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Full text of "Thirteen Women"

TIFFflnM TUfllM 

ILLU STRAND M DAVID BaG<H 



TRIANGLE BOOKS • NEW YORK 



COPYRIGHT, 1932, BY TIFFANY THAYER 
Triangle Books Edition Published February 1941 



Triangle Books, 14 West Forty-ninth Street, 
New York, N. Y. 



PRINTED AND BOUND IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 
BY THE AMERICAN BOOK-STRATFORD PRESS, INC., N. Y. C 



TO POPS 

FOR WHOM THE MORAL 
\rnx BE CLEAR 




ILLUSTRATIONS 



PAGE 



Chapter One: "Yes, sir; long Stance ..." 13 

"HOW LONG HAVE YOU HAD THIS POWDER?" 25 

Chapter Two: Was she afraid she would? . 57 

Chapter Three: "All of this was predicted ..." 83 

Chapter Four: It was a bold move 105 

Chapter Five: "I've never met anyone like her ..." 151 

Hazel thought it was very beautiful ... 179 

Chapter Six: "Who could be trying to scare us?" 223 

Chapter Seven: Jo went into revery 249 

Her head rose slowly and their eyes met ... 267 
Chapter Eight: "Ellen was misled ..." .285 

Chapter Nine: They would be after her ... . 303 

The sailors kept her a secret 323 



PART ONE 




CHAPTER ONE 

Pictures like that weren't decent Mary 
f ocussed incredulous Catholic eyes on the 
contours of the rotund huzzy lolling in 
nudeness and lace. Itching; was it? Mary poked 
a vicious fist into the master's pillow. Itching! If 

13 



a daughter of hers should frump around like that 
she should certainly have her itching scratched. 

The O'Neills were forever shocking Mary- 
She shocked as easily as she bruised, and any little 
knock left a purple spot on her flesh for days. 
Poor Mary. She'd have left them long ago if it 
hadn't been for Bobby. The way they were rais- 
ing that child! Never a piece of meat to eat. A 
little lamb now and then. Nothing really sub- 
stantial. Nothing but calories and carbo-hyde- 
something or other. . . . And precious little 
he'd know about his Saviour if she hadn't taught 
him. 

Devil a piece of candy or pie did he get, until 
the poor chick was so starved for a sweet that 
he'd snap at a bit of chocolate like a dog, just like 
a dog. Mary gave the tinted silk bed-spread one 
last, long, wide sweep of her hand and sniffed her 
regular farewell sniff at the offensive bawd of the 
picture. Bringing things like that in the house 
for the boy to see and denying him Christian 
baptism! A disgrace to the name of O'Neill, they 
Were. Lavender bed sheets — and black under- 
wear without an ounce of warmth in it! 

Mary's disapproval of practically every 

O'Neill activity was the family's one, sure-fire 

joke at dinner, especially when there were guests. 

They dressed, then, and Laura's bare arms and 

14 



back invariably straightened Mary's thin lips 
into an agate line of suppressed criticism. 

"If it weren't for Mary," George often said, 
"this family 'd have gone to hell long ago." 

"She's convinced we're on our way as fast as 
we can go," Laura would laugh. "But she's so 
good to Bob." 

"That's the main thing," a barren neighbor 
moralized. "You can't be too careful with the 
servants you get out here. You can't trust them 
out of your sight with children." 

"The stories you hear!" 

"Most of them came to get into pictures. They 
hob-nob with a few of that wild crowd and 
before you know it they're doing all sorts of per- 
verted things — taking hop." 

"And they play with children. I know of one 
case — my dear Laura, you're fortunate." 

"Someone was telling me — Norton, I think — 
you know him, George; he was telling me just 
the other day about this friend of his who has a 
boy a little older than Bob, about six, I think he 
said. And the parents hired this girl; pretty, 
looked to be decent, you know? She hadn't been 
there more than two or three weeks when the 
mother noticed the boy acting strangely every 
time he had to urinate. He was ashamed to tell 
her about it, but they finally got it out of him 
that it hurt him. They took him to a doctor and 



so help me God this girl had infected him. At 
six, mind you." 

"What did they do to her?" 

"Oh, of course she denied it, but they finally 
scared the kid into giving details he couldn't 
possibly have imagined at that age. I think they 
gave her time." 

"I should think they would." 

"Well, we needn't worry about Mary," Laura 
said, and the party laughed heartily at the utter 
incongruity of the picture conjured. 

"I don't think Mary knows about those 
things," George thought. "She's been taught that 
that part of the body has only one use." 

"And that she does sparingly." 

"Mister Brennan!" 

"I'll bet it's true. . . . How old is she? Fifty? 
Fifty-five? Let's ask her if she still thinks babies 
are found under cabbages." 

"No. . . . Don't do that. We never kid her. 
She'd leave us." 

"She's a splendid cook." 

That day had started peculiarly. Mary's favor- 
ite dream had been interrupted just before five 
that morning by the extraordinarily insistent 
ringing of the telephone. Instead of ringing and 
stopping and ringing and stopping in its wonted 
manner, the instrument had set up one long, 
loud, continuous ri-i-i-i-i-i-n-n-n-n-ng, almost 
16 



like a scream — just before five o'clock; the very 
worst time of night for anything like that to 
happen. Everything was so dead and still. 

Mary's dream, her favorite, has connotations 
for the initiated. In it she climbed a long flight 
of steps. They stretched endlessly before her and 
endlessly behind, and she was somewhere middle- 
way up, walking with a free and easy stride, as 
she had walked as a girl, her hips swinging gladly 
without a twinge of the rheumatism which 
bothered her on steps now. Every ten or twelve 
lifts she ascended seemed to be a unit, a lap in 
some race she was running. At the end of each 
lap she experienced a delightful falling sensation, 
briefly, and the ascent began again. One, two, 

three, four nine, ten elev - wheeew! . . . 

One, two three nine, ten - wheeeeew! At the 

top of each group of steps, the eights, tens, elev- 
ens and twelves, a tingling, warming sensation 
pervaded poor old Mary's withered middle, as if 
her blood would course in veins it had not 
known before. Then — down again, with that 
swift-sinking, elevatorish feeling, which some- 
times wakened her. If she could but once have 
stepped on that thirteenth, or perhaps four- 
teenth, step, she always felt something unusually 
pleasant would happen to her. But twelve was 
the limit before the set-back, and, although she 
thus seemed ever on the point of learning some- 

17 



thing, experiencing some startling revelation, 
nothing ever really did happen; not even once. 

She dreamed this strangely pointless yet grati- 
fying dream on an average of twice a month. 
Court it as she would between times, it would 
not come, and then, occasionally, she'd dream it 
two or three nights running. 

Mary was on the twelfth step with her toe 
seeking the next notch, a smile on her sleeping 
face, when the phone deprived her of imminent 
bliss. 

In an outing-flannel wrapper, she stumbled 
frantically down the hall to still that clangor 
before it woke Bobby. Her pulse was high, her 
breath short and her jaw and hands tremulous. 

Such a strange hour! Some psychic force told 
her of danger. She fumbled with the French 
phone, dropped it once and chattered "H-he- 
hello — ?" It must be important. Illness. Death. 

George O'Neill looked sleepily through the 
crack he opened his door. 

"He-he-hello. Hello." 

"Six, neyun, thrrrree one?" 

"Y-yes." 

"Just a moment, please. Chicago calling. 
Ready with Chicago? . . . Ready with Chi- 



cago? 



'Long distance," Mary said vaguely to the 
18 



chill greyness of the dawn, filtering eerily in the 
hall window. 

George climbed into a dressing gown and 
smoothed his red wire brush of sleep-stiffened 
hair with a nervous hand. "Long distance/' he 
told the undisturbed and soundly sleeping form 
of Laura. 

"Just a moment, pleeus," said the operator. 

"Long distance?" George asked Mary. 

"Yes, sir; long distance. . . . Chicago." 

"Chicago?" 

"Yes, sir." 

"Who do I know in Chicago?" 

"I don't— know." 

"Mrs. O'Neill's asleep." 

"Yes, sir." 

"Shall I call her?" 

"Maybe you'd better talk." Mary held out 
the phone. 

"What are they saying?" He held the instru- 
ment to his ear. "Hello. . . . Hello!" 

"They aren't saying anything now; just buzz- 
ing." 

"Hello." 

"I wonder if it woke Bobby." Mary started 
toward the nursery. 

"Wait, Mary. . . . Hello!" 

"I'm sorry, sir," the operator apologized, 
"Chicago's hung up." 

19 



"Hung up?" 

"Yes, sir." 

"But who was it?" 

"I don't know, sir. We're trying to get them 
back. If you'll hang up we'll call you when 
they're ready." 

"But look here," said George, his dignity 
affronted, "find out who that was. It must have 
been something important." 

"We're trying to get them back, sir. If you'll 
hang up, we'll call you." 

"You try to find out who called here. My 
goodness. . . . You can't wake a whole house 
full of people up at — at this hour and then get 
out of it by just saying somebody's hung up. 
You can't do that, you know. My bill is paid 
regularly the first of every month. I was sleep- 
ing — " But the operator had twitched a little 
nubbin or wiggled something that prevented her 
hearing a word. Operators are like that. 

That had started the day wrong. Mary 
couldn't get back to sleep and all through their 
breakfast George and Laura had worried and 
wondered who could have called them from Chi- 
cago. George did most of the audible wondering. 
Laura maintained a rigid, frowning, perplexed 
silence, answering her husband in monosyllables 
and studying her plate with worried concentra- 
tion. He noticed it, finally; which is when most 
20 



six-year-husbands notice any irregularity in the 
behavior of their wives. "What's the matter, 
Laura? You're acting strangely/ 1 

"Oh, am I? . . . Well, it worries me. That's 
natural; isn't it?" 

"Oh, well — I don't know. After all, it was 
probably the wrong number." 

"Yes, probably." 

c T>on't worry about it. If it was anything 
important they'll call again." 

Then, as soon as George was out of the house, 
Laura had told Mary to dress Bobby at once* 
"I'm taking him down town. . • . And, Mary." 

"Yes, ma'am." 

"Don't make any preparations for his party 
tomorrow. No cake or anything." 

"No cake?" Mary was proud of her birthday 
cakes. There had been one every year, although 
Bob had never been permitted to taste any of 
them. "No cake at a birthday party?" 

"There isn't going to be a party. Here — " 
Laura wrote a few sentences on a scrap of paper. 
"You have that message sent — a telegram, under- 
stand? — to everyone who was invited. . . . 
There isn't going to be any party." 

Then a taxi had been called and Bobby and 
his mother had driven away in that instead of 
waiting for the car to come back from Mr. 
O'Neill's office. 

21 



So. It was a funny day no matter how you 
looked at it. Calling the party off; taking the 
child shopping with her; leaving the house in 
such a hurry. 

But Laura was not shopping. As the belated 
chauffeur returned to the house for instructions 
for the day after delivering the boss at his office, 
Laura and Bob were, of all places, in the office of 
Chief -of -Detectives Yeager, telling him about 
the telephone call and about the cause of the 
worried frown George had noticed at breakfast. 

Mary and Allen hit it off very well. He was 
the eighth chauffeur she had seen come to the 
O'Neill's service. When he left, and they all did 
that, of course, he would be the eighth she had 
seen to go. But Mary hoped he would not leave 
soon, for Allen — of all the eight — was the first 
one to show her the respect she felt duty-bound 
to exact from such an itinerant, tinkering breed 
as these chauffeurs were. Only ten days in the 
house, and he thoroughly recognized her priority 
in all things. More, he was thoughtful and help- 
ful and handsome; and he liked Bobby. 

Just see this, even now: "I bought the boy a 
ball." He held it in his hand, a bright red rubber 
ball. 

"Did you, now?" 

"Is the missus sore because I'm late?" 

"She's gone out — and taken the boy with her." 
22 



"Yeah? How'd she go? Gee; 111 bet I catch it 
for not rushing right back. I just saw this in the 
window and went in and got it for him." 

"Ain't that thoughtful, now?" 

"Wasn't she sore?" 

"She said nothing to me." 

"Where'd she go?" Allen put the ball back in 
its wrapping. 

"Shopping, I suppose. . . . All the money 
that's spent in this house for nothing" 

Allen went toward the garage. 



You liked Bobby the moment you laid eyes on 
him. He was a man's boy; sturdy, round and 
brown. He looked less like a condemned person, 
less like an individual marked for death, than 
anyone else in the room. Yet, according to pre- 
diction, little Bobby would be the next to go. 
It was this prediction which had brought Laura 
to Detective Headquarters. 

They were distinctly out of place here, but 
Bobby had made friends with all the burly men 
in the first three minutes of the visit. He stood 
on the desk of the Chief, imitating Douglas 
Fairbanks for an admiring group. Laura made 

*3 



no effort to conceal her pride; and the love she 
bore this young son shone in all but visible rays 
from her eyes. There was a fidgeting, furtive 
adjusting of collars and neckties among the 
plain-clothes men as those wide, handsome eyes 
circled the grinning group making so much fuss 
over Bob, 

"He certainly takes after his mother," one 
said. "Look at those eyes." Bobby cracked an 
imaginary whip, this was Doug in The Taming 
of the Shrew. 

The Chief returned with the city chemist. 
Both frowned — and the group interpreted the 
executive expression in various ways. The force 
took it to mean that their undue familiarity with 
this lady and her son was not in the line of duty. 
They bade the boy clumsy, awkward farewells 
and made off to their own desks or the locker 
room. Mrs. O'Neill, ill at ease in the place and 
not at all sure she was not being a very silly 
woman who would be laughed at by these men 
the moment her back was turned, thought the 
officer resented the boyish heels on his desk top. 
She started to lift him down. A reporter begged 
the honor and set Bobby on the floor beside her. 
Whereupon Bobby began to pummel the news- 
gatherer's knees with both fists. This was the cus- 
tom at home as bruises on Mary's legs, Mary's 
limbs, could attest. 
*4 




'how long have you had this powder?' 



25 



Another scribe, one of the gifted ones who 
senses big stories while his colleagues are chasing 
fire engines, squinted at the drawn brow of the 
Chief and heard his precious inner voice yelping 
and gibbering: "It's a whale. It's a whale! Watch 
everybody" His was the only correct interpreta- 
tion of the frown. A big story was about to 
break, a very whale. 

"How long have you had this powder, Mrs. 
O'Neill ?" the Chief asked solemnly as he turned 
his squeaky swivel chair and sat down. 

"Since before Christmas. It came — about — 
about the middle of December." 

Yeager looked up at the doctor. "This is May 
twenty-fifth," he said. "Five months." 
"Is — is it — poison?" 

Yeager made a non-committal, knowing grim- 
ace and rolled his eyes toward the chemist again. 
"It is more than fifty per cent bichloride of 
mercury, little lady. If you had given it to your 
son he would have strangled to death in thirty 
seconds." Laura gathered Bobby to her and held 
his tousled head against her thigh. The doctor 
went on: "Corrosive sublimate, a common — er — 
vermin exterminator. It closes the wind pipe, 
throat, instantly. Doesn't have to reach the 
stomach to kill." 

"My God, Yeager — who would want to kill 
this kid?" one reporter burst out. 

*7 



The Chief only nodded his own amazement at 
the enormity of the crime so fortuitously pre- 
vented. "What made you suspicious of the 
powder, Mrs. O'Neill? You've had it a long 
time." 

"Well, I don't know, exactly. The telephone 
call, of course, but I was suspicious before that. 
. • . I don't even know why I kept it. I never 
really intended to give it to him, but all these — 
these other dreadful things kept — kept piling 
up. . . . Oh, Bobby." Her pretty features were 
convulsed with grief and pain, almost as if the 
unspeakable catastrophe had actually come to 
pass. She bent over the boy. 

The psychic reporter was bursting with ques- 
tions, but he held his peace. So far it was Yeager's 
job. What a picture she would make for the 
story! BEAUTIFUL YOUNG MOTHER— Si 
began thinking of headlines. 

"What's the matter, mama?" Bobby asked, 
big-eyed. "Don't c'y, now." 

She dried her tears and the expression of her 
face was little less than divine. She smiled and 
kissed one small brown hand. "It's all right, 
Bobby, son. Mother won't cry." 

"Sit down, Doc." Yeager introduced Mrs. 
George C. O'Neill and Doctor Blundein, the city 
chemist. "You fellows draw up too," Yeager said 
28 



to the two reporters. "You don't mind if the re- 
porters hear your story, do you, Mrs. O'Neill?" 

"Oh, goodness! Does — does it have to be in 
all the papers? I've tried so hard to keep it from 
George." 

"Well, I'll tell you, Mrs. O'Neill; you can't 
keep it out. They'll get it somehow, and it's 
much better to let them have it all from the 
start. Si, here, will tell you, if you give the re- 
porters a break, they'll be friendly. You can ask 
'em to leave out this and that — and they will. 
But if you fight 'em and hold back from 'em, 
they'll cut your throat." 

"Well, not quite that bad," Si remonstrated. 
"But if it's news, we want it." 

"We've found, here at Headquarters, that 
friendly newspapers are the easiest ones to get 
along with. They make bad enemies." 

"I don't suppose I can keep it from my hus- 
band any longer, anyway. Now that I've come 
to you, I'll have to tell him all about it." 

"Yes. He ought to know." 

"He's such a busy man. I — I've hated to 
bother him." 

"Perhaps he can help us. 5 * 

"Yes. Perhaps." 

"Sit down, SL Sit down, boys. . . . Buck! 
• . . Charlie! . . . Not you> Charlie Silver." 
Two detectives came through the swinging gate. 

*9 



'This is Mrs. O'Neill, boys. . . ." He rose with 
belated courtesy. "Mrs. O'Neill; Mr. Olsen and 
Mr. Silver. ... Sit down. I want you to hear 
this story." 

"Where shall I begin?" she asked. 

"Well, if there's a beginning, begin there." 

"I don't know." 

"Suppose you tell us first where this powder 
came from." 

"It came from Camden, New Jersey, from 
Swami Yogadachi, an astrologer." 

"Um-hm. And how did you come to be in 
touch with this bird — eh — this chap?" 

"Oh, well, that's a much longer story. A 
schoolmate of mine told me about him." 

"Um-hm. He told fortunes?" 

"Yes — you see, last fall, well, I don't remem- 
ber the exact date, I received a circular from him 
in the mail. But it wasn't an ordinary circular 
— at least, there was a letter with it, addressed to 
me personally." 

"You said a schoolmate told you about him." 

"She did, Anne Jessup told me — but that was 
after I got his circular." 

"His letter." 

"Yes." 

"Addressed to you, personally?" 

"Yes." 

"Name spelled right?" 
3o 



"Yes — and it mentioned my son and told me 
I would hear from an old friend very soon." 

"Whoever wrote that letter must have known 
you." 

"They knew something about me. They knew 
I had Bob." 

"And Anne Jessup?" 

"That's not the Anne Jessup of Akron, Ohio, 
is it?" Si asked. 

Mrs. O'Neill appeared nettled. "Ye-es," she 
admitted. "Anne and I went to school together." 

"The one who killed her husband?" 

"Yes." Laura lowered her eyes. 

"But Jessup was a New York girl." 

"We were all New York girls. I met my hus- 
band there and moved to Los Angeles after we 
were married." 

"I see. Go on." 

"Well, I didn't pay much attention to his cir- 
cular. I never believed in astrology or any kind 
of fortune telling very much. It might be easy 
enough for a man to find out that I had a son. 
And hearing from Anne was no surprise. She 
had corresponded with me on and off ever since 
we left school." 

"How long ago?" 

"Nearly seven years." 

"Uh-hm." 

"But about a week after I received Anne's let- 

3i 



ter telling me about this Swami, the round-robin 
came." 

"What round-robin?" 

"What is a round-robin?" Silver asked. 

"It's like an endless chain letter," Yeager said 
and turned back to Laura. "But you spoke as if 
you knew of it — what was that?" 

"Anne mentioned it. That was the funny 
part." Laura was becoming involved. "I don't 
know if I can explain this or not. If I had Anne's 
letter — well, anyway, she said, 'I had a letter 
from Jo Turner.' Jo is another schoolmate. We 
all belonged to the same club." 

"Oh, yes?" 

Si Lenz, the Examiner star, was miles ahead 
of the slowly unfolding tale. He twisted in his 
chair. "What happened to Jo?" he asked. "Is she 
dead?" 

"No. . . . Not yet." 

"Not yet" Yeager ejaculated, rising. "What 
do you mean by that?" 

The sharpness of his tone made Laura nervous. 
She bit her lip and looked at Si appealingly. "The 
— the Swami predicted that she would die about 
the fourth of July. But Jo is a very strong 
minded girl. She doesn't take it seriously." 

"Has she got one of these powders?" 

"I don't think so. I don't know." 

"Do you hear from her? Do you correspond? 
32 



Do you know her address? . . . We ought to find 
out at once if she has one, and if she has, tell 
her not to take it. It would take more than a 
strong mind to stop one of those from working/* 

"Yes. She lives in New York. I hear from her 
now and then. I had a letter from her just after 
Hazel died." 

"What killed Hazel?" The question had been 
shot at her. 

"Anemia. Pernicious anemia." 

"Wait! Wait a minute." Si Lenz could contain 
himself no longer. "Let me get these addresses, 
Yeager. This is the biggest yarn that ever broke 
in California." 

Laura helped Bobby crawl heavily into her 
lap. 

"Go ahead," said Yeager. "I want them too." 

The reporter wrote rapidly. "First, there was 
Jessup. She's in the Ohio Penitentiary. Right?" 

"Yes." 

"Then who was next? What was that other 
name?" 

"Jo?" 

"Yes. Turner?" 

"Josephine Turner." 

"Address?" 

"Nine — eh — nine — let's see. Nine, o — seven. 
Nine, o, seven, Riverside Drive, New York 
City." 

33 



"Uh-huh. Uh-huh. And Hazel? Hazel who?" 

"Hazel Cousins." 

"Right. Address?" 

"She's— dead." 

"I know, but where'd she live?" 

"She lived in New York too. I — I don't re- 
member her address. ... I have it at home." 

"What was the name of this school you girls 
all went to?" 

"Mount Albans Seminary." 

"New York?" 

"The Bronx." 

"Yes. . . . Now, Mrs. O'Neill, can you recall 
any other names on that round-robin?" 

Yeager looked a little ruffled at Si. The re- 
porter was taking the inquiry into his own 
hands. 

Silver had to know. "I wish somebody'd tell 
me just what a round-robin is. It's the first time 
I ever heard o' one in a murder case." 

"That's a hell of a clue," said Buck Olsen, and 
at a glower from his superior: "Excuse me, Mrs. 
O'Neill." 

"Will you please tell him?" 

"A round-robin?" Laura smiled. "Why, you 
take a sheet of paper and draw something like a 
spider web on it and you write your name be- 
tween the lines. Girls do it. You mail it with a 
letter to an old friend, some one you went to 
34 



school with. She writes her name on it and sends 
it to another girl you both know. It goes the 
rounds like that until it comes back to the one 
who started it. It holds you all together — you 
know? — renews old acquaintances. You remem- 
ber girls you hadn't thought of in years and start 
writing to them." 

"What became of this one?" 

"Oh, I don't know where it is by this time. I 
sent it to Ellen Koons." 

"Ellen Koons," said Si, like a parrot, writing 
the name on his list. "Where does Ellen live?" 

"She lives in Brooklyn. Central Avenue. . . . 
Fve forgotten the number." 

"You have it at home?" 

"Yes, of course." 

"May I come to your home and get such in- 
formation as I need?" 

"Well — I — I'd rather — you see, as I told you, 
I haven't mentioned this to George, my husband. 
He has no sympathy with fortune tellers or for 
women who believe in them. You know how 
men are." 

"Of course." 

"But he has to know about it now, doesn't 
he?" 

"Of course." 

Yeager had been left out long enough. "Did 
you keep these letters from your friends?" 

35 



"Most of them, yes. I'm not sure I have them 
all." 

"Will you please collect them — as many as you 
can possibly find — and turn them over to me at 
once?" 

"Certainly." 

Silver had a thought. "You weren't going to 
give that powder to the youngster without tell- 
ing your husband; were you?" 

"No — no! Of course not. I — I didn't really 
intend to give it to him at all. But this Swami 
had been right so many times before and he said 
it was the only way to save Bobby's life." 

"Have you got that letter?" 

"There it is," pointing to the desk. "It's the 
only one I brought." 

Yeager handled the envelope carefully. 
"Swami Yogadachi. . . . Yogadachi. Why, he's 
dead!" 

"Yes," Laura concurred. "That's — that's what 
started it. He predicted his own death almost to 
the minute, and that made all the girls believe 
he couldn't be wrong." 

"Whe-e-e-ew," Yeager gave a long, low 
whistle. "I'm a monkey's uncle!" 

Si raised his brows and winked at the other 
reporter. "Is it a daisy?" 

"Never heard one like it." 

Yeager shook his big head like a dog coming 
36 



out of water. "Now, let's get at this thing. A 
man predicts a lot of deaths, tells when they're 
going to happen. Sends powders around to make 
sure they will happen, then commits suicide to 
give his predictions strength!!! 7 don't believe 
it." 

"There's more than meets the eye," said Sil- 
ver. "Why should he pick on one club of 
women?" 

"I've thought of that," Laura volunteered. "I 
don't think he did. I think we girls brought our 
troubles on ourselves by writing back and forth 
and telling each other about him; about how 
good he was." 

"You think the round-robin was a coinci- 
dence?" 

"It might have been." 

"Who started that round-robin?" 

"I don't know. It had half a dozen names on it 
when it came to me." 

"You sent it to Ellen Koons?" Si made a note. 
"Who sent it to you?" 

"I don't remember." 

"I thought you said this murderess sent 
it " 

"Anne Jessup is no murderess!" The detectives 
were surprised at the sudden display of emotion, 
the raised voice, the flashing eyes of Bobby's 
mother. 

37 



Si grimaced. "She killed her husband." 

"She knew he — he was — being untrue to her." 

"She didn't convince the court." 

Yeager interrupted. "Never mind that, Si. 
Anne Jessup's been tried once. Drop it. . . . Is 
it true that she sent you the round-robin?" 

"No. Anne wrote to me, saying that she had 
received the round-robin from Josephine and 
that she had received a letter from the Swami 
saying she would hear from a number of old 
friends." 

"Who got that letter? Anne or Josephine?" 

"Both of them. Just like mine." 

"All you girls got letters from this Swami, say- 
ing 'y° u will hear from an old friend — unex- 
pectedly'; then a few days later a round-robin 
turns up. Is that it?" 

"Say — that Swami started the round-robin," 
Buck Olsen discovered aloud. 

"Naw," Silver contradicted. "What does he 
get out of all this killin'? What's little Bobby 
here got to do with him? It's a revenge thing and 
the Swami is hired to do the predictin'." 

"And to kill hisself, I suppose." 

There seemed to be no answer to that. 

"Telegraph Camden," Yeager directed. "Get 
all the dope you can on Yogadachi." He un- 
folded the letter. 
38 



"It has been my unfortunate duty, in jus- 
tice to my science and to my profession, to 
predict a number of calamities among your 
intimate friends. You will hear of these 
deaths and disasters from time to time all 
through the winter. It also pains me to tell 
you that within a very short time, accord- 
ing to my reading of your own horoscope 
and that of your son, that he will be stricken 
with a terrible disease, at about the time of 
his fifth birthday, from which he may not 
recover. As I see it now, the symptoms of 
this disease will develop within twenty-four 
hours before his birthday or after it." 
"When is the boy's birthday?" 
"Tomorrow." 

The entire group exchanged meaning glances. 
They looked at the sturdy boy in his mother's 
arms, and Yeager continued to read aloud. 
r 7/ you will save your baby's life, give 
him the contents of this paper, a powder 
to be dissolved in water, two days before 
May twenty-sixth" 

"You should have given it to him yesterday." 
"Yes, but I was suspicious. I brought it here 
instead." 

"And it's a lucky thing you did," said the doc- 
tor. "A very lucky thing." 

39 



fp J have been powerless to prevent the 
crimes and deaths the stars have ordained in 
the families of so many of your friends, but 
in your case there is this one ray of hope. 

rr My own life is endangered. I do not ex- 
pect to live to know if I have read the stars 
correctly. Perhaps, even as you are reading 
this I shall be dead" 
"Was he?" Si asked. 
Laura nodded. "Yes/' 

rr My own horoscope indicates an end of 
some vital function of my body on or about 
December tenth/ 9 

They looked at the envelope. It was post- 
marked New York City, December tenth. 

f 7 am not sure that this means death, but 
it is very probable since no mathematical 
formula I know can carry predictions for 
myself beyond that date. 

rr In the meantime; between December 
tenth and May twenty-sixth, you will hear 
of a supposedly honest friend turned thief. 

You will " 

"Have you heard anything like that?" 
"Yes," Laura said grimly. "Mary Thompson is 
in an asylum. They say she is a kleptomaniac. 
They don't know whether they can cure her or 
not." 

"Good Lord! It's uncanny!" 

40 



"You will hear of another friend turned 

murderess, killing a sister or a husband or a 

mother. You will hear of suicides " 

"But, look, Yeager. All that hocus-pocus 
doesn't make the writer guilty of anything." 

"It's suggestion," said Si. 

"He's guilty of sending this woman mercury 
to give her baby. He's guilty of that." 

"But he's dead!" 

"What a mind!" 

"He was a fiend," Si said. "It's the most dia- 
bolically conceived plot I ever heard of." 

"Um-hm," Yeager hmmd. "But if it wasn't 
for this one powder, the rest of it might be no 
plot at all." 

"You mean, he might have seen all that in the 
stars? That he could read the future? Don't be 
silly. . . . Oh, excuse me. I — but it's impossible." 

"It's not all impossible. The powder could have 
been changed in this lady's home. . . . Have you 
any servants, Mrs. O'Neill?" 

"We have three, but none of them knew of 
this. I have kept the powder locked in my desk." 

"Any one else have a key to that desk?" 

"My — my husband." 

"Well, I guess we don't need to suspect him." 
Yeager finished the letter: 

" — of suicides and deaths. I would do any- 
thing in my power to prevent these terrible 

4i 



disasters as I would do anything in the 
world to save my own life. But I am help- 
less. Give your son this powder secretly 
and destroy this letter. I knew too much 
about the stars. They are lulling me because 
I knew too much. 

rr In desperation, 
rr Swami Yogadachi." 

"Can I take a picture of that letter?" Si asked. 

"I guess so," said Yeager. "Is it all right, Mrs. 
O'Neill?" 

"I suppose so." 

"Will you pose too? Holding Bobby? Just like 
that?" 

"I'd rather not." 

"Oh, please, Mrs. O'Neill. We can catch the 
Home Edition and break the A.M. boys' hearts." 
He was a likable fellow, this Si, sharp featured, 
a little bald over each brow. 

"I wish you wouldn't ask, Mr. Lenz. I don't 
see how it can help the — the investigation a bit. 
I — I've never wanted my picture in the paper; 
don't you understand?" 

"Is this Los Angeles, or am I dreaming?" the 
other reporter said facetiously. 

Laura laughed. "I'm not ambitious to be a 
movie star. I wouldn't be, even if there was some 
reason for thinking I might." 

4* 



"But wouldn't you let us print your picture 
with the story — as a favor to me?" 

"Well, if — if you put it that way, of course; 
I don't suppose there's any harm in it." 

"All the society women do it," Yeager aided 
his friends. 

"That's scarcely any reason why I should/* 
Laura said quietly. "It has always seemed a little 
immodest to me. But I suppose it has to happen 
sooner or later. I'll pose for you, Mr. Lenz." A 
photographer was summoned from the Examiner 
office, and the other reporter followed the vet- 
eran's lead by calling his paper for a camera 
man. 

"Well, Boss," said Silver, "where's your case? 
It's a swell break for Si and Pete, it'll sell a lot 
o* papers, but it ain't a job for the law as I 



see it." 



"Not if he's really dead." 

"Oh, he's dead," Laura assured them. "It was 
all in the papers. He was famous. His real name 
was Danbury, Samuel Danbury, but he used a 
great many pen-names. He was a novelist, play- 
wright, all sorts of things." 

"Samuel Danbury!" Yeager said in amaze- 
ment. "Why — he — he was a wealthy man; a 
success. He used a lot of names — I know. Run 
over by a subway! Was he Swami Yoga — whatV 
this?" 

43 



"That was one of his pen-names." 

"Well, what the devil would he want to kill 
that baby for? Did you ever know him? Did he 
ever have anything to do with this girl's club? 
Was he ever in love with one of the member s?" 

"I don't know, Mr. Yeager. I never met him. 
He wasn't in love with me." 

"It's preposterous!" 

"There's more to it," Silver opined, "more 
than meets the eye." 

"He wrote detective stories," Si suggested, 
"under the name of G. H. Eckler. Do you sup- 
pose he could have gone crazy trying to plot 
the 'perfect' crime? And instead of putting it 
in a book, actually committed it?" 

"That's an idea," said Olsen. 

"That is an idea that might occur to a writer," 
Doctor Blundein said with authority. "The 
whole thing is too diabolical for real life. It's 
too clever; you know? Nobody could be that 
clever. I've studied criminal psychology for years 
and when I try to imagine a man with such a 
mastery of human minds, with a command of 
detail, such an intimate knowledge of the func- 
tioning of a woman's nerves and brains and emo- 
tions — I come back to a writer or a doctor. No 
one else could figure it out so perfectly. He has 
actually murdered from the grave, without 
44 



striking a blow. If this mercury hadn't turned 
up, he would be innocent of crime." 

"Do you actually think that's possible, Doc?" 
Yeager asked. "Do you honestly believe that sug- 
gestion can go so far?" 

ff Do I? My dear Yeager, did you hear Mrs. 
O'Neill mention pernicious anemia? One of the 
girls died, died — mind you — of pernicious 
anemia. I'll wager she was a healthy girl and I 
mean to get in touch with the attending phy- 
sician just as soon as I can to bear me out. She 
was killed by suggestion." 

"Good God!" 

"The power of the mind is almost boundless. 
Sometimes it is the power of the weakness or 
twistedness or the prejudice of a mind. I have 
seen hysteria break bones; actually snap a tibula, 
while the patient was prone on a bed — appar- 
ently unconscious." 

"A woman?" 

"Of course. Men are seldom hysterical." 

"And the murderer was already dead! Think 
of that," 

"I can't think of anything else." 

Laura O'Neill held her fingers to her forehead. 
"I've developed such a headche," she sighed. "The 
doctor is right. When I show you the letters 
from all these girls you will understand just how 
it preyed on their minds. Mrs. Frey — her name 

45 



was Haenkel before she married — was the first 
to go. She shot herself on December twelfth — 
just as he said she would." 

"You didn't give me her name before. What 
was it; and her address?" said Si. 

Laura could not remember Helen's address and 
then the photographers arrived. Bobby imitated 
Douglas Fairbanks for the camera. 



Well, there's the makin's. You can almost go 
on alone. That's the way with books. They just 
tell you a lot of stuff you knew already but never 
happened to think of. 

There's the makin's — and a few of the women; 
Mary Kelly, a maid at fifty, obsessed by Freudian 
dreams, and Laura O'Neill, nee Stanhope, a 
young and beautiful and happy mother. And 
there's what looks like a mystery, at first glance, 
what with banshee telephone calls in the middle 
of the night and a round-robin circulating dis- 
aster. But it isn't really mysterious. The person 
guilty of whatever crime you find here was an 
half-caste, born in Java, an extraordinary 
woman; a woman with wide, full, undulating 
hips — strong shoulders and bust to match; a 
46 



woman not unlike Mrs. O'Neill in general out- 
line — if Mrs. O'Neill had not worn a girdle. 

That girdle had become necessary only after 
Bobby's birth. Before that, her flesh had been 
solid and firm and resilient, which the guilty 
one's never was. But we can say they were both 
Junoesque — if Juno can be imagined just a little 
softer than marble has translated her. If we can 
imagine a Juno so soft that one's finger might 
leave a dent in a thigh, say, for twenty or thirty 
seconds? No one wants to think of a Juno like 
that, but neither did George O'Neill want to 
think of a wife like that, yet, there Laura was. 
One never knows, at twenty-two, what six or 
seven years will bring. And George half blamed 
himself. After all, she couldn't have had Bobby 
without his help, so the breaking down of her 
constituent tissues was at least fifty per cent 
his fault. It takes a broad-minded man to look at 
it that way. George was all of that. "You can't 
have your cake and eat it too," he always said — 
and until his meerschaum was thoroughly col- 
ored, he kept it covered snugly in chamois. 

No — this isn't a mystery, unless you find 
thought mysterious, because that's what we have 
here, a book about what goes on in people's 
heads; God, be merciful! 

Of what goes on in people's heads. Of what 
went on in the heads of a baker's dozen of 

47 



women — some of them ladies — one of them al- 
most a man. And a little about what goes on in 
their hearts, perhaps. . . . You'll know more 
about that than L 

Perhaps it isn't important that Laura was get- 
ting fat, or that she would get fat if she weren't 
careful. That doesn't seem to have played so very 
large a part in her life. Some of the other girls 
took it more seriously. May and June Raskob 
capitalized their grossness, and the time and 
thought and patience Josephine Turner devoted 
to the maintainance of her silhouette were cer- 
tainly reflected in her character, or vice versa. 
What I should like to learn, without becoming 
toa technical, is how greatly the texture, quality, 
substance, nature, weight, color and general ef- 
fect, finish and appearance of the flesh and skin 
of these thirteen women contributed to the de- 
termination of what they should be in this world 
and to what should happen to them in this life 
— and, for that matter, in the life to come. 

But I cannot parade them before you thus un- 
clothed. The result would savor of the abattoir 
and so much meat viewed at one time is repellent. 
32 Rue Blondel has converted thousands to a 
strictly vegetable diet. 

But there is a definite connection. Look at 
Ellen; Ellen Koons. She was the oldest girl in the 
Delphian Society at Mount Albans Seminary in 
48 



the Bronx and a finger has never dented her 
thigh unless it was her own finger. So, you see, 
the flesh which covers or pads the bones of a 
human figure has some bearing on what goes on 
in that figure's head. If we consider a lady like 
Ellen with an undented thigh and compare her 
thinking and feeling and sensing with the corre- 
sponding phenomena in such a wench as June 
Raskob or so compelling a personality as Jose- 
phine Turner, we must see that the inherent 
capacity to inspire a desire to dent does indubi- 
tably affect the psychology — and perhaps the 
life-work — of the owner of the thigh. 

No one had ever been inclined to that extraor- 
dinary experiment with Ellen Koons. She was 
an old-maid at nine. The boys had pulled her 
pig-tails, but if the thought of kissing her had 
ever entered their minds it was at the same gate 
where entered and departed thoughts of the 
Spanish Inquisition and castor oil. The only way 
Marvin Ethridge, bespectacled and despised by 
his fellows, could be made to fight was by calling 
him Ellen's beau. 

She was: 

"Ellen Koons 

Lives on prunes!" 

or: 

Ellen, Ellen's 

Got a felon" — though she had not. And she 

49 



hated prunes. She was stringy, though not tall, 
and her hair was merely brown. 

I'm ashamed of myself for singling her out 
thus for special attention, for the vulgar to gaze 
upon. Ellen has never been singled out before. 
Even the taunting verses just quoted were heard 
but seldom in the Binghampton streets. The boys 
never bothered Ellen if fairer game were avail- 
able. In her school classes there were best boys 
and worst, prettiest girls and plainest, brightest 
students and dullest — but Ellen was none of 
these. Ellen blended like a chameleon into her 
background and only a naturalist trained in the 
wonders of protective coloration could have dis- 
cerned her presence in any group. Her nature 
was not retiring; more often than not she knew 
the answers. But it never seemed to make any 
difference if she did. Probably she didn't wave 
her hand hard enough. 

