The hazards of talking too much…… a parable II

I was trying to tell you about the perils of talking too much, through a parable – which actually is a story by the greatest ever humourist of English letters, and written in his characteristic style…. . The paralles between George Mackintosh and me are unmistakable and uncanny, is all I can say – though I may not have all his qualities as enlisted by the narrator.

~~~~ “You are in love with Celia Tennant?”

“Of course I am. I’ve got eyes, haven’t I? Who else is there that any sane man could possibly be in love with? That,” he went on, moodily, “is the whole trouble. There’s a field of about twenty-nine, and I should think my place in the betting is about thirty-three to one.”

“I cannot agree with you there,” I said. “You have every advantage, it appears to me. You are young, amiable, good-looking, comfortably off, scratch——”

“But I can’t talk, confound it!” he burst out. “And how is a man to get anywhere at this sort of game without talking?”

“You are talking perfectly fluently now.”

“Yes, to you. But put me in front of Celia Tennant, and I simply make a sort of gurgling noise like a sheep with the botts. It kills my chances stone dead. You know these other men. I can give Claude Mainwaring a third and beat him. I can give Eustace Brinkley a stroke a hole and simply trample on his corpse. But when it comes to talking to a girl, I’m not in their class.”

“You must not be diffident.”

“But I am diffident. What’s the good of saying I mustn’t be diffident when I’m the man who wrote the words and music, when Diffidence is my middle name and my telegraphic address? I can’t help being diffident.”

“Surely you could overcome it?”

“But how? It was in the hope that you might be able to suggest something that I came round tonight.”

And this was where I did the fatal thing. It happened that, just before I took up “Braid on the Push-Shot,” I had been dipping into the current number of a magazine, and one of the advertisements, I chanced to remember, might have been framed with a special eye to George’s unfortunate case. It was that one, which I have no doubt you have seen, which treats of “How to Become a Convincing Talker”. I picked up this magazine now and handed it to George.

He studied it for a few minutes in thoughtful silence. He looked at the picture of the Man who had taken the course being fawned upon by lovely women, while the man who had let this opportunity slip stood outside the group gazing with a wistful envy.

“They never do that to me,” said George.

“Do what, my boy?”

“Cluster round, clinging cooingly.”

“I gather from the letterpress that they will if you write for the booklet.”

“You think there is really something in it?”

“I see no reason why eloquence should not be taught by mail. One seems to be able to acquire every other desirable quality in that manner nowadays.”

“I might try it. After all, it’s not expensive. There’s no doubt about it,” he murmured, returning to his perusal, “that fellow does look popular. Of course, the evening dress may have something to do with it.”

“Not at all. The other man, you will notice, is also wearing evening dress, and yet he is merely among those on the outskirts. It is simply a question of writing for the booklet.”

“Sent post free.”

“Sent, as you say, post free.”

“I’ve a good mind to try it.”

“I see no reason why you should not.”

“I will, by Duncan!” He tore the page out of the magazine and put it in his pocket. “I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll give this thing a trial for a week or two, and at the end of that time I’ll go to the boss and see how he reacts when I ask for a rise of salary. If he crawls, it’ll show there’s something in this. If he flings me out, it will prove the thing’s no good.”

We left it at that, and I am bound to say—owing, no doubt, to my not having written for the booklet of the Memory Training Course advertised on the adjoining page of the magazine—the matter slipped from my mind. When, therefore, a few weeks later, I received a telegram from young Mackintosh which ran:

Worked like magic,

To be continued…..


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