Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/272

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Manhattan Transfer

you. Come by and we'll have a bite to eat on the way to the theater. . . . It's the third floor."

She rings off and gets a raincape out of a closet. The smell of furs and mothballs and dresses clings in her nostrils. She throws up the window again and breathes deep of the wet air full of the cold rot of autumn. She hears the burring boom of a big steamer from the river. Darkly, fearfully afar from this nonsensical life, from this fuzzy idiocy and strife; a man can take a ship for his wife, but a girl. The telephone is shiveringly beadily ringing, ringing.

The buzzer burrs at the same time. Ellen presses the button to click the latch. "Hello. . . . No, I'm very sorry I'm afraid you'll have to tell me who it is. Why Larry Hopkins I thought you were in Tokyo. . . . They havent moved you again have they? Why of course we must see each other. . . . My dear it's simply horrible but I'm all dated up for two weeks. . . . Look I'm sort of crazy tonight. You call up tomorrow at twelve and I'll try to shift things around. . . . Why of course I've got to see you immediately you funny old thing." . . . Ruth Prynne and Cassandra Wilkins come in shaking the water off their umbrellas. "Well goodby Larry. . . . Why it's so so sweet of both of you. . . . Do take your things off for a second. . . . Cassie wont you have dinner with us?"

"I felt I just had to see you. . . . It's so wonderful about your wonderful success," says Cassie in a shaky voice, "And my dear I felt so terribly when I heard about Mr. Emery. I cried and cried, didnt I Ruth?"

"Oh what a beautiful apartment you have," Ruth is exclaiming at the same moment. Ellen's ears ring sickeningly. "We all have to die sometime," gruffly she blurts out.

Ruth's rubberclad foot is tapping the floor; she catches Cassie's eye and makes her stammer into silence. "Hadnt we better go along? It's getting rather late," she says.

"Excuse me a minute Ruth." Ellen runs into the bathroom and slams the door. She sits on the edge of the bathtub pounding on her knees with her clenched fists. Those women'll drive me mad. Then the tension in her