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Dawn O'Hara Edna Ferber

Kaffee And Kaffeekuchen

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"Time!" said Blackie. "Here comes Rosie to take our order. You can take your choice of coffee or chocolate. That's as fancy as they get here."

An expansive blond girl paused at our table smiling a broad welcome at Blackie.

"Wie geht's, Roschen?" he greeted her. Roschen's smile became still more pervasive, so that her blue eyes disappeared in creases of good humor. She wiped the marble table top with a large and careless gesture that precipitated stray crumbs into our laps. "Gut!" murmured she, coyly, and leaned one hand on a portly hip in an attitude of waiting.

"Coffee?" asked Blackie, turning to me. I nodded.

"Zweimal Kaffee?" beamed Roschen, grasping the idea.

"Now's your time to speak up," urged Blackie. "Go ahead an' order all the cream gefillte things that looked good to you out in front."

But I leaned forward, lowering my voice discreetly. "Blackie, before I plunge in too recklessly, tell me, are their prices very--"

"Sa-a-ay, child, you just can't spend half a dollar here if you try. The flossiest kind of thing they got is only ten cents a order. They'll smother you in whipped cream f'r a quarter. You c'n come in here an' eat an' eat an' put away piles of cakes till you feel like a combination of Little Jack Horner an' old Doc Johnson. An' w'en you're all through, they hand yuh your check, an', say--it says forty-five cents. You can't beat it, so wade right in an' spoil your complexion."

With enthusiasm I turned upon the patient Rosie. "O, bring me some of those cunning little round things with the cream on 'em, you know--two of those, eh Blackie? And a couple of those with the flaky crust and the custard between, and a slice of that fluffy-looking cake and some of those funny cocked-hat shaped cookies--"

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But a pall of bewilderment was slowly settling over Rosie's erstwhile smiling face. Her plump shoulders went up in a helpless shrug, and she turned her round blue eyes appealingly to Blackie.

"Was meint sie alles?" she asked.

So I began all over again, with the assistance of Blackie. We went into minute detail. We made elaborate gestures. We drew pictures of our desired goodies on the marble-topped table, using a soft-lead pencil. Rosie's countenance wore a distracted look. In desperation I was about to accompany her to the crowded shop, there to point out my chosen dainties when suddenly, as they would put it here, a light went her over.

"Ach, yes-s-s-s! Sie wollten vielleicht abgeruhrter Gugelhopf haben, und auch Schaumtorte, und Bismarcks, und Hornchen mit cream gefullt, nicht?"

"Certainly," I murmured, quite crushed. Roschen waddled merrily off to the shop.

Blackie was rolling a cigarette. He ran his funny little red tongue along the edge of the paper and glanced up at me in glee. "Don't bother about me," he generously observed. "Just set still and let the atmosphere soak in."

But already I was lost in contemplation of a red-faced, pompadoured German who was drinking coffee and reading the Fliegende Blatter at a table just across the way. There were counterparts of my aborigines at Knapf's--thick spectacled engineers with high foreheads-- actors and actresses from the German stock company-- reporters from the English and German newspapers-- business men with comfortable German consciences-- long-haired musicians--dapper young lawyers--a giggling group of college girls and boys--a couple of smartly dressed women nibbling appreciatively at slices of Nusstorte--low-voiced lovers whose coffee cups stood untouched at their elbows, while no fragrant cloud of steam rose to indicate that there was warmth within. Their glances grow warmer as the neglected Kaffee grows colder. The color comes and goes in the girl's face and I watch it, a bit enviously, marveling that the old story still should be so new.

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Dawn O'Hara
Edna Ferber

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