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Full text of "Out of the air"

University of California Berkeley 

THE PETER AND ROSELL HARVEY 
MEMORIAL FUND 



OUT OF THE AIR 



BY 



INEZ HAYNES IRWIN 




NEW YORK 

HARCOURT, BRACE AND COMPANY 
1921 



COPYRIGHT, I92O, 1921, BY 
METROPOLITAN PUBLICATIONS, INC. 

COPYRIGHT, 1921, BY 
HARCOURT, BRACE AND COMPANY, INC. 



THE OUINN ft BODEN COMPANY 
RAHWAY, N. J. 



TO 

BILLY AND PHYLLIS 



OUT OF THE AIR 



". ; . . so I'll answer your questions in the order 
you ask them. No, I don't want ever to fly again. 
My last pay-hop was two Saturdays ago and I 
got my discharge papers yesterday. God willing, 
I'll never again ride anything more dangerous 
than a velocipede. I'm now a respectable Ameri- 
can citizen, and for the future I'm going to con- 
fine my locomotion to the well-known earth. Get 
that, Spink Sparrel! The earth! In fact ..." 
David Lindsay suddenly looked up from his 
typewriting. Under his window, Washington 
Square simmered in the premature heat of an 
early June day. But he did not even glance in 
that direction. Instead, his eyes sought the door- 
way leading from the front room to the back of 
the apartment. Apparently he was not seeking 
inspiration; it was as though he had been sud- 

3 



4 OUT OF THE AIR 

denly jerked out of himself. After an absent 
second, his eye sank to the page and the brisk 
clatter of his machine began again. 

4< . . . after the woman you recommended, 
Mrs. Whatever-her-name-is, shoveled off a few 
tons of dust. It's great! It's the key house of 
New York, isn't it? And when you look right 
through the Arch straight up Fifth Avenue, you 
feel as though you owned the whole town. And 
what an air all this chaste antique New England 
stuff gives it! Who'd ever thought you'd turn 
out you big rough-neck you to be a collector of 
antiques? Not that I haven't fallen myself for 
the sailor's chest and the butterfly table and the 
glass lamps. I actually salaam to that sampler. 
And these furnishings seem especially appropriate 
when I remember that Jeffrey Lewis lived here 
once. You don't know how much that adds to the 
connotation of this place." 

Again but absently Lindsay looked up. 
And again, ignoring Washington Square, which 
offered an effect as of a formal garden to the 
long pink-red palace on its north side plumy 
treetops, geometrical grass areas, weaving paths; 



OUT OF THE AIR 5 

elegant little summer-houses his gaze went with 
a seeking look to the doorway. 

" Question No. 2. I haven't any plans of my 
own at present and I am quite eligible to the thing 
you suggest. You say that no one wants to read 
anything about the war. I don't blame them. I 
wish I could fall asleep for a month and wake up 
with no recollection of it. I suppose it's that 
state of mind which prevents people from writing 
their recollections immediately. Of course we'll 
all do that ultimately, I suppose even people 
who, like myself, aren't professional writers. 
Don't imagine that I'm going on with the writing 
game. I haven't the divine afflatus. I'm just let- 
ting myself drift along with these two jobs until 
I get that guerre out of my system; can look 
around to find what I really want to do. I'm 
willing to write my experiences within a reason- 
able interval; but not at once. Everything is as 
vivid in my mind of course as it's possible to be; 
but I don't want to have to think of it. That's 
why your suggestion in regard to Lutetia Murray 
strikes me so favorably. I should really like to 
do that biography. I'm in the mood for some- 



6 OUT OF THE AIR 

thing gentle and pastoral. And then of course 
I have a sense of proprietorship in regard to 
Lutetia, not alone because she was my literary find 
or that it was my thesis on her which got me 
my A in English 12. But, in addition, I devel- 
oped a sort of platonic, long-distance, with-the- 
eye-of-the-mind-only crush on her. And yet, I 
don't know . . . " 

Again Lindsay's eyes came up from his paper. 
For the third time he ignored Washington Square 
swarming with lumbering green busses and dusky- 
haired Italian babies; puppies, perambulators, 
and pedestrians. Again his glance went mechani- 
cally to the door leading to the back of the apart- 
ment. 

" You certainly have left an atmosphere in this 
joint, Spink. Somehow I feel always as if you 
were in the room. How it would be possible for 
such a pop-eyed, freckle-faced Piute as you to 
pack an astral body is more than I can under- 
stand. It's here though that sense of your pres- 
ence. The other day I caught myself saying, * Oh, 
Spink ! ' to the empty air. But to return to 
Lutetia, I can't tell you how the prospect tempts. 



OUT OF THE AIR j 

Once on a permission in the spring of '16, I finds 
myself in Lyons. There are to be gentle acrobatic 
doings in the best Gallic manner in the Park on 
Sunday. I gallops out to see the sports. One 
place, I comes across several scores of poilus 
on their permissions similar squatting on the 
ground and doing what do you suppose ? Pick- 
ing violets. Yep picking violets. I says to my- 
self then, I says, ' These frogs sure are queer 
guys.' But now, Spink, I understand. I don't 
want to do anything more strenuous myself than 
picking violets, unless it's selling baby blankets, or 
holding yarn for old ladies. Perhaps by an enor- 
mous effort I might summon the energy to run a 
tea-room." 

Lindsay stopped his typewriting again. This 
time he stared fixedly at Washington Square. His 
eyes followed a pink-smocked, bob-haired maiden 
hurrying across the Park; but apparently she did 
not register. He turned abruptly with a 
" Hello, old top, what do you want? " 

The doorway, being empty, made no answer. 

Having apparently forgotten his remark the 
instant it was dropped, Lindsay went on writing. 



8 OUT OF THE AIR 

" I admit I'm thinking over that proposition. 
'Among my things in storage here, I have all 
Lutetia's works, including those unsuccessful and 
very rare pomes of hers; even that blooming 
thesis I wrote. The thesis would, of course, read 
rotten now, but it might provide data that would 
save research. When do you propose to bring 
out this new edition, and how do you account for 
that recent demand for her? Of course it estab- 
lishes me as some swell prophet. I always said 
she'd bob up again, you know. Then it looked as 
though she was as dead as the dodo. It isn't the 
work alone that appeals to me; it's doing it in 
Lutetia's own town, which is apparently the exact 
kind of dead little burg I'm looking for 
Quinanog, isn't it? Come to think of it, Spink, 
my favorite occupation at this moment would be 
making daisy-chains or oak-wreaths. I'll think 
it . . ." 

He jumped spasmodically; jerked his head 
about; glanced over his shoulder at the door- 
way 

" What I'd really like to do, is the biography 
of Lutetia for about one month ; then for about 



OUT OF THE AIR 9 

three months my experiences at the war which, 
I understand, are to be put away in the manu- 
script safe of the publishing firm of Dunbar, 
Cabot and Elsingham to be published when the 
demand for war stuff begins again. That, I 
reckon, is what I should do if I'm going to do 
it at all. Write it while it's fresh as I'm not a 
professional. But I can't at this moment say yes, 
and I can't say no. I'd like to stay a little longer 
in New York. I'd like to renew acquaintance 
with the old burg. I can afford to thrash round a 
bit, you know, if I like. There's ten thousand 
dollars that my uncle left me, in the bank waiting 
me. When that's spent, of course I'll have to 
go to work. 

" You ask me for my impressions of America 
as a returned sky-warrior. Of course I've only 
been here a week and I haven't talked with so 
very many people yet. But everybody is remark- 
ably omniscient. I can't tell them anything about 
the late war. Sometimes they ask me a question, 
but they never listen to my answer. No, I listen 
to them. And they're very informing, believe me. 
Most of them think that the cavalry won the war 



TO OUT OF THE AIR 

and that we went over the top to the sound of fife 
and drum. For myself . . ." 

Again he jumped; turned his head; stared into 
the doorway. After an instant of apparent ex- 
pectancy, he sighed. He arose and, with an 
'elaborate saunter, moved over to the mirror hang- 
ing above the mantel ; looked at his reflection with 
the air of one longing to see something human. 
The mirror was old; narrow and dim; gold 
framed. A gay little picture of a ship, bellying to 
full sail, filled the space above the looking-glass. 
The face, which contemplated him with the same 
unseeing carelessness with which he contemplated 
it, was the face of twenty-five handsome; dark. 
It was long and lean. The continuous flying of 
two years had dyed it a deep wine-red; had 
bronzed and burnished it. And apparently the 
experiences that went with that flying had cooled 
and hardened it. It was now but a smoothly 
handsome mask which blanked all expression of 
liis emotions. 

Even as his eye fixed itself on his own re- 
flected eye, his head jerked sideways again; he 
.stared expectantly at the open doorway. After 



OUT OF THE AIR n 

an interval in which nothing appeared, he 
sauntered through that door; and with almost 
an effect of premeditated carelessness through 
the two little rooms, which so uselessly fill the 
central space of many New York houses, to the 
big sunny bedroom at the back. 

The windows looked out on a paintable series 
of backyards: on a sketchable huddle of old, 
stained, leaning wooden houses. JU the opposite 
window, a purple-haired, violet-eyed foreign girl 
in a faded yellow blouse was making artificial 
nasturtiums; flame-colored velvet petals, like a 
drift of burning snow, heaped the table in front 
of her. A black cat sunned itself on the window 
ledge. On a distant roof, a boy with a long pole 
was herding a flock of pigeons. They made glit- 
tering swirls of motion and quick V-wheelings, 
that flashed the gray of their wings like blades 
and the white of their breasts like glass. Their 
sudden turns filled the air with mirrors. Lindsay 
watched their flight with the critical air of a rival. 
Suddenly he turned as though someone had called 
him; glanced inquiringly back at the door- 
way . . . 



12 OUT OF THE AIR 

When, a few minutes later, he sauntered into 
the Rochambeau, immaculate in the old gray suit 
he had put off when he donned the French uni- 
form four years before, he was the pink of sum- 
mer coolness and the quintessence of military 
calm. The little, low-ceilinged series of rooms, 
just below the level of the street, were crowded; 
filled with smoke, talk, and laughter. Lindsay at 
length found a table, looked about him, discov- 
ered himself to be among strangers. He ordered 
a cocktail, swearing at the price to the sympathetic 
French waiter, who made excited response in 
French and assisted him to order an elaborate 
dinner. Lindsay propped his paper against his 
water-glass; concentrated on it as one prepared 
for lonely eating. With the little-necks, how- 
ever, came diversion. From behind the waiter's 
crooked arm appeared the satiny dark head of a 
girl. Lindsay leaped to his feet, held out his 
hand. 

" Good Lord, Gratia ! Where in the world did 
you come from ! " 

The girl put both her pretty hands out. " I can 
shake hands with you, David, now that you're in 



OUT OF THE AIR 13 

civics. I don't like that green and yellow ribbon 
in your buttonhole though. I'm a pacifist, you 
know, and I've got to tell you where I stand be- 
fore we can talk." 

" All right," Lindsay accepted cheerfully. 
" You're a darn pretty pacifist, Gratia. Of 
course you don't know what you're talking about. 
But as long as you talk about anything, I'll 
listen." 

Gratia had cut her hair short, but she had 
introduced a style of hair-dressing new even to 
Greenwich Village. She combed its sleek abun- 
dance straight back to her neck and left it. There, 
followmg its own devices, it turned up in the most 
delightful curls. Her large dark eyes were set 
in a skin of pale amber and in the midst of a 
piquant assortment of features. She had a way, 
just before speaking, of lifting her sleek head 
high on the top of her slim neck. And then she 
was like a beautiful young seal emerging from the 
water. 

" Oh, I'm perfectly serious ! " the pretty paci- 
fist asserted. " You know I never have believed 
in war. Dora says you've come back loving the 



;i 4 OUT OF THE AIR 

French. How you can admire a people who " 
After a while she paused to take breath and then, 
with the characteristic lift of her head, " Belgians 
the Congo Algeciras Morocco And as 
for England Ireland India Egypt " The 
glib, conventional patter dripped readily from her 
soft lips. 

Lindsay listened, apparently entranced. 
" Gratia, you're too pretty for any use ! " he 
asserted indulgently after the next pause in which 
she dove under the water and reappeared sleek- 
haired as ever. " I'm not going to argue with 
you. I'm going to tell you one thing that will be 
a shock to you, though. The French don't like 
war either. And the reason is now prepare 
yourself they know more about the horrors of 
war in one minute than you will in a thousand 
years. What are you doing with yourself, these 
days, Gratia? " 

" Oh, running a shop ; making smocks, working 
on batiks, painting, writing vers libre" Gratia 
admitted. 

" I mean, what do you do with your leisure? " 
Lindsay demanded, after prolonged meditation. 



OUT OF THE AIR 15 

Gratia ignored this persiflage. u I'm thinking 
of taking up psycho-analysis," she confided. " It 
interests me enormously. I think I ought to do 
rather well with it." 

" I offer myself as your first victim. Why, 
you'll make millions! Every man in New York 
will want to be psyched. What's the news, 
Gratia? I'm dying for gossip." 

Gratia did her best to feed this appetite. De- ( 
clining dinner, she sipped the tall cool green drink 
which Lindsay ordered for her. She poured out 
a flood of talk; but all the time her eyes were flit- 
ting from table to table. And often she inter- 
rupted her comments on the absent with remarks 
about the present. 

* Yes, Aussie was killed in Italy, flying. Will 
Arden was wounded in the Argonne. George 
Jennings died of the flu in Paris see that big 
blonde over there, Dave ? She's the Village dress- 
maker now Dark Dale is in Russia can't get 
out. Putty Doane was taken prisoner by the Ger- 
mans at Oh, see that gang of up-towners 
aren't they snippy and patronizing and silly? But 
Molly Fearing is our best war sensation. You 



1 6 OUT OF THE AIR 

know what a tiny frightened mouse of a thing she 
was. She went into the 4 Y.' She was in the 
trenches the day of the Armistice talked with 
Germans ; not prisoners, you understand but the 
retreating Germans. Her letters are wonderful. 
She's crazy about it over there. I wouldn't be 
surprised if she never came back Oh, Dave, 
don't look now; but as soon as you can v get that 
tall red-headed girl in the corner, Marie Maroo. 
She does the most marvelous drawings you ever 
saw. She belongs to that new Vortex School. 
And then Joel Oh, there's Ernestine Phillips 
and her father. You want to meet her father. 
He's a riot. Octogenarian, too ! He's just come 
from some remote hamlet in Vermont. Ernes- 
tine's showing him a properly expurgated edi- 
tion of the Village. Hi, Ernestine I He's a 
Civil War veteran. Ernest's crazy to see you, 
Dave!" 

The middle-aged, rather rough-featured 
woman standing in the doorway turned at 
Gratia's call. Her movement revealed the head 
and shoulders of a tall, gaunt, very old man, a 
little rough-featured like his daughter; white- 



OUT OF THE AIR 17 

haired and white-mustached. She hurried at once 
to Lindsay's table. 

u Oh, Dave!" She took both Lindsay's 
hands. " I am glad to see you ! How I have 
worried about you ! My father, Dave. Father, 
this is David Lindsay, the young aviator I was 
telling you about, who had such extraordinary ex- 
periences in France. You remember the one I 
mean, father. He served for two years with the 
French Army before we declared war." 

Mr. Phillips extended a long arm which 
dangled a long hand. u Pleased to meet you, sir! 
You're the first flier I've had a chance to talk with. 
I expect folks make life a perfect misery to you 
but if you don't mind answering questions " 

"Shoot!" Lindsay permitted serenely. "I'm 
nearly bursting with suppressed information. 
How are you, Ernestine? " 

" Pretty frazzled like the rest of us," Ernestine 
answered. Ernestine had one fine feature; a pair 
of large dark serene eyes. Now they flamed with 
a troubled fire. u The war did all kinds of things 
to my psychology, of course. I suppose I am the 
most despised woman in the Village at this 



1 8 OUT OF THE AIR 

moment because I don't seem to be either a mili- 
tarist or a pacifist. I don't believe in war, but I 
don't see how we could have kept out of it; or 
how France could have prevented it." 

" Ernestine I " Lindsay said warmly. " I just 
love you. Contrary to the generally accepted 
opinion of the pacifists, France did not deliber- 
ately bring this war on herself. Nor did she 
keep it up four years for her private amusement. 
She hasn't enjoyed one minute of it. I don't ex- 
pect Gratia to believe me, but perhaps you will. 
These four years of death, destruction, and dev- 
astation haven't entertained France a particle." 

" Well, of course " Ernestine was beginning, 
"but what's the use?" Her eyes met Lindsay's 
in a perplexed, comprehending stare. Lindsay 
shook his handsome head gayly. " No use what- 
ever," he said. " I'm rapidly growing taciturn." 

" What I would like to ask you," Mr. Phillips 
broke in, " does war seem such a pretty thing to 
you, young man, after you've seen a little of it? 
I remember in '65 most of us came back thinking 
that Sherman hadn't used strong enough lan- 
guage." 



OUT OF THE AIR 19 

" Mr. Phillips," Lindsay answered, " if there's 
ever another war, it will take fifteen thousand 
dollars to send me a postcard telling me about it." 

The talk drifted away from the war: turned 
to prohibition; came back to it again. Lindsay 
answered Mr. Phillips's questions with enthusi- 
astic thoroughness. They pertained mainly to his 
training at Pau and Avord, but Lindsay volun- 
teered a detailed comparison of the American 
military method with the French. " I'll always 
be glad though," he concluded, " that I had that 
experience with the French Army. And of course 
when our troops got over, I was all ready to fly." 

'* Then the French uniform is so charming," 
Gratia put in, consciously sarcastic. 

Lindsay slapped her slim wrist indulgently and 
continued to answer Mr. Phillips's questions. 
Ernestine listened, the look of trouble growing 
in her serene eyes. Gratia listened, diving under 
water after her shocked exclamations and re- 
appearing glistening. 

"Oh, there's Matty Packington!" Gratia 
broke in. " You haven't met Matty yet, Dave. 
Hi, Matty! You must know Matty. She's a 



20 OUT OF THE AIR 

sketch. She's one of those people who say the 
things other people only dare think. You won't 
believe her." She rattled one of her staccato 
explanations; " society girl first a slumming tour 
through the Village perfectly crazy about it 
studio in McDougal Alley yepwoman becom- 
ing uniform Rolls-Royce salutes " 

Matty Packington approached the table with a 
composed flutter. The two men arose. Gratia 
met her halfway; performed the introductions. 
In a minute the conversation was out of every- 
body's hands and in Miss Packington's. As 
Gratia prophesied, Lindsay found it difficult to 
believe her. She started at an extraordinary 
Speed and she maintained it without break. 

" Oh, Mr. Lindsay, aren't you heartbroken 
now that it is all over? You must tell me all 
about your experiences sometime. It must have 
been too thrilling for words. But don't you think 
don't you think they stopped the war too 
soon? If I were Foch I wouldn't have been satis- 
fied until I'd occupied all Germany, devastated 
just as much territory as those beasts devastated 
in France, and executed all those monsters who cut 



OUT OF THE AIR 21 

off the Belgian babies' hands. Don't you think 
so?" 

Lindsay contemplated the lady who put this 
interesting question to him. She was fair and 
fairy-like; a little, light-shot golden blonde; all 
slim lines and opalescent colors. Her hair flut- 
tered like whirled light from under her piquantly 
cocked military cap. The stress of her emotion 
added for the instant to the bigness and blueness 
of her eyes. 

" Well, for myself," he remarked finally, " I 
can do with a little peace for a while. And then 
to carry out your wishes, Miss Packington, Foch 
would have had to sacrifice a quarter of a million 
more Allied soldiers. But I sometimes think the 
men at the front were a bit thoughtless of the 
entertainment of the civilians. Somehow we did 
get it into our heads that we ought to close this 
war up as soon as possible. Another time per- 
haps we'd know better." 

Miss Packington received this characteristi- 
cally; that is to say, she did not receive it at 
all. For by the time Lindsay had begun his last 
sentence, she had embarked on a monologue di- 



22 OUT OF THE AIR 

rected this time to Gratia. The talk flew back 
and forth, grew general; grew concrete; grew ab- 
stract; grew personal. It bubbled up into mono- 
logues from Gratia and Matty. It thinned down 
to questions from Ernestine and Mr. Phillips. 
Drinks came ; were followed by other drinks. All 
about them, tables emptied and filled, uniforms 
predominating; and all to the accompaniment of 
chatter; gay mirth; drifting smoke-films and re- 
filled glasses. Late comers stopped to shake 
hands with Lindsay, to join the party for a drink; 
to smoke a cigarette; floated away to other parties. 
But the nucleus of their party remained the same. 

David answered with patience all questions, 
stopped patiently halfway through his own 
answer to reply to other questions. At about mid- 
night he rose abruptly. He had just brought to 
the end a careful and succinct statement in which 
he declared that he had seen no Belgian children 
with their hands cut off; no crucified Canadians. 

" Folks," he addressed the company genially, 
" I'm going to admit to you I'm tired." In- 
wardly he added, " I won't indicate which ones 
of you make me the most tired; but almost all of 



OUT OF THE AIR 23 

you give me an awful pain." He added aloud, 
" It's the hay for me this instant Good-night! " 

Back once more in his rooms, he did not light 
up. Instead he sat at the window and gazed out. 
Straight ahead, two lines of golden beads curving 
up the Avenue seemed to connect the Arch with 
the distant horizon. The deep azure of the sky 
was faintly powdered with stars. But for its oc- 
casional lights, of a purplish silver, the Square 
would have been a mere mystery of trees. But 
those lights seemed to anchor what was half 
vision to earth. And they threw interlaced leaf 
shadows on the ceiling above Lindsay's head. It 
was as though he sat in some ghostly bower. 
Looking fixedly through the Arch, his face grew 
somber. Suddenly he jerked about and stared 
through the doorway which led into the back 
rooms. 

Nothing appeared 

After a while he lighted one gas jet after an 
instant's hesitation another 

In the middle of the night, Lindsay suddenly 
found himself sitting upright. His mouth was 



24 OUT OF THE AIR 

wide open, parched; his eyes were wide open, 
staring ... A chilly prickling tingled along his 
scalp . . . But the strangest phenomenon was his 
heart, which, though swelled to an incredible bulk, 
nimbly leaped, heavily pounded . . . 

Lindsay recognized the motion which inundated 
him to be fear; overpowering, shameless, abject 
fear. But of what? In the instant in which he 
gave way to self-analysis, memory supplied him 
with a vague impression. Something had come 
to his bed and, leaning over, had stared into his 
face 

That something was not human. 

Lindsay fought for control. By an initial feat 
of courage, his fumbling fingers lighted a candle 
which stood on the tiny Sheraton table at his bed- 
side. On a second impulse, but only after an 
interval in which consciously but desperately he 
grasped at his vanishing manhood, he leaped out 
of bed; lighted the gas. Then carrying the 
lighted candle, he went from one to another of 
the four rooms of the apartment. In each room 
he lighted every gas jet until the place blazed. 
He searched it thoroughly: dark corners and 



OUT OF THE AIR 25 

darker closets; jetty strata of shadow under 
couches. 

He was alone. 

After a while he went back to bed. But his 
courage was not equal to darkness again. 
Though ultimately he fell asleep, the gas blazed 
all night. 

Lindsay awoke rather jaded the next morning. 
He wandered from room to room submitting to 
one slash of his razor at this mirror and to an- 
other at that. 

At one period of this process, " Rum night- 
mare I had last night! " he remarked casually to 
the unresponsive air. 

He cooked his own breakfast; piled up the 
dishes and settled himself to his correspondence 
again. " This letter is getting to be a book, 
Spink," he began. " But I feel every moment as 
though I wanted to add more. I slept on your 
proposition last night, but I don't feel any nearer 
a decision. Quinanog and Lutetia tempt me ; but 
then so does New York. By the way, have you 
any pictures of Lutetia ? I had one in my rooms 



26 OUT OF THE AIR 

at Holworthy. Must be kicking around among 
my things. I cut it out of the annual catalogue 
of your book-house. Photograph as I remember. 
She was some pip. I'd like " 

He started suddenly, turned his head toward 
the doorway leading to the back rooms. The 
doorway was empty. Lindsay arose from his 
chair, sauntered in a leisurely manner through 
the rooms. He investigated closets again. 
" Damn it all! " he muttered. 

He resumed his letter. " You're right about 
writing my experiences now. I had a long foot- 
less talk with some boobs last night, and it was 
curious how things came back under their ques- 
tions. I had quite forgotten them temporarily, 
and of course I shall forget them for keeps if 
I don't begin to put them down. I have a few 
scattered notes here and there. I meant, of 
course, to keep a diary, but believe me, a man 
engaged in a war is too busy for the pursuit of 
letters. But just as soon as I make up my 
mind" 

Another interval. Absently Lindsay addressed 
an envelope. Spinney K. Sparrel, Esq., Park 



OUT OF THE AIR 27 

Street, Boston; attacked the list of other long- 
neglected correspondents. Suddenly his head 
jerked upward; pivoted again. After an in- 
stant's observation of the empty doorway, he 
pulled his face forward; resumed his work. Page 
after page slid onto the roller of his / machine, 
submitted to the tattoo of its little lettered teeth, 
emerged neatly inscribed. Suddenly he leaped to 
his feet; swung about. 

The doorway was empty. 

4 Who are you?" he interrogated the empty 
air, " and what do you want? If you can tell me, 
speak and I'll do anything in my power to help 
you. But if you can't tell me, for God's sake go 
away! " 

That night it happened again. There came 
the same sudden start, stricken, panting, perspir- 
ing, out of deep sleep; the same frantic search 
of the apartment with all the lights burning; the 
same late, broken drowse; the same jaded 
awakening. 

As before, he set himself doggedly to work. 
And, as before, somewhere in the middle of the 



28 OUT OF THE AIR 

morning, he wheeled about swiftly in his chair to 
glare through the open doorway. " I wonder 
if I'm going nutty! " he exclaimed aloud. 

Three days went by. Lindsay's nights were so 
broken that he took long naps in the afternoon. 
His days had turned into periods of idle revery. 
The letter to Spink Sparrel was still unfinished. 
He worked spasmodically at his typewriter: but 
he completed nothing. The third night he started 
toward the Rochambeau with the intention of 
getting a room. But halfway across the Park, he 
stopped and retraced his steps. " I can't let you 
beat me! " he muttered audibly, after he arrived 
in the empty apartment. 

It did not beat him that night; for he stayed 
in the apartment until dawn broke. But from mid- 
night on, he lay with every light in the place 
going. At sunrise, he dressed and went out for a 
walk. And the moment the sounds of everyday 
life began to humanize the neighborhood, he re- 
turned; sat down to his machine. 

" Spink, old dear, my mind is made up. I ac- 
cept! I'll do Lutetia for you; and, by God, I'll 



OUT OF THE AIR 29 

do her well! I'm starting for Boston tomorrow 
night on the midnight. I'll call at the office about 
noon and we'll go to luncheon together. I'll dig 
out my thesis and books from storage, and if 
you'll get all your dope and data together, I can 
go right to it. I'm going to Quinanog tomorrow 
afternoon. I need a change. Everybody here 
makes me tired. The pacifists make me wild and 
the militarists make me wilder. Civilians is nuts 
when it comes to a war. The only person I can 
talk about it with is somebody who's been there. 
And anybody who's been there has the good sense 
not to want to talk about it. I don't ever want to 
hear of that war again. Personally, I, David 
Lindsay, meaning me, want to swing in a ham- 
mock on a pleasant, cool, vine-hung piazza ; read 
Lutetia at intervals and write some little pieces 
subsequent. Yours, David. 1 * 



II 

SUSANNAH AVER dragged herself out of her sleep- 
less night and started to get up. But halfway 
through her first rising motion, something seemed 
to leave her to leave her spirit rather than her 
body. She collapsed in a droop-shouldered 
huddle onto the bed. Her red hair had come 
out of its thick braids; it streamed forward over 
her white face; streaked her nightgown with 
glowing strands. She pushed it out of her eyes 
and sat for a long interval with her face in her 
hands. Finally she rose and went to the dresser. 
Haggardly she stared into the glass at her reflec- 
tion, and haggardly her reflection stared back at 
her. " I don't wonder you look different, Glori- 
ous Susie," she addressed herself wordlessly, 
" because you are different. I wonder if you can 
ever wash away that experience " 

She poured water into the basin until it almost 
brimmed; and dropped her face into it. After 

> 30 



OUT OF THE AIR 31 

her sponge bath, she contemplated herself again 
in the glass. Some color had crept into the pearly 
whiteness of her cheek. Her dark-fringed eyes 
seemed a little less shadow-encircled. She turned 
their turquoise glance to the picture of a woman 
a miniature painted on ivory which hung be- 
side the dfesser. 

" Glorious Lutie," she apostrophized it, " you 
don't know how I wish you were here. You 
don't know how much I need you now. I need 
you so much, Glorious Lutie I'm frightened!" 

The miniature, after the impersonal manner of 
pictures, made no response to this call for help. 
Susannah sighed deeply. And for a moment she 
stood a figure almost tragic, her eyes darkening 
as she looked into space, her young mouth setting 
its soft scarlet into hard lines. In another mo- 
ment she pulled herself out of this daze and con- 
tinued her dressing. 

An hour and a half later, when, cool and lithe 
in her blue linen suit, she entered the uptown sky- 
scraper which housed the Carbonado Mining 
'Company, her spirits took a sudden leap. After 
all, here was help. It was not the help she mest 



3 2 OUT OF THE AIR 

-desired and needed the confidence and advice of 
another woman but at least she would get in- 
stant sympathy, ultimate understanding. 

Anyone, however depressed his mood, must 
have felt his spirits rise as he stepped into the 
Admolian Building. It was so new that its terra- 
cotta walls without, its white-enameled tiling 
within, seemed always to have been freshly 
scrubbed and dusted. It was so high that, with a 
first acrobatic impulse, it leaped twenty stories 
above ground; and with a second, soared into a 
tower which touched the clouds. That had not 
exhausted its strength. It dug in below ground, 
and there spread out into rooms, eternally electric- 
lighted. From the eleventh story up, its wide 
windows surveyed every purlieu of Manhattan. 
Its spacious elevators seemed magically to defy 
gravitation. A touch started their swift flight 
heavenward; a touch started their soft drop 
earthward. Every floor housed offices where for- 
tunes were being made and lost at any rate, 
changing hands. There was an element of buoy- 
ancy in the air, an atmosphere of success. People 
moved more quickly, talked more briskly, from 



OUT OF THE AIR 33 

the moment they entered the Admolian Building, 
As always, it raised the spirits of Susannah Ayer. 
The set look vanished from her eyes; some of 
their normal brilliancy flowed back into them. 
Her mouth relaxed When the elevator came 
to a padded halt at the eighteenth floor, she had 
become almost herself again. 

She stopped before the first in a series of 
offices. Black-printed letters on the ground glass 
of the door read: 



Carbonado Mining Company 
Private. Enter No. 4.7 

An accommodating hand pointed in the direction? 
of No. 47. Susannah unlocked the door and with 
a little sigh, as of relief, stepped in. 

Other offices stretched along the line of the 
corridor, bearing the inscriptions, respectively, 
" No. 48, H. Withington Warner, President and 
General Manager; No. 49, Joseph Byan, Vice- 
President; No. 50, Michael O'Hearn, Secretary 
and Treasurer." Ultimately, Susannah's own 



34 OUT OF THE AIR 

door would flaunt the proud motto, "No. 51, 
Susannah Ayer, Manager Women's Depart- 
ment." 

Susanah threaded the inner corridor to her own 
office. She hung up her hat and jacket; opened 
her mail; ran through it. Then she lifted the 
cover from her typewriter and began mechanically 
to brush and oil it. Her mind was not on her 
work; it had not been on the letters. It kept 
speeding back to last night. She did not want to 
think of last night again at least not until she 
must. She pulled her thoughts into her control; 
made them flow back over the past months. And 
as they sped in those pleasant channels, involun- 
tarily her mood went with them. Had any girl 
ever been so fortunate, she wondered. She put it 
to herself in simple declaratives 

Here she was, all alone in New York and in 
New York for the first time, settled interestingly 
and pleasantly settled. Eight months before, she 
had stepped out of business college without a hun- 
dred dollars in the world; her course in stenog- 
raphy, typewriting, and secretarial work had 
taken the last of her inherited funds. Without 



OUT OF THE AIR 35 

kith or kin, she was a working-woman, now, on 
her own responsibility. Two months of appren- 
ticeship, one stenographer among fifty, in the 
great offices of the Maxwell Mills, and Barry 
Joyce, almost the sole remaining friend who re- 
membered the past glories of her family, had ad- 
vised her to try New York. 

" Susannah," he said, " now is the time to strike 
now while the men are away and while the girls 
are still on war jobs. Get yourself entrenched be- 
fore they come back. You've the makings of a 
wonderful office helper." 

