In order to take a break from hard labor, Coverdale decides to take a walking tour in the woods. As he was walking along the path, a stranger hails him, calling him "friend." He resents the title from a stranger. The instant familiarity grates against his understanding of the term.
The unwanted companion is dressed for the city and seems a bit out of place in such a rural setting. Coverdale feels lacking in comparison, as he is dressed as a "country bumpkin," in rough clothes more suited to work than for entertainment or business.
The nattily dressed stranger asks after Zenobia. He seems to have known her intimately at one time, and also knows her real name (which is not given). Coverdale points him in her direction, without offering to escort him to her residence. But the stranger stops him.
He next asks if Coverdale knows a gentleman answering Hollingsworth’s description—rough, well-meaning, boorish, a philanthropic lecturer. Though Coverdale recognizes Hollingsworth by the description, he claims no acquaintance with such a person. But the stranger goes on further, describing Hollingsworth’s personality to a tee. Coverdale is amused and joins the stranger in a laugh at Hollingsworth’s expense.
The stranger introduces himself as Professor Westervelt. Once again, Coverdale points him in the direction of Zenobia, and the stranger departs. Later, Coverdale regrets not continuing the interview, becoming curious as to what exactly the stranger knew.