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An essay by Robert Cortes Holliday

As To Office Boys

Title:     As To Office Boys
Author: Robert Cortes Holliday [More Titles by Holliday]

Mr. MacCrary is in the real estate business. It is incident to Mr. MacCrary's business that he has to employ an office boy. This position as factotum in the office of Mr. MacCrary is subject to much vicissitude.

The first of the interesting line of boys successively employed by Mr. MacCrary was an office boy by profession; by natural talent and inclination he was a liar. He was a gifted liar, a brilliant and a versatile liar; a liar of resource, of imagination. He was a liar of something very near to genius. He lied for the love of lying. With him a lie was a thing of art. An artist for art's sake, he, and for art's sake alone. Like an amateur in short, a distinguished amateur, who is too proud to sell his lies, but willingly gives one away, now and then to some highly valued and much admiring friend. This boy would start with a little lie, then, as he progressed in his story, the wonderful possibilities of the thing would open up before him; he would grasp them and contort them, twist them into shape, and produce, create, a thing magnificent, stupendous, a thing which fairly made one gasp. He, a mere boy! It was wonderful.

On the last day he came into the office and said: "Runaway down the street, Mr. MacCrary."

"Is that so?" said Mr. MacCrary.

"Yes," said the boy, "ran over a woman, killed her dead."

"You don't say!" exclaimed Mr. MacCrary.

"I should say so," said the boy; "killed the baby in her arms, too."

"What!" cried Mr. MacCrary, "did she have a baby in her arms?"

"And that ain't all," continued the boy, "ran on down the street and into a trolley car."

"And killed all the passengers!" exclaimed Mr. MacCrary.

"And the conductor," added the boy, "broke all the horse's legs, smashed the wagon, driver went insane from scare. They're shootin' the horse now," said the boy.

Mr. MacCrary dismissed this boy that he might find a sphere more suited to his ability than the real estate business, which, to tell the truth, was evidently a little bourgeoise for his genius.

The next boy was not particularly gifted in any direction, but he was mysterious. Upon a client's coming into the office during Mr. MacCrary's absence he, the client, was sure to be impressed by two circumstances: First, that there was no one in the office until he entered; secondly, that the boy had strangely appeared from nowhere in particular, and was following in close upon his heels. This consistently illustrates the whole course of this boy's conduct throughout the time he remained with Mr. MacCrary.

The third boy, that is the present one, is not exactly mysterious, but he is peculiar. He attends strictly to his own business. He believes himself to be here for that purpose, apparently. He does not meddle with Mr. MacCrary's business. That is no concern of his. He is imbued with the good old adage: "If you want a thing well done, do it yourself." He follows this excellent principle himself, and believes others should do likewise. This boy is very sapient, and a wonderful student. His nature is more receptive than creative. He procures heavy sheep-skin-bound volumes from the circulating library, and his taste in literature, for one of his age, is unique. These books generally relate to primitive man, and contain exciting engravings of his stone hatchets and cooking utensils. He is also fond of perusing horticulture journals, these being the only magazines which he enjoys. When the first of these appeared about the office, Mr. MacCrary picked up one and inquired:

"What is this, James?"

"Oh!" exclaimed James, "there's some fine pictures of berries in there." James is too scholarly for real estate, and will soon, no doubt, follow in the way of his earlier predecessor to the intellectual life.

[The end]
Robert Cortes Holliday's essay: As To Office Boys