From the crowded Webster platform came exuberant whistles, wolf cries, shouts of “Over here” “Yoo hoo!” “Hey, Jocelyn” and “Peggy, it’s Fred!” Pouring out of the Pullman cars in a riot of color, ready with their young faces and young bodies for the time of their lives, came the bright company fifteen hundred young men had been carefully choosing, saving weekly allowances for and devoting a disproportionate amount of thought to for the past four weeks. But now all of these grave indecisions were at an end. The Moment had arrived. Committed to their choices for three carefree days, they were all prepared quite literally and quite exhaustively to make the most of them.
Manley Halliday and Shep watched apathetically from their drawing-room window. They had decided to wait until the crowd thinned. To be pushed along in a mob of semi-hysterical adolescents, Manley had said, was more than his old nerves could bear this morning. The insulin shot had been wasted again. They hadn’t had breakfast after all. A score of girls ahead of them at the second call had helped to make up their minds to eat when they reached the Inn. Now he was having to munch sugar to compensate once more. His nerves felt as if the protecting skin had been pulled away.
Shep could imagine how Manley Halliday must be feeling. For even with half his years and much less than half his anxiety, even with his youthful strength to absorb the shock of fatigue and alcoholic drag, he still felt toxic, nerved-up, hateful. He positively hated, for instance, the glowing young men and women in their colorful ski suits and sports clothes greeting one another with smiling kisses and promising embraces on the platform just outside the window.
“God damn them all to hell,” he said unreasonably, aloud.
“Amen, baby,” Manley Halliday said.
Shep said: “Funny, ever since they sprung me out of here I’ve had daydreams of how I’d come back. Walter Mitty stuff about arriving in style. Showing up with someone like you. And now it turns out to be just something to go through, to get over with as painlessly as possible.”
“That isn’t funny,” Manley Halliday said. “That’s the big practical joke of growing up.”
Shep looked thoughtfully at the holiday throng. Christ, he thought, to be as young as the faces festively two-by-two on the platform, and then to be as old as Manley Halliday; to have the Girl and the Name and the Means and then to have nothing; and then, having nothing, to go on hoping and struggling—I wonder if I could do it, if I have that kind of strength. Suddenly, sitting between the oblivious Mardi Gras couples and the ailing Manley Halliday, he felt a new emotion, neither the fatuous hero-worship of the first days nor the impulsive contempt of the night before; now he saw neither all strength nor all weakness, but the weakness for the strength and the strength for the weakness.
“Come on, Manley, we go to the Mardi Gras.”
On the platform the official cameraman was photographing for the Alumni Magazine the visiting celebrities from Holly-Wood. Victor Milgrim, in a tailored polo coat and a Tyrolean hat (but with a conservative feather) bore only the slightest resemblance to the slack-faced, unimpressive figure they had surprised in the drawing room. Man of the world who had raised himself at least a notch above the popular conception of a film magnate, Victor Milgrim accommodated the camera with gracious splendor. He made an excellent public figure and could have passed for an international banker or a trusted emissary of the State Department, just below the rank of Ambassador.
Now that the platform was empty, Shep and Manley Halliday climbed down. The younger man was conscious of the contrast of their crumpled, haggard look to the sweet-sixteen freshness and fresh-nineteen enthusiasm that gave such vitality to the atmosphere of festival. To make it worse, for them, it was a crisp, clear day, what Webster knew as perfect Mardi Gras weather and young complexions exposed to all this fresh air produced cheeks so red and eyes so bright that Manley Hallidayrealized he had forgotten how downright young and healthy the healthy and young could be.
“There they are!” Hearing that loud, familiar voice, they turned to see Hutchinson bearing down on them. He had gotten himself up in a bright red ski-suit, his balding head was concealed in a Russian-style fur hat and his face was ruddy with quick movement and cold. Sure enough he started pounding them on the back, this man of inexhaustible energy.
“Boy, oh boy, are we glad to see you! We’ve been up here for four days going nuts waiting for you two geniuses” (he had picked this up from the Boss) “to tell us what to do.”
