Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/148

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


Manhattan Transfer

"What . . . on the Palisades?" Ruth's giggle broke into a whoop of laughter. Jimmy blushed crimson. "I never axed you maam, he say-ed."

Sunlight dripped in her face through the little holes in the brim of her straw hat. She was walking with brisk steps too short on account of her narrow skirt; through the thin china silk the sunlight tingled like a hand stroking her back. In the heavy heat streets, stores, people in Sunday clothes, strawhats, sunshades, surfacecars, taxis, broke and crinkled brightly about her grazing her with sharp cutting glints as if she were walking through piles of metalshavings. She was groping continually through a tangle of gritty sawedged brittle noise.

At Lincoln Square a girl rode slowly through the traffic on a white horse; chestnut hair hung down in even faky waves over the horse's chalky rump and over the giltedged saddlecloth where in green letters pointed with crimson, read Danderine. She had on a green Dolly Varden hat with a crimson plume; one hand in a white gauntlet nonchalantly jiggled at the reins, in the other wabbled a goldknobbed riding crop.

Ellen watched her pass; then she followed a smudge of green through a cross-street to the Park. A smell of trampled sunsinged grass came from boys playing baseball. All the shady benches were full of people. When she crossed the curving automobile road her sharp French heels sank into the asphalt. Two sailors were sprawling on a bench in the sun; one of them popped his lips as she passed, she could feel their seagreedy eyes cling stickily to her neck, her thighs, her ankles. She tried to keep her hips from swaying so much as she walked. The leaves were shriveled on the saplings along the path. South and east sunnyfaced buildings hemmed in the Park, to the west they were violet with shadow. Everything was itching sweaty dusty constrained by policemen and Sunday clothes. Why hadn't