about porpoises on the voyage to add local colour and
verisimilitude, when his heart missed a beat, as he perceived
that he had made a blunder. Like many other amateur plotters, Ann
and he had made the mistake of being too elaborate. It had struck
them as an ingenious idea for Jimmy to pretend that he had
arrived that morning, and superficially it was a good idea: but
he now remembered for the first time that, if he had seen Mr.
Pett on the _Atlantic_, the probability was that Mr. Pett had seen
him. The next moment the other had confirmed this suspicion.
"I've an idea I've seen you before. Can't think where."
"Everybody well at home?" said Jimmy.
"I'm sure of it."
"I'm looking forward to seeing them all."
"I've seen you some place."
"I'm often there."
Mr. Pett seemed to be turning this remark over in his mind a
trifle suspiciously. Jimmy changed the subject.
"To a young man like myself," he said, "with life opening out
before him, there is something singularly stimulating in the
sight of a modern office. How busy those fellows seem!"
"Yes," said Mr. Pett. "Yes." He was glad that this conversational
note had been struck. He was anxious to discuss the future with
this young man.
"Everybody works but father!" said Jimmy.
Mr. Pett started.
Mr. Pett was vaguely ruffled. He suspected insult, but could not
pin it down. He abandoned his cheeriness, however, and became the
man of business.
"I hope you intend to settle down, now that you are here, and
work hard," he said in the voice which he vainly tried to use on
Ogden at home.
"Work!" said Jimmy blankly.
"I shall be able to make a place for you in my office. That was
my promise to your step-mother, and I shall fulfil it."
"But wait a minute! I don't get this! Do you mean to put me to
"Of course. I take it that that was why you came over here,
because you realised how you were wasting your life and wanted a
chance of making good in my office."
A hot denial trembled on Jimmy's tongue. Never had he been so
misjudged. And then the thought of Ann checked him. He must do
nothing that would interfere with Ann's plans. Whatever the cost,
he must conciliate this little man. For a moment he mused
sentimentally on Ann. He hoped she would understand what he was
going through for her sake. To a man with his ingrained distaste
for work in any shape the sight of those wage-slaves outside
there in the outer office had, as he had told Mr. Pett, been
stimulating: but only because it filled him with a sort of
spiritual uplift to think that he had not got to do that sort of
thing. Consider them in the light of fellow-workers, and the
spectacle ceased to stimulate and became nauseating. And for her
sake he was about to become one of them! Had any knight of old
ever done anything as big as that for his lady? He very much
"All right," he said. "Count me in. I take it that I shall have a
job like one of those out there?"
"Not presuming to dictate, I suggest that you give me something
that will take some of the work off that fellow who's swimming in
paper. Only the tip of his nose was above the surface as I passed
through. I never saw so many fellows working so hard at the same
time in my life. All trying to catch the boss's eye, too, I
suppose? It must make you feel like a snipe."
Mr. Pett replied stiffly. He disliked this levity on the sacred
subject of office work. He considered that Jimmy was not
approaching his new life in the proper spirit. Many young men had
discussed with him in that room the subject of working in his
employment, but none in quite the same manner.
"You are at a serious point in your career," he said. "You will
have every opportunity of rising."
"Yes. At seven in the morning, I suppose?"
"A spirit of levity - " began Mr. Pett.
"I laugh that I may not weep," explained Jimmy. "Try to think
what this means to a bright young man who loathes work. Be kind
to me. Instruct your floor-walkers to speak gently to me at
first. It may be a far, far better thing that I do than I have
ever done, but don't ask me to enjoy it! It's all right for you.
You're the boss. Any time you want to call it a day and go off
and watch a ball-game, all you have to do is to leave word that
you have an urgent date to see Mr. Rockerfeller. Whereas I shall
have to submerge myself in paper and only come up for air when
the danger of suffocation becomes too great."
It may have been the mention of his favourite game that softened
Mr. Pett. The frostiness which had crept into his manner thawed.
"It beats me," he said, "why you ever came over at all, if you
feel like that."
"Duty!" said Jimmy. "Duty! There comes a time in the life of
every man when he must choose between what is pleasant and what
"And that last fool-game of yours, that Lord Percy Whipple
business, must have made London pretty hot for you?" suggested
"Your explanation is less romantic than mine, but there is
something in what you say."
"Had it occurred to you, young man, that I am taking a chance
putting a fellow like you to work in my office?"
