Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

My Fortune
by [?]

The girl had just removed the supper things. We have supper rather early, because I like a long evening. “Now, Eliza,” I said, “you take your work,–your sewing, or whatever it may be,–and I will take my work. Yes, I’ve brought it with me, and it’s to be paid as overtime. I daresay it mayn’t seem much to you,–a lot of trouble, and only a few shillings to show for it, when all’s said and done,–but that is the way fortunes are made, by sticking at it, by plugging into it, if I may use the term.”

“The table’s clear, if you want to start,” said Eliza.

“Very well,” I replied, and fetched my black bag from the passage to get the accounts on which I was working. I always hang the bag on the peg in the passage, just under my hat. Then it is there in the morning when and where it is wanted. Method in little things has always been rather a motto of mine.

“It has sometimes struck me, Eliza,” I said, as I came back into the dining-room, with the bag in my hand, “that you do not read so much as I should like to see you read.”

“Well, you asked me to take my work, and these socks are for you, and I never know what you do want.”

“I did not mean that I wanted you to read at this moment. But there is one book–I cannot say exactly what the title is, and the name of the author has slipped my memory, which I should like to see in your hands occasionally, because it deals with the making of fortunes. It practically shows you how to do it.”

“Did the man who wrote it make one?” asked Eliza.

“That–not knowing the name of the man–I cannot say for certain.”

“Well, I should want to know that first. And aren’t you going to start?”

“I can hardly start until I have unlocked my bag, and I cannot unlock my bag until I have the keys, and I cannot have the keys until I have fetched them from the bedroom. Try to be a little more reasonable.”

I could not find the keys in the bedroom. Then Eliza went up, and she could not find them, either. By a sort of oversight they were in my pocket all the time. I laughingly remarked that I knew I should find them first. Eliza seemed rather pettish, the joke being against herself.

“The reason why I mentioned that book,” I said, as I unlocked the bag, “is because it points out that there are two ways of making a fortune. One is, if I may say so, my own way,–by method in little things, economy of time, doing all the work that one can get to do, and—-“

“You won’t get much done to-night, if you don’t start soon,” said Eliza.

“I do not like to be interrupted in the middle of a sentence. The other way by which you may make a fortune–well, it’s not making a fortune. It’s that the fortune makes you, if you understand me.”

“I don’t,” said Eliza.

“I mean that the fortune may come of itself by luck. Luck is a very curious thing. We cannot understand it. It’s of no use to talk about it, because it is quite impossible to understand it.”

“Then don’t let’s talk about it, especially when you’ve got something else to do.”

“Temper, temper, Eliza! You must guard against that. I was not going to talk about luck. I was going to give you an instance of luck, which happened to come within my own personal experience. It is the case of a man of the name of Chumpleigh, in our office, and would probably interest and amuse you. I do not know if I have ever mentioned Chumpleigh to you.”

“Yes, you’ve told me all about him several times.”

I might have mentioned Chumpleigh to Eliza, but I am sure that I have never told her all about him. However, I was not going to sulk, and so I told her the story again. The story would not have been so long if she hadn’t interrupted me so frequently.

When I had finished, she said that it was time to go to bed, and I had wasted the evening.

I owned that possibly I had been chatting rather longer than I had intended, but I would still get those accounts done, and sit up to do them.

“And that means extra gas,” she said. “That’s the way money gets wasted.”

“There are many men in my place,” I said, “who would refuse to sit down to work as late as this. I don’t. Why? On principle. Because it’s through the cultivation of the sort of thing that I cultivate one arrives at fortune. Think what fortune would mean to us. Big house, large garden, servants, carriages. I should come in from a day with the hounds, and perhaps say I felt rather done up, and would like a glass of champagne. No question of expense–not a word about it–money no object. You’d just get the bottle out of the sideboard, and I should have my glass, and they’d finish it in the kitchen, and—-“

Are you going to begin, or are you not?” asked Eliza.

“This minute,” I replied, opening the black bag. I examined the contents carefully.

“Well,” I said, “this is a very strange occurrence indeed–most unaccountable! I don’t remember ever to have done anything of the kind before, but I seem to have forgotten to bring that work from the city. Dear me! I shall be forgetting my head next.”

Eliza’s reply that this would be no great loss did not seem to me to be either funny, or polite, or even true. “You strangely forget yourself,” I replied, and turned the gas out sharply.