Susannah, with a glorious sense of adventure 
once she was started, took his advice and moved 
to New York. For a week, she answered adver- 
tisements, visited offices; and she found that Barty 
was right. She had the refusal of half a dozen 
jobs. From them she selected the offer of the 
Carbonado Mining Company partly because she 
liked Mr. Warner, and partly because it seemed 
to offer the best future. Mr. Warner said to her 
in their first interview: 

:t We are looking for a clever woman whom we 
can specially train in the methods of our some- 



36 OUT OF THE AIR 

what peculiar business. If you qualify, we shall 
advance you to a superior position." 

That u superior position " had fallen into her 
hand like a ripe peach. Within a week, Mr, 
Warner had called her into the private office for 
a long business talk. 

14 Miss Ayer," he said, " you seem to be mak- 
ing good. I am going to tell you frankly that if 
you continue to meet our requirements, we shall 
continue to advance you and pay you accordingly. 
You see, our business " Mr. Warner's voice 
always swelled a little when he said " our busi- 
ness " " our business involves a great deal of 
letter-writing to women investors and some per- 
sonal interviews. Now we believe both Mr. 
Byan and I that women investing money like to 
deal with one of their own sex. We have been 
looking for just the right woman. A candidate 
for the position must have tact, understanding, 
and clearness of written expression. We have 
been trying to find such a woman; and frankly, 
the search has been difficult. You know how war 
work quite rightly, of course has monopo- 
lized the able women of the country. We have 



OUT OF THE AIR 37 

tried out half a dozen girls; but the less said 
about them the better. For two weeks we will 
let you try your hand at correspondence with 
women investors. If your work is satisfactory, 
it means a permanent job at twice your present 
salary." 

Her work had pleased them! It had pleased 
them instantly. But oh, how she had worked to 
please them and to continue to please! Every 
letter she sent out and after explaining the Car- 
bonado Company and its attractions, Mr. Warner 
let her compose all the letters to women was a 
study in condensed and graceful expression. At 
the end of the fortnight Mr. Warner engaged her 
permanently. He went even further. He said : 

" Miss Ayer, we're going to make you manager 
of our women's department; and we're going to 
put your name with ours on the letterhead of the 
new office stationery." When the day came that 
she first signed herself " Susannah Ayer, Manager 
Women's Department," she felt as though all the 
fairy tales she ever read had come true. 

Susannah, as she was assured again and again^ 
continued to give satisfaction. No wonder; for 



38 OUT OF THE AIR 

she liked her job. The work interested her so 
much that she always longed to get to the office in 
the morning, almost hated to leave it at night. 
It was a pleasant office, bright and spacious. 
Everything was new, even to the capacious waste 
basket. Her big, shiny mahogany desk stood 
close to the window. And from that window she 
surveyed the colorful, brick-and-stone West Side 
of Manhattan, the Hudson, and the city-spotted, 
town-dotted stretches beyond. The clouds hung 
close; sometimes their white and silver argosies 
seemed to besiege her. Once, she almost thought 
the new moon would bounce through her window. 
Snow noiselessly, winds tumultuously, assailed 
her; but she sat as impervious as though in an 
enchanted tower. Gray days made only a suaver 
magic, thunderstorms a madder enchantment, 
about her eyrie. 

The human surroundings were just as pleasant. 
Though the Carbonado Company worked only 
with selected clients, though they transacted most 
of their business by mail, there were many visitors 
some customers; others, apparently, merely 
friends of Mr. Warner, Mr. Byan, and Mr. 



OUT OF THE AIR 39 

O'Hearn who dropped in of afternoons to chat 
a while. Pleasant, jolly men most of these. 
Snatches of their talk, usually enigmatic, 
floated to her across the tops of the partitions; it 
gave the office an exciting atmosphere of some- 
thing doing. And then it happened that Susan- 
nah's way of life had brought her into contact 
with but few men everything was so manny. 

She stood a little in awe of H. Withington 
Warner, president and general manager. Mr. 
Warner was middle-aged and iron-gray. That 
last adjective perfectly described him iron-gray. 
Everything about him was gray; his straight, 
thick hair; his clear, incisive eyes; even his color- 
less skin. And his personality had a quality of 
iron. There was about him a fascinating element 
of duality. Sometimes he seemed to Susannah a 
little like a clergyman. And sometimes he made 
her think of an actor. This histrionic aspect, she 
decided, was due to his hair, a bit long; to his 
features, floridly classic; to his manner, frequently 
courtly; to his voice, occasionally oratorical. 
This, however, showed only in his lighter mo- 
ments. Much of the time, of course, he was 



40 OUT OF THE AIR 

merely brisk and businesslike. Whatever his 
tone, it carried you along. To Susannah, he was 
always charming. 

If she stood a little in awe of H. Withington 
Warner, she made up by feeling on terms of the 
utmost equality with Michael O'Hearn, secretary 
and treasurer of the Carbonado Mining Com- 
pany. Mr. O'Hearn the others called him 
44 Mike " was a little Irishman. He had a 
short stumpy figure and a short stumpy 
face. Moreover, he looked as though 
someone had delivered him a denting blow 
in the middle of his profile. From this indenta- 
tion jutted in one direction his long, protuberant, 
rounded forehead; peaked in another his up- 
turned nose. The rest of him was sandy hair 
and sandy complexion, and an agreeable pair of 
long-lashed Irish eyes. He was the wit of the 
office, keeping everyone in constant good temper. 
Susannah felt very friendly toward Mr. O'Hearn. 
This was strange, because he rarely spoke to her. 
But somehow, for all that, he had the gift of 
seeming friendly. Susannah trusted him as she 
trusted Mr. Warner, though in a different way. 



OUT OF THE AIR 41 

In regard to Joseph Byan, the third member 
of the combination, Susannah had her unformu- 
lated reservations. Perhaps it was because Byan 
really interested her more than the other two. 
Byan was little and slender; perfectly formed and 
rather fine-featured; swift as a cat in his darting 
movements. In his blue eyes shone a look of 
vague pathos and on his lips floated Susannah 
decided that this was the only way to express it 
a vague, a rather sweet smile. Susannah's job 
had not at first brought her as much into contact 
with Mr. Byan as with Mr. Warner. His work, 
she learned, lay mostly outside of the office. But 
once, during her third week, he had come into her 
office and dictated a letter; had lingered, when he 
had finished with the business in hand, for a little 
talk. The conversation, in some curious turn, 
veered to the subject of firearms. He was speak- 
ing of the various patterns of revolvers. He 
stood before her, a slim, perfectly proportioned 
figure whose clothes, of an almost feminine nicety 
and cut, seemed to follow every line of the body 
beneath. Suddenly, one of his slight hands made 
a swift gesture. There appeared from where, 



42 OUT OF THE AIR 

she could not guess a little, ugly-looking black 
revolver. With it, he illustrated his point. 
Since, he had never passed through the office with- 
out Susannah's glance playing over him like a 
flame. Nowhere along the smooth lines of his 
figure could she catch the bulge of that little toy 
of death. Despite his suave gentleness, there was 
a believable quality about Byan; his personality 
carried conviction, just as did that of the others. 
Susannah trusted him, too ; but again in a different 
way. 

On the very day when Mr. Byan showed her 
the revolver, she was passing the open door of 
Mr. Warner's office; and she heard the full, 
round voice of the Chief saying: 

" Remember, Joe, rule number one : no clients 
or employ " Byan hastily closed the door on 
the tail of that sentence. Sometimes she won- 
dered how it ended. 

A cog in the machine, Susannah had never fully 
understood the business. That was not really 
necessary; Mr. Warner himself kept her in- 
formed on what she needed to know. He ex- 
plained in the beginning the glorious opportunity 



OUT OF THE AIR 43 

for investors. From time to time, he added new 
'details, as for example the glowing reports of 
their chief engineer or their special expert. 
Susannah knew that they were paying three per 
cent dividends a month and in April there was 
a special dividend of two per cent. Besides, they 
were about to break into a " mother lode " the 
reports of their experts proved that and when 
that happened, no one could tell just how high the 
dividends might be. True, these dividend pay- 
ments were often made a little irregularly. One 
of the things which Susannah did not understand, 
did not try to understand, was why a certain list 
of preferred stockholders was now and then given 
an extra dividend; nor why at times Mr. Warner 
would transfer a name from one list to another. 

" I'm thinking of saving my money and invest- 
ing myself in Carbonado stock!" said Susannah 
to Mr. Warner one day. 

"Don't," said Mr. Warner; and then with a 
touch of his clerical manner: " We prefer to keep 
our office force and our investors entirely sepa- 
rate factors for the present. We are trying to 
avoid the reproach of letting our people in on the 



44 OUT OF THE AIR 

ground floor. When our ship comes in when we 
open the mother lode you shall be taken care 
of!" 

So, for six months, everything went perfectly. 
Susannah had absorbed herself completely in her 
job. This was an easy thing to do when the 
business was so fascinating. She had gone for 
five months at this pace when she realized that 
she had not taken the leisure to make friends. 
Except the three partners mere shadows to her 
and the people at her boarding-house also 
mere shadows to her she knew only Eloise. 
Not that the friendship of Eloise was a thing to 
pass over lightly. Eloise was a host in herself. 

They had met at the Dorothy Dorr, a semi- 
tharitable home for young business women, at 
which Susannah stayed during her first week in 
New York. Eloise was an heiress, of that species 
known to the newspapers as a " society girl." 
Pretty, piquant, gay, extravagant, she dabbled in 
picturesque charities, and the Dorothy Dorr was 
her pet. Sometimes in the summer, when she ran 
up to town, she even lodged there. By natural 
affinity, she had picked Susannah out of the crowd. 



OUT OF THE AIR 45 

By the time Susannah was established in her new 
job and had moved to a boarding-house, they had 
become friends. But the friendship of Eloise 
could not be very satisfactory. She was too busy; 
and, indeed, too often out of town. From her 
social fastnesses, she made sudden, dashing forays 
on Susannah; took her to luncheon, dinner, or the 
theater; then she would retreat to upper Fifth 
Avenue, and Susannah would not see her for a 
fortnight or a month. 

Then, that terrible, perplexing yesterday. If 
she could only expunge yesterday from her life 
or at least from her memory ! 

Of course, there were events leading up to yes- 
terday. Chief among them was the appearance in 
the office, some weeks before, of Mr. Ozias 
Cowler, from Iowa. Mr. Cowler, Susannah gath- 
ered from the manner of the office, was a customer 
of importance. He was middle-aged. No, why 
mince matters he was an old man who looked 
middle-aged. He was old, because his hair had 
gone quite white, and his face had fallen into 
areas broken by wrinkles. But he appeared to the 
first glance middle-aged, because the skin of those 



46 OUT OF THE AIR 

areas was ruddy and warm; because his eyes 
were as clear and blue as in youth. He looked 
well, Susannah decided that he looked fatherly. 
He was quiet in his step and quiet in his manner. 
Though he appeared to her in the light of a cus- 
tomer rather than that of an acquaintance, 
Susannah was inclined to like him, as she liked 
everyone and everything about the Carbonado 
offices. 

Susannah gathered in time that Mr. Cowler 
had a great deal of money, and that he had come 
to New York to invest it. Of course the Carbon- 
ado Mining Company and this included Susan- 
nah herself saw the best of reasons why it 
should be invested with them. But evidently, he 
was a hard, cautious customer. He came again 
and again. He sat closeted for long intervals 
with Mr. Warner. Sometimes Mr. Byan came 
into these conferences. Mr. Cowler was always 
going to luncheon with the one and to dinner with 
the other. He even went to a baseball game 
with Mr. O'Hearn. But, although he visited the 
office more and more frequently, she gathered that 
the investment was not forthcoming. Susannah 



OUT OF THE AIR 47 

knew how frequently he was coming because, in 
spite of the little, admonitory black hand on the 
ground-glass door, he always entered, not by the 
reception room, but by her office. Usually, he pre- 
ceded his long talk with Mr. Warner by a little 
chat with her. Evidently, he had not yet caught 
the quick gait of New York business; for as he 
left again through Susannah's office he would 
stop for a longer talk. Once or twice, Susannah 
had to excuse herself in order to go on with her 
work. She had been a little afraid that Mr. 
Warner would comment on these delays in office 
routine. But, although Mr. Warner once or twice 
glanced into her office during these intervals, he 
never interfered. 

Then came yesterday. 
Early in the morning, Mr. Warner said : 
" Miss Ayer, I wonder if you can do a favor 
for us?" He went on, without waiting for 
Susannah's answer: " Cowler you know what a 
helpless person he is wants to go to dinner and 
the theater tonight. It happens that none of us 
can accompany him. We've all made the kind of 
engagement which can't be broken business. 



48 OUT OF THE AIR 

He feels a little self-conscious. You know, his 
money came to him late, and he has never been 
to a big city before. I suspect he is afraid to 
enter a fashionable restaurant alone. He wants 
to go to Sherry's and to the theater afterward " 
Mr. Warner paused to smile genially. " He's 
something of a hick, you know, and especially in 
regard to this Sherry and midnight cabaret stuff." 
Mr. Warner rarely used slang; and when he did, 
his smile seemed to put it into quotation marks. 
'* True to type, he has bought tickets in the front 
row. After the show, he wants to go to one of 
the midnight cabarets. Would you be willing to 
steer him through all this? The show is Let's 
Beat It." 

Susannah expressed herself as delighted; and 
indeed she was. To herself she admitted that 
Mr. Cowler was no more of a " hick " in regard 
to Broadway, Sherry's, and midnight cabarets 
than she herself. But about admitting this, she 
had all the self-consciousness of the newly arrived 
New Yorker. 

" That is very good of you, Miss Ayer," said 
Mr. Warner, appearing much relieved. " You 



OUT OF THE AIR 49 

may go home this afternoon an hour earlier." 
Again Mr. Warner passed from his incisive, gray- 
hued sobriety to an expansive geniality. " I know 
that in these circumstances, ladies like to take time 
over their toilettes." He smiled at Susannah, a 
'smile more expansive than any she had ever seen 
on his face; it showed to the back molars his 
handsome, white, regular teeth. 

Mr. Cowler called for her in a taxicab at seven 
and 

She heard Mr. Warner's door open and shut. 
Footsteps sounded in the corridor that was Mr. 
O'Hearn's voice. She glanced at her wrist-watch. 
Half-past nine. The partners had arrived early 
this morning, of all mornings. They were night 
birds, all three, seldom appearing before half-past 
ten, and often working in the office late after she 
had gone. Susannah stopped mid-sentence a 
letter which she was tapping out to a widow in 
Iowa, rose, moved toward the door. At the 
threshold, she stopped, a deep blush suffusing her 
face. So she paused for a moment, irresolute. 
When finally she started down the corridor, Mr. 



50 OUT OF THE AIR 

Warner emerged from the door of his own office, 
met her face to face. And as his eyes rested on 
hers, she was puzzled by the expression on his 
smooth countenance. Was it anxiety? His ex- 
pression seemed to question her then it flowed 
into his cordial smile. 

Susannah was first to speak: 

" Good-morning, Mr. Warner. May I see you 
alone for a moment?" 

"Certainly!" With his best courtliness of 
manner, he bowed her into his private office. 
" Won't you have a seat? " 

Susannah sat down. 

" It's about about Mr. Cowler and last 
night." She paused. 

" Oh," asked Mr. Warner, carelessly, casually, 
" did you have a pleasant evening? " 

" It's about that I wanted to talk with you," 
Susannah faltered. Suddenly, her embarrassment 
broke, and she became perfectly composed. 
" Mr. Warner, I dislike to tell you all this, be- 
cause I know how it will shock you to hear it. 
But you will understand that I have no choice in 
the matter. It is very hard to speak of, and I 



OUT OF THE AIR 51 

don't know exactly how to express it, but, Mr. 
Warner, Mr. Cowler insulted me grossly last 
evening ... so grossly that I left the table 
where we were eating after the theater and . . . 
and . . . well, perhaps you can guess my state 
of mind when I tell you that 1 was actually afraid 
to take a taxi. Of course, I see now how foolish 
that was. But I ... I ran all the way home." 
For an instant, Mr. Warner's fine, incisive 
geniality did not change. Then suddenly it broke 
into a look of sympathetic understanding. " I am 
sorry, Miss Ayer," he declared gravely, " I am 
indeed sorry." His clergyman. aspect was for the 
moment in the ascendent. He might have been 
talking from the pulpit. His voice took its ora- 
torical tone. " It seems incredible that men 
should do such things incredible. But one must, 
I suppose, make allowances. A rural type alone 
in a great city and surrounded by all the intoxi- 
cating aspects of that city. It undoubtedly un- 
balanced him. Moreover, Miss Ayer, I may say 
without flattery that you are more than attrac- 
tive. And then, he is unaccustomed to drink- 
ing" 



52 OUT OF THE AIR 

u Oh, he had not drunk anything to speak of," 
Susannah interrupted. " A little claret at dinner. 
He had ordered champagne, but this . . . this 
episode occurred before it came." 

" Incredible ! " again murmured Mr. Warner. 
41 Inexplicable ! " he added. He paused for a 
moment. " You wish me to see that he apolo- 
gizes?" 

u I don't ask that. I am only telling you so 
that you may understand why I can never speak 
to him again. For of course I don't want to see 
him as long as I live. I thought perhaps . . . 
that if he comes here again . . . you might 
manage so that he doesn't enter through my 
office." 

" We can probably manage that," Mr. Warner 
agreed urbanely. " Of course we can manage 
that. He is, you see, a prospective client, and a 
very profitable one. We must continue to do busi- 
ness with him as usual." 

" Oh, of course ! " gasped Susannah. " Please 
ilon't think I'm trying to interfere with your 
business. I understand perfectly. It is only that 
I but of course you understand. I don't want 



OUT OF THE AIR 53 

to see him again." She rose. Her lithe figure 
came up to the last inch of its height; the attitude 
gave her the effect of a column. Her head was 
like a glowing alabaster lamp set at the top of 
that column. All the trouble had faded out of 
her face. The set, scarlet lines in her mouth had 
melted to their normal scarlet curves. The light 
had come bacl^ in a brilliant flood to her turquoise 
eyes. In this uprush of spirit, her red hair seemed 
even to bristle and to glisten. She sparkled 
visibly. " And now, I guess I'll get back to 
work," she said. " Oh, by the way, I found in 
my mail this morning a letter addressed, not to 
the women's department, but to the firm. I 
opened it, but of course by accident." 

Mr. Warner drew the letter from its envelope, 
began casually running through it. The conver- 
sation seemed now to be ended; Susannah moved 
toward the door. From his perusal of the letter, 
Mr. Warner stabbed at her back with one quick, 
alarmed glance, and: 

" Oh, Miss Ayer, don't go yet," he said. His 
tone was a little tense and sharp. But he con- 
tinued to peruse the letter. As he finished the last 



54 OUT OF THE AIR 

page, he looked up. Again, his tone seemed pe- 
culiar; and he hesitated before he spoke. 

11 Er did you make out the signature on 
this?" he asked. 

" No it puzzled me," replied Susannah. 

" Sit down again, please," said Mr. Warner. 
Now his manner had that accent of suavity, that 
velvety actor quality, which usually he reserved 
solely for women clients. " I'm awfully sorry, 
but I'm afraid I shall have to ask you to see Mr. 
Cowler again." 

" Mr. Warner, I ... I simply could not do 
that. I can never speak to him again. You don't 
know . . . You can't guess . . . Why, I 
could scarcely tell my own mother . . . if I 
had one ..." 

" It seems quite shocking to you, of course, 
and Wait a moment " Mr. Warner rose 
and walked toward the door leading to Byan's 
office. But he seemed suddenly to change his 
mind. " I know exactly how you must feel," he 
said, returning. " Believe me, my dear V oun g 
lady, I enter perfectly into your emotions. 
Shocked susceptibilities ! Wounded pride ! All 



OUT OF THE AIR 55 

perfectly natural, even exemplary. But, Miss 
Ayer, this is a strange world. And in some 
aspects a very unsatisfactory one. We have to 
put up with many things we don't like. I, for 
instance. You could not guess the many disagree- 
able experiences to which I submit daily. I hate 
them as much as anyone, but business compels me 
to endure them. Now you, in your position as 
manager of the Women's Department " 

" Nothing," Susannah interrupted steadily, 
" could induce me knowingly to submit again to 
what happened last night. I would rather throw 
up my job. I would rather die." 

** But, my dear Miss Ayer, you are not the only 
young lady in this city who has been through such 
experiences. If women will invade industry, they 
must take the consequences. Actresses, shopgirls, 
woman-buyers accept these things as a matter of 
course as all in the day's work. Indeed, many 
stenographers complain of unpleasant experi- 
ences. You have been exceedingly fortunate. 
Have we not in this office paid you every pos- 
sible respect? " 

u Of course you have ! It is because you have 



56 OUT OF THE AIR 

been so kind that I came to you at once, hoping 
. . . believing . . . that you would under- 
stand. It never occurred to me that you ..." 

" Of course I understand," Mr. Warner iiv 
sisted, in his most soothing tone. " It's all very 
dreadful. What I am trying to point out to you 
is that whatever you do or wherever you go in a 
great city, the same thing is likely to happen. I 
am trying to prove to you that you are especially 
protected here. You like your work, don't you? " 

" I love it! " Susannah protested with fervor. 

" Then I think you will do well to ignore the 
incident. Come, my child," Mr. Warner was 
now a combination of guiding pastor and admon- 
ishing parent, " forget this deplorable incident. 
When Mr. Cowler comes in this afternoon, meet 
him as though nothing had happened. Un- 
doubtedly he is now bitterly regretting his mis- 
take. Unquestionably he will apologize. And 
the next time he asks you to go out with him, he 
will have learned how to treat a young lady so 
admirable and estimable, and you can accept his 
invitation with an untroubled spirit." 

" If I meet Mr. Cowler I will treat him exactly 



OUT OF THE AIR 57 

as though nothing had happened," Susannah de- 
clared steadily. " I mean that upon meeting him 
I will bow. I will even if you ask it give him 
any information he may want about the business. 
But as to going anywhere with him again I must 
decline absolutely." 

" But that is one of the services which we shall 
have to demand from time to time. Clients come 
to town. They want an attractive young lady, 
a lady who will be a credit to them a description 
which, I may say, perfectly applies to you to ac- 
company them about the city. That will be a 
part of your duties in future. Had the occasion 
arisen before, it would have been a part of your 
duties in the past. If Mr. Cowler asks you again 
to accompany him for the evening, we shall ex- 
pect you to go." 

4 You never told me," said Susannah after a 
perceptible interval, during which directly and 
piercingly she met Mr. Warner's gentle gaze, 
" that you expected this sort of thing." 

" My dear young lady," replied Mr. Warner 
with a kind of bland elegance, " I am very sorry 
if I did not make that clear." 



58 OUT OF THE AIR 

" Then/' said Susannah so unexpectedly that 
it was unexpected even to herself " I shall have 
to give up my position. Please look for another 
secretary. I shall consider it a favor if you get 
her as soon as possible." 

Another pause; and then Mr. Warner asked: 

" Would you mind waiting here for just a few 
moments before you make that decision final? " 

" I will wait," agreed Susannah. " But I will 
not change my decision." 

Mr. Warner did not seem at all surprised or 
annoyed. He arose abruptly, started toward 
Byan's office. This time he entered and closed 
the door behind him. A moment later, Susannah 
realized from the muffled sounds which filtered 
through the partition that the partners were in 
conference. She caught the velvety tones of 
Byan; O'Hearn's soft lilt. And as she sat there, 
idly tapping the desk with a penholder, something 
among the memories of that confused morning 
crept into her mind; spread until it blotted out 
even the memory of Mr. Cowler. That letter 
what did it mean? In her listless, inattentive 
state of mind, she had opened it carelessly, read 



OUT OF THE AIR 59 

it through before she realized that it was ad- 
dressed not to the Women's Department, but to 
the company. Had anyone asked her, a moment 
after she laid it down, just what it said, she could 
not have answered. Now, her perplexed loneli- 
ness brought it all out on the tablets of her mind 
as the chemical brings out the picture from the 
blankness of a photographic plate. She glanced 
at the desk. The letter was not there Mr. 
Warner had taken it with him. 

The man with the illegible signature wrote 
from Nevada. He had seen, during a visit to 
Kansas City, the circulars of the Carbonado Min- 
ing Company. After his return, he had passed 
through Carbonado. " I wondered, when I saw 
your literature, whether there had been a new 
strike in that busted camp," he wrote. " There 
hadn't. Carbonado now consists of one store- 
keeper and a few retired prospectors who are try- 
ing to scrape something from the corners of the 
old Buffalo Boy property. That camp was 
worked out in the eighties and it was never 
much but promises at that." As for the photo- 
graphs which decorated the Carbonado Com- 



6o OUT OF THE AIR 

pany's circulars, this man recognized at least one 
of them as a picture of a property he knew in 
iUtah. Finally, he asked sarcastically just how 
long they expected to keep up the graft. " It's 
the old game, isn't it?" he inquired, " pay three 
per cent for a while and then get out with the 
capital." Three per cent a month that was 
exactly what the Carbonado Company was pay- 
ing. She wondered 

Conjecture for Susannah would have been cer- 
tainty could she have heard the conversation just 
the other side of that closed door. At the mo- 
ment when the contents of this letter flashed back 
into her mind, the letter itself lay on Mr. Byan's 
polished mahogany table. Beside it lay a pile of 
penciled memoranda through which fluttered from 
time to time the nervous hand of H. Withington 
Warner. Susannah would scarcely have known 
her genial employer. The mask of actor and 
clergyman had slipped from his face. His cheeks 
seemed to fall flat and flabby. His eyes had lost 
their benevolence. His mouth was set as hard 
as a trap, the corners drooping. Across the table 
from him, too, sat a transformed Byan. His 



OUT OF THE AIR 61 

smooth, regular features had sharpened to the 
likeness of a rat's. His voice, however, was still 
velvety; even though it had just flung at Warner 
a string of oaths. 

u I told you we ought to've let go and skipped 
six weeks ago," he said, " that was the time for 
the touch-off. Secret Service still chasin' Heinies 
everythin' coming in and nothin' going out. 
The suckers had already stopped biting and then 
you go and hand out two more monthly dividends 
and settle all the bills like you intended to stay 
in business forever. What did we want with this 
royal suite here, and ours a correspondence game ? 
What do we split if we stop today? Twelve hun- 
dred dollars. Twelve hundred dollars ! We land 
this Cowler see ! " 

Warner, unperturbed, swept his glance to 
O'Hearn, who sat huddled up in his chair, search- 
ing with his glance now one of his partners, now 
the other. 

** Mike," he said, u you're certain about your 
tip on the fly cops? " 

"Dead sure!" responded O'Hearn. " The 
regular bulls ain't touching mining operations just 



62 OUT OF THE AIR 

now. It's up to the Secret Service. In two weeks 
more they'll be all cleaned up on the war, and 
then they'll be reorganizing their little committee 
on high finance. That there Inspector Laughlin 
will take charge. He knows you, Boss. Then " 
O'Hearn spread his hands with a gesture of 
finality " about a week more and they'll get 
round to us. Three weeks is all we're safe to go. 
They stop our mail and then the pinch maybe. 
The tip's straight from you-know-who. The 
pinch see ! " 

At the repetition of that word " pinch," Ryan's 
countenance changed subtly. It was as though he 
had winced within. But he spoke in his usual 
velvety tone. 

" Less than three weeks h'm ! How much is 
Cowler good for? " 

" About a hundred thou' big or nothing," 
replied Warner. He was drawing stars and 
circles on the desk blotter. " He can't be landed 
without the girl. If he'd tumbled for the Lizzies 
you shook at him but he didn't it's this red- 
headed doll in our office or nothing. And I've 
told you " 



OUT OF THE AIR 63 

Here O'Hearn threw himself abruptly into the 
conversation. 

" Lave out th' girrul," he said. Usually 
O'Hearn's Irish showed in his speech only by a 
slight twist at the turn of his tongue. Now it 
reverted to a thick brogue. " I'll not have any- 
thin' to do " 

" We'll leave in or take out exactly what I 
say," put in Warner smoothly. " Exactly what 
I say," he repeated. At this direct thrust, Byan 
lifted his somewhat dreamy eyes. He dropped 
them again. Then Warner, his gaze directly on 
O'Hearn's face, made a swift, sinister gesture. 
He drew a forefinger round his own throat, and 
completed the motion by pointing directly up- 
ward. O'Hearn, his face suddenly going a little 
pale, subsided. Warner broke into the sweet, 
Christian smile of his office manner. Subtly, he 
seemed to take command. His personality filled 
the room as he leaned forward over the table and 
summed everything up. 

" As for your noise about quitting six weeks 
ago," he said, " how was I to know that the 
suckers were going to stop running? We looked 



64 OUT OF THE AIR 

good for three months then. We've got three 
weeks to go. All right. As for the pinch, they 
won't get us unless the wad gives out. Every 
stage of this game has been submitted to a lawyer. 
We're just a hair inside but inside all the same. 
But if we can't come through liberally to him 
when we're really in trouble, we might as well 
measure ourselves for stripes. He's that kind 
of lawyer. With a hundred thousand dollars " 
lie seemed to roll that phrase under his tongue 
" we can stay and make snoots at the Secret Serv- 
ice or beat it elsewhere, just as we please. Ozias 
Cowler can furnish the hundred thou'. But he'll 
take only one bait. I've tried 'em all flies, 
worms, beetles, and grasshoppers and there's 
only one. And that one is trying to wriggle off 
the hook. I thought last night when I sent her 
out with him that maybe she would fall for him. 
The rest would have been easy. But she only 
worked up a case of this here maidenly virtue. 
On top of that, she reads this letter. Of course, 
she has read it, though she don't know I know. 
I squeezed that out of her. 

" There," concluded Warner, " that's the lay- 



OUT OF THE AIR 65 

out, isn't it? " He turned to Byan; and his smil- 
ing, office manner came over his expression. 
" What would you say, Joe? You're by way of 
being an expert on this kind of bait." In the 
Carbonado Mining Company, Warner ruled 
partly through his quality of personal force, but 
partly through fear, the cement of underworld 
society. Just as he shook at O'Hearn from time 
to time the threat conveyed by that sinister ges- 
ture, he held over Byan the knowledge of that 
trade and traffic, shameful even among criminals, 
from which Byan had risen to be a pander of low 
finance. At this thrust, however, Byan did not 
pale, as had O'Hearn. His expression became 
only the more inscrutable. 

* You should have let me break her in when 
I wanted to, months ago," he said. u I'd 'a' had 
her ready now. He won't fall for anyone else. 
I've offered those other Molls to him, but he's 
crushed on her and won't look at anybody else. 
So we've got to put the screws on her. They're 
all cowards inside yellow every one." 

" Meaning?" inquired Warner. 

" She's in it up to her neck with us," said Byan. 



66 OUT OF THE AIR 

" We saw to that. All right. If we should go 
up against it, she'd have a hell of a time proving 
to a jury that she didn't know what her letters to 
customers were all about. Now wouldn't she? 
Ask -yourself. Looked like hard luck to me when 
she saw that letter just when she'd slapped the 
face of this Cowler. But maybe it's a regular 
godsend. Put it to her straight that this business 
is a graft, that we're due to go up against it in 
three weeks unless something nice happens, and 
that she's in it as deep as any of us. When she's 
so scared she can't see, let her know that she has 
got one way out fall for Cowler and help us 
touch him for his hundred thousand. Make her 
think that it's the stir sure if she don't, and a 
clean getaway if she does." 

" Suppose," continued Warner in the manner of 
one weighing every chance, " she goes with her 
troubles to some wise guy? " 

" She's got no friends here," said Byan. " I 
looked into that. Runs around with one fluff, but 
she don't count. If she's scared enough, I tell 
you, she'll never dare peep and she'll come 
round." 



OUT OF THE AIR 67 

" Suppose she beats it? " suggested Warner. 

" Well, Mike and I can shadow her, can't 
we? " replied Byan. " If she tries to get out by 
rail, we can stop her and put on the screws right 
away. The screws ! " repeated Byan, as "one who 
liked the idea. " And if she does hold out a 
while, nothin's lost. You've got the old dope 
worked up to the idea she's interested in him, 
haven't you? Well, if she don't fall right away, 
you can take a little time explaining to him why 
she acted that way last night. Maybe best to 
dangle her a while, anyway get him so anxious 
to see her that he'll fall for anything when you 
bring her round. I'll be tightening up the screws, 
and when he's ripe I'll deliver her." 

" The screws," repeated O'Hearn. " Mean- 
in'?" 

" Leave that to me," said Byan. " I know 
how." 

Warner smiled; but it was not the genial beam 
of his office manner. For when the corners of 
his drooping mouth lifted, they showed merely a 
gleam of canine teeth, which lay on his lip like 
fangs. 



68 OUT OF THE AIR 

" I suppose, when it's over, she's your personal 
property," he concluded. 

" Oh, sure ! " responded Byan carelessly. 

