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Skin And Bones


Thorne Smith


The Furious Bath

PAULINE WHITTLE was sleeping the sleep of a weary wanton. She was weary of her husband and weary of Mr. Bland; also, so far as strong drink was concerned, she had reached the point of saturation. She was now lying handsomely if a little untidily on the bed with a flame-coloured négligé tossed over her. Although much of her long, slender body was exposed, the conventions had been satisfied because the fair Pauline was technically covered. An attempt had been made.

In two comfortably upholstered chairs, Mr. Bland and Mr. Whittle were sitting by a large window, surveying in Jovian aloofness the myriad lights throbbing through Central Park like a swarm of golden bees. These two worthy gentlemen were carrying on a conversation which neither of them ever remembered. From time to time they addressed themselves to their glasses. Mr. Bland was still in the flesh.

"Bland," said Mr. Whittle with ponderous deliberation, I will admit you had a difficult morning, not to say a dangerous one, but I'll be damned if I can see how that entitles you to remain here alone with my wife when both of you are quite without clothing."

"But I'm sleepy," protested Mr. Bland.

"Granted," said Mr. Whittle, "but that woman over there on the bed, once the mood is on her, could arouse a graven image. Why, man alive, if she woke up and found you sleeping here she'd burn your feet with the curling iron until you were willing to keep her company."

"I'd do my best," said Mr. Bland.

"That woman over there on the bed—"

"Why don't you call her Pauline," Mr. Bland interrupted, "and save yourself six words?"

"Eh?" said Mr. Whittle. "Oh, that. I don't know hardly. Sometimes I just can't bring myself to call her by her Christian name. But, as I was saying, that woman over there on the bed doesn't want you to do your best. She wants you to do your worst. At heart she is, perhaps, not altogether vile. At heart, I dare say, she is no worse than any other woman, but the fact remains she's a woman, and therefore not safe. I don't want to expose you to the risk of betraying me, your best and oldest friend."

"That's awfully good of you, old chap," said Mr. Bland, deeply impressed. "Are you my oldest friend?"


"Then," said Mr. Bland, "let's drink to the traditional friendship existing between the famous house of Whittle and the illustrious house of Bland."

"That's exceptionally handsome of you," declared Mr. Whittle, reaching for the bottle. "How lovely it is in the park. Did you ever dance in the dew?"

As drunk as he was, Mr. Bland took exception to this question. He peered at Mr. Whittle suspiciously from beneath his heavy eyebrows.

"Do I look like one who would go dancing about in the dew?" he asked in a cold voice.

"No," replied Mr. Whittle, "but all sorts of persons go dancing about in the dew. You'd be surprised."

"I'd be disgusted," said Mr. Bland. "Can you do tricks with string?"

It was now Mr. Whittle's turn to be annoyed.

"Don't be insulting," he said. "I once knew a man who did tricks with string and he came to a very poor end—oh, a very poor end."

"What happened to him?"

"He was hanged by the neck until dead. That was his last string trick—and his best."

"I believe you made that up," said Mr. Bland. "It's much too pat. However, had you once known a man who did do tricks with string, which, mind you, I very much doubt, he should have been hanged by the neck and then drawn and quartered."

"Then we are in complete accord," remarked Mr. Whittle, happily. "What would you rather do, dislike a person thoroughly or like him only a little?"

"An interesting question," observed Mr. Bland. "Speaking quite frankly, I derive more downright satisfaction in disliking a person thoroughly."

"So do I," said Mr. Whittle. "The happiest friendships always exist between persons who have a lot of hates in common. Only trouble with me is I hate almost everybody except you and Pauline and this lovely bottle. I can't quite hate Pauline. I pity her too much."

"I find it very stimulating," remarked Mr. Bland, "to sit on the veranda on a bright, sunny day and think how insufferable my neighbours are, what wretched children they have, and what low-spirited dogs they own. At the country club and on the train I find myself doing the same thing—quite cheerfully detesting most of the people around me. I very rarely stop to think of how admirable a certain person is. That's far too depressing. It lowers one's self-esteem. I owe a debt of gratitude to the people I dislike."

"How true," agreed Mr. Whittle, "and how beautifully expressed. You should have sold things. I'm sure I'd have bought some."

"Without knowing what they were?" asked Mr. Bland.

"Certainly," declared Mr. Whittle. "Even if you didn't know what they were yourself."

"I wonder what they would have been," Mr. Bland wondered.

