Short Stories to Read and Discuss

10 October 2016

The first letter had come six months before, he did not read it and threw it into the fire. No man ever had less reason for jealousy than Ainsley. His wife was frank as the day, a splendid housekeeper, a very good mother to their two children. He knew that Dicky Soames had been fond of Adela and the fact that Dicky Soames had years back gone away to join his and Adela’s uncle made no difference to him. He was afraid that some day Dicky would return and take Adela from him. Ainsley did not take the letter when he was at work as his fellow-workers could see him do it.

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So when the working hours were over he went out of the post-office together with his fellow workers, then he returned to take the letter addressed to his wife. As the door of the post-office was locked, he had to get in through a window. When he was getting out of the window the postmaster saw him. He got angry and dismissed Ainsley. So another man was hired and Ainsley became unemployed. Their life became hard; they had to borrow money from their friends. Several months had passed. One afternoon when Ainsley came home he saw the familiar face of Dicky Soames. “So he had turned up,” Ainsley thought to himself.

Dicky Soames said he was delighted to see Ainsley. “I have missed all of you so much,” he added with a friendly smile. Ainsley looked at his wife. “Uncle Tom has died,” she explained “and Dicky has come into his money”. “Congratulation,” said Ainsley, “you are lucky. ” Adela turned to Dicky. “Tell Arthur the rest,” she said quietly. “Well, you see,” said Dicky, “Uncle Tom had something over sixty thousand and he wished Adela to have half. But he got angry with you because Adela never answered the two letters I wrote to her for him. Then he changed his will and left her money to hospitals.

I asked him not to do it, but he wouldn’t listen to me! ” Ainsley turned pale. “So those two letters were worth reading after all,” he thought to himself. For some time everybody kept silence. Then Dicky Soames broke the silence, “It’s strange about those two letters. I’ve often wondered why you didn’t answer them? ” Adela got up, came up to her husband and said, taking him by the hand. “The letters were evidently lost. ” At that moment Ansley realized that she knew everything. Success Story J. G. Cozzens I met Richards ten or more years ago when I first went down to Cuba.

He was a short, sharp-faced, agreeable chap, then about 22. He introduced himself to me on the boat and I was surprised to find that Panamerica Steel was sending us both to the same Richards was from some not very good state university engineering schooP. Being the same age myself, and just out of technical college I saw at once that his knowledge was rather poor. In fact I couldn’t imagine how he had managed to get this job. Richards was naturally likable, and I liked him a lot. The firm had a contract for the construction of a private railroad. For Richards and me it was mostly an easy job of inspections and routine paper work.

At least it was easy for me. It was harder for Richards, because he didn’t appear to have mastered the use of a slide rule. When he asked me to check his figures I found his calculations awful. “Boy,” I was at last obliged to say, “you are undoubtedly the silliest white man in this province. Look, stupid, didn’t you evertake arithmetic? How much are seven times thirteen? ” “Work that out,” Richards said, “and let me have a report tomorrow. ” So when I had time I checked his figures for him, and the inspector only caught him in a bad mistake about twice.

In January several directors of the United Sugar Company came down to us on business, but mostly pleasure; a good excuse to ‘get south on a vacation. Richards and I were to accompany them around the place. One of the directors, Mr. Prosset was asking a number of questions. I knew the job well enough to answer every sensible question – the sort of question that a trained engineer would be likely to ask. As it was Mr. Prosset was not an engineer and some of his questions put me at a loss. For the third time I was obliged to say, “I’m afraid I don’t know, sir. We haven’t any calculations on that”.

When suddenly Richards spoke up. “I think, about nine million cubic feet, sir”, he said. “I just happened to be working this out last night. Just for my own interest”. “Oh,” said Mr. Prosset, turning in his seat and giving him a sharp look. “That’s very interesting, Mr. -er- Richards, isn’t it? Well, now, maybe you could tell me about”. Richards could. Richards knew everything. All the way up Mr. Prosset fired questions on him and he fired answers right back. When we reached the head of the rail, a motor was waiting for Mr. Prosset. He nodded absent-mindedly to me, shook hands with Richards. Very interesting, indeed,” he said. “Good-bye, Mr. Richards, and thank you. ” “Not, at all, sir,” Richards said. “Glad if I could be of service to you. ” As soon as the car moved off, I exploded. “A little honest bluff doesn’t hurt; but some of your figures…! ” “I like to please,” said Richards grinning. “If a man like Prosset wants to know something, who am I to hold out on him? ” “What’s he going to think when he looks up the figures or asks somebody who does know? ” “Listen, my son,” said Richards kindly. “He wasn’t asking for any information he was going to use.

He doesn’t want to know these figures. He won’t remember them. I don’t even remember them myself. What he is going to remember is you and me. ” “Yes,” said Richards firmly. “He is going to remember that Panamerica Steel has a bright young man named Richards who could tell him everything, he wanted, – just the sort of chap he can use; not like that other fellow who took no interest in his work, couldn’t answer the simplest question and who is going to be doing small-time contracting all his life. ” It is true. I am still working for the Company, still doing a little work for the construction line.

And Richards? I happened to read in a newspaper a few weeks ago that Richards had been made a vice-resident and director of Panamerica Steel when the Prosset group bought the old firm. Hunting for a Job S. S. McClure I reached Boston late that night and got out at the South Station. I knew no one in Boston except Miss Bennet. She lived in Somerville, and I immediately started out for Somerville. Miss Bennet and her family did all they could to make me comfortable and help me to get myself established’ in some way. I had only six dollars and their hospitality was of utmost importance to me.

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