Problem of the Green Eyed Monster
by Jacques Futrelle
With coffee cup daintily poised in one hand, Mrs. Lingard van
Safford lifted wistful, bewitching eyes towards her husband, who sat
across the breakfast table partially immersed in the morning papers.
“Are you going out this morning?” she inquired.
Mr. van Safford grunted inarticulately.
“May I inquire,” she went on placidly, and a dimple snuggled at a
corner of her mouth, “if that particular grunt means that you are or
Mr. van Safford lowered his newspaper and glanced at his wife's
pretty face. She smiled charmingly.
“Really, I beg your pardon,” he apologized, “I hardly think I will
go out. I feel rather listless, and I must write some letters. Why?”
“Oh, nothing particularly,” she responded.
She took a last sip of her coffee, brushed two or three tiny crumbs
from her lap, laid her napkin aside, and arose. Once she turned and
glanced back; Mr. van Safford was reading again.
After a while he finished the papers and stood looking out a window,
yawning prodigiously at the prospect of letters to be written. His wife
entered and picked up a handkerchief which had fallen beside her chair.
He merely glanced around. She was dressed for the street—immaculately,
stunningly gowned as only a young and beautiful and wealthy woman can
“Where are you going, my dear?” he inquired, languidly.
“Out,” she responded archly.
She passed through the door. He heard her step and the rustle of her
skirts in the hall, then he heard the front door open and close. For
some reason, not quite clear even to himself, it surprised him; she had
never done a thing like that before. He walked to the front window and
looked out. His wife went straight down the street, and turned the
first corner. After a time he wandered away to the library to nurse an
emotion he had never felt before. It was curiosity.
Mrs. van Safford did not return home for luncheon, so he sat down
alone. Afterwards he mouched about the house restlessly for an hour or
so, then he went down town. He appeared at home again just in time to
dress for dinner.
“Has Mrs. van Safford returned?” was his first question of Baxter,
who opened the door.
“Yes, sir, half an hour ago,” responded Baxter. “She's dressing.”
Mr. van Safford ran up the steps to his own apartments. At dinner
his wife was radiant, rosily radiant. The flush of perfect health was
in her checks and her eyes sparkled beneath their long lashes. She
smiled brilliantly upon her husband. To him it was all as if some great
thing had been taken out of his life, leaving it desolate, then as
suddenly returned. Unnamed emotions struggled within him prompted by
that curiosity of the morning, and a dozen questions hammered
insistently for answers, But he repressed them gallantly, and for this
he was duly rewarded.
“I had such a delightful time to-day!” his wife exclaimed, after the
soup. “I called for Mrs. Blacklock immediately after I left here, and
we were together all day shopping. We had luncheon down town.”
Oh! That was it! Mr. van Safford laughed outright from a vague sense
of relief which he could not have called by name, and toasted his wife
silently by lifting his glass. Her eyes sparkled at the compliment. He
drained the glass, snapped the slender stem in his fingers, laughed
again and laid it aside. Mrs. van Safford dimpled with sheer delight.
“Oh, Van, you silly boy!” she reproved softly, and she stroked the
hand which was prosaically reaching for the salt.
It was only a little while after dinner that Mr. van Safford excused
himself and started for the club, as usual. His wife followed him
demurely to the door and there, under the goggling eyes of Baxter, he
caught her in his arms and kissed her impetuously, fiercely even. It
was the sudden outbreak of an impulsive nature—the sort of thing that
makes a woman know she is loved. She thrilled at his touch and reached
two white hands forward pleadingly. Then the door closed, and she stood
staring down at the tip of her tiny boot with lowered lids and a
little, melancholy droop at the corners of her mouth.
It was after ten o'clock when Mr. van Safford awoke on the following
morning. He had been at his club late—until after two—and now
drowsily permitted himself to be overcome again by the languid
listlessness which is the heritage of late hours. At ten minutes past
eleven he appeared in the breakfast room.
“Mrs. van Safford has been down I suppose?” he inquired of a maid.
“Oh yes, sir,” she replied. “She's gone out.”
