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I DEPUTY of the DEVIL I
• By Ben Ames Williams * Copyright, Ben Ames Williams. WNU Service. SYNOPSIS Dr. Greeding, a wealthy and talented middle aged surgeon, is possessed ol seem ingly supernatural powers Occasionally he can wish for something extraordinary to happen and have the wish fulfilled. Greed lng meets Ira Jerrell, a wealthy Business friend of his own age. who tells him he loves his daughter Nancy and would like to marry her. Dr. Greedlng is pleased and tells Jerrell he has a clear field. Kancy, however, is In love with Dan Carlisle, an assistant professor at the University who has little means. They discuss marriage, but decide to delay talking to her father about it. Nancy, who has been playing ten nis with Dan that afternoon, tells her lathe she had been playing with a girl friend. Greeding knows this is untrue and t- secret ly enraged. Stepping into his wife's room his eye falls on a marble statuette which he dislikes. He nicks it up. wishing he could smash it to bits. Suddenly it is snatched from his grasp as by an In visible force and burst asunder. Mrs. Greeding is greatly disturbed over the mysterious destruction of the statuette. The doctor reveals that Ira Jerrell wants to marry Nancy. On the way to a dinner party a car cuts in front of Greeding’s. He angrily expresses the wish that the driver would break his neck. An Instant later an accident occurs in which this very thing happens. At the dinner the Greedings meet Prof. Carlisle, Dan’s father, and his daugh ter Mary Ann. Dr. Greeding is Intrigued by Mary Ann, who is a surgical nurse. Mrs. Greeding tells Pro*. Carlisle about the de struction of the statuette and he Indicates It might have been caused by a “polter geist." a "racketing, mischievous spirit." Greeding pretends to Nancy that he has no objection to Dan More interested in Mary Ann, Dr. Greeding induces her to take a position in his office. Eventually he finds he loves her. Jerrell continues to see Nan cy, whose love for Dan is unchanged. The Greedings invite the Carlisles to dinner. Dr. Greeding discusses with Prof. Carlisle the subject of "poltergeists,” the doctor tell ing of some of his own experiences, but at tributing them to a friend. Prof. Carlisle comments: "He who eats with the Devil will need a long spoon." The dinner party is interrupted by a call for Dr. Greeding from a neighboring town. He asks Mary Ann to accompany him. On the ride to see the patient. Greeding is extremely hap py. He Invites Mary Ann to visit their summer home, it is late when they finish the call. Nancy is disquieted when he kisses her hand on parting. Mrs. Greeding up braids him when he returns home. Mary Ann seeks to leave Greeding's employ ment. He masks his real interest in her and persuades her to stay. Mrs. Greed ing and Nancy go to the lake to open the summer house. Jerrell mentions Nancy’s interest in Dan to Dr. Greeding, but he assures him it is only superficial and he invites Jerrell to visit their summer place for a weekend. Dr. Greeding is annoyed to find Dan there. Wher Dan leaves. Dr. Greeding invites Nancy and Jerrell to do some pistol shooting. Jerrell proves ex tremely inexpert. Back in the city. Greed ing maneuvers to be invited to dinner by Mary Ann. CHAPTER V—Continued — 7— So they rose; yet he said as a reminder: “Thursday night, then. It’s settled?” “Of course," she agreed, and they went out to the car. Doctor Greeding found himself, during the days that intervened, full of a lively anticipation. When at about seven o’clock on Thursday evening he rang her bell. Mary Ann herself opened the door; but she did not at once bid him enter. He saw that she was flushed and warm, and he said, smiling: “I can see you’ve been standing over a hot stovel” She said in a confused hesita tion: “As a matter of fact, it isn’t just that I’m—hot, Doctor Greed ing. I’m a little embarrassed, too. Hence these blushes.” And she explained: “You see, I expected Father to be at home tonight; but there’s some distinguished foreign er or other, visiting Professor Mid dleton, and he called Father half at. hour ago, and asked him over to dinner. And Father went.” She added honestly: “He told me to telephone you and put off our spaghetti till some other time.” He said, shrewdly amused and pleased: "But you didn’t!” And he stepped past her uito the hall. She confessed, slowly closing the door: “Why, I had it started al ready and it seemed a shame to waste it!” “Of course," he agreed. “And