He glanced covertly at the young man, who was already immersed in his work.
“Evening dress,” Chetwode remarked, with a becoming show of interest. “Well, I dare say I can manage something. If I wear a black coat and a white silk bow, and stick a red handkerchief in underneath my waistcoat, I dare say I shall be all right. Mr. Weatherley can’t expect much from me in that way, can he?”
The senior clerk was secretly delighted. It was not for him to acquaint this young countryman with the necessities of London life. He turned away and took up a bundle of letters.
“Can’t say, I’m sure, what the governor expects,” he replied, falsely. “You’ll have to do the best you can, I suppose. Better get on with those invoices now.”
Once more the office resounded to the hum of its varied labors. Mr. Jarvis, dictating letters to a typist, smiled occasionally as he pictured the arrival of this over-favored young man in the drawing-room of Mrs. Weatherley, attired in the nondescript fashion which his words had suggested. One or two of the clerks ventured upon a chaffing remark. To all appearance, the person most absorbed in his work was the young man who had been singled out for such especial favor.
In the topmost chamber of the last of a row of somber gray stone houses in Adam Street a girl with a thin but beautiful face and large, expectant eyes sat close to the bare, uncurtained window, from which it was possible to command a view of the street below. A book which she had apparently been reading had fallen neglected onto the floor. Steadfastly she watched the passers-by. Her delicate, expressive features were more than once illuminated with joy, only to be clouded, a moment later, with disappointment. The color came and went in her cheeks, as though, indeed, she were more sensitive than her years. Occasionally she glanced around at the clock. Time dragged so slowly in that great bare room with its obvious touch of poverty!
At last a tall figure came striding along the pavement below. This time no mistake was possible. There was a fluttering handkerchief from above, an answering wave of the hand. The girl drew a sigh of inexpressible content, moved away from the window and faced the door, with lifted head waiting for the sound of footsteps upon the stairs. They arrived at last. The door was thrown open. Arnold Chetwode came hastily across the room and gripped the two hands which were held out to him. Then he bent down and kissed her forehead.
“Dear little Ruth!” he exclaimed. “I hope you were careful crossing the landing?”
The girl leaned back in her chair. Her eyes were fixed anxiously upon his face. She completely ignored his question.
“The news at once!” she insisted. “Tell me, Arnold!”
He was a little taken aback.
“How did you know that I had any?”