The nail would be found at last, but by that time he would have lost the hammer.
Wheres the hammer? What did I do with the hammer? Great heavens! Seven of you, gaping round there, and you dont know what I did with the hammer!
We would find the hammer for him, and then he would have lost sight of the mark he had made on the wall, where the nail was to go in, and each of us had to get up on the chair beside him, and see if we could find it; and we would each discover it in a different place, and he would call us all fools, one after another, and tell us to get down. And he would take the rule, and remeasure, and find that he wanted half thirty-one and three-eighths inches from the corner and would try to do it in his head, and go mad.
And we would all try to do it in our heads, and all arrive at different results, and sneer at one another. And in the general row, the original number would be forgotten, and Uncle Podger would have to measure it again.
He would use a bit of string this time, and at the critical moment, when the old fool was leaning over the chair at an angle of forty-five, and trying to reach a point three inches beyond what was possible for him to reach, the string would slip, and down he would slide on to the piano, a really fine musical effect being produced by the suddenness with which his head and body struck all the notes at the same time.
And Aunt Maria would say that she would not allow the children to stand round and hear such language.
At last, Uncle Podger would get the spot fixed again, and put the point of the nail on it with his left hand, and take the hammer in his right hand. And, with the first blow, he would smash his thumb, and drop the hammer, with a yell, on somebodys toes.
Aunt Maria would mildly observe that, next time Uncle Podger was going to hammer a nail into the wall, she hoped hed let her know in time, so that she could make arrangements to go and spend a week with her mother while it was being done.
Oh! you women, you make such a fuss over everything. Uncle Podger would reply, picking himself up. Why, I like doing a little job of this sort.
And then he would have another try, and, at the second blow, the nail would go clean through the plaster, and half the hammer after it, and Uncle Podger be precipitated against the wall with force nearly sufficient to flatten his nose.
Then we had to find the rule and the string again, and a new hole was made; and, about midnight, the picture would be up very crooked and insecure, the wall for yards round looking as if it had been smoothed down with a rake, and everybody dead beat and wretchedexcept Uncle Podger.
There you are, he would say, stepping heavily off the chair on to the charwomans corns, and surveying the mess he had made with evident pride. Why, some people would have had a man in to do a little thing like that!
Harris will be just that sort of man when he grows up, I know, and I told him so. I said I could not permit him to take so much labour upon himself. I said:
No; you get the paper, and the pencil, and the catalogue, and George write down, and Ill do the work.
Surveying the mess he had made with evident pride
The first list we made out had to be discarded. It was clear that the upper reaches of the Thames would not allow of the navigation of a boat sufficiently large to take the things we had set down as indispensable; so we tore the list up, and looked at one another!
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