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Dawn O'Hara Edna Ferber

A Turn Of The Wheel

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At times such as these all the old spirit that I had thought dead within me would rise up in revolt against this creature who was taking, from me my pride, my sense of honor, my friends. I never saw Von Gerhard now. Peter had refused outright to go to him for treatment, saying that he wasn't going to be poisoned by any cursed doctor, particularly not by one who had wanted to run away with his wife before his very eyes.

Sometimes I wondered how long this could go on. I thought of the old days with the Nirlangers; of Alma Pflugel's rose-encircled cottage; of Bennie; of the Knapfs; of the good-natured, uncouth aborigines, and their many kindnesses. I saw these dear people rarely now. Frau Nirlanger's resignation to her unhappiness only made me rebel more keenly against my own.

If only Peter could become well and strong again, I told myself, bitterly. If it were not for those blue shadows under his eyes, and the shrunken muscles, and the withered skin, I could leave him to live his life as he saw fit. But he was as dependent as a child, and as capricious. What was the end to be? I asked myself. Where was it all leading me?

And then, in a fearful and wonderful manner, my question was answered.

There came to my desk one day an envelope bearing the letter-head of the publishing house to which I had sent my story. I balanced it for a moment in my fingers, woman-fashion, wondering, hoping, surmising.

"Of course they can't want it," I told myself, in preparation for any disappointment that was in store for me. "They're sending it back. This is the letter that will tell me so."

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And then I opened it. The words jumped out at me from the typewritten page. I crushed the paper in my hands, and rushed into Blackie's little office as I had been used to doing in the old days. He was at his desk, pipe in mouth. I shook his shoulder and flourished the letter wildly, and did a crazy little dance about his chair.

"They want it! They like it! Not only that, they want another, as soon as I can get it out. Think of it!"

Blackie removed his pipe from between his teeth and wiped his lips with the back of his hand. "I'm thinkin'," he said. "Anything t' oblige you. When you're through shovin' that paper into my face would you mind explainin' who wants what?"

"Oh, you're so stupid! So slow! Can't you see that I've written a real live book, and had it accepted, and that I am going to write another if I have to run away from a whole regiment of husbands to do it properly? Blackie, can't you see what it means! Oh, Blackie, I know I'm maudlin in my joy, but forgive me. It's been so long since I've had the taste of it."

"Well, take a good chew while you got th'chance an' don't count too high on this first book business. I knew a guy who wrote a book once, an' he planned to take a trip to Europe on it, and build a house when he got home, and maybe a yacht or so, if he wasn't too rushed. Sa-a-ay, girl, w'en he got through gettin' those royalties for that book they'd dwindled down to fresh wall paper for the dinin'-room, and a new gas stove for his wife, an' not enough left over to take a trolley trip to Oshkosh on. Don't count too high."

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Dawn O'Hara
Edna Ferber

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