now that I’m here. I’ve no notion of not staying. It’s a long time since I’ve been considered—dangerous.” She could not well send him away. To do so would only serve to lend importance to the unimportant. So she laughed and said: “Spaghetti isn’t very romantic, I’m afraid! Come on out to the kitchen, and I’ll put an apron on you, and you can help.” The preparation of supper amused them both; they laughed together and were gay. While they sat at table, they talked at random, and afterward he helped her with the dishes; but when the kitchen was all put to rights, they stood at loose ends, not quite certain what next to do. \ “Now if 1 were a policeman, and you were a cook, or even a second maid,” he suggested, “we might walk out together, or go to the mov ies, or find a place to dance! 1 feel that something of the sort is almost required of us.” “1 think it woui i be much more comfortable to just sit on the side porch,” she decided. “It’s dark enough now so you needn’t be afraid of being compromised!” “I don't feel in the least repre hensible, or dangerous,” he said re assuringly. “I'm too well ted. Just sitting will suit me perfectly." They did m tact nay an hour on the veranda together, speaking of commonplace things, but softly; and sometimes silences enfolded them. There were times when words came tumbling to his lips and re mained unspoken. They might, de spite his effort at self-control, have fouhd utterance in the end; but in terruption came, a footstep on the walk in front of the house. “There’s Father,” said Mary Ann, and rose to go toward the door. Doctor Greeding followed her. “I’ll say good night,” he decided hurriedly. “Time to get along home.” “Not afraid of Father, are you?” she asked, amused; but when they came to the door together, it was Jerrell, not Professor Carlisle, who appeared. Jerrell’s eyes met those of Doctor Greeding, and the two men stared at one another for a moment, equal ly startled. Why was Jerrell here? Something like jealousy awoke in Greeding. Then jerrell was saying awkward ly: “Good evening, Miss Carlisle. Hello, Ned.” And he asked: “Is Dan at home?” She shook het head. “No. No, he’s in New Hampshire; won’t be back till Sunday.” And then, quick ly, to Doctor Greeding: “I’m sorry our phone didn’t ring. Doctor. It must be out of order. Too bad you had to come way over here; but r ’U be ready at six in the morn • - ing. v Doctor Greeding, perceiving that she wao protecting him, fe.t a quick delight. They were thus brought in alliance tc deceive Jerrell; and he said readily: “It’s quite all right. I needed the walk. And I’ll have Thomas pick you up at six.” Greeding nodded, waiting, but Jerrell made no movement tc leave —and Doctor Greeding was by Mary Ann’s deception left with no pretext to stay. His tone was calm as he bid the two good night, but he walked away from the house in a deep tur moil of conflicting emotions. There was a storm of passion in the man— of anger at Mary Ann, for permit ting Jerrell to stay thus alone with her, in the empty house. He thought, absurdly, of chiding her next day, of uttering some admonition. But she might remind him that if his own presence there involved no indiscretion, certainly she could re ceive Jerrell This thought, that Jer rell might freely pay Mary Ann whatever attention he chose, swept through Doctor Greedin; like a storm; Mrs. Greeding, from that moment became in his thoughts like an iron chain that fettered him and held him bound. CHAPTER VI Doctor Greeding did not sleep that night at all. He was shaken and trembling and perspiring; yet he felt cold, and he pressed his teeth together to prevent their chat tering . . . Man’s character is built ol many leticences, of an infinite number of self-restraints. He is molded and determined not sc much by the things he does as by the things he refrains from doing. Doctor Greed ing had so long held himself under discipline that it had become auto matic to do so; he had molded himself into a proficient surgeon, into a devoted husband, into a wise and indulgent father. He had come tc think of this individual, whom he had created as himself, his es sential self. But tonight he recognized the fact that this conventional and respecta ble individual was not himself, but a mask which he presented to the world. Behind this counterfeit pre sentment there lived another man, bold and ruthless and passionate, driven by appetite, drunk with de sires so long restrained. He lay sleepless ail that night, twitching on his bed like one