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Evergreens Jerome K. Jerome


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I think we succeeded. He was singularly unembarrassed, and far more at his ease than even we were. He took but little notice of our flattering remarks, but was much drawn toward George's legs. George used to be, I remember, rather proud of his legs. I could never see enough in them myself to excuse George's vanity; indeed, they always struck me as lumpy. It is only fair to acknowledge, however, that they quite fascinated that bull-dog. He walked over and criticized them with the air of a long-baffled connoisseur who had at last found his ideal. At the termination of his inspection he distinctly smiled.

George, who at that time was modest and bashful, blushed and drew them up on to the chair. On the dog's displaying a desire to follow them, George moved up on to the table, and squatted there in the middle, nursing his knees. George's legs being lost to him, the dog appeared inclined to console himself with mine. I went and sat beside George on the table.

Sitting with your feet drawn up in front of you, on a small and rickety one-legged table, is a most trying exercise, especially if you are not used to it. George and I both felt our position keenly. We did not like to call out for help, and bring the family down. We were proud young men, and we feared lest, to the unsympathetic eye of the comparative stranger, the spectacle we should present might not prove imposing.

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We sat on in silence for about half an hour, the dog keeping a reproachful eye upon us from the nearest chair, and displaying elephantine delight whenever we made any movement suggestive of climbing down.

At the end of the half hour we discussed the advisability of "chancing it," but decided not to. "We should never," George said, "confound foolhardiness with courage."

"Courage," he continued--George had quite a gift for maxims--"courage is the wisdom of manhood; foolhardiness, the folly of youth."

He said that to get down from the table while that dog remained in the room, would clearly prove us to be possessed of the latter quality; so we restrained ourselves, and sat on.

We sat on for over an hour, by which time, having both grown careless of life and indifferent to the voice of Wisdom, we did "chance it;" and throwing the table-cloth over our would-be murderer, charged for the door and got out.

The next morning we complained to our landlady of her carelessness in leaving wild beasts about the place, and we gave her a brief if not exactly truthful, history of the business.

Instead of the tender womanly sympathy we had expected, the old lady sat down in the easy chair and burst out laughing.

"What! old Boozer," she exclaimed, "you was afraid of old Boozer! Why, bless you, he wouldn't hurt a worm! He ain't got a tooth in his head, he ain't; we has to feed him with a spoon; and I'm sure the way the cat chivies him about must be enough to make his life a burden to him. I expect he wanted you to nurse him; he's used to being nursed."

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Jerome K. Jerome

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