Infomotions, Inc.Dawn O'Hara, the Girl Who Laughed / Ferber, Edna, 1885-1968



Author: Ferber, Edna, 1885-1968
Title: Dawn O'Hara, the Girl Who Laughed
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): gerhard; blackie; knapf; norah; peter orme; dawn o'hara; peter; dawn
Contributor(s): Widger, David, 1932- [Editor]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 62,088 words (short) Grade range: 7-8 (grade school) Readability score: 71 (easy)
Identifier: etext1602
Delicious Bookmark this on Delicious

Discover what books you consider "great". Take the Great Books Survey.

The Project Gutenberg Etext of Dawn O'Hara, The Girl Who Laughed
#5 in our series by Edna Ferber


Copyright laws are changing all over the world, be sure to check
the copyright laws for your country before posting these files!!

Please take a look at the important information in this header.
We encourage you to keep this file on your own disk, keeping an
electronic path open for the next readers.  Do not remove this.


**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts**

**Etexts Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971**

*These Etexts Prepared By Hundreds of Volunteers and Donations*

Information on contacting Project Gutenberg to get Etexts, and
further information is included below.  We need your donations.


Dawn O'Hara, The Girl Who Laughed

by Edna Ferber

January, 1999  [Etext #1602]


The Project Gutenberg Etext of Dawn O'Hara, The Girl Who Laughed
******This file should be named dwnhr10.txt or dwnhr10.zip******

Corrected EDITIONS of our etexts get a new NUMBER, dwnhr11.txt
VERSIONS based on separate sources get new LETTER, dwnhr10a.txt


This etext was prepared with the use of Calera WordScan Plus 2.0

Project Gutenberg Etexts are usually created from multiple editions,
all of which are in the Public Domain in the United States, unless a
copyright notice is included.  Therefore, we do NOT keep these books
in compliance with any particular paper edition, usually otherwise.


We are now trying to release all our books one month in advance
of the official release dates, for time for better editing.

Please note:  neither this list nor its contents are final till
midnight of the last day of the month of any such announcement.
The official release date of all Project Gutenberg Etexts is at
Midnight, Central Time, of the last day of the stated month.  A
preliminary version may often be posted for suggestion, comment
and editing by those who wish to do so.  To be sure you have an
up to date first edition [xxxxx10x.xxx] please check file sizes
in the first week of the next month.  Since our ftp program has
a bug in it that scrambles the date [tried to fix and failed] a
look at the file size will have to do, but we will try to see a
new copy has at least one byte more or less.


Information about Project Gutenberg (one page)

We produce about two million dollars for each hour we work.  The
fifty hours is one conservative estimate for how long it we take
to get any etext selected, entered, proofread, edited, copyright
searched and analyzed, the copyright letters written, etc.  This
projected audience is one hundred million readers.  If our value
per text is nominally estimated at one dollar then we produce $2
million dollars per hour this year as we release thirty-two text
files per month, or 384 more Etexts in 1998 for a total of 1500+
If these reach just 10% of the computerized population, then the
total should reach over 150 billion Etexts given away.

The Goal of Project Gutenberg is to Give Away One Trillion Etext
Files by the December 31, 2001.  [10,000 x 100,000,000=Trillion]
This is ten thousand titles each to one hundred million readers,
which is only 10% of the present number of computer users.  2001
should have at least twice as many computer users as that, so it
will require us reaching less than 5% of the users in 2001.


We need your donations more than ever!


All donations should be made to "Project Gutenberg/CMU": and are
tax deductible to the extent allowable by law.  (CMU = Carnegie-
Mellon University).

For these and other matters, please mail to:

Project Gutenberg
P. O. Box  2782
Champaign, IL 61825

When all other email fails try our Executive Director:
Michael S. Hart <hart@pobox.com>

We would prefer to send you this information by email
(Internet, Bitnet, Compuserve, ATTMAIL or MCImail).

******
If you have an FTP program (or emulator), please
FTP directly to the Project Gutenberg archives:
[Mac users, do NOT point and click. . .type]

ftp uiarchive.cso.uiuc.edu
login:  anonymous
password:  your@login
cd etext/etext90 through /etext96
or cd etext/articles [get suggest gut for more information]
dir [to see files]
get or mget [to get files. . .set bin for zip files]
GET INDEX?00.GUT
for a list of books
and
GET NEW GUT for general information
and
MGET GUT* for newsletters.

**Information prepared by the Project Gutenberg legal advisor**
(Three Pages)


***START**THE SMALL PRINT!**FOR PUBLIC DOMAIN ETEXTS**START***
Why is this "Small Print!" statement here?  You know: lawyers.
They tell us you might sue us if there is something wrong with
your copy of this etext, even if you got it for free from
someone other than us, and even if what's wrong is not our
fault.  So, among other things, this "Small Print!" statement
disclaims most of our liability to you.  It also tells you how
you can distribute copies of this etext if you want to.

*BEFORE!* YOU USE OR READ THIS ETEXT
By using or reading any part of this PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm
etext, you indicate that you understand, agree to and accept
this "Small Print!" statement.  If you do not, you can receive
a refund of the money (if any) you paid for this etext by
sending a request within 30 days of receiving it to the person
you got it from.  If you received this etext on a physical
medium (such as a disk), you must return it with your request.

ABOUT PROJECT GUTENBERG-TM ETEXTS
This PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm etext, like most PROJECT GUTENBERG-
tm etexts, is a "public domain" work distributed by Professor
Michael S. Hart through the Project Gutenberg Association at
Carnegie-Mellon University (the "Project").  Among other
things, this means that no one owns a United States copyright
on or for this work, so the Project (and you!) can copy and
distribute it in the United States without permission and
without paying copyright royalties.  Special rules, set forth
below, apply if you wish to copy and distribute this etext
under the Project's "PROJECT GUTENBERG" trademark.

To create these etexts, the Project expends considerable
efforts to identify, transcribe and proofread public domain
works.  Despite these efforts, the Project's etexts and any
medium they may be on may contain "Defects".  Among other
things, Defects may take the form of incomplete, inaccurate or
corrupt data, transcription errors, a copyright or other
intellectual property infringement, a defective or damaged
disk or other etext medium, a computer virus, or computer
codes that damage or cannot be read by your equipment.

LIMITED WARRANTY; DISCLAIMER OF DAMAGES
But for the "Right of Replacement or Refund" described below,
[1] the Project (and any other party you may receive this
etext from as a PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm etext) disclaims all
liability to you for damages, costs and expenses, including
legal fees, and [2] YOU HAVE NO REMEDIES FOR NEGLIGENCE OR
UNDER STRICT LIABILITY, OR FOR BREACH OF WARRANTY OR CONTRACT,
INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO INDIRECT, CONSEQUENTIAL, PUNITIVE
OR INCIDENTAL DAMAGES, EVEN IF YOU GIVE NOTICE OF THE
POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.

If you discover a Defect in this etext within 90 days of
receiving it, you can receive a refund of the money (if any)
you paid for it by sending an explanatory note within that
time to the person you received it from.  If you received it
on a physical medium, you must return it with your note, and
such person may choose to alternatively give you a replacement
copy.  If you received it electronically, such person may
choose to alternatively give you a second opportunity to
receive it electronically.

THIS ETEXT IS OTHERWISE PROVIDED TO YOU "AS-IS".  NO OTHER
WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, ARE MADE TO YOU AS
TO THE ETEXT OR ANY MEDIUM IT MAY BE ON, INCLUDING BUT NOT
LIMITED TO WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A
PARTICULAR PURPOSE.

Some states do not allow disclaimers of implied warranties or
the exclusion or limitation of consequential damages, so the
above disclaimers and exclusions may not apply to you, and you
may have other legal rights.

INDEMNITY
You will indemnify and hold the Project, its directors,
officers, members and agents harmless from all liability, cost
and expense, including legal fees, that arise directly or
indirectly from any of the following that you do or cause:
[1] distribution of this etext, [2] alteration, modification,
or addition to the etext, or [3] any Defect.

DISTRIBUTION UNDER "PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm"
You may distribute copies of this etext electronically, or by
disk, book or any other medium if you either delete this
"Small Print!" and all other references to Project Gutenberg,
or:

[1]  Only give exact copies of it.  Among other things, this
     requires that you do not remove, alter or modify the
     etext or this "small print!" statement.  You may however,
     if you wish, distribute this etext in machine readable
     binary, compressed, mark-up, or proprietary form,
     including any form resulting from conversion by word pro-
     cessing or hypertext software, but only so long as
     *EITHER*:

     [*]  The etext, when displayed, is clearly readable, and
          does *not* contain characters other than those
          intended by the author of the work, although tilde
          (~), asterisk (*) and underline (_) characters may
          be used to convey punctuation intended by the
          author, and additional characters may be used to
          indicate hypertext links; OR

     [*]  The etext may be readily converted by the reader at
          no expense into plain ASCII, EBCDIC or equivalent
          form by the program that displays the etext (as is
          the case, for instance, with most word processors);
          OR

     [*]  You provide, or agree to also provide on request at
          no additional cost, fee or expense, a copy of the
          etext in its original plain ASCII form (or in EBCDIC
          or other equivalent proprietary form).

[2]  Honor the etext refund and replacement provisions of this
     "Small Print!" statement.

[3]  Pay a trademark license fee to the Project of 20% of the
     net profits you derive calculated using the method you
     already use to calculate your applicable taxes.  If you
     don't derive profits, no royalty is due.  Royalties are
     payable to "Project Gutenberg Association/Carnegie-Mellon
     University" within the 60 days following each
     date you prepare (or were legally required to prepare)
     your annual (or equivalent periodic) tax return.

WHAT IF YOU *WANT* TO SEND MONEY EVEN IF YOU DON'T HAVE TO?
The Project gratefully accepts contributions in money, time,
scanning machines, OCR software, public domain etexts, royalty
free copyright licenses, and every other sort of contribution
you can think of.  Money should be paid to "Project Gutenberg
Association / Carnegie-Mellon University".

*END*THE SMALL PRINT! FOR PUBLIC DOMAIN ETEXTS*Ver.04.29.93*END*





This etext was prepared with the use of Calera WordScan Plus 2.0





DAWN O'HARA
THE GIRL WHO LAUGHED

by EDNA FERBER




TO MY DEAR MOTHER
WHO FREQUENTLY INTERRUPTS
AND TO
MY SISTER FANNIE
WHO SAYS "SH-SH-SH!" OUTSIDE MY DOOR




CONTENTS


I   THE SMASH-UP
II   MOSTLY EGGS
III   GOOD As NEW
IV   DAWN DEVELOPS A HEIMWEH
V   THE ABSURD BECOMES SERIOUS
VI   STEEPED IN GERMAN
VII   BLACKIE'S PHILOSOPHY
VIII   KAFFEE AND KAFFEEKUCHEN
IX   THE LADY FROM VIENNA
X   A TRAGEDY OF GOWNS
XI   VON GERHARD SPEAKS
XII   BENNIE THE CONSOLER
XIII   THE TEST
XIV   BENNIE AND THE CHARMING OLD MAID
XV   FAREWELL TO KNAPFS'
XVI   JUNE MOONLIGHT, AND A NEW BOARDING HOUSE
XVII   THE SHADOW OF TERROR
XVIII   PETER ORME
XIX   A TURN OF THE WHEEL
XX   BLACKIE'S VACATION COMES
XXI   HAPPINESS




DAWN O'HARA




CHAPTER I


THE SMASH-UP


There are a number of things that are pleasanter than
being sick in a New York boarding-house when one's
nearest dearest is a married sister up in far-away
Michigan.

Some one must have been very kind, for there were
doctors, and a blue-and-white striped nurse, and bottles
and things.  There was even a vase of perky carnations--
scarlet ones.  I discovered that they had a trick of
nodding their heads, saucily.  The discovery did not
appear to surprise me.

"Howdy-do!" said I aloud to the fattest and reddest
carnation that overtopped all the rest.  "How in the
world did you get in here?"

The striped nurse (I hadn't noticed her before) rose
from some corner and came swiftly over to my bedside,
taking my wrist between her fingers.

"I'm very well, thank you," she said, smiling, "and
I came in at the door, of course."

"I wasn't talking to you," I snapped, crossly, "I was
speaking to the carnations; particularly to that elderly
one at the top--the fat one who keeps bowing and wagging
his head at me."

"Oh, yes," answered the striped nurse, politely, "of
course.  That one is very lively, isn't he?  But suppose
we take them out for a little while now."

She picked up the vase and carried it into the
corridor, and the carnations nodded their heads more
vigorously than ever over her shoulder.

I heard her call softly to some one.  The some one
answered with a sharp little cry that sounded like,
"Conscious!"

The next moment my own sister Norah came quietly into
the room, and knelt at the side of my bed and took me in
her arms.  It did not seem at all surprising that she
should be there, patting me with reassuring little love
pats, murmuring over me with her lips against my check,
calling me a hundred half-forgotten pet names that I had
not heard for years.  But then, nothing seemed to
surprise me that surprising day.  Not even the sight of
a great, red-haired, red-faced, scrubbed looking man who 
strolled into the room just as Norah was in the midst of
denouncing newspapers in general, and my newspaper in 
particular, and calling the city editor a slave-driver and 
a beast.  The big, red-haired man stood regarding us tolerantly.

"Better, eh?" said he, not as one who asks a
question, but as though in confirmation of a thought. 
Then he too took my wrist between his fingers.  His touch
was very firm and cool.  After that he pulled down my
eyelids and said, "H'm."  Then he patted my cheek smartly
once or twice.  "You'll do," he pronounced.  He picked up
a sheet of paper from the table and looked it over,
keen-eyed.  There followed a clinking of bottles and
glasses, a few low-spoken words to the nurse, and then,
as she left the room the big red-haired man seated
himself heavily in the chair near the bedside and rested
his great hands on his fat knees.  He stared down at me
in much the same way that a huge mastiff looks at a
terrier.  Finally his glance rested on my limp left hand.

"Married, h'm?"

For a moment the word would not come.  I could hear
Norah catch her breath quickly.  Then--"Yes," answered I.

"Husband living?" I could see suspicion dawning in
his cold gray eye.

Again the catch in Norah's throat and a little half
warning, half supplicating gesture.  And again, "Yes,"
said I.

The dawn of suspicion burst into full glow.

"Where is he?" growled the red-haired doctor.  "At a
time like this?"

I shut my eyes for a moment, too sick at heart to
resent his manner.  I could feel, more than see, that Sis
was signaling him frantically.  I moistened my lips and
answered him, bitterly.

"He is in the Starkweather Hospital for the insane."

When the red-haired man spoke again the growl was
quite gone from his voice.

"And your home is--where?"

"Nowhere," I replied meekly, from my pillow.  But at
that Sis put her hand out quickly, as though she had been
struck, and said:

"My home is her home."

"Well then, take her there," he ordered, frowning,
"and keep her there as long as you can.  Newspaper
reporting, h'm?  In New York?  That's a devil of a job
for a woman.  And a husband who . . .  Well, you'll have
to take a six months' course in loafing, young woman. 
And at the end of that time, if you are still determined 
to work, can't you pick out something easier--like taking 
in scrubbing, for instance?"

I managed a feeble smile, wishing that he would go
away quickly, so that I might sleep.  He seemed to divine
my thoughts, for he disappeared into the corridor, taking
Norah with him.  Their voices, low-pitched and carefully
guarded, could be heard as they conversed outside my
door.

Norah was telling him the whole miserable business. 
I wished, savagely, that she would let me tell it, if it
must be told.  How could she paint the fascination of the
man who was my husband?  She had never known the charm of
him as I had known it in those few brief months before
our marriage.  She had never felt the caress of his
voice, or the magnetism of his strange, smoldering eyes
glowing across the smoke-dimmed city room as I had felt
them fixed on me.  No one had ever known what he had
meant to the girl of twenty, with her brain full of
unspoken dreams--dreams which were all to become glorious
realities in that wonder-place, New York.

How he had fired my country-girl imagination!  He had
been the most brilliant writer on the big, brilliant
sheet--and the most dissolute.  How my heart had pounded 
on that first lonely day when this Wonder-Being looked up 
from his desk, saw me, and strolled over to where I sat 
before my typewriter!  He smiled down at me, companionably. 
I'm quite sure that my mouth must have been wide open with
surprise.  He had been smoking a cigarette an
expensive-looking, gold-tipped one.  Now he removed it
from between his lips with that hand that always shook a
little, and dropped it to the floor, crushing it lightly
with the toe of his boot.  He threw back his handsome
head and sent out the last mouthful of smoke in a thin,
lazy spiral.  I remember thinking what a pity it was that
he should have crushed that costly-looking cigarette,
just for me.

"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.

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.

His work began to show slipshod in spots.  They
talked to him about it and he laughed at them.  Then, one
day, he left them in the ditch on the big story of the
McManus indictment, and the whole town scooped him, and
the managing editor told him that he must go.  His lapses
had become too frequent.  They would have to replace him
with a man not so brilliant, perhaps, but more reliable.

I daren't think of his face as it looked when he came
home to the little apartment and told me. The smoldering
eyes were flaming now.  His lips were flecked with a sort
of foam.  I stared at him in horror.  He strode over to
me, clasped his fingers about my throat and shook me as
a dog shakes a mouse.

"Why don't you cry, eh?" he snarled.  Why don't you
cry!"

And then I did cry out at what I saw in his eyes.  I
wrenched myself free, fled to my room, and locked the
door and stood against it with my hand pressed over my 
heart until I heard the outer door slam and the echo of 
his footsteps die away.

Divorce!  That was my only salvation.  No, that would
be cowardly now.  I would wait until he was on his feet
again, and then I would demand my old free life back once
more.  This existence that was dragging me into the
gutter--this was not life!  Life was a glorious,
beautiful thing, and I would have it yet.  I laid my
plans, feverishly, and waited.  He did not come back that
night, or the next, or the next, or the next.  In
desperation I went to see the men at the office.  No,
they had not seen him.  Was there anything that they
could do? they asked.  I smiled, and thanked them, and
said, oh, Peter was so absent-minded!  No doubt he had
misdirected his letters, or something of the sort.  And
then I went back to the flat to resume the horrible
waiting.

One week later he turned up at the old office which
had cast him off.  He sat down at his former desk and
began to write, breathlessly, as he used to in the days
when all the big stories fell to him.  One of the men
reporters strolled up to him and touched him on the
shoulder, man-fashion.  Peter Orme raised his head and
stared at him, and the man sprang back in terror.  
The smoldering eyes had burned down to an ash. 
Peter Orme was quite bereft of all reason.  They took him
away that night, and I kept telling myself that it wasn't
true; that it was all a nasty dream, and I would wake up
pretty soon, and laugh about it, and tell it at the
breakfast table.

Well, one does not seek a divorce from a husband who
is insane.  The busy men on the great paper were very
kind.  They would take me back on the staff.  Did I think
that I still could write those amusing little human
interest stories?  Funny ones, you know, with a punch in
'em.

Oh, plenty of good stories left in me yet, I assured
them.  They must remember that I was only twenty-one,
after all, and at twenty-one one does not lose the sense
of humor.

And so I went back to my old desk, and wrote bright,
chatty letters home to Norah, and ground out very funny
stories with a punch in 'em, that the husband in the
insane asylum might be kept in comforts.  With both hands
I hung on like grim death to that saving sense of humor,
resolved to make something of that miserable mess which
was my life--to make something of it yet.  And now--

At this point in my musings there was an end
of the low-voiced conversation in the hall.  Sis tiptoed
in and looked her disapproval at finding me sleepless.

"Dawn, old girlie, this will never do.  Shut your
eyes now, like a good child, and go to sleep.  Guess what
that great brute of a doctor said!  I may take you home
with me next week!  Dawn dear, you will come, won't you? 
You must!  This is killing you.  Don't make me go away
leaving you here.  I couldn't stand it."

She leaned over my pillow and closed my eyelids
gently with her sweet, cool fingers.  "You are coming
home with me, and you shall sleep and eat, and sleep and
eat, until you are as lively as the Widow Malone, ohone,
and twice as fat.  Home, Dawnie dear, where we'll forget
all about New York.  Home, with me."

I reached up uncertainly, and brought her hand down
to my lips and a great peace descended upon my sick soul. 
"Home--with you," I said, like a child, and fell asleep.




CHAPTER II


MOSTLY EGGS


Oh, but it was clean, and sweet, and wonderfully
still, that rose-and-white room at Norah's!  No street
cars to tear at one's nerves with grinding brakes and
clanging bells; no tramping of restless feet on the
concrete all through the long, noisy hours; no shrieking
midnight joy-riders; not one of the hundred sounds which
make night hideous in the city.  What bliss to lie there,
hour after hour, in a delicious half-waking,
half-sleeping, wholly exquisite stupor, only rousing
myself to swallow egg-nogg No. 426, and then to flop back
again on the big, cool pillow!

New York, with its lights, its clangor, its millions,
was only a far-away, jumbled nightmare.  The office, with
its clacking typewriters, its insistent, nerve-racking
telephone bells, its systematic rush, its smoke-dimmed
city room, was but an ugly part of the dream.

Back to that inferno of haste and scramble and 
clatter?  Never!  Never!  I resolved, drowsily.  And
dropped off to sleep again.

And the sheets.  Oh, those sheets of Norah's!  Why,
they were white, instead of gray!  And they actually
smelled of flowers.  For that matter, there were rosebuds
on the silken coverlet.  It took me a week to get chummy
with that rosebud-and-down quilt.  I had to explain
carefully to Norah that after a half-dozen years of
sleeping under doubtful boarding-house blankets one does
not so soon get rid of a shuddering disgust for coverings
which are haunted by the ghosts of a hundred unknown
sleepers.  Those years had taught me to draw up the sheet
with scrupulous care, to turn it down, and smooth it
over, so that no contaminating and woolly blanket should
touch my skin.  The habit stuck even after Norah had
tucked me in between her fragrant sheets.  Automatically
my hands groped about, arranging the old protecting
barrier.

"What's the matter, Fuss-fuss?" inquired Norah,
looking on.  "That down quilt won't bite you; what an old
maid you are!"

"Don't like blankets next to my face," I elucidated,
sleepily, "never can tell who slept under 'em last--"

You cat!" exclaimed Norah, making a little rush at 
me.  "If you weren't supposed to be ill I'd
shake you!  Comparing my darling rosebud quilt to your
miserable gray blankets!  Just for that I'll make you eat
an extra pair of eggs."

There never was a sister like Norah.  But then, who
ever heard of a brother-in-law like Max?  No woman--not
even a frazzled-out newspaper woman--could receive the
love and care that they gave me, and fail to flourish
under it.  They had been Dad and Mother to me since the
day when Norah had tucked me under her arm and carried me
away from New York.  Sis was an angel; a comforting,
twentieth-century angel, with white apron strings for
wings, and a tempting tray in her hands in place of the
hymn books and palm leaves that the picture-book angels
carry.  She coaxed the inevitable eggs and beef into more
tempting forms than Mrs. Rorer ever guessed at.  She
could disguise those two plain, nourishing articles of
diet so effectually that neither hen nor cow would have
suspected either of having once been part of her anatomy. 
Once I ate halfway through a melting, fluffy,
peach-bedecked plate of something before I discovered
that it was only another egg in disguise.

"Feel like eating a great big dinner to-day, Kidlet? 
"Norah would ask in the morning as she stood at my bedside 
(with a glass of egg-something in her hand, of course).

"Eat!"--horror and disgust shuddering through my
voice--"Eat!  Ugh!  Don't s-s-speak of it to me.  And for
pity's sake tell Frieda to shut the kitchen door when you
go down, will you?  I can smell something like ugh!--like
pot roast, with gravy!"  And I would turn my face to the
wall.

Three hours later I would hear Sis coming softly up
the stairs, accompanied by a tinkling of china and glass. 
I would face her, all protest.

"Didn't I tell you, Sis, that I couldn't eat a
mouthful?  Not a mouthf--um-m-m-m!  How perfectly
scrumptious that looks!  What's that affair in the
lettuce leaf?  Oh, can't I begin on that divine-looking
pinky stuff in the tall glass?  H'm?  Oh, please!"

"I thought--" Norah would begin; and then she would
snigger softly.

"Oh, well, that was hours ago," I would explain,
loftily.  "Perhaps I could manage a bite or two now."

Whereupon I would demolish everything except the
china and doilies.

It was at this point on the road to recovery, just
halfway between illness and health, that Norah and Max
brought the great and unsmiling Von Gerhard on the scene.  
It appeared that even New York was respectfully aware of 
Von Gerhard, the nerve specialist, in spite of the fact 
that he lived in Milwaukee.  The idea of bringing him up 
to look at me occurred to Max quite suddenly.  I think it 
was on the evening that I burst into tears when Max 
entered the room wearing a squeaky shoe.  The Weeping 
Walrus was a self-contained and tranquil creature 
compared to me at that time.  The sight of a fly on the 
wall was enough to make me burst into a passion of sobs.

"I know the boy to steady those shaky nerves of
yours, Dawn," said Max, after I had made a shamefaced
apology for my hysterical weeping, "I'm going to have Von
Gerhard up here to look at you.  He can run up Sunday,
eh, Norah?"

"Who's Von Gerhard?" I inquired, out of the depths of
my ignorance.  "Anyway, I won't have him.  I'll bet he
wears a Vandyke and spectacles."

"Von Gerhard!" exclaimed Norah, indignantly.  "You
ought to be thankful to have him look at you, even if he
wears goggles and a flowing beard.  Why, even that
red-haired New York doctor of yours cringed and looked
impressed when I told him that Von Gerhard was
a friend of my husband's, and that they had been comrades
at Heidelberg.  I must have mentioned him dozens of times
in my letters."

"Never."

"Queer," commented Max, "he runs up here every now
and then to spend a quiet Sunday with Norah and me and
the Spalpeens.  Says it rests him.  The kids swarm all
over him, and tear him limb from limb.  It doesn't look
restful, but he says it's great.  I think he came here
from Berlin just after you left for New York, Dawn. 
Milwaukee fits him as if it had been made for him."

"But you're not going to drag this wonderful being up
here just for me!" I protested, aghast.

Max pointed an accusing finger at me from the
doorway.  "Aren't you what the bromides call a bundle of
nerves?  And isn't Von Gerhard's specialty untying just
those knots?  I'll write to him to-night."

And he did.  And Von Gerhard came.  The Spalpeens
watched for him, their noses flattened against the
window-pane, for it was raining.  As he came up the path
they burst out of the door to meet him.  From my bedroom
window I saw him come prancing up the walk like a boy,
with the two children clinging to his coat-tails, all 
three quite unmindful of the rain, and yelling like
Comanches.


Ten minutes later he had donned his professional
dignity, entered my room, and beheld me in all my limp
and pea-green beauty.  I noted approvingly that he had to
stoop a bit as he entered the low doorway, and that the
Vandyke of my prophecy was missing.

He took my hand in his own steady, reassuring clasp. 
Then he began to talk.  Half an hour sped away while we
discussed New York--books--music--theatres--everything
and anything but Dawn O'Hara.  I learned later that as we
chatted he was getting his story, bit by bit, from every
twitch of the eyelids, from every gesture of the hands
that had grown too thin to wear the hateful ring; from
every motion of the lips; from the color of my nails;
from each convulsive muscle; from every shadow, and
wrinkle and curve and line of my face.

Suddenly he asked:  "Are you making the proper effort
to get well?  You try to conquer those jumping nerfs,
yes?"

I glared at him.  "Try!  I do everything.  I'd eat
woolly worms if I thought they might benefit me.  If ever
a girl has minded her big sister and her doctor, that
girl is I.  I've eaten everything from pate de foie gras 
to raw beef, and I've drunk everything from blood to 
champagne."

"Eggs? " queried Von Gerhard, as though making a
happy suggestion.

"Eggs!" I snorted.  "Eggs! Thousands of 'em!  Eggs
hard and soft boiled, poached and fried, scrambled and
shirred, eggs in beer and egg-noggs, egg lemonades and
egg orangeades, eggs in wine and eggs in milk, and eggs
au naturel.  I've lapped up iron-and-wine, and whole
rivers of milk, and I've devoured rare porterhouse and
roast beef day after day for weeks.  So!  Eggs!"

"Mein Himmel!" ejaculated he, fervently, "And you
still live!"  A suspicion of a smile dawned in his eyes. 
I wondered if he ever laughed.  I would experiment.

"Don't breathe it to a soul," I whispered,
tragically, "but eggs, and eggs alone, are turning my
love for my sister into bitterest hate.  She stalks me
the whole day long, forcing egg mixtures down my
unwilling throat.  She bullies me.  I daren't put out my
hand suddenly without knocking over liquid refreshment in
some form, but certainly with an egg lurking in its
depths.  I am so expert that I can tell an egg orangeade
from an egg lemonade at a distance of twenty yards, with 
my left hand tied behind me,and one eye shut, and my feet 
in a sack."

"You can laugh, eh?  Well, that iss good," commented
the grave and unsmiling one.

"Sure," answered I, made more flippant by his
solemnity.  "Surely I can laugh.  For what else was my
father Irish?  Dad used to say that a sense of humor was
like a shillaly--an iligent thing to have around handy,
especially when the joke's on you."

The ghost of a twinkle appeared again in the corners
of the German blue eyes.  Some fiend of rudeness seized
me.

"Laugh!" I commanded.

Dr. Ernst von Gerhard stiffened.  "Pardon?" inquired
he, as one who is sure that he has misunderstood.

"Laugh!" I snapped again.  "I'll dare you to do it. 
I'll double dare you!  You dassen't!"

But he did.  After a moment's bewildered surprise he
threw back his handsome blond head and gave vent to a
great, deep infectious roar of mirth that brought the
Spalpeens tumbling up the stairs in defiance of their
mother's strict instructions.

After that we got along beautifully.  He
turned out to be quite human, beneath the outer crust of
reserve.  He continued his examination only after bribing
the Spalpeens shamefully, so that even their rapacious
demands were satisfied, and they trotted off contentedly.

There followed a process which reduced me to a
giggling heap but which Von Gerhard carried out
ceremoniously.  It consisted of certain raps at my knees,
and shins, and elbows, and fingers, and certain commands
to--"look at my finger!  Look at the wall!  Look at my
finger!  Look at the wall!"

"So!" said Von Gerhard at last, in a tone of
finality.  I sank my battered frame into the nearest
chair.  "This--this newspaper work--it must cease."  He
dismissed it with a wave of the hand.

"Certainly," I said, with elaborate sarcasm. "How 
should you advise me to earn my living in the future?  
In the stories they paint dinner cards, don't
they? or bake angel cakes?"

"Are you then never serious?" asked Von Gerhard, in
disapproval.

"Never," said I.  "An old, worn-out, worked-out
newspaper reporter, with a husband in the mad-house,
can't afford to be serious for a minute, because if she
were she'd go mad, too, with the hopelessness of it all."  
And I buried my face in my hands.

The room was very still for a moment.  Then the great
Von Gerhard came over, and took my hands gently from my
face.  "I--I do beg your pardon," he said.  He looked
strangely boyish and uncomfortable as he said it. "I was
thinking only of your good.  We do that, sometimes,
forgetting that circumstances may make our wishes
impossible of execution.  So.  You will forgive me?"

"Forgive you?  Yes,indeed," I assured him.  And we shook
hands, gravely.  "But that doesn't help matters much,
after all, does it?"

"Yes, it helps.  For now we understand one another,
is it not so?  You say you can only write for a living. 
Then why not write here at home?  Surely these years of
newspaper work have given you a great knowledge of human
nature.  Then too, there is your gift of humor.  Surely
that is a combination which should make your work
acceptable to the magazines.  Never in my life have I
seen so many magazines as here in the United States.  But
hundreds!  Thousands!"

"Me!" I exploded--"A real writer lady!  No more
interviews with actresses!  No more slushy Sunday 
specials!  No more teary tales!  Oh, my! 
When may I begin?  To-morrow?  You know I brought my
typewriter with me.  I've almost forgotten where the
letters are on the keyboard."

"Wait, wait; not so fast!  In a month or two,
perhaps.  But first must come other things outdoor
things.  Also housework."

"Housework!" I echoed, feebly.

"Naturlich.  A little dusting, a little scrubbing,
a little sweeping, a little cooking.  The finest kind of
indoor exercise.  Later you may write a little--but very
little.  Run and play out of doors with the children. 
When I see you again you will have roses in your cheeks 
like the German girls, yes?"

"Yes," I echoed, meekly, "I wonder how Frieda will
like my elephantine efforts at assisting with the
housework.  If she gives notice, Norah will be lost to
you."

But Frieda did not give notice.  After I had helped
her clean the kitchen and the pantry I noticed an
expression of deepest pity overspreading her lumpy
features.  The expression became almost one of agony as
she watched me roll out some noodles for soup, and delve
into the sticky mysteries of a new kind of cake.

Max says that for a poor working girl who
hasn't had time to cultivate the domestic graces, my
cakes are a distinct triumph.  Sis sniffs at that, and
mutters something about cups of raisins and nuts and
citron hiding a multitude of batter sins.  She never
allows the Spalpeens to eat my cakes, and on my baking
days they are usually sent from the table howling.  Norah
declares, severely, that she is going to hide the Green
Cook Book.  The Green Cook Book is a German one.  Norah
bought it in deference to Max's love of German cookery. 
It is called Aunt Julchen's cook book, and the author,
between hints as to flour and butter, gets delightfully
chummy with her pupil.  Her cakes are proud, rich cakes. 
She orders grandly:

"Now throw in the yolks of twelve eggs; one-fourth of
a pound of almonds; two pounds of raisins; a pound of
citron; a pound of orange-peel."

As if that were not enough, there follow minor
instructions as to trifles like ounces of walnut meats,
pounds of confectioner's sugar, and pints of very rich
cream.  When cold, to be frosted with an icing made up of
more eggs, more nuts, more cream, more everything.

The children have appointed themselves official
lickers and scrapers of the spoons and icing pans, also
official guides on their auntie's walks. They regard 
their Aunt Dawn as a quite ridiculous but altogether 
delightful old thing.

And Norah--bless her! looks up when I come in from a
romp with the Spalpeens and says:  "Your cheeks are pink! 
Actually!  And you're losing a puff there at the back of
your ear, and your hat's on crooked.  Oh, you are
beginning to look your old self, Dawn dear!"

At which doubtful compliment I retort, recklessly: 
"Pooh!  What's a puff more or less, in a worthy cause? 
And if you think my cheeks are pink now, just wait until
your mighty Von Gerhard comes again.  By that time they
shall be so red and bursting that Frieda's, on wash day,
will look anemic by comparison.  Say, Norah, how red are
German red cheeks, anyway?"





CHAPTER III


GOOD AS NEW

So Spring danced away, and Summer sauntered in.  My
pillows looked less and less tempting.  The wine of the
northern air imparted a cocky assurance.  One
blue-and-gold day followed the other, and I spent hours
together out of doors in the sunshine, lying full length
on the warm, sweet ground, to the horror of the entire
neighborhood.  To be sure, I was sufficiently discreet to
choose the lawn at the rear of the house.  There I drank
in the atmosphere, as per doctor's instructions, while
the genial sun warmed the watery blood in my veins and
burned the skin off the end of my nose.

All my life I had envied the loungers in the parks--
those silent, inert figures that lie under the trees all
the long summer day, their shabby hats over their faces,
their hands clasped above their heads, legs sprawled in
uncouth comfort, while the sun dapples down between the
leaves and, like a good fairy godmother, touches their
frayed and wrinkled garments with flickering
figures of golden splendor, while they sleep.  They
always seemed so blissfully care-free and at ease--those
sprawling men figures--and I, to whom such simple joys
were forbidden, being a woman, had envied them.

Now I was reveling in that very joy, stretched prone
upon the ground, blinking sleepily up at the sun and the
cobalt sky, feeling my very hair grow, and health
returning in warm, electric waves.  I even dared to cross
one leg over the other and to swing the pendant member
with nonchalant air, first taking a cautious survey of
the neighboring back windows to see if any one peeked. 
Doubtless they did, behind those ruffled curtains, but I
grew splendidly indifferent.

Even the crawling things--and there were myriads of
them--added to the enjoyment of my ease.  With my ear so
close to the ground the grass seemed fairly to buzz with
them.  Everywhere there were crazily busy ants, and I,
patently a sluggard and therefore one of those for whom
the ancient warning was intended, considered them lazily. 
How they plunged about, weaving in and out, rushing here
and there, helter-skelter, like bargain-hunting women
darting wildly from counter to counter!

"O, foolish, foolish anties!" I chided them, "stop
wearing yourselves out this way. Don't you know that the 
game isn't worth the candle, and that you'll give 
yourselves nervous jim-jams and then you'll have to go 
home to be patched up?  Look at me!  I'm a horrible 
example."

But they only bustled on, heedless of my advice, and
showed their contempt by crawling over me as I lay there
like a lady Gulliver.

Oh, I played what they call a heavy thinking part. 
It was not only the ants that came in for lectures.  I
preached sternly to myself.

"Well, Dawn old girl, you've made a beautiful mess of
it.  A smashed-up wreck at twenty-eight!  And what have
you to show for it?  Nothing!  You're a useless pulp,
like a lemon that has been squeezed dry.  Von Gerhard was
right.  There must be no more newspaper work for you, me
girl.  Not if you can keep away from the fascination of
it, which I don't think you can."

Then I would fall to thinking of those years of
newspapering--of the thrills of them, and the ills of
them.  It had been exhilarating, and educating, but
scarcely remunerative.  Mother had never approved.  Dad
had chuckled and said that it was a curse descended upon
me from the terrible old Kitty O'Hara, the only old maid
in the history of the O'Haras, and famed in her
day for a caustic tongue and a venomed pen.  Dad and
Mother--what a pair of children they had been!  The very
dissimilarity of their natures had been a bond between
them.  Dad, light-hearted, whimsical, care-free,
improvident; Mother, gravely sweet, anxious-browed,
trying to teach economy to the handsome Irish husband
who, descendant of a long and royal line of spendthrift
ancestors, would have none of it.

