Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/27

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began to undress. He couldnt forget the smell of coaloil on the man's clothes.

Mr. Perry flicked at the burdock leaves with his cane. The real-estate agent was pleading in a singsong voice:

"I dont mind telling you, Mr. Ferry, it's an opportunity not to be missed. You know the old saying sir . . . opportunity knocks but once on a young man's door. In six months I can virtually guarantee that these lots will have doubled in value. Now that we are a part of New York, the second city in the world, sir, dont forget that. . . . Why the time will come, and I firmly believe that you and I will see it, when bridge after bridge spanning the East River have made Long Island and Manhattan one, when the Borough of Queens will be as much the heart and throbbing center of the great metropolis as is Astor Place today."

"I know, I know, but I'm looking for something dead safe. And besides I want to build. My wife hasnt been very well these last few years. . . ."

"But what could be safer than my proposition? Do you realize Mr. Perry, that at considerable personal loss I'm letting you in on the ground floor of one of the greatest real-estate certainties of modern times. I'm putting at your disposal not only security, but ease, comfort, luxury. We are caught up Mr. Perry on a great wave whether we will or no, a great wave of expansion and progress. A great deal is going to happen in the next few years. All these mechanical inventions — telephones, electricity, steel bridges, horseless vehicles—they are all leading somewhere. It's up to us to be on the inside, in the forefront of progress. . . . My God! I cant begin to tell you what it will mean. . . ." Poking amid the dry grass and the burdock leaves Mr. Perry had moved something with his stick. He stooped and picked up a triangular skull with a pair of spiralfluted horns. "By gad!" he said. "That must have been a fine ram."