The Extra Day
Consciousness was first--unconsciousness; the biggest changes are unconscious
before they are conscious. They have been long preparing. They fall with a clap; and
people call them sudden and exclaim, "How strange!" But it is only the discovery and
recognition that are sudden. It all has happened already long ago--happened before.
The faint sense of familiarity betrays it. It is there the strangeness lies.
And it was this delicate fragrance of an uncommunicable strangeness that floated in the
air when Uncle Felix and the children came down to breakfast that Sunday morning and
heard the sound of bells in the wind across the fields. They came down punctually for a
wonder, too; Maria, last but not actually late, brought the alarum clock with her. "It's
going," she stated quietly, and handed it to her brother.
Tim took it without a word, looked at it, shook it, listened to its ticking against his ear,
then set it on the mantelpiece where it belonged. He seemed pleased to have it in his
possession again, yet something puzzled him. An expression of wonder flitted across
his face; the eyes turned upwards; he frowned; there was an effort in him --to remember
something. He turned to Maria who was already deep in porridge.
"Did you wind it up?" he asked. "I thought it'd stopped--last night."
"It's going," she said, thinking of her porridge chiefly.
"It wasn't, though," insisted Tim. He reflected a moment, evidently perplexed. "I wound it
and forgot," he added to himself, "or else it wound itself." He went to his place and
began his breakfast.
"Wound itself," mentioned Maria, and then the subject dropped.
It was Sunday morning, and everybody was dressed in Sunday things. The excitement
of the evening before, the promise of an Extra Day, the detailed preparation--all this had
disappeared. Being of yesterday, it was no longer vital: certainly there was no necessity
to consult it. They looked forward rather than backward; the mystery of life lay ever just
in front of them, what lay behind was already done with. They had lived it, lived it out. It
was in their possession therefore, part of themselves.
No one of the four devouring porridge round that breakfast table had forgotten about the
promise, any more than they had forgotten giving up their time-pieces, the conversation,
and all the rest of it. It was not forgetfulness. It was not loss of interest either that led no
one to refer to it, least of all, to clamour for fulfilment. It was quite another motive that
kept them silent, and that, even when Uncle Felix handed back the watches, prevented