Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/280

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Manhattan Transfer

that it is absolutely necessary. I am getting a divorce from my husband and have to make my own living."

"Very young, unhappily married . . . I am sorry." The doctor purrs softly as if to himself. He heaves a hissing sigh and suddenly looks in her eyes with black steel eyes like gimlets. "Do not be afraid, dear lady, it is a very simple operation. . . . Are you ready now?"

"Yes. It wont take very long will it? If I can pull myself together I have an engagement for tea at five."

"You are a brave young lady. In an hour it will be forgotten. . . . I am sorry. . . . It is very sad such a thing is necessary. . . . Dear lady you should have a home and many children and a loving husband . . . Will you go in the operating room and prepare yourself. . . . I work without an assistant."

The bright searing bud of light swells in the center of the ceiling, sprays razorsharp nickel, enamel, a dazzling sharp glass case of sharp instruments. She takes off her hat and lets herself sink shuddering sick on a little enamel chair. Then she gets stiffly to her feet and undoes the band of her skirt.

The roar of the streets breaks like surf about a shell of throbbing agony. She watches the tilt of her leather hat, the powder, the rosed cheeks, the crimson lips that are a mask on her face. All the buttons of her gloves are buttoned. She raises her hand. "Taxi!" A fire engine roars past, a hosewagon with sweatyfaced men pulling on rubber coats, a clanging hookandladder. All the feeling in her fades with the dizzy fade of the siren. A wooden Indian, painted, with a hand raised at the streetcorner.

"Taxi!"

"Yes ma'am."

"Drive to the Ritz."