I READ an article a while ago which stated that any young man today should think himself lucky to have a job, and not complain about the job; and I guess that is my condition. I am lucky because I have a job, and I have a job because I am lucky.
It is this way, I am the assistant to Mr. H. C. Grant, who is the president of the Grant Clothing Company, which, I suppose, is a firm you have never heard of unless you are in the clothing business. We make a great many suits of clothes and we sell nearly all that we make, unless something goes wrong with them, such as the time the painter knocked over a gallon of paint, or the time which I am going to tell you about. You have probably seen some of our suits in stores, and, if I may say so, have probably bought them if you have seen them, for we make a very nice suit, if I do say so. Only you would not know we made the suit. The chances are you would think it was made by the store where you bought it, as it would have the name of that store sewed in on a very fancy label. We buy those labels from a label company and sew them on. Anyway, there are many clothing companies like us all over the country, and we are one of the most up-and-coming of them all, if I do say so, and Mr. Grant, who is the president, is a very intelligent man, and I am Mr. Grant's assistant.
That is, I am until the next time he loses his temper. And if I am lucky it will probably be some time before he loses it again, for I intend to be very careful and be very lucky.
I suppose that sounds funny, to say that I intend to be lucky, but as a matter of fact I think that is the way it works out. I had never thought I was such a lucky chap until this time when Mr. Grant took me on a little trip he was making, to help with the driving and carry his sample case and things like that. I was not working for Mr. Grant regularly at that time, in fact I was not working anywhere regularly at that time, having graduated not so long before, and I would not have gone with Mr. Grant if the fellow he usually took had not got sick. I don't suppose it would be rigid to say that that was lucky for me, so I will not say it.
Anyway, Mr. Grant did not seem to be in the very best of tempers on that trip, and I cannot say that we had been getting along very well. I really liked Mr. Grant a good deal, in spite of his not being in a good temper, and besides I thought there were probably a great many jobs in his factory that did not come in contact with Mr. Grant, and so l was trying very hard to make it a more pleasant trip for Mr. Grant, and to do that, I thought I should do something to put him in a better temper.
The first opportunity I had was when he came out of a big store where he had been for several hours, and he said, “Well, that’s a piece of luck, anyway, I got an order for five hundred suits from that old chiseller.”
“Yes, Mr. Grant,” I said, “that always happens when I’m around. I bring people luck. It's a very funny thing. I've noticed it many times.”
That afternoon when we had a flat tire, I looked around and I saw that it had happened right in front of a gas station, and I said to Mr. Grant, “See? Whenever I have a flat tire it is right in front of a gas station.” I was waiting for him to ask why, if I was so lucky, I should have any flat tires at all, but he did not think of that, and so it was all right.
“I may also say,” he added, just a little sarcastic, “that you certainly are a lucky fellow, because the gas tank is nearly empty, and unless I'm mistaken you hadn't noticed it.” That did not seem to leave me anything more to say, so I said nothing.
Later in the day it began to rain very hard, and I must say it was not so easy to keep driving and trying to watch for the signs on an unfamiliar road, and I did feel that Mr. Grant, even if he was my employer, perhaps could have stayed awake and helped me look for the signs. Maybe it was my fault that we took the wrong road, but I was glad I did, for when we got home that night we learned that there had been an accident on the road we should have taken. The bridge had washed out and a car had skidded into the river. Of course it had happened several hours after we would have passed by there, but Mr. Grant had not noticed that and I did not feel it necessary to point it out to him; and I was glad I did not, for he looked at me in a funny way and a few days later I was not too surprised when he offered me a position.
That is why I say I have a job because I am lucky; or rather, to be more exact, I got a job because I am lucky. I must say that I think it is more than luck that has enabled me to keep my job, and I do think it would be much more pleasant if Mr. Grant thought so too, but from certain remarks he has made I am afraid he does not. In fact I think he expresses his opinion on the subject a great deal more often than is altogether necessary.
“All that luck,” he is constantly saying, “and no brains at all.”