It was Dad who had insisted that they name me Dawn. 
Dawn O'Hara!  His sense of humor must have been sleeping. 
"You were such a rosy, pinky, soft baby thing," Mother
had once told me, "that you looked just like the first
flush of light at sunrise.  That is why your father
insisted on calling you Dawn."

Poor Dad!  How could he know that at twenty-eight I
would be a yellow wreck of a newspaper reporter--with a
wrinkle between my eyes.  If he could see me now he would
say:

"Sure, you look like the dawn yet, me girl but a
Pittsburgh dawn."

At that, Mother, if she were here, would pat my check
where the hollow place is, and murmur:  "Never mind,
Dawnie dearie, Mother thinks you are beautiful just the
same."  Of such blessed stuff are mothers made.

At this stage of the memory game I would bury my face
in the warm grass and thank my God for having taken
Mother before Peter Orme came into my life.  And then I
would fall asleep there on the soft, sweet grass, with my
head snuggled in my arms, and the ants wriggling,
unchided, into my ears.

On the last of these sylvan occasions I awoke, not
with a graceful start, like the story-book ladies, but
with a grunt.  Sis was digging me in the ribs with her
toe.  I looked up to see her standing over me, a foaming
tumbler of something in her hand.  I felt that it was
eggy and eyed it disgustedly.

"Get up," said she, "you lazy scribbler, and drink
this."

I sat up, eyeing her severely and picking grass and
ants out of my hair.

"D' you mean to tell me that you woke me out of that
babe-like slumber to make me drink that goo?  What is it,
anyway?  I'll bet it's another egg-nogg."

"Egg-nogg it is; and swallow it right away, because
there are guests to see you."

I emerged from the first dip into the yellow mixture
and fixed on her as stern and terrible a look at any one
can whose mouth is encircled by a mustache of yellow
foam.

"Guests!" I roared, "not for me!  Don't you dare to
say that they came to see me!"

"Did too," insists Norah, with firmness, "they came
especially to see you.  Asked for you, right from the
jump."

I finished the egg-nogg in four gulps, returned the
empty tumbler with an air of decision, and sank upon the
grass.

"Tell 'em I rave.  Tell 'em that I'm unconscious, and
that for weeks I have recognized no one, not even my dear
sister.  Say that in my present nerve-shattered condition
I--"

"That wouldn't satisfy them," Norah calmly.
interrupts, "they know you're crazy because they saw you
out here from their second story back windows.  That's
why they came.  So you may as well get up and face them. 
I promised them I'd bring you in.  You can't go on
forever refusing to see people, and you know the Whalens
are--"

"Whalens!" I gasped.  "How many of them?  Not--not
the entire fiendish three?"

"All three.  I left them champing with impatience."

The Whalens live just around the corner.  The Whalens
are omniscient.  They have a system of news gathering
which would make the efforts of a New York daily appear
antiquated. They know that Jenny Laffin feeds the family 
on soup meat and oat-meal when Mr. Laffin is on the road; 
they know that Mrs. Pearson only shakes out her rugs once 
in four weeks; they can tell you the number of times a 
week that Sam Dempster comes home drunk; they know that 
the Merkles never have cream with their coffee because 
little Lizzie Merkle goes to the creamery every day with 
just one pail and three cents; they gloat over the knowledge 
that Professor Grimes, who is a married man, is sweet on
Gertie Ashe, who teaches second reader in his school;
they can tell you where Mrs. Black got her seal coat, and
her husband only earning two thousand a year; they know
who is going to run for mayor, and how long poor Angela
Sims has to live, and what Guy Donnelly said to Min when
he asked her to marry him.

The three Whalens--mother and daughters--hunt in a
group.  They send meaning glances to one another across
the room, and at parties they get together and exchange
bulletins in a corner.  On passing the Whalen house one
is uncomfortably aware of shadowy forms lurking in the
windows, and of parlor curtains that are agitated for no
apparent cause.

Therefore it was with a groan that I rose and
prepared to follow Norah into the house. Something in my 
eye caused her to turn at the very door.  "Don't you dare!" 
she hissed; then, banishing the warning scowl from her face, 
and assuming a near-smile, she entered the room and I 
followed miserably at her heels.

The Whalens rose and came forward effusively; Mrs.
Whalen, plump, dark, voluble; Sally, lean, swarthy,
vindictive; Flossie, pudgy, powdered, over-dressed.  They
eyed me hungrily.  I felt that they were searching my
features for signs of incipient insanity.

"Dear, DEAR girl!" bubbled the billowy Flossie,
kissing the end of my nose and fastening her eye on my
ringless left hand.

Sally contented herself with a limp and fishy
handshake.  She and I were sworn enemies in our
school-girl days, and a baleful gleam still lurked in
Sally's eye.  Mrs. Whalen bestowed on me a motherly hug
that enveloped me in an atmosphere of liquid face-wash,
strong perfumery and fried lard.  Mrs. Whalen is a famous
cook.  Said she:

"We've been thinking of calling ever since you were
brought home, but dear me! you've been looking so poorly
I just said to the girls, wait till the poor thing feels
more like seeing her old friends.  Tell me, how are you
feeling now?"

The three sat forward in their chairs in attitudes of
tense waiting.

I resolved that if err I must it should be on the
side of safety.  I turned to sister Norah.

"How am I feeling anyway, Norah?" I guardedly
inquired.

Norah's face was a study.  "Why Dawn dear," she said,
sugar-sweet, "no doubt you know better than I.  But I'm
sure that you are wonderfully improved--almost your old
self, in fact.  Don't you think she looks splendid, Mrs.
Whalen?"

The three Whalens tore their gaze from my blank
countenance to exchange a series of meaning looks.

"I suppose," purred Mrs. Whalen, " that your awful
trouble was the real cause of your--a-a-a-sickness,
worrying about it and grieving as you must have."

She pronounces it with a capital T, and I know she
means Peter.  I hate her for it.

"Trouble!" I chirped.  "Trouble never troubles me. 
I just worked too hard, that's all, and acquired an awful
`tired.'  All work and no play makes Jill a nervous
wreck, you know."

At that the elephantine Flossie wagged a playful
finger at me.  "Oh, now, you can't make us believe that,
just because we're from the country!  We know all about 
you gay New Yorkers, with your Bohemian ways and your 
midnight studio suppers, and your cigarettes, and 
cocktails and high jinks!"

Memory painted a swift mental picture of Dawn O'Hara
as she used to tumble into bed after a whirlwind day at
the office, too dog-tired to give her hair even one half
of the prescribed one hundred strokes of the brush.  But
in turn I shook a reproving forefinger at Flossie.

"You've been reading some naughty society novel!  One
of those millionaire-divorce-actress-automobile novels. 
Dear, dear!  Shall I, ever forget the first New York
actress I ever met; or what she said!"

I felt, more than saw, a warning movement from Sis. 
But the three Whalens had hitched forward in their
chairs.

"What did she say?" gurgled Flossie.  "Was it
something real reezk?"

"Well, it was at a late supper--a studio supper given
in her honor," I confessed.

"Yes-s-s-s " hissed the Whalens.

"And this actress--she was one of those musical
comedy actresses, you know; I remember her part called
for a good deal of kicking about in a short Dutch
costume--came in rather late, after the performance.  She
was wearing a regal-looking fur-edged evening wrap, and 
she still wore all her make-up"--out of the corner of my 
eye I saw Sis sink back with an air of resignation--"and 
she threw open the door and said--

"Yes-s-s-s! " hissed the Whalens again, wetting their
lips.

"--said:  `Folks, I just had a wire from mother, up
in Maine.  The boy has the croup.  I'm scared green.  I
hate to spoil the party, but don't ask me to stay.  I
want to go home to the flat and blubber.  I didn't even
stop to take my make-up off.  My God!  If anything should
happen to the boy!--Well, have a good time without me. 
Jim's waiting outside.'"  A silence.

Then--"Who was Jim?" asked Flossie, hopefully.

"Jim was her husband, of course.  He was in the same
company."

Another silence.

"Is that all?" demanded Sally from the corner in
which she had been glowering.

"All!  You unnatural girl!  Isn't one husband
enough?"

Mrs. Whalen smiled an uncertain, wavering smile. 
There passed among the three a series of cabalistic
signs.  They rose simultaneously.

"How quaint you are!" exclaimed Mrs. Whalen, "and so
amusing!  Come girls, we mustn't tire Miss--ah--Mrs.--
er--"with another meaning look at my bare left hand.

"My husband's name is still Orme," I prompted, quite,
quite pleasantly.

"Oh, certainly.  I'm so forgetful.  And one reads
such queer things in the newspapers nowa-days.  Divorces,
and separations, and soul-mates and things."  There was
a note of gentle insinuation in her voice.

Norah stepped firmly into the fray.  "Yes, doesn't
one?  What a comfort it must be to you to know that your
dear girls are safe at home with you, and no doubt will
be secure, for years to come, from the buffeting winds of
matrimony."

There was a tinge of purple in Mrs. Whalen's face as
she moved toward the door, gathering her brood about her. 
"Now that dear Dawn is almost normal again I shall send
my little girlies over real often.  She must find it very
dull here after her--ah--life in New York."

"Not at all," I said, hurriedly, "not at all.  You
see I'm--I'm writing a book.  My entire day is occupied."

"A book!" screeched the three.  "How interesting!  What 
is it?  When will it be published?"

I avoided Norah's baleful eye as I answered their
questions and performed the final adieux.

As the door closed, Norah and I faced each other,
glaring.

"Hussies!" hissed Norah.  Whereupon it struck us
funny and we fell, a shrieking heap, into the nearest
chair.  Finally Sis dabbed at her eyes with her
handkerchief, drew a long breath, and asked, with
elaborate sarcasm, why I hadn't made it a play instead of
a book, while I was about it.

"But I mean it," I declared.  "I've had enough of
loafing.  Max must unpack my typewriter to-night.  I'm
homesick for a look at the keys.  And to-morrow I'm to be
installed in the cubbyhole off the dining-room and I defy
any one to enter it on peril of their lives.  If you
value the lives of your offspring, warn them away from
that door.  Von Gerhard said that there was writing in my
system, and by the Great Horn Spoon and the Beard of the
Prophet, I'll have it out!  Besides, I need the money. 
Norah dear, how does one set about writing a book?  It
seems like such a large order."




CHAPTER IV


DAWN DEVELOPS A HEIMWEH

It's hard trying to develop into a real Writer Lady in
the bosom of one's family, especially when the family
refuses to take one seriously.  Seven years of newspaper
grind have taught me the fallacy of trying to write by
the inspiration method.  But there is such a thing as a
train of thought, and mine is constantly being derailed,
and wrecked and pitched about.

Scarcely am I settled in my cubby-hole, typewriter
before me, the working plan of a story buzzing about in
my brain, when I hear my name called in muffled tones, as
though the speaker were laboring with a mouthful of
hairpins.  I pay no attention.  I have just given my
heroine a pair of calm gray eyes, shaded with black
lashes and hair to match.  A voice floats down from the
upstairs regions.

"Dawn!  Oh, Dawn!  Just run and rescue the cucumbers
out of the top of the ice-box, will you?  The iceman's
coming, and he'll squash 'em."

A parting jab at my heroine's hair and eyes, and I'm
off to save the cucumbers.

Back at my typewriter once more.  Shall I make my
heroine petite or grande?  I decide that stateliness
and Gibsonesque height should accompany the calm gray
eyes.  I rattle away happily, the plot unfolding itself
in some mysterious way.  Sis opens the door a little and
peers in.  She is dressed for the street.

"Dawn dear, I'm going to the dressmaker's.  Frieda's
upstairs cleaning the bathroom, so take a little squint
at the roast now and then, will you?  See that it doesn't
burn, and that there's plenty of gravy.  Oh, and Dawn--
tell the milkman we want an extra half-pint of cream
to-day.  The tickets are on the kitchen shelf, back of
the clock.  I'll be back in an hour."

"Mhmph," I reply.

Sis shuts the door, but opens it again almost
immediately.

"Don't let the Infants bother you.  But if Frieda's
upstairs and they come to you for something to eat, don't
let them have any cookies before dinner.  If they're
really hungry they'll eat bread and butter."

I promise, dreamily, my last typewritten sentence
still running through my head.  The gravy seems to have
got into the heroine's calm gray eyes.  What heroine 
could remain calm-eyed when her creator's mind is filled 
with roast beef?  A half-hour elapses before I get back 
on the track.  Then appears the hero--a tall blond youth, 
fair to behold.  I make him two yards high, and endow him 
with a pair of clothing-advertisement shoulders.

There assails my nostrils a fearful smell of
scorching.  The roast!  A wild rush into the kitchen.  I
fling open the oven door.  The roast is mahogany-colored,
and gravyless.  It takes fifteen minutes of the most
desperate first-aid-to-the-injured measures before the
roast is revived.

Back to the writing.  It has lost its charm.  The
gray-eyed heroine is a stick; she moves like an Indian
lady outside a cigar shop.  The hero is a milk-and-water
sissy, without a vital spark in him.  What's the use of
trying to write, anyway?  Nobody wants my stuff.  Good
for nothing except dubbing on a newspaper!

Rap!  Rap!  Rappity-rap-rap!  Bing!  Milk!

I dash into the kitchen.  No milk!  No milkman!  I
fly to the door.  He is disappearing around the corner of
the house.

"Hi!  Mr. Milkman!  Say, Mr. Milkman!" with frantic
beckonings.

He turns.  He lifts up his voice.  "The screen door 
was locked so I left youse yer milk on top of
the ice-box on the back porch.  Thought like the hired
girl was upstairs an' I could git the tickets to-morra."

I explain about the cream, adding that it is wanted
for short-cake.  The explanation does not seem to cheer
him.  He appears to be a very gloomy and reserved
milkman.  I fancy that he is in the habit of indulging in
a little airy persiflage with Frieda o' mornings, and he
finds me a poor substitute for her red-cheeked
comeliness.

The milk safely stowed away in the ice-box, I have
another look at the roast.  I am dipping up spoonfuls of
brown gravy and pouring them over the surface of the
roast in approved basting style, when there is a rush, a
scramble, and two hard bodies precipitate themselves upon
my legs so suddenly that for a moment my head pitches
forward into the oven.  I withdraw my head from the oven,
hastily.  The basting spoon is immersed in the bottom of
the pan.  I turn, indignant.  The Spalpeens look up at me
with innocent eyes.

"You little divils, what do you mean by shoving your
old aunt into the oven!  It's cannibals you are!"

The idea pleases them.  They release my legs
and execute a savage war dance around me.  The Spalpeens
are firm in the belief that I was brought to their home
for their sole amusement, and they refuse to take me
seriously.  The Spalpeens themselves are two of the
finest examples of real humor that ever were perpetrated
upon parents.  Sheila is the first-born.  Norah decided
that she should be an Irish beauty, and bestowed upon her
a name that reeks of the bogs.  Whereupon Sheila, at the
age of six, is as flaxen-haired and blue-eyed and stolid
a little German madchen as ever fooled her parents, and
she is a feminine reproduction of her German Dad.  Two
years later came a sturdy boy, and they named him Hans,
in a flaunt of defiance.  Hans is black-haired, gray-eyed
and Irish as Killarny.

"We're awful hungry," announces Sheila.

"Can't you wait until dinner time?  Such a grand
dinner!"

Sheila and Hans roll their eyes to convey to me that,
were they to wait until dinner for sustenance we should
find but their lifeless forms.

"Well then, Auntie will get a nice piece of bread and
butter for each of you."

"Don't want bread an' butty!" shrieks Hans.  "Want
tooky!"

"Cooky!" echoes Sheila, pounding on the kitchen table
with the rescued basting spoon.

"You can't have cookies before dinner.  They're bad
for your insides."

"Can too," disputes Hans.  "Fwieda dives us tookies. 
Want tooky!" wailingly.

"Please, ple-e-e-ease, Auntie Dawnie dearie,"
wheedles Sheila, wriggling her soft little fingers in my
hand.

"But Mother never lets you have cookies before
dinner," I retort severely.  "She knows they are bad for
you."

"Pooh, she does too!  She always says, `No, not a
cooky!'  And then we beg and screech, and then she says,
`Oh, for pity's sake, Frieda, give 'em a cooky and send
'em out.  One cooky can't kill 'em.'"  Sheila's imitation
is delicious.

Hans catches the word screech and takes it as his
cue.  He begins a series of ear-piercing wails.  Sheila
surveys him with pride and then takes the wail up in a
minor key.  Their teamwork is marvelous.  I fly to the
cooky jar and extract two round and sugary confections. 
I thrust them into the pink, eager palms.  The wails
cease.  Solemnly they place one cooky atop the other,
measuring the circlets with grave eyes.

"Mine's a weeny bit bigger'n yours this time,"
decides Sheila, and holds her cooky heroically while Hans
takes a just and lawful bite out of his sister's larger
share.

"The blessed little angels! " I say to myself,
melting.  "The dear, unselfish little sweeties!" and give
each of them another cooky.

Back to my typewriter.  But the words flatly refuse
to come now.  I make six false starts, bite all my best
finger-nails, screw my hair into a wilderness of
cork-screws and give it up.  No doubt a real Lady Writer
could write on, unruffled and unhearing, while the iceman
squashed the cucumbers, and the roast burned to a
frazzle, and the Spalpeens perished of hunger.  Possessed
of the real spark of genius, trivialities like milkmen
and cucumbers could not dim its glow.  Perhaps all
successful Lady Writers with real live sparks have cooks
and scullery maids, and need not worry about basting, and
gravy, and milkmen.

This book writing is all very well for those who have
a large faith in the future and an equally large bank
account.  But my future will have to be hand-carved, and
my bank account has always been an all too small pay
envelope at the end of each week.  It will be months
before the book is shaped and finished.  And my
pocketbook is empty.  Last week Max sent money for the
care of Peter.  He and Norah think that I do not know.

Von Gerhard was here in August.  I told him
that all my firm resolutions to forsake newspaperdom
forever were slipping away, one by one.

"I have heard of the fascination of the newspaper
office," he said, in his understanding way. "I believe 
you have a heimweh for it, not?"

"Heimweh!  That's the word," I had agreed.  "After
you have been a newspaper writer for seven years--and
loved it--you will be a newspaper writer, at heart and by
instinct at least, until you die.  There's no getting
away from it.  It's in the blood.  Newspaper men have
been known to inherit fortunes, to enter politics, to
write books and become famous, to degenerate into press
agents and become infamous, to blossom into personages,
to sink into nonentities, but their news-nose remained a
part of them, and the inky, smoky, stuffy smell of a
newspaper office was ever sweet in their nostrils."

But, "Not yet," Von Gerhard had said, "It unless you
want to have again this miserable business of the sick
nerfs.  Wait yet a few months."

And so I have waited, saying nothing to Norah and
Max.  But I want to be in the midst of things.  I miss
the sensation of having my fingers at the pulse of the
big old world.  I'm lonely for the noise and the rush and
the hard work; for a glimpse of the busy local room just 
before press time, when the lights are swimming in a smoky 
haze, and the big presses downstairs are thundering their
warning to hurry, and the men are breezing in from their
runs with the grist of news that will be ground finer and
finer as it passes through the mill of copy-readers' and
editors' hands.  I want to be there in the thick of the
confusion that is, after all, so orderly.  I want to be
there when the telephone bells are zinging, and the
typewriters are snapping, and the messenger boys are
shuffling in and out, and the office kids are scuffling
in a corner, and the big city editor, collar off, sleeves
rolled up from his great arms, hair bristling wildly
above his green eye-shade, is swearing gently and smoking
cigarette after cigarette, lighting each fresh one at the
dying glow of the last.  I would give a year of my life
to hear him say:

"I don't mind tellin' you, Beatrice Fairfax, that
that was a darn good story you got on the Millhaupt
divorce.  The other fellows haven't a word that isn't
re-hash."

All of which is most unwomanly; for is not marriage
woman's highest aim, and home her true sphere?  Haven't
I tried both?  I ought to know.  I merely have been
miscast in this life's drama.  My part should have been 
that of one who makes her way alone.  Peter, with his thin, 
cruel lips, and his shaking hands, and his haggard face 
and his smoldering eyes, is a shadow forever blotting out 
the sunny places in my path.  I was meant to be an old 
maid, like the terrible old Kitty O'Hara.  Not one of the
tatting-and-tea kind, but an impressive, bustling old
girl, with a double chin.  The sharp-tongued Kitty O'Hara
used to say that being an old maid was a great deal like
death by drowning--a really delightful sensation when you
ceased struggling.

Norah has pleaded with me to be more like other women
of my age, and for her sake I've tried.  She has led me
about to bridge parties and tea fights, and I have tried
to act as though I were enjoying it all, but I knew that
I wasn't getting on a bit.  I have come to the conclusion
that one year of newspapering counts for two years of
ordinary, existence, and that while I'm twenty-eight in
the family Bible I'm fully forty inside.  When one day
may bring under one's pen a priest, a pauper, a
prostitute, a philanthropist, each with a story to tell,
and each requiring to be bullied, or cajoled, or bribed,
or threatened, or tricked into telling it; then the end
of that day's work finds one looking out at the world 
with eyes that are very tired and as old as the world 
itself.

I'm spoiled for sewing bees and church sociables and
afternoon bridges.  A hunger for the city is upon me. 
The long, lazy summer days have slipped by.  There is an
autumn tang in the air.  The breeze has a touch that is
sharp.

Winter in a little northern town!  I should go mad. 
But winter in the city!  The streets at dusk on a frosty
evening; the shop windows arranged by artist hands for
the beauty-loving eyes of women; the rows of lights like
jewels strung on an invisible chain; the glitter of brass
and enamel as the endless procession of motors flashes
past; the smartly-gowned women; the keen-eyed, nervous
men; the shrill note of the crossing policeman's whistle;
every smoke-grimed wall and pillar taking on a mysterious
shadowy beauty in the purple dusk, every unsightly blot
obscured by the kindly night.  But best of all, the
fascination of the People I'd Like to Know.  They pop up
now and then in the shifting crowds, and are gone the
next moment, leaving behind them a vague regret. 
Sometimes I call them the People I'd Like to Know and
sometimes I call them the People I Know I'd Like, but it
means much the same.  Their faces flash by in the crowd,
and are gone, but I recognize them instantly as belonging 
to my beloved circle of unknown friends.

Once it was a girl opposite me in a car--a girl with
a wide, humorous mouth, and tragic eyes, and a hole in
her shoe.  Once it was a big, homely, red-headed giant of
a man with an engineering magazine sticking out of his
coat pocket.  He was standing at a book counter reading
Dickens like a schoolboy and laughing in all the right
places, I know, because I peaked over his shoulder to
see.  Another time it was a sprightly little, grizzled
old woman, staring into a dazzling shop window in which
was displayed a wonderful collection of fashionably
impossible hats and gowns.  She was dressed all in rusty
black, was the little old lady, and she had a quaint cast
in her left eye that gave her the oddest, most sporting
look.  The cast was working overtime as she gazed at the
gowns, and the ridiculous old sprigs on her rusty black
bonnet trembled with her silent mirth.  She looked like
one of those clever, epigrammatic, dowdy old duchesses
that one reads about in English novels.  I'm sure she had
cardamon seeds in her shabby bag, and a carriage with a
crest on it waiting for her just around the corner.  I
ached to slip my hand through her arm and ask her what
she thought of it all.  I know that her reply would have 
been exquisitely witty and audacious, and I did so long 
to hear her say it.

No doubt some good angel tugs at my common sense,
restraining me from doing these things that I am tempted
to do.  Of course it would be madness for a woman to
address unknown red-headed men with the look of an
engineer about them and a book of Dickens in their hands;
or perky old women with nutcracker faces; or girls with
wide humorous mouths.  Oh, it couldn't be done, I
suppose.  They would clap me in a padded cell in no time
if I were to say:

"Mister Red-headed Man, I'm so glad your heart is
young enough for Dickens.  I love him too--enough to read
him standing at a book counter in a busy shop.  And do
you know, I like the squareness of your jaw, and the way
your eyes crinkle up when you laugh; and as for your
being an engineer--why one of the very first men I ever
loved was the engineer in `Soldiers of Fortune.'"

I wonder what the girl in the car would have said if
I had crossed over to her, and put my hand on her arm and
spoken, thus:

"Girl with the wide, humorous mouth, and the tragic
eyes, and the hole in your shoe, I think you must be an
awfully good sort.  I'll wager you paint, or write, or act, 
or do something clever like that for a living.  But from 
that hole in your shoe which you have inked so carefully,
although it persists in showing white at the seams, I 
fancy you are stumbling over a rather stony bit of Life's 
road just now.  And from the look in your eyes, girl, I'm 
afraid the stones have cut and bruised rather cruelly.  
But when I look at your smiling, humorous mouth I know 
that you are trying to laugh at the hurts.  I think that 
this morning, when you inked your shoe for the dozenth 
time,  you hesitated between tears and laughter, and the 
laugh won, thank God!  Please keep right on laughing, and 
don't you dare stop for a minute!  Because pretty soon 
you'll come to a smooth easy place, and then won't you be 
glad that you didn't give up to lie down by the roadside, 
weary of your hurts?"

Oh, it would never do.  Never.  And yet no charm
possessed by the people I know and like can compare with
the fascination of those People I'd Like to Know, and
Know I Would Like.

Here at home with Norah there are no faces in the
crowds.  There are no crowds.  When you turn the corner
at Main street you are quite sure that you will see the
same people in the same places.  You know that Mamie
Hayes will be flapping her duster just outside the door 
of the jewelry store where she clerks.  She gazes up and 
down Main street as she flaps the cloth, her bright eyes
keeping a sharp watch for stray traveling men that may
chance to be passing.  You know that there will be the
same lounging group of white-faced, vacant-eyed youths
outside the pool-room.  Dr. Briggs's patient runabout
will be standing at his office doorway.  Outside his
butcher shop Assemblyman Schenck will be holding forth on
the subject of county politics to a group of red-faced,
badly dressed, prosperous looking farmers and townsmen,
and as he talks the circle of brown tobacco juice which
surrounds the group closes in upon them, nearer and
nearer.  And there, in a roomy chair in a corner of the
public library reference room, facing the big front
window, you will see Old Man Randall.  His white hair
forms a halo above his pitiful drink-marred face.  He was
to have been a great lawyer, was Old Man Randall.  But on
the road to fame he met Drink, and she grasped his arm,
and led him down by-ways, and into crooked lanes, and
finally into ditches, and he never arrived at his goal. 
There in that library window nook it is cool in summer,
and warm in winter.  So he sits and dreams, holding an
open volume, unread, on his knees.  Some times he writes, 
hunched up in his corner, feverishly scribbling at 
ridiculous plays, short stories, and novels
which later he will insist on reading to the tittering
schoolboys and girls who come into the library to do
their courting and reference work.  Presently, when it
grows dusk, Old Man Randall will put away his book, throw
his coat over his shoulders, sleeves dangling, flowing
white locks sweeping the frayed velvet collar.  He will
march out with his soldierly tread, humming a bit of a
tune, down the street and into Vandermeister's saloon,
where he will beg a drink and a lunch, and some man will
give it to him for the sake of what Old Man Randall might
have been.

All these things you know.  And knowing them, what is
left for the imagination?  How can one dream dreams about
people when one knows how much they pay their hired girl,
and what they have for dinner on Wednesdays?





CHAPTER V


THE ABSURD BECOMES SERIOUS

I can understand the emotions of a broken-down war horse
that is hitched to a vegetable wagon.  I am going to
Milwaukee to work!  It is a thing to make the gods hold
their sides and roll down from their mountain peaks with
laughter.  After New York--Milwaukee!

Of course Von Gerhard is to blame.  But I think even
he sees the humor of it.  It happened in this way, on a
day when I was indulging in a particularly
greenery-yallery fit of gloom.  Norah rushed into my
room.  I think I was mooning over some old papers, or
letters, or ribbons, or some such truck in the charming,
knife-turning way that women have when they are blue.

"Out wid yez!" cried Norah.  "On with your hat and
coat!  I've just had a wire from Ernst von Gerhard.  He's
coming, and you look like an under-done dill pickle.  You
aren't half as blooming as when he was here in August,
and this is October.  Get out and walk until your cheeks
are so red that Von Gerhard will refuse to believe that
this fiery-faced puffing, bouncing creature is the green
and limp thing that huddled in a chair a few months ago. 
Out ye go!"

And out I went.  Hatless, I strode countrywards,
leaving paved streets and concrete walks far behind. 
There were drifts of fallen leaves all about, and I
scuffled through them drearily, trying to feel gloomy,
and old, and useless, and failing because of the tang in
the air, and the red-and-gold wonder of the frost-kissed
leaves, and the regular pump-pump of good red blood that
was coursing through my body as per Norah's request.

In a field at the edge of the town, just where city
and country begin to have a bowing acquaintance, the
college boys were at football practice.  Their scarlet
sweaters made gay patches of color against the dull
gray-brown of the autumn grass.

"Seven-eighteen-two-four!" called a voice.  There
followed a scuffle, a creaking of leather on leather, a
thud.  I watched them, a bit enviously, walking backwards
until a twist in the road hid them from view.  That same
twist transformed my path into a real country road--
a brown, dusty, monotonous Michigan country road that
went severely about its business, never once stopping to
flirt with the blushing autumn woodland at its left, or
to dally with the dimpling ravine at its right.

"Now if that were an English country road," thought
I, "a sociably inclined, happy-go-lucky, out-for-pleasure
English country road, one might expect something of it. 
On an English country road this would be the
psychological moment for the appearance of a blond god,
in gray tweed.  What a delightful time of it Richard Le
Gallienne's hero had on his quest!  He could not stroll
down the most innocent looking lane, he might not loiter
along the most out-of-the-way path, he never ambled over
the barest piece of country road, that he did not come
face to face with some witty and lovely woman creature,
also in search of things unconventional, and able to
quote charming lines from Chaucer to him."

Ah, but that was England, and this is America.  I
realize it sadly as I step out of the road to allow a
yellow milk wagon to rattle past.  The red letters on the
yellow milk cart inform the reader that it is the
property of August Schimmelpfennig, of Hickory Grove. 
The Schimmelpfennig eye may be seen staring down upon me
from the bit of glass in the rear as the cart rattles 
ahead, doubtless being suspicious of hatless
young women wandering along country roads at dusk, alone. 
There was that in the staring eye to which I took
exception.  It wore an expression which made me feel sure
that the mouth below it was all a-grin, if I could but
have seen it.  It was bad enough to be stared at by the
fishy Schimmelpfennig eye, but to be grinned at by the
Schimmelpfennig mouth!--I resented it.  In order to show
my resentment I turned my back on the Schimmelpfennig
cart and pretended to look up the road which I had just
traveled.

I pretended to look up the road, and then I did look
in earnest.  No wonder the Schimmelpfennig eye and mouth
had worn the leering expression.  The blond god in gray
tweed was swinging along toward me!  I knew that he was
blond because he wore no hat and the last rays of the
October sun were making a little halo effect about his
head.  I knew that his-gray clothes were tweed because
every well regulated hero on a country road wears tweed. 
It's almost a religion with them.  He was not near enough
to make a glance at his features possible. I turned
around and continued my walk.  The yellow cart, with its
impudent Schimmelpfennig leer, was disappearing in a
cloud of dust. Shades of the "Duchess" and Bertha M. Clay!  
How does one greet a blond god in gray tweed on a country 
road, when one has him!

The blond god solved the problem for me.

"Hi!" he called.  I did not turn.  There was a
moment's silence.  Then there came a shrill, insistent
whistle, of the kind that is made by placing four fingers
between the teeth.  It is a favorite with the gallery
gods.  I would not have believed that gray tweed gods
stooped to it.

"Hi!" called the voice again, very near now. 
"Lieber Gott!  Never have I seen so proud a young woman!"

I whirled about to face Von Gerhard; a strangely
boyish and unprofessional looking Von Gerhard.

"Young man," I said severely, "have you been
a-follerin' of me?"

"For miles," groaned he, as we shook hands.  You walk
like a grenadier.  I am sent by the charming Norah to
tell you that you are to come home to mix the salad
dressing, for there is company for supper.  I am the
company."

I was still a bit dazed.  "But how did you know which
road to take?  And when--"

"Wunderbar, nicht wahr?" laughed Von Gerhard.  "But
really quite simple.  I come in on an earlier train than 
I had expected, chat a moment with sister Norah, inquire 
after the health of my patient, and am told that she is 
running away from a horde of blue devils!--quote your 
charming sister--that have swarmed about her all day.  What
direction did her flight take? I ask.  Sister Norah shrugs 
her shoulders and presumes that it is the road which shows 
the reddest and yellowest autumn colors.  That road will 
be your road.  So!"

"Pooh!  How simple!  That is the second`disappointment 
you have given me to-day."

"But how is that possible?  The first has not had
time to happen."

"The first was yourself," I replied, rudely.

"I had been longing for an adventure.  And when I saw
you 'way up the road, such an unusual figure for our
Michigan country roads, I forgot that I was a
disappointed old grass widder with a history, and I grew
young again, and my heart jumped up into my throat, and
I sez to mesilf, sez I:  `Enter the hero!'  And it was
only you."

Von Gerhard stared a moment, a curious look on his
face.  Then he laughed one of those rare laughs of his,
and I joined him because I was strangely young, light,
and happy to be alive.

"You walk and enjoy walking, yes?" asked Von Gerhard,
scanning my face.  "Your cheeks they are like--well, as
unlike the cheeks of the German girls as Diana's are
unlike a dairy maid's.  And the nerfs?  They no longer
jump, eh?"

"Oh, they jump, but not with weariness.  They jump to
get into action again.  From a life of too much
excitement I have gone to the other extreme.  I shall be
dead of ennui in another six months."

"Ennui?" mused he, "and you are--how is it?--
twenty-eight years, yes?  H'm!"

There was a world of exasperation in the last
exclamation.

"I am a thousand years old," it made me exclaim, "a
million!"

"I will prove to you that you are sixteen," declared
Von Gerhard, calmly.

We had come to a fork in the road.  At the right the
narrower road ran between two rows of great maples that
made an arch of golden splendor.  The frost had kissed
them into a gorgeous radiance.

"Sunshine Avenue," announced Von Gerhard.  "It
beckons us away from home, and supper and salad dressing
and duty, but who knows what we shall find at the end of
it!"

"Let's explore," I suggested.  "It is splendidly
golden enough to be enchanted."

We entered the yellow canopied pathway.

"Let us pretend this is Germany, yes?" pleaded Von
Gerhard.  "This golden pathway will end in a neat little
glass-roofed restaurant, with tables and chairs outside,
and comfortable German papas and mammas and pig-tailed
children sitting at the tables, drinking coffee or beer. 
There will be stout waiters, and a red-faced host.  And
we will seat ourselves at one of the tables, and I will
wave my hand, and one of the stout waiters will come
flying.  `Will you have coffee, _Fraulein_, or beer?'  It
sounds prosaic, but it is very, very good, as you will
see.  Pathways in Germany always end in coffee and Kuchen
and waiters in white aprons."

But, "Oh, no!" I exclaimed, for his mood was
infectious.  "This is France.  Please!  The golden
pathway will end in a picturesque little French farm,
with a dairy.  And in the doorway of the farmhouse there
will be a red-skirted peasant woman, with a white cap!
and a baby on her arm! and sabots! Oh, surely she will
wear sabots!"

"Most certainly she will wear sabots," Von Gerhard
said, heatedly, "and blue knitted stockings.  And the
baby's name is Mimi!

We had taken hands and were skipping down the pathway
now, like two excited children.

"Let's run," I suggested.  And run we did, like two
mad creatures, until we rounded a gentle curve and
brought up, panting, within a foot of a decrepit rail
fence.  The rail fence enclosed a stubbly, lumpy field. 
The field was inhabited by an inquiring cow.  Von Gerhard
and I stood quite still, hand in hand, gazing at the cow. 
Then we turned slowly and looked at each other.

"This pathway of glorified maples ends in a cow," I
said, solemnly.  At which we both shrieked with mirth,
leaning on the decrepit fence and mopping our eyes with
our handkerchiefs.

"Did I not say you were sixteen?" taunted Von
Gerhard.  We were getting surprisingly well acquainted.

"Such a scolding as we shall get!  It will be quite
dark before we are home.  Norah will be tearing her
hair."

It was a true prophecy.  As we stampeded up the steps
the door was flung open, disclosing a tragic figure.

"Such a steak!" wailed Norah, " and it has been done
for hours and hours, and now it looks like a piece of fried 
ear.  Where have you two driveling idiots been?  And 
mushrooms too."

"She means that the ruined steak was further enhanced
by mushrooms," I explained in response to Von Gerhard's
bewildered look.  We marched into the house, trying not
to appear like sneak thieves.  Max, pipe in mouth,
surveyed us blandly.

"Fine color you've got, Dawn," he remarked.

"There is such a thing as overdoing this health
business," snapped Norah, with a great deal of acidity
for her.  "I didn't tell you to make them purple, you
know."

Max turned to Von Gerhard.  "Now what does she mean
by that do you suppose, eh Ernst?"

"Softly, brother, softly!" whispered Von Gerhard. 
"When women exchange remarks that apparently are simple,
and yet that you, a man, cannot understand, then know
there is a woman's war going on, and step softly, and
hold your peace.  Aber ruhig!"

