Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/35

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"I want to be a little boy."

"Why Ed what have you done to the child? She's all wrought up."

"We're just excited, Susie. We've been to the most wonderful play. You'd have loved it, it's so poetic and all that sort of thing. And Maude Adams was fine. Ellie loved every minute of it."

"It seems silly, as I said before, to take such a young child . . ."

"Oh daddy I want to be a boy."

"I like my little girl the way she is. We'll have to go again Susie and take you."

"Ed you know very well I wont be well enough." She sat bolt upright, her hair hanging a straight faded yellow down her back. "Oh, I wish I'd die . . . I wish I'd die, and not be a burden to you any more. . . . You hate me both of you. If you didnt hate me you wouldnt leave me alone like this." She choked and put her face in her hands.

"Oh I wish I'd die," she sobbed through her fingers.

"Now Susie for Heaven's sakes, it's wicked to talk like that." He put his arm round her and sat on the bed beside her.

Crying quietly she dropped her head on his shoulder. Ellen stood staring at them out of round gray eyes. Then she started jumping up and down, chanting to herself, "Ellie's goin to be a boy, Ellie's goin to be a boy."

With a long slow stride, limping a little from his blistered feet, Bud walked down Broadway, past empty lots where tin cans glittered among grass and sumach bushes and ragweed, between ranks of billboards and Bull Durham signs, past shanties and abandoned squatters' shacks, past gulches heaped with wheelscarred rubbishpiles where dumpcarts were dumping ashes and clinkers, past knobs of gray outcrop where steamdrills continually tapped and nibbled, past excavations out of which wagons full of rock and clay toiled up plank