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Constance Dunlap

10.
The Blackmailers
"They're late this afternoon."
"Yes. I think they might be on time. I wish they had made the appointment in a
quieter place."
"What do you care, Anita? Probably somebody else is doing the same thing
somewhere else. What's sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose."
"I know he has treated me like a dog, Alice, but--"
There was just a trace of a catch in the voice of the second woman as she
broke off the remark and left it unfinished.
Constance Dunlap had caught the words unintentionally above the hum of
conversation and the snatches of tuneful music wafted from the large dining-
room where day was being turned into night.
She had dropped into the fashionable new Vanderveer Hotel, not to meet any
one, but because she liked to watch the people in "Peacock Alley," as the
corridor of the hotel was often popularly called.
Somehow, as she sat inconspicuously in a deep chair in an angle, she felt
that very few of the gaily chatting couples or of the waiting men and women
about her were quite what they seemed on the surface.
The conversation from around the angle confirmed her opinion. Here,
apparently at least, were two young married women with a grievance, and it
was not for those against whom they had the grievance, real or imagined, that
they were waiting so anxiously.
Constance leaned forward to see them better. The woman nearest her was a
trifle the elder of the two, a very attractive-looking woman, tastefully gowned
and carefully groomed. The younger, who had been the first speaker, was,
perhaps, the more dashing. Certainly she appeared to be the more
sophisticated. And as Constance caught her eye she involuntarily thought of
the old proverb, "Never trust a man who doesn't look you in the eye or a
woman who does."
Two men sauntered down the long corridor, on the way from a visit to the bar.
As they caught sight of the two ladies, there was a smile of recognition, an
exchange of remarks between each pair, and the men hurried in the direction
of the corner.
They greeted the two ladies in low, bantering, familiar terms--"Mr. Smith,"
"Mrs. Jones," "Mr. White" and "Mrs. Brown."
"You got my card!" asked one of the men of the woman nearest Constance.
"Sorry we're late, but a business friend ran into us as we were coming in and I
had to shunt him off in the other direction."
He nodded toward the opposite end of the corridor with a laugh.
"You've been bad boys," pouted the other woman, "but we forgive you --this
time."
 
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