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    Chapter 3

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    Chapter 3
    Previous Chapter
    The Cumberland Doctor's mention of Doncaster Races, inspired Mr.
    Francis Goodchild with the idea of going down to Doncaster to see
    the races. Doncaster being a good way off, and quite out of the
    way of the Idle Apprentices (if anything could be out of their way,
    who had no way), it necessarily followed that Francis perceived
    Doncaster in the race-week to be, of all possible idleness, the
    particular idleness that would completely satisfy him.

    Thomas, with an enforced idleness grafted on the natural and
    voluntary power of his disposition, was not of this mind; objecting
    that a man compelled to lie on his back on a floor, a sofa, a
    table, a line of chairs, or anything he could get to lie upon, was
    not in racing condition, and that he desired nothing better than to
    lie where he was, enjoying himself in looking at the flies on the
    ceiling. But, Francis Goodchild, who had been walking round his
    companion in a circuit of twelve miles for two days, and had begun
    to doubt whether it was reserved for him ever to be idle in his
    life, not only overpowered this objection, but even converted
    Thomas Idle to a scheme he formed (another idle inspiration), of
    conveying the said Thomas to the sea-coast, and putting his injured
    leg under a stream of salt-water.

    Plunging into this happy conception headforemost, Mr. Goodchild
    immediately referred to the county-map, and ardently discovered
    that the most delicious piece of sea-coast to be found within the
    limits of England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, and
    the Channel Islands, all summed up together, was Allonby on the
    coast of Cumberland. There was the coast of Scotland opposite to
    Allonby, said Mr. Goodchild with enthusiasm; there was a fine
    Scottish mountain on that Scottish coast; there were Scottish
    lights to be seen shining across the glorious Channel, and at
    Allonby itself there was every idle luxury (no doubt) that a
    watering-place could offer to the heart of idle man. Moreover,
    said Mr. Goodchild, with his finger on the map, this exquisite
    retreat was approached by a coach-road, from a railway-station
    called Aspatria--a name, in a manner, suggestive of the departed
    glories of Greece, associated with one of the most engaging and
    most famous of Greek women. On this point, Mr. Goodchild continued
    at intervals to breathe a vein of classic fancy and eloquence
    exceedingly irksome to Mr. Idle, until it appeared that the honest
    English pronunciation of that Cumberland country shortened Aspatria
    into 'Spatter.' After this supplementary discovery, Mr. Goodchild
    said no more about it.

    By way of Spatter, the crippled Idle was carried, hoisted, pushed,
    poked, and packed, into and out of carriages, into and out of beds,
    into and out of tavern resting-places, until he was brought at
    length within sniff of the sea. And now, behold the apprentices
    gallantly riding into Allonby in a one-horse fly, bent upon staying
    in that peaceful marine valley until the turbulent Doncaster time
    shall come round upon the wheel, in its turn among what are in
    sporting registers called the 'Fixtures' for the month.

    'Do you see Allonby!' asked Thomas Idle.

    'I don't see it yet,' said Francis, looking out of window.

    'It must be there,' said Thomas Idle.

    'I don't see it,' returned Francis.

    'It must be there,' repeated Thomas Idle, fretfully.

    'Lord bless me!' exclaimed Francis, drawing in his head, 'I suppose
    this is it!'

    'A watering-place,' retorted Thomas Idle, with the pardonable
    sharpness of an invalid, 'can't be five gentlemen in straw hats, on
    a form on one side of a door, and four ladies in hats and falls, on
    a form on another side of a door, and three geese in a dirty little
    brook before them, and a boy's legs hanging over a bridge (with a
    boy's body I suppose on the other side of the parapet), and a
    donkey running away. What are you talking about?'

    'Allonby, gentlemen,' said the most comfortable of landladies as
    she opened one door of the carriage; 'Allonby, gentlemen,' said the
    most attentive of landlords, as he opened the other.

