Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/63

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Dollars

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brittle purple into a dovecolored sky; the largewindowed houses opposite glowed very pink, nonchalant, prosperous. The very place for a lawyer with a large conservative practice to make his residence. We'll just see about that. He crossed Sixth Avenue and followed the street into the dingy West Side, where there was a smell of stables and the sidewalks were littered with scraps of garbage and crawling children. Imagine living down here among low Irish and foreigners, the scum of the universe. At 253 there were several unmarked bells, A woman with gingham sleeves rolled up on sausageshaped arms stuck a gray mophead out the window.

"Can you tell me if Augustus McNiel lives here?"

"Him that's up there alayin in horspital. Sure he does."

"That's it. And has he any relatives living here?"

"An what would you be wantin wid 'em?"

"It's a little matter of business."

"Go up to the top floor an you'll foind his wife there but most likely she cant see yez. . . . The poor thing's powerful wrought up about her husband, an them only eighteen months married."

The stairs were tracked with muddy footprints and sprinkled here and there with the spilling of ashcans. At the top he found a freshpainted darkgreen door and knocked.

"Who's there?" came a girl's voice that sent a little shiver through him. Must be young.

"Is Mrs. McNiel in?"

"Yes," came the lilting girl's voice again. "What is it?"

"It's a matter of business about Mr. McNiel's accident."

"About the accident is it?" The door opened in little cautious jerks. She had a sharpcut pearly white nose and chin and a pile of wavy redbrown hair that lay in little flat curls round her high narrow forehead. Gray eyes sharp and suspicious looked him hard in the face.

"May I speak to you a minute about Mr. McNiel's accident? There are certain legal points involved that I feel it my duty to make known to you. . . . By the way I hope he's better."