"You mean the things you might have sold me?" inquired Mr. Whittle.

"Yes," said Mr. Bland. "Those things."

"Well," reflected Mr. Whittle, "if I didn't know what they were you might have tempted me with neckties. Would you have liked to sell them, do you think?"

"I never sold any," said Mr. Bland, "but they are rather cheerful. I feel myself losing the thread of this conversation." He paused and looked out over the park. "It is a lovely night," he continued. "I wish I were in a swan boat with Lorna—Lorna's my wife, you know."

"Good God!" exclaimed Mr. Whittle in an agitated voice. "I haven't thought of swan boats for years. They've gone completely out of my life, and once they meant so much. I must go out and look at a swan boat some morning, or better still, later in the day."

"You should," declared Mr. Bland, "and so should I. Call me up next week and we'll look at some swan boats together."

"I certainly will," promised Mr. Whittle. "Swan boats are singularly festive things. Would you like to take a Turkish bath?"

"In what?" asked Mr. Bland.

"In an extra pair of slippers and a bathrobe," replied Mr. Whittle. "And then there's a special elevator."

Mr. Bland rose with a sigh and got himself into the slippers and bathrobe provided by Mr. Whittle. Into the pocket of the bathrobe he thrust the long white beard.

"What about the drink?" he inquired.

"I'll carry a flask along," said his host.

"We'll take a couple of hot shots before we go. It would never do to be seen in a Turkish bath sober."

"I hope I retain my body," said Mr. Bland. "It would be one hell of a note to lose it in a Turkish bath."

"Probably do you a world of good," the optimistic Whittle told him. "Especially the steam room. Might sweat all of that chemical stuff out of your system."

"If it does," said Mr. Bland, "I'll bring my dog, Busy, to a Turkish bath. He spilled a bottle of the fluid and now the poor damn' fool keeps changing to a skeleton dog at the most embarrassing moments."

"No!" exclaimed Mr. Whittle. "Does he really? Who are the moments embarrassing for, you or the dog?"

"For me," replied Mr. Bland. "It's not pleasant to have a skeleton dog tapping along at your heels. Especially if you're likely to turn into a skeleton yourself. Busy has no sense of shame. I suspect he rather enjoys it."

"I don't think I'd fancy seeing him," observed Mr. Whittle with a little shiver.

"You'd hate to see him when he scratches," said Mr. Bland. "His nails scrape across his ribs and he sort of rattles all over. It's ghastly."

"Oh, I say," protested Mr. Whittle. "Don't go into detail about that dog. I might have a severe attack of loathsome reptiles at any minute, and I'd hate to have a skeleton dog scratching himself among them. Let's talk of other things. Let's drink."

"Just the same," said Mr. Bland, "it is sort of odd to see a fleshless dog scratching non-existent fleas."

Mr. Whittle hastily gulped down a drink.

"Did you ever think of going to New Guinea?" he asked Mr. Bland.

"No," the other replied. "Frankly, I never did."

"Neither have I," said Mr. Whittle. "Let's think about it. I'll even be willing to think about New Rochelle if you'll only stop telling me about that damned disgusting dog of yours."

After another stiff drink they left Pauline still sleeping well but immodestly, and quietly let themselves out of the room. In the hall Mr. Bland looked about him nervously for signs of lurking gunmen.

"You know," he said to Mr. Whittle, "this is the first time I've traversed these corridors without being shot at. I'd gained the impression that the only way to get about this hotel was on a dead run."

"Lots of people sneak along very quietly," Mr. Whittle told him.

"I don't doubt it," said Mr. Bland. "Behind every door there seems to be a good-looking woman in bed."

"Gangsters have a way of picking rather neatly upholstered girls," observed Mr. Whittle. "After an especially brutal murder a man deserves a little recreation."

"To some men murder is a recreation in itself," said Mr. Bland.

"I know," replied Mr. Whittle, "but those men are artists—dreamers. They come to a bad end. Our gangsters make a business of it and eventually rise to higher things, such as directing the destiny of a nice, clean city like New York."