    Thomas Idle yielded his arm to the ready Goodchild, and descended
    from the vehicle. Thomas, now just able to grope his way along, in
    a doubled-up condition, with the aid of two thick sticks, was no
    bad embodiment of Commodore Trunnion, or of one of those many
    gallant Admirals of the stage, who have all ample fortunes, gout,
    thick sticks, tempers, wards, and nephews. With this distinguished
    naval appearance upon him, Thomas made a crab-like progress up a
    clean little bulk-headed staircase, into a clean little bulk-headed
    room, where he slowly deposited himself on a sofa, with a stick on
    either hand of him, looking exceedingly grim.

    'Francis,' said Thomas Idle, 'what do you think of this place?'

    'I think,' returned Mr. Goodchild, in a glowing way, 'it is
    everything we expected.'

    'Hah!' said Thomas Idle.

    'There is the sea,' cried Mr. Goodchild, pointing out of window;
    'and here,' pointing to the lunch on the table, 'are shrimps. Let
    us--' here Mr. Goodchild looked out of window, as if in search of
    something, and looked in again,--'let us eat 'em.'

    The shrimps eaten and the dinner ordered, Mr. Goodchild went out to
    survey the watering-place. As Chorus of the Drama, without whom
    Thomas could make nothing of the scenery, he by-and-by returned, to
    have the following report screwed out of him.

    In brief, it was the most delightful place ever seen.

    'But,' Thomas Idle asked, 'where is it?'

    'It's what you may call generally up and down the beach, here and
    there,' said Mr. Goodchild, with a twist of his hand.

    'Proceed,' said Thomas Idle.

    It was, Mr. Goodchild went on to say, in cross-examination, what
    you might call a primitive place. Large? No, it was not large.
    Who ever expected it would be large? Shape? What a question to
    ask! No shape. What sort of a street? Why, no street. Shops?
    Yes, of course (quite indignant). How many? Who ever went into a
    place to count the shops? Ever so many. Six? Perhaps. A
    library? Why, of course (indignant again). Good collection of
    books? Most likely--couldn't say--had seen nothing in it but a
    pair of scales. Any reading-room? Of course, there was a reading-
    room. Where? Where! why, over there. Where was over there? Why,
    THERE! Let Mr. Idle carry his eye to that bit of waste ground
    above high-water mark, where the rank grass and loose stones were
    most in a litter; and he would see a sort of long, ruinous brick
    loft, next door to a ruinous brick out-house, which loft had a
    ladder outside, to get up by. That was the reading-room, and if
    Mr. Idle didn't like the idea of a weaver's shuttle throbbing under
    a reading-room, that was his look out. HE was not to dictate, Mr.
    Goodchild supposed (indignant again), to the company.

    'By-the-by,' Thomas Idle observed; 'the company?'

    Well! (Mr. Goodchild went on to report) very nice company. Where
    were they? Why, there they were. Mr. Idle could see the tops of
    their hats, he supposed. What? Those nine straw hats again, five
    gentlemen's and four ladies'? Yes, to be sure. Mr. Goodchild
    hoped the company were not to be expected to wear helmets, to
    please Mr. Idle.

    Beginning to recover his temper at about this point, Mr. Goodchild
    voluntarily reported that if you wanted to be primitive, you could
    be primitive here, and that if you wanted to be idle, you could be
    idle here. In the course of some days, he added, that there were
    three fishing-boats, but no rigging, and that there were plenty of
    fishermen who never fished. That they got their living entirely by
    looking at the ocean. What nourishment they looked out of it to
    support their strength, he couldn't say; but, he supposed it was
    some sort of Iodine. The place was full of their children, who
    were always upside down on the public buildings (two small bridges
    over the brook), and always hurting themselves or one another, so
    that their wailings made more continual noise in the air than could
    have been got in a busy place. The houses people lodged in, were
    nowhere in particular, and were in capital accordance with the
    beach; being all more or less cracked and damaged as its shells
    were, and all empty--as its shells were. Among them, was an
    edifice of destitute appearance, with a number of wall-eyed windows
    in it, looking desperately out to Scotland as if for help, which
    said it was a Bazaar (and it ought to know), and where you might
    buy anything you wanted--supposing what you wanted, was a little
    camp-stool or a child's wheelbarrow. The brook crawled or stopped
    between the houses and the sea, and the donkey was always running
    away, and when he got into the brook he was pelted out with stones,
    which never hit him, and which always hit some of the children who
    were upside down on the public buildings, and made their
    lamentations louder. This donkey was the public excitement of
    Allonby, and was probably supported at the public expense.

