Part 4 out of 12
laugh, and she had decided that he was worth cultivating.
During the course of the day, however, Mr. Garfinkel fell afoul of
Mr. Yoder because of the way he danced with Kedzie. It was a rough
dance prettily entitled "Walking the Dog." Mr. Yoder, who did a
minuet in satin breeches to his own satisfaction, pleased neither
himself nor Mr. Garfinkel in the more modern expression of the
Mr. Garfinkel called him a number of names which Mr. Yoder would
never have tolerated if he had not needed the money. He quivered
with humiliation and struggled to conform, but he could not please
the sneering overseer. He sought the last resort of those persecuted
"Maybe you can do better yourself!"
"Well, I hope I choke if I can't," Garfinkel said as he passed the
manuscript to the camera-man and summoned Kedzie to his embrace.
"Here, Miss What's-your-name, git to me."
Kedzie slipped into his clutch, and he took her as if she were a
sheaf of wheat. His arms loved her lithe elasticities. He dragged
her through the steps with a wondering increase of interest. "Well,
say!" he muttered for her private consumption, "you're a little bit
of all right. I'm not so worse myself when I have such help."
He danced with her longer than was necessary for the demonstration.
Then he reluctantly turned her over to Mr. Yoder. Kedzie did not
like Mr. Yoder any more. She found him fat and clumsy, and his hands
were fat and clammy.
Mr. Garfinkel had to show him again.
Kedzie could not help murmuring up toward his chin, "I wish I could
dance with you instead of him."
Garfinkel muttered down into her topknot: "You can, girlie, but not
before the camera. There's a reason. How about a little roof garden
this evening, huh?"
Kedzie sighed, "I'm sorry--I can't."
Garfinkel realized that the crowd was sitting up and taking notice,
and so he flung Kedzie back to Yoder and proceeded with the picture.
He was angry at himself and at Kedzie, but Kedzie was angered at her
husband, who was keeping her from every opportunity of advancement.
Even as he loafed at home he prevented her ambitions. "The dog in
the manger!" she called him.
Garfinkel paid her no further attention except to take a close-up
of her standing at a soppy table and drinking a glass of stale beer
with a look of desperate pathos. She was supposed to be a slum waif
who had never had a mother's care. Kedzie had had too much of
The next day was a Saturday. Kedzie did not work. She was lonely for
toil, and she abhorred the flat and the neighbors. The expressive
parrot was growing tautological. Kedzie went out shopping to be
rid of Gilfoyle's nerves. He was in travail of another love-jingle,
and his tantrums were odious. He kept repeating _love_ and
_dove_ and _above_, and _tender, slender, offend her,
defender_, and _kiss_ and _bliss_ till the very words
grew gibberish, detestable nonsense.
Kedzie wandered the shops in a famine of desire for some of the new
styles. Her pretty body cried out for appropriate adornment as its
birthright. She was ashamed to go to the studio a third time in
the same old suit. She ordered one little slip of a dress sent home
"collect." She had hoarded the remnant of her Silsby dollars. When
she reached home the delivery-wagon was at the curb and the man was
up-stairs. Gilfoyle greeted Kedzie with resentment.
"What's this thing? I've got no money to pay it. You know that."
"Oh, I know that well," said Kedzie, and she went to the kitchen,
where she surreptitiously extracted the money from the depths of
She paid for the dress and put it on. But she would not let Gilfoyle
see her in it. She did not mind buying his cigarettes half so much
as she minded paying for her own clothes. It outraged the very
foundation principles of matrimony to have to pay for her own
Sunday was an appallingly long day to get through. She was so
frantic for diversion that she would have gone to church if she
had had anything fashionable enough to worship in. In the afternoon
she went out alone and sat on a bench in upper Riverside Drive.
A number of passers-by tried to flirt with her, but it was rather
her bitterness against men than any scruple that kept her eyes
She would have been excited enough if she had known that the
pictures in which she played a small part were being run off in
the projection-room at the studio for Mr. Ferriday's benefit.
Everybody was afraid of him. The heads of the firm were hoping that
he would approve the reels and not order them thrown out. They were
convinced that they would have to break with him before he broke
them. Mr. Garfinkel was hoping for a word of approval from the
But Ferriday was fretful and sarcastic about everything. Suddenly
Miss Havender noted that he was interested, noted it by the negative
proof of his sudden repose and silence. She could tell that he was
leaning forward, taut with interest. She saw that Anita Adair was
floating across the screen in the arms of Mr. Yoder.
There followed various scenes in which Kedzie did not appear,
close-up pictures of other people. Ferriday fell back growling.
Then he came bolt upright as the purring spinning-wheel of
the projection machine poured out more of Kedzie.
Suddenly he shouted through the dark: "Stop! Wait! Go back! Give
us the last twenty feet again. Who is that girl--that dream? Who
is she, Garfinkel?"
"I don't know her name, sir."
"Don't know her name! You wouldn't! Well, the whole world will know
her name before I get through with her. Who is she, anyway?"
Miss Havender spoke. "Her name is Adair--Anita Adair."
"Anita Adair, eh? Well, where did she come from? Who dug her up?"
"I did," said Miss Havender.
"Good for you, old girl! She's just what I need." And now he studied
again the scene in which Kedzie took down the draught of bitter
beer, and there was a superhuman vividness in the close-up, with
its magnified details in which every tiny muscle revealed its soul.
"Look at her!" Ferriday cried. "She's perfect. The pathos of her!
She wants training, like the devil, but, Lord, what material!"
He was as fanatic as a Michelangelo finding in a quarry a neglected
block of marble and seeing through its hard edges the mellow contours
of an ideal. He was as impatient to assail his task and beat off
the encumbering weight.
Kedzie wore her new frock when she reached the studio on Monday
morning. She greeted Mr. Garfinkel with an entreating smile, and
was alarmed by the remoteness of his response. He was cold because
she was not for him. He led her respectfully to the anteroom of
the sacred inclosure where Ferriday was behaving like a lion in
a cage, belching his wrath at his keepers, ordering the fund-finders
to find more funds for his great picture. It threatened to bankrupt
them before it was finished, but he derided them as imbeciles,
Garfinkel was manifestly afraid of Ferriday's very echo, and he
cowered a little when Ferriday burst through the door with mane
bristling and fangs bared.
"Well, well, well!" Ferriday stormed. "What do you want, Garfinkel?
What do you want, Garfinkel? What do you want?"
"You told me to bring Miss Adair to you as soon as she arrived,
The lion roared as gentle as a sucking dove.
"And this is Miss Adair, is it? Of course it is. Welcome to our
little boiler-factory, my dear. Come in and sit down. Garfinkel,
get her a chair and then get out. Sit down, child. I never bite
Kedzie was pleasantly terrified, and she wondered what would befall
her next. She gave the retreating Garfinkel no further thought. She
sat and trembled before the devouring gaze of the great Ferriday.
He studied her professionally, but he was intensely, extravagantly
human. That was why he appealed to the public so potently. He took
their feelings and set them on fire and juggled with them flaming.
He had such caloric that he kindled actors and actresses to
unsuspected brilliances. He made tinder of the dry-as-dusts,
and he brought the warm-hearted to a white-hot glow.
He dealt with primary emotions crudely but vigorously. A soldier
saluting an officer became in a Ferriday picture a zealot rendering
a national homage. A maid watching her lover walk away angry became
a Juliet letting Romeo go; a child weeping over a broken doll was
an epitome of all regret. A mother putting a light in the window for
an erring daughter's guidance was something new, an allegory as great
as Bartholdi's Liberty putting her lamp in the window of the nation.
He was as intense with humor as with sorrow. A girl washing dishes
brought shrieks of laughter at the little things she did--the
struggle with the slippery soap, the recoil from the hot plate,
the carelessness with the towel.
Ferriday had not talked to Kedzie two minutes before she was wringing
her hands with excitement. He was discovering her to herself. He told
her the story of a picture he wanted to put her in. He had withheld
it for months, looking for the right interpreter. He resolved to
postpone the completion of the big picture till he had finished a
five-reel idyl for the apotheosis of Kedzie.
"The backers of the enterprise will have apoplexy when they hear
of it," he laughed. "But what do I care?"
The whole army of the studio stood meanwhile at ease, drawing salary
and waiting for Ferriday to remember his day's program and give the
order to go ahead. But he was busy with his new story, in the throes
of nympholepsy, seeing visions, hearing voices.
Kedzie sat in a marble expectancy, Galatea watching Pygmalion
create her and prepare to bring her to life. She had never lived.
She realized that. All her previous existence had been but blind
gropings in the womb of time.
The backers came to remind Ferriday that there was waiting a costly
mob of actors, wooed from the speaking drama by trebled salaries.
Ferriday howled to them to get out. They did not respect his
inspirations; they suspected his motives toward Kedzie.
But Ferriday was deep in love with his art; he was panting with
the afflation of Apollo. Old motives, old scenes, old characters
that had served as "sure-fire stuff" since the earliest Hindu drama
now fell into their ancient places and he thought them new. Kedzie
was sure she had never heard such original ideas. Her gratitude to
Ferriday was absolute. And he was clever enough, or crazy enough,
to say that he was grateful to her. He had been looking for just
Her, and she had come to him just in time. He made her promises
that Solomon could not have made to Sheba, or Shakespeare to the
Solomon could offer to his visitor Ophirian wealth, and Shakespeare
could guarantee with some show of success (up to date) that his
words of praise would outlive all other monuments. But Ferriday
did not offer Kedzie minerals or adjectives. He cried:
"Little girl, I'll put you on a girdle of films that will encircle
the world. Your smile will run round the globe like the sun, and
light up dark places in Africa. Your tears will shower the earth.
