THE DISCONTENTED PENDULUM.
BY JANE TAYLOR
 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 motionless 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 stop, when
Hands, Wheels, Weights, with one voice protested their innocence. But now a
faint tick was heard 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. "As to that," replied the Pendulum, "it
is vastly easy for you, Mistress Dial, who have always, as everybody 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 backward and forward 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
"But what of that?" resumed the Pendulum. "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-band, 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 fel: discouraged at the prospect; so, after a
great deal of reasoning and hesitation, thought 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
"It is true, you have done a great deal of work in your time; so have we all,
and are likely to do; and though this may fatigue us to think of, the question
is, Will it 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, "was that exertion fatiguing 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 stroke 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
people 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 swing, 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, made it brighten up as it 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.