The car moved west, directly, as it were, into the open furnace of the late-afternoon sky. It continued west for two blocks, till it reached Madison Avenue, and then it right-angled sharply north. I felt as though we were all being saved from being caught up by the sun’s terrible flue only by the anonymous driver’s enormous alertness and skill.
The first four or five blocks north on Madison, conversation in the car was chiefly limited to remarks like ‘Am I giving you enough room?’ and ‘I’ve never been so hot in my entire life.’ The one who had never been so hot in her entire life was, as I’d learned from a certain amount of eavesdropping at the curb, the bride’s Matron of Honor. She was a hefty girl of about twenty-four or -five, in a pink satin dress, with a circlet of artificial forget-me-nots in her hair.
There was a distinctly athletic ethos about her, as if, a year or two earlier, she might have majored in physical education in college. In her lap she was holding a bouquet of gardenias rather as though it were a deflated volley-ball. She was seated in the back of the car, hippressed between her husband and a tiny elderly man in a top hat and cutaway, who was holding an unlighted clear-Havana cigar.
Mrs Silsburn and I – our respective inside knees unribaldly touching-occupied the jump seats. Twice, without any excuse whatever, out of sheer approval, I glanced around at the tiny elderly man. When I’d originally loaded the car and held the door open for him, I’d had a passing impulse to pick him up bodily and insert him gently through the open window. He was tininess itself, surely being not more than four nine or ten and without being either a midget or a dwarf. In the car, he sat staring very severely straight ahead of him. On my second look around at him, I noticed that he had what very much appeared to be an old gravy stain on the lapel of his cutaway. I also noticed that his silk hat cleared the roof of the car by a good four or five inches.
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