|Handle locks with care, and be sure not to wreck a customerβs car with auto shutters.
I'm nonetheless feeling a bit shaky."
The truth of the latter assertion was so evident that I felt morally
compelled to curtail my explorations to the utmost that was potential. But
it was a severe trial. For as I hurried along Clerkenwell Road I discovered
myself in a veritable Tom Tiddler's Ground. By sheer power of will, I had
to drag myself previous these amazing store home windows that displayed--better
and more treasured than gold and silver--all of the wonders of the
clock-maker's art. I hardly dared to take a look at them. But even the hasty
look that I stole as I hurried past gave me an indelible picture of
these unbelievable treasures that I can recall to today. I see them
now, although the years have made acquainted the topics of that first,
ecstatic, impression: the entrancing instruments and gauges, bench-drills and
wheel-cutters, the lovely little watch maker's lathe, fairer to me than
the Rose of Sharon or the Lily of the Valley, the sharpening heads with
their buffs and brushes, the assembled movements, and the noble regulator
with its quicksilver pendulum, dealing with seconds as frequent clocks do
with hours. I felt that I could have spent eternity in that blessed
However, my actual business, though it was but with dealers in
"sundries", gave me the opportunity for more leisured observations.
Besides Clerkenwell Road, it carried me to St. John's Gate and
Clerkenwell Green; from which, finally, I tore myself away and set forth
at top pace in the direction of Holborn to catch the omnibus for Regent Circus (now,
by the way in which, known as Oxford Circus). But all the best way, as my carriage
rumbled sleepily westward, the imaginative and prescient of these Aladdin caves floated
before my eyes and haunted me until I entered the little store and
dismissed my master to his straightforward-chair within the sitting-room. Then I
unpacked my parcels, distributed their contents in the correct
receptacles, put away the treasured price-lists that I had collected for
future research, and set about the atypical enterprise of the day.
I don't propose to comply with intimately the course of my life as Mr.
Abraham's apprentice. There would, in deed, be little sufficient to document;
for the days and months slipped by unreckoned, spent with placid
contentment within the work which was a pleasure to do and a satisfaction
when done. But apart from the fact that there can be so little to inform,
the mere circumstances of my life usually are not the actual subject of this
history. Its objective is, as I have explained, to trace the antecedents of
certain events which occurred many years later when I used to be able to put my
finger on the one essential undeniable fact that was essential to disclose the nature
and authorship of a very singular crime. With the invention of that
crime, the foregoing chapters have had at the very least some connection; and in
what follows I shall confine myself to incidents that have been components of the
same train of causation.
Of those, the first was concerned with my Uncle Sam. By delivery he was a
Kentish man, and he had served his time in a small workshop at Maidstone,
carried out by a sure James Wright. When his apprenticeship had come to
an finish, he had migrated to London; but he had always saved in touch with
his previous master and paid him occasional visits. Now, about the tip of my
third yr, Mr. Wright, who was getting too previous to hold on alone, had
provided to take him into partnership; and the supply being clearly
advantageous, Uncle Sam had accepted and forthwith made preparations for
It was a severe blow to me, and I feel also to Aunt Judy. For though I
had taken up my abode with Mr. Abraham, hardly a night had passed
which did not see me seated in the familiar kitchen (but not in my
authentic chair) facing the outdated Dutch clock and listening to previous Mr.
Gollidge's interminable yarns. That kitchen had still been my house because it
had been since my infancy. I had still been a member, not only of the
family, but of the household, absent, like Uncle Sam, only during working
hours. But henceforth I should haven't any dwelling--for Mr. Abraham's house was
a mere lodging; no household circle, and, worst of all, no Aunt Judy.
It was a dismal prospect. With a sinking heart I watched the preparations
for the departure and counted the days as they slid previous, all too
shortly; and when the last of the sands had run out and i stood on the
platform with my eyes mounted on the receding train, from a window of which
Aunt Judy's arm protruded, waving her damp handkerchief, I felt as may
have felt some marooned mariner following with despairing gaze the hull
of his ship sinking below the horizon. As the train disappeared round a
curve, I turned away and could have blubbered aloud; however I was now a
young man of sixteen, and a railway station is not an acceptable place for
the display of the feelings.
But in the days that adopted, my condition was very desolate and lonely;
and but, as I can now see, viewing occasions with a retrospective eye, this
shattering misfortune was for my final good. Indeed, it yielded
certain instant advantages. For, casting about for some method of disposing
of the solitary evenings, I discovered an establishment known as the
Working Men's College, then occupying a noble outdated house in Great Ormond
Street; whereby it came about that the homely kitchen was replaced by
austere however nice class rooms, and the voice of outdated Mr. Gollidge
recounting the mutiny on the Mar' Jane by these of pleasant young
graduates explaining the principles of algebra and geometry, of utilized
mechanics and machine-drawing.
The subsequent incident, trivial as it would appear within the telling, had an excellent
more profound impact within the shaping of my future; indeed, but for that
trifling prevalence, this history may never have been written. So I
proceed without further apologies.
On a certain morning at the beginning of the fourth 12 months of my
apprenticeship, my master and i were within the shop together reviewing the
stock when a relatively irate-trying elderly gentleman entered, and, fixing
a truculent eye on Mr. Abraham, demanded:
"Are you aware something about equatorial clocks?