"Have no fear. The little bit of work I shall do won't make any
"I've half a mind to send you straight back to London."
"Couldn't we compromise?"
"Well, haven't you some snug secretarial job you could put me
into? I have an idea that I should make an ideal secretary."
"My secretaries work."
"I get you. Cancel the suggestion."
Mr. Pett rubbed his chin thoughtfully.
"You puzzle me. And that's the truth."
"Always speak the truth," said Jimmy approvingly.
"I'm darned if I know what to do with you. Well, you'd better
come home with me now, anyway, and meet your aunt, and then we
can talk things over. After all, the main thing is to keep you
out of mischief."
"You put things crudely, but no doubt you are right."
"You'll live with us, of course."
"Thank you very much. This is the right spirit."
"I'll have to talk to Nesta about you. There may be something you
"I shouldn't mind being a partner," suggested Jimmy helpfully.
"Why don't you get work on a paper again? You used to do that
"I don't think my old paper would welcome me now. They regard me
rather as an entertaining news-item than a worker."
"That's true. Say, why on earth did you make such a fool of
yourself over on the other side? That breach-of-promise case with
the barmaid!" said Mr. Pett reproachfully.
"Let bygones be bygones," said Jimmy. "I was more sinned against
than sinning. You know how it is, uncle Pete!" Mr. Pett started
violently, but said nothing. "You try out of pure goodness of
heart to scatter light and sweetness and protect the poor
working-girl - like Heaven - and brighten up her lot and so on, and
she turns right around and soaks it to you good! And anyway she
wasn't a barmaid. She worked in a florist's shop."
"I don't see that that makes any difference."
"All the difference in the world, all the difference between the
sordid and the poetical. I don't know if you have ever
experienced the hypnotic intoxication of a florist's shop? Take
it from me, uncle Pete, any girl can look an angel as long as she
is surrounded by choice blooms. I couldn't help myself. I wasn't
responsible. I only woke up when I met her outside. But all that
sort of thing is different now. I am another man. Sober, steady,
Mr. Pett had taken the receiver from the telephone and was
talking to some one. The buzzing of a feminine voice came to
Jimmy's ears. Mr. Pett hung up the receiver.
"Your aunt says we are to come up at once."
"I'm ready. And it will be a good excuse for you to knock off
work. I bet you're glad I came! Does the carriage await or shall
we take the subway?"
"I guess it will be quicker to take the subway. Your aunt's very
surprised that you are here, and very pleased."
"I'm making everybody happy to-day."
Mr. Pett was looking at him in a meditative way. Jimmy caught his
"You're registering something, uncle Pete, and I don't know what
it is. Why the glance?"
"I was just thinking of something."
"Jimmy," prompted his nephew.
"Add the word Jimmy to your remarks. It will help me to feel at
home and enable me to overcome my shyness."
Mr. Pett chuckled.
"Shyness! If I had your nerve - !" He broke off with a sigh and
looked at Jimmy affectionately. "What I was thinking was that
you're a good boy. At least, you're not, but you're different
from that gang of - of - that crowd up-town."
"Your aunt is literary, you know. She's filled the house with
poets and that sort of thing. It will be a treat having you
around. You're human! I don't see that we're going to make much
of you now that you're here, but I'm darned glad you've come,
"Put it there, uncle Pete!" said Jimmy. "You're all right.
You're the finest Captain of Industry I ever met!"
They left the subway at Ninety-sixth Street and walked up the
Drive. Jimmy, like every one else who saw it for the first time,
experienced a slight shock at the sight of the Pett mansion, but,
rallying, followed his uncle up the flagged path to the front
"Your aunt will be in the drawing-room, I guess," said Mr. Pett,
opening the door with his key.
Jimmy was looking round him appreciatively. Mr. Pett's house
might be an eyesore from without, but inside it had had the
benefit of the skill of the best interior decorator in New York.
"A man could be very happy in a house like this, if he didn't
have to poison his days with work," said Jimmy.
Mr. Pett looked alarmed.
"Don't go saying anything like that to your aunt!" he urged. "She
thinks you have come to settle down."
"So I have. I'm going to settle down like a limpet. I hope I
shall be living in luxury on you twenty years from now. Is this
Mr. Pett opened the drawing-room door. A small hairy object
sprang from a basket and stood yapping in the middle of the room.
