He shook hands again, and took himself off.
At seven o’clock Mr. Emblem came down-stairs again.
“Has any one been?” he asked as usual.
“Only Mr. Joseph.”
“What might Mr. Joseph want?”
“Nothing at all.”
“Then,” said his grandfather, “Mr. Joseph might just as well have kept away.”
* * * * *
Let us anticipate a little. James spent the next day hovering about in the hope that an opportunity would offer of getting the key in his possession for a few moments. There was no opportunity. The bunch of keys lay on the table under the old man’s eyes all day, and when he left the table he carried them with him. But the day afterward he got his chance. One of the old customers called to talk over past bargains and former prizes. Mr. Emblem came out of the back shop with his visitor, and continued talking with him as far as the door. As he passed the table—James’s table—he rested the hand which carried the keys on it, and left them there. James pounced upon them and slipped them into his pocket noiselessly. Mr. Emblem returned to his own chair and thought nothing of the keys for an hour and a half by the clock, and during this period James was out on business. When Mr. Emblem remembered his keys, he felt for them in their usual place and missed them, and then began searching about and cried out to James that he had lost his bunch of keys.
“Why, sir,” said James, bringing them to him, after a little search, and with a very red face, “here they are; you must have left them on my table.”
And in this way the job was done.
Iris the Herald.
By a somewhat remarkable coincidence it was on this very evening that Iris first made the acquaintance of her pupil, Mr. Arnold Arbuthnot. These coincidences, I believe, happen oftener in real life than they do even on the stage, where people are always turning up at the very nick of time and the critical moment.
I need little persuasion to make me believe that the first meeting of Arnold Arbuthnot and Iris, on the very evening when her cousin was opening matters with the Foxy one, was nothing short of Providential. You shall see, presently, what things might have happened if they had not met. The meeting was, in fact, the second of the three really important events in the life of a girl. The first, which is seldom remembered with the gratitude which it deserves, is her birth; the second, the first meeting with her future lover; the third, her wedding-day; the other events of a woman’s life are interesting, perhaps, but not important.
Certain circumstances, which will be immediately explained, connected with this meeting, made it an event of very considerable interest to Iris, even though she did not suspect its immense importance. So much interest that she thought of nothing else for a week beforehand; that as the appointed hour drew near she trembled and grew pale; that when her grandfather came up for his tea, she, who was usually so quick to discern the least sign of care or anxiety in his face, actually did not observe the trouble, plainly written in his drooping head and anxious eyes, which was due to his interview with Mr. David Chalker.