Posted by: jowanderer | September 7, 2008

Jeffrey Archer – Sons of Fortune

Jeffrey Archer

Sons of Fortune


… not only had she inherited the old man’s energy and drive, but he had also passed on to her his considerable knowledge and wisdom, so often lavished on an only child. Ruth hadn’t married until the age of thirty- three. It certainly wasn’t for lack of suitors, many of whom went out of their way to claim undying devotion to the heir of the Preston millions.


Another year passed before Ruth agreed to visit an adoption society and with one of those coincidence that fate decides, and novelists are not allowed to consider, she became pregnant on the day she was due to visit a local children’s home.


No-nonsense approach


Robert was delighted by how quickly miss Nichole settled into the household, and as each month slipped by, even he started to feel confident that they wouldn’t be facing the same problem a third time.


Just as night was contemplating day, Miss Nichol woke with a start.


After a thousand births, you are well qualified to recognized death. The pallor of the skin and the stillness of the eyes made it unnecessary for her to check the pulse.


It is often spur-of-the-moment decisions, sometimes made by others, that can change our whole lives.


Dr. Greenwood remained silent for a moment as he tried to take in this piece of information.


Take the child to the morgue. I’ll write up a report immediately, but I won’t inform the mother until the morning. No purpose will be served waking her at this hour.


But it was Josiah Preston who saved the day, by frequently remarking that his grandson had inherited his nose and pronounced forehead in the great tradition of the Preston. Miss Nichol constantly repeated these observations to fawning relatives and sycophantic employees, prefaced with the words, “Mr. Preston often remarks…”


… said Miss Nichol, hoping that she looked suitably distressed.


Susan read the letter a second time, saddened by the news. She would always recall how personally Dr. Greenwood had taken Peter’s death, almost as if her felt somehow responsible.


Asked Susan, surprised by such uncharacteristic exuberance.


Now make sure you write home every week,” his mother was saying.


His mother was on her third cup of coffee when the train pulled into the station. “We’ve arrived,” she announced, unnecessarily.


You can sit anywhere in the front three rows on the left-hand side. The moment you hear nine chimes on the clock, you will stop talking and not speak again until the principal and the rest of the staff have left the hall.


A crocodile of masters proceeded down the aisle – no mistresses, Nat observed. His mother wouldn’t approve. They walked up onto the stage, and took their places, leaving only two seats unoccupied.


“not to be served, but to serve”


“you must celebrated,” she said. Fletcher would have done so, but felt he couldn’t when he saw who had come bottom of the class.


It was bad enough being top of the class, without being invited to watch the Taft game with an old boy who had seats on the center line.


He’s a politician to his fingertips, or at least that’s how the press describe him


At twelve o’clock a bell rang, releasing 380 screaming boys to charge out into the courtyard. They resembled nothing less than a warring tribe. With their cries of, “Hotchkiss, Hotchkiss, Hotchkiss will win, death to all Bearcats.”




Nat’s eyes settled on the second girl on the left, who seemed to be smiling up at him, although he realized to her he could only be a speck at the back of the stand


“You’ve grown, if I’m not mistaken,” said Nat’s father, nothing that his son’s trousers were already an inch short of his shoes. He only wondered how often he would have to buy him new clothes. “Well, it can’t be the school food that’s responsible,” suggested Tom, who was still the smallest boy in the class.


He’s rung Tom the following morning in the pretense of discussing the Wall Street crash, and then casually threw in, “Did Diane say anything about me after I’d left?”


“Diane’s out of the moment, but I’m expecting her back in about an hour. Who shall I say called?”


“Hello,” said a younger voice. Nat glanced down at his script. “Hello, can I speak to Diane?”


“you’re a rat.”

“true, but a rat with a telephone number.”

“you have her telephone number?”said Nat in disbelief.

“you catch on quickly.”