This was Aida, Mrs. Pett's Pomeranian. Mr. Pett, avoiding the
animal coldly, for he disliked it, ushered Jimmy into the room.
"Here's Jimmy Crocker, Nesta."
Jimmy was aware of a handsome woman of middle age, so like his
step-mother that for an instant his self-possession left him and
"How - how do you do?"
His demeanour made a favourable impression on Mrs. Pett. She took
it for the decent confusion of remorse.
"I was very surprised when your uncle telephoned me," she said.
"I had not the slightest idea that you were coming over. I am
very glad to see you."
"This is your cousin, Ogden."
Jimmy perceived a fat boy lying on a settee. He had not risen on
Jimmy's entrance, and he did not rise now. He did not even lower
the book he was reading.
"Hello," he said.
Jimmy crossed over to the settee, and looked down on him. He had
got over his momentary embarrassment, and, as usual with him, the
reaction led to a fatal breeziness. He prodded Ogden in his
well-covered ribs, producing a yelp of protest from that
"So this is Ogden! Well, well, well! You don't grow up, Ogden,
but you do grow out. What are you - a perfect sixty-six?"
The favourable impression which Mrs. Pett had formed of her
nephew waned. She was shocked by this disrespectful attitude
towards the child she worshipped.
"Please do not disturb Ogden, James," she said stiffly. "He is
not feeling very well to-day. His stomach is weak."
"Been eating too much?" said Jimmy cheerfully.
"I was just the same at his age. What he wants is half rations
and plenty of exercise."
"Say!" protested Ogden.
"Just look at this," proceeded Jimmy, grasping a handful of
superfluous tissue around the boy's ribs. "All that ought to come
off. I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll buy a pair of flannel
trousers and a sweater and some sneakers, and I'll take him for a
run up Riverside Drive this evening. Do him no end of good. And a
good skipping-rope, too. Nothing like it. In a couple of weeks
I'll have him as fit as a - "
"Ogden's case," said Mrs. Pett coldly, "which is very
complicated, is in the hands of Doctor Briginshaw, in whom we
have every confidence."
There was a silence, the paralysing effects of which Mr. Pett
vainly tried to mitigate by shuffling his feet and coughing.
Mrs. Pett spoke.
"I hope that, now that you are here, James, you intend to settle
down and work hard."
"Indubitably. Like a beaver," said Jimmy, mindful of Mr. Pett's
recent warning. "The only trouble is that there seems to be a
little uncertainty as to what I am best fitted for. We talked it
over in uncle Pete's office and arrived at no conclusion."
"Can't you think of anything?" said Mr. Pett.
"I looked right through the telephone classified directory the
other day - "
"The other day? But you only landed this morning."
"I mean this morning. When I was looking up your address so that
I could go and see you," said Jimmy glibly. "It seems a long time
ago. I think the sight of all those fellows in your office has
aged me. I think the best plan would be for me to settle down
here and learn how to be an electrical engineer or something by
mail. I was reading an advertisement in a magazine as we came up
on the subway. I see they guarantee to teach you anything from
sheet metal working to poultry raising. The thing began 'You are
standing still because you lack training.' It seemed to me to
apply to my case exactly. I had better drop them a line to-night
asking for a few simple facts about chickens."
Whatever comment Mrs. Pett might have made on this suggestion was
checked by the entrance of Ann. From the window of her room Ann
had observed the arrival of Jimmy and her uncle, and now, having
allowed sufficient time to elapse for the former to make Mrs.
Pett's acquaintance, she came down to see how things were going.
She was well satisfied with what she saw. A slight strain which
she perceived in the atmosphere she attributed to embarrassment
natural to the situation.
She looked at Jimmy enquiringly. Mrs. Pett had not informed her
of Mr. Pett's telephone call, so Jimmy, she realised, had to be
explained to her. She waited for some one to say something.
Mr. Pett undertook the introduction.
"Jimmy, this is my niece, Ann Chester. This is Jimmy Crocker,
Jimmy could not admire sufficiently the start of surprise which
she gave. It was artistic and convincing.
Mr. Pett was on the point of mentioning that this was not the
first time Ann had met Jimmy, but refrained. After all, that
interview had happened five years ago. Jimmy had almost certainly
forgotten all about it. There was no use in making him feel
unnecessarily awkward. It was up to Ann. If she wanted to
disinter the ancient grievance, let her. It was no business of
"I thought you weren't coming over!" said Ann.
