Chapter 16

Theseventhplanet,then,wastheEarth.  

TheEarthisnotjustanotherplanet! Itcontainsonehundredandelevenkings(including,ofcourse,theAfricankings),seventhousandgeographers,ninehundredthousandbusinessmen,seven-and-a-halfmilliondrunkards,three-hundred-elevenmillionvainmen; inotherwords,abouttwobilliongrown-ups.  

TogiveyouanotionoftheEarth’sdimensions,Icantellyouthatbeforetheinventionofelectricity,itwasnecessarytomaintain,overthewholeofsixcontinents,averitablearmyoffour-hundred-sixty-twothousand,fivehundredandelevenlamplighters.  

Seenfromsomedistance,thismadeasplendideffect. Themovementsofthisarmywereorderedlikethoseofaballet. FirstcametheturnofthelamplightersofNewZealandandAustralia; thenthese,havinglittheirstreetlamps,wouldgohometosleep. NextitwouldbetheturnofthelamplightersofChinaandSiberiatoperformtheirstepsinthelamplighters’ballet,andthentheytoowouldvanishintothewings. ThencametheturnofthelamplightersofRussiaandIndia. ThenthoseofAfricaandEurope. ThenthoseofSouthAmerica,andofNorthAmerica. Andtheynevermissedtheircuesfortheirappearancesonstage. Itwasaweinspiring.  

OnlythelamplighterofthesinglestreetlampattheNorthPoleandhiscolleagueofthesinglestreetlampattheSouthPoleledcarefree,idlelives: Theyworkedtwiceayear. 

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