Five minues later James, back in the atmosphere of chalk, was writing on the blackboard certain sentences for his class to turn into Latin prose. A somewhat topical note ran through them. As thus:
The uncle of Balbus wished him to tend sheep in the Colonies (Provincia).
Balbus said that England was good enough for him (placeo).
Balbus sent a story (versus) to Mæcenas, who replied that he hoped to use it in due course.
His mind had floated away from the classroom when a shrill voice brought him back.
Sir, please, sir, what does in due course mean?
James reflected. Alter it to immediately, he said.
Balbus is a great man, he wrote on the blackboard.
Two minutes later he was in the office of an important magazine, and there was a look of relief on the editors face, for James had practically promised to do a series of twelve short stories for him.
It has been well observed that when a writer has a story rejected he should send that story to another editor, but that when he has one accepted he should send another story to that editor. Acting on this excellent plan, James, being off duty for an hour after tea, smoked a pipe in his bedroom and settled down to work on a second effort for the Universal.
He was getting on rather well when his flow of ideas was broken by a knock on the door.
Come in, yelled James. (Your author is notoriously irritable.)
The new-comer was Adolf. Adolf was one of that numerous band of Swiss and German youths who come to this country prepared to give their services ridiculously cheap in exchange for the opportunity of learning the English language. Mr. Blatherwick held the view that for a private school a male front-door opener was superior to a female, arguing that the parents of prospective pupils would be impressed by the sight of a man in livery. He would have liked something a bit more imposing than Adolf, but the latter was the showiest thing that could be got for the money, so he made the best of it, and engaged him. After all, an astigmatic parent, seeing Adolf in a dim light, might be impressed by him. You never could tell.
Well? said James, glaring.
Anysing, vrom dze fillage, sare?
The bulk of Adolfs perquisites consisted of the tips he received for going to the general store down the road for tobacco, stamps, and so on. No. Get out, growled James, turning to his work.
He was surprised to find that Adolf, so far from getting out, came in and shut the door.
Zst! said Adolf, with a finger on his lips.
In dze garten zis morning, proceeded his visitor, grinning like a gargoyle, I did zee you giss Violed. Zo!
Jamess heart missed a beat. Considered purely as a situation, his present position was not ideal. He had to work hard, and there was not much money attached to the job. But it was what the situation stood for that counted. It was his little rock of safety in the midst of a surging ocean of West Australian
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