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Dawn O'Hara Edna Ferber

Farewell To Knapfs'

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At the end of the last verse I rose hastily and brought from their hiding-place the gifts which we of Knapfs' had purchased as remembrances for Herr and Frau Knapf. I had been delegated to make the presentation speech, so I grasped in one hand the too elaborate pipe that was to make Herr Knapf unhappy, and the too fashionable silk umbrella that was to appall Frau Knapf, and ascended the little platform at the end of the dining room, and began to speak in what I fondly thought to be fluent and highsounding German. Immediately the aborigines went off into paroxysms of laughter. They threw back their heads and roared, and slapped their thighs, and spluttered. It appeared that they thought I was making a humorous speech. At that discovery I cast dignity aside and continued my speech in the language of a German vaudeville comedian, with a dash of Weber and Field here and there. With the presentation of the silk umbrella Frau Knapf burst into tears, groped about helplessly for her apron, realized that it was missing from its accustomed place, and wiped her tears upon her cherished blue silk sleeve in the utter abandon of her sorrow. We drank to the future health and prosperity of our tearful host and hostess, and some one suggested drei mal drei, to which we responded in a manner to make the chin-chucking lieutenant tremble in his frame on the wall.

When it was all over Frau Nirlanger beckoned me, and she, Dr. von Gerhard and I stole out into the hall and stood at the foot of the stairway, discussing our plans for the future, and trying to smile as we talked of this plan and that. Frau Nirlanger, in the pretty white gown, was looking haggard and distrait. The oogly husband was still in the dining room, finishing the beer and punch, of which he had already taken too much.

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"A tiny apartment we have taken," said Frau Nirlanger, softly. "It is better so. Then I shall have a little housework, a little cooking, a little marketing to keep me busy and perhaps happy." Her hand closed over mine. "But that shall us not separate," she pleaded. "Without you to make me sometimes laugh what should I then do? You will bring her often to our little apartment, not?" she went on, turning appealingly to Von Gerhard.

"As often as Mrs. Orme will allow me," he answered.

"Ach, yes. So lonely I shall be. You do not know what she has been to me, this Dawn. She is brave for two. Always laughing she is, and merry, nicht wahr? Meine kleine Soldatin, I call her.

"Soldatin, eh?" mused Von Gerhard. "Our little soldier. She is well named. And her battles she fights alone. But quite alone." His eyes, as they looked down on me from his great height had that in them which sent the blood rushing and tingling to my finger-tips. I brought my hand to my head in stiff military salute.

"Inspection satisfactory, sir?"

He laughed a rueful little laugh. "Eminently. Aber ganz befriedigend."

He was very tall, and straight and good to look at as he stood there in the hall with the light from the newel-post illuminating his features and emphasizing his blondness. Frau Nirlanger's face wore a drawn little look of pain as she gazed at him, and from him to the figure of her husband who had just emerged from the dining room, and was making unsteady progress toward us. Herr Nirlanger's face was flushed and his damp, dark hair was awry so that one lock straggled limply down over his forehead. As he approached he surveyed us with a surly frown that changed slowly into a leering grin. He lurched over and placed a hand familiarly on my shoulder.

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Dawn O'Hara
Edna Ferber

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