Calm was restored with the appearance of the steak,
which was found to have survived the period of waiting,
and to be incredibly juicy and tender.  Presently we 
were all settled once more in the great beamed living 
room, Sis at the piano, the two men smoking their 
after-dinner cigars with that idiotic expression of 
contentment which always adorns the masculine face on 
such occasions.

I looked at them--at those three who had done so much
for my happiness and well being, and something within me
said:  "Now!  Speak now!"  Norah was playing very softly,
so that the Spalpeens upstairs might not be disturbed. 
I took a long breath and made the plunge.

"Norah, if you'll continue the slow music, I'll be
much obliged.  `The time has come, the Walrus said, to
talk of many things.'"

"Don't be absurd," said Norah, over her shoulder, and
went on playing.

"I never was more serious in my life, good folkses
all.  I've got to be.  This butterfly existence has gone
on long enough.  Norah, and Max, and Mr. Doctor Man, I am
going away."

Norah's hands crashed down on the piano keys with a
jangling discord.  She swung about to face me.

"Not New York again, Dawn!  Not New York!"

"I am afraid so," I answered.

Max--bless his great, brotherly heart-- rose and came 
over to me and put a hand on my shoulder.

"Don't you like it here, girlie?  Want to be hauled
home on a shutter again, do you?  You know that as long
as we have a home, you have one.  We need you here."

But I shook my head.  From his chair at the other
side of the room I could feel Von Gerhard's gaze fixed
upon us.  He had said nothing.

"Need me!  No one needs me.  Don't worry; I'm not
going to become maudlin about it.  But I don't belong
here, and you know, it.  I have my work to do.  Norah is
the best sister that a woman ever had.  And Max, you're
an angel brother-in-law.  But how can I stay on here and
keep my self-respect?"  I took Max's big hand in mine and
gathered courage from it.

"But you have been working," wailed Norah, "every
morning.  And I thought the book was coming on
beautifully.  And I'm sure it will be a wonderful book,
Dawn dear.  You are so clever."

"Oh, the book--it is too uncertain.  Perhaps it will
go, but perhaps it won't.  And then--what?  It will be
months before the book is properly polished off.  And
then I may peddle it around for more months.  No; I can't 
afford to trifle with uncertainties.  Every newspaper man 
or woman writes a book.  It's like having the measles.  
There is not a newspaper man living who does not believe, 
in his heart, that if he could only take a month or two 
away from the telegraph desk or the police run, he could 
write the book of the year, not to speak of the great 
American Play.  Why, just look at me!  I've only been 
writing`seriously for a few weeks, and already the best 
magazines in the country are refusing my manuscripts daily."

"Don't joke," said Norah, coming over to me, "I can't
stand it."

"Why not?  Much better than weeping, isn't it?  And
anyway, I'm no subject for tears any more.  Dr. von
Gerhard will tell you how well and strong I am.  Won't
you, Herr Doktor?"

Well," said Von Gerhard, in his careful, deliberate
English, "since you ask me, I should say that you might
last about one year, in New York."

"There!  What did I tell you!" cried Norah.

"What utter blither!" I scoffed, turning to glare at
Von Gerhard.

"Gently," warned Max.  "Such disrespect to the man
who pulled you back from the edge of the yawning grave
only six months ago!"

"Yawning fiddlesticks!" snapped I, elegantly.  "There
was nothing wrong with me except that I wanted to be
fussed over.  And I have been.  And I've loved it.  But
it must stop now."  I rose and walked over to the table
and faced Von Gerhard, sitting there in the depths of a
great chair.  "You do not seem to realize that I am not
free to come and go, and work and play, and laugh and
live like other women.  There is my living to make.  And
there is--Peter Orme.  Do you think that I could stay on
here like this?  Oh, I know that Max is not a poor man. 
But he is not a rich man, either.  And there are the
children to be educated, and besides, Max married Norah
O'Hara, not the whole O'Hara tribe.  I want to go to
work.  I am not a free woman, but when I am working, I
forget, and am almost, happy.  I tell you I must be well
again!  I will be well!  I am well!"

At the end of which dramatic period I spoiled the
whole effect by bowing my head on the table and giving
way to a fit of weeping such as I had not had since the
days of my illness.

"Looks like it," said Max, at which I decided to
laugh, and the situation was saved.

It was then that Von Gerhard proposed the thing that
set us staring at him in amused wonder.  He came over and
stood looking down at us, his hands outspread upon the
big library table, his body bent forward in an attitude
of eager intentness.  I remember thinking what wonderful
hands they were, true indexes of the man's character;
broad, white, surgeonly hands; the fingers almost square
at the tips.  They were hands as different from those
slender, nervous, unsteady, womanly hands of Peter Orme
as any hands could be, I thought.  They were hands made
for work that called for delicate strength, if such a
paradox could be; hands to cling to; to gain courage
from; hands that spelled power and reserve.  I looked at
them, fascinated, as I often had done before, and thought
that I never had seen such SANE hands.

"You have done me the honor to include me in this
little family conclave," began Ernst von Gerhard.  "I am
going to take advantage of your trust.  I shall give you
some advice--a thing I usually keep for unpleasant
professional occasions.  Do not go back to New York."

"But I know New York.  And New York --the newspaper 
part of it--knows me.  Where else can I go?"

"You have your book to finish.  You could never
finish it there, is it not so?"

I'm afraid I shrugged my shoulders.  It was all so
much harder than I had expected.  What did they want me
to do? I asked myself, bitterly.

Von Gerhard went on.  "Why not go where the newspaper
work will not be so nerve-racking? where you still might
find time for this other work that is dear to you, and
that may bring its reward in time."  He reached out and
took my hand, into his great, steady clasp.  "Come to the
happy, healthy, German town called Milwaukee, yes?  Ach,
you may laugh.  But newspaper work is newspaper work the
world over, because men and women are just men and women
the world over.  But there you could live sanely, and
work not too hard, and there would be spare hours for the
book that is near your heart.  And I--I will speak of you
to Norberg, of the Post.  And on Sundays, if you are
good, I may take you along the marvelous lake drives in
my little red runabout, yes?  Aber wunderbar, those
drives are!  So."

Then--"Milwaukee!" shrieked Max and Norah and I, 
together.  "After New York--Milwaukee!"

"Laugh," said Von Gerhard, quite composedly.  "I give
you until to-morrow morning to stop laughing.  At the end
of that time it will not seem quite so amusing.  No joke
is so funny after one has contemplated it for twelve
hours."

The voice of Norah, the temptress, sounded close to
my ear.  "Dawn dear, just think how many million miles
nearer you would be to Max, and me, and home."

"Oh, you have all gone mad!  The thing is impossible. 
I shan't go back to a country sheet in my old age.  I
suppose that in two more years I shall be editing a
mothers' column on an agricultural weekly."

"Norberg would be delighted to get you," mused Von
Gerhard, "and it would be day work instead of night
work."

"And you would send me a weekly bulletin on Dawn's
health, wouldn't you, Ernst?" pleaded Norah.  "And you'd
teach her to drink beer and she shall grow so fat that
the Spalpeens won't know their auntie."

At last--"How much do they pay?" I asked, in
desperation.  And the thing that had appeared so absurd 
at first began to take on the shape of reality.

Von Gerhard did speak to Norberg of the Post.  And
I am to go to Milwaukee next week.  The skeleton of the
book manuscript is stowed safely away in the bottom of my
trunk and Norah has filled in the remaining space with
sundry flannels, and hot water bags and medicine flasks,
so that I feel like a schoolgirl on her way to
boarding-school, instead of like a seasoned old newspaper
woman with a capital PAST and a shaky future.  I wish
that I were chummier with the Irish saints.  I need them
now.



CHAPTER VI


STEEPED IN GERMAN

I am living at a little private hotel just across from
the court house square with its scarlet geraniums and its
pretty fountain.  The house is filled with German civil
engineers, mechanical engineers, and Herr Professors from
the German academy.  On Sunday mornings we have
Pfannkuchen with currant jelly, and the Herr Professors
come down to breakfast in fearful flappy German slippers. 
I'm the only creature in the place that isn't just over
from Germany.  Even the dog is a dachshund.  It is so
unbelievable that every day or two I go down to Wisconsin
Street and gaze at the stars and stripes floating from
the government building, in order to convince myself that
this is America.  It needs only a Kaiser or so, and a bit
of Unter den Linden to be quite complete.

The little private hotel is kept by Herr and Frau
Knapf.  After one has seen them, one quite understands why 
the place is steeped in a German atmosphere up to its 
eyebrows.

I never would have found it myself.  It was Doctor
von Gerhard who had suggested Knapf's, and who had paved
the way for my coming here.

"You will find it quite unlike anything you have ever
tried before," he warned me.  "Very German it is, and
very, very clean, and most inexpensive.  Also I think you
will find material there--how is it you call it?--copy,
yes?  Well, there should be copy in plenty; and types! 
But you shall see."

From the moment I rang the Knapf doorbell I saw.  The
dapper, cheerful Herr Knapf, wearing a disappointed
Kaiser Wilhelm mustache, opened the door.  I scarcely had
begun to make my wishes known when he interrupted with a
large wave of the hand, and an elaborate German bow.

"Ach yes!  You would be the lady of whom the Herr
Doktor has spoken.  Gewiss!  Frau Orme, not?  But so a
young lady I did not expect to see.  A room we have saved
for you--aber wunderhubsch!  It makes me much pleasure to
show.  Folgen Sie mir, bitte."

"You--you speak English?" I faltered, with visions of 
my evenings spent in expressing myself in the sign language.

"Englisch?  But yes.  Here in Milwaukee it gives aber
mostly German.  And then too, I have been only twenty
years in this country.  And always in Milwaukee.  Here is
it gemutlich--and mostly it gives German."

I tried not to look frightened, and followed him up
to the "but wonderfully beautiful" room.  To my joy I
found it high-ceilinged, airy, and huge, with a great
vault of a clothes closet bristling with hooks, and
boasting an unbelievable number of shelves.  My trunk was
swallowed up in it.  Never in all my boarding-house
experience have I seen such a room, or such a closet. 
The closet must have been built for a bride's trousseau
in the days of hoop-skirts and scuttle bonnets.  There
was a separate and distinct hook for each and every one
of my most obscure garments.  I tried to spread them out. 
I used two hooks to every petticoat, and three for my
kimono, and when I had finished there were rows of hooks
to spare.  Tiers of shelves yawned for hat-boxes which I 
possessed not.  Bluebeard's wives could have held a
family reunion in that closet and invited all of
Solomon's spouses.  Finally, in desperation, I gathered
all my poor garments together and hung them in a sociable 
bunch on the hooks nearest the door.  How I should have 
loved to have shown that closet to a select circle of New 
York boarding-house landladies!

After wrestling in vain with the forest of hooks, I
turned my attention to my room.  I yanked a towel thing
off the center table and replaced it with a scarf that
Peter had picked up in the Orient.  I set up my
typewriter in a corner near a window and dug a gay
cushion or two and a chafing-dish out of my trunk.  I
distributed photographs of Norah and Max and the
Spalpeens separately, in couples, and in groups.  Then I
bounced up and down in a huge yellow brocade chair and
found it unbelievably soft and comfortable.  Of course,
I reflected, after the big veranda, and the apple tree at
Norah's, and the leather-cushioned comfort of her
library, and the charming tones of her Oriental rugs and
hangings--

"Oh, stop your carping, Dawn!" I told myself.  "You
can't expect charming tones, and Oriental do-dads and
apple trees in a German boarding-house.  Anyhow there's
running water in the room.  For general utility purposes
that's better than a pink prayer rug."

There was a time when I thought that it was the 
luxuries that made life worth living.  That was in
the old Bohemian days.

"Necessities!"  I used to laugh, "Pooh!  Who cares
about the necessities!  What if the dishpan does leak? 
It is the luxuries that count."

Bohemia and luxuries!  Half a dozen lean
boarding-house years have steered me safely past that. 
After such a course in common sense you don't stand back
and examine the pictures of a pink Moses in a nest of
purple bullrushes, or complain because the bureau does
not harmonize with the wall paper.  Neither do you
criticize the blue and saffron roses that form the rug
pattern.  'Deedy not!  Instead you warily punch the
mattress to see if it is rock-stuffed, and you snoop into
the clothes closet; you inquire the distance to the
nearest bath room, and whether the payments are weekly or
monthly, and if there is a baby in the room next door. 
Oh, there's nothing like living in a boarding-house for
cultivating the materialistic side.

But I was to find that here at Knapf's things were
quite different.  Not only was Ernst von Gerhard right in
saying that it was "very German, and very, very clean;"
he recognized good copy when he saw it.  Types!  I never
dreamed that such faces existed outside of the old German
woodcuts that one sees illustrating time-yellowed books.

I had thought myself hardened to strange
boarding-house dining rooms, with their batteries of
cold, critical women's eyes.  I had learned to walk
unruffled in the face of the most carping, suspicious and
the fishiest of these batteries.  Therefore on my first
day at Knapf's I went down to dinner in the evening,
quite composed and secure in the knowledge that my collar
was clean and that there was no flaw to find in the fit
of my skirt in the back.

As I opened the door of my room I heard sounds as of 
a violent altercation in progress downstairs.  I leaned
over the balusters and listened.  The  sounds rose and
fell and swelled and boomed.  They were German sounds
that started in the throat, gutturally, and spluttered
their way up.  They were sounds such as I had not heard
since the night I was sent to cover a Socialist meeting
in New York.  I tip-toed down the stairs, although I
might have fallen down and landed with a thud without
having been heard.  The din came from the direction of
the dining room.  Well, come what might, I would not
falter.  After all, it could not be worse than that awful
time when I had helped cover the teamsters' strike.  I 
peered into the dining room.

The thunder of conversation went on as before.  But
there was no bloodshed.  Nothing but men and women
sitting at small tables, eating and talking.  When I say
eating and talking I do not mean that those acts were
carried on separately.  Not at all.  The eating and the
talking went on simultaneously, neither interrupting the
other.  A fork full of food and a mouthful of
ten-syllabled German words met, wrestled, and passed one
another, unscathed.  I stood in the doorway, fascinated,
until Herr Knapf spied me, took a nimble skip in my
direction, twisted the discouraged mustaches into
temporary sprightliness, and waved me toward a table in
the center of the room.

Then a frightful thing happened.  When I think of it
now I turn cold.  The battery was not that of women's
eyes, but of men's.  And conversation ceased!  The uproar
and the booming of vowels was hushed.  The silence was
appalling.  I looked up in horror to find that what
seemed to be millions of staring blue eyes were fixed on
me.  The stillness was so thick that you could cut it
with a knife.  Such men!  Immediately I dubbed them the
aborigines, and prayed that I might find adjectives with 
which to describe their foreheads.

It appeared that the aborigines were especially
favored in that they were all placed at one long, untidy
table at the head of the room.  The rest of us sat at
small tables.  Later I learned that they were all
engineers.  At meals they discuss engineering problems in
the most awe-inspiring German.  After supper they smoke
impossible German pipes and dozens of cigarettes.  They
have bulging, knobby foreheads and bristling pompadours,
and some of the rawest of them wear wild-looking beards,
and thick spectacles, and cravats and trousers that Lew
Fields never even dreamed of.  They are all graduates of
high-sounding foreign universities and are horribly
learned and brilliant, but they are the worst mannered
lot I ever saw.

In the silence that followed my entrance a
red-cheeked maid approached me and asked what I would
have for supper.  Supper? I asked.  Was not dinner served
in the evening?  The aborigines nudged each other and
sniggered like fiendish little school-boys.

The red-cheeked maid looked at me pityingly.  Dinner
was served in the middle of the day, naturlich.  For
supper there was Wienerschnitzel, and kalter Aufschnitt,
also Kartoffel Salat, and fresh Kaffeekuchen.

The room hung breathless on my decision.  I wrestled
with a horrible desire to shriek and run.  Instead I
managed to mumble an order.  The aborigines turned to one
another inquiringly.

"Was hat sie gesagt?" they asked.  "What did she
say?"  Whereupon they fell to discussing my hair and
teeth and eyes and complexion in German as crammed with
adjectives as was the rye bread over which I was choking
with caraway.  The entire table watched me with
wide-eyed, unabashed interest while I ate, and I advanced
by quick stages from red-faced confusion to purple mirth. 
It appeared that my presence was the ground for a heavy
German joke in connection with the youngest of the
aborigines.  He was a very plump and greasy looking
aborigine with a doll-like rosiness of cheek and a scared
and bristling pompadour and very small pig-eyes.  The
other aborigines clapped him on the back and roared:

"Ai Fritz!  Jetzt brauchst du nicht zu weinen!  Deine
Lena war aber nicht so huebsch, eh? "

Later I learned that Fritz was the newest arrival and
that since coming to this country he had been rather low
in spirits in consequence of a certain flaxen-haired Lena 
whom he had left behind in the fatherland.

An examination of the dining room and its other
occupants served to keep my mind off the hateful long
table.  The dining room was a double one, the floor
carpetless and clean.  There was a little platform at one
end with hardy-looking plants in pots near the windows. 
The wall was ornamented with very German pictures of very
plump, bare-armed German girls being chucked under the
chin by very dashing, mustachioed German lieutenants.  It
was all very bare, and strange and foreign to my eyes,
and yet there was something bright and comfortable about
it.  I felt that I was going to like it, aborigines and
all.  The men drink beer with their supper and read the
Staats-Zeitung and the Germania and foreign papers
that I never heard of.  It is uncanny, in these United
States.  But it is going to be bully for my German.

After my first letter home Norah wrote frantically,
demanding to know if I was the only woman in the house. 
I calmed her fears by assuring her that, while the men
were interesting and ugly with the fascinating ugliness
of a bulldog, the women were crushed looking and
uninteresting and wore hopeless hats.  I have
written Norah and Max reams about this household, from
the aborigines to Minna, who tidies my room and serves my
meals, and admires my clothes.  Minna is related to Frau
Knapf, whom I have never seen.  Minna is inordinately
fond of dress, and her remarks anent my own garments are
apt to be a trifle disconcerting, especially when she
intersperses her recital of dinner dishes with admiring
adjectives directed at my blouse or hat.  Thus:

"Wir haben roast beef, und spareribs mit Sauerkraut,
und schicken--ach, wie schon, Frau Orme!  Aber ganz
prachtvoll!"  Her eyes and hands are raised toward
heaven.

"What's prachtful? " I ask, startled.  "The
chicken?"

"Nein; your waist.  Selbst gemacht?"

I am even becoming hardened to the manners of the
aborigines.  It used to fuss me to death to meet one of
them in the halls.  They always stopped short, brought
heels together with a click, bent stiffly from the waist,
and thundered:  "Nabben', Fraulein!"

I have learned to take the salutation quite calmly,
and even the wildest, most spectacled and knobby-browed
aborigine cannot startle me.  Nonchalantly I reply,
"Nabben'," and wish that Norah could but see me in the
act.

When I told Ernst von Gerhard about them, he laughed
a little and shrugged his shoulders and said:

"Na, you should not look so young, and so pretty, and
so unmarried.  In Germany a married woman brushes her
hair quite smoothly back, and pins it in a hard knob. 
And she knows nothing of such bewildering collars and
fluffy frilled things in the front of the blouse.  How do
you call them--jabots?"

Von Gerhard has not behaved at all nicely.  I did not
see him until two weeks after my arrival in Milwaukee,
although he telephoned twice to ask if there was anything
that he could do to make me comfortable.

"Yes," I had answered the last time that I heard his
voice over the telephone.  "It would be a whole heap of
comfort to me just to see you.  You are the nearest thing
to Norah that there is in this whole German town, and
goodness knows you're far from Irish."

He came.  The weather had turned suddenly cold and he
was wearing a fur-lined coat with a collar of fur.  He
looked most amazingly handsome and blond and splendidly
healthy.  The clasp of his hands was just as big and sure
as ever.

"You have no idea how glad I am to see
you," I told him.  "If you had, you would have been here
days ago.  Aren't you rather ill-mannered and neglectful,
considering that you are responsible for my being here?"

"I did not know whether you, a married woman, would
care to have me here," he said, in his composed way.  "In
a place like this people are not always kind enough to
take the trouble to understand.  And I would not have
them raise their eyebrows at you, not for--"

"Married!" I laughed, some imp of willfulness seizing
me, "I'm not married.  What mockery to say that I am
married simply because I must write madam before my name! 
I am not married, and I shall talk to whom I please."

And then Von Gerhard did a surprising thing.  He took
two great steps over to my chair, and grasped my hands
and pulled me to my feet.  I stared up at him like a
silly creature.  His face was suffused with a dull red,
and his eyes were unbelievably blue and bright.  He had
my hands in his great grip, but his voice was very quiet
and contained.

"You are married," he said.  "Never forget that for
a moment.  You are bound, hard and fast and tight.  And
you are for no man.  You are married as much as though
that poor creature in the mad house were here working for 
you, instead of the case being reversed as it is.  So."

"What do you mean!" I cried, wrenching myself away
indignantly.  "What right have you to talk to me like
this?  You know what my life has been, and how I have
tried to smile with my lips and stay young in my heart! 
I thought you understood.  Norah thought so too, and
Max--"

"I do understand.  I understand so well that I would
not have you talk as you did a moment ago.  And I said
what I said not so much for your sake, as for mine.  For
see, I too must remember that you write madam before your
name.  And sometimes it is hard for me to remember."

"Oh," I said, like a simpleton, and stood staring
after him as he quietly gathered up his hat and gloves
and left me standing there.




CHAPTER VII


BLACKIE'S PHILOSOPHY

I did not write Norah about Von Gerhard.  After all, I
told myself, there was nothing to write.  And so I was
the first to break the solemn pact that we had made.

"You will write everything, won't you, Dawn dear?" 
Norah had pleaded, with tears, in her pretty eyes. 
"Promise me.  We've been nearer to each other in these
last few months than we have been since we were girls. 
And I've loved it so.  Please don't do as you did during
those miserable years in New York, when you were fighting
your troubles alone and we knew nothing of it.  You wrote
only the happy things.  Promise me you'll write the
unhappy ones too--though the saints forbid that there
should be any to write!  And Dawn, don't you dare to
forget your heavy underwear in November.  Those lake
breezes!--Well, some one has to tell you, and I can't
leave those to Von Gerhard.  He has promised to act as
monitor over your health."

And so I promised.  I crammed my letters with
descriptions of the Knapf household.  I assured her that
I was putting on so much weight that the skirts which
formerly hung about me in limp, dejected folds now
refused to meet in the back, and all the hooks and eyes
were making faces at each other.  My cheeks, I told her,
looked as if I were wearing plumpers, and I was beginning
to waddle and puff as I walked.

Norah made frantic answer:

"For mercy's sake child, be careful or you'll be
FAT!"

To which I replied:  "Don't care if I am.  Rather be
hunky and healthy than skinny and sick.  Have tried
both."

It is impossible to avoid becoming round-cheeked when
one is working on a paper that allows one to shut one's
desk and amble comfortably home for dinner at least five
days in the week.  Everybody is at least plump in this
comfortable, gemutlich town, where everybody placidly
locks his shop or office and goes home at noon to dine
heavily on soup and meat and vegetables and pudding,
washed down by the inevitable beer and followed by forty
winks on the dining room sofa with the German Zeitung
spread comfortably over the head as protection against
the flies.

There is a fascination about the bright little city. 
There is about it something quaint and foreign, as though
a cross-section of the old world had been dumped bodily
into the lap of Wisconsin.  It does not seem at all
strange to hear German spoken everywhere--in the streets,
in the shops, in the theaters, in the street cars.  One
day I chanced upon a sign hung above the doorway of a
little German bakery over on the north side.  There were
Hornchen and Kaffeekuchen in the windows, and a brood of
flaxen-haired and sticky children in the back of the
shop.  I stopped, open-mouthed, to stare at the worn sign
tacked over the door.

"Hier wird Englisch gesprochen," it announced.

I blinked.  Then I read it again.  I shut my eyes,
and opened them again suddenly.  The fat German letters
spoke their message as before--"English spoken here."

On reaching the office I told Norberg, the city
editor, about my find.  He was not impressed.  Norberg
never is impressed.  He is the most soul-satisfying and
theatrical city editor that I have ever met.  He is fat,
and unbelievably nimble, and keen-eyed, and untiring.  He
says, "Hell!" when things go wrong; he smokes innumerable
cigarettes, inhaling the fumes and sending out the thin
wraith of smoke with little explosive sounds between
tongue and lips; he wears blue shirts, and no collar to
speak of, and his trousers are kept in place only by a
miracle and an inefficient looking leather belt.

When he refused to see the story in the little German
bakery sign I began to argue.

"But man alive, this is America!  I think I know a
story when I see it.  Suppose you were traveling in
Germany, and should come across a sign over a shop,
saying:  `Hier wird Deutsch gesprochen.'  Wouldn't you
think you were dreaming?"

Norberg waved an explanatory hand.  "This isn't
America.  This is Milwaukee.  After you've lived here a
year or so you'll understand what I mean.  If we should
run a story of that sign, with a two-column cut,
Milwaukee wouldn't even see the joke."

But it was not necessary that I live in Milwaukee a
year or so in order to understand its peculiarities, for
I had a personal conductor and efficient guide in the new
friend that had come into my life with the first day of
my work on the Post.  Surely no woman ever had a stronger
friend than little "Blackie" Griffith, sporting editor of
the Milwaukee Post.  We became friends, not step by
step, but in one gigantic leap such as sometimes triumphs
over the gap between acquaintance and liking.

I never shall forget my first glimpse of him.  He
strolled into the city room from his little domicile
across the hall.  A shabby, disreputable, out-at-elbows
office coat was worn over his ultra-smart street clothes,
and he was puffing at a freakish little pipe in the shape
of a miniature automobile.  He eyed me a moment from the
doorway, a fantastic, elfin little figure.  I thought
that I had never seen so strange and so ugly a face as
that of this little brown Welshman with his lank, black
hair and his deep-set, uncanny black eyes.  Suddenly he
trotted over to me with a quick little step.  In the
doorway he had looked forty.  Now a smile illumined the
many lines of his dark countenance, and in some
miraculous way he looked twenty.

"Are you the New York importation?" he, asked, his
great black eyes searching my face.

"I'm what's left of it," I replied, meekly.

"I understand you've been in for repairs.  Must of met
up with somethin' on the road. They say the goin' is full 
of bumps in N' York."

"Bumps!" I laughed, "it's uphill every bit of the
road, and yet you've got to go full speed to get
anywhere.  But I'm running easily again, thank you."

He waved away a cloud of pipe-smoke, and knowingly
squinted through the haze.  "We don't speed up much here. 
And they ain't no hill climbin' t' speak of.  But say, if
you ever should hit a nasty place on the route, toot your
siren for me and I'll come.  I'm a regular little human
garage when it comes to patchin' up those aggravatin'
screws that need oilin'.  And, say, don't let Norberg
bully you.  My name's Blackie.  I'm goin' t' like you. 
Come on over t' my sanctum once in a while and I'll show
you my scrapbook and let you play with the office
revolver."

And so it happened that I had not been in Milwaukee
a month before Blackie and I were friends.

Norah was horrified.  My letters were full of him. 
I told her that she might get a more complete mental
picture of him if she knew that he wore the pinkest
shirts, and the purplest neckties, and the blackest and
whitest of black-and-white checked vests that ever
aroused the envy of an office boy, and beneath them all, 
the gentlest of hearts.  And therefore one loves him.  
There is a sort of spell about the illiterate little 
slangy, brown Welshman.  He is the presiding genius of 
the place.  The office boys adore him.  The Old Man 
takes his advice in selecting a new motor car; the 
managing editor arranges his lunch hour to suit Blackie's 
and they go off to the Press club together, arm in arm.  
It is Blackie who lends a sympathetic ear to the society 
editor's tale of woe.  He hires and fires the office boys; 
boldly he criticizes the news editor's makeup; he receives
delegations of tan-coated, red-faced prizefighting-looking
persons; he gently explains to the photographer why that 
last batch of cuts make their subjects look as if afflicted 
with the German measles; he arbitrates any row that the 
newspaper may have with such dignitaries as the mayor or the
chief of police; he manages boxing shows; he skims about in a
smart little roadster; he edits the best sporting page in
the city; and at four o'clock of an afternoon he likes to
send around the corner for a chunk of devil's food cake
with butter filling from the Woman's Exchange.  Blackie
never went to school to speak of.  He doesn't know was
from were.  But he can "see" a story quicker, and farther 
and clearer than any newspaper man I ever knew--excepting 
Peter Orme.

There is a legend about to the effect that one day
the managing editor, who is Scotch and without a sense of
humor, ordered that Blackie should henceforth be
addressed by his surname of Griffith, as being a more
dignified appellation for the use of fellow reporters,
hangers-on, copy kids, office boys and others about the
big building.

The day after the order was issued the managing
editor summoned a freckled youth and thrust a sheaf of
galley proofs into his hand.

"Take those to Mr. Griffith," he ordered without
looking up.

"T' who?"

"To Mr. Griffith," said the managing editor,
laboriously, and scowling a bit.

The boy took three unwilling steps toward the door. 
Then he turned a puzzled face toward the managing editor.

"Say, honest, I ain't never heard of dat guy.  He
must be a new one.  W'ere'll I find him?"

"Oh, damn!  Take those proofs to Blackie!" roared the
managing editor.  And thus ended Blackie's enforced
flight into the realms of dignity.

All these things, and more, I wrote to the
scandalized Norah.  I informed her that he wore more
diamond rings and scarf pins and watch fobs than a
railroad conductor, and that his checked top-coat
shrieked to Heaven.

There came back a letter in which every third word
was underlined, and which ended by asking what the morals
of such a man could be.

Then I tried to make Blackie more real to Norah who,
in all her sheltered life, had never come in contact with
a man like this.

" . . . As for his morals--or what you would consider
his morals, Sis--they probably are a deep crimson; but
I'll swear there is no yellow streak.  I never have heard
anything more pathetic than his story.  Blackie sold
papers on a down-town corner when he was a baby six years
old.  Then he got a job as office boy here, and he used
to sharpen pencils, and run errands, and carry copy. 
After office hours he took care of some horses in an
alley barn near by, and after that work was done he was
employed about the pressroom of one of the old German
newspaper offices.  Sometimes he would be too weary to
crawl home after working half the night, and so he would
fall asleep, a worn, tragic little figure, on a pile of
old papers and sacks in a warm corner near the presses. 
He was the head of a household, and every penny counted. 
And all the time he was watching things, and learning. 
Nothing escaped those keen black eyes.  He used to help
the photographer when there was a pile of plates to
develop, and presently he knew more about photography
than the man himself.  So they made him staff
photographer.  In some marvelous way he knew more ball
players, and fighters and horsemen than the sporting
editor.  He had a nose for news that was nothing short of
wonderful.  He never went out of the office without
coming back with a story.  They used to use him in the
sporting department when a rush was on.  Then he became
one of the sporting staff; then assistant sporting
editor; then sporting editor.  He knows this paper from
the basement up.  He could operate a linotype or act as
managing editor with equal ease.

"No, I'm afraid that Blackie hasn't had much time for
morals.  But, Norah dear, I wish that you could hear him
when he talks about his mother.  He may follow doubtful
paths, and associate with questionable people, and wear
restless clothes, but I wouldn't exchange his friendship
for that of a dozen of your ordinary so-called good men. 
All these years of work and suffering have made an old
man of little Blackie, although he is young in years.  But 
they haven't spoiled his heart any.  He is able to 
distinguish between sham and truth because he has been 
obliged to do it ever since he was a child selling papers 
on the corner.  But he still clings to the office that gave 
him his start, although he makes more money in a single week
outside the office than his salary would amount to in half a
year.  He says that this is a job that does not interfere 
with his work."

Such is Blackie.  Surely the oddest friend a woman
ever had.  He possesses a genius for friendship, and a
wonderful understanding of suffering, born of those years
of hardship and privation.  Each learned the other's
story, bit by bit, in a series of confidences exchanged
during that peaceful, beatific period that follows just
after the last edition has gone down.  Blackie's little
cubby-hole of an office is always blue with smoke, and
cluttered with a thousand odds and ends--photographs,
souvenirs, boxing-gloves, a litter of pipes and tobacco,
a wardrobe of dust-covered discarded coats and hats, and
Blackie in the midst of it all, sunk in the depths of his
swivel chair, and looking like an amiable brown gnome, or
a cheerful little joss-house god come to life.  There is
in him an uncanny wisdom which only the streets can
teach.  He is one of those born newspaper men who could
not live out of sight of the ticker-tape, and the
copy-hook and the proof-sheet.

"Y' see, girl, it's like this here," Blackie
explained one day.  "W're all workin' for some good
reason.  A few of us are workin' for the glory of it, and
most of us are workin' t' eat, and lots of us are
pluggin' an' savin' in the hopes that some day we'll have
money enough to get back at some people we know; but
there is some few workin' for the pure love of the
work--and I guess I'm one of them fools.  Y' see, I
started in at this game when I was such a little runt
that now it's a ingrowing habit, though it is comfortin'
t' know you got a place where you c'n always come in out
of the rain, and where you c'n have your mail sent."

"This newspaper work is a curse," I remarked.  "Show
me a clever newspaper man and I'll show you a failure. 
There is nothing in it but the glory--and little of that.
We contrive and scheme and run about all day getting a
story.  And then we write it at fever heat, searching our
souls for words that are cleancut and virile.  And then
we turn it in, and what is it?  What have we to show for
our day's work?  An ephemeral thing, lacking the first
breath of life; a thing that is dead before
it is born.  Why, any cub reporter, if he were to put
into some other profession the same amount of nerve, and
tact, and ingenuity and finesse, and stick-to-it-iveness
that he expends in prying a single story out of some
unwilling victim, could retire with a fortune in no
time."

Blackie blew down the stem of his pipe, preparatory
to re-filling the bowl.  There was a quizzical light in
his black eyes.  The little heap of burned matches at his
elbow was growing to kindling wood proportions.  It was
common knowledge that Blackie's trick of lighting pipe or
cigarette and then forgetting to puff at it caused his
bill for matches to exceed his tobacco expense account.

"You talk," chuckled Blackie, "like you meant it. 
But sa-a-ay, girl, it's a lonesome game, this retirin'
with a fortune.  I've noticed that them guys who retire
with a barrel of money usually dies at the end of the
first year, of a kind of a lingerin' homesickness.  You
c'n see their pictures in th' papers, with a pathetic
story of how they was just beginnin' t' enjoy life when
along comes the grim reaper an' claims 'em."}

Blackie slid down in his chair and blew a column of
smoke ceilingward.

"I knew a guy once--newspaper man, too--who retired
with a fortune.  He used to do the city hall for us. 
Well, he got in soft with the new administration before
election, and made quite a pile in stocks that was tipped
off to him by his political friends.  His wife was crazy
for him to quit the newspaper game.  He done it.  An'
say, that guy kept on gettin' richer and richer till even
his wife was almost satisfied.  But sa-a-ay, girl, was
that chap lonesome!  One day he come up here looking like
a dog that's run off with the steak.  He was just dyin'
for a kind word, an' he sniffed the smell of the ink and
the hot metal like it was June roses.  He kind of wanders
over to his old desk and slumps down in the chair, and
tips it back, and puts his feet on the desk, with his hat
tipped back, and a bum stogie in his mouth.  And along
came a kid with a bunch of papers wet from the presses
and sticks one in his hand, and--well, girl, that fellow,
he just wriggled he was so happy.  You know as well as I
do that every man on a morning paper spends his day off
hanging around the office wishin' that a mob or a fire or
somethin' big would tear lose so he could get back into
the game.  I guess I told you about the time Von Gerhard
sent me abroad, didn't I?"

"Von Gerhard!" I repeated, startled.  "Do you know
him?"

"Well, he ain't braggin' about it none," Blackie
admitted.  "Von Gerhard, he told me I had about five
years or so t' live, about two, three years ago.  He
don't approve of me.  Pried into my private life, old Von
Gerhard did, somethin' scand'lous.  I had sort of went to
pieces about that time, and I went t' him to be patched
up.  He thumps me fore 'an' aft, firing a volley of
questions, lookin' up the roof of m' mouth, and squintin'
at m' finger nails an' teeth like I was a prize horse for
sale.  Then he sits still, lookin' at me for about half
a minute, till I begin t' feel uncomfortable.  Then he
says, slow:  `Young man, how old are you?'

"`O, twenty-eight or so,' I says, airy.

"`My Gawd!' said he.  `You've crammed twice those
years into your life, and you'll have to pay for it.  Now
you listen t' me.  You got t' quit workin', an' smokin',
and get away from this.  Take a ocean voyage,' he says,
`an' try to get four hours sleep a night, anyway.'

"Well say, mother she was scared green.  So I tucked
her under  m' arm, and we hit it up across the ocean. 
Went t' Germany, knowin' that it would feel homelike
there, an' we took in all the swell baden, and chased up 
the Jungfrau -- sa-a-ay, that's a classy little mountain, 
that Jungfrau.  Mother, she had some swell time I guess.  
She never set down except for meals, and she wrote picture
postals like mad.  But sa-a-ay, girl, was I lonesome!  Maybe 
that trip done me good.  Anyway, I'm livin' yet.  I stuck it 
out for four months, an' that ain't so rotten for a guy who
just grew up on printer's ink ever since he was old
enough to hold a bunch of papers under his arm.  Well,
one day mother an' me was sittin' out on one of them
veranda cafes they run to over there, w'en somebody hits
me a crack on the shoulder, an' there stands old Ryan who
used t' do A. P. here.  He was foreign correspondent for
some big New York syndicate papers over there.

"`Well if it ain't Blackie!' he says.  `What in Sam
Hill are you doing out of your own cell when Milwaukee's
just got four more games t' win the pennant?'