    The foregoing descriptions, delivered in separate items, on
    separate days of adventurous discovery, Mr. Goodchild severally
    wound up, by looking out of window, looking in again, and saying,
    'But there is the sea, and here are the shrimps--let us eat 'em.'

    There were fine sunsets at Allonby when the low flat beach, with
    its pools of water and its dry patches, changed into long bars of
    silver and gold in various states of burnishing, and there were
    fine views--on fine days--of the Scottish coast. But, when it
    rained at Allonby, Allonby thrown back upon its ragged self, became
    a kind of place which the donkey seemed to have found out, and to
    have his highly sagacious reasons for wishing to bolt from. Thomas
    Idle observed, too, that Mr. Goodchild, with a noble show of
    disinterestedness, became every day more ready to walk to Maryport
    and back, for letters; and suspicions began to harbour in the mind
    of Thomas, that his friend deceived him, and that Maryport was a
    preferable place.

    Therefore, Thomas said to Francis on a day when they had looked at
    the sea and eaten the shrimps, 'My mind misgives me, Goodchild,
    that you go to Maryport, like the boy in the story-book, to ask IT
    to be idle with you.'

    'Judge, then,' returned Francis, adopting the style of the story-
    book, 'with what success. I go to a region which is a bit of
    water-side Bristol, with a slice of Wapping, a seasoning of
    Wolverhampton, and a garnish of Portsmouth, and I say, "Will YOU
    come and be idle with me?" And it answers, "No; for I am a great
    deal too vaporous, and a great deal too rusty, and a great deal too
    muddy, and a great deal too dirty altogether; and I have ships to
    load, and pitch and tar to boil, and iron to hammer, and steam to
    get up, and smoke to make, and stone to quarry, and fifty other
    disagreeable things to do, and I can't be idle with you." Then I
    go into jagged up-hill and down-hill streets, where I am in the
    pastrycook's shop at one moment, and next moment in savage
    fastnesses of moor and morass, beyond the confines of civilisation,
    and I say to those murky and black-dusty streets, "Will YOU come
    and be idle with me?" To which they reply, "No, we can't, indeed,
    for we haven't the spirits, and we are startled by the echo of your
    feet on the sharp pavement, and we have so many goods in our shop-
    windows which nobody wants, and we have so much to do for a limited
    public which never comes to us to be done for, that we are
    altogether out of sorts and can't enjoy ourselves with any one."
    So I go to the Post-office, and knock at the shutter, and I say to
    the Post-master, "Will YOU come and be idle with me?" To which he
    rejoins, "No, I really can't, for I live, as you may see, in such a
    very little Post-office, and pass my life behind such a very little
    shutter, that my hand, when I put it out, is as the hand of a giant
    crammed through the window of a dwarf's house at a fair, and I am a
    mere Post-office anchorite in a cell much too small for him, and I
    can't get out, and I can't get in, and I have no space to be idle
    in, even if I would." So, the boy,' said Mr. Goodchild, concluding
    the tale, 'comes back with the letters after all, and lives happy
    never afterwards.'

    But it may, not unreasonably, be asked--while Francis Goodchild was
    wandering hither and thither, storing his mind with perpetual
    observation of men and things, and sincerely believing himself to
    be the laziest creature in existence all the time--how did Thomas
    Idle, crippled and confined to the house, contrive to get through
    the hours of the day?

    Prone on the sofa, Thomas made no attempt to get through the hours,
    but passively allowed the hours to get through HIM. Where other
    men in his situation would have read books and improved their
    minds, Thomas slept and rested his body. Where other men would
    have pondered anxiously over their future prospects, Thomas dreamed
    lazily of his past life. The one solitary thing he did, which most
    other people would have done in his place, was to resolve on making
    certain alterations and improvements in his mode of existence, as
    soon as the effects of the misfortune that had overtaken him had
    all passed away. Remembering that the current of his life had
    hitherto oozed along in one smooth stream of laziness, occasionally
    troubled on the surface by a slight passing ripple of industry, his
    present ideas on the subject of self-reform, inclined him--not as
    the reader may be disposed to imagine, to project schemes for a new
    existence of enterprise and exertion--but, on the contrary, to
    resolve that he would never, if he could possibly help it, be
    active or industrious again, throughout the whole of his future
    career.

