Mr. Wright, who was also in his best clothes, led the way to a small tobacconist’s in a side street off the Mile End Road, and, raising his hat with some ceremony, shook hands with a good-looking young woman who stood behind the counter: Mr. Kemp, adopting an air of scornful dignity intended to indicate the possession of great wealth, waited.
“This is my uncle,” said Mr. Wright, speaking rapidly, “from New Zealand, the one I spoke to you about. He turned up last night, and you might have knocked me down with a feather. The last person in the world I expected to see.”
Mr. Kemp, in a good rolling voice, said, “Good evening, miss; I hope you are well,” and, subsiding into a chair, asked for a cigar. His surprise when he found that the best cigar they stocked only cost sixpence almost assumed the dimensions of a grievance.
“It’ll do to go on with,” he said, smelling it suspiciously. “Have you got change for a fifty-pound note?”
Miss Bradshaw, concealing her surprise by an effort, said that she would see, and was scanning the contents of a drawer, when Mr. Kemp in some haste discovered a few odd sovereigns in his waistcoat-pocket. Five minutes later he was sitting in the little room behind the shop, holding forth to an admiring audience.
“So far as I know,” he said, in reply to a question of Mrs. Bradshaw’s, “George is the only relation I’ve got. Him and me are quite alone, and I can tell you I was glad to find him.”
Mrs. Bradshaw sighed. “It’s a pity you are so far apart,” she said.
“It’s not for long,” said Mr. Kemp. “I’m just going back for about a year to wind up things out there, and then I’m coming back to leave my old bones over here. George has very kindly offered to let me live with him.”
“He won’t suffer for it, I’ll be bound,” said Mrs. Bradshaw, archly.
“So far as money goes he won’t,” said the old man. “Not that that would make any difference to George.”
“It would be the same to me if you hadn’t got a farthing,” said Mr. Wright, promptly.
[Illustration: “It’ll do to go on with,” he said]
Mr. Kemp, somewhat affected, shook hands with him, and leaning back in the most comfortable chair in the room, described his life and struggles in New Zealand. Hard work, teetotalism, and the simple life combined appeared to be responsible for a fortune which he affected to be too old to enjoy. Misunderstandings of a painful nature were avoided by a timely admission that under medical advice he was now taking a fair amount of stimulant.
[Illustration: “’Ow much did you say you’d got in the bank?”]
“Mind,” he said, as he walked home with the elated George, “it’s your game, not mine, and it’s sure to come a bit expensive. I can’t be a rich uncle without spending a bit. ’Ow much did you say you’d got in the bank?”
“We must be as careful as we can,” said Mr. Wright, hastily. “One thing is they can’t leave the shop to go out much. It’s a very good little business, and it ought to be all right for me and Bella one of these days, eh?”