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Dawn O'Hara Edna Ferber

The Absurd Becomes Serious

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"Such a scolding as we shall get! It will be quite dark before we are home. Norah will be tearing her hair."

It was a true prophecy. As we stampeded up the steps the door was flung open, disclosing a tragic figure.

"Such a steak!" wailed Norah, " and it has been done for hours and hours, and now it looks like a piece of fried ear. Where have you two driveling idiots been? And mushrooms too."

"She means that the ruined steak was further enhanced by mushrooms," I explained in response to Von Gerhard's bewildered look. We marched into the house, trying not to appear like sneak thieves. Max, pipe in mouth, surveyed us blandly.

"Fine color you've got, Dawn," he remarked.

"There is such a thing as overdoing this health business," snapped Norah, with a great deal of acidity for her. "I didn't tell you to make them purple, you know."

Max turned to Von Gerhard. "Now what does she mean by that do you suppose, eh Ernst?"

"Softly, brother, softly!" whispered Von Gerhard. "When women exchange remarks that apparently are simple, and yet that you, a man, cannot understand, then know there is a woman's war going on, and step softly, and hold your peace. Aber ruhig!"

Calm was restored with the appearance of the steak, which was found to have survived the period of waiting, and to be incredibly juicy and tender. Presently we were all settled once more in the great beamed living room, Sis at the piano, the two men smoking their after-dinner cigars with that idiotic expression of contentment which always adorns the masculine face on such occasions.

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I looked at them--at those three who had done so much for my happiness and well being, and something within me said: "Now! Speak now!" Norah was playing very softly, so that the Spalpeens upstairs might not be disturbed. I took a long breath and made the plunge.

"Norah, if you'll continue the slow music, I'll be much obliged. `The time has come, the Walrus said, to talk of many things.'"

"Don't be absurd," said Norah, over her shoulder, and went on playing.

"I never was more serious in my life, good folkses all. I've got to be. This butterfly existence has gone on long enough. Norah, and Max, and Mr. Doctor Man, I am going away."

Norah's hands crashed down on the piano keys with a jangling discord. She swung about to face me.

"Not New York again, Dawn! Not New York!"

"I am afraid so," I answered.

Max--bless his great, brotherly heart-- rose and came over to me and put a hand on my shoulder.

"Don't you like it here, girlie? Want to be hauled home on a shutter again, do you? You know that as long as we have a home, you have one. We need you here."

But I shook my head. From his chair at the other side of the room I could feel Von Gerhard's gaze fixed upon us. He had said nothing.

"Need me! No one needs me. Don't worry; I'm not going to become maudlin about it. But I don't belong here, and you know, it. I have my work to do. Norah is the best sister that a woman ever had. And Max, you're an angel brother-in-law. But how can I stay on here and keep my self-respect?" I took Max's big hand in mine and gathered courage from it.

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Dawn O'Hara
Edna Ferber

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