Babbit eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 465 pages of information about Babbit.

Babbitt had growled to him, “Makes me tired the way these doctors and profs and preachers put on lugs about being ‘professional men.’  A good realtor has to have more knowledge and finesse than any of ’em.”

“Right you are!  I say:  Why don’t you put that into a paper, and give it at the S. A. R. E. B.?” suggested Rountree.

“Well, if it would help you in making up the program—­Tell you:  the way I look at it is this:  First place, we ought to insist that folks call us ‘realtors’ and not ‘real-estate men.’  Sounds more like a reg’lar profession.  Second place—­What is it distinguishes a profession from a mere trade, business, or occupation?  What is it?  Why, it’s the public service and the skill, the trained skill, and the knowledge and, uh, all that, whereas a fellow that merely goes out for the jack, he never considers the-public service and trained skill and so on.  Now as a professional—­”

“Rather!  That’s perfectly bully!  Perfectly corking!  Now you write it in a paper,” said Rountree, as he rapidly and firmly moved away.


However accustomed to the literary labors of advertisements and correspondence, Babbitt was dismayed on the evening when he sat down to prepare a paper which would take a whole ten minutes to read.

He laid out a new fifteen-cent school exercise-book on his wife’s collapsible sewing-table, set up for the event in the living-room.  The household had been bullied into silence; Verona and Ted requested to disappear, and Tinka threatened with “If I hear one sound out of you—­if you holler for a glass of water one single solitary time—­You better not, that’s all!” Mrs. Babbitt sat over by the piano, making a nightgown and gazing with respect while Babbitt wrote in the exercise-book, to the rhythmical wiggling and squeaking of the sewing-table.

When he rose, damp and jumpy, and his throat dusty from cigarettes, she marveled, “I don’t see how you can just sit down and make up things right out of your own head!”

“Oh, it’s the training in constructive imagination that a fellow gets in modern business life.”

He had written seven pages, whereof the first page set forth: 

{illustration omitted:  consists of several doodles and “(1) a profession (2) Not just a trade crossed out (3) Skill & vision (3) Shd be called “realtor” & not just real est man”}

The other six pages were rather like the first.

For a week he went about looking important.  Every morning, as he dressed, he thought aloud:  “Jever stop to consider, Myra, that before a town can have buildings or prosperity or any of those things, some realtor has got to sell ’em the land?  All civilization starts with him.  Jever realize that?” At the Athletic Club he led unwilling men aside to inquire, “Say, if you had to read a paper before a big convention, would you start in with the funny stories or just kind of scatter ’em all through?” He asked Howard Littlefield for a “set of statistics about real-estate sales; something good and impressive,” and Littlefield provided something exceedingly good and impressive.

Project Gutenberg
Babbit from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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