People in thousands of towns will watch your least gesture with
anxiety. Queens will have you brought to their palaces to make them
laugh and cry. The soldiers of the world will call you their mascot
and write love-letters to you from the trenches. I will have a
billion pictures made of you, and you shall breathe and move in all
of them. You shall live a million lives at once. I will have your
other self placed in museums so that centuries from now they can
take you out and bring you to life again."
It was a mighty good speech. It would be hard to find a serenade
to beat it. And he read it superbly. He had sung it to every one
of his only girls in the world, his eternal (pro tem.) passions.
He had had about nineteen muses already.
Kedzie did not know this, of course. And it would not have mattered
much. Better the nine-and-ninetieth muse to such a man than the
first and final gas-stove slave of a Tommie Gilfoyle.
Kedzie sat in the state of nerves of a little girl alone on a
mountain-top with lightning shimmering and striking all round her.
She was so happy, so full of electrical sparks, that she was fairly
incandescent. As she said afterward, she felt "all lit up."
Ferriday spun out the plot of his new five-reel scenario until he
was like an unreeled spider. He was all out. The mechanical details
interested and refreshed him now. He must order the studio scenery
and select the outdoor "locations." He must pick the supporting cast
and devise one or two blood-curdling moments of great peril.
Kedzie was too excited to note the ghoulish joy with which he
planned to put her into the most perilous plights that had ever
threatened even a movie star with death or crippledom.
"Do they scare you, my dear?" he asked.
"Scare me?" said Kedzie. "Why, Mr. Ferriday, if you told me to,
I'd go out to the Bronx Zoo-ological Gardens and bite the ear off
the biggest lion they got in the lion-house."
Ferriday reached out, put his arm about her farther shoulder, and
squeezed her to him after the manner of dosing an accordeon. Kedzie
emitted the same kind of squeak. But she was not unhappy, and she
did not even say, "Sir!"
The plot of The Kedziad was to be based on the From-Rags-to-Riches
_leitmotiv_, Kedzie was to be a cruelly treated waif brought up
as a boy by a demoniac Italian padrone who made her steal. She was
to be sent into a rich man's home to rob it. She would find the rich
man about to commit suicide all over his sumptuous library. She
would save him, and he would save her from the padrone's revenge,
on condition that she should dress as a girl (he had not, of course,
suspected that she really was one at the time--had always been one,
in fact). She would dress as a girl and conduct a very delicate
diplomatic mission with a foreign ambassador, involving a submarine
wrecked (in the studio tank) and a terrific ride across one of
the deadliest battle-fields of Verdun (New Jersey) with a vast army
of three hundred supers.
When Kedzie had saved two or three nations and kept the United
States from war the millionaire would regret that she was, after
all, only a boy and be overcome with rapture when she told him the
truth. The three hundred supers would then serve as wedding-guests
in the biggest church wedding ever pulled off.
Kedzie liked this last touch immensely. It would make up for that
disgusting guestless ceremony in the Municipal Building.
Ferriday got rid of her exquisitely by writing a note and saying
"Now you run down and hop into my car and take this note to Lady
Powell-Carewe--don't fail to call her 'Pole Cary.' She is to design
your wealthy wardrobe, and I want her to study you and do something
unheard of in novelty and beauty. Tell her that the more she spends
the better I'll like it."
Kedzie was really a heroine. She did not swoon even at that.
When Ferriday dismissed her he enfolded her to his beautiful
waistcoat, and then held her off by her two arms and said:
"Little girl, you've made me so happy! So happy! Ah! We'll do great
things together! This is a red-letter day for the movie art."
Kedzie never feared that it might have a scarlet-letter significance.
She forgot that she was anything but a newborn, full-fledged angel
without a past--only a future with the sky for its limit. Alas! we
always have our pasts. Even the unborn babe has already centuries
of a past.
It was Ferriday who brought Kedzie home to hers.
"What about dinner to-night, my dear? I feel like having a wonderful
dinner to-night! Are partridge in season now? What is your favorite
sherry? Let me call for you at, say, seven. Where shall I call?"
Kedzie flopped back from the empyrean to her flat. Gilfoyle again
She nearly swooned then. Her soul rummaged frantically through a
brain like her own work-basket. She finally dug up an excuse.
"I'd rather meet you at the restaurant."
Ferriday smiled. He understood. The poor thing was ashamed of her
"Well, Cinderella, let me send my pumpkin for you, at least. I won't
come. Where shall my chauffeur find you?"
Kedzie whimpered the shabby number of the shabby street.
"Shall he ask for Miss Adair, or--"
Kedzie was inspired: "I live in Mrs. Gilfoyle's flat-partment."
"I see," said Ferriday. "Miss Anita Adair--ring Mrs. Gilfoyle's
bell. All right, my angel, at seven. Run along."
He kissed her, and she was ice-cold. But then women were often
like that before Ferriday's genius.
The things we are ashamed of are an acid test of our souls. Kedzie
Thropp was constantly improving the quality of her disgusts.
A few months ago she was hardly ashamed of sleeping under a park
bench. And already here she was sliding through the street in
a limousine. It was a shabby limousine, but she was not yet ready
to be ashamed of any limousine. She was proud to have it lent to
her, proud to know anybody who owned such a thing.
What she was ashamed of now was the home it must take her to and
the jobless husband waiting for her there. She was ashamed of
herself for tying up with a husband so soon. She had married in
haste and repented in haste. And there was a lot of leisure for
Already her husband was such a handicap that she had refrained
from mentioning his existence to the great moving-picture director
who had opened a new world of glory to her--thrown on a screen,
as it were, a cinemation of her future, where triumphs followed
one another with moving-picture rapidity. He had made a scenario
of her and invited her to dinner.
She smiled a little at the inspiration that had saved her from
confessing that she was Mrs. Gilfoyle. It was neat of her to tell
Mr. Ferriday that she could be addressed "in care of Mrs. Gilfoyle."
In care of herself! That was just what she was. Who else was so
interested in Kedzie's advancement as Kedzie?
She was a bitterly disappointed Kedzie just now. Ferriday had told
her to go to Lady Powell-Carewe and get herself a bevy of specially
designed gowns at the expense of the firm. There was hardly a woman
alive who would not have rejoiced at such a mission. To Kedzie, who
had never had a gown made by anything higher than a sewing-woman,
the privilege was heavenly. Also, she had never met a Lady with
a capital L.
The dual strain might have been the death of her, but she was saved
by the absence of Lady Powell-Carewe. Kedzie went back to the street,
sick with deferred hope. Ferriday's chauffeur was waiting to take
her home. She felt grateful for the thoughtfulness of Ferriday and
The nearer Kedzie came to her lowly highly flat the less she wanted
even the chauffeur of Mr. Ferriday's limousine to see her enter it.
He would come for her again at night, but the building did not look
so bad at night.
So she tapped on the glass and told him to let her out, please,
at the drug-store, as she had some marketing to do.
"Sure, Miss," said the chauffeur.
Kedzie liked that "Miss." It was ever so much prettier than "Mizzuz."
She bought some postage-stamps at the drug-store and some pork chops
at the butcher's and went down the street and up the stairs to her
life-partner, dog on him!
Gilfoyle was just finishing a poem, and he was the least attractive
thing in the world to her, next to his poem. He was in his sock
feet; his suspenders were down--he would wear the hateful things!
his collar was off, his sleeves up; his detachable cuffs were
detached and stuck on the mantelpiece; his hair was crazy, and he
had ink smears on his nose.
"Don't speak to me!" he said, frantically, as he thumped the table
with finger after finger to verify the meter.
"No danger!" said Kedzie, and went into the bedroom to look over
her scant wardrobe and choose the least of its evils to wear.
She shook her head at her poverty and went to the kitchen to cook
lunch for her man. He followed her and read her his poem while she
slammed the oven door of the gas-stove at the exquisitely wrong
moments. She broke his heart by her indifference and he tore up
the poem, carefully saving the pieces.
"A whole day's work and five dollars gone!" he groaned. He was
so sulky that he forgot to ask her why she had come home so early.
He assumed that she had been turned off. She taxed her ingenuity
to devise some way of getting to the dinner with Ferriday without
letting Gilfoyle know of it. At last she made so bold as to tell her
husband that she thought she would drop in at her old boarding-house
and stay for dinner if she got asked.
"I'm sick of my cooking," she said.
"So am I, darling. Go by all means!" said Gilfoyle, who owed her one
for the poem.
Kedzie was suspicious of his willingness to let her go, but already
she had outgrown jealousy of him. As a matter of fact, he had been
invited to join a few cronies at dinner in a grimy Italian boarding-
house. They gave it a little interest by calling it a "speak-easy,"
because the proprietor sold liquor without a license. Gilfoyle's
cronies did not know of his marriage and he was sure that Kedzie
would not fit. She did not even know the names of the successful,
therefore mercenary, writers and illustrators, much less the names
of the unsuccessful, therefore artistic and sincere.
To Kedzie's delight, Gilfoyle took himself off at the end of a
perfect day of misery. He left her alone with her ambitions. She
was in very grand company. She hated the duds she had to wear, but
she solaced herself with planning what she should buy when money
was rolling in.
When Ferriday's car came for her she was standing in the doorway.
She hopped in like the Cinderella that Ferriday had called her. When
the car rolled up to the Knickerbocker Hotel she pretended that it
was her own motor.
Ferriday was standing at the curb, humbly bareheaded. He wore a
dinner-jacket and a soft hat which he tucked under his arm so that
he might clasp her hands in both of his with a costume-play fervor.
He had been an actor once--and he boasted that he had been a very
Kedzie felt as if he were helping her from a sedan chair. She
imagined her knee skirts lengthened to a brocaded train, and his
trousers gathered up into knee breeches with silver buckles.
