When a Man Marries
The second floor was empty. A table lay overturned at the top of the stairs, and a broken
flower vase was weltering in its own ooze. Part way down Betty stepped on something
sharp, that proved to be the Japanese paper knife from the den. I left her on the stairs
examining her foot and hurried to the lower floor.
Here everything was in the utmost confusion. Aunt Selina had fainted, and was sitting in
a hall chair with her head rolled over sidewise and the poker from the library fireplace
across her knees. No one was paying any attention to her. And Jim was holding the front
door open, while three of the guards hesitated in the vestibule. The noises continued from
the back of the house, and as I stood on the lowest stair Bella came out from the dining
room, with her face streaked with soot, and carrying a kettle of hot water.
"Jim," she called wildly. "While Max and Dal are below, you can pour this down from
the top. It's boiling."
Jim glanced back over his shoulder. Carry out your own murderous designs," he said.
And then, as she started back with it, "Bella, for Heaven's sake," he called, "have you
gone stark mad? Put that kettle down."
She did it sulkily and Jim turned to the policeman.
"Yes, I know it was a false alarm before," he explained patiently, "but this is genuine. It
is just as I tell you. Yes, Flannigan is in the house somewhere, but he's hiding, I guess.
We could manage the thing very well ourselves, but we have no cartridges for our
revolvers." Then as the noise from the rear redoubled, "If you don't come in and help, I
will telephone for the fire department," he concluded emphatically.
I ran to Aunt Selina and tried to straighten her head. In a moment she opened her eyes, sat
up and stared around her. She saw the kettle at once.
"What are you doing with boiling water on the floor?" she said to me, with her returning
voice. "Don't you know you will spoil the floor?" The ruling passion was strong with
Aunt Selina, as usual.
I could not find out the trouble from any one; people appeared and disappeared, carrying
strange articles. Anne with a rope, Dal with his hatchet, Bella and the kettle, but I could
get a coherent explanation from no one. When the guards finally decided that Jim was in
earnest, and that the rest of us were not crawling out a rear window while he held them at
the door, they came in, three of them and two reporters, and Jim led them to the butler's
Here we found Anne, very white and shaky, with the pantry table and two chairs piled
against the door of the kitchen slide, and clutching the chamois-skin bag that held her
jewels. She had a bottle of burgundy open beside her, and was pouring herself a glass
with shaking hands when we appeared. She was furious at Jim.
"I very nearly fainted," she said hysterically. "I might have been murdered, and no one
would have cared. I wish they would stop that chopping, I'm so nervous I could scream."