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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.
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Friday, 4 July 2014
Men of business
Men of business are baffling creatures. Today I invited to lunch at a grill-room a prominent business man, because I wanted to straighten out certain obscure matters. A man accustomed to thinking in millions - other people's millions! He arrived a few minutes late, saying that he was excessively busy and had enough work to occupy two men. We drank cocktails. We then lunched - excellently. From time to time he repeated that he was an excessively busy man. We talked small talk about everything except our joint business. Again and again I led him gently to the brink of our business, but he could not persuade himself to plunge. Possibly the water looked too chilly. At 3 o'clock we were still conversing at large. At 3.15 I said to myself: "When does this fellow intend to go?" At 3.30 I said to myself: "This fellow will just have to go soon." At nearly 4 o'clock I said to him: "I'm very sorry but I must go." "So must I," he said. He went. And I doubt not that during the rest of the day and during all succeeding days, he would be assuring people that he was an excessively busy man. As for me, I had wasted two and a half hours of life's brief span, and about a couple of pounds.
On reflection, perhaps instead of just leading him to the brink I should have simply pushed him over the edge. He may well be wondering why I invited him to lunch and then failed to raise the matters of concern; though being 'excessively busy' he may have forgotten me already.
Additionally for July 4th., see 'Americana'