Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/32

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Manhattan Transfer

that were hot in his eyes, he walked fast down Hudson Street to the office of Winkle & Gulick, West India Importers.

The deck beside the forward winch was warm and briny damp. They were sprawled side by side in greasy denims talking drowsily in whispers, their ears full of the seethe of broken water as the bow shoved bluntly through the long grassgray swells of the Gulf Stream.

"J'te dis mon vieux, moi j'fou l'camp a New York. . . . The minute we tie up I go ashore and I stay ashore. I'm through with this dog's life." The cabinboy had fair hair and an oval pink-and-cream face; a dead cigarette butt fell from between his lips as he spoke. "Merde!" He reached for it as it rolled down the deck. It escaped his hand and bounced into the scuppers.

"Let it go. I've got plenty," said the other boy who lay on his belly kicking a pair of dirty feet up into the hazy sunlight. "The consul will just have you shipped back."

"He wont catch me."

"And your military service?"

"To hell with it. And with France too for that matter."

"You want to make yourself an American citizen?"

"Why not? A man has a right to choose his country."

The other rubbed his nose meditatively with his fist and then let his breath out in a long whistle. "Emile you're a wise guy," he said.

"But Congo, why dont you come too? You dont want to shovel crap in a stinking ship's galley all your life."

Congo rolled himself round and sat up crosslegged, scratching his head that was thick with kinky black hair.

"Say how much does a woman cost in New York?"

"I dunno, expensive I guess. . . . I'm not going ashore to raise hell; I'm going to get a good job and work. Cant you think of nothing but women?"

"What's the use? Why not?" said Congo and settled him-