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Dawn O'Hara Edna Ferber

The Test

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Some day the marriageable age for women will be advanced from twenty to thirty, and the old maid line will be changed from thirty to forty. When that time comes there will be surprisingly few divorces. The husband of whom we dream at twenty is not at all the type of man who attracts us at thirty. The man I married at twenty was a brilliant, morbid, handsome, abnormal creature with magnificent eyes and very white teeth and no particular appetite at mealtime. The man whom I could care for at thirty would be the normal, safe and substantial sort who would come in at six o'clock, kiss me once, sniff the air twice and say: "Mm! What's that smells so good, old girl? I'm as hungry as a bear. Trot it out. Where are the kids?"

These are dangerous things to think upon. So dangerous and disturbing to the peace of mind that I have decided not to see Ernst von Gerhard for a week or two. I find that seeing him is apt to make me forget Peter Orme; to forget that my duty begins with a capital D; to forget that I am dangerously near the thirty year old mark; to forget Norah, and Max, and the Spalpeens, and the world, and everything but the happiness of being near him, watching his eyes say one thing while his lips say another.

At such times I am apt to work myself up into rather a savage frame of mind, and to shut myself in my room evenings, paying no heed to Frau Nirlanger's timid knocking, or Bennie's good-night message. I uncover my typewriter and set to work at the thing which may or may not be a book, and am extremely wretched and gloomy and pessimistic, after this fashion:

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"He probably wouldn't care anything about you if you were free. It is just a case of the fruit that is out of reach being the most desirable. Men don't marry frumpy, snuffy old things of thirty, or thereabouts. Men aren't marrying now-a-days, anyway. Certainly not for love. They marry for position, or power, or money, when they do marry. Think of all the glorious creatures he meets every day--women whose hair, and finger-nails and teeth and skin are a religion; women whose clothes are a fine art; women who are free to care only for themselves; to rest, to enjoy, to hear delightful music, and read charming books, and eat delicious food. He doesn't really care about you, with your rumpled blouses, and your shabby gloves and shoes, and your somewhat doubtful linen collars. The last time you saw him you were just coming home from the office after a dickens of a day, and there was a smudge on the end of your nose, and he told you of it, laughing. But you didn't laugh. You rubbed it off, furiously, and you wanted to cry. Cry! You, Dawn O'Hara! Begorra! 'Tis losin' your sense av humor you're after doin'! Get to work."

After which I would fall upon the book in a furious, futile fashion, writing many incoherent, irrelevant paragraphs which I knew would be cast aside as worthless on the sane and reasoning to-morrow.

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Dawn O'Hara
Edna Ferber

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