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16. CHAPTER XVI (continued)
"Would you call the Porphyrion one of the big Insurance Companies?" pursued Margaret.
"It depends on what you call big."
"I mean by big, a solid, well-established concern, that offers a reasonably good career to its employes."
"I couldn't say--some would tell you one thing and others another," said the employe uneasily. "For my own part"--he shook his head--" I only believe half I hear. Not that even; it's safer. Those clever ones come to the worse grief, I've often noticed. Ah, you can't be too careful."
He drank, and wiped his moustache, which was going to be one of those moustaches that always droop into tea-cups--more bother than they're worth, surely, and not fashionable either.
"I quite agree, and that's why I was curious to know; is it a solid, well-established concern?"
Leonard had no idea. He understood his own corner of the machine, but nothing beyond it. He desired to confess neither knowledge nor ignorance, and under these circumstances, another motion of the head seemed safest. To him, as to the British public, the Porphyrion was the Porphyrion of the advertisement--a giant, in the classical style, but draped sufficiently, who held in one hand a burning torch, and pointed with the other to St. Paul's and Windsor Castle. A large sum of money was inscribed below, and you drew your own conclusions. This giant caused Leonard to do arithmetic and write letters, to explain the regulations to new clients, and re-explain them to old ones. A giant was of an impulsive morality--one knew that much. He would pay for Mrs. Munt's hearthrug with ostentatious haste, a large claim he would repudiate quietly, and fight court by court. But his true fighting weight, his antecedents, his amours with other members of the commercial Pantheon--all these were as uncertain to ordinary mortals as were the escapades of Zeus. While the gods are powerful, we learn little about them. It is only in the days of their decadence that a strong light beats into heaven.
"We were told the Porphyrion's no go," blurted Helen. "We wanted to tell you; that's why we wrote."
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