Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/299

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Rejoicing City That Dwelt Carelessly


a laugh. "I guess I'll be a goddam thermometer by the time you're through with me." The doctor laughed creakily. "Full up of arsenic and mercury eh. . . . That's it."

The wind was blowing up colder. His teeth were chattering. Through the rasping castiron night he walked home. Fool to pass out that way when he stuck me. He could still feel the sickening lunge of the needle. He gritted his teeth. After this I got to have some luck. . . . I got to have some luck.

Two stout men and a lean man sit at a table by a window. The light of a zinc sky catches brightedged glints off glasses, silverware, oystershells, eyes, George Baldwin has his back to the window. Gus McNiel sits on his right, and Densch on his left. When the waiter leans over to take away the empty oystershells he can see through the window, beyond the graystone parapet, the tops of a few buildings jutting like the last trees at the edge of a cliff and the tinfoil reaches of the harbor littered with ships. "I'm lecturin you this time, George. . . . Lord knows you used to lecture me enough in the old days. Honest it's rank foolishness," Gus McNiel is saying. ". . . It's rank foolishness to pass up the chance of a political career at your time of life. . . . There's no man in New York better fitted to hold office . . ."

"Looks to me as if it were your duty, Baldwin," says Densch in a deep voice, taking his tortoiseshell glasses out of a case and applying them hurriedly to his nose.

The waiter has brought a large planked steak surrounded by bulwarks of mushrooms and chopped carrots and peas and frilled browned mashed potatoes. Densch straightens his glasses and stares attentively at the planked steak.

"A very handsome dish Ben, a very handsome dish I must say. . . . It's just this Baldwin . . . as I look at it . . . the country is going through a dangerous period of