That he was not actually at the end of his resources went for nothing; he held the distinction a quibble, mockingly immaterial, --like the store of guineas in his pocket, ..
That he was not actually at the end of his resources went for nothing; he held the distinction a quibble, mockingly immaterial,—like the store of guineas in his pocket, too insignificant for mention when contrasted with his needs. And his base of supplies, the American city of his nativity, whence—and not without a glow of pride in his secret heart—he was wont to register at foreign hostelries, had been arbitrarily cut off from him by one of those accidents sardonically classified by insurance and express corporations as Acts of God.
Now to one who has lived all his days serenely in accord with the dictates of his own sweet will, taking no thought for the morrow, such a situation naturally seems both appalling and intolerable, at the first blush. It must be confessed that, to begin with, Kirkwood drew a long and disconsolate face over his fix. And in that black hour, primitive of its kind in his brief span, he became conscious of a sinister apparition taking shape at his elbow—a shade of darkness which, clouting him on the back with a skeleton hand, croaked hollow salutations in his ear.
"Come, Mr. Kirkwood, come!" its mirthless accents rallied him. "Have you no welcome for me?—you, who have been permitted to live the quarter of a century without making my acquaintance? Surely, now, it's high time we were learning something of one another, you and I!" "But I don't understand," returned Kirkwood blankly. "I don't know you—"
"True! But you shall: I am the Shade of Care—"
"Dull Care!" murmured Kirkwood, bewildered and dismayed; for the visitation had come upon him with little presage and no invitation whatever.
"Dull Care," the Shade assured him. "Dull Care am I—and Care that's anything but dull, into the bargain: Care that's like a keen pain in your body, Care that lives a horror in your mind, Care that darkens your days and flavors with bitter poison all your nights, Care that—"