But at the door Fifi was arrested by his voice.
“Why do you think it to your advantage to work in here?”
“It’s—it’s a good deal warmer, you know,” said Fifi, flustered, “and—then of course there’s the table and lamp. But it’s quite all right upstairs—really!”
He made no answer.
Autobiographical Data imparted, for Sound Business Reasons, to a Landlady’s Agent; of the Agent’s Other Title, etc.
While all move in slots in this world, Mr. Queed’s slot was infinitely more clearly marked than any of his neighbors’. It ran exclusively between the heaven of his room and the hades of the Post office; manifesting itself at the latter place in certain staid writings done in exchange for ten dollars, currency of the realm, paid down each and every Saturday. Into this slot he had been lifted, as it were by the ears, by a slip of a girl of the name of Charlotte Lee Weyland, though it was some time before he ever thought of it in that way.
In the freemasonry of the boarding-house, the young man was early accepted as he was. He was promptly voted the driest, most uninteresting and self-absorbed savant ever seen. Even Miss Miller, ordinarily indefatigable where gentlemen were concerned, soon gave him up. To Mr. Bylash she spoke contemptuously of him, but secretly she was awed by his stately manner of speech and his godlike indifference to all pleasures, including those of female society. Of them all, Nicolovius was the only one who seemed in the least impressed by Mr. Queed’s appointment as editorial writer on the Post. With the others the exalted world he moved in was so remote from theirs that no surprises were possible there, and if informed that the little Doctor had been elected president of Harvard University, it would have seemed all in the day’s work to William Klinker. Klinker was six feet high, red-faced and friendly, and Queed preferred his conversation above any heard at Mrs. Paynter’s table. It reminded him very much of his friend the yeggman in New York.
What went on behind the door of the tiny Scriptorium the boarders could only guess. It may be said that its owner’s big grievance against the world was that he had to leave it occasionally to earn his bread and meat. Apart from this he never left it in those days except for one reason, viz., the consumption three times a day of the said bread and meat. Probably this was one explanation of the marked pallor of his cheek, but of such details as this he never took the smallest notice.