racked by pain; and at work next day he was somber-eyed and frowning. Ev en Mary Ann remarked this; she said to him when they were alone: “I’m afraid my spaghetti didn’t agree with you?” “Oh, yes,” he assured her shortly. She watched him. “I persuaded Mr. Jerrell to stay and eat the rest of it,” she explained. “Ah,” he assented in a grim tone. The girl was disturbed. “1 hope you didn’t mind my—pietending you were there on business,” she said. “1 thought you might prefer it so.” He said shortly: “1 wasn’t in the least ashamed of having dined with you, Mary Ann.” “1 was afraid Mr. Jerrell wouldn’t understand.” “Was it tor my sake alone that you—feared his ill opinion?” he asked, in almost angry challenge. She looked at him in quick sur prise at his tone, on guard, yet also amused. “Oh, of course I’ve my own reputation to consider, too,” she said—and turned quickly away He found no further opportunity tor speech alone with her that after noon; and whpn he left the office, the man was read, to risk any folly MIDLAND JOURNAL, RISING SUN, MD. in order to see her again, -o amend the damage his last word might have caused. Thomas, without or ders, took the road to the Lake; but the Doctor ordered him just to stop at the Carlisles’. Mary Ann was not at home, how ever. Professor Carlisle himself came to the door; and Doctor Greeding asked for her, his thoughts swift to seek a pretext fci this call. Professor Carlisle said: “I’m sorry; she’s dining with Mr. Jerrell. Shall I give her some mes sage?” Dining with Jerrell? Doctor Greeding shook at that word as though a strong wind blew upon him; but he managed to speak easi ly “It’s not important,” he said. “I was just starting for the Lake, and stopped by on the way; but this can wait till Monday.” Mary Ann could dine tonight with Jerrell, without provoking criticism; and he and Jerrell were of a like age, of an equal stature, both men I The only difference between them lay in the fact that—Jerrell’s wife was dead, while Myra was alive! While Myra was alive! . , . His dark thoughts focused there. At the last village before reaching the lake, he bade Thomas telephone the island so that a boat would meet them at the landing. The chauffeur pulled up opposite the lights of a drug-store; and Doctor Greeding also alighted, as much because he could not bear inaction as for any other reason. While Thomas was at the phone, he bought a box of candies. Myra liked candy. “Mrs. Greeding will come to the landing, sir,” the man reported. Doctor Greeding nodded. “All right,” he said, holding his tones un der control. The car turned into a gravel road, tortuous and winding, and Thomas drove more slowly now. There 1 8 lYvl s A Doctor Greeding Did Not Sleep That Nigbt at All. were, a hundred yards short of the landing, some public garages, one of which Doctor Greeding kept un der rental for the season. At this point he said: “Let me out here, Thomas. I’ll walk down to the wharf. You can put up the car, and we’ll wait for you.” So the chauffeur pulled up, and Doctor Greeding alighted. With the box of candy under his arm, he went on down to the lake shore. The boat approached, its bow light shining red and green; Mrs. Greeding swung it in to the land ing. “Hot in town?” she asked. “Rotten,” he said harshly. “Where’s Nancy?" “At the Frisbies’," she said. “Dan turned up this afternoon, on his way back to Boston, and they’ve all gone to picnic down the lake, cook supper on the beach.” At this mention of Dan’s name, Doctor Greeding thrust the clutch lever viciously forward, and the boat leaped ahead. “Tired?” she asked. “You seem tired.” “I had a hard week," he agreed. Then they cleared the point of the high terrace built out into the lake in front of the house, and saw the boathouse lights. He eased the throttle shut; the boat slowed, the broad bow settled down into the water, checking their way. They drifted easily into the slip He turned off the ignition, and the engine died, and he stepped out on the wharf. Thomas was making the boat fast a bow and stern. He said: “Good night, Thom as.” Mrs. Greeding climbed out of the boat, and they went up the winding path toward the house together. Doctor Greeding and Mrs. Greed ing came to the big empty house. The living-room was lighted, and the billiard-room. Their steps ech oed hollowly. She kissed him. “Would you like some supper— crackers and milk or something, Ned?” He shook his head. “I’U swim,” he said. “I’m still hot froir town. How about you?” She never swam at night, and he