The Talleyrand Maxim by J. S. Fletcher


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Page 1

VIII TERMS

IX UNTIL NEXT SPRING

X THE FOOT-BRIDGE

XI THE PREVALENT ATMOSPHERE

XII THE POWER OF ATTORNEY

XIII THE FIRST TRICK

XIV CARDS ON THE TABLE

XV PRATT OFFERS A HAND

XVI A HEADQUARTERS CONFERENCE

XVII ADVERTISEMENT

XVIII THE CONFIDING LANDLORD

XIX THE EYE-WITNESS

XX THE _Green Man_

XXI THE DIRECT CHARGE

XXII THE CAT'SPAW

XXIII SMOOTH FACE AND ANXIOUS BRAIN

XXIV THE BETTER HALF

XXV DRY SHERRY

XXVI THE TELEPHONE MESSAGE

XXVII RESTORED TO ENERGY

XXVIII THE WOMAN IN BLACK






THE TALLEYRAND MAXIM




CHAPTER I


DEATH BRINGS OPPORTUNITY


Linford Pratt, senior clerk to Eldrick & Pascoe, solicitors, of Barford,
a young man who earnestly desired to get on in life, by hook or by
crook, with no objection whatever to crookedness, so long as it could be
performed in safety and secrecy, had once during one of his periodical
visits to the town Reference Library, lighted on a maxim of that other
unscrupulous person, Prince Talleyrand, which had pleased him greatly.
"With time and patience," said Talleyrand, "the mulberry leaf is turned
into satin." This seemed to Linford Pratt one of the finest and soundest
pieces of wisdom which he had ever known put into words.

A mulberry leaf is a very insignificant thing, but a piece of satin is a
highly marketable commodity, with money in it. Henceforth, he regarded
himself as a mulberry leaf which his own wit and skill must transform
into satin: at the same time he knew that there is another thing, in
addition to time and patience, which is valuable to young men of his
peculiar qualities, a thing also much beloved by Talleyrand--opportunity.
He could find the patience, and he had the time--but it would give him
great happiness if opportunity came along to help in the work. In
everyday language, Linford Pratt wanted a chance--he waited the arrival
of the tide in his affairs which would lead him on to fortune.

Leave him alone--he said to himself--to be sure to take it at the flood.
If Pratt had only known it, as he stood in the outer office of Eldrick &
Pascoe at the end of a certain winter afternoon, opportunity was slowly
climbing the staircase outside--not only opportunity, but temptation,
both assisted by the Devil. They came at the right moment, for Pratt was
alone; the partners had gone: the other clerks had gone: the office-boy
had gone: in another minute Pratt would have gone, too: he was only
looking round before locking up for the night. Then these things
came--combined in the person of an old man, Antony Bartle, who opened
the door, pushed in a queer, wrinkled face, and asked in a quavering
voice if anybody was in.

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Sat 20th Jul 2019, 1:16