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" No," said Bee firmly. " I certainly
couldn t. And wouldn t."

There was silence after this. I could hear
Bee moving around. It sounded as if she were
dusting things on the mantel.

" Well, what would you advise ? " asked
Lyddy with evident difficulty.

" Advise whom? Bob? " asked Bee. " Or
Ava? Why should I advise either of them?
They haven t asked my advice and I certainly
wouldn t be so officious as to volunteer it."

" Advise me ! " bellowed Lyddy, in a sud
den burst of self-surrender. " You know
about these things! I don t! But I want
Bob! Help me, Bee, and I ll I ll do any
thing for you ! "

"Will you sell the Kokomo land?" asked



Napoleonic Strategy 131

Bee, quickly. " You ve promised to, but
you ve never done it."

" Yes, I will ! If you will help me to get
him away from her, I ll place that land on the
market."

" When ? " asked Bee, suspicious of Lyddy s
crafty pause.

"The day I marry Bob Mygatt!" said
Lyddy.

Bee s beaten silence was sufficient evidence
of her chagrin. Such a tract of land might
take ten years to dispose of, and they both
knew it. It shows my sister s self-control that
she held her tongue, and gave no hint of her
set back.

"Oh, well," said Bee carelessly. "I will
think it over. Possibly I couldn t do any
thing anyway. Bob is busy rehearsing Ava
for her part in his play and he is crazy over
her just at present, on account of her voice,
which is wonderful. They may be married
now for all we know ! "

Lyddy fairly howled in her middle-aged
agony.

" Don t do that, Lyddy! " said Bee. " I ll
think it over and let you know. I must go
now. I want to talk to my sister about
making up a party to go up to Bob s premiere
in New Haven."



132 The Concentrations of Bee

"Who is making it up?" asked Lyddy
quickly.

" I don t believe it has been decided just
how we shall go," said Bee slowly. " Faith
is sure to see that / am included, no matter
whose party she and Aubrey join."

"She d ask me too, wouldn t she?" de
manded Lyddy.

" I don t know," said my sister. " Are you
and Faith on any better terms than you were
when you deliberately made noises so that
Aubrey couldn t write, when they visited
me?"

" I wish I hadn t now ! " said Lyddy,
honestly. " Say, Bee, if there s any danger
of my not being asked, why couldn t you and
I make up the party and divide expenses ? "

" Because," said my sister evenly, " I see
no particular reason for such an unnecessary
outlay on my part."

" Well, then," said Lyddy, swallowing vio
lently. "I will make up the party and invite
you all ! "

" That will be very nice. Do you want me
to tell them?"

: Yes, please do. And Bee please make
all the arrangements. I ll foot the bills."

I nearly choked at the complacent manner
in which Bee cleared her throat.



Napoleonic Strategy 133

" Well, then," said Bee, " I must go. Will
you excuse me, Lyddy ? "

" No, I won t," snapped Lyddy, " till we ve
come to some understanding. I ve got to be
helped now. I can t wait. Even now it may
be too late. I m willing to to do anything
you say, if you ll only help me. Will you?
I m willing to do anything in the world ! "

" I am afraid," said my sister, with graceful
deliberation, " that your idea and mine as to
what that phrase anything in the world
means, might differ."

" I know what you mean," said Lyddy
promptly. " You mean that I m stingy.
Well, perhaps I am. You always said James
was. And I m like him. Still in this case,
I ll do what I never did before. I ll pour out
money as freely as those foolish Jardines, who
always spend their money before they get it
and act like the millionaires everybody knows
they ain t ! "

The objectionable accuracy of this descrip
tion did not make the hit with me that it did
with my sister. I could see Bee s shoulders
shake.

" I ll take you all up to New Haven in
limousines and I ll give you a supper after the
play," continued Lyddy. " What s the mat
ter?"



134 The Concentrations of Bee

" Lyddy," said Bee, swiftly, " you invite
Ava and Bob both to that supper, do you
hear?"

Lyddy evidently hesitated a little at that,
but she recollected herself in time and said :

" All right. If you say so."

" Now, Lyddy," said Bee, " suppose things
really turned out as you wish. What would
you do for me? "

"What do you want me to do?" asked
Lyddy, who was nobody s fool. " You
know "

" Quite so," said Bee. " In twenty years
from now, the Kokomo land may still be un
sold. I want an allowance now. I also want
you to give me fifty acres of land, and money
enough to build a handsome house on it.
Then I want money enough to run the house
after it is built. You can deduct every cent
of it from my share of the proceeds of the land
when it is sold."

