Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/414

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Manhattan Transfer

graph played Lady . . . lady be good. A glass of gin was pushed into Herf's hand. A girl came up to him.

"We've been talking about you. . . . Did you know you were a man of mystery?"

"Jimmy," came a shrill drunken voice, "you're suspected of being the bobhaired bandit."

"Why dont you take up a career of crime, Jimmy?" said the girl putting her arm round his waist. "I'll come to your trial, honest I will."

"How do you know I'm not?"

"You see," said Frances Hildebrand, who was bringing a bowl of cracked ice in from the kitchenette, "there is something mysterious going on."

Herf took the hand of the girl beside him and made her dance with him. She kept stumbling over his feet. He danced her round until he was opposite to the halldoor; he opened the door and foxtrotted her out into the hall. Mechanically she put up her mouth to be kissed. He kissed her quickly and reached for his hat. "Good night," he said. The girl started to cry.

Out in the street he took a deep breath. He felt happy, much more happy than Greenwich Village kisses. He was reaching for his watch when he remembered he had pawned it.

The golden legend of the man who would wear a straw hat out of season. Jimmy Herf is walking west along Twenty-third Street, laughing to himself. Give me liberty, said Patrick Henry, putting on his straw hat on the first of May, or give me death. And he got it. There are no trollycars, occasionally a milkwagon clatters by, the heartbroken brick houses of Chelsea are dark. . . . A taxi passes trailing a confused noise of singing. At the corner of Ninth Avenue he notices two eyes like holes in a trianglewhite of paper, a woman in a raincoat beckons to him from a doorway. Further on two English sailors are arguing in drunken cockney. The air becomes milky with fog as he nears the river. He can hear the great soft distant lowing of steamboats.

He sits a long time waiting for a ferry in the seedy ruddy-