WELL, THIS day about two weeks ago I was a little late getting back from lunch. Our lunch hour is from twelve to one, and it was 1.43 when I got in, but I could not help it, and I was not able to tell Mr. Grant the reason why I could not help it. I had taken a little ride outside town after I ate my lunch, because it happened to be an unusually attractive day, and it had not taken me very long to eat my lunch because it was a Thursday. We get paid on Friday. I had a short but pleasant ride, and was returning toward the town when I saw that a car had run off the edge of the road into the ditch. It was Mr. Grant’s big sedan and it was not Mr. Grant driving the sedan; it was his daughter, Barbara. You would have thought she would have been very glad to see me under the circumstances, but Barbara has a way of not showing what she is feeling.
“Oh!” she said, “it’s you. Well, can you at least figure out how to get me out of here?”
That did not sound very cordial, but she looked very attractive, sitting there on the running board with her feet in the ditch, all bundled up in an old coat of her lather’s. I remember thinking that she looked even prettier when she looked sad like that, because you expect a round pretty face like that to be laughing, and when it isn't, you notice it, if you see what I mean. Of course Barbara is much younger than I am, being only sixteen now, while I am nearly nineteen, but she is really a very intelligent girl even though she has a way of hiding the fact, just as sometimes she hides the fact that—I believe—she likes me. Only the year before I had been a senior at high school and on the football team besides, and Barbara had been in a lower form, and in a town like ours that is the kind of thing which is not immediately wiped out by the fact that I am working for her father. In fact, I had always been friendly with Barbara, and even with Mr. Grant before I started to work for him.
Anyway, here she was, sitting on the running board of the car in a very attractive and helpless way, without any idea of what to do about it.
"Shall I call the garage?” I suggested.
“No, stupid,” said Barbara, "you shall not. I’m not supposed to be driving this car.”
“In that case,” I said gallantly, “I will pull you out myself.” Barbara looked a little sceptical, and I did not blame her. The Grant car is very big and my car is not. “If you'll help,” I added.
I rigged a tow rope, but when I tried to pull we did not move, because one of my wheels was slipping quite a bit in the mud. I got out and put some gravel under it and then got back in quickly and started again. Of course I should have looked back to see where Barbara was but then of course I had no way of knowing she had got out of her car. Before she could make herself heard quite a bit of the mud seemed to have transferred itself from under my spinning wheel to Barbara. I still cannot see how that was my fault, but of course it was a shame it had to happen.
Anyway, we got the big car back on the road. I could see by her face that Barbara was grateful—I hoped but she only said something about it being lucky for me that she did not have her good clothes on. Then, all at once she came out with it.
“That is certainly going to be some affair," she said, “that Spring Formal.”
Now I should explain that it had been in my mind for some time to ask Barbara to go with me to the Spring Formal, because of course I wished to take he, but there had been just one thing stopping me. And that was a tuxedo. I mean, that I did not have one. The dance was a big affair, and I did not feel that Barbara would want to go with me if I did not have a tuxedo. Last year the question had not troubled me as there was nobody I wished to take. Barbara was much younger of course at that time. So I had put off asking her to go with me this year because of this problem, and I was sorry to see that she had found it necessary to ask me first, especially as it put me in a rather embarrassing position.
“It certainly is,” I agreed. “I would love to go, wouldn't you?”
“I certainly would,” Barbara said. “I'd just love to. I know at least a couple of other fellows who are getting ready to ask me, but since you’ve asked me first I’ll go with you.”
Well, you can see that I was greatly taken aback by that, as it had not been my intention to ask her, in fact I had not asked her; but the fact that she thought I had, of made it much harder for me to explain that I could not ask her since I had no tuxedo. I could not think of anything to say, and that was my great mistake.
“That will be just fine,” Barbara said, and she smiled at me in such a pleased and really quite excited way that I could say no more, especially as she drove away.
DRIVING back to town, I found that I did not feel so badly about it, however; I was indeed anxious to go to the dance, and I suppose a tuxedo is a thing which a man should always have. Of course I could not have afforded it, but since I now had to buy one, that made it different. There is a store in town where you can buy suits for something down and something a week, and I made up my mind to go in there that very afternoon. I suppose it sounds funny to be in the clothing business and to have to buy a suit somewhere, but the trouble is that the Grant Clothing Company does not make tuxedos. If they did, I would not have been in this trouble.
