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window that is provided with shutters to keep out the light of the sun.
Second. Let the same salutary operation of police be made use of, to prevent our burning candles, that inclined us last winter to be more economical in burning wood; that is, let guards be placed in the shops of the wax and tallow chandlers, and no family be permitted to be supplied with more than one pound of candles per week.
Third. Let guards also be posted to stop all the coaches, etc., that would pass the street after sunset, except those of physicians, surgeons, and midwives.
Fourth. Every morning, as soon as the sun rises, let all the bells in every church be set ringing ; and if that is not sufficient, let cannon be fired in every street, to wake the sluggards effectually, and make them open their eyes to see their true interest.
All the difficulty will be in the first two or three days, after which the reformation will be as natural and easy as the present irregularity, for ce n'est que le premier pas qui coûte. Oblige a man to rise at four in the morning, and it is more than probable he will go willingly to bed at eight in the evening; and, having had eight hours sleep, he will rise more willingly at four in the morning following. But this sum of ninety-six millions and seventy-five thousand livres is not the whole of what may be saved by my economical project. You may
observe that I have calculated upon only one-half of the year, and much may be saved in the other, though the days are shorter. Besides, the immense stock of wax and tallow left unconsumed during the summer will probably make candles much cheaper for the ensuing winter, and continue them cheaper as long as the proposed reformation shall be supported.
For the great benefit of this discovery, thus freely communicated and bestowed by me on the public, I demand neither place, pension, exclusive privilege, nor any other
reward whatever. I expect only to have the honour of it. And yet I know there are little envious minds who will, as usual, deny me this, and say that my invention was known to the ancients, and perhaps they may bring passages out of old books in proof of it. I will not dispute with these people that the ancients knew not the sun would rise at certain hours—they possibly had, as we have, almanacs that predicted it—but it does not follow thence that they knew he gave light as soon as he rose.
This is what I claim as my discovery. If the ancients knew it, it might have been long since forgotten, for it certainly was unknown to the moderns, at least to the Parisians, which to prove I need use but one plain, simple argument. They are as well instructed, judicious, and prudent a people as exist anywhere in the world, all professing, like myself, to be lovers of economy; and, from the many heavy taxes required from them by the necessities of the state, have surely an abundant reason to be economical. I say it is impossible that so sensible a people, under such circumstances, should have lived so long by the smoky, unwholesome, and enormously expensive light of candles, if they had really known that they might have had as much pure light of the sun for nothing
THE CASE OF SILAS JAFFREY.
MAN with a passion for bric-à-brac is always stumbling
over antique bronzes, intaglios, mosaics, and daggers of the time of Benvenuto Cellini , the bibliophile finds creamy vellum folios and rare Alduses and Elzevirs waiting for him at unsuspected bookstalls; the numismatist has but to stretch forth his palm to have priceless coins drop into it. My own weakness is odd people, and I am constantly encountering them. It was plain I had unearthed a couple of very queer specimens at Bayley's Four Corners. I saw that a fortnight afforded me too brief an opportunity to develop the richness of both, and I resolved to devote my spare time to Mr. Jaffrey alone, instinctively recognising in him an unfamiliar species.
My professional work in the vicinity of Greenton left my evenings and occasionally an afternoon unoccupied; these intervals I purposed to employ in studying and classifying my fellow-boarder. It was necessary, as a preliminary step, to learn something of his previous history, and to this end I addressed myself to Mr. Sewell that same night.
"I do not want to seem inquisitive,” I said to the landlord, as he was fastening up the bar, which, by the way, was the salle à manger and general sitting-room. “I do not want to seem inquisitive, but your friend Mr. Jaffrey dropped a remark this morning at breakfast which—which was not altogether clear to me.
“ About Mehetabel ? ” asked Mr. Sewell uneasily
“Well, I wish he wouldn't !”
“He was friendly enough in the course of conversation to hint to me that he had not married the young woman, and seemed to regret it.”
“No, he didn't marry Mehetabel.”
“Never asked her. Might have married the girl forty times. Old Elkin's daughter over at K- she'd have had him quick enough. Seven years off and on, he kept company with Mehetabel, and then she died.”
“ And he never asked her ?”
“He shilly-shallied. Perhaps he didn't think of it. When she was dead and gone, then Silas was struck all of a heap,—and that's all about it.”
Obviously Mr. Sewell did not intend to tell me anything more, and obviously there was more to tell. The topic was plainly disagreeable to him for some reason or other, and that unknown reason of course piqued my curiosity.
As I had been absent from dinner and supper that day, I did not meet Mr. Jaffrey again until the following morning at breakfast. He had recovered his bird-like manner, and was full of a mysterious assassination that had just taken place in New York, all the thrilling details of which were at his fingers' ends. It was at once comical and sad to see this harmless old gentleman, with his naïve, benevolent countenance, and his thin hair flaming up in a semicircle like the foot-lights at a theatre, revelling in the intricacies of the unmentionable deed.
“You come up to my room to-night,” he cried with horrid glee, “and I'll give you my theory of the murder. I'll make it as clear as day to you that it was the detective himself who fired the three pistol-shots.”
It was not so much the desire to have this point elucidated as to make a closer study of Mr. Jaffrey that led me to accept his invitation.
Mr. Jaffrey's bedroom was in an L of the building, and was in no way noticeable except for the numerous files of newspapers neatly arranged against the blank spaces of the walls, and a huge pile of old magazines which stood in one corner, reaching nearly up to the ceiling, and threatening each instant to topple over like the Leaning Tower at Pisa. There were green paper shades at the windows, some faded chintz valances about the bed, and two or three easy-chairs covered with chintz. On a black walnut shelf between the windows lay a choice collection of meerschaum and brierwood pipes.
Filling one of the chocolate-coloured bowls for me, and another for himself, Mr. Jaffrey began prattling; but not about the murder, which appeared to have flown out of his mind. In fact, I do not remember that the topic was even touched upon, either then or afterwards.
“Cosy nest this," said Mr. Jaffrey, glancing complacently over the apartment. “What is more cheerful, now, in the fall of the year, than an open wood-fire ? Do you hear those little chirps and twitters coming out of that piece of apple-wood ? Those are the ghosts of the robins and bluebirds that sang upon the bough when it was in blossom last spring.
In summer whole flocks of them come fluttering about the fruit trees under the window; so I have singing birds all the year round. I take it very easy here, I can tell you, summer and winter. Not much society. Tobias not, perhaps, what one would term a great intellectual force, but he means well.
He's a realist, believes in coming down to what he calls 'the hard pan;' but his heart is in the right place, and he's very kind to me. The wisest thing I ever did in my life was to sell out my grain business over at K thirteen years ago, and settle down at the Corners. When a man has made a competency, what does he want more? Besides, at that time an event occurred which destroyed any ambition I may have had, Mehetabel died."
“The lady you were engaged to ?”
“No, not precisely engaged. I think it was quite understood between us, though nothing had been said on the subject. Typhoid," added Mr. Jaffrey, in a low tone.
For several minutes he smoked in silence, a vague, troubled look playing over his countenance. Presently this passed away, and he fixed his grey eyes speculatively upon
“If I had married Mehetabel,” said Mr. Jaffrey, slowly, and then he hesitated.
I blew a ring of smoke into the air, and, resting my pipe on my knee, dropped into an attitude of attention.