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Dawn O'Hara Edna Ferber

Blackie's Philosophy

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I did not write Norah about Von Gerhard. After all, I told myself, there was nothing to write. And so I was the first to break the solemn pact that we had made.

"You will write everything, won't you, Dawn dear?" Norah had pleaded, with tears, in her pretty eyes. "Promise me. We've been nearer to each other in these last few months than we have been since we were girls. And I've loved it so. Please don't do as you did during those miserable years in New York, when you were fighting your troubles alone and we knew nothing of it. You wrote only the happy things. Promise me you'll write the unhappy ones too--though the saints forbid that there should be any to write! And Dawn, don't you dare to forget your heavy underwear in November. Those lake breezes!--Well, some one has to tell you, and I can't leave those to Von Gerhard. He has promised to act as monitor over your health."

And so I promised. I crammed my letters with descriptions of the Knapf household. I assured her that I was putting on so much weight that the skirts which formerly hung about me in limp, dejected folds now refused to meet in the back, and all the hooks and eyes were making faces at each other. My cheeks, I told her, looked as if I were wearing plumpers, and I was beginning to waddle and puff as I walked.

Norah made frantic answer:

"For mercy's sake child, be careful or you'll be FAT!"

To which I replied: "Don't care if I am. Rather be hunky and healthy than skinny and sick. Have tried both."

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It is impossible to avoid becoming round-cheeked when one is working on a paper that allows one to shut one's desk and amble comfortably home for dinner at least five days in the week. Everybody is at least plump in this comfortable, gemutlich town, where everybody placidly locks his shop or office and goes home at noon to dine heavily on soup and meat and vegetables and pudding, washed down by the inevitable beer and followed by forty winks on the dining room sofa with the German Zeitung spread comfortably over the head as protection against the flies.

There is a fascination about the bright little city. There is about it something quaint and foreign, as though a cross-section of the old world had been dumped bodily into the lap of Wisconsin. It does not seem at all strange to hear German spoken everywhere--in the streets, in the shops, in the theaters, in the street cars. One day I chanced upon a sign hung above the doorway of a little German bakery over on the north side. There were Hornchen and Kaffeekuchen in the windows, and a brood of flaxen-haired and sticky children in the back of the shop. I stopped, open-mouthed, to stare at the worn sign tacked over the door.

"Hier wird Englisch gesprochen," it announced.

I blinked. Then I read it again. I shut my eyes, and opened them again suddenly. The fat German letters spoke their message as before--"English spoken here."

On reaching the office I told Norberg, the city editor, about my find. He was not impressed. Norberg never is impressed. He is the most soul-satisfying and theatrical city editor that I have ever met. He is fat, and unbelievably nimble, and keen-eyed, and untiring. He says, "Hell!" when things go wrong; he smokes innumerable cigarettes, inhaling the fumes and sending out the thin wraith of smoke with little explosive sounds between tongue and lips; he wears blue shirts, and no collar to speak of, and his trousers are kept in place only by a miracle and an inefficient looking leather belt.

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Dawn O'Hara
Edna Ferber

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