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The Lucky Month
by [?]

“Know thyself,” said the old Greek motto. (In Greek–but this is an English book.) So I bought a little red volume called, tersely enough, Were you born in January? I was; and, reassured on this point, the author told me all about myself.

For the most part he told me nothing new. “You are,” he said in effect, “good-tempered, courageous, ambitious, loyal, quick to resent wrong, an excellent raconteur, and a leader of men.” True. “Generous to a fault”–(Yes, I was overdoing that rather)–“you have a ready sympathy with the distressed. People born in this month will always keep their promises.” And so on. There was no doubt that the author had the idea all right. Even when he went on to warn me of my weaknesses he maintained the correct note. “People born in January,” he said, “must be on their guard against working too strenuously. Their extraordinarily active brains—-” Well, you see what he means. It is a fault perhaps, and I shall be more careful in future. Mind, I do not take offence with him for calling my attention to it. In fact, my only objection to the book is its surface application to all the people who were born in January. There should have been more distinction made between me and the rabble.

I have said that he told me little that was new. In one matter, however, he did open my eyes. He introduced me to an aspect of myself entirely unsuspected.

“They,” he said–meaning me, “have unusual business capacity, and are destined to be leaders in great commercial enterprises.”

One gets at times these flashes of self-revelation. In an instant I realised how wasted my life had been; in an instant I resolved that here and now I would put my great gifts to their proper uses. I would be a leader in an immense commercial enterprise.

One cannot start commercial enterprises without capital. The first thing was to determine the exact nature of my balance at the bank. This was a matter for the bank to arrange, and I drove there rapidly.

“Good morning,” I said to the cashier, “I am in rather a hurry. May I have my pass-book?”

He assented and retired. After an interminable wait, during which many psychological moments for commercial enterprise must have lapsed, he returned.

“I think you have it,” he said shortly.

“Thank you,” I replied, and drove rapidly home again.

A lengthy search followed; but after an hour of it one of those white-hot flashes of thought, such as only occur to the natural business genius, seared my mind and sent me post-haste to the bank again.

“After all,” I said to the cashier, “I only want to know my balance. What is it?”

He withdrew and gave himself up to calculation. I paced the floor impatiently. Opportunities were slipping by. At last he pushed a slip of paper across at me. My balance!

It was in four figures. Unfortunately two of them were shillings and pence. Still, there was a matter of fifty pounds odd as well, and fortunes have been built up on less.

Out in the street I had a moment’s pause. Hitherto I had regarded my commercial enterprise in the bulk, as a finished monument of industry; the little niggling preliminary details had not come up for consideration. Just for a second I wondered how to begin.

Only for a second. An unsuspected talent which has long lain dormant needs, when waked, a second or so to turn round in. At the end of that time I had made up my mind. I knew exactly what I would do. I would ring up my solicitor.

“Hallo, is that you? Yes, this is me. What? Yes, awfully, thanks. How are you? Good. Look here, come and lunch with me. What? No, at once. Good-bye.”

Business, particularly that sort of commercial enterprise to which I had now decided to lend my genius, can only be discussed properly over a cigar. During the meal itself my solicitor and I indulged in the ordinary small-talk of the pleasure-loving world.