Job, pointing to a chair, said, quietly: “Shall we sit down? We are both strangers.” The invitation to be seated was rather reluctantly accepted, and there was a shade of suspicion seen by Worth on Thorne’s face.
“Where have we met, Mr. Thorne?” asked Worth again, as if still debating that question. “Wherever it was, it must have been several years ago, if it wasn’t in Washington, as I was there three years ago.”
The young man seemed to recover himself on hearing this, thinking at once that Worth’s residence in Washington had doubtless hindered him from hearing of any occurrences near Land’s End or in London, and replied: “I’m an Englishman, like yourself. You may possibly have seen me, if you have been much in London. I spent several years in Burrough Road School.”
“Indeed!” interrupted Worth, “why, that is my old school; but I must have left there before you entered, and I have only visited the institute once since I graduated. It is really a pleasure to meet in this country one of the boys of old Burrough Road. How long have you been in America?”
“I have been here about a year. I am looking around for an opportunity to invest some money with which I have been intrusted, but am making haste slowly in that respect,” replied the other with a faint smile.
“Well,” remarked Job, “your business is just the opposite of mine. I am looking around to find some money. Do you know of anything that I could get to do, in order to make some cash?”
“I’m afraid I don’t know enough to advise you on that line,” was the answer, adding: “Where are you stopping?”
“At the Mount Vernon Hotel, down on the wharf,” was the reply. “It suits my pocket.”
Just then the dining room doors were opened, and Thorne cordially invited Job to stay to dinner. The invitation was accepted, and they entered the dining room together.
This was a strange fellowship. Each knew the other, and knowing him was intent on outwitting him; consequently the conversation was abstract, abstruse, and uninteresting.
It was a strange phase of hospitality. When the meal was ended neither of the men could have told what he had eaten, or what he had said.
OUT HERODING HEROD
While eating dinner the younger man assumed the lead in the matter of conversation, and it became general in its character.
“Mr. Worth,” remarked Thorne, “you say that economy took you to the Mount Vernon. Now, I happen to have two beds in my room. What do you say to sharing one of them with me? It will cost you no more than you are paying, and I judge that the service here is much better than in your present hotel.”
This proposition rather pleased Job, and the arrangement was accordingly perfected, and the evening found the two men genially smoking their cigars quite like two old friends.