Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/171

This page has been validated.

Longlegged Jack of the Isthmus

159

crinkled deep sweet smoke. And now sir about this little matter of the new Northern Pacific bond issue. . . . He clenched his fists in the clammy pockets of his raincoat. Take my key would she the old harridan? I'll show her, damn it. Joe Harland may be down and out but he's got his pride yet.

He walked west along Fourteenth and without stopping to think and lose his nerve went down into a small basement stationery store, strode through unsteadily to the back, and stood swaying in the doorway of a little office where sat at a rolltop desk a blueeyed baldheaded fat man.

"Hello Felsius," croaked Harland.

The fat man got to his feet bewildered. "God it aint Mr. Harland is it?"

"Joe Harland himself Felsius . . . er somewhat the worse for wear." A titter died in his throat.

"Well I'll be . . . Sit right down Mr. Harland."

"Thank you Felsius. . . . Felsius I'm down and out."

"It must be five years since I've seen you Mr, Harland."

"A rotten five years it's been for me. . . . I suppose its all luck. My luck wont ever change on this earth again. Remember when I'd come in from romping with the bulls and raise hell round the office? A pretty good bonus I gave the office force that Christmas."

"Indeed it was Mr. Harland."

"Must be a dull life storekeeping after the Street."

"More to my taste Mr. Harland, nobody to boss me here."

"And how's the wife and kids?"

"Fine, fine; the oldest boy's just out of highschool."

"That the one you named for me?"

Felsius nodded. His fingers fat as sausages were tapping uneasily on the edge of the desk.

"I remember I thought I'd do something for that kid someday. It's a funny world." Harland laughed feebly. He felt a shuddery blackness stealing up behind his head. He clenched his hands round his knee and contracted the muscles of his arms. "You see Felsius, it's this way. . . . I find myself for the moment in a rather embarrassing situation