Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/376

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Manhattan Transfer

"Ann-ee, Ann-ee," came a shrill voice from the inner room; this was followed by a head in a lace cap shaped like a libertycap and a big body in a shapeless ruffled negligee. "Why J. D. what are you doing here at this time of the morning? I'm waiting for my hairdresser."

"It's very important. . . . I just had a cable from Heintz. Serena my dear, Blackhead and Densch is in a very bad way on both sides of the water."

"Yes ma'am," came the maid's voice from behind him. He gave his shoulders a shrug and walked to the window. He felt tired and sick and heavy with flesh. An errand boy on a bicycle passed along the street; he was laughing and his cheeks were pink. Densch saw himself, felt himself for a second hot and slender running bareheaded down Pine Street years ago catching the girls' ankles in the corner of his eye. He turned back into the room. The maid had gone.

"Serena," he began, "cant you understand the seriousness . . .? It's this slump. And on top of it all the bean market has gone to hell. It's ruin I tell you. . . ."

"Well my dear I dont see what you expect me to do about it."

"Economize . . . economize. Look where the price of rubber's gone to. . . . That dress from Hickson's. . . ."

"Well you wouldnt have me going to the Blackhead's party looking like a country schoolteacher, would you?"

Mr. Densch groaned and shook his head. "O you wont understand; probably there wont be any party. . . . Look Serena there's no nonsense about this. . . . I want you to have a trunk packed so that we can sail any day. . . . I need a rest. I'm thinking of going to Marienbad for the cure. . . . It'll do you good too."

Her eye suddenly caught his. All the little wrinkles on her face deepened; the skin under her eyes was like the skin of a shrunken toy balloon. He went over to her and put his hand on her shoulder and was puckering his lips to kiss her when suddenly she flared up.