In her home Ellen all but disappeared. She was 
a middle child. Her older sister, Janet, sang. Her 
younger brother, Don, played the violin. Ellen 
was a self-appointed claque of one, trained 
through the ear-tortured years to know exactly 
when to applaud. Neighbors and friends relied 
upon Ellen for that. New compositions in the 
repertoire of either of the other children were 
often confusing to their elders, especially "classi- 
cal" music. One could never be sure when the 
50 



performance was finished save by watching 
Ellen, But the very nature of that service kept 
her from her just reward. No one would admit 
his debt. 

But, if Ellen is such a drab, why do we scruti- 
nize her so closely? If Ellen is but one of the 
Great Intermediates, how shall we wrest ro- 
mance from her unremarkable exterior, her puny 
spirit, her eyes with their rabbity outline of 
pink? Of what interest are the dreams of such as 
she? Or do they dream? They do. They must. 
Ellen did. She went haywire on the subject of 
spiritualism and she wrote a devastating series of 
letters about death and the life to come. She was 
almost as guilty of the nameless crime with 
which we deal as was our Java-born villainess 
who named herself Ursula — after a saint. 

The story broke, more flaming than Si Lenz 
had imagined it. It dominated the front page and 
covered three more inside. The letters appeared, 
verbatim. Laura O'Neill turned over every ves- 
tige of evidence to Si and Yeager, and her amazed 
husband read this in his evening paper as Allen 
drove him home: 

DEAD AUTHOR KILLS THREE 



5i 



Diabolical Cunning of Samuel Danbury 
Revealed by Mrs, G. C. O'Neill 



MERCURY CRYSTALS INTENDED FOR CHILD 

MAY RE-OPEN TRIAL OF ANNE JESSUP 

CONFESSED HUSBAND SLAYER OF AKRON, OHIO 



One Woman Driven Mad! More 
Deaths Predicted in the future 



(Pictures and complete text 

of correspondence on 

page four.) 



The most fiendish as well as the most 
amazing crime in local police experience if 
not in all history was revealed today, more 
than six months after the death of the man, 
who, it is said, is directly responsible for 
the death of two women and one man, for 
the imprisonment of one woman in the 
Ohio State Penitentiary and for the in- 
carceration in the New York State Hos- 
pital for the criminally insane at Mattea- 
wan, New York, of still another. Samuel 
Danbury, novelist, essayist, dramatist; 
author of more than two hundred books, 
thirty plays and innumerable articles, short 
stories and essays on a variety of subjects, 

52 



was today accused of murdering, inciting 
to murder and attempting to murder from 
the grave in which he has lain since Decem- 
ber fourteenth. 

This strangest of accusations was given 
substance by the testimony of Mrs. 
George C. O'Neill, of 1 5 1 5 Bay Street, who 
appeared before Chief of Detectives Yeager 
this morning and told a story which in- 
dicates a plot to bring disaster upon a group 
of nearly a dozen women who attended 
Mount Albans Seminary, New York City, 
at the same time, a little over six years ago. 
Mrs. O'Neill was the President of the Del- 
phian Society, a literary and social group of 
undergraduates which has kept school 
memories alive through correspondence 
since the graduation of its members. 

Anne Jessup, confessed husband slayer of 
Akron, Ohio, now serving a twenty-year 
sentence in the Ohio State Penitentiary for 
the shooting to death, on March 2, of 
Thomas Jessup, was Vice President of the 
Society. If Mrs. O'Neill's story is substanti- 
ated, this murder will he laid at the door of 
the late Samuel Danbury, alias Swami 
Yogadachi, who is said to have incited the 
woman to commit the crime. 

Other officers and living members of the 

53 



Delphian Society enmeshed in this spider's 
web are: 

Miss Ellen Koons, 32, of 787 Central 
Avenue, Brooklyn, New York; Mrs. Jose- 
phine Turner, of 907 Riverside Drive, New 
York City; May and June Raskob, twin 
sisters known to vaudeville audiences as 
"Frankie and Earnestine," now on tour; 
Mary Nolan Thompson, 28, of 46 West 71st 
Street, New York City, now confined in 
the New York State Hospital for Crimi- 
nally Insane. According to Mrs. O'Neill's 
story, Mrs. Thompson's mind was affected 
by poison-pen letters from "Yogadachi." 

Danbury Charged With 
Two More Deaths 

That the predictions of Danbury, in the 
guise of an Hindu "Swami" were directly 
responsible for the suicide on December 12, 
of Mrs. A. Ogden Frey of Montreal, Can- 
ada, another Delphian, seems conclusively 
established by correspondence which Mrs. 
O'Neill has turned over to the police. The 
full text of these letters is on page four of 
this issue of the Examiner. 

Eminent local authority headed by Dr. 
N. N. Blundein and Dr. Peter Mercredi, 
noted alienist, are of the opinion that the 

54 



death of one Hazel Cousins, another Del- 
phian, said to have been caused by "per- 
nicious anemia," could have been the result 
of mental suggestion which, according to 
these men, is a phenomenon of sufficient 
power to induce not only symptoms of this 
and other diseases but to foster the very 
ravages of the disease itself and thus sub- 
stantially to create an affection and to 
ravage healthy body tissues even to the point 
of death. Dr. Mercredi says: "Mental sug- 
gestion, in extreme cases, may operate for 
evil as well as for good. Very few medical 
men will dismiss the evidence of Christian 
Science cures in toto. The case of a woman 
told that she is suffering from pernicious 
anemia and thereafter aggravated by subtle 
suggestions of her decline is no more than 
a testimonial for what might be called un- 
christian Science. It is the same half -un- 
derstood phenomenon, working to destroy 
instead of to preserve." 

George O'Neill's eyes spread to their widest, 
like two grains of heated pop-corn in slow mo- 
tion. Laura had been hiding all this from him for 
months! Some part of this had caused her ab- 
sorption at breakfast. Hidden here somewhere 
was the explanation of that telephone call. He 

55 



ilammed the door of the car behind him and 
started up the short walk, carrying his rolled 
newspaper like a club. 

"Oh —Mr. O'Neill." 

"Yes." 

"I got the little fellow a ball." Allen extended 
a paper bag, holding his uniform cap in his other 
hand. "I hope you don't mind." 

"Uh? No — no, of course not. Thank you, 
Allen. That — that's very thoughtful of you. . . . 
Thank you." George hurried on into the house. 



56 




CHAPTER TWO 

November 25. 
Dear Laura: 

I was extraordinarily glad to hear from 
you and I must beg you to excuse me for not 
answering until now. I have never been so 

57 



upset in my life. I did start that round- 
robin but I almost wish I hadn't now. It has 
put me in touch with a lot of the Mount 
Albans girls, which was its aim, of course, 
but this Swami Yogadachi seems to have the 
name of every Delphian — and my life has 
been made miserable by the old fool. 

Just listen to this, FU copy part of the 
"horoscope" he sent me. I got it a few days 
after your letter came. 

The stars are very unfavorable for you. 
I hesitate to say this, but it is written so 
plainly in every accounting I have made, 
Cabalistic ally, astrologically and numero- 
logically that I feel it is my duty to warn 
you. You will not live until Christmas. 
Virgo, in its relationship to your house in- 
dicates a fit of great melancholy following 
worry and fear and I find a score of indica- 
tions that you will meet death at your own 
hands before the fifteenth of December. 

Did you ever hear anything like it? I 
never heard of the man before and he has 
the nerve to tell me I'm going to kill my- 
self. Of course it's bosh — but I can't help 
thinking about it. And he read my past so 
accurately that it makes me creepy to go 
outside on clear nights. I look at the stars — 

58 



and I can't help wondering. Of course, I 
shan't do it. But only yesterday I had an- 
other letter from him and he predicts his 
own death too. Can you imagine that? Now 
if he should eat a bad shrimp and die of 
ptomaine — as Frey nearly did — I'd feel 
like a fool. You know? 

I've tried my best to shake it off but I 
go and look at my little revolver Frey gave 
me when we were married — and I can 
hardly close the desk drawer. I know I'm 
crazy, Laura, but there it is. The other 
night, after I had his letter predicting his 
own death near the first of next month, I 
went and unloaded the gun and threw the 
cartridges out the window. I did it without 
thinking — what if one of them had ex- 
ploded! — but they didn't and now the big 
German police dog next door has found 
one of them in the yard and he plays with 
it. Tosses it up in the air and growls and 
throws it around like a pea. I'm scared stiff. 
What if it should go off in his mouth? 
Poor dog. But I can't tell the people. I 
stand at the back window, watching him 
for hours, waiting to hear that report. His 
teeth are so long and pointed. It's a wonder 
his owner wouldn't find out what he's 

59 



playing with out there. Wouldn't it be 
funny if it was the dog's horoscope the 
Swami made? Not funny y I don't mean, but 
strange. 

You are the fourth Delphian to write me 
about this Swami. Mary Nolan Thompson, 
Anne Jessup and Ellen Koons had all had 
letters from him, saying they would hear 
from old friends. I got a letter from Ursula 
Georgi the other day too. I know you never 
liked her, but she wasn't such a bad kid 
when you got to know her. 

I sent the robin to Mary Nolan first. She 
sent it to Hazel Cousins and answered my 
letter right away — that was last Septem- 
ber. She told me about the Swami but said 
she wasn't interested. I lost track of the 
robin then until Anne wrote that she had it 
and that Jo Turner had sent it to her — 
and both of them had letters from this sui- 
cide predictor. Of course, he hadn't pre- 
dicted suicide for them. He told Jo about a 
mole on her back and he told Anne to watch 
her flighty husband, but neither of them 
had sent him their birthdays yet. He got the 
mole and the "low-down" on Tom Jessup 
from reading the papers! Or — somehow. 
How do you suppose? "It ain't nat'ral" — it 

60 



ain't. How would some Hindu faker in 
Camden, New Jersey, know about Jo's 
mole — and Tom's failing for the ladies — 
or the things he told me about myself? 

It's too much for me, but I certainly wish 
he'd been a little less vital. He could have 
left the suicide out. What do 7 want to kill 
myself for? He's crazy. 

Then Ellen Koons wrote. That nut. You 
know how she is. She's always believed in 
ghosts. I don't know how you two ever got 
to be so thick. You were so calm and delib- 
erate and sensible and she was just the oppo- 
site. Well — she had a letter from him too. 
She said she'd heard from you but she 
didn't say you had a letter from Kill Joy of 
Kamden. She fell for it, of course. Good- 
ness; to read her letters you'd think I was 
as good as dead already. Remember how she 
was always telling fortunes with cards or tea 
leaves or peanuts or any old thing she could 
lay her hands on. Then I got your letter and 
two other notes from Mary Thompson, 
Mary Nolan Thompson, if you please. 

And this is funny too. I sent her a night 
letter when I found out I was going to kill 
myself — whoopee — and she wrote back that 
she had sent the Swami her money two 

61 



weeks before but had received no answer. 
That gave me a start. I figured he had his 
dates mixed and had eaten his bad shrimp 
and gone ahead to prepare my heavenly 
couch. 

Say! I joke about this but I'm far from 
feeling gay. 

Anyway, he wasn't dead, because her 
reading came the next day and she wrote 
me at once. Now, don't breathe this to a 
soul — especially not to Ellen Koons or any 
of the Delphians — but do you remember 
how little things used to disappear at the 
dorm? and how they'd turn up in Mary's 
room? Of course, she was only doing it for 
fun and she always returned everything — 
but listen: the Swami has told her she has a 
screw loose and that she must watch her- 
self closely or she will get into trouble. 
Now, please don't repeat it. It's strictly 
entre nous, but, my dear! 

I'm writing to a lot of the other girls to- 
day too. I've got to find out what other 
delightful surprises the stars are offering 
this season. 

Tell me what he told you. 

I'll close now. I'll be seeing you on the 
banks of the Styx — but not soon, I hope. 

6z 



That's terrible, isn't it. But you know what 
I mean — I haven't got an eraser. So long, 



JJ^£^ y/£ fri ^^ >/^r 



There was naught of Juno in Helen, not this 
Helen, and nothing of Helen either. She had 
flesh, and skin too, but there's not much use look- 
ing at it. It had pores — inescapable. She tried to 
close them up. She spent a lot of money for ice 
and alcohol treatments, on her nose and chin 
especially, but all she got out of it was receipts 
and the latest smutty stories from the operators. 
Did those girls know the stories!?! Who on earth 
got them all up? She carried them home to 
Frey. He was entitled to something for his 
money. 

A dyed-in-the-wool Britisher was Frey, en- 
gaged in some vague but remunerative business 
which called him often across the jolly old pond. 
Helen looked incuriously at that part of her mar- 
ried life, as she did at the paterfamilias of a 

63 



cartoon strip. There was a family whose ups and 
downs she followed daily, whose affairs were 
known as intimately as her own, but the cartoon- 
ist never made clear where the money came 
from. Pa had an office, that seemed to suffice. 
The money came from the office. Well, so did 
Frey's. Only Frey had two offices, one in London. 
Probably that accounted for his possession of 
twice as much money as her father had ever had. 

There had been no surplus for pore-shrinkage 
in the Haenkel budget. There had been precious 
little for any amusement. Old man Haenkel was 
a bookkeeper. He had saved the firm thousands 
of dollars a year every fiscal he had been there, 
but their gratitude took the shape of an heart-to- 
heart talk whenever he asked for a raise. Those 
talks made him almost a part of the firm; they 
never seemed to Haenkel to be refusals of his 
requests. 

"I talked things over with Senior Ellery to- 
day," he always put it to Helen's mother. 

"Did you get it?" — Laconic but tolerant. 

"Get what? More money? No. ... It isn't in 
the wood just yet." 

"After all the money you've saved them!" 

"Well— that's what Fm there for. . . . They 
appreciate it." 

"You don't tell them about it often enough. 
Did you mention that freight business?" 
64 



"Well, — no. I can't go around blowing my 
own horn, Frieda. They know about it. Mr. 
Ellery told me right out he didn't know what 
they'd have done the last few years if I hadn't 
been there to watch the pennies. It's something 
to have your employer feel that way about you." 

But Helen never heard these conversations and 
Frieda's quasi-interest in freight rates was not 
handed down to her daughter with her squat 
figure. 

Helen "went out to play" as soon as the sup- 
per dishes were done up, and that — to her par- 
ents — meant that she was frolicking, running 
and laughing with the groups they could hear in 
the street below. Instead, Helen was standing in 
serious consideration of certain weighty prob- 
lems in the dim-lit entry with two other girls 
about her own age, possessed of approximately 
the same degree of pubertitious pulchritude. 

The activities of that noisy bunch were much 
too juvenile for these three who planned the 
dresses they would wear, say, four years hence; 
decided if marriage interfered with a career and 
debated various methods of repelling detested 
advances and insulting familiarities of boys. It is 
not recorded that any of the elaborate breast- 
works of defense they erected were ever called 



! upon to withstand an armed invasion. 



The funds which permitted Helen to leave 

6$ 



Public High School No. 43 and enter Mount 
Albans were the result of an happy accident; a 
simple little accident, one which has happened 
to all of us, a collision in a doorway between 
Haenkel and the senior Ellery. It occurred about 
3:30, just after lunch — just after Ellery 's lunch, 
old man Haenkel had been back since 12:45. 
And a crock of Champagne had been broached 
where Ellery ate, releasing in the old skinflint 
such sweet juices of human kindness as he had 
long forgotten were in him. 

"Haenkel," he said, as his bookkeeper bowed 
and scraped apologies, "listen. . . . You been 
here a long time." 

Hank was sure the boost was coming. 

"You haven't thrown your money away. 
You've saved it. . . . Well, listen, Haenkel. You 
call Miller and Wellman right now and order 
every damn' share of Michigan Power your sav- 
ings will cover. Tell him Til O.K. the account." 
— and Scout Ellery of the Bull Patrol went on 
into his private office. 

A family conference was called that night 
and the now famous Haenkel Pool of twelve 
hundred dollars was amassed from such solvent 
cousins and connections as could be reached by 
telephone and street car- 



66 



Thus Patty went to college. 

The Delphians were Miss Kersten's pets. She 
taught American Literature and Modern Elo- 
quence and coached the debating team. Her hair 
was the color of dirty sawdust and her memory 
stirred painfully as she watched Helen Haenkel 
gasp her way through Portia's "power of mercy 
is not strained". 

Laura Stanhope and Josephine Walther were 
asked to remain a moment. Miss Kersten went 
directly to the root of the matter. "Josephine, 
you are Chairman of the Membership Commit- 
tee; don't you think you should propose Helen 
Haenkel for the Delphians?" 

Alone, the President made a snoot at her Mem- 
bership Chairman. "I don't see much use in hav- 
ing by-laws if she's going to tell us who we can 
have and who we can't. I didn't mind the twins 
even if they are Jews. They're good kids." 

"But a nigger!" 

"And now this!" 

"Well, what can we do?" 

"Nothing. If we turn her down like we did 
Ursula she'll just make another scene. We'll have 
to take her." 

67 



"It's going to be a fine society by the time she 
gets through with it." 

"Ursula's not really a nigger, I guess. They 
wouldn't have taken her in if she were." 

"Oh, they'll take just anybody" Josephine 
should know, "anybody who has the price. I'm 
going somewhere else next year." 

"Oh, no! Jo! Not really?" 

"I am, Laura. My guardian is very particular. 
I wouldn't dare breathe a word about Ursula to 
him. My! He'd just take me right out. I'm scared 
stiff Mr. Madison'll see her some time on the 
campus." 

"Oh — is he coming here?" 

"Well, I never know when he may come to 
see me." 

"I think it's just wonderful to have a guar- 
dian," Laura thought. "What's he like? Just like 
a father?" 

"W-e-1-1 — " Jo held it a second. "—I call him 
Daddy sometimes." 

"Oh, do you?" 

Did she? But that's a different chapter. 

So Helen and her fine, sandy hair and hopeless 
figure and large pores were welcomed into the 
Delphian Society. What is the specific gravity 
of a girls' literary society? What is specific grav- 
ity? if you want to be catty. Anyway, the first 
month of the term showed the Raskob twins 
68 



floating on the surface from sheer lightheaded- 
ness for all their enormous displacement; Laura 
and Jo, Hazel Cousins and Anne Blackmere — 
the officers — forming the real upper crust; Mary 
Nolan and Ellen Koons for the middle stratum, 
Ursula Georgi (born in Java) and her only 
friend, Helen Haenkel, for dregs. 

A picture of those ten kids, grouped around 
Miss Kersten, their mentor, is on page 3 1 of the 
Mount Albans Yearbook, 1925. The six standing 
in the rear are Ursula, swarthy, exotic, defying 
the camera; Helen, grinning; May and June 
broad and pert and like, very like in expression 
as well as outline; Mary Nolan, one eyebrow 
raised, a little surprised, perhaps, but scarcely 
mad ; and Ellen in pince nez. Seated are the beau- 
ties, Jo — from whose eyes innocence is already 
fled, but who cares, with that mouth to look at? 
Laura, competent, handsome, a little proud to be 
President but hiding it just so it shows; skip the 
teacher; Anne, snappy, alert, poised for flight; 
and Hazel — prettiest of all — Dresden and plati- 
num and rose worked by a da Vinci, no less. 

You can see the tendency to flesh in Laura's 
neck, just at the edge of her hair. Don't marry a 
girl with a neck like that unless you are prepared 
for avoirdupois later. Ursula, full bosomed even 
here, encourages a comparison of all the girls. 
Perhaps we shall find a true votary of Rumilia. 

69 



Helen wears a tight brassiere. It's probably just 
as well. The twins' spread all over their facades, 
shapelessly. Mary is small and compact. Ellen 
hasn't any. Jo — ah! Jo. If you can take your eyes 
from her lips long enough, — dwell on Josephine's 
other charms. Don't hurry. Don't hurry. You 
can't see the Louvre in a day. 

. . . Enough? 

Well, you've seen Laura before, a little too 
healthy, eh? Too damned substantial. Skip Ker- 
sten again. That's Anne. . . . Neat, sharp, no 
extra fooling around. Tom Jessup was a fool! 
Then Hazel. What is a man to do about a girl 
like Hazel? You're afraid to touch her although 
you know she won't chip. But no matter how 
often you wash your hands, they always feel 
sooty by comparison to those delicious, milky 
hemispheres. That alabaster and ivory blend of 
coloring with its petal-texture is a handicap to 
the woman as well. The poor child wants to be 
loved, if it's done decently, but any male with 
grace enough or presence enough to do it right 
is either a fairy or he's too modest to go after it. 
That was Hazel's trouble. Her blood was warm, 
then; her pulse quick and her imagination active 
and fertile, but men avoided her; the ones she'd 
have. Until she got mixed up with a rich dyke 
from Denver, Martha Viborg. 

When that picture was taken, Helen Haenkel 
70 



was the only friend Ursula had and that made 
Helen less popular than her stodginess. In fact, 
as the mid-term recess approached, the girl's 
natural good spirits had raised her considerably 
in the collective Delphian opinion and only her 
championing of the ostracised half- Javanese 
kept her from being fully accepted. 

But the Delphian Society was only a small 
part of life at Mount Albans, and the school did 
wonders for Helen. She learned to dress and she 
developed a sense of humor. Ample return for 
her tuition. The proficiency she acquired at 
secretarial duties was a bonus, but it found her a 
husband. It got her Frey. 



4 



Leaving the old homestead, a flat on 9th Ave- 
nue, and going to live in Montreal grieved Helen 
about as much as leaving his little grey home in 
the West is going to grieve Tom Mooney. Every- 
one told her she was a "radiant" bride, and her 
face was shiny. Mother Frieda bawled all through 
the ceremony. I can't help it if it's hackneyed; 
Fm telling you what old lady Haenkel did. 

Ogden had a drawing room for the ascension, 
and probably he was just as well satisfied with 

7i 



the trip as you or I would be if Nessus' shirt and 
Jurgen's sceptre were loaned to one of us for the 
same journey — with Hazel instead of Helen. Be- 
fore the Customs men interrupted them to frisk 
their hand baggage, Frey had told her the old 
one about "it's much too good for them", and 
Helen had practically had a spasm. 

Frey's position in Montreal required a woman 
cut after Helen's general pattern. No breath of 
scandal could be permitted. Check. She must be 
neither old nor young nor beautiful nor ugly. 
She must be a wife and not a social climber nor 
a butterfly. Check, check, check. They got on 
very well. The same incuriosity which had kept 
Helen from learning any more than she needed 
to know to pass exams at school, kept her nose 
out of the business of her neighbors and Frey's 
associates. Helen could have been a gossip under 
other circumstances, no moral suasion nor ideal- 
istic notions prevented. She was a poor source of 
pithy information for the simple reason that she 
was not sufficiently interested in flying dirt or 
any other chit-chat to retain what she heard. 
Cornered, she would listen, but she immediately 
forgot what had been said. Her bump for scan- 
dal was an hollow. 

But Frey had not married her for her suita- 
bility alone. He actually thought he loved her. 
Probably he did. Damn little poetry could be 
7* 



written about that kind of love, but it builds fine 
houses. And likely Helen loved him. Sonnets 
don't keep much rain out, come to think about 
it. 

Children weren't mentioned, not even by God, 
and the Freys went to England twice yearly. 
Ogden sometimes made swift trips between 
times, but she went with him every six months 
and for this the other Delphians envied her. 

The Paris beauty doctors were as helpless be- 
fore those pores as the Canadians had been, and — 
as everyone knows — you can't even get your hair 
curled decently in London. 

Unassuming, unprepossessing, equable, Helen 
Frey sent foreign trinkets to the other girls, and 
wrote to them without guile. She was happy; she 
hoped they were happy; that they wished her 
any less well would have surprised her greatly. 
She was the only alumna of Mount Albans who 
ever wrote to Ursula Georgi after graduation 
and for her kindness she was the first to die. Like 
a good general, Ursula struck at the only portion 
of her enemy's front which was exposed. No 
vestige of gratitude was in her. She wrote to 
Helen, cunningly. 



73 



September 25. 
Dearest Helen: 

Your letters are all here before me. I have 
kept every one of them because they are the 
only spark of kindness I have found in your 
country since I was thrown here as a child. 
Other girls leave school with a host of happy 
memories, with friendships and attachments 
which they carry through life. I left Mount 
Albans with nothing but bitterness in my 
mind and gall in my heart, put there by 
those pure white Christians who were forced 
to accept me in their activities, but never 
touched my hand without a shudder of 
loathing. 

There's no use going over all that. You, at 
least, were always kind. But, Helen, the 
years have made me feel differently about 
those girls and the way they treated me. 
As I grow older I see that they were not to 
blame for what they did almost through 
instinct. 

Oh, Helen, I am so lonely. Although you 
know my handicap, you can never half 
imagine how much it has caused me to suf- 
fer. Because my skin is dark and my hair 
jet black, every one thinks I am at least part 
negro. I have never had real friends. I sus- 
pect even the kind ones of thinking these 

74 



things when they do not say them. I have 
felt that way about you. It is dreadfully 
monotonous, being a leper. 

And, Helen, deep within me I loved those 
girls even then, in spite of their cruelty. 
They didn't mean to be cruel. They just 
couldn't help it. I loved the Delphian So- 
ciety and the things we did; the things the 
rest let me do because the faculty forced 
them to. I go over the parties and good times 
in my mind, and I am a little girl still. I 
thought, the other day, that it would be a 
lot of fun to start a round-robin among the 
Delphians, and I almost did it. But no one 
would go on with it if they saw my name at 
the top. Why don't you start it? You know 
where several of the girls live. Do; won't 
you? It will get us all together again, after 
a fashion, and if it comes back to you 
eventually — you can send it to me and I'll 
write my name last. That's where it belongs, 
I guess. 

I can't ask any of the others to do it. You 
are the only one sympathetic enough to un- 
derstand how my heart longs to hear from 
some of them. Be a dear and start it — and 
let me know if you do. 

There's not much news about me. I am 
doing some special work for the telephone 

75 



company, still living in the Bronx. Write 
again, soon, won't you? Tell me about Paris. 
Although I travelled a lot in the Orient as 
a child, I have never been there. 

With love, 



5 



And that crater in Helen's head which should 
have been a bump of curiosity caused her to ac- 
cept that letter at its face value only. Not even 
the coincidence of receiving in the same delivery 
of mail her first letter from Yogadachi aroused 
any suspicion in her. 

You will hear from a friend who has not 

written to you in many months. 

Helen told the ice-pack girl about it that 
afternoon. Did she believe in the stars? In ten 
minutes it was established that every girl in the 
place, including Madame Girofla and all her cus- 
tomers, believed implicitly in the stars, and 
enough evidence of their infallibility as prog- 
76 



nosticators was recited to give the most sceptical 
pause. 

So Helen sent for a complete reading, more be- 
cause it seemed to be the thing to do than be- 
cause she cared to look into the future. Then 
she forgot about it until the horoscope came. 
. . . You will meet death at your own 

hands . . . 

Well!— 

Why!— 

What a thing to say! People shouldn't say 
things like that. Death. That was a serious mat- 
ter. How — how had he dared? Through the 
mails! Weren't there laws about sending such 
things through the mails? Why — suppose she 
were just some empty-headed little chit, and she 
got such a message. She might actually do it. 

Helen went to the telephone, outraged. Frey 
would have to do something about this. But she 
paused with the receiver in her hand and re- 
placed it on the hook. After all, she'd been a 
fool to send the man her money. Since she wasn't 
empty-headed and in no wise a chit, all she had 
to do was tear the letter up and forget it. But the 
nerve of him! 

Then she laughed. Suicide! Her! Oh, my! 

Oh, oh, my. 

Helen had never read Poe's Black Cat nor his 
Imp of the Perverse. She did not know that in 

77 



her as in all of us there is a propensity "for per- 
sisting in a course of action simply because we 
should not". But Ursula had; had and did. 

Mrs. A. Ogden Frey decided not to mention 
Swami Yogadachi to her husband again. She 
would just forget it. For goodness sake; how 
could she kill herself even if she wanted to? Jump 
out of a second-story window? Ha — ha — hee! 
She'd probably sprain her ankle or break her 
wrist if she tried that. Gas? Well, she supposed 
she could do that. But it would probably make a 
terrible mess. There was that pretty little pistol 
Frey had given her the first time he went to 
London alone. Theoretically that would kill a 
person. She had almost forgotten where it was. 

Helen folded the letter, stuck it in a pigeon- 
hole of her desk and the next time she was con- 
scious of her actions or her whereabouts she was 
standing in the middle of the kitchen floor, 
scratching her ear. She frowned. "Now, what 
did I come out here for? I was going to do — 
something; what was it?" 

The cook came in through the service door 
with a basket on her arm. "Do you think a seven- 
pound turkey will be enough, Mrs. Frey? I was 
looking at them today." 

"Seven. . . . Yes, — I'm sure it will. . . . Will 
you pour me a glass of cold milk, Betty?" 

"Yes, ma'am . . . my hat . . . now!" 
78 



That wasn't it, though she was thirsty. Helen 
sipped the milk as the servant chattered of the 
quality of the harvest goods shown in the mar- 
ket. "The squashes are lovely." 

Oh! That was it. She was going to see if she 
could find her gun. The crazy Swami should be 
told that; to take some of the cockiness out of 
him. The woman he predicts is going to kill 
herself is so little apt to do it that she doesn't 
even know where her gun is. . . . She really 
should find it; after all, Frey had thought 
enough of her to want her to be protected and 
then she had been so careless of his wishes as to 
mislay her means of defense. She rummaged 
through two drawers, conscious, as she turned 
over handkerchiefs and laces, that she knew 
very well where the pistol was. She had known 
all along. And when she had gone to the kitchen 
— she had been running from sight of it — why? 
What had she to fear? She could live in an 
armory without shooting herself. The idea! 
Helen stumped into the library and opened the 
desk drawer where lay her sealing wax, some 
extra ink — the revolver. She'd show him! She 
picked up the gun, looked into its muzzle, 
laughed, and put it down. The whole business 
was just too silly. The stars predicting that she 
would "meet death at her own hands"! She half 
closed the drawer. Pooh! She could go even 

79 



further. She could actually put the gun to her 
temple and then put it away. The man was in- 
sane to say such a thing. Helen did just that, 
pressing the ring of steel against her head, then 
almost tossing the nickel and pearl toy back into 
the drawer. She closed the desk with a flourish. 



Then Samuel Danbury — also known as Swami 
Yogadachi, the papers said — was taken f ragmen- 
tarily from the rails of a subway in New York 
City. The stars had thrown him there. Perhaps 
she should tell Frey about it. No, no, she would 
not be so weak. She would not live in the house 
with that unloaded gun a moment longer. It 
was unbearable to be such a coward, to pamper 
herself and make it impossible for the thing to 
happen. Was she afraid she would do it? Dan- 
bury 9 s death had been nothing but coincidence. 
She drove to a sporting goods store and bought 
a box of cartridges, determined to show sun, 
moon and stars that they were dealing with 
sterner stuff in her case. As she rode home she 
looked at the snow-banked curbs and bade the 
grey sky adieu. She knew she was seeing them 
for the last time, yet she denied it. She listened 
80 



to the wheels crunching the chunks of ice and 
a part of her mind took farewell of that com- 
forting sound. 

She left her hat and coat in her room and took 
her purchase to the library. She reloaded the gun 
and laid it on the desk under her hand while she 
reread the Swami's letter. Her mouth drooped in 
a deprecating, sceptical smile. To demonstrate 
just how wrong he was, and just how strong she; 
watch this. The gun is loaded again now. You 
realize that, don't you, Swami? Here is death in 
my hand. I can take it or leave it; can't I? And 
see? I put the gun to my temple just as I did 
when your letter first came. See there? I can 
even press the trigger — a little. You and your 
fool prediction! How hard do you have to press 
the trigger of a gun to make it go off? Goodness! 
Quite hard. Quite a ways. She hadn't realized 
that before. . . . Great God, she was pulling too 
hard! She couldn't stop. . . . 

Dear Mrs. O'Neill: 

Your good and kind letter has arrived too 
late to serve its noble intention. Helen shot 
herself on the morning of December twelfth 
after reading of the death of Swami Yo- 
gadachi in New York City. 

I am closing this house at once and sailing 
for England to visit my people. Her death 

81 



is a loss I can never hope to forget, never 
hope to avenge. Its author threw himself 
before a subway train in New York on the 
tenth of December for a reason only God 
knows. 

I am too distracted to think clearly. I 
have never thought these predictions of for- 
tune tellers could be so harmful. I can not 
imagine what source of information the 
man may have had. Surely it must have 
been a very compelling conviction of his 
own ability to read the future that made 
him cast himself before the train. 

Please accept my most sincere thanks for 
your interest in Helen's welfare. Although I 
have never met you, I know from your let- 
ter that you are a strong, capable and noble 
woman. I commiserate you upon the death 
of your friend and I know how greatly you 
can sympathize with my feelings at losing 
the only feminine creature I have ever 
loved besides my mother. 

Very sincerely yours, 



^7.^^'taL 






82 




CHAPTER THREE 

October 29. 
Dearest, dearest Laura: 

The round-robin and your lovely letter 
came a few days ago and I hasten to answer 
it while I may. We never know what is go- 

83 



ing to happen on this plane and our dearest 
friends may pass away without a word of it 
reaching us until months afterward. I 
hadn't heard from one of the girls in months 
and months. The last letter I had from any 
one in the old Delphian Society was a note 
from Helen Frey the last time she was in 
Europe. 

Still, I wasn't so surprised to get the 
round-robin. I was prepared for it. About 
a month ago I got a letter from a very 
famous astrologer, a Swami in Camden, 
New Jersey, telling me the most astonish- 
ingly intimate things about myself, and 
predicting that I would hear from several 
old friends in the near future. 

You see, I am a member of a Spiritualist 
Church here, and we find it very easy and 
often helpful to be en rapport with other 
psychics all over the world. It must have 
been through spiritual communion that 
this Hindu received this knowledge of me. 
I commissioned him to draw up my horo- 
scope at once. It is the most perfect thing 
I have ever seen of the kind. He has my past 
down perfectly — and my temperament! 
He admits some difficulty in plotting my 
future. He says he can't see a full year 

84 



ahead for me, but he has carried it through 
January and will go on further at a later 
date. 

I gather confidence in him because he 
does not predict all happiness and good for- 
tune. He sees violence, great violence in the 
lives of some of my friends and I have won- 
dered if George is always kind to you. 
You know you can trust me, Laura, dear. 
Has he ever struck you? I wouldn't ask if 
it were not for the Swami's mention of 
violence. 

I am writing some of the other girls 
today. I think round-robins are splendid for 
renewing old acquaintances — don't you? 

Please don't wait a long time to write 
again, and take no offense at my question 
about George. Are you at all interested in 
the strides psychic research has made in the 
last few years? What is your husband's 
faith? Is it true that one of the twins mar- 
ried? I never hear from them. I heard that 
June married a theatrical man and turned 
Catholic for him. Do you know if that is 
true? 

Write soon, won't you? And if you want 
me to I'll have the Swami draw up your 
horoscope. You were always so level headed. 

85 



I think there is a big place for you in psychic 
work. 

Your sincere old friend, 



P.S. How is the baby? 



November 30. 
Anne dearest; how are you? 

I really shouldn't be writing you — I 
wrote last. But there is so much news! My 
control came at our last seance and told me 
you were having trouble with Tom again. 
You poor, poor child. What does your fu- 
ture hold for you with a man like that? I 
should think you'd take up some serious 
study, some church work or something and 
let him go his way. You have no children. 
I wouldn't sacrifice myself to his lust. Why 
don't you write to Swami Yogadachi? I 
mentioned him to you before. He has told 
me some wonderful things. Lots of the 
other girls are consulting him. He has 
warned Helen Frey that she will be tempted 

86 



to take her own life. Poor Helen, She wrote 
me such a pitiful letter. She is fighting 
against great odds. None of us can go 
against the Powers. I have tried to interest 
her in spiritualism but it's impossible to im- 
press her with its true importance just 
now. 

The Swami told me I would hear of sev- 
eral deaths among my friends. I wonder 
whose. He says there will be murders and 
suicides and that some will go insane, all 
within the space of a few months. "Sisters 
will kill sisters, and wives their husbands," 
he says. 

Mary Thompson writes me that she had 
him draw up her horoscope and although 
she wouldn't reveal what he told her — she 
said it was very accurate and not very 
cheering for the future. I hope nothing ter- 
rible happens to her. 

Do you hear from Laura Stanhope? I 
wrote to her a month ago but received no 
answer. Is she happy? You know, I often 
wonder if George is as good to her as she 
lets on. I know what you have to bear with 
Tom, but that is better than being beaten 
every few days by a brute of a man. I think 
I'm wiser, after all, to remain single. I may 
have to do without some of the luxuries 

8/ 



you girls have, but I have my church work 
and my control. I almost got his name the 
last time he came. He is an Indian chief of 
the Seminole tribe! Isn't it amazing? All of 
the other members of our church have 
Sioux or Black Feet or Crow guides but 
mine is a Seminole from Florida. 

I have told the Swami about him and 
sent ten dollars for a complete reading of 
my future. The shorter ones I have are very 
good but they only go as far as Spring. 
Now I'll know — in a few days — what the 
Powers intend for me. 

Why don't you write him, dear? It might 
clear up your trouble with Tom. It couldn't 
hurt to try. You don't suppose Laura would 
kill George, do you? 

Tell me everything and write soon. If 
you write to Mary Nolan Thompson don't 
mention that I told you about her horo- 
scope. For some strange reason she wants it 
kept secret. If you have the time you might 
write to Helen. She really needs friends. 

Your old friend, 



££&*a^ ~CToe-^s 



88 



December i. 
Dearest Laura: 

What are we going to do about Helen? 
Laura — she will not listen to me. I tell her 
she must prepare herself, since the spirits of 
suicides are always earth-bound. Nothing 
does her any good. She laughs at the predic- 
tion and insists that she is not afraid. I can't 
hold out any hope to her. The Swami is 
truly illustrious. He knows everything. And 
if it is written in the stars that she is to go 
that way — nothing can stop her. It is too 
bad, I suppose, that she has to know about 
it and worry about it. On the other hand, 
I should be glad to know how and when I 
shall pass through the veil so that I may put 
my house in order. 

What do you suppose is the matter with 
Mary Nolan Thompson? Something is prey- 
ing on her mind too. Do you suppose 
Thompson is mean to her? But there is 
something else. She hinted at some inherited 
taint. Did you know she had an aunt, her 
mother's sister, in an asylum? She told me 
about it once in school. Poor creature. She 
may have found that in her horoscope. I 
hope not. That would be dreadful. 

I haven't heard from you in so long. You 
didn't take offense at my questions about 

«9 



George, did you? I shouldn't have asked. I 
know it must be some one else who is re- 
ferred to. By the way, does the baby enjoy 
perfect health most of the time? When is 
his birthday? Will he be four or five? Time 
goes so fast, doesn't it? 

I have found the twins' address at last. 
It was on an old program — a piano recital 
we went to together just before commence- 
ment at old Mount Albans. I found it 
through my control. He's awfully good at 
finding things. It's their home address, 
where their mother lives. Did you hear that 
they were on the stage and that they left 
that poor old lady all alone? I could hardly 
believe it. I'll know in a few days. I just fin- 
ished writing them. 

Well, I'll close now. I have to write sev- 
eral other letters. I think I have just enough 
stamps. If you hear from Mary or Anne, 
please let me know. It won't do any good, 
but I think we should all try to cheer Helen 
up. If she must go, she might as well go 
happily. 

Your sincere friend, 



90 



December 14. 
Dear Old Pal: 

Good night! You could have knocked us 
both over with a feather. One feather for 
the two of us. June brought your letter to 
the dressing room — she was late as usual — 
and stood it up against the mirror. Guess — 
she says — guess who it's from. She hadn't 
opened it. So we both guessed a while. We 
had forgotten your husband's name. It's a 
dumb name anyway, June says. 

We couldn't get anywhere, so we opened 
it. Imagine our surprise and picture our 
amazement! You — you old . . . well! 

But isn't it terrible about Helen Haenkel- 
tenckle? Remember — how we used to kid 
her about her name. She was just a peach, 
but dumb, of course. We didn't know any- 
thing about it until a few days ago we got 
a letter from Koons. She's goofier than ever. 
What a mol! Remember the time she saw 
a man in her own tea-cup and damn near 
fainted? 