" You'll not " began O'Hearn; but this time 
it was Warner who interrupted. 

" Mickey," he said, " any arrangements be- 
tween this lady and Byan are their own private 
affair after the touch-off, which may stand you 
twenty-five thousand shiners. Besides " He 
did not make his threatening gesture now, but 
merely flashed that smile of fangs and sinister 
suggestion. Then he rose. 

u All right," he said. " Come on all of you 
and I'll give her that little business talk, before 
she's had time to think and work up an- 
other notion. Maybe she'll fall for it right 
away." 

" Not right away, she won't," Byan promul- 
gated from the depths of his experience, " but be- 
fore I'm through, she will." 

The three men came filing into the room where 
Susannah sat, her elbows on the desk, her chin on 
her hands. She rose abruptly and faced them. 



OUT OF THE AIR 69 

eyes wide, lips parted. Mr. Warner wore 
his office manner; his smile was now benevo- 
lent. 

" I have been telling Mr. Byan and Mr. 
O'Hearn about your experience and your de- 
cision, Miss Ayer," began Mr. Warner. 

Susannah blushed deeply; and for an instant 
her lashes swept over a sudden stern flame in her 
eyes. Then she lifted them and looked with a 
noncommittal openness from one face to the 
other. " I think I have nothing to add," she 
said. 

1 Yes, but perhaps we have," Mr. Warner in- 
formed her gently. " Sit down, Miss Ayer. Sit 
down, boys." 

The three men seated themselves. " Thank 
you," said Susannah; but she continued to stand. 
Byan rose thereupon, and stood lolling in the cor- 
ner, his vague smile floating on his lips. O'Hearn 
dropped his chin almost to that point on his chest 
where his folded arms rested. His lips drooped. 
Occasionally he studied the situation from under 
his protuberant forehead. 

" Miss Ayer," Warner went on after a pause, 



70 OUT OF THE AIR 

" you read that letter the one you handed to me 
this mornirrg? " 

Susannah hesitated for an almost imperceptible 
moment. " Yes," she admitted, " entirely by mis- 
take." 

" I am going to tell you something that it will 
surprise you to hear, Miss Ayer. What this 
fellow says is all true. Carbonado is merely a 
a convenient name, let us say. In other words, 
we are engaged in selling fake stocks to suckers. 
To be still more explicit, we are conducting a 
criminal business. We could be arrested at any 
moment and sent to jail. To the Federal peni- 
tentiary, in fact. I suppose that is a great sur- 
prise to you? " 

Though she had guessed something of this ever 
since she recalled the contents of the letter, the 
cold-blooded statement came indeed with all the 
force of a surprise. Susannah's figure stiffened 
as though she had touched a live wire. The 
crimson flush drained out of her face. And she 
heard herself saying, as though in another's voice 
and far away, the inadequate words: " How per- 
fectly terrible ! " 



OUT OF THE AIR 71 

" Exactly so ! " agreed Warner. " Only you 
haven't the remotest idea how terrible. Miss 
Ayer, this company you as well as the rest of 
us needs money and needs it right away. Ozias 
Cowler has money a great deal of money. 
Somebody's bound to get it and why not we? 
We use various means to get money out of 
suckers. There's only one way with Cowler. 
He's stuck on you. You can get it from him. We 
want you to do that we expect you to do that." 

Susannah stared at him. " Mr. Warner, I 
think you are crazy. I could no more do that 
... I couldn't ... I wouldn't even know 
how . . . my resignation goes into effect im- 
mediately. I couldn't possibly stay here another 
minute." She turned to leave the office. 

" Just one moment!" Mr. Warner's words 
purled on. His tone was low, his accent bland 
but his voice stopped her instantly. " Miss 
Ayer, you don't understand yet. Unless we get 
some money a great deal of money we shan't 
last another two_ weeks. The situation is but I 
won't take the time to explain that. Unless we 
clean up that aforesaid mo$ey, we go to jail for 



72 OUT OF THE AIR 

a good long term. If we get the money we 
don't. Never mind the details. I assure you it's 



true." 



" I'm sorry," said Susannah, her lips scarcely 
moving as she spoke, " but I fail to see what I 
have to do with that " 

" I was about to go on to say, Miss Ayer, that 
you have everything to do with it. You must be 
aware, if you look back over your service with us, 
that you are as much involved as anyone. Your 
name is on our letterhead. You have signed hun- 
dreds and perhaps thousands of letters to woman 
investors. Putting a disagreeable fact rather 
baldly, what happens to us happens to you. If 
it's the stir if it's jail for us, it's jail for you." 

Susannah stared at him. She grew rigid. But 
she roused herself to a trembling weak defense. 

" I'll tell them, if they arrest me ... all 
that has gone on here ..." she began. 

" If you do," put in Mr. Warner smoothly, 
" you only create for yourself an unfavorable im- 
pression. You put yourself in the position of 
going back on your pals, and it will not get you 
immunity. If Mr. Cowler comes through, you 



OUT OF THE AIR 73 

are entitled to a share of the proceeds. Whether 
you take it or no is a matter for your private 
feelings. But the main point is that with Cowler 
in, this thing will be fixed, and without him in, 
you are in jail or a fugitive from justice. " 

He paused now and looked at Susannah 
paused not as one who pities but as one who asks 
himself if he has said enough. Susannah's face 
proved that he had. 

" Now of course you won't feel like working 
this morning. And I don't blame you. Go home 
and think it over. Your first instinct, probably, 
will be to see a lawyer. For your own sake, I 
advise you not to do that. For ours, I hope you 
do. If he tells you the truth, he will show you 
how deeply involved you are in this thing. No 
lawyer whom you can command will handle your 
case. What you'd better do is lie down and take 
a nap. Then at about five o'clock this afternoon, 
send for hot coffee and doll yourself up Mr. 
Cowler will call for you at seven." 

Susannah took part of Mr. Warner's advice. 
She went home immediately. But she did not take 



74 OUT OF THE AIR 

a nap. Instead, she walked up and down her bed- 
room for an hour, thinking hard. She could think 
now; in her passage home on the Subway, her first 
wild panic had beaten its desperate black wings 
to quiet. What Warner had told her she now 
believed implicitly. She was as much caught in 
the trap as any one of the three crooks with 
whom she had been associated. The only dif- 
ference was that she did not mean to stay in the 
trap. She meant to escape. Also she did not 
mean to let it drive her from the city in which she 
was challenging success. She meant to stay in New 
York. She meant to escape. But how? 

If there were only somebody to whom she could 
go! She had in New York a few acquaintances 
but no real friends. Besides, she didn't want 
anybody to know ; all she wanted was to get away 
from to vanish from their sight. But where 
could she go when how? 

Fortunately she had plenty of money on hand, 
plenty at least for her immediate purposes. She 
owned a few pawnable things, though only a few. 
But at present what she needed, more even than 
money, was time. She must get away at once. 



OUT OF THE AIR 75 

But again where ? For a moment resurgent panic 
tore her. Then common sense seemed to offer 
a solution. Here she was in the biggest city in 
the country; the biggest in the world. She had 
heard somewhere that a big city was the best place 
in the world to hide in. She would hide in New 
York. Then- 
She had forgotten one terrifying fact. Byan 
boarded in the same house. 

She realized why now. A fortnight before 
shortly after Mr. Cowler appeared in the office 
he had come to her for advice. He had given 
up one bachelor apartment, he said, and was tak- 
ing another. Repairs had become inevitable in 
the new apartment. He did not want to go to a 
hotel. Did she know of a good boarding-house 
in which to spend a month? She did, of course 
j her own. Byan came there the next day; al- 
though, curiously enough, she saw but little of 
him. They had separate tables, and his meal- 
hours and hers were different. 

Byan usually came in at about six o'clock. But 
today he might follow her. She must work 
quickly. 



76 OUT OF THE AIR 

She pulled her trunk out from under the bed 
and began in frenzied haste to pack it. Down 
came all the pictures from her walls. Into the 
trunk went most of her clothes ; some of her toilet 
articles; her half-dozen books; her stationery; all 
her slender Lares and Penates. When she had 
finished with her trunk, she packed her suitcase. 
As many thin dresses as she could crush in in- 
consequent necessities her storm boots; her 
tooth-brush 

Then she wrote a note to her landlady. It 
read: "Dear Mrs. Ray: I have been suddenly 
called away from <he city. Will you keep my 
trunk until I send for it? Yours in great haste 
and some trouble, Susannah Ayer." She put it 
with her board money in an envelope, addressed 
to Mrs. Ray, and placed it on the trunk. 

At three o'clock, her suitcase in one hand, her 
bag and her umbrella in the other, her long cape 
over her arm, she ventured into the hall. 

It was vacant and silent. 

She stole silently down the stairs. She met 
nobody. She noiselessly opened the front door. 
Apparently nobody noticed her. She walked 



OUT OF THE AIR 77 

briskly down the steps; turned toward the 
Avenue. At the corner something impelled her 
to look back. 

Byan, his look directed downward, two fingers 
fumbling in his side pocket for his key, was briskly 
ascending the steps. 



Ill 

LINDSAY drove directly from the Quinanog 
station to the Quinanog Arms. The Arms proved 
to be a tiny mid-Victorian hotel, not an inexact 
replica and by no means a discreditable one 
of many small rustic hotels that he had seen in 
England and France. Indeed Quinanog, as he 
caught it in glimpses, might have been one part 
of France or one part of England that region 
which only the English Channel prevents from 
being the same country. The motor, which con- 
ducted him from the station to the Arms, drove 
on roads in which high wine-glass elms made 
Gothic arches; between wide meadowy stretches, 
brilliant with buttercups, daisies, iris; unassertive, 
well-proportioned houses with roomy vegetable 
plots and tiny patches here and there of flower 
garden. He arrived at so early an hour that 
the best of the long friendly day stretched before 
him. He felt disposed to spend it merely in read- 
ing and smoking. He had plenty to smoke; he 

78 



OUT OF THE AIR 79 

had seen to that himself in New York. And he 
had plenty to read; Spink Sparrel had seen to 
that in Boston. The bottom of one of his trunks 
was covered with Lutetia Murray's works. 

But although he smoked a great deal, he did 
not read at all. Until luncheon he merely fol- 
lowed his impulses. Those impulses took him a 
little way down the main street, which ran be- 
tween- comfortable, white colonial houses, set 
back from the road. He walked through the tiny 
triangular Common. He visited the little, poster- 
hung post-office; looked into the big neatly ar- 
ranged general store; strolled back again. His 
impulses then led him to explore the grounds of 
the Arms and deposited him finally in the ham- 
mock on the side porch. After a simple and very 
well-cooked luncheon, his languor broke into a 
sudden restlessness. " Where is the Murray 
place? " he asked of the proprietor of the Arms, 
whose name, the letterhead of the Arms stationery 
stated, was Hyde. 

' The Murray place ! " Hyde repeated inquir- 
ingly. He was a long, noncommittal-looking per- 
son with big pale blue eyes illuminating a sandy 



8o OUT OF THE AIR 

baldness. " Oh, the Murray place ! You mean 
the old Murray place." 

" I mean the house, whichever and wherever it 
is, that Lutetia Murray, the author, used to 
live in." 

" Oh, sure ! I get you. You see it's been 
empty for such a long spell that we forget all 
about it. The old Murray place is on the road 
to West Quinanog." 

" It isn't occupied, you say ? " 

" Lord, no ! Hasn't been lived in since well, 
since Lutetia Murray died. And that was let 
me see " Hyde cast a reflective eye upward. 
" Ten, eleven, twelve oh, fifteen or twenty, I 
should say. Yes, all of fifteen years." 

" Does it still belong in the Murray family? " 

" Lord bless your soul, no. There hasn't been 
a Murray around these parts since well, since 
Lutetia Murray died." 

" Who owns it now ? " 

" The Turners. They bought it when it came 
up for sale after Miss Murray's death." 

"Well, weren't there any heirs?" 

" There was a niece her brother's little girl. 



OUT OF THE AIR 81 

They had to sell the place and everything in it. 
There never was a sale in Quinanog like that. 
Why, folks say that the mahogany would bring 
fancy prices in New York nowadays." 

" Didn't they get as much as they should 
have?" Lindsay asked idly. 

" Oh Lord, no ! And they found her estate 
was awful involved, and the debts et up about all 
the auction brought in." 

" What became of the little girl? " 

" Some cousins took her." 

" Where is she now? " 

" Never heard tell." 

" Has anybody ever lived in the Murray place 
since the family left?" 

" No, I believe not." 

" Is it to let?" 

" Yes, and for sale." 

" Well, why hasn't it let or sold? " 

" Oh, I dunno exactly. It's a great big barn 
of a place. Kinda ramshackle, and of course it's 
off the main-traveled road. You'd need a flivver, 
at least, to live there nowadays. And there ain't 
a single modern improvement in it. No bath- 



82 OUT OF THE AIR 

room, nor electric lights, not set tubs, nor any of 
the things that women like. No garage neither." 

" Every disability you quote makes it sound all 
the better to me," Lindsay commented. He medi- 
tated a moment. " I'd like to go over and look 
at it this afternoon. Is there anyone here to drive 
me?" 

" Yes, Dick'll take you in the runabout." 
Hyde appeared to meditate in his turn, and he 
cocked an inquiring eye in Lindsay's direction. 
" You wasn't thinking of hiring the place, was 
you?" 

Lindsay laughed. " I should say I wasn't. 
No, I just wanted to look at it." 

" I was going to say," Hyde went on, " that 
it's a very pleasant location. City folks always 
think it's a lovely spot. If you was thinking of 
hiring it, my brother's the agent." 

Lindsay laughed again. " Hiring a house is 
about as far from my plans at present as return- 
ing to France." 

" Well," Hyde commented dryly, " judging 
from the way the Quinanog boys feel, I guess I 
know just about how much you want to do that." 



OUT OF THE AIR 83 

" How soon can we go to the Murray place? " 
Lindsay inquired. 

" Now as far as Dick's concerned." 

" By the way," Hyde dropped, as he turned to- 
ward the garage, " the Murrays called the place 
Blue Medders." 

" Blue Meadows," Lindsay repeated aloud. 
And to himself, " Blue Meadows." And again, 
though wordlessly, " Blue Meadows." It was ap- 
parent that he liked the sound and the image the 
sound evoked. 

The runabout chugged to Blue Meadows in 
less than ten minutes. The road branched off 
from the State highway at the least frequented 
place in its ample stretch; ran for a long way to 
West Quinanog. On this side road, houses were 
few and they grew fewer and fewer until they left 
Blue Meadows quite by itself. Its situation, 
though solitary, was not lonely. It sat near the 
road. Perhaps, Lindsay decided, it would have 
been too near if stately wine-glass elms, feathered 
with leaves all along their lissom trunks, in col- 
laboration with a high lilac hedge now past its 
blooming, had not helped to sequester it. From 



84 OUT OF THE AIR 

the street, the house showed only a roof with two 
capacious chimneys, the upper story of its gray 
clapboarded facade. 

Dick, a gangling freckled youth, slowed down 
the machine as if in preparation for a stop. " I've 
got the key," he volunteered, " if you want to 
go in." 

Until that moment Lindsay had entertained no 
idea of going in. But Dick's words fired his 
imagination. " Thanks, I think I will." 

Dick handed over the long, delicately wrought 
key. He made no move to follow Lindsay out 
of the car. " If you don't mind," he said, " I'll 
run down the road to see a cousin of mine. How 
soon before you'll want to start back? " 

" Oh, give me half an hour or so," Lindsay 
decided carelessly. 

The runabout chugged into the green arch 
which imprisoned the distance. 

Alone, Lindsay strolled between lilac bushes 
and over the sunken flags which led to the front 
door. Then, changing his mind, he made an ap- 
praising tour about the outside of the place. 

Blue Meadows was a big old house : big, so 



OUT OP THE AIR 85 

it seemed to his amateur judgment, by an in- 
credible number of rooms; and old and here his 
judgment, though swift, was more accurate to 
the time of two hundred years. Outside, it had 
all the earmarks of Colonial architecture plain 
lines, stark walls, the windows, with twenty-four 
lights, geometrically placed; but its lovely lines, 
its beautiful proportions, and the soft plushy nap 
which time had laid upon its front clapboardings 
mitigated all its severities. The shingles of the 
roof and sides were weather-beaten and gray, the 
blinds a deep old blue. At one side jutted an 
incongruous modern addition; into the second 
story of which was set a galleried piazza. At the 
other side stretched an endless series of additions, 
tapering in size to a tiny shed. 

<c This is Lutetia's house ! " Lindsay stopped to 
muse. " Is it true that I spent two years with the 
French Army? Is it true that I served two more 
with the American Army ? Oh, to think you didn't 
live to see all that, Lutetia ! " 

A lattice arched over the doorway and on it a 
big climbing rose was just coming into bud. The 
beautiful door showed the pointed architrave, 



86 OUT OF THE AIR 

the leaded side panels, the fanlight, the engaged 
columns, of Colonial times. It resisted the first 
attack of the key, but yielded finally to Lindsay's 
persuasion. He stepped into the hall. 

It was a rectangular hall, running straight to 
the back of the house. Pairs of doors, opposite 
each other, gaped on both sides. At the left arose 
a slender straight stairway, mahogany-railed. 
Lindsay strolled from one room to the other, 
opening windows and blinds. They were big 
square rooms, finished in the conventional 
Colonial manner, with fireplaces and fireplace cup- 
boards. The wallpaper, faded and stained, was 
of course quite bare of pictures and ornaments. 
He stopped to examine the carving on the white, 
painted panels above the fireplace garlands of 
flowers caught with torches and masks. 

Smiling to himself, Lindsay returned to the 
hall. " Oh, Lutetia, I should like to have seen 
you here ! " he remarked wordlessly. 

Behind the stairway, at the back, appeared 
another door. He opened it into darkness. 
Fumbling in his pocket, he produced a box of 
matches, lighted his way through the blackness; 



OUT OF THE AIR 87 

again opened windows and shutters. This proved 
to be the long back room so common in Colonial 
homes; running the entire width of the house. 
There were two fireplaces. One was small, with 
a Franklin stove. The other Lindsay calculated 
that it would take six-foot logs. Four well- 
grown children, shoulder to shoulder, could have 
walked into it. This room was not entirely 
empty. In the center by a miracle his stumbling 
progress had just avoided it was a long table of 
the refectory type. Lindsay studied the position 
of the two fireplaces. He examined the ceiling. 
" You threw the whole lot of little rooms together 
to make this big room, Lutetia. You're a lady 
quite of my own architectural taste. I, too, like 
a lot of space." 

He continued his explorations. From one side 
of the long living-room extended kitchen, laundry; 
servants' rooms and servants' dining-room; an 
endless maze of butteries, pantries, sheds. Lind- 
say gave them short shrift. At the other side, 
however, lay a little half-oval room, the first floor 
of that Victorian addition which he had marked 
from the outside. 



88 OUT OF THE AIR 

" Oh, Lutetia, Lutetia, how could you, how 
could you?" he burst out at first glance. " To 
add this modern bit to that fine Colonial stateli- 
ness 1 Perhaps we're not kindred souls after all." 

Hugging the wall of this room and leading to 
the second floor was a stairway so narrow that 
only one person could mount it at a time. Lind- 
say proved this to his own satisfaction by ascend- 
ing it. It opened into a big back room of the 
main house, the one with the galleried piazza. 
Lindsay opened all the windows here; and then 
went rapidly from room to room, letting in the 
June sunshine. 

They were all empty, of course and yet, in a 
dozen plaintive ways faded wall spaces, which 
showed the exact size of pictures, nails with carpet 
tufts still clinging to them, a forgotten window 
shade or two they spoke eloquently of .habita- 
tion. Indeed, the whole place had a friendly at- 
mosphere, Lindsay reflected; there was none of 
the cold, dead connotation of most long-empty 
houses. This old place was spiritually warm, as 
though some reflection of a long-ago vivid life 
still hung among its shadows. From the dust, the 



OUT OF THE AIR 89 

stains, the cobwebs, it might have been vacant for 
a century. From the welcoming warmth of its 
quiet rooms, it might have been vacant but for a 
day. 

Through the back windows, Lindsay looked 
down onto what must once have been a huge 
rectangle of lawn; and near the house, what must 
once have been an oval of flower garden. The 
lawn, stretching to a stone wall beyond which 
towered a chaos of trees was now knee-deep in 
timothy-grass; the garden had reverted to jungle. 
He studied the garden. Close to the house, an 
enormous syringa bush heaped into a mountain of 
fragrant snow. Near, a smoke-bush was just be- 
ginning to bubble into rounds of blood-scarlet 
gauze. Strangled rosebushes showed yellow or 
crimson. Afar an enormous patch of tiger lilies 
gave the effect of a bizarre, orchidous tropical 
group. The rest was an indiscriminate early- 
summer tangle of sumac; elderberry; bayberry; 
silver birches; wild roses; daisies; buttercups; and 
what would later be Queen Anne's lace and 
goldenrod. From a back corner window, it 
seemed to him that he caught a glint of water; 



90 OUT OF THE AIR 

but he could not recapture it from any other point 
of view. However, he lost all memory of this in 
a more affording discovery. For the front win- 
dows gave him the reason of the name, Blue 
Meadows. Across the road stretched a series 
of meadows, all bluish purple with blooming 
iris. 

Lindsay contemplated this charming prospect 
for a long interval. 

" And now, Lutetia," he suddenly turned and 
addressed the empty rooms, " I want to find your 
room. Which of these six was it? " 

Retracing his steps, he went from room to 
room until, many times, he had made a complete 
survey of the second floor. He crossed and re- 
crossed his own trail, as the excitement of the 
quest mounted in him. 

" Ah! " he exclaimed aloud, " here it is! You 
can't escape your soul-mate, Lutetia." 

It was not because the room was so much 
bigger than the rest that he made this decision; 
it was only because it was so much more quaint. 
At one side it merged, by means of a slender door- 
way, with the galleried piazza. From it, by 



OUT OF THE AIR 91 

means of that tiny flight of stairs, Lutetia could 
have descended to the first floor of that mid- Vic- 
torian addition. " I take it all back, Lutetia," 
he approved. " Middle of the nineteenth century 
or not, it's a wonder this combination." At the 
back of Lutetia's room was a third door; as slen- 
der as the door leading to the gallery, but much 
lower; not four feet high. Lindsay pushed it 
open, crawled on hands and knees through it. He 
had of course, on his first exploration, entered 
the small room into which it led. But he had 
gone in and out without careful examination; it 
had seemed merely a four-walled room. Coming 
into it, however, from Lutetia's bedroom, it sud- 
denly acquired character. 

The walls were papered in white. And on the 
mid- Victorian dado scarcely legible now, he sud- 
denly discovered drawings. Drawings of a curi- 
ous character and of a more curious technique. 
He followed their fluttery maze from wall to wall 
a flight of little beings, winged at the shoulders 
and knees, with flying locks and strange finlike 
hands and feet; fanciful, comic, tender. 

" Oh '."Lindsay emitted aloud. "Ah!" And 



92 OUT OF THE AIR 

in an instant: "I see! This room belonged to 
that child Hyde spoke of." 

He ascended to the garret. This was of 
course the big storeroom of the Colonial imagi- 
nation. It too was quite empty. At one spot a 
post obviously not a roof-support ran from 
floor to ceiling. Lindsay gazed about a little 
unseeingly. " I wonder what that post was for? " 
he questioned himself absently. After a while, 
" What's become of that child? " he demanded of 
circumambient space. 

As though this offered food for reflection, he 
descended by means of the main stairway to the 
lower floor; sat on the doorsteps a while. He 
mused gazing out into the green-colored, sweet- 
scented June afternoon. After an interval he 
arose and repeated his voyage of exploration. 

Again he was struck with the friendly quality 
of the old place. That physical dampness, which 
long vacant houses hold in solution, seemed en- 
tirely to have disappeared before the flood of 
June sunshine. The spiritual chill, which always 
accompanies it that sinister quality so connota- 
tive of congregations of evil spirits he again ob- 



OUT OF THE AIR 93 

served was completely lacking. As he emerged 
from one room to enter another, it seemed to him 
that the one back of him filled with companion- 
ship, he described it to himself. As he continued 
his explorations, it seemed to him that the room 
he was about to enter would offer him not ghostly 
but human welcome. That human welcome did 
not come, of course. Instead, there surged upon 
him the rich odors of the lilacs and syringas; the 
staccato greetings of the birds. 

After a while he went downstairs again. Sit- 
ting in the front doorway, he fell into a rich 
revery. 

This was where Lutetia Murray wrote the 
books which had so intrigued his boyish fancy. 
Mentally he ran over the list: The Sport of the 
Goddesses, The Weary Time, Mary Towle, Old 
Age, Intervals, With Pitfall and with Gin, 
Cynthia Ware Details came up before his 
mental vision which he had entirely forgotten and 
now only half remembered; dramatic moments; 
descriptive passages; conversational interludes; 
scenes; epigrams . . . He tried to imagine 
Lutetia Murray at Blue Meadows. The picture 



94 OUT OF THE AIR 

which, in college, he had cut from a book-house 
catalogue, flashed before him; he had found it 
among his papers. The figure was standing . . . 
He had looked at it only yesterday, but his mas- 
culine observation retained no details of the gown 
except that it left her neck and arms bare. The 
face was in profile. The curling hair rose to a 
high mass on her head. The delicate features 
were mignonne, except for the delicious, warm, 
lusciously cut mouth Was she blonde or brune ? 
he wondered. She died at forty-five. To David 
Lindsay at twenty-two, forty-five had seemed a re- 
spectable old age. To David Lindsay at twenty- 
eight, it seemed almost young. She was dead, 
of course, when he began to read her. Oh, if he 
could only have met her ! It was a great pity that 
she had died so young. Her work he had made 
a point of this in his thesis had already swung 
from an erratic, highly colored first period into a 
more balanced, carefully characterized second 
period; was just emerging into a third period that 
was the union of these two; big and rounded and 
satisfying. But death had cut that development 
short. In the last four years Lindsay had seen 



OUT OF THE AIR 95 

a great deal of death and often in atrocious form. 
He had long ago concluded that he had thought 
on the end of man all the thoughts that were in 
him. But now, sitting in the scented warmth of 
Lutetia's trellised doorway, he found that there 
were still other thoughts which he could think. 

The runabout chugged up the road presently. 
u Ben waiting long?" the freckled Dick asked 
with a cheery shamelessness. 

" No, I've been looking the house over. Won- 
derful old place, isn't it? " 

" Don't care much for it myself," Dick an- 
swered. " I don't like anything old old houses 
or that old truck the summer folks are always 
buying. Things can't be too new or up-to-date 
for me." 

Lindsay did not appear at first to hear this; he 
was still bemused from the experiences of the 
afternoon. But as they approached the Arms, he 
emerged from his daze with a belated reply. 
' Well, I suppose a lot of people feel the way 
you do," he remarked vaguely. " Mr. Hyde tells 
me that the Murray place hasn't been let for fif- 



96 OUT OF THE AIR 

teen years. I expect the rest of the people around 
here don't like old houses." 

" Oh, that ain't the reason the Murray house 
hasn't let," Dick explained with the scorn of 
rustic omniscience. * They say it's haunted." 

" What rent do they ask for the Murray 
house ? " Lindsay asked Hyde that evening. 

Hyde scratched the back of his head. His face 
contracted with that mental agony which afflicts 
the Yankee when an exact statement is demanded 
of him. " Well, I shouldn't be surprised if you 
could get it for two hundred dollars the season," 
he finally brought out. 

Lindsay considered, but apparently not Hyde's 
answer; for presently he came out with a differ- 
ent question. u Why do they say it's haunted? " 

Hyde emitted a short contemptuous laugh. 
" Did you ever hear of any house in the country 
that's been empty for a number of years that 
worn't considered haunted?" 

" No," Lindsay admitted. " I am disap- 
pointed, though. I had hoped you would be able 
to tell me about the ghost." 



OUT OF THE AIR 97 

" Well, I can't," Hyde asserted scornfully, 
*' nor nobody else neither." 

The two men smoked in silence. 

After a while Lindsay made the motions pre- 
liminary to rising. He knocked the ashes out of 
his pipe; put his pipe in his pocket; withdrew his 
feet from their comfortable elevation on the 
piazza rail. Finally he assembled his full height 
on the floor, but not without a prolonged stretch- 
ing movement. u Well," he said, halfway 
through the yawn, " I guess you can tell that 
brother of yours that I'm going to hire the 
Murray house for the season." 

Hyde was equally if not more degage. He did 
not move; nor did he change his expression. 
" All right," he commented without enthusiasm^ 
" I'll let him know. How soon would you like to 
go in, say?" 

" As soon as I can buy a bed." Lindsay dis- 
appeared through the doorway. 

Two days later Lindsay found himself com- 
fortably settled at Blue Meadows. Upstairs he 
had of course chosen Lutetia's room was a cot 



98 OUT OF THE AIR 

and a bureau of soft wood. Downstairs was a 
limited assortment of cheap china; cheaper 
cutlery; the meagerest possible cooking equip- 
ment. 

But there was an atmosphere given to Lind- 
say's room by Lutetia's own picture hanging 
above the bureau. And another to the living- 
room by Lutetia's own works a miscellaneous 
collection of ugly-proportioned, ugly-colored, late- 
nineteenth-century volumes ranged on the broad 
shelf above the fireplace; by Lindsay's writing 
materials scattered over the refectory table. Eco- 
nomical as he had been inside, he had exploded 
into extravagance outside. A Gloucester ham- 
mock swung at the back. A collection of garden 
materials which included a scythe, a spade, a 
sickle, a lawn-mower, and a hose filled one corner 
of the barn. Already his back still complained 
of the process he had cut the spacious lawn. 

He was at one and the same time sanely placid 
and wildly happy. 

Every morning he awoke with the sun and the 
birds. Adapting himself with an instant spiritual 
content to the fact that he was no longer in France 



OUT OF THE AIR 99 

and would not have to fly, he turned over to take 
another nap. An hour or two later, he was up 
and eating his self-prepared breakfast. The rest 
of the day was reading Lutetia; musing on 
Lutetia; " scything " or " sickling," as he called 
it in his letters to Spink, in the garden; reflecting 
on Lutetia; exploring the neighborhood on foot; 
meditating on Lutetia ; reading and rereading the 
mass of Spink's data on Lutetia; hosing the 
garden; making notes on Spink's data on Lutetia 
and thinking of his notes on Spink's data on 
Lutetia. He awoke in the morning with Lutetia 
on his mind. He fell asleep at night with Lutetia 
in his heart. He had come to realize that Lutetia, 
the author, was even better than he had supposed 
her. His college thesis had described her merely 
as the Mrs. Gaskell of New England. Now, 
mentally, he promoted her to its Jane Austen. 
His youth had risen to the lure of her color and 
fecundity, but his youngness had not realized how 
rich she was in humor; how wise; what a tender- 
ness for people informed her careful, realistic 
detail. It was a triumph to find her even better 
than the flattering dictum of his boyish judgment. 



TOO OUT OF THE AIR 

Exploring Lutetia's domain gave results only 
second in satisfaction to exploring Lutetia's mind. 
It was obvious at his first inspection that the 
garden had once stretched contrasting glories of 
color and perfume. A careful study from the 
windows was even more productive than a close 
survey. There, definitely, he could trace the re- 
mains of flower-plots; pleached paths; low hedges 
and lichened rocks. Resurrecting that garden 
would be an integral part of the joy of resurrect- 
ing Lutetia. By this time also, he had explored 
the barn. There, a big roomy lower floor sus- 
tained only part of a broken stairway. The 
equally roomy upper floor seemed, from such 
glimpses as he could get below, to be piled with 
rubbish. Some day, he promised himself, he 
would clean it out. Beyond, and to the right of 
the barn, bounded by the stone wall, scrambled a 
miniature wilderness. That wilderness evaded 
-every effort of exploration. Only an axe could 
clear a trail there. Another day he would tackle 
the wilderness. But in the meantime he would 
devote himself to garden and lawn; in the mean- 
time also loaf and invite his soul. After all, that 



OUT OF THE AIR lor 

was his main reason for coming to Quinanog.. 
Whenever he thought of this, he took immediately 
to the Gloucester hammock. 

Every morning he walked briskly over the long- 
mile of road, shaded with wine-glass elms, slashed 
with vistas of pasture, pond, and brook which lay 
between Blue Meadows and the Quinanog post- 
office. When he had inquired for his mail 
usually he had none he strolled over to the gen- 
eral store and made his few simple purchases. 
He had followed this routine for ten days be- 
fore it occurred to him that he had not seen a 
newspaper since he settled himself at Blue 
Meadows. " I'll let it go that way, I guess," he 
said to himself. He noticed at first with a little 
embarrassment and then with amusement that the 
groups in the post-office waiting for mail, the cus- 
tomers at the general store, were all quietly watch- 
ing him. And one morning this floated to him 
from behind a pile of cracker boxes : 

" He's the nut that's taken the Murray place. 
Lives all alone batching it. Some sort of high- 
brow." 

