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Dawn O'Hara Edna Ferber

Blackie's Vacation Comes

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I do not know what pain he suffered. I do not know what magic medicine gave him the strength to smile at us, dying as he was even then.

"Well, what do you know about little Paul Dombey?" he piped in a high, thin voice. The shock of relief was too much. We giggled hysterically, then stopped short and looked at each other, like scared and naughty children.

"Sa-a-ay, boys and girls, cut out the heavy thinking parts. Don't make me do all the social stunts. What's the news? What kind of a rotten cotton sportin' sheet is that dub Callahan gettin' out? Who won to-day--Cubs or Pirates? Norberg, you goat, who pinned that purple tie on you?"

He was so like the Blackie we had always known that we were at our ease immediately. The sun shone in at the window, and some one laughed a little laugh somewhere down the corridor, and Deming, who is Irish, plunged into a droll description of a brand-new office boy who had arrived that day.

"S'elp me, Black, the kid wears spectacles and a Norfolk suit, and low-cut shoes with bows on 'em. On the square he does. Looks like one of those Boston infants you see in the comic papers. I don't believe he's real. We're saving him until you get back, if the kids in the alley don't chew him up before that time."

An almost imperceptible shade passed over Blackie's face. He closed his eyes for a moment. Without their light his countenance was ashen, and awful.

A nurse in stripes and cap appeared in the doorway. She looked keenly at the little figure in the bed. Then she turned to us.

"You must go now," she said. "You were just to see him for a minute or two, you know."

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Blackie summoned the wan ghost of a smile to his lips. "Guess you guys ain't got th' stimulatin' effect that a bunch of live wires ought to have. Say, Norberg, tell that fathead, Callahan, if he don't keep the third drawer t' the right in my desk locked, th' office kids'll swipe all the roller rink passes surest thing you know."

"I'll--tell him, Black," stammered Norberg, and turned away.

They said good-by, awkwardly enough. Not one of them that did not owe him an unpayable debt of gratitude. Not one that had not the memory of some secret kindness stored away in his heart. It was Blackie who had furnished the money that had sent Deming's sick wife west. It had been Blackie who had rescued Schmidt time and again when drink got a strangle-hold. Blackie had always said: "Fire Schmidt! Not much! Why, Schmidt writes better stuff drunk than all the rest of the bunch sober." And Schmidt would be granted another reprieve by the Powers that Were.

Suddenly Blackie beckoned the nurse in the doorway. She came swiftly and bent over him.

"Gimme two minutes more, that's a good nursie. There's something I want to say t' this dame. It's de rigger t' hand out last messages, ain't it?"

The nurse looked at me, doubtfully. "But you're not to excite yourself."

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Dawn O'Hara
Edna Ferber

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