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by [?]

How true it is, as one of our English poets has remarked, that it is always darkest before the silver lining!

While this little work was actually in the hands of the printers, an incident occurred of such great and far-reaching importance that I cannot refrain from making it the subject of an additional paper. I can give it in one word–promotion.

It came at a time when I was suffering from great depression and considerable irritation, as I have already indicated in my opening remark. It was on a Wednesday morning, and those who know me know that invariably on Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday I put on a clean shirt. The number may seem excessive, and perhaps out of proportion to my income, but I own without shame that I am careful as to my personal appearance. I must also add that I am very particularly careful–and, I think, rightly–on the question of the airing of linen.

All I said was that I should put on that shirt, whether Eliza liked it or not, and that it would probably give me my death; but that it did not matter, and perhaps the sooner it was all over the better. There were circumstances under which life was hardly worth living, and when one’s express injunctions were continually disregarded, one began to despair.

Eliza spoke quite snappishly, and said that my linen was always properly aired, and that I was too fussy.

I replied, without losing my temper, that there was airing and airing. Even now I cannot think that Eliza was either just or accurate.

* * * * *

At breakfast-time one or two other little circumstances occurred to put me out. A teacup which is filled so full that it overflows into the saucer is a perfect thorn in the flesh to me. So is bacon which is burnt to a cinder. I hardly did more than mention it, but Eliza seemed put out; she said I did nothing but find fault, and as for the bacon, I had better go into the kitchen and find fault with the girl, for it was the girl who had cooked it.

“On the contrary,” I said, “in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred when a servant does wrong it is her mistress who deserves the censure.”

“Go it!” said Eliza, an expression which I do not think to be quite ladylike. “And if a hansom-cab runs over you in Oxford Street, you go and get the damages out of the Shah of Persia. That’s the line to take.”

This answer exasperated me by its silliness, and I had quite made up my mind not to say another word of any kind during breakfast. Indeed, but for the fact that I had not quite finished my bacon and that I hate waste, I should have got up and walked out of the room there and then.

A little later I happened to look up, and it struck me from Eliza’s face that she might be going to cry. I therefore made a point of saying that the butter was better than we had been having lately, and that it looked like being a fine day after all. Anything like weakness is repellent to me, but still, when one sees that one’s words have gone home, one is justified in not pressing the matter further.

Still, I am prepared to own that I started for the city in but low spirits, and with no inclination to join in the frivolous conversation that was going on in the railway carriage. On arriving at the office I was surprised to find that Figgis, our head clerk, was not there. He gave me the tonic port, and was inclined to be dictatorial, but I must confess that he was always a most punctual man. I was very much surprised.