Page:Court Royal.djvu/120

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to take care of myself. Tell me now, who is this Charles Cheek?’

‘He is the offspring of the Monokeratic principle.’

‘Of what?’

‘Of the Monokeratic system of business,’ answered Lazarus.

‘I do not understand.’

‘I will explain to you. Sit down, child, on the other side of the fire. Old Joe Cheek—Lord! I knew him well, years ago, with a little shop and a long head. He was in Devonport when he began, but Devonport wasn’t a sphere for one like him, so he moved up country. Not content with a small retail shop, he opened a store of combined grocery, haberdashery, stationery, hosiery, wines, drugs, and oriental goods, and sold everything for ready money. Others have done the same, but not on the Monokeratic system.’

‘What is that?’

‘Well, he advertised all over England, “Try Cheek’s Monokeratic system.” “Monokeratic” is a Greek word, and means “the unicorn.” Cheek’s system is the unicorn system. That is the principle on which he does business and realises a great fortune.’

‘What is the unicorn system?’

‘The system of ready money. Most tradesmen have two systems—the cash system and the credit system, and they do business on both. Cheek does solely ready-money business.’

‘So do others, but they don’t call it by so wonderful a name.’

‘Exactly, and that is why they don’t make it answer so well. It is because Cheek calls a simple thing by a sounding name that he does a roaring trade. You know nothing, Joanna, worth calling knowledge if you do not know this, that English people love humbug as Italians love oil and Spaniards love garlic. Nothing goes down with them in politics, religion, business, unless it be seasoned to rankness with humbug. Mr. Cheek is sufficiently man of the world to know that, and sufficiently clever to take advantage of it. If old Joe Cheek did as others, and sold for tenpence cash what his neighbours sold for a shilling credit, he would not have many customers, but he has managed very cleverly. Every article is priced at credit value, and when a customer leaves his shop he is given a cheque for the discount. He pays full credit price as cash, and receives the discount back as a cheque to be deducted from his bill when next he purchases at Cheek’s. Do you under-