Hutch put a confidential hand on Manley Halliday’s stooped shoulder. “Now just between us, we’re gonna work together like this. To hell with the Boss; he’s up here to have some fun. Boy oh boy, is this town loaded with St. Quentin quail!” He made an appropriate face and whistled. “If I didn’t have so damn much work to do I’d show these young bucks what an old one can do!” His wink was wasted on Manley Halliday, who was neither listening nor watching and seemed barely there at all. It drew only a polite smile from Shep, who was figuring what to say. Hutch went right on:
“Now you know how I like to work. I like to work fast and no bull. I don’t go for all these fancy conferences and I don’t kiss anybody’s tochis. If the Boss gets all screwed-up we’ll tell him off together. You just let Hutch know what you want and I’ll work my crew in snow up to their tails to get it.” He threw a quick glance down the platform toward Milgrim—to make sure the Boss wasn’t hearing any of this, Shep imagined. “Okay, now what’s our first set-up? My boys haven’t earned a dime since they left the lot. I wanna put ’em to work before they start chasing some of this young stuff you boys brought with you.”
Manley Halliday flinched from Hutchinson’s lascivious grin.
“Shep, I’d better sit down. Can’t we talk later, in the room?”
“Hutch, we’re all in,” Shep said. “Give us an hour to catch our breath.”
“This fresh air ’ll take care o’ that,” Hutchinson assured them. “Boy oh boy, I feel like a kid!” He let go with a wolf-call, undergraduate style, and a Webster boy turned around and laughed. “Atsa spirit, Pop.”
Manley Halliday turned away. In an hour, maybe; yes in an hour he might be ready to endure Hutchinson.
The assistant (in charge of public relations) to the Secretary of the College looked doubtfully at them, then made up his mind that it was his duty to approach. “Mr. Halliday, welcome to Webster. Shep” (he had never been so cordial before) “nice to see you back. We’re taking a few shots with Mr. Milgrim. Perhaps you’d like …”
He waved them toward Milgrim. But when Milgrim saw them, when he looked closely at Manley Halliday, he frowned and said, “Er, Manley’s been working awfully hard—better give him time to get to the Inn and, er, freshen up.”
He looked hard at Manley as if to say that is what you are to do at once. But Manley was too wretched to worry about the disapproval of Victor Milgrim. As Shep helped Manley into a cab—the gesture was involuntary—he was quick enough to catch a look intended for private exchange between the Secretary of the College and his assistant. In fifteen minutes, Shep could bet on it, it would be all over the campus that Manley Halliday and Shep Stearns had to be poured off the train.
It was an impressive view up the long winding road through snow-covered College Park to the plateau from which the white Georgian buildings overlooked the river. But these scenic staples were lost on them as they lay back with their eyes half shut, less like Hollywood screenwriters than victims of the Terror riding a tumbril. On the hill, taking a needless chance, a roadster swerved out and passed them, carrying five week-end couples, all on each other’s laps. Shep and Manley Halliday seemed to rock in the wake of their wild young laughter.
A historical landmark between the campus and the small college town, the Webster Inn was a remodeled eighteenth-century hostel proud of its original beams and woodwork and the clutter of long rifles, powder horns, pewter teapots, oil lamps, primitive cradles and a thousand other commonplace items of Colonial times that made the Inn top-heavily picturesque. A large, darkened-with-age painting of the original boniface, John Treadwill, hung over the great fireplace in the lobby. “Reservation for Mr. Halliday and Mr. Stearns?” The clerk shuffled through a stack of reservation cards. Two-thirds through, his lip began to push out in an expression of doubt. He paused on one card and looked up hopefully: “Holifield?”
Manley Halliday shook his head. “Halliday.” He spelled it out.
“Manley Halliday,” Shep emphasized. The clerk shook his head. “Nothing here for that name.” “We’re with the Love on Ice party,” Manley Halliday said. The clerk became more respectful. “Oh, you’re with Mr. Milgrim?”
“Yeah, we’re a couple of Milgrim’s boys,” Manley Halliday said.
“What did you say your names were again?” the clerk said.
“Halliday and Stearns. You’d probably recognize us if you saw us in our stage make-ups,” Halliday said.
The clerk wasn’t sure. Old grads get drunk early and pull some funny tricks, he remembered. “I’ll call Mr. Milgrim’s suite and see if they can straighten this out.”
“Let me speak to Miss Dillon,” Shep said.
While they waited, several young married couples came in, laughing and stamping out the cold as they asked for their reservations and went on upstairs. When Manley Halliday felt he could stand no longer he sank down into one of the chairs in the lobby. A good-looking undergraduate and a cute-looking lemon-haired girl glanced at him as they hurried by in step arm-in-arm. “Boy, he started early.”