Bitterness came back to her as she entered the hotel and her slimpsy
little cloth gown must brush the Parisian skirts of the richly clad
She pouted in right earnest and it was infinitely becoming to her.
Ferriday was not thinking of the price or cut of her frock. He
was perceiving the flexile figure that informed it, the virginal
shoulders that curved up out of it, the slender, limber throat
that aspired from them and the flower-poise of her head on its
"You are perfect" he groaned into her ear, with a flattering agony
That made everything all right and she did not tremble much even
before the _maître d'hôtel_. She was a trifle alarmed at the
covey of waiters who hastened to their table to pull out the chairs
and push them in and fetch the water and bread and butter and silver
and plates. She was glad to have long gloves to take off slowly while
she recovered herself and took in the gorgeous room full of gorgeous
people. Gloves are most useful coming off and going on.
Kedzie was afraid of the bill of fare with its complex French terms,
but Ferriday took command of the menu.
When he was working Ferriday could wolf a sandwich with the greed of
a busy artist and give orders with a shred of meat in one hand and
a mug of coffee in the other. But when he luxuriated he luxuriated.
Tonight he was tired of life and dejected from a battle with the
stingy backers, who had warned him for the last time once more
that he had to economize. He needed to forget such people and
the loathsome enemy of fancy, economy.
"I want to order something as exquisite as you are," he said.
"Of course, there could be nothing as exquisite as you are, Miss
Adair--you were curled up on a silver dish with a little apple
in your mouth like a young roast pig. Ever read Lamb on pig?"
Kedzie laughed with glancing tintinnabulations as if one tapped
a row of glasses with a knife.
Ferriday sighed. He saw that she had never heard of Lamb and thought
he was perpetrating an ancient pun. But he did not like bookish women
and he often said that nothing was more becoming to a woman than
ignorance. They should have wisdom, but no learning.
Ferriday was one of those terrifying persons who know, or pretend
to know, curious secrets about restaurants and their resources.
Wine-cellars and the individualities of chefs had no terror for
him so far as she could see. He expressed contempt for apparent
commonplaces that Kedzie had never heard of. He used French words
with an accent that Kedzie supposed to be perfect.
The waiters knew that he did not know much and had merely picked up
a smattering of dining-room lore, but they humored his affectations.
And of all affectations, what is more futile than the printing of
American bills of fare in French?
"Would you prefer the Astrakhan caviar?" he began on Kedzie, "or
some or-durv? The caviar here is fairly trustworthy."
Kedzie shrugged her perfectly accented shoulders in a cowardly
evasion, and he ordered the first caviar Kedzie had ever eaten.
It looked as if it came from a munitions-factory, but she liked it
immensely, especially as a side-long glance at the bill of fare told
her that it cost one dollar and twenty-five cents per person.
Next he proposed either a potage madrilène or a crême de volaille,
Kedzie chose the latter because it was the latter. She mumbled:
"I think a little cremmy vly Marie Louisa would be nice."
She was amazed to find later how much it tasted like chicken soup.
"We don't want any fish, do we?" Ferriday moaned. "Or do we? They
don't really understand the suprême de sole à la Verdi here, so
suppose we skip to the roast, unless you would risk the aigulette
de pompano, Coquelin. The last time I had a tronçon de saumon here
I had to send it back."
Kedzie said, "Let's skip."
She shuddered. The word reminded her, as always, of Skip Magruder.
She remembered how he had hung over the table that far-away morning
and recommended ham 'n'eggs. His dirty shirt-sleeves and his grin
came back to her now. The gruesome Banquo reminded her so vividly
of her early guilt of plebeiancy that she shivered. The alert
Ferriday noticed it and called:
"Have that window closed at once. There's an infernal draught here."
Kedzie was thrilled at his autocratic manner. He scared off the ghost
Ferriday pondered aloud the bill of fare as if it were the plot of
a new feature film.
"Capon en casserole, milk-fed guinea-hen escoffier, plover en
cocotte, English golden pheasant, partridge--do any of those
tiresome things interest you?"
It was like asking her whether she would have a Gorham tea-set,
a Balcom gown, or a Packard landaulet. She wanted them all.
But her eyes caught the prices. Four dollars for an English pheasant!
No wonder they called it golden. It seemed a shame, though, to stick
such a nice man, after he had already ordered two dollars and a
half's worth of caviar.
She chose the cheapest thing. She was already falling in love
The plover was only a dollar. She was not quite sure what kind of
animal it would turn out to be. She had a womanly intuition that it
was a fowl of some breed. She wanted to know. She had come to the
"I think I'll take a bit of the plover," she said.
"Nice girl!" thought Ferriday, who recognized her vicarious economy.
"Plover it is," he said to the waiter, and added, "tell Pierre it's
for me and he'd better not burn it again."
The waiter was crushed by Pierre's lapse, especially as the chef's
name was Achille.
Ferriday went on: "With the plover we might have some champignons
frais sous cloche and a salade de laitue avec French dressing,
yes? Then a substantial sweet: a coupe aux marrons or a nesselrode
Kedzie wanted to ask for a plain, familiar vanilla ice-cream, but
she knew better. She ordered the nesselrode--and got her ice-cream,
after all. There were chestnuts in it, too--so she was glad she
had not selected the coupe aux marrons.
Ferriday did not take a sweet, but had a cheese instead, after an
anxious debate with the waiter about the health of the Camembert
and the decadence of the Roquefort. When this weighty matter was
settled he returned to Kedzie:
"Now for something to drink. A little sherry and bitters to begin
with, of course; and a--oh, umm, let me see--simple things are best;
suppose we stick to champagne." He called it "shah pine," according
to Kedzie's ear, but she hoped he meant shampane. She had always
wanted to taste "wealthy water," as Gilfoyle called it, but never
called for it.
Kedzie was a trifle alarmed when Ferriday said: "I hope you don't
like it sweet. It can't be too dry for me."
"Me, either," Kedzie assured him--and made a face implying that she
always took it in the form of a powder.
Ferriday smiled benignly and said to the waiter: "You might bring us
een boo-tay de Bollinger Numéro--er--katter--vang--kanz." He knew
that the French for ninety-five was four-twenties-fifteen, but the
waiter could not understand till he placed his finger on the number
with his best French accent. He saved himself from collapse by a
"Remember, it's the vintage of nineteen hundred. If you bring that
loathsome eighteen ninety-three I'll have to crack the bottle over
your head. You wouldn't want that, would you?"
"_Non, m'zoo, oui, monzoo_," said the German waiter.
"Then we'll have some black coffee and a liqueur--a Curaçao, say,
or a green Chartreuse, or a white mint. Which?"
Naturally Kedzie said the white mint, please.
With that Ferriday released the waiter, who hurried away, hoping
that Ferriday's affectations included extravagant tips.
Kedzie gobbled prettily the food before her. Ferriday could tell that
she was anxiously watching and copying his methods of attack. He soon
knew that this was her first real meal _de luxe_, but he did not
mind that. Columbus was not angry at America because it had never
seen an explorer before.
It delighted Ferriday to think that he had discovered Kedzie. He
would say later that he invented her. And she wanted tremendously
to be discovered or invented or anything else, by anybody who could
find a gold-mine in her somewhere and pay her a royalty on her own
When her lips met the shell-edge of the champagne-glass and the
essence of all mischief flung its spray against the tip of her
cleverly whittled nose she winced at first. But she went boldly
back, and soon the sprites that rained upward in her glass were
sending tiny balloons of hope through her brain. They soared past
her small skull and her braided hair and the crown of her hat and
on up through the ceiling, and none of them broke--as yet.
Her soul was pleasantly a-simmer now and she could not tell whether
the wine made her exultant or she the wine. But she was sure that
she had at last discovered her life.
And with it all she was dreadfully canny. She was only a little
village girl unused to city ways, and the handsome city stranger
was plying her with wine; but she was none of your stencil figures
that blot romance.
Kedzie was thinking over the cold, hard precepts that women acquire
somehow. She was resolving that since she was to be as great as he
said she should be, she must not cheapen herself now.
Many of these little village girls have come to town since time
was and brought with them the level heads of icily wise women who
make love a business and not a folly. Many men are keeping sober
mainly nowadays because it is good business; many women pure for
the same reason.
Turkish sultans as fierce as Suleiman the Magnificent have bought
country girls kidnapped by slave-merchants and have bought tyrants
in the bargain. Ferriday the Magnificent was playing with holocaust
when he set a match to Kedzie.
But now she was an attractive little flame and he watched her soul
flicker and gave it fuel. He also gave it a cigarette; at least he
proffered her his silver case, but she shook her head.
"Why not?" he asked. "All the women, old and young, are smoking
She tightened her plump lips and answered, "I don't like 'em; and
they give me the fidgets."
"You'll do!" he cried, softly, reaching out and clenching her
knuckles in his palm a moment. "You're the wise one! I felt sure
that pretty little face of yours was only a mask for the ugliest
and most valuable thing a woman can possess."
"What's that?" said Kedzie, hoping he was not going to begin big
"Wisdom," said Ferriday. "A woman ought to be as wise as the serpent,
but she ought to have the eyes of a dove. Your baby sweetness is
worth a fortune on the screen if you have brains enough to manage
it, and I fancy you have. Here's to you, Miss Anita Adair!"
He drank deep, but she only touched the brim. She saw that he was
drinking too much--he had had several cocktails while he waited
for her to arrive. Kedzie felt that one of the two must keep a clear
head. She found that ice-water was a good antidote for champagne.
When Ferriday sharply ordered the waiter to look to her glass she
shook her head. When he finished the bottle and the waiter put it
mouth down in the ice as an eloquent reminder Ferriday accepted
the challenge and ordered another bottle. He was just thickened
of tongue enough to say "boddle."