Well, she tells us about this Swami — 

9i 



honest to God, I always thought Swami was 
a low comedy name for all shush-dinge. 
Meanin' nuthin' pussinil about any of the 
Delphic Choricles — of course! What ever 
became of Ursula anyway? But it ain't! 
Swami means something. Koons is our au- 
thority. Good old Koons. If you hadn't 
protected her from the rest of us we'd have 
done for her the day after she first came to 
school. What do you think of my English 
accent? Fm stringing the snappiest straight 
man — a legit from dear ol' Lunnon. Of 
course, June saw him late as usual and is 
now trying to sign him up with a blanket 
contract, if - you - know - what - I - mean! 
Dearie! a blanket contract. No chance, May 
has her hooks on that baby. 

But — Koons tells us Helen is brooding 
about killing herself — and along come the 
papers where she's done it — Marie, that's 
terrible! It just doesn't seem possible that 
such a thing could happen in this day and 
age. I'll bet anything it's that damn fortune 
teller's fault. What did he want to go and 
get her all upset like that for? Do you know 
what he told us? He says we're going to have 
a big fight. He calls that news! My God! If 
a man bites a dog! Say. It'd be news if we 

9* 



didn't. He's no fortune teller. I'm going to 
write him and get my money back. 

Well, we were all of a heap when we read 
it. It didn't seem real. It don't yet. June was 
just saying, it don't seem possible. 

Who started that round-Robert? When 
June saw Laura Stanhope — like you always 
write it, she says (the cat) she says — Al- 
ways the President! No offense. I don't 
know, though, maybe she meant it. Here, 
ask her. Hold the wire . . . 

Hello, Laura: 

Don't pay any attention to my big slob 
of a sister. She just blows and blows and 
nothing ever comes out. She wishes some- 
thing would just now — something she 
didn't swallow. Well, I warned her. Acro- 
bats are deadly that way. What a sister! If 
she had a nickel for all the words she uses 
that don't mean anything — we could both 
retire — if she'd give me half — which I 
doubt. 

It's terrible about Helen. I cried like a 
baby. What is Koons 'trying to tell us about 
Mary Nolan? Nobody can make heads or 
tales of her letters. She says your husband 
beats you and your kid's going to die. Is it? 

We're playing the Palace next week — 

93 



barring an act of God — we'll send you a 
program. 

Your two fat sisters, 






3 



December 26. 
Dear Mrs. O'Neill: 

After your nasty letter, I had resolved 
never to write to you again, but the en- 
closed newspaper clippings bear me out so 
thoroughly that I can not refrain. Mary 
Nolan Thompson is a thief. She has been 
arrested and is now in the psychopathic 
ward of the County Hospital for observa- 
tion. There has been insanity in her family 
as I told you. All of this was predicted by 
Swami Yogadachi before his tragic death of 
which you must have read. The world has 
lost a great seer in Swami Yogadachi. He 

94 



knew everything. He not only predicted his 
own death, almost to the minute, but he 
told Helen Frey when she would commit 
suicide, poor thing, and he told Mary 
Thompson she was a kleptomaniac and 
would end her days in an insane asylum. 
Furthermore, only four days before his 
death he told me that I would live to hear of 
the death of a five year old boy and of other 
deaths, before I died — next summer. 

I am not afraid. The Swami was en rap- 
port with a plane above this materialistic 
world and he could see things denied to 
ordinary mortal eyes. I will meet the Prince 
of the Morning gladly, with my house all 
in order. I will go bravely to the spirit 
realm, to that happy land beyond the veil. 

Sincerely yours, 



P.S. For the sake of old times, I take the 
trouble to tell you that I called upon Mr. 
Thompson when I heard of Mary's arrest. 
His story was pitiful, indeed. He is a heart- 
broken man. 

95 



He says that he began missing money 
from his pockets about the first of Decem- 
ber, but thought nothing of it, believing 
that Mary planned to use the money for a 
Christmas gift for him — not wanting to 
ask for a large sum outright. It never seems 
like a real present if you use the person's 
money you are going to surprise. But when 
Swami Yogadachi's death was announced in 
the newspapers, Mary took to brooding, sit- 
ting for two days, staring out of the win- 
dow, neglecting her house and even her own 
person. Then Helen's suicide reached her 
and they had to call a doctor. She tore her 
hair and scratched her own face. Strong 
men could not hold her and she was in bed 
for five days. 

When she finally got up she seemed per- 
fectly well, although very weak, and Mr. 
Thompson told her not to try to leave the 
house. She did, however, go shopping. Two 
detectives caught her trying to steal silk 
scarfs in Lord and Taylors. From her wild 
actions and incoherence under questioning, 
they deduced that she was unbalanced, and 
from cards in her purse they got his name 
and called him. The police were not in- 
volved that time. Mr. Thompson placated 
the store managers. She was obviously out 

9 6 



of her mind. He hired a nurse to stay with 
her and a specialist to attend her. The ex- 
pense, he says, was terrible. You know he is 
only a clerk in a bank and they had nothing 
but his salary. 

On the twenty-third, practically Christ- 
mas Eve, she got away from her nurse and 
tried to steal a fur coat in a crowded store, 
leaving her own in its place. She got a block 
from the store before they caught her and 
she almost started a riot by beating onlook- 
ers over the head with her umbrella. They 
took her away in a patrol or ambulance and 
got in touch with him at his office. 

It is very sad, of course, but it only goes 
to show that none of us can escape our fate. 



"Hello, Derick." 

Thompson kissed her — almost as briefly as 
one does a corpse — and they sat on a visitor's 

97 



bench like two wet sparrows. Mary smoothed 
the calico skirt of her uniform and .brushed his 
hand. He could take it then, if he wanted to. 
She wouldn't make him feel that he had to be 
tender, to a crazy wife. 

"How's everything?" he asked, hollowly, as if 
his head were in a wooden bucket as he spoke. 

"All right." She smiled. "I haven't— felt badly 
— all week." 

"That's fine." He looked at her, then, his 
solemn eyes hopeful, his thin lips smiling faintly. 
"What do they say?" 

"They think I'm getting along fine. Of course, 
none of the real doctors have seen me since Mon- 
day, only the young ones. They're so busy." 

"Jesus; not since Monday." 

"No, Derick, but they can't help it — and the 
young ones are good." 

"No authority, though. They couldn't get you 
out of here. So damn' much red tape." 

"Not so loud, dear," she squeezed his hand and 
looked furtively around. "They take offense — 
you can't say anything." 

Thompson squinted suspiciously. "Then what? 
What do they do to you?" 

"Not so loud, Derick! If you love me, don't 
talk so loud. . . . They haven't done anything 
to me — but I've seen some awful sights. I can't 
98 



tell you now. I'm afraid. When I come home, 
some time, I'll tell you." 

"This place is kept up with the tax-payers' 
money " 

Mary clutched his arm. "Derick, darling, do 
you want to make me suffer? Lots of things go 
on that we can't stop; but if I'm quiet and good 
and do just as I'm told they treat me splendidly. 
Don't worry about it." 

"What kind of lookin' guys are these young 
doctors?" 

Mary's heart leaped suddenly in her breast. 
He was jealous! Mad as she was; a thief and a 
mad-woman — yet he maintained enough interest 
to be jealous. Derick misinterpreted her smile. 
"What are you grinning at? Do you think it's 
pleasant for me to know you're here at the mercy 
of these bastards? Christ, I can't even express 
my mind above a whisper without you shakin'. 
Suppose some punk of a doctor takes a notion to 
jazz you. Where do I get off? What chance have 
you got? You have to be good. You don't dare 
talk back. . . . That's the kind of thing I've 
been livin' with — ever since you been here." 

"Derick, darling, nothing like that ever hap- 
pens. Please believe me. These fellows are all 
wrapped up in their work. We're just sick 
women to them. The other never enters their 
heads." 

99 



Thompson hid his face in his hands. "All right; 
I believe you." They huddled there a moment 
more in miserable silence. Mary licked her pale 
lips and stroked his hair. "Did I have any mail?" 

"Yes!" He looked up, glaring. "A letter from 
that God damn' Koons woman. ... I tore it 
up." 

"Don't talk so loud." Mary's chin quivered 
and tears ran from her eyes. "Fm sorry to upset 
you, dear. I'll ask her not to write again. But, 
please don't yell at me." 

She was in his arms then. He hadn't meant to 
yell. Faintly their hearts sought each the other's 
rhythm as their slim breasts were bruised in 
desperate contact. "Mary," he sobbed. "Oh, 
Mary, darling." 

"There, sweet; there, there. Don't be im- 
patient. Fm on the chart for Dr. Zinn next 
Wednesday. Maybe he'll say I can go." 

He kissed her, longer; her cheeks, her eyes. 
"Fm a lousy husband. Jesus. Come here to cheer 
you up — and make you baby me. I wish to Christ 
Fd been the motorman o' that God damn' train; 
Fd 'a run it back an' forth over the son of a 
bitch a hundred times." 

One of Mary's brows crawled higher than the 
other — as we have seen it in the Mount Albans 
annual. "We've got to stop it from going any 
ioo 



further, Derick. We've got to have faith in 
Laura." 

"Yeah. We got to get you out o' here." 

"It won't be long. . . . There's the matron. 
I guess you better go." 

"Oh, Jesus, I just came" 

"Derick " 

"All right." They stood, hands clasped. 

"Your time is up," old hard-face said. 

If Mary's nails had not bitten his palm, he 
would have retorted. 

" 'Bye, Mary." 

"Good-bye." 

He kissed her once more, fleetingly, and 
squeezed her hand, hard. "Good-bye." 



5 

May 21. 
Dear Laura: 

How is Bobby? Are you watching him 
carefully? Anne writes that all this horrible 
series of disasters will terminate through his 
living on — past his birthday — and growing 
up. I hope so. God, Laura, how I hope so. 
I've been through all this before. I know 
what it is. I've been through so much. When 

101 



I first read that horoscope telling me I 
couldn't fight my fate, that I was a born 
thief and a maniac — I fought. How I 
fought! Then the other things began com- 
ing true and I began slipping, I can't go 
over all that again. My days are numbered 
if Bobby dies. Save him, Laura! Take him 
away with you. Never leave him alone. Do 
something! Anne is sentenced. That's hard 
enough to bear. If Bobby goes I won't wait 
to die. I'll dash my brains out. I'll jump 
from the Chrysler Building. Oh, God, 
Laura, do something. 




May 19. 
Dear Mrs. O'Neill: 

Love your boy in the flesh as long as you 
may. His days are numbered now. Accept 
my sincere condolences and grieve not too 
much lest you bind his little spirit to earth. 



PART TWO 




CHAPTER FOUR 

October 14. 
Dear Laura: 

Fve meant to write so often, but mother 
has been here, and there seemed so much to 
do. How are you, kiddo? She's gone back to 

105 



N. Y. C. now. She still takes care of Bill as 
if he were a baby. I wish I could have gone 
with her to see a good show and Broadway 
again. 

Laura, darling, the strangest thing has 
happened. I got a letter from Jo Turner, 
can you imagine that? Jo — who has been so 
snooty for the last few years you couldn't 
touch her with a ten foot pole. Actually 
wrote to me and sent a round-robin that's 
been circulating some time. I sent it to old 
lady Kersten because I was afraid if I didn't 
no one else would ever think to. I told her 
to send it back to you. I don't know who 
started it, but Hazel Cousins was on it — 
and Helen, you may be sure. 

But the strangest thing is that about a 
week before the letter and robin came from 
Jo, I got a letter from a star reading fellow 
in Camden, New Jersey, telling me I was 
going to hear from an old friend I had al- 
most forgotten. 

Well, of course, nobody could forget Jo, 
but I hadn't thought of her in such a long 
time. It was like a voice from the dead. And 
funnier still — she had just the same sort of 
letter I had, and from the same man. It 
must be somebody we both know, trying to 
play a joke on us. But I'm writing to him 

106 



anyway. Why don't you write too? He tells 
the past, present and future — by the stars. I 
haven't been to a fortune teller since Tom 
flirted with a palmist I took him to, more 
than a year ago. He's a good boy — but he's 
impressionable, if you know what I mean! 
I'll bet you do. 

How is the baby — and George? Don't 
wait so long to write just because I don't 
answer. I love to get letters but I hate to 
write them. You know. I've always been 
like that. I'll send some snaps as soon as I 
have them printed. How about a picture of 
Bobby? I'll bet he's big. 

Your own, 



IMa*~ 



P.S. The man's address is Swami Yoga- 
dachi, 1402 Chestnut Street, Camden, N. J. 



1 



«°7 



October 18. 
Dear Anne: 

You may be sure your "star-reading fel- 
low" is someone we all know, because I've 
had a letter from him too, and so have all 
the other girls. Save your money, honey, it's 
a fake. 

What did Jo have to say? I don't know 
what got into her. The moment we were 
out of school she seemed to forget all of us. 
I don't suppose I've been such a perfect 
correspondent, but I've written her at least 
a dozen times off and on. All I ever hear 
from her is "Merry Christmas" every year. 
She doesn't forget that. But wouldn't you 
think — we were room-mates, you know — 
she'd say hello in July some time? What's 
still funnier, she was out here a little while 
ago — in California, I mean. I know she was. 
And didn't look me up. It's her business, of 
course. I think I know why she acts that 
way, maybe you do too, but she should 
know me better than to think Yd be the 
one to criticise. I guess I'm as broad-minded 
as the next one. But she was always an inde- 
pendent soul. Maybe she was thinking of 
Bobby or was afraid George wouldn't be so 
cordial. Anyway, I'm glad she's come to life 

108 



again. If she writes you again let me know 
and I'll try my luck once more. 

It must have been dandy, seeing your 
mother. Did she have Bill with her in 
Akron? How old is he now and what is he 
studying? George has big plans for Bob — 
but I tell him he'll probably turn out to be 
a barber. We are having some good pictures 
made of him and I'll send you the proofs so 
you can pick out the one you want. 

I wish Akron weren't so far away. I cer- 
tainly do get fed up on scientific baby food, 
my own spinach and butter-milk diet — and 
bridge. Sometimes I think I'll scream if I 
ever see another deck of cards. George has 
subscribed to the Literary Guild and I read 
a lot in the daytime, but he likes to have 
people around in the evening and there isn't 
a thing to do but play bridge. 

Miss Kersten returned the round-robin 
and I sent it on to Koons. She and your 
Swami will probably get married. Now, 
that's what I call fortune telling. 

Don't worry about Tom, Anne. When I 
remember how he used to look at you, I 
know he's true blue and you couldn't get 
rid of him if you tried. But — listen, Anny! 
You're going to have to hurry to catch up 

109 



to me with a family. I'm almost sure I'm 
that way again — and I might as well go 
through with it. It will be good for Bob to 
have someone to play with and it will be a 
perfectly grand excuse for not playing 
bridge for a while. Can you think of a bet- 
ter reason for having babies? George wants 
a girl of course. Little Laura aims to please. 

Did I say "little"! 

You'll have to answer or I won't write. 
Lopsided correspondence can be carried too 
far. 

Always the same, 



October 29. 
Dear Laura: 

You! Of course, you wouldn't have any- 
thing to do with fortune tellers. You always 
were too sensible. But I have my horoscope 
— and Tom's too — and they both tell the 
straightest truth. Mine says Fm always los- 
ing my temper but don't mean it and a lot 
of good things. (You know I am.) And 
Tom's says he's loving, but fickle — and you 

no 



know he is. But I'm not going to tell you 
all they say — just so you can laugh at me. 
You're as bad as Jo. Even after the demon- 
stration of the round-robin she wouldn't 
have hers told. Hazel Cousins did, though, 
and she wrote to Jo, telling her how good 
her horoscope was. It was Hazel sent the 
round-robin to Jo. She doesn't write to me. 
I don't know why. I never did anything to 
her. Do you know the twins' address? Some- 
body ought to see that they get it. They 
were nice kids. 

Will you ever forget the time Melchisa- 
deck ran away with them and Ursula and 
Helen caught him? The twins couldn't have 
patched out one whole dress between them. 
Those were the happy days. 

Both my notes from that Turner woman 
were half a page long. One said: "Here's a 
round-robin one of the Delph's sent me. 
Hazel. If you don't send it on to another 
one God'U send locusts to Akron. A Swami 
told me so." And the other one said: "Child 
— I move so fast that anything the stars 
would tell your horoscoper would be out of 
date before he reached the first stop. Hazel 
had him tell her a lot of bunk, but I don't 
want to know what's coming. It's too much 
fun watching to see. Tell Laura Stanhope 

m 



I'm too damned ashamed of myself to write 
her after waiting so long." 

So that's that. I don't get you about her 
— not entirely. You mean her men? I always 
did suspect that "guardian" of hers. Who 
ever heard of a guardian with wavy chest- 
nut hair! But what else? Come on, sphynxy, 
don't keep all the good things to yourself. 

And you pregnant again! Well, you're 
lucky, that's all I've got to say. If I skipped 
a month the ceiling would fall in. But don't 
I wish I could — for Tom, you know. 

I'm alone a lot lately. He is working so 
hard. Some days I only see him about 
twenty minutes. His office is trying to cut 
expenses like everyone else and they've given 
him two other men's jobs to do. 

Here are some snaps. The pretty girl is 
Nellie Stone, and the boy is Phil McKenzie, 
they're both from Tom's office. We four 
run around a lot together. Don't you think 
they make a sweet couple? Just the right 
size for each other. Do you like my new 
hat? It's a copy of a Paris model — but I 
suppose you see later things than we used 
to in New York, there where all the stars 
are. 

Say! I've been going to mention this for 
a year. I saw Dolores del Rio in "Evangel- 



ine" a long time ago. It was a grand picture, 
but Fve always thought Evangeline was a 
blonde — didn't you? Will you take that up 
with Mr. Lasky, please? Fve been thinking 
of dyeing my hair. What do you think? 
You always have such good taste. 
Now, write soon. Love. 

As ever, 



[plA^ 



December 5. 
Laura, dear: 

I heard from Ellen Koons yesterday for 
the first time in a month. She is all excited 
about Helen Frey, who is threatening to kill 
herself. Did you ever hear of such a thing? 
I thought she was so happy. I guess if the 
truth were known Tom's not the only one 
with a failing for the ladies. All men are 
alike and if all of you have been pitying 
me for what Fve suffered — well, not you, 
but some of them — they had better "mend 

113 



their own fences" as my grandfather used 
to say. 

I can't stand pity, Laura; you know that, 
and I was a goose — if not something crazier 
— to tell my troubles to a lot of catty 
women. Please don't take any of this to 
yourself. You have always been splendid 
and any one who calls you a cat has me to 
answer to. But you know some of the other 
Delphians were born with claws and I was 
silly enough to let them know about Tom 
and that little snip of a secretary I made 
him get rid of. 

Oh, Laura, I thought that was all over. 
Honestly I did. I prayed it was. Tom was so 
kind and thoughtful. We had some of the 
grandest times this summer. Motored to 
Sandusky where his people live. Out to 
camp. But — damn it! — yes, damn it. He's 
gone off again. We have had some terrible 
scenes. I trusted him implicitly until I got 
that Swami's letter, naturally that made me 
more watchful. Once or twice I looked for 
letters in his coat and he saw me. Laura, he 
went wild. He accused me of driving him 
to other women with my jealousy; said that 
he might as well go out and enjoy himself 
since he was guilty of it in my eyes whether 

114 



he did it or not — well, just everything. Of 
course, I wasn't exactly silent, and he finally 
grabbed his hat and went out and didn't 
come back until three o'clock in the morn- 
ing. That was nearly three weeks ago. 

Since then things have been getting worse 
and worse. I've tried not to be jealous, but 
what can I do? I know he can't keep his 
head if a girl smiles at him and he's such a 
handsome dog that they're always smiling. 
There are dozens of them in his office. It 
doesn't do any good to get his secretaries 
discharged. The place is full of little snips 
with baby-doll faces and corn-colored hair. 
Since business has been so bad he's been 
working late almost every night and once 
or twice I've walked down to meet him; I 
had nothing else to do. I hate going to the 
movies alone, don't you? 

But he was working, all right. At first he 
was. Then last Wednesday I got a complete 
reading from Swami Yogadachi, telling me 
that I was being duped, that Tom Jessup 
could not be honest or true if he tried, that 
he was lying to me and that there was only 
one cure for a man of his disposition and 
temperament. 

I don't know what that means unless — 

"5 



but I can divorce him. The Swami says that 
won't do any good. It will just allow him to 
do his philandering legally; it won't help 
me to bear it. It won't keep my heart from 
aching. I don't know what to do. He never 
stays home any more. He says I've driven 
him out. That isn't true, Laura. I trusted 
him all summer. I was sure he had turned 
over a new leaf. Then these horoscopes came 
and it all started over again. 

Now Ellen writes that the Swami told her 
she would hear of a murder among her 
friends. I enclose the letter. Read it and tell 
me what you think. It might refer to the 
twins, of course, it says "a sister" — and then 
Helen Frey's "suicide." Isn't that terrible? 
I'm sure I don't know where this Yogadachi 
gets his information, but he hits the nail on 
the head every time. I'd feel a lot safer if 
Tom were more like George. But you always 
did get the best of everything, the top 
cream, the maple centers, the best looking 
boys and now the truest husband. How do 
you do it? Just born lucky. 

Well, I've got to run. Have some shop- 
ping to do. I usually get down town around 
lunch time just to see if Tom eats alone. If 
I catch him eating with any of these flaxen- 

116 



curled cuties I'll scratch both their eyes 
out. 

Love, 



[PUlUL. 



P.S. How's the baby? Where's my picture 
of him? You're a fine one! 



The door bell rang. Now who? "You'll have 
to get down, lazy." Anne eased the cat off her 
lap and tried to memorize the page number of 
her place in Cimarron. "One-eighty-two, one- 
eighty-two, one-eighty-two," she repeated as 
she walked to the front door. "Hello, Phil. . . . 
Well— where's Nellie?" 

"I don't know." 

"7 



"Oh — oh! The love-birds have their feathers 
raised." 

The boy looked at her steadily as he tossed his 
hat on the hall table and took her hand. "Yeah/' 
he said drily. "Tom out?" They walked toward 
the living room, their fingers twined. 

"He's working. You get off easy." 

"Yeah." 

"Well, you do. He's had to work every night 
but Tuesday this week," 

"That's tough." ' 

"You'd think it was." 

"Mm-hm." 

"He is working; isn't he, Phil?" 

The young man's oval face confronted her 
squarely. "If Tom says he's working, he's work- 
ing; as far as I know." 

"But you'd know. Tell me the truth." 

"Why don't you call up?" 

"The switch-board's cut off at five-thirty." 

Phil smiled. "He's working. Forget it." 

"Truly?" 

"Yeah." 

"Well, I don't believe you, but I don't know 
what I can do about it tonight. What's the 
trouble between you and Nellie?" 

"Same old thing." 

"Sit down." 

"Reading this?" 
118 



"Yes — it's great. You read it?" 

"I saw the picture." 

"Oh, of course, we all went together." 

"I don't care anything about a book after I've 
seen the picture." 

• •••••• 

"What about you and Nellie?" 

"Oh, it's the same old story. She's runnin' 
around with another guy." 

"No! Who?" 

"You don't know him." 

"Not that Steve?" 

"No, another fellow. You don't know him." 

"You mean she's actually that way about 
somebody? I thought you two were engaged." 

Phil rose and started toward her chair, an un- 
mistakable mien of serious purpose frowned 
from him and impressed Anne. He leaned over 
her and kissed her astonished mouth. 

"Well," she laughed, "is that a prize I get for 
knowing the golden text?" 

"No," he said without moving, holding his 
weight with stiff arms on the arms of her chair, 
"you get that for nothing. This is sample day." 

Anne was disturbed, but she knew Phil so 
well. This was a strange new note in their friend- 
ship, but the thing to do was take it lightly and 
kid him out of any wild ideas he might have 

119 



cooked up. Probably he'd had a few too many 
drinks. 

"How much? by the dozen?" 

"Wholesale only." 

"A gross, then?" 

"Have you got a new penny?" 

"I just bought some two-cent stamps . . ." 

"No — we don't take stamps." 

"Go back and sit down, Phil. What if Tom 
should walk in? I think it's awfully funny for 
you to act like this just because Nellie is giving 
trouble. . . . After all, Fm not in the habit of 
comforting quarreling sweethearts with my 
kisses." 

"My God! you're dumb, Anne. You are 
dumb." 

"Thanks; — but go sit down. ... I didn't 
want you so close in the first place and if we're 
going to call names I'm not sure you hadn't 
better go." She was not smiling. She meant it. 
"Do you want me to call Nellie up and reason 
with her? I don't know who she's running 
around with, but he'll have to go some to be as 
sweet as you." She regretted that phrasing too 
late to hold the words. "In your hat!" she said 
to reclaim the moment. 

Phil held her slim shoulders and tried to kiss 
her again, hitting her cheek as she twisted away. 

"You're drunk, Phil." 
1 20 



"No, I'm not. I haven't had a drink since last 
night." 

"Well, you should be if you expect to get 
away with this heavy love stuff." She rose, avoid- 
ing him, and he clutched at her waist, drawing 
her body toward him. 

"Phil McKenzie, let me go!" 

"Don't be such a prude, Anne." 

"I'm not a prude. I just don't like you that 
way, that's all. That's clear; isn't it?" 

"Perfectly." He dropped his arms. 

Anne twitched and fretted, adjusting herself, 
patting her hair and straightening her dress. 

"I like you, Anne." 

"I like you, Phil." 

"But you don't want to play with me." 

"No." 

"Good." 

"Good?" 

He nodded. "I think you're pretty square, 
Anne." 

"I hope so." 

"You're too square to be taking it like you 
are." 

"Taking it?" 

"You've been taking it for months. I'm losing 
my job to tell you about it." 

"Something about Tom?" 

"All about Tom." 

121 



"Let me have it. Is he out with Nellie?" 

"Yes." 

"I see." 

"I'm only scenery, Anne. I've just been doing 
an old friend a favor. Fm not engaged to her. I 
haven't quarreled with her. I never loved her. 
They wanted to be together, that's all, so they 
made it up that I should tail along to keep you 
from being suspicious. The girl's nothing to me." 

Anne stood rigid, listening. Her dark eyes 
more than half closed; her lips drawn tightly 
against her teeth. 

"But I couldn't keep it up — damn it. You're 
too good a scout. Maybe I fell for you — I don't 
know. But I'm through being a monkey for 
them, so they can make a — to fool you. 

"I'm going now, Anne. I'm leaving town. 
Tom'll fire me if he don't do anything else. I 
don't want any trouble. ... So long." 

"So long, Phil." Another effigy of a man. No 
guts, no underpinning. If he had "fallen for her" 
he'd stay and take her hand and fight for her. 
Instead, he was running. 

"Will you — kiss me good-bye?" 

Anne smiled, tiredly. Kiss him good-bye. She 
shook her head. 

"So long, then." 

She raised one hand in a vaguely fatalistic ges- 
ture of acknowledgment that she heard him. 
122 



The door closed and she stood without moying 
until the cat scratched to be let out. 



She pretended to be asleep when Tom came in 
— and again when he left next morning. She had 
nothing to say to him. What good was talk? 

He called her on the telephone about one 
o'clock. "I've got to go to Youngstown on busi- 
ness, Anne. I'll be back tomorrow or next day. 
I'm sending the boy out with fifty dollars. That'll 
do you; won't it?" 

"Sure." 

"Well— be good." 

"Why should I?" 

"What do you mean, why should you? What's 
the matter?" 

"Nothing." 

"Are you going to start that again?" 

"No. Go ahead. Have a good time." 

"How can I have a good time? I'll be working 
every minute." 

"Like you were last night." 

"Why? What about last night? I suppose you 
came up here." 

"No, I didn't. I didn't have to." 

i*3 



"I can't talk about this in the office. Hang up 
and I'll call you from outside." 

"Don't bother. What time are you going to 
Youngstown?" 

"Why? What difference does it make?" 

"Oh, I thought I might come down and have 
dinner with you and put you on the train. We 
used to do that." 

That was true. They had. At first they 
wouldn't have missed eating a meal together for 
all the tea in China. 

"Oh — I don't know. I thought I'd leave before 
dinner — eat on the train and get in a good night's 
sleep." 

"That's right. Take care of your health. . . . 
Well, so long, Tom." 

"Anne!" 

"Yes." 

"I thought you had hung up." 

"No." 

"I thought you had." 

"What was it?" 

"Oh, I don't know. Your voice sounds so 
dead." 

"Is it any wonder?" 

"Who'd you see last night? Who's been talk- 
ing to you?" 

"I thought you couldn't talk about it in the 
office." 
124 



"Oh, to hell with 'em. Listen, Anne; I don't 
want you to believe things people tell you. If 
you want the truth about anything I do — you 
ask me. ... I know what's the matter with 
you. Some busybody's told you they saw me with 
a woman last night. Well, they did. Do you 
know who it was? It was Nellie. We worked late 
and when we left we were both hungry. We 
went out to the Dutchman's and had fried 
chicken. I knew you'd be asleep or I'd have called 
you so we could all go. Phil knew about it." 

"Yes?" 

"Sure. So you see, there's nothing to it. And if 
you'll trace half the rumors you hear they all 
come down to some explanation just as simple as 
that. Good Lord, you're not going to start being 
jealous of Nellie too, are you?" 

"I'm not jealous of anyone, Tom. I'm past 
that. Was Phil in the office today?" 

"Uh? No. No, he wasn't. Touch of grippe, I 
guess." 

"No — he's gone away." 

"What do you mean gone away?" 

"I don't know. He told me he was going 
away." 

"When? When did you see him?" 

"Last night." 

Tom made a face at the telephone. Suddenly 

125 



he was excited. Phil had run wild. Talked. Uh- 
huh, uh-huh, uh-huh. Now, what? 

"What did he have to say?" 

"Do I have to tell you?" 

"Oh, so that's it. He's gone nuts too. Got sore 
because I bought Nellie a fried chicken. Well, I 
think it's pretty damn small of both of you. 
That's what I think." 

"I don't want to talk any more. So long, 
Tom." 

"Anne!" 

"Oh, what? We can't wrangle like this over 
the phone. Your operator's listening in. Go on 
to Youngstown. Come home when you get ready. 
It's nothing to me." 

"Don't feel that way about it. This is a busi- 
ness trip, honey. Honest it is." 

"Yeah?" 

"It is. But look, Anne. I'll go ask the old man 
if somebody else can't go. What do you say? 
Shall I? Will you come down and have dinner 
with me and go to a show if I can get out of the 
trip?" 

What perverse imp was running away with 
his tongue? Why did he feel impelled to con- 
vince Anne that his fabrication was the truth? 
At the outset, the objective had been to get away 
without trouble for a free evening or two with 
Nellie. Now, as the obstacles to a clean get-away 
126 



increased, the objective changed. Now, the time 
with Nellie was not important. Anne must be 
convinced that he had not been lying, if he had 
to sacrifice the assignation to give his story a 
semblance of verity. . . . Why? 

"I'll do whatever you say." 

Of course, if he could get her to believe the 
yarn without calling off his party — or — though 
Tom was not conscious of this — if he could get 
her only to profess to believe him although both 
of them knew the story was false, and both knew 
that the other knew, still he could go ahead with 
his original plans. If, in much talk, almost by 
accident, through exasperation or from any 
cause, he could wring from her words which 
could be stretched into a semblance of faith — 
something he could throw up to her later — 
something he could use as a basis for an assump- 
tion of innocence after the event — even then 
there would be no excuse for abandoning his 
fun, for cancelling his liaison. 

"That's what I'll do, honey," he forced the 
most spurious tone of enthusiasm into his voice. 
"You sit right there and wait for me to call 
back. I'll bust a button to get out of it. Would 
you like that?" 
I guess so. 

"Well, Christ, talk like it, then. If I turn the 
office upside down to keep you from suspecting 

127 



I'm cheating on you, I'm at least entitled to a 
little cordiality." 

He sounded sincere. She wanted to believe 
him. Phil could have been lying, for selfish rea- 
sons. After all, Tom was her husband; she should 
take his word before she did that of anyone else. 
And if he had been planning to take another 
woman to Youngstown, keeping him home with 
her was a victory of a sort, no matter how it was 
done, no matter how little his heart was in it. 
And if she could win this once, perhaps she could 
prevail upon him to renounce Nellie — or who- 
ever it was — in spite of his fickle nature, in spite 
of Yogadachi. "I'd love it, Tom. You know that. 
It would be like old times again." 

"Well, I'll try. Don't set your heart on it. I 
may not be able to sell the old man, but I'll do 
my damndest. Now, you just sit tight. Hear 
me?" 

"Yes, Tom." 

"So long." 

He hung up and swung in his swivel chair to 
face the window. "Oh — nuts'* he said to an un- 
offending sky. "Damn these women." He gath- 
ered two or three letters in one hand and went 
to Nellie in the outer office. She had seen him 
coming and had put her legs to the left of her 
desk so she could press his as he bent over to talk 
to her. 
128 



She did not raise her auburn marcel as he 
leaned over. "I could feel you coming clear 
across the room," she said throatily without look- 
ing up. "Every time you open your door a wave 
of you comes out here and gets me. I can't work 
until you've gone back again. My fingers are 
stiff — and that little friend of yours — speaks 
right up in meeting. God, I love you, worthless!" 

Tom grinned at her and looked down the neck 
of her loose blouse which she caused to gape with 
an obliging generosity. Without moving her 
shoulders she squinted up at him sidewise. "What 
are you looking at?" she whispered hoarsely. 
"You're in the office! . . . Like 'em?" 

Tom buttoned his coat. 

He put the letters on her desk and cleared his 
throat. 

"You didn't have anything to say to me," she 
went on in that burring undertone which carried 
no further than his ears. "You just came out here 
for a little peek." She pressed her full calf against 
his shin and so moved her knee that Tom 
straightened and looked around the room full of 
typists. 

"Be careful," he said. 

"Never! Not with you, you madman. Oh, 
how I hate you. Always so sure of yourself." 

Tom expanded. 

129 



"Touch me! Touch me somewhere. Any- 
where. Quickly, Tom," she demanded. 

He leaned over the letters and allowed his arm 
to lie across her breast a second only. 

"Oh, God," she breathed. "I can't wait. Let's 
get out of here now. Think of some excuse, Tom. 
Cant you?" 

She covered her eyes with one hand and her 
throat was palpitant. 

"Bring these letters back to me in a minute. 
I've got to talk to you." 

Nellie knew exactly what that meant. It was 
a slight set-back. He'd been talking to Anne. 
"Yes, Mr. Jessup." 

"When you have time," he said in his natural 
voice. 

Well, it seems the old man had no one else who 
could go to Youngstown on this particular mis- 
sion. Anne would have to postpone that party 
that was to be like old times until he got back. 
Not more than two days — for sure. 



4 



So what did gullible Anne do but go to 
Youngstown looking for them? She lacked only 
the shawl over her head to be a character from 
130 



an old temperance cartoon, hieing her body from 
hotel to hotel, scrutinizing the registers for 
Tom's familiar handwriting. She had no idea 
what name he might be using. In the eight most 
presentable hostelries, there was no entry she 
thought he could have written although she did 
read one Mr. L. A. Smith and Wife — written 
back-hand. 

Meanwhile, the cavorting was taking place in 
Akron. And — for all it was illicit, the perform- 
ance had in it certain noble elements; a some- 
what Oriental grandeur entered the second-rate 
hotel bed-room and tinted the dim electric light, 
softened the coarse linen and enriched the hang- 
ings. A sonorous, rumbling, impressive tone, a 
processional heavy with brass and deep-bellied 
drums heralded the consummation of a desire as 
primal as volcanic bowels, as pristine and ele- 
mental as thunder. What Tom lacked of 
physique to make the union wholly symbolic 
was equalized by the extra fervor brought to the 
fray by Nellie. Just as a movie audience is 
pleased to ignore skinny legs in a male star if the 
heroine appears to be daffy enough about him, 
so were the gods appeased and the cosmic audi- 
ence at these festivities given their money's 
worth. Tom's arms were frightful and his nude 
chest rather like a pigeon's, but because Nellie 
experienced, or seemed to experience, an holy 

131 



rapture at their contact with her own more than 
adequate complements, the wind bated its breath 
and the stars blinked blissfully as climax after 
climax was reached time after time. 

What I mean to say is that all through the 
night, while Anne ransacked the Youngstown 
hotels with a second-hand revolver in her purse, 
Tom was giving his entire time and all his swiftly 
ebbing energy to that man-killing occupation 
which Nature has made exhilarating to conceal 
its basic insidiousness. 

Nellie had the time of her life. "Why, Tom," 
she gave him the needle, "you're absolutely tire- 
less, dear." And Tom responded as if it were 
mid-afternoon instead of four in the morning. 

They had breakfast brought in at noon and by 
nine that evening Nellie herself was ready to sit 
quietly in a movie. But two hours was breathing 
spell enough — for her — and an idyllic episode in 
the picture caused her to take one of Tom's thin 
arms and lead him back to their untrellised 
bower. But the novelty had abated in ferocity 
for Tom and before midnight he was ready to 
sleep. He dropped off as Nellie tried to lead what 
conversation there was to the subject of Anne. 
Having completed rather too thoroughly her 
domination of the fellow's physical being, she 
attacked the moral fibre, the spiritual body and 
other such-like figments popularly said to lie 
132 



within the human breast, pigeon or normal. 
Likely her rapacity would have been gratified if 
the other job had been done less well; as it was, 
Tom was too sleepy to remain awake long enough 
to surrender. Too sleepy to talk about Anne or 
anything else. 

Anne got home while they were still sleeping 
in the morning. She looked at his untouched bed 
and telephoned his office. Mr. Jessup would be in 
later in the day. She was ashamed to leave a mes- 
sage. How would that sound? Please have him 
call bis wife xuhen he gets in! She wouldn't have 
those weak-minded little cats laughing at her. 

The girl at the board pulled the plug out and 
called to another, two desks away. "You owe me 
fifty cents, Sadie. He hasn't been home; — she 
just called." 

Anne made some toast and drank tea and went 
next door to retrieve the cat. The neighbor con- 
gratulated her on her husband. "I think it's won- 
derful, him taking you with him on business 
trips like that" — and watched Anne's face nar- 
rowly for the pain. 

"He's very thoughtful that way," Anne said, 
scratching the cat's head, her face as expression- 
less as she could adjust it. "Thank you for taking 
care of Chita." 

Tom called her early in the afternoon. 

"Hello, Anne. I'm back." 

133 



The very sound of the bell had carried the 
conversation further than that. 

"Yes." 

"I'll be home early for dinner." 

Why did he pretend to be gay; pretend dinner 
with her would be pleasant? He didn't want to 
come home to dinner. Why wasn't he man 
enough to say so? 

"All right." 

"Jesus, God! You sound glad to hear from me. 
I don't know why I break my neck to get back 
to hear you talk like — like a wet — potato. I'll 
be damned if I do." 

"What shall I get for dinner? Lamp chops?" 

"What's the matter with you, Anne? Yes — 
sure, lamp chops are all right." 

"All right." 

"Anne!" 

"Yes?" 

"Aren't you glad I'm home? Don't you want 
to see me? I've been gone two days and all I get 
for a welcome is a wet blanket." 

"Don't let's talk about it, Tom. You come on 
home and — I'll — we can — talk then." 

"Why, what is there to talk about? Are you 
ill?" 

"Not very." 

"But you are ill?" 

"No, I'm not." 

134 



"I'll come home right away." 

"No, don't do that. Just come for dinner. I'm 
all right." 

"All right," he made his voice light and cheer- 
ful again. "I'll be seeing you." 

He made a conscientious effort to work. He 
really should make up for all the time he had lost. 
His desk was cluttered with business needing 
attention. But concentration was beyond him. 
When he realized that he had been staring at one 
sheet of paper for twenty minutes while imag- 
inary conversations with Anne and fragments of 
memory from the past forty-eight hours alter- 
nated in his mind, he rose in exasperation, took 
his hat and made for the street. 

