«OBTUSE TRIANGLE By Thyra S. Winslow
Copyright: 1934: By Thyra S. Winslow
m TWO PARTS—PART ONE
A THEOREM IN GEOMETRY,
LEARNED TEARS BEFORE, HELPED
ROBERTA McK ESSEN, FORTY AND
NEGLECTED, TO SOLVED THE
PROBLEM OF A WAYWARD
Roberts McKesson knew definitely
now that George was, to use the ac
cepted term of her set, "untrue to her."
And once squarely facing the fact, Ro
berta knew, too, that she really had
been aware of it for a long tone.
Because it was a thing she did not
want to believe she had not believed
it Psychologist« point out that we
can go through life with a full proof of
a thing before our eyes and fall to ac
cept tt because we do not want to be
lieve. Roberta had been like that. She
had avoided, had absolutely refused to
accept the knowledge as tang as she
could. Now a certain honesty, an in
ability to be htlnded any more, even
though she wanted to be blinded, made
her see the truth. George McKeasen,
to whom she had been married for nine
year*, was to love with Lois Fairfield!
It seemed almost fanny to her now
to see how blind she had been. Why,
a whole year ago, Luclle Davis bad
hinted things. Ludle was a cat, of
course, smug to the knowledge that
poor old Roger Davis didn't have energy
enough, after the way Luclle made him
work for her, to look at another wo
man. But this time at any rate Luclle
had been telling the truth.
T didn't know George got away early
from his office," Luclle had aakL
"He doesn't," Roberta had answered.
"It's horrible how late dinner is. An
nie pouts every day."
"Then-of course, it couldn't have been
George I saw," Luclle had pursued. T
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last Tuesday, too. having tea at the
Vanderbilt. With Lote Fairfield. They
were so absorbed In each other they
didn't me me so I didn't gpeak. It must
have been some one else."
Tt was George's double," Roberta
had laughed. "He has a 'stand to,'
you know, the way movie stars do.
Some one who looks like him substitutes
when he isn't around "
She should have guessed the truth
then. Instead she had put the thing
down as one of Ladle's vagaries. Weeks
later, when Fred Brush had asked
George carelessly. "How did you like
Alfred Hint, Friday night?" it was Ro
berta who had answered. "We haven't
been to see the new Theatre Guild
show " She couldn't help seeing bow
self-conscious both Fred and George
looked. And she had dismissed that,
too. Hadn't George said be was work
ing, going over some accounts with one
of the salesmen who was off the road
for a few days? It hadn't occurred to
her to question George's st at ement .
She was glad now she had never ap
peared to doubt George. She had
found out without asking any one,
without any unpleasantness. Evidence
had piled up slowly, definitely. Never
one big thing. Rather a full building,
a sort of coral growth of small evi
dence. Things George had said—or
bad tried not to say. The way Lote
and George acted when they were to
gether. The way Lois treated her, too
friendly, with a sort of soft condescen
sion, seemingly always maki n g allow
ances. when allowances weren't neces
sary, and then catching George's eye
for approval of her cleverness.
For nine years Roberta and George
had been happily married. At least
Roberta had been happily married. For
the last year now George evidently
hadn't been. A nice old problem! Or,
rather, a thts-generation probten. It
didn't seem to Roberta that the genera
tions of her parents and grandparents
thought so much about unhappy mar
Roberta knew Lois Fairfield and Lois
Fairfield's type—and the knowledge
didn't help a great deal. Compared to
herself, Lois did seem to have a tat
of advantages. Roberta bad never bad
any sort of a job—and Lote was a suc
cessful business woman. And to spite
of her success—she wrote copy to one
of the large advertising agencies—she
still kept her feminine appeal
Roberta didn't see why It .was such
a great triumph tor a woman to keep
her feminine appeal In business, when
in a case like Lois' It was one of her
most useful assets. Roberta was will
ing to grant Lois a great deal, though
when you came down to it, all she bad
done was what most men do—make a
decent living for herself.
Lois was a widow, a real widow, an
act of God and not the divorce courts.
Her husband had died most unromantl
cally of typhoid fever, brought on, the
doctors thought, by eating tainted
oysters. His Insurance bad been small,
his widow pretty. So, after a touching
period of mourning, which seemed a
bit overdone to some people because
Lois and Dick Fairfield bad been on
the point of separating half a dozen
times and were, according to their
friends, contemplating a divorce when
Fairfield was taken ill, Lois became a
brave little woman and faced the world
In three years by her own ability she
had gone to near the top to the Gra
ham Advertising agency- The president
ot the company bad been a bit lenient
In the first place about hiring an un
trained copy writer, but Later copy wae
good—fresh and clean and entertain
ing, She didn't write on the biggest
accounts even now. but she did give
an interesting "woman's angle" to the
accounts she worked for.
