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A Great Man A Frolic   By: (1867-1931)

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First Page:

A GREAT MAN

A FROLIC

BY

ARNOLD BENNETT

AUTHOR OF 'THE GRAND BABYLON HOTEL,' 'ANNA OF THE FIVE TOWNS,' 'LEONORA,' ETC.

[Illustration]

LONDON CHATTO & WINDUS

1904

TO

MY DEAR FRIEND

FREDERICK MARRIOTT

AND TO

THE IMPERISHABLE MEMORY

OF

OLD TIMES

CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE

I. HIS BIRTH 1

II. TOM 8

III. HIS CHRISTENING 17

IV. AGED TWELVE 26

V. MARRONS GLACÉS 36

VI. A CALAMITY FOR THE SCHOOL 49

VII. CONTAGIOUS 58

VIII. CREATIVE 72

IX. SPRING ONIONS 85

X. MARK SNYDER 95

XI. SATIN 105

XII. HIS FAME 117

XIII. A LION IN HIS LAIR 135

XIV. HER NAME WAS GERALDINE 148

XV. HIS TERRIBLE QUANDARY 161

XVI. DURING THE TEA MEETING 169

XVII. A NOVELIST IN A BOX 181

XVIII. HIS JACK HORNERISM 195

XIX. HE JUSTIFIES HIS FATHER 201

XX. PRESS AND PUBLIC 215

XXI. PLAYING THE NEW GAME 226

XXII. HE LEARNS MORE ABOUT WOMEN 239

XXIII. SEPARATION 249

XXIV. COSETTE 256

XXV. THE RAKE'S PROGRESS 273

XXVI. THE NEW LIFE 289

XXVII. HE IS NOT NERVOUS 308

XXVIII. HE SHORTENS HIS NAME 325

XXIX. THE PRESIDENT 337

A GREAT MAN

CHAPTER I

HIS BIRTH

On an evening in 1866 (exactly eight hundred years after the Battle of Hastings) Mr. Henry Knight, a draper's manager, aged forty, dark, clean shaven, short, but not stout, sat in his sitting room on the second floor over the shop which he managed in Oxford Street, London. He was proud of that sitting room, which represented the achievement of an ideal, and he had a right to be proud of it. The rich green wall paper covered with peonies in full bloom (poisoning by arsenical wall paper had not yet been invented, or Mr. Knight's peonies would certainly have had to flourish over a different hue) matched the magenta table cloth of the table at which Mr. Knight was writing, and the magenta table cloth matched the yellow roses which grew to more than exhibition size on the Axminster carpet; and the fine elaborate effect thus produced was in no way impaired, but rather enhanced and invigorated, by the mahogany bookcase full of imperishable printed matter, the horsehair sofa netted in a system of antimacassars, the waxen flowers in their glassy domes on the marble mantelpiece, the Canterbury with its spiral columns, the rosewood harmonium, and the posse of chintz protected chairs. Mr. Knight, who was a sincere and upright man, saw beauty in this apartment. It uplifted his soul, like soft music in the gloaming, or a woman's face.

Mr. Knight was writing in a large book. He paused in the act of composition, and, putting the pen between his teeth, glanced through the pages of the volume. They were filled with the drafts of letters which he had addressed during the previous seven years to the editors of various newspapers, including the Times , and several other organs great then but now extinct. In a space underneath each letter had been neatly gummed the printed copy, but here and there a letter lacked this certificate of success, for Mr. Knight did not always contrive to reach his public. The letters were signed with pseudonyms, such as A British Citizen, Fiat Justitia, Audi Alteram Partem, Indignant, Disgusted, One Who Knows, One Who Would Like to Know, Ratepayer, Taxpayer, Puzzled, and Pro Bono Publico especially Pro Bono Publico. Two letters, to a trade periodical, were signed A Draper's Manager of Ten Years' Standing, and one, to the Clerkenwell News , bore his own real name.

The letter upon which he was now engaged was numbered seventy five in the series, and made its appeal to the editor of the Standard ... Continue reading book >>




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