“I am very glad to meet you, sir,” the other replied, shaking hands heartily. “I don’t follow that last stipulation of yours, though.”
“It simply means that I am taking seven days’ holiday,” Philip explained gaily, “seven days during which I have passed my word to myself to neither talk business nor think business. Your very good health, Mr. Raymond Greene,” he went on, drinking his cocktail with relish. “If we meet on the other side, Mr. Lawton, we’ll compare notes as much as you like.”
“That’s all right, sir,” the other agreed. “I don’t know as you’re not right. We Americans do hang round our businesses, and that’s a fact. Still, there’s a little matter of lasts I should like to have a word or two with you about some time.”
“A little matter of what?” Philip asked vaguely.
“Lasts,” the other repeated. “That’s where your people and ours look different ways chiefly, that and a little matter of manipulation of our machinery.”
“Just so,” Philip assented, swallowing the rest of his cocktail. “What about luncheon? There’s nothing in the world to give you an appetite like this sea air.”
“I’m with you,” Mr. Raymond Greene chimed in. “You two can have your trade talk later on.”
He took his young friend’s arm, and they descended the stairs together.
“What the mischief is a last?” he inquired.
“I haven’t the least idea,” Philip replied carelessly. “Something to do with boots and shoes, isn’t it?”
His questioner stared at him for a moment and then laughed.
“Say, you’re a young man of your word!” he remarked appreciatively.
Philip Romilly was accosted, late that afternoon, by two young women whose presence on board he had noticed with a certain amount of disapproval. They were obviously of the chorus-girl type, a fact which they seemed to lack the ambition to conceal. After several would-be ingratiating giggles, they finally pulled up in front of him whilst he was promenading the deck.
“You are Mr. Romilly, aren’t you?” one of them asked. “Bob Millet told us you were going to be on this steamer. You know Bob, don’t you?”
Philip for a moment was taken aback.
“Bob Millet,” he repeated thoughtfully.
“Of course! Good old Bob! I don’t mind confessing,” the young woman went on, “that though we were all out one night together—Trocadero, Empire, and Murray’s afterwards—I should never have recognised you. Seems to me you’ve got thinner and more serious-looking.”
“I am afraid my own memory is also at fault,” Philip remarked, a little stiffly.
“I am Violet Fox,” the young woman who had accosted him continued. “This my friend, Hilda Mason. She’s a dear girl but a little shy, aren’t you, Hilda?”
“That’s just because I told her that we ought to wait until you remembered us,” the slighter young woman, with the very obvious peroxidised hair, protested.