Anyway, you can see that all that made me a little late getting back to the office, as I have said, and that it would not have been the gentlemanly thing to have told Mr. Grant why, and besides I knew that if I did Barbara would be furious. So when I saw that Mr. Grant was angry, there was nothing I could do about it, and besides I did not know then how angry he was. Not only he, but Mr. D’Angelo. Mr. D’Angelo is our designer, and he is a very nice man even if he does have a very terrible temper. I suppose it is because he is Italian. It is really worse than Mr. Grant’s temper, but I think I prefer it.
This day he was standing there, and he was shaking all over.
“Without vests,” he was saying, and his voice was sort of squeaky. “One day I am away, and we start making suits without vests.”
“Tropicals?” I said. That was just to show him I am on my toes, that I know what we are doing around the factory. We had been making up, earlier in the year, some nice two-piece tropicals.
"Tropicals!” he yells, and his voice is working fine now. “I should say not tropicals! Good heavy woollen suits, nice brown woollen suits for winter, and they do not have any vests!”
“Just tell him the whole story,” Mr. Grant said, and I could see he was being very controlled. “Just tell him the whole story and see if he can explain it.”
D'Angelo tried to get controlled too, but I could see it was a lot of trouble. “That brown lot of suits,” he said, “shop number 296. Two-nine-six. You hear me? I am walking through the shop, looking at the coats, and I see the coats look very well, they are up to off-pressing already. And I see the pants lying there on the table, waiting to be matched in. So I look around for the vests, to see how they look, and do I see any vests? I do not. No vests! You hear what I’m telling you? The suits are finished, but there aren't any vests!”
While he was talking I had got out the ticket, 296, that he was talking about. I found it without any trouble—if I do say so I don’t lose many things—and I took a quick look at it and then I wished I could lose it again. But I couldn’t; Mr. Grant had seen it already, and he reached out his hand for it.
I had made out the ticket, and I must say there was no mistaking my writing. The instructions, too, were as clear as day; there was no mistaking them. Coat 27, it said. Pants 11. That means pattern number 27 for the coats and 11 for the trousers. It didn’t say a word about vests.
Well, there it was as plain as day. I guess nothing I could have said would have made it much better, but I guess what I did say maybe did make it worse.
I said, “Gee, I remember noticing that ticket when it came back.”
“What did you notice about it, George?” said Mr. Grant, very quiet like.
“I noticed those suits only took two and seven-eighths yards per suit,” I answered promptly. Now that should have shown him that I was beginning to notice and to learn a lot of things about the clothing business, because ordinarily we don’t get a suit out of less than three and an eighth yards, or maybe three and a quarter, but it didn't seem to impress Mr. Grant very much.
“And what did you think, George?” he asked.
“I thought the goods must have been extra wide,” I said.
“Oh,” said Mr. Grant, “he thought the goods was extra wide.”
“Or maybe the sizes were unusually small,” I said.
“Oh,” said Mr. Grant, and he sat down and held his head for a while. As I said, I can see now that what I said was evidently the wrong thing to say, so I said something else.
“Could we cut in some vests to match?” I said, mostly to Mr. D’Angelo.
“To match?” he said. “You took a look at that goods, George?”
That’s one thing about the clothing business which I guess you don’t know if you're not in it, and that is that all parts of a suit have to be cut out of adjacent pieces in the cloth, or they don’t match. Every bolt differs from the next, and even the same piece of goods is apt to have a different shade at one end than it has at the other. So you can see how impossible it would have been to cut twenty-five more vests to match. If I had thought of that, I would not have asked Mr. D’Angelo that question, because that was a funny shade of goods and we had already had some trouble with it.
WELL, THERE was nothing I could say to make the situation any better for myself. Of course I was not wholly to blame, because the cutting room should have noticed it before they cut the suits; but I suppose they remembered, just as I did, how we had been making the two-piece tropicals, and so it seemed natural to them. And besides that, no matter who should have noticed the mistake, it was made in my handwriting.