Kedzie spoke, quickly: "Please, no. I must go home. It's later than
I thought, and--"
"And Mrs. Gilfoyle will wonder," Ferriday laughed. "That's right,
my dear. You've got to keep good hours if you are going to succeethe
on the screen. Early to bed, for you must early-to-rise. _Garçon,
garçon, l'addition, s'il vous_ please."
While he was paying the bill Kedzie was thinking fleetly of her next
problem. He would want to take her home in his car, and it would be
just her luck to find her husband on the door-step. In any case, she
was afraid that Ferriday would be sentimental and she did not want
Ferriday to be sentimental just yet. And she would not tolerate
a sentiment inspired or influenced by wine. Love from a bottle is
the poorest of compliments.
Already she was a little disappointed in Ferriday. He was a great
man, but he had his fault, and she had found him out. If he were
going to be of use to her she must snub that vinous phase at once.
The cool air outside seemed to gratify Ferriday and he took off his
hat while the carriage-starter whistled up his car. Now Kedzie said:
"Please, Mr. Ferriday, just put me in a taxicab."
"Nonsense! I'll take you home. I'll certainly take you home."
"No, please; it's 'way out of your way, and I--I'd rather--really
Ferriday stared hard at her as if she were just a trifle blurred.
He frowned; then he smiled.
"Why, bless your soul, if you'd rather I wouldn't oppose you, I
wouldn't--not for worlds. But you sha'n't go home in any old cabby
taxishab; you'll take my wagon and I'll walk. The walk will do me
Kedzie thought it would, too, so she consented with appropriate
reluctance. He lifted her in and closed the door--then leaned in
"Give my love to old Mrs. Gilfoyle. And don't fail to be at the
shudio bright and early. We'll have to make sun while the hay
shines, you know. Good night, Miss Adair!"
"Good night, Mr. Ferriday, and thank you ever so much for the
perfectly lovely evening."
"It has been l-l-lovely. Goo-ood night!"
The car swept away and made a big turn. She saw Ferriday marching
grandiosely along the street, with his head bared to the cool
moonlight. She settled back and snuggled into the cushions,
imagining the car her very own.
She left her glory behind her as she climbed the long stairs,
briskly preparing her lies and her defensive temper for her
husband's wrathful greeting.
He was not there.
Kedzie had no sooner rejoiced in the fortunate absence of her
husband than she began to worry because he was away. Where was he
and with whom? She sat by the window and looked up and down the
street, but she could find none among the pedestrians who looked
like her possessor. She forgot him in the beauty of the town--all
black velvet and diamonds.
Once more she sat with her window open toward her Jerusalem and
worshiped the holy city of her desire. That night at the Biltmore
she was an ignorant country-town girl who had never had anything.
Now she had had a good deal, including a husband. But, strangely,
there was just as much to long for as before--more, indeed, for
she knew more things to want.
As the scientist finds in every new discovery a new dark continent,
in each atom a universe, so Kedzie found from each acquired desire
infinite new desires radiating fanwise to the horizon and beyond.
At first she had wanted to know the town--now she wanted to be known
by the town. Then her father stood in her way; now, her husband. She
had eloped from her parents with ease and they had never found her
again. She had succeeded in being lost.
She did not want to be lost any more; but she was lost, utterly
nobody to anybody that mattered. Now was her chance, but she could
not run away from her husband and get famous without his finding her.
If he found her he would spoil her fun and her fame. She did not
know how many public favorites are married, how many matinée idols
are managed by their wives. She had never heard of the prima donna's
She fell asleep among her worries. She was awakened by the noisy
entrance of her spouse. He was hardly recognizable. She thought
at first that her eyes were bleary with sleep, but it was his face
that was bleary. He was what a Flagg caricature of him would be,
with the same merciless truth in the grotesque.
Kedzie had never seen him boozy before. She groaned, expressively,
"My Gawd! you're pie-eyed."
He sang an old song, "The girl guessed right the very first time,
very firstime, verfirstime."
He tried to take her into his arms. She slapped his hands away. He
laughed and flopped into a chair, giggling. She studied him with
almost more interest than repugnance. He was idiotically jovial,
as sly as an idiot and as inscrutable.
Without waiting to be asked he began a recital of his chronicles.
He was as evidently concealing certain things as boasting of others.
Kedzie rather hoped he had done something to conceal, since that
would be an atonement for her own subtleties.
"I have been in Bohemia," he said, "zhenuine old Bohemia where hearts
are true and eyes are blue and ev'body loves ev'body else. Down
there a handclasp is a pledzh of loyalty. There's no hypocrisy
in Bohemia--not a dambit. No, sirree. The idle rish with their
shnobberies and worship of mere--mere someshing or oth' have no
place in Bohemia, for in Bohemia hearsh are true and wine is blue
"Oh, shut up!" said Kedzie.
"Thass way you're always repressin' me. You're a hopeless
Philisterine. But I have no intentions of shuttin' up, my darlin'
He was hushing himself. He was very patently remembering something
and conspicuously warning himself not to divulge it. Kedzie loathed
him too much to care. Now that he was safely housed he ceased to
interest her. She went to bed. He spiraled into a chair to meditate
his wickedness. He felt that he was as near to being a hypocrite
as was possible in Bohemia.
He had met two talented ladies at the dinner, one was a sculptress
from Mr. Samuel Merwin's Washington Square and the other was a
paintress from Mr. Owen Johnson's Lincoln Square. Neither lady
had had any work accepted by the Academy or bought by a dealer.
Both were consequently as fierce against intrenched art as Gilfoyle
was against intrenched capital and literature.
They were there in the company of two writers. One of these could not
get anything published at all except in the toy magazines, which paid
little and late and died early. The other writer could get published,
but not sold. Both were young and needed only to pound their irons
on the anvil to get them hot, but they blamed the world for being
cold to true art. In time they would make the sparks fly and would
be in their turn assailed as mere blacksmiths by the next line of
younger apprentices. They were at present in the same stage as any
other new business--they were building up custom in a neighborhood
But at present they were suppressed, all four, men and women;
suppressed and smothered as next June's flowers and weeds are held
back by the conspiracy of December's snows and the harsh criticisms
The sculptress's first name was Marguerite and Gilfoyle longed to
call her by it, after his second goblet of claret-and-water. He had
a passion for first names. He had the quick enthusiasm of a lawyer
or an advertising-man for a new client. Before he quite realized
the enormity of his perfidy he was pretending to compose a poem to
Marguerite. He wrote busily on an old bill of fare which had already
been persecuted by an artist or two. And he wrote his Anita poem
over again in Marguerite's honor, _mutatis mutandis_.
Pretty maid, pretty maid, may I say Marguerita?
Your last name is sweet, but your first name is sweeter.
And so on to the bitter end.
He slipped the lyric to Marguerite and she read it with squeals of
delight, while Gilfoyle looked as modest as such a genius could.
The other girl had to read it, of course, while Gilfoyle tried to
look unconscious. He was as successful as one is who tries to hold
a casual expression for a photograph.
The other girl's reward was a shrug and the diluted claret of
a "Very nice!" Gilfoyle said, "You're no judge or else you're
jealous." The two men read it, and said, "Mush!" and "Slushgusher!"
but Marguerite's eyes belonged to Gilfoyle the rest of the evening,
also her hands now and then.
Remembering this, Gilfoyle was uneasy. One ought to be careful to
keep an aseptic memory at home. Yet if this was not infidelity, what
would be? In a rich man Gilfoyle would have called it a typical
result of the evil influence of wealth. In the absence of wealth it
was a gay little Pierrot-perfidy of the _vie de Bohême_. Still,
poets have to be like that. An actor must make love to whatever
leading lady confronts him, and so must poets, the lawyers and press
agents of love.
But when he got home Gilfoyle repented as he remembered. He suffered
on a rack of guilty bliss, but he managed to hold back the secret
which was bubbling up in him with a bromo-seltzer effervescence.
Incidentally his "pretty maid, pretty maid, Marguerite" had kept
back the fact that she had a husband in the hardware business in
Terre Haute. What the husband was keeping back is none of this
It was all as old and unoriginal as original sin. The important thing
to Kedzie was the fact that shortly after the poem had been revamped
a stranger had joined, first in song with Gilfoyle's table-load and
then in conversation. He had ended by introducing his companion and
bringing her over. Had it not been for the fine democracy of Bohemia
they would have cut the creature dead. She was a buyer, one of Miss
Ferber's Emma McChesneys on a lark.
Gilfoyle did not tell Kedzie any of this. He told what followed as
he toiled at the fearfully complicated problem of his shoe-laces,
a problem rendered almost insuperable by the fact that he could not
hold his foot high very long and dared not hold his head low at all.
"Wonnerful thing happent t'night, Anita. Just shows you never know
where your lucksh goin' to hit you. I'm down there with--er--er--
couple of old frensh, you know, and who comes over to our table but
big feller from out Wesh--Chicago--Chicago--Gobbless Ch'cag! His name
is entitled Deshler. In coursh conv'sation I mention Breathasweeta
Shewing Gum--see?--he says he knew that gum and he'd sheen the
advershments, bes' ol' ad-vershments ever sheen, thass what Mr.
Beshler said and I'm not lyin' to you, Anita. No, sir.
"Whereupon--whereupon I modesly remark, 'Of course they're clever
--nashurally they're clever, because they were written by l'i'l
Mr. ME!' He says, 'You really wrote 'em?' and I say, 'I roally
wretem!' And Mr. Keshler says, 'Well, I'll be g'dam'.' Then he
says, 'Who coined that name Breathasweeta?' And I says, 'I did!'
and he says, 'Well, I'll be g'dam'!'
