Edna Ferber: Fanny Herself

9. CHAPTER NINE (continued)

The low-pitched, high-powered voice went on inside, talking over the long-distance telephone. Fenger was the kind of man who is always talking to New York when he is in Chicago, and to Chicago when he is in New York. Trains with the word Limited after them were invented for him and his type. A buzzer sounded. It galvanized the office boy into instant action. It brought the anxious-looking stenographer to the doorway, notebook in hand, ready. It sent the lean secretary out, and up to Fanny.

"Temper," said Fanny, to herself, "or horribly nervous and high-keyed. They jump like a set of puppets on a string."

It was then that the lean secretary had said, "Mr. Fenger will see you now."

Fanny was aware of a pleasant little tingle of excitement. She entered the inner office.

It was characteristic of Michael Fenger that he employed no cheap tricks. He was not writing as Fanny Brandeis came in. He was not telephoning. He was not doing anything but standing at his desk, waiting for Fanny Brandeis. As she came in he looked at her, through her, and she seemed to feel her mental processes laid open to him as a skilled surgeon cuts through skin and flesh and fat, to lay bare the muscles and nerves and vital organs beneath. He put out his hand. Fanny extended hers. They met in a silent grip. It was like a meeting between two men. Even as he indexed her, Fanny's alert mind was busy docketing, numbering, cataloguing him. They had in common a certain force, a driving power. Fanny seated herself opposite him, in obedience to a gesture. He crossed his legs comfortably and sat back in his big desk chair. A great-bodied man, with powerful square shoulders, a long head, a rugged crest of a nose--the kind you see on the type of Englishman who has the imagination and initiative to go to Canada, or Australia, or America. He wore spectacles, not the fashionable horn-rimmed sort, but the kind with gold ear pieces. They were becoming, and gave a certain humanness to a face that otherwise would have been too rugged, too strong. A man of forty-five, perhaps.

He spoke first. "You're younger than I thought."

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