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Dawn O'Hara Edna Ferber

Dawn Develops A Heimweh

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Hans catches the word screech and takes it as his cue. He begins a series of ear-piercing wails. Sheila surveys him with pride and then takes the wail up in a minor key. Their teamwork is marvelous. I fly to the cooky jar and extract two round and sugary confections. I thrust them into the pink, eager palms. The wails cease. Solemnly they place one cooky atop the other, measuring the circlets with grave eyes.

"Mine's a weeny bit bigger'n yours this time," decides Sheila, and holds her cooky heroically while Hans takes a just and lawful bite out of his sister's larger share.

"The blessed little angels! " I say to myself, melting. "The dear, unselfish little sweeties!" and give each of them another cooky.

Back to my typewriter. But the words flatly refuse to come now. I make six false starts, bite all my best finger-nails, screw my hair into a wilderness of cork-screws and give it up. No doubt a real Lady Writer could write on, unruffled and unhearing, while the iceman squashed the cucumbers, and the roast burned to a frazzle, and the Spalpeens perished of hunger. Possessed of the real spark of genius, trivialities like milkmen and cucumbers could not dim its glow. Perhaps all successful Lady Writers with real live sparks have cooks and scullery maids, and need not worry about basting, and gravy, and milkmen.

This book writing is all very well for those who have a large faith in the future and an equally large bank account. But my future will have to be hand-carved, and my bank account has always been an all too small pay envelope at the end of each week. It will be months before the book is shaped and finished. And my pocketbook is empty. Last week Max sent money for the care of Peter. He and Norah think that I do not know.

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Von Gerhard was here in August. I told him that all my firm resolutions to forsake newspaperdom forever were slipping away, one by one.

"I have heard of the fascination of the newspaper office," he said, in his understanding way. "I believe you have a heimweh for it, not?"

"Heimweh! That's the word," I had agreed. "After you have been a newspaper writer for seven years--and loved it--you will be a newspaper writer, at heart and by instinct at least, until you die. There's no getting away from it. It's in the blood. Newspaper men have been known to inherit fortunes, to enter politics, to write books and become famous, to degenerate into press agents and become infamous, to blossom into personages, to sink into nonentities, but their news-nose remained a part of them, and the inky, smoky, stuffy smell of a newspaper office was ever sweet in their nostrils."

But, "Not yet," Von Gerhard had said, "It unless you want to have again this miserable business of the sick nerfs. Wait yet a few months."

And so I have waited, saying nothing to Norah and Max. But I want to be in the midst of things. I miss the sensation of having my fingers at the pulse of the big old world. I'm lonely for the noise and the rush and the hard work; for a glimpse of the busy local room just before press time, when the lights are swimming in a smoky haze, and the big presses downstairs are thundering their warning to hurry, and the men are breezing in from their runs with the grist of news that will be ground finer and finer as it passes through the mill of copy-readers' and editors' hands. I want to be there in the thick of the confusion that is, after all, so orderly. I want to be there when the telephone bells are zinging, and the typewriters are snapping, and the messenger boys are shuffling in and out, and the office kids are scuffling in a corner, and the big city editor, collar off, sleeves rolled up from his great arms, hair bristling wildly above his green eye-shade, is swearing gently and smoking cigarette after cigarette, lighting each fresh one at the dying glow of the last. I would give a year of my life to hear him say:

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Dawn O'Hara
Edna Ferber

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