"Anyway, to make long shory stort, Mr. Nestor he says, 'What you
doin' now? Writen copy for the Kaiser or the K-zar?' and I says,
'I am a gen'leman of leisure,' and he says, 'There's a good job
waitin' fer lad your size out in Ch'cag! Would you come 'way out
there?' and I says, 'I fear nothing!'
"So Mr. Zeisselberg wrote his name on a card, and if I haven't los'
card, or he doesn't change his old mind, I am now Mr. John J. Job
of Chicago. And now I got a unsolishited posish--imposishible
solishion--solution--unpolusion solishible--you know what I mean.
So kiss me!"
Kedzie escaped the kiss, but she asked, with a sleepy eagerness,
"Did you tell him you were married?"
"Nashurly not, my dear. It was stric'ly business conv'sation.
I didn' ask him how many shildren he had and he didn' ask me if
I was a Benedictine or a--or a pony of brandy--thass pretty good.
Hope I can rememmer it to-mor'."
Kedzie smiled, but not at his boozy pun. She seemed more comfortable.
She fell asleep. Next to being innocent, being absolved is the most
soothing of sensations.
The next morning that parrot, still unmurdered, woke Kedzie early.
She buried one ear deep in the pillow and covered the other with
her hair and her hand. The parrot's voice receded to a distance,
but a still smaller voice began to call to her. She was squirming
deeper for a long snooze when her foot struck another.
Her husband!--King Log, audibly a-slumber. She pouted drowsily,
frowned, slid away, and tried to commit temporary suicide by
drowning herself in sleep.
Then her stupor faded as the tiny call resounded again in her soul.
She was no longer merely Mrs. Anita Gilfoyle, the flat-dwelling
nobody. She was now Anita Adair, the screen-queen. She was needed
at the studio.
She sat up, looked at her husband, her unacknowledged and
unacknowledging husband. A mysterious voice drew her from his side
as cogently as the hand of Yahweh drew the rib that became a woman
from under the elbow of Adam.
She rose and looked back and down at the man whom the law had united
her with indissolubly. Eve must have wondered back at Adam with
the same sense of escape while he lay asleep. According to one of
the conflicting legends of the two gods of Genesis, woman was then
actually one with man. Marriage has ever since been an effort to
put her back among his ribs, but she has always refused to be
intercostal. It is an ancient habit to pretend that she is, and
sometimes she pretends to snuggle into place. Yet she has never been,
can never be, re-ribbed--especially not since marriage is an attempt
to fit her into the anatomy of an Adam who is always, in a sense,
a stranger to her.
Kedzie gazed on her Adam with a sense of departure, of farewell.
She felt a trifle sorry for Gilfoyle, and the moment she resolved
to quit him he became a little more attractive.
There was something pitiful about his helpless sprawl: his very
awkwardness endeared him infinitesimally. She nearly felt that
tenderness which good wives and fond mothers feel for the gawky
creatures they hallow with their devotion.
Kedzie leaned forward to kiss the poor wretch good-by, but,
unfortunately (or fortunately), a restlessness seized him, he
rolled over on his other side, and one limp, floppy hand struck
Kedzie on the nose.
She sprang back with a gasp of pain and hurried away, feeling
abused and exiled.
At the studio she was received by Garfinkel with distinction.
Ferriday came out to meet her with a shining morning face and led
her to the office of the two backers.
A contract was waiting for her and the pen and ink were handy. Kedzie
had never seen a contract before and she was as afraid of this one
as if it were her death warrant. It was her life warrant, rather.
She tried to read it as if she had signed dozens of contracts, but
she fooled nobody. She could not make head or tail of "the party of
the first part" and the terms exacted of movie actors. She understood
nothing but the salary. One hundred dollars a week! That bloomed like
a rose in the crabbed text. She would have signed almost anything
The deed was finally done. Her hundred-odd pounds of flesh belonged
to the Hyperfilm Company. The partners gave her their short, warm
hands. Ferriday wrung her palm with his long, lean fingers. Then he
caught her by the elbow and whisked her into his studio. He began
to describe her first scene in the big production. The backers had
insisted that she prove her ability as a minor character in a play
featuring another woman. Kedzie did not mind, especially when
Ferriday winked and whispered: "We'll make you make her look like
something the cat brought in. First of all, those gowns of yours--"
She had told him of her ill luck the day before in finding Lady
Powell-Carewe out. He sent her flying down again in his limousine.
She stepped into it now with assurance. It was beginning to be
her very own. At least she was beginning to own the owner.
She felt less excitement about the ride now that it was not her
first. She noticed that the upholstery was frayed in spots. Other
cars passed hers. The chauffeur was not so smart as some of the
drivers. And he was alone. On a few of the swagger limousines there
were two men in livery on the box. She felt rather ashamed of having
Her haughty discontent fell from her when she arrived at Lady
Powell-Carewe's shop. She wished she had not come alone. She did
not know how to behave. And what in Heaven's name did you call
her--"Your Ladyship" or "Your Majesty" or what?
She walked in so meekly and was so simply clad that nobody in
the place paid any heed to her at first. It was a very busy place,
with girls rushing to and fro or sauntering limberly up and down
in tremendously handsome gowns.
Kedzie could not pick out Lady Powell-Carewe. One of the promenaders
was so tall and so haughty that Kedzie thought she must be at least
a "Lady." She was in a silvery, shimmery green-and-gray gown, and
the man whom the customers called "Mr. Charles" said:
"Madame calls this the Blown Poplar. Isn't it bully?"
Kedzie caught Mr. Charles's eye. He spoke to her sharply:
He evidently thought her somebody looking for a job as bundle-carrier.
She was pretty, but there were tons of pretty girls. They bored Mr.
Charles to death. He had a whole beagle-pack of them to care for.
Kedzie poked at him Ferriday's letter of introduction addressed to
Lady Powell-Carewe. Mr. Charles took it and, not knowing what it
contained, bore it into the other room without asking Kedzie to
He reappeared at the door and bowed to her with great amazement. She
slipped into a chaotic room where there were heaps of fabrics thrown
about like rubbish, long streamers of samples littering a desk full
A sumptuous creature of stately manner bowed creakily to Kedzie,
and Kedzie said, trying to remember the pronunciation:
A little plainly dressed woman replied: "Yes, my child. So you're
the Adair thing that Ferriday is gone half-witted over. He's just
been talking my ear off about you. Sit down. Stop where you are.
Let me see you. Turn around. I see." She turned to the stately dame.
"Rather nice, isn't she, Mrs. Congdon? H'mm!" She beckoned Kedzie
to come close. "What are your eyes like?" She lorgnetted the
terrified girl, as if she were a throat-specialist. "Take off that
horrid hat. Let me see your hair. H'mm! Rather nice hair, isn't it,
Mrs. Congdon?--that is, if she knew how to do it. Let me see. Yes,
I get your color, but it will be a job to suit you and that infernal
movie-camera. It kills my colors so! I have to keep remembering that
crimson photographs black and cream is dirty, and blue and yellow
are just nothing."
Mr. Charles came in to say that Mrs. Noxon was outside. Kedzie
recognized the great name with terror. Lady Powell-Carewe snapped:
"Tell the old camel I'm ill. I can't see her to-day. I'm ill to
everybody to-day. I've taken a big job on."
This was sublime. To have aristocrats turned away for her!
While Madame prowled among the fabrics and bit her lorgnon in
study, Kedzie looked over the big albums filled with photographs
of the creations of the great creatrix. For Lady Powell-Carewe was
a creative artist, taking her ideas where she found them in art
or nature, and in revivals and in inventions. She took her color
schemes from paintings, old and new, from jewels, landscapes. It
was said that she went to Niagara to study the floods of color that
tumble over its brink.
She began to interest herself in Kedzie, to wish to accomplish more
than the mere selling of dress goods made up. She decided to create
Kedzie as well as her clothes.
"Do you wear that pout all the time?" she asked.
"Do I pout?" Kedzie asked, in an amazement.
"Don't pretend that you don't know it and do it intentionally. Also
why do you Americans always answer a question by asking another?"
"Do we?" said Kedzie.
Lady Powell-Carewe decided that Kedzie was as short on brains as
she was long on looks. But it was the looks that Lady Powell-Carewe
was going to dress, and not the brains.
She ordered Kedzie to spend a lot of money having her hair cared
She tried various styles on Kedzie, ordering her to throw off her
frock and stand in her combination while Mrs. Congdon and Mr.
Charles brought up armloads of silks and velvets and draped them
on Kedzie as if she were a clothes-horse.
The feel of the crisp and whispering taffetas, the elevation of
the brocades, the warm nothingness of the chiffons like wisps
of fog, the rich dignity of the cloths, gave Kedzie rapture on
rapture. Standing there with a burden of fabrics upon her and Lady
Powell-Carewe kneeling at her feet pinning them up and tucking them
here and there, Kedzie was reminded of those ancient days of six
months gone when her mother used to kneel about her and fit on her
the home-made school-dress cut according to Butterick patterns.
Now Kedzie had a genuine Lady at her feet. It was a triumph indeed.
It was not hard now to believe that she would have all the world
at her feet one day.
Lady Powell-Carewe used Kedzie's frame as a mere standard to fly
banners from. Leaving the head and shoulders to stand out like
the wax bust of a wistful doll, she started a cloud of fabric
about her in the most extravagant fashion. She reined it in sharply
at the waist, but again it flared to such distances on all sides that
Kedzie could never have sailed through any door but that of a garage
On this vast bell of silk she hung streamers of rosettes, flowers of
colors that would have been strident if they had been the eighteenth
of a shade stronger. As it was, they were as delicious as cream
curdled in a syrup of cherries. The whole effect would have been
burlesque if it had not been the whim of a brilliant taste. Men
would look it at and say, "Good Lord!" Women would murmur, enviously,
"Oh, Lord!" Kedzie's soul expanded to the ultimate fringe of the
When the fantasy was assured Lady Powell-Carewe had Kedzie extracted
from it. Then pondering her sapling slenderness, once more she caught
from the air an inspiration. She would incase Kedzie in a sheath of
soft, white kid marked with delicate lines and set off with black
gloves and a hat of green leaves. And this she would call "The White
And that was all the creating she felt up to for the day. She had
Kedzie's measure taken in order to have a slip made as a model
for use in the hours when Kedzie should be too busy to stand
It was well for Kedzie that there was a free ride waiting for her.
