Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/384

This page has been validated.


Manhattan Transfer

rest. Our position isnt so hopeless. I'll go and send Blackhead a radio. . . . After all it's his stubbornness and rashness that brought the firm to . . . to this. That man thinks he's a king on earth. . . . This'll . . . this'll get under his skin. If curses can kill I'll be a dead man tomorrow." To his surprise he found the gray drawn lines of his face cracking into a smile. Mrs. Densch lifted her head and opened her mouth to speak to him, but the tears got the better of her. He looked at himself in the glass, squared his shoulders and adjusted his cap. "Well Serena," he said with a trace of jauntiness in his voice, "this is the end of my business career. . . . I'll go send that radio."

Mother's face swoops down and kisses him; his hands clutch her dress, and she has gone leaving him in the dark, leaving a frail lingering fragrance in the dark that makes him cry. Little Martin lies tossing within the iron bars of his crib. Outside dark, and beyond walls and outside again the horrible great dark of grownup people, rumbling, jiggling, creeping in chunks through the windows, putting fingers through the crack in the door. From outside above the roar of wheels comes a strangling wail clutching his throat. Pyramids of dark piled above him fall crumpling on top of him. He yells, gagging between yells. Nounou walks towards the crib along a saving gangplank of light "Dont you be scared . . . that aint nothin." Her black face grins at him, her black hand straightens the covers. "Just a fire engine passin. . . . You wouldn't be sceered of a fire engine."

Ellen leaned back in the taxi and closed her eyes for a second. Not even the bath and the halfhour's nap had washed out the fagging memory of the office, the smell of it, the chirruping of typewriters, the endlessly repeated phrases,