CHAPTER V

Mrs. P. arouses us. - George, the sluggard. - The "weather forecast" swindle. - Our luggage. - Depravity of the small boy. - The people gather round us. - We drive off in great style, and arrive at Waterloo. - Innocence of South Western officials concerning such worldly things as trains. - We are afloat, afloat in an open boat.

It was Mrs. Poppets that woke me up next morning.
She said:
\"Do you know that it\'s nearly nine o\'clock, sir?"
\"Nine o' what?" I cried, starting up.
\"Nine o\'clock," she replied, through the keyhole. "I thought you was a-oversleeping yourselves."
I woke Harris, and told him. He said:
"I thought you wanted to get up at six?"
\"So I did," I answered; "why didn\'t you wake me?"
\"How could I wake you, when you didn\'t wake me?" he retorted. "Now we shan\'t get on the water till after twelve. I wonder you take the trouble to get up at all."
\"Um," I replied, "lucky for you that I do. If I hadn\'t woke you, you\'d have lain there for the whole fortnight."
We snarled at one another in this strain for the next few minutes, when we were interrupted by a defiant snore from George. It reminded us, for the first time since our being called, of his existence. There he lay - the man who had wanted to know what time he should wake us - on his back, with his mouth wide open, and his knees stuck up.
I don\'t know why it should be, I am sure; but the sight of another man asleep in bed when I am up, maddens me. It seems to me so shocking to see the precious hours of a man\'s life - the priceless moments that will never come back to him again - being wasted in mere brutish sleep.
There was George, throwing away in hideous sloth the inestimable gift of time; his valuable life, every second of which he would have to account for hereafter, passing away from him, unused. He might have been up stuffing himself with eggs and bacon, irritating the dog, or flirting with the slavey, instead of sprawling there, sunk in soul-clogging oblivion.
It was a terrible thought. Harris and I appeared to be struck by it at the same instant. We determined to save him, and, in this noble resolve, our own dispute was forgotten. We flew across and slung the clothes off him, and Harris landed him one with a slipper, and I shouted in his ear, and he awoke.
\"Wasermarrer?" he observed, sitting up.
\"Get up, you fat-headed chunk!" roared Harris. "It\'s quarter to ten."
\"What!" he shrieked, jumping out of bed into the bath; "Who the thunder put this thing here?"
We told him he must have been a fool not to see the bath.
We finished dressing, and, when it came to the extras, we remembered that we had packed the tooth-brushes and the brush and comb (that tooth-brush of mine will be the death of me, I know), and we had to go downstairs, and fish them out of the bag. And when we had done that George wanted the shaving tackle. We told him that he would have to go without shaving that morning, as we weren\'t going to unpack that bag again for him, nor for anyone like him.
He said:
\"Don\'t be absurd. How can I go into the City like this?"
It was certainly rather rough on the City, but what cared we for human suffering? As Harris said, in his common, vulgar way, the City would have to lump it.
We went downstairs to breakfast. Montmorency had invited two other dogs to come and see him off, and they were whiling away the time by fighting on the doorstep. We calmed them with an umbrella, and sat down to chops and cold beef.
Harris said:
"The great thing is to make a good breakfast," and he started with a couple of chops, saying that he would take these while they were hot, as the beef could wait.
George got hold of the paper, and read us out the boating fatalities, and the weather forecast, which latter prophesied "rain, cold, wet to fine" (whatever more than usually ghastly thing in weather that may be), "occasional local thunder-storms, east wind, with general depression over the Midland Counties (London and Channel). Bar. falling."
I do think that, of all the silly, irritating tomfoolishness by which we are plagued, this "weather-forecast" fraud is about the most aggravating. It "forecasts" precisely what happened yesterday or the day before, and precisely the opposite of what is going to happen to-day.
I remember a holiday of mine being completely ruined one late autumn by our paying attention to the weather report of the local newspaper. "Heavy showers, with thunderstorms, may be expected to-day," it would say on Monday, and so we would give up our picnic, and stop indoors all day, waiting for the rain. - And people would pass the house, going off in wagonettes and coaches as jolly and merry as could be, the sun shining out, and not a cloud to be seen.
\"Ah!" we said, as we stood looking out at them through the window, "won\'t they come home soaked!"
And we chuckled to think how wet they were going to get, and came back and stirred the fire, and got our books, and arranged our specimens of seaweed and cockle shells. By twelve o\'clock, with the sun pouring into the room, the heat became quite oppressive, and we wondered when those heavy showers and occasional thunderstorms were going to begin.
\"Ah! they\'ll come in the afternoon, you\'ll find," we said to each other. "Oh, won\'t those people get wet. What a lark!"
At one o\'clock, the landlady would come in to ask if we weren\'t going out, as it seemed such a lovely day.
\"No, no," we replied, with a knowing chuckle, "not we. We don\'t mean to get wet - no, no."
And when the afternoon was nearly gone, and still there was no sign of rain, we tried to cheer ourselves up with the idea that it would come down all at once, just as the people had started for home, and were out of the reach of any shelter, and that they would thus get more drenched than ever. But not a drop ever fell, and it finished a grand day, and a lovely night after it.
The next morning we would read that it was going to be a "warm, fine to set-fair day; much heat;" and we would dress ourselves in flimsy things, and go out, and, half-an-hour after we had started, it would commence to rain hard, and a bitterly cold wind would spring up, and both would keep on steadily for the whole day, and we would come home with colds and rheumatism all over us, and go to bed.
The weather is a thing that is beyond me altogether. I never can understand it. The barometer is useless: it is as misleading as the newspaper forecast.
There was one hanging up in a hotel at Oxford at which I was staying last spring, and, when I got there, it was pointing to "set fair." It was simply pouring with rain outside, and had been all day; and I couldn\'t quite make matters out. I tapped the barometer, and it jumped up and pointed to "very dry." The Boots stopped as he was passing, and said he expected it meant to-morrow. I fancied that maybe it was thinking of the week before last, but Boots said, No, he thought not.
I tapped it again the next morning, and it went up still higher, and the rain came down faster than ever. On Wednesday I went and hit it again, and the pointer went round towards "set fair," "very dry," and "much heat," until it was stopped by the peg, and couldn\'t go any further. It tried its best, but the instrument was built so that it couldn\'t prophesy fine weather any harder than it did without breaking itself. It evidently wanted to go on, and prognosticate drought, and water famine, and sunstroke, and simooms, and such things, but the peg prevented it, and it had to be content with pointing to the mere commonplace "very dry."
Meanwhile, the rain came down in a steady torrent, and the lower part of the town was under water, owing to the river having overflowed.
Boots said it was evident that we were going to have a prolonged spell of grand weather some time, and read out a poem which was printed over the top of the oracle, about
\"Long foretold, long last;
Short notice, soon past."
The fine weather never came that summer. I expect that machine must have been referring to the following spring.
Then there are those new style of barometers, the long straight ones. I never can make head or tail of those. There is one side for 10 a.m. yesterday, and one side for 10 a.m. to-day; but you can\'t always get there as early as ten, you know. It rises or falls for rain and fine, with much or less wind, and one end is "Nly" and the other "Ely" (what\'s Ely got to do with it?), and if you tap it, it doesn\'t tell you anything. And you\'ve got to correct it to sea-level, and reduce it to Fahrenheit, and even then I don\'t know the answer.
But who wants to be foretold the weather? It is bad enough when it comes, without our having the misery of knowing about it beforehand. The prophet we like is the old man who, on the particularly gloomy-looking morning of some day when we particularly want it to be fine, looks round the horizon with a particularly knowing eye, and says:
\"Oh no, sir, I think it will clear up all right. It will break all right enough, sir."
\"Ah, he knows\", we say, as we wish him good-morning, and start off; "wonderful how these old fellows can tell!"
And we feel an affection for that man which is not at all lessened by the circumstances of its not clearing up, but continuing to rain steadily all day.
\"Ah, well," we feel, "he did his best."
For the man that prophesies us bad weather, on the contrary, we entertain only bitter and revengeful thoughts.
\"Going to clear up, d\'ye think?" we shout, cheerily, as we pass.
\"Well, no, sir; I\'m afraid it\'s settled down for the day," he replies, shaking his head.
\"Stupid old fool!" we mutter, "what\'s he know about it?" And, if his portent proves correct, we come back feeling still more angry against him, and with a vague notion that, somehow or other, he has had something to do with it.

