Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/252

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Manhattan Transfer

on a blackboard. "An you git along outa here. I dont allow no drunken bums in my house. Git along outa here. I dont care who brought you."

Harland looked at Joey with a little sour smile, shrugged his shoulders and went out. "Charwoman," he muttered as he stumbled with stiff aching legs along the dusty street of darkfaced brick houses.

The sultry afternoon sun was like a blow on his back. Voices in his ears of maids, charwomen, cooks, stenographers, secretaries: Yes sir, Mr. Harland, Thank you sir Mr. Harland. Oh sir thank you sir so much sir Mr. Harland sir. . . .

Red buzzing in her eyelids the sunlight wakes her, she sinks back into purpling cottonwool corridors of sleep, wakes again, turns over yawning, pulls her knees up to her chin to pull the drowsysweet cocoon tighter about her. A truck jangles shatteringly along the street, the sun lays hot stripes on her back. She yawns desperately and twists herself over and lies wide awake with her hands under her head staring at the ceiling. From far away through streets and housewalls the long moan of a steamboat whistle penetrates to her like a blunt sprout of crabgrass nudging through gravel. Ellen sits up shaking her head to get rid of a fly blundering about her face. The fly flashes and vanishes in the sunlight, but somewhere in her there lingers a droning pang, unaccountable, something left over from last night's bitter thoughts. But she is happy and wide awake and it's early. She gets up and wanders round the room in her nightgown.

Where the sun hits it the hardwood floor is warm to the soles of her feet. Sparrows chirp on the windowledge. From upstairs comes the sound of a sewingmachine. When she gets out of the bath her body feels smoothwhittled and tense; she rubs herself with a towel, telling off the hours of the long day ahead; take a walk through junky littered downtown streets to that pier on the East River where they pile