“No; that has already been settled. But go on, since you so desire to expose yourself. I am very o—”

“Certainly, certainly. I sat down and wrote a courteous letter to the Director-General of the Shoe-Leather Department, explai—”

“Do you know him personally?”


“You have scored one for my side. You began insanely. Go on.”

“In the letter I made the great value and inexpensiveness of the invention clear, and offered to—”

“Call and see him? Of course you did. Score two against yourself. I am v—”

“He didn’t answer for three days.”

“Necessarily. Proceed.”

“Sent me three gruff lines thanking me for my trouble, and proposing—”


“That’s it—proposing nothing. Then I wrote him more elaborately and—”

“Score three—”

“—and got no answer. At the end of a week I wrote and asked, with some touch of asperity, for an answer to that letter.”

“Four Go on.”

“An answer came back saying the letter had not been received, and asking for a copy. I traced the letter through the post-office, and found that it had been received; but I sent a copy and said nothing. Two weeks passed without further notice of me. In the mean time I gradually got myself cooled down to a polite-letter temperature. Then I wrote and proposed an interview for next day, and said that if I did not hear from him in the mean time I should take his silence for assent.”

“Score five.”

“I arrived at twelve sharp, and was given a chair in the anteroom and told to wait. I waited until half-past one; then I left, ashamed and angry. I waited another week, to cool down; then I wrote and made another appointment with him for next day noon.”

“Score six.”

“He answered, assenting. I arrived promptly, and kept a chair warm until half-past two. I left then, and shook the dust of that place from my shoes for good and all. For rudeness, inefficiency, incapacity, indifference to the army’s interests, the Director-General of the Shoe-Leather Department of the War Office is, in my o—”

“Peace! I am very old and very wise, and have seen many seemingly intelligent people who hadn’t common sense enough to go at a simple and easy thing like this in a common-sense way. You are not a curiosity to me; I have personally known millions and billions like you. You have lost three months quite unnecessarily; the inventor has lost three months; the soldiers have lost three—nine months altogether. I will now read you a little tale which I wrote last night. Then you will call on the Director-General at noon to-morrow and transact your business.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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