“Oh, my God,” said Nat as his father swung his car into a long drive and drove past a paddock full of horses. Nat’s father would have chastised him for blaspheming , but was somewhat taken aback himself. The driveway must have stretched for over a mile before they turned into a gravel courtyard to be greeted by the most magnificent white pillared colonial home surrounded by evergreens.


“Yes sir,” said Jimmy, snapping to attention. “But before we worry about tomorrow, perhaps you should get changed,” said Jimmy.


He had no idea how he looked, because he’d never taken any interest in clothes before. Act casual, look sharp, he’d heard a disc jockey telling his radio audience, but what did that mean?


The senator smiled. “And which part do you imagine fits your character?”


“what does Annie think?”asked Jimmy, ignoring the comment.

“She’s happy to go along with whatever I decide.”

“Then perhaps I should be the deciding factor.”

“what do you have in mind?”


“you should volunteer your service as campaign manager for my closest rival.


“have a seat,” said Harry Gates as he took his place behind the desk. He paused before he added, “Fletcher, I need a favor.”

“Anything, sir. I’ll never be able to repay you for all you’ve done for me.”

“You’ve more than honored our agreement,” said the senator. “For the past three years, Jimmy has somehow kept his place in the top stream, and he wouldn’t have had a prayer without your continued vigilance.”

“That’s kind of you to say so, but…”

“it’s no more that the truth, but all I want for the boy now is to see that he has a fair shot at getting into Yale.”


“What do we know about him?”

“A nice enough guy, but not a lot between his ears,” said Jimmy.

“Except a good-looking face,” said Fletcher.

“And several touchdowns last season, if I remember correctly,” added the senator. “so now we know who the enemy is, let’s start working on our friends. First, you must pick an inner circle – six, eight at most. They only need two qualities, energy and loyalty – if they’ve got brains as well, that’s a bonus. How long is the campaign?”


… we could kiss goodbye to any chance of you becoming president.


Mr Thompson sensed Nat’s reservations. “I think the time has come for a little Bribery, Nat.”

… ah, I see briberyis not enough for someone of your high moral standards, so I shall have to stoop to corruption… Nat still didn’t respond. … revealing his trump card, “my opposite number at Miss Porter’s has suggested that I should take a boy over on Saturday to read the male parts while we decide who should audition for the females.” He paused again. “Ah, I see I have finally caught your attention.”


…I am not willing to stand and watch this student sacrificed on the alta of a woman who gets her kicks from goading pubescent boys.”


Wisdom, courage and conviction are rare enough in a grown man, said the principal quietly as the door closed, “but in a child…”


“Do not waste a moment of your time while you are at Yale, or you will regret for the rest of your life not having taken advantage of all this university has to offer. A fool leaves Yale with only a degree, a wise man with enough knowledge to face whatever life throws at him. Seize every opportunity that is offered to you. Do not be frightened of any new challenge, and should you fail, there is no reason to be ashamed. You will learn far more from your mistakes than from your triumphs. Do not be afraid of your destiny. Be afraid of nothing. Challenge every wit, and let it not be said of you, I walked a path but never left an imprint.


The smile disappeared the moment he saw who was seated two rows behind her. Professor Karl Abrahams graced him with a nod. At least jimmy would discover what it took to get a nod out of Homer.


“which of you dreads the thought of your spouse returning home after midnight, drunk, with only violence in mind? For Mrs. Kirsten, this was something she had come to expect six nights out of seven, for the past nine years. Look at this frail and fragile woman and ask yourself what chance she would have up against a man of six foot two who weighed two hundred and thirty pounds?”


He focused his attention on the woman juror who had shuddered. Which of your arrives home at night and expects their husband to grab the bread board, a cheese grater or even a steak knife for use not in the kitchen for preparing a meal, but in the bed room to disfigure his wife? And what did Mrs. Kirsten have to call on for her defense, this five-foot-four, one-hundred-and-five-pound woman? A pillow? A towel? A flyswatter perhaps?” Fletcher paused. “it’s never crossed your mind, has it?” he added, facing the rest of the jurors. “Why? Because your husbands and wives are not evil. Ladies and gentlemen, how can you begin to understand what this woman was being subjected to, day in and day out?