"Sa-a-a-ay, girl, w'en I got through huggin' him
around the neck an' buyin' him drinks I knew it was me
for the big ship.  `Mother,' I says, `if you got anybody
on your mind that you neglected t' send picture postals
to, now's' your last chance.  'F I got to die I'm going
out with m' scissors in one mitt, and m' trusty paste-pot
by m' side!'  An' we hits it up for old Milwaukee.  I
ain't been away since, except w'en I was out with the
ball team, sending in sportin' extry dope for the pink
sheet.  The last time I was in at Baumbach's in comes Von
Gerhard an'--"

"Who are Baumbach's?" I interrupted.

Blackie regarded me pityingly.  "You ain't never been
to Baumbach's?  Why girl, if you don't know Baumbach's,
you ain't never been properly introduced to Milwaukee. 
No wonder you ain't hep to the ways of this little
community.  There ain't what the s'ciety editor would
call the proper ontong cordyal between you and the
natives if you haven't had coffee at Baumbach's.  It
ain't hardly legal t' live in Milwaukee all this time
without ever having been inside of B--"

"Stop!  If you do not tell me at once just where this
wonderful place may be found, and what one does when one
finds it, and how I happened to miss it, and why it is so
necessary to the proper understanding of the city--"

"I'll tell you what I'll do," said Blackie, grinning,
"I'll romp you over there to-morrow afternoon at four
o'clock.  Ach Himmel!  What will that for a grand time
be, no?"

"Blackie, you're a dear to be so polite to an old
married cratur' like me.  Did you notice--that is, does
Ernst von Gerhard drop in often at Baumbach's? "






CHAPTER VIII


KAFFEE AND KAFFEEKUCHEN


I have visited Baumbach's.  I have heard Milwaukee
drinking its afternoon Kaffee.

O Baumbach's, with your deliciously crumbling butter
cookies and your kaffee kuchen, and your thick cream, and
your thicker waitresses and your cockroaches, and your
dinginess and your dowdy German ladies and your black,
black Kaffee,where in this country is there another like
you!

Blackie, true to his promise, had hailed me from the
doorway on the afternoon of the following day.  In the
rush of the day's work I had quite forgotten about
Blackie and Baumbach's.

"Come, Kindchen!" he called.  "Get your bonnet on. 
We will by Baumbach's go, no?"

Ruefully I gazed at the grimy cuffs of my blouse, and
felt of my dishevelled hair.  "Oh, I'm afraid I can't go. 
I look so mussy.  Haven't had time to brush up."

"Brush up!" scoffed Blackie, "the only thing
about you that will need brushin' up is your German.  I
was goin' t' warn you to rumple up your hair a little so
you wouldn't feel overdressed w'en you got there.  Come
on, girl."

And so I came.  And oh, I'm so glad I came!

I must have passed it a dozen times without once
noticing it--just a dingy little black shop nestling
between two taller buildings, almost within the shadow of
the city hall.  Over the sidewalk swung a shabby black
sign with gilt letters that spelled, "Franz Baumbach."

Blackie waved an introductory hand in the direction
of the sign.  "There he is.  That's all you'll ever see
of him."

"Dead? " asked I, regretfully, as we entered the
narrow doorway.

"No; down in the basement baking Kaffeekuchen."

Two tiny show-windows faced the street--such queer,
old-fashioned windows in these days of plate glass.  At
the back they were quite open to the shop, and  in one of
them reposed a huge, white, immovable structure--a
majestic, heavy, nutty, surely indigestible birthday
cake.  Around its edge were flutings and scrolls of white
icing, and on its broad breast reposed cherries, and
stout butterflies of jelly, and cunning traceries of
colored sugar.  It was quite the dressiest cake I had
ever beheld.  Surely no human hand could be wanton enough
to guide a knife through all that magnificence.  But in
the center of all this splendor was an inscription in
heavy white letters of icing:  "Charlottens
Geburtstag."

Reluctantly I tore my gaze from this imposing example
of the German confectioner's art, for Blackie was tugging
impatiently at my sleeve.

"But Blackie," I marveled, "do you honestly suppose
that that structure is intended for some Charlotte's
birthday?"

"In Milwaukee," explained Blackie, "w'en you got a
birthday you got t' have a geburtstag cake, with your
name on it, and all the cousins and aunts and members of
the North Side Frauen Turner Verein Gesellchaft, in for
the day.  It ain't considered decent if you don't.  Are
you ready to fight your way into the main tent?"

It was holiday time, and the single narrow aisle of
the front shop was crowded.  It was not easy to elbow
one's way through the packed little space.  Men and women
were ordering recklessly of the cakes of every
description that were heaped in cases and on shelves.

Cakes!  What a pale; dry name to apply to those
crumbling, melting, indigestible German
confections!  Blackie grinned with enjoyment while I
gazed.  There were cakes the like of which I had never
seen and of which I did not even know the names.  There
were little round cup cakes made of almond paste that
melts in the mouth; there were Schnecken glazed with a
delicious candied brown sugar; there were Bismarcks
composed of layer upon layer of flaky crust inlaid with
an oozy custard that evades the eager consumer at the
first bite, and that slides down one's collar when chased
with a pursuing tongue.  There were Pfeffernusse; there,
were Lebkuchen; there were cheese-kuchen; plum-kuchen,
peach-kuchen, Apfelkuchen, the juicy fruit stuck thickly
into the crust, the whole dusted over with powdered
sugar.  There were Torten, and Hornchen, and butter
cookies.

Blackie touched my arm, and I tore my gaze from a
cherry-studded Schaumtorte that was being reverently
packed for delivery.

"My, what a greedy girl!  Now get your mind all made
up.  This is your chance.  You know you're supposed t'
take a slant at th' things an' make up your mind w'at you
want before you go back w'ere th' tables are.  Don't
fumble this thing.  When Olga or Minna comes waddlin' up
t' you an' says:  `Nu, Fraulein?' you gotta tell her
whether your heart says plum-kuchen oder Nusstorte, or 
both, see?  Just like that. Now make up your mind.  I'd 
hate t' have you blunder. Have you decided?"

"Decided!  How can I?" I moaned, watching a
black-haired, black-eyed Alsatian girl behind the counter
as she rolled a piece of white paper into a cone and
dipped a spoonful of whipped cream from a great brown
bowl heaped high with the snowy stuff.  She filled the
paper cone, inserted the point of it into one end of a
hollow pastry horn, and gently squeezed.  Presto!  A
cream-filled Hornchen!

"Oh, Blackie!" I gasped.  "Come on.  I want to go in
and eat."

As we elbowed our way to the rear room separated from
the front shop only by a flimsy wooden partition, I
expected I know not what.

But surely this was not Blackie's much-vaunted
Baumbach's!  This long, narrow, dingy room, with its bare
floor and its iron-legged tables whose bare marble tops
were yellow with age and use!  I said nothing as we
seated ourselves.  Blackie was watching me out of the
tail of his eye.  My glance wandered about the shabby,
smoke-filled room, and slowly and surely the charm of
that fusty, dingy little cafe came upon me.

A huge stove glowed red in one corner.  On
the wall behind the stove was suspended a wooden rack,
black with age, its compartments holding German, Austrian
and Hungarian newspapers.  Against the opposite wall
stood an ancient walnut mirror, and above it hung a
colored print of Bismarck, helmeted, uniformed, and
fiercely mustached.  The clumsy iron-legged tables stood
in two solemn rows down the length of the narrow room. 
Three or four stout, blond girls plodded back and forth,
from tables to front shop, bearing trays of cakes and
steaming cups of coffee.  There was a rumble and clatter
of German.  Every one seemed to know every one else.  A
game of chess was in progress at one table, and between
moves each contestant would refresh himself with a
long-drawn, sibilant mouthful of coffee.  There was
nothing about the place or its occupants to remind one of
America. This dim, smoky, cake-scented cafe was Germany.

"Time!" said Blackie.  "Here comes Rosie to take our
order.  You can take your choice of coffee or chocolate. 
That's as fancy as they get here."

An expansive blond girl paused at our table smiling
a broad welcome at Blackie.

"Wie geht's, Roschen?" he greeted her.  Roschen's
smile became still more pervasive, so that her blue eyes
disappeared in creases of good humor.  She wiped the 
marble table top with a large and careless gesture that
precipitated stray crumbs into our laps.  "Gut!" murmured 
she, coyly, and leaned one hand on a portly hip in an 
attitude of waiting.

"Coffee?" asked Blackie, turning to me.  I nodded.

"Zweimal Kaffee?" beamed Roschen, grasping the idea.

"Now's your time to speak up," urged Blackie.  "Go
ahead an' order all the cream gefillte things that looked
good to you out in front."

But I leaned forward, lowering my voice discreetly. 
"Blackie, before I plunge in too recklessly, tell me, are
their prices very--"

"Sa-a-ay, child, you just can't spend half a dollar
here if you try.  The flossiest kind of thing they got is
only ten cents a order.  They'll smother you in whipped
cream f'r a quarter.  You c'n come in here an' eat an'
eat an' put away piles of cakes till you feel like a
combination of Little Jack Horner an' old Doc Johnson. 
An' w'en you're all through, they hand yuh your check,
an', say--it says forty-five cents.  You can't beat it,
so wade right in an' spoil your complexion."

With enthusiasm I turned upon the patient Rosie.  "O,
bring me some of those cunning little round things with
the cream on 'em, you know--two of those, eh Blackie? 
And a couple of those with the flaky crust and the
custard between, and a slice of that fluffy-looking cake
and some of those funny cocked-hat shaped cookies--"

But a pall of bewilderment was slowly settling over
Rosie's erstwhile smiling face.  Her plump shoulders went
up in a helpless shrug, and she turned her round blue
eyes appealingly to Blackie.

"Was meint sie alles?" she asked.

So I began all over again, with the assistance of
Blackie.  We went into minute detail.  We made elaborate
gestures.  We drew pictures of our desired goodies on the
marble-topped table, using a soft-lead pencil.  Rosie's
countenance wore a distracted look.  In desperation I was
about to accompany her to the crowded shop, there to
point out my chosen dainties when suddenly, as they would
put it here, a light went her over.

"Ach, yes-s-s-s!  Sie wollten vielleicht abgeruhrter
Gugelhopf haben, und auch Schaumtorte, und Bismarcks, und
Hornchen mit cream gefullt, nicht?"

"Certainly," I murmured, quite crushed.  Roschen
waddled merrily off to the shop.

Blackie was rolling a cigarette.  He ran his funny
little red tongue along the edge of the paper and glanced
up at me in glee.  "Don't bother about me," he generously
observed.  "Just set still and let the atmosphere soak
in."

But already I was lost in contemplation of a
red-faced, pompadoured German who was drinking coffee and
reading the Fliegende Blatter at a table just across
the way.  There were counterparts of my aborigines at
Knapf's--thick spectacled engineers with high foreheads--
actors and actresses from the German stock company--
reporters from the English and German newspapers--
business men with comfortable German consciences--
long-haired musicians--dapper young lawyers--a giggling
group of college girls and boys--a couple of smartly
dressed women nibbling appreciatively at slices of
Nusstorte--low-voiced lovers whose coffee cups stood
untouched at their elbows, while no fragrant cloud of
steam rose to indicate that there was warmth within. 
Their glances grow warmer as the neglected Kaffee grows
colder.  The color comes and goes in the girl's face and
I watch it, a bit enviously, marveling that the old story
still should be so new.

At a large square table near the doorway a group of
eight men were absorbed in an animated political
discussion, accompanied by much waving of arms, and
thundering of gutturals.  It appeared to be a table of
importance, for the high-backed bench that ran along one
side was upholstered in worn red velvet, and every
newcomer paused a moment to nod or to say a word in
greeting.  It was not of American politics that they
talked, but of the politics of Austria and Hungary. 
Finally the argument resolved itself into a duel of words
between a handsome, red-faced German whose rosy skin
seemed to take on a deeper tone in contrast to the
whiteness of his hair and mustache, and a swarthy young
fellow whose thick spectacles and heavy mane of black
hair gave him the look of a caricature out of an
illustrated German weekly.  The red-faced man argued
loudly, with much rapping of bare knuckles on the table
top.  But the dark man spoke seldom, and softly, with a
little twisted half-smile on his lips; and whenever he
spoke the red-faced man grew redder, and there came a
huge laugh from the others who sat listening.

"Say, wouldn't it curdle your English?" Blackie
laughed.

Solemnly I turned to him.  "Blackie Griffith,
these people do not even realize that there is anything
unusual about this."

"Sure not; that's the beauty of it.  They don't need
to make no artificial atmosphere for this place; it just
grows wild, like dandelions.  Everybody comes here for
their coffee because their aunts an' uncles and
Grossmutters and Grosspapas used t' come, and come yet,
if they're livin'!  An', after all, what is it but a
little German bakery?"

"But O, wise Herr Baumbach down in the kitchen!  O,
subtle Frau Baumbach back of the desk!" said I.  "Others
may fit their shops with mirrors, and cut-glass
chandeliers and Oriental rugs and mahogany, but you sit
serenely by, and you smile, and you change nothing.  You
let the brown walls grow dimmer with age; you see the
marble-topped tables turning yellow; you leave bare your
wooden floor, and you smile, and smile, and smile."

"Fine!" applauded Blackie.  "You're on.  And here
comes Rosie."

Rosie, the radiant, placed on the table cups and
saucers of an unbelievable thickness.  She set them down
on the marble surface with a crash as one who knows well
that no mere marble or granite could shatter the solidity
of those stout earthenware receptacles.  Napkins there
were none.  I was to learn that fingers were rid of any
clinging remnants of cream or crumb by the simple
expedient of licking them.

Blackie emptied his pitcher of cream into his cup of
black, black coffee, sugared it, stirred, tasted, and
then, with a wicked gleam in his black eyes he lifted the
heavy cup to his lips and took a long, gurgling mouthful.

"Blackie," I hissed, "if you do that again I shall
refuse to speak to you!"

"Do what?" demanded he, all injured innocence.

"Snuffle up your coffee like that."

"Why, girl, that's th' proper way t' drink coffee
here.  Listen t' everybody else."  And while I glared he
wrapped his hand lovingly about his cup, holding the
spoon imprisoned between first and second fingers, and
took another sibilant mouthful.  "Any more of your back
talk and I'll drink it out of m' saucer an' blow on it
like the hefty party over there in the earrings is doin'. 
Calm yerself an' try a Bismarck."

I picked up one of the flaky confections and eyed it
in despair.  There were no plates except that on which
the cakes reposed.

"How does one eat them?" I inquired.

"Yuh don't really eat 'em.  The motion is
more like inhalin'.  T' eat 'em successful you really
ought t' get into a bath-tub half-filled with water,
because as soon's you bite in at one end w'y the custard
stuff slides out at the other, an' no human mouth c'n be
two places at oncet.  Shut your eyes girl, an' just wade
in."

I waded.  In silence I took a deep delicious bite,
nimbly chased the coy filling around a corner with my
tongue, devoured every bit down to the last crumb and
licked the stickiness off my fingers.  Then I
investigated the interior of the next cake.

"I'm coming here every day," I announced.

"Better not.  Ruin your complexion and turn all your
lines into bumps.  Look at the dame with the earrings. 
I've been keepin' count an' I've seen her eat three
Schnecken, two cream puffs, a Nusshornchen and a slice of
Torte with two cups of coffee.  Ain't she a horrible
example!  And yet she's got th' nerve t' wear a princess
gown!"

"I don't care," I replied, recklessly, my voice
choked with whipped cream and butteriness.  "I can just
feel myself getting greasy.  Haven't I done beautifully
for a new hand?  Now tell me about some of these people. 
Who is the funny little man in the checked suit with the
black braid trimming, and the green cravat, and the 
white spats, and the tan hat and the eyeglasses?"

"Ain't them th' dizzy habiliments?  "A note of envy
crept into Blackie's voice.  "His name is Hugo Luders. 
Used t' be a reporter on the Germania, but he's
reformed and gone into advertisin', where there's real
money.  Some say he wears them clo'es on a bet, and some
say his taste in dress is a curse descended upon him from
Joseph, the guy with the fancy coat, but I think he
wears'em because he fancies 'em.  He's been coming here
ever' afternoon for twelve years, has a cup of coffee,
game of chess, and a pow-wow with a bunch of cronies.  If
Baumbach's ever decide to paint the front of their shop
or put in cut glass fixtures and handpainted china, Hugo
Luders would serve an injunction on 'em.  Next!"

"Who's the woman with the leathery complexion and the
belt to match, and the untidy hair and the big feet?  I
like her face.  And why does she sit at a table with all
those strange-looking men?  And who are all the men?  And
who is the fur-lined grand opera tenor just coming in--
Oh!"

Blackie glanced over his shoulder just as the tall
man in the doorway turned his face toward us.  "That? 
Why, girl, that's Von Gerhard, the man who gives me one 
more year t' live.  Look at everybody kowtowing to him.  
He don't favor Baumbach's often.  Too busy patching up the
nervous wrecks that are washed up on his shores."

The tall figure in the doorway was glancing from
table to table, nodding here and there to an
acquaintance.  His eyes traveled the length of the room. 
Now they were nearing us.  I felt a sudden, inexplicable
tightening at heart and throat, as though fingers were
clutching there.  Then his eyes met mine, and I felt the
blood rushing to my face as he came swiftly over to our
table and took my hand in his.

"So you have discovered Baumbach's," he said.  "May
I have my coffee and cigar here with you? "

"Blackie here is responsible for my being initiated
into the sticky mysteries of Baumbach's.  I never should
have discovered it if he had not offered to act as
personal conductor.  You know one another, I believe?"

The two men shook hands across the table.  There was
something forced and graceless about the act.  Blackie
eyed Von Gerhard through a misty curtain of cigarette
smoke.  Von Gerhard gazed at Blackie through narrowed
lids as he lighted his cigar.
"I'm th' gink you killed off two or three years back,"
Blackie explained.

"I remember you perfectly," Von Gerhard returned,
courteously.  "I rejoice to see that I was mistaken."

"Well," drawled Blackie, a wicked gleam in his black
eyes, "I'm some rejoiced m'self, old top.  Angel wings
and a white kimono, worn bare-footy, would go some rotten
with my Spanish style of beauty, what?  Didn't know that
you and m'dame friend here was acquainted.  Known each
other long?

I felt myself flushing again.

"I knew Dr. von Gerhard back home.  I've scarcely
seen him since I have been here.  Famous specialists
can't be bothered with middle-aged relatives of their
college friends, can they, Herr Doktor?"

And now it was Von Gerhard's face that flushed a deep
and painful crimson.  He looked at me, in silence, and I
felt very little, and insignificant, and much like an
impudent child who has stuck out its tongue at its
elders.  Silent men always affect talkative women in that
way.

"You know that what you say is not true," he said,
slowly.

"Well, we won't quibble.  We--we were just about to
leave, weren't we Blackie?"

"Just," said Blackie, rising.  "Sorry t' see you
drinkin' Baumbach's coffee, Doc.  It ain't fair t' your
patients."

"Quite right," replied Von Gerhard; and rose with us. 
"I shall not drink it.  I shall walk home with Mrs. Orme
instead, if she will allow me.  That will be more
stimulating than coffee, and twice as dangerous, perhaps,
but--"

"You know how I hate that sort of thing," I said,
coldly, as we passed from the warmth of the little front
shop where the plump girls were still filling pasteboard
boxes with holiday cakes, to the brisk chill of the
winter street.  The little black-and-gilt sign swung and
creaked in the wind.  Whimsically, and with the memory of
that last cream-filled cake fresh in my mind, I saluted
the letters that spelled "Franz Baumbach."

Blackie chuckled impishly.  "Just the, same, try a
pinch of soda bicarb'nate when you get home, Dawn," he
advised.  "Well, I'm off to the factory again.  Got t'
make up for time wasted on m' lady friend.  Auf 
wiedersehen!"

And the little figure in the checked top-coat trotted
off.

"But he called you--Dawn," broke from Von Gerhard.

"Mhum," I agreed.  "My name's Dawn."

"Surely not to him.  You have known him but a few
weeks.  I would not have presumed--"

"Blackie never presumes,"  I laughed.  "Blackie's
just--Blackie.  Imagine taking offense at him!  He knows
every one by their given name, from Jo, the boss of the
pressroom, to the Chief, who imports his office coats
from London.  Besides, Blackie and I are newspaper men. 
And people don't scrape and bow in a newspaper office--
especially when they're fond of one another.  You
wouldn't understand."

As I looked at Von Gerhard in the light of the street
lamp I saw a tense, drawn look about the little group of
muscles which show when the teeth are set hard.  When he
spoke those muscles had relaxed but little.

"One man does not talk ill of another.  But this is
different.  I want to ask you--do you know what manner of
man this--this Blackie is?  I ask you because I would
have you safe and sheltered always from such as he--
because I--"

"Safe!  From Blackie?  Now listen.  There never was
a safer, saner, truer, more generous friend.  Oh, I know 
what his life has been.  But what else could it have been,
beginning as he did?  I have no wish to reform him.  I 
tried my hand at reforming one man, and made a glorious 
mess of it.  So I'll just take Blackie as he is, if you
please--slang, wickedness, pink shirt, red necktie, 
diamond rings and all.  If there's any bad in him, we 
all know it, for it's right down on the table, face up.  
You're just angry because he called you Doc."

"Small one," said Von Gerhard, in his quaint German
idiom, "we will not quarrel, you and I.  If I have been
neglectful it was because edged tools were never a chosen
plaything of mine.  Perhaps your little Blackie realizes
that he need have no fear of such things, for the Great
Fear is upon him."

"The Great Fear!  You mean!--"

"I mean that there are too many fine little lines
radiating from the corners of the sunken eyes, and that
his hand-clasp leaves a moisture in the palm.  Ach! you
may laugh.  Come, we will change the subject to something
more cheerful, yes?  Tell me, how grows the book?"

"By inches.  After working all day on a bulletin
paper whose city editor is constantly shouting:  `Boil it
now, fellows!  Keep it down! We're crowded!' it is too 
much of a wrench to find myself seated calmly before my 
own typewriter at night, privileged to write one hundred 
thousand words if I choose.  I can't get over the habit of
crowding the story all into the first paragraph.  Whenever 
I flower into a descriptive passage I glance nervously 
over my shoulder, expecting to find Norberg stationed 
behind me, scissors and blue pencil in hand.  
Consequently the book, thus far, sounds very much like a 
police reporter's story of a fire four minutes before the 
paper is due to go to press."

Von Gerhard's face was unsmiling.  "So," he said,
slowly.  "You burn the candle at both ends.  All day you
write, is it not so?  And at night you come home to write
still more?  Ach, Kindchen!--Na, we shall change all
that.  We will be better comrades, we two, yes?  You
remember that gay little walk of last autumn, when we
explored the Michigan country lane at dusk?  I shall be
your Sunday Schatz, and there shall be more rambles like
that one, to bring the roses into your cheeks.  We shall
be good Kameraden, as you and this little Griffith are--
what is it they say--good fellows?  That is it--good
fellows, yes?  So, shall we shake hands on it? "

But I snatched my hand away.  "I don't
want to be a good fellow," I cried.  "I'm tired of being
a good fellow.  I've been a good fellow for years and
years, while every other married woman in the world has
been happy in her own home, bringing up her babies.  When
I am old I want some sons to worry me, too, and to stay
awake nights for, and some daughters to keep me young,
and to prevent me from doing my hair in a knob and
wearing bonnets!  I hate good-fellow women, and so do
you, and so does every one else!  I--I--"

"Dawn!" cried Von Gerhard.  But I ran up the steps
and into the house and slammed the door behind me,
leaving him standing there.





CHAPTER IX


THE LADY FROM VIENNA


Two more aborigines have appeared.  One of them is a
lady aborigine.  They made their entrance at supper and
I forgot to eat, watching them.  The new-comers are from
Vienna.  He is an expert engineer and she is a woman of
noble birth, with a history.  Their combined appearance
is calculated to strike terror to the heart.  He is
daringly ugly, with a chin that curves in under his lip
and then out in a peak, like pictures of Punch.  She wore
a gray gown of a style I never had seen before and never
expect to see again.  It was fastened with huge black
buttons all the way down the breathlessly tight front,
and the upper part was composed of that pre-historic
garment known as a basque.  She curved in where she
should have curved out, and she bulged where she should
have had "lines." About her neck was suspended a string
of cannon-ball beads that clanked as she walked.  On her
forehead rested a sparse fringe.

"Mein Himmel!" thought I.  "Am I dreaming?  This
isn't Wisconsin.  This is Nurnberg, or Strassburg, with
a dash of Heidelberg and Berlin thrown in.  Dawn, old
girl, it's going to be more instructive than a Cook's
tour."

That turned out to be the truest prophecy I ever
made.

The first surprising thing that the new-comers did
was to seat themselves at the long table with the other
aborigines, the lady aborigine being the only woman among
the twelve men.  It was plain that they had known one
another previous to this meeting, for they became very
good friends at once, and the men grew heavily humorous
about there being thirteen at table.

At that the lady aborigine began to laugh. 
Straightway I forgot the outlandish gown, forgot the
cannon-ball beads, forgot the sparse fringe, forgave the
absence of "lines."  Such a voice!  A lilting, melodious
thing.  She broke into a torrent of speech, with
bewildering gestures, and I saw that her hands were
exquisitely formed and as expressive as her voice.  Her
German was the musical tongue of the Viennese, possessing
none of the gutturals and sputterings.  When she crowned
it with the gay little trilling laugh my views on the
language underwent a lightning change.  It seemed the most
natural thing in the world to see her open the flat,
silver case that dangled at the end of the cannon-ball
chain, take out a cigarette, light it, and smoke it there
in that little German dining room.  She wore the most
gracefully nonchalant air imaginable as she blew little
rings and wreaths, and laughed and chatted brightly with
her husband and the other men.  Occasionally she broke
into French, her accent as charmingly perfect as it had
been in her native tongue.  There was a moment of
breathless staring on the part of the respectable
middle-class Frauen at the other tables.  Then they
shrugged their shoulders and plunged into their meal
again.  There was a certain little high-born air of
assurance about that cigarette-smoking that no amount of
staring could ruffle.

Watching the new aborigines grew to be a sort of
game.  The lady aborigine of the golden voice, and the
ugly husband of the peaked chin had a strange fascination
for me.  I scrambled downstairs at meal time in order not
to miss them, and I dawdled over the meal so that I need
not leave before they.  I discovered that when the lady
aborigine was animated, her face was that of a young woman,
possessing a certain high-bred charm, but that when in
repose the face of the lady aborigine was that of a very
old and tired woman indeed.  Also that her husband
bullied her, and that when he did that she looked at him
worshipingly.

Then one evening, a week or so after the appearance
of the new aborigines, there came a clumping at my door. 
I was seated at my typewriter and the book was balkier
than usual, and I wished that the clumper at the door
would go away.

"Come!" I called, ungraciously enough.  Then, on
second thought:  "Herein!"

The knob turned slowly, and the door opened just
enough to admit the top of a head crowned with a tight,
moist German knob of hair.  I searched my memory to
recognize the knob, failed utterly and said again, this
time with mingled curiosity and hospitality:

"Won't you come in?"

The apparently bodiless head thrust itself forward a
bit, disclosing an apologetically smiling face, with high
check bones that glistened with friendliness and
scrubbing.

"Nabben', Fraulein," said the head.

"Nabben'," I replied, more mystified than ever. 
"Howdy do!  Is there anything--"

The head thrust itself forward still more, showing a
pair of plump shoulders as its support.  Then the plump
shoulders heaved into the room, disclosing a stout,
starched gingham body.

"Ich bin Frau Knapf," announced the beaming vision.

Now up to this time Frau Knapf had maintained a Mrs.
Harris-like mysteriousness.  I had heard rumors of her,
and I had partaken of certain crispy dishes of German
extraction, reported to have come from her deft hands,
but I had not even caught a glimpse of her skirts
whisking around a corner.

Therefore:  "Frau Knapf!" I repeated.  "Nonsense! 
There ain't no sich person--that is, I'm glad to see you. 
Won't you come in and sit down?"

"Ach, no!" smiled the substantial Frau Knapf,
clinging tightly to the door knob.  "I got no time.  It
gives much to do to-night yet.  Kuchen dough I must set,
und ich weiss nicht was.  I got no time."

Bustling, red-cheeked Frau Knapf!  This was why I had
never had a glimpse of her.  Always, she got no time. 
For while Herr Knapf, dapper and genial, welcomed
new-comers, chatted with the diners, poured a glass
of foaming Doppel-brau for Herr Weber or, dexterously
carved fowl for the aborigines' table, Frau Knapf was
making the wheels go round.  I discovered that it was she
who bakes the melting, golden German Pfannkuchen on
Sunday mornings; she it is who fries the crisp and
hissing Wienerschnitzel; she it is who prepares the plump
ducklings, and the thick gravies, and the steaming lentil
soup and the rosy sausages nestling coyly in their bed of
sauerkraut.  All the week Frau Knapf bakes and broils and
stews, her rosy cheeks taking on a twinkling crimson from
the fire over which she bends.  But on Sunday night Frau
Knapf sheds her huge apron and rolls down the sleeves
from her plump arms.  On Sunday evening she leaves pots
and pans and cooking, and is a transformed Frau Knapf. 
Then does she don a bright blue silk waist and a velvet
coat that is dripping with jet, and a black bonnet on
which are perched palpitating birds and weary-looking
plumes.  Then she and Herr Knapf walk comfortably down to
the Pabst theater to see the German play by the German
stock company.  They applaud their favorite stout, blond,
German comedienne as she romps through the acts of a
sprightly German comedy, and after the play they go to
their favorite Wein-stube around the corner.  There they 
have sardellen and cheese sandwiches and a great deal of 
beer, and for one charmed evening Frau Knapf forgets all 
about the insides of geese and the thickening for gravies, 
and is happy.

Many of these things Frau Knapf herself told me,
standing there by the door with the Kuchen heavy on her
mind.  Some of them I got from Ernst von Gerhard when I
told him about my visitor and her errand.  The errand was
not disclosed until Frau Knapf had caught me casting a
despairing glance at my last typewritten page.

"Ach, see! you got no time for talking to, ain't it?"
she apologized.

"Heaps of time," I politely assured her, "don't
hurry.  But why not have a chair and be comfortable?"

Frau Knapf was not to be deceived.  "I go in a
minute.  But first it is something I like to ask you. 
You know maybe Frau Nirlanger?"

I shook my head.

"But sure you must know.  From Vienna she is, with
such a voice like a bird."

"And the beads, and the gray gown, and the fringe,
and the cigarettes?"

"And the oogly husband," finished Frau Knapf, nodding.

"Oogly," I agreed, "isn't the name for it.  And so
she is Frau Nirlanger?  I thought there would be a Von at
the very least."

Whereupon my visitor deserted the doorknob, took half
a dozen stealthy steps in my direction and lowered her
voice to a hissing whisper of confidence.

"It is more as a Von.  I will tell you.  Today comes
Frau Nirlanger by me and she says:  `Frau Knapf, I wish
to buy clothes, aber echt Amerikanische.  Myself, I do
not know what is modish, and I cannot go alone to buy.'"

"That's a grand idea," said I, recalling the gray
basque and the cannon-ball beads.

"Ja, sure it is," agreed Frau Knapf.  "Soo-o-o, she
asks me was it some lady who would come with her by the
stores to help a hat and suit and dresses to buy. 
Stylish she likes they should be, and echt Amerikanisch. 
So-o-o-o, I say to her, I would go myself with you, only
so awful stylish I ain't, and anyway I got no time.  But
a lady I know who is got such stylish clothes!"  Frau
Knapf raised admiring hands and eyes toward heaven. 
"Such a nice lady she is, and stylish, like anything! 
And her name is Frau Orme."

"Oh, really, Frau Knapf--" I murmured in blushing
confusion.

"Sure, it is so," insisted Frau Knapf, coming a step
nearer, and sinking her, voice one hiss lower.  "You
shouldn't say I said it, but Frau Nirlanger likes she
should look young for her husband.  He is much younger as
she is--aber much.  Anyhow ten years.  Frau Nirlanger
does not tell me this, but from other people I have found
out."  Frau Knapf shook her head mysteriously a great
many times.  "But maybe you ain't got such an interest in
Frau Nirlanger, yes?"

"Interest!  I'm eaten up with curiosity.  You shan't
leave this room alive until you've told me!"

Frau Knapf shook with silent mirth.  "Now you make
jokings, ain't?  Well, I tell you.  In Vienna, Frau
Nirlanger was a widow, from a family aber hoch edel--very
high born.  From the court her family is, and friends
from the Emperor, und alles.  Sure!  Frau Nirlanger, she
is different from the rest.  Books she likes, und
meetings, und all such komisch things.  And what you
think!"

"I don't know," I gasped, hanging on her words, "what
DO I think?"

"She meets this here Konrad Nirlanger, and
falls with him in love.  Und her family is mad!  But
schrecklich mad!  Forty years old she is, and from a
noble family, and Konrad Nirlanger is only a student from
a university, and he comes from the Volk.  Sehr gebildet
he is, but not high born.  So-o-o-o-o, she runs with him
away and is married."

Shamelessly I drank it all in.  "You don't mean it! 
Well, then what happened?  She ran away with him--with
that chin! and then what?"

Frau Knapf was enjoying it as much as I.  She drew a
long breath, felt of the knob of hair, and plunged once
more into the story.

"Like a story-book it is, nicht?  Well, Frau
Nirlanger, she has already a boy who is ten years old,
and a fine sum of money that her first husband left her. 
Aber when she runs with this poor kerl away from her
family, and her first husband's family is so schrecklich
mad that they try by law to take from her her boy and her
money, because she has her highborn family disgraced, you
see?  For a year they fight in the courts, and then it
stands that her money Frau Nirlanger can keep, but her
boy she cannot have.  He will be taken by her highborn
family and educated, and he must forget all about his
mamma.  To cry it is, ain't it?  Das arme Kind!  Well, 
she can stand it no longer to live where her boy is, 
and not to see him.  So-o-o-o, Konrad Nirlanger he gets 
a chance to come by Amerika where there is a big 
engineering plant here in Milwaukee, and she begs her 
husband he should come, because this boy she loves very 
much--Oh, she loves her young husband too, but different, 
yes?"

"Oh, yes," I agreed, remembering the gay little
trilling laugh, and the face that was so young when
animated, and so old and worn in repose.  "Oh, yes. 
Quite, quite different."

Frau Knapf smoothed her spotless skirt and shook her
head slowly and sadly.  "So-o-o-o, by Amerika they come. 
And Konrad Nirlanger he is maybe a little cross and so,
because for a year they have been in the courts, and it
might have been the money they would lose, and for money
Konrad Nirlanger cares--well, you shall see.  But Frau
Nirlanger must not mourn and cry.  She must laugh and
sing, and be gay for her husband.  But Frau Nirlanger has
no grand clothes, for first she runs away with Konrad
Nirlanger, and then her money is tied in the law.  Now
she has again her money, and she must be young--but
young!"

With a gesture that expressed a world of pathos and
futility Frau Knapf flung out her arms.  "He must not 
see that she looks different as the ladies in this 
country.  So Frau Nirlanger wants she should buy 
here in the stores new dresses--echt Amerikanische.  
All new and beautiful things she would have,  because 
she must look young, ain't it?  And perhaps her boy 
will remember her when he is a fine young man, if
she is yet young when he grows up, you see?  And too,
there is the young husband.  First, she gives up her old
life, and her friends and her family for this man, and
then she must do all things to keep him.  Men, they are
but children, after all," spake the wise Frau Knapf in
conclusion.  "They war and cry and plead for that which
they would have, and when they have won, then see!  They
are amused for a moment, and the new toy is thrown
aside."

"Poor, plain, vivacious, fascinating little Frau
Nirlanger!" I said.  "I wonder just how much of pain and
heartache that little musical laugh of hers conceals?"

"Ja, that is so," mused Frau Knapf.  Her eyes look
like eyes that have wept much, not?  And so you will be
so kind and go maybe to select the so beautiful clothes?"

"Clothes?" I repeated, remembering the original
errand.  "But dear lady!  How, does one select clothes 
for a woman of forty who would not weary her husband?  
That is a task for a French modiste, a wizard, and a 
fairy godmother all rolled into one."

"But you will do it, yes?" urged Frau Knapf.

"I'll do it," I agreed, a bit ruefully, "if only to
see the face of the oogly husband when his bride is
properly corseted and shod."

Whereupon Frau Knapf, in a panic, remembered the
unset Kuchen dough and rushed away, with her hand on her
lips and her eyes big with secrecy.  And I sat staring at
the last typewritten page stuck in my typewriter and I
found that the little letters on the white page were
swimming in a dim purple haze.





CHAPTER X


A TRAGEDY OF GOWNS

From husbands in general, and from oogly German husbands
in particular may Hymen defend me!  Never again will I
attempt to select "echt Amerikanische" clothes for a
woman who must not weary her young husband.  But how was
I to know that the harmless little shopping expedition
would resolve itself into a domestic tragedy, with Herr
Nirlanger as the villain, Frau Nirlanger as the
persecuted heroine, and I as--what is it in tragedy that
corresponds to the innocent bystander in real life?  That
would be my role.

The purchasing of the clothes was a real joy.  Next
to buying pretty things for myself there is nothing I
like better than choosing them for some one else.  And
when that some one else happens to be a fascinating
little foreigner who coos over the silken stuffs in a
delightful mixture of German and English; and especially
when that some one else must be made to look so charming
that she will astonish her oogly husband, then does the 
selecting of those pretty things cease to be a task, and 
become an art.

It was to be a complete surprise to Herr Nirlanger. 
He was to know nothing of it until everything was
finished and Frau Nirlanger, dressed in the prettiest of
the pretty Amerikanisch gowns, was ready to astound him
when he should come home from the office of the vast
plant where he solved engineering problems.

