An old clock, that had stood for fifty years in a farmer's kitchen without giving its owner any cause of complaint, early one summer's morning, before the family was stirring, suddenly stopped. Upon this the dial plate (if we may credit the fable) changed countenance with alarm; the hands made an ineffectual effort to continue their course; the wheels remained motion less with surprise; the weights hung speechless; each member felt disposed to lay the blame on the others. At length the dial instituted a formal inquiry into the cause of the stagnation; when hands, wheels, weights with one voice protested their innocence.
But now a faint tick was heard below, from the pendulum, who thus spoke: "I confess myself to be the sole cause of the present stoppage; and am willing, for the general satisfaction, to assign my reasons. The truth is, that I am tired of ticking." Upon hearing this, the old clock became so enraged that it was on the point of striking. "Lazy wire!" exclaimed the dial plate, holding up its hands.
"Very good," replied the pendulum, "it is vastly easy for you, Mistress Dial, who have always, as every body knows, set yourself up above me-it is vastly easy for you, I say, to accuse other people of laziness! You who have nothing to do all your life but to stare people in the face, and to amuse yourself with watching all that goes on in the kitchen! Think, I beseech you, how you would like to be shut up for life in this dark closet, and wag backwards and forwards year after year, as I do."
"As to that," said the dial, "is there not a window in your house on purpose for you to look through?"
"For all that," resumed the pendulum, "it is very dark here; and although there is a window, I dare not stop, even for an instant, to look out. Besides, I am really weary of my way of life; and, if you please, I'll tell you how I took this disgust at my employment. This morning I happened to be calculating how many times I should have to tick in the course only of the next twenty-four hours; perhaps some of you, above there, can tell me the exact sum?" The minute-hand, being quick at figures, instantly replied, "Eighty-six thousand four hundred times."
"Exactly so," replied the pendulum; "well, I appeal to you all if the thought of this was not enough to fatigue one? And when I began to multiply the strokes of one day by those of months and years, really it is no wonder if I felt discouraged at the prospect; so, after a great deal of reasoning and hesitation, thinks I to myself-'I'll stop!' "
The dial could scarcely keep its countenance during this harangue, but resuming its gravity, thus replied:
"Dear Mr. Pendulum, I am really astonished that such a useful, industrious person as yourself should have been overcome by this sudden suggestion. It is true, you have done a great deal of work in your time. So have we all, and are likely to do; and although this may fatigue us to think of, the question is, whether it will fatigue us to do, would you now do me the favor to give about half a dozen strokes, to illustrate my 'argument?"
The pendulum complied, and ticked six times at its usual pace. "Now," resumed the dial, "may I be allowed to enquire if that exertion was at all fatiguing or disagreeable to you?"
"Not in the least," replied the pendulum; "it is not of six strokes that I complain, nor of sixty, but of millions."
"Very good," replied the dial; "but recollect, that, although you may think of a million strokes in an instant, you are required to execute but one; and that, however often you may hereafter have to swing, a moment will always be given you to swing in."
"That consideration staggers me, I confess," said the pendulum.
"Then I hope," added the dial plate, "we shall all immediately return to our duty; for the maids will lie in bed till noon if we stand idling thus."
Upon this the weights, who had never been accused of light conduct, used all their influence in urging him to proceed; when, as with one consent, the wheels .began to turn, the hands began to move, the pendulum 'began to wag, and, to its credit, ticked as loud as ever; while a beam of the rising sun, that streamed through a hole in the kitchen shutter, shining full upon the dial plate, it brightened up as if nothing had been the matter.
When the farmer came down to breakfast, he declared, upon looking at the clock, that his watch had gained half an hour in the night.