In April a letter came from Hack. "Dear Farah," he wrote, "Only an archeologist could get excited about a monotonous job like this, but it's beginning to look like we may be on to something big here. Only time (and endless digging) will tell."
"After you get used to the clear air here, the absence of freeways and traffic jams, and the easy-going people, this place isn't half bad. The scenery is beautiful beyond my poor powers of description. There's even a Student Prince -- the Chief Honcho's younger brother. He's considered a bit of a playboy and is enormously popular. I suspect he has his deeper side, as he often acts as front man for his brother and does most of the PR work."
"If this sounds like a travel agency blurb, there's a reason. Unless you've made plans for the summer, why don't you come here for a visit? I think you might enjoy it, and you could take side trips to some of the livelier places or visit your friends in Paris. You could go alone or I'd be glad to accompany you when I'm free. No strings attached, of course. Unless you've found since I've been gone that you can't live without me. (Fat chance.)
"Let me know what you think of this suggestion. It would please me if you could come. The fact is, Princess, I need a sassy kid like you around to keep me from getting old and crochety."
Farah thought she could read between the lines Hack's anxiety for her. What a dear friend he was. For a moment she was tempted to accept. Lately she had felt she had got herself into an untenable situation with Noel. She found herself wondering if he was using Judy as an excuse not to make a commitment. The clandestine nature of their relationship was not to her liking. But, no, she couldn't leave him. She had to believe that things would work out in time.
She would need a convincing excuse for turning down Hack's invitation. And of course, she had one. It needed no explanation, really, for Hack, to whom the extent of Jason's wealth was no secret, understood the necessity of her learning at least the fundamentals of how to handle it.
With this in mind, she called her business manager and asked when he would be available for a conference.
"I'll be free tomorrow afternoon at four," he said.
Farah had been in Grant Allen's office only a few times since Jason's death. He was always careful to explain to her what was going on and what she was signing when he needed her signature. After a warm welcome he asked what he could do for her.
"I've been wondering if you'd allow me to work in your office this summer," she told him. "As an unpaid employee, of course. To learn what I can about the mysteries of high finance. I'm dreadfully ignorant. I've been taking a business course, but that's too slow. I need a crash course."
"I think that can be arranged," he said. "I can give you office space and you can start whenever you're ready."
"Can I come in part time until school's out, then full time after that?"
"Whatever is convenient for you."
"I'll start Monday afternoon, then." She rose to go. "Thank you, Mr. Allen."
"Call me Grant."
"I'm looking forward to working with you, Grant. I think Jason chose well."
"I appreciate your confidence in me, Farah."
She went home and wrote to Hack, "Thanks for your invitation to Shangri-La. I wish I was free to catch the next plane, but I've arranged to work in Grant Allen's office this summer. You remember how appalled I was by Jason's legacy. I don't know the first thing about business, but hope by working with Mr. Allen I can pick up enough knowledge to keep from being swindled in my ignorance.
"How much more I would enjoy yodeling from the mountaintops of Zhad, hoping for a glimpse of Prince Charming. There was no need to bait the hook with that splendid travelogue. I don't need to be sold on the pleasure of your company.
"I'm glad the site appears promising. May that promise be fulfilled beyond your wildest expectations. If you'll pardon the expression, keep digging."
"Congradulate me," she said to Noel when he came in the evening. I went out today and got a summer job."
He looked startled. "Is it the money, Farah? It must have cost a bundle to keep this apartment and the house. I never stopped to think you might need help."
"Oh, it's not the money. Jason's estate is still in probate, of course, but I have enough to get along comfortably. I'm going to work for free in the office of my business manager, to learn how to handle the estate."
"Your business manager! Jason left you that much?"
"Isn't it ridiculous? I'm a female tycoon."
"How much did he leave you, for Pete's sake? Oh, I'm sorry, it's none of my business."
"That's all right. I know you're not after my money," she teased. "It turned out to be several million dollars."
"Good God." He looked dazed.
"I couldn't believe it, either. I wish it wasn't so much, the responsibility scares me. That's why I have to learn as much as I can as soon as I can."
"How come the press hasn't got wind of this? Heiresses are grist for their mill."
Because very few people knew how wealthy Jason was. He worked behind the scenes. Grant says he can manage to do the same for me. I hope he's right."
In his amazement, Noel failed to notice her use of Grant's first name. Farah was relieved. She hated it when he was jealous.
Farah found the work in Grant's office fascinating. She was glad when she was able to devote full time to it. There was much to learn. Jason had wanted things kept as simplified as possible, and most of his holdings were in real estate and the blue chip stocks and bonds. Grant took her to business conferences and directors' meetings. She was intrigued by it all. But she knew business would never be her primary interest, and quickly realized that as soon as she felt competent enough to trust her judgement when called upon to make decisions, she would be happy to turn everything back over to Grant.