Perfectly comprehending his superior’s mode of indirect expression the city editor replied:
“You think so highly of him as that?”
“Not one of our jobs will be safe from him if he once gets his foot planted,” prophesied the other with mock ruefulness. “Do you know,” he added, “I never even asked him for a reference.”
“You don’t need to,” pronounced Mallory, shaking the last wrinkle out of himself and lighting the cigarette of departure. “He’s got it in his face, if I’m any judge.”
Highly elate, Banneker walked on springy pavements all the way to Grove Street. Fifteen a week! He could live on that. His other income and savings could be devoted to carrying out Miss Camilla’s advice. For he need not save any more. He would go ahead, fast, now that he had got his start. How easy it had been.
Entering the Brashear door, he met plain, middle-aged little Miss Westlake. A muffler was pressed to her jaw. He recalled having heard her moving about her room, the cheapest and least desirable in the house, and groaning softly late in the night; also having heard some lodgers say that she was a typist with very little work. Obviously she needed a dentist, and presumably she had not the money to pay his fee. In the exultation of his good luck, Banneker felt a stir of helpfulness toward this helpless person.
“Oh!” said he. “How do you do! Could you find time to do some typing for me quite soon?”
It was said impulsively and was followed by a surge of dismay. Typing? Type what? He had absolutely nothing on hand!
Well, he must get up something. At once. It would never do to disappoint that pathetic and eager hope, as of a last-moment rescue, expressed in the little spinster’s quick flush and breathless, thankful affirmative.
Ten days’ leeway before entering upon the new work. To which of scores of crowding purposes could Banneker best put the time? In his offhand way the instructive Mallory had suggested that he familiarize himself with the topography and travel-routes of the Island of Manhattan. Indefatigably he set about doing this; wandering from water-front to water-front, invading tenements, eating at queer, Englishless restaurants, picking up chance acquaintance with chauffeurs, peddlers, street-fakers, park-bench loiterers; all that drifting and iridescent scum of life which variegates the surface above the depths. Everywhere he was accepted without question, for his old experience on the hoof had given him the uncoded password which loosens the speech of furtive men and wise. A receptivity, sensitized to a high degree by the inspiration of new adventure, absorbed these impressions. The faithful pocket-ledger was filling rapidly with notes and phrases, brisk and trenchant, set down with no specific purpose; almost mechanically, in fact, but destined to future uses. Mallory, himself no mean connoisseur of the tumultuous and flagrant city, would perhaps have found matter foreign to his expert apprehension could he have seen and translated the pages of 3 T 9901.