Late was small and her eyes wars
big and brown. She wore her brown
hair to a straight and sleek and child-
ish bob and her head, »lightly too large
as is the ease with many small women.
accentuated her youth. She
well, to clothes a little too young for
her and yet so well tailored and ap-
propriate that it you were a man you
were well pleased with the effect and if
you were a woman you were only
Roberta knew how attractive Lois
was and how her brave-little- woman
act appealed to men. She knew, too,
that Lote was smarter than she was.
Roberta was plump and always plan
ning to start dieting on Monday. Lola
preserved her slenderness by watching
her diet constantly. Lois was clever
about t nlVin g to people too. Roberta,
even when she tried bard, never quite
knew what to aay to a man when she
was alone with him, unless he was very
old and only wanted some one to be
kind and friendly.
Roberta was 33 and she knew she
looked her age. Lois was perhaps five
years younger, though she hinted at
being awfully young and, to most lights,
looked the age she pretended.
It isn't to face facts, even when you
know them. Roberta knew that her
husband was to tore with a younger,
prettier, smarter, and more attractive
woman. And that was that!
Roberta knew what she ought to do.
She knew by all the laws of her mod
em, Oxford Gardena set—"Oxford Gar
dens, the garden spot of New York's
suburbs"—she ought to give George
McKesson a diverse. Oayly. carelessly,
nonchalantly. As If it didn't mean
anything to her. Than George and
Lois could get married.
She knew what would happen If she
said she was going to get a divorce.
She'd watched other women. Her
friends would gather around her like
inquisitive stirring bees. Each ooe
would have some bit of news to add.
advice to give. She would have to lis
ten to criticism of George, to tang
discussions of bow George and Lots
were to blame. Here friends would en
joy the excitement. She wouldn't.
Then would come the divorce itself.
She had seen enough acquaintances go
through with that to know what hap
pened. If she went to Reno it would
mean a long and tiresome trip by her
self—she hated train trips anyhow—
and wert» to a lonely boarding house
or to a small, drearily furnished apart
ment. Seeing lawyers. Then going to
court. She wouldn't have money
enough for gay times, even if she were
feeling like having them.
If she got a divorce to New York It
would mean a hundred unpleasant de
tails. And then the divorce itself!
George wasn't well known enough for
the newspapers to do much about tt.
That was one good thing. But the
papers might cover It. anyhow, and
Roberta shuddered away from that sort
of publicity. She didn't mind seeing
her name mentioned to the neighbor
hood weekly as attending a bridge party
or a luncheon but she had been brought
up conservatively by folks who thought
tt better if your name stayed out of
But that would be the smallest part
ot It. Afterwards would be worst of
Roberta knew that ae George Mc
Kesson's wife she had a fairly easy
time of It, A pleasant time. Better
than she deserved, more than likely.
What of tt? Maybe,.she was selfish.
She enjoyed her home, her maid, the
t h i n gs that meant comfort and, to a
She had wanted children when she
first married. She had thought there
was going to be a baby. Then she bad
been quite ill and there hadn't been a
baby after all That hadn't been her
fault, certainly. Now keeping George
from marrying Lott wasn't robbing
George of children- She knew that
Lott said often enough she'd never
have any children for any man. And
George didn't want children. He al
ways said so and reiterated It last year
when ahe wanted to adopt a baby. So
keeping George married to her wasn't
depriving George of anything he really
wanted. Except Lott,
The chief reason, besides the actual
taring of George, Out Roberta didn't
want a divorce was because she knew
what would happen to her. Even if she
did get aBmony—and she hated the
thought of that—the amount would be
small. George was generous enough If
you belonged to him but Roberta knew
that once you were an outrider—as a
divorced wife would be—he'd care noth
ing about you at alL Imagine Lott and
George sighing because ot the things
they'd have to sacrifice because of her
Roberto knew, too, she probably
would have to get a Job. She couldn't
rit around doing nothing at all and she
wouldn't even have the house to look
after. What could she do? O, she
probably could make a living at some
thing if she had to—but she didn't want
to have to. That was the thing. Long
hours. Two train or subway trips a
day. A stuffy office or stare and a lot
of people, telhng you what to da It
was much better here to her own home,
pl a nnin g meals, being an adequate host
ess at the few parties si ne and George
gave, fitting into the scheme of being
a wife. This was her Hie. It was what
She felt that II she had a home to go
back to tt would be different. But her
father had died two yean before her
marriage and her mother four years
later. Her only sister was living at St.
