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Erik Dorn   By: (1894-1964)

Book cover

First Page:

ERIK DORN

by

BEN HECHT

G. P. Putnam's Sons New York and London The Knickerbocker Press 1921

Copyright, 1921 by Ben Hecht

Printed in the United States of America

To

MARIE

CONTENTS

PAGE

PART I

SLEEP 1

PART II

DREAM 75

PART III

WINGS 173

PART IV

ADVENTURE 277

PART V

SILENCE 369

ERIK DORN

PART I

SLEEP

CHAPTER I

An old man sat in the shadows of the summer night. From a veranda chair he looked at the stars. He wore a white beard, and his eyes, grown small with age, watered continually as if he were weeping. Half hidden under his beard his emaciated lips kept the monotonous grimace of a smile on his face.

He sat in the dark, a patient, trembling figure waiting for bedtime. His feet, though he rested them all day, grew heavy at night. Of late this weariness had increased. It reached like a caress into his mind. Thoughts no longer formed themselves in the silences of his hours. Instead, a gentle sleep, dreamless and dark, came upon him and left him sitting with his little eyes, open and moist, fastened without sight upon familiar objects.

As he sat, the withered body of this old man seemed to grow always more motionless, except for his hands. Resting on his thighs, his twig like hands remained forever awake, their thin contorted fingers crawling vaguely about like the legs of 8 long impaled spiders.

The sound of a piano from the room behind him dropped into the old man's sleep, and he found himself once more looking out of his eyes and occupying his clothes. His attitude remained unchanged except for a quickened movement of his fingers. Life returned to him as gently as it had left. The stars were still high over his head and the night, cool and murmuring, waited for him.

He lowered his eyes toward the street beyond the lawn. People were straying by, seeming to drift under the dark trees. He could not see them distinctly, but he stared at their flowing outlines and at moments was rewarded by a glimpse of a face a featureless little glint of white in the shadows: dark shadows moving within a motionless darkness with little dying candle flame faces. "Men and women," he thought, "men and women, mixed up in the night ... mixed up."

As he stared, thoughts as dim and fluid as the people in the street moved in his head. But he remembered things best not in words. His memories were little warmths that dropped into his heart. His cold thin fingers continued their fluttering. "Mixed up, mixed up," said the night. "Dark," said the shadows. And the years spoke their memories. "We have been; we are no more." Memories that had lost the bloom of words. The emaciated lips of the old man held a smile beneath the white beard.

This was Isaac Dorn, still alive after eighty years.

The music from the house ended and a woman's voice called through an open window.

"I'm afraid it's chilly outside, father."

He offered no answer. Then he heard Erik, his son, speak in an amused voice.

"Leave the old man be. He's making love to the stars."

"I'll get him a blanket," said Erik's wife. "I can't bear to think of him catching cold."

Isaac Dorn arose from his chair, shaking his head. He did not fancy being covered with a blanket and feeling Anna's kindly hands tucking its edges around his feet. They were too kindly, too solicitous. Their little pats and caressings presumed too much. One grew sad under their ministrations and murmured to oneself, "Poor child, poor child." Better a half hour under the cold, amused eyes of his son, Erik. There was something between Erik and him, something like an unspoken argument. To Anna he was a pathetic little old man to be nursed, coddled, defended against chills and indigestions, "poor child, poor child... Continue reading book >>




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