Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/208

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Manhattan Transfer

on velvet in the office of the editor of the greatest daily in the city. Acting is a profession honorable, decent, humble, gentlemanly." The oration ended abruptly.

"Well I dont see what you expect me to do about it," said Jimmy crossing his arms.

"And now it's starting to rain," went on Oglethorpe in a squeaky whining voice.

"You'd better go home," said Jimmy.

"I shall go I shall go where there are no sluts . . . no male and female sluts. . . . I shall go into the great night."

"Do you think he can get home all right Stan?"

Stan had sat down on the edge of the bed shaking with laughter. He shrugged his shoulders.

"My blood will be on your head Elaine forever. . . . Forever, do you hear me? . . . into the night where people dont sit laughing and sneering. Dont you think I dont see you. . . . If the worst happens it will not be my fault."

"Go-od night," shouted Stan. In a last spasm of laughing he fell off the edge of the bed and rolled on the floor. Jimmy went to the window and looked down the fire escape into the alley. Oglethorpe had gone. It was raining hard. A smell of wet bricks rose from the housewalls.

"Well if this isnt the darnedest fool business?" He walked back into his room without looking at Stan. In the door Ellen brushed silkily past him.

"I'm terribly sorry Jimmy . . ." she began.

He closed the door sharply in her face and locked it. "The goddam fools they act like crazy people," he said through his teeth. "What the hell do they think this is?"

His hands were cold and trembling. He pulled a blanket up over him. He lay listening to the steady beat of the rain and the hissing spatter of a gutter. Now and then a puff of wind blew a faint cool spray in his face. There still lingered in the room a frail cedarwood gruff smell of her heavycoiled hair, a silkiness of her body where she had crouched wrapped in the sheet hiding.