to be on hand bright an' early in the mornin'. An' so we follered you two, as close as we could, because we knew you could take us right to the very bank doors, an' we didn't know the way ourselves, not never havin' had no occasion to attend to nothin' of this kind before.'
"Jone an' I looked at each other, but we didn't speak for a minute.
"'Then,' says I, 'here's a pretty kittle o' fish.'
"'I should kinder say so,' says Jone. 'We've got these here two lunertics on our hands, sure enough, for there ain't no train back to Pokus to-night, an' I wouldn't go back with 'em if there was. We must keep an eye on 'em till we can see the doctor to-morrow.'
"'I suppose we must,' said I; 'but this don't seem as much like a bridal-trip as it did a while ago.'
"'You're right there,' says Jone.
"When the conductor came along we had to pay the fare of them two lunertics, besides our own, for neither of had a cent about 'em. When we got to town we went to a smallish hotel, near the ferry, where Jone knowed the man who kep' it, who wouldn't bother about none of us havin' a scrap of baggage, knowin' he'd get his money all the same, out of either Jone or his father. The General an' his sister looked a kind o' funny in their little straw hats an' green carpet slippers, an' the clerk didn't know whether he hadn't forgot how to read writin' when the big man put down the names of General Tom Thumb and Mrs. ex-President Andrew Jackson, which he wasn't ex-President anyway, bein' dead; but Jone he whispered they was travellin' under nommys dess plummys (I told him to say that), an' he would fix it all right in the mornin'. An' then we got some supper, which it took them two lunertics a long time to eat, for they was all the time forgettin' what particular kind o' business they was about, an' then we was showed to our rooms. They had two rooms right across the hall from ours. We hadn't been inside our room five minutes before Mrs. General Jackson come a-knockin' at the door.
"'Look a-here,' she say to me, 'there's a unforeseen contingency in my room. An' it smells.'
"So I went right in, an' sure enough it did smell, for she had turned on all the gases, besides the one that was lighted.
"'What did you do that for?' says I, a-turnin' them off as fast as I could.
"'I'd like to know what they're made for,' says she, 'if they isn't to be turned on?'
"When I told Jone about this he looked real serious, an' jus' then a waiter came upstairs an' went into the big man's room. In a minute he come out an' says to Jone an' me, a-grinnin':
"'We can't suit him no better in this house.'
"'What does he want?' asks Jone.
"'Why, he wants a smaller bed,' says the waiter. 'He says he can't sleep in a bed as big as that, an' we haven't none smaller in this house, which he couldn't get into if we had, in my opinion,' says he.
"'All right,' says Jone. 'Jus' you go down-stairs, an' I'll fix him.' So the man goes off, still a-grinnin'. 'I tell you what it is,' says Jone, 'it won't do to let them two lunertics have rooms to themselves. They'll set this house a-fire, or turn it upside down in the middle of the night, if they has. There's nuthin' to be done but for you to sleep with the woman an' for me to sleep with the man, an' to keep 'em from cuttin' up till mornin'.'
"So Jone he went into the room where General Tom Thumb was a-settin' with his hat on, a-lookin' doleful at the bed, an' says he:
"'What's the matter with the bed?'
"'Oh, it's too large entirely,' says the General. 'It wouldn't do for me to sleep in a bed like that. It would ruin my character as a genuine Thumb.'
"'Well,' says Jone, 'it's nearly two times too big for you, but if you an' me was both to sleep in it, it would be about right, wouldn't it?'
"'Oh, yes,' says the General. An' he takes off his hat, an' Jone says good-night to me an' shuts the door. Our room was better than Mrs. General Jackson's, so I takes her in there, an' the fust thing she does is to turn on all the gases.
"'Stop that!' I hollers. 'If you do that again—I'll—I'll break the United States Bank to-morrow!'
"'How'll you do that?' says she.
"'I'll draw out all my capital,' says I.
"'I hope really you won't,' says she, 'till I've been there,' an' she leans out of the open winder to look into the street; but while she was a-lookin' out I see her left hand a-creepin' up to the gas by the winder that wasn't lighted. I felt mad enough to take her by the feet an' pitch her out, as you an' the boarder," said Pomona, turning to me, "h'isted me out of the canal-boat winder."
This, by the way, is the first intimation we had had that Pomona knew how she came to fall out of that window.
"But I didn't do it," she continued, "for there wasn't no soft water underneath for her to fall into. After we went to bed I kep' awake for a long time, bein' afraid she'd get up in the night an' turn on all the gases an' smother me alive. But I fell asleep at last, an' when I woke up, early in the mornin', the first thing I did was to feel for that lunertic. But she was gone!"