Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/215

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Fire Engine


after year he's had to crush his feelings down into himself. When I was a young fellow I was different, but what are you to do? I had to make money and make my way in the world. And so I've gone on year after year. For the first time I'm glad I did it, that I shoved ahead and made big money, because now I can offer it all to you. Understand what I mean? . . . All those ideels and beautiful things pushed down into myself when I was making my way in a man's world were like planting seed and you're their flower."

Now and then as they walk the back of his hand brushes against hers; she clenches her fist sullenly drawing it away from the hot determined pudginess of his hand.

The Mall is full of couples, families waiting for the music to begin. It smells of children and dress-shields and talcum powder. A balloonman passes them trailing red and yellow and pink balloons like a great inverted bunch of grapes behind him. "Oh buy me a balloon." The words are out of her mouth before she can stop them.

"Hay you gimme one of each color. . . . And how about one of those gold ones? No keep the change."

Ellen put the strings of the balloons into the dirtsticky hands of three little monkeyfaced girls in red tams. Each balloon caught a crescent of violet glare from the arclight.

"Aw you like children, Elaine, dont you? I like a woman to like children."

Ellen sits numb at a table on the terrace of the Casino. A hot gust of foodsmell and the rhythm of a band playing He's a Ragpicker swirls chokingly about her; now and then she butters a scrap of roll and puts it in her mouth. She feels very helpless, caught like a fly in his sticky trickling sentences.

"There's nobody else in New York could have got me to walk that far, I'll tell you that. . . . I walked too much in the old days, do you understand, used to sell papers when I was a kid and run errands for Schwartz's Toystore . . . on my feet all day except when I was in nightschool. I thought I was going to be a lawyer, all us East Side fellers