Lyddy, who had evidently figured on giving
Bee a new fan or a few ice cream sodas as
a just remuneration for her efforts, nearly
swooned at the calmness of my sister s de
mands.

" What ? " she roared. " What ? "

" Now don t go into one of your awful
rages," said Bee quickly, " for unless you do



Napoleonic Strategy 135

just that, I wash my hands of your entire
affair and what you can t do for yourself will
go undone."

" But you ve asked for a fortune," cried
Lyddy.

" I ve asked for less than what would have
been my widow s third of my husband s prop
erty before you and he plotted to keep me out
of it by his giving you all the revenue produc
ing bulk of the estate before he died," said
Bee quietly. " Now, you will seem to have
seen the iniquity of that plan, and will have
given me, of your own free will and accord,
what was justly mine by right."

" I won t do it," said Lyddy.

" Very well," said Bee. " Then I m going.
Good-bye."

" Wait a minute," said Lyddy. " Where
where is this fifty acres you want ? "

" It s the old Van Dam estate on Long
Island."

Lyddy stirred with quick suspicion.

" Do you propose to sell it to the govern
ment for a lighthouse ? Have you heard of an
offer?"

" No ! No ! Is your mind all mercenary,
Lyddy? I want to build a house on it ! "

" On that rock ? Well you can have it.
I never wanted it anyway."



136 The Concentrations of Bee

" And will you lend me say a hundred
thousand dollars ? "

" A hundred thou "

"All right! I don t care. Let s drop the
subject."

" No ! no ! Don t let s drop it. I ll lend it
to you."

" Very well," said Bee. " You have the
deed made out. You give me the fifty acres.
You lend me the money. Do you under
stand?"

" Yes, I understand. But suppose sup
pose -

" Stop," said Bee. " I make no promises
as to what I will do. But the first part of my
plan is this. I propose to build immediately.
Bob has a little hundred-dollar-a-month job
with Sysonby & Arsenal, and he stays away
from the office so much on account of his
play that he is liable to lose his position any
day. Now, it would be impossible for them to
say anything if he brought them a contract to
build my house for me, to say nothing of
giving me innumerable opportunities to ask
him here on business ! "

Lyddy seldom makes a demonstration, and
when she does it is liable to be unpleasant.

As in this instance. For she walked over
to Bee and kissed her.



Napoleonic Strategy 137

The money," she said, " will be in your
bank before three o clock to-day."

I had been sitting on the bed, but at that I
fell over.



CHAPTER IX

DEVELOPMENTS

TIME passed on and, thanks to Mun-
son s custom of telling his private
affairs to the world at large, every
body knew that things were rapidly growing
worse with him. Neither he nor Eleanor
had got a single commission for over a year;
they had no luck at exhibitions; they only
took silver medals when they assured us they
would have taken gold, had not the pull of
other artists with the Committee of Awards
been so strong, and the only thing they had
to live on was the rent from our apartment.

Of course that would have been enough, had
the Munsons been ordinary people, but being
artists and a particularly wild species at that,
they had sunk the entire proceeds of their last
big commission of two years before in a stock-
farm in the most expensive part of Long
Island, where they chose, as an innocent
pastime, the raising of Arabian horses.

Why Long Island, when even millionaires
138



Developments 139

put stock-farms over in cheaper Jersey, no
one could tell. Even the Munsons themselves
had no answer to that question, but then the
Munsons had no adequate answer to any ques
tion of expediency.

Arabian horses are doubtless very beautiful,
and their breeding interesting, but not to the
general run of the public, who prefer auto
mobiles, yachts or private cars for luxuries.
But it was exquisitely like the Munsons to
prefer Arabians, and to stick to them in the
face of advice, pleading and acrimonious com
ment. Just as it was their habit to look upon
a palace in Algiers with an American pianola
and no other furniture as a normal investment
of their first large batch of money, and against
which idea they would listen to no criticism and
whose inhabiting for seven years while the
world promptly forgot them, they persisted
in regarding as natural and rational.

However, when all their money went for
things like these and they were staggering
under a burden of debt, and our rent went
into the voracious mouths of blooded horses,
leaving them with nothing for their rent or
food or clothes, it came hard on their friends
to be passionately called upon to understand,
sympathize and rage Over their self-inflicted
predicament.



140 The Concentrations of Bee

Such, however, was the state of the case.
Munson s tall figure drooped still lower and his
short, pointed beard was twisted more tightly
than usual by his nervous, agitated fingers.

