Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/34

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Manhattan Transfer

ends down 110th Street. Susie Thatcher lay uneasily in bed, her hands spread blue and bony on the coverlet before her. Voices came through the thin partition. A young girl was crying through her nose:

"I tell yer mommer I aint agoin back to him."

Then came expostulating an old staid Jewish woman's voice: "But Rosie, married life aint all beer and skittles. A vife must submit and vork for her husband."

"I wont. I cant help it. I wont go back to the dirty brute."

Susie sat up in bed, but she couldn't hear the next thing the old woman said.

"But I aint a Jew no more," suddenly screeched the young girl. "This aint Russia; it's little old New York. A girl's got some rights here." Then a door slammed and everything was quiet.

Susie Thatcher stirred in bed moaning fretfully. Those awful people never give me a moment's peace. From below came the jingle of a pianola playing the Merry Widow Waltz. O Lord! why dont Ed come home? It's cruel of them to leave a sick woman alone like this. Selfish. She twisted up her mouth and began to cry. Then she lay quiet again, staring at the ceiling watching the flies buzz teasingly round the electriclight fixture. A wagon clattered by down the street. She could hear children's voices screeching. A boy passed yelling an extra. Suppose there'd been a fire. That terrible Chicago theater fire. Oh I'll go mad! She tossed about in the bed, her pointed nails digging into the palms of her hands. I'll take another tablet. Maybe I can get some sleep. She raised herself on her elbow and took the last tablet out of a little tin box. The gulp of water that washed the tablet down was soothing to her throat. She closed her eyes and lay quiet.

She woke with a start. Ellen was jumping round the room, her green tam falling off the back of her head, her coppery curls wild.

"Oh mummy I want to be a little boy."

"Quieter dear. Mother's not feeling a bit well."