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Dawn O'Hara Edna Ferber


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"How you grew to understand him in that short year," mused Von Gerhard. "I sometimes used to resent the bond between you and this little Blackie whose name was always on your tongue."

"Ah, that was because you did not comprehend. It is given to very few women to know the beauty of a man's real friendship. That was the bond between Blackie and me. To me he was a comrade, and to him I was a good-fellow girl--one to whom he could talk without excusing his pipe or cigarette. Love and love-making were things to bring a kindly, amused chuckle from Blackie."

Von Gerhard was silent. Something in his silence held a vague irritation for me. I extracted a penny from my purse, and placed it in his hand.

"I was thinking," he said, "that none are so blind as those who will not see."

"I don't understand," I said, puzzled.

"That is well," answered Von Gerhard, as we entered the building. "That is as it should be." And he would say nothing more.

The last edition of the paper had been run off for the day. I had purposely waited until the footfalls of the last departing reporter should have ceased to echo down the long corridor. The city room was deserted except for one figure bent over a pile of papers and proofs. Norberg, the city editor, was the last to leave, as always. His desk light glowed in the darkness of the big room, and his typewriter alone awoke the echoes.

As I stood in the doorway he peered up from beneath his green eye-shade, and waved a cloud of smoke away with the palm of his hand.

"That you, Mrs. Orme?" he called out. "Lord, we've missed you! That new woman can't write an obituary, and her teary tales sound like they were carved with a cold chisel. When are you coming back?"

"I'm not coming back," I replied. "I've come to say good-by to you and--Blackie."

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Norberg looked up quickly. "You feel that way, too? Funny. So do the rest of us. Sometimes I think we are all half sure that it is only another of his impish tricks, and that some morning he will pop open the door of the city room here and call out, `Hello, slaves! Been keepin' m' memory green?'"

I held out my hand to him, gratefully. He took it in his great palm, and a smile dimpled his plump cheeks. "Going to blossom into a regular little writer, h'm? Well, they say it's a paying game when you get the hang of it. And I guess you've got it. But if ever you feel that you want a real thrill--a touch of the old satisfying newspaper feeling--a sniff of wet ink--the music of some editorial cussing--why come up here and I'll give you the hottest assignment on my list, if I have to take it away from Deming's very notebook."

When I had thanked him I crossed the hall and tried the door of the sporting editor's room. Von Gerhard was waiting for me far down at the other end of the corridor. The door opened and I softly entered and shut it again. The little room was dim, but in the half-light I could see that Callahan had changed something--had shoved a desk nearer the window, or swung the typewriter over to the other side. I resented it. I glanced up at the corner where the shabby old office coat had been wont to hang. There it dangled, untouched, just as he had left it. Callahan had not dared to change that. I tip-toed over to the corner and touched it gently with my fingers. A light pall of dust had settled over the worn little garment, but I knew each worn place, each ink-spot, each scorch or burn from pipe or cigarette. I passed my hands over it reverently and gently, and then, in the dimness of that quiet little room I laid my cheek against the rough cloth, so that the scent of the old black pipe came back to me once more, and a new spot appeared on the coat sleeve--a damp, salt spot. Blackie would have hated my doing that. But he was not there to see, and one spot more or less did not matter; it was such a grimy, disreputable old coat.

"Dawn!" called Von Gerhard softly, outside the door. "Dawn! Coming, Kindchen?"

I gave the little coat a parting pat. "Goodby," I whispered, under my breath, and turned toward the door.

"Coming!" I called, aloud.

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Dawn O'Hara
Edna Ferber

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