“So am I,” cried Aunt Abby, hastening to welcome the newcomer. “Oh, Mr. Hanlon, I went to see your man—Mr. Marigny, you know—”
“Yes? I called to see if you had found him all right.”
The necessary introductions were made, and Hanlon took his place in the group.
He was a little ill at ease, for he was by no means a member of “society,” and though he had been at the Embury house before, he seemed a trifle in awe of his surroundings.
“And I called, too,” Hanlon said, “to offer you my respectful sympathy, Mrs, Embury, and ask if there’s anything I can do for you.”
“Why, you’re very kind,” said Eunice, touched by his thoughtfulness, “but I’m afraid there’s nothing you—anybody can do for me.”
“F. Stone can,” declared Fibsy; “he can do a lot for you, Mrs, Embury.” The red head nodded vigorously, as was the boy’s habit, when much in earnest.
Hanlon regarded him closely, and Fibsy returned the scrutiny.
“Say,” the boy broke out, suddenly. “I’ve seen you before. You’re the man who found the hidden jackknife, in Newark!”
“The same,” and Hanlon smiled at him. “Were you present?”
“I sure was! Gee! You’re a wonder!”
“I was a wonder, but I don’t do wonderful things any more.”
“What do you do now?”
“Yes,” chimed in Eunice, “what are you doing, Mr. Hanlon? You told me you were going to take up a different line of work.”
“I did, Mrs, Embury; I’m a prosaic and uninteresting painter man nowadays.”
“In a way,” and Hanlon smiled; “I paint signs—and I try to do them artistically.”
“Signs! How dull for you—after your exciting performances!”
“Not so very dull,” interrupted Aunt Abby. “I know about the signs Mr. Hanlon paints! They’re bigger’n a house! They’re —why, they’re scenery—don’t you know?—like you see along the railroad—I mean along the meadows when you’re riding in the cars.”
“Oh, scenic advertising,” observed Fleming Stone. “And signs on the Palisades—”
“Not on the natural scenery,” laughed Hanlon. “Though I’ve been tempted by high rocks or smooth-sided crags.”
“Are you a steeple-jack?” asked Fibsy, his eyes sparkling; “can you paint spires and things?”
“No;” and Hanlon looked at the boy, regretfully. “I can’t do that. I’m no climber. I make the signs and then they’re put where they belong by other workmen.”
“Oh,” and Fibsy looked disappointed at not finding the daring hero he sought for.
“I must not presume further on your kindness, Mrs, Embury,” Hanlon said, with an attempt at society jargon, “I merely called in for a minute. Mr. Hendricks, are you going my way? I want to see you about that sign-”
“No, Hanlon—sorry, but I’m not going now,” and Hendricks shook his head. “I’m here for the evening.”