7:22 pm - Saturday May 26, 2018

Not According To The Code-by Robert Barr-Novel and Ebooks

Novel Name:Not According To the Code

Written by: Robert Barr

Category:Fiction

 

Page 1:

Even a stranger to the big town walking for the first time through London, sees on the sides of the houses many names with which he has long been familiar. His precognition has cost the firms those names represent much money in advertising. The stranger has had the names before him for years in newspapers and magazines, on the hoardings and boards by the railway side, paying little heed to them at the time; yet they have been indelibly impressed on his brain, and when he wishes soap or pills his lips almost automatically frame the words most familiar to them. Thus are the lavish sums spent in advertising justified, and thus are many excellent publications made possible.

When you come to ponder over the matter, it seems strange that there should ever be any real man behind the names so lavishly advertised; that there should be a genuine Smith or Jones whose justly celebrated medicines work such wonders, or whose soap will clean even a guilty conscience. Granting the actual existence of these persons and probing still further into the mystery, can any one imagine that the excellent Smith to whom thousands of former sufferers send entirely unsolicited testimonials, or the admirable Jones whom prima donnas love because his soap preserves their dainty complexions–can any one credit the fact that Smith and Jones have passions like other men, have hatreds, likes and dislikes?

Such a condition of things, incredible as it may appear, exists in London. There are men in the metropolis, utterly unknown personally, whose names are more widely spread over the earth than the names of the greatest novelists, living or dead, and these men have feeling and form like unto ourselves.

There was the firm of Danby and Strong for instance. The name may mean nothing to any reader of these pages, but there was a time when it was well-known and widely advertised, not only in England but over the greater part of the world as well. They did a great business, as every firm that spends a fortune every year in advertising is bound to do. It was in the old paper-collar days. There actually was a time when the majority of men wore paper collars, and, when you come to think of it, the wonder is that the paper-collar trade ever fell away as it did, when you consider with what vile laundries London is and always has been cursed. Take the Danby and Strong collars for instance, advertised as being so similar to linen that only an expert could tell the difference. That was Strong’s invention. Before he invented the Piccadilly collar so-called, paper collars had a brilliant glaze that would not have deceived the most recent arrival from the most remote shire in the country. Strong devised some method by which a slight linen film was put on the paper, adding strength to the collar and giving it the appearance of the genuine article. You bought a pasteboard box containing a dozen of these collars for something like the price you paid for the washing of half a dozen linen ones. The Danby and Strong Piccadilly collar jumped at once into great popularity, and the wonder is that the linen collar ever recovered from the blow dealt it by this ingenious invention.

Curiously enough, during the time the firm was struggling to establish itself, the two members of it were the best of friends, but when prosperity came to them, causes of difference arose, and their relations, as the papers say of warlike nations, became strained. Whether the fault lay with John Danby or with William Strong no one has ever been able to find out. They had mutual friends who claimed that each one of them was a good fellow, but those friends always added that Strong and Danby did not “hit it off.”

Strong was a bitter man when aroused, and could generally be counted upon to use harsh language. Danby was quieter, but there was a sullen streak of stubbornness in him that did not tend to the making up of a quarrel. They had been past the speaking point for more than a year, when there came a crisis in their relations with each other, that ended in disaster to the business carried on under the title of Danby and Strong. Neither man would budge, and between them the business sunk to ruin. Where competition is fierce no firm can stand against it if there is internal dissension. Danby held his ground quietly but firmly, Strong raged and cursed, but was equally steadfast in not yielding a point. Each hated the other so bitterly that each was willing to lose his own share in a profitable business, if by doing so he could bring ruin on his partner.

We are all rather prone to be misled by appearances. As one walks down Piccadilly, or the Strand, or Fleet Street and meets numerous irreproachably dressed men with glossy tall hats and polished boots, with affable manners and a courteous way of deporting themselves toward their fellows, we are apt to fall into the fallacy of believing that these gentlemen are civilised. We fail to realise that if you probe in the right direction you will come upon possibilities of savagery that would draw forth the warmest commendation from a Pawnee Indian. There are reputable business men in London who would, if they dared, tie an enemy to a stake and roast him over a slow fire, and these men have succeeded so well, not only in deceiving their neighbours, but also themselves, that they would actually be offended if you told them so. If law were suspended in London for one day, during which time none of us would be held answerable for any deed then done, how many of us would be alive next morning? Most of us would go out to pot some favourite enemy, and would doubtless be potted ourselves before we got safely home again.

The law, however, is a great restrainer, and helps to keep the death- rate from reaching excessive proportions. One department of the law crushed out the remnant of the business of Messrs. Danby and Strong, leaving the firm bankrupt, while another department of the law prevented either of the partners taking the life of the other.

When Strong found himself penniless, he cursed, as was his habit, and wrote to a friend in Texas asking if he could get anything to do over there. He was tired of a country of law and order, he said, which was not as complimentary to Texas as it might have been. But his remark only goes to show what extraordinary ideas Englishmen have of foreign parts. The friend’s answer was not very encouraging, but, nevertheless, Strong got himself out there somehow, and in course of time became a cowboy. He grew reasonably expert with his revolver and rode a mustang as well as could be expected, considering that he had never seen such an animal in London, even at the Zoo. The life of a cowboy on a Texas ranch leads to the forgetting of such things as linen shirts and paper collars.

Strong’s hatred of Danby never ceased, but he began to think of him less often.

One day, when he least expected it, the subject was brought to his mind in a manner that startled him. He was in Galveston ordering supplies for the ranch, when in passing a shop which he would have called a draper’s, but which was there designated as dealing in dry goods, he was amazed to see the name “Danby and Strong” in big letters at the bottom of a huge pile of small cardboard boxes that filled the whole window. At first the name merely struck him as familiar, and he came near asking himself “Where have I seen that before?” It was some moments before he realised that the Strong stood for the man gazing stupidly in at the plate-glass window. Then he noticed that the boxes were all guaranteed to contain the famous Piccadilly collar. He read in a dazed manner a large printed bill which stood beside the pile of boxes. These collars it seemed, were warranted to be the genuine Danby and Strong collar, and the public was warned against imitations. They were asserted to be London made and linen faced, and the gratifying information was added that once a person wore the D. and S. collar he never afterwards relapsed into wearing any inferior brand. The price of each box was fifteen cents, or two boxes for a quarter. Strong found himself making a mental calculation which resulted in turning this notation into English money.

As he stood there a new interest began to fill his mind. Was the firm being carried on under the old name by some one else, or did this lot of collars represent part of the old stock? He had had no news from home since he left, and the bitter thought occurred to him that perhaps Danby had got somebody with capital to aid him in resuscitating the business. He resolved to go inside and get some information.

“You seem to have a very large stock of those collars on hand,” he said to the man who was evidently the proprietor.

“Yes,” was the answer. “You see, we are the State agents for this make. We supply the country dealers.”

“Oh, do you? Is the firm of Danby and Strong still in existence? I understood it had suspended.”

“I guess not,” said the man. “They supply us all right enough. Still, I really know nothing about the firm, except that they turn out a first- class article. We’re not in any way responsible for Danby and Strong; we’re merely agents for the State of Texas, you know,” the man added, with sudden caution.

“I have nothing against the firm,” said Strong. “I asked because I once knew some members of it, and was wondering how it was getting along.”

“Well, in that case you ought to see the American representative. He was here this week … that’s why we make such a display in the window, it always pleases the agent … he’s now working up the State and will be back in Galveston before the month is out.”

Filed in: Classics, Fantasy

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