Gradually, however, he made acquaintance^ 



102 OUT OF THE AIR 

Silas Turner, who owned the next farm to Blue 
Meadows, offered him a ride one morning on the 
road. Out of a vague conversation on the 
weather and real estate, Mr. Turner dropped one 
interesting fact. He had known Lutetia Murray. 
This revelation kept Lindsay chatting for half an 
hour while Mr. Turner spilled a mass of uncor- 
related details. Such as Miss Murray's neigh- 
borliness; the time her cow ran away and Art 
Curtis brought it back; how Miss Murray ad- 
mired Mis' Turner's beach plum jelly so much 
that Mis' Turner always made some extra just 
for her. As they parted he let fall dispassion- 
ately: "She was a mighty handsome woman. 
Fine figure ! " He added, still dispassionately but 
with an effect somehow of enthusiastic conviction, 
" She kept her looks to the last day of her life." 
Useless, all this, for a biography, Lindsay re- 
flected; but it gave him an idea. He bought that 
day a second-hand bicycle at the Quinanog 
garage; and thereafter, when the devil of rest- 
lessness stirred in his young muscles, he trundled 
about the countryside in search of those families 
mentioned in Lutetia's letters. Some were ut- 



OUT OF THE AIR 103 

terly gone from Quinanog, some were not afford- 
ing, and some added useful detail; as when old 
Mrs. Apperson produced a dozen letters written 
from Europe during Lutetia's first trip abroad. 
" I'd have admired to go to Europe, but it never 
came so's I could," said Mrs. Apperson. " When 
Miss Murray went, she wrote me from every city, 
telling me all about it. I read 'em over a lot 
makes me feel as though I'd been there too. And 
every Decoration Day," she added inconsequently, 
" I put a bunch of heliotrope on her grave. She 
just loved the smell of heliotrope." 

Somehow, Lindsay had never even thought of 
Lutetia's grave. The next day he made that pil- 
grimage. The graveyard lay near the town 
center, overtopped by the pine-covered hill which 
bore three austere white buildings church, town- 
hall, and grange. The grave itself was in a patch 
of modern tombstones, surrounded by the flak- 
ing slabs of two centuries ago. The stone was 
featureless, ill-proportioned; the inscription re- 
corded nothing but her name and the dates of 
her birth and death. 

The note which most often came out of these 



104 OUT OF THE AIR 

wayside gossipings was a high one of the gaiety 
and the brilliancy of the Blue Meadows hospital- 
ity. Apparently people were coming and going 
all the time; some distinguished; some undiscov- 
ered: but all with personality. When Lindsay 
returned from such a talk, the old house glowed 
like an opal so full did it seem of the colors of 
those vivacious days. 

But he was not quite content to be long away 
from his own fireside. The friendly atmosphere 
of the Murray house continued to exercise its en- 
chanting sway. He always felt that one room 
became occupied the instant he left it, that the 
one he was about to enter was already occupied 
and this feeling grew day by day, augmented. 
It brought him back to the house always with a 
sense of expectancy. " Lutetia's house is my 
hotel-lobby, my movie, my theater, my grand 
opera, my cabaret," he wrote Spink. * There's 
a strange fascination about it a fascination with 
an element of eternal promise. " 

At times, when he entered the trellised door- 
way, he found himself expecting someone to come 
forward to greet him. It kept occurring to him 



OUT OF THE AIR 105 

that a neighbor had stopped to call, was waiting 
inside for him. Sometimes in the middle of the 
night he would drift slowly out of a delicious sleep 
to a sense, equally delicious, of being most gently 
and lovingly companioned in the room; some- 
times in the morning he would wake up with a 
snap, as though the house were full of company. 
For a moment the whole place would seem bril- 
liant and gay, and then it was as though a bubble 
burst in the air he was alone. " It's almost as 
good,' 7 he wrote Spink, " as though you were 
here yourself, you goggle-eyed hick, you ! " Once 
or twice he caught himself talking aloud; address- 
ing the empty air. He stifled this impulse, how- 
ever. " People always have a tendency to get 
bughouse," he explained to Spink, " when they 
live alone. I used to do that in your rooms. I'm 
going to try to keep sane as long as possible." 

Ten days increased rather than diminished this 
impression. By this time he had burned his thesis 
and was now making notes that were part the 
direct product of Spink' s data and part the by- 
product of Lutetia's own works. The syringas 
were beginning to run down; but the roses were 



106 OUT OF THE AIR 

coming out in great numbers. The hollyhocks 
had opened flares of color under the living-room 
window. The lawn was as close to plush as 
constant care could make it. The garden was 
not yet quite cleaned out. He was glad, for he 
liked working there. It was not a whit less 
friendly than the house. Indeed, he felt so com- 
panioned there that sometimes he looked up sud- 
denly to see who was watching his efforts to resur- 
rect a neglected rosebush; or to uproot a flourish- 
ing patch of poison ivy. The evenings were long, 
and as consciously girlish and in quotation 
marks he wrote Spink u lovely." His big lamp 
made a spot of golden color in the shadowy long 
room. One northeaster, which lasted three days, 
gave him dark and damp excuse for three days of 
roaring fire. Much of that time he sat opposite 
the blazing logs in the big, rush-bottomed piazza 
chair which he had purchased, smoking and read- 
ing Lutetia. Now and then, he looked up at 
Lutetia's picture, which he had finally brought 
down from his bedroom. 

Perhaps it was the picture which made him 
feel more companioned here than anywhere in 



OUT OF THE AIR 107 

the house or out. The living-room was peculiarly 
rich with presence, so rich that he left it reluc- 
tantly at night and returned to it as quickly as 
possible in the morning; so rich that often he 
smiled, though why he could not have said; so 
rich that in the evening he often looked up sud- 
denly from his book and stared into its shadowy 
length for a long, moveless and breathlessly ex- 
pectant interval. 

Indeed that sensation so concretely, so steadily, 
so persistently augmented that one evening 

He had been reading ever since dark; and it 
was getting late. Finally he arose; closed the 
door and windows. He came back to the table 
and stood leaning against it, idly whistling the 
Sambre et Meuse through his teeth, while he 
looked at Lutetia's portrait. 

He took up The Sport of the Goddesses just 
to look it over . . . turned a page or two . . . 
became immersed. . . . Suddenly ... he real- 
ized that he was not alone. . . . 

He was not alone. That was conclusive. That 
he suddenly and absolutely knew; though how he 
knew it he could not guess. His eyes stopped, in 



io8 OUT OF THE AIR 

the midst of Lutetia's single grim murder, fixed on 
the printed line. He could not move them along 
that line. He did not mind that. But he could 
not move them off the page. And he did mind 
that; for he wanted most intensely wanted to 
lift his gaze. After lifting it, he presently dis- 
covered, he would want to project it to the left. 
Whoever his visitor was, it sat at the left. 
That he knew, completely, absolutely, and con- 
clusively; but again, how he knew it, he did not 
know. 

An immeasurable interval passed. 

He tried to raise his eyes. He could not accom- 
plish it. The air grew thick ; his hands, still hold- 
ing the book, turned cold and hard as clamps of 
iron. His eyes smarted from their unwinking im- 
mobility. This was absurd. Breaking this 
deathly ossification was just a matter of will. He 
made himself turn a page. Five lines down he 
decided; he would look up. But he did not look 
up. He could not. He wanted to see ... but 
something stronger than desire and will withheld 
him. He read; turned another page. Five lines 
down 



OUT OF THE AIR 109 

Ah . . . the paralysing chill was moving off. 
. . . In a moment ... he was going to be 
able. . . . In a moment . . . 

He lifted his eyes. ... He gazed steadily to 
the left. 



IV 

BEFORE night Susannah had found a room which 
exactly suited her purpose. This was as much a 
matter of design as of luck. She had heard of the 
place before. It was a large building in the West 
Twenties which had formerly been the imposing 
parsonage of an imposing and very important 
church. The church had long ago gone the way 
of all old Manhattan buildings. But the parson- 
age, divided into an infinite number of cubby-hole 
rooms, had become a lodging-house. A lodging- 
house with a difference, however. For whereas 
in the ordinary establishment of this kind, one 
paid rent to a landlady who lived on the spot, here 
one paid it to an agent who came from some- 
where, promptly every Monday morning, for the 
purpose of collection. It was a perfect hiding- 
place. You did not know your neighbor. Your 
neighbor did not know you. With due care, one 
could plan his life so that he met nobody. 

no 



OUT OF THE AIR in 

Susannah, except for a choice of rooms, did not 
for an interval plan her life at all. She made that 
choice instantly, however. Of two rooms situated 
exactly opposite each other at the back of the 
second floor, she chose one because it overlooked 
a yard containing a tree. It was a tiny room, 
whitewashed; meagerly and nondescriptly fur- 
nished. But the door-frame and window-frame of- 
fered decoration. Following the ecclesiastical de- 
sign of the whole house, they peaked into triangles 
of carved wood. 

Susannah gave scant observation to any of 
these things. Once alone in her room, she locked 
the door. Then she removed two things from her 
suitcase a nightgown and the miniature of Glori- 
ous Lutie. The latter she suspended by a thumb- 
tack beside the mirror of her bureau. Then she 
undressed and went to bed. She slept fitfully all 
the rest of that day and all that night. Early in 
the morning she crept out, bought herself, at a 
Seventh Avenue delicatessen shop, a jar of milk 
and a loaf of bread. She lunched and dined in 
her room. She breakfasted next morning on the 
remains. 



H2 OUT OF THE AIR 

Her sleep was deep and dreamless; but in her 
waking moments her thoughts pursued the same 
treadmill. 

" Glorious Lutie," she began one of the word- 
less monologues which she was always addressing 
to the miniature, u I ought to have known long 
ago that they were a gang of crooks 1 Why don't 
we trust our intuitions ? I suppose it's because our 
intuitions are not always right. I can't quite go 
with anything so magic, so irrational as intuition ! 
And then again I'm afraid I'm too logical. But 
I'm always having the same thing happen to me. 
Perhaps I'm talking with somebody I have met 
for the first time. Suddenly that person makes 
a statement. Instantly it's like a little hammer 
knocking on my mind something inside me says : 
4 That is a lie. He is lying deliberately and he 
knows he lies.' Now you would think that I 
would trust that lead, that I would follow it im- 
plicitly. But do I ? No ! Never ! I pay no 
more attention to it than as though it never hap- 
pened. And generally my intuition is right. But 
always I find it out too late. Now that little ham- 
mer has been knocking its warnings about the 



OUT OF THE AIR 113 

Warner-Byan-O'Hearn bunch ever since I started 
to work for them. But I could not make myself 
pay any attention to it. I did not want to believe 
it, for one thing. And then of course the work 
was awfully interesting. I kept calling myself all 
kinds of names for thinking And they were 
kind. I wouldn't believe it. But my intuition 
kept telling me that Warner was a hypocrite. 
And as for By an " 

Perhaps Susannah could not voice, even to 
Glorious Lutie, the thoughts that flooded her 
mind when she conjured up the image of Byan. 
For in her heart Susannah knew that Byan ad- 
mired her overmuch, that he would have liked to 
flirt with her, that he had started But Warner 
had called him off. The enigmatic phrase, which 
had come to her from Warner's office and in 
Warner's voice, recurred. " Keep off clients and 
office employ " Susannah knew the end of it 
now " employees " of course. Warner's rule 
for his fellow crooks was that they must not flirt 
with clients or the office force. Again and again 
in her fitful wakefulness she saw Byan standing 
before her; slim, blade-like; his smartly cut suit 



ii4 OUT OF THE AIR 

adhering, as though pasted there, to the lithe lines 
of his active body. And then suddenly that re- 
volver which came from where? Byan was of 
course the most attractive of them all. That 
floating, pathetic smile revealed such white teeth ! 
That deep look came from eyes so long-lashed! 
Warner with his pseudo-clergyman, pseudo-actor 
oratory, deep-voiced and vibrant, was the most 
obvious. O'Hearn, his lids perpetually down, ex- 
cept when they lifted swiftly to let his glance lick 
up detail, was the most mysterious. But Byan 
was the most attractive 

* Yes, Glorious Lutie, I was always receiving 
letters which started that little hammer of intui- 
tion knocking. I was always overhearing bits of 
conversation which started it; although often I 
could not understand a word. I was always try- 
ing to piece things together wondering Well, 
the next time I'll know better. I've learned my 
lesson. But oh think, think, think what I've 
Jhelped to do. They robbed widows and orphans 
and all kinds of helpless people. Of course I 
didn't know I was doing it. But that's going to 
haunt me for a long, long time. I wish there were 



OUT OF THE AIR 115 

some way I could make up. I've come out of it 
safe. But they oh, I mustn't think of this. I 
mustn't. I can't stand it if I do. Oh, Glorious 
Lutie, believe me, my guardian angel was certainly 
on that job. Otherwise I don't know what would 
have become of me. Are you my guardian angel, 
I wonder?" 

When Susannah finally arose for good, she dis- 
covered, naturally enough, that she was hungry. 
She went out immediately and, in the nearest 
Child's restaurant, ordered a dinner which she 
afterward described to Glorious Lutie as " mag- 
nanimously, munificently, magnificently mascu- 
line." It consisted mainly of sirloin steak and 
boiled potatoes, " and I certainly ate my fill of 
them both." Then she took a little aimless, cir- 
cumscribed walk; returned to her room. She un- 
packed her tightly stratified suitcase; hung her 
clothes in her little closet; ranged her small 
articles in the bureau drawer. As though she 
were going to start clean in her new career, she 
bathed and washed her hair in the public bath- 
room on the second floor. Coming back into her 
room, she sat for a long time before the window 



n6 OUT OF THE AIR 

while her dripping locks dried. She sat there 
through the dusk. 

u After all, Glorious Lutie," she reflected con- 
tentedly, " why do I ever live in anything bigger 
than a hall bedroom? All a girl needs is a bed, 
a bureau, one chair and a closet, and that is 
exactly what I've got. And for full measure they 
have thrown in all those ducky little backyards 
and a tree. I don't expect you to believe it, but 
I tell you true. A tree in Manhattan. How do 
you suppose it got by the censor! And just now, 
if you please, a tiny new moon all tangled up in its 
branches. It's trying its best to get out, but it 
can't make it. I never saw a new moon struggle 
so hard. Honest, I can hear it pant for breath. 
It looks like a silver fish that tried to leap out of 
this window and got caught in a green net. I sup- 
pose your Glorious Susie must be thinking of an- 
nexing a job sometime, Glorious Lutie. Or else 
we'll cease to eat. But for a few days I won't, if 
you don't mind; I'm fed up on jobs. And I've 
lost my taste for offices. No, I think I'll take 
those few days off and do a rubberneck trip 
around Manhattan. I feel like looking on inno- 



OUT OF THE AIR 117 

cent objects that can't speak or think. And for a 
time I don't want to go any place where I'd be 
likely to see my friends of the Carbonado Mining 
Company. After a while the thought of them 
won't bother me so. Probably by this time they 
have hired some other poor girl. Perhaps she 
won't mind Mr. Cowler though. Anyway, 
I'm free of them." 

When Susannah awoke the next morning, which 
was the third of her occupancy of the little room, 
some of her normal vitality had flowed back, her 
spirits began to mount. She sang she even 
whistled as she bathed and dressed; and she in- 
dulged in no more than the usual number of exas- 
perated exclamations over the uncoilableness of 
her freshly shampooed, sparkling hair. '* Why 
do we launder our tresses, I ask you, Glorious 
Lutie?" she questioned once. " And oh, why 
didn't I have regular gold hair like yours instead 
of this garnet mane ? I look like -I look like 
Azinnia ! But oh, I ought never to complain 
when I reflect that I've escaped the curse of white 
eyelashes." 

A consideration first of the shimmery day out- 



n8 OUT OF THE AIR 

side, and next of the clothes hanging in her closet, 
deflected her attention from this grievance. She 
chose from her closet a salmon-colored linen gown, 
slightly faded to a delicate golden rose. It was a 
long, slim dress and it made as much as possible 
of every inch of Susannah's long slimness. More- 
over, it was notably successful in bringing out the 
blue of her brilliant eyes, the red of her brilliant 
hair, the contrasting white of her smooth warm 
skin. That face now so shone and smelled of soap 
that, the instant she caught sight of it in the glass, 
she pulled open the top drawer of her bureau and 
powdered it fraatically. 

" I always shine, Glorious Lutie, as though I 
had washed with brass polish. I don't remember 
that you ever glistened. But I do remember that 
you always smelled as sweet as roses, or new- 
mown hay, or heliotrope. I wonder what powder 
you did use? And it was a very foxy move on 
your part, to have yourself painted in just that 
soft swirl of blue tulle. You look as though you 
were rising from a cloud. I wonder what your 
dresses were like? I seem to remember pale 
blues and pinks; very delicate yellows and the 



OUT OF THE AIR 119 

most silvery grays. It seems to me that tulle and 
tarlatan and maline were your dope. Do you 
think, Glorious Lutie, when I reach your age, I 
shall be as good-looking as you? " 

Glorious Lutie, with that reticence which dis- 
tinguishes the inhabitants of portraits, made no 
answer. But an observer might have said that 
the young face, staring alternately at the mirror 
and at the miniature, would some day mature to 
a face very like the one which stared back at it 
from the gold frame. Both were blonde. But 
where Glorious Lutie's eyes were a misty brown- 
lashed azure, Glorious Susie's were a spirited 
dark-lashed turquoise. Glorious Lutie's hair was 
like a golden crown, beautifully carved and bur- 
nished. Glorious Susie's turbulent mane was red, 
and it made a rumpled, coppery bunch in her neck. 
However, family resemblances peered from every 
angle of the two faces, although differences of 
temperament made sharp contrast of their expres- 
sions. Glorious Lutie was all soft, dreamy ten- 
derness; Susannah, all spirit, active charm, reso- 
lution. 

Susannah spent three days almost carefree 



120 OUT OF THE AIR 

of what she described to the miniature as " tour- 
isting." She had very little time to converse with 
Glorious Lutie; for the little room saw her only 
at morning and night. But she gave her confi- 
dante a detailed account of the day's adventures. 
" It was the Bronx Zoo this morning, Glorious 
Lutie," she would say. " Have you ever noticed 
how satisfactory little beasties are? They don't 
lay traps for you and try to put you in a tortured 
position that you can't wriggle out of ? " Though 
her question was humorous in spirit, Susannah's 
eyes grew black, as with a sudden terror. " No, 
we lay traps for them. I guess I've never before 
even tried to guess what it means to be trapped? " 
Or, u It was the Art Museum this afternoon, 
Glorious Lutie. I've looked at everything from 
a pretty nearly life-size replica of the Parthenon 
to a needle used by a little Egyptian girl ten mil- 
lion years ago. I'm so full of information and 
dope and facts that, if an autopsy were to be held 
over me at this moment, it would be found that 
my brain had turned into an Encyclopaedia 
Britannica. In fact, I will modestly admit that I 
know everything." Or, " It was the Aquarium 



OUT OF THE AIR 121 

this morning, Glorious Lutie. Why didn't you 
tell me that fish were interesting? I've always 
hated a fish. They won't roll over or jump 
through for you and practically none of them bark 
or sing or anything. I have always thought of 
them only as something you eat unwillingly on 
Fridays. But some of them are really beautiful; 
and interesting. I stayed there three hours; and 
I suppose if it hadn't been for the horrid stenchy 
smell I'd be there yet." 

But in spite of these vivacious, wordless mono- 
logues, her spirits were a long time rising to their 
normal height. The frightened look had not com- 
pletely left her eyes; and often on her long, lonely 
walks, she would stop short suddenly, trembling 
like a spirited horse, as though some inner con- 
sideration harassed her. Then she would take up 
her walk at a frantic pace. Ultimately, how- 
ever, she succeeded in leaving those terrifying con- 
siderations behind. And inevitably in the end, the 
resilience of youth conquered. The day came 
when Susannah leaped out of bed as lightly as 
though it were her first morning in New York. 

" Glorious Lutie," began her ante-breakfast 



122 OUT OF THE AIR 

address, " we are not a millionairess; ergo, today 
we buy all the morning papers and read them at 
breakfast in order to hunt for a job via the ads. 
And perhaps the next time your Glorious Susie 
begins to earn money, you might advise her to 
save a little against an unexpected situation. Of 
course I shouldn't have squandered my money the 
way I did. But I never had had so much before 
in my life and oh, the joy of having cut-steel 
buckles and a perfectly beautiful raincoat and 
my first set of furs and perfumery and every- 
thing." 

The advertising columns were not, she found 
(and attributed it to the return of so many men 
from France), very fecund. Each newspaper of- 
fered only from two to six chances worth con- 
sidering. One, which appeared in all of them, 
seemed to afford the best opening. It read: 

"Wanted: A stenographer, lady-like appear- 
ance and address, with some executive experience. 
Steady job and quick advancement to right 
woman. Apply between 9 and n, room 1009, 
Carman Building." 



OUT OF THE AIR 123 

" I am requested to apply for this spectacular 
Job at the office itself, Glorious Lutie," she con- 
fided on her return to her room, " and I'm going 
out immediately after it. It's a romantic thing, 
getting a job through an advertisement. I hope 
I float up to the forty-sixth floor of a skyscraper, 
sail into a suite of offices which fill the entire top 
story; all Turkish rugs on the highly polished 
floor; all expensive paintings on the delicately 
tinted walls; all cut flowers-with-yard-long-stems 
in the finely cut crystal vases. I should like to find 
there a new employer ; tall, young, handsome, and 
dark. Dark he must be, Glorious Lutie. I can- 
not marry a blond; our children would be albinos. 
He would address me thus : ' Most Beauteous 
Blonde you arrive at a moment when we are so 
much in need of a secretary that if you don't im- 
mediately seat yourself at yon machine, we shall 
go out of business. Your salary is one hundred 
dollars a week. This exquisite rose-lined boudoir 
is for your private use. You will find a bunch of 
fresh violets on your desk every morning. May 
I offer you my Rolls-Royce to bring you back and 
forth to work? And,' having fallen in love 



i2 4 OUT OF THE AIR 

with me instantly, * how soon may I ask you to 

marry me ? ' 

Susannah took the Subway to Wall Street; 
walked through that busy city-canon to the Car- 
man Building. She strode into the elevator, 
almost empty in the hour which followed the 
morning rush; started to emerge, as directed by 
the elevator-man, at the tenth floor. But she did 
not emerge. Instead, her face as white as paper, 
she leaped back into the elevator; ascended with 
it to the top floor; descended with it; hurriedly 
left the building. 

That first casual glance down the corridor had 
given her a glimpse of H. Withington Warner 
sauntering slowly away from the elevator. 

" Say, Eloise," she said late that afternoon 
over the telephone to the friend she had made at 
the Dorothy Dorr Home. " When can I see you ? 
. . . Yes. . . . No. . . . Well, you see 
I'm out of a job at present. . . . No, I can't 
tell you about it. This is a rooming-house. 
There is no telephone in my room. I am tele- 
phoning from the hall. And so I'd rather wait 
until I see you. But in brief, I'm eating at Child's, 



OUT OF THE AIR 125 

soda-fountains and even peanut stands. I'm really 
getting back my girlish figure. Only I think I'm 
going to be a regular O. Henry story. Headlines 
as follows: Beautiful Titian-haired (mark that 
Titian-haired, Eloise) Blonde Dead of Starva- 
tion. Drops Dead on Fifth Avenue. Too Proud 
to Beg. I hope that none of those wicked re- 
porters will guess that my new shoes with the 
cut-steel buckles cost thirty-five dollars. All 
right ! All right. . . . The 4 Attic ' at seven. 
I'll be there promptly as usual and you'll get 
there late as usual. . . . Oh yes, you will! 
Thanks awfully, Eloise. I feel just like going 
out to dinner." 

Eloise, living up to her promise, made so noble 
an effort that she was only ten minutes late. 
Then, as usual, she came dashing and sparkling 
into the room; a slim brown girl, much browner 
than usual, for her coat of seashore tan; with nar- 
row topaz eyes and deep dimples; very smart in 
embroidered linen and summer furs. The Attic 
restaurant occupied the whole top floor of a very 
high, downtown West Side skyscraper. Its main 
business came at luncheon, so the girls sat almost 



126 OUT OF THE AIR 

alone in its long, cool quiet. They found a table 
in a little stall whose window overhung the gray, 
fog-swathed river which seamlessly joined gray 
fog-misted sky. A moon, opaque as a scarlet 
wafer, seemed to be pasted at a spot that could be 
either river or sky. The girls ordered their in- 
consequent dinner. They talked their inconse- 
quent girl chatter. They drank each a glass of 
May wine. 

Susannah had quite recovered her poise and 
her spirit. She described her new room with 
great detail. She suggested that Eloise, whom 
she invariably adressed as, " you pampered min- 
ion of millions, you ! " should call on her in that 
scrubby hall bedroom. In fact, her narrative 
went from joke to joke in a vein so steadily and 
so augmentingly gay that, when Eloise had paid 
the bill and they sat dawdling over their coffee, 
suddenly she found herself on the verge of break- 
ing her vow of secrecy, of relating the horrors 
of the last week. 

" Eloise," she began, " I'm going to tell you 
something that I don't want you ever to " 

And then the words dried on her lips. Her 



OUT OF THE AIR 127 

tongue seemed to turn to wood. She paled. She 
froze. Her eyes set on 

O'Hearn was walking into the Attic. 

He did not perceive that instant terror of petri- 
fication; for it happened he did not even glance in 
their direction. He walked, self-absorbed ap- 
parently, to the other end of the room. But his 
face Susannah got it clearly was stony too. It 
had the look somehow of a man about to perform 
a deed repugnant to him. 

"What's the matter, Sue?" Eloise asked in 
alarm. " You look awfully ill all of a sud- 
den." 

" The -fact is," Susannah answered with instant 
composure, " I feel a little faint, Eloise. Do you 
mind if we go now? I really should like to have 
a little air." 

" Not at all," Eloise answered. " Any time 
you say. Come on ! " 

They made rapidly for the elevator. Susannah 
did not glance back. But inwardly she thanked 
her guardian-angel for the fortuitous miracle by 
which intervening waiters formed a screen. Not 
until they had walked block after block, turning 



128 OUT OF THE AIR 

and twisting at her own suggestion, did Susannah 
feel safe. 

" Oh, what was it you were going to tell me, 
Susannah," Eloise interrupted suddenly, " just be- 
fore we left the Attic?" 

" I don't seem to remember at this moment," 
Susannah evaded. " Perhaps it will come to me 
later." 

Susannah did not sleep very well that night. 
But by morning she had recovered her poise. 
" Glorious Lutie," she said wordlessly from her 
bed, " I think I'll go seriously to the business of 
getting a job. It'll take my mind off things. 
I'm going to ignore that little rencontre of yester- 
day. Don't you despair. The handsome young 
employer with his romantic eyes and movie-star 
eyelashes awaits me somewhere. And just as 
soon as we're married, you shall be hung in a 
manner befitting your birth and station in a draw- 
ing-room as big as Central Park. I wish it 
weren't so darn hot. Somehow too, I don't feel 
so strong about answering ads in person as I did 
two days ago." 



OUT OF THE AIR 129 

On her way to breakfast she bought all the 
newspapers. She spent her morning answering 
advertisements by letter. She received no replies 
to this first batch; but she pursued the same course 
for three days. 

" Glorious Lutie," she addressed the minia- 
ture a few days later, " this is beginning to get 
serious. I am now almost within sight of the 
end bill in my wad. In point of fact I will not 
conceal from you that today I pawned my one 
and only jewel my jade ring. You don't know 
how naked I feel without it. It will keep us for 
perhaps it will last three weeks. And after 
that However, I don't think we'll either of 
us starve. You don't take any sustenance and I 
take very little these days. I wish this weather 
would change. You are so cool living in that blue 
cloud, Glorious Lutie, that you don't appreciate 
what it's like when it's ninety in the shade and still 
going up. I'm getting pretty sick of it. I guess," 
she concluded, smiling, " I'll make out a list of the 
friends I can appeal to in case of need." 

The idea seemed to raise her spirits. She sat 
down and turned to the unused memorandum por- 



130 OUT OF THE AIR 

tion of her diary. Her list ran something like 
this: 

New York 

No. i First and foremost Eloise, who, be- 
ing an heiress and the owner of a check-book, 
never has any real cash and always borrows 
from me. 

Providence 

No. 2 Barty Joyce Always has money be- 
cause he's prudent and the salt of the earth 

P.S. Eloise never pays the money back that she 
borrows from me 

" Will you tell me, Glorious Lutie, why I don't 
fall in love with Barty and why he doesn't fall in 
love with me? There's something awfully out 
about me. I don't think I've been in love more 
than six times; and the only serious one was the 
policeman on the beat who had a wife and five 
children." 

Providence again 

No. 3 The Coburns nice, comfy, middle- 
aged folks; not rich; the best friends a girl could 
possibly have. 

No. 4 



OUT OF THE AIR 131 

But here she yawned loudly and relinquished 
the whole proceeding. 

That afternoon Susannah visited several em- 
ployment agencies which dealt with office help. 
She answered all the inquiries that their question- 
naires put to her; omitting any reference to the 
Carbonado Mining Company. It was late in the 
afternoon when she finished. She walked slowly 
homeward down the Avenue. Outside of her 
own door, she tried to decide whether she would 
go immediately to dinner or lie down first. A 
sudden fatigue forced decision in favor of a 
nap. She walked wearily up the first flight of 
stairs. Ahead, someone was ascending the sec- 
ond flight a man. He turned down the hall. 
She followed. He stopped at the room opposite 
hers; fumbled unsuccessfully with the key. As 
she approached, she glanced casually in his 
direction. 

It was Byan. 



DEAR SPINK: 

This is the kind of letter one never writes. But 
if you knew my mental chaos. . . . And I've 
got to tell somebody about the thing that I can 
speak about to nobody. If I don't. . . . What 
do you suppose I've done? I've bought a house. 
Yep I'm a property owner now. Of course 
you guess! Or do you guess? It's the Murray 
place. I could just make it and have enough left 
over for a year or two or three. But after that, 
Spink, I'm going to work because I'll have to. 

I suppose you're wondering why I did it. 
You're not puzzled half as much as I am; al- 
though in one way I know exactly why I did it. 
Perhaps I didn't do it at all. Anyway, I didn't 
do it of my own volition. Somebody made me. 
I'm going to tell you about that presently. 

Yes, it's all mine: beautiful old square-roomed 
house with its carved panelings and its generous 
Colonial fireplaces; its slender doors and amusing 

132 



OUT OF THE AIR 133 

door-latches; an upstairs of ample bedrooms; an 
old garret with slave quarters; the downstairs 
with that little, charmingly incongruous, galleried, 
mid- Victorian addition; barn; lawn; flower- 
garden. And how beautiful I'm making that 
flower-garden you'll never suspect till you see it. 
But you won't see it for quite a while I with- 
draw all my invitations to visit me. I don't want 
you now, Spink; although I never wanted you so 
much in my life. I'll want you later, I think. Of 
course it isn't from you personally you beetle- 
eyed old scout that I'm withdrawing my invita- 
tion; it's from any flesh-and-blood being. If you 
had an astral self I don't want anybody. I 
never wanted to be alone so much in my life. In 
a moment I'm going to tell you why. 

And the wine-glass elms are mine ; and the lilacs 
and syringas and the smoke-bush and the holly- 
hocks; and all the things I've planted; my Canter- 
bury bells (if they come up) ; my deep, rich 
dahlias and my flame-colored phlox (if ditto). 
All mine ! Gee, Spink, I never felt so rich in my 
life, because what I've enumerated isn't twenty; 
five per cent of what I own. In a minute I'm 



i 3 4 OUT OF THE AIR 

going to tell you what the remaining seventy-five 
per cent is. 

This place is full of birds and bees. I watch 
them from the house. Spink, we flying-men are 
boobs. Have you ever watched a bee fly? I 
spend hours, it seems to me, just studying them 
trying to crab their act. And the other day there 
was an air-fight just over my roof. A chicken- 
hawk attacked by the whole bird population. It 
was a reproduction in miniature of a bombing- 
machine pursued by a dozen combat-planes. 
Spink, it was the best flying I've ever seen. You 
should have seen the sparrows keeping on his tail ! 
The little birds relied on their quickness of attack, 
just as combat planes do. They attacked from all 
angles with such rapidity that the hawk could do 
nothing but run for his life. The little birds 
circled about, waiting for the moment to dive. A 
combat-plane dives; its machines go ta-ta-ta-ta- 
ta-ta and it turns off before the gunner can swing 
his guns over. The birds dived, picked furiously 
at his eyes while the hawk turned bewildered from 
one attack to another. But the little birds did 
something that planes can't even attempt they 



OUT OF THE AIR 135 

hovered over him almost motionless, waiting their 
moment to attack. Here I am talking of flying! 
Flying! Did I ever fly? When I got to New 
York, Greenwich Village seemed strange and un- 
natural, just a pasteboard dream. Pau Avord 
Verdun were the only real things in my life. 
Now they're shadows like Greenwich Village. 
Quinanog the Murray place and Lutetia 
seem the only real things. 

