At the hat counter in the oval of the same mirror they recognized each other.
“I thought you were dead,” said Lucy.
“I wish I were,” said Jane; “but aren’t you going to kiss me?” They kissed.
“How glad! What a time since we have seen one another. Not since we left college. Are you married?”
“Two months ago, and I’m madly happy. And you? Divorced?”
“How did you know it?”
“I said that haphazard. Let me look at you, Jane. You are just the same with your serious air, cynical smile and passionate eyes. Do you remember how jealous I used to be of your eyes? And how do you find me?”
“Not changed in your face; but your body has expanded and you have become beautiful.”
Lucy is a frivolous creature and likes to be in the midst of a crowd. Shopping is her delight. Jane hates a crowd; it makes her nervous and she often ends by buying something she doesn’t like, merely to get away. And now she has no one to care how she is dressed. They get into a corner to continue their chat. Lucy says: “And you can’t help loving your divorced husband still?”
‘I can’t help it and I don’t want to,” Jane replies.
“Have you done anything since your separation to see him again?”
“Nothing. I left town and lived among strangers; so I have never even heard what has become of him. Besides, I suffered too much in my pride through him to risk further humiliation. Once I wrote and asked him for an interview—but changed my mind and tore my letter up.”
“You were right, Jane, quite right,” and Lucy squeezes Jane’s hand affectionately. “You must promise me not to give way again. I am sure you suffered worse afterward.”
Let’s not talk about it any more. Tell me about yourself. Your husband—is he young?”
“Just the age mine would be. Dark?”
“Fair, with a beard and moustache.”Mine was fair, too. I always wanted him to wear a beard, but he refused.”
“You didn’t know how to manage it. A man prefers obeying to commanding. Mine insists that I shall dress very well.”
“Mine always accused me of spending too much. God knows that I am not so fond of fine dress. Is yours authoritative?”
“Not the least in the world.”
“Mine tyrannized over me. Capricious?”
“The most even-tempered man I have ever met.”
“Can such different men exist?”
“They may be made so,” Lucy said with a triumphant smile. It’s like this. Alfred Lyons, my husband—What’s the matter Jane? Hold up, people are looking at us. Jane—”
But Jane hears nothing. She has become livid; her eyes close and her face contracts. She utters a cry and then, with a mechanical gesture—the gesture of a sleepwalker—attacks her friend’s face with her steel pins.
“The heart,” she says in a dull voice, “let me strike her heart.”
She is conquered, disarmed and carried away through the crowd in an unconscious state.
The Cincinnati [OH] Enquirer 20 March 1910: p. 56
Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil may have too suspicious a mind, but she wonders precisely what part Lucy played in serious, cynical, passionate Jane’s divorce.
It is always a mistake to leave town in the wake of such an affair. One needs to be on hand to witness or scupper the important events of the day. Had Jane been in town, it would have been an easy matter to invite Lucy for a congratulatory cup of tea—poisoned, of course, with some unremarkable toxin such as foxglove, so that the Coroner would bring in a verdict of previously undiagnosed heart-disease. Mrs Daffodil is certain that, had the the news of Lucy’s marriage been broken through the medium of neighbourhood gossip and been wept over in private, instead of being so insouciantly announced at the hat counter, Jane would have escaped both public embarrassment and the private asylum.
Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes
You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.