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On The Time Wasted In Looking Before One Leaps
by [?]

Have you ever noticed the going out of a woman?

When a man goes out, he says–“I’m going out, shan’t be long.”

“Oh, George,” cries his wife from the other end of the house, “don’t go for a moment. I want you to–” She hears a falling of hats, followed by the slamming of the front door.

“Oh, George, you’re not gone!” she wails. It is but the voice of despair. As a matter of fact, she knows he is gone. She reaches the hall, breathless.

“He might have waited a minute,” she mutters to herself, as she picks up the hats, “there were so many things I wanted him to do.”

She does not open the door and attempt to stop him, she knows he is already half-way down the street. It is a mean, paltry way of going out, she thinks; so like a man.

When a woman, on the other hand, goes out, people know about it. She does not sneak out. She says she is going out. She says it, generally, on the afternoon of the day before; and she repeats it, at intervals, until tea-time. At tea, she suddenly decides that she won’t, that she will leave it till the day after to-morrow instead. An hour later she thinks she will go to-morrow, after all, and makes arrangements to wash her hair overnight. For the next hour or so she alternates between fits of exaltation, during which she looks forward to going out, and moments of despondency, when a sense of foreboding falls upon her. At dinner she persuades some other woman to go with her; the other woman, once persuaded, is enthusiastic about going, until she recollects that she cannot. The first woman, however, convinces her that she can.

“Yes,” replies the second woman, “but then, how about you, dear? You are forgetting the Joneses.”

“So I was,” answers the first woman, completely non-plussed. “How very awkward, and I can’t go on Wednesday. I shall have to leave it till Thursday, now.”

“But I can’t go Thursday,” says the second woman.

“Well, you go without me, dear,” says the first woman, in the tone of one who is sacrificing a life’s ambition.

“Oh no, dear, I should not think of it,” nobly exclaims the second woman. “We will wait and go together, Friday!”

“I’ll tell you what we’ll do,” says the first woman. “We will start early” (this is an inspiration), “and be back before the Joneses arrive.”

They agree to sleep together; there is a lurking suspicion in both their minds that this may be their last sleep on earth. They retire early with a can of hot water. At intervals, during the night, one overhears them splashing water, and talking.

They come down very late for breakfast, and both very cross. Each seems to have argued herself into the belief that she has been lured into this piece of nonsense, against her better judgment, by the persistent folly of the other one. During the meal each one asks the other, every five minutes, if she is quite ready. Each one, it appears, has only her hat to put on. They talk about the weather, and wonder what it is going to do. They wish it would make up its mind, one way or the other. They are very bitter on weather that cannot make up its mind. After breakfast it still looks cloudy, and they decide to abandon the scheme altogether. The first woman then remembers that it is absolutely necessary for her, at all events, to go.

“But there is no need for you to come, dear,” she says.

Up to that point the second woman was evidently not sure whether she wished to go or whether she didn’t. Now she knows.

“Oh yes, I’ll come,” she says, “then it will be over!”

“I am sure you don’t want to go,” urges the first woman, “and I shall be quicker by myself. I am ready to start now.”