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Graeve, Oscar (ed.) / Delineator
Vol. 118, No. 6 (June, 1931)

[Continued articles and works],   pp. 60-65 PDF (3.4 MB)

Page 60

D E L I N E A T 0 R
Continued from page 58
the day of his graduation. She stood out,
elderly and rather heavy and rather shabbily
dressed, among the pretty, stylish women in
their graceful thirties who were grouped
around her, with a lambency which none of
them possessed. She was the personification
of triumphant maternity.
It was eight years before I saw her again.
Meanwhile her son had graduated at the head
of his class from one great university, had
taken a post-graduate course with distinction
at another, and had resigned from a lucrative,
responsible and honorable position in order to
accept another position still more lucrative,
responsible and honorable. His mounting
fortunes by this time permitted him to main-
tain a pleasant apartment in a large metropo-
lis; and chancing to pass through the city
where he lives, I telephoned to find out
whether he would have the leisure and in-
clination to come and see me. The telephone
was answered by his mother, and at seven
that evening he and she joined me for dinner.
I never shall forget the occasion.  Un-
consciously, serenely, radiantly, that woman
dominated it. It appeared that her elder
children now all had large and demanding
families; she and her youngest son were still
"on their own." I ut she did not live with
Sam, she exclaimed; that NNould hamper them
both too much. ('1 hem both!") She came
down, however, from her cottage in the
country to spend a few days with him when-
ever she felt like it; and whenever he could,
he left his apartment in the city and spent a
week-end with her. All in all, they were
actually together a great deal; and, of course,
they never felt as if they were separated at
all. Less than ever, now that they had so
many shared interests. His work, for in-
stance, and hers . . .
"Yours?" I asked stupidly.
'Why, yes. I'm an architect. Hadn't I told
you? I meant to be, when I was a young
woman, but, then . . . Well, anyway, I'm
beginning to do very well indeed at it now
that I'm old! Especially in remodeling. It's
very exciting. Life is so full and thrilling,
right up to the end, isn't it?"
I gazed at her, mute with admiration: a
mother who had graduated- sumnia cum
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chin  n her dimpled hands and gazing up
at him with trustful blue eNes.
"But of iourse I don't mind your reading
my letters," she was saying as Sophia entered.
-That is, if they interest you. Other people's
letters wouldn't interest me one atom."
"Sophia!" Joe flung out. "You must ring
up the consul or something.  This chap's
)een right through our six o'clock mail, and
nine of them were for me, all those I'd been
expecting for weeks."
"Was this necessary?" Sophia asked the
('ommissaire, who bowed sardonically.
"Bon soir, madame. Here are this evening's
letters for the Villa Aloes. The correspond-
ents, if I may permit myself the remark, are
all of a peculiarly affectionate nature. There
was only one letter that did not begin with
'darling.' "
Prunella began to laugh. The Commissaire
glanced at her coldly, and went on: "The one
exception, however, is the most revealing.
It is a letter to Madame Root Jackson, from
a doctor in London, telling her, in reply, it
would seem, to her question, of the contents
and action of various deadly poisons."
"Good heavens!" cried Sophia, momen-
tarily thrown from dignity. Rumples smiled
at her sweetly.
"Sophia, my lamb, don't look so upset.
I had to find out, and none of you here could
tell me, though I asked often enough. It's
for my detective story."
"Comment, madame?"
"I told you, ages ago-or was it only this
morning--that I was writing a detective
story. It seems quaint. doesn't it, just now,
with all this happening?"
It was ilain that the Commissaire doubted
the existence of Rumples' masterpiece.
"And what is the name of your story,
" 'Murder Doesn't Pay,' " whispered
Rumples shyly. And a queer little shiver
ran over the company.
"Indeed. And you say, then, that it was
for information to put in your story, and only
for that, that you wrote to London, to your
friend Monsieur le docteur, for the informa-
tion which now he sends in such satisfactory
"You wouldn't believe," began Rumples,
"the number of wee little technicalities one
has to find out for a story of that kind.
(ritics are so brutal when one makes mis-
"And where is this story you tell me
"IH ere!" cried Rumples, confounding the
sceptical Commissaire by trippinir to a drawer
in the bureau, and extracting from it a pile of
untidy manuscript.
The Commissaire confiscated   'Murder
Doesn't Pay," and still in an extremely sus-
picious mood, departed to make his report.
He did not give Rumples very much hope
that she would ever see her first twenty-three
chapters again.
"And that's that," remarked Prunella.
"All for you, Joe? None for me?"
Her brother looked up from his letters.
"All for me. The French policeman's paw
mark on every page. Sybil sends you her
love," reverently.
"She needn't have bothered. Did she send
the three-and-sixpence she owes me?  I'd
have preferred that."
Joe, already wrathful, resented this public
slur on the financial honesty of his beloved.
"If you go up to my room," he said, "you'll
find your bathing-suit on the window-sill,
dry . . . It's been there since yesterday
Prunella flushed.  "I'd forgotteb," she
"Yes. Well, I hadn't. Nice uncomfor-
table moment for mewhen I heard you telling
the Commissaire you'd had a midnight
Prunella's chin tilted haughtily. "Sophia
knows all about it."
"Well, I can give you a few minutes of my
time now," said Joe. "Go ahead."
"I've got to get on with my drawing," said
his sister. "Have you finished Number Six
of the series vet?"
"Do you mean," Joe was astonished out of
his imperturbability, "do you mean that
you've told Sophia, and you're going to keel)
it from me?"
"And how!" Prunella thrust her hands
deep into the pockets of her blue silk pajama
jacket, and strolled negligently out of the
room and upstairs.
"NANCY!" came a call from Sophia's room.
"Yes, do you want me?"
Nancy went in.
"Close the door, dear."
"I didn't know you were working," said
Sophia Framlingham's secretary.
"I'm not. At least, I am. Listen, child, I
want a consultation with you."
Nancy sat down at the other end of the
table, and prepared to receive instruction.
"I've decided," Sophia proceeded, "that I
won't have this mystery of 1red's death
hanging about the villa any longer. So I'm
going to solve it myself."
She met Nancy's gaze steadily, but with a
touch of defiance. Was the child going to be
tactful or not? Apparently the child was not.
"I've always thought, darling-forgive me
for saying it-that by far the best thing we
can do, is to leave all this unpleasant business
to the police, and to go on as peacefully and
normally as possible with our own affairs."
"You're sacked " said Sophia firmly.
"Je regretie," murmured her exasperating
secretary.              (Turn to page 62)

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