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and carry it to the railway station wrapped up in my pockethandkerchief.
Of course I had to turn every mortal thing out now, and, of course, I could not find it. I rummaged the things up into much the same state that they must have been before the world was created, and when chaos reigned. Of course, I found George's and Harris's eighteen times over, but I couldn't find my own.
I put the things back one by one, and held everything up and shook it. Then I found it inside a boot. I repacked once more.
When I had finished, George asked if the soap was in. I said I didn't care a hang whether the soap was in or whether it wasn't; and I slammed the bag to and strapped it, and found that I had packed my tobacco-pouch in it and had to reopen it. It got shut up finally at 10:05 P.M., and then there remained the hampers to do. Harris said that we should be wanting to start in less than twelve hours' time, and thought that he and George had better do the rest; and I agreed and sat down, and they had
They began in a light-hearted spirit, evidently intending to show me how to do it. I made no comment; I only waited; and I looked at the piles of plates, and cups, and kettles, and bottles, and jars, and pies, and stoves, and cakes, and tomatoes, etc., and felt that the thing would soon become exciting. It did. They started with breaking a cup.
That was the first thing they did. They did that just to show you what they could do, and to get you interested.
Then Harris packed the strawberry-jam on top of a tomato and squashed it, and they had to pick out the tomato with a teaspoon.
And then it was George's turn, and he trod on the butter. I didn't say anything, but I came over and sat on the edge of the table and watched them. It irritated them more than anything I could have said. I felt that. It made them nervous and excited, and then they stepped on things, and put things behind them, and then couldn't find them when they wanted them; and they packed the pies at the bottom, and put heavy things on top, and smashed the pies in.
They upset salt over everything, and as for the butter! I never saw two men do more with one-and-two-pence worth of butter in my whole life than they did. After George had got it off his slipper, they tried to put it in the kettle. It wouldn't go in, and what was in wouldn't come out! They did scrape it out at last, and put it down on a chair, and Harris sat on it, and it stuck to him, and they went looking for it all over the room.
“I'll take my oath I put it down on that chair,” said George, staring at the empty seat.
“I saw you do it myself, not a minute ago,” said Harris.
Then they started round the room again looking for it; and then they met again in the center, and stared at each other.
“Most extraordinary thing I ever heard of,” said George.
Montmorency was in it all, of course. Montmorency's ambition in life is to get in the way and be sworn at.
If he can squirm in anywhere where he particularly is not wanted, and be a perfect nuisance, and make people mad, and have things thrown at his head, then he feels his day has not been wasted.
To get somebody to stumble over him, and curse him steadily for an hour, is his highest aim and object; and, when he has succeeded in accomplishing this, his conceit becomes quite unbearable.
He came and sat down on things, just when they were wanted to be packed; and he labored under the fixed belief that, whenever Harris or George reached out their hand for anything, it was his cold, damp nose that they wanted. He put his leg into the jam, and he worried the teaspoons, and he pretended that the lemons were rats, and got into the hamper and killed three of them before Harris could land him with the frying-pan.
Harris said I encouraged him. I didn't encourage him. A dog like that don't want any encouragement. It's the natural, original sin that is born in him that makes him do things like that.
The packing was done at 12:50; and Harris sat on the big hamper, and said he hoped nothing would be found broken. George said that if anything was broken it was broken, which reflection seemed to comfort him. He also said he was ready for bed. We were all ready for bed. Harris was to sleep with us that night, and we went upstairs.
We tossed for beds, and Harris had to sleep with me. He said:
“Do you prefer the inside or the outside, J.?"
Harris and I had a bit of a row over it, but at last split the difference, and said half past six.
“Wake us at 6:30, George,” we said.
George made no answer, and we found, on going over, that he had been asleep for some time; so we placed the bath where he could tumble into it on getting out in the morning, and went to bed ourselves.
THE START. HARRIS and I, having finished up the few things left on the table, carted out our luggage on to the doorstep, and waited for a cab.
There seemed a good deal of luggage, when we put it all together. There was the Gladstone and the small handbag, and the two hampers, and a large roll of rugs, and some four or five overcoats and mackintoshes, and a few umbrellas, and then there was a melon by itself in a bag, because it was too bulky to go in anywhere, and a couple of pounds of grapes in another bag, and a Japanese paper umbrella, and a frying-pan, which, being too long to pack, we had wrapped round with brown
It did look a lot, and Harris and I began to feel rather ashamed of it, though why we should be I can't see. No cab came by, but the street-boys did, and got interested in the show, apparently, and stopped.
Biggs's boy was the first to come round. Biggs is our greengrocer, and his chief talent lies in securing the services of the most abandoned and unprincipled errand-boys that civilization has as yet produced. If anything more than usually villainous
in the boy line crops up in our neighborhood, we know that it is Biggs's latest. I was told that, at the time of the Great Coram Street murder, it was promptiy concluded by our street that Biggs's boy (for that period) was at the bottom of it, and ha he not been able, in reply to the severe cross-examination to which he was subjected by No. 19, when he called there for orders the morning after the crime (assisted by No. 21, who happened to be on the step at the time), to prove a complete alibi, it would have gone hard with him. I didn't know Biggs's boy at that time, but from what I have seen of him since, I should not have attached much importance to that alibi myself.
Biggs's boy, as I have said, came round the corner. evidently in a great hurry when he first dawned upon the vision, but on catching sight of Harris, and me, and Montmorency, and the things, he eased up and stared. Harris and I frowned at him. This might have wounded a more sensitive nature, but Biggs's boys are not, as a rule, touchy. He came to a dead stop, a yard froni ur step, and leaning up against the railings, and selecting a straw to chew, fixed us with his eye. He evidently meant to see this thing out.
In another moment, the grocer's boy passed on the opposite side of the street. Biggs's boy hailed him.
“ Hil ground-floor o' 42's a-moving."
The grocer's boy came across, and took up a position on the other side of the step. Then the young gentleman from the boot-shop stopped, and joined Biggs's boy; while the empty-can superintendent from “The Blue Posts" took up an independent position on the curb.
“They ain't a-going to starve, are they?” said the gentleman from the boot-shop.
“Ah! you'd want to take a thing or two with you," retorted “The Blue Posts,” “if you was a-going to cross the Atlantic in a small boat.”
“ They ain't a-going to cross the Atlantic,” struck in Biggs's boy; “they're a-going to find Stanley."
By this time quite a small crowd had collected, and people were asking each other what was the matter. One party (the young and giddy portion of the crowd) held that it was a wedding, and pointed out Harris as the bridegroom; while the elder and more thoughtful among the populace inclined to the idea that it was a funeral, and that I was probably the corpse's brother.
At last an empty cab turned up (it is a street where, as a rule, and when they are not wanted, empty cabs pass at the rate of three a minute, and hang about, and get in your way), and packing ourselves and our belongings into it, and shooting out a couple of Montmorency's friends, who had evidently sworn never to forsake him, we drove away mid the cheers of the crowd, Biggs's boy shying a carrot after us for luck.
We got to Waterloo at eleven, and asked where the elevenfive started from. Of course nobody knew; nobody at Waterloo ever does know where a train is going to start from, or where a train when it does start is going to, or anything about it. The porter who took our things thought it would go from number two platform, while another porter, with whom he discussed the question, had heard a rumor that it would go from number one. The station master, on the other hand, was convinced it would start from the local.
To put an end to the matter, we went upstairs, and asked the traffic superintendent, and he told us that he sad just met a man who said he had seen it at number three platform. We went to number three platform, but the authorities there said that they rather thought that train was the Southampton express, or else the Windsor loop. But they were sure it wasn't the Kingston train, though why they were sure it wasn't they
Then our porter said he thought that must be it on the highlevel platform; said he thought he knew the train. So we went to the high-level platform, and saw the engine-driver and asked him if he was going to Kingston. He said he couldn't say for certain, of course, but that he rather thought he was. Anyhow if he wasn't the 11:05 for Kingston, he said he was pretty confident he was the 9:32 for Virginia Water, or the 10 A.M. express for the Isle of Wight, or somewhere in that direction, and we should all know when we got there. We slipped half a crown into his hand and begged him to be the 11:05 for Kingston.
"Nobody will ever know on this line,” we said, “what you are, or where you're going. You know the way, you slip off quietly and go to Kingston.”
“ Well, I don't know, gents,” replied the noble fellow, " but suppose some train's got to go to Kingston; and I'll do it. Gimme the half crown."
Thus we got to Kingston by the London and Southwestern