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Dawn O'Hara Edna Ferber

A Turn Of The Wheel

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"I'm not counting at all, Blackie, and you can't discourage me."

"Don't want to. But I'd hate to see you come down with a thud." Suddenly he sat up and a grin overspread his thin face. "Tell you what we'll do, girlie. We'll celebrate. Maybe it'll be the last time. Let's pretend this is six months ago, and everything's serene. You get your bonnet. I'll get the machine. It's too hot to work, anyway. We'll take a spin out to somewhere that's cool, and we'll order cold things to eat, and cold things to drink, and you can talk about yourself till you're tired. You'll have to take it out on somebody, an' it might as well be me."

Five minutes later, with my hat in my hand, I turned to find Peter at my elbow.

"Want to talk to you," he said, frowning.

"Sorry, Peter, but I can't stop. Won't it do later?"

"No. Got an assignment? I'll go with you."

"N-not exactly, Peter. The truth is, Blackie has taken pity on me and has promised to take me out for a spin, just to cool off. It has been so insufferably hot."

Peter turned away. "Count me in on that," he said, over his shoulder.

"But I can't, Peter," I cried. "It isn't my party. And anyway--"

Peter turned around, and there was an ugly glow in his eyes and an ugly look on his face, and a little red ridge that I had not noticed before seemed to burn itself across his forehead. "And anyway, you don't want me, eh? Well, I'm going. I'm not going to have my wife chasing all over the country with strange men. Remember, you're not the giddy grass widdy you used to be. You can take me, or stay at home, understand?"

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His voice was high-pitched and quavering. Something in his manner struck a vague terror to my heart. "Why, Peter, if you care that much I shall be glad to have you go. So will Blackie, I am sure. Come, we'll go down now. He'll be waiting for us."

Blackie's keen, clever mind grasped the situation as soon as he saw us together. His dark face was illumined by one of his rare smiles. "Coming with us, Orme? Do you good. Pile into the tonneau, you two, and hang on to your hair. I'm going to smash the law."

Peter sauntered up to the steering-wheel. "Let me drive," he said. "I'm not bad at it."

"Nix with the artless amateur," returned Blackie. "This ain't no demonstration car. I drive my own little wagon when I go riding, and I intend to until I take my last ride, feet first."

Peter muttered something surly and climbed into the front seat next to Blackie, leaving me to occupy the tonneau in solitary state.

Peter began to ask questions--dozens of them, which Blackie answered, patiently and fully. I could not hear all that they said, but I saw that Peter was urging Blackie to greater speed, and that Blackie was explaining that he must first leave the crowded streets behind. Suddenly Peter made a gesture in the direction of the wheel, and said something in a high, sharp voice. Blackie's answer was quick and decidedly in the negative. The next instant Peter Orme rose in his place and leaning forward and upward, grasped the wheel that was in Blackie's hands. The car swerved sickeningly. I noticed, dully, that Blackie did not go white as novelists say men do in moments of horror. A dull red flush crept to the very base of his neck. With a twist of his frail body he tried to throw off Peter's hands. I remember leaning over the back of the seat and trying to pull Peter back as I realized that it was a madman with whom we were dealing. Nothing seemed real. It was ridiculously like the things one sees in the moving picture theaters. I felt no fear.

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Dawn O'Hara
Edna Ferber

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