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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 248 pages of information about Elbow-Room.

“Maria, didn’t I tell you I gave it to the child to play with to keep him quiet?”

“Mr. Fogg, will you please let me get a word in edgeways?  Our older children, too, he is simply ruining.  He teaches them the most pernicious and hurtful doctrines.  He told Johnny the other day that Madagascar was an island in the Peruvian Ocean off the coast of Illinois, and that a walrus was a kind of a race horse used by the Caribbees.  And our oldest girl told me that he instructed her that Polycarp fought the battle of Waterloo for the purpose of defeating the Saracens.”

“Not the Saracens, Maria; Lucy misunderstood—­”

[Illustration:  A NOVEL MOUSETRAP]

“Wilberforce, I wish you would hush!  His general treatment of me was scandalous.  He was constantly taking my teeth for the purpose of knocking around the spigot in the bath-tub at night when the baby wanted a drink, and only last week he took both sets after I had gone to bed, propped them apart, baited them with cheese, and caught two horrid mice before morning.  I was so hurt by his behavior that I drank some laudanum for the purpose of committing suicide, and then Mr. Fogg borrowed a pump in at Knott’s drug store and pumped me out twice in such a rude manner that I have felt hollow ever since.”

“I did it from kindness, Maria.”

“Don’t talk of kindness to me, Wilberforce, after your conduct.  And, colonel, one night last week, after I had retired, Mr. Fogg sat down in the room below and determined to see if it were true that a candle could be shot through a board from a gun.  He dropped a lighted candle in his gun, and of course it exploded.  It came up through the floor and made a large spot of grease upon the ceiling of my room, nearly scaring me to death and filling my legs full of bird-shot.”

“Maria, I asked you to believe that I forgot about the candle being lighted.  I did it in a fit of absent-mindedness.”

“Do go into the other room, Wilberforce, or else hold your tongue.  So, colonel, I want to get a divorce.  Existence is unendurable to me.  The lives of my children are in danger.  I cannot remain in such slavery any longer.  Can you release me?”

Colonel Coffin said he would think it over and give her an answer in a week.  His idea was to give her time to think better of it.  So then she told Wilberforce to put on his hat; and when he had done so, he followed her meekly out, and they went home.  It is believed in the neighborhood that she has concluded to stick to him for a while longer.

CHAPTER III.

INTERNAL NAVIGATION.—­AN UNFORTUNATE INVENTOR.

The village not only has a railroad running by it, but it has a canal upon which a large amount of traffic is done.  There has been a good deal of agitation lately concerning the possibility of improving locomotion upon the canal, and the company offered a reward for the best device that could be suggested in that direction.  A committee was appointed to examine and report upon the merits of the various plans submitted.  While the subject was under discussion one boat-owner, Captain Binns, made an experiment upon his own account.

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