Nellie's cruelest, most scornful smile followed 
him out the door and got in the car with him. 
"Piker," it taunted, from a spot six inches from 
his left ear. "Tied to her apron strings! Run to 
her, baby. After last night and the night before 
— you run to her when she crooks her finger. 
Slave. Conformist! Where are all your fine 
declarations of freedom? Back to the hutch and 
your lettuce leaves! But don't expect me to be- 
lieve you're a lion the next time you feel like a 
prowl. Go on back to her. Here's a kiss for 
you!" — as he drove toward his home. Tom, you 
see, was impressionable, and Nellie's smile con- 

135 



veyed to him only as much as she meant it to 
convey and not one iota more. 

Anne heard the car stop. He had come home 
early in spite of what she had said. All right, 
grimly, it didn't matter much when it was done. 
She took the revolver from her purse, looked for 
a place to put it — a place easy to reach — then 
hastily stuffed it back in the bag as the back 
door-bell rang. The groceries! She carried the 
purse with her. 

"G'day, Miz Jessup. Have a nice trip?" 

If she should shoot him> the blood would be 
brilliantly red, running down that white apron. 
When she shot Tom his blood would just soak 
into his brown suit, and look black. 

"Very pleasant, thank you." 

"I got a cousint in Youngst'n." 

"Ye-es?" 

The front door closed. 

"Hello, Tom," she called cheerily. There must 
be nothing amiss before the tradesmen. "Are 
those the seventeen-cent peas?" 

"Yes, ma'am. . . . Hello, Mr. Jessup. Glad 
t'see y\" 

"How are you, Jo?" 

"Pretty good. You're gettin' thin." 

"Oh, I don't think so." Tom embraced his 
wife perfunctorily, kissing her in brief salute. 

"I wisht I could knock off an' go home in th' 

i 3 6 



middle o' the day," Jo winked at Tom. "You 
eggzecutives get all the breaks." 

The three people laughed. "I put in some 
scraps for the cat, Miz Jessup. I thought you 
might want 'em." 

"Thank you, Jo." She closed the door and 
turned to Tom. 

"Give me a real kiss, honey," he said, and she 
watched him approach her, held motionless, with 
her back against the door, by a resolution akin 
to that one feels when necessity forces the han- 
dling of something filthy; a beskite dog, the 
vomit of a loved one. She was taut in anticipa- 
tion of contact with his flesh, spared violent 
nausea only by reflection that soap and water 
would cleanse her of even the most loathesome 
mucidity. 

She let him kiss her — and the touch of his lips 
dispelled her paralyzing horror. Oh, God! make 
it that she was wrong. Make it all an unfounded 
suspicion! Purge her head of these nasty thoughts 
and make these arms mean what they were pre- 
tending. Fix it up like that; won't you, God? 
Ah, it was too late. Too late for even God to do 
anything about it. His kiss had been unnatural, 
twisting in a new way; something he'd picked up 
in Youngstown. Over his shoulder she saw her 
bulging hand-bag on the kitchen cabinet. 

"Dja get lamb chops?" 

137 



"1 



'Yes. . . . Lamb chops." 

He released her and she busied herself storing 
the cans and packages. What for? In two hours 
neither of them would care where the groceries 
were. 

"You didn't get that brown suit pressed. You 
must have been busy." 

"I was," he yawned, leaving her to her chores. 
"I put over something pretty decent for the 
house." 

That sounded natural enough. That was the 
way he talked. That's what he would say. 

"See the Vincent's?" She had to raise her voice 
to make him hear. 

"No-o-o. No time." 

He was running the tub. c Tm gonna take a 
bath," he forestalled further conversation. 

"Towels there?" 

"Yep. . . . Thanks." 

Washing the odor of another woman from his 
body. Oh, why wait? Why wait? In the tub he'd 
be helpless. He probably wouldn't lock the door. 
His blood would mix with the water in the tub. 
If he did turn the key she could shoot the lock 
open — like they did in the movies. She should do 
it while he smelled of her, while the guilt was all 
over him. Anne's hands ran over her chin, her 
neck and into her hair. Her teeth cut her lower 
lip. No. While a vestige of doubt remained she 
138 



would wait. But that meant catching him. Actu- 
ally finding him with someone. All right. Sup- 
pose it did. It was better to wait for that than to 
kill an innocent man. To kill Tom. . . . Was 
she actually going to — to kill Tom? It didn't 
seem possible. 

She pushed her bag way in the corner of the 
cabinet and dropped an empty paper sack in 
crude but effective camouflage before it. When 
Tom returned in a dressing gown, the chops were 
sizzling. Anne was cutting bread with a long 
sharp knife. He came up behind her and pressed 
his scantily clothed body against her. She could 
not suppress the shudder that ran through her, 
and wrenched away, turning, the long knife still 
in her hand. Her eyes blazed with hatred. For a 
moment you could have bought Tom's chance to 
live for two Confederate pennies. He swallowed 
hard. "I — I didn't mean to startle you/' he said, 
and backed out of the room. 



5 



February 26. 
Dear Laura: 

You are the only one in the world I can 
come to with my troubles. Please hear me 

139 



out and do not condemn me too quickly. I 
do not care what the rest of the world 
thinks, I want your good opinion to follow 
me to jail, to death if need be. This may be 
the last letter you ever receive from me. I 
fully intend to kill myself — yes, even as 
poor Helen did — after I shoot Tom. If my 
courage fails and I do not go through with 
it, think kindly of me. I will go to jail and 
take my punishment. It will be worth it. 

My life is a living hell. I have not slept 
more than an hour at a time as far back as I 
can remember. It must have been over a 
month. I am losing my mind, I know, 
although this all seems rational enough; 
doesn't it? I talk about killing and suicide 
and madness, — calmly. That is because I am 
talking (writing, of course, it seems like 
talking) to you. I have been thinking about 
all this so long. Tom watches me. He knows 
I am going crazy. He knows I distrust him 
and that I am only waiting for an oppor- 
tunity to strike. He does not know I have a 
gun. I bought it in a pawn shop in Youngs- 
town. 

He took a woman there. But I couldn't 
find them. I thought I could kill him when 
he came back — but the grocery man was in 

140 



the kitchen when he came in. I couldn't do 
it then. 

We have had separate bed rooms since 
Christmas. I think he locks his door at night 
for fear I'll stab him in his sleep. But I won't 
do that. I want him to know I'm doing it 
when I do. He'll come into the kitchen 
when I'm cooking and if I start to slice 
bread — he runs. I must look dangerous with 
a butcher knife in my hand. 

This must sound silly to you. Anne — 
looking dangerous! But I'm serious, dear. 
It has to stop. The Swami was right again. 
There is only one way to stop it. I have to 
kill him — kill the only man I have ever 
known or loved — because I love him. 

Now, please don't do anything foolish 
like telegraphing the police here. That 
would only delay matters. Since I have done 
nothing but tell you about it, they would 
have to let me out some time — and I would 
do it as soon as I got away. I have concluded 
Ellen Koons is right. We can't any of us 
escape our Karma or Fate or Destiny. The 
whole plan of our lives is a pattern. Yoga- 
dachi or Danbury or whatever his right 
name was, was only part of the pattern. He 
didn't wish any of these things to happen. 
He had no reason to wish for his own death. 

141 



He had nothing to gain by killing any one 
else. Ellen is right, I think, he was in touch 
— en rapport y as she says — with a sphere we 
don't even know. He saw ahead and told us 
about it and died. Ellen and I have been 
corresponding ever since Mary was sent to 
the asylum. Wasn't that just too pitiful? 
Proud, sensitive, little Mary Nolan — in an 
asylum. That's what I dread most about 
what I'm going to do. If I have to go to jail 
— all of the others — yes, and even you — 
will say: "Poor Anne. In a cell!" It's your 
pity I hate and not the cell. But I will avoid 
it if I can. God knows I have to get away 
from it sooner or later. The neighbors pity 
me. My family pities me. You girls pity me. 
I've reached the end of my rope. I'd much 
rather be dead. 

But it's not only that. I'm caught up in 
this pattern. I have to do what I'm doing to 
complete this endless chain that started with 
that round-robin. I guess that's where it 
started. Certainly it was about that time 
that all the trouble began. And it's just 
going the rounds from one to another of us. 
Each one is a link. The Swami, Helen, Mary, 
me. I don't know who is next. I may never 
know. But, Laura, a husband has to be killed 
and Tom is the logical one. I think I've been 

142 



planning to kill him for years; ever since I 
saw him kiss my niece on our wedding day. 
It was all in fun. You know. The men of 
the family kissed the bride as they always 
do. The women pretended to make a fuss 
about favoritism — he was so handsome, 
damn him — and they all kissed the groom. 
Dot was only fifteen — but she had a positive 
yen for men, Tom in particular. It was 
probably her fault as much as his, but there 
was no kidding in their kiss and I saw red. 
Oh, I controlled myself. I was home. But — 
there you are. The Swami said a husband 
would be murdered. Well, the only ones left 
are Mary's, yours and mine — that I know 
anything about. I'm very, very sure you 
aren't going to kill George. Not if I can 
help it, with a worthless, cheating devil like 
Tom walking around begging for it. You 
have a different part to play n making this 
pattern anyway. Laura, I hate to have you 
think I've gone as batty as Ellen, but every- 
thing has come out so accurately so far; if 
there is anything you can do to save Bobby's 
life, for God's sake do it. He's almost five. 
In one of my letters from the Swami he says 
I'll hear of a little boy's death while I am in 
prison. It's things like that that make me 
think I won't be able to kill myself after 

143 



I've shot Tom, but God knows I mean to 
try. 

There, now. I've put it all down on paper 
and you'll cry over it or telephone for the 
police or — I don't know what. But it won't 
do any good. I'm going to do it before this 
reaches you. Pray for me. 



(1/LuL 



Laura read the letter the second time as she 
waited for "long distance" to tell her there was 
no answer at the Jessup residence in Akron. 
Then, as quickly as she could, she packed a bag 
and took the first train East. George followed 
her only a few hours later, on the next train. 

There was no answer because the house was 
empty, save for Chita, who slept calmly in the 
middle of Tom's bed while Anne stood in his 
office door and emptied the contents of her re- 
volver into her husband's body. He had changed 
suits. That was like Tom. This one was grey. 
144 



The sound of the gun, the sight of Tom dying 
before her, the blood pounding in her own ears, 
hypnotized Anne Jessup. She lost count of the 
explosions, lost all ability to count, and so saved 
no cartridge for herself. She lost all sense of time 
and place, and when witnesses came trepida- 
tiqusly toward her, she continued to pull the 
trigger, over and over again, the revolver click- 
ing, clicking, clicking, on empty shells. 

When the men saw her helpless they fell upon 
her, baying, "Get her gun! . . . Take it away 
from her!" And when she relinquished it without 
hesitation, they puffed and jerked their heads and 
straightened their coats as if the battle had been 
strenuous. But don't laugh at them. They were 
under a strain. Adjusted for strife, keyed to it, 
her easy surrender surprised them and they had 
no time to change costume and make-up. Re- 
solved to die, if need be, they could not forget 
their heroics instantaneously when the emptiness 
of the gun turned them into lackeys. So they 
strutted in memory of their earlier, grander 
images of themselves, blood-spattered, at grips 
with death, and they glared their resentment at 
Anne. Like the neighbor-boy who switches 
games on his fellows — say from cowboys to 
pirates, all in his own head — she was suspect. It 
was a lousy trick. If she was going to play killer 
she should stay in character until the curtain 

145 



touched the floor. Switching in the middle of the 
scene made the rest of the cast feel like damn* 
fools. And for making him feel an ass, man will 
never forgive you. For this they glared at Anne, 
for this they hated her — and not because she had 
killed Tom. They were rather well satisfied that 
she had done that. Every male in the office de- 
sired Tom's heart's blood for taking Nellie Stone 
from beneath their noses. Too craven to take her 
themselves, still they wanted her left where they 
could sniff her, like poodles. 

One of them thought of this as they formed a 
ring around Anne. One of them looked over the 
heads of the others and into the gathering group 
of chattering stenos and clerks, looking for Nell. 

She wasn't there. As the second shot of the 
fusillade had sounded, prefacing the screams and 
hub-bub by only the smallest portion of a second, 
Nellie had risen from her desk with the rest, but 
her interest had lain in another direction. The 
center of interest to the other girls had been this 
cogent drama being enacted before their dull 
eyes. Nellie's was the homely door of the freight 
elevator and the company of the old operator. 

A bitter wind parted her auburn marcel and 
she regretted losing that hat. It was only a week 
old, the only one like it in Akron. She shouldn't 
be seen running from the building like this, hat- 
less, coatless. It was a confession of guilt. There 
146 



would be a trial. She would be named. The 
world's finger would point at her in scorn. The 
husband-stealer. The wicked woman. But what 
could they prove? A lot, perhaps, if she attracted 
attention by running. If she stayed — she was 
more than Anne's match. If she stayed and 
helped Anne, professed innocence and contrib- 
uted to her defense — A talk with the lawyers — 
A plea of temporary insanity instead of "the un- 
written law" 

Nellie returned slowly to the freight entrance. 
What was her alibi for running? Why had she 
come this far? Cigarettes. She had left just before 
the shooting. That bunch would be too excited 
to remember whether she had or not. Or, another 
version, — knowing of Anne's jealousy, however 
unfounded, she had run to save her neck — and 
returned the moment she thought it was safe. 
That would hold water. But she bought ciga- 
rettes before ascending — by way of extra pre- 
caution. 

The police had not yet arrived. Why hadn't 
she thought? She could have brought the nearest 
traffic cop back with her — or a doctor would 
have been even better. What a fool! She always 
thought of everything twenty minutes late. 

"She won't talk." 

"She won't say a word," they told Nellie as 
she added her presence to the fringe of the in- 

147 



quisitors. Lots of them were smoking. This was 
like "after hours". No one would think of criti- 
cising their cigarettes at a time like this. Nellie 
opened her new pack of Luckies ostentatiously 
and offered them on either side. "They're fresh," 
she thought to add, creating evidence. 

"Isn't it terrible?" 

"Is he dead?" Nellie asked. 

"Oh, yes; I think so. God, isn't it awful?" 

None of them had ever had so much fun. 

Nellie elbowed her way through the private 
office door, and when the others saw who was 
pushing they held their bodies aside as if she, cer- 
tainly, was entitled to a floor table — and sans 
convert. 

Though they babbled a little, mostly in whis- 
pers, at the outer edge of the pack, here, close 
to Anne and Tom a tense silence was observed. 
The woman's eyes had not lifted from the con- 
torted face of the corpse — not even once. She 
scarcely blinked. 

Nellie studied her a moment, looked once at 
her dead lover, then slipped her arms around 
Anne and pulled her head down on her breast, 
stroking her cheek. It was a bold move, a daring 
move, but Nellie was not without courage. She 
risked a lot, but she won. Tears, then. Tears in 
abundance. Anne clung to her, sobbing and 
sobbing. 
148 



A great elation swelled Nellie's heart. This 
could never be undone! These tears, this em- 
brace, this evidence of sisterly affection before 
more than two dozen witnesses could never be 
erased from the record. It was a ccncp! If Anne 
had taken the other tack, reviling and denounc- 
ing her, it could have been called hysteria, mad- 
ness. But this was gentle and kind. It was Anne's 
funeral, Anne's suicide. But what would you? 
Who's responsible for anything? You've read 
Yogadachi's letters yourself. It's the stars. 



March 3. 
My dear Mrs. O'Neill: 

Need I call your attention to this further 
fulfillment of prophecy? You may scoff as 
much as you like. You may heap anathema 
on my head, but 'nothing can stand before 
Prophecy! Resign yourself to your fate. 



£&SW. ~Koo-<*s 



149 




CHAPTER FIVE 

When men avoid a woman as beautiful 
as Hazel Cousins, they confess a 
large conceit. In effect, they say: "If 
I don't pursue her, I can always alibi out of not 
getting her. I can say to myself and any curious 

151 



enough to listen, 'She's a chilly proposition. Prick 
her and she'd bleed ice- water. 5 I can say: 'God 
deliver me from a perfect lady. 9 And: 'When 
they look like that they demand too much/ Or: 
Td hate to have a wife that pretty. Every man 
in town would be chasing her.' Thus convincing 
myself and other men as well as many women, 
that I do not want her, that I am an extremely 
clever analyst, the master of my Fate, and a con- 
noisseur of femininity. These are lies, of course. 
The truth is that I would crawl a mile on my 
hands and knees to stick my middle finger in her 
coffee. But — I had rather lord it as I do over my 
own good wife who bears not the slightest re- 
semblance to Lillian Russell, Harriet Hoctor or 
Lenore Ulric than make a fool of myself shoot- 
ing at the moon. I had much rather knock them 
dead by the dozen — or even by twos and threes 
— just as they come, run o' the mill, than make 
a play for something so damned select that I'd 
be laughed at or ignored. The plainer ones don't 
expect you to look like a Greek god in your 
B.V.D.'s and they don't insist that you salaam 
three times, put ashes on your head and kiss their 
feet every night before retiring. Not that I 
wouldn't be glad to go through practically any 
ritual to possess her, but she wouldn't have me, so 
I'll let her alone." 

Hazel didn't understand that. She thought 
152 



there was something wrong with her. She knew 
she was pretty, but rigid home instruction kept 
her fooled into believing that modesty and 
maidenly quiet were the attributes which at- 
tracted the most desirable men. Conversely, the 
parental instruction made certain that lesson 
would be borne out by observable facts when 
Hazel should be old enough to study case his- 
tories, by identifying "desirable" men as those 
who were attracted by the practice of these same 
virtues. Hazel was only half-way through Mount 
Albans when it became monotonously apparent 
that, for some reason she could not fathom, the 
system had broken down. The only men or boys 
attracted by her meekness and her retiring ways 
were grey-beards, priests or sissies. But the fac- 
ulty insisted that mother and father were right, 
and the boys the other girls had for friends did 
seem a little clumsy, loud or precipitate. She 
brooded about it, wondered, but took no experi- 
mental steps. They were not an experimenting 
family, the Cousins. They thought Ben Lindsay 
had hoofs and Clarence Darrow a spiked tail 
which he had to keep strapped to his left leg so 
it wouldn't lash. And once, during spring house- 
cleaning, Hazel had suggested that the living 
room furniture be rearranged as it settled into 
place. Her mother patted her cheek kindly and 
shook her head, lips puckered as if she had been 

*53 



biting a quince: "No, no, Hazel" — it sounded 
more like "noo-noo" — "papa wouldn't like it. 
We got along pretty well the way it was for six 
years. I don't think we'd better try anything 
new. . . . Don't you like the front room?" 

"Oh, it isn't that. I just thought it would 
be nice for a change — with the Davenport 
over " 

"We won't discuss it, Hazel." 

"Yes, ma'am." 

And that evening Hazel's mother had one of 
her headaches — from worry. The meal was 
eaten in silence and when it was over, each of 
the diners leaving a few morsels on his plate to 
establish that he was not a pig, Cousins was sum- 
moned to a conference while Hazel stood at the 
front window and worried about her dereliction. 

Did Cousins think their child had a restless 
streak? Where had a desire for novelty come 
from? What did it mean in her character? Were 
any of the Cousins like that? Certainly none of 
her family were. So her father talked to Hazel 
for about an hour that evening — about changing 
furniture and things. 

Mount Albans, for all its strict rules, was lax 
to Hazel. Her room-mate was from Texas and 
she insisted on changing the furniture in their 
room every Saturday afternoon, until Hazel 
came to look upon this weekly upheaval as one 

154 



of Rome's ways and because it was habitual it 
assumed an order in her mind and she thought 
that if you started out by changing your fur- 
niture around every Saturday without fail, it was 
no longer sinful. It would be sinful not to move 
it, if that was the way you started out. When she 
got married she was going to move everything 
about once a week from the very beginning. 

Dresden and platinum and rose, and her 
mother dressed her well. Every week or two a 
box arrived holding some dainty addition to her 
wardrobe. These dresses and caps and capes and 
hats she donned a little sadly. She couldn't keep 
the other girls away when she tried them on. 
They were all far more excited about each new 
arrival than she. Yet their exclamations and 
comments hurt her, the praise more than the 
feline innuendo. And she was forever letting 
them wear her things; all one had to do was ask 
— or, if one was timid, just stand and look with 
the proper countenance. 

Commencement would have wrung your 
heart, if you were observing and sensitive. She 
looked like nothing earthly in those billows of 
airy white foam. She looked like a bride from 
some unwritten fairy tale and they all said so. 
At least, they said she looked like a bride. Hazel 
would be the first to marry and she'd get the 
richest and handsomest husband. She answered 

155 



nothing to all this praise. Hazel was not quick at 
thinking up answers. "Oh, I don't know/' she 
said, and her lips relaxed quickly, drooping ever 
so slightly at the corners. What's sad about that? 
Well, you'd have to see her. It is folly to tell you 
her eyes were sad. No one ever looked long 
enough into her eyes to glean sufficient data to 
describe them. They embarrassed you. After a 
glance you knew your jaw had dropped and that 
you looked an utter imbecile to her. So you 
turned away. She got nothing but adulation on 
every hand. You'd show her she had no such 
stunning effect on you. You could look elsewhere 
when she was in the room! But that vainglory 
cost you dear — because, confronted by Saint 
Peter, Up There, and asked: "In all your life, 
what thing do you most regret, my son?" — you 
would have to answer truthfully: "To wound a 
lady's pride and to teach her she was not desir- 
able in my eyes, I turned from the contemplation 
of the most perfect face and figure the Lord God 
ever made. I never saw her again — but I have 
dreamed of her thousands of times. I regret that 
I did not look longer while I might." And for 
your frankness, likely, They'll let you polish 
halos. 



i 5 6 



Back in her home, Hazel resumed her search 
for something through those familiar windows. 
Or, was she searching? As far back as she could 
remember she had stood looking out at what- 
ever strip of the world chance placed before her 
casement. But regardless of the familiarity or 
strangeness of the passers-by, she asked nothing 
of them. They neither stimulated nor amused 
her. They were just other people. And the guests 
in her home were no more. The youngsters she 
knew had grown gayer and gayer. They drank 
and necked and smoked and made whoopee. 
There wasn't a single whoop in Hazel. Gin 
burned her mouth and made her head ache. The 
few youths callow enough to paw or attempt to 
kiss her went about their designs in such ludi- 
crous fashion that she brushed them off with a 
single wave of her lids. And Papa and Mama 
Cousins still held the reins. Eleven o'clock was 
bed-time. 

The old man decided to take his wife and 
daughter to Europe before Hazel's debut. She 
spent most of her time in Paris, Berlin, London 
and Venice, looking out of her windows. But not 
even Hazel could look out of a window for hours 
without thinking about something. What she 

157 



thought about most of the time was an island 
where she had been cast by the sea with a gentle- 
man. His name was Raoul, Raoul Wellington, 
the polo star. Although his clothing was torn, his 
shirt gaping at the neck for want of buttons and 
his beard rather too long for evening, he re- 
mained punctilious. He bowed to her slightly, 
smilingly, when they woke in the morning on 
their separate beds of leaves. He asked her at 
every meal if she would have the saddle of the 
rabbit or an haunch. He courted her there alone 
as he would have in New York City, if he had 
ever turned up in New York City, fanning her 
with a banana — no, a palm — and allowing his 
fingers to run deliciously about the roots of her 
hair and lightly over her temples — until, one 
day, he kissed her — gently, his beard biting her 
chin slightly, pleasantly, provocatively, despite 
his tenderness. 

On the homing vessel, she stood at the rail and 
one hand touched her chin in fond reminiscence, 

"Dreaming, Hazel? 55 her father asked. 

She took his hand and squeezed it. He gave 
hers an answering pressure. They weren't very 
communicative, the Cousins. 

It was called a coming-out party, and every- 
thing that could be done to bring her out was 
done, according to Post. But Hazel couldn't 
emerge. She danced and took her share of her 
158 



father's wicked, wicked punch — but nothing 
happened. Four of the boys asked to call and did 
so, later, formally; escorting her here and there 
and finally proposing, one at a time, with a uni- 
form hang-dog, tail-between-the-legs manner of 
novice salesmen: "You don't want any of this 
truck I've got to sell; do you? No! I didn't think 
so." They were rebuffed before they opened their 
mouths; they were half-way down the steps with 
their hats on before Hazel could answer. 

I think this was because sex was unimportant 
to Hazel. She was normal, no more, no less, and 
if her mother was opposed to change, she was not 
so backward as to frown on personal hygiene 
before marriage. Hazel was allowed to keep her- 
self scrupulously clean, minimizing desire. There 
was not even a suggestion of rut. Who thinks of 
fornication before a madonna? Well, of course; 
but Hazel never met men like that. 

A nasty little cough attacked her and after 
X-rays and examinations, Hazel and her mother 
went to Denver for a while. It wasn't serious; it 
wasn't dangerous, but — since they could afford 
it and nothing held them to New York — why 
not clear it up quickly? 

Martha Viborg saw them in the hotel lobby 
the day after they arrived. Just a drop in the 
bucket from the well of loneliness, was Martha, 
and she had more money than Blaisdell has pen- 

159 



cils. She saw Hazel first from the back and that 
made her catch her breath. When the girl turned, 
her full effulgence almost blinded the Lesbian 
and she began scrutinizing all the men in Hazel's 
vicinity to identify the vision's husband. God 
could be relied upon to supply a little extra- 
special manna now and then, it was true, but not 
such a pasty as this without some complications. 
The elderly woman was obviously her mother, 
but mothers were not complications to Martha. 
Mothers had no imagination whatever. 



Viborg was one of the most popular lung men 
in Denver. He had a private hospital of his own. 
It filled his life so full that he was never con- 
scious of Martha's strangeness. He had married 
her expressly to get a start, to get money enough 
to put up his first sanitarium. She had married 
him to give herself an air of respectability before 
the world. A married woman had so much more 
liberty than a single one. She was seldom sus- 
pected of being queer. Without an husband, 
however, and cursed with a rich baritone voice, 
anyone from the city was likely to raise you if 
you were seen only in the company of women. 
1 60 



And being whoopsed in Denver was no joke. 
Chicago and New York, Los Angeles, were big 
enough to shield such a girl from harm, but you 
couldn't let a thing like that get out in a village! 
The cats would shred you. They'd sit, so help me, 
on the same sofa with a damned, rheumy-eyed 
poodle, and tear the reputation of a respectable 
dyke to ribbons. And Martha insisted that she 
was respectable. Her affairs were always of the 
heart and never vulgar, hurried gratifications 
with chance acquaintances. She was not to blame 
for the divergence from the norm of her ten- 
dencies. These desires were none of her choosing. 
But she was independent enough and proud 
enough to tell the rest of the world to mind its 
own business. She'd keep her shades down. What 
was Viborg but an opaque screen between her 
activities and the neighborly eye? If they peered 
around the screen they were worse than she, had 
fewer or lower morals. 

Strong, within, and ready to defend her mode 
of life against all critics, Martha was also sensible. 
She did not parade her condition in slouch 
fedoras, four-in-hand ties, tailored tweeds and 
low-heeled brogues. It certainly did not pay to 
advertise — not in Denver. But her feminine 
attire was less a matter of expediency than of 
taste and refinement. Martha's family was, on 
the whole, rather fine, and none of her relatives 

161 



ever dreamed what was wrong with her. She was 
strange, they admitted, but that was her business, 
she seemed happy enough. 

So, outside of a very close shingle and the deep 
voice she could not change, Martha appeared to 
be a woman. And a pretty woman. Very pre- 
sentable, indeed. Her hair was a shade or two 
lighter than ground black pepper, that extraor- 
dinary, arresting mixture of something and grey 
that startles when worn by a person under 
thirty. Her features were well assembled, a little 
sharp, perhaps, until you reached her lips, which 
were full and shapely. 

There was nothing wrong with Martha, out- 
wardly. She did not stride nor boom nor grip 
your hand with malicious strength. She did not 
smoke cigars nor carry a cane. In fact, no more 
than ten or a dozen people in Denver knew she 
was queer and those few weren't talking about it. 

What made her so? Who am I? Not Kraft- 
Ebing nor Havelock Ellis, certainly. ' I don't 
know, frankly. I know Martha — well. There are 
no secrets between us. But she doesn't know 
where she came from and your guess is as good as 
mine. She blames herself partly for Hazel's 
death, but I doubt that she is responsible. Hazel, 
except for her great value as ornamentation, 
might as well have died long before. 

To demonstrate Martha's careful methods, 
162 



instead of asking the desk clerk at the hotel who 
the angel was, she drove to the Viborg Sanitarium 
and invited her busy husband to dine with her. 

"But I can't, my dear. There are nine new and 
very wealthy patients whom I must interview 
some time before midnight." 

"Any of them interesting?" 

"Nothing extraordinary, I think. Simple T.B. 
generally." 

"No handsome men?" 

"None half so good looking as I." 

"And no women more beautiful than I?" 

"None." 

"You're a dear. All right. Eat your sandwich 
here in all these germs. But don't say I am not a 
very, very thoughtful wife." 

"You are, Martha dear; I assure you you are." 

" 'Bye " 

"Drive carefully." 

"Don't worry." 

So! 

Perhaps the girl wasn't ill. Hmm-mmnhm- 
lala-de dum deeay. Hunm-mhm-hmhmmm-m. 
Le de dum dum dum deeay. 

Martha dined alone at Hazel's hotel, dressing, 
of course, stunningly. 



163 



4 



June 28. 
Dear Laura: 

I'm so close to you out here in comparison 
to home that I feel as if I could call to you 
over the back fence. How are you, dear? Do 
you ever get this far east or do I have to 
come on out to California to see you? 
Mother is with me. It's my throat. But the 
doctors don't expect me to die for a long 
time. 

The wife of a big doctor here is a Cali- 
fornia girl, her name was Bailey and her 
family used to live on Westlake Boulevard. 
Did you ever know them? She has been a 
life-saver to me since I arrived, taking me 
everywhere and having tea and bridge for 
me. Mother is very fond of her too, and you 
know how few people please Mother. Of all 
the Delphians you were the only one who 
passed — and I think your grade was only 
about 76%. She flunks me on every count. 

Martha, the doctor's wife, knows every- 
one here. Perhaps I shall take a wild and 
wooly mountaineer back east with me. Do 
you recommend them? We're going moun- 
tain climbing tomorrow. Martha has a cabin 

164 



several thousand feet up one of these hills 
and she's going to teach me "a new art" she 
calls it. We'll have to take skis and snow- 
shoes and I'll probably break my neck. I 
love this country. Perhaps I'll make Dad 
move out here. The people are so congenial 
and charming. Martha, for instance, is just 
a trump. I've never met anyone quite like 
her before — and we met entirely by acci- 
dent. 

We'll be here some time. Write me one of 
your longest letters and tell me every smart 
thing that baby says. Didn't you steal a 
march on all of us — I'll bet the others just 
boil when they think of you having the 
only baby in the club. Of course, I don't. 
Not much. Poor me; I haven't even snared a 
loose man yet. Why is it, Laura, that all the 
real nice ones are married? Mercy. I know 
any number of husbands I could care for, 
but they're all in love with their wives. Now 
isn't that my luck? 

Don't ever accuse me of writing sad let- 
ters again. This one is so cheerful the paper 
is laughing. Is that a good sign? I feel that 
way, somehow, and it is a grand and glori- 
ous feeling. I guess it's the mountain air. I'm 
getting light-headed. But I am happy here. 

165 



Happier than I have ever been before in my 
life. 

FU close now, before you think I've gone 
dippy. Kiss the baby for me. 



<#Y 



"Isn't it invigorating?" Martha asked, drawing 
the gauntlets of her wool gloves up to her wrists. 
They were leaving the cabin to descend the 
mountain. 

"I've never been so happy before. I've never 
cared much whether I lived or died — but here!" 
They stood looking over a serried expanse of 
snow-capped peaks. 

"It's sustaining," Martha went on, taking up 
her pike. "Like the strong arm of a man you 
love, tight around you, here, at your back." She 
touched Hazel's spine just above the pelvis. 
"Come on. We want to get down to the car 
before dark." 

They tramped in silence. Hazel was puzzling 
a new idea. "Sustaining, — like a man's arm" 
there. That was strange to her. . . . New. Yes. 
It would feel that way. She arched her back, 
experimentally. It would feel like a good dancing 
1 66 



partner, plus love, plus the joy of stretching. She 
turned to Martha, smiling that breath-taking 
smile. "That must be pleasant," she said sur- 
prisingly. 

Martha relished the smile a moment. "What?" 
she asked, truly puzzled. Her own remark had 
been sent forth provocatively. When it failed to 
bring a pertinent or any other sort of response, 
she had forgotten it. 

"A man's arm there." 

Ah! "Well, isn't it?" 

"I — I don't know. I don't think a man has 
ever — held me exactly that way." 

Martha pursed her lips. "Then you haven't 
had good luck with lovers. An accomplished 
male would have done it." 

"It — it seems such a little thing. Doesn't it?" 

"It's the detail that makes an accomplished 
lover; don't you think?" 

"I — don't think I've ever thought much about 
it." 

Martha laughed gaily, "No. Oh — oh — oh — no! 
Of course not. A girl as beautiful as you are 
never, never thinks about love." 

"Stop laughing. . . . Honestly. Oh, I've 
thought about love; but never about 'detail', as 
you call it." 

Martha squinted at her quizzically. These 
revelations were confirming many of the older 

x6 7 



woman's suspicions. "Do you mean that you've 
never compared the — the technique of your suit- 
ors? Their kisses, their pressures, their embraces? 
You've never said to yourself: f If Tom could kiss 
like Jerry and had Frank's or Charley's hands — ' 
you've never said that? Never thought about it?" 

"No. . . . I — I never have." 

"Well, child. What's wrong with you? Are 
you partly dead?" 

"No — I don't think so." For the first time in 
her life, Hazel felt like concealing her celibacy 
and virginity. To Laura and Josephine she wailed 
about both, only half in jest, but, at least, 
frankly. To Martha she felt impelled to pretend 
more experience. 

"You don't care much about the men; do you, 
Hazel?" 

"Not much." 

"The great Mr. Right your parents told you 
about when you were a child hasn't come along?" 

"Not yet." 

"What's been wrong with them?" 

"What do you mean?" 

"How have your best boy-friends failed? 
Clumsy?" 

"Some of them." 

"And you've never met one who knew exactly 
where to put his hands — and when. That's im- 
portant too; isn't it? When" 
168 



"Indeed it is." 

"Most boys don't know when." 

"No." 

"Some do." 

"I suppose so." 

"Hazel; have you ever been mad about a 
man?" 

. . . "No." 

"I thought not." 

"Why did you think not?" 

"You're too sensible to lose your head. I don't 
think you'll ever really be crazy over a man." 

"I wish I could be." That had escaped her. 

"Why?" 

"Well, isn't that what life's for? Aren't we 
meant to love and marry — and carry on the 
race?" 

"High school notions." 

"Well, to love; anyway. I've always wanted 
to love something, somebody. Not like I love my 
father and mother; that other way. I feel that I 
have something to give, something worth while. 
And I'm not ugly." 
"Indeed you're not." 

"I've always felt incomplete, since I've grown 
up. But I don't mean to throw myself away." 
"Don't." 

"I'm not going to. . . . Oh, I'll meet him. 
You've introduced me to so many nice people." 

169 



"Who interests you?" 

"We — 1 — 1, not — n — none of them, that way/' 

"Thank God for that." 

"Why?" 

"None of them are half good enough for you." 

"Well, I don't know. Perhaps they're too good. 
It isn't that. But I — I just don't seem to excite 
them — nor do they excite me." 

"Have you ever had a very close girl friend, 
Hazel? A real friend? One you loved a great 
deal?" 

"Well, in school." 

"Your room-mate?" 

"No. Laura Stanhope. The one who lives in 
Los Angeles. The one with the baby." 

"She has a baby, has she?" 

"Yes. She seems to have found the right man, 
George O'Neill. They're just too disgustingly 
happy. . . . I'm glad, of course." 

"Do you know him?" 

"No. I've seen his picture." 

"Does he appeal to you?" 

"Oh, goodness, no!" 

"I thought not." 

"You say the strangest things, Martha. What 
are you driving at?" 

"Nothing. I've just been wondering about 
you. I love you, you see, and I'm very much in- 
terested in your happiness." 
170 



"Thank you, Martha, dear. I — I don't believe 
anyone has ever spoken to me — so — so kindly 
before. ... So understandingly." Why was she 
choking? What were those tears doing in her 
eyes? 

"You told me the other day that I was a life- 
saver to you out here. Well, you've been a life- 
saver to me. It isn't all one sided. I was very 
lonely until you came." 

"But, darling; you're married. You can't suffer 
as I do. You have love and a home." 

"I have a home." 

"Oh, you love the doctor too," 

"Precious child. . . . Love the doctor! All 
right. If you like to think I love the doctor, I 
shan't contradict you. But he doesn't fill my life. 
You see — I've wanted babies too." 

"I guess there's always something," Hazel 
sympathized. "When we're little we want to be 
big and when we're big we want husbands — then 
babies — then what?" 

"A different husband — perhaps." 

"Oh — I should be very well satisfied with one, 
if he were the right sort." 

Martha laughed again. "Yes — the right sort. 
But that's what keeps so many of us changing. 
We keep looking for the right sort and damned 
seldom find him. . . . After the babies, you see, 
Hazel, even the man who managed his hands and 

171 



lips pretty well through the courtship, loses in- 
terest. Loses interest in that at least. Even the 
right sort. It isn't their fault, poor dears, some 
of them stay loyal as watchdogs all their lives, 
but their heart's not in it. 55 

"Oooh, Martha; how cynical!" 

"Cynical? No. I'm a doctor's wife, my dear. 
That isn't cynicism; it's physics." 

"Physics?" 

Martha nodded. "Two pieces of magnetized 
metal, floated, attract at their opposite poles. 
Leave them together a few days and then sep- 
arate them and see how much attraction they 
have for each other." 

"None?" 

"None/' 

"Just being together wears it out?" 

"Quite." 

"Well, it's better to have had it and worn it 
out than never to have had it at all." 

"You sweet baby! What are you doing to- 
night?" 

"The movies with Mother." 

"After that?" 

"Bed. Sleep is supposed to be part of my diet." 

"You haven't coughed since you've been here." 

"I know. . . . I'm afraid I'll have to take 
cold purposely or we'll have to go back to New 
York." 
172 



"And you don't want to go." 

"Indeed not. . . . Unless I could take you 
and all the mountains too." 

"Freight rates are very high on mountains. 
Even a little one — from here to New York — 
tchtchtch! Quite staggering!" 

"Why did you ask about this evening? The 
picture will probably be dull as New York." 

"Couldn't we arrange for a charming escort 
to take Mama, and couldn't you come to my 
house — and talk? I never get enough of you." 

"I'd love it." 

"Talk about men — the beasts!" 

"The brutes!" 

"The— the bums!" 

Hazel laughed, a rippling, restorative peal. 
"Let's! Let's call them all the nasty things we can 
think of." 

Martha pointed. "There's the car. It's too late 
now. Jimmy'd hear us — and he's all man." 

"Oh, I don't care." Hazel was drunk. Drunk 
on comradeship, the altitude, the exchange of 
ideas with an understanding mind. "I don't care 
if he does hear me." She was giggling now. "Oh, 
the tramps! The — the rats. The rats. There's one 
for you to beat. Rats!" 

"Hush, Hazel, you'll drive me bug-house too." 

As they drove the rest of the way back to 
Denver, they planned sending Mrs. Cousins to 

173 



the cinema on another's arm. But the old lady 
broke it up, and it was not until two days later 
that Martha finally had Hazel alone with her in 
the big house. 



5 

It is a delight to watch Martha work. Detail! 
The girl is past-mistress of detail and nuance. It 
is a fortunate thing for the few of us men left 
in the metropolitan area that all dykes are not as 
gifted and intelligent as was Mrs. Viborg. She 
had a different appeal for every different type of 
woman she sought and she knew exactly when 
the laying-on-of-hands was permissible. She 
never wasted a motion. . . . Nor a moment. She 
could have opened a school for husbands to the 
immeasurable enrichment of the world and the 
despair of divorce lawyers. But, of course, it 
would have been illegal. Anything so reprehen- 
sible as teaching men and women how to enjoy 
life must be heavily punished. It isn't decent to 
be anything but clumsy and crude and gross. 

