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At Five O’Clock in The Morning
by [?]

Fate, in the guise of Mrs. Emory dropping a milk-can on the platform under his open window, awakened Murray that morning. Had not Mrs. Emory dropped that can, he would have slumbered peacefully until his usual hour for rising–a late one, be it admitted, for of all the boarders at Sweetbriar Cottage Murray was the most irregular in his habits.

“When a young man,” Mrs. Emory was wont to remark sagely and a trifle severely, “prowls about that pond half of the night, a-chasing of things what he calls ‘moonlight effecks,’ it ain’t to be wondered at that he’s sleepy in the morning. And it ain’t the convenientest thing, nuther and noways, to keep the breakfast table set till the farm folks are thinking of dinner. But them artist men are not like other people, say what you will, and allowance has to be made for them. And I must say that I likes him real well and approves of him every other way.”

If Murray had slept late that morning–well, he shudders yet over that “if.” But aforesaid Fate saw to it that he woke when the hour of destiny and the milk-can struck, and having awakened he found he could not go to sleep again. It suddenly occurred to him that he had never seen a sunrise on the pond. Doubtless it would be very lovely down there in those dewy meadows at such a primitive hour; he decided to get up and see what the world looked like in the young daylight.

He scowled at a letter lying on his dressing table and thrust it into his pocket that it might be out of sight. He had written it the night before and the writing of it was going to cost him several things–a prospective million among others. So it is hardly to be wondered at if the sight of it did not reconcile him to the joys of early rising.

“Dear life and heart!” exclaimed Mrs. Emory, pausing in the act of scalding a milk-can when Murray emerged from a side door. “What on earth is the matter, Mr. Murray? You ain’t sick now, surely? I told you them pond fogs was p’isen after night! If you’ve gone and got–“

“Nothing is the matter, dear lady,” interrupted Murray, “and I haven’t gone and got anything except an acute attack of early rising which is not in the least likely to become chronic. But at what hour of the night do you get up, you wonderful woman? Or rather do you ever go to bed at all? Here is the sun only beginning to rise and–positively yes, you have all your cows milked.”

Mrs. Emory purred with delight.

“Folks as has fourteen cows to milk has to rise betimes,” she answered with proud humility. “Laws, I don’t complain–I’ve lots of help with the milking. How Mrs. Palmer manages, I really cannot comperhend–or rather, how she has managed. I suppose she’ll be all right now since her niece came last night. I saw her posting to the pond pasture not ten minutes ago. She’ll have to milk all them seven cows herself. But dear life and heart! Here I be palavering away and not a bite of breakfast ready for you!”

“I don’t want any breakfast until the regular time for it,” assured Murray. “I’m going down to the pond to see the sun rise.”

“Now don’t you go and get caught in the ma’sh,” anxiously called Mrs. Emory, as she never failed to do when she saw him starting for the pond. Nobody ever had got caught in the marsh, but Mrs. Emory lived in a chronic state of fear lest someone should.

“And if you once got stuck in that black mud you’d be sucked right down and never seen or heard tell of again till the day of judgment, like Adam Palmer’s cow,” she was wont to warn her boarders.