“How about the day after to-morrow?” He considered for a moment. Then, with reluctance:
“I want to get the grass cut,” he said.
We both looked at the grass — there was a sharp line where my ragged lawn ended and the darker, well-kept expanse of his began. I suspected that he meant my grass.
“There’s another little thing,” he said uncertainly, and hesitated.
“Would you rather put it off for a few days?” I asked.
“Oh, it isn’t about that. At least ——” He fumbled with a series of beginnings. “Why, I thought — why, look here, old sport, you don’t make much money, do you?”
“Not very much.”
This seemed to reassure him and he continued more confidently.
“I thought you didn’t, if you’ll pardon my — You see, I carry on a little business on the side, a sort of side line, you understand. And I thought that if you don’t make very much — You’re selling bonds, aren’t you, old sport?”
“Well, this would interest you. It wouldn’t take up much of your time and you might pick up a nice bit of money. It happens to be a rather confidential sort of thing.”
I realize now that under different circumstances that conversation might have been one of the crises of my life. But, because the offer was obviously and tactlessly for a service to be rendered, I had no choice except to cut him off there.
“I’ve got my hands full,” I said. “I’m much obliged but I couldn’t take on any more work.”
“You wouldn’t have to do any business with Wolfsheim.” Evidently he thought that I was shying away from the “gonnegtion.” mentioned at lunch, but I assured him he was wrong. He waited a moment longer, hoping I’d begin a conversation, but I was too absorbed to be responsive, so he went unwillingly home.