Open main menu

Page:Tono-Bungay.djvu/137

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
129
A LONDON STUDENT

presented itself as ample and interesting in detail and shabby with a quite commendable shabbiness. I had an impression of brown walls—they were papered with brown paper—of a long shelf along one side of the room with dusty plaster casts and a small cheap lay figure of a horse, of a table and something of grey wax partially covered with a cloth, and of scattered drawings. There was a gas stove in one corner and some enamelled ware that had been used for overnight cooking. The oilcloth on the floor was streaked with a peculiar white dust. Ewart himself was not in the first instance visible, but only a fourfold canvas screen at the end of the room from which shouts proceeded of "Come on!" then his wiry black hair, very much rumpled, and a staring red-brown eye and his stump of a nose came round the edge of this at a height of about three feet from the ground. "It's old Ponderevo!" he said, "the Early Bird! And he's caught the worm! By Jove, but it's cold this morning! Come round here and sit on the bed!"

I walked round, wrung his hand, and we surveyed one another.

He was lying on a small wooden fold-up bed, the scanty covering of which was supplemented by an overcoat and an elderly but still cheerful pair of check trousers, and he was wearing pyjamas of a virulent pink and green. His neck seemed longer and more stringy than it had been even in our schooldays, and his upper lip had a wiry black moustache. The rest of his ruddy, knobby countenance, his erratic hair and his general hairy leanness had not even—to my perceptions—grown.

"By Jove!" he said, "you've got quite decent-looking, Ponderevo! What do you think of me?"