"I changed my mind."
Mr. Pett, who had been gazing attentively at them, uttered an
"I've got it! I've been trying all this while to think where it
was that I saw you before. It was on the _Atlantic_!"
Ann caught Jimmy's eye. She was relieved to see that he was not
disturbed by this sudden development.
"Did you come over on the _Atlantic_, Mr. Crocker?" she said.
"Surely not? We crossed on her ourselves. We should have met."
"Don't call me Mr. Crocker," said Jimmy. "Call me Jimmy. Your
mother's brother's wife's sister's second husband is my father.
Blood is thicker than water. No, I came over on the _Caronia_. We
docked this morning."
"Well, there was a fellow just like you on the _Atlantic_,"
persisted Mr. Pett.
Mrs. Pett said nothing. She was watching Jimmy with a keen and
"I suppose I'm a common type," said Jimmy.
"You remember the man I mean," said Mr. Pett, innocently
unconscious of the unfriendly thoughts he was encouraging in two
of his hearers. "He sat two tables away from us at meals. You
remember him, Nesta?"
"As I was too unwell to come to meals, I do not."
"Why, I thought I saw you once talking to him on deck, Ann."
"Really?" said Ann. "I don't remember any one who looked at all
"Well," said Mr. Pett, puzzled. "It's very strange. I guess I'm
wrong." He looked at his watch. "Well, I'll have to be getting
back to the office."
"I'll come with you part of the way, uncle Pete," said Jimmy. "I
have to go and arrange for my things to be expressed here."
"Why not phone to the hotel?" said Mr. Pett. It seemed to Jimmy
and Ann that he was doing this sort of thing on purpose. "Which
hotel did you leave them at?"
"No, I shall have to go there. I have some packing to do."
"You will be back to lunch?" said Ann.
"Thanks. I shan't be gone more than half an hour."
For a moment after they had gone, Ann relaxed, happy and
relieved. Everything had gone splendidly. Then a shock ran
through her whole system as Mrs. Pett spoke. She spoke excitedly,
in a lowered voice, leaning over to Ann.
"Ann! Did you notice anything? Did you suspect anything?"
Ann mastered her emotion with an effort.
"Whatever do you mean, aunt Nesta?"
"About that young man, who calls himself Jimmy Crocker."
Ann clutched the side of the chair.
"Who calls himself Jimmy Crocker? I don't understand."
Ann tried to laugh. It seemed to her an age before she produced
any sound at all, and when it came it was quite unlike a laugh.
"What put that idea into your head? Surely, if he says he is
Jimmy Crocker, it's rather absurd to doubt him, isn't it? How
could anybody except Jimmy Crocker know that you were anxious to
get Jimmy Crocker over here? You didn't tell any one, did you?"
This reasoning shook Mrs. Pett a little, but she did not intend
to abandon a perfectly good suspicion merely because it began to
"They have their spies everywhere," she said doggedly.
"The Secret Service people from other countries. Lord Wisbeach
was telling me about it yesterday. He said that I ought to
suspect everybody. He said that an attempt might be made on
Willie's invention at any moment now."
"He was joking."
"He was not. I have never seen any one so serious. He said that I
ought to regard every fresh person who came into the house as a
"Well, that guy's fresh enough," muttered Ogden from the settee.
Mrs. Pett started.
"Ogden! I had forgotten that you were there." She uttered a cry
of horror, as the fact of his presence started a new train of
thought. "Why, this man may have come to kidnap you! I never
thought of that."
Ann felt it time to intervene. Mrs. Pett was hovering much too
near the truth for comfort. "You mustn't imagine things, aunt
Nesta. I believe it comes from writing the sort of stories you
do. Surely, it is impossible for this man to be an impostor. How
would he dare take such a risk? He must know that you could
detect him at any moment by cabling over to Mrs. Crocker to ask
if her step-son was really in America."
It was a bold stroke, for it suggested a plan of action which, if
followed, would mean ruin for her schemes, but Ann could not
refrain from chancing it. She wanted to know whether her aunt had
any intention of asking Mrs. Crocker for information, or whether
the feud was too bitter for her pride to allow her to communicate
with her sister in any way. She breathed again as Mrs. Pett
stiffened grimly in her chair.
"I should not dream of cabling to Eugenia."
"I quite understand that," said Ann. "But an impostor would not
know that you felt like that, would he?"
"I see what you mean."
