Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/83

This page has been validated.



ship you can still feel the motion. Blue chunks of dusk melting into the squarecut uptown streets. Rockets spurting bright in the blue dusk, colored balls falling, Bengal fire, Uncle Jeff tacking pinwheels on the tree outside the apartmenthouse door, lighting them with his cigar. Roman candles you have to hold. "Be sure and turn your face away, kiddo." Hot thud and splutter in your hands, eggshaped balls soaring, red, yellow, green, smell of powder and singed paper. Down the fizzing glowing street a bell clangs, clangs nearer, clangs faster. Hoofs of lashed horses striking sparks, a fire engine roars by, round the corner red and smoking and brassy. "Must be on Broadway." After it the hookandladder and the firechief's highpacing horses. Then the tinkletinkle of an ambulance. "Somebody got his."

The box is empty, gritty powder and sawdust get under your nails when you feel along it, it's empty, no there are still some little wooden fire engines on wheels. Really truly fire engines. "We must set these off Uncle Jeff. Oh these are the best of all Uncle Jeff." They have squibs in them and go sizzling off fast over the smooth asphalt of the street, pushed by sparkling plumed fiery tails, leaving smoke behind some real fire engines.

Tucked into bed in a tall unfriendly room, with hot eyes and aching legs. "Growing pains darling," muddy said when she tucked him in, leaning over him in a glimmering silk dress with drooping sleeves.

"Muddy what's that little black patch on your face?"

"That," she laughed and her necklace made a tiny tinkling, "is to make mother look prettier."

He lay there hemmed by tall nudging wardrobes and dressers. From outside came the sound of wheels and shouting, and once in a while a band of music in the distance. His legs ached as if they'd fall off, and when he closed his eyes he was speeding through flaring blackness on a red fire engine that shot fire and sparks and colored balls out of its sizzling tail.