Then from the back of the room spoke Porter Bigelow.
“What’s the name of your lodger?”
“There are Pooles in Gramercy Park,” said Aunt Frances. “I wonder if he’s one of them.”
Mary shook her head. “He’s from the South.”
“I should think,” said Porter, slowly, “that you’d want to know something of him besides his bank reference before you took him into your house.”
“Why?” Mary demanded.
“Because he might be—a thief, or a rascal,” Porter spoke hotly.
Over the heads of the others their eyes met. “He is neither,” said Mary. “I know a gentleman when I see one, Porter.”
Then the temper of the redhead flamed. “Oh, do you? Well, for my part I wish that you were going to Nice, Mary.”
In Which a Lonely Wayfarer Becomes Monarch of All He Surveys; and in Which One Who Might Have Been Presented as the Hero of This Tale is Forced, Through No Fault of His Own, to Take His Chances With the Rest.
When Roger Poole came a week later to the big house on the hill, it was on a rainy day. He carried his own bag, and was let in at the lower door by Susan Jenks.
Her smiling brown face gave him at once a sense of homeyness. She led the way through the wide hall and up the front stairs, crisp and competent in her big white apron and black gown.
As he followed her, Roger was aware that the house had lost its effulgence. The flowers were gone, and the radiance, and the stairs that the silken ladies had once ascended showed, at closer range, certain signs of shabbiness. The carpet was old and mended. There was a chilliness about the atmosphere, as if the fire, too, needed mending.
But when Susan Jenks opened the door of the Tower Room, he was met by warmth and brightness. Here was the light of leaping flames and of a low-shaded lamp. On the table beside the lamp was a pot of pink hyacinths, and their fragrance made the air sweet. The inner room was no longer a rosy bower, but a man’s retreat, with its substantial furniture, its simplicity, its absence of non-essentials. In this room Roger set down his bag, and Susan Jenks, hanging big towels and little ones in the bathroom, drawing the curtains, and coaxing the fire, flitted cozily back and forth for a few minutes and then withdrew.
It was then that Roger surveyed his domain. He was monarch of all of it. The big chair was his to rest in, the fire was his, the low lamp, all the old friends in the bookcases!
He went again into the inner room. The glass candlesticks were gone and the photographs in their silver and ivory frames, but over the mantel there was a Corot print with forest vistas, and another above his little bedside table. On the table was a small electric lamp with a green shade, a new magazine, and a little old bulging Bible with a limp leather binding.