“He doesn’t love you, Corinne.”

“What?” Corinne said. She had heard Waner perfectly.

“He doesn’t love you,” Waner courageously repeated. “He isn’t even considering loving you.”

“Shut up.” Corinne said.

“All right.”

There was a long pause. But Waner’s voice came in again. It sounded quite far off.

“Corinne, I remember a long time ago kissing you in a cab. When you first got back from Europe. It was sort of an unfair, Scotch-and-soda kiss—maybe you remember. I bumped your hat.” Waner cleared his throat again. But he put the whole thing through: “There was something about the way you raised your arms to straighten your hat, and the way your face looked in the mirror over the driver’s photograph. I don’t know. The way you looked and all. You’re the greatest hat-straightener that ever lived.”

Corinne broke in coldly. “What’s the point?” Nevertheless, Waner had touched her, probably deeply.

“None, I guess.” Then: “Yes, there is a point. Of course there’s a point. I’m trying to tell you that Ford’s long past noticing that you’re the greatest hat-straightener that ever lived. I mean a man just can’t reach the kind of poetry Ford’s reaching and still keep intact the normal male ability to spot a fine hat-straightener—”


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