ELEVEN
A FIRM OF SOLICITORS

The firm of Eden and Martineau had been established, under the name of G. J. Eden, Solicitor, by Eden's father in the 'eighties. It was a good time for the town, despite shadows of depression outside; by the pure geographical chance of being just outside the great coal-and-iron-fields, it was beginning to collect several light industries instead of a single heavy one. And it was still a country market and a centre for litigious farmers. The elder Eden got together a comfortable business almost from the beginning.

His son became junior partner in 1896; Martineau joined when the father died, ten years later. Through the next twenty years, down to the time when George was employed, the firm maintained a solid standing. It never obtained any unusual success in making money: a lack of drive in the Edens seemed to have prevented that. The firm, though well thought of in the town, was not among the three most prosperous solicitors. It is doubtful whether Harry Eden ever touched £2,000 a year.

From the moment he entered it, George bore a deep respect for the firm; and-still, nearly three years after, would say how grateful he was to Martineau for "having somehow got past the opposition and wangled me the job." His pride in the firm should not have surprised us, though it sometimes did. It seemed strange to notice George identifying himself with a solid firm of solicitors in a provincial town -- but of course it is not the Georges, the rebels of the world, who are indifferent to authority and institutions. The Georges cannot be indifferent easily; if they are in an institution, it may have to be changed, but it becomes part of themselves. George in the firm was, on a minor scale, something like George in his

-82-

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