Joseph, Mo., with her husband, who
sold automobiles. They got along an
right but they dWtat want her she knew
one ot the smaller ot the neat looking
Even it she bad enough money to
keep on living to Oxford Gardens to
; ®ngllsh replicas or in Oxford Hall, the
«H apartment house permitted in the
* restricted suburb, things wouldn't be
ïtttot. She'd be only a widow and a
MWow to her art had practically no
•octal standing. In Oxford Gardens
you were Invited out to couples—with
the man the mort valuable half. A
bachelor or a widower didn't have such
a hard time of It but a woman alone
was pretty much out -nt things—invtt
ed to a dinner or a bridge party at the
last minute to fill to but never exactly
to demand or wholly desirable.
that would be
torent, anyhow, aw'd be lonely but at
least Loi» wouldn't have him. Pot a
brief moment there played through Ro
berta's mind the Idea of munter. She
ened to George,
t A little dif
put It aside. Not because she was
afraid. She didn't know how to go
about it. She'd get found out—there
would be awful thing to the paper.
They'd put her through a third degree
There would be a terrible trial. The
She suffered, to one brief moment, all
of the horrors of a murderer, came to
herself with a little shudder. Anyhow,
she didn't want George to die. She
She wanted George to live—and with
her. Happily with her, If tt were pos-
All ot the stories she bad read about
how women kept their husbands , or got
their husbands back after they bad
wandered away, went through her
mind. How did you really get your
husband back, once be bad gone? The
fiction versions were too unbelievably
•tapie. But there mutt be something I
A sort of an unhappy nervous frenay
came down over Roberta. She didn't
want to lose George! Every minute, no
matter what she was doing, the emo
te) would surge over her. Lois and
There were three bedrooms to the
pretty little Oxford Gardens borne. The
hugest, with its four potter twin maple
beds, was, of course, the room George
and Roberta occupied. The maid oc
cupied the smallest bedroom and the
third bedroom, furnished to green ena
mel and rather fussy accessories, was
the guest room.
The guest room was seldom occupied.
Usually It was empty and to apple pie
perfection, save for a thin lay«- of dust,
the kind of clean dust that settles over
a room that is cared for but not lived
Roberta decided to move Into the
guest room. She could not poaaibly
keep on sharing the room with George.
She couldn't put tt Into words. It
was a grown-up interpretation of the
childish "I wont go where I'm not
wanted," yet she felt she was not want
ed in the house at all—and she badnt
the slightest intention to the world of
She was afraid George would de
mand an explanation. She hadnt ever
slept in the guest room except one time
when she had bad a cold which left
her with an annoying cough and ahe
didn't want to keep George awake.
Now she thought it over and dedd
ed to have Insomnia, It was bard for
Roberta to have insomnia. She was the
sort who fell asleep the minute her
head touched the pillow. It was almost
agony for her to stay awake once she
was to bed. She got sleepy far too eas
ily—when they went out to dinner and
she should have been gay and animated.
Now ahe farced herself to lie awake
to bed until after she heard George's
regular breathing and she was sure be
was asleep. She did this for half a
damn nights. Then she announced her
plan at the breakfast table.
"Darling," she said. "I've been lying
And I wake up at unearthly times. Four
to the morning! And can't get to sleep
again. I think in have Annie more
my things into the guest room. If rm
awake I can turn on the light to there
and read without disturbing you."
She watched George's face.
"That an»»nd« uv» ^ sensible plan,"
he said with no expression at all as be
piled marmalade on another piece of
TO sorry you're not sleeping well,"
he added, courteously.
O. he didn't care!
He didn't care!
Roberta wanted to throw her knife
and plate and cup and saucer all at
He didn't care!
hta mimW I i anil pi oaenn t
"I know you're to lore with another
woman!" she wanted to tell him. "You
dont love me! You love her! You
are seeing her all the time) On the
She wished she could scream. She
wanted to stamp her foot. She smiled
calmly Instead. If—if she only knew
what to dot
That day she and Annie moved her
thing» Into the guest room. She would
knew, the little intimacies of
a room with George. Those
last minute "aftermath" conversations,
a test part ot parties. But.
--, staying to the some room
with George was the one thing she
(To Be Continued)
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