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  Dawn O'Hara Edna Ferber

June Moonlight, And A New Boarding House

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There was a week in which to scurry about for a new home. The days scampered by, tripping over one another in their haste. My sleeping hours were haunted by nightmares of landladies and impossible boarding-house bedrooms. Columns of "To Let, Furnished or Unfurnished" ads filed, advanced, and retreated before my dizzy eyes. My time after office hours was spent in climbing dim stairways, interviewing unenthusiastic females in kimonos, and peering into ugly bedrooms papered with sprawly and impossible patterns and filled with the odors of dead-and-gone dinners. I found one room less impossible than the rest, only to be told that the preference was to be given to a man who had "looked" the day before.

"I d'ruther take gents only," explained the ample person who carried the keys to the mansion. "Gents goes early in the morning and comes in late at night, and that's all you ever see of 'em, half the time. I've tried ladies, an' they get me wild, always yellin' for hot water to wash their hair, or pastin' handkerchiefs up on the mirr'r or wantin' to butt into the kitchen to press this or that. I'll let you know if the gent don't take it, but I got an idea he will."

He did. At any rate, no voice summoned me to that haven for gents only. There were other landladies-- landladies fat and German; landladies lean and Irish; landladies loquacious (regardless of nationality); landladies reserved; landladies husbandless, wedded, widowed, divorced, and willing; landladies slatternly; landladies prim; and all hinting of past estates wherein there had been much grandeur.

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At last, when despair gripped me, and I had horrid visions of my trunk, hat-box and typewriter reposing on the sidewalk while I, homeless, sat perched in the midst of them, I chanced upon a room which commanded a glorious view of the lake. True, it was too expensive for my slim purse; true, the owner of it was sour of feature; true, the room itself was cavernous and unfriendly and cold-looking, but the view of the great, blue lake triumphed over all these, although a cautious inner voice warned me that that lake view would cover a multitude of sins. I remembered, later, how she of the sour visage had dilated upon the subject of the sunrise over the water. I told her at the time that while I was passionately fond of sunrises myself, still I should like them just as well did they not occur so early in the morning. Whereupon she of the vinegar countenance had sniffed. I loathe landladies who sniff.

My trunk and trusty typewriter were sent on to my new home at noon, unchaperoned, for I had no time to spare at that hour of the day. Later I followed them, laden with umbrella, boxes, brown-paper parcels, and other unfashionable moving-day paraphernalia. I bumped and banged my way up the two flights of stairs that led to my lake view and my bed, and my heart went down as my feet went up. By the time the cavernous bedroom was gained I felt decidedly quivery-mouthed, so that I dumped my belongings on the floor in a heap and went to the window to gaze on the lake until my spirits should rise. But it was a gray day, and the lake looked large, and wet and unsociable. You couldn't get chummy with it. I turned to my great barn of a room. You couldn't get chummy with that, either. I began to unpack, with furious energy. In vain I turned every gas jet blazing high. They only cast dim shadows in the murky vastness of that awful chamber. A whole Fourth of July fireworks display, Roman candles, sky-rockets, pin-wheels, set pieces and all, could not have made that room take on a festive air.

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Dawn O'Hara
Edna Ferber

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