“That boy Jasper is a snake in the grass,” he said. “I’d like to give him a good thrashing.”
“There isn’t any love lost between us, Mr. Pettigrew, but I think it will turn out right in the end. Still I find it hard to get a place in New York with him circulating stories about me.”
“Then why do you stay in New York?”
“I have thought it might be better to go to Philadelphia or Boston.”
“I can tell you of a better place than either.”
“What is that?”
“Do you really think it would be wise for me to go there?”
“Think? I haven’t a doubt about it.”
“I have money enough to get there, but not much more. I should soon have to find work, or I might get stranded.”
“Come back with me, and I’ll see you through. I’ll make a bargain with you. Go round with me here, and I’ll pay your fare out to Montana.”
“If you are really in earnest I will do so, and thank you for the offer.”
“Jefferson Pettigrew means what he says. I’ll see you through, Rodney.”
“But I may be interfering with your other friend, Louis Wheeler.”
“I shall soon be through with him. You needn’t worry yourself about that.”
Mr. Pettigrew insisted upon Rodney’s taking supper with him. Fifteen minutes after Rodney left him Mr. Wheeler made his appearance.
MR. WHEELER HAS A SET BACK.
Louis Wheeler had not seen Rodney in the hotel office, and probably would not have recognized him if he had, as Rodney was quite differently dressed from the time of their first meeting. He had no reason to suppose, therefore, that Mr. Pettigrew had been enlightened as to his real character.
It was therefore with his usual confidence that he accosted his acquaintance from Montana after supper.
“It is time to go to the theater, Mr. Pettigrew,” he said.
Jefferson Pettigrew scanned his new acquaintance with interest. He had never before met a man of his type and he looked upon him as a curiosity.
He was shrewd, however, and did not propose to let Wheeler know that he understood his character. He resolved for the present to play the part of the bluff and unsuspecting country visitor.
“You are very kind, Mr. Wheeler,” he said, “to take so much trouble for a stranger.”
“My dear sir,” said Wheeler effusively, “I wouldn’t do it for many persons, but I have taken a fancy to you.”
“You don’t mean so?” said Pettigrew, appearing pleased?
“Yes, I do, on my honor.”
“But I don’t see why you should. You are a polished city gentleman and I am an ignorant miner from Montana.”
Louis Wheeler looked complacent when he was referred to as a polished city gentleman.
“You do yourself injustice, my dear Pettigrew,” he said in a patronizing manner. “You do indeed. You may not be polished, but you are certainly smart, as you have shown by accumulating a fortune.”