At the sound of Mr. Troy’s bell, Eleanor Graves vanished into his private office. Ten minutes later she came out, with a deep flush on her face and tears in her eyes.
“He lectured me on the spelling of a couple of words and a mistake in a date,” she complained to Jim Forbes. “Anybody’s liable to misspell a word or two in typing, and I know I took the date down exactly as he gave it to me.”
Jim looked uncomfortable. “I would not mind,” he said awkwardly. “We all have to take it sometime or other. Besides,” he glanced hesitatingly at the pretty, indignant face, “I suppose the boss thinks we ought not to make mistakes.”
“As if I wanted to!” Eleanor retorted, stiffly.
But she worked more carefully the next week; for her pride was touched. Then, with restored confidence, came renewed carelessness, and an error crept into one of the reports she was copying. The error was slight, but it brought her a sharp reprimand from Mr. Troy. It was the second time, he reminded her, that she had made that blunder. At the reproof the girl’s face flushed painfully, and then paled.
“If my work is not satisfactory, you had better find some one who can do it better,” she said.
Whirling round in his swivel-chair, Mr. Troy looked at her. He had really never noticed his latest stenographer before, but now his keen eyes saw many things that showed that she came from a home where she had been petted and cared for.
“How long have you been at work?” he asked.
“This is my first position,” Eleanor answered.
Mr. Troy nodded. “I understand. Now, Miss Graves, let me tell you something. You have many of the qualities of a good business woman; you are punctual, you are not afraid of work, you are fairly accurate. I have an idea that you take pride in turning out a good piece of work. But you must learn to stand criticism and profit by it. We must all take it sometime, every one of us. A weakling goes under. A strong man or woman learns to value it, to make every bit of it count. That is what I hope you will do.”
Eleanor braced herself to meet his eyes.
“If you will let me, I will try again,” she said.
* * * * *
A kingfisher sat on a flagpole slim,
And watched for a fish till his eye was dim.
“I wonder,” said he, “if the fishes know
That I, their enemy, love them so!
I sit and watch and blink my eye
And watch for fish and passers-by;
I must occasionally take to wing
On account of the stones that past me sing.
“I nearly always work alone;
For past experience has shown
That I can’t gather something to eat,
And visit my neighbor across the street.
So whether I’m fishing early or late,
I usually work without a mate,
Since I can’t visit and watch my game;
For fishing’s my business, and Fisher’s my name.
Maybe by watching, from day to day,
My life and habits in every way,
You might be taught a lesson or two
That all through life might profit you;
Or if you only closely look,
This sketch may prove an open book,
And teach a lesson you should learn.
Look closely, and you will discern.”