“Who is it?” inquired Montague.

“Nobody you have heard of,” said Oliver. “But I want you to meet him. You will think he's rather queer, but I will explain to you afterwards. Tell Alice to take my word for him.”

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Montague delivered the message, and at seven o'clock they went downstairs. In the reception room they met Oliver and his friend, and it was all that Montague could do to repress a look of consternation.

The name of the personage was Mr. Gamble. He was a little man, a trifle over five feet high, and so fat that one wondered how he could get about alone; his chin and neck were a series of rolls of fat. His face was round like a full moon, and out of it looked two little eyes like those of a pig. It was only after studying them for a while that one discovered that they twinkled shrewdly.

Mr. Gamble was altogether the vulgarest-looking personage that Alice Montague had ever met. He put out a fat little hand to her, and she touched it gingerly, and then gazed at Oliver and his brother in helpless dismay.

“Good evening. Good evening,” he began volubly. “I am charmed to meet you. Mr. Montague, I have heard so much about you from your brother that I feel as if we were old friends.”

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There was a moment's pause. “Shall we go into the dining-room?” asked Montague.

He did not much relish the stares which would follow them, but he could see no way out of the difficulty. They went into the room and seated themselves, Montague wondering in a flash whether Mr. Gamble's arms would be long enough to reach to the table in front of him.

“A warm evening,” he said, puffing slightly. “I have been on the train all day.”

“Mr. Gamble comes from Pittsburg,” interposed Oliver.

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“Indeed?” said Montague, striving to make conversation. “Are you in business there?”

“No, I am out of business,” said Mr. Gamble, with a smile. “Made my pile, so to speak, and got out. I want to see the world a bit before I get too old.”

The waiter came to take their orders; in the meantime Montague darted an indignant glance at his brother, who sat and smiled serenely. Then Montague caught Alice's eye, and he could almost hear her saying to him, “What in the world am I going to talk about?”