In one place one British airplane will be defending itself from two or three German machines; close by two or three of our busses will be occupied in sending a Hun to his death; elsewhere more equal combats rage and the whole sky becomes an aërial battlefield, where machines perform marvellous evolutions, putting the best trick flying of pre-war days very much in the shade.
Larkin jerked his head around and squinted into the sun. Not a thing there at least nothing he could see and as soon as the stabbing streaks of light left his eyes he glanced toward the cloud bank over the Marne. Nothing there. The three French observation busses, far below, were going gaily on their way. But McGee was still climbing and stunting. Larkin knew that this was no idle exhibition.
Guess a man gets used to anything ... Hell, maybe I can hire some bums to sit around and whoop it up when the ships come in, and bill this as a real old Martian den of sin! Get a barker out at the port, run special busses, charge the suckers a mint for a cheap thrill." Gordon grinned wryly; Fats would probably make more than ever.
People in paint-besmeared smocks, loaded with canvases, sketching stools and palettes, filled the board-walk and overflowed into the middle of the street. The Dorothy Bradford steamed up to the wharf from Boston with her daily load of excursionists, and the "accommodation" busses began to ply up and down the three miles of narrow street with its restless tide of summer visitors.
"What are you going to do to-day, Jack?" asked Tom one morning, as they went out after breakfast to get into their "busses," as they dubbed their machines. "Oh, got orders to do some spiral and somersault stunts for the benefit of some huns." "Same here. Good little bunch of huns in camp now." Tom nodded in agreement, and the two were soon preparing to climb aloft.
But there I must sweep again, for them busses makes no end o' dirt." "Diamond! Diamond!" cried his father, who was afraid he might get no good by talking to the girl; and Diamond obeyed, and got up again upon the box. He told his father about the gentleman, and what he had promised him if he would learn to read, and showed him the gentleman's card.
When the sun was vertical nobody stirred; when the bluish shadows began to creep out over baked sidewalks, broadening to a strip of superheated shade, a few stirred abroad in the deserted streets; here a policeman, thin blue summer tunic open, helmet in hand, swabbing the sweat from forehead and neck; there a white uniformed street sweeper dragging his rubber-edged mop or a section of wet hose; perhaps a haggard peddler of lemonade making for the Park wall around the Metropolitan Museum where, a little later, the East Side would venture out to sit on the benches, or the great electric tourists' busses would halt to dump out a living cargo perhaps only the bent figure of a woman, very shabby, very old, dragging her ancient bones along the silent splendour of Fifth Avenue, and peering about the gutters for something she never finds always peering, always mumbling the endless, wordless, soundless miserere of the poor.
She nodded to him and left him tongue-tied by the gate. Orde, however, walked back to the hotel in a black rage with himself over what he termed his imbecility. As he remembered it, he had made just one consecutive speech that afternoon. "Joe," said he to Newmark, at the hotel office, "what's the plural form of Incubus? I dimly remember it isn't 'busses." "Incubi," answered Newmark.
The line was kept up for some time, often holding what was called "omnibus meetings" in our halls, always largely attended, make reports, hear spirited speeches, and have a deal of fun narrating incidents of the line, receiving generous contributions when the horses or busses needed replenishing.
Through the gathering dusk they strolled to the Avenue, where the crowds, like prisoners released, were walking with elastic step at last after the long winter, and the tops of the busses were thronged with congenial kings and the shops full of fine soft things for the summer, the rare summer, the gay promising summer that seemed for love what the winter was for money.