The results of your A level exams are listed below:



Business Studies A*



Maths A



Danny leaped up and punched his fist in the air as if he was at Upton Park and West Ham had scored the winning goal against Arsenal. Ms. Bennett wasn't sure if she should congratulate Moncrieff or press the button under her desk to summon security. When his feet touched the ground, she asked, "If it's still your intention to take a degree, Moncrieff, I'll be happy to assist you with your application for a grant."



***



Hugo Moncrieff studied the Sotheby's catalog for some considerable time. He had to agree with Margaret, it could only be Lot 37: A rare envelope displaying a first-edition stamp celebrating the opening of the modern Olympics addressed to the founder of the Games, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, estimate £2,200-£2,500.



"Perhaps I should attend one of the viewing days and take a closer look?" he suggested.



"You will do nothing of the sort," said Margaret firmly. "That would only alert Nick, and he might even work out that it's not the stamp we're interested in."



"But if I went down to London the day before the sale and found out the address on the envelope, we'd know where the collection is, without having to waste any money buying it."



"But then we wouldn't have a calling card."



"I'm not sure I'm following you, old gal."



"We may not be in possession of the key, but if your father's only surviving son turns up with the envelope as well as the new will, we must have a chance of convincing whoever is holding the collection on his behalf that you are the rightful heir."



"But Nick might be at the sale."



"If he hasn't worked out by then that it's the address that matters, not the stamp, it will be too late for him to do anything about it. Just be thankful of one thing, Hugo."



"And what's that, old gal?"



"Nick doesn't think like his grandfather."



***



Danny opened the catalog once again. He turned to Lot 37 and studied the entry more carefully. He was pleased to find such a full description of his envelope, if not a little disappointed that, unlike several of the other items, there was no photograph accompanying it.



He started to read the conditions of sale and was horrified to discover that Sotheby's deduct 10 percent of the hammer price from the seller as well as loading a further 20 percent premium on the buyer. If he ended up with only £1,800, he would have been better off selling the envelope to Stanley Gibbons-which was exactly what Nick would have done.



Danny closed the catalog and turned his attention to the only other letter he had received that morning: a booklet and an application form from London University to apply for one of its degree courses. He spent some time considering the various options. He finally turned to the section marked grant applications, aware that if he did honor his promise to Nick and Beth, it was going to mean a considerable change in lifestyle.



Nick's current account was down to £716, with not a single addition to the entry column since he had been released from prison. He feared his first sacrifice would have to be Molly, in which case the house would soon return to the state he'd found it in when he had first opened the front door.



Danny had avoided calling Mr. Munro for a progress report on his battle with Uncle Hugo for fear it would only prompt another bill. He sat back and thought about the reason he had been willing to take Nick's place. Big Al had convinced him that if he were able to escape, anything was possible. He was, in fact, quickly discovering that a penniless man working on his own was in no position to take on three highly successful professionals, even if they did think he was dead and long forgotten. He thought of the plans he had begun to put in place, starting with tonight's visit to the final performance of The Importance of Being Earnest. Its real purpose would come after the curtain had fallen, when he attended the closing-night party and came face to face with Lawrence Davenport for the first time.



CHAPTER FORTY-FOUR



DANNY ROSE FROM his place and joined the standing ovation, not least because if he hadn't, he would have been one of the few people in the theater who was still sitting. He had enjoyed the play even more a second time, but that was possibly because he'd now had a chance to read the script.



Sitting in the third row among the family and friends of the cast had only added to his enjoyment. The set designer sat on one side of him, and the wife of the producer on the other. They invited him to join them for a drink in the extended interval. He listened to theater talk, rarely feeling confident enough to offer an opinion. It didn't seem to matter, as they all had unshakable views on everything from Davenport 's performance to why the West End was full of musicals. Danny appeared to have only one thing in common with theater folk: none of them seemed to know what their next job would be.



After Davenport had taken countless curtain calls, the audience slowly made their way out of the theater. As it was a clear night, Danny decided he would walk to the Dorchester. The exercise would do him good, and in any case, he couldn't afford the expense of a cab.



He began to stroll toward Piccadilly Circus, when a voice behind him said, "Sir Nicholas?" He looked around to see the box office manager hailing him with one hand, while holding a taxi door open with the other. "If you're going to the party, why don't you join us?"



"Thank you," said Danny, and climbed in to find two young women sitting on the back seat.



"This is Sir Nicholas Moncrieff," said the box office manager as he unfolded one of the seats and sat down to face them.



"Nick," insisted Danny as he sat on the other folding seat.



"Nick, this is my girlfriend Charlotte. She works in props. And this is Katie, who's an understudy. I'm Paul."



"Which part do you understudy?" Nick asked.



"I stand in for Eve Best, who's been playing Gwendolen."



"But not tonight," said Danny.



"No," admitted Katie, as she crossed her legs. "In fact, I've only done one performance during the entire run. A matinee when Eve had to fulfill a commitment for the BBC."



"Isn't that a little frustrating?" asked Danny.



"It sure is, but it beats being out of work."



"Every understudy lives in hope that they'll be discovered while the lead is indisposed," said Paul. "Albert Finney took over from Larry Olivier when he was playing Coriolanus at Stratford, and became a star overnight."



"Well, it didn't happen the one afternoon I was on stage," said Katie with feeling. "What about you, Nick, what do you do?"



Danny didn't reply immediately, partly because no one except his probation officer had ever asked him that question. "I used to be a soldier," he said.



"My brother's a soldier," said Charlotte. "I'm worried that he might be sent to Iraq. Have you ever served there?"



Danny tried to recall the relevant entries in Nick's diary. "Twice," he replied. "But not recently," he added.



Katie smiled at Danny as the cab drew up outside the Dorchester. He remembered so well the last young woman who had looked at him that way.



Danny was the last to climb out of the taxi. He heard himself saying, "Let me get this one," quite expecting Paul's reply to be certainly not.