The Adventures of a Suburbanite - Ellis Parker Butler - ebook

The Adventures of a Suburbanite ebook

Ellis Parker Butler

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Opis

A city man moves to the suburbs with humorous results – gardening, automobiling, and golfing become new avocations. The book „The Adventures of a Suburbanite” includes two chapters on golf: „The Royal Game” and „Advanced Golf.” The subjects of humor in this book are mostly the two neighbors’ opposing opinions about all aspects of domestic and rural life, the gardening, and a variety of slapstick troubles with an automobile. Why is the neighbor so obsessed with his car? Where can we find a good gardener? Should we have a Santa Claus at our Christmas party? Yes, this is suburbia... much the same today as it was in 1911. Find out!

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Liczba stron: 165

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Contents

I. THE PRAWLEYS

II. MR. PRAWLEY’S GARDEN

III. THE EQUINE PALACE

IV. “BOB”

V. THE NEW MR. PRAWLEY

VI. THE SPECKLED HEN

VII. CHESTERFIELD WHITING

VIII. SALTED ALMONDS

IX. THE ROYAL GAME OR SEVERAL DAYS AFTER THE PIG EPISODE

X. ADVANCED GOLF

XI. MY DOMESTICATED AUTOMOBILE

XII. MR. PRAWLEY RETURNS

XIII. MILLINGTON’S MOTOR MYSTERY

I. THE PRAWLEYS

ISOBEL was born in a flat, and that was no fault of her own; but she was born in a flat, and reared in a flat, and married from a flat, and, for two years after we were married, we lived in a flat; but I am not a born flat-dweller myself, and as soon as possible I proposed that we move to the country. Isobel hesitated, but she hesitated so weakly that on the first of May we had bought the place at Westcote and moved into it.

The very day I moved into my house Millington came over and said he was glad some one had moved in, because the last man that had lived in the house was afraid of automobiles, and would never take a spin with him. He said he hoped I was not afraid; and when I said I was not, he immediately proposed that we take a little spin out to Port Lafayette as soon as I had my furniture straightened around. I thought it was very nice and neighbourly and unusual for a man with an automobile to begin an acquaintance that way; but I did not know Millington’s automobile so well then as I grew to know it afterward.

I liked Millington. He was a short, Napoleon-looking man, with bulldog jaws and not very much hair, and I was glad to have him for a neighbour, particularly as my neighbour on the other side was a tall, haughty-looking man. He leaned on the division fence and stared all the while our furniture was being moved in. I spoke to Millington about him, and all Millington said was: “Rolfs? Oh, he’s no good! He won’t ride in an automobile.”

At first, while we were really getting settled in our house, Isobel was bright and cheerful and seemed to have forgotten flats entirely but on the tenth of May I saw a change coming over her, and when I spoke of it she opened her heart to me.

“John,” she said, “I am afraid I cannot stand it. I shall try to, for your sake, but I do not think I can. I am so lonely! I feel like an atom floating in space.”

“Isobel!” I said kindly but reprovingly. “With the Millingtons on one side and the Rolfs on the other?”

“I know,” she admitted contritely enough; “but you can’t understand. Always and always, since I was born, some one has lived overhead, and some one has lived underneath. Sometimes only the janitor lived underneath–”

“Isobel,” I said, “if you will try to explain what you mean–”

“I mean flats,” she said dolefully. “I always lived in a flat, John, and there was always a family above and a family below, and it frightens me to think I am in a house where there is no family above me, and not even a janitor’s family below me. It makes me feel naked, or suspended in air, or as if there was no ground under my feet. It makes me gasp!”

“That is nonsense!” I said. “That is the beauty of having a house. We have it all to ourselves. Now, in a flat–”

“We had our flat all to ourselves, John,” she reminded me; “but a flat isn’t so unbounded as a house. Just think; there is nothing between us and the top of the sky! Not a single family! It makes me nervous. And there is nothing beneath us!”

“Now, my dear,” I said soothingly, “China is beneath us, and no doubt a very respectable family is keeping house directly below.”

Isobel sighed contentedly.

