He was well dressed. As Mr. Rigsby entered he rose and bowed.
‘I beg your pardon,’ said Mr. Rigsby, with some stiffness, ‘I did not learn your name. Perhaps my man forgot it, perhaps you did not give it. You said you had business with me.’
‘My name is of little importance,’ said the stranger. ‘It is quite true that I have called on business. I have heard, sir, that you are desirous of furnishing this most charming residence with everything that taste and luxury demands. My name, sir, is Lazarus—Emmanuel Lazarus, of the “Golden Balls,” Barbican. I happen to have, sir, a very choice collection of artistic odds and ends, which I offer at a ridiculously low price. I am a collector of objects of art and antiquity, and it is my pleasure to furnish gentlemen of taste and means with the best treasures of the past. I have also some very nice old Spanish lace, which your beautiful young lady might like to see. I got the spoils of several churches at a bargain, the lace is from the altars, and I shall be proud to think that one whom I hear on all sides spoken of as an Oriental star should wear it. Old china, sir! no man can call himself a gentleman, whatever his birth and fortune, or invite friends to his house without a blush, if he has not his cheffoniers and side-table and walls covered with old china. Old silver also, sir, is greatly in request. I happen to have some very choice apostle spoons. No one can hold up his head in society without at least a couple of apostle spoons in Dutch silver sugar basins.’
‘Thank you,’ said Mr. Rigsby; ‘I understand none of these things. I have put myself into the hands of a decorator.’
‘Would you mind telling me, sir, the style in which the decorator is going to do you up? Louis Quatorze, Queen Anne, Chippendale, or Victorian? Are you going to be painted over with cranes and sunflowers? I’ve known a lady dadoed round, with a skirting of Japanese rush mats, all gilt, and very effective it was. If you’ll allow me to suggest you that, sir, you would find it neat and warm. I happen to have a quantity of these rush mats all plaited in different patterns. Or are you going into Chippendale, and have your legs curved, and turned fine, and fluted? I don’t hold to having your legs made too spindly. There is a loss of strength. Still, fashion is for it. I have some of the very finest Chippendale ever seen in stock; I can give you legs that are in the first style, and yet