Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/388

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Manhattan Transfer

Inexorably his lips closed on to hers. Beyond the shaking glass window of the taxi, like someone drowning, she saw out of a corner of an eye whirling faces, streetlights, zooming nickleglinting wheels.

The old man in the checked cap sits on the brownstone stoop with his face in his hands. With the glare of Broadway in their backs there is a continual flickering of people past him towards the theaters down the street. The old man is sobbing through his fingers in a sour reek of gin. Once in a while he raises his head and shouts hoarsely, "I cant, dont you see I cant?" The voice is inhuman like the splitting of a plank. Footsteps quicken. Middleaged people look the other way. Two girls giggle shrilly as they look at him. Streeturchins nudging each other peer in and out through the dark crowd. "Bum Hootch." "He'll get his when the cop on the block comes by." "Prohibition liquor." The old man lifts his wet face out of his hands, staring out of sightless bloodyrimmed eyes. People back off, step on the feet of the people behind them. Like splintering wood the voice comes out of him. "Don't you see I cant . . .? I cant . . . I cant."

When Alice Sheffield dropped into the stream of women going through the doors of Lord & Taylor's and felt the close smell of stuffs in her nostrils something went click in her head. First she went to the glovecounter. The girl was very young and had long curved black lashes and a pretty smile; they talked of permanent waves while Alice tried on gray kids, white kids with a little fringe like a gauntlet. Before she tried it on, the girl deftly powdered the inside of each glove out of a longnecked wooden shaker. Alice ordered six pairs.

"Yes. Mrs. Roy Sheffield. . . . Yes I have a charge ac-