The Tempting of Tavernake HTML version
II.3. Old Friends Meet
The professor set down his tumbler upon the zinc-rimmed counter. He was very little
changed except that he had grown a shade stouter, and there was perhaps more color in
his cheeks. He carried himself, too, like a man who believes in himself. In the small
public-house he was, without doubt, an impressive figure.
"My friends," he remarked, "our host's whiskey is good. At the same time, I must not
"You'll have one with me, Professor," a youth at his elbow interrupted. "Two special
whiskies, miss, if you please."
The professor shrugged his shoulders--it was a gesture which he wished every one to
understand. He was suffering now the penalty for a popularity which would not be
"You are very kind, sir," he said, "very kind, indeed. As I was about to say, I must not
forget that in less than half an hour I am due upon the stage. It does not do to disappoint
one's audience, sir. It is a poor place, this music-hall, but it is full, they tell me packed
from floor to ceiling. At eight-thirty I must show myself."
"A marvelous turn, too, Professor," declared one of the young men by whom he was
"I thank you, sir," the professor replied, turning towards the speaker, glass in hand.
"There have been others who have paid me a similar compliment; others, I may say, not
unconnected with the aristocracy of your country--not unconnected either, I might add,"
he went on, "with the very highest in the land, those who from their exalted position have
never failed to shower favors upon the more fortunate sons of our profession. The science
of which I am to some extent the pioneer--not a drop more, my young friend. Say, I'm in
dead earnest this time! No more, indeed."
The young man in knickerbockers who had just come in banged the head of his cane
upon the counter.
"You'll never refuse me, Professor," he asserted, confidently. "I'm an old supporter, I am.
I've seen you in Blackburn and Manchester, and twice here. Just as wonderful as ever!
And that young lady of yours, Professor, begging your pardon if she is your daughter, as
no doubt she is, why, she's a nut and no mistake."
The professor sighed. He was in his element but he was getting uneasy at the flight of