Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/85

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I tell McGillycuddy about it. The ole divil'll be throwin hisself in front of a market train. . . . Well Mr. Baldwin sir," Gus propped himself onto his feet. . . . "you're a great man. . . . Aint he Nellie?"

"To be sure he is."

Baldwin tried to keep from looking her in the eye. Spurts of jangling agitation were going through him, making his legs feel weak and trembly.

"I'll tell yez what let's do," said Gus. "Sposin we all take a horsecab up to ole McGillycuddy's an have somethin to wet our whistles in the private bar. . . . My treat, I need a bit of a drink to cheer me up. Come on Nellie."

"I wish I could," said Baldwin, "but I'm afraid I cant. I'm pretty busy these days. But just give me your signature before you go and I'll have the check for you tomorrow. . . . Sign here . . . and here."

McNiel had stumped over to the desk and was leaning over the papers. Baldwin felt that Nellie was trying to make a sign to him. He kept his eyes down. After they had left he noticed her purse, a little leather purse with pansies burned on the back, on the corner of the desk. There was a tap on the glass door. He opened.

"Why wouldn't you look at me?" she said breathlessly low.

"How could I with him here." He held the purse out to her.

She put her arms round his neck and kissed him hard on the mouth. "What are we goin to do? Shall I come in this afternoon? Gus'll be liquorin up to get himself sick again now he's out of the hospital."

"No I cant Nellie. . . . Business . . . business. . . . I'm busy every minute."

"Oh yes you are. . . . All right have it your own way."

She slammed the door.

Baldwin sat at his desk biting his knuckles without seeing the pile of papers he was staring at. "I've got to cut it out," he said aloud and got to his feet. He paced back and forth across the narrow office looking at the shelves