Mr. van Safford lifted his brows inquiringly.
“She was down a few minutes after eight o'clock, sir,” the maid
explained, “and hurried through her breakfast.”
“Did she leave any word?”
“Be back to luncheon?”
“She didn't say, sir.”
Mr. van Safford finished his breakfast silently and thoughtfully.
About noon he, too, went out. One of the first persons he met down town
was Mrs. Blacklock, and she rushed toward him with outstretched hand.
“I'm so glad to see you,” she bubbled, for Mrs. Blacklock was of
that rare type which can bubble becomingly. “But where, in the name of
goodness, is your wife? I haven't seen her for weeks and weeks?”
“Haven't seen her for——” Mr. van Safford repeated, slowly.
“No,” Mrs. Blacklock assured him. “I can't imagine where she is
Mr. van Safford gazed at her in dumb bewilderment for a moment, and
the lines about his mouth hardened a little despite his efforts to
“I had an impression,” he said deliberately, “that you saw her
yesterday—that you went shopping together?”
“Goodness, no. It must be three weeks since I saw her.”
Mr. van Safford's fingers closed slowly, fiercely, but his face
relaxed a little, masking with a slight smile, a turbulent rush of
“She mentioned your name,” he said at last, calmly. “Perhaps she
said she was going to call on you. I misunderstood her.”
He didn't remember the remainder of the conversation, but it was of
no consequence at the moment. He had not misunderstood her, and he knew
he had not. At last he found himself at his club, and there idle
guesses and conjectures flowed through his brain in an unending stream.
Finally he arose, grimly.
“I suppose I'm an ass,” he mused. “It doesn't amount to anything, of
And he sought to rid himself of distracting thoughts over a game of
billiards; instead he only subjected himself to open derision for
glaringly inaccurate play. Finally he flung down the cue in disgust,
strode away to the 'phone and called up his home.
“Is Mrs. van Safford there?” he inquired of Baxter.
“No, sir. She hasn't returned yet.”
Mr. van Safford banged the telephone viciously as he hung up the
receiver. At six o'clock he returned home. His wife was still out. At
half past eight he sat down to dinner, alone. He didn't enjoy it;
indeed hardly tasted it. Then, just as he finished, she came in with a
rush of skirts and a lilt of laughter. He drew a long breath, and set
“You poor, deserted dear!” she sympathized, laughingly.
He started to say something, but two soft, clinging arms were about
his neck, and a velvety cheek rested against his own, so—so he kissed
her instead. And really he wasn't at all to be blamed. She sighed
happily, and laid aside her hat and gloves.
“I simply couldn't get here any sooner,” she explained poutingly as
she glanced into his accusing eyes. “I was out with Nell Blakesley in
her big, new touring car, and it broke down and we had to send for a
man to repair it, so——”
He didn't hear the rest; he was staring into her eyes, steadily,
inquiringly. Truth shone triumphant there; he could only believe her.
Yet—yet—that other thing! She hadn't told him the truth! In her face,
at last, he read uneasiness as he continued to stare, and for a moment
there was silence.
“What's the matter, Van?” she inquired solicitously. “Don't you feel
He pulled himself together with a start and for a time they chatted
of inconsequential things as she ate. He watched her until she pushed
her dessert plate aside, then casually, quite casually:
“I believe you said you were going to call on Mrs. Blacklock
She looked up quickly.
“Oh no,” she replied. “I was with her all day yesterday, shopping. I
said I had called on her.”
Mr. van Safford arose suddenly, stood glaring down at her for an
instant, then turning abruptly left the house. Involuntarily she had
started up, then she sat down again and wept softly over her coffee.
Mr. van Safford seemed to have a very definite purpose for when he
reached the club he went straight to a telephone booth, and called Miss
Blakesley over the wire.
“My wife said something about—something about——” he stammered
lamely, “something about calling on you to-morrow. Will you be in?”
“Yes, and I'll be so glad to see her,” came the reply. “I'm
dreadfully tired of staying cooped up here in the house, and really I
was beginning to think all my friends had deserted me.”
