“Julius Caesar,” announced Perry, turning round from the mirror. “Man of iron will and stern ’termination.”
“Shut up!” yelled Baily. “Say, iss Mr. Baily. Sen’ up enormous supper. Use y’own judgment. Right away.”
He connected the receiver and the hook with some difficulty and then with his lips closed and an air of solemn intensity in his eyes went to the lower drawer of his dresser and pulled it open.
“Lookit!” he commanded. In his hands he held a truncated garment of pink gingham.
“Pants,” he explained gravely. “Lookit!” This was a pink blouse, a red tie and a Buster Brown collar.
“Lookit!” he repeated. “Costume for the Townsends’ circus ball. I’m li’l’ boy carries water for the elephants.”
Perry was impressed in spite of himself.
“I’m going to be Julius Caesar,” he announced after a moment of concentration.
“Thought you weren’t going!” said Macy.
“Me? Sure, I’m goin’. Never miss a party. Good for the nerves—like celery.”
“Caesar!” scoffed Baily. “Can’t be Caesar! He’s not about a circus. Caesar’s Shakespeare. Go as a clown.”
Perry shook his head.
Light dawned on Baily.
“That’s right. Good idea.”
Perry looked round the room searchingly.
“You lend me a bathrobe and this tie,” he said finally.
“Sure, tha’s all I need. Caesar was a savage. They can’t kick if I come as Caesar if he was a savage.”
“No,” said Baily, shaking his head slowly. “Get a costume over at a costumer’s. Over at Nolak’s.”
After a puzzling five minutes at the phone a small, weary voice managed to convince Perry that it was Mr. Nolak speaking, and that they would remain open until eight because of the Townsends’ ball. Thus assured, Perry ate a great amount of filet mignon and drank his third of the last bottle of champagne. At eight-fifteen the man in the tall hat who stands in front of the Clarendon found him trying to start his roadster.
“Froze up,” said Perry wisely. “The cold froze it. The cold air.”
“Yes. Cold air froze it.”
“Can’t start it?”
“Nope. Let it stand here till summer. One those hot ole August days’ll thaw it out awright.”
“Goin’ let it stand?”
“Sure. Let ’er stand. Take a hot thief to steal it. Gemme taxi.”
The man in the tall hat summoned a taxi.
“Where to, mister?”
“Go to Nolak’s—costume fella.”