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Dawn O'Hara Edna Ferber

The Absurd Becomes Serious

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"But you have been working," wailed Norah, "every morning. And I thought the book was coming on beautifully. And I'm sure it will be a wonderful book, Dawn dear. You are so clever."

"Oh, the book--it is too uncertain. Perhaps it will go, but perhaps it won't. And then--what? It will be months before the book is properly polished off. And then I may peddle it around for more months. No; I can't afford to trifle with uncertainties. Every newspaper man or woman writes a book. It's like having the measles. There is not a newspaper man living who does not believe, in his heart, that if he could only take a month or two away from the telegraph desk or the police run, he could write the book of the year, not to speak of the great American Play. Why, just look at me! I've only been writing`seriously for a few weeks, and already the best magazines in the country are refusing my manuscripts daily."

"Don't joke," said Norah, coming over to me, "I can't stand it."

"Why not? Much better than weeping, isn't it? And anyway, I'm no subject for tears any more. Dr. von Gerhard will tell you how well and strong I am. Won't you, Herr Doktor?"

Well," said Von Gerhard, in his careful, deliberate English, "since you ask me, I should say that you might last about one year, in New York."

"There! What did I tell you!" cried Norah.

"What utter blither!" I scoffed, turning to glare at Von Gerhard.

"Gently," warned Max. "Such disrespect to the man who pulled you back from the edge of the yawning grave only six months ago!"

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"Yawning fiddlesticks!" snapped I, elegantly. "There was nothing wrong with me except that I wanted to be fussed over. And I have been. And I've loved it. But it must stop now." I rose and walked over to the table and faced Von Gerhard, sitting there in the depths of a great chair. "You do not seem to realize that I am not free to come and go, and work and play, and laugh and live like other women. There is my living to make. And there is--Peter Orme. Do you think that I could stay on here like this? Oh, I know that Max is not a poor man. But he is not a rich man, either. And there are the children to be educated, and besides, Max married Norah O'Hara, not the whole O'Hara tribe. I want to go to work. I am not a free woman, but when I am working, I forget, and am almost, happy. I tell you I must be well again! I will be well! I am well!"

At the end of which dramatic period I spoiled the whole effect by bowing my head on the table and giving way to a fit of weeping such as I had not had since the days of my illness.

"Looks like it," said Max, at which I decided to laugh, and the situation was saved.

It was then that Von Gerhard proposed the thing that set us staring at him in amused wonder. He came over and stood looking down at us, his hands outspread upon the big library table, his body bent forward in an attitude of eager intentness. I remember thinking what wonderful hands they were, true indexes of the man's character; broad, white, surgeonly hands; the fingers almost square at the tips. They were hands as different from those slender, nervous, unsteady, womanly hands of Peter Orme as any hands could be, I thought. They were hands made for work that called for delicate strength, if such a paradox could be; hands to cling to; to gain courage from; hands that spelled power and reserve. I looked at them, fascinated, as I often had done before, and thought that I never had seen such SANE hands.

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Dawn O'Hara
Edna Ferber

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