Her journey to the studio was harrowed by the financial problem
which has often tortured people in limousines. She did not like to
ask Mr. Ferriday for money in advance. He might think she was poor.
There is nothing that bankrupts the poor so much as the effort to
look unconcerned while they wait for their next penny.
Kedzie was frantic with worry and was reduced to prayer. "O Lord,
send me some money somehow." The number of such prayers going up
to heaven must cause some embarrassment, since money can usually
be given to one person only by taking it from another--and that
other is doubtless praying for more at the very moment.
To Kedzie's dismay, when she arrived at the studio and asked for
Mr. Ferriday, Mr. Garfinkel appeared. He was very deferential, but
he was, after all, only a Garfinkel and she needed a Ferriday. He
explained that his chief was very busy and had instructed Garfinkel
to teach Miss Adair the science of make-up for the camera, to take
test pictures of her, and give her valuable hints in lens behavior.
Late in the afternoon Ferriday came in to see the result of the
first lesson. He said, "Much obliged, Garfinkel" and Garfinkel
remembered pressing duty elsewhere.
His departure left Kedzie alone with Ferriday in a cavern pitch
black save for the cone of light spreading from the little hole in
the wall at the back to the screen where the spray of light-dust
became living pictures of Kedzie.
Kedzie did not know that the operator behind the wall could peek and
peer while his picture-wheel rolled out the cataract of photographs.
Ferriday was careful of her--or of himself. He held her hand,
of course, and murmured to her how stunning she was, but he made
no effort to make love, to her great comfort and regret.
At length he invited her to ride home in his limousine, but he did
not invite her to dinner. She told herself that she would have had
to decline. But she would have liked to be asked.
While he rhapsodized once more about her future she was thinking of
her immediate penury. As she approached the street of her residence
she realized that she must either starve till pay-day or borrow.
It was a bad beginning, but better than a hopeless ending. After
several gasps of hesitation she finally made her plea:
"I'm awfully sorry to have to trouble you, Mr. Ferriday, but
I'm--Well, could you lend me twenty-five dollars?"
"My dear child, take fifty," he cried.
She shook her head, but it hurt her to see the roll of bills he
dived for and brought up, and the careless grace with which he
peeled two leaves from the cabbage. Easy money is always attended
with resentment that more did not come along. Kedzie pouted at her
folly in not accepting the fifty. If she had said, "Lend me fifty,"
he would have offered her a hundred. But the twenty-five was
salvation, and it would buy her food enough to keep her and her
useless husband alive, and to buy her a pair of shoes and some
As the car drew near her corner she cried that she had some
shopping to do and escaped again at the drug-store.
She found her husband at home. There was an unwonted authority
about his greeting:
"Well, young woman, you may approach and kiss my hand. I am a
gentleman with a job. I am a Chicago gentleman with a job."
"You don't mean it!" Kedzie gasped; and kissed him from habit with
more respect than her recent habit had shown.
"I mean it," said Gilfoyle. "I am now on the staff of the Deshler
Advertising Agency. I was afraid when Mr. D. offered me an
unsolicited position (he could say it to-day) that it was the red
wine and not the real money that was talking, but he was painfully
sober this noon, took me out to lunch, and told me that he would be
proud to avail himself of my services."
"Splendid!" said Kedzie, with sincere enthusiasm. It is always
pleasant to learn that money is setting toward the family.
But something told Kedzie that her late acquisition of twenty-five
dollars would not be with her long. Easy come, easy go. "How much
is the fare to Chicago?" she asked, in a hollow voice.
"Twenty-two dollars is the fare," said Gilfoyle, "with about
eight dollars extra. I couldn't borrow a cent. I've got only
"I thought so," said Kedzie.
"Thought what so?" said Gilfoyle.
"Nothing," said Kedzie. "Well, I happen to have twenty-five
"That's funny," said Gilfoyle. "Where did you get it?"
"Oh, I saved it up."
"Well, do you want the twenty-five, or don't you?"
Gilfoyle pondered. If he questioned the source of the money he
might find it out, and be unable to accept it. He wanted the money
more than the hazardous information; so he said:
"Of course I want the twenty-five, darling, but I hate to rob you.
Of course I'll send for you as soon as I can make a nest out there,
but how will you get along?"
"Oh, I'll get along," said Kedzie; "there'll be some movie-money
coming to me Saturday."
"Well, that's fine," Gilfoyle said, feeling a weight of horrible
guilt mingled with superior wings of relief. He hesitated, hemmed,
hawed, perspired, and finally looked to that old source of so many
escapes, his watch. "There's a train at eight-two; I could just
about make it if I scoot now."
"You'd better scoot," said Kedzie. And she gave him the money.
"I'd like to have dinner with you," Gilfoyle faltered, "but--"
"Yes, I'd like to have you, but--"
They looked at each other wretchedly. Their love was so lukewarm
already that they bothered each other. There was no impulse to
the delicious bitter-sweet of a passionate farewell. She was as
eager to have him gone as he to go, and each blamed the other
"I'll write you every day," he said, "and I'll send the fare to
you as soon as I can get it."
"Yes, of course," Kedzie mumbled. "Well, good-by--don't miss your
They had to embrace. Their arms went out about each other and
clasped behind each other's backs. Then some impulse moved them
to a fierce clench of desperate sorrow. They were embracing their
dead loves, the corpses that lay dead in these alienated bodies.
It was an embrace across a grave, and they felt the thud of clods
upon their love.
They gasped with the pity of it, and Kedzie's eyes were reeking
with tears and Gilfoyle's lips were shivering when they wrenched
out of that lock of torment.
He caught her back to him and kissed her salt-sweet mouth. Her kiss
was brackish on his lips as life was. She felt a kind of assault in
the fervor of his kiss, but she did not resist. He was a stranger
who sprang at her from the dark, but he was also very like a poet
she had loved poetically long, long ago.
Then they wrung hands and called good-bys and he caught up his
suit-case and rushed through the door.
She hung from the window to wave to him as he ran down the street
to the Subway, pausing now and again to wave to her vaguely, then
stumbling on his course.
At last she could not see him, whether for the tears or for the
distance, and she bowed her head on her lonely sill and wept.
She had a splendid cry that flushed her heart clean as a new whistle.
She washed her eyes with fine cold water and half sobbed, half
laughed, "Well, that's over."
Charity Coe Cheever was making less progress with her amateur
movie-show than Kedzie with her professional cinematic career.
Charity telephoned to ask Jim Dyckman to act, but he proved to be
camera-shy and intractable.
She had difficulties with all her cast. It was impossible to satisfy
the people who were willing to act with the rôles they were willing
Charity was lunching at the Ritz-Carlton with Mrs. Noxon when she saw
Jim Dyckman come in with his mother. Mrs. Noxon left Charity and went
over to speak to Mrs. Dyckman. So Charity beckoned Jim over and urged
him to accept the job of impresario.
He protested, but she pleaded for his help at least on an errand
"Jim, I want you to go up to the studio of these people and find
this great man Ferriday and get him to promise to direct for us.
And by the way, that little girl you pulled out of the pool, you
know--well, they promised to get her a job at the studio. You look
her up and find out how she's doing--there's a darling."
He shook his head, resisting her for once, and answered:
"Go to the devil, Charity darling. You won't let me love you, so I'll
be cussed if I'll let you get me to working for you. I've had you bad
and I'm trying to get well of you. So let me alone."
That was how Peter Cheever, talking to the headwaiter at the head of
the stairs, saw his wife and Jim Dyckman with their heads together at
a table. He wanted to go over and crack a water-bottle over Dyckman's
head. He did not do it, for the excellent reason that Zada L'Etoile
was at his side. She had insisted on his taking her there "to lunch
with the bunch," as she expressed it.
She also saw Charity and Jim and Cheever's sudden flush of rage. She
felt that the way was opening for her dreams to come true. She was so
happy over the situation that she helped Cheever out of the appalling
problem before him.
He did not know how to go forward or how to retreat. He could think
of nothing to say to the headwaiter who offered him his choice of
Zada caught his elbow and murmured in her very best voice just loud
enough for the headwaiter's benefit:
"Mr. Cheever, I'm so sorry--but I'm feeling dizzy. I'm afraid I shall
faint if I don't get out in the air. It's very close in here."
"It is very close, madam," said the headwaiter, and he helped to
support her down the steps quietly and deferentially, just as if
he believed it.
Zada and Cheever thought they were escaping from a crisis, but they
were drifting deeper and deeper into the converging currents. When
they were safe in the motor outside Zada was proud.
"Some get-away, that?" she laughed.
"Wonderful!" said Cheever. "I didn't know you had so much social
"You don't know me," she said. "I'm learning! You'll be proud of me
"I am now," he said. "You're the most beautiful thing in the world."
"Oh, that's old stuff," she said. "Any cow can be glossy. But I'm
going in for the real thing, Peterkin. I've cut out the cocktails
and I don't dance with anybody but you lately. Have you noticed
that? It's the quiet life and the nice ways for me. Do you mind?"
"It's very becoming" he said. "Anything for a novelty."
