The hazards of talking too much…… a parable

For a considerable part of the first two decades of my life, I was not accustomed to talking much, outside a small circle of friends and relatives, and was mostly content with myself and my books. It was the first year of the century’s last decade that I did abandon this habit and began to take a larger interest in the world or more exactly the people who live in it. Its a nigh been twenty years of this now, and I sometimes feel if I had erred significantly in following this policy….. Maybe it is why that I am now not that outgoing outside a small clique of trusted friends and associates, save for some instances where policy requires.

However, I don’t intend this post to be an autobiography or even a jeremiad but rather a cautionary tale about people who talk too much, though I sometimes feel this tale has some relevance to me and even some uncanny coincidences – the situation, the blushing, the wealth of knowledge, and does, someway, bolster the thesis I advanced in a recent post which you can read here, should you want:

Let me come to the case of George Mackintosh, as related by the Oldest Member…. You don’t need the background or anything, so we’ll get onto it right away. Golfers among you might like it especially….

~~~~ George Mackintosh (said the Oldest Member), when I first knew him, was one of the most admirable young fellows I have ever met. A handsome, well-set-up man, with no vices except a tendency to use the mashie for shots which should have been made with the light iron. And as for his positive virtues, they were too numerous to mention. He never swayed his body, moved his head, or pressed. He was always ready to utter a tactful grunt when his opponent foozled. And when he himself achieved a glaring fluke, his self-reproachful click of the tongue was music to his adversary’s bruised soul. But of all his virtues the one that most endeared him to me and to all thinking men was the fact that, from the start of a round to the finish, he never spoke a word except when absolutely compelled to do so by the exigencies of the game. And it was this man who subsequently, for a black period which lives in the memory of all his contemporaries, was known as Gabby George and became a shade less popular than the germ of Spanish Influenza. Truly, corruptio optimi pessima!

One of the things that sadden a man as he grows older and reviews his life is the reflection that his most devastating deeds were generally the ones which he did with the best motives. The thought is disheartening. I can honestly say that, when George Mackintosh came to me and told me his troubles, my sole desire was to ameliorate his lot. That I might be starting on the downward path a man whom I liked and respected never once occurred to me.

One night after dinner when George Mackintosh came in, I could see at once that there was something on his mind, but what this could be I was at a loss to imagine, for I had been playing with him myself all the afternoon, and he had done an eighty-one and a seventy-nine. And, as I had not left the links till dusk was beginning to fall, it was practically impossible that he could have gone out again and done badly. The idea of financial trouble seemed equally out of the question. George had a good job with the old-established legal firm of Peabody, Peabody, Peabody, Peabody, Cootes, Toots, and Peabody. The third alternative, that he might be in love, I rejected at once. In all the time I had known him I had never seen a sign that George Mackintosh gave a thought to the opposite sex.

Yet this, bizarre as it seemed, was the true solution. Scarcely had he seated himself and lit a cigar when he blurted out his confession.

“What would you do in a case like this?” he said.

“Like what?”

“Well——” He choked, and a rich blush permeated his surface. “Well, it seems a silly thing to say and all that, but I’m in love with Miss Tennant, you know!”

To be continued….


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