Edna Ferber: Fanny Herself

11. CHAPTER ELEVEN (continued)

Goaded by time bulletins shouted through the closed door, Fanny found herself tubbed, clothed, and ready for breakfast by eight-ten. When she opened the door Clarence was standing in the center of her little sitting room, waiting, a sheaf of loose sketches in his hand.

"Say, look here! These are the real thing. Why, they're great! They get you. This old geezer with the beard, selling fish and looking like one of the Disciples. And this. What the devil are you doing in a mail order house, or whatever it is? Tell me that! When you can draw like this!"

"Good morning," said Fanny, calmly. "And I'll tell you nothing before breakfast. The one thing that interests me this moment is hot coffee. Will you have some breakfast? Oh, well, a second one won't hurt you. You must have got up at three, or thereabouts." She went toward the tiny kitchen. "Never mind, Princess. I'll wait on myself. You go on with that chicken."

Princess was the kind of person who can fry a chicken, wrap it in cool, crisp lettuce leaves, box it, cut sandwiches, and come out of the process with an unruffled temper and an immaculate kitchen. Thanks to her, Fanny and Heyl found themselves on the eight fifty-three train, bound for the dunes.

Clarence swung his rucksack up to the bundle rack. He took off his cap, and stuffed it into his pocket. He was grinning like a schoolboy. Fanny turned from the window and smiled at what she saw in his face. At that he gave an absurd little bounce in his place, like an overgrown child, and reached over and patted her hand.

"I've dreamed of this for years."

"You're just fourteen, going on fifteen," Fanny reproved him.

"I know it. And it's great! Won't you be, too? Forget you're a fair financier, or whatever they call it. Forget you earn more in a month than I do in six. Relax. Unbend. Loosen up. Don't assume that hardshell air with me. Just remember that I knew you when the frill of your panties showed below your skirt."

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