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Dawn O'Hara Edna Ferber

Von Gerhard Speaks

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Of Von Gerhard I had not had a glimpse since that evening of my hysterical outburst. On Christmas day there had come a box of roses so huge that I could not find vases enough to hold its contents, although I pressed into service everything from Mason jars from the kitchen to hand-painted atrocities from the parlor. After I had given posies to Frau Nirlanger, and fastened a rose in Frau Knapf's hard knob of hair, where it bobbed in ludicrous discomfort, I still had enough to fill the washbowl. My room looked like a grand opera star's boudoir when she is expecting the newspaper reporters. I reveled in the glowing fragrance of the blossoms and felt very eastern and luxurious and popular. It had been a busy, happy, work-filled week, in which I had had to snatch odd moments for the selecting of certain wonderful toys for the Spalpeens. There had been dolls and doll-clothes and a marvelous miniature kitchen for the practical and stolid Sheila, and ingenious bits of mechanism that did unbelievable things when wound up, for the clever, imaginative Hans. I was not to have the joy of seeing their wide-eyed delight, but I knew that there would follow certain laboriously scrawled letters, filled with topsy-turvy capitals and crazily leaning words of thanks to the doting old auntie who had been such good fun the summer before.

Boarding-house Christmases had become an old story. I had learned to accept them, even to those obscure and foreign parts of turkey which are seen only on boarding-house plates, and which would be recognized nowhere else as belonging to that stately bird.

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Christmas at Knapf's had been a happy surprise; a day of hearty good cheer and kindness. There had even been a Christmas tree, hung with stodgy German angels and Pfeffernuesse and pink-frosted cakes. I found myself the bewildered recipient of gifts from everyone--from the Knapfs, and the aborigines and even from one of the crushed-looking wives. The aborigine whom they called Fritz had presented me with a huge and imposing Lebkuchen, reposing in a box with frilled border, ornamented with quaint little red-and-green German figures in sugar, and labeled Nurnberg in stout letters, for it had come all the way from that kuchen-famous city. The Lebkuchen I placed on my mantel shelf as befitted so magnificent a work of art. It was quite too elaborate and imposing to be sent the way of ordinary food, although it had a certain tantalizingly spicy scent that tempted one to break off a corner here and there.

On the afternoon of Christmas day I sat down to thank Dr. von Gerhard for the flowers as prettily as might be. Also I asked his pardon, a thing not hard to do with the perfume of his roses filling the room.

"For you," I wrote, "who are so wise in the ways of those tricky things called nerves, must know that it was only a mild hysteria that made me say those most unladylike things. I have written Norah all about it. She has replied, advising me to stick to the good-fellow role but not to dress the part. So when next you see me I shall be a perfectly safe and sane comrade in petticoats. And I promise you--no more outbursts."

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Dawn O'Hara
Edna Ferber

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