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Dawn O'Hara Edna Ferber

Farewell To Knapfs'

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Now all this was to be changed. And I knew that I would miss the easy German atmosphere of the place; the kindness they had shown me; the chattering, admiring Minna; the taffy-colored dachshund; the aborigines with their ill-smelling pipes and flappy slippers; the Wienerschnitzel; the crushed-looking wives and the masterful German husbands; the very darns in the table-cloths and the very nicks in the china.

We had a last family gathering in token of our appreciation of Herr and Frau Knapf. And because I had not seen him for almost three weeks; and because the time for his going was drawing so sickeningly near; and because I was quite sure that I had myself in hand; and because he knew the Knapfs, and was fond of them; and because-well, I invited Von Gerhard. He came, and I found myself dangerously glad to see him, so that I made my greeting as airy and frivolous as possible. Perhaps I overdid the airy business, for Von Gerhard looked at me for a long, silent minute, until the nonsense I had been chattering died on my lips, and I found myself staring up at him like a child that is apprehensive of being scolded for some naughtiness.

"Not so much chatter, small one," he said, unsmilingly. "This pretense, it is not necessary between you and me. So. You are ein bischen blasz, nicht? A little pale? You have not been ill, Dawn?"

"Ill? Never felt more chipper in my life," I made flippant answer, "and I adore these people who are forever telling one how unusually thin, or pale, or scrawny one is looking."

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"Na, they are not to be satisfied, these women! If I were to tell you how lovely you look to me to-night you would draw yourself up with chill dignity and remind me that I am not privileged to say these things to you. So I discreetly mention that you are looking, interestingly pale, taking care to keep all tenderness out of my tones, and still you are not pleased." He shrugged despairing shoulders.

"Can't you strike a happy medium between rudeness and tenderness? After all, I haven't had a glimpse of your blond beauty for three weeks. And while I don't ask you to whisper sweet nothings, still, after twenty-one days--"

"You have been lonely? If only I thought that those weeks have been as wearisome to you--"

"Not lonely exactly," I hurriedly interrupted, "but sort of wishing that some one would pat me on the head and tell me that I was a good doggie. You know what I mean. It is so easy to become accustomed to thoughtfulness and devotion, and so dreadfully hard to be happy without it, once one has had it. This has been a sort of training for what I may expect when Vienna has swallowed you up."

"You are still obstinate? These three weeks have not changed you? Ach, Dawn! Kindchen!--"

But I knew that these were thin spots marked "Danger!" in our conversational pond. So, "Come," said I. "I have two new aborigines for you to meet. They are the very shiniest and wildest of all our shiny-faced and wild aborigines. And you should see their trousers and neckties! If you dare to come back from Vienna wearing trousers like these!--"

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Dawn O'Hara
Edna Ferber

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