Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/404

This page has been validated.

392

Manhattan Transfer

into the clutches of a brutal and unscrupulous tempter like this man Robertson . . . for him and his ilk there is no punishment sufficiently severe . . . and I remember that mercy misplaced is often cruelty in the long run. All we can do is shed a tear for erring womanhood and breathe a prayer for the innocent babe that this unfortunate girl has brought into the world as the fruit of her shame. . . ."

Francie felt a cold tingling that began at her fingertips and ran up her arms into the blurred whirling nausea of her body. "Twenty years," she could hear the whisper round the court, they all seemed licking their lips whispering softly "Twenty years." "I guess I'm going to faint," she said to herself as if to a friend. Everything went crashing black.

Propped with five pillows in the middle of his wide colonial mahogany bed with pineapples on the posts Phineas P. Blackhead his face purple as his silk dressing gown sat up and cursed. The big mahogany-finished bedroom hung with Javanese print cloth instead of wallpaper was empty except for a Hindu servant in a white jacket and turban who stood at the foot of the bed, with his hands at his sides, now and then bowing his head at a louder gust of cursing and saying "Yes, Sahib, yes, Sahib."

"By the living almighty Jingo you goddam yellow Babu bring me that whiskey, or I'll get up and break every bone in your body, do you hear, Jesus God cant I be obeyed in my own house? When I say whiskey I mean rye not orange juice. Damnation. Here take it!" He picked up a cutglass pitcher off the nighttable and slung it at the Hindu. Then he sank back on the pillows, saliva bubbling on his lips, choking for breath.

Silently the Hindu mopped up the thick Beluchistan rug and slunk out of the room with a pile of broken glass in his hand. Blackhead was breathing more easily, his eyes sank into their deep sockets and were lost in the folds of sagged green lids.