“John,” he said, as the noiseless old steward entered.
“Yes, Mr. Randall.”
“Find out at the desk if a Mr. William Holcomb from Moose River has called or telephoned.”
“Very good, sir.”
“He’s a tall, sun-burned young man, John—and he may be waiting below. You understand.”
“I’ll go and see, sir,” and the steward turned.
“And, John—tell August we shall be five at luncheon.”
The next moment two hands gripped him from behind by both shoulders.
“Well! I’m glad you’re here, Keene, at any rate!” cried Randall as he smashed the bell hard. “Two dry Martinis”—this to the yellow-waistcoated steward now at his elbow. “It’s Billy Holcomb you’ve come to meet. He wrote me he was coming to New York on business and I made him promise to come here first. He and I hunted together last fall and I wanted you and Brompton to know him. What I’m afraid of is that he has missed the night express. Moose River’s a long ways from the railway, and you know what an Adirondack road is this time of year. I hope The Players won’t scare him.”
“Oh! we’ll take care of him,” laughed Keene good-humouredly. “Thank God he’s not a celebrity; I’m sick of celebrities. It’ll be a treat to meet a plain human being. Hello! here comes Brompton!”
Randall rose to his feet.
“Glad you could come, old man. There’s only five of us—you, and Keene, Sam Thayor, and a friend of mine from the woods. Touch the bell and give your order.”
Again the noiseless John appeared.
“Any news, John?”
“Yes, sir; Mr. Holcomb is waiting for you below, and Mr. Thayor has telephoned he will be here in a moment.”
Jack started for the stairs.
“Good!” he cried. “I’ll be back in a second.”
If the actor and Keene had expected to see a raw-boned country boy, reticent and ill at ease, they got over it at the first glance. What they saw approaching with his arm in their host’s was a young man of twenty-three, straight as an arrow, with the eyes of an eagle; whose clean-cut features were so full of human understanding that both the actor and Keene fell to wondering if Randall was not joking when he labeled him as hailing from so primitive a settlement as Moose River. To these qualities there was added the easy grace of a man of the world in the pink of condition. Only his dark gray pepper-and-salt clothes—they had been purchased in Utica the day before—confirmed Randall’s diagnosis, and even these fitted him in a way that showed both his good taste and his common sense. The introductions over and the party seated, Randall turned again to his friend.
“I worried about you, Billy; what happened?”
“Oh, we had a washout just this side of Utica, and the train was nearly three hours late. But I had no trouble,” he said with a quiet smile. “I came down a-foot—let’s see—Fourth Avenue, isn’t it? As soon as I saw the Park I knew I was on the right trail,” he laughed, his white teeth gleaming in contrast with his nut-brown skin.