The Workman

I saw a workman fall with his scaffolding right from thesummit of some vast hotel. And as he came down I saw himholding a knife and trying to cut his name on thescaffolding. He had time to try and do this for he musthave had nearly three hundred feet to fall. And I couldthink of nothing but his folly in doing this futile thing,for not only would the man be unrecognizably dead in threeseconds, but the very pole on which he tried to scratchwhatever of his name he had time for was certain to be burntin a few weeks for firewood.

Then I went home for I had work to do. And all thatevening I thought of the man's folly, till the thoughthindered me from serious work.

And late that night while I was still at work, the ghostof the workman floated through my wall and stood before melaughing.

I heard no sound until after I spoke to it; but I couldsee the grey diaphanous form standing before me shudderingwith laughter.

I spoke at last and asked what it was laughing at, andthen the ghost spoke. It said: "I'm a laughin' at yousittin' and workin' there."

"And why," I asked, "do you laugh at serious work?"

"Why, yer bloomin' life 'ull go by like a wind," he said,"and yer 'ole silly civilization 'ull be tidied up in a fewcenturies."

Then he fell to laughing again and this time audibly;and, laughing still, faded back through the wall again andinto the eternity from which he had come.