“Cooped up in the house?” Mr. van Safford repeated. “Are you ill?”
“I have been,” replied Miss Blakesley. “I'm better now, but I
haven't been out of the house for more than a week.”
“Indeed!” remarked Mr. van Safford, sympathetically. “I'm awfully
sorry, I assure you. Then you haven't had a chance to try
your—your—'big new touring car' ?”
“Why, I haven't any new touring car,” said Miss Blakesley. “I
haven't any sort of a car. Where did you get that idea?”
Mr. van Safford didn't answer her; rudely enough he hung up the
telephone and left the club with a face like marble. When finally he
stopped walking he was opposite his own house. For a minute he stood
looking at it much as if he had never seen it before, then he turned
and went back to the club. There was something of fright, of horror
even, in his white face when he entered.
As Mr. van Safford did not go to bed that night it was not
surprising that his wife should find him in the breakfast room when she
came down about eight o'clock. She smiled. He stared at her with a
curt: “Good morning!” Then came an ominous silence. She finished her
breakfast, arose and left the house without a word. He watched her from
a window until she disappeared around the corner, just four doors
below, then overcome by fears, suspicions, hideous possibilities, he
ran out of the house after her.
She had not been out of his sight more than half a minute when he
reached the corner, yet now—now she was gone. He looked on both sides
of the street, up and down, but there was no sign of her—not a woman
in sight. He knew that she would not have had time to reach the next
street below, then he readily saw the two obvious possibilities. One
was that she had stepped into a waiting cab and been driven away at
full speed; another that she had entered one of the nearby houses. If
so, which house? Who did she know in this street? He turned the problem
over in his mind several times, and then he was convinced that she had
hurried away in waiting cab. That emotion which had begun as curiosity
was now a raging, turbulent torrent.
On the following morning Mrs. van Safford came down to breakfast at
fifteen minutes of eight. She seemed a little tired, and there was a
trace of tears about her eyes. Baxter looked at her curiously.
“Has Mr. van Safford been down yet?” she asked.
“No, Madam,” he replied.
“Did he come in at all last night?”
“Yes, Madam. About half past two, I let him in. He had forgotten his
Now as a matter of fact at that particular moment Mr. van Safford
was standing just around the corner, four doors down, waiting for his
wife. Just what he intended to do when she appeared was not quite clear
in his mind, but the affair had gone to a point where he felt that he
must do something. So he waited impatiently, and smoked innumerable
cigars. Two hours passed. He glanced around the corner. No one in
sight. He strolled back to the house, and met Baxter in the hall.
“Has Mrs. van Safford come down?” he asked of the servant.
“Yes, sir,” was the reply. “She went out more than an hour ago.”
Martha opened the door.
“Please, sir,” she said, “there's a young gentleman having a fit in
the reception room.”
Professor Augustus S. F. X. Van Dusen—The Thinking Machine—turned
away from his laboratory table and squinted at her aggressively. Her
eyes were distended with nervous excitement, and her wrinkled hands
twisted the apron she wore.
“Having a fit?” snapped the scientist.
“Yes, sir,” she gasped.
“Dear me! Dear me! How annoying!” expostulated the man of
achievement, petulantly. “Just what sort of a fit is it—epileptic,
apoplectic, or merely a fit of laughter?”
“Lord, sir, I don't know,” Martha confessed helplessly. “He's just
a-walking and a-talking and a-pulling his hair, sir.”
“I—I forgot to ask, sir,” apologized the aged servant, “it
surprised me so to see a gentleman a-wiggling like that. He said,
though he'd been to Police Headquarters and Detective Mallory sent
The eminent logician dried his hands and started for the reception
room. At the door he paused and peered in. With no knowledge of just
what style of fit his visitor had chosen to have he felt the necessity
of this caution. What he saw was not alarming—merely a good-looking
young man pacing back and forth across the room with quick, savage
stride. His eyes were blazing, and his face was flushed with anger. It
was Mr. van Safford.