On the phone Shep was saying, “Listen, Peggy, this really stinks. Who the hell made the reservations? I could always find a place to flop, but how the hell could they forget Halliday?”
“Got me there, kiddo. Transportation in New York had all the names. Supposed to take care of it.”
“Listen, Peggy, we’re riding on the rim this morning. Go tell the Boss either he gets us fixed up with a room or we head back for New York.”
“The Great Man is in his bawth, dear.”
“I don’t care where he is. You go tell ’im.”
“Hold your water, buster. I’ll be down see what I can do.”
Manley Halliday joined Shep at the house-phone.
“No room at the Inn?”
“How do you like that?”
Manley Halliday shrugged. “Symbol,” he said.
“Sure. Symbol of th’ writers’ status in Hollywood. Forgotten man.”
“You ain’t kiddin’,” Shep said, sore. He turned back to the clerk, who, with the defensiveness of his kind, had begun to resent them as trouble-makers.
“You realize who this is? Manley Halliday. Sure you can’t find something, a single room … ?”
The clerk frowned. “Well, if you don’t mind the attic—it’s— more or less an unused servants’ quarters. Not the most comfortable accommodations.”
Manley Halliday laughed harshly. “Unused servants—not too comfortable—that’s us, isn’t it, Shep?”
They were waiting for the elevator when Peggy Dillon came down. “Mr. Halliday, I can’t imMAGine how this happened. Mr. Milgrim is going to be terribly upset.”
“Miss—Miss Dillon—” it was like reaching into a card file “—don’t trouble your pretty head. As we used to say. And tell Mr. Milgrim not to trouble his pretty head. We have just been given the—penthouse. Come up and see us later. We’ll be having a little attic-warming.”
Miss Dillon looked at Shep.
“Now, now,” Manley Halliday said, seeing everything. “Don’t look at him about me that way.”
“I—I wasn’t,” Miss Dillon started to say, and Shep was thinking it was the first time he had ever seen her with her poise down.
“No, of course you wasn’t,” Manley Halliday said with a nasty edge.
Peggy Dillon glared. As if amused, Manley Halliday said to Shep, “Y’see, ladies don’t like me any more. I assure you, ladiesused to like me, Miss Dillon. If I had died the year Rudy died
I’d ’ve had a full chorus of women in black following my coffin.”
Peggy Dillon was very glad to be let out at the second floor.
“ ’Tractive,” Manley Halliday muttered. “Knows how to dress.
Small-town girl gone sophisticated.”
“Uh-huh.” Shep was worried. Manley seemed to be off on a new jag now. Not exactly drunken, and yet …
“This way,” the townie bellboy had said, and they were following him down a long dark passageway. “Don’t,” Manley Halliday said under his breath. “Don’t what?”
“Don’t worry so much about me.” “Well-”
“I’m not really in the bag. I’m just—just trying to talk my way through this, talking off the top of my head, helps me keep going. Don’t forget I’m tough inside, baby. Tougher ’n I look.”
At the end of the hall a narrow staircase led up into a tower room under the eaves. Manley Halliday tripped on the first step. “Take it easy, Manley.”
“Wasn’t a drunkard’s slip. Just a plain happen-to-anybody slip. Don’t get so damn—well, if I need a male nurse I’ll hire one.” “Keep your shirt on, Manley.”
“And how! Same shirt I’ve had on since I left Hollywood. Good Lord, how long ago was that?”
The bellboy led them into a room Shep would never have expected to find in the Inn. Long and narrow, with a low ceiling, it could have been a studio version of a medieval dungeon if it hadn’t been for the single dormer that offered an excellent view of the snow-laden campus bordered by the nice old buildings. Directly across the commons was the library with its graceful white bell tower. In the middle of the campus was an imposing snowman of Michelangelesque proportions wearing a Webster freshman cap and holding a pair of skis.
As they looked around this strange tunnel of a room the chimes were punching out a melody that bore some slight resemblance to “God Rest You Merry Gentlemen.” “Playing a melody with chimes always makes me think of anarmless man picking out a tune on the piano with his stumps,” Manley Halliday said.
He stood in the middle of the room and surveyed its desolation. The only furniture was a double-deck metal bed without any bedclothes and a cheap, beaver-board portable closet. Not even a rug on the floor. In the corner under the eaves a small sink, and that was all.
