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Dawn O'Hara Edna Ferber

The Smash-Up

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"My name's Orme," he said, gravely. "Peter Orme. And if yours isn't Shaughnessy or Burke at least, then I'm no judge of what black hair and gray eyes stand for."

"Then you're not," retorted I, laughing up at him, "for it happens to be O'Hara--Dawn O'Hara, if ye plaze."

He picked up a trifle that lay on my desk--a pencil, perhaps, or a bit of paper--and toyed with it, absently, as though I had not spoken. I thought he had not heard, and I was conscious of feeling a bit embarrassed, and very young. Suddenly he raised his smoldering eyes to mine, and I saw that they had taken on a deeper glow. His white, even teeth showed in a half smile.

"Dawn O'Hara," said he, slowly, and the name had never sounded in the least like music before, "Dawn O'Hara. It sounds like a rose--a pink blush rose that is deeper pink at its heart, and very sweet."

He picked up the trifle with which he had been toying and eyed it intently for a moment, as though his whole mind were absorbed in it. Then he put it down, turned, and walked slowly away. I sat staring after him like a little simpleton, puzzled, bewildered, stunned. That had been the beginning of it all.

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He had what we Irish call "a way wid him." I wonder now why I did not go mad with the joy, and the pain, and the uncertainty of it all. Never was a girl so dazzled, so humbled, so worshiped, so neglected, so courted. He was a creature of a thousand moods to torture one. What guise would he wear to-day? Would he be gay, or dour, or sullen, or teasing or passionate, or cold, or tender or scintillating? I know that my hands were always cold, and my cheeks were always hot, those days.

He wrote like a modern Demosthenes, with all political New York to quiver under his philippics. The managing editor used to send him out on wonderful assignments, and they used to hold the paper for his stuff when it was late. Sometimes he would be gone for days at a time, and when he returned the men would look at him with a sort of admiring awe. And the city editor would glance up from beneath his green eye-shade and call out:

"Say, Orme, for a man who has just wired in about a million dollars' worth of stuff seems to me you don't look very crisp and jaunty."

"Haven't slept for a week," Peter Orme would growl, and then he would brush past the men who were crowded around him, and turn in my direction. And the old hot-and-cold, happy, frightened, laughing, sobbing sensation would have me by the throat again.

Well, we were married. Love cast a glamour over his very vices. His love of drink? A weakness which I would transform into strength. His white hot flashes of uncontrollable temper? Surely they would die down at my cool, tender touch. His fits of abstraction and irritability? Mere evidences of the genius within. Oh, my worshiping soul was always alert with an excuse.

And so we were married. He had quite tired of me in less than a year, and the hand that had always shaken a little shook a great deal now, and the fits of abstraction and temper could be counted upon to appear oftener than any other moods. I used to laugh, sometimes, when I was alone, at the bitter humor of it all. It was like a Duchess novel come to life.

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Dawn O'Hara
Edna Ferber

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