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13. OUT OF SCHOOL
Mark you, I am not defending James Datchett. I hold no brief for James. On the contrary, I am very decidedly of the opinion that he should not have done it. I merely say that there were extenuating circumstances. Just that. Ext. circ. Nothing more.
Let us review the matter calmly and judicially, not condemning James off-hand, but rather probing the whole affair to its core, to see if we can confirm my view that it is possible to find excuses for him.
We will begin at the time when the subject of the Colonies first showed a tendency to creep menacingly into the daily chit-chat of his Uncle Frederick.
James's Uncle Frederick was always talking more or less about the Colonies, having made a substantial fortune out in Western Australia, but it was only when James came down from Oxford that the thing became really menacing. Up to that time the uncle had merely spoken of the Colonies as Colonies. Now he began to speak of them with sinister reference to his nephew. He starred James. It became a case of 'Frederick Knott presents James Datchett in "The Colonies",' and there seemed every prospect that the production would be an early one; for if there was one section of the public which Mr Knott disliked more than another, it was Young Men Who Ought To Be Out Earning Their Livings Instead Of Idling At Home. He expressed his views on the subject with some eloquence whenever he visited his sister's house. Mrs Datchett was a widow, and since her husband's death had been in the habit of accepting every utterance of her brother Frederick as a piece of genuine all-wool wisdom; though, as a matter of fact, James's uncle had just about enough brain to make a jay-bird fly crooked, and no more. He had made his money through keeping sheep. And any fool can keep sheep. However, he had this reputation for wisdom, and what he said went. It was not long, therefore, before it was evident that the ranks of the Y.M.W.O.T.B.O.E.T.L.I. O.I.A.H. were about to lose a member.
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