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Dawn O'Hara Edna Ferber

Bennie The Consoler

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I buried my head in the papers again. Blackie went on smoking. There was no sound in the little room except the purr-purring of Blackie's pipe. Then:

"I done a favor for Wheeling once," mused he.

I glanced up, quickly. "Oh, Blackie, do you think--"

"No, I don't. But then again, you can't never tell. That was four or five years ago, and the mem'ry of past favors grows dim fast. Still, if you're through waterin' the top of my desk, why I'd like t' set down and do a little real brisk talkin' over the phone. You're excused."

Quite humbly I crept away, with hope in my heart.

To this day I do not know what secret string the resourceful Blackie pulled. But the next afternoon I found a hastily scrawled note tucked into the roll of my typewriter. It sent me scuttling across the hall to the sporting editor's smoke-filled room. And there on a chair beside the desk, surrounded by scrap-books, lead pencils, paste-pot and odds and ends of newspaper office paraphernalia, sat Bennie. His hair was parted very smoothly on one side, and under his dimpled chin bristled a very new and extremely lively green-and-red plaid silk tie.

The next instant I had swept aside papers, brushes, pencils, books, and Bennie was gathered close in my arms. Blackie, with a strange glow in his deep-set black eyes regarded us with an assumed disgust.

"Wimmin is all alike. Ain't it th' truth? I used t' think you was different. But shucks! It ain't so. Got t' turn on the weeps the minute you're tickled or mad. Why say, I ain't goin' t' have you comin' in here an' dampenin' up the whole place every little while! It's unhealthy for me, sittin' here in the wet."

"Oh, shut up, Blackie," I said, happily. "How in the world did you do it?"

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"Never you mind. The question is, what you goin' t' do with him, now you've got him? Goin' t' have a French bunny for him, or fetch him up by hand? Wheeling appointed a probation skirt to look after the crowd of us, and we got t' toe the mark."

"Glory be!" I ejaculated. "I don't know what I shall do with him. I shall have to bring him down with me every morning, and perhaps you can make a sporting editor out of him."

"Nix. Not with that forehead. He's a high-brow. We'll make him dramatic critic. In the meantime, I'll be little fairy godmother, an' if you'll get on your bonnet I'll stake you and the young 'un to strawberry shortcake an' chocolate ice cream."

So it happened that a wondering Frau Knapf and a sympathetic Frau Nirlanger were called in for consultation an hour later. Bennie was ensconced in my room, very wide-eyed and wondering, but quite content. With the entrance of Frau Nirlanger the consultation was somewhat disturbed. She made a quick rush at him and gathered him in her hungry arms.

"Du baby du!" she cried. "Du Kleiner! And she was down on her knees, and somehow her figure had melted into delicious mother-curves, with Bennie's head just fitting into that most gracious one between her shoulder and breast. She cooed to him in a babble of French and German and English, calling him her lee-tel Oscar. Bennie seemed miraculously to understand. Perhaps he was becoming accustomed to having strange ladies snatch him to their breasts.

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Dawn O'Hara
Edna Ferber

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