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Heavy Work
by [?]

I pushed the-thing-you-move-up-and-down back to the zero position, and exchanged the half-stone weight for a stone one. Excited but a trifle cold, for it was a fresh morning, and the upper part of the window was wide open, I went up from nine stone ounce by ounce….

At nine-stone-twelve I jumped off for a moment and shut the window….

At eleven-stone-eight I had to get off again in order to attend to the bath, which was in danger of overflowing….

At fifteen-stone-eleven the breakfast gong went….

At nineteen-stone-nine I realized that I had overdone it. However I decided to know the worst. The worst that the machine could tell me was twenty-stone-seven. At twenty-stone-seven I left it.

Celia, who had nearly finished breakfast, looked up eagerly as I came in.

“Well?” she said.

“I am sorry I am late,” I apologized, “but I have been putting on flesh.”

“Have you really gone up?” she asked excitedly.

“Yes.” I began mechanically to help myself to porridge, and then stopped. “No, perhaps not,” I said thoughtfully.

“Have you gone up much?”

“Much,” I said. “Quite much.”

“How much? Quick!”

“Celia,” I said sadly, “I am twenty-stone-seven. I may be more; the weighing-machine gave out then.”

“Oh, but, darling, that’s much too much.”

“Still, it’s what we came here for,” I pointed out. “No, no bacon, thanks; a small piece of dry toast.”

“I suppose the machine couldn’t have made a mistake?”

“It seemed very decided about it. It didn’t hesitate at all.”

“Just try again after breakfast to make sure.”

“Perhaps I’d better try now,” I said, getting up, “because if I turned out to be only twenty-stone-six I might venture on a little porridge after all. I shan’t be long.”

I went upstairs. I didn’t dare face that weighing-machine in my clothes after the way in which I had already strained it without them. I took them off hurriedly and stepped on. To my joy the bar stayed in its downward position. I took off an ounce … then another ounce. The bar remained down….

At eighteen-stone-two I jumped off for a moment in order to shut the window, which some careless housemaid had opened again….

At twelve-stone-seven I shouted through the door to Celia that I shouldn’t be long, and that I should want the porridge after all….

At four-stone-six I said that I had better have an egg or two as well.

At three ounces I stepped off, feeling rather shaken.

* * * * *

I have not used the weighing-machine since; partly because I do not believe it is trustworthy, partly because I spent the rest of my leave in bed with a severe cold. We are now in London again, where I am putting on flesh. At least the doctor who slapped me about yesterday said that I must, and I promised him that I would.