Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/341

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Revolving Doors


Jimmy Herf yawned and scraped back his chair. The nickel glints of the typewriter hurt his eyes. The tips of his fingers were sore. He pushed open the sliding doors a little and peeped into the cold bedroom. He could barely make out Ellie asleep in the bed in the alcove. At the far end of the room was the baby's crib. There was a faint milkish sour smell of babyclothes. He pushed the doors to again and began to undress. If we only had more space, he was muttering; we live cramped in our squirrelcage. . . . He pulled the dusty cashmere off the couch and yanked his pyjamas out from under the pillow. Space space cleanness quiet; the words were gesticulating in his mind as if he were addressing a vast auditorium.

He turned out the light, opened a crack of the window and dropped wooden with sleep into bed. Immediately he was writing a letter on a linotype. Now I lay me down to sleep . . . mother of the great white twilight. The arm of the linotype was a woman's hand in a long white glove. Through the clanking from behind amber foots Ellie's voice Dont, dont, dont, you're hurting me so. . . . Mr. Herf, says a man in overalls, you're hurting the machine and we wont be able to get out the bullgod edition thank dog. The linotype was a gulping mouth with nickelbright rows of teeth, gulped, crunched. He woke up sitting up in bed. He was cold, his teeth were chattering. He pulled the covers about him and settled to sleep again. The next time he woke up it was daylight. He was warm and happy. Snowflakes were dancing, hesitating, spinning, outside the tall window.

"Hello Jimps," said Ellie coming towards him with a tray.

"Why have I died and gone to heaven or something?"

"No it's Sunday morning. . . . I thought you needed a little luxury. . . . I made some corn muffins."

"Oh you're marvelous Ellie. . . . Wait a minute I must jump up and wash my teeth." He came back with his face washed, wearing his bathrobe. Her mouth winced under his kiss. "And it's only eleven o'clock. I've gained an hour on my day off. . . . Wont you have some coffee too?"