Without any untoward experience the two gentlemen reached the Turkish bath. After parking their dressing robes they made their way to the showers and then to the steam room, which was already occupied by all shapes and sizes of men. Before going into the room, Mr. Bland studied its occupants through the glass walls. The sight made him feel sorry for the male division of the human race. How, he wondered, did men manage to grow themselves into such curious shapes and sizes, billowing out here and jutting in there? And how could nature permit such an unequal distribution of stomachs? Some of the stomachs in that room were larger than their owners. In fact, those stomachs were their owners; or at least nine-tenths of them. Mr. Bland decided he would much rather associate with naked women. He was still naive enough to think of naked women only in terms of beauty. This is perhaps the best way to think of naked women, because when a naked woman is not beautiful she is even more depressing to look at than a man.

"Looks just like a waiting-room in hell, doesn't it?" said Mr. Bland to his companion. "All that steam and all those sprawled and contorted bodies. It's just too bad."

"Let's sprawl and contort ours," suggested Mr. Whittle. "I have the bottle wrapped in my towel, but I expect the whisky will get pretty hot in there."

"So will we," replied Mr. Bland, "and that will make things equal."

Gasping for breath and already a little dizzy, they made their way through the clinging, steam-laden atmosphere of the room and, sitting down in deck chairs, added their own unlovely bodies to the naked company.

Mr. Bland found himself sitting next to an individual who was at least fifty pounds over-weight. From the expression on this gentleman's face Mr. Bland gained the impression he was not at all happy about himself. He subjected Mr. Bland's body to a long, critical scrutiny, after which he considered his own stomach dejectedly, then transferred his gaze to the lean flat belly of the recumbent photographer.

"If I was as thin as you," the fat man crossly opened fire, "horses couldn't drag me into this miserable place."

"It is a miserable place," admitted Mr. Bland, "and almost everybody in it appears to be miserable, too."

"Probably deserve to be," said the gentleman. "But I don't deserve to be miserable. What have I done?" Here he paused dramatically, then repeated, "What have I done?"

"Don't you know?" asked Mr. Bland, a little mystified.

"Of course I know," snapped the man with intense bitterness. "I've done nothing. That's what I've done. Nothing. I don't eat, I don't sleep, I don't have a good time, and still I get fatter and fatter. Bah! Men like you give me a pain in the neck."

Mr. Bland's eyes travelled to the man's neck. There was such an awful lot of it to have a pain in. Mr. Bland felt sorry he was causing the man to suffer so much. He showed the man the flask of whisky.

"Have some of our drink?" Mr. Bland asked him. "It's warm, but it's good."

"Can't drink," growled the man. "Doctor's orders. Every time I take a drink I gain another pound. A chap like you doesn't belong in here. You don't need to lose weight."

"I don't want to lose another ounce," the long man assured him in an earnest voice. "Not another ounce."

"Then you'd better get out," said the fat man, "or the first thing you know you'll become a walking skeleton."

Mr. Bland started, and then, as if the words of the fat man had reminded him to make the change, his flesh melted away, and right there before the man's very eyes he became what the man had predicted, with the slight difference that at the moment Quintus Bland was a reclining skeleton instead of a walking one.

Naturally the fat man's first reaction was that this thing could not possibly be. It was not true. At first he tried to attribute what he believed to be an optical illusion to the steam and the generally depressing atmosphere of the room. Without uttering another word he looked away from the skeleton for a full minute, feeling sure that when he turned his head again everything would be all right. In this he was disappointed, but still not greatly alarmed. The skeleton was still sitting beside him, and although it had no visible eyes, the fat man felt he was being politely but steadily scrutinised.

"Tell me," he said in a low voice, "do I look as if I'd just taken leave of my senses?"

"In this place," replied Mr. Bland, "everyone looks as if he'd taken leave of his senses. We're all mad."

"You look worse than that," continued the man in the same low voice. "To me you look exactly like a skeleton, but of course that's obviously impossible, so I'm afraid I'm a little bit mad. I hope you don't mind."

"Not at all," said Mr. Bland. "Go right ahead and be as mad as you like. It may help you to lose weight."

"Your friend over there doesn't seem to notice anything odd in your appearance," went on the fat man, "but then, he's so drunk he wouldn't find it odd if all these chairs were occupied by polar bears instead of human beings."

"This would be a tough spot for a polar bear," said Mr. Bland with forced lightness. "They'd have to drag the poor thing out."

"Well, if I don't stop looking at you," observed the fat man with the utmost gravity, "they will have to drag me out, I'm afraid. Although I realise I must be wrong about it, you are beyond doubt the worst-looking object it's been my misfortune to meet."

"What would you do if I actually were a skeleton?" Mr. Bland asked his neighbour.

