“You needn’t repeat it,” said Brian with a flash of his quiet eyes. “This time, Kenny, I mean to stay disinherited.”
Kennicott O’Neill stared at his son and gasped. The note of permanency in the chronic rite of disinheritance was startling. So was something in the set of Brian’s chin and the flush of anger burning steadily beneath the dark of his skin. Moreover, his eyes, warmly Irish like his father’s, and ordinarily humorous and kind, remained unflinchingly aggressive.
With the air of an outraged emperor, the older man strode across the studio and rapped upon his neighbor’s wall for arbitration.
“Garry may be in bed,” said Brian,
“And he may not.” It was much the same to Kenny.
He was a splendid figure—that Irishman. His gorgeous Persian slippers curled at the toes and ended in a pair of scarlet heels. The extraordinary mandarin combination of oriental magnificence and the rags he affected for a bathrobe, hung from a pair of shoulders noticeably broad and graceful. If he wore his frayed splendor with a certain picturesque distinction, it was the way he did all things, even his delightful brogue which was if anything a shade too mellifluous to be wholly unaffected. What Kenny liked he kept if he could, even his irresponsible youth and gayety.
Time had helped him there. His auburn hair was still bright and thick. And his eyes were as blue and merry now as when with pagan reverence he had tramped and sketched as a lad among the ruined altars of the druids.
He had meant to wither his son with continued dignity and calm. The vagaries of Irish temper ordained otherwise. Kenny glanced at the fragments of a statuette conspicuously rearranged on a Louis XV table almost submerged in the chaotic disorder of the studio, and lost his head.
“Look at that!” he flung out furiously.
Brian had already looked—with guilt—and regretted.
“I broke it—accidentally,” he admitted.
“Accidentally! You flung a brush at it.”
“I flung a brush across the studio,” corrected Brian, “just after you went out to pawn my shotgun.”
“Damn the shotgun!”
“I can extend that same courtesy,” reminded Brian, “to the statuette.”
Things were going badly when the expected arbitrator rapped upon the door, and losing ground, Kenny felt that he must needs dramatize his parental right to authority for the benefit of Garry’s ears and his own pride.
“Silence!” he thundered, striding toward the door. He flung it back with the air of a conqueror. His stage play fell rather flat. Garry Rittenhouse, in bathrobe and slippers, confronted the pair with a look of weary inquiry. He sometimes regretted that as a peacemaker he had become an institution. Nobody said anything. Garry hunted cigarettes, cleared a chair and sat down.