"From my own money I buy all this," Frau Nirlanger
confided to me, with a gay little laugh of excitement, as
we started out.  "From Vienna it comes.  Always I have
given it at once to my husband, as a wife should. 
Yesterday it came, but I said nothing, and when my
husband said to me, `Anna, did not the money come as
usual to-day?  It is time,' I told a little lie--but a
little one, is it not?  Very amusing it was.  Almost I
did laugh.  Na, he will not be cross when he see how his
wife like the Amerikanische ladies will look.  He admires
very much the ladies of Amerika.  Many times he has said
so.

("I'll wager he has--the great, ugly boor!" I
thought, in parenthesis.)  "We'll show him!" I said,
aloud.  "He won't know you.  Such a lot of beautiful
clothes as we can buy with all this money.  Oh, dear Frau
Nirlanger, it's going to be slathers of fun!  I feel as 
excited about it as though it were a trousseau we were 
buying."

"So it is," she replied, a little shadow of sadness
falling across the brightness of her face.  "I had no
proper clothes when we were married--but nothing!  You
know perhaps my story.  In America, everyone knows
everything.  It is wonderful.  When I ran away to marry
Konrad Nirlanger I had only the dress which I wore; even
that I borrowed from one of the upper servants, on a
pretext, so that no one should recognize me.  Ach Gott!
I need not have worried.  So!  You see, it will be after
all a trousseau."

Why, oh, why should a woman with her graceful
carriage and pretty vivacity have been cursed with such
an ill-assorted lot of features!  Especially when certain
boorish young husbands have expressed an admiration for
pink-and-white effects in femininity.

"Never mind, Mr. Husband, I'll show yez!"  I resolved
as the elevator left us at the floor where waxen ladies
in shining glass cases smiled amiably all the day.

There must be no violent pinks or blues.  Brown was
too old.  She was not young enough for black.  Violet was 
too trying.  And so the gowns began to strew tables and 
chairs and racks, and still I shook my head, and Frau 
Nirlanger looked despairing, and the be-puffed and real
Irish-crocheted saleswoman began to develop a baleful 
gleam about the eyes.

And then we found it!  It was a case of love at first
sight.  The unimaginative would have called it gray.  The
thoughtless would have pronounced it pink.  It was
neither, and both; a soft, rosily-gray mixture of the
two, like the sky that one sometimes sees at winter
twilight, the pink of the sunset veiled by the gray of
the snow clouds.  It was of a supple, shining cloth,
simple in cut, graceful in lines.

"There!  We've found it.  Let's pray that it will not
require too much altering."

But when it had been slipped over her head we groaned
at the inadequacy of her old-fashioned stays.  There
followed a flying visit to the department where hips were
whisked out of sight in a jiffy, and where lines
miraculously took the place of curves.  Then came the
gown once more, over the new stays this time.  The effect
was magical.  The Irish-crocheted saleswoman and I
clasped hands and fell back in attitudes of admiration. 
Frau Nirlanger turned this way and that before the long
mirror and chattered like a pleased child.  Her
adjectives grew into words of six syllables.  She cooed
over the soft-shining stuff in little broken exclamations
in French and German.

Then came a straight and simple street suit of blue
cloth, a lingerie gown of white, hats, shoes and even a
couple of limp satin petticoats.  The day was gone before
we could finish.

I bullied them into promising the pinky-gray gown for
the next afternoon.

"Sooch funs!" giggled Frau Nirlanger, "and how it
makes one tired.  So kind you were, to take this trouble
for me.  Me, I could never have warred with that Fraulein
who served us--so haughty she was, nicht?  But it is good
again pretty clothes to have.  Pretty gowns I lofe--you
also, not?"

"Indeed I do lofe 'em.  But my money comes to me in
a yellow pay envelope, and it is spent before it reaches
me, as a rule.  It doesn't leave much of a margin for
general recklessness."

A tiny sigh came from Frau Nirlanger.  "There will be
little to give to Konrad this time.  So much money they
cost, those clothes!  But Konrad, he will not care when
he sees the so beautiful dresses, is it not so?"

"Care!" I cried with a great deal of bravado,
although a tiny inner voice spake in doubt.  "Certainly
not.  How could he?"

Next day the boxes came, and we smuggled them into my
room.  The unwrapping of the tissue paper folds was a
ceremony.  We reveled in the very crackle of it.  I had
scuttled home from the office as early as decency would
permit, in order to have plenty of  time for the
dressing.  It must be quite finished before Herr
Nirlanger should arrive.  Frau Nirlanger had purchased
three tickets for the German theater, also as a surprise,
and I was to accompany the happily surprised husband and
the proud little wife of the new Amerikanische clothes.

I coaxed her to let me do things to her hair. 
Usually she wore a stiff and ugly coiffure that could
only be described as a chignon.  I do not recollect
ever having seen a chignon, but I know that it must
look like that.  I was thankful for my Irish deftness of
fingers as I stepped back to view the result of my
labors.  The new arrangement of the hair gave her
features a new softness and dignity.

We came to the lacing of the stays, with their
exaggerated length.  "Aber!" exclaimed Frau Nirlanger,
not daring to laugh because of the strange snugness.  "Ach!" 
and again, Aber to laugh it is! "

We had decided the prettiest of the new gowns must do
honor to the occasion.  "This shade is called ashes of
roses," I explained, as I slipped it over her head.

"Ashes of roses!" she echoed.  "How pretty, yes? 
But a little sad too, is it not so?  Like rosy hopes that
have been withered.  Ach, what a foolish talk!  So, now
you will fasten it please.  A real trick it is to button
such a dress--so sly they are, those fastenings."

When all the sly fastenings were secure I stood at
gaze.

"Nose is shiny," I announced, searching in a drawer
for chamois and powder.

Frau Nirlanger raised an objecting hand. "But Konrad 
does not approve of such things.  He has said so.  He
has--"

"You tell your Konrad that a chamois skin isn't half
as objectionable as a shiny one.  Come here and let me
dust this over your nose and chin, while I breathe a
prayer of thanks that I have no overzealous husband near
to forbid me the use of a bit of powder.  There!  If I
sez it mesilf as shouldn't, yez ar-r-re a credit t' me,
me darlint."

"You are satisfied.  There is not one small thing
awry?  Ach, how we shall laugh at Konrad's face."

"Satisfied!  I'd kiss you if I weren't afraid that I
should muss you up.  You're not the same woman.  You look
like a girl!  And so pretty!  Now skedaddle into your own
rooms, but don't you dare to sit down for a moment.  I'm
going down to get Frau Knapf before your husband
arrives."

"But is there then time?" inquired Frau Nirlanger. 
"He should be here now."

"I'll bring her up in a jiffy, just for one peep. 
She won't know you!  Her face will be a treat!  Don't
touch your hair--it's quite perfect.  And f'r Jawn's
sake!  Don't twist around to look at yourself in the back
or something will burst, I know it will.  I'll be back in
a minute.  Now run!"

The slender, graceful figure disappeared with a gay
little laugh, and I flew downstairs for Frau Knapf.  She
was discovered with a spoon in one hand and a spluttering
saucepan in the other.  I detached her from them, clasped
her big, capable red hands and dragged her up the stairs,
explaining as I went.

"Now don't fuss about that supper!  Let 'em wait. 
You must see her before Herr Nirlanger comes home.  He's 
due any minute.  She looks like a girl.  So young!  And 
actually pretty!  And her figure--divine!  Funny what a
difference a decent pair of corsets, and a gown, and some 
puffs will make, h'm?"

Frau Knapf was panting as I pulled her after me in
swift eagerness.  Between puffs she brought out
exclamations of surprise and unbelief such as: 
"Unmoglich! (Puff!  Puff!) Aber--wunderbar! (Puff! 
Puff!)

We stopped before Frau Nirlanger's door.  I struck a
dramatic pose.  "Prepare!" I cried grandly, and threw
open the door with a bang.

Crouched against the wall at a far corner of the room
was Frau Nirlanger.  Her hands were clasped over her
breast and her eyes were dilated as though she had been
running.  In the center of the room stood Konrad
Nirlanger, and on his oogly face was the very oogliest
look that I have ever seen on a man.  He glanced at us as
we stood transfixed in the doorway, and laughed a short,
sneering laugh that was like a stinging blow on the
cheek.

"So!" he said; and I would not have believed that men
really said "So!" in that way outside of a melodrama. 
"So!  You are in the little surprise, yes?  You carry
your meddling outside of your newspaper work, eh?  I
leave behind me an old wife in the morning and in the
evening, presto!  I find a young bride.  Wonderful!--
but wonderful!"  He laughed an unmusical and mirthless
laugh.

"But--don't you like it?" I asked, like a simpleton.

Frau Nirlanger seemed to shrink before our very eyes,
so that the pretty gown hung in limp folds about her.

I stared, fascinated, at Konrad Nirlanger's cruel
face with its little eyes that were too close together
and its chin that curved in below the mouth and out again
so grotesquely.

"Like it?" sneered Konrad Nirlanger.  "For a young
girl, yes.  But how useless, this belated trousseau. 
What a waste of good money!  For see, a young wife I do
not want.  Young women one can have in plenty, always. 
But I have an old woman married, and for an old woman the
gowns need be few--eh, Frau Orme?  And you too, Frau
Knapf?"

Frau Knapf, crimson and staring, was dumb.  There
came a little shivering moan from the figure crouched in
the corner, and Frau Nirlanger, her face queerly withered
and ashen, crumpled slowly in a little heap on the floor
and buried her shamed head in her arms.

Konrad Nirlanger turned to his wife, the black look
on his face growing blacker.

"Come, get up Anna," he ordered, in German.  "These
heroics become not a woman of your years.  And too, you
must not ruin the so costly gown that will be returned
to-morrow."

Frau Nirlanger's white face was lifted from the
shelter of her arms.  The stricken look was still upon
it, but there was no cowering in her attitude now. 
Slowly she rose to her feet.  I had not realized that she
was so tall.

"The gown does not go back," she said.

"So?" he snarled, with a savage note in his voice. 
"Now hear me.  There shall be no more buying of gowns and
fripperies.  You hear?  It is for the wife to come to the
husband for the money; not for her to waste it wantonly
on gowns, like a creature of the streets.  You," his
voice was an insult, "you, with your wrinkles and your
faded eyes in a gown of--" he turned inquiringly toward
me--"How does one call it, that color, Frau Orme?"

There came a blur of tears to my eyes.  "It is called
ashes of roses," I answered.  "Ashes of roses."

Konrad Nirlanger threw back his head and laughed a
laugh as stinging as a whip-lash.  "Ashes of roses!  So? It 
is well named.  For my dear wife it is poetically fit, is it 
not so?  For see, her roses are but withered ashes, eh Anna?"

Deliberately and in silence Anna Nirlanger walked to
the mirror and stood there, gazing at the woman in the
glass.  There was something dreadful and portentous about
the calm and studied deliberation with which she
critically viewed that reflection.  She lifted her arms
slowly and patted into place the locks that had become
disarranged, turning her head from side to side to study
the effect.  Then she took from a drawer the bit of
chamois skin that I had given her, and passed it lightly
over her eyelids and cheeks, humming softly to herself
the while.  No music ever sounded so uncanny to my ears. 
The woman before the mirror looked at the woman in the
mirror with a long, steady, measuring look.  Then, slowly
and deliberately, the long graceful folds of her lovely
gown trailing behind her, she walked over to where her
frowning husband stood.  So might a queen have walked,
head held high, gaze steady.  She stopped within half a
foot of him, her eyes level with his.  For a long
half-minute they stood thus, the faded blue eyes of the
wife gazing into the sullen black eyes of the husband,
and his were the first to drop, for all the noble
blood in Anna Nirlanger's veins, and all her long line of
gently bred ancestors were coming to her aid in dealing
with her middle-class husband.

"You forget," she said, very slowly and distinctly. 
"If this were Austria, instead of Amerika, you would not
forget.  In Austria people of your class do not speak in
this manner to those of my caste."

"Unsinn!" laughed Konrad Nirlanger.  This is
Amerika."

"Yes," said Anna Nirlanger, "this is Amerika.  And in
Amerika all things are different.  I see now that my
people knew of what they spoke when they called me mad to
think of wedding a clod of the people, such as you."

For a moment I thought that he was going to strike
her.  I think he would have, if she had flinched.  But
she did not.  Her head was held high, and her eyes did
not waver.

"I married you for love.  It is most comical, is it
not?  With you I thought I should find peace, and
happiness and a re-birth of the intellect that was being
smothered in the splendor and artificiality and the
restrictions of my life there.  Well, I was wrong.  But
wrong.  Now hear me!"  Her voice was
tense with passion.  "There will be gowns--as many and as
rich as I choose.  You have said many times that the
ladies of Amerika you admire.  And see!  I shall be also
one of those so-admired ladies.  My money shall go for
gowns!  For hats!  For trifles of lace and velvet and
fur!  You shall learn that it is not a peasant woman whom
you have married.  This is Amerika, the land of the free,
my husband.  And see!  Who is more of Amerika than I? 
Who?"

She laughed a high little laugh and came over to me,
taking my hands in her own.

"Dear girl, you must run quickly and dress.  For this
evening we go to the theater.  Oh, but you must.  There
shall be no unpleasantness, that I promise.  My husband
accompanies us--with joy.  Is it not so, Konrad?  With
joy?  So!"

Wildly I longed to decline, but I dared not.  So I
only nodded, for fear of the great lump in my throat, and
taking Frau Knapf's hand I turned and fled with her. 
Frau Knapf was muttering:

"Du Hund!  Du unverschamter Hund du!" in good
Billingsgate German, and wiping her eyes with her apron. 
And I dressed with trembling fingers because I dared not
otherwise face the brave little Austrian, the plucky little
aborigine who, with the donning of the new Amerikanische 
gown had acquired some real Amerikanisch nerve.





CHAPTER XI


VON GERHARD SPEAKS

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.

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."

So it happened that on the afternoon of New Year's
day Von Gerhard and I gravely wished one another many
happy and impossible things for the coming year, looking
fairly and squarely into each other's eyes as we did so.

"So," said Von Gerhard, as one who is satisfied.  "The
nerfs are steady to-day.  What do you say to a brisk walk
along the lake shore to put us in a New Year frame of
mind, and then a supper down-town somewhere, with a toast
to Max and Norah?"

"You've saved my life!  Sit down here in the parlor
and gaze at the crepe-paper oranges while I powder my
nose and get into some street clothes.  I have such a
story to tell you!  It has made me quite contented with
my lot."

The story was that of the Nirlangers; and as we
struggled against a brisk lake breeze I told it, and
partly because of the breeze, and partly because of the
story, there were tears in my eyes when I had finished. 
Von Gerhard stared at me, aghast.

"But you are--crying!" he marveled, watching a tear
slide down my nose.

"I'm not," I retorted.  "Anyway I know it.  I think
I may blubber if I choose to, mayn't I, as well as other
women?"

"Blubber?" repeated Von Gerhard, he of the careful
and cautious English.  "But most certainly, if you wish. 
I had thought that newspaper women did not indulge in the
luxury of tears."

"They don't--often.  Haven't the time. If a woman 
reporter were to burst into tears every time
she saw something to weep over she'd be going about with
a red nose and puffy eyelids half the time.  Scarcely a
day passes that does not bring her face to face with
human suffering in some form.  Not only must she see
these things, but she must write of them so that those
who read can also see them.  And just because she does
not wail and tear her hair and faint she popularly is
supposed to be a flinty, cigarette-smoking creature who
rampages up and down the land, seeking whom she may rend
with her pen and gazing, dry-eyed, upon scenes of horrid
bloodshed."

"And yet the little domestic tragedy of the
Nirlangers can bring tears to your eyes?"

"Oh, that was quite different.  The case of the
Nirlangers had nothing to do with Dawn O'Hara, newspaper
reporter.  It was just plain Dawn O'Hara, woman, who
witnessed that little tragedy.  Mein Himmel!  Are all
German husbands like that?"

"Not all.  I have a very good friend named Max--"

"O, Max!  Max is an angel husband.  Fancy Max and
Norah waxing tragic on the subject of a gown!  Now you--"

"I?  Come, you are sworn to good-fellowship.  As 
one comrade to another, tell me, what sort of husband 
do you think I should make, eh?  The boorish
Nirlanger sort, or the charming Max variety.  Come, tell
me--you who always have seemed so--so damnably able to
take care of yourself."  His eyes were twinkling in the
maddening way they had.

I looked out across the lake to where a line of
white-caps was piling up formidably only to break in
futile wrath against the solid wall of the shore.  And
there came over me an equally futile wrath; that savage,
unreasoning instinct in women which prompts them to hurt
those whom they love.

"Oh, you!"  I began, with Von Gerhard's amused eyes
laughing down upon me.  "I should say that you would be
more in the Nirlanger style, in your large, immovable,
Germansure way.  Not that you would stoop to wrangle
about money or gowns, but that you would control those
things.  Your wife will be a placid, blond, rather plump
German Fraulein, of excellent family and no imagination. 
Men of your type always select negative wives.  Twenty
years ago she would have run to bring you your Zeitung
and your slippers.  She would be that kind, if
Zeitung-and-slipper husbands still were in existence. 
You will be fond of her, in a patronizing sort of way, 
and she will never know the difference between that and 
being loved, not having a great deal of imagination, as 
I have said before.  And you will go on becoming more 
and more famous, and she will grow plumper and more 
placid, and less and less understanding of what those 
komisch medical journals have to say so often about her 
husband who is always discovering things.  And you will 
live happily ever after--"

A hand gripped my shoulder.  I looked up, startled,
into two blue eyes blazing down into mine.  Von Gerhard's
face was a painful red.  I think that the hand on my
shoulder even shook me a little, there on that bleak and
deserted lake drive.  I tried to wrench my shoulder free
with a jerk.

"You are hurting me!" I cried.

A quiver of pain passed over the face that I had
thought so calmly unemotional.  "You talk of hurts!  You,
who set out deliberately and maliciously to make me
suffer!  How dare you then talk to me like this!  You
stab with a hundred knives--you, who know how I--"

"I'm sorry," I put in, contritely.  "Please don't be
so dreadful about it.  After all, you asked me, didn't
you?  Perhaps I've hurt your vanity.  There, I didn't
mean that, either.  Oh, dear, let's talk about something
impersonal.  We get along wretchedly of late."

The angry red ebbed away from Von Gerhard's face. 
The blaze of wrath in his eyes gave way to a deeper,
brighter light that held me fascinated, and there came to
his lips a smile of rare sweetness.  The hand that had
grasped my shoulder slipped down, down, until it met my
hand and gripped it.

"Na, 's ist schon recht, Kindchen.  Those that we
most care for we would hurt always.  When I have told you
of my love for you, although already you know it, then
you will tell me.  Hush!  Do not deny this thing.  There
shall be no more lies between us.  There shall be only
the truth, and no more about plump, blonde German wives
who run with Zeitung and slippers.  After all, it is no
secret.  Three months ago I told Norah.  It was not news
to her.  But she trusted me."

I felt my face to be as white and as tense as his
own.  "Norah--knows!"

"It is better to speak these things.  Then there need
be no shifting of the eyes, no evasive words, no tricks,
no subterfuge."

We had faced about and were retracing our steps, past
the rows of peculiarly home-like houses that line
Milwaukee's magnificent lake shore.  Windows were hung 
with holiday scarlet and holly, and here and there a 
face was visible at a window, looking out at the man 
and woman walking swiftly along the wind-swept heights 
that rose far above the lake.

A wretched revolt seized me as I gazed at the
substantial comfort of those normal, happy homes.

"Why did you tell me!  What good can that do?  At
least we were make-believe friends before.  Suppose I
were to tell you that I care, then what."

"I do not ask you to tell me," Von Gerhard replied,
quietly.

"You need not.  You know.  You knew long, long ago. 
You know I love the big quietness of you, and your
sureness, and the German way you have of twisting your
sentences about, and the steady grip of your great firm
hands, and the rareness of your laugh, and the simplicity
of you.  Why I love the very cleanliness of your ruddy
skin, and the way your hair grows away from your
forehead, and your walk, and your voice and--Oh, what is
the use of it all?"

"Just this, Dawn.  The light of day sweetens all
things.  We have dragged this thing out into the
sunlight, where, if it grows, it will grow 
sanely and healthily.  It was but an ugly, distorted,
unsightly thing, sending out pale unhealthy shoots in the
dark, unwholesome cellars of our inner consciences. 
Norah's knowing was the cleanest, sweetest thing about
it."

"How wonderfully you understand her, and how right
you are!  Her knowing seems to make it as it should be,
doesn't it?  I am braver already, for the knowledge of
it.  It shall make no difference between us?"

"There is no difference, Dawn," said he.

"No.  It is only in the story-books that they sigh,
and groan and utter silly nonsense.  We are not like
that.  Perhaps, after a bit, you will meet some one you
care for greatly--not plump, or blond, or German,
perhaps, but still--"

"Doch you are flippant?"

"I must say those things to keep the tears back.  You
would not have me wailing here in the street.  Tell me
just one thing, and there shall be no more fluttering
breaths and languishing looks.  Tell me, when did you
begin to care?"

We had reached Knapfs' door-step.  The short winter
day was already drawing to its close.  In the half-light
Von Gerhard's eyes glowed luminous.

"Since the day I first met you at Norah's," he said,
simply.

I stared at him, aghast, my ever-present sense of
humor struggling to the surface.  "Not--not on that day
when you came into the room where I sat in the chair by
the window, with a flowered quilt humped about my
shoulders!  And a fever-sore twisting my mouth!  And my
complexion the color of cheese, and my hair plastered
back from my forehead, and my eyes like boiled onions!"

"Thank God for your gift of laughter," Von Gerhard
said, and took my hand in his for one brief moment before
he turned and walked away.

Quite prosaically I opened the big front door at
Knapfs' to find Herr Knapf standing in the hallway with
his:

"Nabben', Frau Orme."

And there was the sane and soothing scent of
Wienerschnitzel and spluttering things in the air.  And
I ran upstairs to my room and turned on all the lights
and looked at the starry-eyed creature in the mirror. 
Then I took the biggest, newest photograph of Norah from
the mantel and looked at her for a long, long minute,
while she looked back at me in her brave true way.

"Thank you, dear," I said to her.  "Thank you.  Would
you think me stagey and silly if I were to kiss you, just
once, on your beautiful trusting eyes?"

A telephone bell tinkled downstairs and Herr Knapf
stationed himself at the foot of the stairs and roared my
name.

When I had picked up the receiver:  "This is Ernst,"
said the voice at the other end of the wire.  "I have
just remembered that I had asked you down-town for
supper."

"I would rather thank God fasting," I replied, very
softly, and hung the receiver on its hook.





CHAPTER XII


BENNIE THE CONSOLER

In a corner of Frau Nirlanger's bedroom, sheltered from
draughts and glaring light, is a little wooden bed,
painted blue and ornamented with stout red roses that are
faded by time and much abuse.  Every evening at eight
o'clock three anxious-browed women hold low-spoken
conclave about the quaint old bed, while its occupant
sleeps and smiles as he sleeps, and clasps to his breast
a chewed-looking woolly dog.  For a new joy has come to
the sad little Frau Nirlanger, and I, quite by accident,
was the cause of bringing it to her.  The queer little
blue bed, with its faded roses, was brought down from the
attic by Frau Knapf, for she is one of the three foster
mothers of the small occupant of the bed.  The occupant
of the bed is named Bennie, and a corporation formed for
the purpose of bringing him up in the way he should go is
composed of:  Dawn O'Hara Orme, President and Distracted
Guardian; Mrs. Konrad Nirlanger, Cuddler-in-chief and
Authority on the Subject of Bennie's Bed-time; Mr. Blackie
Griffith, Good Angel, General Cut-up and Monitor off'n 
Bennie's Neckties and Toys; Dr. Ernst von Gerhard, Chief 
Medical Adviser, and Sweller of the Exchequer, with the 
Privilege of Selecting All Candies.  Members of the 
corporation meet with great frequency evenings and Sundays, 
much to the detriment of a certain Book-in-the-making with 
which Dawn O'Hara Orme was wont to struggle o' evenings.

Bennie had been one of those little tragedies that
find their way into juvenile court.  Bennie's story was
common enough, but Bennie himself had been different. 
Ten minutes after his first appearance in the court room
everyone, from the big, bald judge to the newest
probation officer, had fallen in love with him.  Somehow,
you wanted to smooth the hair from his forehead, tip his
pale little face upward, and very gently kiss his smooth,
white brow.  Which alone was enough to distinguish
Bennie, for Juvenile court children, as a rule, are
distinctly not kissable.

Bennie's mother was accused of being unfit to care
for her boy, and Bennie was temporarily installed in the
Detention Home.  There the superintendent and his plump
and kindly wife had fallen head over heels in love with
him, and had dressed him in a smart little Norfolk 
suit and a frivolous plaid silk tie.  There were
delays in the case, and postponement after postponement,
so that Bennie appeared in the court room every Tuesday
for four weeks.  The reporters, and the probation
officers and policemen became very chummy with Bennie,
and showered him with bright new pennies and certain
wonderful candies.  Superintendent Arnett of the
Detention Home was as proud of the boy as though he were
his own.  And when Bennie would look shyly and
questioningly into his face for permission to accept the
proffered offerings, the big superintendent would chuckle
delightedly.  Bennie had a strangely mobile face for such
a baby, and the whitest, smoothest brow I have ever seen.

The comedy and tears and misery and laughter of the
big, white-walled court room were too much for Bennie. 
He would gaze about with puzzled blue eyes; then, giving
up the situation as something too vast for his
comprehension, he would fall to drawing curly-cues on a
bit of paper with a great yellow pencil presented him by
one of the newspaper men.

Every Tuesday the rows of benches were packed with a
motley crowd of Poles, Russians, Slavs, Italians, Greeks,
Lithuanians--a crowd made up of fathers, mothers,
sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, neighbors, friends, and 
enemies of the boys and girls whose fate was in the hands 
of the big man seated in the revolving chair up in front.  
But Bennie's mother was not of this crowd; this pitiful,
ludicrous crowd filling the great room with the stifling, 
rancid odor of the poor.  Nor was Bennie.  He sat, clear-eyed
and unsmiling, in the depths of a great chair on the
court side of the railing and gravely received the
attentions of the lawyers, and reporters and court room
attaches who had grown fond of the grave little figure.

Then, on the fifth Tuesday, Bennie's mother appeared. 
How she had come to be that child's mother God only
knows--or perhaps He had had nothing to do with it.  She
was terribly sober and frightened.  Her face was swollen
and bruised, and beneath one eye there was a puffy
green-and-blue swelling.  Her sordid story was common
enough as the probation officer told it.  The woman had
been living in one wretched room with the boy.  Her
husband had deserted her.  There was no food, and little
furniture.  The queer feature of it, said the probation
officer, was that the woman managed to keep the boy
fairly neat and clean, regardless of her own condition,
and he generally had food of some sort, although the
mother sometimes went without food for days.  Through the
squalor and misery and degradation of her own life Bennie
had somehow been kept unsullied, a thing apart.

"H'm! " said judge Wheeling, and looked at Bennie. 
Bennie was standing beside his mother.  He was very
quiet, and his eyes were smiling up into those of the
battered creature who was fighting for him.  "I guess
we'll have to take you out of this," the judge decided,
abruptly.  "That boy is too good to go to waste."

The sodden, dazed woman before him did not
immediately get the full meaning of his words.  She still
stood there, swaying a bit, and staring unintelligently
at the judge.  Then, quite suddenly, she realized it. 
She took a quick step forward.  Her hand went up to her
breast, to her throat, to her lips, with an odd, stifled
gesture.

"You ain't going to take him away!  From me!  No, you
wouldn't do that, would you?  Not for--not for always! 
You wouldn't do that--you wouldn't--"

Judge Wheeling waved her away.  But the woman dropped
to her knees.

"Judge, give me a chance!  I'll stop drinking.  Only
don't take him away from me! Don't, judge, don't!  He's all 
I've got in the world.  Give me a chance.  Three months!  
Six months!  A year!"

"Get up!" ordered judge Wheeling, gruffly, "and stop
that!  It won't do you a bit of good."

And then a wonderful thing happened.  The woman rose
to her feet.  A new and strange dignity had come into her
battered face.  The lines of suffering and vice were
erased as by magic, and she seemed to grow taller,
younger, almost beautiful.  When she spoke again it was
slowly and distinctly, her words quite free from the blur
of the barroom and street vernacular.

"I tell you you must give me a chance.  You cannot
take a child from a mother in this way.  I tell you, if
you will only help me I can crawl back up the road that
I've traveled.  I was not always like this.  There was
another life, before--before--Oh, since then there have
been years of blackness, and hunger, and cold and--worse! 
But I never dragged the boy into it.  Look at him!"

Our eyes traveled from the woman's transfigured face
to that of the boy.  We could trace a wonderful likeness
where before we had seen none.  But the woman went on in
her steady, even tone.

"I can't talk as I should, because my brain isn't
clear.  It's the drink.  When you drink, you forget.  But
you must help me.  I can't do it alone.  I can remember
how to live straight, just as I can remember how to talk
straight.  Let me show you that I'm not all bad.  Give me
a chance.  Take the boy and then give him back to me when
you are satisfied.  I'll try--God only knows how I'll
try.  Only don't take him away forever, Judge!  Don't do
that!"

Judge Wheeling ran an uncomfortable finger around his
collar's edge.

"Any friends living here?"

"No!  No!"

"Sure about that?"

"Quite sure."

"Now see here; I'm going to give you your chance.  I
shall take this boy away from you for a year.  In that
time you will stop drinking and become a decent,
self-supporting woman.  You will be given in charge of
one of these probation officers.  She will find work for
you, and a good home, and she'll stand by you, and you
must report to her.  If she is satisfied with you at the
end of the year, the boy goes back to you."

"She will be satisfied," the woman said, simply.  She 
stooped and taking Bennie's face between her
hands kissed him once.  Then she stepped aside and stood
quite still, looking after the little figure that passed
out of the court room with his hand in that of a big,
kindly police officer.  She looked until the big door had
opened and closed upon them.

Then--well, it was just another newspaper story.  It
made a good one.  That evening I told Frau Nirlanger
about it, and she wept, softly, and murmured:  "Ach, das
arme baby!  Like my little Oscar he is, without a
mother."  I told Ernst about him too, and Blackie,
because I could not get his grave little face out of my
mind.  I wondered if those who had charge of him now
would take the time to bathe the little body, and brush
the soft hair until it shone, and tie the gay plaid silk
tie as lovingly as "Daddy" Arnett of the Detention Home
had done.

Then it was that I, quite unwittingly, stepped into
Bennie's life.

There was an anniversary, or a change in the board of
directors, or a new coat of paint or something of the
kind in one of the orphan homes, and the story fell to
me.  I found the orphan home to be typical of its kind--a
big, dreary, prison-like structure.  The woman at
the door did not in the least care to let me in.  She was
a fish-mouthed woman with a hard eye, and as I told my
errand her mouth grew fishier and the eye harder. 
Finally she led me down a long, dark, airless stretch of
corridor and departed in search of the matron, leaving me
seated in the unfriendly reception room, with its
straight-backed chairs placed stonily against the walls,
beneath rows of red and blue and yellow religious
pictures.

Just as I was wondering why it seemed impossible to
be holy and cheerful at the same time, there came a
pad-padding down the corridor.  The next moment the
matron stood in the doorway.  She was a mountainous,
red-faced woman, with warts on her nose.

"Good-afternoon," I said, sweetly. ("Ugh!  What a
brute!")  I thought.  Then I began to explain my errand
once more.  Criticism of the Home?  No indeed, I assured
her.  At last, convinced of my disinterestedness she
reluctantly guided me about the big, gloomy building. 
There were endless flights of shiny stairs, and endless
stuffy, airless rooms, until we came to a door which she
flung open, disclosing the nursery.  It seemed to me that
there were a hundred babies--babies at every stage of
development, of all sizes, and ages and types. They glanced 
up at the opening of the door, and then a dreadful thing
happened.

Every child that was able to walk or creep scuttled
into the farthest corners and remained quite, quite still
with a wide-eyed expression of fear and apprehension on
every face.

For a moment my heart stood still.  I turned to look
at the woman by my side.  Her thin lips were compressed
into a straight, hard line.  She said a word to a nurse
standing near, and began to walk about, eying the
children sharply.  She put out a hand to pat the head of
one red-haired mite in a soiled pinafore; but before her
hand could descend I saw the child dodge and the tiny
hand flew up to the head, as though in defense.

"They are afraid of her!" my sick heart told me. 
"Those babies are afraid of her!  What does she do to
them?  I can't stand this.  I'm going."

I mumbled a hurried "Thank you," to the fat matron as
I turned to leave the big, bare room.  At the head of the
stairs there was a great, black door.  I stopped before
it--God knows why!--and pointed toward it.

"What is in that room?" I asked.  Since then I have
wondered many times at the unseen power that prompted me
to put the question.

The stout matron bustled on, rattling her keys as she
walked.

"That--oh, that's where we keep the incorrigibles."

"May I see them?" I asked, again prompted by that
inner voice.

"There is only one."  She grudgingly unlocked the
door, using one of the great keys that swung from her
waist.  The heavy, black door swung open.  I stepped into
the bare room, lighted dimly by one small window.  In the
farthest corner crouched something that stirred and
glanced up at our entrance.  It peered at us with an ugly
look of terror and defiance, and I stared back at it, in
the dim light.  During one dreadful, breathless second I
remained staring, while my heart stood still.  Then--
"Bennie!" I cried.  And stumbled toward him.  "Bennie--
boy!"

The little unkempt figure, in its soiled
knickerbocker suit, the sunny hair all uncared for, the
gay plaid tie draggled and limp, rushed into my arms with
a crazy, inarticulate cry.

Down on my knees on the bare floor I held him close--
close! and his arms were about my neck as though they
never should unclasp.

"Take me away!  Take me away!"  His wet cheek was
pressed against my own streaming one.  "I want my mother!  
I want Daddy Arnett!  Take me away!"

I wiped his cheeks with my notebook or something,
picked him up in my arms, and started for the door.  I
had quite forgotten the fat matron.

"What are you doing?" she asked, blocking the doorway
with her huge bulk.

"I'm going to take him back with me.  Please let me! 
I'll take care of him until the year is up.  He shan't
bother you any more."

"That is impossible," she said, coldly.  "He has been
sent here by the court, for a year, and he must stay
here.  Besides, he is a stubborn, uncontrollable child."

"Uncontrollable!  He's nothing of the kind!  Why
don't you treat him as a child should be treated, instead
of like a little animal?  You don't know him!  Why, he's
the most lovable--I And he's only a baby!  Can't you
see that?  A baby!"

She only stared her dislike, her little pig eyes
grown smaller and more glittering.

"You great--big--thing! " I shrieked at her, like an
infuriated child.  With the tears streaming down my
cheeks I unclasped Bennie's cold hands from about my
neck.  He clung to me, frantically, until I had to push 
him away and run.

The woman swung the door shut, and locked it.  But
for all its thickness I could hear Bennie's helpless
fists pounding on its panels as I stumbled down the
stairs, and Bennie's voice came faintly to my ears,
muffled by the heavy door, as he shrieked to me to take
him away to his mother, and to Daddy Arnett.

I blubbered all the way back in the car, until
everyone stared, but I didn't care.  When I reached the
office I made straight for Blackie's smoke-filled
sanctum.  When my tale was ended he let me cry all over
his desk, with my head buried in a heap of galley-proofs
and my tears watering his paste-pot.  He sat calmly by,
smoking.  Finally he began gently to philosophize.  "Now
girl, he's prob'ly better off there than he ever was at
home with his mother soused all the time.  Maybe he give
that warty matron friend of yours all kinds of trouble,
yellin' for his ma."

I raised my head from the desk.  "Oh, you can talk! 
You didn't see him.  What do you care!  But if you could
have seen him, crouched there--alone--like a little
animal!  He was so sweet--and lovable--and--and--he
hadn't been decently washed for weeks--and his arms clung
to me--I can feel his hands about my neck!--"

I buried my head in the papers again.  Blackie went
on smoking.  There was no sound in the little room except
the purr-purring of Blackie's pipe.  Then:

"I done a favor for Wheeling once," mused he.

I glanced up, quickly.  "Oh, Blackie, do you think--"

"No, I don't.  But then again, you can't never tell. 
That was four or five years ago, and the mem'ry of past
favors grows dim fast.  Still, if you're through waterin'
the top of my desk, why I'd like t' set down and do a
little real brisk talkin' over the phone.  You're
excused."

Quite humbly I crept away, with hope in my heart.

To this day I do not know what secret string the
resourceful Blackie pulled.  But the next afternoon I
found a hastily scrawled note tucked into the roll of my
typewriter.  It sent me scuttling across the hall to the
sporting editor's smoke-filled room.  And there on a
chair beside the desk, surrounded by scrap-books, lead
pencils, paste-pot and odds and ends of newspaper office
paraphernalia, sat Bennie.  His hair
was parted very smoothly on one side, and under his
dimpled chin bristled a very new and extremely lively
green-and-red plaid silk tie.

The next instant I had swept aside papers, brushes,
pencils, books, and Bennie was gathered close in my arms. 
Blackie, with a strange glow in his deep-set black eyes
regarded us with an assumed disgust.

"Wimmin is all alike.  Ain't it th' truth? I used t'
think you was different.  But shucks! It ain't so.  Got
t' turn on the weeps the minute you're tickled or mad. 
Why say, I ain't goin' t' have you comin' in here an'
dampenin' up the whole place every little while!  It's
unhealthy for me, sittin' here in the wet."

"Oh, shut up, Blackie," I said, happily.  "How in the
world did you do it?"