I'm going to tell you all about it in a moment. 
I sure am. The world seems to be full of land- 
ing-places, but for some reason I can't land. 
Every time, I seem to come short on the field; 
or overshoot it. Perhaps it's because I feel it 
ought not to be told Perhaps it's because I feel 
you won't believe me 

But I've got to do it. So here goes ! 

Spink, the remaining seventy-five per cent that 
I own in this place is This place is haunted. 
Not by a ghost, but by ghosts! There are not 
one of them, but four. Three I see occasionally. 
But one of the quartet I see her all the time. 
She is Lutetia. 

It began Well, it all goes back to your 



136 OUT OF THE AIR 

rooms in New York. They're haunted too, but 
you don't know it, you wall-eyed old grave-digger, 
you. Not because you're inept or unsensitive or 
anything stupid It's because there's something 
they want to say to me a message they want to 
give to me alone. But I can't stop to go into that 
now. To return to your apartment, something 
. . . used to come ... to my bed at night 
. . . and bend over me . . .1 don't know 
who it was or what it was, except that it was 
masculine. And how I knew that, I dunno. 

It bothered me. One reason why I came down 
here was that I thought I was going crazy. Per- 
haps I have gone crazy. Anyway, if I have I 
like it. But here I am again! It's as though 
the world slipped out from under me. I can fly 
on and on or climb, but it's the coming down that 
baffles me. When I cut the motor off and the 
noise dies away, I feel sick and afraid; the bus 
seems to take its own head. Now for a landing 
even if I do smash. 

From the moment I entered this house, I felt 
as though there were others here. Not specifi- 
cally, you understand. At first, it was only a sen- 



OUT OF THE AIR 137 

sation of warmth in the atmosphere that grew to 
a feeling of friendliness that deepened to a sense 
of companionship until Well, I found myself 
in a mood of eternal expectancy. Something was 
going to happen but I didn't know what or how 
or when. . . . Oh yes, in a way 1 knew what. 1 
was going to see something. Some time I felt 
dimly when I should enter one of these rooms, 
so stark and yet so occupied, somebody would be 
there to greet me . . .or some day turning a 
corner I should come suddenly on . . .1 did not 
dread that experience, Spink, I give you my word. 
I reveled in the expectancy of it. It was beauti- 
ful; it was rich. I wasn't anything of what you 
call afraid. I wanted it to happen. 

And it did happen. 

One evening, as usual, I was reading Lutetia. 
I was sitting in my big chair beside the refectory 
table. Outside, it was a perfect night I remem- 
ber; dark and still, and the stars so big that they 
seemed to spill out of the heavens. Inside, the 
lamp was bright. My eyes were on my book. 
Suddenly. ... I was not alone. Don't ask me 
how I knew it. Only take it from me that 1 did. 



138 OUT OF THE AIR 

I knew it all right. For oh, Spink (I've under- 
lined that just like a girl) all in a flash I didn't 
want to look up. I wanted to go away from 
this place and to go with considerable speed, not 
glancing back. It was the worst sensation that I 
have ever known worse even than a night raid. 
After a while something came back; courage I 
suppose you'd call it; a kind of calm, a poise. 
Anyway, I found that I was going to be able to 
look up presently and not mind it ... 

Of course I knew whom I was going to 
see ... 

I did look up. And I did see It was 
Lutetia. Spink, if you try to say those things that 
people always say that it was imagination, that 
I was overwrought, that my mind, moving all 
the day among the facts and realities of Lutetia's 
life, suddenly projected a picture I'll never 
speak to you again. There she sat, her elbow 
resting on the arm of her chair, her chin in 
her hand, looking at me. I can't tell you 
how long she stayed. But all the time she was 
there she looked at me. And all that time I 
looked at her. I don't think, Spink, I have ever 



OUT OF THE AIR 139 

guessed how much eyes can say. Her eyes said 
so much that I think I could write the whole rest 
of the night about them. Except that I'm not 
quite sure what they said. It was all entreaty; 
oh, blazing, blasting, blinding entreaty. . . .Of 
that I am sure. But what she asked of me I 
haven't the remotest idea. After a while . . . 
something impelled me to look down at my book 
again. When I lifted my eyes Lutetia was gone. 
That wasn't all, Spink; for that night, or the 
next day But I'm going to try to keep to a 
consecutive story. I didn't go to bed immediately. 
I didn't feel like sleeping. You can understand it 
was considerable of a shock. And very thrilling. 
Literally thrilling! I shook. It didn't bother me 
an atom after it was over. I wasn't the least 
afraid. But I vibrated for hours. I walked four 
or five miles where, I don't know. I must have 
passed the Fallows place, because I recall the 
scent of honeysuckle. But I assure you I seemed 
to be walking through the stars. . . . She is 
beautiful. I can't tell you how beautiful because 
I have no colors to give you; no flesh to go by. 
Perhaps she is not beautiful, but lovely. What 



i 4 o OUT OF THE AIR 

queer things words are! I have called females 
pretty and stunning and even fascinating and beau- 
tiful. I think I never called any woman lovely 
before. I've been that young. But I'm not as 
young as I was yesterday. I'm a century, an age, 
an seon older. I was obsessed though. If you 
believe it, when I went to bed, I had only one idea 
in my mind a hope that she would come back 
soon. 

She didn't come back soon at least not that 
night. But somebody else did . . . 

In the middle of the night, I suddenly found 
myself, wide-eyed and clear-minded, sitting up- 
right in bed and listening to something. I don't 
know what I had heard, but I remember with 
perfect clearness Spink, you tell me this is a 
dream and I'll murder you what I immediately 
did and what I subsequently saw. I got up quite 
calmly and lighted a candle. Then I opened the 
door. 

Do you remember my writing you that the 
chamber, just back of the one I occupy, must have 
been the room of a child Lutetia's little niece? 
The door of that room, of course, leads into 



OUT OF THE AIR 141 

the hall as mine does. As I stood there, shading 
my candle from the draft, that door opened and 
there emerged from the room what do you sup- 
pose? 

A little girl. 

I say a little girl. She wasn't, you under- 
stand, a real little girl. Nor was she a dead 
little girl. Instantly I knew that just as instantly 
as I had known that Lutetia was dead. I mean, 
and I hope this phraseology is technically correct, 
that Lutetia, as I saw her, was the ghost of some- 
one who had once lived. This little girl was an 
apparition; an appearance projected through 
space of some one who now lives. That or 
oh, how difficult this is, Spink a sloughed-off, 
astral self left in this old place; or but I won't 
go into that. 

I stood there, as I said, shading my candle. 
The little girl closed her door with a meticulous 
care. Did I hear the ghost of a click? Perhaps 
my ear supplied that. By one hand she was drag- 
ging a big doll one of those rag-dolls children 
have. I couldn't tell you anything about Lutetia 
except that she was lovely ineffably lovely. 



142 OUT OF THE AIR 

But I can tell you all about this little girl. She 
was pigtailed and freckled. The pigtails were 
short, very thick, so tight that their ends snapped 
upwards, like hundreds of little-girl pigtails that I 
have seen. There was a row of tangled little ring- 
lets on her forehead. She didn't look at me. She 
didn't know that I was there. She proceeded 
straight across the hall, busily stub-toeing her way 
like any freckled, pigtailed little girl, the doll 
dragging on the floor behind her, until she reached 
the garret stairs. She opened the garret door, 
closed it with the same meticulous care. The last 
I got was a little white glimpse of her down- 
dropped face, as she pulled the rag-doll's leg away 
from the shutting door. 

I waited there a long time until my candle 
guttered to nothing. She did not return. I did 
not see her or anybody else again that night. 

I went back to bed and fell immediately into 
a perfectly quiet, dreamless sleep. The next 
morning early, I went over to Hyde's brother 
his name is Corning and bought this house. 
Perhaps you can tell me why I did it. I don't 
exactly know myself; for of course I couldn't af- 



OUT OF THE AIR 143 

ford it. I realized only that I could not I 
simply and absolutely could not let anybody else 
buy Lutetia. 

You think, of course, that I've finished now, 
Spink. But that isn't all. Not by a million Per- 
sian parasangs all. She has come again. I 
mean Lutetia. For that matter, they both have 
come again. But I'll try to tell my story cate- 
gorically. 

It was a night or two later; another dewy, 
placid large-starred night Strange how this 
beautiful weather keeps up ! I had been reading 
as usual; but my mind was as vacant as a glass 
bell from which you have exhausted the air. I 
was rereading, I remember, Lutetia's The Sport 
of the Goddesses. Spink, how that woman could 
write ! And . . . Again I became aware that: 
I wasn't alone. Just as definitely, I knew that it- 
was not Lutetia this time ; nor even Little Pigtails. 
This time, and perhaps it's because I'm getting 
used to this sort of thing, I had a sense of not 
fear but only of what I'll call a spiritual diffi- 
dence. 

Yet instantly I looked up. 



i 4 4 OUT OF THE AIR 

He it was a he this time was standing in the 
doorway, which leads from this big living-room 
into the front hall. We were vis-a-vis tete-a- 
tete one might say. He was looking straight at 
me and I I assure you, Spink I looked straight 
at him. 

Spink, you have never heard of a jovial ghost, 
have you? I'm sure I haven't. But this was or 
could have been a jovial ghost. He was big 
not fat but ample middle-aged, more than 
middle-aged. He wore an enormous beard cut 
square like the men in Assyrian mural tablets. 
Hair a little long. I assure you he was the hand- 
somest old beggar that I have ever seen. He 
looked like a portrait by Titian. I got it's like 
holding a photographic negative up to the light 
and trying to get the figures on it that he wore 
a sort of flowing gown ; it made him stately. And 
one of those little round caps that conceal or 
protect baldness. I can't describe him. How the 
devil can you describe a ghost? I mean an appari- 
tion. For he isn't dead either any more than 
the little girls is. He's alive somewhere. 

Well, our steady exchange of looks went on 



OUT OF THE AIR 145 

and on and on. If I could have said anything 
it would have been: " What do you want of me, 
you handsome old beggar?" What he would 
have said to me I don't know; although he was 
trying with all his ghostly strength to put some 
message over. How he was trying! It was that 
effort that kept him from being what he was is 
jovial. God, how that gaze burned tore- 
ate. It grew insupportable after a while it was 
melting me to nothingness. I dropped my eyes. 
Suddenly I could lift them, for I knew he was 
gone. Somehow I had the feeling that a mon- 
strous bomb had noiselessly exploded in the room. 
His going troubled me no more than his coming. 
I remember I said aloud: " I'm sorry I couldn't 
get you, old top ! Better luck next time ! " 

I got up from my chair after a few minutes to 
take my usual be fore-going-to-bed walk. I walked 
about the room ; absent-mindedly putting things to 
rights the way women do. My mind and I 
suspect my eyes too were still so full of him that 
when, on stepping outside, I came across another 
I was conscious of some shock. Again not of 
fear, but of a terrific surprise. 



i 4 6 OUT OF THE AIR 

Are you getting all this, Spink? Oh, of course 
you're not, because you don't believe' it. But try 
to believe it. Put yourself in my place ! Try to 
get the wonder, the magic, the terror, the touch 
now and then of horror, but above all the fierce 
thrill of living with a family of ghosts? 

This one the fourth was a man too. About 
thirty, I should say. And awfully charming. 
Yes, you spaniel-eyed fish, you, one man is 
saying this of another man. He was awfully 
charming. Short, dark. He wore again it is 
like holding a negative up to the light he wore 
white ducks or flannels. He stood very easily, his 
weight listen to me, his weight mainly on one 
foot and one hand curved against his hip. In the 
other hand, he carried his pipe. He looked at 
me God, how he looked at me ! How, for that 
matter, they all look at me ! They want some- 
thing, Spink. Of me. They're trying to tell me. 
I can't get it, though. But, believe me, I'm 
trying. This was worse than the old fellow. For 
this one, like Lutetia, was dead. And he, like her, 
was trying to put his message across a world, 
whereas the old fellow had only to pierce a di- 



OUT OF THE AIR 147 

mension. How he looked at me ; held me ; bored 
into me. It was like sustaining visual vitriol. 
. . . How he looked at me! It became hor- 
rible. . . . Pretty soon I realized 1 wasn't go- 
ing to be able to stand it. ... 

Yet I stayed with it as long as he did, and of 
course we continued to glare at each other. I 
don't exactly know what the etiquette of these 
meetings is; but I seem to feel vaguely that it's 
up to me to stay with them as long as they're 
here. This time, it must have been all of five 
minutes, although it seemed longer . . . much 
longer . . . and I, all the time, trying to hold 
on. Then suddenly something happened. I don't 
know what it was, but one instant he was there, 
and another he wasn't. Don't ask me how he 
went away. I don't know. He simply ceased to 
be; and yet so swifter-than-instantly, so exqui- 
sitely, so subtly that my only question was even 
though my mind was still stinging from his gaze 
had he been there at all. It was as though the 
tree back of him had instantaneously absorbed 
him. It was a shock too that disappearance. 

Well, again I went out for a hike. I walked 



i 4 8 OUT OF THE AIR 

anywhere everywhere. How far I don't know. 
But half the night. Again it was as though I 
marched through the stars. . . . 

I haven't seen the old painter again I call him 
painter simply because he wore that long robe. 
And I haven't seen the young guy again. But I 
see Lutetia all the time. She comes and goes. 
Sometimes when I enter the living-room, I find 
her already there. . . . Sometimes when I leave 
it, I know she enters by another door. . . . We 
spend long evenings together ... I can't write 
when she's about; but curiously enough I can 
sometimes read; that is to say, I can read Lutetia. 
I try to read because moments come when I realize 
that she prefers me not to look at her. It's when 
she's exhausted from trying to give me her mes- 
sage. Or when she's girding herself up for an- 
other go. At those moments, the room is full of 
a frightful struggle; a gigantic spiritual concen- 
tration. It seems to me I could not look even if 
she wanted me. Oh, how she tries, Spink! It 
wrings my heart. She's so helpless, so hopeless 
so gentle, so tender, so lovely! It's all my own 
stupidity. The iron-wall stupidity of flesh and 



OUT OF THE AIR 149 

blood. Perhaps, if I were to kill myself and I 
think I could do that for her. . . . Only she 
doesn't want me to do that. . . . But what does 
she want me to do? If I could only . . . 

Lindsay had written steadily the whole eve- 
ning; written at a violent speed and with a fierce 
intensity. Now his speed died down. His hands 
dropped from the typewriter. That mental in- 
tensity evaporated. He became aware . . ., 

He was not alone. 

The long living-room was doubly cheerful that 
night. The inevitable tracks of living had begun 
to humanize it. A big old bean-pot full of purple 
iris sat on one end of the refectory table. Lind- 
say's books and notebooks; his paper and envel- 
opes; his pens and pencils sprawled over the 
length of table between him and the iris. That 
the night was a little cool, Lindsay had seized as 
pretext to build a huge fire. The high, jagged 
flames conspired with the steady glow of the big 
lamp to rout the shadows from everywhere but 
the extreme corners. 

No more than after her coming he was 



150 OUT OF THE AIR 

alone was Lutetia alone. It was, Lindsay re- 
flected, a picture almost as posed as for a camera. 
Lutetia sat; and leaning against her, close to her 
knee, stood a pigtailed little girl. She might have 
been listening to a story; for her little ear was 
cocked in Lutetia's direction. That attitude 
brought to Lindsay's observation a delicious, snub- 
nosed child profile. She gazed unseeingly over her 
shoulder to a far corner. And Lutetia gazed 
straight over the child's head at Lindsay 

They sat for a long time a long long time 
thus. The little girl's vague eyes still fixed them- 
selves on the shadows as on magic realms that 
were being constantly unrolled to her. Lutetia's 
eyes still sought Lindsay's. And Lindsay's eyes 
remained on Lutetia's; held there by the agony 
of her effort and the exquisite torture of his own 
bewilderment. 

After a while he arose. With slow, precise 
movements, he gathered up the pages of his letter 
to Spink. He arranged them carefully according 
to their numbers twelve typewritten pages. He 
walked leisurely with them over to the fireplace 
and deposited them in the flames. 



OUT OF THE AIR 151 

When he turned, the room was empty. 
The next day brought storm again. 

The coolness of the night vanished finally be- 
fore the sparkling sunshine of a wind-swept day. 
Lindsay wrote for an hour or two. Then he 
gave himself up to what he called the " chores." 
He washed his few dishes. He toiled on the lawn 
and in the garden. He finished the work of re- 
pairing the broken stairway in the barn. At the 
close of this last effort, he even cast a longing 
look in the direction of the rubbish collection in 
the second story of the barn. But his digestion 
apprised him that this voyage of discovery must 
be put off until after luncheon. He emerged from 
the back entrance of the barn, made his way, 
contrary to his usual custom, by a circuitous route 
to the front of the house. He stopped to tack up 
a trail of rosebush which had pulled loose from 
the trellis there. He felt unaccountably tired. 
When he entered the house he was conscious for 
the first time of a kind of loneliness. . . . 

He had not seen Lutetia, nor any of her com- 
panions, for three days. He admitted to him- 



152 OUT OF THE AIR 

self that he missed the tremendous excitement 
of the last fortnight. But particularly he missed 
Lutetia. He paused absently to glance into the 
two front rooms, still as empty as on the day he 
had first seen them. He wandered upstairs into 
his bedroom. From there, he journeyed to the 
child's room beyond; examined again the dim 
drawings on the wall. It occurred to him that, 

by going over them with crayons, he could restore 

\ 

some of their lost vividness. The idea brought 
a little spurt of exhilaration to his jaded spirit. 
He returned to his own room, just for the sake 
of descending Lutetia's little private stairway to 
what must have been her private living-room be- 
low. He walked absently and a little slowly; 
still conscious of loneliness. He did not pause 
long in the living-room, although he made a ten- 
tative move in the direction of the kitchen. Still 
absently and quite mechanically he opened the 
back door; started to step out onto the broad flat 
stone which made the step. . . . 

Most unexpectedly- -and shockingly, he was 
not alone. A tiny figure . . . black ... sat 
on the doorstep ; sat so close to the door that, as 



OUT OF THE AIR 153 

it rose, his curdling flesh warned him he had 
almost touched it. A curious thing happened. 
Lindsay swayed, pitched; fell backwards, white 
and moveless. 



" How did they find me, Glorious Lutie? " Susan- 
nah asked next morning. " How did they find 
me ? If I could only teach myself to listen to the 
warning of those little hammers. Something 
told me when I saw Warner walking along the 
corridor of the Carman Building that he was not 
there by accident. Something told me when I 
ran into O'Hearn at the Attic the other night that 
he was not there by accident. They have been 
following me all the time. They've known what 
I've been doing every moment. Just as Byan 
knows where I am now. How did they do it? 
I've never suspected it for a moment. I've never 
seen anybody. I'm frightened, Glorious Lutie; 
I'm dreadfully frightened. I don't know where 
to turn. If I only had a real friend But per- 
haps that wouldn't help as much as I think. For 
I'm afraid I'm too afraid to tell anybody " 

All this, she said as usual, wordlessly. But 
she said it from her bed, her eyes fixed in a lack- 

154 



OUT OF THE AIR 155 

luster stare on the little oval gleam of the 
miniature. 

" I don't know what I'd do without you, Glori- 
ous Lutie, to tell my troubles to. You're a great 
deal more than a picture to me. You're a real 
presence Oh, if you could only see for me 
now. I wonder if Byan is still in his room? I 
wonder what he's going to do. I mean what is 
the next move? Oh, of course he's there! He 
wants to talk with me. But I won't let him talk 
with me. I'll stay in this room until I starve! 
And he can't telephone. How can he put over 
what he wants to say? " 

That question answered itself automatically 
when she dragged herself up from bed. A white 
square glimmered beside her door. She pounced 
upon it. 

" DEAR Miss AYER: 

" Of course we have known where you were and 
what you were doing every instant since you left 
the office. We did not interfere with your quit- 
ting your boarding-house because we preferred to 
give you a few days to think things over. I hope 



156 OUT OF THE AIR 

you've been enjoying your little excursions to the 
Museum and the Aquarium. We knew you'd 
come to your senses after a while and be ready 
to talk business. That is why you've had those 
little, accidental meetings from time to time. 
That advertisement for a job in the Carman 
Building was a decoy ad. It is useless for you 
to try to get away from us. 

" And in the meantime the situation is getting 
more and more desperate. You know why. Now 
listen. We can clean up on that little business 
deal in three days. Do you know what that 
means? Maybe a hundred thousand dollars. 
We'll let you in. Your share would be twelve 
thousand five hundred. Don't that sound pretty 
good to you ? You can avoid any trouble by going 
away with us. Or you can go alone and nobody 
will bother you. We'll give you the dope on that ; 
for believe me, we know how. And you wouldn't 
have to do a thing you don't want to do. We've 
got grandpa tamed now in regard to you. We've 
told him that you're a lady, and won't stand for 
that rough stuff. He's wild about you, and crazy 
to see you, and make it all right again. Now why 



OUT OF THE AIR 157 

not use a little sense ? Slip a note under my door 
across the way and tell me that you'll doll your- 
self up and be ready to go to dinner with him 
tonight at seven." 

A postscript added: "This is unsigned and 
typewritten on your own typewriter and so 
couldn't be used by anyone who didn't like our 
way of doing business. For your own safety 
though, I advise you to burn it." 

This last was the one bit of advice in the letter 
which Susannah followed. She lighted a match 
and burned it over her water basin. Then she 
forced her protesting throat to swallow a glass 
of milk. She ate some crackers. After that she 
went to bed. 

What to do and where to go ! Over and over 
again, she turned the meager possibilities of her 
situation. Nothing offered escape. A hackneyed 
phrase floated into her mind " woman's wit." 
From time immemorial it had been a bromidiom 
that any woman, however stupid, could outwit any 
man, however clever. Was it true ? Perhaps not 
all the time, and perhaps sometimes. That was 



158 OUT OF THE AIR 

the only way though she must pit her nimble* 
inexperienced woman's wit against their heavier 
but trained man's wit. Her problem was to get 
out of this house, unseen. But how? All kinds 
of fantastic schemes floated through her tired 
mind. If she could only disguise herself But 
she would have to go out first to get the disguise. 
And Byan was across the hall, waiting for just 
that move. If there were only a convenient fire- 
escape ! But of course he would anticipate that. 
If she could only summon a taxi, leap into it and 
drive for an hour! But she would have to tele- 
phone for the taxi in the outside hall, where Byan 
could hear her. On and on, she drove her tired 
mind; inventing schemes more and more imprac- 
ticable. For a long time, that woman's wit 
spawned nothing 

Then suddenly a curious idea came to her. It 
was so ridiculous that she rejected it instantly. 
Ridiculous and it stood ninety-nine per cent 
chance of failure ; offered but one per cent chance 
of successs. Nevertheless it recurred. It offered 
more and more suggestion, more and more temp- 
tation. True, it was a thing barely possible ; true 



OUT OF THE AIR 159 

also, that it was the only thing possible. But 
could she put it through? Had she the nerve? 
Had she the strength? 

She must find both the nerve and the strength. 

She bathed and dressed quickly and with a 
growing steadiness. She packed her belongings 
into her suitcase, put Glorious Lutie's miniature 
in her handbag. 

She sat down at her bureau and wrote a note : 

u If you will come to my room, after you have 
had your breakfast, I will talk the matter over 
with you. I will not leave the building before 
you return. I will be ready to see you at ten 
o'clock." 

She opened her door, walked across the corri- 
dor; slipped the note under the door of Byan's 
room. Then she hurried back; locked her door; 
sat down and waited, her hands clasped. Her 
hands grew colder and colder until they seemed 
like marble, but all the time her mind seemed to 
steady and clarify. 

After a long while she heard Byan's door open. 
She heard his steps retreating down the hall and 
over the stairs. 



160 OUT OF THE AIR 

Ten minutes later, Susannah appeared, suitcase 
in hand, at the janitor's office on the first floor. 
" I'm Miss Ayer in No. 9, second floor," she said. 
"May I leave this suitcase here? I've just 
thought that I wanted to go to a friend's room on 
the fifth floor and 1 don't want to lug it up all 
those stairs." 

The janitor considered her for a puzzled 
second. Of course he was in Byan's pay, Susan- 
nah reflected. 

" Sure," he answered uncertainly after a while. 

" I'm expecting a gentleman to call on me," 
Susannah went on steadily. ' Tell him I'll be 
on the fifth floor at No. 9. My friend is out," 
she ended in glib explanation, " but she's left her 
key with me. There's a little work that I wanted 
to do on her typewriter." The janitor she had 
worked this out in advance must know that 
Room 9, fifth floor was occupied by a woman 
who owned a typewriter. Susannah established 
that when, a few days before, she had restored 
to its owner a letter shoved by mistake under her 
own door. 

Susannah deposited her bag on the floor in the 



OUT OF THE AIR 161 

janitor's office. She walked steadily up the stairs 
to the second floor. She felt the janitor's gaze 
on the first flight of her progress. She stopped 
just before she reached her own room, glanced 
back. She was alone there. The janitor had not 
followed her. Perhaps Byan's instructions to him 
were only to watch the door. With a swift 
pounce, she ran to Byan's door, turned the knob. 

It opened. 

She ran to the closet; opened that. As she 
suspected, it was empty. Indeed, her swift glance 
had discovered no signs of occupancy in the room. 
Even the bed was undisturbed. Byan had hired 
it, of course, just for the purpose of being there 
that one night. Susannah closed the closet door 
after her, so that the merest crack let in the air 
she should demand and waited. In that des- 
perate hour when she lay thinking, the idea had 
suddenly flashed into her mind that there was only 
one place in the house where Byan would not look 
for her. That place was his own room. But it 
would not have occurred to her to take refuge 
there if she had not noted, even in her taut terror 
of the night before, that when Byan entered his 



162 OUT OF THE AIR 

own room he had omitted to lock the door after 
him. As indeed, why should he? There was 
nothing to steal in it but Byan. Moreover, of 
course Byan had sat up all night his door un- 
locked ready to forestall any effort of hers to 
escape. 

An hour later Susannah heard a padded, rather 
brisk step ascending the stairs, coming along the 
hall. It was Byan, of course no one could mis- 
take his pace. He knocked on the door of her 
room; at first gently, then insistently. A pause. 
Then he tried the knob, again at first gently, then 
insistently. His steps retreated down the hall and 
the stairs. He must have got a pass-key from the 
janitor, for when, a long minute later, she heard 
his steps return, the scraping of a lock sounded 
from across the hall. She heard her somewhat 
rusty door-hinges creak. There followed a low 
whistle as of surprise, then an irregular succes- 
sion of steps and creaks proving that he was 
looking under the bed, was inspecting the closet. 
She heard him retreat again down the stairs, and 
braced herself to endure a longer wait. At last, 



OUT OF THE AIR 163 

two pairs of feet sounded on the stairs. Had her 
ruse fully succeeded would they mount at once 
to Room 9, fifth floor? No they were coming 
again along the second-floor corridor. With a 
tingle of nerves in her temples and cheeks, she 
realized that she had reached the supreme mo- 
ment of peril. They began knocking at every 
door on the second-floor corridors. Once she 
heard a muffled colloquy the impatient tones of 
some strange man, the apologetic voice of the 
janitor. At other doors she heard, shortly after 
the knock, the scraping of the pass-key. Now 
they were in the room just beyond the wall of the 
closet where she was crouching. She heard them 
enter and emerge the moment had come ! But 
their footsteps passed her door; an instant later, 
she heard the pass-key grate in the door of the 
room on the other side. Then one hand shak- 
ing convulsively on the knob of Byan's closet door 
she heard them go flying up the stairs to the 
third story the fourth 

Before noon of that haunted, hunted morning, 
Susannah found a room in a curious way. When 



1 64 OUT OF THE AIR 

she escaped from the house in the West Twenties, 
she had walked westward almost to the river. 
In a little den of a restaurant just off the docks, 
she ordered breakfast and the morning news- 
papers. But when she tried to look over the 
advertising columns with a view to finding a room,, 
she had a violent fit of trembling. The members 
of the Carbonado Mining Company, she recalled 
to herself, were studying those advertisements 
just as closely as she; and perhaps at that very 
moment. 

Hiding in a great city! Why, she thought to 
herself, it's the only place where you can't hide ! 

Susannah dawdled over breakfast as long as 
she dared. She found herself wincing as she 
emerged onto the busy dingy street of docks. She 
stopped under the shade of an awning and con- 
trolled the abnormal fluttering of her heart while 
she thought out her situation. She dared no 
longer walk the streets. She dared not go to a 
real-estate agent. How, then, might she find a, 
room and a hiding-place? 

Then a Salvation Army girl came picking her 
way across the crowded, cluttered dock-pavement 



OUT OF THE AIR 165 

toward her awning. And Susannah had a sudden 
impulse which she afterwards described to Glori- 
ous Lutie as a stroke of genius. She came out to 
the edge of the pavement and accosted the Blue 
Bonnet. 

" Do you know of any place where a girl who's 
a stranger in New York may find a cheap and 
respectable lodging?'* she asked. 

The Salvation Army girl gave her a long, 
steady scrutiny from under the scoop of her 
bonnet. 

" My sister keeps a rooming-house up on 
Eighth Avenue," she said finally. " She always 
has an extra room, and she will take you in, I 
guess. Have you a bit of paper? I'll write her 
a note." 

Susannah flew, swift as a homing dove, to the 
address. The landlady, a shapeless, featureless, 
middle-aged blonde, read the note ; herself gave a 
long glance of scrutiny, and showed the room. 
Susannah's examination was merely perfunctory. 
In fact, she looked with eyes which saw not. 
Probably never before did a shabby, battered bed- 
chamber, stained as to ceiling, peeling as to wall- 



1 66 OUT OF THE AIR 

paper, carelessly patched as to carpet, indescrib- 
ably broken-down and nondescript as to furniture, 
seem a very paradise to the eyes of twenty-five. 

The bed was humpy, but it was a double bed; 
and clean. Susannah sank on to it. She did not 
rise for a long time. Then, true to her accepted 
etiquette on occasions of this kind, she drew the 
miniature from her handbag and pinned it on to 
the wall beside her bureau. 

" Glorious Lutie," her thoughts ran, " I'm as 
weak as a sick cat. If there was ever a girl 
more terrified, more friendless, more worn-out 
than I feel at this moment, I'd like to know how 
she got that way. I want to crawl into that bed 
and stay there for a week just reveling in the 
thought that I'm safe. Safe, Glorious Lutie. 
Safe ! Alone with you. And nobody to be afraid 
of. Our funds are running low of course. I've 
nothing to pawn except you. But don't be afraid 
I'll never pawn you. If we have to go down, 
we'll go down together and with all sails set. I've 
got an awful hate and fear on this job-hunting 
business now. Heaven knows I don't want much 
money; only enough to live on. I guess I won't 



OUT OF THE AIR 167 

try to be a high-class queen of secretaries any 
longer or at least for the present. My lay is 
to lie low for a month or two. I'll rest for a few 
days. Then I'll go into what? What, Glorious 
Lutie, tell me what? I've got it! Domestic 
service. That's my escape. I've certainly got 
brains enough to be a second girl and they never 
could find me tucked away in somebody's house, 
especially if I never take my afternoons out. 
Which, believe me, Glorious Lutie, I won't. I'll 
spend them all with you. Oh, what an idea that 
is! I'll wait around here for about a week and 
then I'll tackle one of the domestic service 
agencies. If I know anything about after-the- 
war conditions, I'll be snapped up like hot cakes." 
Keeping her promise to herself, Susannah 
stayed as much as possible indoors. The land- 
lady consented to give her breakfast, but she 
would do no more even that was an accommo- 
dation. In gratitude, Susannah took care of her 
own room. She kept it in spotless order ; she even 
pottered with repairs. With breakfast at home, 
she had no need to leave the house of mornings. 
She went without luncheon; and late in the after- 



1 68 OUT OF THE AIR 

noon, before the home-going flood from the of- 
fices, she had dinner in a Child's restaurant round 
the corner. For the rest of the time, she read 
the landlady's books few, and mostly cheap. 
But they included a set of Dickens; and she re- 
newed acquaintance with a novelist whom she 
loved for himself and who called up memories of 
her happiest times. But her mood with Dickens 
was curiously capricious. His deaths and perse- 
cutions and poignant tragedies she could no longer 
endure they swept her into a gulf of black 
melancholy. On the second day of her voluntary 
imprisonment, she glanced through Bleak House; 
stumbled into the wanderings of Little Jo through 
the streets of London. Suddenly she surprised 
herself by a fit of hysterical, trembling tears. 
This explosion cleared her mental airs; but after- 
ward she skipped through Dickens, picking and 
choosing his humors, his love-passages, his gar- 
gantuan feasts in wayside inns. 

