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The Troubles Of A Dawdler
by [?]

I was born a dawdler. As an infant, if report speaks truly, I dawdled over my food, over my toilet, and over my slumbers. Nothing (so I am told) could prevail on me to stick steadily to my bottle till it was done; but I must needs break off a dozen times in the course of a single meal to stare about me, to play with the strings of my nurse’s cap, to speculate on the sunbeams that came in at the window; and even when I did bring myself to make the effort, I took such an unconscionable time to consume a spoonful that the next meal was wellnigh due before I had made an end of a first.

As to dressing me in the morning, it took a good two hours. Not that I rebelled and went on strike over the business, but it was really too much of an effort to commit first one foot and then the other for the reception of my socks, and when that operation was accomplished a long interval always elapsed before I could devote my energy to the steering of my arms into sleeves, and the disposal of my waist to the adjustment of a sash. Indeed, I believe I am doing myself more than justice when I put forward two hours as the time spent in personal decoration during those tender years.

But of all my infant duties the one I dawdled over most was going to sleep. The act of laying me in my little cot seemed to be the signal for waking me to a most unwonted energy. Instead of burying my nose in the pillows, as most babies do, I must needs struggle into a sitting posture, and make night vocal with crows and calls. I must needs chew the head of my indiarubber doll, or perform a solo on my rattle– anything, in fact, but go to sleep like a respectable, well-conducted child.

If my mother came and rocked my cradle, I got alarmingly lively and entered into the sport with spirit. If she, with weary eyes and faltering voice, attempted to sing me to sleep, I lent my shrill treble to aid my own lullaby; or else I lay quiet with my eyes wide open, and defied every effort to coax them into shutting.

Not that I was wilfully perverse or bad–I am proud to say no one can lay that to my charge; but I was a dawdler, one who from my earliest years could not find it in me to settle down promptly to anything–nay, who, knowing a certain thing was to be done, therefore deferred the doing of it as long as possible.

Need I say that as I grew older and bequeathed my long clothes and cot to another baby, I dawdled still?

My twin brother’s brick house was roofed in before my foundations were laid. Not that I could not build as quickly and as well as he, if I chose. I could, but I never chose. While he, with serious face and rapt attention, piled layer upon layer, and pinnacle upon pinnacle, absorbed in his architectural ambition, I sat by watching him, or wondering who drew the beautiful picture on the lid of my box, or speculating on the quantity of bricks I should use in my building, but always neglecting to set myself to work till Jim’s shout of triumph declared his task accomplished. Then I took a fit of industry till my tower was half built, and by that time the bricks had to be put away.

When we walked abroad with nurse I was sure to lag behind to look at other children, or gaze into shops. Many a time I narrowly escaped being lost as the result. Indeed, one of my earliest recollections is of being conducted home in state by a policeman, who had found me aimlessly strolling about a churchyard, round which I had been accompanying the nurse and the perambulator, until I missed them both, a short time before.