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Dawn O'Hara Edna Ferber

Steeped In German

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Von Gerhard has not behaved at all nicely. I did not see him until two weeks after my arrival in Milwaukee, although he telephoned twice to ask if there was anything that he could do to make me comfortable.

"Yes," I had answered the last time that I heard his voice over the telephone. "It would be a whole heap of comfort to me just to see you. You are the nearest thing to Norah that there is in this whole German town, and goodness knows you're far from Irish."

He came. The weather had turned suddenly cold and he was wearing a fur-lined coat with a collar of fur. He looked most amazingly handsome and blond and splendidly healthy. The clasp of his hands was just as big and sure as ever.

"You have no idea how glad I am to see you," I told him. "If you had, you would have been here days ago. Aren't you rather ill-mannered and neglectful, considering that you are responsible for my being here?"

"I did not know whether you, a married woman, would care to have me here," he said, in his composed way. "In a place like this people are not always kind enough to take the trouble to understand. And I would not have them raise their eyebrows at you, not for--"

"Married!" I laughed, some imp of willfulness seizing me, "I'm not married. What mockery to say that I am married simply because I must write madam before my name! I am not married, and I shall talk to whom I please."

And then Von Gerhard did a surprising thing. He took two great steps over to my chair, and grasped my hands and pulled me to my feet. I stared up at him like a silly creature. His face was suffused with a dull red, and his eyes were unbelievably blue and bright. He had my hands in his great grip, but his voice was very quiet and contained.

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"You are married," he said. "Never forget that for a moment. You are bound, hard and fast and tight. And you are for no man. You are married as much as though that poor creature in the mad house were here working for you, instead of the case being reversed as it is. So."

"What do you mean!" I cried, wrenching myself away indignantly. "What right have you to talk to me like this? You know what my life has been, and how I have tried to smile with my lips and stay young in my heart! I thought you understood. Norah thought so too, and Max--"

"I do understand. I understand so well that I would not have you talk as you did a moment ago. And I said what I said not so much for your sake, as for mine. For see, I too must remember that you write madam before your name. And sometimes it is hard for me to remember."

"Oh," I said, like a simpleton, and stood staring after him as he quietly gathered up his hat and gloves and left me standing there.

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Dawn O'Hara
Edna Ferber

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