Many years ago, in the mighty realm of Luxembrook, there lived a wealthy and successful hatter. All the servants of the lords and ladies of the land would flock to his shop to purchase his wares. Even the king and queen wore hats of his atop their royal heads.
The hatter’s great esteem was born of an elaborate routine that he had developed from a very early age.
When the city clock struck six, he would rise from his bed and check through his business’s accounts.
When the clock struck seven, he would head to the factory to oversee the manufacture of his latest designs.
At twelve, he would stop briefly, and head across the main square to take lunch at a local tavern where the cheapest soup and bread was sold.
Then from one in the afternoon till late in the evening he would work and toil till the night went dark and the cost of the candles could no longer be spared.
One day, at seven minutes past twelve, as he was rushing through the city street that led to the main square, he noticed a clockmaker, dozing in the sunshine on the doorstep of his shop.
A hastily painted sign rested in the shop window:
CLOSED FOR THE AFTERNOON DUE TO THE SPLENDID WEATHER!
The hatter frowned, shuck his head and doubled his pace to make up for the lost time.
A few weeks later, at exactly the same time of day, the hatter noticed that the clockmakers shop was closed again as he passed it. When he’d made it to the tavern, there was the clockmaker: sat in the corner of the room with a meal of delicious roasted lamb, a giant tankard of beer and vegetables galore on so many plates that they took up the entire surface of the table.
The hatter scowled at him, wolfed down his soup and headed back to work.
Months went by and from time to time the hatter would see the clockmaker shirking his work or lavishing his profits on all manner of the finest luxuries.
Try as he might, the hatter could not get the clockmakers terrible habits from his mind and it became a kind of regular obsession.
A year or so later the hatter walked in to his lunchtime tavern at exactly seven minutes past twelve. The bar room was packed to the rafters, and the entire tavern were raising a glass to the clockmaker’s health.
“What goes on here?” the hatter asked to a nearby reveller.
“The good old clock-maker has been named the greatest maker of clocks in all of Luxembrook and the king has assigned him a commission!”
Speechless, the hatter made his way through the crowd to the bar, where the clockmaker was merrily paying for drink after drink for his fellow taverners.
Spotting the hatter’s furrowed brow, the clockmaker grabbed a tankard of ale and thrust it into the hatter’s hands as he arrived.
“Good clockmaker” the hatter began, “I have seen you so many times, enjoying the sunshine and taking the afternoon off to make merry. How do you find the time for your work?”
“What man is free” the clockmaker replied, “who does not make time to do as he wishes?”
“But dear clockmaker” the hatter continued, “I have seen you so many times, spending your gold and silver on luxuries of the finest kind. How do you make any profit?”
“What man is wealthy” the clockmaker replied, “who does not have money to sometimes spend on things he wishes for rather than needs?”
Three cheers rang out in the clockmakers name, but still the hatter could not let the matter drop.
“Kind sir” the hatter now pleaded, “how can you celebrate when surely, now more than ever, there will be extra work with greater demands than ever?”
“What man is successful” the clockmaker replied, “who does not celebrate with those he holds dear, when rewards and fortune finally come his way?”
But before the hatter could answer, the clock in the square struck one and he put down his beer, rushed to the tavern door and sprinted back to work.