“Good morning, boy!” he said stiffly, not having the art of ingratiating himself with young people.
“Good morning, man!” Ben thought of replying, but he thought this would be hardly polite, and said: “Good morning, sir,” instead.
He suspected Mr. Campbell’s purpose, and resolved to answer cautiously.
“This is a nice hotel,” said the guardian, resolving to come to the point by degrees.
“I suppose you are too young to have traveled much?”
“I never traveled much, sir.”
“Didn’t I see you in the company of a young lady?”
“Very likely, sir.”
“Your sister, I suppose?”
“A relation, I suppose?”
“I call her Cousin Ida,” said Ben truthfully.
“Indeed! And she is from Philadelphia?”
Ben was placed in a dilemma. He saw that he should be forced to misrepresent, and this he did not like. On the other hand, he could not tell the truth, and so betray Miss Sinclair to her persecutor.
“You can tell by looking at the hotel register,” he said coldly.
Mr. Campbell judged by Ben’s tone that our hero meant to rebuke his curiosity, and, having really very little idea that he was on the right track, he thought it best to apologize.
“Excuse my questions,” he said, “but I have an idea that I know your cousin.”
“In that case,” said Ben, “if you will tell me your name I will speak to Cousin Ida about it.”
Now Mr. Campbell was in a dilemma. If Ida Sinclair were really the ward of whom he was in pursuit, his name would only put her on her guard. He quickly thought of a ruse.
“I will send a card,” he said.
He stepped to the clerk’s desk, and asked for a blank card. After an instant’s hesitation, he penciled the name James Vernon, and handed it to Ben.
“The young lady may not remember my name,” he said; “but in an interview I think I can recall it to her recollection. Please give it to your cousin.”
“All right, sir.”
Ben went up-stairs and tapped for admission at Miss Sinclair’s door.
“Well, Ben?” she said inquiringly.
“Here is a card which a gentleman down-stairs asked me to hand you.”
“James Vernon!” repeated the young lady, in surprise. “Why, I don’t know any gentleman of that name.”
“He said you might not remember it; but he thought he could recall it to your recollection in a personal interview.”
“I don’t want a personal interview with any gentleman.”
“Not with your guardian?” asked Ben, smiling.
“Was the man who handed you this card my guardian?”
“Yes; he tried to find out all he could from me; but wasn’t very successful. Then he said he thought he knew you, and handed me this card.”
“So he thinks to delude me by masquerading under a false name! He must suspect that I am his ward.”