“But not satisfied with such degradation, one night this thug returns home drunk, goes upstairs, drags his wife out of bed by her hair, back down the stairs and into the kitchen; he is bored with simply beating her black and blue.” Fletcher began to walk in the direction of his client. “He needs some other thrill to reach new heights of excitement, and what does Anita Kirsten see immediately when she’s dragged into the Kitchen? The ring on the stove is already red hot, and waiting for its victim.” He swung back to face the jury. “Can you imagine what must have been going through her mind when she first saw that ring of fire? He grabs her hand like a piece of raw steak, and slams it down on the stove for fifteen seconds.”


Fletcher picked up Mrs. Kirsten’s scarred hand and held it up so that the palm was clearly visible to the jury, looked at his watch and counted to fifteen, before he added, “And then she fainted.


“which of you can even imagine such horror, let alone be asked to endure it? So why did the attorney general demand ninety-nine years? Because, he told us, the killing was premeditated. It was, he assured us, most certainly not a crime of passion carried out by someone defending their life in a moment of rage.” Fletcher swung around to face the attorney general and said, “Of course it was premeditated and she knew exactly what she was doing. If you were five foot four, being attacked by a man of six foot two, would you rely on a knife, a gun, or some blunt instrument that this thug could so easily turn against you?” Fletcher turned and walked slowly toward the jury. “Which one of you would be that stupid? Which one of you, after what she had been through, wouldn’t plan it? Think of that poor woman when you next have a row with your spouse. After a few angry words have been exchanged, will you resort to putting the stove on to 350 degrees to prove you’ve won the argument?” He looked at the seven men on the jury one by one. “Does such a man deserve your sympathy?


“If this woman is guilty of murder, which one of you would not have done the same thing if you had been unfortunate enough to marry Alex Kirsten?” This time he turned his attention to the five women before he continued. “But I didn’t,” I hear you cry. “I married a good and decent man.” So now we can all agree on Mrs. Kirsten’s crime. She married an evil man.”


Fletcher leaned on the rail of the jury box. “I must beg the jury’s indulgence for my youthful passion, for passion it is. I chose to take this case as I feared justice would not be done for Mrs. Kirsten, and in my youth I hoped that twelve fair-minded citizens would see what I had seen and would be unable to condemn this woman to spend the rest of her life in jail.


“I must close my summation, by repeating to you the words Mrs. Kirsten said to me when we sat alone in her cell this morning. “Mr. Davenport, although I am only twenty-five, I would rather spend the rest of my life in jail than have to spend another night under the same roof as that evil man.”


“Thank God she does not have to return home to him tonight. It is in your power, as members of the jury, to send this woman home tonight to her loving children, with the hope that together they might rebuild their lives, because twelve decent people understood the difference between good and evil.” Fletcher lowered his voice to almost a whisper. “When you go home to your husbands and wives this evening, tell them what you did today in the name of justice, for I am confident if you bring in a

verdict of Not Guilty, your spouses will not turn up the stove to 350 degrees because they don’t agree with you. Mrs. Kirsten has already suffered a nine-year sentence. Do you think she deserves another ninety?”


Fletcher returned to his seat, but did not turn around to look at Annie, for fear that Karl Abrahams would notice he was fighting back the tears.


Nat’s didn’t care about bonnard’s prices, because he was a lover not a pimp.


Rain or shine, he would walk the five blocks to work.


Well, I think that just about wraps it up,” said Harry, before anyone could ak a supplementary question. “Thank you all for joining us. You’ll get a regular shot at the candidate in his weekly campaign press conferences – which is more than I ever gave you.”


The mistakes you make today are history tomorrow morning, your triumphs forgotten by the early evening news. Pace yourself, was one of Harry’s most repeated maxims.


