But who wants to be foretold the weather? It is bad enough when it comes, without our having the misery of knowing about it beforehand. The prophet we like is the old man who, on the particularly gloomy-looking morning of some day when we particularly want it to be fine, looks round the horizon with a particularly knowing eye, and says: “Oh no, sir, I think it will clear up all right. It will break all right enough, sir.” “Ah, he knows,” we say, as we wish him good morning, and start off; “wonderful how these old fellows can tell!” And we feel an affection for that man which is not at all lessened by the circumstances of its not clearing up, but continuing to rain steadily all day. “Ah, well,” we feel, “he did his best.” For the man that prophesies us bad weather, on the contrary, we entertain only bitter and revengeful thoughts. “Going to clear up, d’ye think?” we shout, cheerily, as we pass. “Well, no, sir; I’m afraid it’s settled down for the day,” he replies, shaking his head. “Stupid old fool!” we mutter, “what’s he know about it?” And, if his portent proves correct, we come back feeling still more angry against him, and with a vague notion that, somehow or other, he has had something to do with it. It was too bright and sunny on this especial morning for George’s blood-curdling readings about “Bar. falling,” “atmospheric disturbance, passing in an oblique line over Southern Europe,” and “pressure increasing,” to very much upset us: and so, finding that he could not make us wretched, and was only wasting his time, he sneaked the cigarette that I had carefully rolled up for myself, and went. Then Harris and I, having finished
The chief beauty of this book lies not so much in its literary style, or in the extent and usefulness of the information it conveys, as in its simple truthfulness. Its pages form the record of events that really happened. All that has been done is to colour them; and, for this, no extra charge has been made. George and Harris and Montmorency are not poetic ideals, but things of flesh and blood—especially George, who weighs about twelve stone. Other works may excel this in dept of thought and knowledge of human nature: other books may rival it in originality and size; but, for hopeless and incurable veracity, nothing yet discovered can surpass it. This, more than all its other charms, will, it is felt, make the volume precious in the eye of the earnest reader; and will lend additional weight to the lesson that the story teaches.
That is the only way to get a kettle to boil up the river. If it sees that you are waiting for it and are anxious, it will never even sing. You have to go away and begin your meal, as if you were not going to have any tea at all. You must not even look round at it. Then you will soon hear it sputtering away, mad to be made into tea. It is a good plan, too, if you are in a great hurry, to talk very loudly to each other about how you don’t need any tea, and are not going to have any. You get near the kettle, so that it can overhear you, and then you shout out, “I don’t want any tea; do you, George?” to which George shouts back, “Oh, no, I don’t like tea; we’ll have lemonade instead—tea’s so indigestible.” Upon which the kettle boils over, and puts the stove out. We adopted this harmless bit of trickery, and the result was that, by the time everything else was ready, the tea was waiting. Then we lit the lantern, and squatted down to supper.