expected her re fusal. She shook her head. He went upstairs alone, while she stayed below. Then: “Myra, will you bring me my trunks?” She said, amused: “You’re the most helpless* thing!” He heard her coming up the stairs, heard her go out on the balcony and so return. She appeared in the open doorway, his swimming-trunks in her hand. He took them. “I brought you a box of candy,” he said curtly. “There on the ta ble.” She was fond of sweets. She loosed the wrappings, opened the box. “Bless you,” she said. “You never forget, do you Ned? I know I shouldn’t eat them, but—” She chose a caramel. He buttoned the trunks. She put the piece of candy in her mouth; and mumbling the words, she asked casually: “Who did you see, this week?” This trick of hers speaking when ner mouth was full, always exas perated him; it acted now like a detonator on his bottled anger. “I had dinner with Mary Ann last night,” he said, willing to an noy her. She protested: “Ned, was that wise? It takes so little to start talk.” “Talk! Talk! Talk!” he explod ed, his eyes red and wrathful. “I’m sick to death of your talk! I wish you’d—” She seemed suddenly to choke, as though on the candy in her mouth. The Doctor stared at her in swift dawning understanding. He took one step toward ner; then, his face pale, his lips white, while she coughed, strangling, he went abruptly out of the room, down to the little beach where they were accustomed to swim. He burst into the water with a sort of violence, like a man break ing chains which bound him. He dived and swam under water, far out from the shore. When he came to the surface, he heard a motorboat approaching. It rounded the point of the island, its exhaust suddenly loud and near at hand. Doctor Greeding swam back toward the beach, to be clear of its course; and a moment later the boat slid past him into the emp ty slip, and the engine died. As he reached the beach, Nancy, a white shadow in the darkness, came up the path with Dan at her shoulder. Doctor Greeding’s voice was calm and steady as he called: “Hullo, Nancy.” She had not seen him. “Oh, you, Father!” she cried, startled at this apparition. “Yes.” He kissed her, at arm’s length, careful not to wet her. “Hel lo, Dan,” he said, and grasped the young man’s hand. “Where’s Mother?” Nancy asked. “She was just starting to devour a box of candy when 1 came down to swim,” he explained, and they went up to the house together. At once Doctor Greeding went up stairs. And an instant later he called, from the door of their room up there, in tones of terror and de spair: “Nancy! Nancyl Quick! Come here!” In the first shock of that desper ate alarm, Nancy and Dan stood an instant motionless. Then Nancy ran through the billiard-room toward the stairs, and Dan came running. The door into the big south bed room which Doctor and Mrs. Greed ing shared was open; Nancy came to the door and saw him bending over her mother, who lay across the bed. The girl, in her terror, cried meaningless words. Then Doctor Greeding, even while he made au tomatic efforts at resuscitation, said harshly: “She’s dead, Nancyl” “Dead?” Her voice was a hollow whisper. “She must have choked on a piece of candy,” he panted. “Open the windows, quick!” “They’re open. Doctor,” Dan told him. Nancy brought whisky in a glass, and Doctor Greeding forceo it be tween Mrs. Greeding s set teeth; it spilled as though out of an over flowing cup. When he saw this, he stopped his efforts, and stood erect, looking down at his wife’s body, and then at his daughter. He put his arms around the girl. “Nancy, she’s gene.” he said brokenly, ana held her close “You’ll have to be the steady one, Nancy. You’re all I’ve got left, now.” She stood erect in his arms, no wavering in her; but after a mo ment. releasing hersell she turned to the bed. Her mother s garments were disordered She straightened them. ''Her father helping they laid Mrs. Greeding's body decently Then Doctor Greeding drew Nancy away. She saw that he was snaking, and flushed and hot. There was whisky remaining in the glass, and she gave It to him. “Here,” she said, and managed a wry smile. “You need this, yourself.” He drank the liquor, gagging over the fiery draught. “She was ail right not twenty minutes ago,” he protested, as though dazed. Nancy thought dispassionately that he must be cold, in wet trunks and no other garment. “Dry yourself, Father," she urged. “Get into some clothes.” She went out of the room, and Dan followed her, took her in his arms. The door behind them