Chronicles of Clovis HTML version
0n the rack in the railway carriage immediately opposite Clovis was a solidly wrought
travelling-bag, with a carefully written label, on which was inscribed, "J. P. Huddle, The
Warren, Tilfield, near Slowborough." Immediately below the rack sit the human
embodiment of the label, a solid, sedate individual, sedately dressed, sedately
conversational. Even without his conversation (which was addressed to a friend seated by
his side, and touched chiefly on such topics as the backwardness of Roman hyacinths and
the prevalence of measles at the Rectory), one could have gauged fairly accurately the
temperament and mental outlook of the travelling bag's owner. But he seemed unwilling
to leave anything to the imagination of a casual observer, and his talk grew presently
personal and introspective.
"I don't know how it is," he told his friend, "I'm not much over forty, but I seem to have
settled down into a deep groove of elderly middle-age. My sister shows the same
tendency. We like everything to be exactly in its accustomed place; we like things to
happen exactly at their appointed times; we like everything to be usual, orderly, punctual,
methodical, to a hair's breadth, to a minute. It distresses and upsets us if it is not so. For
instance, to take a very trifling matter, a thrush has built its nest year after year in the
catkin-tree on the lawn; this year, for no obvious reason, it is building in the ivy on the
garden wall. We have said very little about it, but I think we both feel that the change is
unnecessary, and just a little irritating."
"Perhaps," said the friend, "it is a different thrush."
"We have suspected that," said J. P. Huddle, "and I think it gives us even more cause for
annoyance. We don't feel that we want a change of thrush at our time of life; and yet, as I
have said, we have scarcely reached an age when these things should make themselves
"What you want," said the friend, "is an Unrest-cure."
"An Unrest-cure? I've never heard of such a thing."
"You've heard of Rest-cures for people who've broken down under stress of too much
worry and strenuous living; well, you're suffering from overmuch repose and placidity,
and you need the opposite kind of treatment."
"But where would one go for such a thing?"
"Well, you might stand as an Orange candidate for Kilkenny, or do a course of district
visiting in one of the Apache quarters of Paris, or give lectures in Berlin to prove that
most of Wagner's music was written by Gambetta; and there's always the interior of