VOCABULARY:
aggravate: (aggravating, aggravated) annoy
bar.: barometer
beforehand: in advance
chop: a small piece of meat
chunk: large piece, lump
commence: begin
drenched: soaked
flimsy: delicate, light
fraud: con, scam, deceit
ghastly: horrible
lark: joke, silly game
lessen: (lessening, lessened) diminish, reduce
lump it: to accept a situation
make head or tail: figure out
oblivion: unconsciousness
peg: hook, bolt
portent: warning
sling: (slinging, slung) throw
sloth: idleness, inactivity
snarl: (snarling, snarled) warczeć
snore: chrapanie
specimen: example
sprawl: (sprawling, sprawled) lie
stir: (stirring, stirred) stimulate
stuff: (stuffing, stuffed) fill, eat
tackle: equipment
tap: (tapping, tapped) knock
tomfool: very silly
torrent: flood, violent flow
while away the time: to spend time in a pleasant and lazy way


Test ze słownictwa

Nie masz uprawnień do komentowania

JezykiObce.pl

Wielka gramatyka języka angielskiego o 20% taniej!

Multikurs.pl

Zaloguj się lub zarejestruj aby skorzystać ze wszystkich funkcji portalu.

Czytelnia - treści losowe

Subskrybcje

Zapisz się do subskrypcji aby codziennie otrzymywać wiadomości i uczyć się słowek
captcha 
Loading ...