Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/243

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Went to the Animals' Fair


"Please as a friend I ask you."

They didnt shake hands. The taxi kicked dust and a rasp of burnt gasoline in his face. He stood on the steps reluctant to go back into the noise and fume.

Nellie McNiel was alone at the table. In front of her was the chair pushed back with his napkin on the back of it where her husband had sat. She was staring straight ahead of her; the dancers passed like shadows across her eyes. At the other end of the room she saw George Baldwin, pale and lean, walk slowly like a sick man to his table. He stood beside the table examining his check carefully, paid it and stood looking distractedly round the room. He was going to look at her. The waiter brought the change on a plate and bowed low. Baldwin swept the faces of the dancers with a black glance, turned his back square and walked out. Remembering the insupportable sweetness of Chinese lilies, she felt her eyes filling with tears. She took her engagement book out of her silver mesh bag and went through it hurriedly, marking carets with a silver pencil. She looked up after a little while, the tired skin of her face in a pucker of spite, and beckoned to a waiter. "Will you please tell Mr. McNiel that Mrs. McNiel wants to speak to him? He's in the bar."

"Sarajevo, Sarajevo; that's the place that set the wires on fire," Bullock was shouting at the frieze of faces and glasses along the bar.

"Say bo," said Joe O'Keefe confidentially to no one in particular, "a guy works in a telegraph office told me there'd been a big seabattle off St. John's, Newfoundland and the Britishers had sunk the German fleet of forty battleships."

"Jiminy that'd stop the war right there."

"But they aint declared war yet."

"How do you know? The cables are so choked up you cant get any news through."