“Mr. Grant,” I said, “I cannot tell you how I feel about this. That was very dumb of me. Mr. Grant, I would like to do something to make it right. Will you sell me those suits?”
“Sell them to you?” he said. “How could I? I wouldn’t even know what to charge.”
“Charge just what you would have if they d been right, I said. “That mistake was my fault. I'd like to pay for it."
“Certainly not,” he said. “That wouldn’t be right at all. This is a business, or it's supposed to be, and I m running it, or I'm supposed to be. If I put you or anyone in a position where he can make a mistake like that, that was my mistake, and the loss is mine.”
“In spite of that,” I said, and I said it very calmly and with a great deal of dignity, which I hoped Mr. Grant would notice is the way to deal with these things, “in spite of that, I must insist that you sell them to me.”
His eyes sort of popped a little more, but he just said, “What kind of a boss do you think I am, anyway?”
Since it did not seem the time to answer that question, I ignored it.
“Buying the suits doesn’t help, George,” he said. “It fixes it up for this time, but not for good. You can’t fix it up for good, because it’s a mistake—it’s the kind of a mistake we can’t have around a plant like this.”
That sounded to me like he was winding up to fire me again, so I didn't give him any time to finish. “I’d like to buy them, nevertheless,” I said. “If I leave here I wouldn’t want to leave with the idea that my carelessness had cost you money.”
“Who said anything about your leaving here?” he said, and he said it so pleasantly that I realized that for once I would have to admit that I was lucky.
“I feel, Mr. Grant, as though I really should insist,” I said politely. “Even if I stayed I would want to have done the right thing.”
He stood and looked at me for several minutes, and then he sighed very deeply, and he said, “Well, I hate to do it, George, but there must be some way of teaching you that you can’t go through life depending on luck. Maybe this will be it. All right, I’ll sell them to you.”
Can you beat that?
The arrangement we made did not seem to me to be very satisfactory; that is, we arranged that I should pay for the suits with three dollars a week coming out of my salary, and I had thought that about one dollar would be the right amount. However, when I stopped to figure it up I found that even though Mr. Grant had made me a very reasonable price on the suits, I would have to work for the Grant Clothing Company for a great many years at the rate of one dollar a week, so I suppose three dollars was more practical.
The most unfortunate aspect of it all was that the necessity for buying those twenty-five suits had more or less entirely spoiled my plan of buying a tuxedo on time. In fact, it was impossible. I was therefore in a very dispirited frame of mind, and could not even entirely enjoy Barbara’s company because I could not stop worrying. Barbara noticed that I was not myself and asked me often what was the matter, but I would only tell her that I had business troubles on my mind, which I must say was true.
I knew that I must take the first opportunity to tell Barbara that I could not go with her to the dance, and I guess I must have a very weak character, for I could not seem to find an opportunity. A great many things made it more difficult for me to tell her; for example, the fact that I may possibly at one time or another have given her the impression that I owned a tuxedo. One night, thinking I would lead up to it, I asked her most tactfully if the boys who had been planning to ask her had been disappointed, and she said indeed they had; one of them was Chuck Williams and he had had to ask Mabel Wright, and one was Archie Stewart and he had had to ask Peggy Green, so I could see for myself how disappointed they were. Also she talked a great deal about her new dress, which her mother was having made especially for the occasion, and which she said would make Mabel Wright simply furious.
Well, as the next two weeks wore on it became evident, strange as it may seem, that it would be easier to ask Mr. Grant for a little advance than it would be for me to tell Barbara I could not take her to the dance. It was rather a complicated request to make, for I did not see how I could pay the advance back to him while I was paying three dollars a week for the other suits, but I thought maybe he would apply the three dollars to the advance until it was paid for and then would start applying it again to the other suits. It began to look as though I would always have to work for the Grant Clothing Company, but it could not be helped.
