His wife made no reply. She was watching the mysterious movements of a
man outside, who, peering in an undecided fashion at the house, appeared
to be trying to make up his mind to enter. In mental connection with the
two hundred pounds, she noticed that the stranger was well dressed, and
wore a silk hat of glossy newness. Three times he paused at the gate,
and then walked on again. The fourth time he stood with his hand upon
it, and then with sudden resolution flung it open and walked up the path.
Mrs. White at the same moment placed her hands behind her, and hurriedly
unfastening the strings of her apron, put that useful article of apparel
beneath the cushion of her chair.
She brought the stranger, who seemed ill at ease, into the room. He
gazed at her furtively, and listened in a preoccupied fashion as the old
lady apologized for the appearance of the room, and her husband's coat, a
garment which he usually reserved for the garden. She then waited as
patiently as her sex would permit, for him to broach his business, but he
was at first strangely silent.