"Never you mind.  The question is, what you goin' t'
do with him, now you've got him?  Goin' t' have a French
bunny for him, or fetch him up by hand?  Wheeling
appointed a probation skirt to look after the crowd of
us, and we got t' toe the mark."

"Glory be!" I ejaculated.  "I don't know what I shall
do with him.  I shall have to bring him down with me
every morning, and perhaps you can make a sporting editor
out of him."

"Nix.  Not with that forehead.  He's a high-brow. 
We'll make him dramatic critic.  In the meantime, I'll be
little fairy godmother, an' if you'll get on your bonnet
I'll stake you and the young 'un to strawberry shortcake
an' chocolate ice cream."

So it happened that a wondering Frau Knapf and a
sympathetic Frau Nirlanger were called in for
consultation an hour later.  Bennie was ensconced in my
room, very wide-eyed and wondering, but quite content. 
With the entrance of Frau Nirlanger the consultation was
somewhat disturbed.  She made a quick rush at him and
gathered him in her hungry arms.

"Du baby du!" she cried.  "Du Kleiner!  And she was
down on her knees, and somehow her figure had melted into
delicious mother-curves, with Bennie's head just fitting
into that most gracious one between her shoulder and
breast.  She cooed to him in a babble of French and
German and English, calling him her lee-tel Oscar. 
Bennie seemed miraculously to understand.  Perhaps he was
becoming accustomed to having strange ladies snatch him
to their breasts.

"So," said Frau Nirlanger, looking up at us. "Is he
not sweet?  He shall be my lee-tel boy, nicht?  For one
small year he shall be my own boy.  Ach, I am but lonely 
all the long day here in this strange land.  You will let 
me care for him, nicht?  And Konrad, he will be very angry, 
but that shall make no bit of difference.  Eh, Oscar?"

And so the thing was settled, and an hour later three
anxious-browed women were debating the weighty question
of eggs or bread-and-milk for Bennie's supper.  Frau
Nirlanger was for soft-boiled eggs as being none too
heavy after orphan asylum fare; I was for bread-and-milk,
that being the prescribed supper dish for all the orphans
and waifs that I had ever read about, from "The Wide,
Wide World" to "Helen's Babies," and back again.  Frau 
Knapf was for both eggs and bread-and-milk with a dash of
meat and potatoes thrown in for good measure, and a slice
or so of Kuchen on the side.  We compromised on one egg,
one glass of milk, and a slice of lavishly buttered
bread, and jelly.  It was a clean, sweet, sleepy-eyed
Bennie that we tucked between the sheets.  We three women
stood looking down at him as he lay there in the quaint
old blue-painted bed that had once held the plump little
Knapfs.

"You think anyway he had enough supper? mused the
anxious-browed Frau Knapf.

"To school he will have to go, yes?" murmured Frau
Nirlanger, regretfully.

I tucked in the covers at one side of the bed, not
that they needed tucking, but because it was such a
comfortable, satisfying thing to do.

"Just at this minute," I said, as I tucked, "I'd
rather be a newspaper reporter than anything else in the
world.  As a profession 'tis so broadenin', an' at the
same time, so chancey."





CHAPTER XIII


THE TEST


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:

"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.

Oh, it had been easy enough to talk of love in a
lofty, superior impersonal way that New Year's day.  Just
the luxury of speaking of it at all, after those weeks of
repression, sufficed.  But it is not so easy to be
impersonal and lofty when the touch of a coat sleeve
against your arm sends little prickling, tingling shivers
racing madly through thousands of too taut nerves.  It is
not so easy to force the mind and tongue into safe, sane 
channels when they are forever threatening to rush together 
in an overwhelming torrent that will carry misery and 
destruction in its wake.  Invariably we talk with feverish
earnestness about the book; about my work at the office; 
about Ernst's profession, with its wonderful growth; about 
Norah, and Max and the Spalpeens, and the home; about the 
latest news; about the weather; about Peter Orme--and then
silence.

At our last meeting things took a new and startling
turn.  So startling, so full of temptation and
happiness-that-must-not-be, that I resolved to forbid
myself the pain and joy of being, near him until I could
be quite sure that my grip on Dawn O'Hara was firm,
unshakable and lasting.

Von Gerhard sports a motor-car, a rakish little
craft, built long and low, with racing lines, and a green
complexion, and a nose that cuts through the air like the
prow of a swift boat through water.  Von Gerhard had
promised me a spin in it on the first mild day.  Sunday
turned out to be unexpectedly lamblike, as only a March
day can be, with real sunshine that warmed the end of
one's nose instead of laughing as it tweaked it, as the
lying February sunshine had done.

"But warmly you must dress yourself," Von Gerhard
warned me, "with no gauzy blouses or sleeveless gowns. 
The air cuts like a knife, but it feels good against the
face.  And a little road-house I know, where one is
served great steaming plates of hot oyster stew.  How
will that be for a lark, yes?"

And so I had swathed myself in wrappings until I
could scarcely clamber into the panting little car, and
we had darted off along the smooth lake drives, while the
wind whipped the scarlet into our cheeks, even while it
brought the tears to our eyes.  There was no chance for
conversation, even if Von Gerhard had been in talkative
mood, which he was not.  He seemed more taciturn than
usual, seated there at the wheel, looking straight ahead
at the ribbon of road, his eyes narrowed down to mere
keen blue slits.  I realized, without alarm, that he was
driving furiously and lawlessly, and I did not care.  Von
Gerhard was that sort of man.  One could sit quite calmly
beside him while he pulled at the reins of a pair of
runaway horses, knowing that he would conquer them in the
end.

Just when my face began to feel as stiff and glazed
as a mummy's, we swung off the roadway and up to the
entrance of the road-house that was to revive us with things 
hot and soupy.

"Another minute," I said, through stiff lips, as I
extricated myself from my swathings, "and I should have
been what Mr. Mantalini described as a demnition body. 
For pity's sake, tell 'em the soup can't be too hot nor
too steaming for your lady friend.  I've had enough fresh
air to last me the remainder of my life.  May I timidly
venture to suggest that a cheese sandwich follow the
oyster stew?  I am famished, and this place looks as
though it might make a speciality of cheese sandwiches."

"By all means a cheese sandwich.  Und was noch?  That
fresh air it has given you an appetite, nicht wahr?"  But
there was no sign of a smile on his face, nor was the
kindly twinkle of amusement to be seen in his eyes--that
twinkle that I had learned to look for.

"Smile for the lady," I mockingly begged when we had
been served.  "You've been owlish all the afternoon. 
Here, try a cheese sandwich.  Now, why do you suppose
that this mustard tastes so much better than the kind one
gets at home?"

Von Gerhard had been smoking a cigarette, the first
that I had ever seen in his fingers.  Now he tossed it
into the fireplace that yawned black and empty at one side 
of the room.  He swept aside the plates and glasses that 
stood before him, leaned his arms on the table and 
deliberately stared at me.

"I sail for Europe in June, to be gone a year--
probably more," he said.

"Sail!" I echoed, idiotically; and began blindly to
dab clots of mustard on that ridiculous sandwich.

"I go to study and work with Gluck.  It is the
opportunity of a lifetime.  Gluck is to the world of
medicine what Edison is to the world of electricity.  He
is a wizard, a man inspired.  You should see him--a
little, bent, grizzled, shabby old man who looks at you,
and sees you not.  It is a wonderful opportunity, a--"

The mustard and the sandwich and the table and Von
Gerhard's face were very indistinct and uncertain to my
eyes, but I managed to say:  "So glad--congratulate you--
very happy--no doubt fortunate--"

Two strong hands grasped my wrists.  "Drop that absurd
mustard spoon and sandwich.  Na, I did not mean to
frighten you, Dawn.  How your hands tremble.  So, look at
me.  You would like Vienna, Kindchen.  You would like the
gayety, and the brightness of it, and the music, and the
pretty women, and the incomparable gowns.  Your sense of 
humor would discern the hollowness beneath all the pomp 
and ceremony and rigid lines of caste, and military glory; 
and your writer's instinct would revel in the splendor, and 
color and romance and intrigue."

I shrugged my shoulders in assumed indifference. 
"Can't you convey all this to me without grasping my
wrists like a villain in a melodrama?  Besides, it isn't
very generous or thoughtful of you to tell me all this,
knowing that it is not for me.  Vienna for you, and
Milwaukee and cheese sandwiches for me.  Please pass the
mustard."

But the hold on my wrists grew firmer.  Von Gerhard's
eyes were steady as they gazed into mine.  "Dawn, Vienna,
and the whole world is waiting for you, if you will but
take it.  Vienna--and happiness--with me--"

I wrenched my wrists free with a dreadful effort and
rose, sick, bewildered, stunned.  My world--my refuge of
truth, and honor, and safety and sanity that had lain in
Ernst von Gerhard's great, steady hands, was slipping
away from me.  I think the horror that I felt within must
have leaped to my eyes, for in an instant Von Gerhard was
beside me, steadying me with his clear blue eyes.  He did
not touch the tips of my fingers as he stood there very 
near me.  From the look of pain on his face I knew that I 
had misunderstood, somehow.

"Kleine, I see that you know me not," he said, in
German, and the saying it was as tender as is a mother
when she reproves a child that she loves.  "This fight
against the world, those years of unhappiness and misery,
they have made you suspicious and lacking in trust, is it
not so?  You do not yet know the perfect love that casts
out all doubt.  Dawn, I ask you in the name of all that
is reasoning, and for the sake of your happiness and
mine, to divorce this man Peter Orme--this man who for
almost ten years has not been your husband--who never can
be your husband.  I ask you to do something which will
bring suffering to no one, and which will mean happiness
to many.  Let me make you happy--you were born to be
happy--you who can laugh like a girl in spite of your
woman's sorrows--"

But I sank into a chair and hid my face in my hands
so that I might be spared the beauty and the tenderness
of his eyes.  I tried to think of all the sane and
commonplace things in life.  Somewhere in my inner
consciousness a cool little voice was saying, over and
over again:

"Now, Dawn, careful!  You've come to the crossroads at
last.  Right or left?  Choose!  Now, Dawn, careful!" and
the rest of it all over again.

When I lifted my face from my hands at last it was to
meet the tenderness of Von Gerhard's gaze with scarcely
a tremor.

"You ought to know," I said, very slowly and evenly,
"that a divorce, under these circumstances, is almost
impossible, even if I wished to do what you suggest. 
There are certain state laws--"

An exclamation of impatience broke from him.  "Laws! 
In some states, yes.  In others, no.  It is a mere
technicality--a trifle!  There is about it a bit of that
which you call red tape.  It amounts to nothing--to
that!"  He snapped his fingers.  "A few months' residence
in another state, perhaps.  These American laws, they are
made to break."

"Yes; you are quite right," I said, and I knew in my
heart that the cool, insistent little voice within had
not spoken in vain.  "But there are other laws--laws of
honor and decency, and right living and conscience--that
cannot be broken with such ease.  I cannot marry you.  I
have a husband."

"You can call that unfortunate wretch your
husband!  He does not know that he has a wife.  He will
not know that he has lost a wife.  Come, Dawn--small
one--be not so foolish.  You do not know how happy I will
make you.  You have never seen me except when I was
tortured with doubts and fears.  You do not know what our
life will be together.  There shall be everything to make
you forget--everything that thought and love and money
can give you.  The man there in the barred room--"

At that I took his dear hands in mine and held them
close as I miserably tried to make him hear what that
small, still voice had told me.

"There!  That is it!  If he were free, if he were
able to stand before men that his actions might be judged
fairly and justly, I should not hesitate for one single,
precious moment.  If he could fight for his rights, or
relinquish them, as he saw fit, then this thing would not
be so monstrous.  But, Ernst, can't you see?  He is
there, alone, in that dreadful place, quite helpless,
quite incapable, quite at our mercy.  I should as soon
think of hurting a little child, or snatching the pennies
from a blind man's cup.  The thing is inhuman!  It is
monstrous!  No state laws, no red tape can dissolve such
a union."

"You still care for him!"

"Ernst!"

His face was very white with the pallor of repressed
emotion, and his eyes were like the blue flame that one
sees flashing above a bed of white-hot coals.

"You do care for him still.  But yes!  You can stand
there, quite cool--but quite--and tell me that you would
not hurt him, not for your happiness, not for mine.  But
me you can hurt again and again, without one twinge of
regret."

There was silence for a moment in the little bare
dining-room--a miserable silence on my part, a bitter one
for Ernst.  Then Von Gerhard seated himself again at the
table opposite and smiled one of the rare smiles that
illumined his face with such sweetness.

"Come, Dawn, almost we are quarreling--we who were to
have been so matter-of-fact and sensible.  Let us make an
end of this question.  You will think of what I have
said, will you not?  Perhaps I was too abrupt, too
brutal.  Ach, Dawn, you know not how I--Very well, I will
not."

With both hands I was clinging to my courage and
praying for strength to endure this until I should be
alone in my room again.

"As for that poor creature who is bereft of reason,
he shall lack no care, no attention.  The burden you have
borne so long I shall take now upon my shoulders."

He seemed so confident, so sure.  I could bear it no
longer.  "Ernst, if you have any pity, any love for me,
stop!  I tell you I can never do this.  Why do you make
it so terribly hard for me!  So pitilessly hard!  You
always have been so strong, so sure, such a staff of
courage."

"I say again, and again, and again, you do not care."

It was then that I took my last vestige of strength
and courage together and going over to him, put my two
hands on his great shoulders, looking up into his drawn
face as I spoke.

"Ernst, look at me!  You never can know how much I
care.  I care so much that I could not bear to have the
shadow of wrong fall upon our happiness.  There can be no
lasting happiness upon a foundation of shameful deceit. 
I should hate myself, and you would grow to hate me.  It
always is so.  Dear one, I care so much that I have the
strength to do as I would do if I had to face my mother,
and Norah tonight.  I don't ask you to understand.  Men
are not made to understand these things; not 
even a man such as you, who are so beautifully
understanding.  I only ask that you believe in me--and
think of me sometimes--I shall feel it, and be helped. 
Will you take me home now, Dr. von Gerhard?"

The ride home was made in silence.  The wind was
colder, sharper.  I was chilled, miserable, sick.  Von
Gerhard's face was quite expressionless as he guided the
little car over the smooth road.  When we had stopped
before my door, still without a word, I thought that he
was going to leave me with that barrier of silence
unbroken.  But as I stepped stiffly to the curbing his
hands closed about mine with the old steady grip.  I
looked up quickly, to find a smile in the corners of the
tired eyes.

"You--you will let me see you--sometimes?"

But wisdom came to my aid.  "Not now.  It is better
that we go our separate ways for a few weeks, until our
work has served to adjust the balance that has been
disturbed.  At the end of that time I shall write you,
and from that time until you sail in June we shall be
just good comrades again.  And once in Vienna--who
knows?--you may meet the plump blond Fraulein, of
excellent family--"

"And no particular imagination--"

And then we both laughed, a bit hysterically, because
laughter is, after all, akin to tears.  And the little
green car shot off with a whir as I turned to enter my
new world of loneliness.





CHAPTER XIV


BENNIE AND THE CHARMING OLD MAID

There followed a blessed week of work--a "human warious"
week, with something piquant lurking at every turn.  A
week so busy, so kaleidoscopic in its quick succession of
events that my own troubles and grievances were pushed
into a neglected corner of my mind and made to languish
there, unfed by tears or sighs.

News comes in cycles.  There are weeks when a city
editor tears his hair in vain as he bellows for a
first-page story.  There follow days so bristling with
real, live copy that perfectly good stuff which, in the
ordinary course of events might be used to grace the
front sheet, is sandwiched away between the marine
intelligence and the Elgin butter reports.

Such a week was this.  I interviewed everything from
a red-handed murderer to an incubator baby.  The town
seemed to be running over with celebrities.  Norberg, the
city editor, adores celebrities.  He never allows one to
escape uninterviewed.  On Friday there fell to my lot a
world-famous prima donna, an infamous prize-fighter, and
a charming old maid.  Norberg cared not whether the
celebrity in question was noted for a magnificent high C,
or a left half-scissors hook, so long as the interview
was dished up hot and juicy, with plenty of quotation
marks, a liberal sprinkling of adjectives and adverbs,
and a cut of the victim gracing the top of the column.

It was long past the lunch hour when the prima donna
and the prize-fighter, properly embellished, were snapped
on the copy hook.  The prima donna had chattered in
French; the prize-fighter had jabbered in slang; but the
charming old maid, who spoke Milwaukee English, was to
make better copy than a whole chorus of prima donnas, or
a ring full of fighters.  Copy!  It was such wonderful
stuff that I couldn't use it.

It was with the charming old maid in mind that
Norberg summoned me.

"Another special story for you," he cheerfully
announced.

No answering cheer appeared upon my lunchless
features.  "A prize-fighter at ten-thirty, and a prima
donna at twelve.  What's the next choice morsel?  An
aeronaut with another successful airship? or a cash girl 
who has inherited a million?"

Norberg's plump cheeks dimpled.  "Neither.  This time
it is a nice German old maid."

"Eloped with the coachman, no doubt?"

"I said a nice old maid.  And she hasn't done
anything yet.  You are to find out how she'll feel when
she does it."

"Charmingly lucid," commented I, made savage by the
pangs of hunger.

Norberg proceeded to outline the story with
characteristic vigor, a cigarette waggling from the
corner of his mouth.

"Name and address on this slip.  Take a Greenfield
car.  Nice old maid has lived in nice old cottage all her
life.  Grandfather built it himself about a hundred 
years ago.  Whole family was born in it, and  married in
it, and died in it, see?  It's crammed full of
spinning-wheels and mahogany and stuff that'll make your
eyes stick out.  See?  Well, there's no one left now but
the nice old maid, all alone.  She had a sister who ran
away with a scamp some years ago.  Nice old maid has
never heard of her since, but she leaves the gate ajar or
the latch-string open, or a lamp in the window, or
something, so that if ever she wanders back to the old 
home she'll know she's welcome, see?"

"Sounds like a moving picture play," I remarked.

"Wait a minute.  Here's the point.  The city wants to
build a branch library or something on her property, and
the nice old party is so pinched for money that she'll
have to take their offer.  So the time has come when
she'll have to leave that old cottage, with its romance,
and its memories, and its lamp in the window, and go to
live in a cheap little flat, see?  Where the old
four-poster will choke up the bedroom--"

"And the parlor will be done in red and green," I put
in, eagerly, "and where there will be an ingrowing
sideboard in the dining-room that won't fit in with the
quaint old dinner-set at all, and a kitchenette just off
that, in which the great iron pots and kettles that used
to hold the family dinners will be monstrously out of
place--"

"You're on," said Norberg.

Half an hour later I stood before the cottage, set
primly in the center of a great lot that extended for
half a square on all sides.  A winter-sodden, bare enough
sight it was in the gray of that March day.  But it was
not long before Alma Pflugel, standing in the midst of it, 
the March winds flapping her neat skirts about her ankles, 
filled it with a blaze of color.  As she talked, a row of
stately hollyhocks, pink, and scarlet, and saffron,
reared their heads against the cottage sides.  The chill
March air became sweet with the scent of heliotrope, and
Sweet William, and pansies, and bridal wreath.  The naked
twigs of the rose bushes flowered into wondrous bloom so
that they bent to the ground with their weight of crimson
and yellow glory.  The bare brick paths were overrun with
the green of growing things.  Gray mounds of dirt grew
vivid with the fire of poppies.  Even the rain-soaked
wood of the pea-frames miraculously was hidden in a hedge
of green, over which ran riot the butterfly beauty of the
lavender, and pink, and cerise blossoms.  Oh, she did
marvelous things that dull March day, did plain German
Alma Pflugel!  And still more marvelous were the things
that were to come.

But of these things we knew nothing as the door was
opened and Alma Pflugel and I gazed curiously at one
another.  Surprise was writ large on her honest face as
I disclosed my errand.  It was plain that the ways of
newspaper reporters were foreign to the life of this
plain German woman, but she bade me enter with a sweet
graciousness of manner.

Wondering, but silent, she led the way down the dim
narrow hallway to the sitting-room beyond.  And there I
saw that Norberg had known whereof he spoke.

A stout, red-faced stove glowed cheerfully in one
corner of the room.  Back of the stove a sleepy cat
opened one indolent eye, yawned shamelessly, and rose to
investigate, as is the way of cats.  The windows were
aglow with the sturdy potted plants that flower-loving
German women coax into bloom.  The low-ceilinged room
twinkled and shone as the polished surfaces of tables and
chairs reflected the rosy glow from the plethoric stove. 
I sank into the depths of a huge rocker that must have
been built for Grosspapa Pflugel's generous curves.  Alma
Pflugel, in a chair opposite, politely waited for this
new process of interviewing to begin, but relaxed in the
embrace of that great armchair I suddenly realized that
I was very tired and hungry, and talk-weary, and that
here; was a great peace.  The prima donna, with her
French, and her paint, and her pearls, and the
prizefighter with his slang, and his cauliflower ear, and
his diamonds, seemed creatures of another planet.  My
eyes closed.  A delicious sensation of warmth and drowsy
contentment stole over me.

"Do listen to the purring of that cat!" I murmured. 
"Oh, newspapers have no place in this.  This is peace and
rest."

Alma Pflugel leaned forward in her chair.  "You--you
like it?"

"Like it!  This is home.  I feel  as though my mother
were here in this room, seated in one of those deep
chairs, with a bit of sewing in her hand; so near that I
could touch her cheek with my fingers."

Alma Pflugel rose from her chair and came over to 
me.  She timidly placed her hand on my arm.  "Ah, I am so
glad you are like that.  You do  not laugh at the low
ceilings, and the sunken floors, and the old-fashioned
rooms.  You do not raise your eyes in horror and say: 
`No conveniences!  And why don't you try striped wall
paper?  It would make those dreadful ceilings seem
higher.'  How nice you are to understand like that!"

My hand crept over to cover her own that lay on my
arm.  "Indeed, indeed I do understand," I whispered. 
Which, as the veriest cub reporter can testify, is no way
to begin an interview.

A hundred happy memories filled the little
low room as Alma Pflugel showed me her treasures.  The
cat purred in great content, and the stove cast a rosy
glow over the scene as the simple woman told the story of
each precious relic, from the battered candle-dipper on
the shelf, to the great mahogany folding table, and
sewing stand, and carved bed.  Then there was the old
horn lantern that Jacob Pflugel had used a century
before, and in one corner of the sitting-room stood
Grossmutter Pflugel's spinning-wheel.  Behind cupboard
doors were ranged the carefully preserved blue-and-white
china dishes, and on the shelf below stood the clumsy
earthen set that Grosspapa Pflugel himself had modeled
for his young bride in those days of long ago.  In the
linen chest there still lay, in neat, fragrant folds,
piles of the linen that had been spun on that
time-yellowed spinning-wheel.  And because of the tragedy
in the honest face bent over these dear treasures, and
because she tried so bravely to hide her tears, I knew in
my heart that this could never be a newspaper story.

"So," said Alma Pflugel at last, and rose and walked
slowly to the window and stood looking out at the
wind-swept garden.  That window, with its many tiny panes, 
once had looked out across a wilderness, with an Indian
camp not far away.  Grossmutter Pflugel had sat at that
window many a bitter winter night, with her baby in her
arms, watching and waiting for the young husband who was
urging his ox-team across the ice of Lake Michigan in the
teeth of a raging blizzard.

The little, low-ceilinged room was very still.  I
looked at Alma Pflugel standing there at the window in
her neat blue gown, and something about the face and
figure--or was it the pose of the sorrowful head?--seemed
strangely familiar.  Somewhere in my mind the resemblance
haunted me.  Resemblance to--what?  Whom?

"Would you like to see my garden?" asked Alma
Pflugel, turning from the window.  For a moment I stared
in wonderment.  But the honest, kindly face was
unsmiling.  "These things that I have shown you, I can
take with me when I--go.  But there," and  she pointed
out over the bare, wind-swept lot, "there is something
that I cannot take.  My flowers!  You see that mound over
there, covered so snug and warm with burlap and sacking? 
There my tulips and hyacinths sleep.  In a few weeks,
when the covering is whisked off--ah, you shall see! 
Then one can be quite sure that the spring is here.  Who
can look at a great bed of red and pink and lavender and 
yellow tulips and hyacinths, and doubt it?  Come."

With a quick gesture she threw a shawl over her head,
and beckoned me.  Together we stepped out into the chill
of the raw March afternoon.  She stood a moment, silent,
gazing over the sodden earth.  Then she flitted swiftly
down the narrow path, and halted before a queer little
structure of brick, covered with the skeleton of a
creeping vine.  Stooping, Alma Pflugel pulled open the
rusty iron door and smiled up at me.

"This was my grandmother's oven.  All her bread she
baked in this little brick stove.  Black bread it was,
with a great thick crust, and a bitter taste.  But it was
sweet, too.  I have never tasted any so good.  I like to
think of Grossmutter, when she was a bride, baking her
first batch of bread in this oven that Grossvater built
for her.  And because the old oven was so very difficult
to manage, and because she was such a young thing--only
sixteen!--I like to think that her first loaves were
perhaps not so successful, and that Grosspapa joked about
them, and that the little bride wept, so that the young
husband had to kiss away the tears."

She shut the rusty, sagging door very slowly and 
gently.  "No doubt the workmen who will come to
prepare the ground for the new library will laugh and
joke among themselves when they see the oven, and they
will kick it with their heels, and wonder what the old
brick mound could have been."

There was a little twisted smile on her face as she
rose--a smile that brought a hot mist of tears to my
eyes.  There was tragedy itself in that spare, homely
figure standing there in the garden, the wind twining her
skirts about her.

"You should but see the children peering over the
fence to see my flowers in the summer," she said.  The
blue eyes wore a wistful, far-away look.  "All the
children know my garden.  It blooms from April to
October.  There I have my sweet peas; and here my roses--
thousands of them!  Some are as red as a drop of blood,
and some as white as a bridal wreath.  When they are
blossoming it makes the heart ache, it is so beautiful."

She had quite forgotten me now.  For her the garden
was all abloom once more.  It was as though the Spirit of
the Flowers had touched the naked twigs with fairy
fingers, waking them into glowing life for her who never
again was to shower her love and care upon them.

"These are my poppies.  Did you ever come out in the
morning to find a hundred poppy faces smiling at you, and
swaying and glistening and rippling in the breeze?  There
they are, scarlet and pink, side by side as only God can
place them.  And near the poppies I planted my pansies,
because each is a lesson to the other.  I call my pansies
little children with happy faces.  See how this great
purple one winks his yellow eye, and laughs!"

Her gray shawl had slipped back from her face and lay
about her shoulders, and the wind had tossed her hair
into a soft fluff about her head.

"We used to come out here in the early morning, my
little Schwester and I, to see which rose had unfolded
its petals overnight, or whether this great peony that
had held its white head so high only yesterday, was
humbled to the ground in a heap of ragged leaves.  Oh, in
the morning she loved it best.  And so every summer I
have made the garden bloom again, so that when she comes
back she will see flowers greet her.

"All the way up the path to the door she will walk in
an aisle of fragrance, and when she turns the handle of
the old door she will find it unlocked, summer and winter, 
day and night, so that she has only to turn the knob and 
enter."

She stopped, abruptly.  The light died out of her
face.  She glanced at me, half defiantly, half timidly,
as one who is not quite sure of what she has said.  At
that I went over to her, and took her work-worn hands in
mine, and smiled down into the faded blue eyes grown dim
with tears and watching.

"Perhaps--who knows?--the little sister may come yet. 
I feel it.  She will walk up the little path, and try the
handle of the door, and it will turn beneath her fingers,
and she will enter."

With my arm about her we walked down the path toward
the old-fashioned arbor, bare now except for the tendrils
that twined about the lattice.  The arbor was fitted with
a wooden floor, and there were rustic chairs, and a
table.  I could picture the sisters sitting there with
their sewing during the long, peaceful summer afternoons. 
Alma Pflugel would be wearing one of her neat gingham
gowns, very starched and stiff, with perhaps a snowy
apron edged with a border of heavy crochet done by the
wrinkled fingers of Grossmutter Pflugel.  On the rustic
table there would be a bowl of flowers, and a pot of
delicious Kaffee, and a plate of German Kaffeekuchen, 
and  through the leafy doorway the scent of the 
wonderful garden would come stealing.

I thought of the cheap little flat, with the ugly
sideboard, and the bit of weedy yard in the rear, and the
alley beyond that, and the red and green wall paper in
the parlor.  The next moment, to my horror, Alma Pflugel
had dropped to her knees before the table in the damp
little arbor, her face in her hands, her spare shoulders
shaking.

"Ich kann's nicht thun!" she moaned.  "Ich kann
nicht!  Ach, kleine Schwester, wo bist du denn!  Nachts
und Morgens bete ich, aber doch kommst du nicht."

A great dry sob shook her.  Her hand went to her
breast, to her throat, to her lips, with an odd, stifled
gesture.

"Do that again!" I cried, and shook Alma Pflugel
sharply by the shoulder.  "Do that again!"

Her startled blue eyes looked into mine.  What do you
mean?" she asked.

"That--that gesture.  I've seen it--somewhere--that
trick of pressing the hand to the breast, to the throat,
to the lips--Oh!"

Suddenly I knew.  I lifted the drooping head and 
rumpled its neat braids, and laughed down into the 
startled face.

"She's here!" I shouted, and started a dance of
triumph on the shaky floor of the old arbor.  "I know
her.  From the moment I saw you the resemblance haunted
me."  And then as Alma Pflugel continued to stare, while
the stunned bewilderment grew in her eyes, "Why, I have
one-fourth interest in your own nephew this very minute. 
And his name is Bennie! "

Whereupon Alma Pflugel fainted quietly away in the
chilly little grape arbor, with her head on my shoulder.

I called myself savage names as I chafed her hands
and did all the foolish, futile things that distracted
humans think of at such times, wondering, meanwhile, if
I had been quite mad to discern a resemblance between
this simple, clear-eyed gentle German woman, and the
battered, ragged, swaying figure that had stood at the
judge's bench.

Suddenly Alma Pflugel opened her eyes.  Recognition
dawned in them slowly.  Then, with a jerk, she sat
upright, her trembling hands clinging to me.

"Where is she?  Take me to her.  Ach, you are sure--
sure?"

"Lordy, I hope so!  Come, you must let me help you
into the house.  And where is the nearest telephone? 
Never mind; I'll find one."

When I had succeeded in finding the nearest drug
store I spent a wild ten minutes telephoning the
surprised little probation officer, then Frau Nirlanger,
and finally Blackie, for no particular reason.  I
shrieked my story over the wire in disconnected,
incoherent sentences.  Then I rushed back to the little
cottage where Alma Pflugel and I waited with what
patience we could summon.

Blackie was the  first to arrive.  He required few
explanations.  That is one of the nicest things about
Blackie.  He understands by leaps and bounds, while
others crawl to comprehension.  But when Frau Nirlanger
came, with Bennie in tow, there were tears, and
exclamations, followed by a little stricken silence on
the part of Frau Nirlanger when she saw Bennie snatched
to the breast of this weeping woman.  So it was that in
the midst of the confusion we did not hear the approach
of the probation officer and her charge.  They came up
the path to the door, and there the little sister turned
the knob, and it yielded under her fingers, and the old
door swung open; and so she entered the house quite as
Alma Pflugel had planned she should, except that the 
roses were not blooming along the edge of the sunken 
brick walk.

She entered the room in silence, and no one could
have recognized in this pretty, fragile creature the
pitiful wreck of the juvenile court.  And when Alma
Pflugel saw the face of the little sister--the poor,
marred, stricken face--her own face became terrible in
its agony.  She put Bennie down very gently, rose, and
took the shaking little figure in her strong arms, and
held it as though never to let it go again.  There were
little broken words of love and pity.  She called her
"Lammchen" and "little one," and so Frau Nirlanger and
Blackie and I stole away, after a whispered consultation
with the little probation officer.

Blackie had come in his red runabout, and now he
tucked us into it, feigning a deep disgust.

"I'd like to know where I enter into this little
drayma," he growled.  "Ain't I got nothin' t' do but run
around town unitin' long lost sisters an' orphans!"

"Now, Blackie, you know you would never have forgiven
me if I had left you out of this.  Besides, you must
hustle around and see that they need not move out of that
dear little cottage.  Now don't say a word!  You'll never 
have a greater chance to act the fairy godmother."

Frau Nirlanger's hand sought mine and I squeezed it
in silent sympathy.  Poor little Frau Nirlanger, the
happiness of another had brought her only sorrow.  And
she had kissed Bennie good-by with the knowledge that the
little blue-painted bed, with its faded red roses, would
again stand empty in the gloom of the Knapf attic.

Norberg glanced up quickly as I entered the city
room.  "Get something good on that south side story?" he
asked.

"Why, no," I answered.  "You were mistaken about
that.  The--the nice old maid is not going to move, after
all."





CHAPTER XV

FAREWELL TO KNAPFS

Consternation has corrugated the brows of the aborigines. 
Consternation twice confounded had added a wrinkle or two
to my collection.  We are homeless.  That is, we are
Knapfless--we, to whom the Knapfs spelled home.

Herr Knapf, mustache aquiver, and Frau Knapf, cheek
bones glistening, broke the news to us one evening just
a week after the exciting day which so changed Bennie's
life.  "Es thut uns sehr, sehr leid," Herr Knapf had
begun.  And before he had finished, protesting German
groans mingled with voluble German explanations.  The
aborigines were stricken down.  They clapped pudgy fists
to knobby foreheads; they smote their breasts, and made
wild gestures with their arms.  If my protests were less
frenzied than theirs, it was only because my knowledge of
German stops at words of six syllables.

Out of the chaos of ejaculations and interrogation 
the reason for our expulsion at last was made
clear.  The little German hotel had not been
remunerative.  Our host and hostess were too hospitable
and too polite to state the true reason for this state of
affairs.  Perhaps rents were too high.  Perhaps, thought
I, Frau Knapf had been too liberal with the butter in the
stewed chicken.  Perhaps there had been too many golden
Pfannkuchen with real eggs and milk stirred into them,
and with toothsome little islands of ruddy currant jelly
on top.  Perhaps there had been too much honest,
nourishing food, and not enough boarding-house victuals. 
At any rate, the enterprise would have to be abandoned.

It was then that the bare, bright little dining room,
with its queer prints of chin-chucking lieutenants, and
its queerer faces, and its German cookery became very
dear to me.  I had grown to like Frau Knapf, of the
shining cheek bones, and Herr Knapf, of the heavy
geniality.  A close bond of friendship had sprung up
between Frau Nirlanger and me.  I would miss her friendly
visits, and her pretty ways, and her sparkling
conversation.  She and I had held many kimonoed pow-wows,
and sometimes--not often--she had given me wonderful
glimpses of that which she had left--of
Vienna, the opera, the court, the life which had been
hers.  She talked marvelously well, for she had all the
charm and vivacity of the true Viennese.  Even the
aborigines, bristling pompadours, thick spectacles,
terrifying manner, and all, became as dear as old
friends, now that I knew I must lose them.

The great, high-ceilinged room upstairs had taken on
the look of home.  The Blue-beard closet no longer
appalled me.  The very purpleness of the purple roses in
the rug had grown beautiful in my eyes because they were
part of that little domain which spelled peace and
comfort and kindness.  How could I live without the stout
yellow brocade armchair!  Its plethoric curves were balm
for my tired bones.  Its great lap admitted of sitting
with knees crossed, Turk-fashion.  Its cushioned back
stopped just at the point where the head found needed
support.  Its pudgy arms offered rest for tired elbows;
its yielding bosom was made for tired backs.  Given the
padded comfort of that stout old chair--a friendly,
time-tried book between my fingers--a dish of ruddy
apples twinkling in the fire-light; my mundane soul
snuggled in content.  And then, too, the
book-in-the-making had grown in that room.  It had
developed from a weak, wobbling uncertainty into a 
lusty full-blooded thing that grew and grew
until it promised soon to become mansize.

Now all this was to be changed.  And I knew that I
would miss the easy German atmosphere of the place; the
kindness they had shown me; the chattering, admiring
Minna; the taffy-colored dachshund; the aborigines with
their ill-smelling pipes and flappy slippers; the
Wienerschnitzel; the crushed-looking wives and the
masterful German husbands; the very darns in the
table-cloths and the very nicks in the china.

We had a last family gathering in token of our
appreciation of Herr and Frau Knapf.  And because I had
not seen him for almost three weeks; and because the time
for his going was drawing so sickeningly near; and
because I was quite sure that I had myself in hand; and
because he knew the Knapfs, and was fond of them; and
because-well, I invited Von Gerhard.  He came, and I
found myself dangerously glad to see him, so that I made
my greeting as airy and frivolous as possible.  Perhaps
I overdid the airy business, for Von Gerhard looked at me
for a long, silent minute, until the nonsense I had been
chattering died on my lips, and I found myself staring up
at him like a child that is apprehensive of being scolded 
for some naughtiness.

"Not so much chatter, small one," he said,
unsmilingly.  "This pretense, it is not necessary between
you and me.  So.  You are ein bischen blasz, nicht?  A
little pale?  You have not been ill, Dawn?"

"Ill?  Never felt more chipper in my life," I made
flippant answer, "and I adore these people who are
forever telling one how unusually thin, or pale, or
scrawny one is looking."

"Na, they are not to be satisfied, these women!  If
I were to tell you how lovely you look to me to-night you
would draw yourself up with chill dignity and remind me
that I am not privileged to say these things to you.  So
I discreetly mention that you are looking, interestingly
pale, taking care to keep all tenderness out of my tones,
and still you are not pleased."  He shrugged despairing
shoulders.

