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Dawn O'Hara Edna Ferber

Dawn Develops A Heimweh

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Oh, it would never do. Never. And yet no charm possessed by the people I know and like can compare with the fascination of those People I'd Like to Know, and Know I Would Like.

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Here at home with Norah there are no faces in the crowds. There are no crowds. When you turn the corner at Main street you are quite sure that you will see the same people in the same places. You know that Mamie Hayes will be flapping her duster just outside the door of the jewelry store where she clerks. She gazes up and down Main street as she flaps the cloth, her bright eyes keeping a sharp watch for stray traveling men that may chance to be passing. You know that there will be the same lounging group of white-faced, vacant-eyed youths outside the pool-room. Dr. Briggs's patient runabout will be standing at his office doorway. Outside his butcher shop Assemblyman Schenck will be holding forth on the subject of county politics to a group of red-faced, badly dressed, prosperous looking farmers and townsmen, and as he talks the circle of brown tobacco juice which surrounds the group closes in upon them, nearer and nearer. And there, in a roomy chair in a corner of the public library reference room, facing the big front window, you will see Old Man Randall. His white hair forms a halo above his pitiful drink-marred face. He was to have been a great lawyer, was Old Man Randall. But on the road to fame he met Drink, and she grasped his arm, and led him down by-ways, and into crooked lanes, and finally into ditches, and he never arrived at his goal. There in that library window nook it is cool in summer, and warm in winter. So he sits and dreams, holding an open volume, unread, on his knees. Some times he writes, hunched up in his corner, feverishly scribbling at ridiculous plays, short stories, and novels which later he will insist on reading to the tittering schoolboys and girls who come into the library to do their courting and reference work. Presently, when it grows dusk, Old Man Randall will put away his book, throw his coat over his shoulders, sleeves dangling, flowing white locks sweeping the frayed velvet collar. He will march out with his soldierly tread, humming a bit of a tune, down the street and into Vandermeister's saloon, where he will beg a drink and a lunch, and some man will give it to him for the sake of what Old Man Randall might have been.

All these things you know. And knowing them, what is left for the imagination? How can one dream dreams about people when one knows how much they pay their hired girl, and what they have for dinner on Wednesdays?

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Dawn O'Hara
Edna Ferber

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