Autumn Determination by Richard King

Story type: Essay

But unless your determination be something Napoleonic, you won’t have achieved very much more than this. It has all been so invigorating and delightful to contemplate; and the way of your decline has been so cosy and so comfortable, and it has so often ended in a glass of hot “toddy” and so to bed. You had stage-managed your self-education so beautifully. You had brought the most comfortable easy-chair right up to the fire; you had put on your “smoking”–not that garment almost as uncomfortable as evening-dress, but that coat which is made of velvet, or flannel, softly lined with silk and deliciously padded: you had brought out all your books–the “First Steps to Russian,” “How to appreciate Balzac,” “Introduction to Astronomy”–put your feet on the fender, cut the end of your best cigar. Everything simply invited peace and comfort and an intellectual feast. Then, just one more glimpse at the evening paper–and you would begin . . . oh yes! you would begin! And so you read about the threatened strike; the murder in East Ham; the leading article, the marriage of Lady Fitzclarence-Forsooth to–well, whoever she married, the funny remark the drunken woman made to the judge when he fined her two-and-six for kissing a policeman; Mr. Justice Darling’s latest mot; the racing, the forthcoming fashions; the advertisement of Back-Ache Pills; Mr. C. B. Cochran’s praise of his own productions, Mr. Selfridge’s praise of his own shop; the “Wants,” the “Situations Vacant,” the . . . Then somebody woke you up to ask if you were asleep . . . which, of course, you weren’t. . . Well . . . well . . . It is past midnight! So what can one do now? What can one do? Why, go to bed, of course. Another autumn evening is over. But then, there are plenty more . . . oh, plenty more. “Good-night.”

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