But they aren't all as clever as Martha. Most 
lady-lovers are as uncouth as the males they 
imitate. 

Hazel and Martha kissed at greeting. That's 
nothing. Perfectly straight women do it, non- 
174 



sensical as that is. It is an advantage the Lesbian 
has over the Sisterhood. Can you imagine the 
scrimmage on Broadway if all the fairies kissed 
their trade when they met? The bodies would be 
ten deep around the Times Building and it would 
take a week to clear a path into the Palace. 

Where were we? Hazel and Martha kissing. 

"Oh, darling, it's refreshing just to look at 
you." 

"Mother's beside herself with curiosity. She in- 
sists I'm meeting a man here, and although she's 
more sporting about it than you'd think, she's 
bursting to know which one it is. . . . Poor 
Mama. She'd so love to marry me off." 

"Do you think she might — eh — drop in, to 
see?" 

"Oh, no. That wouldn't be cricket. No. She 
wouldn't do that." 

"She might have your virtue in mind." 

"It would be a relief to have it on somebody- 
else's mind for a change. Somebody's-else. . . . 
It's been on mine till I'm sick of it." 

"What a mood you're in. . . . Give me that." 

They sat on opposite ends of an old, bottomless 
divan, sinking in it for feet before coming to 
rest. 

"Who's getting cynical now?" Martha asked, 
extending cigarettes. "You sound like the bit- 
terest of bitter virgins. Like Katisha." 

175 



Hazel sighed heavily. "Don't make fun of me, 
Martha. I have a right to be bitter. If I were a 
Katisha I'd never say a word. . . . But Fm not; 
am I?" 

Martha rose and stood smoothing her friend's 
hair, allowing her cool, dry fingers to run about 
at the roots at the nape of Hazel's neck. "You 
are quite the most gorgeous creature in the whole 
world. You are so delicious I could eat you. Your 
ears are the daintiest — Only see them. Your 
mirror doesn't do them justice." 

Hazel smiled up at her happily. "I love that — 
what you're doing. I could sit still and let you 
play with my hair for hours. Does that mean 
that I'm part cat?" 

"You're all cat, dear, or I'll disown you." 

"Disown me?" 

"You don't mind, do you, if I pretend that 
you're my baby. You appeal to me that way. I've 
wanted to cuddle you ever since the first time I 
ever saw you." 

"But me for your baby makes you so old And 
you're not." 

"No. But let's say you are much younger than 
you are." 

"It's all right — in play. But I shouldn't care to 
be any younger than I am." 

"Poor darling." 

"Martha." 
176 



"Yes, love." 

"Fm going to tell you something I've never 
told anyone before in my life. Promise?" 

"On my honor." 

"I've always dreamed — please, now, if you 
twit me about this later I'll be as angry as any- 
thing." 

"Never a twit." 

"Well, — Fve always dreamed about being 
shipwrecked on an island; a tropical island. And 
the man — one of those brutes, you know? — 
always does that to my hair." 

Martha leaned over the edge of the divan. 
"Like this?" 

fT Just like that." 

"And does he do this?" 

"Yes. Oh, that's nice." 

"And does he kiss your ear — like this?" 
• • • • • 

"And this!" 

• • • . • 

Hazel could scarcely articulate, but she finally 
managed, very weakly: "No — o. He — he's never 
done exactly that." 

And before they parted Martha thought of 
any number of things Raoul Wellington had 
never done, for all he was an accomplished 
gentleman alone with Hazel on an island of their 
own. 

*77 



When Hazel, star-eyed, returned to the hotel, 
the old lady smirked at her. "Hazel! You're fall- 
ing in love. I can see it in your eyes." And when 
that made her daughter burst suddenly into a 
screaming shower of tears and fling herself out of 
the room, Mrs. Cousins couldn't understand it. 
She toddled after Hazel ready to apologize, pla- 
cate, make-up, anything. She hadn't meant to 
upset the child. But Hazel had kept right on 
going — out — although she had just come in. 

Nor did the young lady return to take her to 
the pictures. Mother Cousins called the Viborg 
home. After ascertaining the identity of the 
caller, a servant said that Martha was not at 
home. She was, however, lying sleepless across her 
bed, holding a little lock of hair to her lips. 

Hazel had walked until bodily weariness 
forced her to find a place to sit. She entered the 
Public Library and found an empty chair at a 
long table where students worked under green- 
shaded lamps. After an eddy of interest at 
Hazel's arrival, the heads returned to their books 
and no one looked at her. She opened a discarded 
volume and leaned over it, covering her eyes with 
her hands. 

She must get calm, relax. She must control 
178 




Hazel thought it was very beautiful 



179 



herself. Right now her mother was searching 
for her, calling telephone numbers, worrying. 
Mother must not be made to worry. After all, 
nothing had really happened. That wasn't any- 
thing; was it? in the last analysis? It left no scar. 
It did not injure. It wasn't like breaking your 
leg or taking dope. 

Hazel thought it was very beautiful. She had 
been happy until her mother's smug, old- 
fashioned face had leered at her and mouthed 
the name of love. She had wanted to strike her, 
then, but had cried out and run instead. But 
why had she wanted to strike her mother? For all 
those years of waiting? For the torment of wait- 
ing for a man? No, it was more than that. Or 
less. But did she need a reason? Was there a 
reason for everything? Wasn't it possible just to 
want to do something without knowing why? 

The thought of returning to the hotel and so 
much as seeing her mother made Hazel sick. A 
wave of loathing made her shudder. Yet, she 
must not only see her before she slept. She must 
talk to her, explain the strange outburst and lie 
to her. Why? 

Why need she go back at all? She had found 
love; a love so great that it humbled and pros- 
trated both Martha and her. A love full of ten- 
derness and thoughtfulness and ecstasy. A love 

181 



which beggared man's protestations. A thing of 
sublimity 

Fingers slipped once more over her body in a 
surge of exquisite memory. Martha's pretty eyes, 
blazing with passion, looked up at her again and 
Hazel quivered involuntarily. Why on earth had 
she left Martha's house? Why left her arms? 
That was where she belonged. Why put distance 
between herself and her love, now that she knew 
where it was and what it was? Would it be silly 
to go back? Would the doctor be home? What 
would Martha think of her for acting that way? 
Wasn't it piggish, like eating every vestige of 
food on your plate? 

She rose and stumbled out to a telephone. The 
bed-room extension rang and Martha took the 
instrument quickly. "Hello," she said very low. 

"Martha!" 

"Darling." 

"Martha, I want to come back. I can't stay 
away from you. May I?" 

"I'll send a car! Where are you?" 

"I'm — I don't know. I've been walking and 
I'm lost. I'll come in a cab. . . . Are you sure 
it's all right?" 

"All right? My loved one, it's heavenly." 

"I'm flying." 

But she waited long enough to call her mother 
before taking off. 
182 



"Hello, Mama. This is Hazel." 

"Oh, Hazel, Hazel, where have you been? 
You've worried me so. Where are you?" 

"Mama, I'm staying — I'm staying with Mrs. 
Viborg tonight. We're going up the mountain at 
daybreak and I'm staying there to get an early 
start." 

"Hazel! You mustn't do that. You come home 
here to me. I want to talk to you." 

"I can't, Mama, I've promised." 

"Hazel, your first duty is to your parents. I 
must talk to you. Mrs. Viborg is not at home at 
all. Where are you, Hazel?" 

"I'm— I'm in the Public Library." 

"Hazel, don't fool with me! The Public Li- 
brary, indeed." 

"But I'm not staying here, dear. I'm leaving 
at once for Mrs. Vibor g's. Good-night." 

Mrs. Cousins was still expostulating as Hazel 
replaced the receiver gently on the hook. You 
shouldn't hang up on your mother, of course. 
You shouldn't hang up on anybody. But if you 
couldn't stand it any longer and you knew where 
love — real love — was waiting, nothing mattered. 
And every minute you spent out of sight, and of 
touch, out of the presence of that love was a 
minute wasted from your life. She told the cab 
driver to hurry. 



i8 3 



October 2. 
Dear Laura: 

Just a note to let you know I won't be 
coming out there this trip — much as I'd like 
to. We're going back to New York and 
Martha is going with me. Oh, Laura, how 
you would love her if you knew her! She is 
so fine. I have just heaps to tell you, but I 
haven't time. We're shopping and packing 
every minute. 

One of the girls started a round-robin. 
You'll get it soon. I sent it to Jo. 

I'll write you a long letter on the 
train. The saddest thing has happened — 
and Mother and I don't even speak. I'll 
tell you all about it later. 



%%* 



But Hazel found no time to write on the 
train. Between the details of her feud with her 
mother, and worrying because the estrangement 
184 



existed; scheming to be alone — if only for a 
moment — with Martha, without letting Martha 
see that she planned each encounter, lest the 
woman tire of the association; watching her 
lover's every move, jealously, to see that she did 
not talk long to other women; defending her- 
self against Martha's charges of mental unfaith- 
fulness because Ronald Larrimore was on the 
train and seemed to have taken a great liking to 
Hazel; between all these activities, mostly cere- 
bral, there was no time for letter writing. 

Larrimore, as all the world knew, was not the 
ordinary, empty-headed movie-star. He was a 
gentleman, an actor of the first rank before pic- 
tures were anything, a book-collector and all 
sorts of things. His wife was a society girl, a poet. 
He had purposely contrived to sit at their table, 
apologizing humbly. Annoyed at first, Hazel had 
withdrawn all objections when she recognized 
him. Martha had retired into a shell. 

"You were scarcely civil to Mr. Larrimore,' 3 
Hazel said to Martha later. "Don't you like 
him?" 

"Precious — we must be very careful, in public. 
People like Ronald Larrimore sense attachments 
like ours and laugh at them." 

"Why, Martha, how could he?" 

"Have you ever read any of his wife's verse?" 

"No." 

i«5 



'Til get you some." 

"I don't understand." 

"It isn't necessary. Only remember this. Ron- 
ald Larrimore has a reputation for being a great 
humorist, in his way. He'll do or say anything 
for a laugh. I wouldn't be surprised if he came to 
sit with us — to laugh at me." 

"Martha, darling! You're too sensitive. No one 
— no one can know about us." 

"The closer we get to New York, my dear, the 
more people will know about us, or suspect about 
us, at a glance. People from Hollywood, my dear, 
are not like your mother nor the doctor, nor our 
neighbors in Denver." 

But Hazel would not believe it. And Martha 
could not bring herself to confess the prevalence 
of her kind in the picture colonies, on Park 
Avenue and at Newport. While Hazel was inno- 
cent enough to believe that only they knew of 
this soul-stirring delight, that only they prac- 
ticed these inventions, Martha wished her to re- 
main so. It was this perverted soul's constant 
dread that Hazel would learn that there was 
little unique in their relationship. She was certain 
to learn it sooner or later as they all did. In 
Hazel's case, the results might be serious. 

Mother Cousins tried always to eat when "the 
girls" did, but Hazel consistently thwarted her. 
The old lady cornered Martha. "Mrs. Viborg, 
186 



are you helping me? Have you told Hazel how 
sorry I am?" 

"Yes, Mrs. Cousins. She'll be all right in a day 
or two. It was just the shock — you know?" 

"Oh, I didn't really distrust her. I was just 
worried about her. I had to know the truth. You 
understand. . . . What could I have said to her 
father — if — if anything had happened?" 

"I understand — perfectly. But I do think you 
could have trusted your own daughter — both of 
us for that matter. Surely you couldn't have 
thought I would have lent my house " 

"Oh, certainly not. I was just a silly old lady. 
I was wrong. I am sorry. You forgive me; don't 
you? Tell Hazel." 

"I'll try again, Mrs. Cousins." 

"Thank you, my dear. Thank you so much. 
Ask her if we can't dine together tonight." 

While Martha fidgeted, anxious to get away 
because Larrimore had passed and was probably 
sitting with Hazel at that very moment. 

He was. "Oh, oh," he said only half audibly 
as Martha approached. "Here comes Bill." 

"I beg your pardon?" Hazel said. 

"Nothing, nothing. How-do-you-do, Miss Vi- 
borg. Do I have your chair?" 

"Thank you. . . . Mrs. Viborg." 

"Forgive me," Ronald made his voice an 
affected basso. Martha glared at him. He lowered 

187 



one brow very low, raised the other very high 
and nodded his head in little, quick jerks — as you 
have seen him do so often in characters. 

"Mr. Larrimore has been telling me the most 
amusing stories," Hazel said gaily. 

"Perfectly clean ones," the actor hastened, 
raising one hand in a defensive gesture, "Weren't 
they, Miss Cousins?" 

"Oh, perfectly proper/' 

"Of course, I know all kinds." 

"So I've heard," Martha said coolly, taking the 
seat he had vacated. 

"Ah! You've been reading my mail." 

They made Hazel uncomfortable with their 
banter. It seemed to veil a threat, something dan- 
gerously cutting just under the surface of their 
words. "I think I'll step outside a moment," she 
said. "Is it cold?" 

"It will be cold in here when you leave." 

"Isn't he sweet?" 

• • • • • 

"If I go out there with her, will you throw me 
overboard?" 

. . . "Probably." 

"You're quite charming yourself." 

"Thank you." 

"I wish you didn't dislike me so profoundly. 
I'm not going to harm her." 
188 



"Were you thinking of offering her a career — 
opposite you?" 

"Has she ever done anything?" 

"Theatrically? No." 

"I'd be afraid of her voice — the talkies are 
exacting, you know." 

"I've heard " 

"She would have been splendid in silent pic- 
tures. . . . My!" 

"I scarcely think she'd be interested, Mr. Lar- 
rimore. Girls of her calibre are not so easily 
movie struck." 

"What Cousins is that? The watch man?" 

"Yes." 

Larrimore grimaced. "Well, perhaps not. But 
that was your suggestion, anyway." 

"Most of you motion picture people start out 
that way. That was my only reason for mention- 
ing it." 

"You're a forthright sort of person; aren't 
you?" Martha's courage and entire freedom from 
awe before his illustriousness nettled him. 

"I was born in Los Angeles," she explained. "I 
grew up with pictures." 

"Oh, — I see. Well, that almost makes us broth- 
ers, under the skin." 

"I never thought I'd live to have the oppor- 
tunity to tell Ronald Larrimore to mind his own 
business." 

189 



"Yet, you have." 

Martha nodded. 

"Was it as much fun as you expected?" 

She tossed her head impatiently. 

"Well, if you can possibly excuse me, 
now " 

"Must you go?" 

"I'm afraid so. I really should be trying on 
wigs." 

"Cat!" 

"Don't mention it." He bowed, smiling vic- 
toriously, and started away with his laurels. 

"Give my love to your husband," Martha said 
just loud enough for him to hear. He stopped 
short and turned angrily, but the famous Larri- 
more sense of humor saved him. "Thank you, 
Bill. She'll remember you, I'm sure." 



8 



No reconciliation was effected between the 
ladies of the Cousins family, and Martha took an 
apartment with Hazel. They were unwrapping 
new furniture, happy, chirping like birds to each 
other, when Papa Cousins called. Say what you 
would, he had a figure for afternoon trousers. He 
was delighted to meet Mrs. Viborg. Hazel and he 
190 



talked alone, a towel tied Mammy-wise around 
her platinum curls. 

"Why haven't you come home, Hazel?" He 
didn't know, he couldn't know, that the day 
when his poor sternness had power was past. 

"Mother must have told you. She hurt me 
cruelly." 

"She told you she was sorry for that, Hazel. It 
is not your place to censure your mother, no 
matter what she does." 

"I couldn't be spied upon, Dad. I couldn't 
bear to be suspected — of — of wrong doing. . . „ 
She — she sneaked after me. Actually sneaked." 

He tried kindness, then, later, threats. Each 
was alike futile, and he left them to their nesting. 

One day just before Christmas, Hazel saw the 
twins advertised at the 8ist Street Theatre. By 
that time they were spending many evenings out 
of the house and they attended the performance 
together. Hazel laughed heartily at the fat sisters 
and applauded their harmony singing and bur- 
lesque toe-dancing. She hurried Martha around 
to the stage door before the Raskobs could get 
dressed and away. 

"I won't go in with you, dear. I'll wait in the 
car," Martha said. 

"You'll do nothing of the kind. I went to 
school with those clowns. Come on!" 

But Martha held back. "I don't want to go in, 

191 



Hazel. Truly I don't. . . . You run ahead. The 
car's nice and warm. I shan't mind waiting a 
bit." 

"Oh — but I — I thought we might take them 
home with us. They're loads of fun. You'll like 
them." 

Martha gave in, as usual, and they found the 
twins' dressing room. 

"Jesus-God!" screamed May. 

"Hazel!!" June yelled. And I defy any man 
to report the dialogue of the next three minutes 
accurately. 

Then they threw costumes and shoes off the 
chairs so their guests could sit down, and jab- 
bered. Wasn't it awful about Helen Frey and did 
she know they'd just closed at the Palace? 

"What about Helen?" 

"Hadn't you heard?" 

"She's dead!" 

"Killed herself." 

"No!" 

"Honor bright." 

"In the head with a gun. Sure, you knew 
that." 

"I didn't." Hazel felt the color receding from 
her face, leaving it strained and chalky. 

June babbled on: "I bet you didn't even know 
about May's operation/' 

"No! When?" 
192 



"Day before yesterday. Tell her about it, 
May." 

"Damn her," said May, grinning. "She has no 
shame — for me." 

"But — you're fooling. What was it?" 

"A young top-mounter," June laughed 
" — only you can't book hand-stand acts, so 
they let 'im go." 

These were English words, Hazel thought, but 
a foreign language nevertheless. "Fools!" she said. 

"My God, don't you get it? . . . She got 
caught — and the Doc found out who she was 
and charged a thousand dollars." 

"That's what hurts," said May. 

"But it's better than layin' off," June assured 
them all. 

"Ain't some thin' awful gonna happen to 
you? It is to everybody else. Didn't you get no 
letter from that Swami?" 

"Oh— that " 

"Yeah, that! He's the bird. What a swell job! 
I wish heda told me to look out for acrobats." 

"I'll bet Hazel didn't even know he was dead." 

Hazel was too stunned to speak. She just 
looked at their fat, cold-cream-smeared faces 
with horror back of her eyes. 

"Didn't you, Hazel?" 

"He isn't; is he?" she asked dully. 

193 



"Sure he is. They scraped him off the subway 
tracks." 

"Two weeks ago." 

"Not — not really." 

"Look!" May screamed. "She has got a bad 
horoscope. Look at her." 

June turned. Martha stood beside the pale girl. 
"What is it, Hazel? . . . What's the matter? 
Shall I get you a glass of water?" 

"Don't get scared, kid," June said, spacing her 
words as she studied Hazel intently. "No matter 
what he's told you, — there's nothing in it." 

"I wish you would, Martha." 

"It's at the foot o' the stairs. Here's a cup." 

"Thank you." 

• • • • • 

"Oh, I'm all right." 

"Sure. Don't take that bunk seriously. . . . 
Say, — who's the boy-friend?" 

"What?" 

June nodded toward the door. "The lady-Elk. 
• . . Who is she?" 

"Martha? . . . She's a girl I met in Denver." 

"A girl you met in Denver!" 

"Why, June; she's — she doesn't look old." 

"No — but if they hadn't changed their mind 
at the last minute she would certainly have a 
swell mustache by this time." 

"You mean she's masculine?" 
194 



June rolled her eyes and May laughed aloud. 
"You wouldn't keep anything from your old sis- 
ters, would you, Hazel?" 

"Why, — what do you mean?" She was angry 
— unaccountably, she thought. Her neck and 
ears were flushing redly. She felt a little sick, a 
little fighty. 

"Heads up!" June warned, and Martha re- 
turned with a cup of water. 

"How do you feel, dear?" 

"I'm all right now." She drank. "Thank you." 
Then she wanted to be away from them. The 
twins had grown common since school. She was 
ill at ease with them. They'd want to talk about 
her horoscope — and she didn't want to talk 
about or think about it. But June's strange 
allusions to her "boy-friend" reminded Hazel of 
Martha's warning on the train — especially about 
theatrical people. This was the reason Martha 
had wanted to wait in the car. 

The same basic morbidity which had made 
Helen Frey play with a gun at her temple, that 
holds women within sight of a bloody accident 
until nausea overcomes them, held Hazel in her 
chair and made her say: "What are you girls 
doing tonight? Can't you come up to our house 
for a while?" 

May was struggling into a dress, her volumi- 
nous Teddy only half concealing the great areas 

195 



of soft white meat. As Hazel regretted the invi- 
tation and caught the amazed eyes of June, she 
smiled at the sudden realization that it made no 
difference to her if Martha saw these fat and un- 
appealing women only half clothed, although she 
had been nervous and irritable on the train if 
Martha paused for a moment beside the seat of a 
young and slender girl. Their relationship was, 
then, much the same as if they were of opposite 
sexes. She looked up at Martha, who appeared to 
be in deep thought. 

"Sure we can," May said thickly through the 
yoke of her dress as it passed her lips. "Can't we, 
June?" 

"Bet your life. I'd love it." 

They went; but a more strained evening 
would be difficult to imagine. 

June and Hazel shut themselves in the bath 
together for a time and May had nothing to say 
to Martha. And Martha was having kittens until 
that door should open again. 

How shall I tell you what was said in that 
white- tiled room? Some scenes in this life are 
beyond a man's experience. No matter how dic- 
taphonic my recital, you would know it was 
sheer imagination because, even if I had ever 
gained entry to such a room at such a time, that 
which I should have heard would have been, not 
two ladies talking there alone. I feel entirely ade- 
196 



quate to the invention — in my ear is their very 
intonation, their hesitancies and repetitions, but 
I drop it. I drop it for two reasons; the first, that 
it would be unbelievable no matter how exact; 
the second, that June was not given to a careful 
selection of polite words and I fear me that the 
questions she asked of Hazel, in the phrases she 
asked them, would not be printable. You see her 
dilemma. Here was Hazel Cousins, a virgin if 
there ever was one, living with a dyke. June 
could tell 'em a block away. Living with one, 
mind, and apparently unconscious of it. That's 
what got June. Hazel didn't seem to know what 
was wrong with Martha. 

Well! If Hazel was being led astray, little 
Junie was not the Delphian to let her go unin- 
formed. But, first, she had to learn just how 
much Hazel knew — back of that baby stare — 
and just how far the affair had gone. A delicate 
problem and one demanding the privacy they 
selected for its solution. 

But every whisper was a knife in Martha's 
heart. She sat on the divan staring at a bowl of 
blue flowers in the Chinese rug. She was more 
anxious to hear what was being said in that privy 
than either you or I. She felt that her life was at 
stake. That her future happiness with Hazel was 
in grave jeopardy was too obvious to need 
thought. The situation was more serious than 

*97 



that. This strain was ominous, deadly, like wait- 
ing for someone to draw his last breath. Martha 
thought it must be her own bier she stood beside. 
No other person in her life had been so important 
to her as Hazel. For all the violence of previous 
attachments, none had been so real and deep and 
profound as this. And now a cheap little Kike of 
a vaudeville dancer was ruining it! Smirching it! 
Making it ugly. 

How could she get them out of there? Tap? 
Call? Oh, it was all so obvious! Why in the name 
of God had she let these creatures come here? In 
the fulness of her knowledge of the world, she 
had not had the courage and the strength to stop 
Hazel from running up the shades and inviting 
the public to see. 

May could stand the silence no longer. 
"Haven't you got any gin in the house?" she 
asked. 

"I can get some," Martha said. "We seldom 
drink anything but wine." 

"You got some wine?" 

"Yes." 

"Gee, that's swell. . . . Port?" 

"No — o. I'm afraid not. I — I'm sure there's 
Sauterne, perhaps — Burgundy; and Champagne, 
of course." 

"Champagne!" 

"Would you like that?" 
198 



Martha was extremely grateful to her corpu- 
lent companion for being thirsty. That was her 
alibi. She tapped on the door. "Hazel. . • . 
Would you and — June like a glass of wine?" 

"Jesus!" May called. "You don't need to ask 
June if she wants Champagne. She's been won- 
derin' for twenty years what it tastes like." 

The wine saved the situation — socially. Do- 
mestically, it could not be saved. Hazel would 
not look at Martha — until the third bottle had 
been drunk, then her eyes were bitter and her 
pretty lips drawn. May and June left hilariously 
after quart five. 

Hazel was asleep by the time Martha returned 
from putting them in the elevator. She removed 
the small shoes reverently. Squeezed each foot 
and massaged it where the strap had pressed the 
flesh. She rolled the sheer hose down the white, 
white legs; loosened, unbuttoned and untied, 
then staggered with the inert girl to the great 
bed and covered her gently, lovingly, for the last 
time. 

Besides a travelling costume and a few toilet 
articles, Martha packed a bottle of wine. "I'll 
need that in the morning," she said aloud. . . . 
"Good-bye, my love." She kissed the sleeping lips, 
the lids, the ears — and went to an hotel. 



199 



March 8. 
Hello, Laura, dear: 

You did me so much good. Who else in 
the whole world would have come so far 
just to pat my hand? Mother, of course, but 
I mean among my friends. Just seeing you 
and saying the little we did helped me more 
than I can ever tell you. Why doesn't God 
start over, make a new world, and fill it 
with people just like you? I don't suppose 
any one would appreciate you in such a 
world. There wouldn't be anybody like me 
for contrast. It wasn't necessary for you to 
come. (That made your visit twice as pleas- 
ant.) I am getting on well enough. Every 
one is very kind without showing the least 
slobbery pity. I like these matrons. They are 
capable, gentle, firm. You'd make a good 
one. — Oh, I'm laughing. But I can't help 
it. The picture of you as a police matron in 
a prison is just too much. 

And that George of yours, coming too. 
Wasn't that splendid? There are real people 
in the world, aren't there? Gosh, you're 
lucky. 

200 



Apparently no one has found out about 
all this yet, none of the girls, I mean. I 
haven't received any flowers, anyway. That 
would be a welcome change. Suppose they 
all turned against me now. It would be like 
some of them. I did get one letter, but it was 
brought over from the house. It was from 
Hazel Cousins, written before — before the 
Chicago fire! I suppose it's meant to be 
friendly, but she was always a strange girl. 
Do you remember how sad she was over the 
Irish janitor of Main Hall? She used to take 
him fudge from our parties because she said 
he'd had a great sorrow in his life. She talks 
a lot about the sad case of Mary Nolan. 
She's been corresponding with both Mary 
and Ellen. I'm answering, telling her to let 
Ellen alone, but there's no stopping them, 
Laura. I know. You tried to snap me out of 
it. Now, look what I've done. 

But I'm not sorry. I can actually sleep on 
my cot here and that's more than I could do 
on a good bed at home. I may be hurting my 
case with the court — I know I'm not mak- 
ing any headway in Heaven — but I'm glad I 
did it. Glad clear to my toes. It's such a 
relief to know definitely and surely that 
Tom is not — out with another woman. Oh, 

201 



Laura, you're lucky. You were born lucky. 
You haven't a jealous drop of blood in your 
body. And no reason for doubt. If George 
were faithless to you — you would square 
your shoulders, pick up that precious boy 
and walk out of the house easily. You'd 
never return. And I mean — you'd never re- 
turn. It would be easy for you. You have 
absolute control — you can make your heart 
do just what you know is best — and you get 
such marvelous breaks that you never have 
to tell it to do anything that hurts you. I 
hope for your sake and George's that this 
crazy farce is over now. Whatever it is that 
has been demanding blood from the Del- 
phians should certainly be satisfied. But it 
isn't. Oh, I wish I could know. Ellen is so 
happy in her utterly blind faith. You are so 
happy in your disbelief. But here I am — 
between the two. One minute believing to 
the point of murder; the next minute 
doubting — doubting even my own senses. 

Have you heard from any one? They 
open all my mail, of course, so I'm not sure 
who has written me. Maybe dozens have 
and they've thrown the letters away. I won- 
der what's become of Jo Turner. She wrote 
to me when that round-robin was going 

202 



around last fall — and I answered. I haven't 
had a word since. 

Oh! Damn! I rattle on and on just to 
keep my mind off of things. My fool attor- 
ney is out trying to get proof that Tom was 
untrue. My God! As if I didn't know! But 
he says he has to convince a jury, and // Yd 
only taken some photographs! Can you 
imagine? He thinks I should have gone 
around to little hotels with a Kodak, chas- 
ing evidence. Maybe that would have saved 
my life. He seems to think it might. Well, 
I've given him a list of dates, but he won't 
be able to find anything now. Tom was too 
clever for us. He always eluded me when he 
was doing it. The poor lawyer hasn't a 
chance now. But he says our whole case rests 
on proving beyond a reasonable doubt that 
Tom was a rake and a roue. And if possible 
that he was cruel to me. That's out, of 
course; he never raised his hand over his 
shoulder when I was in the room. But there 
is more than one kind of cruelty. The trick 
is to prove it. 

I've decided absolutely that there was 
nothing between Nellie Stone and Tom. It 
must have been somebody else, maybe many 
others. But it wasn't Nellie, I'm sure. She's 
here every day to see me — and I told you 

203 



how she put her arms around me that day. 
No, Phil was lying. God knows why. If he 
wasn't lying why doesn't he come back for 
the trial? If he has any testimony now is 
certainly the time to give it. 

Hazel was bitten by the Swami too. She is 
supposed to die very suddenly, after a short 
but terrible illness, early this Spring. She 
didn't give me the details, but she asks me 
not to do anything rash so she won't die. It 
seems there's some connection. The longer 
I think of it the more convinced I am 
that there is some underlying connection 
between every one of these events. Yet — 
they have all happened so naturally. I sup- 
pose I'm off my noodle again. I just wonder 
if there wasn't something phoney about 
that round-robin? What do you think? Did 
you ever find out who started it? Helen 
Frey? Heavens! That's just the way. Every 
time you start to look into it something 
like that comes up. Helen's dead and Frey's 
gone back to Europe. 

Well, I give up. Write me often. I think 
they'll let your letters through. I'm quite a 
novelty here. No one understands why I 
don't keep a scrap book. I've been assured a 
hundred times that I'll be a celebrity when 

204 



I get out and that Broadway will pay me 
big money. Ghastly! 

Nellie is mailing this for me. 



(jAjju 



March 23. 
Dearest Laura: 

I have been trying for months to arouse 
enough resolution to start and finish a letter 
to you. This is the tenth start. The rest 
never got beyond half a page. This time I 
will finish it. 

What is it all about, Laura? Do you 
know? Life, I mean. Fve done nothing but 
read all winter and I don't know any more 
now than I did a year ago. Fve been look- 
ing for something to cling to. I've got to 
find it. Fve got to occupy my mind and 
fill my time. Even Mother has her clubs. 
You have a baby. Everyone has something 
but me. The junk Fve read! Emerson, Rob- 
ert W. Service, Bertrand Russell, Cowper 
Powys, H. L. Mencken, William James, 
Science and Health. Fve read everything 

205 



and they're all nutty. None of them know 
about me. None of them have anything to 
offer me. 

The doctor says I've got to find some in- 
terest in life. The little pig. He intimates 
that he would make a splendid interest for 
me. I tried dancing and singing and now 
I'm taking piano lessons! At my age. But I 
don't practice. There's no art in me. This 
must be awfully dull to you. 

Of course there's nothing in these crazy 
horoscopes. I've read hundreds of them and 
they all say things in such a general way 
that they might apply to any one. But I 
have never seen any so specific as Swami 
Yogadachi's. He actually named places, 
events and people. It's just that which 
bothers me. 

I get very much ashamed of myself when 
I think of Helen Frey and Mary — in an 
asylum — think of it! And I complain! And 
now poor Anne. 

Laura, he told me that while a very dear 
friend was fighting in court for her life — I 
would be stricken with a short, violent and 
eventually fatal illness. And he put both 
Helen's suicide and Mary's trouble before 
Anne's trial. It is his exactness which 
bothers me — and I haven't been well. 

206 



I used to run into Jo Turner now and 
then at the theatre, each time on the arm of 
a different man, always distinguished, of 
course — imagine Jo with any but a distin- 
guished man. But now she's gone to Wash- 
ington. Fll bet she's after the President. 
Don't I wish I knew her secret? What does 
she see in them? What does she get out of it? 
I mean, aside from diamonds and cars and 
grand things. She must get something else. 
Jo is not common. I mean — we both know 
her, Laura. This isn't catty. She has morals 
of her own. I don't understand them but I 
know she has. They aren't the world's code, 
but they keep her up. Well, that's what I 
need, something to keep me up. I'm not 
scrupulous. I could do what Jo does if it 
interested me. It doesn't. Probably having 
plenty all my life makes a difference. But 
that's not right either because I never 
wanted an emerald bracelet in my whole 
life. Nor anything else — very much. 

You probably don't remember me men- 
tioning a girl in Denver I was so fond of? 
Martha Viborg? The doctor's wife? I don't 
suppose so. She came East with me, you 
know, and stayed for a while. I was happy 
then. She's gone back to her husband. 

She used to make me eat regularly and 

207 



get lots of sleep — but I hate eating alone. It 
seems such a waste of time. I come home 
from shopping or a matinee to this empty 
apartment, bathe, dress, fully intending to 
go to dinner and perhaps a movie, or to call 
on the folks — but I sit down to read a while 
first and it's ten or eleven before I know it. 
I never feel hungry like normal people — 
and the sight of food disgusts me. Isn't that 
funny? I know I have to eat. Don't scold. 
Everyone scolds so. Once in a while an old 
beau takes me to dinner but most of them 
are so stupid. And they all look like such 
pigs, stuffing food away with both hands. 

I'm boring you. 

Well, there's no news. It must be dread- 
ful on Anne, not knowing what's going to 
happen now. I really glory in her spunk — 
doing what she did. Of course, it isn't right; 
but Heavens — was he doing right? I don't 
think she ever had a happy month with that 
man from the day she met him. 

How is California? Don't worry about 
me. I'll be all right. Tell me about the stars 
you see. Is Ronald Larrimore out there 
now? 

Kiss that Bobby for me and tell him that 
even if he never sees her — his Aunty Hazel 
loves him just the same. I've been intending 

208 



to get down town to a toy shop where they 
have the cleverest things — but that's me all 
over. I just don't do it. I will though. Prom- 
ise Bobby that I'm going to send him some 
of the cutest monkey-men he ever saw. 
They are cute, Laura; I could play with 
them myself. 

I saw the twins — months and months ago. 
June had just been aborted. It didn't even 
dampen her spirits. That's part of life too, 
I guess. What does it take that I haven't got, 
Laura? Courage? Energy? I give up. God — 
I almost envy her. There's blood in her, at 
least. She's human. 

I'm crazy too, I guess. But say! That old 
horoscope is going to be fooled. St. Peter 
too. When it comes my time to die — I'll 
change my mind — or put it off. I'll be too 
busy reading or something. Now laugh. 

Always 




April 2. 
Dear Old Thing: 

There's little enough to write about. The 
trial starts on the sixth. I've no idea how I'll 

209 



stand that — sitting there with hundreds 
looking holes through me. The only time I 
was ever up in front of people in my life I 
forgot what I was supposed to say — yes, 
you remember. And how cut-up old lady 
Blake was. She wanted the show to be such a 
success. I couldn't help it. Probably I'll do 
the same thing again. I hope I don't em- 
barrass the judge. 

You're sweet. You say just the right thing 
and just enough of it. No! I have not a 
friendly dove who eats crumbs from my cell 
window — not even a damn 5 sparrow. You'd 
be surprised how good the food is. To be 
sure, the company might be a bit more 
select. But it couldn't be more amusing. I 
have a good, working understanding with 
my "neighbors" now, but it was dreadful at 
first. I felt out of place, of course, and I was 
too much the de-crowned queen or de- 
frocked empress — or what you will. That 
got me nowhere, you may imagine, but 
everything is "jake" now. And what a 
vocabulary! Jake is harmless compared to 
hundreds of other new words — and old ones 
with new meanings. I'm becoming quite the 
"four-minute moll" — but not indelibly, I 
hope. 

But — what difference does it make? If 

210 



I'm going to spend the rest of my life 
among these people I might just as well 
learn their language; even adopt it. It will 
be better for me. Easier. 

At first I bought a lot of special privi- 
leges. Had my meals sent in — but no more. 
The others razzed the life out of me. 

One girl has been here for over a year. 
We had a long debate — Resolved: That 
there is no use renewing your Ladies Home 
Journal subscription in jail, because you 
can't cook any of those impossibly ethereal 
desserts in a cell. She won the debate and 
then renewed anyway because there was a 
grand murder mystery running serially and 
she didn't want to miss it. Oh, even this life 
has its moments. 

Listen, Laura, will you write to Hazel? 
All this business has gone to her head now. 
She's just waiting for my trial to "jump 
off." Don't let her. Make Ellen quit writing 
to her. It's dreadful. I can't do anything. 
The trial can't be stopped. I'd stay here 
years and never whimper if it would do the 
others any good — but it won't. Get busy, 
will you, Laura? Tell that child that there's 
nothing to it. I've written, but I'm a great 
one to preach after falling so hard myself. 
Well, it's all in a life-time. But I'd like to 

211 



keep Hazel's chin up. She says she feels 
weak and drowsy all the time. No pep. She 
thinks she might be anemic. Heavens! We're 
all anemic. I told her to go to a good doctor 
and eat spinach five times a day and quit 
writing to Ellen. What more? I don't know. 
Enclosed is a note I got from Mary. It 
seems they have her bad spells down to a 
science now. They can chart them and 
know about when she's due for an outbreak. 
Lord deliver me I Just read it. I guess I was 
lucky after all. I only had one spell. It was 
a long time coming and it raised a lot of 
hell while I was at it — but it isn't coming 
back. I don't have to go like a bad dog to 
my kennel every night at eight. Laura, that 
must be awful. Poor Mary. I hope and pray 
they cure her. See what you can do. 

Yours forever, 




Mary Nolan Thompson's note to Anne was 
enclosed: 



in 



March 18. 
Anne — you poor kid: 

How you must be suffering. I know. 
They keep me behind bars most of the time 
now. I stay in the asylum two weeks — and 
go home one. "Hospital" they call it. I'll bet 
it's a worse jail than the one you are in. But 
it's necessary. I have to be held. 

But I'm not supposed to dwell on these 
things. Fm supposed to think of flowers and 
babies. Ye gods! Flowers and babies. Well, 
I'll do even that if it's going to keep me out 
of that place. I got your two or three letters 
long, long ago. Just after my one bad spell. 
You were so upset about Tom when you 
wrote them — but before you actually did 
anything. 

Oh, Anne, you shouldn't have done that. 
No matter what happened to me. How 
could there be any connection? This was 
something I couldn't help. The horoscope 
had nothing to do with this. There's been 
mental trouble in my family before. I have 
always felt compelled to take little things 
that didn't belong to me. This has been 
coming on me for years and years. It was 
just that he saw it coming. 

I am getting better. They know almost 
exactly when my spells will be worst and I 

213 



am locked up only then. And — as I say — I 
can go home one week each month. Derick 
has been so sweet about it all. No man wants 
a thief for a wife — nor a crazy woman 
either. But he sticks through it all, although 
Fve offered time and again to give him his 
freedom. 

I'm going to make my own future — once 
I get out of the doctor's care for good. 
Laura has given me so much confidence. She 
never believed in any kind of fortune telling 
and she poo-poo's the idea of me dying this 
summer. I never felt better in my life — 
physically — if I can only get the best of 
these jits. 

Cheerio, Anne, dear. Keep cheerful. I 
know you'll be out of there soon and I'll bet 
you find some one to care for who is actu- 
ally worthy of your love. 

Yours 'til Niagara falls, 




P.S. They won't let me eat candy — and that 
almost kills me! 




214 



April 8. 
Laura, dear: 

They've "carried him off to die" — what's 
that from? I don't remember. This time, 
anyway, it's het. Me, that is. 

