Mr. Heatherbloom, a few days later, sat one morning in Central Park. His canine charges were tied to the bench and while they chafed at restraint and tried vainly to get away and chase squirrels, he scrutinized one of the pages of a newspaper some person had left there. What the young man read seemed to give him no great pleasure. He put down the paper; then picked it up again and regarded a snap-shot illustration occupying a conspicuous position on the society page.
“Prince Boris Strogareff, riding in the park,” the picture was labeled. The newspaper photographer had caught for his sensational sheet an excellent likeness of a foreign visitor in whom New York was at the time greatly interested. A picturesque personality—the prince—half distinguished gentleman, half bold brigand in appearance, was depicted on a superb bay, and looked every inch a horseman. Mr. Heatherbloom continued to stare at the likeness; the features, dark, rather wild-looking, as if a trace of his ancient Tartar ancestry had survived the cultivating touch of time. Then the young man on the bench once more turned his attention to the text accompanying the cut.
“Reported engagement of Miss Elizabeth Dalrymple to Prince Boris Strogareff ... the prince has vast estates in Russia and Russia-Asia ... his forbears were prominent in the days when Crakow was building and the Cossacks and the Poles were engaged in constant strife on the steppe ... Miss Dalrymple, with whom this stalwart romantic personage is said to be deeply enamored, is niece and heiress of the eccentric Miss Van Rolsen, the third richest woman in New York, and, probably, in the world ... Miss Dalrymple is the only surviving daughter of Charles Dalrymple of San Francisco, who made his fortune with Martin Ferguson of the same place, at the time—”
The paper fell from Mr. Heatherbloom’s hand; for several moments he sat motionless; then he got up, unloosened his charges and moved on. They naturally became once more wild with joy, but he heeded not their exuberances; even Naughty’s demonstrations brought no answering touch of his hand, that now lifted to his breast and took something from his pocket—an article wrapped in a pink tissue-paper. Mr. Heatherbloom unfolded the warm-tinted covering with light sedulous fingers and looked steadily and earnestly at a miniature. But only for a brief interval; by this time Curly et al. had become an incomprehensible tangle of dog and leading strings about Mr. Heatherbloom’s legs. So much so, indeed, that in the effort to extricate himself he dropped the tiny picture; with a sudden passionate exclamation he stooped for it. The anger that transformed his usually mild visage seemed about to vent itself on his charges but almost at once subsided.
Carefully brushing the picture on his coat, he replaced it in his pocket and quietly started to disentangle his charges from himself. This was at length accomplished; he knew, however, that the unraveling would have to be done all over again ere long; it constituted an important part of his duties. The promenade was punctuated by about so many “mix-ups”; Mr. Heatherbloom accepted them philosophically, or absent-mindedly. At any rate, while untying knots or disengaging things, he usually exhibited much patience.