Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/75

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Dollars

63

"That there's the Harabic," croaked a cockney voice beside them.

"Oh is it really?" said Thatcher.

"Indeed it is, sir; as fahne a ship as syles the sea sir," explained eagerly a frayed creakyvoiced man who sat on the bench beside them. A cap with a broken patentleather visor was pulled down over a little peaked face that exuded a faded smell of whiskey. "Yes sir, the Harabic sir."

"Looks like a good big boat that does."

"One of the biggest afloat sir. I syled on er many's the tahme and on the Majestic and the Teutonic too sir, fahne ships both, though a bit light'eaded in a sea as you might say. I've signed as steward on the Hinman and White Star lahnes these thirty years and now in me old age they've lyed me hoff."

"Oh well, we all have hard luck sometimes."

"And some of us as it hall the tahme sir. . . . I'd be a appy man sir, if I could get back to the old country. This arent any plyce for an old man, it's for the young and strong, this is." He drew a gout-twisted hand across the bay and pointed to the statue. "Look at er, she's alookin towards Hengland she is."

"Daddy let's go away. I dont like this man," whispered Ellen tremulously in her father's ear.

"All right we'll go and take a look at the sealions. . . . Good day."

"You couldn't fahnd me the price of a cup o coffee, could you now sir? I'm fair foundered." Thatcher put a dime in the grimy knobbed hand.

"But daddy, mummy said never to let people speak to you in the street an to call a policeman if they did an to run away as fast as you could on account of those horrible kidnappers."

"No danger of their kidnapping me Ellie. That's just for little girls."

"When I grow up will I be able to talk to people on the street like that?"

"No deary you certainly will not."