The young man in the swivel chair drummed with his toes against the desk, while he studied the gaudy fire insurance calendar on the wall before him. His pipe hung bowl downward from his lips, and the long fingers of one hand toyed with a legal document in his lap.
"Something new is hatching in this incubator," he muttered at last, dipping his pen in the ink bottle again. "And I thinkI think it's an ugly duckling. Of course, it's no business of mine, but" He looked up suddenly as a bulky figure darkened the doorway. "Hello, Jeff!"
Jeff Wray nodded and walked to the water cooler.
"Mulrennan's been here to see you three times," said the man in the swivel chair. "Each time he's been getting madder. I wish you'd keep your appointments or get another office-boy. That man's vocabulary is a work of genius. Even you, in your happiest humorswhy, what's the matter with your face?"
Wray put his fingers up. Four red streaks ran parallel across his cheek bone. He touched the marks with his hand, then looked at his finger tips.
"Oh, that? Seems like I must have butted into something." He gave a short, unmirthful laugh. "Don't make me look any prettier, does it? Funny I didn't feel it before." And then, as he turned to the inner office, "Is Mulrennan coming back?" he asked.
"Yes, at five."
Wray glanced at the clock. "Has Bent been in?"
"When will those papers be ready?"
"To-night, if you want them."
"Good!" Wray turned, with his hand on the knob of the door. "When Pete comes, send him back. Will you, Larry?"
Larry Berkely nodded, and Wray went into the back office and closed the door behind him. He took out his keys and unlocked the desk, but, instead of sitting at once, he went over to a cracked mirror in the corner and examined his face, grinning at his image and touching the red marks with his fingers.
"That was a love-tap for fair," he said. "I reckon I deserved it. But she oughtn't to push a man too far. She was sure angry. Won't speak now for a while." He turned with a confident air. "She'll come around, though," he laughed. "You just bet she will." Then he sat down at his desk, took a photograph in a brass frame out of the drawer, put it up against the pen-rack before him, and, folding his arms across the blotter, gazed at it steadily for a moment.