Page:O Henry Prize Stories of 1924.djvu/94

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—but I realize that the job for which a man is best suited is seldom the one that appeals to him. Besides, as a private, you would have much less responsibility—which is always pleasanter.” The unit Frank had intended to join went overseas without him. He went to camp and spent his war service training recruits in Texas. But the recruits were well trained—even David would have admitted that.

After the war he came back to the house on Riverside Drive, and David frigidly offered him a chance with D. Davenant and Co. “You realize that, though the other men may not think so at first, you will be treated exactly like any other employee. Your success, should you make it, you will have to make yourself. I have never played favourites.”

Frank smiled. “Of course, sir.” At last they were coming to grips.

“In fact,” said David, doubtfully, “—don’t grin at me, Frank !—it will probably be a little harder for you than the ordinary man. Your superiors will be informed that you need expect no private favours from me——”

“Very well, sir.”

“Very well. You will report at the office in the morning. I shall, naturally, discontinue your allowance, but you may live here if you prefer it.”

“I'll pay you rent.”

“Don’t be nonsensical,” said David, contemptuously.

“Then I'll live somewhere else.”

A gleam lighted David’s eyes.

“As you please. However, in that case—if you wish to stay here—you may pay me the average rent my clerks pay.” He named figures.

“Very well.”

Frank had been working six months when he made the discovery. Gossip sleeps—but it does not die. He overheard the office whispers behind his back—the whispers that called him Uriah’s son. So he came to know, at last.

When he was quite sure, and the first bitterness was still upon him, he went to David. It was after a dinner as silent as most of their meals together. The interview took place in the vast, funereal room whence David had sent him out that time to look for the cigar box in the closet under the stairs. David had just lighted one of that same brand of cigars.