Nevertheless, it gave him a sort of sad com
fort to talk about it, and talk about it he did
to every man, woman and child who would
listen. When the interesting season arrived,
Munson developed into a sort of agitated,
vicarious midwife for Munson never did
any real work of a domestic character no mat
ter how urgent the need and his conversa
tion was embellished with obstetrical efforts
which often sent some of his more sensitive
listeners from the room, not blushingly, for
Munson s conversation never verged on the
vulgar or too plainly spoken. Surely no one
in the world could converse on indelicate sub
jects with the delicacy of Munson. It was
only that certain of his listeners objected to
his selection of topics. But quite regardless
of mental objections, as long as his ears were
unaffronted by verbal protests, Munson s
charmingly rounded sentences, exquisitely ex
pressed, purled from his lips in a stream which
there was no checking and no damming ex
cept mentally, as Aubrey observed.

Munson got no sympathy from the Keeps
nor the Jimmies nor Bee nor Aubrey. They



Developments 141

listened politely, that was all. But I, who came
wholly under the charm of his delicious verbal
isms, was also a believing sympathizer, and
when he sat down with me quietly to tell me,
confidentially, the worst of it, I was like to get
no sleep that night.

I knew that the real cause of my disquiet
would only arouse Aubrey s ire, for he ob
jects to either man or woman deliberately
preying upon quick sympathies, so I set myself
privately to get Munson a commission.

After many letters and much secret anxiety,
I finally got, through a personal friend, the
order for a magazine cover. Munson made
it, took it down in person, perfectly charmed
the editor by an hour s conversation, and came
home grinning. He felt that he had struck his
gait at last. He at once made six others, very
ugly but classic, and peddled them assiduously,
meeting with rebuffs, rudeness and verbal in
sults from art editors, all of which was grist
for his conversational mill and with accounts
of whose ignorance he convulsed each of
his friends in turn, until he had been the
rounds.

So again I took up the struggle to get him
personal interviews with my personal friends.
But his indifference by this time was such that
he refused even to wrap and cord the pictures



142 The Concentrations of Bee

for the expressman, saying that I could do it
if I had faith enough. Yet still he was tor
turing me with descriptions of his duns and
the rude insistence of his creditors. Then he
further worked upon my susceptibilities by de
scriptions of the sufferings of his horses
especially of the newly made mothers of
hunger, because his feed man had cut off his
supplies. Eleanor has since repudiated every
one of these stories, and has branded them as
deliberate fabrications, but I believed them
absolutely at the time.

Then there was trouble about the payment
for the one cover design which had been ac
cepted. I telephoned two or three times and
finally wrote. I got a reply saying that a
cheque had been duly sent on such and such a
date. I told the Munsons. Neither looked
up from his work.

" Oh," said Munson, looking at his picture
in a hand-glass, " that was last Saturday, the
day Eleanor tore up all the mail without open
ing any of it."-

" Yes," said Mrs. Munson, shutting one
eye to get a better perspective of a study she
was making for a portrait, which she hoped
to get, " whenever things look like advertise
ments or duns, I never open them. I just
destroy them. I tore everything up Satur-



Developments 143

day. I must have torn the cheque up without
opening the envelope."

Now to me a cheque is a holy thing- to
be approached reverently with clean hands and
a pure heart, and for these impecunious artists
thus to explain the destruction of one capable
of a month s keep, was to me something un
pleasantly uncanny.

Any strong emotion always goes to my
knees and makes them weak. I stumbled as
I made my way to a rocking chair in my own
apartment. But the Munsons never even
looked up from their work.

It took me two weeks to get a second cheque
without telling the real truth about the first.

Then came a rare opportunity. Aubrey s
manager Einstein was dining with us one
night, and greatly admired some small studies
Munson was making of " The Idylls of the
King," for which he hoped to get an order.
The indefatigable way both the Munsons
worked on studies for hoped-for commissions
aroused Aubrey s wildest enthusiasm Au
brey who always worked to order only, and
whose only trouble lay in pleasing his man
agers !

Einstein offered seven hundred and fifty
dollars if Munson would fit them to the hall
spaces in the new house he was building in



144 The Concentrations of Bee

Staten Island. In great glee, I told Munson.
He demanded three thousand. I submitted
this price to Einstein, who came up to a thou
sand, frankly stating that this sum was the
limit.