"Can't you strike a  happy medium between rudeness
and tenderness?  After all, I haven't had a glimpse of
your blond beauty for three weeks.  And while I don't ask
you to whisper sweet nothings, still, after twenty-one
days--"

"You have been lonely?  If only I thought that those
weeks have been as wearisome to you--"

"Not lonely exactly," I hurriedly interrupted, "but
sort of wishing that some one would pat me on the head
and tell me that I was a good doggie.  You know what I
mean.  It is so easy to become accustomed to
thoughtfulness and devotion, and so dreadfully hard to be
happy without it, once one has had it.  This has been a
sort of training for what I may expect when Vienna has
swallowed you up."

"You are still obstinate?  These three weeks have not
changed you?  Ach, Dawn!  Kindchen!--"

But I knew that these were thin spots marked
"Danger!" in our conversational pond.  So, "Come," said
I.  "I have two new aborigines for you to meet.  They are
the very shiniest and wildest of all our shiny-faced and
wild aborigines.  And you should see their trousers and
neckties!  If you dare to come back from Vienna wearing
trousers like these!--"

"And is the party in honor of these new aborigines?" 
laughed Von Gerhard.  "You did not explain in your note. 
Merely you asked me to come, knowing that I cared not 
if it were a lawn fete or a ball, so long as I might 
again be with you."

We were on our way to the dining room, where the
festivities were to be held.  I stopped and turned a look
of surprise upon him.

"Don't you know that the Knapfs are leaving?  Did I
neglect to mention that this is a farewell party for Herr
and Frau Knapf?  We are losing our home, and we have just
one week in which to find another."

"But where will you go?  And why did you not tell me
this before?"

"I haven't an idea where I shall lay my poor old
head.  In the lap of the gods, probably, for I don't know
how I shall find the time to interview landladies and
pack my belongings in seven short days.  The book will
have to suffer for it.  Just when it was getting along so
beautifully, too."

There was a dangerous tenderness in Von Gerhard's
eyes as he said:  "Again you are a wanderer, eh--small
one?  That you, with your love of beautiful things, and
your fastidiousness, should have to live in this way--in
these boarding-houses, alone, with not even the comforts
that should be yours.  Ach, Kindchen, you were not made
for that.  You were intended for the home, with a husband, 
and kinder, and all that is truly worth while."

I swallowed a lump in my throat as I shrugged my
shoulders.  "Pooh!  Any woman can have a husband and
babies," I retorted, wickedly.  "But mighty few women can
write a book.  It's a special curse."

"And you prefer this life--this existence, to the
things that I offer you!  You would endure these
hardships rather than give up the nonsensical views which
you entertain toward your--"

"Please.  We were not to talk of that.  I am enduring
no hardships.  Since I have lived in this pretty town I
have become a worshiper of the goddess Gemutlichkeit. 
Perhaps I shan't find another home as dear to my heart as
this has been, but at least I shan't have to sleep on a
park bench, and any one can tell you that park benches
have long been the favored resting place of genius. 
There is Frau Nirlanger beckoning us.  Now do stop
scowling, and smile for the lady.  I know you will get on
beautifully with the aborigines."

He did get on with them so beautifully that in less
than half an hour they were swapping stories of Germany,
of Austria, of the universities, of student life.  Frau
Knapf served a late supper, at which some one led in 
singing Auld Lang Syne, although the sounds emanating 
from the aborigines' end of the table sounded 
suspiciously like Die Wacht am Rhein. 
Following that the aborigines rose en masse and roared
out their German university songs, banging their glasses
on the table when they came to the chorus until we all
caught the spirit of it and banged our glasses like
rathskeller veterans.  Then the red-faced and amorous
Fritz, he of the absent Lena, announced his intention of
entertaining the company.  Made bold by an injudicious
mixture of Herr Knapf's excellent beer, and a wonderful
punch which Von Gerhard had concocted, Fritz mounted his
chair, placed his plump hand over the spot where he
supposed his heart to be, fastened his watery blue eyes
upon my surprised and blushing countenance, and sang
"Weh! Dass Wir Scheiden Mussen!" in an astonishingly
beautiful barytone.  I dared not look at Von Gerhard, for
I knew that he was purple with suppressed mirth, so I
stared stonily at the sardine sandwich and dill pickle on
my plate, and felt myself growing hot and hysterical, and
cold and tearful by turns.

At the end of the last verse I rose hastily
and brought from their hiding-place the gifts which we of
Knapfs' had purchased as remembrances for Herr and Frau
Knapf.  I had been delegated to make the presentation
speech, so I grasped in one hand the too elaborate pipe
that was to make Herr Knapf unhappy, and the too
fashionable silk umbrella that was to appall Frau Knapf,
and ascended the little platform at the end of the dining
room, and began to speak in what I fondly thought to be
fluent and highsounding German.  Immediately the
aborigines went off into paroxysms of laughter.  They
threw back their heads and roared, and slapped their
thighs, and spluttered.  It appeared that they thought I
was making  a humorous speech.  At that discovery I cast
dignity aside and continued my speech in the language of
a German vaudeville comedian, with a dash of Weber and
Field here and there.  With the presentation of the silk
umbrella Frau Knapf burst into tears, groped about
helplessly for her apron, realized that it was missing
from its accustomed place, and wiped her tears upon her
cherished blue silk sleeve in the utter abandon of her
sorrow.  We drank to the future health and prosperity of
our tearful host and hostess, and some one suggested drei
mal drei, to which we responded in a manner to make the
chin-chucking lieutenant tremble in his frame on the wall.

When it was all over Frau Nirlanger beckoned me, and
she, Dr. von Gerhard and I stole out into the hall and
stood at the foot of the stairway, discussing our plans
for the future, and trying to smile as we talked of this
plan and that.  Frau Nirlanger, in the pretty white gown,
was looking haggard and distrait.  The oogly husband was
still in the dining room, finishing the beer and punch,
of which he had already taken too much.

"A tiny apartment we have taken," said Frau
Nirlanger, softly.  "It is better so.  Then I shall have
a little housework, a little cooking, a little marketing
to keep me busy and perhaps happy."  Her hand closed over
mine.  "But that shall us not separate," she pleaded. 
"Without you to make me sometimes laugh what should I
then do?  You will bring her often to our little
apartment, not?" she went on, turning appealingly to Von
Gerhard.

"As often as Mrs. Orme will allow me," he answered.

"Ach, yes.  So lonely I shall be.  You do not know
what she has been to me, this Dawn.  She is brave for
two.  Always laughing she is, and merry, nicht wahr?  
Meine kleine Soldatin, I call her.

"Soldatin, eh?" mused Von Gerhard.  "Our little
soldier.  She is well named.  And her battles she fights
alone.  But quite alone."  His eyes, as they looked down
on me from his great height had that in them which sent
the blood rushing and tingling to my finger-tips.  I
brought my hand to my head in stiff military salute.

"Inspection satisfactory, sir?"

He laughed a rueful little laugh.  "Eminently.  Aber
ganz befriedigend."

He was very tall, and straight and good to look at as
he stood there in the hall with the light from the
newel-post illuminating his features and emphasizing his
blondness.  Frau Nirlanger's face wore a drawn little
look of pain as she gazed at him, and from him to the
figure of her husband who had just emerged from the
dining room, and was making unsteady progress toward us. 
Herr Nirlanger's face was flushed and his damp, dark hair
was awry so that one lock straggled limply down over his
forehead.  As he approached he surveyed us with a surly
frown that changed slowly into a leering grin.  He
lurched over and placed a hand familiarly on my shoulder.

"We mus' part," he announced, dramatically.  "O, weh! 
The bes' of frien's m'z part.  Well, g'by, li'l
interfering Teufel.  F'give you, though, b'cause you're
such a pretty li'l Teufel."  He raised one hand as though
to pat my check and because of the horror which I saw on
the face of the woman beside me I tried to smile, and did
not shrink from him.  But with a quick movement Von
Gerhard clutched the swaying figure and turned it so that
it faced the stairs.

"Come Nirlanger!  Time for hard-working men like you
and me to be in bed.  Mrs. Orme must not nod over her
desk to-morrow, either.  So good-night.  Schlafen Sie
wohl."

Konrad Nirlanger turned a scowling face over his
shoulder.  Then he forgot what he was scowling for, and
smiled a leering smile.

"Pretty good frien's, you an' the li'l Teufel, yes? 
Guess we'll have to watch you, huh, Anna?  We'll watch
'em, won't we?"

He began to climb the stairs laboriously, with Frau
Nirlanger's light figure flitting just ahead of him.  At
the bend in the stairway she turned and looked down on us
a moment, her eyes very bright and big.  She pressed her
fingers to her lips and wafted a little kiss toward us
with a gesture indescribably graceful and pathetic.  
She viewed her husband's laborious progress, not
daring to offer help.  Then the turn in the stair hid her
from sight.

In the dim quiet of the little hallway Von Gerhard
held out his hands--those deft, manual hands--those
steady, sure, surgeonly hands--hands to cling to, to
steady oneself by, and because I needed them most just
then, and because I longed with my whole soul to place
both my weary hands in those strong capable ones and to
bring those dear, cool, sane fingers up to my burning
cheeks, I put one foot on the first stair and held out
two chilly fingertips.  "Good-night, Herr Doktor," I
said, "and thank you, not only for myself, but for her. 
I have felt what she feels to-night.  It is not a
pleasant thing to be ashamed of one's husband."

Von Gerhard's two hands closed over that one of mine. 
"Dawn, you will let me help you to find comfortable
quarters?  You cannot tramp about from place to place all
the week.  Let us get a list of addresses, and then, with
the machine, we can drive from one to the other in an
hour. It will at least save you time and strength."

"Go boarding-house hunting in a stunning green
automobile!" I exclaimed.  From my vantage point on the
steps I could look down on him, and there came over me a 
great longing to run my fingers gently through that 
crisp blond hair, and to
bring his head down close against my breast for one
exquisite moment.  So--"Landladies and oitermobiles!" I
laughed.  "Never!  Don't you know that if they got one
glimpse, through the front parlor windows, of me stepping
grand-like out of your, green motor car, they would
promptly over-charge me for any room in the house?  I
shall go room-hunting in my oldest hat, with one finger
sticking out of my glove."

Von Gerhard shrugged despairing shoulders.

"Na, of what use is it to plead with you.  Sometimes
I wonder if, after all, you are not merely amusing
yourself.  Getting copy, perhaps, for the book, or a new
experience to add to your already varied store."

Abruptly I turned to hide my pain, and began to
ascend the stairs.  With a bound Von Gerhard was beside
me, his face drawn and contrite.

"Forgive me, Dawn!  I know that you are wisest.  It
is only that I become a little mad, I think, when I see
you battling alone like this, among strangers, and know
that I have not the right to help you.  I knew not what
I was saying.  Come, raise your eyes and smile, like the
little Soldatin that you are.  So.  Now I am forgiven,
yes?"

I smiled cheerily enough into his blue eyes.  "Quite
forgiven.  And now you must run along.  This is
scandalously late.  The aborigines will be along saying
`Morgen!' instead of `Nabben'!' if we stay here much
longer.  Good-night."

"You will give me your new address as soon as you
have found a satisfactory home?"

"Never fear!  I probably shall be pestering you with
telephone calls, urging you to have pity upon me in my
loneliness.  Now goodnight again.  I'm as full of
farewells as a Bernhardt."  And to end it I ran up the
stairs.  At the bend, just where Frau Nirlanger had
turned, I too stopped and looked over my shoulder.  Von
Gerhard was standing as I had left him, looking up at me. 
And like Frau Nirlanger, I wafted a little kiss in his
direction, before I allowed the bend in the stairs to cut
off my view.  But Von Gerhard did not signify by look or
word that he had seen it, as he stood looking up at me,
one strong white hand resting on the broad baluster.







CHAPTER XVI


JUNE MOONLIGHT, AND A NEW BOARDINGHOUSE

There was a week in which to scurry about for a new home. 
The days scampered by, tripping over one another in their
haste.  My sleeping hours were haunted by nightmares of
landladies and impossible boarding-house bedrooms. 
Columns of "To Let, Furnished or Unfurnished" ads filed,
advanced, and retreated before my dizzy eyes.  My time
after office hours was spent in climbing dim stairways,
interviewing unenthusiastic females in kimonos, and
peering into ugly bedrooms papered with sprawly and
impossible patterns and filled with the odors of
dead-and-gone dinners.  I found one room less impossible
than the rest, only to be told that the preference was to
be given to a man who had "looked" the day before.

"I d'ruther take gents only," explained the ample
person who carried the keys to the mansion.  "Gents goes
early in the morning and comes in late at night, and 
that's all you ever see of 'em, half the time.  I've 
tried ladies, an' they get me wild, always yellin' for 
hot water to wash their hair, or pastin' handkerchiefs 
up on the mirr'r or wantin' to butt into the kitchen to 
press this or that.  I'll let you know if the gent don't 
take it, but I got an idea he will."

He did.  At any rate, no voice summoned me to that
haven for gents only.  There were other landladies--
landladies fat and German; landladies lean and Irish;
landladies loquacious (regardless of nationality);
landladies reserved; landladies husbandless, wedded,
widowed, divorced, and willing; landladies slatternly;
landladies prim; and all hinting of past estates wherein
there had been much grandeur.

At last, when despair gripped me, and I had horrid
visions of my trunk, hat-box and typewriter reposing on
the sidewalk while I, homeless, sat perched in the midst
of them, I chanced upon a room which commanded a glorious
view of the lake.  True, it was too expensive for my slim
purse; true, the owner of it was sour of feature; true,
the room itself was cavernous and unfriendly and
cold-looking, but the view of the great, blue lake
triumphed over all these, although a cautious inner voice
warned me that that lake view would cover a multitude of 
sins.  I remembered, later, how she of the sour visage 
had dilated upon the subject of the sunrise over the water.  
I told her at the time that while I was passionately fond 
of sunrises myself, still I should like them just as well
did they not occur so early in the morning.  Whereupon
she of the vinegar countenance had sniffed.  I loathe
landladies who sniff.

My trunk and trusty typewriter were sent on to my new
home at noon, unchaperoned, for I had no time to spare at
that hour of the day.  Later I followed them, laden with
umbrella, boxes, brown-paper parcels, and other
unfashionable moving-day paraphernalia.  I bumped and
banged my way up the two flights of stairs that led to my
lake view and my bed, and my heart went down as my feet
went up.  By the time the cavernous bedroom was gained 
I felt decidedly quivery-mouthed, so that I dumped my
belongings on the floor in a heap and went to the window
to gaze on the lake until my spirits should rise.  But it
was a gray day, and the lake looked large, and wet and
unsociable.  You couldn't get chummy with it.  I turned
to my great barn of a room.  You couldn't get chummy with
that, either.  I began to unpack, with furious energy. 
In vain I turned every gas jet blazing high.  They only 
cast dim shadows in the murky vastness of that awful 
chamber.  A whole Fourth of July fireworks display, Roman
candles, sky-rockets, pin-wheels, set pieces and all, 
could not have made that room take on a festive air.

As I unpacked I thought of my cosy room at Knapfs',
and as I thought I took my head out of my trunk and sank
down on the floor with a satin blouse in one hand, and a
walking boot in the other, and wanted to bellow with
loneliness.  There came to me dear visions of the
friendly old yellow brocade chair, and the lamplight, and
the fireplace, and Frau Nirlanger, and the Pfannkuchen. 
I thought of the aborigines.  In my homesick mind their
bumpy faces became things of transcendent beauty.  I
could have put my head on their combined shoulders and
wept down their blue satin neckties.  In my memory of
Frau Knapf it seemed to me that I could discern a dim,
misty halo hovering above her tightly wadded hair.  My
soul went out to her as I recalled the shining
cheek-bones, and the apron, and the chickens stewed in
butter.  I would have given a year out of my life to have
heard that good-natured, "Nabben'."  One aborigine had
been wont to emphasize his after-dinner arguments with a
toothpick brandished fiercely between thumb and finger. 
The brandisher had always annoyed me.  Now I thought of
him with tenderness in my heart and reproached myself for
my fastidiousness.  I should have wept if I had not had
a walking boot in one hand, and a satin blouse in the
other.  A walking boot is but a cold comfort.  And my
thriftiness denied my tears the soiling of the blouse. 
So I sat up on my knees and finished the unpacking.

Just before dinner time I donned a becoming gown to
chirk up my courage, groped my way down the long, dim
stairs, and telephoned to Von Gerhard.  It seemed to me
that just to hear his voice would instill in me new
courage and hope.  I gave the number, and waited.

"Dr. von Gerhard?" repeated a woman's voice at the
other end of the wire.  "He is very busy.  Will you leave
your name?"

"No," I snapped.  "I'll hold the wire.  Tell him that
Mrs. Orme is waiting to speak to him."

"I'll see."  The voice was grudging.

Another wait; then--"Dawn!" came his voice in glad
surprise.

"Hello!" I cried, hysterically.  "Hello!  Oh, talk! 
Say something nice, for pity's sake!  I'm sorry that I've
taken you away from whatever you were doing, but I 
couldn't help it.  Just talk please!  I'm dying of 
loneliness."

"Child, are you ill?"  Von Gerhard's voice was so
satisfyingly solicitous.  "Is anything wrong?  Your voice
is trembling.  I can hear it quite plainly.  What has
happened?  Has Norah written--"

"Norah?  No.  There was nothing in her letter to
upset me.  It is only the strangeness of this place.  I
shall be all right in a day or so."

"The new home--it is satisfactory?  You have found
what you wanted?  Your room is comfortable?"

"It's--it's a large room," I faltered. "And there's
a--a large view of the lake, too."

There was a smothered sound at the other end of the
wire.  Then--"I want you to meet me down-town at seven
o'clock.  We will have dinner together," Von Gerhard
said, "I cannot have you moping up there all alone all
evening."

"I can't come."

"Why? "

"Because I want to so very much.  And anyway, I'm
much more cheerful now.  I am going in to dinner.  And
after dinner I shall get acquainted with my room.  
There are six corners and all the space under the bed 
that I haven't explored yet."

"Dawn!"

"Yes?"

"If you were free to-night, would you marry me?  If
you knew that the next month would find you mistress of
yourself would you--"

"Ernst!"

"Yes?"

"If the gates of Heaven were opened wide to you, and
they had `Welcome!' done in diamonds over the door, and
all the loveliest angel ladies grouped about the doorway
to receive you, and just beyond you could see awaiting
you all that was beautiful, and most exquisite, and most
desirable, would you enter?"

And then I hung up the receiver and went in to
dinner.  I went in to dinner, but not to dine.  Oh,
shades of those who have suffered in boarding-houses--
that dining room!  It must have been patterned after the
dining room at Dotheboys' hall.  It was bare, and
cheerless, and fearfully undressed looking.  The diners
were seated at two long, unsociable, boarding-housey
tables that ran the length of the room, and all the women
folks came down to dine with white wool shawls wrapped
snugly about their susceptible black silk shoulders.  The
general effect was that of an Old People's Home.  I found
seat after seat at table was filled, and myself the
youngest thing present.  I felt so criminally young that
I wondered they did not strap me in a high chair and ram
bread and milk down my throat.  Now and then the door
would open to admit another snuffly, ancient, and
be-shawled member of the company.  I learned that Mrs.
Schwartz, on my right, did not care mooch for shteak for
breakfast, aber a leedle l'mb ch'p she likes.  Also that
the elderly party on my left and the elderly party on my
right resented being separated by my person. 
Conversation between E. P. on right, and E. P. on left
scintillated across my soup, thus:

"How you feel this evening Mis' Maurer, h'm?"

"Don't ask me."

"No wonder you got rheumatism.  My room was like a
ice-house all day.  Yours too?"

"I don't complain any more.  Much good it does. 
Barley soup again?  In my own home I never ate it, and
here I pay my good money and get four time a week barley
soup.  Are those fresh cucumbers?  M-m-m-m.  They
haven't stood long enough.  Look at Mis' Miller.  She
feels good this evening.  She should feel good. 
Twenty-five cents she won at bridge.  I never seen how
that woman is got luck."

I choked, gasped, and fled.

Back in my own mausoleum once more I put things in
order, dragged my typewriter stand into the least murky
corner under the bravest gas jet and rescued my tottering
reason by turning out a long letter to Norah.  That
finished, my spirits rose.  I dived into the bottom of my
trunk for the loose sheets of the book-in-the-making,
glanced over the last three or four, discovered that they
did not sound so maudlin as I had feared, and straightway
forgot my gloomy surroundings in the fascination of
weaving the tale.

In the midst of my fine frenzy there came a knock at
the door.  In the hall stood the anemic little serving
maid who had attended me at dinner.  She was almost
eclipsed by a huge green pasteboard box.

"You're Mis' Orme, ain't you?  This here's for you."

The little white-cheeked maid hovered at the
threshold while I lifted the box cover and revealed the
perfection of the American beauty buds that lay there, 
all dewy and fragrant.  The eyes of the little maid 
were wide with wonder as she gazed, and because I had 
known flower-hunger I separated two stately blossoms 
from the glowing cluster and held them out to her.

"For me!" she gasped, and brought her lips down to
them, gently.  Then--"There's a high green jar downstairs
you can have to stick your flowers in.  You ain't got
nothin' big enough in here, except your water pitcher. 
An' putting these grand flowers in a water pitcher--why,
it'd be like wearing a silk dress over a flannel
petticoat, wouldn't it?"

When the anemic little boarding-house slavey with the
beauty-loving soul had fetched the green jar, I placed
the shining stems in it with gentle fingers.  At the
bottom of the box I found a card that read:  "For it is
impossible to live in a room with red roses and still be
traurig"

How well he knew!  And how truly impossible to be sad
when red roses are glowing for one, and filling the air
with their fragrance!

The interruption was fatal to book-writing.  My
thoughts were a chaos of red roses, and anemic little
maids with glowing eyes, and thoughtful young doctors
with a marvelous understanding of feminine moods.  So I 
turned out all the lights, undressed by moonlight, and, 
throwing a kimono about me, carried my jar of roses to 
the window and sat down beside them so that their 
exquisite scent caressed me.

The moonlight had put a spell of white magic upon the
lake.  It was a light-flooded world that lay below my
window.  Summer, finger on lip, had stolen in upon the
heels of spring.  Dim, shadowy figures dotted the benches
of the park across the way.  Just beyond lay the silver
lake, a dazzling bar of moonlight on its breast.  Motors
rushed along the roadway with a roar and a whir and were
gone, leaving a trail of laughter behind them.  From the
open window of the room below came the slip-slap of cards
on the polished table surface, and the low buzz of
occasional conversation as the players held postmortems. 
Under the street light the popcorn vender's cart made a
blot on the mystic beauty of the scene below.  But the
perfume of my red roses came to me, and their velvet
caressed my check, and beyond the noise and lights of the
street lay that glorious lake with the bar of moonlight
on its soft breast.  I gazed and forgave the sour-faced
landlady her dining room; forgave the elderly parties
their shawls and barley soup; forgot for a moment
my weary thoughts of Peter Orme; forgot everything except
that it was June, and moonlight and good to be alive.

All the changes and events of that strange, eventful
year came crowding to my mind as I crouched there at the
window.  Four new friends, tried and true!  I conned
them over joyously in my heart.  What a strange contrast
they made!  Blackie, of the elastic morals, and the still
more elastic heart; Frau Nirlanger, of the smiling lips
and the lilting voice and the tragic eyes--she who had
stooped from a great height to pluck the flower of love
blooming below, only to find a worthless weed sullying
her hand; Alma Pflugel, with the unquenchable light of
gratefulness in her honest face; Von Gerhard, ready to
act as buffer between myself and the world, tender as a
woman, gravely thoughtful, with the light of devotion
glowing in his steady eyes.

"Here's richness," said I, like the fat boy in
Pickwick Papers.  And I thanked God for the new energy
which had sent me to this lovely city by the lake.  I
thanked Him that I had not been content to remain a
burden to Max and Norah, growing sour and crabbed with
the years.  Those years of work and buffeting had made of
me a broader, finer, truer type of womanhood--had caused 
me to forget my own little tragedy in contemplating the 
great human comedy.  And so I made a little prayer there 
in the moon-flooded room.

"O dear Lord," I prayed, and I did not mean that it
should sound irreverent.  "O dear Lord, don't bother
about my ambitions!  Just let me remain strong and well
enough to do the work that is my portion from day to day. 
Keep me faithful to my standards of right and wrong.  Let
this new and wonderful love which has come into my life
be a staff of strength and comfort instead of a burden of
weariness.  Let me not grow careless and slangy as the
years go by.  Let me keep my hair and complexion and
teeth, and deliver me from wearing soiled blouses and
doing my hair in a knob.  Amen."

I felt quite cheerful after that--so cheerful that
the strange bumps in the new bed did not bother me as
unfamiliar beds usually did.  The roses I put to sleep in
their jar of green, keeping one to hold against my cheek
as I slipped into dreamland.  I thought drowsily, just
before sleep claimed me:

"To-morrow, after office hours, I'll tuck up my
skirt, and wrap my head in a towel and have a
housecleaning bee.  I'll move the bed where the
wash-stand is now, and I'll make the chiffonnier swap 
places with the couch.  One feels on friendlier
terms with furniture that one has shoved about a little. 
How brilliant the moonlight is!  The room is flooded with
it.  Those roses--sweet!--sweet!--"

When I awoke it was morning.  During the days that
followed I looked back gratefully upon that night, with
its moonlight, and its roses, and its great peace.






CHAPTER XVII


THE SHADOW OF TERROR

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.

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."

"But why wait so long?" I asked.  "You need it now. 
Who ever heard of putting off a vacation until winter!"

"Well, I dunno," mused Blackie.  "I just made my
arrangements for that time, and I hate t' muss 'em up. 
You'll say, w'en the time comes, that my plans are
reasonable."

There was a sharp ring from the telephone at
Blackie's elbow.  He answered it, then thrust the
receiver into my hand.  "For you," he said.

It was Von Gerhard's voice that came to me.  "I have
something to tell you," he said.  "Something most
important.  If I call for you at six we can drive out to
the bay for supper, yes?  I must talk to you."

"You have saved my life," I called back.  "It has been
a beast of a day.  You may talk as much and as
importantly as you like, so long as I am kept cool."

"That was Von Gerhard," said I to Blackie, and tried
not to look uncomfortable.

"Mm," grunted Blackie, pulling at his pipe. 
"Thoughtful, ain't he?"

I turned at the door.  "He-- he's going away day
after to-morrow, Blackie," I explained, although no
explanation had been asked for, "to Vienna.  He expects
to stay a year--or two--or three--"

Blackie looked up quickly.  "Goin' away, is he? 
Well, maybe it's best, all around, girl.  I see his
name's been mentioned in all the medical papers, and the
big magazines, and all that, lately.  Gettin' t' be a big
bug, Von Gerhard is.  Sorry he's goin', though.  I was
plannin' t' consult him just before I go on my--vacation.
But some other guy'll do.  He don't approve of me, Von
Gerhard don't."

For some reason which I could never explain I went
back into the room and held out both my hands to Blackie. 
His nervous brown fingers closed over them.  "That
doesn't make one bit of difference to us, does it,
Blackie?" I said, gravely.  "We're--we're not caring so
long as we approve of one another, are we?"

"Not a bit, girl," smiled Blackie, "not a bit."

When the green car stopped before the Old Folks' Home
I was in seraphic mood.  I had bathed, donned clean linen
and a Dutch-necked gown.  The result was most
soul-satisfying.  My spirits rose unaccountably.  Even
the sight of Von Gerhard, looking troubled and distrait,
did not quiet them.  We darted away, out along the lake
front, past the toll gate, to the bay road stretching its
flawless length along the water's side.  It was alive
with swift-moving motor cars swarming like
twentieth-century pilgrims toward the mecca of cool
breezes and comfort.  There were proud limousines;
comfortable family cars; trim little roadsters; noisy
runabouts.  Not a hoof-beat was to be heard.  It was as
though the horseless age had indeed descended upon the
world.  There was only a hum, a rush, a roar, as car
after car swept on.

Summer homes nestled among the trees near the lake. 
Through the branches one caught occasional gleams of
silvery water.  The rush of cool air fanned my hot
forehead, tousled my hair, slid down between my collar
and the back of my neck, and I was grandly content.

"Even though you are going to sail away, and even
though you have the grumps, and refuse to talk, and scowl
like a jabberwock, this is an extremely nice world.  You
can't spoil it."

"Behute!" Von Gerhard's tone was solemn.

"Would you be faintly interested in knowing that the
book is finished?"

"So?  That is well.  You were wearing yourself thin
over it.  It was then quickly perfected."

"Perfected!" I groaned.  "I turn cold when I think of
it.  The last chapters got away from me completely.  They
lacked the punch."

Von Gerhard considered that a moment, as I wickedly
had intended that he should.  Then--"The punch?  What is
that then--the punch?"

Obligingly I elucidated.  "A book may be written in
flawless style, with a plot, and a climax, and a lot of
little side surprises.  But if it lacks that peculiar and
convincing quality poetically known as the punch, it might 
as well never have been written.  It can never be a
six-best-seller, neither will it live as a classic.  You 
will never see it advertised on the book review page of 
the Saturday papers, nor will the man across the aisle in 
the street car be so absorbed in its contents that he will 
be taken past his corner."

Von Gerhard looked troubled.  "But the literary
value?  Does that not enter--"

"I don't aim to contribute to the literary uplift,"
I assured him.  "All my life I have cherished two
ambitions.  One of them is to write a successful book,
and the other to learn to whistle through my teeth--this
way, you know, as the gallery gods do it.  I am almost
despairing of the whistle, but I still have hopes of the
book."

Whereupon Von Gerhard, after a moment's stiff
surprise, gave vent to one of his heartwarming roars.

"Thanks," said I.  "Now tell me the important news."

His face grew serious in an instant.  "Not yet, Dawn. 
Later.  Let us hear more about the book.  Not so
flippant, however, small one. The time is past when you 
can deceive me with your nonsense."

"Surely you would not have me take myself seriously! 
That's another debt I owe my Irish forefathers.  They
could laugh--bless 'em!--in the very teeth of a potato
crop failure.  And let me tell you, that takes some sense
of humor.  The book is my potato crop.  If it fails it
will mean that I must keep on drudging, with a knot or
two taken in my belt.  But I'll squeeze a smile out of
the corner of my mouth, somehow.  And if it succeeds! 
Oh, Ernst, if it succeeds!"

"Then, Kindchen?"

"Then it means that I may have a little thin layer of
jam on my bread and butter.  It won't mean money--at
least, I don't think it will.  A first book never does. 
But it will mean a future.  It will mean that I will have
something solid to stand on.  It will be a real
beginning--a breathing spell--time in which to accomplish
something really worth while--independence--freedom from
this tread-mill--"

"Stop!" cried Von Gerhard, sharply.  Then, as I
stared in surprise--"I do ask your pardon.  I was again
rude, nicht wahr?  But in me there is a queer vein of
German superstition that disapproves of air castles.  
Sich einbilden, we call it."

The lights of the bay pavilion twinkled just ahead. 
The green car poked its nose up the path between rows of
empty machines.  At last it drew up, panting, before a
vacant space between an imposing, scarlet touring car and
a smart, cream-colored runabout.  We left it there and
walked up the light-flooded path.

Inside the great, barn-like structure that did duty
as pavilion glasses clinked, chairs scraped on the wooden
floor; a burst of music followed a sharp fusillade of
applause.  Through the open doorway could be seen a
company of Tyrolese singers in picturesque costumes of
scarlet and green and black.  The scene was very noisy,
and very bright, and very German.

"Not in there, eh?" said Von Gerhard, as though
divining my wish.  "It is too brightly lighted, and too
noisy.  We will find a table out here under the trees,
where the music is softened by the distance, and our eyes
are not offended by the ugliness of the singers.  But
inexcusably ugly they are, these Tyrolese women."

We found a table within the glow of the pavilion's
lights, but still so near the lake that we could hear the
water lapping the shore.  A cadaverous, sandy-haired
waiter brought things to eat, and we made brave efforts 
to appear hungry and hearty, but my high spirits were 
ebbing fast, and Von Gerhard was frankly distraught.  
One of the women singers appeared suddenly in the doorway 
of the pavilion, then stole down the steps, and disappeared 
in the shadow of the trees beyond our table.  The voices of 
the singers ceased abruptly.  There was a moment's hushed
silence.  Then, from the shadow of the trees came a woman's
voice, clear, strong, flexible, flooding the night with the
bird-like trill of the mountain yodel.  The sound rose
and fell, and swelled and soared.  A silence.  Then, in
a great burst of melody the chorus of voices within the
pavilion answered the call.  Again a silence.  Again the
wonder of the woman's voice flooded the stillness, ending
in a note higher, clearer, sweeter than any that had gone
before.  Then the little Tyrolese, her moment of glory
ended, sped into the light of the noisy pavilion again.

When I turned to Von Gerhard my eyes were wet.  "I
shall have that to remember, when you are gone."

Von Gerhard beckoned the hovering waiter.  "Take
these things away.  And you need not return."  He placed
something in the man's palm--something that caused a
sudden whisking away of empty dishes, and many obsequious 
bows.

Von Gerhard's face was turned away from me, toward
the beauty of the lake and sky.  Now, as the last flirt
of the waiter's apron vanished around the corner he
turned his head slowly, and I saw that in his eyes which
made me catch my breath with apprehension.

"What is it?" I cried.  "Norah?  Max?  The children?"

He shook his head.  "They are well, so far, as I
know.  I--perhaps first I should tell you--although this
is not the thing which I have to say to you--"

"Yes?" I urged him on, impatiently.  I had never seen
him like this.

"I do not sail this week.  I shall not be with Gluck
in Vienna this year.  I shall stay here."

"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?"

"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."

"You!" I cried, and the humor of it was too exquisite
for laughter.

"For that I gave up Vienna," said Von Gerhard,
simply.  "You, too, must do your share."

"My share!  I have done my share.  He was in the
gutter, and he was dragging me with him.  When his
insanity came upon him I thanked God for it, and
struggled up again.  Even Norah never knew what that
struggle was.  Whatever I am, I am in spite of him.  I
tell you I could hug my widow's weeds.  Ten years ago he
showed me how horrible and unclean a thing can be made of
this beautiful life.  I was a despairing, cowering girl
of twenty then--I am a woman now, happy in her work, her
friends; growing broader and saner in thought, quicker to
appreciate the finer things in life.  And now--what?"

They were dashing off a rollicking folk-song indoors. 
When it was finished there came a burst of laughter and
the sharp spat of applauding hands, and shouts of
approbation.  The sounds seemed seared upon my brain.  I
rose and ran down the path toward the waiting machine. 
There in the darkness I buried my shamed face in my hands 
and prayed for the tears that would not come.

It seemed hours before I heard Von Gerhard's firm,
quick tread upon the gravel path.  He moved about the
machine, adjusting this and that, then took his place at
the wheel without a word.  We glided out upon the smooth
white road.  All the loveliness of the night seemed to
have vanished.  Only the ugly, distorted shadows
remained.  The terror of uncertainty gripped me.  I could
not endure the sight of Von Gerhard's stern, set face. 
I grasped his arm suddenly so that the machine veered and
darted across the road.  With a mighty wrench Von Gerhard
righted it.  He stopped the machine at the road-side.

"Careful, Kindchen," he said, gravely.

"Ernst," I said, and my breath came quickly,
chokingly, as though I had been running fast, "Ernst, I
can't do it.  I'm not big enough.  I can't.  I hate him,
I tell you, I hate him!  My life is my own.  I've made it
what it is, in the face of a hundred temptations; in
spite of a hundred pitfalls.  I can't lay it down again
for Peter Orme to trample.  Ernst, if you love me, take
me away now.  To Vienna--anywhere--only don't ask me to
take up my life with him again.  I can't--I can't--"

"Love you?" repeated Ernst, slowly, "yes.  Too well--"

"Too well--"

"Yes, too well for that, Gott sei dank, small one. 
Too well for that."



CHAPTER XVIII


PETER ORME

A man's figure rose from the shadows of the porch and
came forward to meet us as we swung up to the curbing. 
I stifled a scream in my throat.  As I shrank back into
the seat I heard the quick intake of Von Gerhard's breath
as he leaned forward to peer into the darkness.  A sick
dread came upon me.

"Sa-a-ay, girl," drawled the man's voice, with a
familiar little cackling laugh in it, "sa-a-ay, girl, the
policeman on th' beat's got me spotted for a suspicious
character.  I been hoofin' it up an' down this block like
a distracted mamma waitin' for her daughter t' come home
from a boat ride."

"Blackie!  It's only you!"

"Thanks, flatterer," simpered Blackie, coming to the 
edge of the walk as I stepped from the automobile.  "Was 
you expectin' the landlady?"

"I don't know just whom I expected.  I--I'm nervous,
I think, and you startled me.  Dr.Von Gerhard was taken 
back for a moment, weren't you, Doctor?"

Von Gerhard laughed ruefully.  "Frankly, yes.  It is
not early.  And visitors at this hour--"

"What in the world is it, Blackie?" I put in.  "Don't
tell me that Norberg has been seized with one of his
fiendish inspirations at this time of night."

Blackie struck a match and held it for an instant so
that the flare of it illuminated his face as he lighted
his cigarette.  There was no laughter in the deep-set
black eyes.

"What is it Blackie?" I asked again.  The horror of
what Von Gerhard had told me made the prospect of any
lesser trial a welcome relief.

"I got t' talk to you for a minute.  P'raps Von
Gerhard 'd better hear it, too.  I telephoned you an hour
ago.  Tried to get you out to the bay.  Waited here ever
since.  Got a parlor, or somethin', where a guy can
talk?"

I led the way indoors.  The first floor seemed
deserted.  The bare, unfriendly boarding-house parlor was
unoccupied, and one dim gas jet did duty as illumination.