I can see the frown. Maybe even a few 
tears. I can hear you say: "Hazel too!" But 
it seems there's something wrong with my 
tummy. Not enough spinach, I guess. Don't 
feel badly. Ellen has me pretty well "sold" 
on the advantages of the "spirit realm." 
Life wasn't so darn' pleasant for me. Espe- 
cially after Martha left. 

I'm weak as a cat. Too tired to write 
more. The nurse says I have to sleep anyway. 
Sorry I didn't get around to the monkeys 
for Bob. Give my love to everyone. 

Good-bye, dear. 




April 1 6. 
Miss Ellen Koons: 

Are you not satisfied yet? Unless you stop 
writing your dreadful letters to sick people, 

215 



urging them to die, I will use every means 
in my power to have you stopped by law. 
You are doing a sinful, wicked injury to 
people you call your friends. You are black- 
ening your own soul. It is beyond human 
reason to understand why you persist in 
your course. 

There must be an end to this at once. Do 
not tell me it is none of my business. You 
have attempted to poison my own mind in 
regard to my baby's life. I have already de- 
layed too long in stopping you. I chide 
myself with Hazel's death. I might have 
prevented that if I had taken steps to halt 
your letter writing a month ago. 

I will await your answer one week. If you 
do not promise me faithfully and on your 
honor as a Delphian and a lady that you will 
refrain from writing more letters of this 
nature — I will immediately suggest to the 
Brooklyn authorities that your sanity be 
investigated. 

Yours, 






210 



Mrs. O'Neill 
Dear Madam: 

Although I have every reason to resent 
the tone of your last letter, I have learned 
tolerance and forgiveness. I can only pity 
you for clinging so closely to this life. We 
are all so much happier on the Other Side. 

I am sure you will never hear from me 
again, after the letters you have been send- 
ing around to the Delphians. The idea of 
you accusing me of contributing to Hazel's 
illness. It was none of my doing that she 
starved herself to death. I never saw her 
from one month's end to the next. 

You see, I have my friends too. One of 
your high-and-mighty circular letters was 
sent on to me long ago. I ignored it, of 
course, as I would have ignored this last 
threat of yours if I did not know that you 
are capable of doing exactly what you say 
you will. Naturally, I do not want the 
authorities applying their materialistic 
tests to me nor trying to analyze my spirit- 
uality with their clumsy, coarse, human 
methods. 

I will, hereafter, confine my correspon- 

217 



dence to people who do not write to you. 
That will relieve your conscience at least. 

Sincerely yours, 



May 7. 

Dearest Laura: 

They have delayed this terrible ordeal so 
many times that now, when it must be more 
than half over, I can scarcely realize what 
has gone on. 

Was that girl with the gun myself? Who 
was it? My life before I entered the jail 
seems like a long dream. That was another 
person, not me at all. I didn't go to school 
with you at Mount Albans. That was some- 
one else — a sister of mine, perhaps. Oh, it's 
dreadful. The court attendants chew to- 
bacco, — some of them gum. The jury is a 
funny bunch. They don't look as if there 
was a spark of sympathy in a carload of 

218 



them. Listen to me. Me — the girl who hates 
sympathy. Well, when it's years on or off 
the end of your life you aren't so particular. 
I'd just like to wrest one eensty-teensty tear 
from one of their eyes. Not a chance! 

One of them doesn't understand English, 
I'm sure. He sleeps all through the testi- 
mony. I'm counting on him for a disagree- 
ment. My lawyer is very hopeful. He thinks 
they'll acquit me entirely. I don't — but we 
won't go into that. Yogadachi said I'd get 
twenty years. I just heard that from Ellen. 
He didn't tell me that. 

So far the testimony has favored me 
in one respect. Every one has given me a 
lily white character, God bless them. 
And plenty of others have blackened 
poor Tom. 

We have no positive proof of infidelity 
though, so I'm pretty sure they won't think 
much of Mr. Paterson's "unwritten law" 
plea. Lots of people think he should have 
stuck to "temporary insanity" as Nellie 
Stone suggested. 

The place is full of curious women every 
day. God! How they stare! If I could only 
get away from their eyes I'd be all right, but 
their ogling unnerves me. They must be the 

219 



fools who write me such crazy letters. I 
have hundreds, now, from all over the 
country. In some of them I am a saint, in 
others a "fiend from Hell." One man wants 
to marry me if Fm not convicted. Two 
others write that they'll come to the jail 
and have the ceremony performed with bars 
between us. Too much movies. Goes to their 
heads. 

The State will start Tom's office force 
across the stand tomorrow. The eye-wit- 
nesses. I wish I could avoid that. I don't 
ever want to remember that day again — 
and tomorrow I'll hear about it twenty 
times at least. 

So Hazel went the way the rest of us 
have. I thought she might break the chain 
by living. Well, that puts it squarely up to 
you. Bobby's birthday is the last of this 
month, isn't it? Oh, I know you'll break it. 
If you do I'll have hopes for anything. I'll 
even pray for a parole or a commutation 
or whatever you call it. Acquittal is too 
much to ask. I'll never get that. But if you 
get Bobby through till the fifth of June — 
I'll know this has all been the bunk. I'll 
know I was a goose-headed dupe without 
brains or character — and I'll know how to 

220 



live out the balance of my life, in prison or 
out, making up for what I've done. 

If you get Bobby through the fifth of 
June — or even the third — all the rest of the 
girls will have to admit that they are wrong. 
Mary Thompson will not die in the asylum 
nor Ellen — but you weren't supposed to 
know about that. I think you should, how- 
ever, and here it is. 

I'm supposed to hear of Bobby's death 
two or three weeks after I am sentenced. 
That is supposed to prostrate me and send 
me to the prison hospital. About two weeks 
after that, Mary is supposed to burst a blood 
vessel in an especially violent attack of her 
mania — and Ellen Koons is to die the next 
day, he didn't say just how. 

Hazel's anemia brings the chain up to my 
sentence. That will throw the last respon- 
sibility on you. Oh! Laura! If I had less 
confidence in you I would prevent sentence 
being passed on me. I could, you know. 
But life is still sweet. And I know you will 
be strong enough to carry on. Mary writes 
that she trusts you too. You have to save 
Bobby, for her sake as well as your own. 
"No chain is stronger than its weakest link" 
— and in this heavy one we have all made 
for ourselves — you are the weakest link. 

in 



Don't worry about me and take care of 
yourself as well as of Bobby. 

Your old pal, 



[pU^ 



10 

Via Western Union: 

TWENTY YEARS 

ANNE 



222 




CHAPTER SIX 

How many is that? Mary, the maid who 
bruised so easily, is one. Bobby's mother 
is two. Ellen Koons is three. Helen Frey, 
four. Then — Mary Nolan Thompson, the twins 
and Anne Jessup, that's eight; Nellie, the vamp, 

223 



is nine; Hazel, ten and Martha, gone back to 
Denver, eleven. You have only two more coming 
but they're worth waiting for, Jo Turner and 
Ursula. 

You get so you know them pretty well. You 
know 'em and like 'em, in spite of what goes on 
in their heads. Aw, damn! You feel sorry for 
them. I do. Take Martha, for instance. There she 
is, running around Denver in her car. All busted 
up. She's lost weight and she couldn't afford to. 
The Doctor doesn't know what's wrong with 
her. Even Jimmy can't understand it. She has 
him drive up the mountain as far as he can go 
and then she hikes up to the cabin alone. She 
touches the chairs Hazel sat in that first day and 
when she locks the door and starts down the hill, 
she remembers how she talked about men to get 
Hazel to express herself. And by the time she 
reaches the car again she looks forty. 

We needn't worry about Hazel any more. All 
that fragile, tenuous beauty is buried, rigid, out 
of sight. 

Nellie? Well, it's a funny thing about Nellie. 
She began drinking heavily after the trial ; drink- 
ing and running around with just anybody. I 
suppose she was trying to forget that she should 
be in the penitentiary instead of Anne. A thing 
like that isn't easy to forget. It takes a lot of 
liquor and a lot of men. And the men were 
224 



highly unsatisfactory. In spite of Tom's pinched 
up chest, he was the only man who had ever 
really made Nellie want to sit quietly in the 
movies. She ratted around all over Ohio, the 
smaller cities, Toledo and Dayton and Columbus, 
but she always came back to Akron. 
We'll hear more about Anne. 
That big slob of a June Raskob hadn't meant 
any harm by talking to Hazel that night. She 
and May got the Interstate Time and at last 
accounts were knocking 'em off the seats in 
Texas, and steering clear of gymnasts and other 
show-openers. 

Mary, we haven't forsaken. If Derick Thomp- 
son only had the jack he could get her out of that 
damned asylum. Ellen will always be with us. 
Even if somebody put some well-merited cyanide 
in that one's coffee, she'd linger on in spirit and 
probably haunt Laura. Helen, of course, mould- 
ers — and Frey still thinks of her occasionally. 

No one feels sorry for Laura. The strength of 
her routs sympathy and her handsome head and 
firm hands make the average man feel silly try- 
ing to help her. See what I mean? Watch her 
turn that page and straighten the paper. No 
fussing or fiddling; and she's re-reading all those 
letters that caused so many tears. 

Mary Kelly is worrying Bobby's dinner into 
him, in the kitchen — as George stalks into the 

225 



living room. George isn't quite tall enough to 
stalk very effectively, and his somewhat blobby 
features lack dignity in his home. At the office he 
gets away with murder, but in Laura's presence 
he doesn't stay masterful very long. He tries it 
now, putting the paper bag and his hat and 
gloves very deliberately on the table, frowning. 

Laura watched him, the evening papers on her 
lap and on the floor at her side. "Good-evening, 
George." 

He stood still in the center of the room, a new 
cigarette in his mouth, his fingers searching his 
vest for his lighter. "Good-evening, dear." He sat 
quickly beside her on the divan and put one arm 
around her waist. "Why didn't you tell me? 
What good am I if I don't help you?" 

"I had no idea they'd make so much fuss about 
it, George. I didn't want it to get in the papers." 

"They're full of it." 

"Mr. Yeager said it was best to let them — to 
tell them everything, to keep them friendly." 

"Yes, I suppose so. But, Laura, you shouldn't 
have tried to bear all this alone. You knew it 
when we went to Akron. You've had that 
powder since Christmas." 

"Yes, dear." 

"You aren't made of iron, Laura." 

"No. But I was so afraid. I didn't want to 
226 



worry you. I was afraid if Bob took a cold or 
something we might both lose our heads." 

"Oh, he's all right. Where is he now?" 

"Eating. Mary will bring him in before she 
puts him to bed." 

George lit his cigarette. "I'm glad it's come 
out. I'm glad you finally brought the whole 
thing into the open — it may save Jo and Ellen 
and the others." 

"It's up to us." 

"Up to Bobby, eh?" 

Laura nodded thoughtfully, "Just think; if he 
should have an accident tomorrow — how dread- 
ful it would be." 

"We must not let him out of our sight a 
second." 

"No. I called his party off." 

"Good. . . . Did you tell the police about that 
telephone call?" 

"Yes. They think it is somebody trying to 
alarm us, set our nerves on edge." 

"But who would it be? The way I read this, 
the man who plotted it all is dead." 

"So he is." 

"Then who could be trying to scare us?" 

"I have my suspicions." 

"Who?" 

"Ursula." 

"The dark girl?" 

227 



"Yes. I don't know how she could be con- 
nected with it, but somehow Fm sure she is. In 
the first place, she's the only Delphian who didn't 
have some disaster threatened for her — and she 
never writes to any of us." 

"And she hated all of you for giving her the 
cold shoulder in school." 

"That's just it. I think this is her revenge for 
the way we treated her." 

"That's far-fetched, Laura." 

"The whole thing is far-fetched if you want 
to say that. That's what Mr. Yeager said. No- 
body could be so clever. Nobody could know for 
sure that all the girls would do what their horo- 
scopes told them." 

"No, not know; but a clever novelist like 
Danbury might have been fairly certain." 

"It is uncanny the way he sees through you. 
I've read several of his books. He certainly knows 
women." 

"Perhaps they planned it together." 

"She could have been his secretary or some- 
thing." 

"His mistress, perhaps. I don't know anything 
about the man." 

"I'll tell you what I think, George, frankly; 
or what I did think until I began to suspect Ur- 
sula. Danbury was a great psychologist. He knew 
to a turn of the hand and a bat of the eye just 
228 



how people would act under a given set of cir- 
cumstances. His books prove it. Well, I think 
he got tired making imaginary characters do as 
he bade them and he started a chain of incidents 
in real life as a sort of testimonial to himself, a 
monument to his own great cunning." 

"And then didn't wait to see if it worked? 
No; — no, Laura. I don't think so. Look. Any 
man so egotistical that he would plot such a thing 
could not kill himself until he had watched the 
results of his plan long enough to get his kick." 

"But he was sure it would work. He didn't 
have to wait to see." 

"But he would have to see it going on to get 
the thrill. Until the thing began to function it 
was only an idea." 

"No, George. He found the secret of perpetual 
motion. You know? When the last piece of the 
machine is put in place, the wheels start going 
around; that's the theory, isn't it?" 

"I guess so." 

"Well, he built his machine. He had every- 
thing set. Then he threw himself into the spot 
reserved just for that — and the machine went 
on. Human minds were his cogwheels, pride and 
jealousy and passion were his belts and shafts and 
cams or whatever you call them. He has won — 
in a sense. I don't think his machine has broken 

down even now " 

229 



"You mean you think Bobby will " 

"No! I don't mean that. What I mean is that 
one of his wheels or weights or whatever you 
want to call us, — the links in his chain, — has 
developed a 'flaw*. The 'flaw', in this case is our 
strength — yours and mine." 

"Yours." 

"And yours! Don't you see? Our strength in 
refusing to function as cogs or links is going to 
break his machine, but if he had selected the 
metal a little more carefully — if he had put a 
different woman or a different family in this 
place instead of us — it would have run merrily 
on." 

"Wait! — there's the secret! Wait. It's getting 
away." George shut his eyes and rubbed his fore- 
head with one palm. "Carry that idea out, dear. 
See what I mean? We — that is, you — are the 
honey-combed casting. He put a honey-combed 
casting into his machine — why? He had no trou- 
ble finding perfect metals for the other sections. 
Helen, Hazel, Mary, and so on — Ellen — they 
have all served. And he knew you were honey- 
combed! He knew you were liable to fail him. 
He admitted it by sending yon poison through 
the mail! That corrosive sublimate is a piece of 
string, a crude repair, chewing gum, used to 
patch his machine. And you think he applied 
the patch before he died? Never! No man with 
230 



that much cunning would destroy himself know- 
ing that he had a cracked and patched 'casting' 
in a machine as delicate as the one he made. No, 
Laura. Danbury is not guilty." 

"Why, George! You're a full grown detective. 
Listen to you." 

They both laughed and their arms twined 
about each other. 

Mary brought Bobby to them in his pajamas 
for a good-night kiss. "You can go and sit 
down," Mary said. "He's sleepy and I'll be right 
back." 



"And I know more," said George between 
spoonfuls of soup. "I missed my calling. I'm 
going to ask this Kagell — Yagell " 

"Yeager." 

"Yeager! I'm going to ask him for a job. See 
here. . . . No matter how guilty Danbury looks 
— the facts can be found proving him innocent. 
There's a close connection. He may have been a 
party to it, as you say, but I don't believe he 
did it alone. If he did — now, mind you — if he 
did, he had a peach of a reason for not switching 
'castings'. From his point of view, I mean. If 

231 



he went ahead, took that one long shot, trusting 
his 'patch' to hold, he had a very good reason 
for wanting you and no one else but you in that 
particular place in his machine.' ' 

"Well," Laura exclaimed, following her hus- 
band's reasoning and quickly gaining some of his 
enthusiasm, "the reason's clear. Knowing people 
as he does, and knowing all us girls as he obvi- 
ously did — he knew I would be fighting him 
every step of the way. He may have thought he 
needed that resistance up to a certain point ; then 
it had to be wiped out. I would be silenced if 
Bobby died. I couldn't fight another minute if 
I succumbed to the same influence which had 
swayed the others." 

"Yes. There's that" George mused, "and 
more. By winning over his greatest resistance he 
achieves another coup almost as great as predict- 
ing his own death. As you say, he needed your 
opposition to a certain point to give his ma- 
chine balance. Then, the same weight had to be 
shifted — because his machine was slowing down! 
Do you see? He needed the weight of your con- 
version, the conversion of his greatest doubter 
— through Bobby's death — to give him impetus 
for another climb. If we could get a chart of 
his predictions we'd find — I'm positive — that he 
has dotted these coups at regular intervals all 
along the path his 'engine' is to run. Why, Laura, 
232 



if every 'casting' had been sound, if he hadn't 
picked one piece of bad metal, he could have 
depopulated the world! Suppose, instead of start- 
ing with the Delphians he had started with Con- 
gress. That's far-fetched, of course, but think of 
the panic it would cause. Wall Street aflame! 
The President goes mad!" 

"Hush, George. You frighten me." 

"Isn't it a magnificent plot? You can't help 
admiring his brains." 

"But, George. Tomorrow isn't over yet. It 
isn't even here." 

"You mean Bobby?" 

"Yes!" 

George looked up at Mary. "How was the 
baby when you left him, Mary? Seem all right 
to you?" 

"Well— he was a little flushed." 

"What's he been eating?" 

"His diet I The Saints preserve us, it's as much 
as a body's life'd be worth to give him anything 
else." 

"You haven't given him anything else; have 
you?" 

"I have not." 

"Suppose you run up and see if he's all right, 
Mary. If he's awake take his temperature." 

Run upstairs! Mary could not keep her im- 
patience with such foolishness from showing on 

*33 



her face. She mumbled up them instead: "His 
tempichoor! Sure, the lad has no tempichoor! 
Where'd he get it, I'd like to know." 

The telephone startled her. She answered the 
upstairs extension. "Hello?" 

"Mrs. O'Neill, please." 

"She's eating her dinner." 

"Well, tell her it's Fanny; Mrs. Brennan." 

"Hold the wire, please." 

• •••••• 

"Hello, Fanny." 

"Did I interrupt your dinner? I'm so sorry, 
dear, but I couldn't wait. Aren't you the one? 
Getting in all the papers!" 

"I'm the one all right. It isn't very pleasant." 

"N-o-o-o. My goodness! And you never told 
me anything about it. I didn't think you were 
that kind, Laura." 

"I — well — I didn't feel much like talking 
about it." 

"No? Why not? Gracious, that man is good; 
isn't he? Madame Bell never gets anything so 
accurate. What's his address again?" 

"Whose address?" 

"Why, this astrologer! Laura, I've been want- 
ing to have my horoscope read by a really good 
one for ever so long." 

"But, Fanny, he's dead." 

"Dead?" 
*34 



"Why, certainly. Didn't you read the paper?" 

"Oh — ye-e-s. I read it. . . . But I didn't see 
that. Gee; I better read it again. Well! Isn't that 
amazing?" 

"He — he was so good he predicted his own 
death." 

"He did?!!" 

"That's in the paper, Fanny. You go read it 
again." 

"I guess I'll have to. . . . Gee, what'd he have 
to die for? It's all your fault, Laura O'Neill. If 
you'd told us about it before he died I could hare 
had him read my horoscope, too/' 

"Fanny!" 

"Well— I think it's mean." 

"Fanny, you don't know what you're saying." 

"Laura, you just aren't human. That's the 
trouble with you. You don't believe in anything. 
You're too sensible." 

"Fanny — my dinner's getting cold. Do you 
mind?" 

"Oh, go on back and finish your dinner. Mike 
and I are coming over after a while." 

"Oh, not tonight, Fanny. Please? Understand; 
won't you? George and I have so many — the — 
the police are going to be here. It wouldn't be 
pleasant. . . . See? Do you see, dear? It just isn't 
the night." 

*3S 



"The police? The police at your house? . . . 
What for?" 

"Why — eh — in — in connection with the case." 

"Oh, that." 

"You understand, don't you?" 

"Oh, I suppose so. All right. Tomorrow then. 
I'll come over by myself in the morning. . . . 
Say, I've got a cook at last!" 

"That's fine, Fanny. Excuse me now, won't 
you?" 

"Go on and eat." 

"Good-bye." 

"Good-bye; see you in the morning." Fanny 
turned from the telephone to her husband. "The 
police are going to be at Laura and George's," 
she said. "Would you ever have believed it?" 
• • • • . . . 

"Fanny Brennan," Laura told George. "She 
wants Yogadachi to read her horoscope." 

"The damn' fool!" 

"Did he know women?" 

George wagged his head. "And howl" 

Bob's temperature was normal. "The tele- 
phone woke him but he dropped right off with 
the thermoniter in his mouth," Alary reported 
acidly. 



236 



Laura finished her chocolate pudding. "How 
do we know he hasn't plotted that, George? 
How do we know Danbury wasn't plotting to 
have this endless chain spread all over the world? 
It would have been preposterous to start with 
Congress, but he has started with something 
within reach, — the Delphians. He starts with a 
girl's club, a group of susceptible women. 
George! ... I just thought. Jo Turner is in 
Washington. I didn't give her letter to Mr. Lenz. 
It was too personal; too intimate. . . . You 
mustn't condemn her, George. She's — she's — 
being kept by a high official in the French lega- 
tion." 

"No!" 

"Yes. . . . And I just thought she might be the 
link leading to something bigger. I'll bet the plot 
extends to Congress and beyond!" 

"Mob hysteria!" George contributed. "You 
know? Once it got started nothing on earth 
could stop it. . . • Let's wire Jo and have her 
ask, in an offhand way, if her boy friend be- 
lieves in astrology or if any of those fellows have 
had their horoscopes drawn up." 

"Good! Georgie, you're a wizard." 

"I? Why, you thought of all this. 7 didn't." 

*37 



He kissed her tenderly on the forehead and they 
left the dishes to Mary. "What a woman! God's 
been good to me, Laura; giving me you." 

"Hush. He was good to me, rather." 

"Let's write a telegram to Jo." 

"Let's." 

"Where's her letter? The one you wouldn't let 
them print." 

"You won't be angry when you read it?" 

"Why should I?" 

"Well, Jo's so . . . modern." 

"I like her spunk." 



May 6 
Dear Laura: 

What a lot of trouble you take for others! 
Thankless pack! What would any of them 
do for you? What have any of them ever 
done for you to make you champion them 
at so much pains to yourself? I know you'll 
say: "Jo's hard and bitter." — but I know 
what I'm talking about. I've lived, Laura. 
I know people. Why, just look at me. You 
write me this long epistle full of the noblest 
thoughts and best advice. What did I ever 
do to deserve it? I haven't written to you 
more than three times in five years! Let 
them die if they want to. There isn't one 

238 



good sound brain in the lot of them. It's 
sad. I know it's sad, but Fm not going to 
lose any sleep over it. I have my date with 
the grim reaper on July 4th, pinwheel day 
— and nigger-chasers. 

But I don't think I'll keep it. And I'm not 
telling any one about it nor brooding over 
it. It's a laugh to me. I'm having too much 
fun. Lots of it is fun you wouldn't approve 
of, old dear, but it's still fun. 

How do you do it? One husband, one 
boy-child, one home, one town. Yes — one 
town — even if it is Hollywood, or nearly. 
It would drive me crazy. Do you ever get 
east? Don't you ever come to a city? — to 
see the street cars? How we could fly around 
— you and I! Fly high, too, if you liked. 
And I know you would like. What a girl! 
You're wasted out there — utterly wasted. 
Don't you remember the good times we 
used to have — you and I? And how you 
were always afraid the boys would go too 
far! And I was afraid they wouldn't. You 
and I would have made a great team, Laura, 
if only you had a little more — just a little 
— the courage of your convictions. You 
want to live but you're afraid to. 

You know why I haven't written. I live 
a life that would make your good old soul 

239 



shrivel. I love you too much to hurt you 
like that — and it's self defense too. You'd 
write me long, Billy Sunday, Camp-Fire- 
Girl letters trying to save what's left of my 
soul from whatever is left of your Hell. Or 
does it still blaze freely? 

The present incumbent is an attache of 
the French embassy. A little hairy — but 
how he knows his wines and cheeses. That 
makes up for the hair. Dining, as he knows 
how to dine, and loving as he knows how to 
love make up for almost anything. I tried 
depilatory on his chest but it pulled so he 
wouldn't let me finish the rest of his body. 
Honestly, Laura, hugging Simont is just like 
getting into your fur coat wrong-side-out, 
only more fun. Try it right after your bath 
— only don't go too far. 

Do you hear from Hazel? I used to see 
her occasionally, but haven't heard in some 
time now. That damned star-reader hasn't 
got her too, has he? Well, what can you do? 
Forget it, is my advice, and let Ellen Koons 
hang herself. You know, I didn't write to 
this Camden sage until the bottom fell out 
of the market. Then all the comfort I got 
was that my money wouldn't do me any 
good after next fourth of July! Cheerful? 
Well, Ym laughing. And I got out of the 

240 



market with my clothes on, too. If I want 
to leave them in some Bear's apartment 
that's my business, but I'll be damned if 
I'm going to leave them in his office, hang- 
ing over his ticker for margin. Not Jo 
Turner! 

Well, girl, that will be all. I haven't signed 
the name to so many words since I wrote 
the class prophecy. I'd hate to read that 
over now, after all that has happened. One 
thing I remember I said — Ellen Koons had 
bought a pair of second-hand wings from 
an Angel and was flying over your private 
day nursery where a thousand babies — all 
colors — played in the sand. Not bad — for 
me. 

Adieu, ma chere, repondez tout de suite, 
s'il vous plait. 




"Well," said George, "I — I can see why you 
didn't give it to the papers. . . . She — she's a 
peculiar girl; isn't she?" 

"Peculiar?" 

241 



"Yes." 

"Yes. She has her own ideas about life. She's 
always been like that." 

"The Swami certainly didn't make much im- 
pression there." 

"No. And yet — if Bobby died even Jo would 
be impressed. You see, that was written before 
she knew about Hazel." 

"Yes, I see it was. . . . Well, let's ask her. Shall 
we? 

They sent Jo a telegram: 

I HAVE TURNED SWAMI IN- 
FORMATION OVER TO POLICE HERE 
INVESTIGATION STARTED STOP 
WOULD LIKE TO KNOW IF ANY 
INTIMATE FRIENDS OF YOURS BE- 
LIEVE IN ASTROLOGY STOP SEND 
COMPLETE DETAILS PLEASE 

LAURA 



"What does she mean, dear,. where she says, 
'why do you take all this trouble?' " 

"Oh, she got one of my circular letters. Last 
March I sent them to all the Delphians. They 
didn't do any good. Here's one of them." 
242 



March 21. 
Dear old friend: 

As former President of the Delphian So- 
ciety I feel it is my duty to write every one 
of you and ask what you may know about 
an astrologer who called himself Swami 
Yogadachi. Have you ever met him? Had 
you ever heard of him before the middle of 
last September? 

Doubtless you received a circular and a 
letter from him at that time. Most of the 
Delphians did. He predicted that you would 
soon hear from old friends — and in a few 
days or a week you received a round-robin. 

Now — did you send him any money? Did 
he draw up your horoscope? Did he predict 
unpleasant events in your future? In sev- 
eral cases he did — and you probably know 
of the three catastrophes that have so far 



'come true." 



I am writing now in the fervent hope that 
you will rid your mind of this awful influ- 
ence. Some thoughtless members have been 
so strongly affected by the circumstances 
that they are furthering the harm these 
"fortunes" have already wrought by ill 
considered correspondence. Won't you 
please, as loyal Delphians, not only forget 
that three of us have suffered horribly, for- 

*43 



get that many more of us have had a 
malediction pronounced on our households, 
forget that you, yourself, have had some 
calamity predicted in your own life. It is 
absolutely necessary that we all do this. Let 
us not even tell each other what "the stars" 
are said "to hold for us." Let us stamp 
out this insidious mental cancer that has 
been nourished too long. 

As you read this, please do not think I 
am reflecting upon your own strength of 
mind. You will, yourself, be able to throw 
off the dread and even the thought of this 
man's predictions for you. But all of us are 
not strong. I can name no one, of course, 
but we are all Delphians together; all old 
chums. Let us by all means uphold the ideals 
we swore to at Mount Albans — not so many 
years ago. 

Please give this matter your most sincere 
support. I do not want to know what this 
Swami has told you will occur. I do want 
to know if you ever heard of him before 
September of last year. Had you ever met 
him under any of his numerous pen-names? 
Had you ever written to him — perhaps 
praising his books? Any information re- 
garding his moral character or past life will 
be very much appreciated. Any informa- 

244 



tion regarding his possible association with 
any Delphian or possible access to old Mount 
Albans records will be very helpful. 
I am your sincere and devoted friend, 



"That was the letter that upset Ellen so much. 
She knew it was aimed at her." 

"But you got no information?" 

"Not a thing. And it didn't even slow them 
up. They kept right on writing. But — as I told 
you, Ursula was the only Delphian who didn't 



answer." 



The telephone rang every few minutes all 
evening, until Mary stuffed cardboard in the up- 
stairs bell. All the O'Neills' friends wanted to 
talk about their "case". 

Wasn't it strange? and Did they really be- 
lieve the man had plotted it all before he died? 
and How was Bobby? and Keep them posted! 
Until it was, surprisingly, one o'clock. 

"It's Bobby's birthday, George." By unspoken, 

*45 



mutual consent, they rose and walked to the 
door, fingers twined. "What's in that package ?" 

"What package? ... Oh, that. Why, Allen 
gave it to me; it's a ball for Bob." 

They went upstairs and stood beside the sleep- 
ing boy, their arms around each other's waists. 

"Just think, Laura. If our reasoning is right. 
If this plot is as thick as it seems, the whole fu- 
ture of America may be hanging on every breath 
that little fellow draws." 

"I know. . . . Of course, we don't know yet," 
she said softly. Why would Allen give Bobby a 
ball? 

"No, we don't know. Probably it isn't as far 
reaching as we imagine. But it isn't impossible. 
Just think — a plan to depopulate the earth, hing- 
ing on Bobby's life — for just a few days." 

"It frightens me, George." 

Bobby moved his little lips and frowned in 
his sleep. "The light bothers him," Laura said. 
"Let's go to bed." 

As they reached the door and turned for one 
last look at the boy, he sat up suddenly in bed, 
his round little face distorted, his eyes still closed. 
They saw this pitiful sight, but George was al- 
ready turning the switch. The room went utterly 
black and from the little bed came a piercing 
scream of terror. 

"The light, George! Quick— the light!" 
246 



PART THREE 




CHAPTER SEVEN 

Simont, mon cher, do you believe in as- 
trology?" 
"Astrology? Simont?" He cocked his 
head; he pursed his lips; he shoved his fists deep 
in the pockets of his dressing gown and rolled 

249 



his eyes toward the ceiling. "Do I believe in 
astrology?" 

Don't look at Jo just yet, she's still in bed. 

"Well — un peu, un peu — Some — perhaps? 
Why do you care?" 

"A friend of mine wants to know." 

. • . "A friend!" The diplomat threw his arms 
In the air and stood in petrified Gallic astonish- 
ment, his fingers spread, his brows arched high, 
his feet wide apart. "Your friends would like to 
know if 7 believe in astrology/" 

You can look now, she's pulled the spread 
around her. That yellow paper in her hand is 
Laura's telegram. . . . No, no, no. In her hand. 

Jo laughed at him. "Yes, my dear, they ask 
me." She held the telegram toward him and 
when he reached for it, pulled it away, proffering 
lips instead. That over, she let him read it. 

"Goose! You gave me a start." 

"You thought I'd been telling people about 
you?" 

"I couldn't believe it." 

"Of course not." 

"It is nearly eleven, my darling, and I have 
an appointment at ten-thirty. That leaves me 
only two hours to bathe you." 

"Have you been waiting for that, Simont? 
You might have been only one hour late if you 
had told me." 
250 



"One hour is not late. One hour after the ap- 
pointed time is — for me — punctual. But, come; 
won't you?" 

"Not this morning, pet. You run along." 

"I run along? My beautiful! No bath?" 

"Not this morning. Today I want to be 
clean!" 

"I will scrrrub!" 

"You wouldn't. And if you did, I shouldn't 
like it." 

"But I've waited. I've kept three men sitting 
in my office!" 

"Hurry to them now. ... I mean it." 

Only then was Simont convinced sufficiently 
to let his features fall. rr Mon Dieu, what a 
woman! . . . Some day I will bite you. Josephine," 
he pronounced it as Napoleon did, "some day I 
shall bite you — so hard you cannot sit down for 
a week." 

She sailed a pillow at him. 



Before her mirror, Jo went into revery. The 
telegram from Laura prompted it. This face be- 
fore her was the same one she had worn at 
Mount Albans. It hadn't changed much. Had 

251 



Laura's? What changes faces? Time? Life? Well, 
Time, maybe; and suffering. From a drawer she 
took a picture of her mother and looked back 
and forth from the photograph to the glass, 
comparing her own well-finished complexion 
with the tough, Polish hide of the older woman. 
Josephine's lines would be in the same places 
when they came. That much she could see. But 
would her eyes die like that? Her mouth sink in, 
toothlessly? Some of those lines were caused by 
an ill-fitting plate, and, bad as it was, acquired 
too late in life. Well, those Jo could avoid. 

She gazed at her wide, brown eyes and tried to 
learn their secret. What did men see in them? 
In any eyes, for that matter. They were always 
talking about them. "Your eyes are this; your 
eyes are that." Once in a while they talked about 
lips or teeth or hair, — but mostly about eyes. 
"Those windows of the soul!" Jo made a face at 
herself and winked. What a window! Like the 
window of a toilet on a train. You couldn't see 
through them. Not hers. 

"Poor thing," she said to her mother. "Poor, 
hard-working thing. Why haven't you got good 
sense?" For Jo's mother did not have good sense; 
that is, she would not take money from Jo, which 
is the same thing. People who will not take 
money which is offered without strings of any 
kind are out of their head. But Mrs. Walther was 
252 



one of those people who think some money is 
dirtier than some other money. She thought Jo's 
money couldn't be cleaned. She thought her own 
pay at the Polish bakery was as pure as the flour 
she sieved for bread. Maybe it was. I'm not go- 
ing to argue with her. In the first place, I can't 
speak Polish. Jo could, and she didn't get any- 
where in ten years of impassioned and tempera- 
mental raving. 

The last penny the old lady took from Jo was 
her daughter's first week's pay when she went to 
work in the Astor barber shop. It wasn't more 
than a few dollars. Jo tried to make her take 
twenty more. This was before Mount Albans; 
Josephine was not yet eighteen, had — in fact — to 
lie about her age to get the job. She had to lie 
about her age but not about her looks. They 
lied for themselves. 

"Where did you get all this money, Jose- 
phine?" Her mother had seen a twenty dollar 
bill only twice before in her life and not until 
she held this one a moment had she ever touched 
one. 

"At work, of course." 

"You got a raise?" 

"No! Tips. The money's in the tips. That's 
why every manicurist in town wants to work 
at the Astor; the tips. You get more there than 
any other shop in the city." 

253 



"Tips? What's tips?" 

You see? That's how it started. Mrs. Walther 
couldn't believe those tips were expressions of 
gratitude for work well done. Once, when a 
wedding cake had turned out especially fine, for 
Alderman Schurz's daughter, His Honor had 
come in to know who baked it — and had given 
her a five dollar bill. That was all right. But these 
tips . . . for filing nails? 

She didn't understand it; she knew Jo wasn't 
bad; but she didn't understand it. The secret lay 
in the proximity of male and pretty female, she 
was sure of that, but not until she had scrutin- 
ized the neighborhood cuticle softener at her 
work-bench did the light dawn. A knee was be- 
ing vigorously rubbed as the old lady passed the 
door and looked in. • . . This, Josephine did, to 
millionaires! 

Rather backwoodsey, that her gums should 
strive to meet about that. She took her plates 
from their tumbler the moment she got in the 
house. She couldn't eat with them, but they were 
splendid for clenching. She clenched them at Jo 
when the girl came home. "Knee rubber!" 

"What?" It was Jo's Astor manner, a little 
lofty. 

"Leg pusher!" 

"What are you talking about?" 

"Tips, you get." 
254 



"Oh, mother, stop." The girl burst into smiles. 
"Im going out with the best looking fellow I 
ever saw!" 

"For pushing knees they pay you." She fol- 
lowed her daughter from room to room, as Jo 
undressed, bathed and dressed again. 

"What you takin' a bath for?" 

"Huh?" 

"What you got to be so clean for?" 

"My God, to — to be clean. I don't want to 
smell!" 

"Who's gonna smell you?" 

Josephine laughed and hugged her. "Don't 
you worry, mother. Your Jo knows her way 
around. Nobody's goin' to smell me. Nobody's 
goin' to touch me." 

"You be a good girl, Jo." 

"You bet your life I will. I'm givin' out 
no thin'. Smiles don't cost me a cent." 

But it was not the tips alone which attracted 
the very cream of the profession to this particu- 
lar shop. It was the catches. The management 
still has a hell of a time keeping girls because 
word's gone all over Iowa, Montana and parts 
of Oklahoma that you can marry the Astor 
manicurists with a pretty good chance of being 
right. 

Breckenridge Madison was not, however, from 
the Open Spaces. The Breckenridge tells you 

255 



that. No, not Virginia either; Baltimore. But did 
he fall? No matter how long Jo Turner lives, she 
will never be able to forget the descent of Breck. 
It was her first major engagement and she had 
the whole Rebel Army in complete rout after 
the first skirmish. 

That first evening she met him on the mezza- 
nine. It wasn't permitted, but you could get 
away with it once. She couldn't let him call for 
her — not in that hole. But he did, finally, see 
her home, and he met her mother, and that was 
a test of sincerity. And Breck stood it. At lunch 
the day after he'd seen where she came from, 
he held her hand without looking at her nails 
and talked about his people. 

Jo doesn't know yet, not even now, when July 
fourth is supposed to be her last day on earth, 
she isn't sure whether she ever loved Breck or 
not. It was glamorous, being wooed by a son of 
the Old South. It was glamorous just being wooed 
— plain. But it's doubtful if she felt any consid- 
erable fraction of the grand passion which had 
him so inflamed. Because, she didn't resent the 
tone nor the tenor of his conversation at lunch- 
eon that day and for the next three days as he in- 
formed her gently and gradually that he couldn't 
take her home as his wife under the circum- 
stances. Praises be, however, the circumstances 
could be altered. Breck wouldn't have her ex- 
256 



cept as his wife, he was goofy that way, so it 
was up to them to make a wedding possible. 

First off, she must quit her job. Quit holding 
other men's hands and running the risk, his 
word, of having them touch her — under the 
table — or otherwise insult her. Then, she must 
go to school; some decent academy for the fin- 
ishing of young ladies where the varnishing 
would fix her up rather well. Then — ahem — 
then, if she could be — er — an orphan, say — of 
course he would always provide for her mother. 

When Jo remembers all that, she's pretty sure 
the Descent of Breck was entirely one-sided. She 
hadn't loved him at all. But it's difficult for her 
to reconcile that finding with another event, the 
first of a series. For, if she did not love him, her 
code now says, she shouldn't have been "over- 
come by his nearness"? — will that do? Of course, 
having been "overcome" once, no apology is 
needed for the series. . . . But — that first 
time 

Let us say she suffered a temporary love as 
Anne's lawyer might have pleaded that she suf- 
fered temporary insanity. At any rate, that was 
the state of affairs through Jo Turner's Mount 
Albans period. Breck was the "guardian" men- 
tioned heretofore, and Breck it was who taught 
the eyes of the Year-book photograph whatever 
it is they show they know. And up to that 

*57 



time, he had been Jo's only instructor. Br^ck, let 
us say, taught her to weave paper baskets with 
little colored strips. She received her B.A. from 
Simont. 

In between lies what Jo referred to in her let- 
ters to Laura. Between Breck and Simont lies 
life. L? 