When her eyes grew weary with reading, or 
when she ran into one of those passages which 

brought the black cloud, Susannah gazed vacantly 

j 

out of the window. 



OUT OF THE AIR 169 

Her lodging-house stood on a corner; she had 
a back, corner room on the third floor. The 
house next door, on the side street, finished to the 
rear in a two-story shed. Its roof lay almost 
under her window. The landlady, upon show- 
ing the room, had called her attention to this shed. 
u We've got no regular fire escapes, dearie," she 
said, " but in case of trouble, you're all right. 
You just step out here and if the skylight ain't 
open, somebody'll get you down with a ladder. 
A person can't be too careful about fires ! " 
Across the skylight lay a few scanty backyards- 
treeless, grassless, uninteresting. This city area 
of yards and sheds seemed to be the club, the 
Rialto for all the stray cats of Eighth Avenue. 
Susannah named them, endowed them with per- 
sonalities. Their squabbles, their amours, their 
melodramatic stalking, gave her a kind of 
apathetic interest. 

The interest lessened as three days went by, 
and the apathy deepened. " It's my state of 
mind, Glorious Lutie," she apprised the minia- 
ture. " It's this weight that's on my spirit. It's 
fear. Just as soon as I can get my mind off -I 



170 OUT OF THE AIR 

mean just as soon as I become convinced that I'm 
never going to be bothered again, it will go, I'm 
sure. Of course I can't help feeling as I do. But. 
I ought not to. I'm perfectly safe now. In a few 
days those crooks won't trouble about me any 
more. It will be too late. And I know it." 

She reiterated those last two sentences as though 
Glorious Lutie were a difficult person to convince. 
The next morning, however, came diversion. 
Work roofing began on the shed just under 
her window. Susannah watched the workmen 
with an interest that held, at first, an element of 
determined concentration. The roofers, an 
elderly man and a younger one, incredibly dirty 
in their blackened overalls, which were soon 
matched by face and hands, were very conscious 
at first of the brilliant tawny head just above. 
Once, muffled by the window, she caught an al- 
lusion to white horses. But Susannah ignored 
this; continued to watch them disappearing and 
emerging through the open skylight, setting up 
their melting-pot, arranging their sheets of 
tin. 

Before she was out of bed next morning they 



OUT OF THE AIR 171 

were making a metallic clatter with their ham- 
mers. In her normal state, Susannah was a crea- 
ture almost without nerves. She even retained a 
little of the child's enjoyment of a racket for its 
own sake. But now the din annoyed her, 
annoyed her unspeakably. She crept languidly 
out of bed, peeped through the edge of the cur- 
tain. They were just beginning work. It would 
keep up all day. 

u I can't stand this! " said Susannah aloud; and 
then began one of her wordless addresses to the 
miniature. 

" I guess the time has come, anyhow, to strike 
into pastures new. Behold, Glorious Lutie, your 
Glorious Susie descending from the high and 
mighty position of pampered secretary to that of 
driven slave. Tomorrow morn I apply for a job 
as second girl. If it weren't for this headache, 
I'd do it today." 

However, the hammering only intensified her 
headache; she must get outside. So when the 
landlady arrived with her breakfast, Susannah in- 
quired for the address of the nearest employment 
office. She dressed, and descended to the street. 



172 OUT OF THE AIR 

As always, of late, she had a shrinking as she 
stepped out into the open world of men and 
women. When she had controlled this, she 
moved with a curious apathy to the old, battered 
ground-floor office with yellow signs over its front 
windows, where girls found work at domestic serv- 
ice. Presently, she was registered, was sitting on 
a long bench with a row of women ranging from 
slatternly to cheaply smart. She scarcely ob- 
served them. That apathy was settling deeper 
about her spirits; her only sensation was her dull 
headache. Somehow, when she sat still it was 
not wholly an unpleasant headache. Then the 
voice of the sharp-faced woman at the desk in the 
corner called her name. It tore the veil, woke 
her as though from sleep. She rose, to face her 
first chance a thin, severe woman with a mouth 
like a steel trap. 

This first chance furnished no opening, how- 
ever; neither, as the morning wore away, did sev- 
eral other chances. The process of getting a sec- 
ond maid's job was at the same time more difficult 
and less difficult than she had thought. Susannah 
had forgotten that people always ask servants for 



OUT OF THE AIR 173 

references. She had supposed her carefully 
worked out explanation would cover that situation 
that she had been a stenographer in Provi- 
dence ; that she had come to New York soon after 
the Armistice was signed, hoping for a bigger out- 
look; that the returning soldiers were snapping up 
all the jobs; that she had tried again and again 
for a position; that her money was fast going; 
that she had been advised to enter domestic serv- 
ice. Housekeepers from rich establishments and 
the mistresses of small ones interviewed her; but 
the lack of references laid an impassable barrier. 
In the afternoon, however, luck changed. A subur- 
banite from Jamaica, a round, grizzled, middle- 
aged woman, desperately in need of a second girl, 
cut through all the red-tape that had held the 
others up. ' You're perfectly honest," she said 
meditatively, " about admitting youVe had no ex- 
perience, and you look trustworthy." 

" I assure you, madam," Susannah was eager, 
but wary; not too eager. She even laughed a little 
u I am honest so honest that it hurts." 

'* The only thing is," her interlocutor went on 
hesitatingly; " you must pardon me for putting it 



174 OUT OF THE AIR 

so bluntly; but we might as well be open with 
each other. I'm afraid you'll feel a little above 
your position." 

" Well," Susannah responded honestly, " to be 
straightforward with you, I suppose I shall. But 
I give you my word, I'll never show it. And 
that's the only thing that counts, isn't it? " 

The woman smiled. 

" I must confess I like you," she burst out im- 
pulsively. " But how am I going to know that 
you're all right?" 

Susannah sighed. " I understand your situa- 
tion perfectly. I don't know how you're to know 
I'm all right morally or just in the matter of 
mere honesty. For there's nobody but me to tell 
you that I'm moral and honest. And of course 
I'm prejudiced." 

" Well, anyway I'm going to risk it. I'm en- 
gaging you now. It is understood ten dollars 
a week; and alternate Thursdays and Sundays out. 
I don't want you until tomorrow because I want 
my former maid out of the house before you 
come. Now will you promise me that you'll take 
the nine train tomorrow ? " 



OUT OF THE AIR 175 

" I promise," Susannah agreed. 

" But that reminds me," the woman came on 
another difficulty, " what's to guarantee that 
you'll stay with me?" 

" I guarantee," Susannah said steadily, " that 
if you keep to your end of the agreement, I'll' stay 
with you at least three months." 

The woman sparkled. " All right, I'll expect 
you tomorrow on the nine train. I'll be there 
with the Ford to meet you. Here are the direc- 
tions." She scribbled busily on a card. 

Susannah walked home as one who treads on 
air. The veil of apathy had broken. And in 
spite of her headache, which caught her by fits and 
starts, her mood broke into a joy so wild that it 
sent her pirouetting about the room. " Glorious 
Lutie, I never felt so happy in my life. So gayly, 
grandly, gorgeously, gor-gloriously happy! All 
my troubles are over. I'm safe." And on the 
strength of that security, she washed and ironed 
her lavender linen suit. Her headache was better 
again. Perhaps if she went out now to an early 
dinner, it might disappear altogether. But how 
languorous she felt, how indisposed to effort. She 



176 OUT OF THE AIR 

would sit and read a while. She opened Pickwick 
Papers on its last pages. She had almost finished 
the book. 

" I suppose it will be a long time before I have 
a chance to do any more reading," she meditated. 
" So I think I'll finish this. You've helped me 
through a hard passage in my life, Charles 
Dickens, and I thank you with all my heart." 

But she could not read. As soon as she sat 
down by the window and settled her eyes on the 
book, the headache returned. The men were still 
at work on the roof, hammering away at one 
corner. Every blow seemed to strike her skull. 
Midway of the roof, the skylight yawned open; 
their extra tools were laid out beside it. At five 
o'clock they would quit for the day. Usually she 
disliked to have them go. In spite of their noise, 
she felt that still. They gave her a kind of warm, 
human sense of companionship. And they had 
become accustomed to her appearances at the 
window. Their flirtatious first glances had ceased 
for want of encouragement. They scarcely 
seemed to see her when they looked up. But now 
that hammering at her skull! Susannah sud- 



OUT OF THE AIR 177 

denly rose and closed the window, hot though the 
day was, against this torrent of sound. As 
though its futile shield would give added protec- 
tion, she drew the curtain. In the dimmed light 
she sat rocking, her head in her hands. Her face 
was fire-hot why, she wondered The ham- 
mering stopped. They were soldering now. 
They were always doing that; beating the tin 
sheets into place and stopping to solder them. 
There would be silence for a time. In a moment, 
she would open the window for a breath of air on 
her burning face . . . 

She started at a knock on her door, low, quick, 
but abrupt. Before she could answer, it opened. 
His face shadowed in the three-quarters light, but 
his form perfectly outlined, instantly recognizable 
stood Warner. Behind Warner was Byan, and 
behind Byan, O'Hearn. 

All the blood of her heart seemed to strike in 
one wave on Susannah's aching head, and then to 
recede. She knew both the tingling of terror and 
the numbness of horror. Prickling, stinging 
darts volleyed her face, her hands, her feet; and 
yet she seemed to be freezing to stone. 



178 OUT OF THE AIR 

They came into the room before anyone spoke 
Warner first. Byan lolled to a place in the cor- 
ner; the three-quarters light, filtering through the 
thin fabric of the flimsy, yellow curtain, revealed 
his clean profile, his mysterious half-smile. 
O'Hearn stood just at the entrance. He did not 
continue to look at her. His eyes sought the 
floor. 

Warner was speaking now: 

" Good-evening, Miss Ayer. We have come to 
finish up that little piece of business with you. It 
has been delayed as long as it can be. Pardon us 
for breaking in upon you like this. Your land- 
lady tried to prevent us, but we assured her that 
you would want to see us. As I think you will 
when you come to your senses and hear what 1 
have to say." 

He stopped, as though awaiting her reply. But 
Susannah made no answer. She had dropped her 
eyes now; her hands lay limp in her lap. And in 
this pause, a curious piece of byplay passed be- 
tween Warner and O'Hearn. The master of this 
trio caught the glance of his assistant and, with a 
swift motion of three fingers toward the lapel of 



OUT OF THE AIR 179 

his coat, gave him that " office " in the under- 
world sign manual which means " look things 
over." O'Hearn, moving so lightly that Susan- 
nah scarcely noted his passage, stepped to the 
window, lifted the edge of the curtain. He took a 
swift, intent look outside and returned to Warner. 
His back to Susannah, he spoke with his lips, 
scarcely vocalizing the words. 

" No getaway there, Boss straight drop "" 
he said. 

Warner was speaking again. 

" Your landlady says we may have her parlor 
for our conference. Wouldn't you prefer to make 
yourself presentable for the street and then join 
us there in about ten minutes, say? " 

Ten minutes this gave her a chance to play 
for time the only chance she had. She looked 
up. Nothing on the clean-cut, pearl-white ex- 
terior of her face gave a clue to the anarchy 
within; nothing, even, in her black-fringed, blue 
gaze the tautly-held scarlet lips. Her fire-bright 
head lifted a little higher and she gazed steadily 
into Warner's eyes, as she spoke in a voice which 
seemed to her to belong to someone else : 



i8o OUT OF THE AIR 

" I can give you a few minutes, but I have not 
changed my determination." 

"But I think you will," said Warner. ."I 
really think you will. Before we go, I might 
remind you that we have been extremely gentle 
and patient with you, Miss Ayer. I might also 
remind you that you have never succeeded in giv- 
ing us the slip. You were very clever when you 
escaped from your last lodging. We don't know 
yet exactly how you did it. Perhaps you will tell 
us in the course of our little talk this afternoon. 
But you were not quite clever enough. You did 
not figure that with such important matters pend- 
ing, we would have the outside of the house 
watched as well as the inside. So that you may 
not think our meeting this afternoon is accidental, 
let me remind you that you have an engagement 
for tomorrow afternoon in Jamaica to take a 
job as second maid. What we have to offer you 
this afternoon will probably be so attractive that 
you will overlook that engagement." 

He paused. 

11 1 will be with you in ten minutes," said Susan- 
nah. She was conscious of no emotion now only 



OUT OF THE AIR 181 

that her head ached, and that the faded roses 
in the old carpet were entwined with forget- 
me-nots a thing she had never noticed be- 
fore. 

( Thank you." Warner made her a gallant 
little bow. " Mr. Byan and I will wait in the 
parlor. Until we come to an understanding, we 
shall have to continue the old arrangement. It 
will therefore be necessary for Mr. O'Hearn 
to watch in the hall. If you do not ar- 
rive in ten minutes this room will probably 
do as well as the parlor. Until then, Miss 
Ayer!" 

He opened the door, passed out. Byan re- 
treated after him, flashing one of his pathetically 
sweet, floating smiles. Susannah looked up now, 
followed their movements as the felon must 
follow the movements of the man with the rope. 
O'Hearn had been standing close to Susannah, 
his veiling lashes down. He fell in behind the 
other two. But before he joined the file, those 
lashes came up in a quick glance which stabbed 
Susannah. His hand came up too. He was 
pointing to the window. And then he spoke two 



182 OUT OF THE AIR 

words in a whisper so low that they carried only 
to the ears of Susannah, scarce three feet away 
so low that she could not have made them out but 
for the exaggerated, expressive movement of his 
lips. 

" Skylight quick " he said. He made for 
the door in the wake of the other two. 

For the fraction of an instant Susannah did 
not comprehend. And then suddenly one of those 
little intuitive blows which she was always receiv- 
ing and ignoring gave, on the hard surface of her 
mind, a faint tap. This time, she was conscious 
of it. This time, she trusted it instantly. This 
time, it told her what to do. 

" I'll be with you as soon as I get dolled up," 
she called. 

" That's right," came the suave voice of 
Warner from the hall. 

She closed the door. She listened while two 
sets of footsteps descended the stairs. She heard 
a third set, which must be O'Hearn's, retreat for 
a few paces and then stop. She fell swiftly to 
work. She put on her hat and cape. She took 
the miniature, thumbtack and all, from the wall, 



OUT OF THE AIR 183 

and put it in her wrist bag. " Help me, Glorious 
Lutie," she called from the depths of her soul. 
" Help me ! Help me ! Help me ! I'm lost if 
you don't help me ! I can't do it any more alone." 



VII 

WHEN Lindsay pulled back from the quiet gray 
void which had enshrouded him, he was lying on 
the grass. Far, far away, as though pasted 
against the brilliant blue sky, was a face. Grad- 
ually the sky receded. The face came nearer. 
It topped, he gradually gathered, the tiny slender 
black-silk figure of a little old lady. " Do you feel 
all right now? " it asked. 

Lindsay wished that she would not question 
him. He was immensely preoccupied with what 
seemed essentially private matters. But the in- 
stinct of courtesy prodded him. ;< Very much, 
thank you," he answered weakly. He closed his 
eyes again. He became conscious of a wet cloth 
sopping his forehead and cheeks. A breeze 
tingled on the bare flesh of his neck and chest. 
He opened his eyes again; sat up. " Do you mean 
to tell me I fainted?" he demanded with his cus- 
tomary vigor. 

" That's exactly what you did, young man, n 
184 



OUT OF THE AIR 185 

the old lady answered. " The instant you looked 
at me ! I was setting with my back to the door. 
You could have knocked me down with a feather, 
when you fell over backwards." 

" Have I been out long? " 

" Not more'n a moment. I flaxed around and 
got some water and brought you to in a jiffy. You 
ain't an invalid, are you? " 

" Far from it," Lindsay reassured her. " I'm 
afraid, though, I've been working too long in the 
hot sun this morning." 

u Like as not!" the little old lady agreed 
briskly. u I guess you're hungry too," she haz- 
arded. '* Now you just get up and lay in the 
hammock and I'm going to make you some lunch. 
I see there was some eggs there and milk and tea. 
I'll have you some scrambled eggs fixed in no time. 
My name is Spash Mrs. Spash." 

" My name is Lindsay David Lindsay." 

Lindsay found himself submitting without a 
murmur to the little old lady's program. He lay 
quiescent in the hammock and let the tides of 
vitality flow back. . . . Mrs. Spash's prophecy, 
if anything, underestimated her energy. In an 



1 86 OUT OF THE AIR 

incredibly short time she had produced, in col- 
laboration with the oil stove, eggs scrambled on 
bread deliciously toasted, tea of a revivifying heat 
and strength. 

" Gee, that tastes good!" Lindsay applauded. 
He sighed. " It certainly takes a woman! " 

" What are you doing here?" Mrs. Spash in- 
quired. " Batching it?" 

" Yes, I think that describes the process," Lind- 
say admitted. After an instant, " How did you 
happen to be on the doorstep?" 

:t Well, I don't wonder you ask," Mrs. Spash 
declared. " I didn't know the Murray place was 
let and well, I was making one of my regular 
visits. You see, I come here often. I'm pretty 
fond of this old house. I lived here once for 
years." 

Lindsay sat upright. " Did you by chance live 
here when Lutetia Murray was alive ? " 

"Well, I should say I did! " Mrs, Spash an- 
swered. " I lived here the last twenty years of 
Lutetia Murray's life. I was her housekeeper, as 
you might say." 

Lindsay stared at her. He started to speak. 



OUT OF THE AIR 187 

It was obvious that conflicting comments fought 
for expression, but all he managed to say and in- 
eptly enough -was: " Oh, you knew her, then? " 

" Knew her! " Mrs. Spash seemed to search 
among her vocabulary for words. Or perhaps it 
was her soul for emotions. ' Yes, I knew her," 
she concluded with a feeble breathlessness. 

" You've lived in this house, then, for twenty 
years," Lindsay repeated, musing. 

" Yes, all of that" Mrs. Spash appeared to 
muse also. For an instant the two followed their 
own preoccupations. Then as though they led 
them to the same impasse, their eyes lifted simul- 
taneously; met. They smiled. 

" I've bought this house, Mrs. Spash," Lind- 
say confided. " And you never can guess why." 

Mrs. Spash started what appeared to be a com- 
ment. It deteriorated into a little inarticulate 
murmur. 

" I bought it," Lindsay went on, " because when 
I was in college, I fell in love with Lutetia Mur- 
ray." And then, at Mrs. Spash' s wide-eyed, faded 
stare, " Not with Miss Murray herself I never 
saw her but with her books. I read everything 



1 88 OUT OF THE AIR 

she wrote and I wrote in college what we call a 
thesis on her." 

" Sort of essay or composition," Mrs. Spash 
defined thesis to herself. 

" Exactly," Lindsay permitted. 

" She was she was " Mrs. Spash began in a 
dispassionate sort of way. She concluded in a 
kind of frenzy. " She was an angel." 

" Oh yes, she's that all right. I have never 
seen anybody so lovely." 

Mrs. Spash made a swift conversational 
pounce. " I thought you said you'd never seen 
her." 

Lindsay flushed abjectly. " No," he admitted. 
" But you see I have a picture of her." He 
pointed to the mantel. 

" Yes, I noticed that when I came in to get 
some water." Strangely enough Mrs. Spash did 
not, for a moment, look at the picture. Instead 
she stared at Lindsay. Lindsay submitted easily 
enough to this examination. After a while Mrs. 
Spash appeared to abandon her scrutiny of him. 
She trotted over to the fireplace; studied Lutetia's 
likeness. 



OUT OF THE AIR 189 

" I don't know as I ever see that one it don't 
half do her justice I hate a profile picture " 
She pronounced u profile " to rhyme with " wood- 
pile." " None of her pictures ever did do her 
justice. Her beauty was mostly in her hair and 
her eyes. She had a beautiful skin too, though she 
never took no care of it. Never wore a hat no 
matter how hot the sun was. And then her ex- 
pression Well, it was just beautiful changing 
all the time." 

Lindsay was only half listening. He was, with 
an amused glint in his eyes, studying Mrs. Spash's 
spare, erect black-silk figure. She was a relic per- 
fectly preserved, he reflected, of mid- Victorian- 
ism. Her black was of the kind that is accurately 
described by the word decent. And she wore 
fittingly a little black, beaded cape with a black 
shade-hat that tilted forward over her face at a 
decided slant. Her straight, white, abundant hair 
was apparently parted in the middle under her 
hat. At any rate, the neat white parting continued 
over the crown of her head to her very neck, 
where it concealed itself under a flat black-silk 
bow. Her gnarled, blue-veined hands had been 



190 OUT OF THE AIR 

covered with the lace mitts that now lay on the 
table. Her little wrinkled face was neat- 
featured. The irises of her eyes were a 
faded blue and the whites were blue also; and 
this put a note of youthful color among her 
wrinkles. 

But Lindsay lost interest in these details; for, 
obviously, a new idea caught him in its instant 
clutch. " Oh, Mrs. Spash," he suggested, 
" would you be so good as to take me through 
this house ? I want you to tell me who occupied 
the rooms. This is not mere idle curiosity on my 
part. You see Miss Murray's publishers have de- 
cided to bring out a new edition of her works. 
They want me to write a life of Miss Murray. 
I'm asking everybody who knows anything about 
her all kinds of questions." 

Mrs. Spash received all this with that unstirred 
composure which indicates non-comprehension of 
the main issue. 

" Of course I'm interested on my own account 
too," Lindsay went on. " She's such a wonder- 
ful creature, so charming and so beautiful, so 
sweet, so unbearably poignant and sad. I can't 



OUT OF THE AIR 191 

understand," he concluded absently, " why she is 
so sad." 

Mrs. Spash seemed to comprehend instantly. 
" It's the way she died," she explained vaguely, 
" and how everything was left! " She walked in 
little swift pattering steps, and with the accus- 
tomed air of one who knows her way, through the 
side door into the addition. ;< This was Miss 
Murray's own living-room," she told Lindsay. 
" She had that little bit of a stairway made, she 
said, so's too many folks couldn't come up to her 
room at once. Not that that made any differ- 
ence. Wherever she was, the whole household 
went." 

With little nipping steps Mrs. Spash ascended 
the stairway. Lindsay followed. 

" Did Miss Murray die in her room?" Lind- 
say asked. 

"How did you know this was her room?" 
Mrs. Spash demanded. 

" I don't know exactly. I just guessed it," 
Lindsay answered. " I sleep here myself," he 
hurriedly threw off. 

" Yes. She died here. She was all alone when 

\ 



192 OUT OF THE AIR 

she died. You see " Mrs. Spash sat down on 
the one chair and, instantly sensing her mood, 
Lindsay sat down on the bed. 

" You see, things hadn't gone very well for 
Miss Murray the last years of her life. Her 
books didn't sell And she spent money like 
water. She was allus the most open-hearted, 
open-handed creature you can imagine. She allus 
had the house full of company! And then there 
was the little girl Cherry who lived with her. 
At the end, things were bad. No money 
coming in. And Miss Murray sick all the 
time." 

" You say she was alone when she died," Lind- 
say gently brought her back to the track. 

" Yes except for little Cherry, who slept right 
through everything childlike. Cherry had that 
room." Mrs. Spash jerked an angular thumb 
back. 

Lindsay nodded. " Yes, I guessed that with 
all the drawings " 

; ' The Weejubs ! Mr. Gale drew them pictures 
for Cherry. He was an artist. He used to paint 
pictures out in the backyard there. I didn't fancy 



OUT OF THE AIR 193 

them very much myself too dauby. You had to 
stand way off from them 'fore they'd look like 
anything a-tall. But he used to get as high as five 
hundred dollars for them. Oh, what excitement 
there was in this house while he was decorating 
Cherry's room ! And little Cherry chattering like 
a magpie ! Mr. Gale made up a whole long story 
about the Weejubs on her walls. Lord, I've for- 
gotten half of it; but Cherry could rattle it all 
off as fast. Miss Murray had that door between 
her room and Cherry's made small on purpose. 
She said Cherry could come into her room when- 
ever she wanted to, as long as she was a little girl. 
But when Cherry grew up, she was going to 
make it hard for her. But she promised when 
Cherry was sixteen years old she shouldn't 
have to call her auntie any more she could 
call her jess Lutetia. Queer idea, worn't 
it?" 

Mrs. Spash's old eyes so narrowed before an 
oncoming flood of reminiscence that they seemed 
to retreat to the back of her head, where they 
diminished to blue sparks. For a moment the 
room was silent Then " Let me show you some- 



194 OUT OF THE AIR 

thing! You'd oughter know it, seein' it's your 
house. There's some, though, I wouldn't show 
it to." 

She pattered with her surprising quickness to 
the back wall. She pressed a spot in the paneling 
and a small square of the wood moved slowly 
back. 

" You see, Miss Murray's bed ran along that 
wall, just as Cherry's did in the other room. 
Mornings and evenings they used to open this 
panel and talk to each other." 

Lindsay's eyes filmed even as Mrs. Spash's had. 
Mentally he saw the two faces bending toward 
the opening. . . . 

" But you was asking about Miss Murray's 
death As I say, things didn't go well with her, 
I didn't understand how it all happened. Folks 
stopped buying her books, I guess. Anyway, 
when she died, there was nothing left. And 
there was debts. The house and everything in it 
was sold at auction. It was awful to see Miss 
Murray's things all out on the lawn. And a great 
crowd of gawks riff-raff from everywhere 
looking at 'em and making fun of 'em She had 



OUT OF THE AIR 195 

beautiful things, but they went for nothing a-talL 
They jess about paid her debts." 

Lindsay groaned. " But her death " 
" Oh yes, as I was sayin'. You see, Miss Mur- 
ray worn't ever the same after Mr. Lewis died. 
You know about that? " 

Lindsay nodded. u He was drowned." 
Mrs. Spash nodded confirmatively. ' Yes, in 
Spy Pond over South Quinanog way. He was 
swimming all alone. He was taken with cramps 
way out in the middle of the Pond. Finally some- 
body saw him struggling and they put out in a 
boat, but they were too late. Miss Murray was 
in the garden when they brought him back on a 
shutter. I was with her. I can see the way her 
face looked now. She didn't say anything. Not 
a word ! She turned to stone. And it didn't seem 
to me that she ever came back to flesh again. 
They was to be married in October. He was a 
splendid man. He came from New York." 

" Yes. Curiously enough I spent a few days 
in what used to be his rooms," Lindsay informed 
her. 

"That so?" But it was quite apparent that 



196 OUT OF THE AIR 

nothing outside the radius of Quinanog interested 
Mrs. Spash deeply. She made no further com- 
ment. 

'* Was she very much in love with Lewis?" 
Lindsay ventured. 

" In love ! I wish you could see their eyes when 
they looked at each other. They'd met late. 
Miss Murray had always had lots of attention. 
But she never seemed to care for anybody 
though she'd flirt a little until she met Mr. 
Lewis. It was love at first sight with them." 

She proceeded. 

" Well, Miss Murray died five years after Mr. 
Lewis. She died well, I don't know exactly what 
it was. But she had attacks. She was a terrible 
sufferer. And she was worried money matters 
worried her. You see, little Cherry's mother died 
when she was born and her father soon after. 
Miss Murray'd always had Cherry and felt re- 
sponsible for her. I know, because she told me. ' It 
ain't myself, Eunice Spash/ she said to me more'n 
once. ' It's little Cherry.' Anyway, she was 
alone when her last attack came. She'd sent for 
a cousin I forget the name to be with her, and 



OUT OF THE AIR 197 

she was up in Boston getting a nurse, and I was 
in the other side of the house. I never heard a 
sound. We found her dead in the middle of the 
floor there." Her crooked forefinger indicated 
the spot. " Seemed she'd got up and tried to get 
to the door to call. But she dropped and died 
halfway. She was all contorted. Her face 
looked Not so much suffering of the body as 
Well, you could see it in her face that it come to 
her that she was going, and Cherry was left with 
nothing." 

"What became of that cousin?" Lindsay in- 
quired. " I have asked everybody in the neigh- 
borhood, but nobody seems to know." 

" And I don't know. She went to Boston, tak- 
ing Cherry with her. For a time we heard from 
Cherry now and then she'd write letters to the 
children. Then we lost sight of her. I don't 
know whether Miss Murray's cousin's living or 
dead; Cherry either." 

Lindsay felt that he could have assured her that 
Cherry was alive; but his conclusion rested on 
premises too gauzy for him to hazard the state- 
ment. 



198 OUT OF THE AIR 

Mrs. Spash sighed. She arose, led the way into 
the hall. " This was Mr. Monroe's room; and 
Mr. Gale's room was back of his. He liked the 
room that overlooked the garden. Mr. 
Monroe " 

44 That's the big man, the sculptor," Lindsay 
hazarded. 

44 How'd you know? " Mrs. Spash pounced on 
him again. 

44 Oh, I've talked with a lot of people in the 
neighborhood," Lindsay returned evasively. 

44 That Mr. Monroe," Mrs. Spash glided on 
easily, 4t was a case and a half. Nothing but 
talk and laugh every moment he was in the house. 
I used to admire to have him come." 

44 Where is he?" Lindsay asked easily. He 
hoped Mrs. Spash did not guess how, mentally, 
he hung upon her answer. 

44 He went to Italy to Florence after Miss 
Murray died." Mrs. Spash stopped. a He was 
in love with Miss Murray. Had been for years. 
She wouldn't have him though. He was an awful 
nice man. Sometimes I thought she would have 
him. But after Mr. Lewis came Queer, 



OUT OF THE AIR 199 

worn't it? I don't know whether Mr. Monroe's 
alive or dead.'* 

Again Lindsay felt that he could have assured 
her that he was alive, but again gauzy premises 
inhibited exact conclusions. 

" The last I heard of him he was in Rome. 
'Tain't likely he's alive now. Land, no ! He'd 
be well over seventy close onto seventy-five. 
Mr. Gale was in love with her too. He was 
younger. I don't think he ever told Miss Mur- 
ray, I never did know if she knew. You couldn't 
fool me though. Well, I started out to show you 
this house. I must be gitting on. You've seen 
the slave quarters and the whipping-post up- 
stairs?" 

" Yes. Everybody could tell me about the 
whipping-post and the slave quarters. But the 
things I wanted to know " 

11 Well, it's natural enough that folks shouldn't 
know much about her. Miss Murray was a lady 
that didn't talk about her own affairs and she kept 
sort of to herself, as you might say. She wasn't 
the kind that ran in on folks. She wrote by fits 
and starts. Sometimes she'd stay up late at night. 



200 OUT OF THE AIR 

She allus wrote new-moon time. She said the 
light of the crescent moon inspired her. How 
they used to make fun of her about that! But 
she'd write with all of them about, laughing and 
talking and playing the piano or singing and 
dancing even. The house was so lively those days 
they was all great trainers. And yet she could 
fall asleep right in the midst of all that confusion. 
Well so you see she wasn't given to making calls. 
And then there was always so much to do and so 
many folks around at home. Have you been up- 
stairs in the barn?" 

" No not yet. The stairs were all broken 
away. I had just finished mending them when t 
had the pleasure of making your acquaint- 
ance." 

They both smiled reminiscently. 

" Let's go up there now there must be a lot 
of things " She ended her sentence a little 
vaguely as the old sometimes do. But the move- 
ment with which she arose from her chair and 
trotted toward the stairs was full of an anticipa- 
tion almost youthful. 

" The garden used to be so pretty," she sighed 



OUT OF THE AIR 201 

as they started on the well-worn trail to the barn. 
" Miss Murray worn't what you might call prac- 
tical, but she could make flowers grow. She never 
cooked, nor sewed, nor anything sensible, but 
she'd work in that garden till There was cer- 
tain combinations of flowers that she used to like ; 
hollyhocks, especially the garnet ones so dark 
they was almost black, surrounded by them blue 
Canterbury bells; and then phlox in all colors, 
white and pink and magenta and lavender and 
purple. I think there was some things put out 
here," she interrupted herself vaguely, " that no- 
body wanted at the auction. There wasn't even a 
bid on them." 

She trotted up the stairs like a pony that has 
suddenly become aged. Lindsay followed, two 
steps at a time. The upper story of the barn was 
the confused mass of objects that the lumber room 
of any large household inevitably collects. 
Broken chairs; tables, bureaux; rejected pieces 
of china; kitchen furnishings; a rusty stove, 
old boxes; bandboxes; broken trunks; torn 
bags. 

' There ! That's the table Miss Murray used 



202 OUT OF THE AIR 

to do her writing at. She said there never had 
been a table built big enough for her. I expect 
that's why nobody bought it at the auction. 
'Twas too big for mortal use, you might say. 
The same reason I expect is why the dining-room 
table didn't sell either." 

' Where did she write? " Lindsay asked, meas- 
uring the table with his eye. 

" All summer in the south living-room. But 
when it come winter, she'd often take her things 
and set right in front of the fire in the living- 
room. Then she'd write at that long table you're 
writing on." 