At sight of the diminutive figure of The Thinking Machine, topped by
the enormous yellow head, the young man paused and his anger-distorted
features relaxed into something closely approaching surprise.
“Well?” demanded The Thinking Machine, querulously.
“I beg your pardon,” said Mr. van Safford with a slight start. “I—I
had expected to find a—a—rather a different sort of person.”
“Yes, I know,” said The Thinking Machine grumpily. “A man with a
black moustache and big feet. Sit down.”
Mr. van Safford sat down rather suddenly. It never occurred to
anyone to do other than obey when the crabbed little scientist spoke.
Then, with an incoherence which was thoroughly convincing, Mr. van
Safford laid before The Thinking Machine in detail those singular
happenings which had so disturbed him. The Thinking Machine leaned back
in his chair, with finger tips pressed together, and listened to the
“My mental condition—my suffering—was such,” explained Mr. van
Safford in conclusion, “that when I proved to my own satisfaction that
she had twice misrepresented the facts to me, wilfully, I—I could have
“That would have been a nice thing to do,” remarked the scientist
crustily. “You believe, then, that there may be another——”
“Don't say it,” burst out the young man passionately. He arose. His
face was dead white. “Don't say it,” he repeated, menacingly.
The Thinking Machine was silent a moment, then glanced up in the
blazing eyes and cleared his throat.
“She never did such a thing before?” he asked.
“Does she—did she—ever speculate?”
Mr. van Safford sat down again.
“Never,” he responded, positively. “She wouldn't know one stock from
“Has her own bank account?”
“Yes—nearly four hundred thousand dollars. This was her father's
gift at our wedding. It was deposited in her name, and has remained so.
My own income is more than enough for our uses.”
“You are rich, then?”
“My father left me nearly two million dollars,” was the reply. “But
this all doesn't matter. What I want——”
“Wait a minute,” interrupted The Thinking Machine testily. There was
a long pause. “You have never quarrelled seriously?”
“Never one cross word,” was the reply.
“Remarkable,” commented The Thinking Machine ambiguously. “How long
have you been married?”
“Two years—last June.”
“Most remarkable,” supplemented the scientist. Mr. van Safford
stared. “How old are you?”
“How long have you been thirty?”
“Six months—since last May.”
There was a long pause. Mr. van Safford plainly did not see the
trend of the questioning.
“How old is your wife?” demanded the scientist.
“Twenty-two, in January.”
“She has never had any mental trouble of any sort?”
“Have you any brothers or sisters?”
The Thinking Machine shot out the questions crustily and Mr. van
Safford answered briefly. There was another pause, and the young man
arose and paced back and forth with nervous energy. From time to time
he glanced inquiringly at the pale, wizened face of the scientist.
Several thin lines had appeared in the dome-like brow, and he was
apparently oblivious of the other's presence.
“It's a most intangible, elusive affair,” he commented at last, and
the wrinkles deepened. “It is, I may say, a problem without a given
quantity. Perfectly extraordinary.”
Mr. van Safford seemed a little relieved to find some one express
his own thoughts so accurately.
“You don't believe, of course,” continued the scientist, “that there
is anything criminal in——”
“Certainly not!” the young man exploded, violently.
“Yet, the moment we pursue this to a logical conclusion,” pursued
the other, “we are more than likely to uncover something which is, to
put it mildly, not pleasant.”
Mr. van Safford's face was perfectly white; his hands were clenched
desperately. Then the loyalty to the woman he loved flooded his heart.
“It's nothing of that kind,” he exclaimed, and yet his own heart
misgave him. “My wife is the dearest, noblest, sweetest woman in the
world. And yet——”
“Yet you are jealous of her,” interrupted The Thinking Machine. “If
you are so sure of her, why annoy me with your troubles?”
The young man read, perhaps, a deeper meaning than The Thinking
Machine had intended for he started forward impulsively. The Thinking
Machine continued to squint at him impersonally, but did not change his
“All young men are fools,” he went on, blandly, “and I may add that
most of the old ones are, too. But now the question is: What purpose
can your wife have in acting as she has, and in misrepresenting those
acts to you? Of course we must spy upon her to find out, and the answer
may be one that will wreck your future happiness. It may be, I say. I
don't know. Do you still want the answer?”
