Linford Pratt, senior clerk to Eldrick& Pascoe, solicitors, of Barford, a young man who earnestly desired to get on in life, by hook or by crook, with no objection whatever to crookedness, so long as it could be performed in safety and secrecy, had once during one of his periodical visits to the town Reference Library, lighted on a maxim of that other unscrupulous person, Prince Talleyrand, which had pleased him greatly. With time and patience, said Talleyrand, the mulberry leaf is turned into satin. This seemed to Linford Pratt one of the finest and soundest pieces of wisdom which he had ever known put into words.

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