" This table goes back to the south living-room 
tomorrow," Lindsay decided almost inaudibly. 
" Can you tell me the exact spot? " 

** I guess I can. Lord knows I've got down on 
my hands and knees and dusted the legs often 
enough. Miss Murray said, though it was soft 
wood, it was the oldest piece in the house. She 
bought it at some old tavern where they was 
having a sale. She said it dated back 
long before Revolutionary times to Colonial 
days." 



OUT OF THE AIR 203 

" Could you tell me, I wonder, about the rest 
of Miss Murray's furniture?" Lindsay came 
suddenly from out a deep revery. " Do you re- 
member who bought it? I would like to buy back 
all that I can get. I'd like to make the old place 
look, as much as possible, as it used to look." 

Mrs. Spash flashed him a quick intent look. 
Then she meditated. u I think I could probably 
tell you where most every piece went. The 
Drakes got the Field bed and the ivory-keyhole 
bureau and the ivory-keyhole desk; and Miss 
Garnet got the elephant and Mis' Manson got the 
gazelles " 

" Elephant! Gazelles!" Lindsay interrupted. 

' The gazelles," Mrs. Spash smiled indul- 
gently. ; ' Well, it does sound queer, but Miss 
Murray used to call those little thin-legged candle 
tables that folks use, gazelles. The elephant was 
a great high chest of drawers. Mis' Manson got 
the maple gazelles " She proceeded in what 
promised to be an indefinite category. 

" Do you think I could buy any of those things 
back? " Lindsay asked after listening patiently to 
the end. 



204 OUT OF THE AIR 

" Some of them, I guess. I have a few things 
in my attic I'll sell you and some I'll give you. 
I'd admire to see them in the old place once 



more." 



" You must let me buy them all," Lindsay pro- 
tested. 

" Well, we'll see about that," Mrs. Spash dis- 
posed of this disagreement easily. " Have you 
seen the Dew Pond yet? " 

" The Dew Pond! " Lindsay echoed. 

" The little pond beyond the barn," Mrs. Spash 
explained. Then, as though a great light dawned, 
" Oh, of course it's all so growed up round it 
you'd never notice it. Come and I'll show it to 
you." 

Lindsay followed her out of the barn. This 
was all like a dream, he reflected but then every- 
thing was like a dream nowadays. He had lived 
in a dream for two months now. Mrs. Spash 
struck into a path which led beyond the 
barn. 

The trail grew narrower and narrower; threat- 
ened after a while to disappear. Lindsay finally ' 
took the lead, broke a path. They came presently 



OUT OF THE AIR 205 

on a pond so tiny that it was not a pond at all; 
it was a pool. Water-lilies choked it; forget-me- 
nots bordered it; high wild roses screened it. 

Lindsay stood looking for a long time into it. 
" It's the Merry Mere of Mary Towle," he medi- 
tated aloud. Mrs. Spash received this in the un- 
interrogative silence with which she had received 
other of his confidences. She apparently fell back 
easily into the ways of literary folk. 

" I remember now I got a glint of water from 
one of the upstairs bedrooms," Lindsay went on, 
" the first time I came into the house. But I 
forgot it instantly; and Fve never noticed it 



since." 



" Wait a moment!" Mrs. Spash seemed 
afraid that he would leave. " There's something 
else." She' attempted to push her way through 
the jungle in the direction of the house. For an 
instant her progress was easy, then bushes and 
vines caught her. Lindsay sprang to her assist- 
ance. 

" There's something here that was left," she 
panted. " Folks have forgotten all about " 
She dropped explanatory phrases. 



206 OUT OF THE AIR 

Heedless of tearing thorns and piercing 
prickers, Lindsay crashed on. Mrs. Spash 
watched expectantly. 

" There! " she called with satisfaction. 

On a cairn of rocks, filmed over by years of 
exposure to the weather, stood what Lindsay im- 
mediately recognized to be a large old rum-jar. 
The sun found exposed spots on its surface, 
brought out its rich olive color. 

" After Mr. Lewis died," Mrs. Spash ex- 
plained, " Miss Murray went abroad for a year. 
She went to Egypt. She put this here when she 
came home. Then you could see it from the 
house. The sun shone on it something handsome. 
She told me once she went into a temple on the 
Nile cut out of the living-rock, where there was 
room after room, one right back of the other. In 
the last one, there was an altar; and once a year, 
the first ray of the rising sun would strike through 
all the rooms and lay on that altar. Worn't that 
cute? I allus thought she had that in mind when 
she put this here." 

Lindsay contemplated the old rum-jar. Mrs. 
Spash contemplated him. And suddenly it was as 



OUT OF THE AIR 207 

though she were looking at Lindsay from a new 
point of view. 

Lindsay's face had changed subtly in the last 
two months. The sun of Quinanog had added but 
little to the tan and burn with which three years 
of flying had crusted it. He was still very hand- 
some. It was not, however, this comeliness that 
Mrs. Spash seemed to be examining. The ex- 
periences at Quinanog had softened the deliberate 
stoicism of his look. Rather they had fed some 
inner softness; had fired it. His air was now one 
of perpetual question. Yet dreams often invaded 
his eyes; blurred them; drooped his lips. 

" It's all unbelievable," Lindsay suddenly com- 
mented, " I don't believe it. I don't believe you. 
I don't believe myself." 

Mrs. Spash still kept her eyes fixed on the 
young man's face. Her look had grown piercing. 

" Have you a shovel handy? " she surprisingly 
asked. 

u Yes, why?" 

Mrs. Spash did not answer immediately. He 
turned and looked at her. She was still gazing at 
him hard; but the light from some long-harbored 



208 OUT OF THE AIR 

emotion of her dulled old soul was shining bluely 
in her dulled old eyes. 

" I want you should get it," she ordered 
briefly. ' There's something right here," she 
pointed, " that I want you to dig up." 



VIII 

SUSANNAH let herself lightly down on the tin 
roof; it was scarcely a step from her window. 
With deliberate caution, she turned and drew the 
shade. Then she tiptoed toward the skylight. 
The workmen were still soldering ; the older man, 
with the air of one performing a delicate opera- 
tion, lay stretched out flat, holding some kind of 
receptacle; the younger was pouring molten lead 
from a ladle. Try as she might, she could not 
prevent her feet from making a slight tapping on 
the tin. The older man glanced sharply up. 
" Look out!" called the younger, and he bent 
again to his work. Almost running now, she 
stepped into the gaping hole of the skylight. The 
stairs were very steep practically a ladder. As 
she disappeared from view, she heard a quick 
" What the hell! " from the roof above her. 

Susannah hurried forward along a dark pass- 
age, looking for stairs. The passage jutted, be- 
came lighter, went forward again. This must 

209 



210 OUT OF THE AIR 

be the point where the shed-addition joined the 
main building. She was in the hallway of a dingy, 
conventional flat-house, with doors to right and 
left. One of these doors opened; a woman in a 
faded calico dress looked her over, the glance in- 
cluding the traveling-bag; then picked up a letter 
from the hall-floor, and closed it again. Susannah 
found herself controlling an impulse to run. But 
no steps sounded behind her she was not as 
yet pursued. And there was the stairway at the 
very front of the house ! She descended the two 
flights to the entrance. There, for a moment, she 
paused. As soon as Warner discovered her 
flight, they would be after her. The workmen 
would point the way. The street and quick 
was the only chance. Noiselessly she opened the 
door. At the head of the steps leading to the 
street, she stopped long enough for a look to right 
and left. Only a scattered afternoon crowd no 
Warner, no Byan. An Eighth Avenue tram-car 
was ringing its gong violently. On a sudden im- 
pulse of safety, she shot down the steps, ran past 
her own door to the corner. An open south- 
bound car had drawn up, was taking on pas- 



OUT OF THE AIR 211 

sengers. She reached it just as the conductor was 
about to give the forward signal, and was almost 
jerked off her feet as she stepped onto the plat- 
form. Steadying herself, she looked, in the brief 
moment afforded by the bumpy crossing of the 
car, down the side street. 

The entrances of her own house at the corner, 
the entrances to the house she had just left, were 
blank and undisturbed; no one was following her. 
She paid her fare, and settled down on the end 
of a cross-seat. 

And now she was aware not of relief or re- 
action or fear, but solely of her headache. It had 
changed in character. It had become a furious 
internal bombardment of her brows. If she 
turned her eyes to right or left, she seemed to be 
dragging weights across the front of her brain. 
Yet this -headache did not seem quite a part of 
herself. It was as though she knew, by a super- 
normal sensitiveness, the symptoms of someone 
else. It was as though suddenly she had become 
two people. Anyway, it had ceased to be per- 
sonal. And somewhere else within her head was 
growing a delicious feeling of freedom, of light- 



212 OUT OF THE AIR 

ness, of escape from a wheel. Her evasion of 
the Carbonado Mining Company did not account 
for all that; she felt free from everything. " I'm 
not going to take any more rooms," she said to 
herself. " I'm going to sleep out of doors now, 
like the birds. People find you when you take 
rooms. Where shall I begin? " She considered; 
and then one of those little hammers of intuition 
seemed to tap on her brain. Again, she did not 
resist. " Why, Washington Square of course ! " 
she said to herself. 

The car was threading now the narrow ways 
of Greenwich Village. It stopped; Susannah 
stepped off. The rest seemed for a long time to 
be just wandering. But that curious sense of dual- 
ity had vanished. She was one person again. She 
did not find Washington Square easily; but then, 
it made no difference whether she ever found it. 
For New York and the world were so amusing 
when once you were free! You could laugh at 
everything the passing crowds, surging as 
though business really mattered; the Carbonado 
Mining Company; the grisly old fool in their 
toils, and Susannah Ayer. You could laugh even 



OUT OF THE AIR 213 

at the climate for sometimes it seemed very hot, 
which was right in summer, and sometimes cold, 
which wasn't right at all. You could laugh at the 
headache, when it tied ridiculous knots in your 
forehead. There was the Arch Washington 
Square at last. 

But it wasn't time to sleep in Washington 
Square yet. The birds hadn't gone to bed. Spar- 
rows were still pecking and squabbling along the 
borders of the flower-beds. Besides, New York 
was still flowing, on its homeward surge from of- 
fice and workshop, down the paths. Susannah 
sat down on a bench and considered. She had a 
disposition to stay there why was she so weak? 
Oh, of course she hadn't eaten. People always 
had dinner before going to bed. She must eat 
and she had money. She shook out her pocket- 
book into her lap. A ten-dollar bill, a one-dollar 
bill, and some small change. She must dine glori- 
ously free creatures always did that when they 
had money. Besides, she was never going to pay 
any more room rent. Susannah rose, strolled up 
Fifth Avenue. The crowd was thinning out. 
That was pleasant, too. She disliked to get out 



2i 4 OUT OF THE AIR 

of the way of people. She was crossing Twenty- 
third Street now; and now she was before the cor- 
rect, white fagade of the Hague House. A 
proper and expensive place for dinner. 

Susannah found it very hard to speak to the 
waiter. It was like talking to someone through a 
partition. It seemed difficult even to move her 
lips ; they felt wooden. 

"A petite marmite, please; then I'll see what 
more I want," she heard herself saying at last. 

But when the petite marmite came, steaming in 
its big, red casserole, she found herself quite dis- 
inclined to eat almost unable to eat. She man- 
aged only two or three mouthfuls of the broth; 
then dallied with the beef. Perhaps it was be- 
cause instantly and for no reason whatever 
she had become two people again. Perhaps it 
was because she had been drinking so much ice- 
water. It couldn't be because H. Withington 
Warner was sitting at the next table to the right. 
It couldn't be that because she had told him, 
when first she saw him sitting there, that she was 
no longer afraid of the Carbonado Company. 
And indeed, when she turned to the left and saw 



OUT OF THE AIR 215 

him sitting there also when by degrees she dis- 
covered that there was one of him at every table 
in the room, she thought of Alice in the Trial 
Scene in Wonderland, and became as contemp- 
tuous as Alice. " After all,'* she said, " you're 
only a pack of cards." 

With a flourish, the waiter set the dinner-card 
before her, asking: " What will you have next, 
Madame ? " Oh yes, she was dining ! 

u I think I can't eat any more the bill, please," 
she heard one of her selves saying. That self, she 
discovered, took calm cognizance of everything 
about her; listened to conversation. As the 
waiter turned his back, that half of her saw that 
Mr. Warner wasn't there any more; neither at 
the table on her right, nor anywhere. But when 
she had paid the bill, tipped, and risen to go, the 
other self discovered that he was back again at 
every table; and that with every Warner was a 
Byan and an O'Hearn. " I am snapping my 
fingers at them, though nobody sees it," she said 
to both her selves. " I can't imagine how they 
ever troubled me so much. They don't know 
what I'm doing! I'm sleeping out of doors; they 



216 OUT OF THE AIR 

can find me only in rooms ! " As though stag- 
gered by her complete composure, not one of this 
triplicate multitude of enemies followed her out- 
side. 

" Now I'll go to Washington Square," she said, 
realizing that her personalities had merged again. 
"The birds must be in bed." She took a bus; 
and sank into languor and that curious, im- 
personal headache until the conductor, calling 
" All out," at the south terminus, recalled to her 
that she was going somewhere. ;< I must have 
been asleep," she thought. " Isn't this a wonder- 
ful world?" 

The long, early summer twilight was just be- 
ginning to draw about the world. The day lin- 
gered though in an exquisite luminousness. All 
around her the city was grappling tentatively with 
oncoming dusk. On a few of the passing limou- 
sines, the front lamps struck a garish note. Near, 
the Fifth Avenue lights were like slowly burning 
bonfires in the trees; in the distance, seemingly 
suspended by chains so delicate that they were in- 
visible, they diminished to pots of gold. The six- 
o'clock rush had long ago ceased. Now everyone 



OUT OF THE AIR 217 

sauntered; for everyone was freshly caparisoned 
for the wonderful night glories of midsummer 
Manhattan. 

Susannah sat down on a bench in Washington 
Square and surveyed this free world. Though 
her eyes burned, they saw crystal-clear. All about 
her Italian-town mixed democratically with Green- 
wich Village; made contrasting color and noise. 
Fat Italian mothers, snatching the post-sunset 
breezes, chattered from bench to bench while 
they nursed babies. On other benches, lovers 
clasped hands. Children played over the grass. 
The birds twittered and the trees murmured. 
Every color darted pricklingly distinct to Susan- 
nah's avid eyes, burning and heavy though it 
was. Every sound came distinct to her avid ears, 
though it sounded through a ringing. 

The Fifth Avenue busses were clumping and 
lumbering in swift succession to their stopping- 
places. How much, Susannah thought, they 
looked like prehistoric beetles; colossally big; 
armored to an incredible hardness and polish. 
And, already, roped-off crowds of people were pa- 
tiently waiting upstairs seats. As each bus 



218 OUT OF THE AIR 

stopped, there came momentary scramble and 
confusion until inside and out they filled up. She 
watched this process for a long, long time. 

" I can't go to sleep yet," she said to herself 
finally, " the people won't let me. One can't sleep 
in this wonderful world. Where does one go 
after dinner? Oh, to the theater, of course! On 
Broadway ! " She found herself drifting, happily 
though languorously, through the arch and north- 
ward. 

Twilight had settled down; had become dusk; 
had become night. New York was so brilliant 
that it almost hurt. It was deep dusk and yet the 
atmosphere was like a purple river flowing be- 
tween stiff canon-like buildings. Everywhere in 
that purple river glittered golden lights. And, 
floating through it, were mermaids and mermen 
of an extreme beauty. Susannah passed from 
Fifth Avenue to Broadway. She stopped under 
one of the most brilliant palace-fronts of light, 
and bought a ticket in the front row. The curtain 
was just rising on the second act of a musical 
comedy. Susannah would have been hazy about 
the plot anyway, for the simple reason that there 



OUT OF THE AIR 219 

was no plot. But tonight she was peculiarly hazy, 
because she enjoyed the dancing so much that she 
became oblivious to everything else. Indeed, at 
times she seemed to be dancing with the dancers. 
The illusion was so complete that she grew dizzy; 
and clung to the arm of her seat. She did not 
want to divide into two people again. 

After a while, though, this sensation disap- 
peared in a more intriguing one. For suddenly 
she discovered that the audience consisted entirely 
of her and the Carbonado Mining Company. H. 
Withington Warners, by the hundred, filled the 
orchestra seats. Byans, by the score, filled the 
balcony. O'Hearns, by the dozen, filled the gal- 
lery. But this did not perturb her. u You're only 
a pack of cards," she accused them mentally. 
And she stayed to the very end. 

" I thought so," she remarked contemptuously 
as she turned to go out. For the Carbonado Min- 
ing Company had vanished into thin air. She 
was the only real person who left the theater. 

When she came out on the street again, her 
headache had stopped and the languor was over. 
There was a beautiful lightness to her whole 



220 OUT OF THE AIR 

body. That lightness impelled her to walk with 
the crowd. But she suddenly discovered she 
was not walking. She was floating. She even 
flew only she did not rise very high. She kept 
an even level, about a foot above the pavement; 
but at that height she was like a feather. And in 
a wink how this extraordinary division hap- 
pened, she could not guess she was two people 
once more. 

New York was again blooming; but this time 
with its transient, vivacious after-the-theater 
vividness. Crowds were pouring up; pouring 
down, deflecting into side streets; emerging from 
side streets. Everywhere was light. Taxicabs and 
motors raced and spun and backed and turned; 
they churned, sizzled, spluttered, and foamed 
scattering light. Tram-cars, the low-set, armored 
cruisers of Broadway, flashed smoothly past, 
overbrimming with light. The tops of the build- 
ings held great congregations of dancing stars. 
Light poured down their sides. 

Susannah floated with the strong main current 
of the crowd up Broadway and then, with a side 
current, a little down Broadway. Eddies took 



OUT OF THE AIR 221 

her into Forty-second Street, and whirled her 
back. And all the time she was in the crowd, but 
not of it she was above it. She was looking 
down on people she could see the tops of their 
heads. Susannah kept chuckling over an ex- 
traordinary truth she discovered. 

" I must remember to tell Glorious Lutie," she 
said to herself, <( how few people ever brush their 
hats." 

While one self was noting this amusing fact, 
however, the other was listening to conversations; 
the snatches of talk that drifted up to her. 

" Let's go to a midnight show somewhere," 
a peevish wife-voice suggested. 

" No, sir! " a gruff husband-voice answered. 
" LIT ole beddo looks pretty good to muh. I 
can't hit the hay too soon." 

"What's Broadway got on Market Street?" 
a blithe boy's voice demanded. " Take the view; 
from Twin Peaks at night. Why, it has Broad- 
way beat forty ways from the jack." 

" I'll say so ! " a girl's voice agreed.' 

Theaters were empty now, but restaurants were 
filling. In an incredibly short time, this phan- 



222 OUT OF THE AIR 

tasmagoria of movement, this kaleidoscope of 
color, this hurly-burly of sound had shattered, 
melted, fallen to silence. People disappeared as 
though by magic from the street; now there were 
great gaps of sidewalk where nobody appeared. 
Susannah both of her, because now she seemed 
to have become two people permanently felt 
lonely. She quickened her pace, her floating 
rather, to catch up with a figure ahead. It was 
a girl, just an everyday girl, in a white linen suit 
and a white sailor hat topping a mass of black 
hair. She carried a handbag. Susannah found 
herself following, step by step, behind this girl 
whose face she had as yet not seen. She was 
floating; yet every time she tried to see the top 
of that sailor hat her vision became blurred. It 
was annoying; but this stealthy pursuit was pleas- 
ant, somehow satisfying. 

" They've been shadowing me," said Susannah 
to herself. " Now I'm shadowing. I've helped 
the Carbonado Company to rob orphans. I'm 
going to break my promise to go to Jamaica to- 
morrow. Isn't it glorious to float and be a 
criminal ! " 



OUT OF THE AIR 223: 

So she followed westward on Forty-second 
Street and reached the Public Library corner of 
Fifth Avenue, which stretched now deserted ex- 
cept where knots of people awaited the omni- 
busses. Such a knot had gathered on that corner. 
Suddenly the girl in white raised her hand, waved; 
a woman in a light-blue summer evening gown an- 
swered her signal from the crowd; they ran to- 
ward each other. They were going to have a 
talk. Susannah floated toward them. The air- 
currents made her a little wabbly but wasn't it 
fun, eavesdropping and caring not the least bit. 
about manners ! 

" My train doesn't start until one," said the 
white linen suit. u It's no use going back to my 
room the night is so hot. I've been to the 
Summer Garden, and I'm killing time." 

" Oh," asked blue dress, " did you sublet your 
room?" 

" No," said the white linen suit, " I'll be gone 
for only a month, and I decided it wasn't worth 
while. I'll have it all ready when I get back. 
I've even left the key under the rug in the 
hall." 



224 OUT OF THE AIR 

" I wouldn't ever do that! " came the voice of 
the blue dress. 

" Well," said the linen suit, " you know me! I 
always lose keys. I'm convinced that when I get 
to Boston, I shan't have my trunk key! And 
there isn't much to steal." 

" Still, I'd feel nervous if I were you." 

" 1 don't see why. Nobody stays up on the 
top floor, where I am that is, in the summer. 
All the other rooms are in one apartment, and the 
young man who lives there has been away for 
ages. - The people on the ground floor own the 
house. I get the room for almost nothing by 
taking care of it and the hall. I haven't seen 
anyone else on the floor since the man in the 
apartment went away. That's why I love the 
place you feel so independent! " 

" I think I know the house," said blue dress. 
" The old house with the fanlight entrance, isn't 
it? Mary Merle used to have a ducky little flat 
on the second floor, didn't she?" 

" Yes Number Fifty-seven and a Half 

Susannah was floating down the Avenue now. 
But floating with more difficulty. Why was there 



OUT OF THE AIR 225 

effort about floating? And why did she keep re- 
peating, " Number Fifty-seven and a Half, Wash- 
ington Square, top floor, key under the rug? " 

She met few people. A policeman stared at her 
for a moment, then turned indifferently away. 
How surprising that her floating made no im- 
pression upon him! But then, there was no law 
against floating ! Once she drifted past H. With- 
ington Warner, who was staring into a shop win- 
dow. He did not see her. Susannah had to 
inhibit her chuckles when, floating a foot above 
his head, she realized for the first time that he 
dyed his hair. Why could she see that? He 
should have his hat on or was she seeing 
through his hat? 

She was passing under the arch into Washing- 
ton Square. But she wasn't floating any longer. 
She was dragging weights; she was wading 
through something like tar, which clung to her 
feet. She was coughing violently. She had been 
coughing for a long time. Night in New York 
was no longer beautiful; glorious. Tragic hor- 
rors were rasping in her head. There was 
Warner. And there was Byan. She could not 



226 OUT OF THE AIR 

snap her fingers at them now. . . . But she 
knew how to get away from them . . . she must 
rest . . . 

She cut off a segment of Washington Square, 
looking for a number. There was a fanlight; 
and, plain in the street lamps, seeming for a mo- 
ment the only object in the world, the number 
" Fifty-seven and a Half." The outer door gave 
to her touch. A dim point of gaslight burned in 
the hall. She floated again for a minute as she 
mounted the stairs. . . . She was before a door. 
. . . She was on her hands and knees fumbling 
under the rug . . . She was dragging herself up 
by the door-knob . . . 

The key opened the door. 

Light, streaming from somewhere in the back- 
yard areas, illuminated a wide white bed. 

" I am sick, Glorious Lutie I think I am very 
sick," said Susannah. " Watch me, won't you? 
Keep Warner out!" Fumbling in the bag, she 
draw out the miniature, set it up against the 
mirror on the bureau beside the bed just where 
she could see it plainly in the shaft of light. 

She locked the door. She lay down. 



IX 

LINDSAY sat in the big living-room beside the 
refectory table. Mrs. Spash moved about the 
room dusting; setting its scanty furnishings to 
rights. On the long table before him was set out 
a series of tiny villages, some Chinese, some 
Japanese : little pink or green-edged houses in 
white porcelain; little thatched-roofed houses in 
brown adobe; pagodas; bridges; pavilions. 
Dozens of tiny figures, some on mules, others on 
foot, and many loaded with burdens walked the 
streets. A bit of looking-glass, here and there, 
made ponds. Ducks floated on them, and boats; 
queer Oriental-looking skiffs, manned by tiny, 
half-clad sailors; Chinese junks. In neighboring 
pastures, domestic animals grazed. Roosters, 
hens, chickens grouped in back areas. 

" That's just what Miss Murray used to do," 
Mrs. Spash observed. " She'd play with them toys 
for hours at a time. And of course Cherry loved 

227 



228 OUT OF THE AIR 

them more than anything in the house. That's 
the reason I stole them and buried them." 

" How did you manage that exactly? " Lindsay 
asked. 

" Oh, that was easy enough," Mrs. Spash con- 
fessed cheerfully. " Between Miss Murray's 
death and the auction, I was here a lot, fixing 
up. They all trusted me, of course. Those toys 
was all set out in little villages by the Dew Pond. 
Nobody knew that they were there. So I just 
did them up in tissue paper and put them in that 
big tin box and hid them in the bushes. One 
night late I came back and buried them. Folks 
didn't think of them for a long time after the 
auction. You see, nobody had touched them dur- 
ing Miss Murray's illness. And when they did 
remember them, they thought they had disap- 
peared during the sale." Mrs. Spash paused a 
moment. Her face assumed an expression of ex- 
treme disapproval. " Other things disappeared 
during the sale," she accused, lowering her voice. 

"Who took them?" Lindsay asked. 

All the caution of the Yankee appeared in Mrs. 
Spash's voice. " I don't know as I'd like to say, 



OUT OF THE AIR 229 

because it isn't a thing anybody can prove. I 
have my suspicions though." 

Lindsay did not continue these inquiries. 
" Where did Miss Murray get all these toys? " 
" Well, a lot of 'em came from China. Miss 
Murray had a great-uncle who was a sea-captain. 
He used to go on them long whaling voyages. 
He brought them to her different times. Miss 
Murray had played with them when she was a 
child, and so she liked to have little Cherry play 
with them. Sometimes they'd all go out to the 
Dew Pond Miss Murray, Mr. Monroe, Mr. 
Gale, Mr. Lewis, and spend a whole afternoon 
laying them out in little towns jess about as 
you've got 'cm there. There was two little places 
on the shore that Miss Murray had all cut down, 
so's the bushes wouldn't be too tall. They useter 
call the pond the Pacific Ocean. One of them 
cleared places was the China coast and the other 
the Japanese coast. They'd stay there for hours, 
floating little boats back and forth from China 
to Japan. And how they'd laugh 1 I useter listen 
to their voices coming through the window. But 
then, the house was always full of laughter. It 



230 OUT OF THE AIR 

began at seven o'clock in the morning, when they 
got up, and it never stopped until after mid- 
night sometimes when they went to bed. Oh, it 
was such a gay place in those days." 

Lindsay arose and stretched. But the stretch- 
ing did not seem so much an expression of fatigue 
or drowsiness as the demand of his spirit for im- 
mediate activity of some sort. He sat down 
again instantly. Under his downcast lids, his 
eyes were bright. " These walls are soaked with 
laughter," he remarked. 

" Yes," Mrs. Spash seemed to understand. 
** But there was tears too and plenty of them 
in the last years." 

" I suppose there were," Lindsay agreed. He 
did not speak for a moment; nor did Mrs. Spash. 
There came a silence so concentrated that the 
sunlight poured into it tangible gold. Then, out- 
side a thick white cloud caught the sun in its 
woolly net. The world gloomed again. 

" She's sad still," Lindsay dropped in absent 
comment. 

" Yes," Mrs. Spash agreed. 

"I wonder what she wants?" Lindsay ad- 



OUT OF THE AIR 231 

dressed this to himself. His voice was so low 
that perhaps Mrs. Spash did not hear it. At any 
rate she made no answer. 

Another silence came. 

Mrs. Spash finished her dusting. But she 
lingered. Lindsay still sat at the t"ble; but his 
eyes had left the little villages arranged there. 
They went through the door and gazed out into 
the brilliant patch of sunlight on the grass. 
There spread under his eyes a narrow stretch of 
lawn, all sun-touched velvet ; beyond a big crescent 
of garden. Low-growing zinnias in futuristic 
colors, high phlox in pastel colors; higher, Canter- 
bury bells, deep blue; highest of all, hollyhocks, 
wine red. Beyond stretched further expanses of 
lawn. One tall, wide wine-glass elm spread a per- 
fect circle of emerald shade. One low, thick 
copper-beech dropped an irregular splotch of 
luminous shadow. Beyond all this ran the gray, 
lichened stone wall. And beyond the stone wall 
came unredeemed jungle. Mrs. Spash began, all 
over again, to dust and to arrange the scanty fur- 
niture. After a while she spoke. 

" Mr. Lindsay " 



232 OUT OF THE AIR 

Lindsay started abruptly. 

" Mr. Lindsay that time you fainted when 
you first saw me, setting out there on the door- 
stone, you remember ?" 

Lindsay nodded. 

" Well, who was you expecting to see? " 

Lindsay, alert now as a wire spring, turned on 
her, not his eyes alone, nor his head; but his whole 
body. Mrs. Spash was looking straight at him. 
Their glances met midway. The old eyes 
pierced the young eyes with an intent scrutiny. 
The young eyes stabbed the old eyes with an in- 
tense interrogation. Lindsay did not answer her 
question directly. Instead he laughed. 

" I guess I don't have to answer you," he de- 
clared. " I had seen her often then. ... I 
had seen the others too. . .- . I don't know why 
you should have frightened me when they didn't. 
... I think it was that I wasn't expecting any- 
thing human. . . . I've seen them since. . . . 
They never frighten me." 

Mrs. Spash's reply was simple enough. " I 
see them all the time." She added, with a delicate 
lilt of triumph, " I've seen them for years " 



OUT OF THE AIR 233 

Lindsay continued to look at her and now 
his gaze was somber; even a little despair- 
ing. ; " What do they want? What does she 
want?" 

Mrs. Spash's reply came instantly, although 
there were pauses in her words. " I don't know. 
I've tried ... I can't make out." She accom- 
panied these simple statements with a reinforcing 
decisive nod of her little head. 

" I can't guess either I can't conjecture 
There's something she wants me to do. She can't 
tell me. And they're trying to help her tell me. 
All except the little girl " 

" Do you see the little girl?" Mrs. Spash de- 
manded. " Well, I declare ! That's very queer, 
I must say. I never see Cherry." 

; ' I wish I saw her oftener," Lindsay laughed 
ruefully. "She doesn't ask anything of me. 
She's just herself. But the others Gale 
Monroe My God! It's killing me !" He 
laughed again, and this time with a real amuse- 
ment. 

Mrs. Spash interrupted his laughter. " Do you 
see Mr. Monroe?" she asked in a pleased tone. 



234 OUT OF THE AIR 

" Well, I declare ! Aren't you the fortunate crea- 
ture. I never see him! " 

"All the time," Lindsay answered shortly. 
" If I could only get it. I feel so stupid, so in- 
credibly gross and lumbering and heavy. I'd do 
anything " 

He arose and walked over to the picture of 
Lutetia Murray which still hung above the fire- 
place. He stared at her hard. " I'd do anything 
for her, if I could only find out what it was." 

"Yes," Mrs. Spash admitted dispassionately, 
" that's the thing everybody felt about her, they'd 
do anything for her. Not that she ever asked 
them to do anything " 

Lindsay began to pace the length of the long 
room. " What is happening? Has the old ram- 
shackle time-machine finally broken a spring so 
that, in this last revolution, it hauls, out of the 
past, these pictures of two decades ago? Or is 
it that there are superimposed one on the other 
two revolving worlds theirs and ours and 
theirs or ours has stopped an instant, so that I 
can glance into theirs? I feel as though I were 
in the dark of a camera obscura gazing into their 



OUT OF THE AIR 235 

brightness. Or have those two years in the air 
permanently broken my psychology; so that 
through that rift I shall always have the power to 
look into strange worlds? Or am I just piercing 
another dimension?" 

Mrs. Spash had been following him with her 
faded, calm old eyes. Apparently she guessed 
these questions were not addressed to her. She 
kept silence. 

" I've racked my brain. I lie awake nights and 
tear the universe to pieces. I outguess guessing 
and outconjecture conjecture. My thoughts fly to 
the end of space. My wonder invades the very 
citadel of fancy. My surmises storm the last out- 
post of reality. But it beats me. I can't get it." 
Lindsay stopped. Mrs. Spash made no comment. 
Apparently her twenty years' training among 
artists had prepared her for monologues of this 
sort. She listened; but it was obvious that she did 
not understand; did not expect to understand. 

" Does she want me to stay here or go there?" 
Lindsay demanded of the air. " If here, what 
does she want me to do? If there where is 
there? If there, what does she want me to do 



236 OUT OF THE AIR 

there? Is her errand concerned with the living 
or 'the dead? If the living, who? If the dead, 
who ? Where to find them ? How to find them ? " 
He turned his glowing eyes on Mrs. Spash. " I 
only know two things. She wants me to do some- 
thing. She wants me to do it soon. Oh, I sup- 
pose I know another thing If I don't do it 
soon, it will be too late." 

