The hazards of talking too much…… a parable III

Lets get with the parable on how talking too much can cause you harm… but first, about its apparent efficacy that can lead to dangerous overconfidence, but read it for yourself. I said I thought George was like me, but not in this particular point.

~~~~ I confess I was intensely puzzled. It was only a quarter of an hour before George himself arrived that I solved the problem of its meaning.

“So the boss crawled?” I said, as he came in.

He gave a light, confident laugh. I had not seen him, as I say, for some time, and I was struck by the alteration in his appearance. In what exactly this alteration consisted I could not at first have said; but gradually it began to impress itself on me that his eye was brighter, his jaw squarer, his carriage a trifle more upright than it had been. But it was his eye that struck me most forcibly. The George Mackintosh I had known had had a pleasing gaze, but, though frank and agreeable, it had never been more dynamic than a fried egg. This new George had an eye that was a combination of a gimlet and a searchlight. Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner, I imagine, must have been somewhat similarly equipped. The Ancient Mariner stopped a wedding guest on his way to a wedding; George Mackintosh gave me the impression that he could have stopped the Cornish Riviera express on its way to Penzance. Self-confidence—aye, and more than self-confidence—a sort of sinful, overbearing swank seemed to exude from his very pores.

“Crawled?” he said. “Well, he didn’t actually lick my boots, because I saw him coming and side-stepped; but he did everything short of that. I hadn’t been talking an hour when——”

“An hour!” I gasped. “Did you talk for an hour?”

“Certainly. You wouldn’t have had me be abrupt, would you? I went into his private office and found him alone. I think at first he would have been just as well pleased if I had retired. In fact, he said as much. But I soon adjusted that outlook. I took a seat and a cigarette, and then I started to sketch out for him the history of my connection with the firm. He began to wilt before the end of the first ten minutes. At the quarter of an hour mark he was looking at me like a lost dog that’s just found its owner. By the half-hour he was making little bleating noises and massaging my coat-sleeve. And when, after perhaps an hour and a half, I came to my peroration and suggested a rise, he choked back a sob, gave me double what I had asked, and invited me to dine at his club next Tuesday. I’m a little sorry now I cut the thing so short. A few minutes more, and I fancy he would have given me his sock-suspenders and made over his life-insurance in my favour.”

“Well,” I said, as soon as I could speak, for I was finding my young friend a trifle overpowering, “this is most satisfactory.”

“So-so,” said George. “Not un-so-so. A man wants an addition to his income when he is going to get married.”

“Ah!” I said. “That, of course, will be the real test.”

“What do you mean?”

“Why, when you propose to Celia Tennant. You remember you were saying when we spoke of this before—”

“Oh, that!” said George, carelessly. “I’ve arranged all that.”


“Oh, yes. On my way up from the station. I looked in on Celia about an hour ago, and it’s all settled.”


“Well, I don’t know. I just put the thing to her, and she seemed to see it.”

“I congratulate you. So now, like Alexander, you have no more worlds to conquer.”

“Well, I don’t know so much about that,” said George. “The way it looks to me is that I’m just starting. This eloquence is a thing that rather grows on one. You didn’t hear about my after-dinner speech at the anniversary banquet of the firm, I suppose? My dear fellow, a riot! A positive stampede. Had ’em laughing and then crying and then laughing again and then crying once more till six of ’em had to be led out and the rest down with hiccoughs. Napkins waving … three tables broken … waiters in hysterics. I tell you, I played on them as on a stringed instrument….”

“Can you play on a stringed instrument?”

“As it happens, no. But as I would have played on a stringed instrument if I could play on a stringed instrument. Wonderful sense of power it gives you. I mean to go in pretty largely for that sort of thing in future.”

“You must not let it interfere with your golf.”

He gave a laugh which turned my blood cold.

To be continued….


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