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

The second woman bridles.

I shan’t be a couple of minutes,” she retorts. “You know, dear, it’s generally I who have to wait for you.”

“But you’ve not got your boots on,” the first woman reminds her.

“Well, they won’t take ANY time,” is the answer. “But of course, dear, if you’d really rather I did not come, say so.” By this time she is on the verge of tears.

“Of course, I would like you to come, dear,” explains the first in a resigned tone. “I thought perhaps you were only coming to please me.”

“Oh no, I’d LIKE to come,” says the second woman.

“Well, we must hurry up,” says the first; “I shan’t be more than a minute myself, I’ve merely got to change my skirt.”

Half-an-hour later you hear them calling to each other, from different parts of the house, to know if the other one is ready. It appears they have both been ready for quite a long while, waiting only for the other one.

“I’m afraid,” calls out the one whose turn it is to be down-stairs, “it’s going to rain.”

“Oh, don’t say that,” calls back the other one.

“Well, it looks very like it.”

“What a nuisance,” answers the up-stairs woman; “shall we put it off?”

“Well, what do YOU think, dear?” replies the down-stairs.

They decide they will go, only now they will have to change their boots, and put on different hats.

For the next ten minutes they are still shouting and running about. Then it seems as if they really were ready, nothing remaining but for them to say “Good-bye,” and go.

They begin by kissing the children. A woman never leaves her house without secret misgivings that she will never return to it alive. One child cannot be found. When it is found it wishes it hadn’t been. It has to be washed, preparatory to being kissed. After that, the dog has to be found and kissed, and final instructions given to the cook.

Then they open the front door.

“Oh, George,” calls out the first woman, turning round again. “Are you there?”

“Hullo,” answers a voice from the distance. “Do you want me?”

“No, dear, only to say good-bye. I’m going.”

“Oh, good-bye.”

“Good-bye, dear. Do you think it’s going to rain?”

“Oh no, I should not say so.”



“Have you got any money?”

Five minutes later they come running back; the one has forgotten her parasol, the other her purse.

And speaking of purses, reminds one of another essential difference between the male and female human animal. A man carries his money in his pocket. When he wants to use it, he takes it out and lays it down. This is a crude way of doing things, a woman displays more subtlety. Say she is standing in the street, and wants fourpence to pay for a bunch of violets she has purchased from a flower-girl. She has two parcels in one hand, and a parasol in the other. With the remaining two fingers of the left hand she secures the violets. The question then arises, how to pay the girl? She flutters for a few minutes, evidently not quite understanding why it is she cannot do it. The reason then occurs to her: she has only two hands and both these are occupied. First she thinks she will put the parcels and the flowers into her right hand, then she thinks she will put the parasol into her left. Then she looks round for a table or even a chair, but there is not such a thing in the whole street. Her difficulty is solved by her dropping the parcels and the flowers. The girl picks them up for her and holds them. This enables her to feel for her pocket with her right hand, while waving her open parasol about with her left. She knocks an old gentleman’s hat off into the gutter, and nearly blinds the flower-girl before it occurs to her to close it. This done, she leans it up against the flower-girl’s basket, and sets to work in earnest with both hands. She seizes herself firmly by the back, and turns the upper part of her body round till her hair is in front and her eyes behind. Still holding herself firmly with her left hand–did she let herself go, goodness knows where she would spin to;–with her right she prospects herself. The purse is there, she can feel it, the problem is how to get at it. The quickest way would, of course, be to take off the skirt, sit down on the kerb, turn it inside out, and work from the bottom of the pocket upwards. But this simple idea never seems to occur to her. There are some thirty folds at the back of the dress, between two of these folds commences the secret passage. At last, purely by chance, she suddenly discovers it, nearly upsetting herself in the process, and the purse is brought up to the surface. The difficulty of opening it still remains. She knows it opens with a spring, but the secret of that spring she has never mastered, and she never will. Her plan is to worry it generally until it does open. Five minutes will always do it, provided she is not flustered.