DID you ever have an alarm clock? I don't mean one of the new-fangled, nickel-plated kind, but one of the homely, old-fashioned sort, with a big iron hammer for the alarm, hands with circular rings near the ends, and a long, solemn, methodistical face, having an expression of chronic melancholy, as of a confirmed dyspeptic: did you ever have one of these? No? Well, you have missed a valuable experience. My own knowledge of these articles came in a practical way, as follows : -
Boxer was a sly fellow. He had always managed to get ahead of me thus far. I was bound to pay him up sometime for the many jokes he had had at my expense. One day I heard him say he was going cod-fishing next morning at three o'clock, off Mackerel Point. Now was my chance. I'd set out at two, get on the ground first, and catch all the fish before he was up. Then how I would grin at him when he came along an hour afterward! With what coolness I would hold up my twenty-pounders to his astonished and chagrined gaze! A glorious opportunity for revenge!
Boxer's room was next to mine. I must get out of the house in the morning without waking him. No danger of my not being up in time, for I had my alarm clock to wake me. He didn't have any. At nine o'clock that evening I complained of a headache and went up to my room. Boxer had a knowing look, as I said good-night; he grinned with mock commiseration. This maddened me. I would show him, &c. My blood was up.
As I set the alarm, on going to bed, I thought I noticed a malicious twinkle in the old clock's sombre countenance. It may have been fancy, though, on my part.
I dreamed that I was fishing quietly, when suddenly I heard a commotion behind me in the boat. I turned around, and there, to my amazement, beheld a twenty-pound cod, that I had just caught, erect upon its tail, glaring at me with intense rage and indignation. Abashed and disconcerted by the menacing and determined expression of the fish, I was still more startled to observe that its body was growing longer and larger, till it was towering above me. The features, too, were changing : the look of fury gradually subsided into one of melancholy; the tail kept up a tattoo on the bottom of the boat; the eyes became mere circles; the spots around the nose grew larger and more distinct, until they assumed definite figures, that seemed like the Roman numerals. The body was fading away. The flapping of the tail became louder and had a metallic ring. The goggling eyes lost all expression. But the beating of the tail becomes terrific; it rings in my ears. It deafens me. I must fly, overboard - anywhere. Oh! -
And I find myself overboard indeed, on the floor, the alarm clanging furiously in my ears. Yes, it was two o'clock; and I must dress and be off. But I'll stop the alarm first, for it might wake Boxer, and then there'd be a pretty go. It had not occurred to me how I should stop it. I looked at the back. No, the hammer could not be got at. I shook it well. So far from disturbing it, the motion seemed to afford it an additional stimulus. It seemed to enjoy the exercise. Clang! clang! jang! whirr! No, shaking was evidently not the thing. I must try something else. An idea came to me. I'd smother the sound. I put it in the bureau drawer. Clang! whirr! sphiz! The thing was getting serious. If the diabolical machine kept on, Boxer might wake, and then - but I wasn't going to be balked by a mere piece of mechanism. I threw it into the bed, between the blankets. Clang! swurr! The perspiration stood on my brow; a reckless desperation seized upon me. I hurled it into the closet, and tumbled all my clothes - dress suit and all - down upon it. Spiz! wrurr! like ten thousand furies. Was there no way to stop the cursed thing? I could hear Boxer stirring. There was a movement downstairs. Clang! whirr! clang! I rushed frantically to the window, tore up the sash, and hurled the infernal machine out into the air. Clang! jang! whirr! it mocked at me, as it whirled off. I heard a half-suppressed chuckle behind me. I turned round savagely, the perspiration pouring my face. There, at the door, all dressed and ready equipped for fishing, his hand over his mouth to smother his laughter, was - that confounded Boxer.