“I want to know—I want to know,” burst out Mr. van Safford,
harshly. “I shall go mad unless I know.”
The Thinking Machine continued to squint at him with almost a gleam
of pity in his eyes—almost but not quite. And the habitually irritated
voice was in no way softened when he gave some explicit and definite
“Go on about your affairs,” he commanded. “Let things go as they
are. Don't quarrel with your wife; continue to ask your questions
because if you don't she'll suspect that you suspect; report to me any
change in her conduct. It's a very singular problem. Certainly I have
never had another like it.”
The Thinking Machine accompanied him to the door and closed it
“I have never seen a man in love,” he mused, “who wasn't in
And with this broad, philosophical conclusion he went to the 'phone.
Half an hour later Hutchinson Hatch, reporter, entered the laboratory
where the scientist sat in deep thought.
“Ah, Mr. Hatch,” he began, without preliminary, “did you ever happen
to hear of Mr. and Mrs. van Safford?”
“Well, rather,” responded the reporter with quick interest. “He's a
well known club-man, worth millions, high in society and all that; and
she's one of the most beautiful women I ever saw. She was a Miss Potter
“It's wonderful the memories you newspaper men have,” observed the
scientist. “You know her personally?”
Hatch shook his head.
“You must find some one who knows her well,” commanded The Thinking
Machine, “a girl friend, for instance—one who might be in her
confidence. Learn from her why Mrs. van Safford leaves her house every
morning at eight o'clock, then tells her husband she has been with some
one that we know she hasn't seen. She has done this every day for four
days. Your assiduity in this may prevent a divorce.”
Hatch pricked up his ears.
“Also find out just what sort of an illness Miss Nell Blakesley
has—or is—suffering. That's all.”
An hour later Hutchinson Hatch, reporter, called on Miss Gladys
Beekman, a young society woman who was an intimate of Mrs. van
Safford's before the latter's marriage. Without feeling that he was
dallying with the truth Hatch informed her that he called on behalf of
Mr. van Safford. She began to smile. He laid the case before her
emphatically, seriously and with great detail. The more he explained
the more pleasantly she smiled. It made him uncomfortable but he
struggled on to the end.
“I'm glad she did it,” exclaimed Miss Beekman. “But I—I couldn't
believe she would.”
Then came a sudden gust of laughter which left Hutchinson Hatch,
reporter, with the feeling that he was being imposed upon. It continued
for a full minute—a hearty, rippling, musical laugh. Hatch grinned
sheepishly. Then, without an excuse, Miss Beekman arose and left the
room. In the hall there came a fresh burst, and Hatch heard it dying
away in the distance.
“Well,” he muttered grimly. “I'm glad I was able to amuse her.”
Then he called upon a Mrs. Francis, a young matron whom he had cause
to believe was also favoured with Mrs. van Safford's friendship. He
laid the case before her, and she laughed! Then Hutchinson Hatch,
reporter, began to get mule-headed about it. He visited eight other
women who were known to be on friendly terms with Mrs. van Safford. Six
of them intimated that he was an impertinent, prying, inquisitive
person, and—the other two laughed! Hatch paused a moment and rubbed
his fevered brow.
“Here's a corking good joke on somebody,” he told himself, “and I'm
beginning to think it's me.”
Whereupon he took his troubles to The Thinking Machine. That
distinguished gentleman listened in pained surprise to the simple
recital of what Hatch had not been able to learn, and spidery wrinkles
on his forehead assumed the relative importance of the canals on Mars.
“It's astonishing!” he declared, raspily.
“Yes, it so struck me,” agreed the reporter.
The Thinking Machine was silent for a long time; the watery blue
eyes were turned upward and the slender white fingers pressed tip to
tip. Finally he made up his mind as to the next step.
“There seems only one thing to do,” he said. “And I won't ask you to
“What is it?” demanded the reporter.