“Ah, how quaint,” Manley Halliday said. “Such simplicity. This really has atmosphere.” He pretended to admire the bare double-deck bed. “Look at that! Not a nail in it. What craftsmanship! Ah, what stories this old bed could tell if it could only talk.” He felt the springs tenderly.
Abruptly he stopped and pulled from the pocket of the overcoat he hadn’t taken off the half empty bottle of applejack from the almost forgotten night before.
“Manley, for Christ sake.”
“Shep, don’t. I’ve got to keep drinking now. Need it for fuel. Fuel’s courage. All right, a terrible joke, baby. The joke’s on me, baby. Lord, and it’s just beginning …” He started to say something else, interrupted himself with a long swallow of the apple-jack and handed the bottle to Shep.
“Mmm. Feels good. Feel better. Ever seen anybody drink himself sober, Shep? I did once, over at the Lido, ever tell you how I …”
Shep had been swigging as much of the bottle as he could, partly from his own need, partly to limit Manley.
“Yes,” Shep said, “I’m sure you did. I think you must’ve told me every goddam thing you’ve done since you were three.”
“Now—now, that isn’t true, kid.” Manley Halliday was really hurt this time. “I keep some things to myself. I know I do. The good things. Things you keep in a little strong-box locked away in your mind and only take out when you’re alone and lonely in a special way. Like Jere. I haven’t told you about Jere. All I could say was Jere this or Jere that but that wouldn’t be Jere. You had to see Jere. You had to—well, that’s getting to the part in the strong-box …”
Shep saw that his eyes were wet.
“Manley, lie down.”
“Maybe a little nap.”
“Naaap.” He drew the vowel out to ridicule the idea. “How the hell c’n I nap? Think I’m so far gone I don’t know what’s happening? All we need is a simple little story. That’s the trouble, it’s too simple. See? I’m not so damn gassed I don’t know that stuff I dreamed up this morning is banana oil. Wasn’t any good, was it? You weren’t buying it for bird-seed were you? ’S funny I c’d always judge people’s reactions—in the daylight ’specially—dawn’s when I c’d always kid myself—make myself think I was madly in love with someone who actually bored me in broad daylight like an actress I knew once. Silent star before your time. Mona Moray…” “Yes, I know.” “Oh. Told you that too?”
Shep nodded. “Listen, Manley, you keep saying stick with me, we’re in this together. Well, same goes for me. Every time you get talking you start slipping away, off to something you did, someone you knew and pretty soon you aren’t here at all. It’s beginning to drive me nuts.”
The intensity of Shep’s charge chastened Manley. He sat down on the edge of the bed and said, “I know. I have to stop this. I have to think from Ann on. Next time I start slipping back, grab me, Shep, snap me up the way Ann does.”
He had taken from Shep the bottle of applejack and gulped a drink so quickly that it must have gone down his windpipe, for he began to cough and was coughing very hard with Shep slapping him on the back when Hutchinson burst in on them without knocking.
“What you guys doing, getting fried?” He tried to make it sound robust and casual. “Jesus, they really gave you the suite deluxy.” He shook his head in exaggerated sympathy. “You should see how the Boss got himself fixed up. The bridal suite. When I see the big double bed I tell him he can’t kid me he isn’t all set up for a little of this Mardi Gras gash. I get a bang out of riding the Old Man.” Behind the buddy-buddy congeniality, Shep thought he sawHutchinson looking sharply at them once or twice and Shep made a mental note to be careful. With all that talk of independence and telling the Boss off, he strongly suspected Hutchinson of being a front-office long-nose and all-around suck.
“How about letting a pal in on some of your bug-juice?” Hutchinson said. Taking the bottle from Manley Halliday for a token drink, he handed it across to Shep. His simulated casual-ness was so broad that Manley pointedly asked for the bottle again.
“Now let’s get with it,” Hutchinson began. “How about our process backgrounds? You boys got a list of what you want? We wanta get barreling on this thing.”
Manley Halliday looked at Shep and Shep said, without looking back at Manley, “The damn notes are in a suitcase that got mislaid at the station, Hutch, but got a pencil? I c’n pretty much tell you what they were.”
“Fire away,” Hutchinson said, with his gold pencil—a gift from Victor Milgrim—efficiently poised over a pocket notebook.
Without hesitation, and without much shame, Shep rattled off half a dozen settings which he described as locales for key scenes in the continuity outline. “Oh, yes, and the Skating Club balcony,” he added. “That’s our first love scene.”
