"Well, partly, sir, partly. I'm down here now with reference to a little operation--a little side thing merely. By the way gentlemen, excuse the liberty, but it's about my usual time"--
The Colonel paused, but as no movement of his acquaintances followed this plain remark, he added, in an explanatory manner,
"I'm rather particular about the exact time--have to be in this climate."
Even this open declaration of his hospitable intention not being understood the Colonel politely said,
"Gentlemen, will you take something?"
Col. Sellers led the way to a saloon on Fourth street under the hotel, and the young gentlemen fell into the custom of the country.
"Not that," said the Colonel to the bar-keeper, who shoved along the counter a bottle of apparently corn-whiskey, as if he had done it before on the same order; "not that," with a wave of the hand. "That Otard if you please. Yes. Never take an inferior liquor, gentlemen, not in the evening, in this climate. There. That's the stuff. My respects!"
The hospitable gentleman, having disposed of his liquor, remarking that it was not quite the thing--"when a man has his own cellar to go to, he is apt to get a little fastidious about his liquors"--called for cigars. But the brand offered did not suit him; he motioned the box away, and asked for some particular Havana's, those in separate wrappers.
"I always smoke this sort, gentlemen; they are a little more expensive, but you'll learn, in this climate, that you'd better not economize on poor cigars"
Having imparted this valuable piece of information, the Colonel lighted the fragrant cigar with satisfaction, and then carelessly put his fingers into his right vest pocket. That movement being without result, with a shade of disappointment on his face, he felt in his left vest pocket. Not finding anything there, he looked up with a serious and annoyed air, anxiously slapped his right pantaloon's pocket, and then his left, and exclaimed,
"By George, that's annoying. By George, that's mortifying. Never had anything of that kind happen to me before. I've left my pocket-book. Hold! Here's a bill, after all. No, thunder, it's a receipt."
"Allow me," said Philip, seeing how seriously the Colonel was annoyed, and taking out his purse.
The Colonel protested he couldn't think of it, and muttered something to the barkeeper about "hanging it up," but the vender of exhilaration made no sign, and Philip had the privilege of paying the costly shot; Col. Sellers profusely apologizing and claiming the right "next time, next time."
As soon as Beriah Sellers had bade his friends good night and seen them depart, he did not retire apartments in the Planter's, but took his way to his lodgings with a friend in a distant part of the city.
The letter that Philip Sterling wrote to Ruth Bolton, on the evening of setting out to seek his fortune in the west, found that young lady in her own father's house in Philadelphia. It was one of the pleasantest of the many charming suburban houses in that hospitable city, which is territorially one of the largest cities in the world, and only prevented from becoming the convenient metropolis of the country by the intrusive strip of Camden and Amboy sand which shuts it off from the Atlantic ocean. It is a city of steady thrift, the arms of which might well be the deliberate but delicious terrapin that imparts such a royal flavor to its feasts.
It was a spring morning, and perhaps it was the influence of it that made Ruth a little restless, satisfied neither with the out-doors nor the in- doors. Her sisters had gone to the city to show some country visitors Independence Hall, Girard College and Fairmount Water Works and Park, four objects which Americans cannot die peacefully, even in Naples, without having seen. But Ruth confessed that she was tired of them, and also of the Mint. She was tired of other things. She tried this morning an air or two upon the piano, sang a simple song in a sweet but slightly metallic voice, and then seating herself by the open window, read Philip's letter.