    It is due to Mr. Idle to relate that his mind sauntered towards
    this peculiar conclusion on distinct and logically-producible
    grounds. After reviewing, quite at his ease, and with many needful
    intervals of repose, the generally-placid spectacle of his past
    existence, he arrived at the discovery that all the great disasters
    which had tried his patience and equanimity in early life, had been
    caused by his having allowed himself to be deluded into imitating
    some pernicious example of activity and industry that had been set
    him by others. The trials to which he here alludes were three in
    number, and may be thus reckoned up: First, the disaster of being
    an unpopular and a thrashed boy at school; secondly, the disaster
    of falling seriously ill; thirdly, the disaster of becoming
    acquainted with a great bore.

    The first disaster occurred after Thomas had been an idle and a
    popular boy at school, for some happy years. One Christmas-time,
    he was stimulated by the evil example of a companion, whom he had
    always trusted and liked, to be untrue to himself, and to try for a
    prize at the ensuing half-yearly examination. He did try, and he
    got a prize--how, he did not distinctly know at the moment, and
    cannot remember now. No sooner, however, had the book--Moral Hints
    to the Young on the Value of Time--been placed in his hands, than
    the first troubles of his life began. The idle boys deserted him,
    as a traitor to their cause. The industrious boys avoided him, as
    a dangerous interloper; one of their number, who had always won the
    prize on previous occasions, expressing just resentment at the
    invasion of his privileges by calling Thomas into the play-ground,
    and then and there administering to him the first sound and genuine
    thrashing that he had ever received in his life. Unpopular from
    that moment, as a beaten boy, who belonged to no side and was
    rejected by all parties, young Idle soon lost caste with his
    masters, as he had previously lost caste with his schoolfellows.
    He had forfeited the comfortable reputation of being the one lazy
    member of the youthful community whom it was quite hopeless to
    punish. Never again did he hear the headmaster say reproachfully
    to an industrious boy who had committed a fault, 'I might have
    expected this in Thomas Idle, but it is inexcusable, sir, in you,
    who know better.' Never more, after winning that fatal prize, did
    he escape the retributive imposition, or the avenging birch. From
    that time, the masters made him work, and the boys would not let
    him play. From that time his social position steadily declined,
    and his life at school became a perpetual burden to him.

    So, again, with the second disaster. While Thomas was lazy, he was
    a model of health. His first attempt at active exertion and his
    first suffering from severe illness are connected together by the
    intimate relations of cause and effect. Shortly after leaving
    school, he accompanied a party of friends to a cricket-field, in
    his natural and appropriate character of spectator only. On the
    ground it was discovered that the players fell short of the
    required number, and facile Thomas was persuaded to assist in
    making up the complement. At a certain appointed time, he was
    roused from peaceful slumber in a dry ditch, and placed before
    three wickets with a bat in his hand. Opposite to him, behind
    three more wickets, stood one of his bosom friends, filling the
    situation (as he was informed) of bowler. No words can describe
    Mr. Idle's horror and amazement, when he saw this young man--on
    ordinary occasions, the meekest and mildest of human beings--
    suddenly contract his eye-brows, compress his lips, assume the
    aspect of an infuriated savage, run back a few steps, then run
    forward, and, without the slightest previous provocation, hurl a
    detestably hard ball with all his might straight at Thomas's legs.
    Stimulated to preternatural activity of body and sharpness of eye
    by the instinct of self-preservation, Mr. Idle contrived, by
    jumping deftly aside at the right moment, and by using his bat
    (ridiculously narrow as it was for the purpose) as a shield, to
    preserve his life and limbs from the dastardly attack that had been
    made on both, to leave the full force of the deadly missile to
    strike his wicket instead of his leg; and to end the innings, so
    far as his side was concerned, by being immediately bowled out.
    Grateful for his escape, he was about to return to the dry ditch,
    when he was peremptorily stopped, and told that the other side was
    'going in,' and that he was expected to 'field.' His conception of
    the whole art and mystery of 'fielding,' may be summed up in the
    three words of serious advice which he privately administered to
    himself on that trying occasion--avoid the ball. Fortified by this
    sound and salutary principle, he took his own course, impervious
    alike to ridicule and abuse. Whenever the ball came near him, he
    thought of his shins, and got out of the way immediately. 'Catch
    it!' 'Stop it!' 'Pitch it up!' were cries that passed by him like
    the idle wind that he regarded not. He ducked under it, he jumped
    over it, he whisked himself away from it on either side. Never
    once, through the whole innings did he and the ball come together
    on anything approaching to intimate terms. The unnatural activity
    of body which was necessarily called forth for the accomplishment
    of this result threw Thomas Idle, for the first time in his life,
    into a perspiration. The perspiration, in consequence of his want
    of practice in the management of that particular result of bodily
    activity, was suddenly checked; the inevitable chill succeeded; and
    that, in its turn, was followed by a fever. For the first time
    since his birth, Mr. Idle found himself confined to his bed for
    many weeks together, wasted and worn by a long illness, of which
    his own disastrous muscular exertion had been the sole first cause.

