**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

The Blackmailers
by [?]

“They’re late this afternoon.”

“Yes. I think they might be on time. I wish they had made the appointment in a quieter place.”

“What do you care, Anita? Probably somebody else is doing the same thing somewhere else. What’s sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose.”

“I know he has treated me like a dog, Alice, but–“

There was just a trace of a catch in the voice of the second woman as she broke off the remark and left it unfinished.

Constance Dunlap had caught the words unintentionally above the hum of conversation and the snatches of tuneful music wafted from the large dining-room where day was being turned into night.

She had dropped into the fashionable new Vanderveer Hotel, not to meet any one, but because she liked to watch the people in “Peacock Alley,” as the corridor of the hotel was often popularly called.

Somehow, as she sat inconspicuously in a deep chair in an angle, she felt that very few of the gaily chatting couples or of the waiting men and women about her were quite what they seemed on the surface.

The conversation from around the angle confirmed her opinion. Here, apparently at least, were two young married women with a grievance, and it was not for those against whom they had the grievance, real or imagined, that they were waiting so anxiously.

Constance leaned forward to see them better. The woman nearest her was a trifle the elder of the two, a very attractive-looking woman, tastefully gowned and carefully groomed. The younger, who had been the first speaker, was, perhaps, the more dashing. Certainly she appeared to be the more sophisticated. And as Constance caught her eye she involuntarily thought of the old proverb, “Never trust a man who doesn’t look you in the eye or a woman who does.”

Two men sauntered down the long corridor, on the way from a visit to the bar. As they caught sight of the two ladies, there was a smile of recognition, an exchange of remarks between each pair, and the men hurried in the direction of the corner.

They greeted the two ladies in low, bantering, familiar terms–“Mr. Smith,” “Mrs. Jones,” “Mr. White” and “Mrs. Brown.”

“You got my card!” asked one of the men of the woman nearest Constance. “Sorry we’re late, but a business friend ran into us as we were coming in and I had to shunt him off in the other direction.”

He nodded toward the opposite end of the corridor with a laugh.

“You’ve been bad boys,” pouted the other woman, “but we forgive you –this time.”

“Perhaps we may hope to be reinstated after a little–er–tea–and a dance?” suggested the other man.

The four were all moving in the direction of the dining-room and the gay music.

They had disappeared in the crush about the door before Constance noticed that the woman who had been sitting nearest her had dropped an envelope. She picked it up. It was on the stationery of another fashionable hotel, evidently written by one of those who lounge in, and on the strength of a small bill in the cafe use the writing room. In a man’s hand was the name, “Mrs. Anita Douglas, The Melcombe Apartments, City”

Before she realized it, Constance had pulled out the card inside and glanced at it. It read:


Can you meet us in the Vanderveer to-morrow afternoon at four? Bring along your little friend.

With many * * * *



Mechanically Constance crumpled the card and the envelope in her hand and held them as she regarded the passing throng, intending to throw them away when she passed a scrap basket on the way out.

Still, it was a fascinating scene, this of the comedy and tragedy of human weaknesses, and she stayed much longer than she had intended. One by one the people had either gone to dinner in the main dining- room or elsewhere and Constance had nearly decided on going, too.