Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/95

This page has been validated.

Tracks

83

be long. I put you on your honor to come right back. Mother's not a bit well tonight and she gets so nervous when you're out in the street. There are such terrible dangers. . . ."

He sat down to pull on his rubbers. While he was snapping them tight over his heels she came to him with a dollar bill. She put her arm with its long silky sleeve round his shoulder. "Oh my darling."

She was crying.

"Mother you mustnt." He squeezed her hard; he could feel the ribs of her corset against his arms. "I'll be back in a minute, in the teenciest weenciest minute."

On the stairs where a brass rod held the dull crimson carpet in place on each step, Jimmy pulled off his rubbers and stuffed them into the pockets of his raincoat. With his head in the air he hurried through the web of prying glances of the bellhops on the bench beside the desk. "Coin fer a walk?" the youngest lighthaired bellhop asked him. Jimmy nodded wisely, slipped past the staring buttons of the doorman and out onto Broadway full of clangor and footsteps and faces putting on shadowmasks when they slid out of the splotches of light from stores and arclamps. He walked fast uptown past the Ansonia. In the doorway lounged a blackbrowed man with a cigar in his mouth, maybe a kidnapper. But nice people live in the Ansonia like where we live. Next a telegraph office, drygoods stores, a dyers and cleaners, a Chinese laundry sending out a scorched mysterious steamy smell. He walks faster, the chinks are terrible kidnappers. Footpads. A man with a can of coaloil brushes past him, a greasy sleeve brushes against his shoulder, smells of sweat and coaloil; suppose he's a firebug. The thought of firebug gives him gooseflesh. Fire. Fire.

Huyler's; there's a comfortable fudgy odor mixed with the smell of nickel and wellwiped marble outside the door, and the smell of cooking chocolate curls warmly from the gratings under the windows. Black and orange crêpepaper favors for Hallowe'en. He is just going in when he thinks of the Mirror place two blocks further up, those little silver