“High sounding company, sir! Let me see them!” demanded Jasper Ewold.
Jack pointed to his cavalcade waiting in the half shadows, where the lamp-rays grew thin. Wrath of God’s bony face was pointed lugubriously toward the door; Jag Ear was wiggling his fragment of ear.
“And Moses on the mountain-top says that you stay!” declared Jasper Ewold.
Jack looked at Mary. She had not spoken yet and he waited on her word.
“Please do!” she said. “Father wants someone to talk to.”
“Yes, Sir Chaps, I shall talk; otherwise, why was man given a tongue in his head and ideas?”
Refusal was out of the question. Accordingly, Firio was sent on to make camp alone.
“Now, Sir Chaps, now, Mr.—” began Jasper Ewold, pausing blankly. “Why, Mary, you have not given me his city directory name!”
“Mr.—” and Mary blushed. She could only pass the, blame back to the Eternal Painter’s oversight in their introduction.
“Jack Wingfield!” said Jack, on his own account.
“Jack Wingfield!” repeated Jasper Ewold, tasting the name.
A flicker of surprise followed by a flicker of drawn intensity ran over his features, and he studied Jack in a long glance, which he masked just in time to save it from being a stare. Jack was conscious of the scrutiny. He flushed slightly and waited for some word to explain it; but none came. Jasper Ewold’s Olympian geniality returned in a spontaneous flood.
“Come inside, Jack Wingfield,” he said. “Come inside, Sir Chaps—for that is how I shall call you.”
The very drum-beat of hospitality was in his voice. It was a wonderful voice, deep and warm and musical; not to be forgotten.
A SMILE AND A SQUARE CHIN
When a man comes to the door book in hand and you have the testimony of the versatility and breadth of his reading in half a bushel of mail for him, you expect to find his surroundings in keeping. But in Jasper Ewold’s living-room Jack found nothing of the kind.
Heavy, natural beams supported the ceiling. On the gray cement walls were four German photographs of famous marbles. The Venus de Milo looked across to the David of Michael Angelo; the Flying Victory across to Rodin’s Thinker. In the centre was a massive Florentine table, its broad top bare except for a big ivory tusk paper-knife free from any mounting of silver. On the shelf underneath were portfolios of the reproductions of paintings.
An effect which at first was one of quiet spaciousness became impressive and compelling. Its simplicity was without any of the artificiality that sometimes accompanies an effort to escape over-ornamentation. No one could be in the room without thinking through his eyes and with his imagination. Wherever he sat he would look up to a masterpiece as the sole object of contemplation.