And it was while he was still in this vein of thought, as it happened, that Colonel Cowles, at eleven o’clock on the first night of June, dropped dead in his bathroom, and left the Post without an editor.
The Little House on Duke of Gloucester Street; and the Beginning of Various Feelings, Sensibilities, and Attitudes between two Lonely Men.
One instant thought the news of the Colonel’s death struck from nearly everybody’s mind: He’ll miss the Reunion. For within a few days the city was to witness that yearly gathering of broken armies which, of all assemblages among men, the Colonel had loved most dearly. In thirty years, he had not missed one, till now. They buried the old warrior with pomp and circumstance, not to speak of many tears, and his young assistant in the sanctum came home from the graveside with a sense of having lost a valued counselor and friend. Only the home to which the assistant returned with this feeling was not the Third Hall Back of Mrs. Paynter’s, sometimes known as the Scriptorium, but a whole suite of pleasant rooms, upstairs and down, in a nice little house on Duke of Gloucester Street. For Nicolovius had made his contemplated move on the first of May, and Queed had gone with him.
It was half-past six o’clock on a pretty summer’s evening. Queed opened the house-door with a latch-key and went upstairs to the comfortable living-room, which faithfully reproduced the old professor’s sitting-room at Mrs. Paynter’s. Nicolovius, in his black silk cap, was sitting near the open window, reading and smoking a strong cigarette.
“Ah, here you are! I was just thinking that you were rather later than usual this evening.”
“Yes, I went to Colonel Cowles’s funeral. It was decidedly impressive.”
Queed dropped down into one of Nicolovius’s agreeable chairs and let his eyes roam over the room. He was extremely comfortable in this house; a little too comfortable, he was beginning to think now, considering that he paid but seven dollars and fifty cents a week towards its support. He had a desk and lamp all his own in the living-room, a table and lamp in his bedroom, ease and independence over two floors. An old negro man looked after the two gentlemen and gave them excellent things to eat. The house was an old one, and small; it was in an unfashionable part of town, and having stood empty for some time, could be had for thirty-five dollars a month. However, Nicolovius had wiped out any economy here by spending his money freely to repair and beautify. He had had workmen in the house for a month, papering, painting, plumbing, and altering.
“Dozens of people could not get in the church,” said Queed. “They stood outside in the street till the service was over.”
Nicolovius was looking out of the window, and answered casually. “I daresay he was an excellent man according to his lights.”