Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/207

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Nine Days' Wonder


"Of course. . . . Now Jimmy do be an angel, talk to him and make him go away."

Jimmy walked dazedly into the outside room. "Slut, slut," was yelling a voice from the window. The lights were on. Stan, draped like an Indian in a gray and pinkstriped blanket was squatting in the middle of the two couches made up together into a vast bed. He was staring impassively at John Oglethorpe who leaned in through the upper part of the window screaming and waving his arms and scolding like a Punch and Judy show. His hair was in a tangle over his eyes, in one hand he waved a stick, in the other a creamandcoffeecolored felt hat. "Slut come here. . . . Flagrante delictu that's what it is. . . . Flagrante delictu. It was not for nothing that inspiration led me up Lester Jones's fire escape." He stopped and stared a minute at Jimmy with wide drunken eyes. "So here's the cub reporter, the yellow journalist is it, looking as if butter wouldnt melt in his mouth is it? Do you know what my opinion of you is, would you like to know what my opinion of you is? Oh I've heard about you from Ruth and all that. I know you think you're one of the dynamiters and aloof from all that. . . . How do you like being a paid prostitute of the public press? How d'you like your yellow ticket? The brass check, that's the kind of thing. . . . You think that as an actor, an artiste, I dont know about those things. I've heard from Ruth your opinion of actors and all that."

"Why Mr. Oglethorpe I am sure you are mistaken."

"I read and keep silent. I am one of the silent watchers. I know that every sentence, every word, every picayune punctuation that appears in the public press is perused and revised and deleted in the interests of advertisers and bondholders. The fountain of national life is poisoned at the source."

"Yea, you tell em," suddenly shouted Stan from the bed. He got to his feet clapping his hands. "I should prefer to be the meanest stagehand. I should prefer to be the old and feeble charwoman who scrubs off the stage . . . than to sit