—first in the drawing-room floor in Gower Street with my aunt sometimes, helping very shrewdly, and then, with a steadily improving type of cigar and older and older whiskey, in his snuggery at their first house, the one in Beckenham. Often we worked far into the night—sometimes until dawn.
We really worked infernally hard, and, I recall, we worked with a very decided enthusiasm, not simply on my uncle's part but mine. It was a game, an absurd but absurdly interesting game, and the points were scored in cases of bottles. People think a happy notion is enough to make a man rich, that fortunes can be made without toil. It's a dream, as every millionaire (except one or two lucky gamblers) can testify; I doubt if J. D. Rockefeller in the early days of Standard Oil, worked harder than we did. We worked far into the night—and we also worked all day. We made a rule to be always dropping in at the factory unannounced to keep things right—for at first we could afford no properly responsible underlings—and we travelled London, pretending to be our own representatives and making all sorts of special arrangements.
But none of this was my special work, and as soon as we could get other men in, I dropped the travelling, though my uncle found it particularly interesting and kept it up for years. "Does me good, George, to see the chaps behind their counters like I was once," he explained. My special and distinctive duty was to give Tono-Bungay substance and an outward and visible bottle, to translate my uncle's great imaginings into the creation of case after case of labelled bottles of nonsense, and the punctual discharge of them by railway, road and steamer towards their ultimate goal in the