Tom concentrated on each stroke of his pen, intent on forming each letter identically each time it occurred, maintaining a perfectly level line across the page. His goal was to make this copy look as if it had been printed, partly to stave off the boredom freezing the insides of his skull as stiff as the icicles hanging from the eaves. But mainly because Bacon would notice and recognize it as an unscoldable act of defiance.
Copying documents was the reason printing had been invented. The tiresome task should therefore never be inflicted on clerks merely to keep them occupied. Tom could think of a thousand things he would rather be doing than making fair copies of Francis Bacon’s advice letters. A thousand and one, even in February—even with no money.
Bacon would say, if he were to respond to the subtle stab, which he would never do, that he only wanted three copies, not a hundred, and most emphatically did not want every apprentice in St. Paul’s Churchyard reading his letters, which were meant for Queen Elizabeth and a select few of her privy councillors alone.
Valid objections—barely—but obvious ones, which is why he wouldn’t bother to express them. Nevertheless, Tom’s objection would have been registered, with no waste of breath—another silent point scored.