“It’s a camel!”
“Well, if he isn’t the funniest!”
The camel stood there uncertainly, swaying slightly from side to side and seeming to take in the room in a careful, appraising glance; then as if he had come to an abrupt decision he turned and ambled swiftly out the door.
Mr. Howard Tate had just come out of his den on the lower floor and was standing chatting with a good-looking young man in the hall. Suddenly they heard the noise of shouting upstairs and almost immediately a succession of bumping sounds, followed by the precipitous appearance at the foot of the stairway of a large brown beast who seemed to be going somewhere in a great hurry.
“Now what the devil!” said Mr. Tate, starting.
The beast picked itself up with some dignity and affecting an air of extreme nonchalance, as if he had just remembered an important engagement, started at a mixed gait toward the front door. In fact, his front legs began casually to run.
“See here now,” said Mr. Tate sternly. “Here! Grab it, Butterfield! Grab it!”
The young man enveloped the rear of the camel in a pair of brawny arms, and evidently realizing that further locomotion was quite impossible the front end submitted to capture and stood resignedly in a state of some agitation. By this time a flood of young people was pouring downstairs, and Mr. Tate, suspecting everything from an ingenious burglar to an escaped lunatic, gave crisp directions to the good-looking young man:
“Hold him! Lead him in here; we’ll soon see.”
The camel consented to be led into the den, and Mr. Tate, after locking the door, took a revolver from a table drawer and instructed the young man to take the thing’s head off. Then he gasped and returned the revolver to its hiding place.
“Well, Perry Parkhurst!” he exclaimed in amazement.
“’M in the wrong pew,” said Perry sheepishly. “Got the wrong party, Mr. Tate. Hope I didn’t scare you.”
“Well—you gave us a thrill, Perry.” Realization dawned on him. “Why, of course; you’re bound for the Townsends’ circus ball.”
“That’s the general idea.”
“Let me introduce Mr. Butterfield, Mr. Parkhurst. Parkhurst is our most famous young bachelor here.” Then turning to Perry: “Butterfield is staying with us for a few days.”
“I got a little mixed up,” mumbled Perry. “I’m very sorry.”
“Heavens, it’s perfectly all right; most natural mistake in the world. I’ve got a clown costume and I’m going down there myself after a while. Silly idea for a man of my age.” He turned to Butterfield. “Better change your mind and come down with us.”
The good-looking young man demurred. He was going to bed.
“Have a drink, Perry?” suggested Mr. Tate.
“Thanks, I will.”
“And, say,” continued Tate quickly, “I’d forgotten all about your—friend here.” He indicated the rear part of the camel. “I didn’t mean to seem discourteous. Is it any one I know? Bring him out.”