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all to meet me here. First of all, it is to say that I am now the sole owner of this business, having bought out Messrs. Addison and Roscoe"-(" And a good job too," said a voice)—"and that I hope we shall work well together; and secondly, to inform you that I am going to totally revolutionise the course of business as hitherto practised in this establishment "-(Sensation)" having, with the assistance of Mr. Short, drawn up a scheme for
I am informed in the statement of profits, on which the purchase price of the shares of Messrs. Addison and Roscoe was calculated, that the average net profits of this house during the last ten years have amounted to forty-seven and a fraction per cent. on the capital invested. Now, I have determined that in future the net profits of any given undertaking shall be divided as follows :Ten per cent. to the author of the book in hand, and ten per cent. to the House. Then, should there be any further profit, it will be apportioned thus: onethird-of which a moiety will go towards a pension fund -to the employés of the House, the division to be arranged on a fixed scale"–(Enormous sensation, especially among the tame authors)—"and the remainder to the author of the work. Thus, supposing that a book paid cent. per cent., I should take ten per cent., and the employes would take twenty-six and a fraction per cent., and the author would take sixty-four per cent."
And here an interruption occurred. It came from No. I, who could no longer restrain his disgust.
“I'll resign," he said; “I'll resign! Meeson's content with ten per cent. and out-of-pocket expenses, when an author a mere author gets sixty! It's shameful — shameful !"
“If you choose to resign, you can," said Eustace
sharply; "but I advise you to take time to think it over.” “Gentlemen," went on Eustace, “I daresay that this
a great change to you, but I may as well say at once that I am no wild philanthropist. I expect to make it pay, and pay well. To begin with, I shall never undertake any work which I do not think will pay-that is, without an adequate guarantee, or in the capacity of a simple agent; and my own ten per cent. will be the first charge on the profits; then the author's ten. Of course, if I speculate in a book, and buy it out and out, subject to the risks, the case will be different. But with a net ten per cent. certain, I am, like people in any other line of business, quite prepared to be satisfied; and, upon those terms, I expect to become the publisher of all the best writers in England, and I also expect that any good writer will in future be able to make a handsome income out of his work. Further, it strikes me that you will most of you find yourselves better off at the end of the year than you do at present." (Cheers.) "One or two more matters I much touch on. First and foremost the Hutches, which I consider a scandal to a great institution like this, will be abolished "— (Shouts of joy from the tame authors)—"and a handsome row of brick chambers erected in their place, and, further, their occupants will in future receive a very considerable permanent addition to their salaries." (Renewed and delirious cheering.) “ Lastly, I will do away with this system—this horrid system-of calling men by numbers, as though they were convicts instead of free Englishmen. Henceforth everybody in this establishment will be known by his own name." (Loud cheers.)
“And now one more thing: I hope to see you all at
dinner at Pompadour Hall this day next week, when we will christen our scheme and the new firm, which, however, in the future as in the past, will be known as Meeson & Co., for, as we are all to share in the profits of our undertaking, I consider that we shall still be a company, and I hope a prosperous and an honest company in the truest sense of the word.” And then, amidst a burst of prolonged and rapturous cheering, Eustace and his wife bowed, and were escorted out to the carriage that was waiting to drive them to Pompadour Hall.
In half-an-hour's time they were re-entering the palatial gates, from which, less than a year before, Eustace had been driven forth to seek his fortune. There, on either side, were drawn up the long lines of menials, gorgeous with plush and powder (for Mr. Meeson's servants had never been discharged), and there was the fat butler, Johnston, at their head, the same who had given his farewell message to his uncle.
“Good gracious !” said Augusta, glancing up the marble steps, “there are six of those great footmen. What on earth shall I do with them all
"Sack them," said Eustace abruptly; "the sight of those overfed brutes makes me ill ! "
And then they were bowed in—and cowering under the close scrutiny of many pairs of eyes, wandered off with what dignity they could command to dress for dinner.
In due course they found themselves at dinner, and such a dinner! It took an hour and twenty minutes to get through, or rather the six footmen took an hour and twenty minutes to carry the silver dishes in and out. Never since their marriage had Eustace and Augusta felt so miserable.
“I don't think that I like being so rich," said Augusta, rising and coming down the long table to her husband,