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Dawn O'Hara Edna Ferber

The Absurd Becomes Serious

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"You have done me the honor to include me in this little family conclave," began Ernst von Gerhard. "I am going to take advantage of your trust. I shall give you some advice--a thing I usually keep for unpleasant professional occasions. Do not go back to New York."

"But I know New York. And New York --the newspaper part of it--knows me. Where else can I go?"

"You have your book to finish. You could never finish it there, is it not so?"

I'm afraid I shrugged my shoulders. It was all so much harder than I had expected. What did they want me to do? I asked myself, bitterly.

Von Gerhard went on. "Why not go where the newspaper work will not be so nerve-racking? where you still might find time for this other work that is dear to you, and that may bring its reward in time." He reached out and took my hand, into his great, steady clasp. "Come to the happy, healthy, German town called Milwaukee, yes? Ach, you may laugh. But newspaper work is newspaper work the world over, because men and women are just men and women the world over. But there you could live sanely, and work not too hard, and there would be spare hours for the book that is near your heart. And I--I will speak of you to Norberg, of the Post. And on Sundays, if you are good, I may take you along the marvelous lake drives in my little red runabout, yes? Aber wunderbar, those drives are! So."

Then--"Milwaukee!" shrieked Max and Norah and I, together. "After New York--Milwaukee!"

"Laugh," said Von Gerhard, quite composedly. "I give you until to-morrow morning to stop laughing. At the end of that time it will not seem quite so amusing. No joke is so funny after one has contemplated it for twelve hours."

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The voice of Norah, the temptress, sounded close to my ear. "Dawn dear, just think how many million miles nearer you would be to Max, and me, and home."

"Oh, you have all gone mad! The thing is impossible. I shan't go back to a country sheet in my old age. I suppose that in two more years I shall be editing a mothers' column on an agricultural weekly."

"Norberg would be delighted to get you," mused Von Gerhard, "and it would be day work instead of night work."

"And you would send me a weekly bulletin on Dawn's health, wouldn't you, Ernst?" pleaded Norah. "And you'd teach her to drink beer and she shall grow so fat that the Spalpeens won't know their auntie."

At last--"How much do they pay?" I asked, in desperation. And the thing that had appeared so absurd at first began to take on the shape of reality.

Von Gerhard did speak to Norberg of the Post. And I am to go to Milwaukee next week. The skeleton of the book manuscript is stowed safely away in the bottom of my trunk and Norah has filled in the remaining space with sundry flannels, and hot water bags and medicine flasks, so that I feel like a schoolgirl on her way to boarding-school, instead of like a seasoned old newspaper woman with a capital PAST and a shaky future. I wish that I were chummier with the Irish saints. I need them now.

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Dawn O'Hara
Edna Ferber

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