Edna Ferber: Fanny Herself

12. CHAPTER TWELVE (continued)

"Never! I couldn't. Don't ask it of me. This place scares me. I came up in the elevator with a crowd and a guide, and he was juggling millions, that chap, the way a newsboy flips a cent. I'm but a poor parish priest, but I've got my pride. We'll go to the Blackstone, which I've passed, humbly, but never been in, with its rose silk shades and its window boxes. And we'll be waited on by velvet-footed servitors, me girl. Get your hat."

Fanny, protesting, but laughing, too, got it. They took the L. Michigan avenue, as they approached it from Wabash, was wind-swept and bleak as only Michigan avenue can be in December. They entered the warm radiance of the luxurious foyer with a little breathless rush, as wind-blown Chicagoans generally do. The head waiter must have thought Father Fitzpatrick a cardinal, at least, for he seated them at a window table that looked out upon the icy street, with Grant Park, crusted with sooty snow, just across the way, and beyond that the I. C. tracks and the great gray lake. The splendid room was all color, and perfume, and humming conversation. A fountain tinkled in the center, and upon its waters there floated lily pads and blossoms, weirdly rose, and mauve, and lavender. The tables were occupied by deliciously slim young girls and very self-conscious college boys, home for the holidays, and marcelled matrons, furred and aigretted. The pink in Fanny's cheeks deepened. She loved luxury. She smiled and flashed at the handsome old priest opposite her.

"You're a wastrel," she said, "but isn't it nice!" And tasted the first delicious sip of soup.

"It is. For a change. Extravagance is good for all of us, now and then." He glanced leisurely about the brilliant room, then out to the street, bleakly windswept. He leaned back and drummed a bit with his fingers on the satin-smooth cloth. "Now and then. Tell me, Fanny, what would you say, off-hand, was the most interesting thing you see from here? You used to have a trick of picking out what they call the human side. Your mother had it, too."

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