“To watch Mrs. van Safford and see where she goes.”
“I wouldn't have done it before, but I will now.” Hatch responded
promptly. The bull-dog in him was aroused. “I want to see what the joke
It was ten o'clock next evening when Hatch called to make a report.
He seemed a little weary and tremendously disgusted.
“I've been right behind her all day,” he explained, “from eight
o'clock this morning until twenty minutes past nine tonight when she
reached home. And if the Lord'll forgive me——”
“What did she do?” interrupted The Thinking Machine, impatiently.
“Well,” and Hatch grinned as he drew out a notebook, “she walked
eastward from her house to the first corner, turned, walked another
block, took a down town car, and went straight to the Public Library.
There she read a Henry James book until fifteen minutes of one, and
then she went to luncheon in a restaurant. I also had luncheon. Then
she went to the North End on a car. After she got there she wandered
around aimlessly all afternoon, nearly. At ten minutes of four she gave
a quarter to a crippled boy. He bit it to see if it was good, found it
was, then bought cigarettes with it. At half past four she left the
North End and went into a big department store. If there's anything
there she didn't price I can't remember it. She bought a pair of
shoe-laces. The store closed at six, so she went to dinner in another
restaurant. I also had dinner. We left there at half past seven o'clock
and went back to the Public Library. She read until nine o'clock, and
then went home. Phew!” he concluded.
The Thinking Machine had listened with growing and obvious
disappointment on his face. He seemed so cast down by the recital that
Hatch tried to cheer him.
“I couldn't help it you know,” he said by way of apology. “That's
what she did.”
“She didn't speak to anyone?”
“Not a soul but clerks, waiters and library attendants.”
“She didn't give a note to anyone or receive a note?”
“Did she seem to have any purpose at all in anything she did?”
“No. The impression she gave me was that she was killing time.”
The Thinking Machine was silent for several minutes. “I think
perhaps——” he began.
But what he thought Hatch didn't learn for he was sent away with
additional instructions. Next morning found him watching the front of
the van Safford house again. Mrs. van Safford came out at seven minutes
past eight o'clock, and walked rapidly eastward. She turned the first
corner and went on, still rapidly, to the corner of an alley. There she
paused, cast a quick look behind her, and went in. Hatch was some
distance back and ran forward just in time to see her skirts trailing
into a door.
“Ah, here's something anyhow,” he told himself, with grim
He walked along the alley to the door. It was like the other doors
along in that it led into the back hall of a house, and was intended
for the use of tradesmen. When he examined the door he scratched his
chin thoughtfully; then came utter bewilderment, an amazing sense of
hopeless insanity. For there, staring at him from a door-plate, was the
name: “van Safford.” She had merely come out the front door and gone
into the back!
Hatch started to rap and ask some questions, then changed his mind
and walked around to the front again, and up the steps.
“Is Mrs. van Safford in?” he inquired of Baxter, who opened the
“No, sir,” was the reply. “She went out a few minutes ago.”
Hatch stared at him coldly a minute, then walked away.
“Now this is a particularly savoury kettle of fish,” he
soliloquized. “She has either gone back into the house without his
knowledge, or else he has been bribed, and then——”
And then, he took the story to The Thinking Machine. That
imperturbable man of science listened to the end, then arose and said
“Oh!” three times. Which was interesting to Hatch in that it showed the
end was in sight, but it was not illuminating. He was still
The Thinking Machine started into an adjoining room, then turned
“By the way, Mr. Hatch,” he asked, “did you happen to find out what
was the matter with Miss Blakesley?”
“By George, I forgot it,” returned the reporter, ruefully.
“Never mind, I'll find out.”
At eleven o'clock Hutchinson Hatch and The Thinking Machine called
at the van Safford home. Mr. van Safford in person received them; there
was a gleam of hope in his face at sight of the diminutive scientist.
Hatch was introduced, then:
“You don't know of any other van Safford family in this block?”
began the scientist.
“There's not another family in the city,” was the reply. “Why?”
“Is your wife in now?”
