“You, Beauty?” The Seraph puffed a giant puff of amazement from his Havana, opening his blue eyes to their widest.
“Possible!” returned Bertie serenely, with a nonchalant twist to his mustaches. “Anything’s possible. If I do now, it strikes me there are vast fields open.”
“Gold fields!” suggested the Seraph, wholly bewildered.
“Gold fields? No! I mean a field for—what d’ye call it—genius. Now, look here; nine-tenths of creatures in this world don’t know how to put on a glove. It’s an art, and an art that requires long study. If a few of us were to turn glove-fitters when we are fairly crushed, we might civilize the whole world, and prevent the deformity of an ill-fitting glove ever blotting creation and prostituting Houbigant. What do you say?”
“Don’t be such a donkey, Beauty!” laughed the Seraph, while his charger threatened to passage into an oyster cart.
“You don’t appreciate the majesty of great plans,” rejoined Beauty reprovingly. “There’s an immense deal in what I’m saying. Think what we might do for society—think how we might extinguish snobbery, if we just dedicated our smash to Mankind. We might open a College, where the traders might go through a course of polite training before they blossomed out as millionaires; the world would be spared an agony of dropped h’s and bad bows. We might have a Bureau where we registered all our social experiences, and gave the Plutocracy a map of Belgravia, with all the pitfalls marked; all the inaccessible heights colored red, and all the hard-up great people dotted with gold to show the amount they’d be bought for—with directions to the ignoramuses whom to know, court, and avoid. We might form a Courier Company, and take Brummagem abroad under our guidance, so that the Continent shouldn’t think Englishwomen always wear blue veils and gray shawls, and hear every Englishman shout for porter and beefsteak in Tortoni’s. We might teach them to take their hats off to women, and not to prod pictures with sticks, and to look at statutes without poking them with an umbrella, and to be persuaded that all foreigners don’t want to be bawled at, and won’t understand bad French any the better for its being shouted. Or we might have a Joint-Stock Toilette Association, for the purposes of national art, and receive Brummagem to show it how to dress; we might even succeed in making the feminine British Public drape itself properly, and the B. P. masculine wear boots that won’t creak, and coats that don’t wrinkle, and take off its hat without a jerk, as though it were a wooden puppet hung on very stiff strings. Or one might—”
“Talk the greatest nonsense under the sun!” laughed the Seraph. “For mercy’s sake, are you mad, Bertie?”
“Inevitable question addressed to Genius!” yawned Cecil. “I’m showing you plans that might teach a whole nation good style if we just threw ourselves into it a little. I don’t mean you, because you’ll never smash, and one don’t turn bear-leader, even to the B. P., without the primary impulse of being hard-up. And I don’t talk for myself, because, when I go to the dogs I have my own project.”