“Is that really the time?” ask Julia, looking down at her watch. “It’s been a wonderful evening, Su Ling, but please forgive me, I have a board meeting at ten tomorrow morning, so I Ought to be leaving.”


Yes, I did become president of the college council, and yes, I was editor of the Law Review, which is why I was invited to join one of the most prestigious legal firms in  New York. I make no apology for never being satisfied with second place. And I was equally delighted to give all that up so that I could return to Hartford and put something back into the community where I was raised. By the way, on the salary that state is offering, I won’t be able to afford many silver spoons and so far, no one’s offered me anything on a plate.” The audience burst into spontaneous applause.

He waited for the applause to die down, before he lowered his voice almost to a whisper. “Don’t let’s disguise what this questioner was getting at. Will I regularly be on the phone to my father-in-law, Senator Harry Gates? I expect so, I am married to his only daughter.” More laughter followed. “But let me remind you of something you already know about Harry Gates. He’s served this constituency for twenty-eight years with honor and integrity, at a time when those two words seem to have lost their meaning, and frankly,” said Fletcher, turning to face his Republican rival, “neither of us is worthy to take his place. But if I am elected, you bet I’ll take advantage of his wisdom, his experience and his foresight; only a blinkered egotist

wouldn’t. But let me also make one thing clear,” he said, turning back to face the audience, “I will be the person who represents you in the Senate.”


… but she’ll come around, especially when I tell her… “


I’ll join you at the bottom of the steps.


“Thank you, Sally.” Fletcher received over a hundred calls a day, but his secretary only put them through when she knew they were old friends or urgent


“Logan, how good to hear from you. How are you?”

“I’m well, Fletcher, and you?”

“Never better,” Fletcher replied.

“And the family?” asked Logan.

“Annie still loves me, heaven knows why, because I rarely leave the building before ten, Lucy is at Hartford Elementary and we’ve put her down for Hotchkiss. And you?”

“I’ve just made partner,” said Logan.

“That’s no surprise,” said Fletcher, “but many congratulations.”

“Thanks, but that wasn’t why I was calling. I wanted to check if you’d spotted the piece about Bill Alexander’s resignation in the Times.”

Fletcher felt a chill go through his body at the mere mention of the name. “No,” he said, as he leaned across the desk and grabbed his copy of the paper. “Which page?”

“Seven, bottom right.”

Fletcher quickly flicked through the pages until he saw the headline, Leading lawyer resigns. “Hold on while I just read the piece.”


I do not believe that he would remove one penny from a client’s account. In fact I’d stake my reputation on it.


“Business or pleasure?” Fletcher asked when Jimmy came on the line.


“It’s just a shot across our bow,” said Harry in reply to Fletcher’s question.

“It’s a bloody cannon,” responded Fletcher. “Ralph Elliot doesn’t deal in shots, so we’ll need to find out what the heel he’s up to.”


Fletcher grabbed his car keys and joined the flood of people hurrying out of the building. As he drove out of the members’ parking lot, a police car shot in front of him. Fletcher pressed his foot down hard on the accelerator and swung into the police car’s slipstream as they headed toward the school. The line of cars became longer and longer, with parents making their way to pick up their offspring, some looking frantic after hearing the news on their car radios, others still blissfully unaware.


He and Billy walked down the corridor together without a word passing between them. When they reached the main door that led onto the playground, Fletcher opened it tentatively and stepped into a beam of light, to be greeted by another huge cheer from the crowd. But he couldn’t see their faces.


I don’t think we need to vote on this, so why don’t you take us through the options, Nat?


I need to have a word with you in private, Fletcher, and wondered if you and your wife would possibly fly down to Washington and join Jenny and me for dinner one evening.


“Mr. Goldblatz, I must apologize, a family problem has arisen and I won’t be able

to make our meeting this afternoon.” “I see,” said Goldblatz, not sounding as though

he did. “Mr. Goldblatz,” said Nat, “I’m not in the habit of playing games, I have neither the time nor the inclination.”

“I wasn’t suggesting you did, Mr. Cartwright,” said Goldblatz curtly.

