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The Blue Duck

Donald A. Kahn

I.

YOUNG Jimmy Jones shot into the private office of the president of the Consolidated Corn Flake Company. In his haste he neglected to close the door after himself, and on his way to the hat-rack in the corner he knocked over the waste-paper basket.

He jerked off his coat, hung the garment on a peg, and rolled up his sleeves. He wore a belt—no suspenders and no waistcoat. On the left side of his pink silk shirt one fraternity emblem and a collection of college society pins radiated light like a sunburst.

Having thus stripped himself for battle, Jimmy Jones turned and addressed himself to the president of the manufacturing establishment, Mr. Frederick M. Bains.

Mr. Bains had engaged Jimmy by wire the previous evening in response to an urgent telegraphic appeal from Jimmy's father. Just what young Jimmy Jones would be capable of doing to further the interests of the company was rather vague, but Mr. Bains was an old-time friend of Mr. Jones, senior, and could not very well get out of taking on his son.

Jimmy turned and addressed the president.

"You say it," suggested the young man, "and I do it! You are the grasping captain of industry and I am the horny-handed son of toil. Just like in 'The Gumdrop Maker's Revenge.' I am James Jones, junior. Speak up, me lord! What can I do for you?"

"Shut the door," directed Mr. Bains, "and then pick up the waste-basket you kicked over."

Jimmy gave the door a push. Mr. Bains noted with considerable relief that the ground glass was still in one piece after the rattling percussion.

Jimmy stooped, grunted, and set the paper basket right side up. Then once again he presented himself to the cornflake manufacturer.

"No sooner said than done." Jimmy observed.

Mr. Bains sighed.

"What time do you come to work?" he asked.

Jimmy looked at his watch.

"Quarter of ten," he replied. "What time do you?"

"At eight," stated Mr. Bains.

Jimmy nodded approvingly. "You ought to," he said. "You're president of the company."

"What's that got to do with it?" asked Mr. Bains in surprise.

"Ask me something easy," answered Jimmy. "The business needs your expert attention. It couldn't run along without you. But us cheap help—"

He shrugged his shoulders as a finish to the sentence.

Again Mr. Bains sighed.

"If you're going to be on the payroll," he decreed, "you've got to do something. What can you do? You just came from college, didn't you? What did you learn there?"

Jimmy thought it over for a moment, trying hard to recall just what he had learned at the university. Presently he spoke up.

"French," he said, "football, philosophy, poker, calculus, calisthenics, 'Private Life of the Romans,' and pinochle." Then he added: "I learned a lot of college yells, too."

"What good will any of that do you in the corn-flake business?" asked Mr. Bains.

"I didn't go to college to learn the corn- flake business," said Jimmy. "I ...

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