But it will not do to be dwelling too fondly on our eras of peace, for which we make such splendid sacrifices. Peace, saving for the advent of a German band, which troubled the repose of the town at intervals, had imparted to the inhabitants of Crikswich, within and without, the likeness to its most perfect image, together, it must be confessed, with a degree of nervousness that invested common events with some of the terrors of the Last Trump, when one night, just upon the passing of the vernal equinox, something happened.
A carriage Stopped short in the ray of candlelight that was fitfully and feebly capering on the windy blackness outside the open workshop of Crickledon, the carpenter, fronting the sea-beach. Mr. Tinnnan’s house was inquired for. Crickledon left off planing; at half-sprawl over the board, he bawled out, “Turn to the right; right ahead; can’t mistake it.” He nodded to one of the cronies intent on watching his labours: “Not unless they mean to be bait for whiting-pout. Who’s that for Tinman, I wonder?” The speculations of Crickledon’s friends were lost in the scream of the plane.
One cast an eye through the door and observed that the carriage was there still. “Gentleman’s got out and walked,” said Crickledon. He was informed that somebody was visible inside. “Gentleman’s wife, mayhap,” he said. His friends indulged in their privilege of thinking what they liked, and there was the usual silence of tongues in the shop. He furnished them sound and motion for their amusement, and now and then a scrap of conversation; and the sedater spirits dwelling in his immediate neighbourhood were accustomed to step in and see him work up to supper-time, instead of resorting to the more turbid and costly excitement of the public-house.
Crickledon looked up from the measurement of a thumb-line. In the doorway stood a bearded gentleman, who announced himself with the startling exclamation, “Here’s a pretty pickle!” and bustled to make way for a man well known to them as Ned Crummins, the upholsterer’s man, on whose back hung an article of furniture, the condition of which, with a condensed brevity of humour worthy of literary admiration, he displayed by mutely turning himself about as he entered.