Now, who might this be? The rent poster had given no name. Even the incurious Frowenfeld would fain guess a little. For a man to be just of this sort, it seemed plain that he must live in an isolated ease upon the unceasing droppings of coupons, rents, and like receivables. Such was the immigrant’s first conjecture; and, as with slow, scant questions and answers they made their bargain, every new glance strengthened it; he was evidently a rentier. What, then, was his astonishment when Monsieur bent down and made himself Frowenfeld’s landlord, by writing what the universal mind esteemed the synonym of enterprise and activity—the name of Honore Grandissime. The landlord did not see, or ignored, his tenant’s glance of surprise, and the tenant asked no questions.
* * * * *
We may add here an incident which seemed, when it took place, as unimportant as a single fact well could be.
The little sum that Frowenfeld had inherited from his father had been sadly depleted by the expenses of four funerals; yet he was still able to pay a month’s rent in advance, to supply his shop with a scant stock of drugs, to purchase a celestial globe and some scientific apparatus, and to buy a dinner or two of sausages and crackers; but after this there was no necessity of hiding his purse.
His landlord early contracted a fondness for dropping in upon him, and conversing with him, as best the few and labored English phrases at his command would allow. Frowenfeld soon noticed that he never entered the shop unless its proprietor was alone, never sat down, and always, with the same perfection of dignity that characterized all his movements, departed immediately upon the arrival of any third person. One day, when the landlord was making one of these standing calls,—he always stood’ beside a high glass case, on the side of the shop opposite the counter,—he noticed in Joseph’s hand a sprig of basil, and spoke of it.
The tenant did not understand. “You—find—dad—nize?”
Frowenfeld replied that it had been left by the oversight of a customer, and expressed a liking for its odor.
“I sand you,” said the landlord,—a speech whose meaning Frowenfeld was not sure of until the next morning, when a small, nearly naked black boy, who could not speak a word of English, brought to the apothecary a luxuriant bunch of this basil, growing in a rough box.
ILLUSTRATING THE TRACTIVE POWER OF BASIL