    The third occasion on which Thomas found reason to reproach himself
    bitterly for the mistake of having attempted to be industrious, was
    connected with his choice of a calling in life. Having no interest
    in the Church, he appropriately selected the next best profession
    for a lazy man in England--the Bar. Although the Benchers of the
    Inns of Court have lately abandoned their good old principles, and
    oblige their students to make some show of studying, in Mr. Idle's
    time no such innovation as this existed. Young men who aspired to
    the honourable title of barrister were, very properly, not asked to
    learn anything of the law, but were merely required to eat a
    certain number of dinners at the table of their Hall, and to pay a
    certain sum of money; and were called to the Bar as soon as they
    could prove that they had sufficiently complied with these
    extremely sensible regulations. Never did Thomas move more
    harmoniously in concert with his elders and betters than when he
    was qualifying himself for admission among the barristers of his
    native country. Never did he feel more deeply what real laziness
    was in all the serene majesty of its nature, than on the memorable
    day when he was called to the Bar, after having carefully abstained
    from opening his law-books during his period of probation, except
    to fall asleep over them. How he could ever again have become
    industrious, even for the shortest period, after that great reward
    conferred upon his idleness, quite passes his comprehension. The
    kind Benchers did everything they could to show him the folly of
    exerting himself. They wrote out his probationary exercise for
    him, and never expected him even to take the trouble of reading it
    through when it was written. They invited him, with seven other
    choice spirits as lazy as himself, to come and be called to the
    Bar, while they were sitting over their wine and fruit after
    dinner. They put his oaths of allegiance, and his dreadful
    official denunciations of the Pope and the Pretender, so gently
    into his mouth, that he hardly knew how the words got there. They
    wheeled all their chairs softly round from the table, and sat
    surveying the young barristers with their backs to their bottles,
    rather than stand up, or adjourn to hear the exercises read. And
    when Mr. Idle and the seven unlabouring neophytes, ranged in order,
    as a class, with their backs considerately placed against a screen,
    had begun, in rotation, to read the exercises which they had not
    written, even then, each Bencher, true to the great lazy principle
    of the whole proceeding, stopped each neophyte before he had
    stammered through his first line, and bowed to him, and told him
    politely that he was a barrister from that moment. This was all
    the ceremony. It was followed by a social supper, and by the
    presentation, in accordance with ancient custom, of a pound of
    sweetmeats and a bottle of Madeira, offered in the way of needful
    refreshment, by each grateful neophyte to each beneficent Bencher.
    It may seem inconceivable that Thomas should ever have forgotten
    the great do-nothing principle instilled by such a ceremony as
    this; but it is, nevertheless, true, that certain designing
    students of industrious habits found him out, took advantage of his
    easy humour, persuaded him that it was discreditable to be a
    barrister and to know nothing whatever about the law, and lured
    him, by the force of their own evil example, into a conveyancer's
    chambers, to make up for lost time, and to qualify himself for
    practice at the Bar. After a fortnight of self-delusion, the
    curtain fell from his eyes; he resumed his natural character, and
    shut up his books. But the retribution which had hitherto always
    followed his little casual errors of industry followed them still.
    He could get away from the conveyancer's chambers, but he could not
    get away from one of the pupils, who had taken a fancy to him,--a
    tall, serious, raw-boned, hard-working, disputatious pupil, with
    ideas of his own about reforming the Law of Real Property, who has
    been the scourge of Mr. Idle's existence ever since the fatal day
    when he fell into the mistake of attempting to study the law.
    Before that time his friends were all sociable idlers like himself.
    Since that time the burden of bearing with a hard-working young man
    has become part of his lot in life. Go where he will now, he can
    never feel certain that the raw-boned pupil is not affectionately
    waiting for him round a corner, to tell him a little more about the
    Law of Real Property. Suffer as he may under the infliction, he
    can never complain, for he must always remember, with unavailing
    regret, that he has his own thoughtless industry to thank for first
    exposing him to the great social calamity of knowing a bore.

