Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/38

This page has been validated.


Manhattan Transfer

Four of them were already slouching off along the wharf, gradually scattering without looking back. The smallest boy with a chinless face shaped like a beak stayed behind quietly picking up the coins. Then he ran along the wall and vanished into the dark passageway between two houses. He flattened himself behind a chimney and waited. The confused voices of the gang broke into the passageway; then they had gone on down the street. The boy was counting the nickels in his hand. Ten. "Jez, that's fifty cents. . . . I'll tell 'em Big Leonard scooped up the dough." His pockets had no bottoms, so he tied the nickels into one of his shirt tails.

A goblet for Rhine wine hobnobbed with a champagne glass at each place along the glittering white oval table. On eight glossy white plates eight canapés of caviar were like rounds of black beads on the lettuceleaves, flanked by sections of lemon, sprinkled with a sparse chopping of onion and white of egg. "Beaucoup de soing and dont you forget it," said the old waiter puckering up his knobbly forehead. He was a short waddling man with a few black strands of hair plastered tight across a domed skull.

"Awright." Emile nodded his head gravely. His collar was too tight for him. He was shaking a last bottle of champagne into the nickelbound bucket of ice on the servingtable.

"Beaucoup de soing, sporca madonna. . . . Thisa guy trows money about lika confetti, see. . . . Gives tips, see. He's a verra rich gentleman. He dont care how much he spend." Emile patted the crease of the tablecloth to flatten it. "Fais pas, como, ça. . . . Your hand's dirty, maybe leava mark."

Resting first on one foot then on the other they stood waiting, their napkins under their arms. From the restaurant below among the buttery smells of food and the tinkle