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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesPomona's Travels - Letter Number Five
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Pomona's Travels - Letter Number Five Post by :runtonk Category :Long Stories Author :Frank R Stockton Date :May 2012 Read :3446

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Pomona's Travels - Letter Number Five

CHEDCOMBE

This morning, when Jone was out taking a walk and I was talking to Miss Pondar, and getting her to teach me how to make Devonshire clotted cream, which we have for every meal, putting it on everything it will go on, into everything it will go into, and eating it by itself when there is nothing it will go on or into; and trying to find out why it is that whitings are always brought on the table with their tails stuck through their throats, as if they had committed suicide by cutting their jugular veins in this fashion, I saw, coming along the road to our cottage, a pretty little dogcart with two ladies in it. The horse they drove was a pony, and the prettiest creature I ever saw, being formed like a full-sized horse, only very small, and with as much fire and spirit and gracefulness as could be got into an animal sixteen hands high. I heard afterward that he came from Exmoor, which is about twelve miles from here, and produces ponies and deers of similar size and swiftness. They stopped at the door, and one of them got out and came in. Miss Pondar told me she wished to see me, and that she was Mrs. Locky, of the "Bordley Arms" in the village.

"The innkeeper's wife?" said I; to which Miss Pondar said it was, and I went into the parlor. Mrs. Locky was a handsome-looking lady, and wearing as stylish clothes as if she was a duchess, and extremely polite and respectful.

She said she would have asked Mrs. Shutterfield to come with her and introduce her, but that lady was away from home, and so she had come by herself to ask me a very great favor.

When I begged her to sit down and name it she went on to say there had come that morning to the inn a very large party in a coach-and-four, that was making a trip through the country, and as they didn't travel on Sunday they wanted to stay at the "Bordley Arms" until Monday morning.

"Now," said she, "that puts me to a dreadful lot of trouble, because I haven't room to accommodate them all, and even if I could get rooms for them somewhere else they don't want to be separated. But there is one of the best rooms at the inn which is occupied by an elderly gentleman, and if I could get that room I could put two double beds in it and so accommodate the whole party. Now, knowing that you had a pleasant chamber here that you don't use, I thought I would make bold to come and ask you if you would lodge Mr. Poplington until Monday?"

"What sort of a person is this Mr. Poplington, and is he willing to come here?"

"Oh, I haven't asked him yet," said she, "but he is so extremely good-natured that I know he will be glad to come here. He has often asked me who lived in this extremely picturesque cottage."

"You must have an answer now?" said I.

"Oh, yes," said she, "for if you cannot do me this favor I must go somewhere else, and where to go I don't know."

Now I had begun to think that the one thing we wanted in this little home of ours was company, and that it was a great pity to have that nice bedroom on the second floor entirely wasted, with nobody ever in it. So, as far as I was concerned, I would be very glad to have some pleasant person in the house, at least for a day or two, and I didn't believe Jone would object. At any rate it would put a stop, at least for a little while, to his eternally saying how Corinne, our daughter, would enjoy that room, and how nice it would be if we was to take this house for the rest of the season and send for her. Now, Corinne's as happy as she can be at her grand-mother's farm, and her school will begin before we're ready to come home, and, what is more, we didn't come here to spend all our time in one place.

(Illustration: "The young lady who keeps the bar")

While I was thinking of these things I was looking out of the window at the lady in the dogcart who was holding the reins. She was as pretty as a picture, and wore a great straw hat with lovely flowers in it. As I had to give an answer without waiting for Jone to come home, and I didn't expect him until luncheon time, I concluded to be neighborly, and said we would take the gentleman to oblige her. Even if the arrangement didn't suit him or us, it wouldn't matter much for that little time. At which Mrs. Locky was very grateful indeed, and said she would have Mr. Poplington's luggage sent around that afternoon, and that he would come later.

As she got up to go I said to her, "Is that young lady out there one of the party who came with the coach and four?"

"Oh, no," said Mrs. Locky, "she lives with me. She is the young lady who keeps the bar."

I expect I opened my mouth and eyes pretty wide, for I was never so astonished. A young lady like that keeping the bar! But I didn't want Mrs. Locky to know how much I was surprised, and so I said nothing about it.

When they had gone and I had stood looking after them for about a minute, I remembered I hadn't asked whether Mr. Poplington would want to take his meals here, or whether he would go to the inn for them. To be sure, she only asked me to lodge him, but as the inn is more than half a mile from here, he may want to be boarded. But this will have to be found out when he comes, and when Jone comes home it will have to be found out what he thinks about my taking a lodger while he's out taking a walk.

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