Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/311

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"Did the bell ring?"

"I think so."

The inner door opened and a girl in a pink apron peered out at them. "Bon soir mademoiselle."

"Ah . . . bon soir monsieur 'dame." She ushered them into a foodsmelling gaslit hall hung with overcoats and hats and mufflers. Through a curtained door the restaurant blew in their faces a hot breath of bread and cocktails and frying butter and perfumes and lipsticks and clatter and jingling talk.

"I can smell absinthe," said Ellen. "Let's get terribly tight."

"Good Lord, there's Congo. . . . Dont you remember Congo Jake at the Seaside Inn?"

He stood bulky at the end of the corridor beckoning to them. His face was very tanned and he had a glossy black mustache. "Hello Meester 'Erf. . . . Ow are you?"

"Fine as silk. Congo I want you to meet my wife."

"If you dont mind the keetchen we will 'ave a drink."

"Of course we dont. . . . It's the best place in the house. Why you're limping. . . . "What did you do to your leg?"

"Foutu . . . I left it en Italie. . . . I couldnt breeng it along once they'd cut it off."

"How was that?"

"Damn fool thing on Mont Tomba. . . . My bruderinlaw e gave me a very beautiful artificial leemb. . . . Sit 'ere. Look madame now can you tell which is which?"

"No I cant," said Ellie laughing. They were at a little marble table in the corner of the crowded kitchen. A girl was dishing out at a deal table in the center. Two cooks worked over the stove. The air was rich with sizzling fatty foodsmells. Congo hobbled back to them with three glasses on a small tray. He stood over them while they drank.

"Salut," he said, raising his glass. "Absinthe cocktail, like they make it in New Orleans."

"It's a knockout." Congo took a card out of his vest pocket: