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PRIZE STORIES OF 1924

Davenant. Why he ever picked out Frances—but he did, to the temporary discomfiture of the prophets, who had to fall back upon the comment that poor Frances sometimes seemed a little dazed with her own good fortune. They had been married three years, and had a son who looked absurdly like Dicky from the first—that Dicky’s first child should be a son was as much to be expected as that it should be spoken of as Dicky’s son—and everybody knew how well Dicky was doing with D. Davenant and Co.—when David Davenant came to the Jeromes' for dinner one night.

His coming was not quite as much of an individual triumph for Dicky’s luck as it sounds. After all—David Davenant had known Frances’ father—and David was famous for keeping rather uncanny track of the private affairs of his brilliant young men. But for all that, Frances must have been rather excited about that evening. As for Dicky, who never was nervous—the evening must have made him believe more firmly than ever in his peculiar star.

You can see Frances, shy and anxious—a gentle kitten being modestly polite to a king, whenever opportunity offered, which was seldom, for Dicky carried the brunt of the conversation with his usual aplomb. And David—looking at Frances—and looking again!

What could it have been in Frances that stirred such in- tense and ruthless purpose in the heart of a dour, self-sufficient man some twenty years older than herself? A gaunt lion, staring enchanted at a spray of spring cherry blossoms—a cold king, stung to the soul by beauty demure as a child’s, unconscious as a child’s. But it happened—and Frances, I think, did not even know it was happening, in spite of what people said later. The king came to dinner oftener—the other brilliant young men began to watch Dicky with wary eyes. One wonders if David of Israel ever went to dinner at the Uriahs—and if the captains of his host were envious and said that Uriah had all the luck.

Modern kings manage these affairs a little less crudely, perhaps, than their forbears did. The blue envelope has supplanted the executioner’s sword. So David did not set Dicky in the forefront of the battle and bid his companions retire from him that he might die. Instead he raised Dicky’s salary and sent him on a trip of investigation to Cholopan.