Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/194

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Manhattan Transfer

"Well Miss Oglethorpe how do you like it?"

"Like what?"

"Oh you know . . . being a nine days' wonder."

"Why I don't know at all Mr. Goldweiser."

"Women know everything but they wont let on."

Ellen sits in a gown of nilegreen silk in a springy armchair at the end of a long room jingling with talk and twinkle of chandeliers and jewelry, dotted with the bright moving black of evening clothes and silveredged colors of women's dresses. The curve of Harry Goldweiser's nose merges directly into the curve of his bald forehead, his big rump bulges over the edges of a triangular gilt stool, his small brown eyes measure her face like antennae as he talks to her. A woman nearby smells of sandalwood. A woman with orange lips and a chalk face under an orange turban passes talking to a man with a pointed beard. A hawk-beaked woman with crimson hair puts her hand on a man's shoulder from behind. "Why how do you do, Miss Cruikshank; it's surprising isn't it how everybody in the world is always at the same place at the same time." Ellen sits in the armchair drowsily listening, coolness of powder on her face and arms, fatness of rouge on her lips, her body just bathed fresh as a violet under the silk dress, under the silk underclothes; she sits dreamily, drowsily listening. A sudden twinge of men's voices knotting about her. She sits up cold white out of reach like a lighthouse. Men's hands crawl like bugs on the unbreakable glass. Men's looks blunder and flutter against it helpless as moths. But in deep pitblackness inside something clangs like a fire engine.

George Baldwin stood beside the breakfast table with a copy of the New York Times folded in his hand. "Now Cecily," he was saying "we must be sensible about these things."

"Cant you see that I'm trying to be sensible?" she said in