Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/165

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Longlegged Jack of the Isthmus


her arm, she squeezed it tight against her ribs with her elbow. Aloof, as if looking through thick glass into an aquarium, she watched faces, fruit in storewindows, cans of vegetables, jars of olives, redhotpokerplants in a florist's, newspapers, electric signs drifting by. When they passed cross-streets a puff of air came in her face off the river. Sudden jetbright glances of eyes under straw hats, attitudes of chins, thin lips, pouting lips, Cupid's bows, hungry shadow under cheekbones, faces of girls and young men nuzzled fluttering against her like moths as she walked with her stride even to his through the tingling yellow night.

Somewhere they sat down at a table. An orchestra throbbed. "No Stan I cant drink anything. . . . You go ahead."

"But Ellie, arent you feeling swell like I am?"

"Sweller. . . . I just couldnt stand feeling any better. . . . I couldnt keep my mind on a glass long enough to drink it." She winced under the brightness of his eyes.

Stan was bubbling drunk. "I wish earth had thy body as fruit to eat," he kept repeating. Ellen was all the time twisting about bits of rubbery cold Welsh rabbit with her fork. She had started to drop with a lurching drop like a rollercoaster's into shuddering pits of misery. In a square place in the middle of the floor four couples were dancing the tango. She got to her feet.

"Stan I'm going home. I've got to get up early and rehearse all day. Call me up at twelve at the theater."

He nodded and poured himself another highball. She stood behind his chair a second looking down at his long head of close ruffled hair. He was spouting verses softly to himself. "Saw the white implacable Aphrodite, damn fine, Saw the hair unbound and the feet unsandaled, Jiminy. . . . Shine as fire of sunset on western waters. Saw the reluctant . . . goddam fine sapphics,"

Once out on Broadway again she felt very merry. She stood in the middle of the street waiting for the uptown car. An occasional taxi whizzed by her. From the river on the warm wind came the long moan of a steamboat whistle. In