    These events of his past life, with the significant results that
    they brought about, pass drowsily through Thomas Idle's memory,
    while he lies alone on the sofa at Allonby and elsewhere, dreaming
    away the time which his fellow-apprentice gets through so actively
    out of doors. Remembering the lesson of laziness which his past
    disasters teach, and bearing in mind also the fact that he is
    crippled in one leg because he exerted himself to go up a mountain,
    when he ought to have known that his proper course of conduct was
    to stop at the bottom of it, he holds now, and will for the future
    firmly continue to hold, by his new resolution never to be
    industrious again, on any pretence whatever, for the rest of his
    life. The physical results of his accident have been related in a
    previous chapter. The moral results now stand on record; and, with
    the enumeration of these, that part of the present narrative which
    is occupied by the Episode of The Sprained Ankle may now perhaps be
    considered, in all its aspects, as finished and complete.

    'How do you propose that we get through this present afternoon and
    evening?' demanded Thomas Idle, after two or three hours of the
    foregoing reflections at Allonby.

    Mr. Goodchild faltered, looked out of window, looked in again, and
    said, as he had so often said before, 'There is the sea, and here
    are the shrimps;--let us eat 'em'!'

    But, the wise donkey was at that moment in the act of bolting: not
    with the irresolution of his previous efforts which had been
    wanting in sustained force of character, but with real vigour of
    purpose: shaking the dust off his mane and hind-feet at Allonby,
    and tearing away from it, as if he had nobly made up his mind that
    he never would be taken alive. At sight of this inspiring
    spectacle, which was visible from his sofa, Thomas Idle stretched
    his neck and dwelt upon it rapturously.

    'Francis Goodchild,' he then said, turning to his companion with a
    solemn air, 'this is a delightful little Inn, excellently kept by
    the most comfortable of landladies and the most attentive of
    landlords, but--the donkey's right!'

    The words, 'There is the sea, and here are the--' again trembled on
    the lips of Goodchild, unaccompanied however by any sound.

    'Let us instantly pack the portmanteaus,' said Thomas Idle, 'pay
    the bill, and order a fly out, with instructions to the driver to
    follow the donkey!'

    Mr. Goodchild, who had only wanted encouragement to disclose the
    real state of his feelings, and who had been pining beneath his
    weary secret, now burst into tears, and confessed that he thought
    another day in the place would be the death of him.

    So, the two idle apprentices followed the donkey until the night
    was far advanced. Whether he was recaptured by the town-council,
    or is bolting at this hour through the United Kingdom, they know
    not. They hope he may be still bolting; if so, their best wishes
    are with him.

    It entered Mr. Idle's head, on the borders of Cumberland, that
    there could be no idler place to stay at, except by snatches of a
    few minutes each, than a railway station. 'An intermediate station
    on a line--a junction--anything of that sort,' Thomas suggested.
    Mr. Goodchild approved of the idea as eccentric, and they journeyed
    on and on, until they came to such a station where there was an
    Inn.

    'Here,' said Thomas, 'we may be luxuriously lazy; other people will
    travel for us, as it were, and we shall laugh at their folly.'

