"I say, Nuts, what you goin' to do with this mess of paint?"
"Going to sell it to the Metropolitan Museum, you old sinner!" snapped Hunt.
Old Jimmie cackled at the joke. He knew pictures; that is, good pictures. He had had an invisible hand in more than one clever transaction in which handsome pictures alleged to have been smuggled in, Gainsboroughs and Romneys and such (there had been most profit for him in handling the forgeries of these particular masters), had been put, with an air of great secrecy, into the hands of divers newly rich gentlemen who believed they were getting masterpieces at bargain prices through this evasion of customs laws.
"Nuts," chuckled Old Jimmie, "this junk wouldn't be so funny if you didn't seem to believe you were really painting."
"Junk! Funny!" Hunt swung around, one big hand closed about Jimmie's lean neck and the other seized his thin shoulder. "You grandfather of the devil and all his male progeny, you talk like that and I'll chuck you through the window!"
Old Jimmie grinned. The grip of the big hands of the painter, though powerful, was light. They all knew that the loud ravings of the painter never presaged violence. They had grown to like him, to accept him as almost one of themselves; though of course they looked down upon him with amused pity for his imbecility regarding his paintings.
"Get out of here," continued Hunt, "or cut out all this noise that comes from your having a brain that rattles. I've got to work."
Hunt turned again to his easel, and Old Jimmie, still grinning, lowered himself into a chair, lit a cigar, and winked at Barney. Hunt, with brush poised, regarded Maggie a moment.