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Manhattan Transfer

As they were getting into the taxi Ellen suddenly said in a little child's voice: "I forgot we were going down to see the murder cottage. . . . Let's make him wait. I'd like to walk up and down in the air for a minute." There was a smell of saltmarshes. The night was marbled with clouds and moonlight. The toads in the ditches sounded like sleighbells.

"Is it far?" she asked.

"No it's right down at the corner."

Their feet crackled on gravel then ground softly on macadam. A headlight blinded them, they stopped to let the car whir by; the exhaust filled their nostrils, faded into the smell of saltmarshes again.

It was a peaked gray house with a small porch facing the road screened with broken lattice. A big locust shaded it from behind. A policeman walked to and fro in front of it whistling gently to himself. A mildewed scrap of moon came out from behind the clouds for a minute, made tinfoil of a bit of broken glass in a gaping window, picked out the little rounded leaves of the locust and rolled like a lost dime into a crack in the clouds.

Neither of them said anything. They walked back towards the roadhouse.

"Honestly Herf havent you seen Stan?"

"No I havent an idea where he could be hiding himself."

"If you see him tell him I want him to call me up at once. . . . Herf what were those women called who followed the armies in the French Revolution?"

"Let's think. Was it cantonnières?"

"Something like that . . . I'd like to do that."

An electric train whistled far to the right of them, rattled nearer and faded into whining distance.

Dripping with a tango the roadhouse melted pink like a block of icecream. Jimmy was following her into the taxicab.

"No I want to be alone, Herf."

"But I'd like very much to take you home. . . . I dont like the idea of letting you go all alone."