“Okay, we’ll give ourselves plenty of protection on the balcony, backgrounds from every possible angle,” Hutchinson said. “And wait’ll you see the quality. This boy Gannon would’ve made first cameraman long ago if he could only stay off the sauce.
At the door Hutchinson turned back. “Oh, by the way, the Boss wants you down in the lobby for the reception in about fifteen-twenny minutes. Got some sort of luncheon lined up with the faculty. I think I’ll duck it an’ say I’m working. I’m liable to say ain’t and scare everybody to death.”
“If you see Mr. Milgrim you might tell him I do not intend to leave my room,” Manley Halliday said. A good deal of effort went into getting all the words right.
“Are you kidding? You’re the piece de resistance or how the hell you say it. You should’ve heard the Boss building you upto the welcoming committee driving up from the station. Weren’t your ears burning?” “Not burning—ringing,” Manley Halliday said. “Hell, you know I’m the last guy in the world to tell you to jump every time the Boss whistles,” Hutchinson went on, “but no kidding, Hally, if I was you I’d get down there.”
Hutchinson went briskly down the steps, whistling “Let’s Roll It Up for Webster.”
“I don’t trust that joker. He’s too happy,” Shep said. Manley Halliday didn’t answer. He was sitting on the metal rim of the bed. His eyes were open but he didn’t seem to be looking at anything. He sat that way for three or four minutes. Then his eyes began to blink and the timing of the blinking slowed down until at last his eyes had been shut for perhaps thirty seconds. “Manley.”
Manley Halliday opened his eyes slowly and shut them again. Then Shep remembered they had skipped another meal, breakfast, although Manley had taken the anticipatory shot and then had had nothing but liquor and now it was nearly noon. Moving quickly he found the sugar in Manley’s pocket and pushed some into the slack mouth. It was eerie to watch Manley’s eyes fluttering open again so quickly. An uncertain smile pulled feebly at the corners of his mouth, which began to move as if in continuation of something he had been thinking and imagining himself saying.
“—just the manners change, that’s all.”
Manley took a deep breath, a very deep breath, as if he were fighting to live, as if nothing was going to stop him from living. Then he said:
“Yes, the manners. Maybe they buttoned all their buttons or the pants hung differently or now they say babe where they used to say girlie, but it’s still the same college, same’s it was when I was here for Mardi Gras before we joined the R.C.A.F. Same boys from substantial hardly first-rank families having their fun learning a little and making their contacts. Oh, I know them, Iknow them. One in five hundred’d amount to anything if he didn’t have Papa’s business waiting for him. Maybe five in five hundred deserve an education and three of those spend the rest of their lives trying to forget it, so it won’t get in their way. Yah, now you grin, think I’m a radical. Slip me the grip, comrade, well not so fast, baby, I’m scared to death of any authority. But I’ve lost my faith in the rich …”
His words went wandering off into their own cloudy, unintelligible world. The dead pause was interrupted by a groping mutter of disgust. “Oh, what am I talking about!”
“Shh—just relax,” Shep said quietly.
Manley saw white circles inside of white circles inside of white circles flowing out of the blackness into his eyes and for some reason he was trying to think of the tide of the Gershwin song from Treasure Girl that for some reason never caught on.
A knock at the door brought Peggy in. “Listen, Shep, the Boss is beginning to burn. Wants to show off his writers to the heavy thinkers in the lobby. What’s the matter with you two? Need some bennies?”
“Come on, have a drink. Quit looking so official.” “Thanks, Mr. Halliday, but—well, you really must come down. Didn’t you hear a loud crash a minute ago? That was our Fuhrer hitting the ceiling when Hutch gave him your message.” “My dear young lady,” Manley Halliday wound up slowly, “kindly inform your Mr. Milgrim that I hired out as a screenwriter. I am ready to fulfill my ob—ligation. The contract says nothing about personal appearances. I am not on public exhib’tion like a two-headed calf.”
“All right, Mr. Halliday, I’ll try. But he isn’t used to this. He’s a man who likes you to think things over carefully and then do ’em his way.”
“Tell ’em we’re working. Tell ’em we’ll see him when we’re darn good ’n ready.”
“Okay. Anything you want particularly for your last meal?” At the door Peggy said in what she thought was an undertone to Shep, “Well, your little playmate is feeling no pain.” But Manley Halliday, as his ordinary senses ebbed, seemed todevelop a new compensatory super-sense, for somehow he overheard. “Ah, my dear self-assured Miss Dillon, tha’s where you’re wrong.”
