The Echo (London), December 30, 1902
A NEW PROFESSION.
BY P.G. WODEHOUSE.
Jones and I had met quite accidentally in a carriage on the Underground. As we had not come across one another for some time, I asked him what he was doing now.
“Oh, I sit on bores,” said he.
“Sit on boards?” said I. “Oh, I see what you mean. You are a director of several companies?”
“Not at all, not at all. You do not take me. Though rich, I am honest. The word I said was ‘bores,’ not ‘boards.’ I sit on bores, discourage them, you know.”
“But so does everybody, surely?”
“Ah, but not as a profession. Suppose your rich uncle were to come and tell you some prosy story. You would bear it in silence. It would not please you, but you would make no protest. Exactly. Well, that is just where I come in. I should have no scruples in such a case. He would not be my uncle, and so I could discourage him as much as might seem desirable. There was that affair of Brown’s, for instance.”
“What was that?” I asked, my imagination becoming kindled. I began to see the vast possibilities of this new profession. Why, until the inevitable over-crowding ensued, a man in Jones’s walk of life could name his own terms, and yet be certain of all the work he wanted. I ceased to wonder at Jones’s fur-lined overcoat, and the general magnificence of his costume. He could afford it.
A Terror of a Bore.
“Brown,” said Jones, “was one of those timid, good-natured little men who hate hurting people’s feelings. The consequence was that he was a perfect prey to all the bores of the neighbourhood. His particular terror was a man named Beauchamps-Marjoribanks. He was a friend of Brown’s late father, and presumed on that fact. He prided himself on his ancient lineage, and used to spend five evenings a week in Brown’s house, telling him anecdotes about the Beauchamps, of Cornwall, and the Marjoribanks, of Devon, and how the families became united, and so on. Well, at last, Brown in despair called me in. He couldn’t bring himself to snub a friend of his late father’s; but he had no objection to seeing me do it. And I did it. Brown introduced me one evening as the Hon. Percy FitzMoatygrange—one of the Shropshire FitzMoatygranges, not the Lancashire branch. The shock of meeting a real honourable completely took the wind out of Marjoribanks’ sails, and before he could recover I was firing off a series of diverting anecdotes about the aristocracy, which continued until he took his departure, considerably dazed, at about 11.30. The next evening it was the same, and the next after that. Finally, he stopped coming altogether. In fact, he took to his bed, and for nearly a month was seriously ill. And from that day to this he has not given Brown a moment’s trouble, and the poor fellow is quite a different man now.”
The Pay of a Philanthropist.
“Well,” I said, “I am bound to confess that you are a philanthropist. And as regards the financial side——?”
“As for that,” replied Jones, airily, “I have little to complain of. Brown, for instance, gave me twenty-five guineas for that small affair. The more intricate these matters are, the higher, of course, is the pay. Brown’s business was simply a question of plain, straightforward out-boring. Where this is impossible, and I have to arrive at my effect by means of a series of snubs, my fees are naturally heavier. One of my triumphs was the cure of the Bishop of Bayswater. My bill for that was exceedingly long. You can’t snub a bishop for a mere song, can you? But in the whole course of my professional experience, I may say that my clients have never once disputed a single item in their bills. This, of course, is highly gratifying.”
The train rolled into Sloane-square.
“I get out here, Jones,” said I. “I am afraid we shall have to part. Tell me one thing before I go. In your walk of life you are doubtless called upon to cope with bores of every variety. How do you gather the immense store of information necessary for such a task?”
Jones leaned forward and whispered confidentially in my ear.
“Don’t give me away,” he said, “It’s like this. I have an excellent memory——”
“And I read the “Encyclopædia Britannica.” And the train rolled out of the station.
A few months later P.G. rewrote and expanded this story for Punch and titled it ‘Dudley Jones, Bore-Hunter.’