Nat hesitated. “My son has run away from Tail and I’m on my way to see the principal.”

“I’m so … so … sorry to hear that,” Mr. Goldblatz said, his tone immediately changing. “If it’s any consolation, I also ran away from Tail, but once I’d spent all my pocket money I decided to go back the following day.”

Nat laughed. “Thank you for being so understanding.”

“Not at all, perhaps you’d give me a call and let me know when it’s convenient for us to meet.”

“Yes of course, Mr. Goldblatz, and I wonder if I might ask a favor.”


“That none of this conversation is reported to Ralph Elliot.”

“You have my word on that, but then, Mr. Cartwright, he has no idea that I planned to meet you in the first place.”


I had to bluff a little when she asked where you were.


“Well, are you able to tell me more?”

“Tell you more?”

“Your last words were, I’ll know more in twenty-four hours.” his

“Before you burst out laughing, Joe, I’ll know more in twenty-four hours.”

“I’ll accept that, but what are today’s instructions?”

“The same as yesterday, I want you to go on buying Fairchild’s aggressively until the

close of business.”

“I hope you know what you’re doing, Nat, because the bills are going to start coming in next week. Everyone knows Fairchild’s can ride out this sort of storm, but are you absolutely certain you can?”

“I can’t afford not to,” said Nat, “so just keep on buying.”

“Whatever you say, boss, I just hope you’ve got a parachute, because if you haven’t secured fifty percent of Fairchild’s by Monday morning at ten o’clock it’s going to be a very bumpy landing.”


“Then drop in on your way from the airport; I want a blow-by-blow account of why Also wanted to see you, and make sure you give him my regards, because he’s the best chairman the party’s had in years. And ask him if he got my letter.”


Why don’t we go through to the library and I’ll fix you both a drink. Jenny should be down shortly


“Harry Gates was opinionated, verbose, irascible and maddening. He was also passionate in the pursuit of causes he believed in. Loyal to his friends, fair with his opponents, he was a man whose company you sought out simply because it enriched your life. Harry Gates was no saint, but there will be saints standing at the Gates of Heaven waiting to greet him.

“To Martha, we say thank you for indulging Harry and all his dreams, so many achieved; one still to be fulfilled. To Jimmy and Annie, his son and daughter, of whom he was inordinately proud. To Fletcher, his beloved son-in-law, who has been given the unenviable burden of carrying the torch. And to Lucy his granddaughter, who became class president a few days after he died. America has lost a man who

served his country at home and abroad, in war and in peace. Hartford has lost a public servant who will not easily be replaced.


Rising before the sun each morning, and collapsing in bed after midnight had few compensations, but an unexpected one for Nat was Luke’s fascination with the

electoral process. He spent his vacation accompanying his father everywhere, often with Kathy by his side. Nat grew to like her more and more as each day passed.


“If you were to become governor, Mr. Cartwright, would you treat the taxpayers’ money in the same cavalier fashion?”


“Never forget the stunt Elliot pulled with the ballot boxes after we’d all assumed the count was over.”


Make it short and to the point – no speeches, please


Fletcher raised a hand. “It’s my wife you have to thank.” He paused. “Not me. But it’s me that you have to convince.”


I’d be with her just as soon as I could get there


“I suggested that we go and sit in the front room, so that Mrs. Elliot would be more

comfortable. I then asked her to take me slowly through what had happened that evening. I didn’t hurry her, as witnesses are quite often resentful of being asked

exactly the same questions a second or third time.


“You know, I will regret only one thing,” said Nat, once they were alone in the corridor and could no longer be overheard by Dr. Renwick.

“Let me guess,” said Fletcher as he waited for the next quip.

“I think you would have been one hell of a brother to grow up with.”


Tom tried to field all the calls. If he thought Nat ought to speak to the caller personally, the phone was passed across to him, if not, he heard Tom repeating, “He’s tied up at the moment, but thank you for calling, I’ll pass your message



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