“What’s up?” barked Whitaker, his voice tinged with acid. “Just this: I handed the young fool a job that ten of the best newspaper men in New York were pursuing and he turned me down cold to stay all winter in some God-forsaken quarry where he’s hacking up stone—”
“Hacking up stone!”
“Feels philanthropic. Grinds stone all day and at night helps a kid he’s known six months cram for a college exam. Damon and Pythias stuff and I’m the goat. Pythias is seventeen by the way and wants to work his way through college.”
“Mother of men!” said Kenny softly and thought of Joan’s relief.
“Sounds very beautiful and lofty in a letter,” went on Whitaker, angling for sympathy, “but of all the damned, high-falutin’ lunacy I’ve ever seen in men, that’s the limit.”
He waited, confident in his expectation that Kenny would agree. The voice that came back fairly bristled with virtue and approval.
“You filled his head with notions about service, didn’t you, Whitaker?” demanded Kenny indignantly. “What’s your idea of service anyway that now when Brian’s got a chance to be of absolute service to a kid who needs him, you kick up your hind-heels and howl your head off. Sort of a boomerang, isn’t it? You came up to my studio, old man, and unloaded some facts. Let me unload one right now. I’m with Brian. I think he’s a brick and a jewel for sense. And you can go to thunder!”
And Kenny, with a gasping gurgle in his receiver ear, smiled sweetly into the telephone and hung up with Whitaker roaring his name. He was amazed, delighted and triumphant, uppermost in his mind the thought of Joan’s peace of mind. No further need to worry over Donald.
He kissed his finger-tips to Ann who appeared in the doorway.
“Your ward,” she said, “is toasting her toes by the sitting-room fire. Kenny, she’s a dear!”
“As sweet,” said Kenny proudly, “as an Irish smile!”
THE STUDIO AGAIN
The night-watchman at the Holbein Club greeted the prodigal with a broad smile of welcome.
“Wonder, I says, to the new bell-hop, I do wonder where Mr. O’Neill’s got to. Everybody’s been wonderin’. Mr. Rittenhouse most of all,” he added, stopping the elevator at Kenny’s floor. “I heard him grumblin’ just last night in the elevator to Mr. Fahr. Mr. Fahr seemed to feel that you were off with the heathen somewhere paintin’ ’em all up into pictures.”
Kenny found the studio in a soulless state of order and blamed it instantly upon Garry. Fifteen minutes later, gorgeous in his frayed oriental bathrobe and his Persian slippers, he banged on the wall and evoked a muffled shout of greeting. As usual Garry might or might not be in bed. Kenny’s time values had not altered.
Garry came at once in bathrobe and slippers.
“Lord, Kenny,” he exclaimed warmly, “I’m glad you’re back and sane. But I’m mad as a wet hen!”