"I'd run like hell," the man replied simply. "I can't run very fast since I've taken on all this flesh, but I'd do my best."

"Hey, there," came the voice of Mr. Whittle. "I say, Bland, do you realise you've turned to a skeleton?"

"Do you see it, too?" cried the fat man. "Oh, my God! And he's been letting me think I'm mad, and engaging me in conversation just as if he'd never seen the inside of a grave. What a skeleton!"

"Why don't you run like hell?" Mr. Bland asked him.

"Don't talk to me," said the fat man. "I don't know you. And I don't want to know you. I am going to run like hell."

He heaved himself out of his chair and toddled briskly across the room. At the door he stopped and pointed to Mr. Bland.

"There's a dirty, lying skeleton in that chair," he announced to the roomful of naked gentlemen. "If you don't believe me, just take a look for yourselves."

"That tears it," said Mr. Bland to his companion. "How am I going to get out of this?"

"I don't think you'll have to," Mr. Whittle answered, calmly. "Everybody else seems anxious to get out of it for you."

Mr. Bland looked up and saw innumerable large naked men striving to get themselves through a small door at the same time. The steam in the room was cut by cries of physical pain and mental anguish. Squirming bodies were trampled underfoot while others were seized in the most convenient places and dragged cursing bitterly away from the door.

"Now wouldn't you think," observed Mr. Whittle, "that grown men would have more sense than to carry on like that?"

"This place looks more like hell than ever," said Mr. Bland. "It looks like a Doré picture suddenly come to life."

Outside the room, bath attendants and husky Swedish masseurs with towels round their waists were doing their best to quell the panic that had so suddenly and inexplicably broken out. But apparently when a man has once seen a live skeleton nothing is going to change his mind until he has enjoyed his panic to the full. Finally the attendants and rubbers grew so tired of being told there was a skeleton in the steam room that they let the naked men run wild and took a look for themselves. Some of them even went into the steam room, but found no traces of a skeleton. They did find, however, two placidly intoxicated gentlemen amiably conversing while drinking warm whisky neat from a flask.

"Did either of you gentlemen see a skeleton in this room?" one of the attendants asked, feeling somewhat silly because of the ridiculous nature of the question.

"Certainly," was Mr. Bland's prompt reply. "I was a skeleton myself only a moment ago, but my bones began to warp, what with all this steam, so I got my body back again."

"He was a terrible sight," said Mr. Whittle. "You should have seen him. No eyes at all. Ugh!"

The attendants laughed, but not very heartily. It struck them that these two drunkards had an especially unpleasant brand of humour.

"How about a rub-down?" suggested Mr. Bland.

"Do you dare?" asked Mr. Whittle.

"I dare anything," Mr. Bland told him. "Just because I am occasionally a skeleton, I don't see why I should be forced to sacrifice all the good things of life."

After polishing off the bottle in what had now become their own private steam room, the two gentlemen repaired rather unsteadily to the rub-down tables upon which they virtually collapsed. Two huge, malevolent-looking individuals thereupon descended upon them and expertly endeavoured to tear off their arms and legs.

"That's the catch in getting drunk in a Turkish bath," Mr. Whittle managed to get out between gasps. "When these devils find you in our condition they go on the principle that you've lost all sense of feeling and don't give a damn what they do."

"They experiment with our drunken but human bodies," complained Mr. Bland, a strained expression on his face. "This is worse than vivisection."

"It's the very refinement of torture," observed Mr. Whittle. "They never pull your limbs entirely off, but just far enough to maim you. This demi-murderer has got one of my legs about eight inches longer than the other. He'd either have to push it back or pull the other one out."

"You could live on a hillside," suggested Mr. Bland.

"Haven't seen a hill in years," replied Mr. Whittle. "Wouldn't know what to do with one. Are mountains still doing?"

"Splendidly," said Mr. Bland. "They're up and doing."

The rubber who had been buffeting Mr. Bland about took a deep breath as if preparing himself for the final assault. Several times he opened and closed his hands, flexing his vicelike muscles. Mr. Bland watched him with growing apprehension, then extended an arresting hand. But it was not the hand he had been using only a few minutes before. It was composed entirely of bone and looked more like a claw than a human hand. Both the rubber and Mr. Bland stared at it in numbed wonderment, then transferred their gaze to other sections of the photographer's person. Nothing but bare, unvarnished bones greeted their eyes. Neither of them was favourably impressed by the greeting. Of the two the rubber was the more surprised and the more alarmed. Mr. Bland was merely disgusted with himself.

