It was about five weeks from the beginning of term that the even river of life at Harrow House became ruffled for the new assistant-master.
I want you to follow me very closely here. As far as the excusing of Jamess conduct is concerned, it is now or never. If I fail at this point to touch you, I have shot my bolt.
Let us marshal the facts.
In the first place it was a perfectly ripping morning.
Moreover, he had received at breakfast a letter from the editor of a monthly magazine accepting a short story.
This had never happened to him before.
He was twenty-two.
And, just as he rounded the angle of the house, he came upon Violet, taking the air like himself.
Violet was one of the housemaids, a trim, energetic little person with round blue eyes and a friendly smile. She smiled at James now. James halted.
Good morning, sir, said Violet.
From my list of contributory causes I find that I have omitted one itemviz., that there did not appear to be anybody else about.
James looked meditatively at Violet. Violet looked smilingly at James. The morning was just as ripping as it had been a moment before. James was still twenty-two. And the editors letter had not ceased to crackle in his breast-pocket.
Consequently James stooped, andin a purely brotherly waykissed Violet.
This, of course, was wrong. In was no part of Jamess duties as assistant-master at Harrow House to wander about bestowing brotherly kisses on housemaids. On the other hand, there was no great harm done. In the circles in which Violet moved the kiss was equivalent to the hand-shake of loftier society. Everybody who came to the back door kissed Violet. The carrier did; so did the grocer, the baker, the butcher, the gardener, the postman, the policeman, and the fishmonger. They were men of widely differing views on most points. On religion, politics, and the prospects of the entrants for the three oclock race their opinions clashed. But in one respect they were unanimous. Whenever they came to the back door of Harrow House they all kissed Violet.
Ive had a story accepted by the Universal Magazine, said James, casually.
Have you, sir? said Violet.
Its a pretty good magazine. I shall probably do a great deal for it from time to time. The editor seems a decent chap.
Does he, sir?
I shant tie myself up in any way, of course, unless I get very good terms. But I shall certainly let him see a good lot of my stuff. Jolly morning, isnt it?
He strolled on; and Violet, having sniffed the air for a few more minutes with her tip-tilted nose, went indoors to attend to her work.
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