Quincy was up early next morning, and at ten minutes of nine reached the lodging house in Myrtle Street. He had taken a carriage, for he knew Miss Very would have her luggage, probably a trunk. His call at the door was answered by a sharp-eyed, hatchet-faced woman, whose face was red with excitement. To Quincy’s inquiry if Miss Very was in, the woman replied, “that she was in and was likely to stay in.”
“I trust she is not sick,” said Quincy.
“No! she ain’t sick,” the woman replied, “what you mean by sick; but there’s worse things than bein’ sick, especially when a poor widder has a big house rent to pay and coal seven dollars and a half a ton.”
A small trunk, neatly strapped, stood in the hallway. Glancing into the stuffy little parlor, he saw a woman, apparently young, with her veil down, seated on a sofa, with a large valise on the floor and a hand bag at her side.
Quincy divined the situation at once. Stepping into the hallway, he closed the parlor door, and, turning to the woman, said, “How much?”
“Three dollars,” replied the woman, “and it’s cheap enough for—”
“A miserable little dark stuffy side room, without any heat, up three flights, back,” broke in Quincy, as he passed her the money.
The woman was breathless with astonishment and anger. Taking advantage of this, Quincy opened the parlor door, first beckoning to the coachman to come in and get the trunk.
“Miss Very, I presume?” said Quincy, as he advanced towards the young lady on the sofa.
She arose as he approached, and answered, “Yes, sir.”
“Come with me, please,” said he, grasping the valise. She hesitated; he understood why. “It’s all right,” he said, in a low tone. “I’ve settled with the landlady, and you can settle with me any time.”
“Thank you, so much,” spoke a sweet voice from underneath the veil, and the owner of it followed close behind him, and he handed her into the carriage. As Quincy pulled the carriage door to, that of the lodging house closed with a report like that of a pistol, and Mrs. Colby went down stairs and told the servant, who was scrubbing the kitchen floor, what had occurred, and added that she “had always had her suspicions of that Miss Very.”
* * * * *
While Quincy was talking with Alice the day before, his dinner that Mrs. Hawkins had saved for him was being burned to a crisp in and on the stove. Mrs. Hawkins’s attention was finally attracted to it, and, turning to Betsy, she said, “Law sakes, somethin’ must be burnin’.” Running to the stove, she soon discovered the cause. “Mercy on me!” she ejaculated. “I left that damper open, and his dinner’s burnt to a cinder. Wall, I don’t care; he may be a good lodger, an’ all that, but he’s a mighty poor boarder; and it’s no satisfaction gittin’ up things for him to eat, and then lettin’ them go to waste, even if he does pay for it. Them’s my sentiments, and I’ll feel better now I’ve spit it out.”