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Dawn O'Hara Edna Ferber

The Absurd Becomes Serious

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I can understand the emotions of a broken-down war horse that is hitched to a vegetable wagon. I am going to Milwaukee to work! It is a thing to make the gods hold their sides and roll down from their mountain peaks with laughter. After New York--Milwaukee!

Of course Von Gerhard is to blame. But I think even he sees the humor of it. It happened in this way, on a day when I was indulging in a particularly greenery-yallery fit of gloom. Norah rushed into my room. I think I was mooning over some old papers, or letters, or ribbons, or some such truck in the charming, knife-turning way that women have when they are blue.

"Out wid yez!" cried Norah. "On with your hat and coat! I've just had a wire from Ernst von Gerhard. He's coming, and you look like an under-done dill pickle. You aren't half as blooming as when he was here in August, and this is October. Get out and walk until your cheeks are so red that Von Gerhard will refuse to believe that this fiery-faced puffing, bouncing creature is the green and limp thing that huddled in a chair a few months ago. Out ye go!"

And out I went. Hatless, I strode countrywards, leaving paved streets and concrete walks far behind. There were drifts of fallen leaves all about, and I scuffled through them drearily, trying to feel gloomy, and old, and useless, and failing because of the tang in the air, and the red-and-gold wonder of the frost-kissed leaves, and the regular pump-pump of good red blood that was coursing through my body as per Norah's request.

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In a field at the edge of the town, just where city and country begin to have a bowing acquaintance, the college boys were at football practice. Their scarlet sweaters made gay patches of color against the dull gray-brown of the autumn grass.

"Seven-eighteen-two-four!" called a voice. There followed a scuffle, a creaking of leather on leather, a thud. I watched them, a bit enviously, walking backwards until a twist in the road hid them from view. That same twist transformed my path into a real country road-- a brown, dusty, monotonous Michigan country road that went severely about its business, never once stopping to flirt with the blushing autumn woodland at its left, or to dally with the dimpling ravine at its right.

"Now if that were an English country road," thought I, "a sociably inclined, happy-go-lucky, out-for-pleasure English country road, one might expect something of it. On an English country road this would be the psychological moment for the appearance of a blond god, in gray tweed. What a delightful time of it Richard Le Gallienne's hero had on his quest! He could not stroll down the most innocent looking lane, he might not loiter along the most out-of-the-way path, he never ambled over the barest piece of country road, that he did not come face to face with some witty and lovely woman creature, also in search of things unconventional, and able to quote charming lines from Chaucer to him."

Ah, but that was England, and this is America. I realize it sadly as I step out of the road to allow a yellow milk wagon to rattle past. The red letters on the yellow milk cart inform the reader that it is the property of August Schimmelpfennig, of Hickory Grove. The Schimmelpfennig eye may be seen staring down upon me from the bit of glass in the rear as the cart rattles ahead, doubtless being suspicious of hatless young women wandering along country roads at dusk, alone. There was that in the staring eye to which I took exception. It wore an expression which made me feel sure that the mouth below it was all a-grin, if I could but have seen it. It was bad enough to be stared at by the fishy Schimmelpfennig eye, but to be grinned at by the Schimmelpfennig mouth!--I resented it. In order to show my resentment I turned my back on the Schimmelpfennig cart and pretended to look up the road which I had just traveled.

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Dawn O'Hara
Edna Ferber

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