Obediently Garry at four ignored a violent thump upon the wall. Then the telephone rang and Kenny said with some annoyance that the work was done.
When on the following day he found that Mr. Adams had returned and wanted, purposefully perhaps, to come to tea, he lost his temper and began at once to hunt cups, demanding of Garry why on earth Fate hadn’t smiled upon him before he wasted his vigor and inspiration in endless hours of torture, doing pot-boilers.
“If he’s coming to tea with a red-blooded check like that,” said Garry, “I’ll lend you some decent cups. Those bouillon cups are the limit.”
“Oh, hell!” said Kenny moodily. “I’ve talked with him. I’ve even answered his questions with politeness. A man who wants to know if you must have a north light to paint by will think it a rule of the guild to double-handle teacups.”
That night Whitaker brought him news of Brian. He was healthy and happy and wrote no word of coming in. There, Whitaker felt himself, Brian was over-reticent.
“And the postmark?” Kenny staring in disgust at a hole in his sock transferred his glance to Whitaker.
“That,” said Whitaker, “I’m not at liberty to give. I’ve told you so before.”
Kenny drew himself up to his full height.
“John—” he thundered.
The door opened and Mac Brett, the young sculptor on the floor above who harbored H. B., came in, somewhat mystified at the warmth of Whitaker’s greeting.
“Come on down to the grill to dinner,” he suggested. “Garry’s down there and Jan. It’s drizzling and a lot of men are staying in.”
Kenny, moodily painting the skin beneath the hole in his sock black, flung down the brush and found his coat.
“Once,” said Mac in a panic of laughter, “he painted hairs on the bald parts of Frieda Fuller’s pony-skin coat. Thick, plutocraticky sort of hairs. I shan’t forget ’em. And they melted and smudged her neck. Remember, Kenny? You ridged ’em beautifully—”
Kenny did not answer. He strode toward the door. Mac and Whitaker exchanged comprehending glances of dismay and followed him down to the grill.
It was a pleasant refuge from the autumn storm—that grill. The dark old wood framed light and color, sketches and a line of paintings. Mac’s sculptured ragamuffin looked wistfully down from his niche near the open rafters upon a Round Table institutionally fraternal. He seemed always seeking warmth and food. Kenny’s old peasant in wrinkled apple-faced cheer smiled broadly from the wall, listening to the click of billiard balls with his painted eyes upon the doorway.
The hum and clatter at the Round Table stopped as Kenny entered. It was followed by an immediate scraping of chairs, pushed back, and a hearty chorus of greeting but Kenny knew, intuitively, that the talk had been of him.