Average Jones HTML version

IX. The Man Who Spoke Latin
Mementoes of Average Jones' exploits in his chosen field hang on the walls of his quiet
sanctum. Here the favored visitor may see the two red-ink dots on a dated sheet of
paper, framed in with the card of a chemist and an advertised sale of lepidopteroe,
which drove a famous millionaire out of the country. Near by are displayed the
exploitation of a lure for black-bass, strangely perforated (a man's reason hung on those
pin-pricks), and a scrawled legend which seems to spell "Mercy" (two men's lives were
sacrificed to that); while below them, set in somber black, is the funeral notice of a dog
worth a million dollars; facing the call for a trombone-player which made a mayor, and
the mathematical formula which saved a governor. But nowhere does the observer find
any record of one of the Ad-Visor's most curious cases, running back two thousand
years; for its owner keeps it in his desk drawer, whence the present chronicler exhumed
it, by accident, one day. Average Jones has always insisted that he scored a failure on
this, because, through no possible fault of his own, he was unable to restore a
document of the highest historical and literary importance. Of that, let the impartial
reader judge.
It was while Average Jones was waiting for a break of that deadlock of events which,
starting from the flat-dweller with the poisoned face, finally worked out the strange fate
of Telfik Bey, that he sat, one morning, breakfasting late. The cool and breezy inner
portico of the Cosmic Club, where small tables overlook a gracious fountain shimmering
with the dart and poise of goldfish, was deserted save for himself, a summer-
engagement star actor, a specialist in carbo-hydrates, and a famous adjuster of labor
troubles; the four men being fairly typical of the club's catholicity of membership.
Contrary to his impeccant habit, Average Jones bore the somewhat frazzled aspect of a
man who has been up all night. Further indication of this inhered in the wide yawn, of
which he was in mid-enjoyment, when a hand on his shoulder cut short his ecstasy.
"Sorry to interrupt so valuable an exercise," said a languid voice. "But--" and the voice
"Hello, Bert," returned the Ad-Visor, looking up at the faultlessly clad slenderness of his
occasional coadjutor, Robert Bertram. "Sit down and keep me awake till the human
snail who's hypothetically ministering to my wants can get me some coffee."
"What particular phase of intellectual debauchery have you been up to now?" inquired
Bertram, lounging into the chair opposite.
"Trying to forget my troubles by chasing up a promising lead which failed to pan, out.
'Wanted: a Tin Nose,' sounds pretty good, eh?"
"It is music to my untutored ear," answered Bertram.