“Oh dear, oh dear, I shall be late.” A certain Victorian gentleman was hurrying down the street, repeatedly pulling a little object from his waistcoat and ascertaining its presence by rubbing over it with a slightly rough, but shapely thumb.
The object he was holding had come to him in the most curious way. Mr Thornton had been beginning to get very tired of sitting by the desk in his office, and of having nothing to do: once or twice he had peeped into the book his accountant was adding his numbers to, but it had no sums or totals in it, ‘and what is the use of a book,’ thought Mr Thornton ‘without sums or totals?’
So he was considering in his own mind (as well as he could, for the hot day made him feel very sleepy and stupid), whether the pleasure of paying a visit to the woman he loved but would not have him would be worth the trouble of getting up and procuring some grapes, when suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes ran close by him.
There was nothing so very remarkable in that; when he thought it over afterwards, it occurred to him that he ought to have wondered at this, but at the time it all seemed quite natural; but when the Rabbit actually took a small tin out of its waistcoat-pocket, and threw it at him, and then hurried on, Mr Thornton started to his feet, for it flashed across his mind that he had never before seen a rabbit with either a waistcoat-pocket, or a tin to take out of it, and burning with curiosity, he opened the tin only to find himself looking at his own likeness.
‘Well!’ thought Mr Thornton to himself, ‘after such a discovery as this, I shall think nothing of visiting my love! How brave they’ll all think me at home! Why, I wouldn’t say anything about it, even if she refused me once again!’ (Which was very likely true.)
And thus he pictured to himself how he would gather about his future children, and make their eyes bright and eager with the strange tale of how he courted their mother, and how he would feel with all their simple sorrows, and find a pleasure in all their simple joys, remembering his own love-life, and the happy summer days. And in grabbing his top-hat, he hurried out of the door, out of the yard, out of the gate and down the street…
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