Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/274

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Manhattan Transfer

the kick left out or a lot of pretty girls and music. Well a showman's business is to give the public what they want."

"I think that this city is full of people wanting inconceivable things. . . . Look at it."

"It's all right at night when you cant see it. There's no artistic sense, no beautiful buildins, no old-time air, that's what's the matter with it."

They stood a while without speaking. The orchestra began playing the waltz from The Lilac Domino. Suddenly Ellen turned to Goldweiser and said in a curt tone.

"Can you understand a woman who wants to be a harlot, a common tart, sometimes?"

"My dear young lady what a strange thing for a sweet lovely girl to suddenly come out and say."

"I suppose you're shocked." She didnt hear his answer. She felt she was going to cry. She pressed her sharp nails into the palms of her hands, she held her breath until she had counted twenty. Then she said in a choking little girl's voice, "Harry let's go and dance a little."

The sky above the cardboard buildings is a vault of beaten lead. It would be less raw if it would snow. Ellen finds a taxi on the corner of Seventh Avenue and lets herself sink back in the seat rubbing the numb gloved fingers of one hand against the palm of the other. "West Fiftyseventh, please." Out of a sick mask of fatigue she watches fruitstores, signs, buildings being built, trucks, girls, messengerboys, policemen through the jolting window. If I have my child, Stan's child, it will grow up to jolt up Seventh Avenue under a sky of beaten lead that never snows watching fruitstores, signs, buildings being built, trucks, girls, messengerboys, policemen. . . . She presses her knees together, sits up straight on the edge of the seat with her hands clasped over her slender belly. O God the rotten joke they've played on me, taking Stan away, burning him up, leaving me nothing but this growing in me that's going to kill me. She's whimpering into her numb hands. O God why wont it snow?

As she stands on the gray pavement fumbling in her