The smile was a slight twitch of facial muscles behind the sallow skin.
Manley Halliday spread his coat on the springs, stretched out on his back and closed his eyes. Then he opened them again because he could sense Shep staring at him. “In this together, baby,” he murmured, and then he made a really brain-racking effort to think of a fresh approach to Love on Ice that would dispose of the matter once and for all. But instead (this was the damnedest thing) he said aloud, “The complete history of everyone.”
“What are you talking about?”
“The fundamental character of everyone, the bottom nature in them, the mixture in them, the strength and weakness of everything they have inside them, the flavor of them, the meaning of them, the whole history of each one …”
He put his hand to his head as if suddenly there was an ache there. “… the living loving eating pleasing smoking drinking thinking scolding working dancing walking talking laughing dreaming worrying potential and fulfillment of them …”
“What the hell are you doing?”
“What we oughta try to be doing every time we sit down, every time we start, making Americans …”
“Hey, Manley—more sugar?”
“No. No. I’m not raving. Just understan’. Mean you. Complete understanding. Know what I mean?”
“Oh, sure, sure,” Shep said heavily. “It’s as clear as torsan on the parfluroy.”
The door opened suddenly and Victor Milgrim himself was there, in soft brown tweed, in starched white linen, fresh from the bathroom with the odor of Caswell Massey radiating from his powder-smooth, indignant face.
“What goes on up here?”
Manley Halliday sat up and with his uncanny ability to brave through the most humiliating scenes with a deeply rooted dignity, said, “Victor, these are our personal quarters—such as they are—and there is no ’ception to the rule that no one should enter without knocking.”
“Manley, you’re jeopardizing everything I’m trying to do up here. I must ask you to stop drinking. I beg of you.”
“Manley, for God’s sake, I’m trying to be patient with you. But this is so damned embarrassing. We need the co-operation, the respect of the College. That’s why I didn’t choose to bring just any Tom-Dick to Webster. To the College your coming here is an event. You should see the main vestibule of the Library. Big picture of you, all your books on display, even dug up old articles by you and about you. And now they’re all downstairs waiting to meet you. The Administration, the entire English Department, reporters for the school paper, picked undergraduates. Good God, aside from what you’re doing to me I should think you’d have more respect for your own reputation …”
“Ah,” Manley Halliday sighed.
“I came up to urge you to put in an appearance,” Victor Milgrim said, “but I’ve changed my mind. I’d rather you didn’t disgrace me—disgrace yourself. I’ll have some hot coffee sent up and for Christ sake shave, pull yourself together.” He moved angrily to the door. “I’ll send for you right after lunch. Whatever you’ve got on the story, I’ll want to hear it then. And if you’re still floundering around you can both—well, no, I suppose it wouldn’t look very well for you to leave Webster before the end of the Mardi Gras.”
“Victor, I might remind you I have a contract.”
“And it’s you guys who’re always crying how producers mistreat you.” Milgrim said this partly for Shep’s benefit. “If I only had a little more time in my day I’d write this damn thing myself”
The door slammed behind him. It left Manley Halliday trembling, not just his hands but his whole body, as if he had a chill.
Shep went over and in a gesture he didn’t even think about put his arm around Halliday’s shoulder.
“ ’S’ll right, Man, ’s all right.”
“Copey used to define Greek tragedy,” Manley Halliday said softly. “Said we must all pay for our sins on this earth and the gods determine the kind and amount of payment, but that when a man’s punished beyond the limit determined by the gods, that’s Greek Tragedy.” He looked up at Shep but from far away. “Suppose Ann ’d say self-pity. Hones’ly don’t think so. So I have it coming to me? Well, let it come. I don’t want anything for nothing.”
He stood up abruptly. “Le’s go downstairs.”
“But you just told Milgrim …”
“You mean after he told me. Well, I’m sick of these walls, this ridiculous cave. You heard what he said. My books ’re on exhibition. Well, I’ll be on exhibition too.” He raised his head defiantly, his tone sharply malevolent. “Give those stuff-shirt p’fessors something to talk about. Come on, Shep my ol’ collab’rator, le’s collaborate on killing this bottle and then le’s collaborate ourselves down to the reception. They can’t laugh at me any more ’n I’ll be laughing at them.”