Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/275

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One More River to Jordan

263

purse for a bill, a dusteddy swirling scraps of paper along the gutter fills her mouth with grit. The elevatorman's face is round ebony with ivory inlay. "Mrs. Staunton Wells?" "Yas ma'am eighth floor."

The elevator hums as it soars. She stands looking at herself in the narrow mirror. Suddenly something recklessly gay goes through her. She rubs the dust off her face with a screwedup handkerchief, smiles at the elevatorman's smile that's wide as the full keyboard of a piano, and briskly rustles to the door of the apartment that a frilled maid opens. Inside it smells of tea and furs and flowers, women's voices chirp to the clinking of cups like birds in an aviary. Glances flicker about her head as she goes into the room.

There was wine spilled on the tablecloth and bits of tomatosauce from the spaghetti. The restaurant was a steamy place with views of the Bay of Naples painted in soupy blues and greens on the walls. Ellen sat back in her chair from the round tableful of young men, watching the smoke from her cigarette crinkle spirally round the fat Chiantibottle in front of her. In her plate a slab of tri-color icecream melted forlornly. "But good God hasnt a man some rights? No, this industrial civilization forces us to seek a complete readjustment of government and social life . . ."

"Doesnt he use long words?" Ellen whispered to Herf who sat beside her.

"He's right all the same," he growled back at her. . . .

"The result has been to put more power in the hands of a few men than there has been in the history of the world since the horrible slave civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia. . . ."

"Hear hear."

"No but I'm serious. . . . The only way of bucking the interests is for working people, the proletariat, producers