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Manhattan Transfer

"Good night Stan." Her voice was gritty in her mouth, she heard the words very clearly when she spoke them.

"Oh Ellie I wish you'd come partying with us. . . ."

"Thanks . . . thanks."

She started to dance again with Harry Goldweiser. The roofgarden was spinning fast, then less fast. The noise ebbed sickeningly. "Excuse me a minute Harry," she said.

"I'll come back to the table." In the ladies' room she let herself down carefully on the plush sofa. She looked at her face in the round mirror of her vanity case. From black pinholes her pupils spread blurring till everything was black.

Jimmy Herf's legs were tired; he had been walking all afternoon. He sat down on a bench beside the Aquarium and looked out over the water. The fresh September wind gave a glint of steel to the little crisp waves of the harbor and to the slateblue smutted sky. A big white steamer with a yellow funnel was passing in front of the statue of Liberty. The smoke from the tug at the bow came out sharply scalloped like paper. In spite of the encumbering wharfhouses the end of Manhattan seemed to him like the prow of a barge pushing slowly and evenly down the harbor. Gulls wheeled and cried. He got to his feet with a jerk. "Oh hell I've got to do something."

He stood a second with tense muscles balanced on the balls of his feet. The ragged man looking at the photogravures of a Sunday paper had a face he had seen before. "Hello," he said vaguely. "I knew who you were all along," said the man without holding out his hand. "You're Lily Herf's boy . . . I thought you werent going to speak to me. . . . No reason why you should."

"Oh of course you must be Cousin Joe Harland. . . . I'm awfully glad to see you. . . . I've often wondered about you."

"Wondered what?"

"Oh I dunno . . . funny you never think of your relatives