“Mrs. Bradley,” said the old gentleman, “this is a young gentleman who was kind enough to help me home after the accident of which I just spoke to you. I would mention his name, but I must leave that to him.”
“Frank Fowler, sir.”
“And my name is Wharton. Now that we are all introduced, we can talk more freely.”
“Will you have some soup, Mr. Fowler?” asked the housekeeper.
She was a tall thin woman, with a reserved manner that was somewhat repellant. She had only nodded slightly at the introduction, fixing her eyes coldly and searchingly on the face of our hero. It was evident that whatever impression the service rendered might have made upon the mind of Mr. Wharton, it was not calculated to warm the housekeeper to cordiality.
“Thank you,” he answered, but he could not help feeling at the same time that Mrs. Bradley was not a very agreeable woman.
“You ought to have a good appetite,” said Mr. Wharton. “You have to work hard during the day. Our young friend is a cash-boy at Gilbert & Mack’s, Mrs. Bradley.
“Oh, indeed!” said Mrs. Bradley, arching her brows as much as to say: “You have invited strange company to dinner.”
“Do your parents live in the city, Frank—I believe your name is Frank?”
“No, sir; they are dead. My mother died only a few weeks since.”
“And have you no brothers and sisters?”
“I have one sister—Grace.”
“I suppose she is in the city here with you?”
“No, sir. I left her in the country. I am here alone.”
“I will ask you more about yourself after dinner. If you have no engagement, I should like to have you stay with me a part of the evening.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Frank accepted the invitation, though he knew Jasper would wonder what had become of him. He saw that the old gentleman was kindly disposed toward him, and in his present circumstances he needed such a friend.
But in proportion as Mr. Wharton became more cordial, Mrs. Bradley became more frosty, until at last the old gentleman noticed her manner.
“Don’t you feel well this evening, Mrs Bradley?” he asked.
“I have a little headache,” said the housekeeper, coldly.
“You had better do something for it.”
“It will pass away of itself, sir.”
They arose from the dinner table, and Mr. Wharton, followed by Frank, ascended the staircase to the front room on the second floor, which was handsomely fitted up as a library.
“What makes him take such notice of a mere cash-boy?” said Mrs. Bradley to herself. “That boy reminds me of somebody. Who is it?”
AN UNEXPECTED ENGAGEMENT
“Take a seat, Frank,” said Mr. Wharton, pointing to a luxurious armchair on one side of the cheerful grate fire; “I will take the other, and you shall tell me all about yourself.”