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The "The Dansant"
by [?]

“Why,” he exclaimed, looking out at the whirling kaleidoscope, “here in the most advanced epoch, people of culture and intelligence frankly say they are ‘wild’ for something primitive.”

“Still,” I objected, “dancing even in the wild, stimulating emotional manner you see here need not be merely an incitement to love, need it? May it not be a normal gratification of the love instinct–eroticism translated into rhythm? Perhaps it may represent sex, but not necessarily badly.”

Kennedy nodded. “Undoubtedly the effect of the dances is in direct ratio to the sexual temperament of the dancer,” he admitted.

He paused and again watched the whirl.

“Does Mrs. Seabury herself understand it?” he mused, only half speaking to me. “I’m sure that this Sherburne is clever enough to do so, at any rate.”

A hearty round of applause came from the dancers as the music ceased. None left the floor, however, but remained waiting for the encore eagerly, scarcely changing the positions in which they had stopped.

“To my mind,” Kennedy resumed, with the music, “several things seem significant. Many people have noticed that after marriage women generally lose much of their ardor for dancing. I feel that it is an unsafe matter on which to generalize, but–well–Mrs. Seabury seems not to have lost it.”

“Then,” I inquired quickly, “you imply that–she is not really as much in love with her husband as she would have us think–or, perhaps, herself believes?”

“Not quite that,” he replied doubtfully. “But I am wondering whether there is such a factor that must be considered.”

Before I could answer Kennedy touched my arm. Instinctively I followed the direction of his eye and saw Mrs. Seabury step out on the floor across from us. Without a word from Craig, I realized that the man with her must be Sherburne, our “tango thief.”

Fashionably dressed, affable, seemingly superficially, at least, well educated, tall, graceful, with easy manners, I could not help seeing at a glance that he was one of the most erotic dancers on the little floor.

As they passed near us, Mrs. Seabury caught Kennedy’s eye in momentary recognition. Her face, flushed with the dance, colored perhaps a shade deeper, but not noticeably to her partner, who was devoting himself wholly and skillfully to leading her in a manner that one could see called forth frequent comment from others, less favored.

As they sat down after this dance and the encore, Craig motioned to the waiter at our table and whispered to him.

A few moments later, a man whom I had seen around the hotel on my infrequent visits, but did not know, slipped quietly into a seat beside Kennedy, even deeper in the shadow of the recess in which we were sitting.

“Walter, I’d like to have you meet Mr. Dunn, the house detective,” whispered Kennedy under his breath.

The usual interchange of remarks followed, during which Dunn was evidently waiting for Kennedy to reveal the real purpose of our visit.

“By the way, Dunn,” remarked Craig at length, “who is that fellow–over there with the woman in blue–the fellow with the heavy braided coat?”

Dunn craned his neck cautiously, then shrugged his shoulders. “I’ve seen him here with her before,” he remarked. “I don’t know him, though. Why?”

Briefly Kennedy sketched such facts of a supposedly hypothetical case as would be likely to secure an opinion from the house man. Dunn narrowed his eyes thoughtfully.

“That’s rather a ticklish situation, Kennedy,” Dunn remarked when Craig had stated the case, omitting all reference to Seabury’s name as well as his suspicions. “Of course,” he went on, “I know we’ve got to protect the name of the hotel. And I know we can’t have men meeting our women patrons, doing a gavotte or two–and then fox-trotting them into blackmail.”

Dunn stroked his chin thoughtfully. “You see, we can do a great deal to suppress card sharps, agents for fake mining stocks, passers of worthless checks, and confidence men of that sort. But it is not so simple to thwart the vultures who prey on the gullibility and passions of the so-called idle rich.”