The Tempting of Tavernake
I.18. A Midnight Adventure
Tavernake was not sociably inclined and took no pains to conceal the fact. Mr. Pritchard,
however, was not easily to be shaken off.
"So you've been palling up to the old man, eh?" he remarked, in friendly fashion.
"I came across the professor unexpectedly," Tavernake answered, coldly. "What do you
want with me, please? I am on my way home."
Pritchard laughed softly to himself.
"Say, there's something about you Britishers I can't help admiring!" he declared. "You are
downright, aren't you?"
"I suppose you think we are too clumsy to be anything else," Tavernake replied. "This is
my 'bus coming. Good-night!"
Pritchard's hand, however, tightened upon his companion's arm.
"Look here, young man," he said, "don't you be foolish. I'm a valuable acquaintance for
you, if you only realized it. Come along across the street with me. My club is on the
Terrace, just below. Stroll along there with me and I'll tell you something about the
professor, if you like."
"Thank you," Tavernake answered, "I don't think I care about hearing gossip. Besides, I
think I know all there is to be known about him."
"Did you give Miss Beatrice my message?" Pritchard asked suddenly.
"If I did," Tavernake replied, "I have no answer for you."
"Will you tell her this," Pritchard began,--
"No, I will tell her nothing!" Tavernake interrupted. "You can look after your own affairs.
I have no interest in them and I don't want to have. Good-night!"
Pritchard laughed again but he did not relax his grasp upon the other's arm.
"Now, Mr. Tavernake," he said, "it won't do for you to quarrel with me. I shouldn't be
surprised if you discovered that I am one of the most useful acquaintances you ever met
in your life. You needn't come into the club unless you like, but walk as far as there with
me. When we get on to the Terrace, with closed houses on one side and a palisade upon
the other, I am going to say something to you."