    It was a Junction-Station, where the wooden razors before mentioned
    shaved the air very often, and where the sharp electric-telegraph
    bell was in a very restless condition. All manner of cross-lines
    of rails came zig-zagging into it, like a Congress of iron vipers;
    and, a little way out of it, a pointsman in an elevated signal-box
    was constantly going through the motions of drawing immense
    quantities of beer at a public-house bar. In one direction,
    confused perspectives of embankments and arches were to be seen
    from the platform; in the other, the rails soon disentangled
    themselves into two tracks and shot away under a bridge, and curved
    round a corner. Sidings were there, in which empty luggage-vans
    and cattle-boxes often butted against each other as if they
    couldn't agree; and warehouses were there, in which great
    quantities of goods seemed to have taken the veil (of the
    consistency of tarpaulin), and to have retired from the world
    without any hope of getting back to it. Refreshment-rooms were
    there; one, for the hungry and thirsty Iron Locomotives where their
    coke and water were ready, and of good quality, for they were
    dangerous to play tricks with; the other, for the hungry and
    thirsty human Locomotives, who might take what they could get, and
    whose chief consolation was provided in the form of three terrific
    urns or vases of white metal, containing nothing, each forming a
    breastwork for a defiant and apparently much-injured woman.

    Established at this Station, Mr. Thomas Idle and Mr. Francis
    Goodchild resolved to enjoy it. But, its contrasts were very
    violent, and there was also an infection in it.

    First, as to its contrasts. They were only two, but they were
    Lethargy and Madness. The Station was either totally unconscious,
    or wildly raving. By day, in its unconscious state, it looked as
    if no life could come to it,--as if it were all rust, dust, and
    ashes--as if the last train for ever, had gone without issuing any
    Return-Tickets--as if the last Engine had uttered its last shriek
    and burst. One awkward shave of the air from the wooden razor, and
    everything changed. Tight office-doors flew open, panels yielded,
    books, newspapers, travelling-caps and wrappers broke out of brick
    walls, money chinked, conveyances oppressed by nightmares of
    luggage came careering into the yard, porters started up from
    secret places, ditto the much-injured women, the shining bell, who
    lived in a little tray on stilts by himself, flew into a man's hand
    and clamoured violently. The pointsman aloft in the signal-box
    made the motions of drawing, with some difficulty, hogsheads of
    beer. Down Train! More bear! Up Train! More beer. Cross
    junction Train! More beer! Cattle Train! More beer. Goods
    Train! Simmering, whistling, trembling, rumbling, thundering.
    Trains on the whole confusion of intersecting rails, crossing one
    another, bumping one another, hissing one another, backing to go
    forward, tearing into distance to come close. People frantic.
    Exiles seeking restoration to their native carriages, and banished
    to remoter climes. More beer and more bell. Then, in a minute,
    the Station relapsed into stupor as the stoker of the Cattle Train,
    the last to depart, went gliding out of it, wiping the long nose of
    his oil-can with a dirty pocket-handkerchief.

    By night, in its unconscious state, the Station was not so much as
    visible. Something in the air, like an enterprising chemist's
    established in business on one of the boughs of Jack's beanstalk,
    was all that could be discerned of it under the stars. In a moment
    it would break out, a constellation of gas. In another moment,
    twenty rival chemists, on twenty rival beanstalks, came into
    existence. Then, the Furies would be seen, waving their lurid
    torches up and down the confused perspectives of embankments and
    arches--would be heard, too, wailing and shrieking. Then, the
    Station would be full of palpitating trains, as in the day; with
    the heightening difference that they were not so clearly seen as in
    the day, whereas the Station walls, starting forward under the gas,
    like a hippopotamus's eyes, dazzled the human locomotives with the
    sauce-bottle, the cheap music, the bedstead, the distorted range of
    buildings where the patent safes are made, the gentleman in the
    rain with the registered umbrella, the lady returning from the ball
    with the registered respirator, and all their other embellishments.
    And now, the human locomotives, creased as to their countenances
    and purblind as to their eyes, would swarm forth in a heap,
    addressing themselves to the mysterious urns and the much-injured
    women; while the iron locomotives, dripping fire and water, shed
    their steam about plentifully, making the dull oxen in their cages,
    with heads depressed, and foam hanging from their mouths as their
    red looks glanced fearfully at the surrounding terrors, seem as
    though they had been drinking at half-frozen waters and were hung
    with icicles. Through the same steam would be caught glimpses of
    their fellow-travellers, the sheep, getting their white kid faces
    together, away from the bars, and stuffing the interstices with
    trembling wool. Also, down among the wheels, of the man with the
    sledge-hammer, ringing the axles of the fast night-train; against
    whom the oxen have a misgiving that he is the man with the pole-axe
    who is to come by-and-by, and so the nearest of them try to get
    back, and get a purchase for a thrust at him through the bars.
    Suddenly, the bell would ring, the steam would stop with one hiss
    and a yell, the chemists on the beanstalks would be busy, the
    avenging Furies would bestir themselves, the fast night-train would
    melt from eye and ear, the other trains going their ways more
    slowly would be heard faintly rattling in the distance like old-
    fashioned watches running down, the sauce-bottle and cheap music
    retired from view, even the bedstead went to bed, and there was no
    such visible thing as the Station to vex the cool wind in its
    blowing, or perhaps the autumn lightning, as it found out the iron
    rails.