3 



Jo didn't lose Breck as they do in the movies. 
She threw him away. More evidence that she 
hadn't loved him at all. When he had made a lady 
of her — as nearly, at least, as the raw material 
would permit, and for all practical purposes the 
product served admirably — she was through 
with him. A great one for being through with 
people, Jo turned out to be. She was through 
with Turner less than two years later. She buried 
him. He was dead, of course. 

But that's the way it went. For one reason or 
another, some of them known only to the girl 
herself, Jo was through with man after man. 
Not vulgarly, if you'll take that on faith until 
I can explain. Not crudely. Jo was, in reality, 
that woman you hear so many ladies say they'd 
be if they ever put their minds to it. She used 
her head. Careful. 

258 



You've sat through that. Some broad-minded 
old hen says: "Well, I can't understand a prosti- 
tute's psychology. If I were going to do that 
Fd use some intelligence about it. I'd buy the 
most becoming clothes I could find and I'd be 
seen in only the smartest places. Fd get me a 
millionaire, an apartment on the Drive and do 
it right, but these common little chippies! They 
just have no brains." You've heard them; you've 
heard them. Well — here's Jo. She did just that, 
and with a manner. 

Turner left her two good-sized insurance pol- 
icies, a little business which the lawyers liq- 
uidated at a small profit to her and one of 
those life-long leases on a Drive apartment full 
of solid furniture. Only one car, but a Cadillac, 
and the garage paid for a full year in advance. 

To Jo's inborn urge for self -improvement, 
Breck had added Mount Albans; to that, Turner 
added paintings and furniture. So that Have- 
meyer found in Jo a companion he could take 
anywhere. He did. It was in some such place that 
they met Broun, who added jewels and old fire- 
arms to Jo's collection. And in pursuit of his 
hobby they went abroad. 

In Paris, Broun lost her to a French banker — 
who contributed heavily in cash. Meanwhile, Jo 
had been reading. So that long before the round- 
robin started, Jo was a fairly complete woman, if 

259 



self-made. Horse flesh, she knew, and precious 
stones; guns, furniture and paintings, we have 
seen; she fenced and danced and played any 
game, any game at all, for money, marbles or 
chalk. 

She toyed with the notion of marrying the 
French Croesus. She was ripe for a radical change. 
It was at this time, under the aegis of this Brum- 
pere, that she met Simont. He didn't impress her 
at first. He was too young to be very wealthy or 
exciting. His inventiveness was not displayed in 
the drawing room. She left her mark inadvert- 
ently through thus abusing the man's ego. 

One night a group of them wore Brumpere's 
dignity down with cup after cup from his own 
cellar and they ran the gauntlet of rue Jaune 
amid hoots and insults and some desiccated vege- 
tables and half-dead rats, all hurled at them by 
an annoyed habitante. They ended up in the 
basement of the Bal Tabarin, safe enough, but 
very gay, if you like sailors and what sailors like 
for entertainment. And there, picking half 
tomatoes and other filth off her suit, Jo found 
Boy. 

Boy had a name, William or Jack, it doesn't 
matter. Boy, she called him always. And a more 
worthless piece of tripe for Jo to waste time 
upon has not yet been discovered. Simont wasn't 
in that party. He had, in fact, already sailed for 
260 



the United States, for Washington. This kid was 
from a suburb of Detroit. He'd held a dozen 
jobs, performing none of their duties well, from 
leader of a jazz orchestra to running a labelling 
machine in a cough syrup factory. Now he was 
working at being an expatriate, and flopping as 
usual. Through the hilarity she saw his imitation 
of a bored and drunken American poet at his 
beer-stained cafe table in Paris. His fishy eyes 
never moved from a certain point on her skirt. 
She looked there herself but found nothing of 
interest. She tried to make him raise his eyes to 
hers. He did, finally, with affected languor and 
world-weariness. She smiled at him. He an- 
swered, tiredly — but not so tiredly. A little later 
she managed to pause long enough at his side to 
say: "Wait for me." — which doesn't take long. 

When the party broke up, and she hastened 
it, putting Papa Brumpere to bed with a pat on 
the woozy noddle, she flew back. Boy, as I told 
you, was a flop. The evidence: that he was there, 
waiting. He hadn't even imagination enough to 
pretend to be asleep. Well, Jo took one last haul 
from the Papa and moved into the little louse- 
coop Boy had been living in. 

Do you remember J. S. Fletcher's story, The 
Beatific Vision, about an idiot set out like a plant 
each day in the sun? and a circus parade goes by? 
It was written before he found out that you 

261 



could make money if you didn't write that way. 
I always remember that story when I think of Jo 
taking up with this Boy. She must have been just 
like a circus parade to that idiot. But it was not 
over nearly so soon. Connoisseur of gems and 
pistols, she had not yet mastered men. She could 
rule them, sway them, but she could not assay 
them beforehand. She took Boy for a genuine 
Adam (not Eve's husband) and he was only a 
tenth rate poseur. 

She bought him clothes and she made him 
move. She taught him what a bed was for, but he 
never believed her. She left him one day, crying, 
two mille francs notes in his hand, as abruptly as 
she had come. Only one part of the episode is to 
Jo's credit, she withheld her right name. She told 
him she was Bellas Hess! And — oh, yes — she 
found out why he concentrated on that one spot 
on her skirt. It was the one smart trick he knew. 
Even the dumbest pooch can roll over. Some 
actor had told him, in Detroit, that no woman 
could stand to have anyone stare at her there. 
No matter how thoroughly she knew herself to 
be covered, if you looked long enough, stared 
vacantly, unseeing, she would first look down, 
then either move her purse or fold her hands in 
her lap or drop her handkerchief, or something. 
Not even this actor knew why it was. 



262 



Then Jo was bored, so she came back to the 
United States, on the theory, perhaps, that no 
megrim is so great that it will not seem com- 
parative comfort after you pound your head 
with a hammer for a while. But she spared her- 
self by stopping off at her apartment in New 
York City instead of entering her native land 
at once. 

She did make that one trip to the coast, driv- 
ing all the way herself, stopping over long 
enough in Indianapolis to get an hotel willed to 
her for services rendered but not billed. And — 
the Turner luck held. The man died while she 
was in California. It was hurrying back to settle 
his estate that kept her from looking up Laura. 

That's Josephine. A fortunate lady of for- 
tune. Loving parents had not sent her to board- 
ing school to learn to paint china. Breck sent her 
there to learn to be his wife. Why to Mount Al- 
bans? Jo, herself, wondered. There was nothing 
like that in the school catalog. But somehow she 
had learned to be a wife, picked it up here and 
there. 

We see her contemplating her unblemished 
face, her heart still whole, memory of Laura and 

263 



Mount Albans making her wistful and her 
mother's wrinkles making her sad. 

Jo put the ugly picture back in the drawer 
and ran one bare foot up and down the spine of 
Romanov, a borzoi, at her feet. His eyes rolled up 
at her but his long head only clung closer to the 
rug in slothful content. "Hey, Your Highness, 
wake up. You glued there?" His tail beat twice 
on the floor and again relaxed. "You like it here? 
You think this is going on forever?" He blinked. 
Her maid entered, holding out a red bathing cap 
to Jo. "It isn't, Romey. I can see you're tired of 
it." That's right; blame it on the dog. The long, 
slender nose turned toward her, perhaps in 
astonishment. Tired of this? "It's our move, 
Romey. You better start packing." 



5 



Laura held her sobbing baby in her arms, 
rocking. 

Petrified with fear, cold beads of perspiration 
dotting his brow, George stood rigidly against 
the wall. Then the sobs became softer and Bobby 
coughed, a little sleepy cough. Laura smiled over 
the rumpled head at her husband. "With so 
much depending on his little body — it's no won- 
264 



der he has bad dreams," she said. Mary was sent 
back to bed. 

Bobby was first up next morning — as usual — 
his bad dream forgotten in the fun of a new day. 
His analyzed and tested breakfast was whisked 
from sight on the wings of the sturdiest of 
appetites. 

His parents left him under the long-trusted 
eye of Mary, and went to keep an appointment 
with Yeager. 

Information had been pouring in all night, all 
morning. There were telegrams from every quar- 
ter — and each promised further data by mail. 

New York said: 

KOONS HELD BROOKLYN TEMPO- 
RARILY GAVE NAMES ADDRESSES 
WOMEN DELPHIANS AFFECTED 
STOP ERRATIC RELIGIOUS FANATIC 
NOT REGARDED HARMFUL STOP 
GIVE US CHARGE OR MUST RELEASE 
STOP CAMDEN GIVES US BRONX 
ADDRESS DANBURY SECRETARY 
INVESTIGATING STOP COMPLETE 
NEWSPAPERS DANBURY DEATH 
AND INVESTIGATION TOGETHER 
WITH OFFICIAL REPORTS LEAVING 
AIR MAIL NOW STOP SHALL WE 
QUESTION KOONS NAMES IN VI- 

i6 S 



CINITY WIRE FULL CASE AND 
SUSPECTS STOP HOLDING MARY 
THOMPSON HOSPITAL INCOMMU- 
NICADO EXCEPT HUSBAND STOP 
MARY RATIONAL SAYS FREY 
MONTREAL IS LEAD STOP NEVER 
HAS BEEN SATISFACTORY EXPLA- 
NATION DANBURY CAR LEFT 
LOWER FIFTH AVENUE DAY OF HIS 
DEATH STOP HIS CHAUFFEUR MISS- 
ING SINCE THAT DAY STOP INTER- 
VIEWING PUBLISHERS TODAY 

Montreal said: 

FREY HOUSE OPENED YESTER- 
DAY BY SERVANTS STOP MR. FREY 
ARRIVES FROM LONDON TODAY 
GLAD TO OBLIGE 

Si Lenz, the all-but-bald veteran of the 
Examiner, was exercising the special preroga- 
tives and privileges of an old intimate of the 
Chief's. "I been over to the library," he said, 
"and I got in touch with the biggest astrologer 
in Point Loma by telephone." 

Yeager waited. . . . "Well?" 

"I don't think Danbury was Yogadachi." 

"No?" 
266 




HER HEAD ROSE SLOWLY AND THEIR EYES MET . . . 

267 



"Nope." 

"Why not? A.P. and U.P. both listed it among 
his pen-names." 

"Um-hm; I know. . . . But Gustafson, that's 
the Point Loma big-shot, says that Swami Yoga- 
dachi was a woman." 

"No!" 

"I should waste breath on you! . . . An' at 
the library, in the papa of all reference books — 
there is no Swami Yogadachi listed as an author 
. • . United States Catalogue, they call it." 

"That doesn't prove anything," Yeager ob- 
jected. "What do you infer?" 

"That Danbury was a writer! If he was also an 
astrologer, no matter what he called himself, he'd 
have published a book under that name. He 
never did." 

"It's a good notion, but it's not conclusive." 

"Every other name he had — six of them — all 
show books," Si stuck to his point. 

"And Gustafson — at Point Loma — says Yoga- 
dachi was a woman? It's that brown Jane, Si. 
What else did he say?" 

"He's trying to locate some letters from her. 
He's going to call me." 

"It's that Ursula Whatsthis. She was Dan- 
bury's secretary." 

"That ought to be easy to prove." 

At this point George and Laura O'Neill were 

269 



announced and shown in. "My husband has a case 
all worked out for you, Mr. Yeager," Laura 
greeted the detective. "The only trouble with 
his theory is no one — not even Samuel Danbury 
— could have thought it all out beforehand. " 

When they had been introduced, George out- 
lined his theory to Yeager. Si Lenz looked on and 
listened in admiration. True or false, the concep- 
tion was stupendous. George elaborated, taking 
several sheets of paper from his pocket. "I have 
listed the members of the Delphian Society from 
my wife's old roster." 

"Mr. Lenz has a theory — and it has some back- 
ground — that Yogadachi was not Danbury, but 
a woman, perhaps Danbury's secretary," said 
Yeager. 

"I agree! I agree!" said O'Neill. "That suits 
my ideas exactly. As I was saying to Laura — no 
man would commit suicide after fabricating so 
— so elaborate a plot. He would want to see it 
work out, if he was that much of a devil. You 
know? It wouldn't be complete unless he could 
have his laugh." 

"Did any of the Delphians ever deal very 
much with the occult, Mrs. O'Neill? Any besides 
Miss Koons? Did this — Ursula ever claim to be a 
Hindu or anything like that?" 

"Why, yes. That's what she was supposed to 
be, but I never knew of her telling fortunes." 
270 



"But she, at least, had a motive for hurting 
you other girls. That's more than Danbury had. 
Ursula could have wanted to revenge herself on 
the Delphians." 

"Yes. She was bitter." 

"I think we'd better arrest Ursula." 

"And find out," said Si, taking a bulky en- 
velope of clippings from his pocket, "if she was 
Danbury's secretary." 

"Or something else," said George. 

Si scrutinized some of his references. "Here's 
our stuff on Danbury's death. It wasn't on the 
level." 

"What do you mean; c it wasn't on the level'?" 
Yeager asked. 

"Well, two witnesses say his eyes were closed 
when he fell." 

"Meaning what?" 

"That he couldn't be timing his jump. It 
wasn't suicide." 

"Nobody has ever called it suicide until this 
thing came up. The story has always been — you 
can read it right there — vertigo, an accident. He 
fell in front of the train. He didn't jump." 

"He left his chauffeur and his car standing in 
front of his publisher's office three blocks away 
— walked to a subway station and had a dizzy 
spell just in time to pitch in front of a subway 
express train? You call that on the level?" 

*7i 



"And the chauffeur," Yeager supplemented, 
"immediately disappears." 

George O'Neill leaned excitedly forward. 
"You don't suppose it could have been the chauf- 
feur who fell under the train, do you? Is that 
possible? Was the face — the body — mangled?" 

"Pretty well cut up — but not beyond repair. 
It was identified. . . . No," Si said, "Danbury's 
dead, all right. The question in my mind is: 
'Who murdered Danbury?' " 

Yeager twisted his mustache and winked at 
Laura. "If we don't find a mystery in this case, 
Mrs. O'Neill, it won't be because we have no 
help. Both these gentlemen will be glad to make 
one. Your husband sees an international plot and 
now Si adds another murder to our troubles." 

"Who identified Danbury's body?" George 
asked. 

Si nodded. "I thought of that. My clips don't 
say." 

"We'll know when the stuff gets here from 
New York," Yeager said. "It will be in the 
reports." 

Everyone was silent for a moment. "Well, 
where are we?" asked Yeager. "We can't hold 
Ellen Koons. New York is after the members of 
Danbury's household. They'll tell us about his 
secretary. We can continue to trace Si's lead that 
272 



Yogadachi was a woman. We can send photos of 
Ursula to New York and Chicago. What else?" 

No one had any suggestions. "One more thing 
I'll do," Yeager continued. "I'll check with local 
police on the whereabouts of all the Delphians at 
— whatever time it was — on December tenth. 
We know where Mrs* O'Neill was, of course." 

Si had been re-reading some of his clippings 
for the twentieth time. "Eleven o'clock," he said 
without looking up. "He was killed at eleven 
o'clock in the morning." 

Laura O'Neill straightened in her chair. 
''Eleven? Eleven in the morning?" She looked 
first at her husband, then at Yeager. Si re- 
garded her quizzically. "Where — have you — Mr. 
Yeager! May I see the letter from Swami — the 
one I gave you? The poison letter?" 

"Certainly," — rising. tr What have you thought 
of?" 

"I remember the postmark. It was late in the 
day. Receiving so many letters from New York 
made me curious about how long it took mail to 
get here. I used to watch all the postmarks." 

Yeager brought the letter from a small office 
safe, scrutinizing it. "Hello! Eight-thirty, P.M. 
. . . What do you know about that?" 

Laura took the envelope. "Times Square Sta- 
tion, eight-thirty, P.M. That means that Samuel 
Danbury did not mail the letter. He had been 

273 



dead nine or ten hours! New York City mail 
service is the most rapid in the world. Those 
Manhattan boxes are emptied — goodness — every 
few minutes. It would be impossible to mail a 
letter before eleven in the morning — a letter 
which would be picked up by the Times Square 
branch — and then not have it postmarked until 
eight- thirty that evening!" 

Si had been holding his breath. He released it 
all in one word: "Boy!" 

"She's right," George agreed. "Mailed before 
eleven — I'd say one or perhaps two o'clock 
would be the very latest possible stamp." 

"In that case," said Yeager, "we certainly need 
some one who is missing, say a chauffeur or a 
secretary " 

"Or both," Si interposed. 

An attendant brought several pieces of mail 
and a telegram to Yeager. One of them was from 
New York. 

THREE DANBURY PUBLISHERS 
DENY ABSOLUTELY HE WAS YOGA- 
DACHI STOP THEY IGNORED NEWS- 
PAPER ERROR BECAUSE ATTACHED 
NO IMPORTANCE SEEMED HARM- 
LESS MISTAKE STOP NOW PRESSING 
SEARCH FOR MISSING SERVANTS 

*74 



SECRETARY DESCRIBED AS HINDU 
MOVED BRONX ADDRESS CHICAGO. 

"What stumps me," Si said, "is how Ursula 
could have got Danbury dizzy at exactly the 
proper moment? He wasn't poisoned." 

"Maybe she hypnotized him." 

They looked from one to another in absolute 
silence. Yeager began to nod his head. "If she 
could hypnotize half a dozen women with letters 
— a thousand miles away; maybe she did." 



Allen drove the O'Neills home. As he helped 
them from the car he asked: "Did the little 
fellow like the ball?" 

George looked at Laura. "Did you give it to 
him?" 

"No. I'm sorry. It's still in the front room." 

"We've had quite a lot on our minds, Allen. 
This business has us all upset." 

"Yeah, — I read about it. . . . Well, I was just 
wondering." 

He seemed hurt that his gift had been taken 
so lightly. 

*75 



"We're very grateful, Allen," Laura said. "Ill 
see that he gets it right away." 

"Oh, that's all right. Thank you, Mrs. 
O'Neill." 

A letter from Anne was waiting for her. 



May 22. 

Dearest, dearest Laura: 

My own troubles are slight now. They 
have been washed away by the waves of joy 
for what you are going to do and for 
Bobby's health. I know he's going to be 
all right. Of course he is; why shouldn't 
he? I'm glad, Laura. And the noble, self- 
sacrificing thing you will be doing — for all 
of us. To be sure, you might take out some 
of the things I said in my letters before you 
show them to the police, but use your own 
judgment. It's better than mine, that's sure. 
I know the trouble is over now. And there is 
a chance that a petition to Governor Dineen 
will make things easier for me some way or 
another. He's not likely to free me, my 
lawyer says, but he can do a great deal. He 
can shorten the sentence a lot. Oh, I knew 
you'd do something. If it only has the right 
effect on Mary and Ellen! I'll bet Ellen is 
sore at you. But you were perfectly right. 

276 



No matter how this thing started nor who is 
guilty — she certainly did more than her 
share to keep the kettle boiling. 

She writes me all the time but I don't 
answer. Her Indian guide who is no com- 
mon Indian, but a Seminole — I'll have you 
know — gives me a pain. 

The pen isn't so bad — so far. I have a 
comfy little cell all my own. The women 
aren't crowded nearly as much as the men. 
The main criticism is the company. If they 
were tough in the Akron jail — you should 
see these. And the guards! I was introduced 
— initiated — into a secret society which has 
nothing to do with "dashes for liberty" — 
in the recreation room the other day. I can't 
write about it, but wait till I see you! You 
never heard of such a thing! 

Now be a good girl and keep me posted 
on the results of your investigation. If 
Ursula Georgi has done this — and she is 
absolutely the only one who would — I'll bet 
you'll find her south of the Mason-Dixon 
line. Maybe she's a Swami to her mother, 
but I bet her mother is a Maaamy! 

I never thought about her before. Some- 
body said they'd heard from her. Who was 
it? Frey? We did treat her terribly. She 
never would have been a Delphian if the 

*77 



Dean hadn't threatened to make us disband. 
I heard, at one time, some years ago, that 
she had gone "back" — back — get that — to 
India. She was pretty bright, though. Did 
she ever try to hypnotize you? She did me 
once. I don't know how we happened to be 
alone together. I always tried to avoid her 
— but we were. And she said that her father 
could do "the rope trick." I said I'd always 
thought that was mass hypnotism and she 
said — well, maybe it was. One thing led to 
another and she showed me a trick of rub- 
bing my arms and talking to me that actu- 
ally made my arms very stiff. I don't know 
whether there was anything in it or not, 
but I couldn't move them. Maybe she 
hypnotized Danbury and got him to jump 
in front of the subway train. Look! Now 
Yve turned detective! Oh, well, everybody's 
doing it. I can be fashionable — even here. 

No, Laura. There's nothing I need. The 
girls I used to go around with at home are 
always sending something. Magazines, cake, 
candy, cigarettes. I'm all right. Don't worry 
about me. Of course, it's new now. In ten 
years — I may have another story to tell. 
Ten years. Well, we won't go into that. 
Maybe your petition to the Governor will 

278 



shorten it. You can't know how much I 
hope so. 

Keep Bobby well, Laura. I know you will. 
And — say — why don't you copy Jo Tur- 
ner's letter and let me in on it, like a good 
fellow. You aren't the one to deprive an old 
friend of all the choice news. Cat! 

So long, now. I have to smuggle this letter 
out on account of the secret society of 
which I am a member. That will slay you. 

As ever, 



I/Ajjl 



Bob followed his mother toward the tele- 
phone. "Where's my party, Mama? Don't I have 
a party, Mama?" 

Turning to console him revealed the paper bag 
still on the table. With characteristic punctilio, 
Mary had dusted under it. "No party, Bob. 
Maybe we can have one next week. But here's a 
new ball Allen bought for you — and at luncheon 
Daddy is bringing you whole worlds of presents." 

The big red ball was a poor substitute for a 
party, but if Mama said no y — she usually meant 
it. Laura called Yeager. 

279 



"I have some news — along the lines we dis- 
cussed this morning. Listen. It's a letter from 
Anne Jessup. . . . Yes, the murderess, if you 
can't identify her any other way." 

"No offense, Mrs. O'Neill." 

"I'll read it." 

• • • m m 

"Is that so? Is that so? Well it looks as if one 
arrest would finish this case, doesn't it? How's 
that boy? Taking his birthday all right?" 

"He's never been better, Mr. Yeager. He's 
playing here right now. The chauffeur just gave 
him a new ball." 

Something clicked in Yeager's mind. Besides 
hypnotism, chauffeurs had also been mentioned 
that morning. "Take it away from him at once, 
Mrs. O'Neill. I'll hold the wire. Please — at once; 
do as I say!" 

More amused than alarmed, Laura took the 
bright red ball from Bobby and returned to the 
telephone. "Well, I have it. What's wrong with 
it?" 

"Probably nothing. How long have you had 
that chauffeur?" 

"About ten days. The old one was called sud- 
denly away. His mother is very ill, somewhere in 
Oregon." 

"I see. • . . Well, maybe I'm crazy, Mrs. 
O'Neill, but I wish you'd have that man drive 
280 



you down here. Right away. Can you? Bring the 
ball with you, but don't let the man know you 
have it." 

"Why — Mr. Yeager, you talk just like a cheap 
moving picture. Surely — I'd be glad to, but — 
what do you suspect?" 

"I don't know. Will you come at once?" 

"Yes." 

"Don't let your new chauffeur get suspicious. 
Be sure Bobby is in charge of some one who 
has been with you more than a year." 

"Yes, — certainly." As she turned from the 
telephone Allen stood in the hall door. Involun- 
tarily, Laura made a self-conscious movement 
with the new red ball. One corner of the man's 
thin lips moved a little. His eyes looked coolly 
down upon her with great assurance. "Doesn't 
the boy like the ball?" he asked. 

His manner brought Laura's self-confidence 
back with a rush. He was almost insolent in atti- 
tude and bearing if there were no tangible disre- 
spect in his words. Then she noticed that he was 
not wearing his uniform. "We don't allow him 
to accept gifts from comparative strangers, 
Allen. . . . Please bring the car around at once." 

"Yes, ma'am. ... I didn't know. I — I just 
saw it in a window." 

"It's all right. The car, please. Why aren't you 
wearing your uniform?" 

281 



"I just came to ask if you'd be needing me. I 
have a — a personal errand I'd like to attend to." 

"It will be impossible just now. I want you to 
take me down town at once." 

"Yes, ma'am." Still he hesitated. 

"You won't need to change. Perhaps you can 
attend to your errand while you wait for me." 

"YeSy ma'am." He went rapidly through the 
house toward the rear door. 

"George!" Laura called. 

"Ye— es?" 

"Where are you? Come here, please." 

"What's a matter, Mama? Is it a bad ball?" 

"What is it?" George asked, clattering down 
the steps. 

"Allen!" 

"Allen?" 

"Yeager suspects him. He had changed his 
clothes. Perhaps this ball is poisoned or — or 
something." 

"My God! Where is he?" 

"Wait! He's getting the car. I don't know 
whether he knows we are suspicious or not." 

"I'll get my hat." 

"No. Listen. I'll go alone — so he won't know 
anything has happened. I'll tell him to drive me 
to Bullock's as if I wanted to do some shopping. 
When he's down in town where he can't get 
away, I'll change my mind." 
282 



"But it's dangerous, Laura. If he gets sus- 
picious — anything might happen." 

"It's the only way. Is that he? Is he coming?" 

"Yes. He's backing out." 

"Wrap this ball — put it in — in — oh, mercy. 
There's a shoe box in the hall closet. Hurry!" 

As she entered the limousine, Laura scruti- 
nized Allen's profile. Cruel, she thought, but it 
was impossible to judge more. 

"Bullock's," she said. "Hurry." 

If he was surprised at their destination he con- 
cealed it. He drove a little recklessly, she thought, 
but they were nearing the store before anything 
happened. Laura spoke through the tube: "Go to 
Detective Headquarters instead, Allen." She saw 
his lips curl scornfully, reflected in his small mir- 
ror. At a crowded corner he seemed wilfully to 
steer into a narrow space between a truck and a 
passing car. There was a crash, the splintering of 
wood and glass and the three autos were locked 
inextricably together. Allen climbed from his 
seat and opened the door beside Laura. The other 
drivers were angrily and vociferously studying 
the wreck. "I'll take that package, Mrs. O'Neill," 
he said evenly, snatching the shoe box from her 
grasp. "Give the police my compliments." He 
slammed the door and as the truck driver con- 
fronted him with a profane expostulation, he 
pushed him backward with a mighty shove, to 

283 



a seat amid the wreckage. A traffic officer saluted 
Mrs. O'Neill. "My man did it purposely, officer. 
There he goes now. Catch him. Mr. Yeager wants 
him at Headquarters/' But the crowd was too 
thick. The policeman could not identify the flee- 
ing chauffeur. Allen disappeared around a cor- 
ner. "Catch him," Laura pleaded. "Catch my 
chauffeur. He's wanted for murder!" The traffic- 
cop gave chase. Her card and a ten dollar bill 
placated the truck driver. He agreed to call her 
garage for her. The other man had to be satis- 
fied with only a card. She went on to Yeager's 
office in a cab. 

A special detail of men were despatched to 
find "Allen", and the Chief told Laura what he 
and Si suspected. 



284 




CHAPTER EIGHT 

Si, of course, had the inside of the track; his 
story the evening of Bobby O'Neill's birth- 
day put all the others in the shade. He had 
Laura's old Annual and he used the group pic- 
ture of the Delphians on page one. Ursula, 

2%S 



marked by a white "x", was sought, Si's caption 
said, for questioning. 

BOBBY HAS HAIRBREADTH ESCAPE 



"Mystic" Power from Grave 
Aided by Living Fiends 

Secretary and Chauffeur Sought 

By SI LENZ 

Death stalked very near to little Bobby 
O'Neill today, his fifth birthday, when it 
was discovered that Allen Woodward, the 
O'Neill chauffeur, had given the boy a ball 
thought to be poisoned or filled with high 
explosives. What amounts to a moral con- 
fession of some culpability is the flight of 
Allen Woodward after he had learned he 
was suspected and had purposely wrecked 
the costly O'Neill limousine at the corner of 
Spring and Eighth Streets by running into 
a truck owned by the Hoover Pickle Fac- 
tory in what is alleged to have been an 
attempt on the life of Mrs. George C. 
O'Neill, the boy's beautiful young mother. 

Chief of Detectives Yeager has thrown a 
dragnet over the entire city and Hollywood. 
"The honor of the force is at stake," he said. 
"We must capture that man." 

286 



All through the night and since dawn this 
morning, the City's Finest aided by repre- 
sentatives of the Examiner have conducted 
a tireless investigation into the strangest case 
of attempted murder within the memory of 
man. 

Spurred by the testimony of Mrs. O'Neill 
and the publicity attending the disclosures 
printed yesterday by the Examiner, the po- 
lice today instituted an active drive against 
all fortune tellers in this city. 

Mrs. O'Neill is one of the West End's 
most charming hostesses and her silent but 
active support of this paper's drive against 
the charlatans and quacks who prey upon 
the Los Angeles public with their clair- 
voyance and other wizardry has been more 
than appreciated by all who knew of these 
activities. 

Bobby Now Thought Safe 

The aid of the Police Departments of 
New York City; Camden, New Jersey, and 
other cities has been sought by Mr. Yeager 
in his search for Ursula Georgi, now posi- 
tively known to have been the secretary of 
the late Samuel Danbury, falsely identified 
at his death as Swami Yogadachi by this 

287 



woman who, it is charged, was, herself, the 
astrologer. 

It is thought that with the apprehension 
of Ursula Georgi and the chauffeur, said to 
have been employed by Danbury and 
thought by local authorities to be an accom- 
plice of the Georgi woman, Bobby O'Neill's 
life will be saved. To insure his safety, the 
O'Neill household has been placed under a 
rigid police guard and all foods are being 
thoroughly analyzed before the child eats 
them. 

Mrs. O'NeilPs desperate attempt to halt 
the glacier of melancholy psychology that 
had moved intrepidly through the Delphian 
ranks since early December, carrying one 
after another of these young ladies with it, 
breaking them, tearing them, grinding san- 
ity from their minds and life from their 
bodies, is characterized by local educators 
and churchmen as one of the noblest actions 
in the history of womankind. Aided by the 
Examiner, Mrs. O'Neill is assembling all 
the letters Mrs. Anne Jessup received from 
members of the Delphian Society as well as 
those from Swami Yogadachi. These will 
be presented to Governor Dineen of Ohio 
with a petition for a parole for the unhappy 
woman. 

288 



Mrs. O'Neill calls certain of the letters 
printed exclusively in last night's Exam- 
hter "outbursts of a religious fanatic." "It 
was letters like that which urged these poor 
women on to their own destruction. If those 
letters to Anne could be found at this time 
I dare say the writer would be revealed 
almost as guilty of Tom Jessup's murder as 
his wife." 

Mrs. O'Neill attempted to break the cor- 
respondence between Ellen Koons and Anne 
Jessup, in prison, and with Mary Thompson, 
in the insane asylum. It was known to 
everyone that Mary's fits of violence were 
of short duration and that at times she 
was entirely rational and repentant. Mrs. 
O'Neill saw the danger to this unbalanced 
girl of the wrong sort of letters received 
between her violent, raving seizures. Mrs. 
O'Neill has learned, however, that on April 
15a letter was delivered to Mrs. Thompson, 
and she has suggested to the police that this 
letter be obtained as material evidence of 
Miss Koons' culpability. She also suggests 
that a letter received by Hazel Cousins, as 
she lay in the Deaconess Hospital, New 
York City, on April 10 dying of pernicious 
anemia and a tubercular condition of the 
stomach — this letter also written by Ellen 

289 



Koons — be obtained from Miss Cousins' 
effects if possible. 

"I have no desire to see Ellen Koons prose- 
cuted for any part in the instigation of 
what I am forced to regard as a plot y " Mrs, 
O'Neill said. "I think Ellen was as much 
misled and preyed upon by the activities of 
the Swami as were any of the other girls. 
Her extra-activity as a writer of depressing, 
provocative and prophetic letters certainly 
contributed to the sad fate of several of our 
friends, however, and if some measure of 
guilt could be laid at her door, it might 
serve to relieve other minds now laboring 
under false delusions of the inevitability of 
these dreadful predictions." 

Bishop Clavering, interviewed by a rep- 
resentative of the Examiner, likened Mrs. 
O'Neill to Joan of Arc and said: "This 
brave lady has revealed the true strength of 
mind of all American womanhood. Her 
resolution to give the matter the publicity 
it deserved, to bring light and air into the 
subterranean channels of morbid thought 
which had been so long sapping and under- 
mining the morale of a widening circle of 
women is closely akin to the achievement of 
the immortal Maid in raising the siege of 
Orleans. The anniversary of this event 

290 



which will be celebrated all over France on 
July fourtenth should be regarded as a 
celebration for Mrs. George C. O'Neill as 
well." 

A Quiet Day at Home 

In sharp contrast to the festive gayety 
planned for Bobby's birthday today, a pall 
had descended on the O'Neill home. The 
family spent the day in the house save for 
several visits to the office of Chief of Detec- 
tives Yeager, who was assembling the facts 
necessary to fix the blame for these crimes 
on the proper shoulders. 

It must be remembered that, although 
Mr. Danbury could be censured for sug- 
gesting the dreadful events, if he was the 
astrologer — many of which have come 
true — and in some States he might have 
been liable to prosecution, it remains that 
the only definite, first-hand attempt to take 
a life thus far attributed to him hinges upon 
his responsibility for enclosing corrosive 
sublimate in the paper intended for little 
Bobby O'Neill, and sent to his mother as a 
panacea for any ache or pain the child 
might develop on or near his birthday. 
Now, however, it is thought by the police 
that Danbury had no knowledge of the for- 

291 



tune telling activities of his secretary, 
Ursula Georgi. 

Representatives of the Wurst news- 
papers in the East have interviewed neigh- 
bors, friends and publishers of Samuel 
Danbury and learned that his secretary 
answered perfectly the description of the 
Georgi woman. Tall, feline, dark, sug- 
gestive of a negro or a mulatto; a beautiful, 
quiet and efficient woman. She travelled 
with Danbury everywhere. She had been 
introduced as a high-caste Hindu. Several 
avowed their disbelief in this story of the 
woman's nativity. Several admitted they 
had suspected the relationship between 
Danbury and his secretary was more inti- 
mate than that of employer and employee. 
She had been in New York City on Decem- 
ber tenth, but was not seen with him until 
after his fatal accident. She had then iden- 
tified the body, reclaimed his automobile, 
attended his funeral and helped the executor 
of his estate for several days. Then she went 
away for her health. Her address has been 
changed several times since. Now she seems 
to have disappeared entirely, as has Dan- 
bury's chauffeur. 

While the search for Allen Woodward 
occupies the local officials, the Brooklyn 

292 



police have been asked to hold Ellen Koons 
for further questioning and the New York 
authorities have returned Mary Thompson 
to the New York State Hospital to fore- 
stall any attempts at suicide. 

The Camden, New Jersey, police are co- 
operating in an exhaustive investigation and 
will tomorrow morning enter the Danbury 
mansion, closed since last December. They 
will also take into custody for questioning 
as many of the author's former servants as 
can be located. 

The New York City police will recall the 
witnesses to Samuel Danbury's death and 
will aid the Los Angeles authorities through 
interviews with his publishers and other 
business connections. 



Yeager looked up at Si from the evening 
paper. "Hey! The fourteenth o' July ain't got 
nothin' t'do with John Dark, is it?" 

"You tell me." 

"It's sompn else." 

"I should tell a Bishop?" 

293 



"Hell kill you when he reads this." 
"Answer your phone." 

• • • • • 

"Montreal calling, sir." 

"Hello!" 

"Mr. Yeager — this is Inspector Peabody, of 
Montreal." 

"How-do-you-do, Inspector. How are you?" 

"Very well indeed. And how are you, sir?" 

"Fine." 

"How are all the little Inspectors?" Si mur- 
mured. 

"Mr. A. Ogden Frey of London is in my 
office." The Canadian's voice carried well, so well 
Yeager had to hold the receiver an inch from his 
ear. 

"Ask how he is," Si said to himself. 

"Yes?" 

"He has brought me some documents I think 
you should see." 

"Thank you very much." 

"Fm putting a messenger on the train with 
them. He'll bring them to you in person." 

"Thank you, sir." 

"You're entirely welcome. One is a letter from 
Ursula Georgi. A very important letter." 

"That's great." 

"I hope you catch her." 

"We hope so too." 
294 



"Good-day, Mr. Yeager." 
"Good-bye-day." 



" c Good-bye-day'! . . . What's he sending 
you?" 

"Letters Ursula wrote Mrs. Frey." 

"Oh, yeah? The noose tightens. What did you 
hear from New Orleans?" 

"She left there and left no forwarding 
address." 

"Damned inconsiderate, I calls it." 

"Where do you suppose she'd go? That tele- 
phone call came from a pay station in Chicago. 
They're working on that." 

"I'll bet a cooky she's here!" 

Yeager looked at the reporter a long time 
before he spoke. "That's exactly where she is." 
Then he whirled in his chair and yelled: "Buck! 
. . . Charlie! . . . C'mere. ... If I only had 
a picture " 

"Show 'em the Annual. There's a big one in 
front, among the graduating class." 

Buck and Charlie looked over their chief's 
shoulder. "A pippin!"— "Right off the lot!" 

"Go find her. She's in town." 

"Where's she stoppin'?" 

"Huh! Where's she — why — she's living with 
the O'Neills — they're old friends, you poor half 

*95 



wit. If I knew where she was stoppin' I'd call 
her up and have her in for tea." 

Buck and Charlie studied the photograph. "Is 
this Ursula?" 

"That's Ursula." 

"What makes you think she's here, boss?" 

"Just this. She's got a lot of brains. If she 
planned this thing — she's the smartest woman I 
ever heard of, bar none." 

"You think it's smart to live in this town?" 

Yeager ignored him. "I think it's smart to 
stick close to the gun, hiding under its barrel or 
sitting back of it if possible." 

"Uh-huh. Uh-huh. The closer the better. 
Then maybe the O'Neill house ain't such a bad 
hunch. Maybe she is livin' there." 

"Rats! Get out." 

They went — but in the corridor they stopped. 
"Why ain't that good logic?" Buck demanded of 
Charlie Silver. 

"The closter the better; am I right?" 

"Let's ast next door." 

From New York came a telegram: 

MARY THOMPSON DIED HOS- 
PITAL THIS MORNING FRACTURED 
SKULL IN FALL ATTEMPTING ES- 
CAPE STOP FOLLOWED YOUR IN- 
STRUCTIONS ON KOONS STOP 

296 



FOUND HER DEAD BY GAS IN 
KITCHEN STOP PAPER IN HER 
HAND ACCOUNT OF THOMPSON 
DEATH STOP LETTER ON TABLE 
FROM ANONYMOUS PARTY POST- 
MARKED SAN FRANCISCO STOP 
SUGGEST YOU GET PASSENGER 
LISTS STEAMERS SAILING FOR 
ORIENT STOP YOUR PARTY PROB- 
ABLY GOING ABROAD AFTER SEND- 
ING LETTER STOP LETTER NOW ON 
WAY TO YOU TELLS KOONS TO GO 
INTO TRANCE CONSULT INDIAN 
CONTROL 

"I was right!" Yeager yelled. "She teas here." 
"You were right — " Si raised his brows. 
"Well, we were right. She was here — now 

she's gone. Back to India. Maybe we can catch 

her on the ship!" 

"Maybe — an' maybe she ain't on a ship." 
"Sure she's on a ship. She's running now. She 

was here — the letter was postmarked " 

"San Francisco." 

"Well, what's a few miles? She was on her way 

to the dock." 

"She thought you'd figure that way." 

"Oh, Si, you read too much Poe. Of course 

she's going to get away as far as possible now." 

*97 



"No, Yeager, I don't agree. She's outthinking 
you. She says: 'They'll think of Los Angeles, 
then they'll see San Francisco, then they'll think 
India which means ships. But, instead of being a 
sap for them, I'll go to Los Angeles and' — what? 
'Get in the movies.' " 

"You're nuts." 

"Bet you." 

"How much?" 

"Fifty." 

"It's a go." 

