A Quarter of an Hour
When Lord Nelson was leaving London, on his last,
but glorious, expedition against the enemy, a quantity of cabin furniture
was ordered to be sent on board his ship. He had a farewell dinner party at
his house; and the upholsterer having waited upon his lordship, with an
account of the completion of the goods, was brought into the dining-room,
in a corner of which his lordship spoke with him. The upholsterer stated to
oyer, that everything was finished, and packed, and would go in the
wagon, from a certain inn, at _six o'clock_. "And you go to the inn, Mr.
A., and see them off?" "I shall, my lord; I shall be there _punctually at
six_." "_A quarter before six_, Mr. A.," returned Lord Nelson, "be there _a
quarter before six_. To that _quarter of an hour_ I owe everything in
Mr. Scott, of Exeter, travelled on business till about eighty years of age.
He was one of the most celebrated characters in the kingdom for
punctuality, and by his methodical conduct, joined to uniform diligence, he
gradually amassed a fortune. For a long series of years, the proprietor of
every inn he frequented in Devon and Cornwall knew the day, and the very
hour, he would arrive. A short time before he died, a gentleman on a
journey in Cornwall stopped at a small inn at Port Isaac to dine. The
waiter presented him with a bill of fare, which he did not approve of; but
observing a fine duck roasting, "I'll have that," said the traveller. "You
cannot, sir," said the landlord; "it is for Mr. Scott of Exeter." "I know
Mr. Scott very well," rejoined the gentlemen; "he is not in your house."
"True, sir," said the landlord, "but _six months ago, when he was here
last, he ordered a duck to be ready for him this day, precisely at two
o'clock;_" and, to the astonishment of the traveller, he saw the old
gentleman, on his Rosinante, jogging into the inn-yard about five minutes
before the appointed time.