Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/334

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Manhattan Transfer

"Too darn broke Congo."

"Then maybe you sell to your friends an I give you commission."

"All right I'll see what I can do."

"I'll phone you tomorrow to tell price."

"That's a fine idea. Good night."

Joggling home in the empty train through empty Brooklyn suburbs Jimmy tried to think of the bootlegging story he'd write for the Sunday Magazine Section. The girl's pink cheeks and toobright eyes kept intervening, blurring the orderly arrangement of his thoughts. He sank gradually into dreamier and dreamier reverie. Before the kid was born Ellie sometimes had toobright eyes like that. The time on the hill when she had suddenly wilted in his arms and been sick and he had left her among the munching, calmly staring cows on the grassy slope and gone to a shepherd's hut and brought back milk in a wooden ladle, and slowly as the mountains hunched up with evening the color had come back into her cheeks and she had looked at him that way and said with a dry little laugh: It's the little Herf inside me. God why cant I stop mooning over things that are past And when the baby was coming and Ellie was in the American Hospital at Neuilly, himself wandering distractedly through the fair, going into the Flea Circus, riding on merrygorounds and the steam swing, buying toys, candy, taking chances on dolls in a crazy blur, stumbling back to the hospital with a big plaster pig under his arm. Funny these fits of refuge in the past. Suppose she had died; I thought she would. The past would have been complete all round, framed, worn round your neck like a cameo, set up in type, molded on plates for the Magazine Section, like the first of James Herf's articles on The Bootlegging Ring. Burning slugs of thought kept dropping into place spelled out by a clanking linotype.

At midnight he was walking across Fourteenth. He didnt want to go home to bed although the rasping cold wind tore at his neck and chin with sharp ice claws. He walked west across Seventh and Eighth Avenues, found the name