Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/193

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Nine Days' Wonder

181

of watered milk looking into his. "What ye goin to do now darlin?"

"God knows."

"Virgin an Saints it'd be noice to have a bed an a pretty lace shimmy and a noice feller loike you darlin . . . mister."

"Is that all?"

"Oh mister if my poor husband was aloive, he wouldn't let em treat me loike they do. I lost my husband on the General Slocum might ha been yesterday."

"He's not so unlucky."

"But he doid in his sin without a priest, darlin. It's terrible to die in yer sin . . ."

"Oh hell I want to sleep."

Her voice went on in a faint monotonous screech setting his teeth on edge. "The Saints has been agin me ever since I lost my husband on the General Slocum. I aint been an honest woman." . . . She began to sob again. "The Virgin and Saints an Martyrs is agin me, everybody's agin me. . . . Oh wont somebody treat me noice."

"I want to sleep. . . . Cant you shut up?"

She stooped and fumbled for her hat on the floor. She sat sobbing rubbing her swollen redgrimed knuckles into her eyes.

"Oh mister dont ye want to treat me noice?"

Joe Harland got to his feet breathing hard. "Goddam you cant you shut up?" His voice broke into a whine. "Isnt there anywhere you can get a little peace? There's nowhere you can get any peace." He pulled his cap over his eyes, shoved his hands down into his pockets and shambled out of the lunchroom. Over Chatham Square the sky was brightening redviolet through the latticework of elevated tracks. The lights were two rows of bright brass knobs up the empty Bowery.

A policeman passed swinging his nightstick. Joe Harland felt the policeman's eyes on him. He tried to walk fast and briskly as if he were going somewhere on business.