"Don't touch me," snapped Mr. Bland. "Don't put even a finger on me."

The rubber's short laugh was devoid of all mirth. He edged away from the table.

"I'd like to know who would?" he retorted. "Not for a thousand dollars would I willingly lay a hand on any one of your ghastly bones."

"Thank God for that," said Mr. Bland. "A skeleton is not without some compensation after all."

"Then there was a skeleton in the steam room like the man said?" the rubber faltered, his strength seeming to drain from his body.

"Didn't I tell you I was the skeleton?" demanded Mr. Bland.

"You did, but I thought you were drunk," the man replied.

"I was and I still am," Mr. Bland told him, "but that happy fact doesn't prevent me from getting rid of my body, especially when it's going to be torn from my bones anyway."

Mr. Bland swung his legs from the table and found himself confronting the three gangsters of the morning's pursuit. Automatically he began to run, and out of force of habit the gangsters began to run after him. He dashed through a door and found himself in the swimming pool. Cries of consternation greeted his arrival. Not having the slightest idea whether he would crash like a rock to the bottom of the pool or be able to keep his skull above water, Mr. Bland launched himself into the air and plunged into the pool.

"A diving skeleton!" cried a man. "God-almighty! A swan dive, at that."

"Not bad," thought the diving skeleton as he struck the water cleanly. "I still retain my form."

A moment later his skull popped up about three inches from the placid face of a gentleman contentedly churning water. At the sight of Mr. Bland the gentleman's legs refused to do any further churning.

"I'm going to drown," announced the man, unemotionally, "and I'm glad of it."

"I'll save you," said Mr. Bland.

"I'd much rather you wouldn't," the man replied, coldly, then sank beneath the water.

Mr. Bland then began to worry about his own safety. He took a few tentative strokes and found he could swim like a fish. Indeed, the absence of his flesh enabled him to twist and turn in the water like some ghastly denizen of the deep. It was a terrible exhibition. Strong men clapped their hands to their eyes and called aloud to God in frantic voices. A man sitting on the edge of the pool hastily removed his feet from the water as the skeleton streaked by.

"I never knew a skeleton could swim," said the man to a companion.

"I never knew a skeleton," said the other. "Are you beginning to see things?"

"Look," was all the first man said, and pointed.

His companion looked, then hastily arose.

"That finishes my swim," he told his friend. "When skeletons start using this pool it's time to hurry home."

A cold plunge does not always have a sobering effect on one inebriated. Frequently it makes him even drunker. The same must hold true with skeletons. It certainly did with Mr. Bland. He had forgotten all about his implacable enemies and was having the time of his life. He had climbed to the highest spring-board and was now exhibiting himself shamelessly before a stunned group of naked gentlemen standing within safe striking distance of the exit. Through this door appeared the three gangsters, now armed to the teeth.

"There he is!" cried the man who was going to make tooth powder of Mr. Bland. "I put him in his grave once and I'll put him there again. Always spoiling my fun."

Immediately a volley of deafening explosions rang out in the swimming pool. Mr. Bland rose lightly from the springboard and neatly split the water twelve feet below. The gunmen still squeezed their guns, but Mr. Bland outwitted them by swimming under water. He emerged at the far end of the pool, dashed through a door, and found himself in a vast, dimly lighted dormitory. He was standing at the head of a long aisle with beds on either side. And in these beds were sleeping men, blissfully unaware there was a skeleton in their midst. But one man was not sleeping. His name was Joe. Joe was lying quite still in his narrow bed, and his eyes, sharp now with dread, were fixed on the skeleton of Quintus Bland, standing in great indecision as water dripped from rib to rib.

Quietly Joe thrust out an arm and shook his friend in the next bed.

"Wake up, Charlie," he said in a low voice. "There's a skeleton down there and he's all wet."

"You're right," admitted Charlie after his sleep-laden eyes had discovered the skeleton of Mr. Bland. "He's wet all over."

"But don't you realise he's a skeleton?" said Joe, annoyed by Charlie's calm acceptance of the awful sight.

"I don't," replied Charlie, "but I will in a minute. Why don't you give him a towel?"

"Me?" asked Joe, incredulously. "Why, I wouldn't give him a handkerchief."

"He could mop his skull with a handkerchief," Charlie said, musingly, "but that's about all."