"I got to get out o' here anyway. We're takin* 
pictures of Bobby eatin' his lonely birthday 
dinner." 



Laura introduced Si Lenz and his camera man 
to Fanny Brennan, who was leaving. "Ooooh, 
going to take Bobby's picture? Can I watch? I'll 
be still as a mouse." 

Mary got in the picture too; "Trusted Serv- 
ant Cares for Child." While the photographer 
fussed with his shutter, Si talked too much. It 
wasn't like him. But he couldn't possibly have 
seen the danger. Fanny looked perfectly harm- 
less. The reporter told Laura that Mary Thomp- 
son and Ellen were gone. 
298 



"They didn't wait for Bob. They just skipped 
him," Laura murmured. 

"Mary fell — trying to escape/' 

"And Ellen?" 

"Turned on the gas when she heard about 
Mary." 

Fanny went: "Tchtchtchtch!" 

"Ursula is in Los Angeles, too. We just found 
that out." 

"No!" 

"Well, she was in San Francisco a few days 
ago. I think she's here now." 

Fanny added: "Oh, my!" 

"Frey's back — and the Montreal police are 
sending Yeager some letters from Ursula to 
Mrs. Frey. Funny bunch, those Canucks; they 
wouldn't trust the mails. Sending the letters by 
hand." 

"Mary— too." 

Suddenly Fanny remembered the time. "I have 
to run. 'Bye, Laura. See you later. Good-bye, Mr. 
Lenz. Good-bye, Bobby." 

Bobby's "good-bye" ruined a plate. 

Now, Fanny scarcely realized she had heard 
anything, and Si surely did not know he had 
spoken out of turn, but information had been 
transmitted unwisely. Because Fanny's new cook, 
who also served, even as Mary Kelly did, was 
Ursula. And when Fanny told Mike, at the table, 

299 



that the O'Neill's were about to capture the 
guilty woman and that a Canadian detective was 
bringing important evidence to Los Angeles for 
the lady's conviction, Ursula took the empty 
plates into the kitchen, slipped out of her apron 
and kept right on going. 



4 



Yeager's telephone rang. "This is Buck, boss." 

"Yes." 

"We found 'er." 

"No!" 

"Well, she works here, but she got wind we 
were coming." 

"Honest?" 

"Right back of O'Neills. She's the cook." 

"No!" 

"I'm telling you." 

"Who tipped her off?" 

"Don't know. She blew in the middle of 
dinner." 

"She'll never be back. . . . Listen, Buck. 

Danbury's chauffeur is her boy-friend; see? He 

got away from us. He'll tip her and they'll try 

to run for it. You look in at the nearest rental 

300 



car agency out that way. We've got to catch 
those two . . . and, Buck " 

"Yeah." 

"If you see a red rubber ball. Painted red — 
ash can, gutter, anywhere; bring it in. It's evi- 
dence." 

"What the hell " 



"Do what I tell you, you- 



301 




CHAPTER NINE 

The Canadian Pacific train bearing in one 
of its comfortable compartments the 
emissary of the Montreal police with his 
sealed packet of letters hidden close to his body, 
was due in Los Angeles at 12:10 midnight. The 

303 



Overland Limited from Chicago, which had 
taken Jo Turner from the Century at that point, 
was due but a few moments later. 

Outgoing trains were being thoroughly 
watched. Incoming trains seemed of little im- 
portance to Yeager. But Si Lenz was there josh- 
ing with the girl at the cigar counter. The 
Canadian train was a little late. 

"By gosh," said Si, "all these people must give 
you a laugh. All rushing around, going places, 
never getting anywhere, pretending to be some- 
thing they're not." 

"Oh, I don't know," she said. 

"Like those things there — " he pointed to a 
novelty for sale; a cigarette case in the shape of 
an automatic pistol, "getting by on false pre- 
tenses." 

"Oh, I don't know," she said. Her hair was 
yellow and curly, her eyes startled and blue. 

"Yep. Everybody makin' out they're some- 
thing they ain't." 

A man with a weathered bag bearing seals 
from a number of Canadian hotels was accosted 
at Si's elbow. "Beg pardon, friend, are you from 
Montreal?" 

Si turned a little, casually, and watched them. 
The Canadian studied his inquisitor, then 
nodded. "I'm from Headquarters," the fellow 
continued — and Si's eyes grew large. 
304 



"How much?" Si asked pointing to the toy 
pistols which so closely resembled the real thing. 

"One fifty." 

The voice over Si's shoulder was very low. 
"Yeager told me to meet you and bring you to 
his house." 

"Oh, certainly. Have — have you — well; how 
am I to know?" 

The impostor showed a badge. The Canadian 
nodded and smiled. "That's fine." They walked 
away together. 

"There's an example," said Si, pocketing his 
change. "No. Don't wrap it. There's an example. 
That guy ain't from Headquarters at all." 

"No? Gee, — I don't know." She was chewing 
gum. Call her fourteen if you like. 

Si followed the two men to the curb. "My 
car's over here," the man with the thin lips said. 
"We can go this way." Si ambled leisurely in 
their wake. A big dark car was parked in one of 
the few unrestricted areas near the taxi stand. 
Cabs flowed in a continuous stream to the curb, 
stopped long enough to take or leave a passenger 
— and burred away. The two men entered the 
big car after some delay. There was, apparently, 
another person in the car, but Si could not be 
sure, the interior was very dark. As the engine 
was turned over, a lady in search of a cab, two 
heavy-laden red caps in tow, reached the curb. 

305 



Si looked once — then again. "Excuse me," he 
said. "Are you Josephine Turner?" 

"I am." Her chin was high. 

"We have mutual friends. I saw your picture 
in the Mount Albans annual — at Mrs. O'Neill's." 

Jo melted at once. "Isn't that a scream of a 
picture? With the dahlias or whatever you call 
'em, here" she spatted her own chest with a 
graceful, gloved hand. "How did Laura find out 
I was coming? I meant to surprise her." 

"I don't think she knows. I'm not here to meet 
you." 

"No! What are you here for?" 

"Shsh," he said. "I'm watching two men in 
that car." 

"Which one?" 

"I dasn't point." 

Jo's hand gripped Si's arm suddenly and she 
turned her back abruptly toward the car which 
was moving slowly, edging into the stream of 
traffic. "There's a woman in that car!" she said. 
"A woman I know. She just looked out the back 
window." 

Si's tongue poked one cheek out from within. 
"Would her name, maybe, be — Ursula?" 

"Yes!" 

"Did she see you?" 

"I don't think so." 

"Boy — " Si whirled to the red caps, dragging 
306 



a crumpled wad of bills to light. "Here's two 
bucks. Check that stuff and one of you deliver 
the checks to Mr. Yeager at Detective Head- 
quarters. Hear me!? Yeager — Chief of Detec- 
tives." 

"Yas, suh." 

"Are — are you a detective?" Jo demanded. 

"Yes, madam; and so are you, just now. Come 
on." They stepped into a cab. "Get behind that 
big car, there," said Si. "And stay with it." 

For some time their progress was slow. The 
traffic about the station approaches was very 
heavy. At length both cars extricated themselves 
and Si looked at his companion. "Maybe I 
shouldn't drag you into this," he said, impressed 
by her suave composure. 

"I love it. . . . But I wish I knew more about 
it. I thought the police of ten continents were 
looking for Ursula. Did you know she was here? 
Was she on the train?" 

"No; I'll tell you," said Si. "In that car are 
Ursula and her boy-friend who used to be Dan- 
bury's chauffeur — and a visitor from Montreal. 
The visitor has some letters which Ursula wants 
very much, and I think she means to get them." 

"Letters?" 

"From Mr. Frey, of Montreal." 

"I know — Helen's husband!" 

"That's right." 

307 



"To whom?" 

"Well — I wouldn't know for sure, but I think 
they are intended for a man named Yeager. He's 
a cop. But I wouldn't be sure. Damned secretive 
these Canadian police." 

The big car turned sharply and careened down 
an ill-lit residential street. Si's driver did likewise. 
"I hope they don't think we're following them/' 
he muttered. 

"They will," said Jo. "They can't help it/' 

"In that case," said Si, leaning toward the 
driver, "crowd that car into the curb, preferably 
near a cop." 

"There's no cops out here," the driver 
growled. "What is this, anyway?" 

"Crowd 'em in," Si repeated. "We want to 
stop 'em. ' • 

"Well, I'm not gonna crack up the hack for 
no fifty cent tip." 

The "automatic" cigarette case came out of 
his pocket and Si placed its hard, cold, round end 
against the man's neck. "Crowd that car into the 
curb!" 

The result was instantaneous. Like a streak the 
taxi passed the larger car and slowed at its left 
hand front fender, veering toward the walk. Si 
leaned out of the door, levelling his toy at the 
driver of the other car. Jo Turner sat in one 
corner of the cab as inconspicuously as it was 
308 



possible for Jo Turner to sit anywhere. Both 
drivers applied their brakes. 

"Pile out," said Si. "And keep your hands up" 
"What is this?" the tall chauffeur growled. 
"We haven't got any money." 

"Get out o' that car. . . . All of you." 
Ursula followed the driver and they stood 
with hands upraised at the side of the road. "You 
too, Montreal. Come on." The tall man darted a 
swift glance at Ursula. The man who remained 
in the car did not move. With a sickening lump 
growing in his stomach, Si's confidence wavered. 
Had they killed him? Had this woman — for the 
man had been driving — had she killed the mes- 
senger as they rode through town? 

Fearless, ruthless, bold, and cunning beyond 
imagination, these two were held at bay with a 
useless sham of a toy. Si wondered how long he 
could keep the upper hand. "Stand over here," 
he said in a voice made gruffer to bolster his own 
courage. "If you've killed that man it's your last 
murder. . . . Move!" They circled a little to 
allow him to see in the car. The man lay in a heap 
on the floor, blood soaking his clothes. His bag 
was emptied on the seat. Ursula's search for the 
papers had been interrupted — but too late to 
save another life. "My God," said Si. "Another 
horoscope." He walked backward to the side of 
the cab, keeping his "gun" at a threatening 

309 



angle. "Turn around, driver," he said. "Go back 
and get the nearest cop. Tell him to send the 
wagon — and you bring him back here with you. 
Yeah, for more than fifty cents." 

"Well, I'm going to stay here," said Jo, sud- 
denly starting from the cab. "I've never seen 
anything like this and I'm not walking out on a 
good show." 

Ursula's black eyes dilated with hate. "Jo 
Turner," she whispered. 

Jo looked over Si's shoulder as the cab turned 
swiftly around. "Ursula Georgi, you black- 
hearted wretch." 

"Shut up," the girl snapped. "I'll get even for 
this." 

"Never mind," her companion said. "Don't 
talk. This is a fluke. This fellow's not a cop." 

"Oh, no?" Si swaggered. "I'm cop enough to 
put this over. Separate, you two. Stand further 
apart. . . . Now, Miss Turner, will you please 
go behind them and see if there are any guns or 
knives — or horoscopes — in their pockets. . . . 
Under his arms too. . . . Nothing? Look on the 
front seat. . . . Feel around the cushions." 

Jo did as Si bade her. "Here's one." A heavy 
revolver had been wedged between the cushion 
and the side of the car. "I'll take it," said Si. "See 
if it's loaded." 

"I don't know how " 

310 



But the talk had been informative to "Allen" 
— he lowered his long arms. "Ain't yours?" he 
asked, grabbing at the gun the lady held. Jo 
pulled the trigger. Ursula came instantly to life, 
leaping on Si like a cat. Jo and the tall man fell 
together; Si fought with a virago. The real re- 
volver slid under the auto, and as householders 
came running from doors, Ursula left the three 
struggling for possession of the weapon and 
walked slowly into the shadow of a large tree. 
As men in shirt sleeves and ladies in wrappers and 
negligees separated the three combatants, Ursula 
edged out of the crowd and across the dark lawn 
of a bungalow. One corner between her and that 
corpse meant temporary safety — perhaps free- 
dom. 

She ran. Behind her she heard the taxi return 
and stop. Other cars were stopping. She must 
leave the precious letters behind — but every inch 
she gained now was one more breath of life. 
They would be after her immediately. She drew 
her dresses higher and ran faster and faster. 
Three blocks from the stalled car, she walked. 
Where now? With her startling appearance, her 
unforgettable features, dark skin and haunting 
eyes — she could not melt into a city nor dis- 
appear in a crowd. Every means of egress from 
Los Angeles would be closely guarded. The news- 
paper pack as well as the police would be alert 

3ii 



to catch her. The chase had already been 
flaunted. Her picture had been in the papers. 
SOUGHT! — in connection with the investiga- 
tion of 

And now the captions would read: 
WANTED! — for the murder of a Canadian de- 
tective! Ursula continued to walk. Where would 
they look for her? The ruse of mere closeness had 
been used. Remaining near this last crime would 
offer no protection. It was late. Registering at an 
hotel at this hour without baggage would put her 
under suspicion and surveillance at once. She 
could steal a car. Drive toward San Francisco, 
better still, toward the border, before the roads 
were being watched. That would only delay in- 
evitable capture. 

The plight of her companion, the erstwhile 
"Allen", crossed her mind but fleetingly. Her 
own need for a hiding place made his troubles of 
very minor importance. Her heels clicked out a 
monotonous rhythm as corner after corner was 
passed and she approached Pershing Square. A 
man looked meaningly in her face. Was that a 
possibility? It was! How simple! It had never 
occurred to her before. She looked back at the 
man who had practically accosted her. 

With a clang and a siren hoot, a police patrol 
car approached and she changed her mind 
quickly and hurried on. The wagon whirred past 
312 



and nosed its way into the heavier traffic of Hill 
Street. Was he sitting in that car? Manacled? On 
his way to pay for her crimes? She resumed her 
walk. Every patrolman had her description in 
his pocket. The alarm would be given him by 
telephone — when he reported on the hour. 
Apprehension was only a matter of minutes 
unless she acted at once. She hailed a cab and sat 
in it. The driver wanted a street and number. 
What street and number? Where in all the world 
was an address she could give with impunity? 
She should have gone with the stranger. Of all 
the men and women she had ever met — who 
would welcome her now? What manner of per- 
son could overlook her guilt and shield her, help 
her? She gave the address of Laura O'Neill. 



George was reading his evening paper in which 
the story of his troubles had now been relegated 
to an obscure rear page, when the bell rang. 
Laura was helping Mary make a cup of chocolate 
in the kitchen. "Hm-mm," George yawned. 
"Who could that be?" 

A woman startled him. "How-do-you-do?" 

3i3 



"How-do-you-do? Is — has Mrs. O'Neill re- 
tired?" 

"Eh? No — no, she — she's up. Won't you come 
in?" 

"Thank you." She passed him. 

"Who shall I say ?" 

"An old friend." 

"Won't you sit down?" 

"Thank you." 

Laura came in with a tray bearing two steam- 
ing cups. "There's a friend of yours " 

The two women looked at each other. Laura 
put the tray on the table. George looked from 
one to the other, puzzled. He was sleepy. The 
situation was preposterous under the circum- 
stances. He could not identify the caller. "How 
are you, Ursula?" Laura asked. "Won't you sit 
down?" 

The telephone broke the tension. George 
started to answer it. Both ladies spoke at once: 
"Wait!" He turned. 

"That will be about me, — I think," Ursula 
said. "It will tell you to watch for me — prob- 
ably. It may be Josephine Turner. At any rate, I 
beg you to give me an hour before you tell any- 
one I am here." 

"Surely you aren't asking us to have pity for 
you" Laura said coldly. 

"I am asking that, Laura. If there is one 

314 



human being in the world who will show me pity 
now — it is you." 

"If there is one" 

"Well — " George was undecided. 

"Don't mention that Ursula is here, George, 
if you please. I'd like to hear what she has to say." 

George left them alone and his voice could not 
be heard as he talked in the hall. 

"Is Josephine Turner here?" Laura asked as 
the dark girl sat abruptly in a chair. 

"Yes. I saw her — less than an hour ago. . . . 
She was beautifully dressed, as usual. Travelling 
costume. I think she must have arrived about 
midnight. She followed me from the Union 
Station." 

"Followed you? Out here?" 

"No. ... In another direction. We spoke." 

"She didn't tell me she was coming." 

"I've probably spoiled her surprise. She is here 
to see you, I imagine." 

"I'd like to see her." 

"Yes ... a lot more than you care to see 
me." 

"There's nothing to say to that. You must 
know how I feel." 

"Of course." Ursula studied Laura's face. 

"Have you come here to make one last attempt 
to kill my baby?" 

3i5 



Ursula closed her eyes and sighed heavily. "I'm 
not a baby killer." 

"You tried to be. Surely, you aren't going to 
attempt to deny your part in this affair." 

"That would be a little futile, now; wouldn't 
it? . . . No, I shan't deny it. The last bit of evi- 
dence they needed — must be in their hands now. 
. . . It's all over." 

"Why have you come here, Ursula? What do 
you want from us?" 

George re-entered the room. 

"Do you recognize this lady, George? This is 
Ursula Georgi." 

"Yes, — I know. How-do-you-do, Miss 
Georgi?" He bowed slightly, and sat uneasily, 
warily, between the two women. 

"Did you tell them to come and get me?" 
Ursula asked, smiling at him. 

"I — I — no, not exactly." 

"But you told them I was here." 

"I asked for a guard of police for my son. 
I told them he was again in danger and that I 
wanted police protection." He rose and took a 
step toward her. "I think that is a father's privi- 
lege when he entertains a murderess who has 
made repeated efforts to kill him." 

"George " Laura said quietly. 

Ursula had not stopped smiling, a small, puz- 
316 



zling smile, as if its owner knew not what else 
to do with her face. 

"My dear" O'Neill expostulated, "you asked 
too much. I did not tell them this woman was 
here, but I did ask for men." 

"I understand, dear." 

George sat down, angrily. 

Ursula raised her delicately arched brows and 
bit her lip. "It doesn't matter. If I weren't here 
I don't know where I should be. Let them come." 

The three were silent a moment. Laura spoke 
first. "I can't understand it, Ursula. I don't 
know why you should have hated me so; hated 
all of us so." 

"I think you do," the woman answered 
wearily, laying her head against the back of her 
chair. "My caste in India is a very proud one. 
You girls might better have killed me than treat 
me as you did. Insults like those I suffered are 
unforgivable — and I never forgot them for a 
moment. I planned to be revenged from the very 
first sneer. It is a petty thing to sneer at color, 
Laura/' 

"I know — but your — your revenge has been 
out of all proportion to our — crime. We were 
cruel, perhaps, but you have taken — human life. 
. . . As — as I talk to you, look at you sitting 
there, it doesn't seem possible." 

317 



"I suppose not, — to you. You could never 
understand. You are so — well balanced." 

"What I can't understand," said George, "is 
how you ever worked out the intricacies of that 
plot." 

"No, Mr. O'Neill; what you mean is — you 
cannot understand how a half dozen apparently 
sane women could be led so easily by the nose. 
The plot — the attempt — was nothing. The wil- 
lingness to be a party to the scheme was the most 
remarkable part." 

"Not only that. I mean the cunning psychol- 
ogy. The idea of knowing how these women 
would think." 

"It will not flatter your male vanity, Mr. 
O'Neill, but the plot was conceived by Samuel 
Danbury for a book and in his story the fools 
were all men. The book was never finished. . . . 
I could use his last chapter now — if I had let 
him live to finish writing it." 

"And you applied his plot to life — turned his 
idea into a machine to obliterate the Delphians?" 

"Yes. That's it. So I deserve no credit for its 
ingenuity. I'm trying very hard to finish the 
story to my own advantage now — but I'm not 
a writer. Danbury could have done it in half 
an hour. I can't do it at all. Here I sit — waiting 
for the police to come and get me. I'm not 
clever at all." 
318 



"Did you hypnotize Danbury, Ursula? Some- 
one said you did, that you forced him to leave 
his car and go into the subway and fall." 

The dark girl smiled reminiscently. "Yes, I 
did that. He was a very good subject. . . . But 
why should I confess to you? I'll have to sign all 
this tomorrow — for the police. ... If they 
catch me." With a new return of resolution, a 
new burst of courage, she jumped from her chair 
so suddenly that George could not interfere. She 
flew through the door and into the night, in one 
more desperate dash for freedom. 



3 



But they had the chauffeur. Let her scurry 
around a little if she wanted to. They'd make 
Allen talk. They did. While Ursula stayed out of 
sight by pretending to be a fancy woman, facts 
were elicited from Allen. 

If you didn't believe the Wickersham report 
on police methods, you wouldn't believe me if I 
told you how they got Allen's confession, how 
they pounded the story of Ursula out of his 
body. So I'll just tell you what they got and not 
how they got it. 

Ursula was really his wife. Danbury hadn't 

3i9 



known that. Danbury hadn't known lots of 
things, Ursula's proficiency at wrapping turbans, 
a different way for each caste, and her command 
of several Hindustani dialects gave credence to 
her story that she was an Hindu. If she was, 
Hindus are born in squalor of Javanese mothers 
after white-sailor fathers have deserted them in 
huts on the coast of Java. That will be news to 
Gandhi and Krishnamurti. 

Her mother nursed her the first day, forgot 
it the second — in her delirium — and when she 
remembered to do it again on the third day of 
Ursula's existence, it was almost too late. Almost. 
On the fourth day her mother died, on the floor 
of a deserted hut, in filth and rags and convul- 
sions. And only her most unearthly howls on the 
fifth day were sufficient to bring two fishermen 
there to cut Ursula apart from the corpse and 
to carry her where weak gruel could be had. 

It seems sometimes that our lives hinge on 
very little things. Only consider that Tom Jes- 
sup might still be paying surreptitious but vital 
tribute to Nellie Stone's great charm and Hazel 
Cousin's glorious breasts might still be warm and 
full and whole — if those damned Javanese fisher- 
men hadn't, with Jovian lack of foresight, 
heeded Ursula's loud but unwarranted demands 
on the fifth day of her latest incarnation among 
320 



men. Well, the lowly shall be raised up! And 
she was. 

She was raped, the first time, at ten. And not 
by a white-sailor either, but by a very black 
fellow, one the older women shunned. 

A missionary found her not long after that 
and for two years she lived in his home, helping 
with the dishes and learning about her Saviour 
and sometimes sweeping. It was a Catholic mis- 
sion and in this place she acquired her name. 
That was one advantage she had over Bobby; she 
knew all about the Man Who died on the cross. 
But, it was a strange thing about Ursula, they 
couldn't keep clothes on her. She hated garments 
of any kind and refused to wear them, and one 
day in her thirteenth year she ran away from the 
mission, attired exactly as she had been found at 
the age of five days. There was this difference, 
however, in her appearance. She was fatter. 

And she hadn't learned to dance very well, 
when a Turkish merchantman steamed out of 
the bay, with Ursula — partly clothed — in the 
hold. How the sailors kept her a secret for twelve 
days is more than any of the ship's officers could 
ever divine, because when she waggled her body 
in the gyrations she thought were dances for 
them, after they discovered her, she screamed 
and laughed so loud that passing vessels heard 
her, when the wind was right. 

321 



These officers gave her, among other things, a 
new Saviour for her immortal soul. They per- 
formed a delightful ritual for the glory of Allah 
and then repeated it for his only prophet. Thus, 
by the time Ursula reached Port Said, not yet 
fourteen, she had too many Saviours and prob- 
ably that was what spoiled the broth. With 
Christ, Mohammed and Buddha, all wrestling 
for that one soiled specimen of 'a soul, it's no 
wonder she was upset — often. In Port Said every- 
one upset you. You scarcely had time to dance or 
to eat, there were so many men, all waiting to 
upset you. 

But Christ won. At least He got her; some- 
times the winner loses. Another missionary re- 
claimed her, for the second time, and she was 
sent to America with a batch of other non- 
descripts to lecture in Sunday Schools on India 
and the Near East. She made a deacon out in 
Nebraska and he gave her a hundred dollars to 
leave town. The town was too small for Ursula 
anyway. 

By the time she reached New York, she had 
the Church racket reduced to an exact science. 
The years had also taught her the value of an 
education. She got to an Episcopal rector one day 
and his church took her up. She played her 
native instruments for them, the esraj, sitars, 
tabla and banya> when they had them imported 
322 




THE SAILORS KEPT HER A SECRET . . . 

323 



for her, and demonstrated the folk dances of her 
people, slow-motion so no one would get excited. 
Raising her tuition for Mount Albans was a 
cinch for Ursula. She wanted so to — how you say 
in yotcr country? — have the knowledge; no? 

She quit talking like that as soon as the good 
ladies from the church had left her in the Bronx 
seminary. Two girls lived in each of the dormi- 
tory rooms. Ursula was planted, squarely, feet 
braced, in the middle of hers when Miss Elms, 
the Registrar, tapped and opened the door to 
show Anne and her mother — and younger 
brother — where they proposed to store Anne for 
the term. 

" — and this is Ursula." 

There was no doubt of that. Well, it wouldn't 
do. The — eh — the light was bad. Mrs. Black- 
mere's imagination was anything but sprightly. 
The light? Why, my dear Mrs. Blackmere, this 
was a corner room; one window to the North 
and these two to the East, my dear Mrs. Black- 
mere. 

My dear Mrs. Blackmere next attacked the 
color of the walls, the closet space and the rug, 
and when the critique got down to the door 
knobs, the proximity to the bath and the big tree 
outside the window, even Miss Elms began to 
suspect that there was something about the room 
Mrs. Blackmere did not like. It came to her in a 

32J 



rush when Billy, the kid brother, piped — on their 
way out but before the door had been closed: 
"Pheeew, Anne. Are you gonna sleep with a 
nigger?" 

Then Miss Elms understood. She took it up 
with the Dean a few hours later. "We're going 
to have — er — some difficulty, I'm afraid, Miss 
Pringle, with that — er — that East Indian girL" 

"Difficulty?" Pringle thrived on difficulties. 

"I can't get her a room-mate- It's one of the 
lightest and airiest rooms in Longfellow Hall, 
but everyone complains of the light the moment 
they see her." 

"Think she's a negress, likely." 

"I shouldn't wonder." 

"You leave it to me." 

It would have been a great break for Pringle 
if the next girl to be placed had been Helen 
Haenkel. The Dean would then have made the 
sale and cut Elms' salary. But the next one in was 
Hazel Cousins — and not even Pringle would sug- 
gest that she sleep with Ursula. After Hazel, 
came Laura Stanhope — with her father, old 
Judge Stanhope, so there was no use trying that. 

Ursula spent her boarding school days — and 
nights — alone, in one of the choicest rooms in 
Longfellow Hall. 



326 



Ursula was quick and clever. Inspection never 
revealed her candle. And she gathered and re- 
tained knowledge because it was equipment she 
knew she needed for a long journey she planned 
to make. The white-world was against her, but 
she would bring it low. She was going up I to 
heights others dreamed about. White men would 
kiss her hand, white women would curry her 
favor. It was all to be done with knowledge and 
sex and such extra powers as she had gleaned 
here and there in the East. And this vaulting 
ambition was not so much a desire for revenge 
against her persecutors and those who despised 
her as it was a determination to avoid sharing 
their opinion of her, herself. That wasn't as clear 
to Ursula as it is to you and me. Ambition was 
both aim and a reason for aiming to Ursula as it 
is to most aimers. Absence of analysis of this 
passion for attainment was tacitly condoned and 
her incuriosity regarding its true nature given 
what amounted to approval by the ding-dong- 
dinging of the need for ambition by all the 
teachers who also assumed that such a quality in 
a normal Miss was indeed an end in itself and 
needed neither reason nor explanation. 

Ursula was going — up I In the last few months 

5*7 



at Mount Albans she scrutinized the terrain. She 
was through with churches and their revolting 
patronization. She would not go there to the 
people who had paid for her education. She 
would go immediately to work in some organi- 
zation which towered high so she would have 
room and opportunity to climb. She started in 
the business office of the American Telephone 
and Telegraph Company, advancing rapidly for 
a year, then suddenly halted. It seemed that 
knowledge, of the sort she had acquired at 
school, had done its utmost for her in this par- 
ticular sphere. Sex or one of the Eastern arts 
must carry her out of the groove before it was 
worn too deep. Her work did not bring her into 
contact with any men with sufficient authority 
to get her a transfer to their private offices. Sex 
seemed useless here, but a great deal of cash was 
handled in a cage not far away, separated from 
Ursula by a clear-glass partition. It had been a 
long time since she had practiced — but persever- 
ance, she knew, moved mountains. She applied 
herself to a little girl who had been with the 
company a long time. 

It was two weeks before her efforts bore their 
bitter fruit and ten dollars was missing. Ursula 
let the child alone for a week, then began work- 
ing again, involving her suggestions this time 
with detail for concealing the theft. Two days 
328 



later, our Javanese brat knew by the expression 
on the girl's face that an entry for which she 
could not account had been made on this ledger 
sheet or that. In so carefully policed an organi- 
zation, — it would not be long. One more false 
entry. Then Ursula watched for the marked 
money. It came, and with it the opportunity. 

Miss Georgi did not wait for the frisking, but 
went at once to the sacred precincts and de- 
manded an audience. 

"Yes, Miss Georgi." 

Working for this mutt was going to be hard 
to take, but it was the next rung. "I know I must 
be brief." She bit her lower lip. 

"Don't be embarrassed. What is it?" 

"I don't like to be an informer." 

The mutt raised a brow. 

"I — I just saw a — a girl falsify — a — a cash 
slip. Oh, Mr. Heidt, I hate to make enemies — 
but that isn't honest." 

"Now, really, Miss Georgi, you must be very, 
very sure before you make such an accusation." 

"I'm too sure. I saw it." 

"And — who was it?" 

"Oh, Mr. Heidt, if— if I tell you can I— can I 
be moved, changed; put where I couldn't see 
anything else like that? I wouldn't want to go on 
day after day, watching the girls I'm working 

329 



with, afraid they'd take things from my own 
purse. Would that be possible?" 

"Well, we — we could see what could be done. 
But, come, if there are dishonest people here and 
you know who they are, it is your duty to tell 



us." 



So the little girl was fired and Ursula was 
moved a small step up, though a floor lower in 
the building, and Heidt's interest was aroused. 
Two years out of Mount Albans, Ursula was pri- 
vate secretary to a Chief Assistant in the engi- 
neering department, and the climb had been 
arduous. Other broken bodies had been left along 
the trail besides that of the girl in the cage. There 
was one broken home and three smashed hearts. 
An alpinist, Ursula resolved, should not start on 
Matterhorn. To keep her skirts clean for business 
reasons she had not loved, that is — she had not 
gone through the motions of love, outside of the 
bosses. She had read, instead, in the evening, and 
attended motion pictures alone. 

She had read Danbury. One day she saw his 
picture on a book page — and burst out laughing, 
as most of us do when we see a photograph of 
our favorite author for the first time. But Ursula 
did not laugh because Samuel was funny look- 
ing; he wasn't. She laughed because in his face, 
in his eyes and mouth and the jib of his chin and 
the cut of his ears was an almost perfect subject. 
330 



A tyro at hypnotism could have his way with the 
owner of that head. Was he married? 

Ursula learned all she could about the prolific 
scrivener and quit her job on the strength of her 
findings. She went to Camden and to his house 
and sat, presently, in his study. He came in* 
bustling. She did not immediately raise her beach 
He held a batch of unopened letters which he 
sorted between his fingers without system or 
point. Finally he decided to see her. He looked 
down, through pince nez attached to him with a 
single filament of gold chain — and saw only the 
top of her hat. Her head rose slowly, majes- 
tically, like the sun, pushed upward by her body 
coming out of the chair and gradually erect. He 
watched the movement, fascinated, and their 
eyes met. 

Finis! Finis pour Monsieur Danbury. She held 
out her hand for the letters. "You — you've come 
at a very opportune time," he said with a puzzled 
frown. "Fve just returned from a tour — " a 
"toowah", he pronounced it " — and I need a 
sektry very much." 

"Yes," Ursula said, removing her hat, "shall 
we begin with these?" 

"I'd — Yd best call the agency and tell them 
they needn't send any one, — if you'll excuse me." 

"Certainly." 

331 



"Singular/' he muttered to himself, "very 
singular indeed." 

As she typed, later that day — Danbury had 
dropped off to sleep on a couch — Insula felt an 
antagonistic presence behind her. The steps she 
had heard approach were not those of the house- 
keeper nor her new employer's man, but $trange 
ones. Now, the new arrival had stopped just 
inside the door and was staring, from the feel of 
it, glaring, at her back. Whoever it was, it rep- 
resented no weak opposition to her plans. It was 
a presence to cope with, a strength which chal- 
lenged her own. She stopped typing but did not 
turn around at once, trying to think as she acted. 
Concentration revealed nothing. She turned and 
saw "Allen" for the first time. 

"How-do-you-do," he said, one eye almost 
shut in his effort to see deeper than the surface 
of the self she was showing him. 

"How-do-you-do." 

"Are you the new secretary? . . . Fm the 
chauffeur." 

"I see you are." 

The man was frankly squinting now, with 
both eyes. "Haven't I met you somewhere 
before?" 

Ursula did not answer beyond a smile. 

"I know you," he went on. "My name's 
Goodman.* 
33* 



"Just now?" 

"I don't understand." 

"Never mind. Mine is Jahnsi — just now." 

"Well, you're calling me — but I didn't know 
there was a game." 

"You — wouldn't — fool — me, would you?" 

"Let's talk about this another time," the 
chauffeur tried to wave the battle aside. 

"You don't need to be afraid he'll wake up. 
He won't. He sleeps very soundly." 

"You seem to have learned his habits in a 
hurry!" 

"That kind of sleep's not a habit." 

"I'd give fifty bucks to know where I've met 
you." 

"You've never met me." 

"I'll bet you I have." 

"Not on this earth." 

The man's eyes narrowed again. "I didn't limit 
myself to this earth." 

"Now you're calling me" 

"This is a new hand." 

"I've got 'em!" 

. . . "You certainly have. Who are you?" 

"A mulatto — from appearances." 

He shook his head. "Oh, no. Not you. . . . 
Where'd you get your training?" 

"Isn't that a little personal?" 

333 



"I don't know. What are you doing here? 
Why butt in?" 

"You saw him first?" 

"I've been with him nearly a ycaif " 

"Make out pretty well?" 

"Too well to have to cut it with a stranger." 

"I don't stay strange long." 

"That's more like it, . . . Come on, be 
gentle; where'd you get that eye?" 

Ursula moved her head slowly from side to 
side. "Where did you get yours?" 

"I've been with all the good ones, Hadeen, 
McMaster, Panchadasi, Hamilton. Houdini was a 
great friend of mine." 

**I don't know them. I am from India." 

"The Motherland," he mocked her. "Well, we 
should get on well together." 

"I don't know why not." And heedless of the 
sleeping fount of words, they embraced in the 
middle of his study. 



5 



Well, there you have them, all thirteen; you 
paid your money and you may have your choice. 
Ursula's running, so you won't want her. Your 
wits are no match for hers anyway. She'd have 

334 



you riding broomsticks and washing your face 
in flour when you had something entirely differ- 
ent in mind. You wouldn't dare look at her sug- 
gestively for fear of counter suggestions. You 
couldn't talk to her either. She has comparative 
religions at her tongue's end, studied at first 
hand. There's no use you bothering with Ursula 
even if you could forgive her her trespasses. 

Laura has Bobby and she's going to have 
Katherine, so that lets her out. Hazel and Helen, 
Mary and Ellen have all passed on. Martha is very 
careful about her companions, and Mary Kelly is 
too old. The twins? Zoftik! You like that? Anne 
will be out in twenty years and if you want to 
spend your time waiting with Nellie, she's in 
Akron. But don't forget Balzac's Succubus. 
Nellie is hell on tires and oil. 

You can't have Josephine. Make up your mind 
to that. In the first place, I want her myself. Her 
heart is virgin. She has never loved. Boy was only 
a passing fancy, a mere infatuation. Nope, you 
can't have Josephine — and neither can I. Listen: 

"It's too damned hot, Laura. They won't 
mind/' 

f 7 mind." 

George sighed and patted her hand. "Very 
well, my dear. That settles it, of course. But — 
may I take it off before we go to the train? I 
want to have some fun." 

335 



Laura considered a space. "Well, if you insist 
on being a boor — yes; you can change before we 
go to the train." 

It was the regular iron shirt argument. George 
was right, of course, it was too hot to wear a 
dress suit in Los Angeles that July third. He 
climbed the stairs wearily and passed Josephine's 
closed door only by exerting almost superhuman 
will power. Muffled voices came through the 
crack beneath, and through the keyhole, the 
voices of Si and Jo. 

"I don't see what you want to marry me for," 
says Si. 

"I don't either," says Jo. 

"What do you say we don't do it?" 

"Well " 

"It'd be a dirty trick to play on the O'Neills 
after all the fuss they've been to." 

"Yeah! I guess we better go through with it." 

"Just to show 'em we appreciate it." 

"I couldn't disappoint Laura." 

"No. ... I wouldn't ask you to." 

Then they both burst into screams and gales 
of laughter — and they pound each other and kiss 
as humans should, as if they meant it, as if there 
was no hurry and it was nobody's business if 
they never had done. And they hold each other 
at arm's length and Si looks at her — and looks 
and looks — so tears come to my eyes. And she 

336 



looks at that almost bald head and bulging brow 
and hawk-nose — and likes it. That's what I can't 
forgive her. She likes him. Maybe she loves him. 
Look at that. That far-away, bed-room look — 
for Si Lenz! a damned reporter who has had the 
morals of an adult guinea pig ever since his 
mother let him remain out of the house after ten 
o'clock. You can stay here and watch them if 
you want to — I can't bear it. 

"But I do think you're a mess for mixing busi- 
ness with our honeymoon. . . . Why can't you 
send that boy on ahead on a different train?" 

"He won't bother us! He's in car six in a 
lower. We're in car two in drawing room A — 
and he won't bother us!" 

"Well, I hope not. Don't think I'm hateful. I 
want to help Anne just as much as you and 
Laura do, but it's my honeymoon!" 

"Phil won't come in our carl I'll give him his 
orders." 

"In a week you'll be giving me orders. Oh, you 
great big masterful man!" 

Come aw ay I 



Mrs. Si Lenz, who had been Jo Turner, the 
toast of ambassadors and the darling and despair 

337 



of Simont, who never tired of bathing her, 
pouted world-weary lips at her intuitive spouse. 
"If I don't get this rice out of my back — I'm 
going crazy." 

"My dear!" Si was abashed. "I can't help you 
here." 

"Bother!" she said and walked to the end of 
the parlor car. 

"Wait," he called, but she waved him down 
and entered the ladies' room. The uniformed 
maid had her back to the door as Jo entered. She 
was lighting a cigarette for a passenger and say- 
ing with a rich — a little too rich — southern 
accent: "Ah puflfuhs Camels mahsef." 

They faced each other. In Jo's mind was only 
one thought. Tomorrow was the fourth of July! 
She backed through the door and ran to Si. 
"Ursula," she panted " — the wash-room nigger. 
Quick!" He followed her. An aproned figure had 
just passed into the next coach. Si ran. She was 
fleet. Through the diner. Through another par- 
lor car — to the observation platform — and 
Ursula leaped. Jo had pulled the emergency cord, 
but the train's impetus had not yet been checked. 
The black and white uniform lay motionless in 
a crumpled pile between the rails — nearly a mile 
behind the train when it was finally stopped. 

Brakemen, the conductor, thirty passengers, 
tramped back to the corpse and surrounded it. 
338 



No one seemed to have the authority to touch 
the body, to straighten the cruelly backward- 
bent limbs. Everyone looked to the conductor 
for orders. Wasn't a conductor kind of like a 
captain of a ship at sea? Marry people — and all 
that? Why didn't he do something? He fussed 
with the wick of his lantern. A brakeman walked 
a short way off up the track and planted a red 
flare light which threw its unearthly glare over 
the silent crowd; casting long, grotesquely danc- 
ing shadows over Ursula's inert form. This red 
flare was to keep the engineer of the train's sec- 
ond section from running over Ursula or any of 
the witnesses. 



THE END 



339