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- T. Tembarom - 90/104 -


go over that paper now, Ann. I'd like to give you your lesson while we've got a bit o' time to ourselves and what I've said is fresh in your mind. The trick is always to get at things while they're fresh in your mind."

The little daughter with the red hair was present during Rosenthal's next interview with the owner of the invention. The fellow, he told himself, had been thinking matters over, had perhaps consulted a lawyer; and having had time for reflection, he did not present a mass of mere inflated and blundering vanity as a target for adroit aim. He seemed a trifle sulky, but he did not talk about himself diffusely, and lose his head when he was smoothed the right way. He had a set of curiously concise notes to which he referred, and he stuck to his points with a bulldog obstinacy which was not to be shaken. Something had set him on a new tack. The tricks which could be used only with a totally ignorant and readily flattered and influenced business amateur were no longer in order. This was baffling and irritating.

The worst feature of the situation was that the daughter did not read a book, as had seemed her habit at other times. She sat with a tablet and pencil on her knee, and, still as unobtrusively as ever, jotted down notes.

"Put that down, Ann," her father said to her more than once. "There's no objections to having things written down, I suppose?" he put it bluntly to Rosenthal. "I've got to have notes made when I'm doing business. Memory's all well enough, but black and white's better. No one can go back of black and white. Notes save time."

There was but one attitude possible. No man of business could resent the recording of his considered words, but the tablet and pencil and the quietly bent red head were extraordinary obstacles to the fluidity of eloquence. Rosenthal found his arguments less ready and his methods modifying themselves. The outlook narrowed itself. When he returned to his office and talked the situation over with his partner, he sat and bit his nails in restless irritation.

"Ridiculous as it seems, outrageously ridiculous, I've an idea," he said, "I've more than an idea that we have to count with the girl."

"Girl? What girl?"

"Daughter. Well-behaved, quiet bit of a thing, who sits in a corner and listens while she pretends to sew or read. I'm certain of it. She's taken to making notes now, and Hutchinson's turned stubborn. You need not laugh, Lewis. She's in it. We've got to count with that girl, little female mouse as she looks."

This view, which was first taken by Rosenthal and passed on to his partner, was in course of time passed on to others and gradually accepted, sometimes reluctantly and with much private protest, sometimes with amusement. The well-behaved daughter went with Hutchinson wheresoever his affairs called him. She was changeless in the unobtrusiveness of her demeanor, which was always that of a dutiful and obedient young person who attended her parent because he might desire her humble little assistance in small matters.

"She's my secretary," Hutchinson began to explain, with a touch of swagger. "I've got to have a secretary, and I'd rather trust my private business to my own daughter than to any one else. It's safe with her."

It was so safe with her steady demureness that Hutchinson found himself becoming steady himself. The "lessons" he gave to Little Ann, and the notes made as a result, always ostensibly for her own security and instruction, began to form a singularly firm foundation for statement and argument. He began to tell himself that his memory was improving. Facts were no longer jumbled together in his mind. He could better follow a line of logical reasoning. He less often grew red and hot and flustered.

"That's the thing I've said so often--that temper's got naught to do wi' business, and only upsets a man when he wants all his wits about him. It's the truest thing I ever worked out," he not infrequently congratulated himself. "If a chap can keep his temper, he'll be like to keep his head and drive his bargain. I see it plainer every day o' my life."

CHAPTER XXXVI

It was in the course of the "lessons" that he realized that he had always argued that the best way to do business was to do it face to face with people. To stay in England, and let another chap make your bargains for you in France or Germany or some other outlandish place, where frog-eating foreigners ran loose, was a fool's trick. He'd said it often enough. "Get your eye on 'em, and let them know you've got it on them, and they'd soon find out they were dealing with Lancashire, and not with foreign knaves and nincompoops." So, when it became necessary to deal with France, Little Ann packed him up neatly, so to speak, and in the role of obedient secretarial companion took him to that country, having for weeks beforehand mentally confronted the endless complications attending the step. She knew, in the first place, what the effect of the French language would be upon his temper: that it would present itself to him as a wall deliberately built by the entire nation as a means of concealing a deep duplicity the sole object of which was the baffling, thwarting, and undoing of Englishmen, from whom it wished to wrest their honest rights. Apoplexy becoming imminent, as a result of his impotent rage during their first few days in Paris, she paid a private visit to a traveler's agency, and after careful inquiry discovered that it was not impossible to secure the attendance and service of a well-mannered young man who spoke most of the languages employed by most of the inhabitants of the globe. She even found that she might choose from a number of such persons, and she therefore selected with great care.