Yet he liked her surprisingly well in this phase. She had been
cutting down his liquor, too. She had been cutting down his
extravagances. She had even achieved the height of denying herself
luxuries--one of the surest and least-trodden short-cuts to a man's
heart--a little secret path he hardly knows himself.
The affair of Zada and Cheever was going the normal course. It had
lost the charm of the wild and wicked--through familiarity; and
it was tending to domestication, as all such moods do if nothing
interrupts them. There are all sorts of endings to such illicit
relations: most of them end with the mutual treachery of two fickle
creatures; some of them end with bitter grief for one or the other
or both; some of them end in crime, or at least disgrace; and some
of them finish, with disconcerting immorality, in an inexcusable
The improvement in Zada's mind and heart was, curiously, the most
dangerous thing in the world for Cheever. If she had stayed noisy
and promiscuous and bad, he would have tired of her. But she was
growing soft and homey, gentle as ivy, and as hard to tear away or
to want to tear away. After all, marriage is only the formalizing
of an instinct that existed long before--exists in some animals and
birds who mate without formality and stay mated without compulsion.
When Zada and Cheever had escaped from the Ritz-Carlton they took
lunch at another restaurant. Zada was childishly proud of her tact
and of Cheever's appreciation. But afterward, on the way "home"--as
she called what other people called her "lair"--she grew suddenly
and deeply solemn.
"So your wife is with Dyckman again," she said. "It looks to me
like a sketch."
Cheever flushed. He hated her slang and he did not accept her
conclusion, but this time he did not forbid her to mention his wife.
He could hardly do that when her tact had saved him and Charity from
the results of their double indiscretion and the shame of amusing
that roomful of gossips.
Zada misunderstood his silence for approval; so she spoke her
"If that He and She business goes on I suppose you'll have to
divorce the lady."
"Divorce Charity!" Cheever gasped. "Are you dotty?"
That hit Zada pretty hard, but she bore it. She came back by another
"I guess I am--nearly as dotty as she is about Dyckman. First thing
you know she'll be trying to get free herself. What if she asks you
for a divorce?"
"I'd like to see her!"
"You mean you wouldn't give her her freedom?"
"Not in a thousand years."
He was astounded at the sepulchral woe of Zada's groan. "O Lord,
and I thought--oh--you don't love me at all then! You never really
loved me--really! God help me."
Cheever wondered what Zada would smash first. He hoped it would not
be the window of the car. He hoped he could get her safely indoors
before the smashing began.
He did. She was a grim and murky storm-cloud full of tornado when
they crossed the pavement and the vestibule of the apartment-house
and went up in the elevator.
But once inside the door, her breast began to heave, her nostrils
to quiver, her fingers to work. Her maid came to take her hat, and
paled to see her torment. Zada gave her her things and motioned her
away. She motioned her four or five times. The maid had needed only
Cheever watched Zada out of the corner of his eye and wondered why
he had ever been fated to fall in love with such a creature. He was
convinced that he had been fate-forced into the intrigue. He had no
sense whatever of volition or wicked intent. He could only feel that
he had tried to be decent and play fair and be generous.
The thought of what the neighbors were about to hear made him sick
with chagrin. The fact that the neighbors were under suspicion
themselves only aggravated the burden of shame.
The hardest part of Zada's agony was her pitiful effort to take
her medicine like a lady. It was terrific how hard it was for one
of a wildcat heritage and habit to keep the caterwaul back and the
claws muffled. The self-duel nearly wrecked Zada, but she won it.
She was not thoroughbred, but she had tried to be thoroughgoing.
She was evidently not a success as a self-made lady. She kept
whispering to herself:
"What's the use? Oh, why did I try? Oh, oh, oh, what a fool I've
been! To think!--to think!--to think!"
Cheever was distraught. He had waited for the outbreak, and when
it did not come he suffered from the recoil of his own tension.
"For the Lord's sake, yell!" he implored.
She turned on him eyes of extraordinary abjection. She saw at last
where her lawlessness had brought her, and she despised herself. But
she did not love him any the more for understanding him. She saw at
last that one cannot be an honest woman without actually being--an
honest woman. She was going to get honesty if it broke a bone.
She told her accomplice: "I want you to go away and stay away.
Whatever you do, leave me be. There's nothing else you can do for me
except to take back all the stuff you've bought me. Give it to that
wife you love so much and wouldn't suspect no matter what she did.
You love her so much that you wouldn't let her go even if she wanted
to leave you. So go back to her and take these things to her with my
Now it was Cheever who wanted to scream as he had not screamed
since he was the purple-faced boy who used to kick the floor and
his adoring nurse. But he had lost the safety valve of the scream.
When Zada began to peel off her rings and thrust them out to him he
swiftly turned on his heel and fled. He never knew whether Zada woke
the block with her howls or not when he left her forever.
He forgot to ask when he came back.
First he went home to take his temper to Charity. On the way he
worked up a splendid rage at her for giving such a woman as Zada
grounds for gossip. He went straight to her room and walked in
Charity was dictating a letter to her secretary. Cheever surprised
a phrase before she saw him.
"'Thousands of blind soldiers and thousands of orphans hold out their
hands to us. We must all do what we can--' Why, hello! Where did you
drop from? Give me just a minute while I finish this letter. Let me
see. Where was I?"
The secretary read in a dull, secretarial voice:
"'Thousblinsoldiersorphs--wem'sdo'll we can.'"
"Oh yes," said Charity. "'You have never failed to respond to such
an appeal,' comma; no, semicolon; no, period. 'So I shall put you
down for a subscription of dash 'how much' question-mark. 'Thanking
you in adv'--no, just say, 'My husband joins me in kindest regards
to your dear wife and yourself, cordially yours'--and that will be
all for the present."
The secretary garnered her sheaves and went out. Charity said
"Well, young man, sit down and tell us what's on your mind. But first
let me tell you my troubles. There's a match on my dresser there.
Peter, I'm in an awful mess with this movie stunt. I can get plenty
of people to pose for the camera, but I can't find a man to manage
the business end of it. I was lunching with Mrs. Noxon at the Ritz
to-day. I called your friend Jim Dyckman over from another table and
begged him to take the job. But he refused flatly, the lazy brute.
Don't you think you could take it on? I wish you would. It's such
a big chance to make a pile of money for those poor soldiers."
Cheever was lost. Unconsciously she had cleared up the scandal of
her talk with Dyckman. He remembered that he had seen Mrs. Noxon
at another table, standing. He felt like a dog and he wanted to
fawn at the heels he had prepared to bite. He felt unworthy to be
the associate of his sainted wife in her good works. He said:
"You flatter me. I couldn't manage a thing like that. I'm busy.
"You've got to play a part, then," she said. "You're looking so well
nowadays, taking such good care of yourself. Will you?"
"I might," he said. "I'll think it over."
She was called to the telephone then and he escaped to his own room.
He moped about and sulked in his uncomfortable virtue. He dressed for
dinner with unusual care. He was trying to make a hit with his wife.
In going through his pocket-book he came across two theater tickets.
He had promised to take Zada. He felt like a low hound, both for
planning to take her and for not taking her. She would have a dismal
evening. And she was capable of such ferocious lonelinesses. He
had driven away all her old friends. She would recall them now, he
supposed. That would be a pity, for they were an odious gang. It
would be his fault if she relapsed. It was his duty, in a way, to
help her to reform.
The ludicrous sublimity of such an ethical snarl reduced him to
inanity. He stayed to dinner. Charity had not expected him to stop.
She had planned an evening's excavation into her correspondence and
had not changed her street dress. She was surprised and childishly
delighted to have him with her--then childishly unhappy as she
"But you're all togged up. You're going out."
"No--well--that is--er--I was thinking you would like to see a show.
I've got tickets."
"But it's late. I'm not dressed."
"What's the odds? You look all right. There's never anybody but
muckers there Saturday nights. We'll miss it all if you stop
"All right," she cried, and hurried through the dinner.
He was glad at least that he had escaped a solemn evening at home.
He could not keep awake at home.
So they went to the theater; but there was not "nobody there," as
he had promised.
Zada was there--alone in a box, dressed in her best, and wearing
her East-Lynniest look of pathos.
The coincidence was not occult. After several hours of brave battle
with grief and a lonely dinner Zada had been faced by the appalling
prospect of an evening alone.
She remembered Cheever's purchase of the theater tickets, and she
was startled with an intuition that he would take his wife in her
place. Men are capable of such indecent economies.
Zada was suffocated with rage at the possibility. She always
believed implicitly in the worst things she could think of. If
Peter Cheever dared do such a thing! And of course he would! Well,
she would just find out!
She threw a lonely wineglass at the fern-dish and smashed a decanter.
Then she pushed off the table about a hundred dollars' worth of
chinaware, and kicked her chair over backward. She had been famous
for her back-kick in her public dancing-days.
She howled to her maid and went into her wardrobe with both hands.
She acted like a windmill in a dress-shop. Finally she came upon
what she was looking for--the most ladylike theater-gown that ever
combined magnificence with dazzling respectability.
She made up her face like a lady's--it took some paint to do that.
Meanwhile, her maid was telephoning speculators for a box. Zada
arrived before Cheever and Charity did. She waited a long time,
haughtily indifferent to the admiration she and her gown were
achieving. At last she was punished and rewarded, revenged, and
destroyed by the sight of Cheever coming down the aisle with Charity.
They had to pause to let a fat couple rise, and they paused, facing
Zada. Cheever caught her eye and halted, petrified, long enough for
Charity to sit down, look up at him, follow the line of his gaze,
and catch a full blast of Zada's beauty and of the fierce look she
fastened on Cheever. Charity's eyes ran back on the almost visible
clothes-line of that taut gaze and found Cheever wilting with
several kinds of shame.
He sat down glum and scarlet, and Charity's heart began to throb.