“No. She went out this morning, as usual.”
“Now, Mr. van Safford, I'll tell you how you may bring this matter
to an end, and understand it all at once. Go upstairs to your wife's
apartments—they are probably locked—and call her. She won't answer
but she'll hear you. Then tell her you understand it all, and that
you're sorry. She'll hear that, as that alone is what she has been
waiting to hear for some time. When she comes out bring her down
stairs. Believe me I should be delighted to meet so clever a woman.”
Mr. van Safford was looking at him as if he doubted his sanity.
“Really,” he said coldly, “what sort of child's play is this?”
“It's the only way you'll ever coax her out of that room,” snapped
The Thinking Machine belligerently, “and you'd better do it
“Are you serious?” demanded the other.
“Perfectly serious,” was the crabbed rejoinder. “She has taught you
a lesson that you'll remember for sometime. She has been merely going
out the front door every day, and coming in the back, with the full
knowledge of the cook and her maid.”
Mr. van Safford listened in amazement.
“Why did she do it?” he asked.
“Why?” retorted The Thinking Machine. “That's for you to answer. A
little less of your time at the club of evenings, and a little less of
selfish amusement, so that you can pay attention to a beautiful woman
who has, previous to her marriage at least, been accustomed to constant
attention, would solve this little problem. You've spent every evening
at your club for months, and she was here alone probably a great part
of that time. In your own selfishness you had never a thought of her,
so she gave you a reason to think of her.”
Suddenly Mr. van Safford turned and ran out of the room. They heard
him as he took the stairs, two at a time.
“By George!” remarked Hatch. “That's a silly ending to a cracking
good mystery, isn't it?”
Ten minutes later Mr. and Mrs. van Safford entered the room. Her
pretty face was suffused with colour: he was frankly, outrageously
happy. There were mutual introductions.
“It was perfectly dreadful of Mr. van Safford to call you gentlemen
into this affair,” Mrs. van Safford apologized, charmingly. “Really I
feel very much ashamed of myself for——”
“It's of no consequence, madam,” The Thinking Machine assured her.
“It's the first opportunity I have ever had of studying a woman's mind.
It was not at all logical, but it was very—very instructive. I may add
that it was effective, too.”
He bowed low, and turning picked up his hat.
“But your fee?” suggested Mr. van Safford.
The Thinking Machine squinted at him sourly. “Oh, yes, my fee,” he
mused. “It will be just five thousand dollars.”
“Five thousand dollars?” exclaimed Mr. van Safford.
“Five thousand dollars,” repeated the scientist.
“Why, man, it's perfectly absurd to talk——”
Mrs. van Safford laid one white hand on her husband's arm. He
glanced at her and she smiled radiantly.
“Don't you think I'm worth it, Van?” she asked, archly.
He wrote the cheque. The Thinking Machine scribbled his name across
the back in a crabbed little hand, and passed it on to Hatch.
“Please hand that to some charitable organization,” he directed. “It
was an excellent lesson, Mrs. van Safford. Good day.”
Professor Augustus S. F. X. Van Dusen, scientist, and Hutchinson
Hatch, reporter, walked along side by side for two blocks, without
speaking. The reporter broke the silence.
“Why did you want to know what was the matter with Miss Blakesley?”
“I wanted to know if she really had been ill or was merely
attempting to mislead Mr. van Safford,” was the reply. “She was ill
with a touch of grippe. I got that by 'phone. I also learned of Mr. van
Safford's club habits by 'phone from his club.”
“And those women who laughed—what was the joke about?”
“The fact that they laughed made me see that the affair was not a
serious one. They were intimate friends with whom the wife had
evidently discussed doing just what she did do,” explained the
scientist. “All things considered in this case the facts could only
have been as logic developed them. I imagined the true state of affairs
from your report of Mrs. van Safford's day of wandering; when I knew
she went in the back door of her own house, I saw the solution.
Because, Mr. Hatch,” and the scientist paused and shook a long finger
in the reporter's face, “because two and two always make four—not some
times, but all the time.”