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|Dawn O'Hara||Edna Ferber|
The Absurd Becomes Serious
|Page 3 of 6||
"You walk and enjoy walking, yes?" asked Von Gerhard, scanning my face. "Your cheeks they are like--well, as unlike the cheeks of the German girls as Diana's are unlike a dairy maid's. And the nerfs? They no longer jump, eh?"
"Oh, they jump, but not with weariness. They jump to get into action again. From a life of too much excitement I have gone to the other extreme. I shall be dead of ennui in another six months."
"Ennui?" mused he, "and you are--how is it?-- twenty-eight years, yes? H'm!"
There was a world of exasperation in the last exclamation.
"I am a thousand years old," it made me exclaim, "a million!"
"I will prove to you that you are sixteen," declared Von Gerhard, calmly.
We had come to a fork in the road. At the right the narrower road ran between two rows of great maples that made an arch of golden splendor. The frost had kissed them into a gorgeous radiance.
"Sunshine Avenue," announced Von Gerhard. "It beckons us away from home, and supper and salad dressing and duty, but who knows what we shall find at the end of it!"
"Let's explore," I suggested. "It is splendidly golden enough to be enchanted."
We entered the yellow canopied pathway.
"Let us pretend this is Germany, yes?" pleaded Von Gerhard. "This golden pathway will end in a neat little glass-roofed restaurant, with tables and chairs outside, and comfortable German papas and mammas and pig-tailed children sitting at the tables, drinking coffee or beer. There will be stout waiters, and a red-faced host. And we will seat ourselves at one of the tables, and I will wave my hand, and one of the stout waiters will come flying. `Will you have coffee, _Fraulein_, or beer?' It sounds prosaic, but it is very, very good, as you will see. Pathways in Germany always end in coffee and Kuchen and waiters in white aprons."
But, "Oh, no!" I exclaimed, for his mood was infectious. "This is France. Please! The golden pathway will end in a picturesque little French farm, with a dairy. And in the doorway of the farmhouse there will be a red-skirted peasant woman, with a white cap! and a baby on her arm! and sabots! Oh, surely she will wear sabots!"
"Most certainly she will wear sabots," Von Gerhard said, heatedly, "and blue knitted stockings. And the baby's name is Mimi!
We had taken hands and were skipping down the pathway now, like two excited children.
"Let's run," I suggested. And run we did, like two mad creatures, until we rounded a gentle curve and brought up, panting, within a foot of a decrepit rail fence. The rail fence enclosed a stubbly, lumpy field. The field was inhabited by an inquiring cow. Von Gerhard and I stood quite still, hand in hand, gazing at the cow. Then we turned slowly and looked at each other.
"This pathway of glorified maples ends in a cow," I said, solemnly. At which we both shrieked with mirth, leaning on the decrepit fence and mopping our eyes with our handkerchiefs.
"Did I not say you were sixteen?" taunted Von Gerhard. We were getting surprisingly well acquainted.
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