SO I started waiting for a suitable opportunity to present itself, I mean an occasion when Mr. Grant would be in a good humor, but I am sorry to say that in all that time there was not one minute which could have been considered such an opportunity. Mr. Grant seems to have a great deal to worry him. Also every day some little thing seemed to come up. I cannot explain how those things happen, but they do happen. So I had to keep putting it off, just as I had put off telling Barbara; in fact it seemed to me that those two weeks were nothing but waiting most anxiously for an opportunity to do something disagreeable that I did not want to do and then not getting a chance to do it.
I do not like to remember now how very discouraged I was the day I finally decided I had to ask Mr. Grant for the advance, because if I waited any longer the dance would be over.
The day started off very badly to begin with, because I came in just a little late in the morning, and I found that Mr. Grant was already very angry because a shipment of twenty gross of buttons had come in. Of course that is a lot of buttons, but I could not see any cause to be angry as we often order that many; but I understood when Mr. Grant explained that they were twenty gross of an odd shade that we use very seldom, sort of an off-grey. So we looked up the letter which ordered the twenty gross of buttons, and of course it was signed with my name, in fact I had signed it. The mistake had occurred because the girl who typed the order was not a very good typist and she had meant to order “2” gross and instead she had typed “20;” but I had signed the order and so, of course, it was my mistake.
Mr. Grant seemed to feel that there was a great deal to be said about this, but before he had a chance to finish, one of the girls opened the boxes and they were not an off-shade of grey at all, they were shade 386 which we use all the time, instead of 384 which was printed on the outside. I thought that would make Mr. Grant feel a great deal better, but it did not; he stared at me with a curious expression on his face and muttered quite a lot.
Well, it did not seem like a good time, but I could not afford to be fussy; I waited until Mr. Grant had stopped muttering, or almost, and then I explained to him as simply as possible about the advance. To my surprise he did not get angry right away.
“How do you happen to be in such straits, George?” he said very mildly.
“Because I’m buying those twenty-five suits,” I reminded him.
“And what do you want to do with the advance, George?” he asked.
“I want to buy a suit,” I said.
His eyes popped quite a bit, but he did not say anything right away and, taking that as a good sign, I moved in a little closer so that I could explain a little better. It was most unfortunate that my hand should happen to swing just a little widely, and I must say that I think Mr. Grant would know better than to leave an opened bottle of ink on his desk when he is not filling his fountain pen. In any case, the bottle was standing among a whole lot of papers and fell over on its side. Mr. Grant let out a yell like I had stuck him with a pin, and covered his face with his hands.
“The payroll sheets!” he was yelling. “I can’t look, I can’t look !”
“It’s all right, Mr. Grant,” I said soothingly, “I can fix everything!”
“Don’t touch them!” he screamed. “You’ve done enough harm already!” And I must say he felt very silly when he uncovered his eyes and found that the ink bottle had been practically empty, which of course, I must admit, was lucky for me.
But somehow I have noticed that it does not make Mr. Grant feel any better when he finds that he has been wrong about something, and when he finds that I have been lucky. This case was no exception; it was rather the opposite.
“Go up to the bank, George,” he said, and his voice was quite shaky with control. “Go up to the bank and get the payroll, and do it right now! Go away from here! Go away from me! Right now!”
It did not seem the time to remind him of my request for an advance, so I went on up to the bank, and I cannot tell you how depressed I was feeling. Ordinarily I rather enjoy this trip to the bank, because besides the fact that it is payday it is always pleasant to have over $4,000 on your person, even if it is not yours. It always seems to me like a rather important errand; a policeman meets me at the factory and escorts me to the bank and back, and all in all it is one duty which I do not object to.
But today I could get no pleasure out of anything, and I came back to the factory with a heavy heart, and went into the little office where the money is sorted and put into the pay envelopes. Mr. Grant has always been very severe with me about my habit of forgetting to lock the door from the inside after I get in there. It is done by sliding a little bolt across so that it can be opened only from the inside, and Mr. Grant seems to consider it very important, as for some reason he is uneasy when we have the payroll in the office. So this day, as I did not want to annoy Mr. Grant any further, I turned around and locked the door very carefully behind me, and when I turned back to face the room again I was surprised to find that a man was pointing a gun at me.
IT’S A holdup!” I yelled, and Mr. Grant said, "How did you guess?”
