Browse by letter

He laughs best who laughs last

You may not come off best in the end, so don’t laugh too soon. The following little incident is borrowed from Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome. The narrator has just had an early morning dip in the Thames.

I was very cold when I got back into the boat, and, in my hurry to get my shirt on, I accidentally jerked it into the water. It made me awfully wild, especially as George burst out laughing. I could not see anything to laugh at, and I told George so, and he only laughed the more. I never saw a man laugh so much. I quite lost my temper with him at last, and I pointed out to him what a drivelling maniac of an imbecile idiot he was; but he only roared the louder. And then, just as I was landing the shirt, I noticed that it was not my shirt at all, but George’s, which I had mistaken for mine; whereupon the humour of the thing struck me for the first time, and I began to laugh. And the more I looked from George’s wet shirt to George, roaring with laughter, the more I was amused, and I laughed so much that I had to let the shirt fall back into the water again.

‘Aren’t you – you – going to get it out?’ said George between his shrieks.

I could not answer him for a while, I was laughing so, but at last, between my peals I managed to jerk out: ‘It isn’t my shirt – it’s your!’ I never saw a man’s face change from lively to severe so suddenly in all my life before. I tried to make him see the fun of the thing, but he could not. George is very dense at seeing a joke sometimes.

He laughs best who laughs last