“I am so glad you thought of that!” she cried. “Now, when I feel lonely, I can imagine I feel the house jar as the Chinese family move their piano, or I can imagine that I hear their phonograph.”

“Very good,” I said; “and if you can imagine all that, why cannot you imagine a family overhead, too? The whole attic is there. Very well; I give up the entire attic to your imagination.”

Then I kissed her and went into the back garden. My opinion is that the man that laid out that back garden was over-sanguine. I am passionately fond of gardening, and believe in back gardens; but at the present price of seed and the present hardness of hoe handles, I think that back garden is too large. This is not a mere flash opinion, either; it is a matter of study. The first day I stuck spade into that garden I had given little thought to its size, but by the time I had spaded all day I began to have a pretty well-defined opinion of gardens and how large they should be, and by the end of the third day of spading I believe I may say I was well equipped to testify as an expert on garden sizes. That was the day the blisters on my hands became raw.

The day after my little conversation with Isobel I returned home from business to find her awaiting me at the gate. She wore a bright smile, and she put her hand through my arm and hopped into step with me.

“John,” she said cheerfully, “the Prawleys moved in to-day.”

“The Prawleys? Who are the Prawleys, and what did they move into?” I asked.

“Why, how do I know who they are, John?” she said. “I suppose we will know all about them soon enough, but you can’t expect me to learn all about a family the day they move in. And as for what they moved into, of course there was only one vacant flat.”

“Flat? One vacant flat? What flat?” I asked. I was afraid Isobel was not entirely herself.

“The one above us,” she said, and then as she saw the blank look on my face she said: “The–the–oh, John, don’t you understand? The attic!”

“Hum!” I said suspiciously, looking at Isobel; but her face was so bright, and she looked so thoroughly contented that I did not tell her what I thought of this sort of pretending. Too much of it is not good for a person. “Very well,” I said; “I only hope they will not be too noisy.”

“I don’t think they will,” said Isobel, smiling. “At least not while you are home.” She helped me off with my light coat, and when we were seated at the table she said: “By the way, Mr. Millington leaned over the fence this afternoon, and said he hoped you would take a little ride to Port Lafayette with him soon. He says his automobile is in almost perfect shape now.”

II. MR. PRAWLEY’S GARDEN

ISOBEL was brighter at dinner than she had been for some days. She seemed quite contented, now that the imaginary Prawleys had moved into the attic. She said no more about them, and when I had finished my dinner I put on my gardening togs and went out to garden awhile before dark. Blisters are certainly most painful after a day of rest, and I did not work long. I was almost in despair about the garden. Fully half had not been touched, and what I had already done looked ragged and as if it needed doing over again. The more I dug, the more great chunks of sod I found buried in it, and it seemed as if my garden, when I had dug out all the chunks of sod, would be a pit instead of a level. It threatened to be a sunken garden.

“Isobel,” I said angrily, when the sun had set and I was once more sitting in the chair on my veranda, with my hands wrapped in wet handkerchiefs, “you know how passionately fond of gardening I am, and how I longed and pined for a garden for two full years, and you know, therefore, that it takes a great deal of gardening to satisfy me; but I must say that the man who laid out that garden must have been a man of shameful leisure. He laid out a garden twice as large as any garden should be.”

“Then why do you try to work it all?” she asked.

“Oh, work it!” I exclaimed with some irritation. “I can’t let half a garden go to weeds! That would look nice, wouldn’t it! I’ll work it all right! You don’t care how I suffer and struggle. You sit here–”

The next evening when I reached home

I did not feel particularly happy. My hands were quite raw, and my back had sharp pains and was stiff, and I spoke gruffly to Millington when he suggested an automobile ride to Port Lafayette for that evening.

“No!” I said shortly. “You ought to know I can’t go. I’ve got to kill myself in that garden!”

But I was resolved Isobel should never see me conquered by a patch of ground, and after dinner I went out with my spade and hoe. When my glance fell on the garden I stopped short. I was very angry.

“Isobel?” I called sharply.

She came tripping around the house and to my side.

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