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Dawn O'Hara Edna Ferber

Peter Orme

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"Peter!" I moaned, and buried my face in my hands. Von Gerhard put a quick hand on my arm. But I shook it off. "I'm not going to faint," I said, through set teeth. "I'm not going to do anything silly. I want to think. I want to . . . Go on, Blackie."

"Just a minute," interrupted Von Gerhard. "Does he know where Mrs. Orme is living?"

"I'm coming t' that," returned Blackie, tranquilly. "Though for Dawn's sake I'll say right here he don't know. I told him later, that she was takin' a vacation up at her folks' in Michigan."

"Thank God!" I breathed.

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"Wore a New York Press Club button, this guy did. I asked one of the boys standin' on the outer edge of the circle what the fellow's name was, but he only says: `Shut up Black! An' listen. He's seen every darn thing in the world.' Well, I listened. He wasn't braggin'. He wasn't talkin' big. He was just talkin'. Seems like he'd been war correspondent in the Boer war, and the Spanish-American, an' Gawd knows where. He spoke low, not usin' any big words, either, an' I thought his eyes looked somethin' like those of the Black Cat up on the mantel just over his head--you know what I mean, when the electric lights is turned on in-inside{sic} the ugly thing. Well, every time he showed signs of stoppin', one of the boys would up with a question, and start him goin' again. He knew everybody, an' everything, an' everywhere. All of a sudden one of the boys points to the Roosevelt signature on the wall--the one he scrawled up there along with all the other celebrities first time he was entertained by the Press Club boys. Well this guy, he looked at the name for a minute. `Roosevelt?' he says, slow. `Oh, yes. Seems t' me I've heard of him.' Well, at that the boys yelled. Thought it was a good joke, seein' that Ted had been smeared all over the first page of everything for years. But kid, I seen th' look in that man's eyes when he said it, and he wasn't jokin', girl. An' it came t' me, all of a sudden, that all the things he'd been talkin' about had happened almost ten years back. After he'd made that break about Roosevelt he kind of shut up, and strolled over to the piano and began t' play. You know that bum old piano, with half a dozen dead keys, and no tune?

I looked up for a moment. "He could make you think that it was a concert grand, couldn't he? He hasn't forgotten even that?"

"Forgotten? Girl, I don't know what his accomplishments was when you knew him, but if he was any more fascinatin' than he is now, then I'm glad I didn't know him. He could charm the pay envelope away from a reporter that was Saturday broke. Somethin' seemed t' urge me t' go up t' him an' say: `Have a game of billiards?'

"`Don't care if I do,' says he, and swung his long legs off the piano stool and we made for the billiard room, with the whole gang after us. Sa-a-ay, girl, I'm a modest violet, I am, but I don't mind mentionin' that the general opinion up at the club is that I'm a little wizard with the cue. Well, w'en he got through with me I looked like little sister when big brother is tryin' t' teach her how to hold the cue in her fingers. He just sent them balls wherever he thought they'd look pretty. I bet if he'd held up his thumb and finger an' said, `jump through this!' them balls would of jumped."

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Dawn O'Hara
Edna Ferber

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