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Out of the Season
IT fell to my lot, this last bleak Spring, to find myself in a watering-place out of the
Season. A vicious north-east squall blew me into it from foreign parts, and I tarried in it
alone for three days, resolved to be exceedingly busy.
On the first day, I began business by looking for two hours at the sea, and staring the
Foreign Militia out of countenance. Having disposed of these important engagements, I
sat down at one of the two windows of my room, intent on doing something desperate in
the way of literary composition, and writing a chapter of unheard-of excellence - with
which the present essay has no connexion.
It is a remarkable quality in a watering-place out of the season, that everything in it, will
and must be looked at. I had no previous suspicion of this fatal truth but, the moment I
sat down to write, I began to perceive it. I had scarcely fallen into my most promising
attitude, and dipped my pen in the ink, when I found the clock upon the pier - a red-
faced clock with a white rim - importuning me in a highly vexatious manner to consult
my watch, and see how I was off for Greenwich time. Having no intention of making a
voyage or taking an observation, I had not the least need of Greenwich time, and could
have put up with watering-place time as a sufficiently accurate article. The pier-clock,
however, persisting, I felt it necessary to lay down my pen, compare my watch with him,
and fall into a grave solicitude about half- seconds. I had taken up my pen again, and
was about to commence that valuable chapter, when a Custom-house cutter under the
window requested that I would hold a naval review of her, immediately.
It was impossible, under the circumstances, for any mental resolution, merely human, to
dismiss the Custom-house cutter, because the shadow of her topmast fell upon my
paper, and the vane played on the masterly blank chapter. I was therefore under the
necessity of going to the other window; sitting astride of the chair there, like Napoleon
bivouacking in the print; and inspecting the cutter as she lay, all that day, in the way of
my chapter, O! She was rigged to carry a quantity of canvas, but her hull was so very
small that four giants aboard of her (three men and a boy) who were vigilantly scraping
at her, all together, inspired me with a terror lest they should scrape her away. A fifth
giant, who appeared to consider himself 'below' - as indeed he was, from the waist
downwards - meditated, in such close proximity with the little gusty chimney-pipe, that
he seemed to be smoking it. Several boys looked on from the wharf, and, when the
gigantic attention appeared to be fully occupied, one or other of these would furtively
swing himself in mid-air over the Custom-house cutter, by means of a line pendant from
her rigging, like a young spirit of the storm. Presently, a sixth hand brought down two
little water-casks; presently afterwards, a truck came, and delivered a hamper. I was