On further inquiry, it turned out that "the gentleman from Munich" had no time to spare.
In the absence of Mr. Keller, he had asked if he could see "one of the other partners."
This seemed to imply that commercial interests were in some way connected with the
stranger's visit--in which case, Mrs. Wagner was perfectly competent to hear what he had
"Where is the gentleman?" she asked.
"In the drawing-room," Joseph answered.
Mrs. Wagner at once left the office. She found herself in the presence of a dignified
elderly gentleman, dressed entirely in black, and having the ribbon of some order of merit
attached to the buttonhole of his long frock-coat. His eyes opened wide in surprise,
behind his gold spectacles, when he found himself face to face with a lady. "I fear there is
some mistake," he said, in the smoothest of voices, and with the politest of bows; "I
asked to see one of the partners."
Mrs. Wagner added largely to his amazement, by informing him of the position that she
held in the firm. "If you come on a matter of business," she proceeded, "you may trust me
to understand you, sir, though I am only a woman. If your visit relates to private affairs, I
beg to suggest that you should write to Mr. Keller--I will take care that he receives your
letter the moment he returns."
"There is not the least necessity for my troubling you," the stranger replied. "I am a
physician; and I have been summoned to Frankfort to consult with my colleagues here,
on a serious case of illness. Mr. Keller's sister is one of my patients in Munich. I thought I
would take the present opportunity of speaking to him about the state of her health."
He had just introduced himself in those words, when Mr. Keller entered the room. The
merchant and the physician shook hands like old friends.
"No alarming news of my sister, I hope?" said Mr. Keller.
"Only the old trouble, my good friend. Another attack of asthma."
Mrs. Wagner rose to leave the room. Mr. Keller stopped her. "There is not the least
necessity for you to leave us," he said. "Unless my presentiments deceive me, we may
even have occasion to ask your advice. -- Is there any hope, doctor, of her being well
enough to leave Munich, towards the end of the month?"
"I am sorry to say it," answered the physician--"having heard of the interesting occasion
on which she had engaged to be one of your guests--but, at her age, I must ask for a little