Ann relaxed again. The relief was, however, only momentary.
"I cannot understand, though," said Mrs. Pett, "why your uncle
should have been so positive that he saw this young man on the
"Just a chance resemblance, I suppose. Why, uncle Peter said he
saw the man whom he imagined was like Jimmy Crocker talking to
me. If there had been any real resemblance, shouldn't I have seen
it before uncle Peter?"
Assistance came from an unexpected quarter.
"I know the chap uncle Peter meant," said Ogden. "He wasn't like
this guy at all."
Ann was too grateful for the help to feel astonished at it. Her
mind, dwelling for a mere instant on the matter, decided that
Ogden must have seen her on deck with somebody else than Jimmy.
She had certainly not lacked during the voyage for those who
sought her society.
Mrs. Pett seemed to be impressed.
"I may be letting my imagination run away with me," she said.
"Of course you are, aunt Nesta," said Ann thankfully. "You don't
realise what a vivid imagination you have got. When I was typing
that last story of yours, I was simply astounded at the ideas you
had thought of. I remember saying so to uncle Peter. You can't
expect to have a wonderful imagination like yours and not imagine
things, can you?"
Mrs. Pett smiled demurely. She looked hopefully at her niece,
waiting for more, but Ann had said her say.
"You are perfectly right, my dear child," she said when she was
quite sure the eulogy was not to be resumed. "No doubt I have
been foolish to suspect this young man. But Lord Wisbeach's words
naturally acted more strongly on a mind like mine than they would
have done in the case of another woman."
"Of course," said Ann.
She was feeling quite happy now. It had been tense while it had
lasted, but everything was all right now.
"And, fortunately," said Mrs. Pett, "there is a way by which we
can find out for certain if the young man is really James
Ann became rigid again.
"A way? What way?"
"Why, don't you remember, my dear, that Skinner has known James
Crocker for years."
The name sounded familiar, but in the stress of the moment Ann
could not identify it.
"My new butler. He came to me straight from Eugenia. It was he
who let us in when we called at her house. Nobody could know
better than he whether this person is really James Crocker or
Ann felt as if she had struggled to the limit of her endurance.
She was not prepared to cope with this unexpected blow. She had
not the strength to rally under it. Dully she perceived that her
schemes must be dismissed as a failure before they had had a
chance of success. Her accomplice must not return to the house to
be exposed. She saw that clearly enough. If he came back, he
would walk straight into a trap. She rose quickly. She must warn
him. She must intercept him before he arrived - and he might
arrive at any moment now.
"Of course," she said, steadying herself with an effort, "I never
thought of that. That makes it all simple. . . . I hope lunch
won't be late. I'm hungry."
She sauntered to the door, but, directly she had closed it behind
her, ran to her room, snatched up a hat, and rushed downstairs
and out into Riverside Drive. Just as she reached the street,
Jimmy turned the corner. She ran towards him, holding up her
Jimmy halted in his tracks. The apparition had startled him. He
had been thinking of Ann, but he had not expected her to bound
out at him, waving her arms.
"What's the matter?" he enquired.
Ann pulled him towards a side-street.
"You mustn't go to the house. Everything has gone wrong."
"Everything gone wrong? I thought I had made a hit. I have with
your uncle, anyway. We parted on the friendliest terms. We have
arranged to go to the ball-game together to-morrow. He is going
to tell them at the office that Carnegie wants to see him."
"It isn't uncle Peter. It's aunt Nesta."
"Ah, there you touch my conscience. I was a little tactless, I'm
afraid, with Ogden. It happened before you came into the room. I
suppose that is the trouble?"
"It has nothing do with that," said Ann impatiently. "It's much
worse. Aunt Nesta is suspicious. She has guessed that you aren't
really Jimmy Crocker."
"Great Scott! How?"
"I tried to calm her down, but she still suspects. So now she has
decided to wait and see if Skinner, the butler, knows you. If he
doesn't, she will know that she was right."
Jimmy was frankly puzzled.
"I don't quite follow the reasoning. Surely it's a peculiar kind
of test. Why should she think a man cannot be honest and true
unless her butler knows him? There must be hundreds of worthy
citizens whom he does not know."
"Skinner arrived from England a few days ago. Until then he was
employed by Mrs. Crocker. Now do you understand?"
Jimmy stopped. She had spoken slowly and distinctly, and there
could be no possibility that he had misunderstood her, yet he