Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/383

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V. The Burthen of Nineveh

Seeping in red twilight out of the Gulf Stream fog, throbbing brassthroat that howls through the stiff-fingered streets, prying open glazed eyes of skyscrapers, splashing red lead on the girder ed thighs of the five bridges, teasing caterwauling tug boats into heat under the toppling smoketrees of the harbor.

Spring puckering our mouths, spring giving us gooseflesh grows gigantic out of the droning of sirens, crashes with enormous scaring din through the halted traffic, between attentive frozen tiptoe blocks.

MR. DENSCH with the collar of his woolly ulster up round his ears and a big English cap pulled down far over his eyes, walked nervously back and forth on the damp boat deck of the Volendam. He looked out through a drizzly rain at the gray wharf houses and the waterfront buildings etched against a sky of inconceivable bitterness. A ruined man, a ruined man, he kept whispering to himself. At last the ship's whistle boomed out for the third time. Mr. Densch, his fingers in his ears, stood screened by a lifeboat watching the rift of dirty water between the ship's side and the wharf widen, widen. The deck trembled under his feet as the screws bit into the current. Gray like a photograph the buildings of Manhattan began sliding by. Below decks the band was playing O Titin-e Titin-e. Red ferryboats, carferries, tugs, sandscows, lumberschooners, tramp steamers drifted between him and the steaming towering city that gathered itself into a pyramid and began to sink mistily into the browngreen water of the bay.

Mr. Densch went below to his stateroom. Mrs. Densch in a cloche hat hung with a yellow veil was crying quietly with her head on a basket of fruit. "Dont Serena," he said huskily. "Dont. . . . We like Marienbad. . . . We need a