“Yes, I should say so!” assented his father, returning to his seat. “Dinner at seven!” he called before the door closed; and as his finger sought one of the push-buttons it rested for a moment on the metal edge of the socket, his head bowed, while an indefinable emotion, mixed of prophecy and recollection, must have fluttered through the routine channels of his vigorous mind.
“BUT WITH YOU, ‘YES, SIR’”
As Jack came out of the office, Mortimer appeared from an adjoining room in furtive, mouselike curiosity.
“Not much damage done!” said Jack, in happy relief from the ordeal. “I am without a hat, but I have the rose.” He held it up before Mortimer’s worn, kindly face that had been so genuine in welcome. “Yes, I must have kept it to decorate you, Peter!”
Ineffectually, in timorous confusion, the old secretary protested while Jack fastened it in his buttonhole.
“And you are going to help me, aren’t you, Peter?” Jack went on, seriously. “You are going to hold up a finger of warning when I get off the course. I am to be practical, matter-of-fact; there’s to be an end to all fantastic ideas.”
An end to all fantastic ideas! But it was hardly according to the gospel of the matter-of-fact to take Burleigh, the fitter, out to luncheon. Jack might excuse himself on the ground that he had not yet begun his apprenticeship and had several hours of freedom before his first lesson at dinner. This ecstasy of a recess, perhaps, made him lay aside the derby, which the clerk said was very becoming, and choose a softer head-covering with a bit of feather in the band, which the clerk, with positive enthusiasm, said was still more becoming. At all events, it was easy on his temples, while the derby was stiff and binding and conducive to a certain depression of spirits.
Burleigh, the fitter, was almost as old as Mortimer. He rose to the exceptional situation, his eyes lighting as he surveyed the form to be clothed with a professional gratification unsurpassed by that of Dr. Bennington in plotting Jack’s chest with a stethoscope.
“Yes, sir, we will have that dinner-jacket ready to-night, sir, depend upon it—and couldn’t I show you something in cheviots?”
Jack broke another precedent. A Wingfield, he decided to patronize the Wingfield store, because he saw how supremely happy every order made Burleigh.
“You can do it as well as Thompson’s?” he asked.
“With you, yes, sir—though Thompson is a great expert on round shoulders. But with you, yes, sir!”
When the business of measuring was over, while Burleigh peered triumphant over the pile of cloths from which the masterpieces were to be fashioned, Jack said that he had a ripping appetite and he did not see why he and Burleigh should not appease their hunger in company. Burleigh gasped; then he grinned in abandoned delight and slipped off his shiny coat and little tailor’s apron that bristled with pins.