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Manhattan Transfer

"If I'd been a boy could I?"

"I guess you could."

In front of the Aquarium they stopped a minute to look down the bay. The liner with a tug puffing white smoke against either bow was abreast of them towering above the ferryboats and harborcraft. Gulls wheeled and screamed. The sun shone creamily on the upper decks and on the big yellow blackcapped funnel. From the foremast a string of little flags fluttered jauntily against the slate sky.

"And there are lots of people coming over from abroad on that boat arent there daddy?"

"Look you can see . . . the decks are black with people."

Walking across Fiftythird Street from the East River Bud Korpenning found himself standing beside a pile of coal on the sidewalk. On the other side of the pile of coal a grayhaired woman in a flounced lace shirtwaist with a big pink cameo poised on the curve of her high bosom was looking at his stubbly chin and at the wrists that hung raw below the frayed sleeves of his coat. Then he heard himself speak:

"Dont spose I could take that load of coal in back for you ma'am?" Bud shifted his weight from one foot to the other.

"That's just what you could do," the woman said in a cracked voice. "That wretched coal man left it this morning and said he'd be back to bring it in. I suppose he's drunk like the rest of them. I wonder if I can trust you in the house."

"I'm from upstate ma'am," stammered Bud.

"From where?"

"From Cooperstown."

"Hum. . . . I'm from Buffalo, This is certainly the city for everyone being from somewhere else. . . . Well you're probably a burglar's accomplice, but I cant help it I've got to have that coal in. . . . Come in my man, I'll give you a shovel and a basket and if you dont drop any in the passage