When I told Munson, he turned and wrote
for a few minutes at Eleanor s little desk.

" There! " he said. " I wanted to put it in
writing so that he could get the full force of
it. Just send it to him, will you, as my ulti
matum?"

I took the paper and read,

" DEAR MRS. JARDINE, -
The paltry offer of your friend to take
three thousand dollars worth of work for one
thousand is to me no more than a momentary
amusement. Kindly advise him to utilize Lin-
crusta Walton as a decoration more in keep
ing with his modest purse.

" Very truly yours,

" EDWARD MUNSON/

Munson is especially proud of his prowess
in letter-writing, and, truth to tell, his letters
are always pungent and bitter. That is how
he makes so many enemies. No one could
make as many enemies as Munson, by verbal
isms only, but he sits up at night getting his



Developments 145

waspishness into epigrammatic form, and gen
erally has one or two sample letters in his
pockets, so that in the ferry or train, if you
meet him, you can always count on hearing
the latest specimens w r hich, to be fair to Mun-
son, are always well worth listening to, if only
to know what to avoid, unless you actually
crave the hatred of your fellow men.

I remember vividly my sensation as I stood
with that paper in my hand and realized that
Munson and Eleanor had not had a single
commission in over a year, and that these
very pictures he was then painting on would
stand in all probability with their faces to the
wall for perhaps a year or two more. Yet he
had deliberately thrown away a thousand dol
lars in cash.

As I stood there wondering if Eleanor
would not interfere with a word of remon
strance, Munson rose up with his usual pre
cipitancy, which generally upset something in
his vicinity, and I thought he had changed
his mind. But he had only risen for the pur
pose of turning his picture upside down, the
better to paint his horse s hoofs.

Suddenly there came a knock on the door
of their studio.

Munson answered it. I heard voices, and
after a few moments he returned, grinning.



146 The Concentrations of Bee

" Who was it ? " asked Eleanor.

Munson looked whimsically at me.

" Dare I mention such a fact before our
friend, Mrs. Jardine, whose ideas on moral
ity and finance are so impossibly high ? " he
said with a fine mockery.

" Tell her," said Eleanor indifferently.

Munson twisted his thin beard into two
spirals like Michael Angelo s Moses.

" It was Bob Mygatt s ex-mistress and her
illegitimate child, wishing to pose as Madonna
and Child for my Holy Family, " said Mun
son with his derisive smile.

In looking back on that terrible moment of
illumination which followed, I think my hor
ror was mostly at Munson s evil enjoyment
of the shock he had caused me by the whole
juxtaposition of ideas.

It never occurred to me to doubt him.
Dreadful though it was, it seemed to fit in
with my unconscious knowledge of the irre
sponsible life Bob led.

My first thought was of Ava Corliss.

" Are you shocked ? " asked Eleanor, smil
ing.

"A a little," I said with some difficulty.

" Bob is my cousin," said Munson calmly.
" I am not proud of it, but the fact remains.
So I let this poor creature pose for me when-



Developments 1 47

ever Bob has no money for her. Which is
generally. Bob will marry for money
eventually."

This time they both smiled.

Lyddy!

What if this could be true? What of Ava
Corliss ?

" When did it I mean, how old is the
child?" I stammered.

" About four years old, but small for his
age," smiled Munson. " I could use him for
the infant "

But before he could get the other word out,
I had fled, and even as I ran I could hear them
laughing gently over my discomfiture.

I found Bee just entering, and although I
had not meant to tell her, she got it out of
me.

To my surprise, her eyes blazed with tri
umph.

" Of course," she said, " it is very dread
ful, but it is very illuminating, don t you
think? And very conclusive."

" Conclusive ? " I said.

" Very unravelling, I mean," said Bee
vaguely.

" I don t quite see " I faltered.

" Perhaps not now," said Bee smiling.
" But you will."



148 The Concentrations of Bee

She glanced through the open doors into the
Munsons studio.

" Not bricked up yet, I see," she said.

" Oh don t, Bee," I moaned, " you give me
the shivers when you talk like that. I haven t
taken a bit of comfort with either of them
since you warned me."

" And a very good thing that is," said Bee
firmly. " When you are uncomfortable, you
are careful. When you are at your ease, you
are suicidally reckless in the way you mother
the afflicted. Whereas the Munsons wouldn t
lift their finger to save you from being boiled
alive in salad oil, for all you do so much for
them."

" Nonsense," I murmured. " I don t do
much."

