The Old Year was fast nearing its close, the night was clear and starry, and Father Time, from the top of his observatory tower, was taking a last look round.
To him entered, unannounced save by the staccato yap of the faithful Tobias, Time's unfailing friend, unerring Mentor, and immortal contemporary, Mr. Punch.
"I am not for an age, but for All Time," freely quoted the Swan's sole parallel. "And very much at Time's service," he added, throwing open his fur-lined "Immensikoff," and lighting a cigar at the Scythe-bearer's lantern.
Mr. Punch and Father Time "Happy to meet you once more, Mr. Punch," responded old Edax Rerum, turning from what the poet calls his 'Optic Tube' to welcome his sprightly visitor. "Awfully good of you to turn up just now. Like True THOMAS's Teufelsdröckh, 'I am alone with the Stars,' and was beginning to feel just a little bit lonely."
"With the Voces Stellarum to keep you company? You surprise me," said Mr. Punch. "But what is all this?" he added, pointing with accustomed eye to a pile of MS. at TIME's elbow.
If so old a stager as Father TIME can blush, he certainly did so on this occasion.