Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/130

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Manhattan Transfer

Oh it rained forty days
And it rained forty nights
And it didn't stop till Christmas
And the only man that survived the flood
Was longlegged Jack of the Isthmus.

Jimmy Herf sits opposite Uncle Jeff. Each has before him on a blue plate a chop, a baked potato, a little mound of peas and a sprig of parsely.

"Well look about you Jimmy," says Uncle Jeff. Bright topstory light brims the walnutpaneled diningroom, glints twistedly on silver knives and forks, gold teeth, watch-chains, scarfpins, is swallowed up in the darkness of broadcloth and tweed, shines roundly on polished plates and bald heads and covers of dishes. "Well what do you think of it?" asks Uncle Jeff burying his thumbs in the pockets of his fuzzy buff vest.

"It's a fine club all right," says Jimmy.

"The wealthiest and the most successful men in the country eat lunch up here. Look at the round table in the corner. That's the Gausenheimers' table. Just to the left." . . . Uncle Jeff leans forward lowering his voice, "the man with the powerful jaw is J. Wilder Laporte." Jimmy cuts into his muttonchop without answering. "Well Jimmy, you probably know why I brought you down here . . . I want to talk to you. Now that your poor mother has . . . has been taken, Emily and I are your guardians in the eyes of the law and the executors of poor Lily's will. . . . I want to explain to you just how things stand." Jimmy puts down his knife and fork and sits staring at his uncle, clutching the arms of his chair with cold hands, watching the jowl move blue and heavy above the ruby stickpin in the wide satin cravat. "You are sixteen now aren't you Jimmy?"

"Yes sir."

"Well it's this way. . . . When your mother's estate is all settled up you'll find yourself in the possession of approximately fiftyfive hundred dollars. Luckily you are a bright