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17. In Which A Book Plays A Leading Part
When Mr. Brotherson came in that night, he noticed that the door of the room
adjoining his own stood open. He did not hesitate. Making immediately for it, he
took a glance inside, then spoke up with a ringing intonation:
"Halloo! coming to live in this hole?"
The occupant a young man, evidently a workman and somewhat sickly if one
could judge from his complexion--turned around from some tinkering he was
engaged in and met the intruder fairly, face to face. If his jaw fell, it seemed to be
from admiration. No other emotion would have so lighted his eye as he took in
the others proportions and commanding features. No dress--Brotherson was
never seen in any other than the homeliest garb in these days --could make him
look common or akin to his surroundings. Whether seen near or far, his presence
always caused surprise, and surprise was what the young man showed, as he
answered briskly:
"Yes, this is to be my castle. Are you the owner of the buildings? If so--"
"I am not the owner. I live next door. Haven't I seen you before, young man?"
Never was there a more penetrating eye than Orlando Brotherson's. As he asked
this question it took some effort on the part of the other to hold his own and laugh
with perfect naturalness as he replied:
"If you ever go up Henry Street it's likely enough that you've seen me not once,
but many times. I'm the fellow who works at the bench next the window in
Schuper's repairing shop. Everybody knows me."
Audacity often carries the day when subtler means would fail. Brotherson stared
at the youth, then ventured another question:
"A carpenter, eh?"