The man said, “Cut out the chatter. All I want is the money and I want it fast.” I must say he was a very tough customer. I did not blame Mr. Grant at all for being frightened of him, in fact I was frightened myself. Outside the window we could hear the sound of the policeman starting his car and driving away, but for some reason neither Mr. Grant nor I called to him, and besides it would not have done a great deal of good, because I had locked the door from the inside. Of course it would have done some good, and I remember thinking it would be a very heroic thing to do, because even if the policeman did not hear me shout he would have heard the sound of the holdup man’s gun when he shot me for shouting, but still I did not do it as it seemed to me there must be some other way to get out of this. I thought it funny that an intelligent man like Mr. Grant had not thought of any way, but he had not.
“Hand it over,” said the robber. It seemed to me that the muzzle of the gun as it pointed at me grew larger and larger. I presume this was an optical illusion, but nevertheless at the time I was quite certain that I could see the bullet inside of it. In fact I thought I could see it start out of the barrel at me, and I handed the man a package of one-dollar bills from my breast pocket. It looked big, but it only amounted to $500.
“Oh!” said Mr. Grant, and put his hands over his face.
The robber seemed quite annoyed. He said: “So you’re going to make trouble, are you,” and turned on Mr. Grant in a very nasty manner. At the same time he managed to keep the gun pointing right at me. It was strange that Mr. Grant also thought it was pointing at him, because it was so definitely coming right at me. I remember thinking the man must have very strong hands to hold such a large object so steadily.
In any case, the man was evidently quite annoyed with Mr. Grant, because he approached him in a threatening manner and tied his hands behind him, and then tied an extremely untidy-looking handkerchief in his mouth.
“Now,” said the robber, “give me the big one.” I reached in most unhappily for another package of ones, hoping he would not notice the package of tens and twenties. Mr. Grant could not speak, but he moaned most distressingly.
“More,” said the robber, and he sort of licked his lips and so did the gun. “Hurry up!” snarled the man, and he reached forward and started to haul the heavy coin bag out of my coat pocket.
“Hey!” I said, “you’ll tear my coat.” I was surprised myself that I said it; it just sort of popped out, for I must confess I wasn’t worried about his tearing my coat in quite that way. I expected that he’d tear it all right, and more than my coat. I guess he was surprised, too, that I said something like that, because he stopped reaching for it.
“All right,” he said, “you get it.”
I reached down with both hands, holding the corner of my coat with one hand and pulling the bag with the other. I remember wishing I was a magician and could pull out a gun instead of the bag of money, or a blackjack or something. The bag came out slowly; it was really too big for my pocket, and I shouldn’t have had it in there. I felt something rip, and I thought I had torn my coat after all, but it was not my coat, it was the bottom of the bag that had ripped. As I pulled it away from my pocket something fell onto the floor with an awful clatter, and I guess the robber was pretty nervous, because he jumped a foot. It was a half dollar that had fallen out, and it rolled right around in a circle at my feet in a very funny way. All of us stood there watching it, waiting for it to topple over, and before it had a chance to I gave the bag a little shake and two more half dollars fell out. I can’t explain it, it was just luck or something, but they started to roll too, making a very funny effect. We all looked down at them.
While he was looking at them the robber was hit on the head by the coin bag, which I had swung in a short arc with all my strength. The bag of coins was extremely heavy and I am quite strong; after they hit him the bag burst open and the coins flew in every direction all over the room, making a great deal of racket, and what with the terrific bang as the robber’s gun went off as he fell, it is no wonder that both Mr. Grant and I, as well as the robber, fell to the floor in an unconscious condition.
IT IS a very funny thing that it was some time before they could convince Mr. Grant that he had not been shot, since he heard the shot and had been hit by quite a number of coins at the same moment. Of course I must admit that I entertained some such idea myself, but only for a short time, and besides I did not get a chance to talk about it as Mr. Grant did. That, I think, was a fortunate thing, because it made me rather the hero of the occasion, if I may say so. It would have been better if Mr. Grant had not had so much chance to tell people that he was shot before they had a chance to prove to him that he wasn’t, but in any case he was so relieved to find he wasn’t, that he did not feel cross at all about having made a fool of himself, which is unusual for Mr. Grant.
