Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/100

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Manhattan Transfer

watch had stopped at 1.45. He opened the window, put the chocolates in the bureau drawer and was about to snap off the light when he remembered. Shivering with terror he put on his bathrobe and slippers and tiptoed down the darkened hall. He listened outside the door. People were talking low. He knocked faintly and turned the knob. A hand pulled the door open hard and Jimmy was blinking in the face of a tall cleanshaven man with gold eyeglasses. The folding doors were closed; in front of them stood a starched nurse.

"James dear, go back to bed and dont worry," said Aunt Emily in a tired whisper. "Mother's very ill and must be absolutely quiet, but there's no more danger."

"Not for the present at least, Mrs. Merivale," said the doctor breathing on his eyeglasses.

"The little dear," came the nurse's voice low and purry and reassuring, "he's been sitting up worrying all night and he never bothered us once."

"I'll go back and tuck you into bed," said Aunt Emily. "My James always likes that."

"May I see mother, just a peek so's I'll know she's all right." Jimmy looked up timidly at the big face with the eyeglasses.

The doctor nodded. "Well I must go. . . . I shall drop by at four or five to see how things go. . . . Goodnight Mrs. Merivale. Goodnight Miss Billings. Goodnight son. . . ."

"This way. . . ." The trained nurse put her hand on Jimmy's shoulder. He wriggled out from under and walked behind her.

There was a light on in the corner of mother's room shaded by a towel pinned round it. From the bed came the rasp of breathing he did not recognize. Her crumpled face was towards him, the closed eyelids violet, the mouth screwed to one side. For a half a minute he stared at her. "All right I'll go back to bed now," he whispered to the nurse. His blood pounded deafeningly. Without looking at his aunt or at the nurse he walked stiffly to the outer door. His