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Dawn O'Hara Edna Ferber

The Shadow Of Terror

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"Here! Why? Surely--"

"Because I shall be needed here, Dawn. Because I cannot leave you now. You will need--some one--a friend--"

I stared at him with eyes that were wide with terror, waiting for I knew not what.

"Need--some one--for--what? I stammered. "Why should you--"

In the kindly shadow of the trees Von Gerhard's hands took my icy ones, and held them in a close clasp of encouragement.

"Norah is coming to be with you--"

"Norah! Why? Tell me at once! At once!"

"Because Peter Orme has been sent home--cured," said he.

The lights of the pavilion fell away, and advanced, and swung about in a great sickening circle. I shut my eyes. The lights still swung before my eyes. Von Gerhard leaned toward me with a word of alarm. I clung to his hands with all my strength.

"No!" I said, and the savage voice was not my own. "No! No! No! It isn't true! It isn't--Oh, it's some joke, isn't it? Tell me, it's--it's something funny, isn't it? And after a bit we'll laugh--we'll laugh--of course--see! I am smiling already--"

"Dawn--dear one--it is true. God knows I wish that I could be happy to know it. The hospital authorities pronounce him cured. He has been quite sane for weeks."

"You knew it--how long?"

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"You know that Max has attended to all communications from the doctors there. A few weeks ago they wrote that Orme had shown evidences of recovery. He spoke of you, of the people he had known in New York, of his work on the paper, all quite rationally and calmly. But they must first be sure. Max went to New York a week ago. Peter was gone. The hospital authorities were frightened and apologetic. Peter had walked away quite coolly one day. He had gone into the city, borrowed money of some old newspaper cronies, and vanished. He may be there still. He may be--"

"Here! Ernst! Take me home! O God; I can't do it! I can't! I ought to be happy, but I'm not. I ought to be thankful, but I'm not, I'm not! The horror of having him there was great enough, but it was nothing compared to the horror of having him here. I used to dream that he was well again, and that he was searching for me, and the dreadful realness of it used to waken me, and I would find myself shivering with terror. Once I dreamed that I looked up from my desk to find him standing in the doorway, smiling that mirthless smile of his, and I heard him say, in his mocking way: `Hello, Dawn my love; looking wonderfully well. Grass widowhood agrees with you, eh?'"

"Dawn, you must not laugh like that. Come, we will go. You are shivering! Don't, dear, don't. See, you have Norah, and Max,and me to help you. We will put him on his feet. Physically he is not what he should be. I can do much for him."

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Dawn O'Hara
Edna Ferber

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