Mr. Fortune appeared at the communicating door. Sabre put the letter into his pocket and turned towards him.
Mr. Fortune came into the room. With him was a young man, a youth, whose face was vaguely familiar to Sabre; Twyning behind.
“Ah, Sabre,” said Mr. Fortune. “Good morning, Sabre. This is rather a larger number of visitors than you would commonly expect, but we are a larger staff this morning than we have heretofore been. I am bringing in to you a new member of our staff.” He indicated the young man beside him. “A new member but bearing an old name. A chip of the old block—the old Twyning block.” He smiled, stroking his whale-like front rather as though this pleasantry had proceeded from its depths and he was congratulating it. The young man smiled. Twyning, edging forward from the background, also smiled. All the smiles were rather nervous. This was natural in the new member of the staff but in Twyning and Mr. Fortune gave Sabre the feeling that for some reason they were not entirely at ease. His immediate thought had been that it was an odd thing to have taken on young Twyning without mentioning it even casually to him. It was significant of his estrangement in the office; but their self-conscious manner was even more significant: it suggested that he had been kept out of the plan deliberately.
He gave the young man his hand. “Why, that’s very nice,” he said. “I thought I knew your face. I think I’ve seen you with your father. You’ve been in Blade and Parson’s place, haven’t you?”
Young Twyning replied that he had. He had his father’s rather quick and stiff manner of speaking. He was fair-haired and complexioned, good-looking in a sharp-featured way, a juvenile edition of his father in a different colouring.
Mr. Fortune, still stroking the whale-like front, produced further pleasantry from it. “Yes, with Blade and Parson. Twyning here has snatched him from the long arm of the law before he has had time to develop the long jaw of the legal shark. In point of fact, Sabre”—Mr. Fortune ceased to stroke the whale-like front. He moved a step or two out of the line of Sabre’s regard, and standing before the bookshelves, addressed his remarks to them as though what else he had to say were not of particular consequence—“In point of fact, Sabre, this very natural and pleasing desire of Twyning to have his son in the office, a desire which I am most gratified to support, is his first—what shall I say?—feeling of his feet—establishing of his position—in his new—er—in his new responsibility, duty—er—function. I like this deeper tone in the ‘Six Terms’ binding, Sabre. I distinctly approve it. Yes. What was I saying? Ah, yes, Twyning is now in partnership, Sabre. Yes. Good.”
He came abruptly away from the shelves and directed the whale-like front towards his door in process of departure. “A little reorganisation. Nothing more. Just a little reorganisation. I think you’ll find we shall all work very much the more comfortably for it.” He paused before young Twyning. “Well, young man, now you’ve made your bow before our literary adviser. I think we decided to call him Harold, eh, Twyning? Avoid confusion, don’t you agree, Sabre?”