What is it about Herbert Leadbetter's face that a publisher wants to pay for?by Charlotte Cory / November 20, 2000 / Leave a comment
You have used my face, sir,” said Herbert Leadbetter, spluttering with anger.
“A fine face, if I may say so. Well suited to the purpose. It took us a long time to find the right face for the job.”
“For the author of Love’s Illusion. We combed far and wide.”
“But you have used it without my permission. You had no business.”
“On the contrary, sir. It is our business. We will pay you amply. Backdated, and with compound interest.”
Herbert Leadbetter stared at the man. Was he so out of touch? Had England changed so much during his 15-year absence that this kind of conversation was considered normal now?
“Pay me?” he repeated incredulously. Surely this made no commercial sense. And yet, as he himself would be the first to admit, Leadbetter possessed no commercial skills. He had shown himself lacking in whatever it was that enabled some men to turn their dreams and efforts into cash. He thought back to that dread morning a few months ago when the apologetic bailiff had arrived, puffing up the remote hill, a man with whom he had shared a drink on a number of occasions at the club. He had been pleasant enough while going about his wretched task, even managing to convince Herbert that he was doing him a favour, removing the worry, drawing a line. When all the machinery and chattels were labelled, the man had shaken him by the hand, thanked him for his cooperation and predicted that one day he would remember this moment and be glad. “I’ve seen it time and again, sir,” he said as he climbed back on to his horse. “My advice to you is to go back to England, put this behind you, start anew.”
“Grow what?” Margaret had demanded. She always said coffee was a mistake. Everyone knew it was tea that grew best in Ceylon. After 15 years she had been proved right. They had had to sell his father’s gold watch to pay for their passages home.
“Indeed,” Mr Preinter said. “We will pay you well.”
“For what, exactly?” Herbert pulled out a chair and sat down. Preinter, whose office this was, sat down too.
“For the use of your face, of course.”
“This is absurd. You have stolen…”
“We have taken nothing from you.”
“But there are people out there who believe…”
Herbert felt feverish.…