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Dawn O'Hara Edna Ferber

The Shadow Of Terror

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Two days before the date set for Von Gerhard's departure the book was finished, typed, re-read, packed, and sent away. Half an hour after it was gone all its most glaring faults seemed to marshall themselves before my mind's eye. Whole paragraphs, that had read quite reasonably before, now loomed ludicrous in perspective. I longed to snatch it back; to tidy it here, to take it in there, to smooth certain rough places neglected in my haste. For almost a year I had lived with this thing, so close that its faults and its virtues had become indistinguishable to me. Day and night, for many months, it had been in my mind. Of late some instinct had prompted me to finish it. I had worked at it far into the night, until I marveled that the ancient occupants of the surrounding rooms did not enter a combined protest against the clack-clacking of my typewriter keys. And now that it was gone I wondered, dully, if I could feel Von Gerhard's departure more keenly.

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No one knew of the existence of the book except Norah, Von Gerhard, Blackie and me. Blackie had a way of inquiring after its progress in hushed tones of mock awe. Also he delighted in getting down on hands and knees and guiding a yard-stick carefully about my desk with a view to having a fence built around it, bearing an inscription which would inform admiring tourists that here was the desk at which the brilliant author had been wont to sit when grinding out heart-throb stories for the humble Post. He took an impish delight in my struggles with my hero and heroine, and his inquiries after the health of both were of such a nature as to make any earnest writer person rise in wrath and slay him. I had seen little of Blackie of late. My spare hours had been devoted to the work in hand. On the day after the book was sent away I was conscious of a little shock as I strolled into Blackie's sanctum and took my accustomed seat beside his big desk. There was an oddly pinched look about Blackie's nostrils and lips, I thought. And the deep-set black eyes appeared deeper and blacker than ever in his thin little face.

A week of unseasonable weather had come upon the city. June was going out in a wave of torrid heat such as August might have boasted. The day had seemed endless and intolerably close. I was feeling very limp and languid. Perhaps, thought I, it was the heat which had wilted Blackie's debonair spirits.

"It has been a long time since we've had a talk-talk, Blackie. I've missed you. Also you look just a wee bit green around the edges. I'm thinking a vacation wouldn't hurt you."

Blackie's lean brown forefinger caressed the bowl of his favorite pipe. His eyes, that had been gazing out across the roofs beyond his window, came back to me, and there was in them a curious and quizzical expression as of one who is inwardly amused.

"I've been thinkin' about a vacation. None of your measly little two weeks' affairs, with one week on salary, and th' other without. I ain't goin' t' take my vacation for a while--not till fall, p'raps, or maybe winter. But w'en I do take it, sa-a-ay, girl, it's goin' t' be a real one."

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Dawn O'Hara
Edna Ferber

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