Mrs. Spash was still following him with her 
placid, blue, old gaze. ' There, there ! " she said 
soothingly. " Now don't you get too excited, Mr. 
Lindsay. It'll all come to you." 

" But how " Lindsay objected. " And 
when" 

" I don't know but she'll tell you somehow. 
She's cute She's awful cute. You mark my 
words, she'll find a way." 

" That's the reason I don't have you in the 
house yet, Mrs. Spash," Lindsay explained. 

" Oh, you don't have to tell me that," Mrs. 
Spash announced, triumphant because of her own 
perspicuity. 

11 It's only that I have a feeling that she can 
do it more easily if we're alone. That's why I 



OUT OF THE AIR 237 

send you home at night. She comes oftenest in 
the evening when I'm alone. They all do. Oh, 
it's quite a procession some nights. They come 
one after another, all trying " He paused. 
" Sometimes this room is so full of their torture 
that I You know, it all began before I came 
here. It began in an apartment in New York. 
It was in Jeffrey Lewis' old rooms. He tried to 
tell me first, you see." 

" Did you see Mr. Lewis there ? " Mrs. Spash 
asked this as casually as though she had said, 
"Has the postman been here this morning?" 
She added, " I see him here." 

" No, I didn't see him," Lindsay explained 
grimly, " but I felt him. And, believe me, I 
knew he was there. He was the only one of the 
lot that frightened me. I wouldn't have been 
frightened if I had seen him. It was he, really, 
who sent me here. I work it out that he couldn't 
get it over and he sent me to Lutetia because he 
thought she could. I wonder " he stopped 
short. This explanation came as though some- 
thing had flashed electrically through his mind. 
But he did not pursue that wonder. 



238 OUT OF THE AIR 

" Well, don't you get discouraged," Mrs. Spash 
reiterated. " You mark my words, she'll manage 
to say what she's got to say." 

" Well, it's time I went to work," Lindsay re- 
marked a little listlessly. "After all, the life 
of Lutetia Murray must get finished. Oh, by 
the way, Mrs. Spash," Lindsay veered as though 
remembering suddenly something he had for- 
gotten, " do other people see them? " 

" No at least I never heard tell that they 
did." 

" How did the rumor get about that the place 
was haunted, then?" 

" I spread it," Mrs. Spash explained. " I 
didn't want folks breaking in to see if there was 
anything to steal. And I didn't want them poking 
about the place." 

u How did you spread it? " 

" I told children," Mrs. Spash said simply. 
" Less than a month, folks were seeing all kinds of 
ridic'lous ghosts here. Nobody likes to go by 
alone at night." 

" It's a curious thing," Lindsay reverted to his 
main theme, " that I know her message has noth- 



OUT OF THE AIR 239 

ing to do with this biography. I don't know how 
I know it; but I do. Of course, that would be the 
first thing a man would think of. It is something 
more instant, more acute. It beats me altogether. 
All I can do is wait." 

" Now don't you think any more about it, Mr. 
Lindsay," Mrs. Spash advised. " You go up- 
stairs and set to work. I'm going to get you up 
the best lunch today you've had yet." 

" That's the dope," Lindsay agreed. " The 
only way to take a man's mind off his troubles is 
to give him a good dinner. You'll have to work 
hard, though, Eunice Spash, to beat your own 
record." 

Lindsay arose and sauntered into the front hall 
and up the stairs. He turned into the room at 
the right which he had reserved for work, now 
that Mrs. Spash was on the premises. At this 
moment, it was flooded with sunlight. ... A 
faint odor of the honeysuckle vine at the corner 
seemed to emanate from t!ie light itself. . . . 

Instantly ... he realized . . . that the 
room was not empty. 

Lindsay became feverishly active. Eyes down, 



2 4 o OUT OF THE AIR 

he mechanically shuffled his papers. He collected 
yesterday's written manuscript, brought the edges 
down on the table in successive clicks, until they 
made an even, rectangular pile. He laid his 
pencils out in a row. He changed the point in 
his penholder. He moved the ink-bottle. But 
this availed his spirit nothing. " I am incredibly 
stupid," he said aloud. His voice was low, but it 
rang as hollowly as though he were from another 
world. " If you could only speak to me. Can't 
you speak to me? " 

He did not raise his eyes. But he waited for a 
long interval, during which the silence in the room 
became so heavy and cold that it almost blotted 
out the sunlight. 

" But have patience with me. I want to serve 
you. Oh, you don't know how I want to serve 
you. I give you rny word, I'll get it sometime and 
I think not too late. I'll kill myself if I don't. 
I'm putting all I am and all I have into trying to 
understand. Don't give me up. It's only because 
I'm flesh and blood." 

He stopped and raised his eyes. 

The room was empty. 



OUT OF THE AIR 241 

That afternoon Lindsay took a walk so long, 
so devil-driven that he came back streaming per- 
spiration from every pore. Mrs. Spash regarded 
him with a glance in which disapproval struggled 
with sympathy. " I don't know as you'd ought to 
wear yourself out like that, Mr. Lindsay. Later, 
perhaps you'll need all your strength " 

" Very likely you're right, Mrs. Spash," Lind- 
say agreed. " But I've been trying to work it 
out." 

Mrs. Spash left as usual at about seven. By 
nine, the last remnant of the long twilight, a col- 
laboration of midsummer with daylight-saving, 
had disappeared. Lindsay lighted his lamp and 
sat down with Lutetia's poems. The room was 
peculiarly cheerful. The beautiful Murray side- 
board, recently discovered and recovered, held its 
accustomed place between the two windows. The 
old Murray clock, a little ship swinging back and 
forth above its brass face, ticked in the corner. 
The old whale-oil lamps had resumed their stand, 
one at either end of the mantel. Old pieces, old 
though not Lutetia's they were gone irretriev- 
ably bits picked up here and there, made the 



242 OUT OF THE AIR 

deep sea-shell corner cabinet brilliant with the 
color of old china, glimmery with the shine of old 
pewter, sparkly with the glitter of old glass. 
Many chairs Windsors, comb-backs, a Boston 
rocker filled the empty spaces with an old-time 
flavor. In traditional places, high old glasses held 
flowers. The single anachronism was the big, 
nickel, green-shaded student lamp. 

Lindsay needed rest, but he could not go to bed. 
He knew perfectly well that he was exhausted, but 
he knew equally well that he was not drowsy. His 
state of mind was abnormal. Perhaps the three 
large cups of jet-black coffee that he had drunk at 
dinner helped in this matter. But whatever the 
cause, he was conscious of every atom of this exag- 
gerated spiritual alertness; of the speed with 
which his thoughts drove ; of the almost insupport- 
able mental clarity through which they shot. 

" If this keeps up," he meditated, " it's no use 
my going to bed at all tonight. I could not pos- 
sibly sleep." 

He found Lutetia's poems agreeable solace at 
this moment. They contained no anodyne for his 
restlessness; but at least they did not increase it. 



OUT OF THE AIR 243 

Her poetry had not been considered successful, but 
Lindsay liked it. It was erratic in meter ; irregular 
in rhythm. But at times it astounded him with a 
delicate precision of expression; at moments it 
surprised him with an opulence of fancy. He read 
on and on 

Suddenly that mental indicator was it a 
flutter of his spirit or merely a lowering of the 
spiritual temperature ? apprised him that he was 
not alone. . . . But as usual, after he realized 
that his privacy had been invaded, he continued to 
read; his gaze caught, as though actually tied, by 
the print. . . . After a while he shut the 
book. . . . But he still sat with his hand clutch- 
ing it, one finger marking the place. . . . He 
did not lift his eyes when he spoke . ... . 

" Tell the others to go," he demanded. 

After a while he arose. He did not move to 
the other end of the room nor did he glance once 
in that direction. But on his side, he paced up and 
down with a stern, long-strided prowl. He spoke 
aloud. 



1244 OUT OF THE AIR 

" Listen to me ! " His tone was peremptory. 
" We've got to understand each other tonight. I 
can't endure it any longer; for I know as well as 
you that the time is getting short. You can't speak 
to me. But I can speak to you. Lutetia, you've 
got to outdo yourself tonight. You must give me 
a sign. Do you understand? You must show me. 
Now summon all that you have of strength, what- 
ever it is, to give me that sign do you under- 
stand, all you have. Listen ! Whatever it is that 
you want me to do, it isn't here. I know that 
now. I know it because I've been here two 
months Whatever it is, it must be put through 
somewhere else. An idea came to me this morn- 
ing. I spent all the afternoon thinking it out. 
Maybe I've got a clue. It all started in New 
York. He tried to get it to me there. Listen! 
Tell me ! Quick ! Quick ! Quick ! Do you want 
me to go to New York? " 

The answer was instantaneous. As though 
some giant hand had seized the house in its grip, 
it shook. Shook for an infinitesimal fraction of 
an instant. Almost, it seemed to Lindsay, walls 
quivered; panes rattled; shutters banged, doors 



OUT OF THE AIR 245 

slammed. And yet in the next infinitesi- 
mal fraction of that instant he knew that he 
had heard no tangible sound. Something more 
exquisite than sound had filled that unmeasur- 
able interval with shattering, deafening con- 
fusion. 

Lindsay turned with a sharp wheel; glared into 
the dark of the other side of the room. 

Lindsay dashed upstairs to his desk. There 
he found a time-table. The ten-fifteen from 
Quinanog would give him ample time to catch the 
midnight to New York. He might not be able 
to get a sleeping berth; but the thing he needed 
least, at that moment, was sleep. In fact, he 
would rather sit up all night. He flung a few 
things into his suitcase; dashed off a note to Mrs. 
Spash. In an incredibly short time, he was strid- 
ing over the two miles of road which led to the 
station. 

There happened to be an unreserved upper 
berth. It was a superfluous luxury as far as Lind- 
say was concerned. He lay in it during what re- 
mained of the night, his eyes shut but his spirit 



246 OUT OF THE AIR 

more wakeful than he had ever known it. 
" Every revolution of these wheels," he said once 
to himself, " brings me nearer to it, whatever it 
is." He arose early; was the first to invade the 
washroom; the first to step off the train; the first 
to leap into a taxicab. He gave the address of 
Spink's apartments to the driver. " Get there 
faster than you can! " he ordered briefly. The 
man looked at him and then proceeded to break 
the speed law. 

Washington Square was hardly awake when 
they churned up to the sidewalk. Lindsay let him- 
self in the door; bounded lightly up the two 
flights of stairs; unlocked the door of Spink's 
apartment. Everything was silent there. The 
dust of two months of vacancy lay on the furnish- 
ings. Lindsay stood in the center of the room, 
contemplating the door which led backward into 
the rest of the apartment. 

;< Well, old top, you're not going to trouble me 
any longer. I get that with my first breath. I've 
done what she wanted and what you wanted so 
far. Now what in the name of heaven is the next 
move ? " 



OUT OF THE AIR 247 

He stood in the center of the room waiting, 
listening. 

And then into his hearing, stretched to its final 
capacity, came sound. Just sound at first; then 
a dull murmur. Lindsay's hair rose with a 
prickling progress from his scalp. But that mur- 
mur was human. It continued. 

Lindsay went to the door, opened it, and 
stepped out into the hall. The murmur grew 
louder. It was a woman's voice; a girl's voice; 
unmistakably the voice of youth. It came from 
the little room next to Spink's apartment. 

Again Lindsay listened. The monotone broke ; 
grew jagged; grew shrill; became monotonous 
again. Suddenly the truth dawned on him. It 
was the voice of madness or of delirium. 

He advanced to the door and knocked. No- 
body answered. The monotone continued. He 
knocked again. Nobody answered. The mono- 
tone continued. He tried the knob. The door was 
locked. With his hand still on the knob, he put 
his shoulder to the door ; gave it a slow resistless 
pressure. It burst open. 

It was a small room and furnished with the con- 



248 OUT OF THE AIR 

ventional furnishings of a bedroom. Lindsay saw 
but two things in it. One was a girl, sitting up in 
the bed in the corner; a beautiful slim creature 
with streaming loose red hair; her cheeks vivid 
with fever spots; her eyes brilliant with fever- 
light. It was she who emitted the monotone. 

The other thing was a miniature, standing 
against the glass on the bureau. A miniature of a 
beautiful woman in the full lusciousness of a 
golden blonde maturity. 

The woman of the miniature was Lutetia 
Murray. 

The girl * 



X 

SHE felt that the room was full of sunshine. 
Even through her glued-down lids she caught the 
darting dazzle of it. She knew that the air was 
full of bird voices. Even through her drowse- 
filmed ears, she caught the singing sound of them. 
She would like to lift her lids. She would like to 
wake up. But after all it was a little too easy to 
sleep. The impulse with which she sank back to 
slumber was so soft that it was scarcely impulse. 
It dropped her slowly into an enormous dark, a 
colossal quiet. 

Presently she drifted to the top of that dark 
quiet. Again the sunlight flowed into the channels 
of seeing. Again the birds picked on the strings 
of hearing. By an enormous effort she opened 
her eyes. 

She stared from her bed straight at a window. 
A big vine stretched films of green leaf across it. 
It seemed to color the sunshine that poured on- 
to the floor green. She looked at the window 

249 



250 OUT OF THE AIR 

for a long time. Presently she discovered among 
the leaves a crimson, vase-like flower. 

;t Why, how thick the trumpet-vine has 
grown ! " she said aloud. 

It seemed to her that there was a movement at 
her side. But that movement did not interest her. 
She did not fall into a well this time. She drifted 
off on a tide of sleep. Presently perhaps it was 
an hour later, perhaps five minutes she opened 
her eyes. Again she stared at the window. 
Again the wonder of growth absorbed her 
thought; passed out of it. She looked about the 
room. Her little bedroom set, painted a soft 
creamy yellow with long tendrils of golden vine, 
stood out softly against the faded green cartridge 
paper. 

" Why ! Why have they put the bureau over 
there ?" she demanded aloud of the miniature of 
Glorious Lutie which hung beside the bureau. 
With a vague alarm, her eyes sped from point to 
point. The dado of Weejubs stood out as though 
freshly restored. But all her pictures were gone ; 
the four colored prints, Spring, Summer, Autumn, 
Winter each the head of a little girl, decked 



OUT OF THE AIR 251 

with buds or flowers, fruit or furs, had vanished. 
The faded squares where they had hung showed 
on the walls. Oh, woe, her favorite of all, " My 
Little White Kittens,'* had disappeared too. On 
the other hand on table, on bureau, and on com- 
mode-top crowded the little Chinese toys. 

' Why, when did they bring them in from the 
Dew Pond? " she asked herself, again aloud. 

With a sudden stab of memory, she reached her 
hand up on the wall. How curious ! Only yes- 
terday she could scarcely touch the spring; now 
her hand went far beyond it. She pressed. The 
little panel opened slowly. She raised herself in 
bed and looked through the aperture. 

Glorious Lutie's room was stark bare, save 
for a bed and her long wooden writing-table. 

Her thoughts flew madly . . . suddenly her 
whole acceptance of things crumbled. Why ! She 
wasn't Cherie and eight. She was Susannah and 
twenty-five; and the last time she had been any- 
where she had been in New York. . . . Light- 
nings of memory tore at her . . . the Car- 
bonado Mining Company . . . Eloise . . . 
a Salvation Army woman on the street . . .. 



252 OUT OF THE AIR 

roofers. Yet this was Blue Meadows. She 
did not have to pinch herself or press on her 
sleepy eyelids. It was Blue Meadows. The 
trumpet-vine, though as gigantic as Jack's bean- 
stalk, proved it. The painted furniture proved it. 
The Chinese toys proved it. Yes, and if she 
wanted the final touch that clinched all argument, 
there beside the head of the bed was the maple 
gazelle. This really was not the final proof. The 
final proof was human and it entered the room at 
that moment in the person of Mrs. Spash. And 
Mrs. Spash in her old, quaint inaccurate way 
;was calling her as Cherry. 
Susannah burst into tears. 

" Oh, I feel so much better now," Susannah 
said after a little talk; more sleep; then talk again. 
" I'm going to be perfectly well in a little while. 
I want to get up. And oh, dear Mrs. Spash do 
you remember how sometimes I used to call you 
Mrs. Splash? I do want as soon as possible to 
see Mr. Lindsay and his cousin Miss Stock- 
bridge, did you say? I want to thank them, of 
course. How can I ever thank them enough? 



OUT OF THE AIR 253 

And I want to talk to him about the biography. 
Oh, I'm sure I can give him so much. And I can 
make out a list of people who can tell him all the 
things you and I don't remember ; or never knew. 
And then, in my trunk in New York, is a package 
of all Glorious Lutie's letters to me. I think he 
will want to publish some of them; they are so 
lovely, so full of our games and jingles, and even 
drawings. Couldn't I sit up now?" 

" I don't see why not," Mrs. Spash said. 
" You've slept for nearly twenty-six hours, 
Cherry You waked up once or half-waked up. 
We gave you some hot milk and you went right 
to sleep again." 

" It's going to make me well just being at 
Blue Meadows," Susannah prophesied. u If I 
could only stay But I'm grateful for a day, an 
hour." 



Later, she came slowly down the stairs one 
hand on the rail, the other holding Mrs. Spash's 
arm. She wore her faded creamy-pink, creamy- 
yellow Japanese kimono, held in prim plaits by the 
broad sash, a big obi bow at the back. Her red 



254 OUT OF THE AIR 

hair lay forward in two long glittering braids. 
Her face was still pale, but her eyes overran with 
a lucent blue excitement. It caught on her eye- 
lashes and made stars there. 

A slim young man in flannels; tall with a mus- 
cular litheness; dark with a burnished tan; hand- 
some; arose from his work at the long refectory 
table. He came forward smiling his hand out- 
stretched. " My cousin, Miss Stockbridge, has 
run in to Boston to do some shopping," he ex- 
plained. " I can't tell you how glad I am to see 
you up, or how glad she will be." He took her 
disengaged arm and reinforced Mrs. Spash's ef- 
forts. They guided her into a big wing chair. 
The young man found a footstool for her. 

" I suppose I'm not dreaming, Mr. Lindsay," 
Susannah apprised him tremulously. " And yet 
how can it be anything but a dream? I left this 
place fifteen years ago and I have never seen it 
since. How did I get back here ? How did you 
find me? How did you know who I was? And 
what made you so heavenly good as to bring me 
here? I remember fragments here and there 
Mrs. Spash tells me I've had the flu." 



OUT OF THE AIR 255 

Lindsay laughed. ;< That's all easily ex- 
plained," he said with a smoothness almost 
meretricious. " I happened to go to New York 
on business. As usual I went to my friend Spar- 
rel's apartment. You were ill and delirious in 
the next room. I heard you; forced the door open 
and sent at once for a doctor. He pronounced 
it a belated case of flu. So I telephoned for Miss 
Stockbridge; we moved you into my apart- 
ment and after you passed the crisis thank 
God, you escaped pneumonia I I asked the doctor 
if I could bring you over here. He agreed that the 
country air would be the very best thing for you, 
and yet would not advise me to do it. He thought 
it was taking too great a risk. But I felt I can't 
tell you how strongly I felt it that it would be 
the best thing for you. My cousin stood by me, 
and I took the chance. Sometimes now, though, I 
shudder at my own foolhardiness. You don't re- 
member or do you? that I went through the 
formality of asking your consent." 

" I do remember now vaguely," Susannah 
laughed. " Isn't it lucky I didn't in my weak- 
ness say no? " 



256 OUT OF THE AIR 

Lindsay laughed again. " I shouldn't have 
paid any attention to it, if you had. I knew that 
this was what you needed. You were sleeping 
then about twenty-five hours out of the twenty- 
four. So one night we brought you in a taxi to 
the boat and took the night trip to Boston. The 
boat was making its return trip that night, but I 
bribed them to let you stay on it all day until it 
was almost ready to sail. Late in the afternoon, 
we brought you in an automobile to Quinanog. 
You slept all the way. That was yesterday after- 
noon. It was dark when we got here. You didn't 
even open your eyes when I carried you into the 
house. In the meantime I had wired Mrs. Spash 
and she fixed up your room, as much like the 
way it used to be when you were a child, as she 
could remember." 

" It's all too marvelous," Susannah murmured. 
New brilliancies were welling up into her tur- 
quoise eyes, the deep dark fringes of lash could 
not hold them; the stars kept dropping off their 
tips. Fresh spurts of color invaded her face. 
Nervously her long white hands pulled at her cop- 
pery braids. 



OUT OF THE AIR 257 

" There are so many questions I shall ask you," 
she went on, " when I'm strong enough. But some 
I must ask you now. How did you happen to 
come here? And when did the idea of writing 
Glorious Lutie's my aunt's biography occur to 
you? And how did you come to know Mrs. 
Spash? Where did you find the little Chinese 
toys? And my painted bedroom set? And the 
sideboard there? And the six-legged highboy? 
Oh dear, a hundred, thousand, million things. 
But first of all, how did you know that, now being 
Susannah Ayer, I was formerly Susannah 
Delano ?" 

" There was the miniature of Miss Murray 
hanging on your wall. That made me sure in 
in some inexplicable way that you were the little 
lost Cherry. And of course we went through your 
handbag to make sure. We found some letters 
address to Susannah Delano Ayer. But will you 
tell me how you do happen to be Susannah Ayer, 
when you were formerly Susannah Delano, alias 
Cherry or Cherie? " 

" I went from here to Providence to live with a 
large family of cousins. Their name was Ayer, 



258 OUT OF THE AIR 

and I was so often called Ayer that finally I took 
the name." Susannah paused, and then with a 
sudden impulse toward confidence, she went on. 
" I grew up with my cousins. I was the youngest 
of them all. The two oldest girls married, one 
a Californian, the other a Canadian. I haven't 
seen them for years. The three boys are scattered 
all over everywhere, by the war. My uncle died 
first; then my aunt. She left me the five hun- 
dred dollars with which I got my business 
training." 

The look of one who is absorbing passionately 
all that is being said to him was on Lindsay's face. 
But a little perplexity troubled it. " Glorious 
Lutie ? " he repeated interrogatively. 

" Oh, of course," Susannah murmured. ; ' I 
always called her Glorious Lutie. She always 
called me Glorious Susie that is when she didn't 
call me Cherie. And we had a game the 
Abracadabra game. When she was telling me a 
story her stories were marvels; they went on for 
days and days and she got tired, she could 
always stop it by saying, Abracadabra! If I 
didn't reply instantly with Abracadabra, the story 



OUT OF THE AIR 259 

stopped. Of course she always caught my little 
wits napping I was so absorbed in the story that 
I could only stutter and pant, trying to remember 
that long word." 

" That's a Peter Ibbetson trick," Lindsay com- 
mented. 

The talk, thus begun, lasted for the three hours 
which elapsed before Miss Stockbridge's return. 
Two narratives ran through their talk; Lindsay's, 
which dealt with superficial matters, began with 
his return to America from France; Susannah's, 
which began with that sad day, fifteen years ago, 
when she saw Blue Meadows for the last time. 
But neither narrative went straight. They zig- 
zagged; they curved, they circled. Those devia- 
tions were the result of racing up squirrel tracks 
of opinion and theory; of little excursions into the 
allied experiences of youth; even of talks on 
books. Once it was interrupted by the noiseless 
entry of Mrs. Spash, who deposited a tray which 
contained a glass of milk, a pair of dropped eggs, 
a little mound of buttered toast. Susannah sud- 
denly found herself hungry. She drained her 



260 OUT OF THE AIR 

glass, ate both eggs, devoured the last crumb of 
toast. 

After this, she felt so vigorous that she 
fell in with Lindsay's suggestion that she walk 
to the door. There she stood on the 
door-stone for a preoccupied, half-joyful, half- 
melancholy interval studying the garden. Then, 
leaning on his arm, she ventured as far as the seat 
under the copper-beech. Later, even, she went 
to the barn and the Dew Pond. Before she 
could get tired, Lindsay brought her back, re- 
establishing her in the chair. Then and not till 
then and following another impulse to confide 
in Lindsay, Susannah told him the whole story of 
the Carbonado Mining Company. Perhaps his 
point of view on that matter gave her her second 
accession of vitality. He paced up and down the 
room during her narrative; his hands, fists. But 
he laughed their threats to scorn. " Now don't 
give another thought to that gang of crooks! " he 
adjured her. " I know a man in New York a 
lawyer. I'll have him look up that crowd and put 
the fear of God into them. They'll probably be 
flown by that time, however. Undoubtedly they 



OUT OF THE AIR 261 

were making ready for their getaway. Don't 
think of it again. They can't hurt you half as 
much as that bee that's trying to get in the door." 
He was silent for a moment, staring fixedly down 
at his own manuscript on the table. ** By God! " 
he burst out suddenly, " I've half a mind to beat 
it on to New York. I'd like to be present. I'd 
have some things to say and do." 

Somewhere toward the end of this long talk, 
" I've not said a word yet, Mr. Lindsay," Susan- 
nah interpolated timidly, " of how grateful I am 
to you and your cousin. But it's mainly because 
I've not had the strength yet. I don't know how 
I'm going to repay you. I don't know how I'm 
even going to tell you. What I owe you just in 
money let alone eternal gratitude." 

" Now, that's all arranged," Lindsay said 
smoothly. " You don't know what a find you 
were. You're an angel from heaven. You're a 
Christmas present in July. For a long time I've 
realized that I needed a secretary. Somebody's 
got to help me on Lutetia's life or I'll never get it 
done. Who better qualified than Lutetia's own 
niece ? In fact you will not only be secretary but 



262 OUT OF THE AIR 

collaborator. As soon as you're well enough, 
we'll go to work every morning and we'll work 
together until it's done." 

Susannah leaned back, snuggled into the soft 
recess of the comfortable chair. She dropped her 
lids over the dazzling brilliancy of her eyes. " I 
suppose I ought to say no. I suppose I ought to 
have some proper pride about accepting so much 
kindness. I suppose I ought to show some firm- 
ness of mind, pawn all my possessions and get back 
to work in New York or Boston. Girls in novels 
always do those things. But I know I shall do 
none of them. I shall say yes. For I haven't 
been so happy since Glorious Lutie died." 

" Oh," Lindsay exclaimed quickly as though 
glad to reduce this dangerous emotional excite- 
ment. "There comes the lost Anna Sophia 
Stockbridge. She's a dandy. I think you'll like 
her. It's awfully hard not to." 

The instant Susannah had disappeared with 
Miss Stockbridge up the stairs, Mrs. Spash ap- 
peared in the Long Room. Apparently, she came 
with a definite object an object in no way con- 



OUT OF THE AIR 263 

nected with the futile dusting movements she 
began to emit. 

Lindsay watched her. 

Suddenly Mrs. Spash's eyes came up; met his. 
They gazed at each other a long moment; a gaze 
that was luminous with question and answer. 

" She's gone," Lindsay announced after a 
while. 

Mrs. Spash nodded briskly. 

" She'll never come back," Lindsay added. 

Again Mrs. Spash nodded briskly. 
' They've all gone," Lindsay stated. 

For the third time Mrs. Spash briskly nodded. 

;< When Cherie came, they left," Lindsay con- 
cluded. 

" They'd done what they wanted to do," Mrs. 
Spash vouchsafed. " Brought you and Cherry to- 
gether. So there was no need. She took them 
away. She'd admire to stay. That's like her. 
But she don't want to make the place seem well, 
queer. So, as she allus did, she gives up her 
wish." 

" Mrs. Spash," Lindsay exploded suddenly 
after a long pause, " we've never seen them. You 



264 OUT OF THE AIR 

understand we've never seen them; either of us. 

They never were here." 

Mrs. Spash nodded for the fourth time. 

That night after his cousin and his guest had 
gone to bed, Lindsay wandered about the place. 
The moon was big enough to turn his paths into 
streams of light. He walked through the flower 
garden ; into the barn ; about the Dew Pond. The 
tallest hollyhocks scarcely moved, so quiet was the 
night. The little pond showed no ripple except 
a flash of the moonlight. The barn was a cavern 
of gloom. Lindsay gazed at everything as though 
from a new point of view. 

An immeasurable content filled him. 

After a while he returned to the house. His 
picture of Lutetia Murray still hung over the 
mantel in the living-room. He gazed at it for a 
long while. Then he turned away. As he looked 
down the length of the living-room, there was in 
his face a whimsical expression, half of an 
achieved happiness, half of a lurking regret. 
"This house has never been so full of people 
since I've been here," he mused, " and yet never 



OUT OF THE AIR 265 

was it so empty. My beloved ghosts, I miss you. 
But you've not all gone after all. You've left one 
little ghost behind. Lutetia, I thank you for her. 
How I wish you could come again to see. . . . 
But you're right. Don't come! Not that I'm 
afraid. You're too lovely " 

His thoughts broke halfway. They took an- 
other turn. " I wonder if it ever happened to 
any other man before in the history of the world 
to see the little-girl ghost of the woman ' 

Blue Meadows had for several weeks now been 
projecting pictures from its storied past into the 
light of everyday. Could it have projected into 
that everyday one picture from the future, it 
would have been something like this. 

Susannah came into the south living-room. 
Her husband was standing between the two 
windows. 

" Davy," she exclaimed joyfully, " I've located 
the lowboy. A Mrs. Norton in West Hassett 
owns it. Of course she's asking a perfectly pro- 
hibitive price, but of course we've got to have it." 



266 OUT OF THE AIR 

" Yes," Lindsay answered absently, " we've got 
to have it." 

u I'm glad we found things so slowly," Susan- 
nah dreamily. " It adds to the wonder and 
magic of it all. It makes the dream last longer. 
It keeps our romance always at the boiling 
point." 

She put one arm about her husband's neck and 
kissed him. Lindsay turned; kissed her. 

" At least we have the major pieces back," 
Susannah said contentedly. " And little Lutetia 
Murray Lindsay will grow up in almost the same 
surroundings that Susannah Ayer enjoyed. Oh 
today when 1 carried her over to the wall of the 
nursery, she noticed the Weejubs ; she actually put 
her hand out to touch them." 

" Oh, there's something here for you from 
Rome just came in the mail," Lindsay ex- 
claimed. " It's addressed to Susannah Delano 



too." 



" From Rome ! " Susannah ejaculated. 
" Susannah Delano ! " She cut the strings of 
the package. Under the wrappings appeared 
swathed in tissue paper a picture. A letter 



OUT OF THE AIR 267 

dropped from the envelope. Susannah seized it; 
turned to the signature. 

"Garrison Monroe!" she ejaculated. " Oh, 
dear dear Uncle Garry, he's alive after all ! " She 
read the letter aloud, the tears welling in her 
eyes. 

" How wonderful! " she commented when she 
finished. " You see, he's apparently specialized in 
tomb-sculpture." 

She pulled the tissue paper from the picture. 
Their heads met, examining it. 

" Oh, how lovely!" Susannah exclaimed in a 
hushed voice. And "It's beautiful!" Lindsay 
agreed in a low tone. 

It was the photograph of a bit of sculptured 
marble; a woman swathed in rippling draperies 
lying, at ease, on her side. One hand, palm up- 
ward, fingers a little curled, lay by her cheek; the 
other fell across her breast. A veil partially ob- 
scured the delicate profile. But from every veiled 
feature, from every line of the figure, from every 
fold in the drapery, exuded rest. 

"It's perfect!" Susannah said, still in a low 
tone. " Perfect. Many a time she's fallen asleep 



268 OUT OF THE AIR 

just like than when we've all been talking and 
laughing. When she slept, her hand always lay 
close to her face as it is here. She always wore 
long floating scarves. You see he had to do her 
face from photographs ... and memory. . . . 
He's used that scarf device to conceal . . . 
How beautiful ! How beautiful ! " 

There came silence. 

" Mrs. Spash says he was in love with her," 
Susannah went on. " Of course I was too young. 
I didn't realize it. But it's all here, I think. Did 
you notice that part of the letter where he says 
that for the last year or two his mind has been 
full of her? And of all his life here? That's 
very pathetic, isn't it? Now there will be a fit- 
ting monument over her. . . . He says it will 
be here in a few months. We must send him 
pictures when it's put on her grave. How happy 
it makes me ! He says he's nearly eighty. . . . 
How beautiful. . . . You're not listening to 
me," she accused her husband with sudden indig- 
nation. But her indignation tempered itself by a 
flurry of little kisses when, following the direc- 
tion of his piercing gaze, she saw it ended on 



OUT OF THE AIR 269 

the miniature which hung beside the secretary. 
" Looking at Glorious Lutie ! " she mocked ten- 
derly. "How that miniature fascinates you! 
Sometimes," she added, obviously inventing whim- 
sical cause for grievance, u sometimes I think 
you're as much in love with her as you are with 



me." 



" If I am," Lindsay agreed, " it's because 
there's so much of you in her." 



THE END