“Very much,” Wallie answered, formally. “Very nice.”
“You’ll be having one of your own some day, soon. That’s sure.”
“I suppose so,” said Wallie, indifferently.
“I would like to go home,” said Mizzi, suddenly, in her precise English.
At that Wallie leaped out of his lounging coat. “I’ll take you! I’ll—I’ll be glad to take you.”
Hahn smiled a little, ruefully. “We were going to have dinner here, the three of us. But if you’re tired, Mizzi. I’m not so chipper myself when it comes to that.” He looked about the room, gratefully. “It’s good to be home.”
Wallie, hat in hand, was waiting in the doorway, Mizzi, turning to go, suddenly felt two hands on her shoulders. She was whirled around. Hahn—he had to stand on tiptoe to do it—kissed her once on the mouth, hard. Then he gave her a little shove toward the door. “Tell Wallie about the red carpet,” he said.
“I will not,” Mizzi replied, very distinctly. “I hate red carpets.”
Then they were gone. Hahn hardly seemed to notice that they had left. There were, I suppose, the proper number of Good-byes, and See-you-to-morrows, and Thank yous.
Sid Hahn stood there a moment in the middle of the room, very small, very squat, rather gnomelike, but not at all funny. He went over to the piano and seated himself, his shoulders hunched, his short legs clearing the floor. With the forefinger of his right hand he began to pick out a little tune. Not a sad little tune. A Hungarian street song. He did it atrociously. The stubby forefinger came down painstakingly on the white keys. Suddenly the little Jap servant stood in the doorway. Hahn looked up. His cheeks were wet with tears.
“God! I wish I could play!” he said.
Chet Ball was painting a wooden chicken yellow. The wooden chicken was mounted on a six-by-twelve board. The board was mounted on four tiny wheels. The whole would eventually be pulled on a string guided by the plump, moist hand of some blissful six-year-old.
You got the incongruity of it the instant your eye fell upon Chet Ball. Chet’s shoulders alone would have loomed large in contrast with any wooden toy ever devised, including the Trojan horse. Everything about him, from the big, blunt-fingered hands that held the ridiculous chick to the great muscular pillar of his neck, was in direct opposition to his task, his surroundings, and his attitude.
Chet’s proper milieu was Chicago, Illinois (the West Side); his job that of lineman for the Gas, Light and Power Company; his normal working position astride the top of a telegraph pole supported in his perilous perch by a lineman’s leather belt and the kindly fates, both of which are likely to trick you in an emergency.