closed. She stood in his arms, rigid and unyielding; and he said whisper ingly: “Sweet, sweet, I’m so sorry for you!” “It doesn’t seem real. So—quick ly—” She cried: “It can’t bel There must be something we can do.” “If there was, your father—” He tried to lead her away. “Come downstairs, sweet. Out of doors!” His arm through hers, he com pelled her gently coward the stairs; but then her father’s door opened, and Doctor Greeding appeared, al ready dressed save for his coat and tie. He said: “I can’t seem to think what to do.” Nancy went toward him; and Dan said gravely: “I’ll wake the serv ants—Thomas and the others." He left them together, went down the stairs and along the path. Nancy made her father come downstairs. They stood before the hearth where—though the night was warm enough—a small fire burned. She came beside him, and his arm encircled ner. They stooo thus for a long time silent, side by side. She felt herself outside a wall, felt a harsh barrier between them. His arm burned across her shoulders. , Suddenly he said: “I m going out, Nancy. Alone. I can t stay here. Ask Dan to do—whatever is necessary.” He freed himself almost roughly, and departed. This departure was like flight. Doctor Greeding fled like a man pursued, out of the house and along the tortuous path 'through the dark woods. He barked his shins against boulders without knowing it, blundered into trees, still stumbled on. He went hall around the island thus, heedless of anything except the desire to be alone, to hide. Then he came to where the path crossed an open ledge, and paused there, panting, peering furtively all about. Shadows surrounded him on three sides; the dark water slumbered at his feet. The very shadows, and the black water, seemed to his ter ror-ridden fancy to hide ominous shapes; yet he could brave them. But when he looked up, he saw the unwinking stars, and could not support their steady scrutiny. He shrank back into the covert of the dark wood and crouched there, his nead in his arms, trembling and alone, waiting the stroke that must Dt even now preparing his destruc tion. But by and by, since the human soul can by use accustom itself to any agony, he became calm again; .eason, stifled at first by fear, lift ed its head. He began to contem plate in the clear light of normal minds ms situation—and to take hope therefrom. For none need ever know the truth—since to any sober sense, tiuth it could not be! He pounced exultantly upon this thought. Truth it could not be! Coincidence, cer tainly; a black and terrifying co incidence. But nothing more. It would be madness to think other wise. His wife was dead; and grief must be his portion. But not fearl And suddenly—his fears thus as suaged—he grieved because Myra was dead, and wept for her, and tears were his easement. (TO BE CONTINUED) Natural Icebox in New Mexico’s Lava Deposits A lava bed whose surface is un pleasantly warm to the touch does not seem a likely setting for a de posit of perpetual ice. Yet in just such a locality, where the brazen New Mexican sun beats down upon a surface which once was molten stone, a deposit of perpetual ice does exist, says Natural History. Signboards lead the traveler to a volcanic sink, an abrupt depression of an estimated depth of seventy five feet. This was produced when a natural tunnel in the lava bed caved in. The tunnel was caused by the flowing away of molten lava from the lower part of the bed after the upper surface had cooled and hardened. Its presence so near the hot sur face of the ground depends pri marily upon the fact that lava is among Nature’s most efficient tem perature insulators The lava con tains an infinite number of minute pores and cavities, and the dead air in them hinders the transmis sion of beat through the stone from the sun. UncLPhilQ, That Is Perfection Perfection does not consist in doing singular things; but it does consist in doing common things singularly well. Always be sure your friends can grant the favor before you ask it; then there won’t be the pain and embarrassment of refusal. We always feel great admiration for those clever people who can mend something when we break it. Everyone remembers what a great man says. So much the worse for his reputation for con sistency. Those That Tried Failures are facts that prove a man has at least actually tried to be successful. Poise is something that keeps one from speaking too suddenly. The sophisticated person finds little to enjoy. 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