The room upstairs was full of those innocent hotel pictures of little girls eating apples and sitting in swings and talking to dogs. The other decorations were neckties and a pink man reading a pink paper devoted to ladies in pink tights.
“When you have to go into the highways and byways—” said the pink man, looking reproachfully at Baily and Perry.
“Hello, Martin Macy,” said Perry shortly, “where’s this stone-age champagne?”
“What’s the rush? This isn’t an operation, understand. This is a party.”
Perry sat down dully and looked disapprovingly at all the neckties.
Baily leisurely opened the door of a wardrobe and brought out six wicked-looking bottles and three glasses.
“Take off that darn fur coat!” said Martin Macy to Perry. “Or maybe you’d like to have us open all the windows.” “Give me champagne,” said Perry.
“Going to the Townsends’ circus ball to-night?”
“Why not go?”
“Oh, I’m sick of parties,” exclaimed Perry, “I’m sick of ’em. I’ve been to so many that I’m sick of ’em.”
“Maybe you’re going to the Howard Tates’ party?”
“No, I tell you; I’m sick of ’em.”
“Well,” said Macy consolingly, “the Tates’ is just for college kids anyway.”
“I tell you—”
“I thought you’d be going to one of ’em anyways. I see by the papers you haven’t missed a one this Christmas.”
“Hm,” grunted Perry morosely.
He would never go to any more parties. Classical phrases played in his mind—that side of his life was closed, closed. Now when a man says “closed, closed” like that, you can be pretty sure that some woman has double-closed him, so to speak. Perry was also thinking that other classical thought, about how cowardly suicide is. A noble thought that one—warm and uplifting. Think of all the fine men we should lose if suicide were not so cowardly!
An hour later was six o’clock, and Perry had lost all resemblance to the young man in the liniment advertisement. He looked like a rough draft fur a riotous cartoon. They were singing—an impromptu song of Baily’s improvisation:
One Lump Perry, the parlour snake, Famous through the city for the way he drinks his tea; Plays with it, toys with it, Makes no noise with it, Balanced on a napkin on his well-trained knee.
“Trouble is,” said Perry, who had just banged his hair with Bailey’s comb and was tying an orange tie round it to get the effect of Julius Caesar, “that you fellas can’t sing worth a damn. Soon’s I leave th’ air an’ start singin’ tenor you start singin’ tenor too.”
“’M a natural tenor,” said Macy gravely. “Voice lacks cultivation, tha’s all. Gotta natural voice, m’aunt used say. Naturally good singer.”
“Singers, singers, all good singers,” remarked Baily, who was at the telephone. “No, not the cabaret; I want night clerk. I mean refreshment clerk or some dog-gone clerk ’at’s got food—food! I want——”