Page:Ragged Trousered Philanthropists.djvu/103

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The Cap on the Stairs

was not such as would be made by a man heavily shod. It was not Misery, evidently.

As the footsteps entered the kitchen, Crass looked round and beheld Mr Sweater, the owner of 'The Cave,' a very tall, obese figure, with a large, coarse featured, clean-shaven face, and a great double chin, the complexion being of the colour and appearance of the fat of uncooked bacon. His nose was large and fleshy, and his weak-looking, pale blue eyes had slightly inflamed lids and were almost destitute of eyelashes. His large fat feet were cased in soft calf-skin boots, with drab-coloured spats. His overcoat, heavily trimmed with sealskin, reached just below the knees; and although the trousers were very wide they were filled by the fat legs within, the shape of the calves being distinctly perceptible. He was so large that his figure completely filled up the doorway, and as he came in he stooped slightly to avoid damaging the glistening silk hat on his head. One gloved hand was thrust into the pocket of the overcoat and in the other he carried a small gladstone bag.

When Crass beheld this being, he touched his cap respectfully.

'Good morning, sir.'

'Good morning. They told me upstairs that I should find the foreman here. Are you the foreman?'

'Yes, sir.'

'I see you're getting on with the work here.'

'Ho yes, sir, we're beginning to make a bit hov a show, now, sir,' replied Crass, speaking as if he had a hot potato in his mouth.

'Mr Rushton isn't here yet, I suppose?'

'No sir; 'e don't horfun come hon the job hin the mornin' sir; 'e generally comes hafternoons, sir, but Mr 'Unter's halmost sure to be 'ere presently, sir.'

'It's Mr Rushton I want to see. I arranged to meet him here at ten o'clock, but'—looking at his watch—'I'm rather before my time.'

'He'll be here presently, I suppose,' added Mr Sweater, 'I'll just take a look round till he comes.'

'Yes, sir,' responded Crass, walking behind him obsequiously as he went out of the room.

Hoping that the gentleman might give him a shilling, Crass followed him into the front hall and began explaining what