“No,” said Ida, “I don’t believe anybody lives there. Do they, papa?”
“No, my dear. They were used for the burial of the dead. The largest of them is said to be the loftiest building in the world with one exception. The spire of the Cathedral of Strasburg is twenty-four feet higher, if I remember rightly.”
“Is Egypt near here?” asked Dick.
“Oh, no, it’s ever so many miles off; about four or five hundred. Didn’t you know?”
“No,” said Dick. “I never heard.”
“You don’t appear to be very accurate in your information, Ida,” said her mother. “Four or five thousand miles would be considerably nearer the truth.”
After a little more conversation they sat down to dinner. Dick seated himself in an embarrassed way. He was very much afraid of doing or saying something which would be considered an impropriety, and had the uncomfortable feeling that everybody was looking at him, and watching his behavior.
“Where do you live, Dick?” asked Ida, familiarly.
“In Mott Street.”
“Where is that?”
“More than a mile off.”
“Is it a nice street?”
“Not very,” said Dick. “Only poor folks live there.”
“Are you poor?”
“Little girls should be seen and not heard,” said her mother, gently.
“If you are,” said Ida, “I’ll give you the five-dollar gold-piece aunt gave me for a birthday present.”
“Dick cannot be called poor, my child,” said Mrs. Greyson, “since he earns his living by his own exertions.”
“Do you earn your living?” asked Ida, who was a very inquisitive young lady, and not easily silenced. “What do you do?”
Dick blushed violently. At such a table, and in presence of the servant who was standing at that moment behind his chair, he did not like to say that he was a shoe-black, although he well knew that there was nothing dishonorable in the occupation.
Mr. Greyson perceived his feelings, and to spare them, said, “You are too inquisitive, Ida. Sometime Dick may tell you, but you know we don’t talk of business on Sundays.”
Dick in his embarrassment had swallowed a large spoonful of hot soup, which made him turn red in the face. For the second time, in spite of the prospect of the best dinner he had ever eaten, he wished himself back in Mott Street. Henry Fosdick was more easy and unembarrassed than Dick, not having led such a vagabond and neglected life. But it was to Dick that Ida chiefly directed her conversation, having apparently taken a fancy to his frank and handsome face. I believe I have already said that Dick was a very good-looking boy, especially now since he kept his face clean. He had a frank, honest expression, which generally won its way to the favor of those with whom he came in contact.
Dick got along pretty well at the table by dint of noticing how the rest acted, but there was one thing he could not manage, eating with his fork, which, by the way, he thought a very singular arrangement.