Sabre greatly desired the promised admission to partnership. He desired it largely for what he knew he would make it bring in the form of greater freedom from Mr. Fortune’s surveillance, but much more for the solid personal satisfaction its winning would give him. It would be a tribute to his work, of all the greater value because he knew it would be bestowed grudgingly and unwillingly, and he was keenly interested in and proud of his work. The publishing of educational textbooks “for the use of schools” had been no part of the firm’s business until he came into it. The idea had been his own, and Mr. Fortune, because the idea was not his own, had very half-heartedly assented to it and very disencouragingly looked upon it in the fiddlingly small way in which he permitted it to be begun.
From the outset it had been a very considerable success. Sabre was interested in books and interested in education. He had many friends among the large staff of Tidborough School masters and had developed many acquaintances among the large body of members of the teaching profession with whom the firm was in touch. He was fond of discussing methods and difficulties of encouraging stubborn youth in the arid paths of assimilating knowledge, and he had a peculiarly fresh and sympathetic recollection of his own boyish flounderings in those paths. To these tastes and qualities, and perhaps because of them, he found he was able to bring what was incontestably a flair for discovering the sort of book that needed to be compiled and, what was equally important, the sort of man to compile it. Also, in his capacity of general editor of the volumes, to give much stimulating suggestion and advice to the authors.
He had never been so pleased as on the day when the Spectator, in an extended notice of four new textbooks, had written, “It is always a pleasure to open one of the school textbooks bearing the imprint of Fortune, East and Sabre and issued in the pleasing format which this firm have made their own. Their publications give the impression of a directing mind inspired with the happy thought of presenting textbooks, not for the master, but for the pupil, and of carrying out this design with singular freshness and originality.”
On the day when that notice appeared, Mr. Fortune, who considered that his mind was—or would be supposed to be—the directing mind referred to, had repeated his promise of partnership, first made when the enterprise began to show unexpected signs of responding to Sabre’s enthusiasm. “Very good, Sabre, very good indeed. I am bound to say capital. I may tell you, as your father probably told you, that it was always understood between him and me that you should be taken into partnership if you showed signs of promise. Unquestionably you do. When you have brought the publishing into line with our established departments we will go into the matter and—” he made one of his nearest approaches to pleasantry—“take steps to restore the house of Sabre in some part to its ancient glories in the firm—in some part.”