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Manhattan Transfer

landing the size of this room, people crowning each other with oars and joints of lead pipe."

"Was anybody hurt?"

"Everybody was. . . . I think two of the hijackers were drowned. At any rate they beat a retreat leaving us lapping up the spilled champagne."

"But it must have been terrible," cried the Hildebrands.

"What did you do Jimmy?" asked Alice breathless.

"Oh I hopped around keeping out of harm's way. I didnt know who was on which side and it was dark and wet and confusing everywhere. . . . I finally did drag my bootlegger friend out of the fray when he got his leg broken . . . his wooden leg."

Everybody let out a shout. Roy filled Jimmy's glass up with gin again.

"Oh Jimmy," cooed Alice, "you lead the most thrilling life."

James Merivale was going over a freshly decoded cable, tapping the words with a pencil as he read them. Tasmanian Manganese Products instructs us to open credit. . . . The phone on his desk began to buzz.

"James this is your mother. Come right up; something terrible has happened."

"But I dont know if I can get away. . . ."

She had already cut off. Merivale felt himself turning pale. "Let me speak to Mr. Aspinwall please. . . . Mr. Aspinwall this is Merivale. . . . My mother's been taken suddenly ill. I'm afraid it may be a stroke. I'd like to run up there for an hour. I'll be back in time to get a cable off on that Tasmanian matter."

"All right. . . . I'm very sorry Merivale."

He grabbed his hat and coat, forgetting his muffler, and streaked out of the bank and along the street to the subway. He burst into the apartment breathless, snapping his fin-