Now, it was not a difficult problem to assume that this could be no other than Mrs. William James, still, it is customary for purchasers to state the name of the person to whom goods are to go, and many people are sceptical that the salesman has it down right even then. “Your sister-in-law, Mr. James, is------?” we suggested. “Oh, yes, of course—of course; Mrs. William James; of course—of course,” Mr. James said. Now, certainly, he supposed (it was evident) he had got finally settled a difficult and complicated piece of business. Mrs. William James’s regular address we might reasonably infer. Still it might be that she was at the moment somewhere else, on a visit. It were better to have Mr. James give his order in the regular way. “And the address?” we mentioned. “Oh, yes—oh, yes; of course—of course,” Mr. James said apologetically. Then, pausing a moment to see if there was anything more in this bewildering labyrinth of details to such a complex transaction, he departed, taking, as he drew away, his hat, as Mrs. Nickleby says, “completely off.”
Instead of ascending directly to that regal domain which is unaware of our existence, Mr. James, with the inclination of a bow, approached us one day and inquired, in a manner as though the decision rested largely with us, whether he “could see” the head of the firm. The lady who was his escort swept past him. “Oh, I am sure he will see him,” she declared; “this” (with impressive awe) “is Mr. James.” Had we said, No, right off the bat, so to say, like that, we believe (unchampioned) Mr. James would have gently withdrawn.
MEMORIES OF A MANUSCRIPT
I was born in Indiana. That was several years ago, and I have since seen a good deal of the world. I was reading in a newspaper the other day of a new film which shows on the screen the innumerable adventures of a book in the making, from the time the manuscript is accepted to the point where the completed volume is delivered into the hands of the reader. And it struck me that the intimate life of a manuscript before it is accepted might be even more curious to the general public. The career of many an obscure manuscript, I reflected, doubtless is much more romantic than its character. I wonder why, I said, manuscripts have all been so uncommonly reticent concerning themselves. But manuscripts, one recollects, have sensitive natures; and their experiences, at least the experiences of those not born to a great name, could hardly be called flattering to their feelings. Indeed, manuscripts suffer much humiliation, doubtless little suspected of the world. And it requires a manuscript strong in the spirit of detachment to lay bare its heart.