A second glance told her who Zada was. She had seen the woman often
when Zada had danced in the theaters and the hotel ballrooms.
Charity found herself thinking that she was not Cheever's wife,
but only a poor relation--by marriage. The worst of it was that she
was not dressed for the theater. The gown she wore was exquisite in
its place, but it was dull and informal and it gave her no help in
the ordeal she was suddenly submitted to. Her hair had not been
coiffed by the high-elbowed artist with the waving-tongs. Her brains
were not marceled for a beauty-contest with her rival. She was at
her worst and Zada was at her supreme.
Zada was not entirely unknown to Charity. She had not been able
to escape all the gossip that linked Cheever with her, but she had
naturally heard little of it, and then only from people of the sort
who run to their friends with all the bad news they can collect.
They are easily discredited.
Charity had spent so many bad hours wondering at her husband's
indifference and had heard his name linked with so many names that
she had temporized with the situation. Cheever was of the sort that
looks at every woman with desire, or looks as if he looked so. The
wives of such men grow calloused or quit them.
Charity had not quit Cheever. She had hardly dreamed of it. She had
not outgrown being hurt. Her slow wrath had not begun to manifest
itself. This crushing humiliation smote her from a clear sky.
She was not ready for it. She did not know what to do. She only knew,
by long training, that she must not do what she first wanted to do.
She had been taught from childhood what Zada was only now trying
Charity pretended a great interest in her program and laughed
flightily. Cheever was morose. He stole glances at Zada and saw that
she was in anguish. He felt that he had treated her like dirt. He was
unworthy of her, or of his wife, or of anything but a horsewhip.
He glanced at Charity and was fooled by her casual chatter. He
supposed that she was as ignorant of the affair with Zada as he
wanted her to be. He wished that he could pretend to be unconcerned,
but he could not keep his program from shivering; his throat was full
of phlegm; he choked on the simplest words. He thought for some trick
of escape, a pretended illness, a remembered business engagement,
a disgust with the play.
He was afraid to trust his voice to any proposal or even to go out
between the acts.
The worst of it was that he felt sorrier for Zada than for his wife.
Poor Zada had nothing, Charity had everything. How easily we vote
other people everything! Cheever was afraid of the ride home with
Charity; he dreaded to be at home to-night and to-morrow and always.
He longed to go to Zada and help her and let her revile him and
scratch him, perhaps, provided only that she would throw her arms
about him afterward. He never imagined that a duel of self-control,
a mortal combat in refinement, was being fought over him by those
Zada's strength gave out long before Charity's; she was newer to
the game. During a dark scene she surrendered the field and decamped.
But Cheever and his wife both caught the faint shimmer of her
respectable robe as it floated from the rail and vanished in the
curtains. It was like a dematerialization at a séance.
Cheever wanted to crane his neck and dared not. Charity felt a great
withdrawal of support in the flight of her rival. She had not Zada's
presence now to sustain her through the last act. But she sat it out.
She was bitter against Cheever, and her thoughts dark. The burden
of his infidelity was heavy enough for her to bear, but for him to
subject her to such a confrontation was outrageous. She had no doubt
that it was a cooked-up scheme. That vile creature had planned it
and that worm of a husband had consented to it!
The most unforgivable thing of all, of course, was the clothes
Charity, in the course of time, forgave nearly everybody everything,
but she never forgave her husband that.
On the way home she had nothing to say. Neither had Cheever. He
felt homesick for Zada. Charity felt homeless. She must have been
the laughing-stock or the pitying-stock of the whole world for
a long time.
When they reached home she bade Cheever a perfectly cheerful
good-night and left him to a cold supper the butler had laid out
for him. She did not know that he stole from the house and flew
Charity was tempted to an immediate denunciation of Cheever and
a declaration of divorce. She would certainly not live with him
another day. That would be to make herself an accomplice, a silent
partner of Zada's. It would be intolerable, immoral, not nice.
The next morning proved to be a Sunday and she felt a need of
spiritual help in her hour of affliction. Man had betrayed her;
religion would sustain her grim determination to end the unwholesome
condition of her household. The Bible said (didn't it?), "If thy
right hand offend thee, cut it off." That surely meant, "If thy
husband offend thee, divorce him."
She went to church, her ancestral Episcopalian church, where her
revered Doctor Mosely, the kindliest old gentleman in the world,
had poured sermons down at her like ointment and sent prayers up
like smoke since she was a little girl. But on this day he chose
to preach a ferocious harangue against divorce as the chief peril,
the ruination of modern society.
The cowering Charity got from him the impression that home life
had always been flawless in this country until the last few years,
when divorce began to prosper, and that domestic life in countries
where there is little or no divorce had always been an unmitigated
success. If only divorce and remarriage were ended, the millennium
of our fathers would return.
This had not been her previous opinion; it was her vivid impression
from Doctor Mosely, as honest an old darling as ever ran facts
through a sieve and threw away all the big chunks that would not
go through the fine mesh of his prejudices. He abhorred falsehood,
cruelty, skepticism, sectarianism, and narrowness, and his sermons
were unconscious mixtures of hand-picked truth and eloquent legends,
ruthless denunciations of misunderstood people and views, atheism
toward the revelations of all the sciences (particularly the science
of biblical criticism, which he hated worse than he hated Haeckel),
and a narrowness that kept trying to sharpen itself into a razor
Fortunately he belied in his life almost all of his pulpit crimes
and moved about, a tender, chivalrous, lovable old gentleman. It
was this phase that Charity knew, for she had not heard one of his
sermons for a year or more, though she saw him often in his parish
work. She was the more amenable to his pulpit logic to-day.
Charity had always assumed that the United States was the most
virtuous, enlightened, and humane of nations. According to Doctor
Mosely, it was shockingly corrupt, disgusting. The family as an
institution was almost completely gone; its only salvation would be
an immediate return to a divorceless condition. (Like that of Italy
and Spain and France during the Middle Ages?)
Hitherto Charity had not thought much about divorce, except to regret
that certain friends of hers had not hit it off better and had had to
undergo cruel notoriety after their private distresses. But divorce
was no longer an academic question to her. It had come home.
When she realized that her husband had been not only neglectful
of her, but devoted to a definite other woman, she felt at first
that it would be heinous to receive him back in her arms fresh from
the arms of a vile creature like Zada L'Etoile. Now she got from
the pulpit the distinct message that just this was her one important
duty, and that any attempt to break from such a triple yoke would be
a monstrous iniquity which the Church could not condone.
Doctor Mosely implied that when one partner to a marriage wandered
aside into forbidden paths (as he very prettily phrased the very ugly
matter) it was always the fault of the other partner. He thundered
that the wives of to-day were not like their simple-minded mothers,
because they played bridge and smoked cigarettes and did not attend
prayer-meetings and would not have children. It was small wonder,
he said, that their husbands could not be held. Doctor Mosely had
preached the same sermon at Charity's mother and her generation,
and his father had preached it at his generation, with the necessary
terms changed and the spirit the same. He and his kind had been
trying since time began to cure the inherent ills of human
relationships by railing at old errors and calling them new.
So in the dark ages the good priests had tried to cure insane people
by shouting denunciations at the devils that inhabited them. The
less they cured the louder they shouted, and when the remedy failed
they blamed the patients.
So fathers try to keep their little sons from being naughty and
untruthful by telling them how good and obedient little boys were
when they were little boys. They tell a silly lie to rebuke a lie
and wonder at their non-success.
Marital unrest is no more a sign of wickedness than stomach-ache is;
it is a result of indigestion or ptomaine poisoning, and divorce is
only a strong purge or an emetic, equally distressing and often
the only remedy.
But Doctor Mosely honestly abominated divorce; he regretted it
almost as much as he regretted the Methodist Episcopal heresies
or the perverseness of the low-Church doctrines.
Charity had always been religious; she had wrecked her health
visiting the sick and cherishing the orphan and she had believed
everything she was told to believe. But now when she went to church
for strength and comfort she came away feeling herself a condemned
and branded failure, blameworthy for all her husband's sins and sins
of her own that she had not suspected.
She prayed to be forgiven for causing her husband to sin and asked
strength to win him back to his duty. She reached home in such a
mood of holy devotion that when she found her husband there she
bespoke him tenderly and put out her arms to him and moaned:
"For what?" he said as he went to her from habit before he could
check himself. But even as he clasped her she felt that his very
sleeves were warm from Zada L'Etoile's embrace and she slipped
through his arms to the floor.
When she came to, she was lying on a couch with a cushion under
her heels, and Cheever was chafing her wrists and kissing her hand.
She drew it away feebly and said:
"Thank you. I'll be all right. Just leave me alone."
He remembered that Zada had said much the same thing. He was glad
to leave the room. When he had gone Charity got up and washed her
hands, particularly the hand, particularly the spot, he had kissed.
She seemed to feel that some of the rouge from Zada's lips had been
left there by Cheever's lips. There was a red stain there and she
could not wash it away. Perhaps it was there because she tried so
hard to rub it off. But it tormented her as she went sleep-walking,
rubbing her hand like another Lady Macbeth.
On Monday there was a meeting of one of the committees she had
organized for the furtherance of what she called the movie stunt.
The committee met at the Colony Club. Most of the committee were
women of large wealth and of executive ability, and they accomplished
a deal of business with expedition in their own way.
There was some chatter, but it was to the point. At length during
a discussion of various forms of entertainment Mrs. Noxon said she
was afraid that the show would be deadly dull with only amateurs in
it. Mrs. Dyckman thought that professionals would make the amateurs
look more amateurish than ever. The debate swayed from side to side,
but finally inclined toward the belief that a few professional bits
would refresh the audience.
And then suddenly Mrs. Neff had to sing out: "Oh, Charity, I've