not give way to utter despair. He made up his mind to borrow half a sovereign from Lawson. He stayed in the garden all day and smoked when he felt very hungry; he did not mean to eat anything until he was setting out again for London: it was a long way and he must keep up his strength for that. He started when the day began to grow cooler, and slept on benches when he was tired. No one disturbed him. He had a wash and brush up, and a shave at Victoria, some tea and bread and butter, and while he was eating this read the advertisement columns of the morning paper. As he looked down them his eye fell upon an announcement asking for a salesman in the `furnishing drapery' department of some well- known stores. He had a curious little sinking of the heart, for with his middle-class prejudices it seemed dreadful to go into a shop; but he shrugged his shoulders, after all what did it matter? and he made up his mind to have a shot at it. He had a queer feeling that by accepting every humiliation, by going out to meet it even, he was forcing the hand of fate. When he presented himself, feeling horribly shy, in the department at nine o'clock he found that many others were there before him. They were of all ages, from boys of sixteen to men of forty; some were talking to one another in undertones, but most were silent; and when he took up his place those around him gave him a look of hostility. He heard one man say:

"The only thing I look forward to is getting my refusal soon enough to give me time to look elsewhere."

The man, standing next him, glanced at Philip and asked:

"Had any experience?"

"No," said Philip.

He paused a moment and then made a remark: "Even the smaller houses won't see you without appointment after lunch."

Philip looked at the assistants. Some were draping chintzes and cretonnes, and others, his neighbour told him were preparing country orders that had come in by post. At about a quarter past nine the buyer arrived. He heard one of the men who were waiting say to another that it was Mr. Gibbons. He was middle-aged, short and corpulent, with a black beard and dark, greasy hair. He had brisk movements and a clever face. He wore a silk hat and a frock coat, the lapel of which was adorned with a white geranium surrounded by leaves. He went into his office, leaving the door open; it was very small and contained only an American roll-desk in the corner, a bookcase, and a cupboard. The men standing outside watched him mechanically take the geranium out of his coat and put it in an ink-pot filled with water. It was against the rules to wear flowers in business.

[During the day the department men who wanted to keep in with the governor admired the flower.

"I've never seen better," they said, "you didn't grow it yourself?"

"Yes I did," he smiled, and a gleam of pride filled his intelligent eyes.]

He took off his hat and changed his coat, glanced at the letters and then at the men who were waiting to see him. He made a slight sign with one finger, and the first in the queue stepped into the office. They filed past him one by one and answered his questions. He put them very briefly, keeping his eyes fixed on the applicant's face.

"Age? Experience? Why did you leave your job?"

He listened to the replies without expression. When it came to Philip's turn he fancied that Mr. Gibbons stared at him curiously. Philip's clothes were neat and tolerably cut. He looked a little different from the others.


  By PanEris using Melati.

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