Something urged Kirk to flee while there was yet time, but the father of Maria Torres was between him and the door, and he could not bring himself to push the little man out of the way. So he bade them both be seated in the only two chairs which the room contained, while he rested gingerly upon the edge of the bed. The new-comers let their eyes roll curiously about the chamber, and an embarrassing silence descended. Senor Torres maintained a set smile designed to be agreeable; Professor Herara, serene in the possession of his linguistic acquirements, displayed the insouciance of an undertaker. Together they beamed benignantly, almost patronizingly, upon the young man. Plainly they meant to put him at his ease—but they failed. At length, after clearing his throat impressively, the interpreter began again:
“Of course, you have been expecting this visit, senor?”
“My friend is deeply disappointed that he has not the honor of before meeting you.”
“I am flattered, but—”
“Indeed, yes! Then you are perhaps acquainted with Senor Torres by reputation? You know who he is?” Professor Jesus Herara raised his brows and inclined his head like a polite school-teacher endeavoring to encourage a diffident pupil.
“I regret that I do not.”
“He is one of our most estimable citizens. He is possess’ not only of the magnificent residence at No. 89 Avenida Norte, but also of a comfortable abode at Las Savannas, and he has a large trade in sponges and hides. His place of business you will have noticed upon the water-front, perhaps?”
Kirk wiped his brow nervously and cursed Allan.
“And now, as for you, senor?” The principal of the Herara College of Business awaited an answer with unctuous deference. Evidently attributing the young man’s silence to modesty, he went on, helpfully: “Senor Torres has instituted inquiries, and ascertained your excellent position with the P. R. R., but he would know more, if soch is not disagreeable to you.”
“Well—I—there isn’t much to tell. It is my first job.”
This was quickly put into Spanish, whereupon Mr. Torres nodded with vigor, as if this information were indeed gratifying—nay, splendid.
“It is agreeable to my friend to ascertain your industry, and I may say you are most highly spoke of at the railroad office. Therefore, Senor Torres affords you an invitation to call at his residence on Thursday evening.”
“That’s awfully—nice,” gasped Anthony; “but—er—what’s the idea?”
“Ah!” The interpreter beamed; Mr. Torres beamed. They combined to radiate a gentle effulgence which was most disquieting. “It is indeed pleasing to encounter a gentleman so truly modest, so possessed of delicacy; but I may say that Senor Torres is look with favor upon your suit. Of course”—he checked Kirk’s hasty words—“it is not completely settle, by no means; the young lady is but partly won. However”—he winked one black eye reassuringly— “as friend of the family I bid you not to permit discouragement and despair.”