vale. ‘I cannot think of going to town without looking him up. It is many years since we met, and when we get old we cling to old acquaintances. Are you going directly home? If so, tell him I shall turn up.’
‘Oh no! I shall put up at an hotel. I am not so keen after the shelter of the paternal wing.’
‘I rather want to see your father this evening. I have so much business to occupy my day that I can ill spare other time. Am I likely to find him at home of an evening?’
‘Sure to catch him. He never goes to the theatre or concerts. You could not wring five words out of him during business hours. I shall not drop in on him to-morrow till after the Monokeros has drawn in his horn.’
‘If that be so,’ said the steward, ‘I will take a cab after I have had my dinner and go to him. It is as well that we should not be there together; he and I will like to have a chat over old times—times before you were born.’
Accordingly, on reaching town, Mr. Worthivale drove to his inn, ordered a simple dinner, and when he had done, took a hansom to his destination.
Mr. Cheek had just dined, and was lingering over his glass of wine when the steward was announced. He told the servant to show Mr. Worthivale in to him in the dining-room. This was a large apartment with a red flock paper on the walls, and a Turkey carpet on the floor. The furniture was of heavy mahogany, polished, his chairs covered with red leather. The window-curtains were of red rep. Against the walls hung some large engravings—Landseer’s dog looking out of a kennel, the Newfoundlander lying on a quay, Bolton Abbey in the olden time—pictures every one has seen and knows as he knows the airs of ‘Trovatore’ and the taste of peppermint.
Over the fireplace was a looking-glass; on the table were oranges, almonds, raisins, and mixed biscuits. Everything was in the room that was to be expected; nothing there that was unexpected. Tottenham Court Road had furnished it. A man’s room reflects his mind. Everything there was solid, sound, and commonplace.
Mr. Worthivale had no time to look round him. He ran forward and effusively shook hands with Mr. Cheek, who rose ceremoniously, and received his greeting without great cordiality, but with civility.
‘Take a chair, Worthivale; glad to see you. Have port or sherry? If you prefer claret I will have some decanted.