"Bring in the set pieces," muttered Blackie, as he
turned two more gas jets flaring high.  "This parlor just
yells for a funeral."

Von Gerhard was frowning.  "Mrs. Orme is not well,"
he began.  "She has had a shock--some startling news
concerning--"

"Her husband?" inquired Blackie, coolly.  I started
up with a cry.  "How could you know?"

A look of relief came into Blackie's face.  "That
helps a little.  Now listen, kid.  An' w'en I get
through, remember I'm there with the little helpin' mitt. 
Have a cigarette, Doc?"

"No," said Von Gerhard, shortly.

Blackie's strange black eyes were fastened on my
face, and I saw an expression of pity in their depths as
he began to talk.

"I was up at the Press Club to-night.  Dropped in for
a minute or two, like I always do on the rounds.  The
place sounded kind of still when I come up the steps, and
I wondered where all the boys was.  Looked into the
billiard room--nothin' doin'.  Poked my head in at the
writin' room--same.  Ambled into the readin' room--empty. 
Well, I steered for the dining room, an' there was the
bunch.  An' just as I come in they give a roar, and I
started to investigate.  Up against the fireplace, with
one hand in his pocket, and the other hanging careless
like on the mantel, stood a man--stranger t' me.  He was
talkin' kind of low, and quick, bitin' off his words like a
Englishman.  An' the boys, they was starin' with their 
eyes, an' their mouths, and forgettin' t' smoke, an' lettin'
their pipes an' cigars go dead in their hands, while he 
talked.  Talk!  Sa-a-ay, girl, that guy, he could talk the 
leads right out of a ruled, locked form.  I didn't catch his
name.  Tall, thin, unearthly lookin' chap, with the whitest 
teeth you ever saw, an' eyes--well, his eyes was somethin' 
like a lighted pipe with a little fine ash over the red, 
just waitin' for a sudden pull t' make it glow."

"Peter!" I moaned, and buried my face in my hands. 
Von Gerhard put a quick hand on my arm.  But I shook it
off.  "I'm not going to faint," I said, through set
teeth.  "I'm not going to do anything silly.  I want to
think.  I want to . . .  Go on, Blackie."

"Just a minute," interrupted Von Gerhard.  "Does he
know where Mrs. Orme is living?"

"I'm coming t' that," returned Blackie, tranquilly. 
"Though for Dawn's sake I'll say right here he don't
know.  I told him later, that she was takin' a vacation
up at her folks' in Michigan."

"Thank God!" I breathed.

"Wore a New York Press Club button, this guy did.  I
asked one of the boys standin' on the outer edge of the 
circle what the fellow's name was, but he only says:  
`Shut up Black!  An' listen.  He's seen every darn thing 
in the world.'  Well, I listened.  He wasn't braggin'.  
He wasn't talkin' big.  He was just talkin'.  Seems like 
he'd been war correspondent in the Boer war, and the
Spanish-American, an' Gawd knows where.  He spoke low, 
not usin' any big words, either, an' I thought his eyes 
looked somethin' like those of the Black Cat up on the 
mantel just over his head--you know what I
mean, when the electric lights is turned on
in-inside{sic} the ugly thing.  Well, every time he
showed signs of stoppin', one of the boys would up with
a question, and start him goin' again.  He knew
everybody, an' everything, an' everywhere.  All of a
sudden one of the boys points to the Roosevelt signature
on the wall--the one he scrawled up there along with all
the other celebrities first time he was entertained by
the Press Club boys.  Well this guy, he looked at the
name for a minute.  `Roosevelt?' he says, slow. `Oh, yes. 
Seems t' me I've heard of him.'  Well, at that the boys
yelled.  Thought it was a good joke, seein' that Ted had
been smeared all over the first page of everything for
years.  But kid, I seen th' look in that man's eyes when
he said it, and he wasn't jokin', girl. An' it came t' me, 
all of a sudden, that all the things he'd been talkin' 
about had happened almost ten years back.  After he'd 
made that break about Roosevelt he kind of shut up, and 
strolled over to the piano and began t' play.  You know 
that bum old piano, with half a dozen dead keys, and no 
tune?

I looked up for a moment.  "He could make you think
that it was a concert grand, couldn't he?  He hasn't
forgotten even that?"

"Forgotten?  Girl, I don't know what his
accomplishments was when you knew him, but if he was any
more fascinatin' than he is now, then I'm glad I didn't
know him.  He could charm the pay envelope away from a
reporter that was Saturday broke.  Somethin' seemed t'
urge me t' go up t' him an' say:  `Have a game of
billiards?'

"`Don't care if I do,' says he, and swung his long
legs off the piano stool and we made for the billiard
room, with the whole gang after us.  Sa-a-ay, girl, I'm
a modest violet, I am, but I don't mind mentionin' that
the general opinion up at the club is that I'm a little
wizard with the cue.  Well, w'en he got through with me
I looked like little sister when big brother is tryin' t'
teach her how to hold the cue in her fingers.  He just
sent them balls wherever he thought they'd look pretty.  
I bet if he'd held up his thumb and finger an' said, 
`jump through this!' them balls would of jumped."

Von Gerhard took a couple of quick steps in Blackie's
direction.  His eyes were blue steel.

"Is this then necessary?" he asked.  "All this leads
to what?  Has not Mrs. Orme suffered enough, that she
should undergo this idle chatter?  It is sufficient that
she knows this--this man is here.  It is a time for
action, not for words."

"Action's comin' later, Doc," drawled Blackie,
looking impish.  "Monologuin' ain't my specialty.  I
gener'ly let the other gink talk.  You never can learn
nothin' by talkin'.  But I got somethin' t' say t' Dawn
here.  Now, in case you're bored the least bit, w'y don't
hesitate one minnit t'--"

"Na, you are quite right, and I was hasty," said Von
Gerhard, and his eyes, with the kindly gleam in them,
smiled down upon the little man.  "It is only that both
you and I are over-anxious to be of assistance to this
unhappy lady.  Well, we shall see.  You talked with this
man at the Press Club?"

"He talked.  I listened."

"That would be Peter's way," I said, bitterly.  How
he used to love to hold forth, and how I grew to long 
for blessed silence--for fewer words, and
more of that reserve which means strength!"

"All this time," continued Blackie, "I didn't know
his name.  When we'd finished our game of billiards he
hung up his cue, and then he turned around like
lightning, and faced the boys that were standing around
with their hands in their pockets.  He had a odd little
smile on his face--a smile with no fun it, if you know
what I mean.  Guess you do, maybe, if you've seen it.

"`Boys,' says he, smilin' that twisted kind of smile,
`boys, I'm lookin' for a job.  I'm not much of a talker,
an' I'm only a amateur at music, and my game of billiards
is ragged.  But there's one thing I can do, fellows, from
abc up to xyz, and that's write.  I can write, boys, in
a way to make your pet little political scribe sound like
a high school paper.  I don't promise to stick.  As soon
as I get on my feet again I'm going back to New York. 
But not just yet.  Meanwhile, I'm going to the highest
bidder.'

"Well, you know since Merkle left us we haven't had
a day when we wasn't scooped on some political guff.  `I
guess we can use you--some place,' I says, tryin' not t'
look too anxious.  If your ideas on salary can take a
slump be tween New York and Milwaukee.  Our salaries 
around here is more what is elegantly known as a stipend.  
What's your name, Bo?'

"`Name?' says he, smiling again, `Maybe it'll be
familiar t' you.  That is, it will if my wife is usin'
it.  Orme's my name--Peter Orme.  Know a lady of that
name?  Good.'

"I hadn't said I did, but those eyes of his had seen
the look on my face.

"`Friends in New York told me she was here,' he says. 
`Where is she now?  Got her address?' he says.

"`She expectin' you?' I asked.

"`N-not exactly,' he says, with that crooked grin.

"`Thought not,' I answered, before I knew what I was
sayin'.  `She's up north with her folks on a vacation.'

"`The devil she is!' he says.  `Well, in that case
can you let me have ten until Monday?'"

Blackie came over to me as I sat cowering in my
chair.  He patted my shoulder with one lean brown hand. 
"Now kid, you dig, see?  Beat it.  Go home for a week. 
I'll fix it up with Norberg.  No tellin' what a guy like
that's goin' t' do.  Send your brother-in-law down
here if you want to make it a family affair, and between
us, we'll see this thing through."

I looked up at Von Gerhard.  He was nodding approval. 
It all seemed so easy, so temptingly easy.  To run away! 
Not to face him until I was safe in the shelter of
Norah's arms!  I stood up, resolve lending me new
strength and courage.

"I am going.  I know it isn't brave, but I can't be
brave any longer.  I'm too tired--too old--"

I grasped the hand of each of those men who had stood
by me so staunchly in the year that was past.  The words
of thanks that I had on my lips ended in dry, helpless
sobs.  And because Blackie and Von Gerhard looked so
pathetically concerned and so unhappy in my unhappiness
my sobs changed to hysterical laughter, in which the two
men joined, after one moment's bewildered staring.

So it was that we did not hear the front door slam,
or the sound of footsteps in the hall.  Our overstrained
nerves found relief in laughter, so that Peter Orme, a
lean, ominous figure in the doorway looked in upon a
merry scene.

I was the first to see him.  And at the sight of the
emaciated figure, with its hollow cheeks and its sunken
eyes all terror and hatred left me, and I felt only a 
great pity for this wreck of manhood.  Slowly I went up 
to him there in the doorway.

"Well, Peter?" I said.

"Well, Dawn old girl," said he "you're looking
wonderfully fit.  Grass widowhood seems to agree with
you, eh?"

And I knew then that my dread dream had come true.

Peter advanced into the room with his old easy grace
of manner.  His eyes glowed as he looked at Blackie. 
Then he laughed, showing his even, white teeth.  "Why,
you little liar!" he said, in his crisp, clear English. 
"I've a notion to thwack you.  What d' you mean by
telling me my wife's gone?  You're not sweet on her
yourself, eh?"

Von Gerhard stifled an exclamation, and Orme turned
quickly in his direction.  "Who are you?" he asked. 
"Still another admirer?  Jolly time you were having when
I interrupted."  He stared at Von Gerhard deliberately
and coolly.  A little frown of dislike came into his
face.  "You're a doctor, aren't you?  I knew it.  I can
tell by the hands, and the eyes, and the skin, and the
smell.  Lived with 'em for ten years, damn them!  Dawn,
tell these fellows they're excused, will you?  And by the 
way, you don't seem very happy to see me?"

I went up to him then, and laid my hand on his arm. 
"Peter, you don't understand.  These two gentlemen have
been all that is kind to me.  I am happy to know that you
are well again.  Surely you do not expect me to be joyful
at seeing you.  All that pretense was left out of our
lives long before your--illness.  It hasn't been all
roses for me since then, Peter.  I've worked until I
wanted to die with weariness.  You know what this
newspaper game is for a woman.  It doesn't grow easier as
she grows older and tireder."

"Oh, cut out the melodrama, Dawn," sneered Peter. 
"Have either of you fellows the makin's about you? 
Thanks.  I'm famished for a smoke."

The worrying words of ten years ago rose
automatically to my lips.  "Aren't you smoking too much,
Peter?"  The tone was that of a harassed wife.

Peter stared.  Then he laughed his short, mirthless
little laugh.  "By Jove! Dawn, I believe you're as much
my wife now as you were ten years ago.  I always said,
you know, that you would have become a first-class nagger
if you hadn't had such a keen sense of humor.  That saved
you."  He turned his mocking eyes to Von Gerhard. 
"Doesn't it beat the devil, how these good women stick to
a man, once they're married!  There's a certain dog-like
devotion about it that's touching."

There was a dreadful little silence.  For the first
time in my knowledge of him I saw a hot, painful red
dyeing Blackie's sallow face.  His eyes had a menace in
their depths.  Then, very quietly, Von Gerhard stepped
forward and stopped directly before me.

"Dawn," he said, very softly and gently, "I retract
my statement of an hour ago.  If you will give me another
chance to do as you asked me, I shall thank God for it
all my life.  There is no degradation in that.  To live
with this man--that is degradation.  And I say you shall
not suffer it."

I looked up into his face, and it had never seemed so
dear to me.  "The time for that is past," I said, my tone
as calm and even as his own.  "A man like you cannot
burden himself with a derelict like me--mast gone, sails
gone, water-logged, drifting.  Five years from now you'll
thank me for what I am saying now.  My place is with this
other wreck--tossed about by wind and weather until we
both go down together."  There came a sharp, insistent 
ring at the door-bell.  No answering sound came from the 
regions above stairs.  The ringing sounded again, louder 
than before.

"I'll be the Buttons," said Blackie, and disappeared
into the hallway.

"Oh, yes, I've heard about you," came to our ears a
moment later, in a high, clear voice--a dear, beloved
voice that sent me flying to the door in an agony of
hope.

"Norah!" I cried, "Norah!  Norah!  Norah!"  And as
her blessed arms closed about me the tears that had been
denied me before came in a torrent of joy.

"There, there!" murmured she, patting my shoulder
with those comforting mother-pats.  "What's all this
about?  And why didn't somebody meet me? I telegraphed. 
You didn't get it?  Well, I forgive you.  Howdy-do,
Peter?  I suppose you are Peter.  I hope you haven't been
acting devilish again.  That seems to be your specialty. 
Now don't smile that Mephistophelian smile at me.  It
doesn't frighten me.  Von Gerhard, take him down to his
hotel.  I'm dying for my kimono and bed.  And this child
is trembling like a race-horse.  Now run along, all of
you.  Things that look greenery-yallery at night always
turn pink in the morning. Great Heavens!  There's somebody
calling down from the second-floor landing.  It sounds 
like a landlady.  Run, Dawn, and tell her your perfectly
respectable sister has come.  Peter!  Von Gerhard!  
Mr. Blackie!  Shoo!"





CHAPTER XIX


A TURN OF THE WHEEL


"You who were ever alert to befriend a man
You who were ever the first to defend a man,
You who had always the money to lend a man
Down on his luck and hard up for a V,
Sure you'll be playing a harp in beatitude
(And a quare sight you will be in that attitude)
Some day, where gratitude seems but a platitude,
You'll find your latitude."

From my desk I could see Peter standing in the doorway of
the news editor's room.  I shut my eyes for a moment. 
Then I opened them again, quickly.  No, it was not a
dream.  He was there, a slender, graceful, hateful
figure, with the inevitable cigarette in his unsteady
fingers--the expensive-looking, gold-tipped cigarette of
the old days.  Peter was Peter.  Ten years had made
little difference.  There were queer little hollow places
in his cheeks, and under the jaw-bone, and at the base of
the head, and a flabby, parchment-like appearance about
the skin.  That was all that made him different from the
Peter of the old days.

The thing had adjusted itself, as Norah had said it
would.  The situation that had filled me with loathing
and terror the night of Peter's return had been
transformed into quite a matter-of-fact and commonplace
affair under Norah's deft management.  And now I was back
in harness again, and Peter was turning out brilliant
political stuff at spasmodic intervals.  He was not
capable of any sustained effort.  He never would be
again; that was plain.  He was growing restless and
dissatisfied.  He spoke of New York as though it were
Valhalla.  He said that he hadn't seen a pretty girl
since he left Forty-second street.  He laughed at
Milwaukee's quaint German atmosphere.  He sneered at our
journalistic methods, and called the newspapers "country
sheets," and was forever talking of the World, and the
Herald, and the Sun, until the men at the Press Club
fought shy of him.  Norah had found quiet and comfortable
quarters for Peter in a boarding-house near the lake, and
just a square or two distant from my own boarding-house. 
He hated it cordially, as only the luxury-loving can hate
a boarding-house, and threatened to leave daily.

"Let's go back to the big town, Dawn, old girl," he
would say.  "We're buried alive in this overgrown Dutch
village.  I came here in the first place on your account.  
Now it's up to you to get me out of it.  Think of what New 
York means!  Think of what I've been!  And I can write as 
well as ever."

But I always shook my head.  "We would not last a
month in New York, Peter.  New York has hurried on and
left us behind.  We're just two pieces of discard.  We'll
have to be content where we are."

"Content!  In this silly hole!  You must be mad!" 
Then, with one of his unaccountable changes of tone and
topic, "Dawn, let me have some money.  I'm strapped.  If
I had the time I'd get out some magazine stuff.  Anything
to get a little extra coin.  Tell me, how does that
little sport you call Blackie happen to have so much
ready cash?  I've never yet struck him for a loan that he
hasn't obliged me.  I think he's sweet on you, perhaps,
and thinks he's doing you a sort of second-hand favor."

At times such as these all the old spirit that I had
thought dead within me would rise up in revolt against
this creature who was taking, from me my pride, my sense
of honor, my friends.  I never saw Von Gerhard now. 
Peter had refused outright to go to him for treatment,
saying that he wasn't going to be poisoned by any cursed
doctor, particularly not by one who had wanted to run away 
with his wife before his very eyes.

Sometimes I wondered how long this could go on.  I
thought of the old days with the Nirlangers; of Alma
Pflugel's rose-encircled cottage; of Bennie; of the
Knapfs; of the good-natured, uncouth aborigines, and
their many kindnesses.  I saw these dear people rarely
now.  Frau Nirlanger's resignation to her unhappiness
only made me rebel more keenly against my own.

If only Peter could become well and strong again, I
told myself, bitterly.  If it were not for those blue
shadows under his eyes, and the shrunken muscles, and the
withered skin, I could leave him to live his life as he
saw fit.  But he was as dependent as a child, and as
capricious.  What was the end to be? I asked myself. 
Where was it all leading me?

And then, in a fearful and wonderful manner, my
question was answered.

There came to my desk one day an envelope bearing the
letter-head of the publishing house to which I had sent
my story.  I balanced it for a moment in my fingers,
woman-fashion, wondering, hoping, surmising.

"Of course they can't want it," I told myself, in
preparation for any disappointment that was in store for 
me.  "They're sending it back.  This is the letter that 
will tell me so."

And then I opened it.  The words jumped out at me
from the typewritten page.  I crushed the paper in my
hands, and rushed into Blackie's little office as I had
been used to doing in the old days.  He was at his desk,
pipe in mouth.  I shook his shoulder and flourished the
letter wildly, and did a crazy little dance about his
chair.

"They want it!  They like it!  Not only that, they
want another, as soon as I can get it out.  Think of it!"

Blackie removed his pipe from between his teeth and
wiped his lips with the back of his hand.  "I'm
thinkin'," he said.  "Anything t' oblige you.  When
you're through shovin' that paper into my face would you
mind explainin' who wants what?"

"Oh, you're so stupid!  So slow!  Can't you see that
I've written a real live book, and had it accepted, and
that I am going to write another if I have to run away
from a whole regiment of husbands to do it properly? 
Blackie, can't you see what it means!  Oh, Blackie, I
know I'm maudlin in my joy, but forgive me.  It's been so
long since I've had the taste of it."

"Well, take a good chew while you got th'chance an' 
don't count too high on this first book
business.  I knew a guy who wrote a book once, an' he
planned to take a trip to Europe on it, and build a house
when he got home, and maybe a yacht or so, if he wasn't
too rushed.  Sa-a-ay, girl, w'en he got through gettin'
those royalties for that book they'd dwindled down to
fresh wall paper for the dinin'-room, and a new gas stove
for his wife, an' not enough left over to take a trolley
trip to Oshkosh on.  Don't count too high."

"I'm not counting at all, Blackie, and you can't
discourage me."

"Don't want to.  But I'd hate to see you come down
with a thud."  Suddenly he sat up and a grin overspread
his thin face.  "Tell you what we'll do, girlie.  We'll
celebrate.  Maybe it'll be the last time.  Let's pretend
this is six months ago, and everything's serene.  You get
your bonnet.  I'll get the machine.  It's too hot to
work, anyway.  We'll take a spin out to somewhere that's
cool, and we'll order cold things to eat, and cold things
to drink, and you can talk about yourself till you're
tired.  You'll have to take it out on somebody, an' it
might as well be me."

Five minutes later, with my hat in my hand, I turned
to find Peter at my elbow.

"Want to talk to you," he said, frowning.

"Sorry, Peter, but I can't stop.  Won't it do later?"

"No.  Got an assignment?  I'll go with you."

"N-not exactly, Peter.  The truth is, Blackie has
taken pity on me and has promised to take me out for a
spin, just to cool off.  It has been so insufferably
hot."

Peter turned away.  "Count me in on that," he said,
over his shoulder.

"But I can't, Peter," I cried.  "It isn't my party. 
And anyway--"

Peter turned around, and there was an ugly glow in
his eyes and an ugly look on his face, and a little red
ridge that I had not noticed before seemed to burn itself
across his forehead.  "And anyway, you don't want me, eh? 
Well, I'm going.  I'm not going to have my wife chasing
all over the country with strange men.  Remember, you're
not the giddy grass widdy you used to be.  You can take
me, or stay at home, understand?"

His voice was high-pitched and quavering.  Something
in his manner struck a vague terror to my heart.  "Why,
Peter, if you care that much I shall be glad to have you
go.  So will Blackie, I am sure.  Come, we'll go down
now.  He'll be waiting for us."

Blackie's keen, clever mind grasped the situation as
soon as he saw us together.  His dark face was illumined
by one of his rare smiles.  "Coming with us, Orme?  Do
you good.  Pile into the tonneau, you two, and hang on to
your hair.  I'm going to smash the law."

Peter sauntered up to the steering-wheel.  "Let me
drive," he said.  "I'm not bad at it."

"Nix with the artless amateur," returned Blackie. 
"This ain't no demonstration car.  I drive my own little
wagon when I go riding, and I intend to until I take my
last ride, feet first."

Peter muttered something surly and climbed into the
front seat next to Blackie, leaving me to occupy the
tonneau in solitary state.

Peter began to ask questions--dozens of them,  which
Blackie answered, patiently and fully.  I could not hear
all that they said, but I saw that Peter was urging
Blackie to greater speed, and that Blackie was explaining
that he must first leave the crowded streets behind. 
Suddenly Peter made a gesture in the direction of the
wheel, and said something in a high, sharp voice. 
Blackie's answer was quick and decidedly in the negative. 
The next instant Peter Orme rose in his place and leaning
forward and upward, grasped the wheel that was
in Blackie's hands.  The car swerved sickeningly.  I
noticed, dully, that Blackie did not go white as
novelists say men do in moments of horror.  A dull red
flush crept to the very base of his neck.  With a twist
of his frail body he tried to throw off Peter's hands. 
I remember leaning over the back of the seat and trying
to pull Peter back as I realized that it was a madman
with whom we were dealing.  Nothing seemed real.  It was
ridiculously like the things one sees in the moving
picture theaters.  I felt no fear.

"Sit down, Orme!" Blackie yelled.  "You'll ditch us! 
Dawn!  God!--"

We shot down a little hill.  Two wheels were lifted
from the ground.  The machine was poised in the air for
a second before it crashed into the ditch and turned over
completely, throwing me clear, but burying Blackie and
Peter under its weight of steel and wood and whirring
wheels.

I remember rising from the ground, and sinking back
again and rising once more to run forward to where the
car lay in the ditch, and tugging at that great frame of
steel with crazy, futile fingers.  Then I ran screaming
down the road toward a man who was tranquilly working in
a field nearby.






CHAPTER XX


BLACKIE'S VACATION COMES

The shabby blue office coat hangs on the hook in the
little sporting room where Blackie placed it.  No one
dreams of moving it.  There it dangles, out at elbows,
disreputable, its pockets burned from many a hot pipe
thrust carelessly into them, its cuffs frayed, its lapels
bearing the marks of cigarette, paste-pot and pen.

It is that faded old garment, more than anything
else, which makes us fail to realize that its owner will
never again slip into its comfortable folds.  We cannot
believe that a lifeless rag like that can triumph over
the man of flesh and blood and nerves and sympathies. 
With what contempt do we look upon those garments during
our lifetime!  And how they live on, defying time, long,
long after we have been gathered to our last rest.

In some miraculous manner Blackie had lived on for
two days after that ghastly ride.  Peter had been killed
instantly, the doctors said. They gave no hope for 
Blackie.  My escape with but a few ridiculous bruises 
and scratches was due, they said, to the fact that I had 
sat in the tonneau.  I heard them all, in a stupor of 
horror and grief, and wondered what
plan Fate had in store for me, that I alone should have
been spared.  Norah and Max came, and took things in
charge, and I saw Von Gerhard, but all three appeared dim
and shadowy, like figures in a mist.  When I closed my
eyes I could see Peter's tense figure bending over
Blackie at the wheel, and heard his labored breathing as
he struggled in his mad fury, and felt again the helpless
horror that had come to me as we swerved off the road and
into the ditch below, with Blackie, rigid and desperate,
still clinging to the wheel.  I lived it all over and
over in my mind.  In the midst of the blackness I heard
a sentence that cleared the fog from my mind, and caused
me to raise myself from my pillows.

Some one--Norah, I think--had said that Blackie was
conscious, and that he was asking for some of the men at
the office, and for me.  For me!  I rose and dressed, in
spite of Norah's protests.  I was quite well, I told
them.  I must see him.  I shook them off with trembling
fingers and when they saw that I was quite determined 
they gave in, and Von Gerhard telephoned to the hospital 
to learn the hour at which I might meet
the others who were to see Blackie for a brief moment.

I met them in the stiff little waiting room of he
hospital--Norberg, Deming, Schmidt, Holt--men who had
known him from the time when they had yelled, "Heh, boy!"
at him when they wanted their pencils sharpened. 
Awkwardly we followed the fleet-footed nurse who glided
ahead of us down the wide hospital corridors, past
doorways through which we caught glimpses of white beds
that were no whiter than the faces that lay on the
pillows.  We came at last into a very still and bright
little room where Blackie lay.

Had years passed over his head since I saw him last? 
The face that tried to smile at us from the pillow was
strangely wizened and old.  It was as though a withering
blight had touched it.  Only the eyes were the same. 
They glowed in the sunken face, beneath the shock of
black hair, with a startling luster and brilliancy.

I do not know what pain he suffered.  I do not know
what magic medicine gave him the strength to smile at us,
dying as he was even then.

"Well, what do you know about little Paul Dombey?" he
piped in a high, thin voice.  The shock of relief was too
much.  We giggled hysterically, then stopped short and
looked at each other, like scared and naughty children.

"Sa-a-ay, boys and girls, cut out the heavy thinking
parts.  Don't make me do all the social stunts.  What's
the news?  What kind of a rotten cotton sportin' sheet is
that dub Callahan gettin' out?  Who won to-day--Cubs or
Pirates?  Norberg, you goat, who pinned that purple tie
on you?"

He was so like the Blackie we had always known that
we were at our ease immediately.  The sun shone in at the
window, and some one laughed a little laugh somewhere
down the corridor, and Deming, who is Irish, plunged into
a droll description of a brand-new office boy who had
arrived that day.

"S'elp me, Black, the kid wears spectacles and a
Norfolk suit, and low-cut shoes with bows on 'em.  On the
square he does.  Looks like one of those Boston infants
you see in the comic papers.  I don't believe he's real. 
We're saving him until you get back, if the kids in the
alley don't chew him up before that time."

An almost imperceptible shade passed over Blackie's
face.  He closed his eyes for a moment.  Without their 
light his countenance was ashen, and awful.

A nurse in stripes and cap appeared in the doorway. 
She looked keenly at the little figure in the bed.  Then
she turned to us.

"You must go now," she said.  "You were just to see
him for a minute or two, you know."

Blackie summoned the wan ghost of a smile to his
lips.  "Guess you guys ain't got th' stimulatin' effect
that a bunch of live wires ought to have.  Say, Norberg,
tell that fathead, Callahan, if he don't keep the third
drawer t' the right in my desk locked, th' office kids'll
swipe all the roller rink passes surest thing you know."

"I'll--tell him, Black," stammered Norberg, and
turned away.

They said good-by, awkwardly enough.  Not one of them
that did not owe him an unpayable debt of gratitude.  Not
one that had not the memory of some secret kindness
stored away in his heart.  It was Blackie who had
furnished the money that had sent Deming's sick wife
west.  It had been Blackie who had rescued Schmidt time
and again when drink got a strangle-hold.  Blackie had
always said:  "Fire Schmidt!  Not much!  Why, Schmidt
writes better stuff drunk than all the rest of the
bunch sober." And Schmidt would be granted another
reprieve by the Powers that Were.

Suddenly Blackie beckoned the nurse in the doorway. 
She came swiftly and bent over him.

"Gimme two minutes more, that's a good nursie. 
There's something I want to say t' this dame.  It's de
rigger t' hand out last messages, ain't it?"

The nurse looked at me, doubtfully.  "But you're not
to excite yourself."

"Sa-a-ay, girl, this ain't goin' t' be no scene from
East Lynne.  Be a good kid.  The rest of the bunch can
go."

And so, when the others had gone, I found myself
seated at the side of his bed, trying to smile down at
him.  I knew that there must be nothing to excite him. 
But the words on my lips would come.

"Blackie," I said, and I struggled to keep my voice
calm and emotionless, "Blackie, forgive me.  It is all my
fault--my wretched fault."

"Now, cut that," interrupted Blackie.  "I thought
that was your game.  That's  why I said I wanted t' talk
t' you.  Now, listen.  Remember my tellin' you, a few
weeks ago, 'bout that vacation I was plannin'?  This is
it, only it's come sooner than I expected, that's all.
I seen two three doctor guys about it.  Your friend Von
Gerhard was one of 'em.  They didn't tell me t' take no
ocean trip this time.  Between 'em, they decided my
vacation would come along about November, maybe.  Well,
I beat 'em to it, that's all.  Sa-a-ay, girl, I ain't
kickin'.  You can't live on your nerves and expect t'
keep goin'.  Sooner or later you'll be suein' those same
nerves for non-support.  But, kid, ain't it a shame that
I got to go out in a auto smashup, in these days when
even a airship exit don't make a splash on the front
page!"

The nervous brown hand was moving restlessly over the
covers.  Finally it met my hand, and held it in a tense
little grip.

"We've been good pals, you and me, ain't we, kid?"

"Yes, Blackie."

"Ain't regretted it none?"

"Regretted it!  I am a finer, truer, better woman for
having known you, Blackie."

He gave a little contented sigh at that, and his eyes
closed.  When he opened them the old, whimsical smile
wrinkled his face.

"This is where I get off at.  It ain't been no long
trip, but sa-a-ay, girl, I've enjoyed every mile of the
road.  All kinds of scenery--all kinds of
lan'scape--plain--fancy--uphill--downhill--"

I leaned forward, fearfully.

"Not--yet," whispered Blackie.  Say Dawn--in the
story books--they--always--are strong on the--good-by
kiss, what?"

And as the nurse appeared in the doorway again,
disapproval on her face, I stooped and gently pressed my
lips to the pain-lined cheek.







CHAPTER XXI


HAPPINESS

We laid Peter to rest in that noisy, careless, busy city
that he had loved so well, and I think his cynical lips
would have curled in a bitterly amused smile, and his
somber eyes would have flamed into sudden wrath if he
could have seen how utterly and completely New York had
forgotten Peter Orme.  He had been buried alive ten years
before--and Newspaper Row has no faith in resurrections. 
Peter Orme was not even a memory.  Ten years is an age in
a city where epochs are counted by hours.

Now, after two weeks of Norah's loving care, I was
back in the pretty little city by the lake.  I had come
to say farewell to all those who had filled my life so
completely in that year.  My days of newspaper work were
over.  The autumn and winter would be spent at Norah's,
occupied with hours of delightful, congenial work, for
the second book was to be written in the quiet peace of
my own little Michigan town.  Von Gerhard was to take his
deferred trip to Vienna in the spring, and I knew that I 
was to go with him.  The thought filled my heart with a 
great flood of happiness.

Together Von Gerhard and I had visited Alma Pflugel's
cottage, and the garden was blooming in all its wonder of
color and scent as we opened the little gate and walked
up the worn path.  We found them in the cool shade of the
arbor, the two women sewing, Bennie playing with the last
wonderful toy that Blackie had given him.  They made a
serene and beautiful picture there against the green
canopy of the leaves.  We spoke of Frau Nirlanger, and of
Blackie, and of the strange snarl of events which had at
last been unwound to knit a close friendship between us. 
And when I had kissed them and walked for the last time
in many months up the flower-bordered path, the scarlet
and pink, and green and gold of that wonderful garden
swam in a mist before my eyes.

Frau Nirlanger was next.  When we spoke of Vienna she
caught her breath sharply.

"Vienna!" she repeated, and the longing in her voice
was an actual pain.  "Vienna!  Gott!  Shall I ever see
it again?  Vienna!  My boy is there.  Perhaps--"

"Perhaps," I said, gently.  "Stranger things
have happened.  Perhaps if I could see them, and talk to
them--if I could tell them--they might be made to
understand.  I haven't been a newspaper reporter all
these years without acquiring a golden gift of
persuasiveness.  Perhaps--who knows?--we may meet again
in Vienna.  Stranger things have happened."

Frau Nirlanger shook her head with a little hopeless
sigh.  "You do not know Vienna; you do not know the iron
strength of caste, and custom and stiff-necked pride.  I
am dead in Vienna.  And the dead should rest in peace."

It was late in the afternoon when Von Gerhard and I
turned the corner which led to the building that held the
Post.  I had saved that for the last.

"I hope that heaven is not a place of golden streets,
and twanging harps and angel choruses," I said, softly. 
"Little, nervous, slangy, restless Blackie, how bored and
ill at ease he would be in such a heaven!  How lonely,
without his old black pipe, and his checked waistcoats,
and his diamonds, and his sporting extra.  Oh, I hope
they have all those comforting, everyday things up there,
for Blackie's sake."

"How you grew to understand him in that short year,"
mused Von Gerhard.  "I sometimes used to resent the bond
between you and this little Blackie whose name was always 
on your tongue."

"Ah, that was because you did not comprehend.  It is
given to very few women to know the beauty of a man's
real friendship.  That was the bond between Blackie and
me.  To me he was a comrade, and to him I was a
good-fellow girl--one to whom he could talk without
excusing his pipe or cigarette.  Love and love-making
were things to bring a kindly, amused chuckle from
Blackie."

Von Gerhard was silent.  Something in his silence
held a vague irritation for me.  I extracted a penny from
my purse, and placed it in his hand.

"I was thinking," he said, "that none are so blind as
those who will not see."

"I don't understand," I said, puzzled.

"That is well," answered Von Gerhard, as we entered
the building.  "That is as it should be."  And he would
say nothing more.

The last edition of the paper had been run off for
the day.  I had purposely waited until the footfalls of
the last departing reporter should have ceased to echo
down the long corridor.  The city room was deserted
except for one figure bent over a pile of papers and
proofs.  Norberg, the city editor, was the last to leave,
as always.  His desk light glowed in the darkness of the
big room, and his typewriter alone awoke the echoes.

As I stood in the doorway he peered up from beneath
his green eye-shade, and waved a cloud of smoke away with
the palm of his hand.

"That you, Mrs. Orme?" he called out.  "Lord, we've
missed you!  That new woman can't write an obituary, and
her teary tales sound like they were carved with a cold
chisel.  When are you coming back?"

"I'm not coming back," I replied.  "I've come to say
good-by to you and--Blackie."

Norberg looked up quickly.  "You feel that way, too? 
Funny.  So do the rest of us.  Sometimes I think we are
all half sure that it is only another of his impish
tricks, and that some morning he will pop open the door
of the city room here and call out, `Hello, slaves!  Been
keepin' m' memory green?'"

I held out my hand to him, gratefully.  He took it in
his great palm, and a smile dimpled his plump cheeks. 
"Going to blossom into a regular little writer, h'm? 
Well, they say it's a paying game when you get the hang
of it.  And I guess you've got it.  But if ever you feel
that you want a real thrill--a touch of the old
satisfying newspaper feeling--a sniff of wet ink--the 
music of some editorial cussing--why come up here and I'll 
give you the hottest assignment on my list, if I have to 
take it away from Deming's very notebook."

When I had thanked him I crossed the hall and tried
the door of the sporting editor's room.  Von Gerhard was
waiting for me far down at the other end of the corridor. 
The door opened and I softly entered and shut it again. 
The little room was dim, but in the half-light I could
see that Callahan had changed something--had shoved a
desk nearer the window, or swung the typewriter over to
the other side.  I resented it.  I glanced up at the
corner where the shabby old office coat had been wont to
hang.  There it dangled, untouched, just as he had left
it.  Callahan had not dared to change that.  I tip-toed
over to the corner and touched it gently with my fingers. 
A light pall of dust had settled over the worn little
garment, but I knew each worn place, each ink-spot, each
scorch or burn from pipe or cigarette.  I passed my hands
over it reverently and gently, and then, in the dimness
of that quiet little room I laid my cheek against the
rough cloth, so that the scent of the old black pipe came
back to me once more, and a new spot appeared on the coat
sleeve--a damp, salt spot.  Blackie  would have hated my 
doing that.  But he was not there to
see, and one spot more or less did not matter; it was
such a grimy, disreputable old coat.

"Dawn!" called Von Gerhard softly, outside the door. 
"Dawn!  Coming, Kindchen?"

I gave the little coat a parting pat.  "Goodby," I
whispered, under my breath, and turned toward the door.

"Coming!" I called, aloud.





End of The Project Gutenberg Etext of Dawn O'Hara, The Girl Who Laughed


Colophon

This file was acquired from Project Gutenberg, and it is in the public domain. It is re-distributed here as a part of the Alex Catalogue of Electronic Texts (http://infomotions.com/alex/) by Eric Lease Morgan (Infomotions, Inc.) for the purpose of freely sharing, distributing, and making available works of great literature. Its Infomotions unique identifier is etext1602, and it should be available from the following URL:

http://infomotions.com/etexts/id/etext1602



Infomotions, Inc.

Infomotions Man says, "Give back to the 'Net."