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Buttered Side Down Edna Ferber

That Home-Town Feeling

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"My folks? That's just it. If the Prodigal Son had been a daughter they'd probably have handed her one of her sister's mother hubbards, and put her to work washing dishes in the kitchen. You see, after Ma died my brother married, and I went to live with him and Lil. I was an ugly little mug, and it looked all to the Cinderella for me, with the coach, and four, and prince left out. Lil was the village beauty when my brother married her, and she kind of got into the habit of leaving the heavy role to me, and confining herself to thinking parts. One day I took twenty dollars and came to the city. Oh, I paid it back long ago, but I've never been home since. But say, do you know every time I get near a news stand like this I grab the home-town paper. I'll bet I've kept track every time my sister-in-law's sewing circle has met for the last ten years, and the spring the paper said they built a new porch I was just dying to write and ask'em what they did with the Virginia creeper that used to cover the whole front and sides of the old porch."

"Look here," said the man, very abruptly, "if it's money you need, why----"

"Me! Do I look like a touch? Now you----"

"Finest stock farm and ranch in seven counties. I come to Chicago once a year to sell. I've got just thirteen thousand nestling next to my left floating rib this minute."

The eyes of the woman with the green plume narrowed down to two glittering slits. A new look came into her face--a look that matched her hat, and heels and gloves and complexion and hair.

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"Thirteen thousand! Thirteen thous---- Say, isn't it chilly on this corner, h'm? I know a kind of a restaurant just around the corner where----"

"It's no use," said the sandy-haired man, gently. "And I wouldn't have said that, if I were you. I was going back to-day on the 5:25, but I'm sick of it all. So are you, or you wouldn't have said what you just said. Listen. Let's go back home, you and I. The sight of a Navajo blanket nauseates me. The thought of those prairies makes my eyes ache. I know that if I have to eat one more meal cooked by that Chink of mine I'll hang him by his own pigtail. Those rangy western ponies aren't horseflesh, fit for a man to ride. Why, back home our stables were-- Look here. I want to see a silver tea-service, with a coat-of-arms on it. I want to dress for dinner, and take in a girl with a white gown and smooth white shoulders. My sister clips roses in the morning, before breakfast, in a pink ruffled dress and garden gloves. Would you believe that, here, on Clark Street, with a whiskey sign overhead, and the stock-yard smells undernose? O, hell! I'm going home."

"Home?" repeated the blonde lady. "Home?" The sagging lines about her flaccid chin took on a new look of firmness and resolve. The light of determination glowed in her eyes.

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Buttered Side Down
Edna Ferber

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