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Dawn O'Hara Edna Ferber

A Turn Of The Wheel

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"You who were ever alert to befriend a man You who were ever the first to defend a man, You who had always the money to lend a man Down on his luck and hard up for a V, Sure you'll be playing a harp in beatitude (And a quare sight you will be in that attitude) Some day, where gratitude seems but a platitude, You'll find your latitude."

From my desk I could see Peter standing in the doorway of the news editor's room. I shut my eyes for a moment. Then I opened them again, quickly. No, it was not a dream. He was there, a slender, graceful, hateful figure, with the inevitable cigarette in his unsteady fingers--the expensive-looking, gold-tipped cigarette of the old days. Peter was Peter. Ten years had made little difference. There were queer little hollow places in his cheeks, and under the jaw-bone, and at the base of the head, and a flabby, parchment-like appearance about the skin. That was all that made him different from the Peter of the old days.

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The thing had adjusted itself, as Norah had said it would. The situation that had filled me with loathing and terror the night of Peter's return had been transformed into quite a matter-of-fact and commonplace affair under Norah's deft management. And now I was back in harness again, and Peter was turning out brilliant political stuff at spasmodic intervals. He was not capable of any sustained effort. He never would be again; that was plain. He was growing restless and dissatisfied. He spoke of New York as though it were Valhalla. He said that he hadn't seen a pretty girl since he left Forty-second street. He laughed at Milwaukee's quaint German atmosphere. He sneered at our journalistic methods, and called the newspapers "country sheets," and was forever talking of the World, and the Herald, and the Sun, until the men at the Press Club fought shy of him. Norah had found quiet and comfortable quarters for Peter in a boarding-house near the lake, and just a square or two distant from my own boarding-house. He hated it cordially, as only the luxury-loving can hate a boarding-house, and threatened to leave daily.

"Let's go back to the big town, Dawn, old girl," he would say. "We're buried alive in this overgrown Dutch village. I came here in the first place on your account. Now it's up to you to get me out of it. Think of what New York means! Think of what I've been! And I can write as well as ever."

But I always shook my head. "We would not last a month in New York, Peter. New York has hurried on and left us behind. We're just two pieces of discard. We'll have to be content where we are."

"Content! In this silly hole! You must be mad!" Then, with one of his unaccountable changes of tone and topic, "Dawn, let me have some money. I'm strapped. If I had the time I'd get out some magazine stuff. Anything to get a little extra coin. Tell me, how does that little sport you call Blackie happen to have so much ready cash? I've never yet struck him for a loan that he hasn't obliged me. I think he's sweet on you, perhaps, and thinks he's doing you a sort of second-hand favor."

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Dawn O'Hara
Edna Ferber

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