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University of California Berkeley
THE PETER AND ROSELL HARVEY
OUT OF THE AIR
INEZ HAYNES IRWIN
HARCOURT, BRACE AND COMPANY
COPYRIGHT, I92O, 1921, BY
METROPOLITAN PUBLICATIONS, INC.
COPYRIGHT, 1921, BY
HARCOURT, BRACE AND COMPANY, INC.
THE OUINN ft BODEN COMPANY
RAHWAY, N. J.
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-
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-
" 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
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-
" 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
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
" 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
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
" 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
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
" 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,
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-
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-
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 *
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
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-
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
" 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
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-
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-
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
" 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.
" 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
" 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
** 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
" 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
" 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
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-
" Leave that to me," said Byan. " I know
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
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
" 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-
" 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
1 Yes, but perhaps we have," Mr. Warner in-
formed her gently. " Sit down, Miss Ayer. Sit
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-
" 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
" 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
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
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
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.
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
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
" 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
" 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
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? "
" 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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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-
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-
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-
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
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
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
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.
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
H2 OUT OF THE AIR
Her sleep was deep and dreamless; but in her
waking moments her thoughts pursued the same
" 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,
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
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-
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-
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,
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
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-
" 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
" 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
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
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
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
No. 3 The Coburns nice, comfy, middle-
aged folks; not rich; the best friends a girl could
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
It was Byan.
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
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
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
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
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-
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
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-
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-
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
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
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
" 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-
OUT OF THE AIR 155
luster stare on the little oval gleam of the
" 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
" 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
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
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
The janitor considered her for a puzzled
second. Of course he was in Byan's pay, Susan-
" 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
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.
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
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
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
" 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
" 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
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
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
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
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
" 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
" 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
" 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
" 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
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 ""
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."
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-
( 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
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
" 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,"
" 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."
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-
" That's exactly what you did, young man, n
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
" 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
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
" 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
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
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
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
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
With little nipping steps Mrs. Spash ascended
the stairway. Lindsay followed.
" Did Miss Murray die in her room?" Lind-
"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
" 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
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
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
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
" 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
"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-
'* Was she very much in love with Lewis?"
" 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."
" 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
"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-
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.
44 That's the big man, the sculptor," Lindsay
44 How'd you know? " Mrs. Spash pounced on
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-
" 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-
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
' 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
" 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
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
" 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
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
" You must let me buy them all," Lindsay pro-
" 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
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
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
" 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-
" 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
" 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
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."
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
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-
" 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-
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
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-
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
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
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
" 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
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.
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
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
" 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
" 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 ?"
" 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
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-
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
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
Mrs. Spash had been following him with her
faded, calm old eyes. Apparently she guessed
these questions were not addressed to her. She
" 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
" 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
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
" 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
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
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-
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
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-
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
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,
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
The girl *
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
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
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
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
" 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
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
" 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-
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
" 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
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-
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
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
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-
" 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
" 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
" 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
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
" 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
" How wonderful! " she commented when she
finished. " You see, he's apparently specialized in
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
" If I am," Lindsay agreed, " it's because
there's so much of you in her."