Early in the morning, the alarm was given. Everyone had to hurry to the counting house post-haste in order to employ all their powers of letter and number against the menace.
Hence I, too, rushed down the alleys in the bleak dawn; carrying files, writing utensils, and portfolio under my arm; my chin bristling with stubble; and nothing but the comfy felted bedroom slippers on my feet.
It was those slippers then that proved calamitous not far from my destination (the counting house was already looming through the mist at the end of the crooked downhill alley). Striding forward vigorously, I inadvertently hurled the left slipper off my foot, only to stumble over it on my next step and to hit the wet pavement with a tremendous crash. Swoon clouded around me.
Waking up, I found myself aboard a cutter on the high seas. Some sailors had found me in the street and taken me with them without hesitation for there was a first-rate doctor on their ship. The doctor’s skills proved excellent indeed and soon I was fully recovered. The ship, however, was bound for Shanghai.
As for the alarm in the counting house – it had just been a practice alarm as I learned on my return back to my desk two years later.