Nunnally Johnson One Word After Another Marta Farra April 10, 1924
re- in a ONE WORD AFTER ANOTHER By NUNNALLY JOHNSON Miss Mart a Farra, Who Can Lift an Elephant, Has No Longing for a Big Strong Man to Call Her Pet Names Unless He Has a Million. M' IBS MARTA FARRA can lift an elephant. It isn't an enormous elephant, to be sure, but in these days, so different from those of our mothers and grandmothers, it Isn't often that you run across a girl able to lift oven a small elephant. As some one stated not so very long ago, girls aren't what they used to be. And strangely enough for a girl who can lift an elephant, though only a small one, she is not a village blacksmith. I report with the greatest of pleasure that Miss Farra Is a young woman or moderate built, age 21, amazingly beautiful In a fashion that betrays not the slightest sug gestion of her strength, that she speaks English of the character em ployed bv Louis Mann, that she smokes cigarettes and drinks sam pies of the lighter liquors, and that she Is easily able to wrap the cnanae lier around one s neck if one chances to say or do anything that one shouldn't. To be frank, your correspondent was not the most appropriate per son In the newspaper world to Inter view Miss Farra. There was a time back In 1904 when he was able to muscle out a 10-pound dumb-bell but since then he has never been so Ftrong. And as for lifting an elephant. It's absurd to think of it. It's l.een years and years and years since Le even attempted such a thing. And then, as he recalls It, the attempt was a failure. "But no," Miss Farra said, an interpreter helping the sentence along, "I do not despise weak men. ,1 only pity them." Well, you can imagine how your correspondent felt after that ! "But I do not like men, anyway," she went on. No marrying for me! That Is, unless a very wealthy man comes along. I would marry one that would not make me work. A poor man, pooh! I would have to keep on working and making money for him. I don't care for that." She continued her explanation to some lengths, but It was so confused in German, in broken English, in the e-fforts of an interpreter with poor enunciation to translate it, that I regret not having been able to get all f.f It. In the main, though, as I un-e'erstood It generally, she has no yearning for a big. strong man to comfort and protect her, to guard her against harm, to call her pet names, or anything like that. I suppose I could have got all this clearly had I Insisted on her repeating It slowly, but that, might have, by-some chance, angered her. and. to epeat, Miss Farra can lift an ele-I bant, and not such a tiny elephant at that. She does It on the stage of the Hippodrome. Furthermore she permits the stage hands to put a bridge on her body ana over this bridge tight horses and their riders and leaders march heavily. She bends iron bars Into complicated knots. She rends chains link from link. She lies back down on a kind of bed of nail points, has a 250-pound anvil placed on her chest, and two men I ang this anvil witn sledge nammers. And throughout all this she smiles. In her dressing-room she was found rmoklng a cigarette. There were remnants of others on the floor. "They don't hurt me," she re plied. "I smoke all the time. I would drink wine too if your country weren't dry. I have found It absolutely Impossible to get a drink in our country. KveryDony i ve met i-"as told me that they've had the t:ame experience. I am glad lo find a country where the law is so strict ly enforced and observed." On behalf or trve united states or America, I thanked her for the pretty little tribute. I That s Miss tarra, ail tne time. , the Interpreter his name, I think. was Kleiner. "She smokes a little and she is willing to take a drink of wine now and then, but she works all the time and has few other diversions. She likes to go home after the theater and read a book " "Neln," interrupted Miss Farra with a little frown, "I do not like books." "All right then," said Mr. Kleiner patiently, "she likes to read the newspaper. She has very little time for company." "When." I asked, "did you first come to learn that you could lift an elephant?" "I'm a circus girl." she explained. "My father and mother were circus people. Ever since I was a baby I have been doing tricks, stunts. I was bending iron bars when I was seven." . "I thought it. was w-hen you were three." said Mr. Kleiner. "No," Miss Farra said positively. "I never bent an iron bar until I w'aa seven. I rode horseback, exercised all the time, did acrobatics, and all kinds of circus stuff. I was no more than a normally strong baby, but I got stronger through exercise and self-development." Your correspondent, who is nothing if not a matchmaker, suggested that she marry Breitbart. who is vaudeville's other muscular person. "Breitbart!" she exclaimed. "He Is my friend. I knew him in Europe. No, I would not marry Ercitbart; we are friends." "He is stronger than you?" It was an utterly mad thing to say. without any thought whatever. "Stronger than me!" With an agility admirable to see. your correspondent leaped nimbly onto the head of Mr. Kleiner and from there to the top of the wardrobe, where he hastened to apologize. Miss Farra can lift an elephant. "I suppose he's stronger than t am, she remarked with some sar casm. "He has only three horses walk over him. T have eight. That Is stronger than I am. I suppose!" Tt would be horrible for a news paper man to have to interview Mis3 Farra and Mr. Breitbart at the same time. But it was the lighter emotions about which I wish to speak with her. Was this heart, so strong beneath the pounding on a 250-pound anvil, yet soft enough to permit the entrance or love and such tilings.' Was this engaging Bmile. so tender i toward an elephant preparing to h I lifted, never to brighten some nob!" ! man's life? Were these shapely arms, so splendid in bending an Iron bar. never to crush a man in love? "Marry!" she exclaimed again. Why. a man would be running th risk of death to marry me. If I should get angry!" She was right, as sir. Kleiner re marked. Miss Farra can lift an ele phant. Married to her. a husband's first sharp word might well be his last utterance. And vet, and yet. she Is so very beautiful. One might die for one less worthy. Lucky, lucky elephant! 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