"Don t you?" said Bee. "I know. Of
course, it is not entirely unselfish on your part,
for it affords you exquisite pleasure to work
to make your friends more comfortable than
you found them, so it is a species of selfishness
on your part. Still, I can t help wishing that
you were at work on people I had more con
fidence in."

" What makes you so suspicious of the Mun
sons, Bee?"

" Well, Monday I came in while you were
lunching with them "



Developments 1 49

" So, you see, they do reciprocate some
times, Bee ! "

" And none of you could find the tea
spoons. Munson was drinking milk out of a
lemonade glass and he kept picking teaspoons
out of his milk every few moments."

" Oh, I remember ! He had absent-mind
edly poured his milk into the spoon-holder ! "
And I laughed again at the recollection.

" Faith," said Bee, " you certainly are an
awful fool to make a friend out of a man who
can be so oblivious to the realities of life.
How about that leak in the wall of your bed
room ? Has he attended to it yet ? "

" No."

" So, all through these storms, you have put
up with water running down the wall of the
room you sleep in "

" Well, I am trying to get him to ask the
building committee to look into it, and "

"Trying!" cried Bee. "And how about
your health in the meantime? How about
your catching cold? There is a green mould
on your bed-room wall an inch thick."

" Not now," I interrupted. " I burn a little
gas-stove there all day, so by night it has
dried off some."

" And that, to my certain knowledge, has
been going on two months," said Bee.



150 The Concentrations of Bee

" Well, as I said, I asked him to-day to
telephone Mr. Dale, but "

"But what?"

" Well, he asked me if I thought it quite
fair to interrupt a man in business hours for
a trifle like that ! "

Bee got up and walked around in a cold,
ladylike fury. She never sees anything funny
in the utter incongruity of the Munsons letting
me actually suffer for a dry bed-room when
they were eating at my table and sleeping com
fortably on my couches and accepting all sorts
of favours from Aubrey and me, whereas I
obtained an exquisite joy from the whole pic
ture. They were unconsciously painting their
mental and spiritual portraits for me, with the
sure touch of absolute finality.

Finally, Bee paused.

" Did it ever occur to you that the Munsons
and Bob Mygatt are very much alike? " she
said. " They are absolutely similar in their
indifference to the ethics of things."

The ethics of things," I repeated, with
dropped jaw. " Where did you get that word,
Bee? Somebody has been giving you a few
spiritual ideas you were not born with. Last
year, you didn t know ethics from a home
run."



Developments 151

Bee bridled and smoothed her dress over her
knees.

" Let me make a prediction," she said, a
trifle consciously, I thought, even then.

" Fire away," I said. Whereat Bee gave
the following two-dollar entertainment to me
for absolutely no money at all.



CHAPTER X

BEE S VERSION OF THE VENGEANCE OF THE
EIGHTH

W AM going to make a prediction which
possibly may surprise you," she said.

-*- " Bob s play will be a failure."

"Why?"

" Because it is built on a lie. I don t believe
he wrote a word of it."

" But, Bee," I cried, " where did you get
such queer ideas? Aren t millions of plays
built on lies, and don t they succeed ? "

" Aren t millions of plays failures for no
apparently good reason ? " she retorted.

"But but " I stammered. "I don t
understand how you why do you think that
way? I never heard you say anything like
that before. I thought you -

" Listen," said Bee. " You know I ve been
through a lot of litigation since I ve been free,
and I have had, between lawyers and business
men of various types, quite a little experience
of the way men some men treat a woman
who has any money. My dear
152



Vengeance of the Eighth 153

"Well?"

" Well, it would take weeks to go into it.
You never heard of anything like it. And the
tales I am told of James meanness ! Why, the
whole thing has formulated a theory with me
that the unjailable offences, such as stealing
ideas or inventions before they are patented,
are punished here on earth, with a severity and
remorseless certainty that you would hardly
deal out to your worst enemy."

" As how? " I demanded breathlessly. I do
adore Bee when she gets started on such sub
jects.

Bee curled herself up on the couch in the
studio, regardless of her " blacks," and began:

" Have you ever had occasion to wonder
why disasters of one sort or another, generally
of a domestic character, often happen to ap
parently exemplary men and why others seem
to go scot-free ? "

" Don t know that I have."

" Well, think and you ll soon see what I
mean. At one time in my life I began to won
der at these phenomena. And the more I
know of people like Aubrey and Bob and
Laflin Van Tassel, the more I am exercised at
the inability of people to protect mental prop
erty. Your friends men and women you in


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