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standard of time. I arrive at theatres, and
places of public entertainment about half-a-
day before the doors are ever opened. I am
always the first stranger at a ball or a dinner-
party, although I know in the one case I shall
have to dance in the first quadrille, and in the
other, I shall have to bear the awful weight
of the early attempts at conversation. If, in
the performance of my social duties, I go to
a funeral, my painfully punctual habit carries
me there long before the necessary gloomy
officials have taken possession of the house,
and sometimes before the chief performers in
the melancholy play have made up their
faces, and put on the regulation garb of woe.
If I am staying at a country inn, and have
given orders to the "boots" to be called at
an early hour to meet a coach, or a railway
train, I get feverish snatches of sleep during
the short, restless night, and am up and
dressed long before the required knocking
takes place at my chamber door. If I am
waiting in the coffee-room for the one omnibus
in the town appointed to convey passengers
to and from the railway, I have paid my bill
hours before it was necessary, and am standing
nervously at the window with my watch
in one hand, and my Bradshaw in the other,
wondering at the reckless stupidity of the
men in charge of the vehicle, who allow, as
it seems to me, about two minutes to run a
distance of nearly two miles from the hotel
to the station.

My morbidly punctual temperament leads
me to seek my principal mental amusement
in feeding in imagination upon pictures of
being too late under the most trying
circumstances. I love to suppose myself in all
possible painful positions arising from delay,
carelessness, and procrastination. I fancy
myself in a cab, miserably jammed up in a
long line of carts and wagons in the midst
of the great struggling city. Ages seem
to pass away, and yet the wedged vehicles
and howling drivers move not an inch; and
I hear an hour tolling from the tower of a
neighbouring church, every stroke of which
goes like a nail into my brain. At that
instant I see an anxious, weeping face whirled
away from a distant railway, over the sea, to
a remote land; never, perhaps, to greet me
again in this world. On I go when it is too
late, to find a dreadful stillness, where all
was noise and excitement a short half-hour
before; to find a clear platform, closed gates,
careless porters, and no one to whom to
unburden a heavy, self-reproaching heart.

Sometimes I fancy myself arriving at a
picturesque spot in a country celebrated for
its beauty all over the world. I am not
seeking for mountains, cascades, rocks, forests,
nor ruined castles; but for one whom I have
been struggling to reach for many weary;
days. How harsh and cold sounds the precise
voice of the hotel book-keeper, when he tells
me that the person I am in search of started
that morning for England, and left no word
or sign? I wander about the town from that
moment, like a drunken man, listless, aimless,
and with eyes closed to all the natural attractions
of the place. The consciousness of a
few ill-spent hours in another spot, blackens
the blue sky, and makes discordant the music
of the waterfalls.

I imagine myself far from the busy clatter
of railways in some small country town in
the very heart of England, the requirements
of whose humble traffic are fully satisfied by
a coach running twice a week to the borders
of civilisation. I retire to rest early in order
that I may rise in time to catch this bi-weekly
vehicle that passes through the town or
village at the eccentric hour of four in the
morning. I have taken the precaution to
lay a whole train of instructions at the feet
of the boots, chambermaid, and waiter, about
calling me at three o'clock precisely. The
waiter is considered to be very safe, and the
chambermaid is looked upon as a person in
whom dependence may be placed, and it is
arranged that each of these persons, or both,
as the case may be, shall, immediately upon
waking at any hour, arouse the boots from
his lair over the stables, that he may in his
turn awaken me, and bring me the necessary
hot water, &c. So far the machinery seems
perfect, and I sink to sleep. When I awake,
the sun is shining full into my room, and
there is, for the village, a strange bustle in
the principal street. I endeavour, for a
moment, to collect my faculties, and my first
impulse is to rush for my watch. That
faithful companion tells me that it is twenty
minutes to twelve in broad day, and the
whole truth dawns upon my mind, that I
have overslept myself and missed the coach.
Six frantic pulls at the bell-rope, and the
"boots" appears to defend himself by stating
that he called me at the hour appointed,
and that I answered, and he substantiates
his statement by pointing to a mug of cold
water, that was once warm, outside my
bed-room door. Complaint is useless, and
I have no alternative left but to spend the
half-week in and about the village. Posting
is out of the question, as the village
does not boast a single chaise, and there is
no chance of a mail-cart, or any other
conveyance of an irregular kind passing through
the place. There is nothing left but to
settle down for three days and three nights,
and endeavour to take an interest in things
that are now hateful in my eyes, because
forced upon me against my will. The trout-
stream that pleased me so much four and
twenty hours before, is now, in imagination,
as black as a Manchester canal; and the
trout that I caught with such industry, and
devoured with such avidity, then, are now
more repulsive than the oily fried fish of
Whitechapel. The ancient market-place
{time of the Saxons), that I made such
minute inquiries about the day before
yesterday, is now a greater bore than Hicks's

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