"Look!" exclaimed Joe. "He's tiptoeing down the aisle in this direction."

"I see him," said Charlie. "The sly devil."

"Wonder who he's after," muttered Joe.

"Maybe the poor lost soul is looking for a bed," suggested Charlie, "or he might be looking for another skeleton—a friend. Almost everybody goes to a Turkish bath with a friend."

"What!" exclaimed Joe. "Another skeleton in this room?"

"Why not?" replied Charlie. "This room may be filled with skeletons for all we know."

"If it is," declared Joe, "I don't want to know. One skeleton is enough for me. I came in here to keep from seeing things like that."

"He's got into bed," said Charlie.

"Is there anyone else in it?" Joe asked.

"I guess we'd have heard if there was," replied Charlie.

"God, yes!" said Joe. "If that thing got in bed with me I wouldn't make any secret of it."

But the casual Charlie had been mistaken. Mr. Bland had not got into bed. He was trying to get into bed, but the man already occupying it didn't see things eye to eye with the skeleton.

"I want to get into bed with you," the gentleman awakened to hear a skeleton saying.

"With me?" he asked in amazement. "You? Do you realise what you're asking? Why, I don't want to be even in the same room with you, much less lying in bed cheek by jowl."

"I haven't any cheek," muttered Mr. Bland.

"Well, I haven't any jowl," replied the man. "So that's that, and I don't want to talk about your body."

"But, my dear sir," said Mr. Bland, "I haven't any body."

"That's as plain to see as the nose that isn't on your face," declared the man. "You can't get in bed with me, and that's final."

"I'd lie very still," Mr. Bland said, rather bleakly, "and scrunch myself over on the side."

"Scrunch yourself?" repeated the man. "Oh, no. That settles it. I could never bear that. Why don't you find a man who's passed out cold and scrunch yourself up with him? I'm nearly sober myself, since arguing here with you."

Mr. Bland straightened himself and looked hopelessly around him at all the comfortably occupied beds. In the long, dimly lighted room he was a lonely-looking figure. He thought of Lorna peacefully sleeping at home and wondered if Busy, like himself, was an undesirable skeleton. With sagging collar-bone he turned away from the bed. What could a skeleton do with the human race set against him, three members of which were actively gunning for his life? And why should everyone assume that just because a man was a skeleton he was going to start trouble? He had no desire to start any trouble. He wanted to go to bed.

As he stood there lost in thought, his chin buried on his breastbone, he became gradually aware of the fact that his feet were covered with flesh. Following his legs as they ascended steeply towards his hips, he was delighted to discover he no longer differed from his fellow men in any important respect. He turned back to the bed.

"I want to crawl in with you," he told the man.

"What again?" exclaimed the man, irritably, then stopped abruptly as his gaze rested on the figure of a naked man. "What the hell!" he exploded, furiously. "Do all you people think my bed is a public parking place? A skeleton was around here a minute ago giving me a hell of an argument about getting into my bed, the big stiff. And you're hardly any better. Go find a bed of your—"

Three snappy shots cut short the man's ill-natured tirade.

"There he is!" cried the voice of the strangler. "That guy was in bed with my girl."

The man in bed looked curiously at Mr. Bland.

"You try to get in bed with everybody, don't you?" he said. "Well, you're entirely welcome to mine. I'm going to get under it."

But Mr. Bland was hiding in no one's bed. He was sick and tired of being a target for the gunmen. Charging through a fusillade of bullets, he bore down on his enemies. One long arm shot out and snatched the covering from a peaceful spectator cowering in his bed. The next minute Mr. Bland had tossed the coverings over the heads of the gangsters. Having momentarily rendered them impotent, he proceeded to smite them with terrific punches wherever his fists could land. Then he jumped through the door and, hurrying through the deserted swimming pool, collected his slippers and bathrobe. A few minutes later he let himself quietly into Mr. Whittle's room.

Pauline had shown the grace to get herself under the covers. Mr. Bland, drunker than ever from excitement, his inflamed mind set on getting into a bed—any bed—got under the covers with her.

"Hello," said Pauline. "Do you know any funny stories?

"No," snapped Mr. Bland. "You leave me alone and go back to sleep."

But the idea of going to sleep was the farthest thought from the fair Pauline's attractively depraved mind.

Some time later Mr. Whittle appeared.

"Am I too late?" he asked, nervously, then hastily added, "Don't answer! I suspect, but I'd rather not be told."

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