'Happy New Year!' Fred Delaney said, standing in the doorway and
smiling at the in-no-way beautiful person of Mr. Munden.
He had switched on the electric light, and the illumination
revealed Patrick Munden lying half in, half out of the bedclothes.
No, he was not beautiful, his thin pointed face unshaven, his black
hair spread about the pillow, his lean body protected from the cold
by pyjamas, grey with blood-red stripes, by no means so fresh as
they should be. The light pressed on Munden's eyes and he opened
them, stared wildly about him, then, cursing, buried his face in
'Happy New Year!' Delaney said again.
'What the hell--'
'Eight-thirty. You asked me as a special favour to call you.'
Munden raised his head and stared at Delaney. It was not a bad-
looking face. The blue eyes were good, the forehead broad and
clear, the chin finely pointed. He looked clever and peevish and
hungry. He stretched himself, his open pyjama jacket showing a
chest skeletonic and hairy. He rubbed his eyes with a hairy wrist.
'Oh, it's you, is it? Let me sleep, can't you?'
Delaney watched him with genial good temper.
'I'm doing you a favour. You said last night it would be the
greatest of your life. You have to see the editor of something or
other at ten sharp.'
'He can go to hell. Turn the light off and let me sleep.'
'You said I was to drag you out of bed if necessary--that your
whole life depended on your getting there at ten.'
'Well, it doesn't. Let me sleep, can't you?'
'All right. But I'll leave the light on . . .'
'No, don't go.' Munden sat up, blinking. 'How damnably fresh you
look! It's revolting. You were up till three, I don't doubt--'
'I was,' Delaney said cheerfully. 'I don't need a lot of sleep.'
'Well, I do. . . . Oh, blast! Why did I ever tell you anything
'You were very serious. Most earnest. You said you must begin the
New Year properly.'
'Speaking of which, can you lend me a fiver?' Munden asked. 'Only
for a week.'
'Afraid I haven't got such a thing,' Delaney said, laughing.
'Hang it all, I paid you the rent only a week ago--'
'Thanks very much. But those are the terms, you know. If you
don't pay you go. Although we'd hate to lose you.'
'Look in the trousers, old man, will you? They're hanging over the
chair. See if there's anything there.'
Delaney looked in the trousers and found half a crown, some
coppers, a lipstick and a half-filled packet of cigarettes. He
laid these things on the dressing-table.