RETURN

She had a heart-shaped face under golden red hair. Although her features belonged to a woman of thirty-five, they still expressed the eagerness, the breathless sensitivity of a girl. Perhaps her clothes were a little too youthful, too costly, too extremely in the latest mode, yet she carried with her that fragrance of breeding which, although subtle as an expensive perfume, immediately sets a woman apart. She was as out of place in the lobby of that second-class hotel as a kingfisher would be on Broadway, yet she seemed to have urgent business there. Her face was pulled with straining anxiety as she walked with consciously imposed slowness through the mahogany colored lobby, staring anxiously at each of the traveling men who lounged in their leather chairs and followed her trim figure with unanimous turn of eyeball.

As she looked around, the traveling men all seemed to have jowled faces and bodies bulging in the middle. Fat, manicured fingers were stretched out on knees like unhealthy sausages and Elk's teeth rocked on shapeless vests to the rhythm of nasal voices. As she stared nervously into their reiterated face, she received many a wink and leer to which her body responded with a slight stiffening of disgust. However, she kept on, circling the large room again and again.

Finally, an old man got up and walked after her. He was tall but stooping, with a heavy sagging face although the nose that jutted from sallow cheeks was strong and fine. Cut in the nattiest manner of a small- town tailor, his suit of tawny brown matched the necktie from which shone a diamond. He gathered his lips together for speech.

When the woman looked at him with accumulated disgust, his lips turned flabby and he tried to pretend he had not approached her. Yet he stood in the middle of the floor, his lips twitching a little, and watched her as she took another turn round the room and then sat down beside a potted palm. With anxiety plainly written on her face, she studied the people who swung through the revolving door that led to Lexington Avenue. Irresolute, he continued to watch her for a while, and then, with a sudden painful intake of breath, walked up to her again.

-61-

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