I had skipped the summer term at school, and it was not certain that I was going back at all. At the end of the previous term we had been given the entrance and junior freshman examinations for Trinty College, Dublin, and though I had managed to pass the entrance with a minimum of marks, mathematics stumped me in the junior fresh. My father said I was a disgrace to him and he was going to keep me home for the summer term and coach me himself, which he did until the novelty of the occupation wore off and his patience wore out.
My own ideas were all of the Americas, and I found the memorizing of odd phrases in Spanish and the reading of Mezzim's New York Sunday papers more diverting than the study of mathematics. One evening I was sitting on the bench outside the widow Hart's shop with Mezzim and Tom Redmond, and I said:
"I wish I knew what I was going to be."
And then Tom Redmond said:
"I've a cousin on the force back in Noo York. But you'd sure have to put on weight and grow a bit to be a cop. The force, that's where the real dough is to be made, you can take it from me."
And Mezzim said, tapping the newspaper on his lap:
"Ever hear of the I.C.S.?"
"No," I said. "What is it?"
"International Correspondence Schools," he said. And I waited and he held up the paper and read aloud:
"Salesmanship, bookkeeping, journalism, dentistry, window-trimming, sanitary-engineering, stenography and typing, interior decorating, advertising and a hundred other subjects to fit you for the battle of life in twentyfive lessons with handsomely engraved diploma. International Correspondence Schools, Seranton, Pennsylvania."
"And how do they learn you?" asked Tom. "And how do you think?" said Mezzim. "By correspondence."
"Ain't that wonderful, now!" said Tom,
"A course of twentyfive lessons in any chosen subject vill fit you for the battle of life," said Mezzim, "—by correspondence."
"What subject would you take if you were me?" I said.
"Advertising," Mezzim said. "It pays to advertise. Learn to sell everyman what he don't need at advance prices, and your pile is as good as made. It pays to advertise."
"Write me down the address and I'll send for particulars, "I said.
"Here's the ad in the Brooklyn Eagle," said Mezzim handing me the paper. "Take it along with you."
On the way home I met Paddy Carry's father who had been in America when he was young, and knew Buffalo Bill. Mr. Carry had long white hair and a Wellington nose and wore a tailcoat that made him look like a great green beetle from behind. He was very deaf, so I shouted at him:
"How are you, Mr. Carry? It's a fine day!" And Mr. Carry said:
"O Lord, O Lord, O Lord!" Which he always said before he said anything else.
"You've lived in the United States, Mr. Carry," I shouted. "What is your opinion of the I.C.S.?"
"All I can say to you about the United States, my lad, is this," he said: "Never travel unarmed in foreign countries."
When I got home there was a letter from the new warden of Saint Columba's, saying he would like me to go back to school for another couple of terms on account of the football team, and he would personally coach me in the subjects I was having trouble with. My father asked me if I wanted to go back. I told him about the I.C.S. of Scranton, Pennsylvanis, and how they equipped you for the battle of life in twentyfive lessons and taught you how to sell people things they did not need at advance prices. And my father said:
"Who on earth has been talking such drivil to you?"
"Father O'Sullivan, and it's not drivil. Here's the advertisement," I said.
"Well," said my father, after reading it over, "I'll have a talk with him. If these I.C.S. people can drive anything into your head by correspondence or otherwise they'll be working miracles. But in the meantime, another term or two at Saint Columba's won't do you any harm."