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Babbit by Sinclair Lewis
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Over a concrete bridge fled a limousine of long sleek hood and noiseless
engine. These people in evening clothes were returning from an all-night
rehearsal of a Little Theater play, an artistic adventure considerably
illuminated by champagne. Below the bridge curved a railroad, a maze
of green and crimson lights. The New York Flyer boomed past, and twenty
lines of polished steel leaped into the glare.

In one of the skyscrapers the wires of the Associated Press were closing
down. The telegraph operators wearily raised their celluloid eye-shades
after a night of talking with Paris and Peking. Through the building
crawled the scrubwomen, yawning, their old shoes slapping. The dawn mist
spun away. Cues of men with lunch-boxes clumped toward the immensity of
new factories, sheets of glass and hollow tile, glittering shops where
five thousand men worked beneath one roof, pouring out the honest wares
that would be sold up the Euphrates and across the veldt. The whistles
rolled out in greeting a chorus cheerful as the April dawn; the song of
labor in a city built--it seemed--for giants.


II

There was nothing of the giant in the aspect of the man who was
beginning to awaken on the sleeping-porch of a Dutch Colonial house in
that residential district of Zenith known as Floral Heights.

His name was George F. Babbitt. He was forty-six years old now, in
April, 1920, and he made nothing in particular, neither butter nor shoes
nor poetry, but he was nimble in the calling of selling houses for more
than people could afford to pay.