The next day, which was Friday, we got them all together, and met in the evening to pack. We got a big Gladstone for the clothes, and a couple of hampers for the victuals and the cooking utensils. We moved the table up against the window, piled everything in a heap in the middle of the floor, and sat round and looked at it.
I said Iíd pack.
I rather pride myself on my packing. Packing is one of those many things that I feel I know more about than any other person living. (It surprises me myself, sometimes, how many of these subjects there are.) I impressed the fact upon George and Harris, and told them that they had better leave the whole matter entirely to me. They fell into the suggestion with a readiness that had something uncanny about it. George put on a pipe and spread himself over the easy-chair, and Harris cocked his legs on the table and lit a cigar.
This was hardly what I intended. What I had meant, of course, was, that I should boss the job, and that Harris and George should potter about under my directions, I pushing them aside every now and then with, ďOh, you - !Ē ďHere, let me do it.Ē ďThere you are, simple enough!Ē - really teaching them, as you might say. Their taking it in the way they did irritated me. There is nothing does irritate me more than seeing other people sitting about doing nothing when Iím working.
I lived with a man once who used to make me mad that way. He would loll on the sofa and watch me doing things by the hour together, following me round the room with his eyes, wherever I went. He said it did him real good to look on at me, messing about. He said it made him feel that life was not an idle dream to be gaped and yawned through, but a noble task, full of duty and stern work. He said he often wondered now how he could have gone on before he met me, never having anybody to look at while they worked.
Now, Iím not like that. I canít sit still and see another man slaving and working. I want to get up and superintend, and walk round with my hands in my pockets, and tell him what to do. It is my energetic nature. I canít help it.
However, I did not say anything, but started the packing. It seemed a longer job than I had thought it was going to be; but I got the bag finished at last, and I sat on it and strapped it.
ďAinít you going to put the boots in?Ē said Harris.
And I looked round, and found I had forgotten them. Thatís just like Harris. He couldnít have said a word until Iíd got the bag shut and strapped, of course. And George laughed - one of those irritating, senseless, chuckle-headed, crack-jawed laughs of his. They do make me so wild.
I opened the bag and packed the boots in; and then, just as I was going to close it, a horrible idea occurred to me. Had I packed my tooth-brush? I donít know how it is, but I never do know whether Iíve packed my tooth-brush.
My tooth-brush is a thing that haunts me when Iím travelling, and makes my life a misery. I dream that I havenít packed it, and wake up in a cold perspiration, and get out of bed and hunt for it. And, in the morning, I pack it before I have used it, and have to unpack again to get it, and it is always the last thing I turn out of the bag; and then I repack and forget it, and have to rush upstairs for it at the last moment and carry it to the railway station, wrapped up in my pocket-handkerchief.
Of course I had to turn every mortal thing out now, and, of course, I could not find it. I rummaged the things up into much the same state that they must have been before the world was created, and when chaos reigned. Of course, I found Georgeís and Harrisís eighteen times over, but I couldnít find my own. I put the things back one by one, and held everything up and shook it. Then I found it inside a boot. I repacked once more.
When I had finished, George asked if the soap was in. I said I didnít care a hang whether the soap was in or whether it wasnít; and I slammed the bag to and strapped it, and found that I had packed my tobacco-pouch in it, and had to re-open it. It got shut up finally at 10.5 p.m., and then there remained the hampers to do. Harris said that we should be wanting to start in less than twelve hoursí time, and thought that he and George had better do the rest; and I agreed and sat down, and they had a go.