    The infection of the Station was this:- When it was in its raving
    state, the Apprentices found it impossible to be there, without
    labouring under the delusion that they were in a hurry. To Mr.
    Goodchild, whose ideas of idleness were so imperfect, this was no
    unpleasant hallucination, and accordingly that gentleman went
    through great exertions in yielding to it, and running up and down
    the platform, jostling everybody, under the impression that he had
    a highly important mission somewhere, and had not a moment to lose.
    But, to Thomas Idle, this contagion was so very unacceptable an
    incident of the situation, that he struck on the fourth day, and
    requested to be moved.

    'This place fills me with a dreadful sensation,' said Thomas, 'of
    having something to do. Remove me, Francis.'

    'Where would you like to go next?' was the question of the ever-
    engaging Goodchild.

    'I have heard there is a good old Inn at Lancaster, established in
    a fine old house: an Inn where they give you Bride-cake every day
    after dinner,' said Thomas Idle. 'Let us eat Bride-cake without
    the trouble of being married, or of knowing anybody in that
    ridiculous dilemma.'

    Mr. Goodchild, with a lover's sigh, assented. They departed from
    the Station in a violent hurry (for which, it is unnecessary to
    observe, there was not the least occasion), and were delivered at
    the fine old house at Lancaster, on the same night.

    It is Mr. Goodchild's opinion, that if a visitor on his arrival at
    Lancaster could be accommodated with a pole which would push the
    opposite side of the street some yards farther off, it would be
    better for all parties. Protesting against being required to live
    in a trench, and obliged to speculate all day upon what the people
    can possibly be doing within a mysterious opposite window, which is
    a shop-window to look at, but not a shop-window in respect of its
    offering nothing for sale and declining to give any account
    whatever of itself, Mr. Goodchild concedes Lancaster to be a
    pleasant place. A place dropped in the midst of a charming
    landscape, a place with a fine ancient fragment of castle, a place
    of lovely walks, a place possessing staid old houses richly fitted
    with old Honduras mahogany, which has grown so dark with time that
    it seems to have got something of a retrospective mirror-quality
    into itself, and to show the visitor, in the depth of its grain,
    through all its polish, the hue of the wretched slaves who groaned
    long ago under old Lancaster merchants. And Mr. Goodchild adds
    that the stones of Lancaster do sometimes whisper, even yet, of
    rich men passed away--upon whose great prosperity some of these old
    doorways frowned sullen in the brightest weather--that their slave-
    gain turned to curses, as the Arabian Wizard's money turned to
    leaves, and that no good ever came of it, even unto the third and
    fourth generations, until it was wasted and gone.

    It was a gallant sight to behold, the Sunday procession of the
    Lancaster elders to Church--all in black, and looking fearfully
    like a funeral without the Body--under the escort of Three Beadles.

    'Think,' said Francis, as he stood at the Inn window, admiring, 'of
    being taken to the sacred edifice by three Beadles! I have, in my
    early time, been taken out of it by one Beadle; but, to be taken
    into it by three, O Thomas, is a distinction I shall never enjoy!'
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    Chapter 3
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