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Manhattan Transfer

whiny voice, "Cassie'll be there and Oglethorpe and all the old gang. . . . After all now that you're making such a success of editorial work it's no reason for completely abandoning your old friends is it? You dont know how much we talk and wonder about you."

"No but Ruth it's just that I'm getting to hate large parties. I guess I must be getting old. All right I'll come for a little while."

Ruth put down the sandwich she was nibbling at and reached for Ellen's hand and patted it. "That's the little trouper. . . . Of course I knew you were coming all along."

"But Ruth you never told me what happened to that traveling repertory company last summer. . . ."

"O my God," burst out Ruth. "That was terrible. Of course it was a scream, a perfect scream. Well the first thing that happened was that Isabel Clyde's husband Ralph Nolton who was managing the company was a dipsomaniac . . . and then the lovely Isabel wouldn't let anybody on the stage who didn't act like a dummy for fear the rubes wouldnt know who the star was. . . . Oh I cant tell about it any more. . . . It isnt funny to me any more, it's just horrible. . . . Oh Elaine I'm so discouraged. My dear I'm getting old." She suddenly burst out crying.

"Oh Ruth please dont," said Ellen in a little rasping voice. She laughed. "After all we're none of us getting any younger are we?"

"Dear you dont understand . . . You never will understand."

They sat a long while without saying anything, scraps of lowvoiced conversation came to them from other corners of the dim tearoom. The palehaired waitress brought them two orders of fruit salad.

"My it must be getting late," said Ruth eventually.

"It's only half past eight. . . . We dont want to get to this party too soon."

"By the way . . . how's Jimmy Herf. I havent seen him for ages."