"One that's got a good temper, and isn't easy irritated," she said to herself, in summing up the aspirants, "but not one that's easy- tempered because he's silly. He must have plenty of common sense as well as be willing to do what he's told."

When her father discovered that he himself had been considering the desirability of engaging the services of such a person, and had, indeed already, in a way, expressed his intention of sending her to "the agency chap" to look him up, she was greatly relieved.

"I can try to teach him what you've taught me, Father," she said, "and of course he'll learn just by being with you."

The assistant engaged was a hungry young student who had for weeks, through ill luck, been endeavoring to return with some courage the gaze of starvation, which had been staring him in the face.

His name was Dudevant, and with desperate struggles he had educated himself highly, having cherished literary ambitions from his infancy. At this juncture it had become imperative that he should, for a few months at least, obtain food. Ann had chosen well by instinct. His speech had told her that he was intelligent, his eyes had told her that he would do anything on earth to earn his living.

From the time of his advent, Joseph Hutchinson had become calmer and had ceased to be in peril of apoplectic seizure. Foreign nations became less iniquitous and dangerous, foreign languages were less of a barrier, easier to understand. A pleasing impression that through great facility he had gained a fair practical knowledge of French, German, and Italian, supported and exhilarated him immensely.

"It's right-down wonderful how a chap gets to understand these fellows' lingo after he's listened to it a bit," he announced to Ann. "I wouldn't have believed it of myself that I could see into it as quick as I have. I couldn't say as I understand everything they say just when they're saying it; but I understand it right enough when I've had time to translate like. If foreigners didn't talk so fast and run their words one into another, and jabber as if their mouths was full of puddin', it'd be easier for them as is English. Now, there's `wee' and `nong.' I know 'em whenever I hear 'em, and that's a good bit of help."

"Yes," answered Ann, "of course that's the chief thing you want to know in business, whether a person is going to say `yes' or `no.'"

He began to say "wee" and "nong" at meals, and once broke forth "Passy mor le burr" in a tone so casually Parisian that Ann was frightened, because she did not understand immediately, and also because she saw looming up before her a future made perilous by the sudden interjection of unexpected foreign phrases it would be incumbent upon her and Dudevant to comprehend instantaneously without invidious hesitation.

"Don't you understand? Pass the butter. Don't you understand a bit o' French like that?" he exclaimed irritatedly. "Buy yourself one o' these books full of easy sentences and learn some of 'em, lass. You oughtn't to be travelin' about with your father in foreign countries and learnin' nothin'. It's not every lass that's gettin' your advantages."

Ann had not mentioned the fact that she spent most of her rare leisure moments in profound study of phrase-books and grammars, which she kept in her trunk and gave her attention to before she got up in the morning, after she went to her room at night, and usually while she was dressing. You can keep a book open before you when you are brushing your hair. Dudevant gave her a lesson or so whenever time allowed. She was as quick to learn as her father thought he was, and she was desperately determined. It was really not long before she understood much more than "wee and nong" when she was present at a business interview.

"You are a wonderful young lady," Dudevant said, with that well-known yearning in his eyes. "You are most wonderful."

"She's just a wonder," Mrs. Bowse and her boarders had said. And the respectful yearning in the young Frenchman's eyes and voice were well known to her because she had seen it often before, and remembered it, in Jem Bowles and Julius Steinberger. That this young man had without an hour of delay fallen abjectly in love with her was a circumstance with which she dealt after her own inimitably kind and undeleterious method, which in itself was an education to any amorous youth.

"I can understand all you tell me," she said when he reached the point of confiding his hard past to her. "I can understand it because I knew some one who had to fight for himself just that way, only perhaps it was harder because he wasn't educated as you are."

"Did he--confide in you?" Dudevant ventured, with delicate hesitation. "You are so kind I am sure he did, Mademoiselle."

"He told me about it because he knew I wanted to hear," she answered.


T. Tembarom - 90/104

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