After wandering through a labyrinth
of halls, he finally found it on the second floor. A few steps farther
on, a stairway led down to one of the side entrances; for the building
could be entered from any of the four bounding streets.
Simpkins regarded knocking on doors and sending in cards as formalities
which served merely to tempt people of a retiring disposition to lie, so
when he walked into the waiting-room and found it deserted, he passed
through it quickly and opened the door beyond. But if he had expected
this manoeuver to bring him within easy distance of the person whom
he was seeking, he was disappointed. He had simply walked into a small
outer office. A self-sufficient youth of twelve, who was stuffed into
a be-buttoned suit, was its sole occupant.
"Hello, bub!" said Simpkins to this Cerberus of the threshold. "Mrs.
Athelstone in?" and he drew out his letter of introduction; for he had
instantly decided to use it in place of a card, as being more likely to
gain him admittance.
"Aw, fergit it," the youth answered with fine American independence.
"I'll let youse know when your turn comes, an' youse can keep your
ref'rences till you're asked for 'em," and he surveyed Simpkins with
The reporter made no answer and asked no questions. Until that moment he
had not known that he had a turn, but if he had, he did not propose to
lose it by any foolish slip.