Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/57

This page has been validated.



her ears. She turned over and lay crying with her face in the pillow.

The gaslamps tremble a while down the purplecold streets and then go out under the lurid dawn. Gus McNiel, the sleep still gumming his eyes, walks beside his wagon swinging a wire basket of milkbottles, stopping at doors, collecting the empties, climbing chilly stairs, remembering grades A and B and pints of cream and buttermilk, while the sky behind cornices, tanks, roof peaks, chimneys becomes rosy and yellow. Hoarfrost glistens on doorsteps and curbs. The horse with dangling head lurches jerkily from door to door. There begin to be dark footprints on the frosty pavement. A heavy brewers' dray rumbles down the street.

"Howdy Moike, a little chilled are ye?" shouts Gus McNiel at a cop threshing his arms on the corner of Eighth Avenue.

"Howdy Gus. Cows still milkin'?"

It's broad daylight when he finally slaps the reins down on the gelding's threadbare rump and starts back to the dairy, empties bouncing and jiggling in the cart behind him. At Ninth Avenue a train shoots overhead clattering downtown behind a little green engine that emits blobs of smoke white and dense as cottonwool to melt in the raw air between the stiff blackwindowed houses. The first rays of the sun pick out the gilt lettering of DANIEL McGILLYCUDDY'S WINES AND LIQUORS at the corner of Tenth Avenue. Gus McNiel's tongue is dry and the dawn has a salty taste in his mouth. A can o beer'd be the makin of a guy a cold mornin like this. He takes a turn with the reins round the whip and jumps over the wheel. His numb feet sting when they hit the pavement. Stamping to get the blood back into his toes he shoves through the swinging doors.

"Well I'll be damned if it aint the milkman bringin us a