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Dawn O'Hara Edna Ferber

Bennie The Consoler

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"So," said Frau Nirlanger, looking up at us. "Is he not sweet? He shall be my lee-tel boy, nicht? For one small year he shall be my own boy. Ach, I am but lonely all the long day here in this strange land. You will let me care for him, nicht? And Konrad, he will be very angry, but that shall make no bit of difference. Eh, Oscar?"

And so the thing was settled, and an hour later three anxious-browed women were debating the weighty question of eggs or bread-and-milk for Bennie's supper. Frau Nirlanger was for soft-boiled eggs as being none too heavy after orphan asylum fare; I was for bread-and-milk, that being the prescribed supper dish for all the orphans and waifs that I had ever read about, from "The Wide, Wide World" to "Helen's Babies," and back again. Frau Knapf was for both eggs and bread-and-milk with a dash of meat and potatoes thrown in for good measure, and a slice or so of Kuchen on the side. We compromised on one egg, one glass of milk, and a slice of lavishly buttered bread, and jelly. It was a clean, sweet, sleepy-eyed Bennie that we tucked between the sheets. We three women stood looking down at him as he lay there in the quaint old blue-painted bed that had once held the plump little Knapfs.

"You think anyway he had enough supper? mused the anxious-browed Frau Knapf.

"To school he will have to go, yes?" murmured Frau Nirlanger, regretfully.

I tucked in the covers at one side of the bed, not that they needed tucking, but because it was such a comfortable, satisfying thing to do.

"Just at this minute," I said, as I tucked, "I'd rather be a newspaper reporter than anything else in the world. As a profession 'tis so broadenin', an' at the same time, so chancey."

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