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Touring the Bad Boy House


Downstairs at the Nutter House

"Imagine a low-studded structure, with a wide hall running through the middle. At your right hand, as you enter, stands a tall mahogany clock, looking like an Egyptian mummy set up on end. On each side of the hall are doors opening into rooms wainscoted, with wood carvings about the mantelpieces and cornices."

tour2.jpg"There are neither grates nor stoves in the quaint chambers, but splendid open chimney-places, with room enough for the corpulent back-log to turn over comfortably on the polished andirons. The door on the left as one enters is the best room. The walls are covered with pictured paper, representing landscapes and sea-views - for example this enlivening figure is repeated all over the room: A group of English peasants wearing Italian hats are dancing on a lawn that abruptly resolves itself into a sea beach, upon which stands a flabby fisherman (nationality unknown), quietly hauling in what appears to be a small whale, and totally regardless of the dreadful naval combat going on just beyond the end of his fishing-rod. On the other side of the ships is the mainland again, with the same peasants dancing."

"It is Sunday morning. I should premise by saying that the deep gloom which settled over everything set in like a heavy fog early on Saturday evening."

"Our parlor is by no means thrown open every day. It is open this June morning, and is pervaded by a strong smell of center-table. The furniture of the room, and the little China ornaments on the mantelpiece, have a constrained, unfamiliar look. My grandfather sits- in a mahogany chair, reading a large Bible covered with green baize. Miss Abigail occupies one end of the sofa, and has her hands crossed stiffly in her lap. I sit in the corner, crushed. Robinson Crusoe and Gil Blas are in close confinement. Baron Trenck, who managed to escape from the fortress of Glatz, can't for the life of him get out of our sitting-room closet."

"The door at the right of the hall leads into the sitting-room. It was in this room where my grandfather sat in his armchair the greater part of the evening, reading the "Rivermouth Barnacle,' the local newspaper. There was no gas in those days, and the Captain read by the aid of a small block- tin lamp which he held in one hand. I observed that he had a habit of dropping off into a doze every three or four minutes. Two or three times, to my vast amusement, he scorched the edges of the newspaper with the wick of the lamp; and at about half-past eight o'clock I had the satisfaction -- I am sorry to confess it was a satisfaction-of seeing the "Rivermouth Barnacle' in flames. "

"My grandfather leisurely extinguished the fire with his hands, and Miss Abigail, who sat near a low table, knitting by the light of an astral lamp, did not even look up. She was quite used to this catastrophe."

"The monotonous 'click click' of Miss Abigail's needles made me nervous after a while, and finally drove me out of the sitting-room into the kitchen, where Kitty caused me to laugh by saying Miss Abigail thought that what I needed was 'a good dose of hot-drops.'"

tour4.jpg"Kitty Collins, or Mrs. Catherine, as she preferred to be called, was descended in a direct line from an extensive family of kings who formerly ruled over Ireland. In consequence of various calamities, among which the failure of the potato crop may be mentioned, Miss Kitty Collins, in company with several hundred of her countrymen and countrywomen -- also descended from kings -- came over to America in an emigrant ship, in the year eighteen hundred and something. I don't know what freak of fortune caused the royal exile to turn up at Rivermouth; but turn up she did, a few months after arriving in this country, and was hired by my grandmother to do 'general housework' for the modest sum of four shillings and sixpence a week. In time she grew to be regarded less as a servant than as a friend in the home circle, sharing its joys and sorrows -- a faithful nurse, a willing-slave, a happy spirit."

Of the dining-room Master Bailey had little to say, excepting the pen picture of Sunday morning in the Nutter House:

"Sunday morning -- At seven o'clock my grandfather comes smilelessly down stairs. He is dressed in black, and looks as if he had lost all his friends during the night. Miss Abigail, also in black, looks as if she were prepared to bury them, and not indisposed to enjoy the ceremony. Even Kitty Collins has caught the contagious gloom, as I perceive when she brings in the coffee-urn -- a solemn and sculpturesque urn at any time, but monumental now -- and sets it down in front of Miss Abigail. Miss Abigail gazes at the urn as if it held the ashes of her ancestors, instead of a generous quantity of fine old Java coffee."

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Thursday, January 18, 2018 
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