He was even greatly pleased with me; he shook my hand a great many times and told every person who came into the room how brave I had been and how clever. I must say I had never expected to hear Mr. Grant talk in that manner about anyone, especially me. A great many people besides Mr. Grant shook my hand also, and Mr. D’Angelo got so excited when he heard the story that he kissed me on both cheeks.
Now you would think that all that would have made me extremely happy, but it only goes to show you that when you are suffering from a serious trouble nothing can really make you happy. In fact, the more they praised me and the more I was a hero the worse I felt; I could not help thinking about the hollow mockery of all of this when my troubles were still so bad that I could enjoy nothing.
Since it was Friday, in spite of all the excitement and even though I was a hero, we could not let our work be interrupted for too long. After they had taken the robber away to jail and the excitement was all over and we had picked up the money, I had to get right to work putting the money into the pay envelopes so that the girls could be paid on time, and not get a chance to believe that the whole payroll really was stolen and all our capital as well, as the rumor going through the factory was telling them. While I was working on the payroll I looked over at Mr. Grant and saw that he was sitting there with his head down in his hands. I thought perhaps he had begun to think again that he was shot, so I went over and asked him very tactfully if I could get him something.
“No, George,” he said weakly, “I feel fine.”
He did not look fine, so I was somewhat worried.
“I’ve a letter here,” said Mr. Grant, and his voice sounded rather funny, “from our Pacific Coast man. He says if we’ll send him that lot of brown two-piece suits right away he thinks he can get rid of them to the college boys because this year they are wearing fancy sport sweaters and no vests.” He was sitting looking at me with a very dazed expression, but not unfriendly. “Did you hear me, George? Those suits without vests. Your suits. He thinks he can sell them, George.”
I was too surprised and pleased to think of anything to say; to tell the truth I was still feeling quite confused in my head, and I did not have my wits about me, at least not enough to really take that in. I could only stand and look at Mr. Grant.
“How did he know about those suits, George?” he said.
“I wrote him,” I said. “I wrote to him and told him about the suits, and I told him I did not think they could use them but maybe they could.” My head was beginning to feel a little better, in fact it was perfectly obvious to me now that I had done a very smart thing in writing that letter; I had done a very smart thing and everything was turning out very well, just because I was smart. I waited for Mr. Grant to say something of the sort, but he did not. He was shaking his head slowly from side to side.
“I cannot believe it,” he was saying. “I cannot believe it. Even suits without vests he can sell.” He stopped shaking his head and looked a little brisker. “Go out and get them packed up, George,” he said. “Get them right out there and get them on the back of those college boys before they get some sense.”
I had started to leave the room when he called after me. “You know, George,” he said, “the profit on those suits is yours.” Well, to tell you the truth, some such wild hope as that had already occurred to me, and of course it was only right, but nevertheless I cannot tell you how pleased I was to hear Mr. Grant say that. I began to feel quite confused again, only with a different kind of excitement. Mr. Grant was watching me, looking quite pleasant and almost smiling. “What are you going to do with the money, George?” he said.
It had not occurred to me that there would be any question about that; I suppose the robber had caused Mr. Grant to forget the conversation we had been having, and of course I can see now that it was not quite as important to Mr. Grant as it was to me.
“I am going to buy a suit,” I told him happily. I was already thinking how I would tell Barbara about how it was all due to my being really quite smart about everything that the payroll was saved and we were going to the Spring Formal and her father was in a good enough temper to let us go.
“Oh,” said Mr. Grant, “he is going to buy a suit. He gets rid of twenty-five suits, so he goes right out and buys a suit. He hasn’t seen enough of the clothing business yet to know that if he had any brains he wouldn’t have anything more to do with suits. Nobody would,” said Mr. Grant, with feeling.
He looked at me for a few minutes and then he sighed. “With your luck, George.” he says, “you will probably get along all right, even in the clothing business.”
With my luck. That is the sort of thing, I mean, that burns me up.