Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/195

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Nine Days' Wonder

183

a jerking snivelly voice. He stood looking at her without sitting down rolling a corner of the paper between his finger and thumb. Mrs. Baldwin was a tall woman with a mass of carefully curled chestnut hair piled on top of her head. She sat before the silver coffeeservice fingering the sugarbowl with mushroomwhite fingers that had very sharp pink nails.

"George I cant stand it any more that's all." She pressed her quaking lips hard together.

"But my dear you exaggerate. . . ."

"How exaggerate? . . . It means our life has been a pack of lies."

"But Cecily we're fond of each other."

"You married me for my social position, you know it. . . . I was fool enough to fall in love with you. All right, It's over."

"It's not true. I really loved you. Dont you remember how terrible you thought it was you couldnt really love me?"

"You brute to refer to that. . . . Oh it's horrible!"

The maid came in from the pantry with bacon and eggs on a tray. They sat silent looking at each other. The maid swished out of the room and closed the door. Mrs. Baldwin put her forehead down on the edge of the table and began to cry. Baldwin sat staring at the headlines in the paper. Assassination of Archduke Will Have Grave Consequences. Austrian Army Mobilized. He went over and put his hand on her crisp hair.

"Poor old Cecily," he said.

"Dont touch me."

She ran out of the room with her handkerchief to her face. He sat down, helped himself to bacon and eggs and toast and began to eat; everything tasted like paper. He stopped eating to scribble a note on a scratchpad he kept in his breast pocket behind his handkerchief: See Collins vs. Arbuthnot, N.Y.S.C. Appel. Div.

The sound of a step in the hall outside caught his ear, the click of a latch. The elevator had just gone down. He ran