Again Barrington gasped. Again he whistled. “Make it three quarters,” he said, “and I think I can swing it.”
“You’re a jewel for sense,” Kenny told him, a passionate note of gratitude in his voice. “I love you for it.”
He called Ann’s studio at six. Joan had not returned. Ann took the message, startled and sympathetic.
“I’ll wire her in the morning,” he said and, hanging up, found that Sidney Fahr had come in. He stood with his back against the door, his round face blank with terror.
“Kenny,” he stammered, “I—I couldn’t help hearing.” The hot sympathy he could not bring himself to utter, flamed desperately in his face—almost to the ruin of Kenny’s iron control. “I—I—I can do something, can’t I, Kenny?”
“Yes, Sid, darlin’, you can,” said Kenny gently. “I’m taking Garry’s car. You can square me with him.”
“I—I’d even thrash him,” mumbled Sid.
“Then if you will I’d like you to get in touch with Westcott’s wife and tell her. I’m painting her portrait. She comes to-morrow at ten. Sid, could you—could you clean off those two chairs?”
Sid fell upon the nearest chair with fearful energy. At the table Kenny hurriedly wrote a check.
“And to-morrow I want you to deposit this to Brian’s account. I’m paying back—what I owe him.” His mouth worked.
“Oh, Sid!” he said, his face scarlet.
“Now, now, now, Kenny,” choked the little painter, winking and making horrible faces at the littered chair, “don’t you go to taking on. Don’t you do it. I’ll call up Westcott. The old gladiator!” Somehow he turned his sniffle to a snort. “What in thunder does she want to be painted for anyway? She’s got a nose like a triangle and the composition of her face is all wrong.”
He blinked away the wetness on his lashes and wondered why, with every other chair in the studio clear, Kenny should make a point of the littered two. But he did not ask. Instead he entered upon a period of fruitless and agitated trotting that lasted until Kenny came hack from the garage with Garry’s car. Then Sid packed him in, made one last terrible face and bolted across the sidewalk for the door.
Beyond the threshold he bolted for a telephone.
“Jan,” he said in shocked tones, “I want you to come down to the bar and watch me. I—I’ve made up my mind to get drunk. I’ve got to.” He gulped. “I’ll tell you why when you come down.”
“Oh, fiddlesticks!” said Jan in a bored voice. “Go down to the grill and eat something. And order me an English mutton chop and some macaroni. I’ll be down to dinner in five minutes.”
Sid aggrievedly obeyed.
ON FINLAKE MOUNTAIN