”Thank you, but I am quite willing to conform to your usual rule,“ said Phil, as he drew a two-dollar bill from his pocket and handed it to the widow.
So they parted, mutually pleased. Phil’s week at his present lodging would not be up for several days, but he was tired of it, and felt that he would be much more comfortable with Mrs. Forbush. So he was ready to make the small pecuniary sacrifice needful.
The conversation which has been recorded took but five minutes, and did not materially delay Phil, who, as I have already said, was absent from the store on an errand.
The next day Phil became installed at his new boarding-place, and presented himself at supper.
There were three other boarders, two being a young salesman at a Third Avenue store and his wife. They occupied a square room on the same floor with Phil. The other was a female teacher, employed in one of the city public schools. The only remaining room was occupied by a drummer, who was often called away for several days together. This comprised the list of boarders, but Phil’s attention was called to a young girl of fourteen, of sweet and attractive appearance, whom he ascertained to be a daughter of Mrs. Forbush. The young lady herself, Julia Forbush, cast frequent glances at Phil, who, being an unusually good-looking boy, would naturally excite the notice of a young girl.
On the whole, it seemed a pleasant and social circle, and Phil felt that he had found a home.
The next day, as he was occupied in the store, next to G. Washington Wilbur, he heard that young man say:
”Why, there’s Mr. Carter coming into the store!“
Mr. Oliver Carter, instead of making his way directly to the office where Mr. Pitkin was sitting, came up to where Phil was at work.
”How are you getting along, my young friend?“ he asked familiarly.
”Very well, thank you, sir.“
”Do you find your duties very fatiguing?“
”Oh, no, sir. I have a comfortable time.“
”That’s right. Work cheerfully and you will win the good opinion of your employer. Don’t forget to come up and see me soon.“
”Thank you, sir.“
”You seem to be pretty solid with the old man,“ remarked Mr. Wilbur.
”We are on very good terms,“ answered Phil, smiling.
”I wish you had introduced him to me,“ said Wilbur.
”Don’t you know him?“ asked Phil, in surprise.
”He doesn’t often come to the store, and when he does he generally goes at once to the office, and the clerks don’t have a chance to get acquainted.“
”I should hardly like to take the liberty, then,“ said Phil.
”Oh, keep him to yourself, then, if you want to,“ said Mr. Wilbur, evidently annoyed.
”I don’t care to do that. I shall be entirely willing to introduce you when there is a good chance.“
This seemed to appease Mr. Wilbur, who became once more gracious.
”Philip,“ he said, as the hour of closing approached, ”why can’t you come around and call upon me this evening?“
”So I will,“ answered Phil readily.
Indeed, he found it rather hard to fill up his evenings, and was glad to have a way suggested.
”Do. I want to tell you a secret.“
”Where do you live?“ asked Phil.
”No.—-East Twenty-second Street.“
”All right. I will come round about half-past seven.“
Though Wilbur lived in a larger house than he, Phil did not like his room as well. There being only one chair in the room, Mr. Wilbur put his visitor in it, and himself sat on the bed.
There was something of a mystery in the young man’s manner as, after clearing his throat, he said to Phil:
”I am going to tell you a secret.“
Phil’s curiosity was somewhat stirred, and he signified that he would like to hear it.
”I have for some time wanted a confidant,“ said Mr. Wilbur. ”I did not wish to trust a mere acquaintance, for–ahem!–the matter is quite a delicate one.
Phil regarded him with increased interest.
”I am flattered by your selecting me,“ said he. ”I will keep your secret.“
”Phil,“ said Mr. Wilbur, in a tragic tone, ”you may be surprised to hear that I am in LOVE!“