Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/39

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of knives and forks and plates, came the softly gyrating sound of a waltz.

When he saw the headwaiter bow outside the door Emile compressed his lips into a deferential smile. There was a longtoothed blond woman in a salmon operacloak swishing on the arm of a moonfaced man who carried his top hat ahead of him like a bumper; there was a little curlyhaired girl in blue who was showing her teeth and laughing, a stout woman in a tiara with a black velvet ribbon round her neck, a bottlenose, a long cigarcolored face . . . shirt fronts, hands straightening white ties, black gleams on top hats and patent leather shoes; there was a weazlish man with gold teeth who kept waving his arms spitting out greetings in a voice like a crow's and wore a diamond the size of a nickel in his shirtfront. The redhaired 'cloakroom girl was collecting the wraps. The old waiter nudged Emile. "He's de big boss," he said out of the corner of his mouth as he bowed. Emile flattened himself against the wall as they shuffled rustled into the room. A whiff of patchouli when he drew his breath made him go suddenly hot to the roots of his hair.

"But where's Fifi Waters?" shouted the man with the diamond stud.

"She said she couldnt get here for a half an hour. I guess the Johnnies wont let her get by the stage door."

"Well we cant wait for her even if it is her birthday; never waited for anyone in my life." He stood a second running a roving eye over the women round the table, then shot his cuffs out a little further from the sleeves of his swallowtail coat, and abruptly sat down. The caviar vanished in a twinkling. "And waiter what about that Rhine wine coupe?" he croaked huskily. "De suite monsieur. . . ." Emile holding his breath and sucking in his cheeks, was taking away the plates. A frost came on the goblets as the old waiter poured out the coupe from a cut glass pitcher where floated mint and ice and lemon rind and long slivvers of cucumber.

"Aha, this'll do the trick." The man with the diamond stud raised his glass to his lips, smacked them and set it down