Constance Dunlap by Arthur B. Reeve


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Page 1










There was something of the look of the hunted animal brought to bay
at last in Carlton Dunlap's face as he let himself into his
apartment late one night toward the close of the year.

On his breath was the lingering odor of whisky, yet in his eye and
hand none of the effects. He entered quietly, although there was no
apparent reason for such excessive caution. Then he locked the door
with the utmost care, although there was no apparent reason for
caution about that, either.

Even when he had thus barricaded himself, he paused to listen with
all the elemental fear of the cave man who dreaded the footsteps of
his pursuers. In the dim light of the studio apartment he looked
anxiously for the figure of his wife. Constance was not there, as
she had been on other nights, uneasily awaiting his return. What was
the matter? His hand shook a trifle now as he turned the knob of the
bedroom door and pushed it softly open.

She was asleep. He leaned over, not realizing that her every faculty
was keenly alive to his presence, that she was acting a part.

"Throw something around yourself, Constance," he whispered hoarsely
into her ear, as she moved with a little well-feigned start at being
suddenly wakened, "and come into the studio. There is something I
must tell you tonight, my dear."

"My dear!" she exclaimed bitterly, now seeming to rouse herself with
an effort and pretending to put back a stray wisp of her dark hair
in order to hide from him the tears that still lingered on her
flushed cheeks. "You can say that, Carlton, when it has been every
night the same old threadbare excuse of working at the office until

She set her face in hard lines, but could not catch his eye.

"Carlton Dunlap," she added in a tone that rasped his very soul, "I
am nobody's fool. I may not know much about bookkeeping and
accounting, but I can add--and two and two, when the same man but
different women compose each two, do not make four, according to my
arithmetic, but three, from which,"--she finished almost
hysterically the little speech she had prepared, but it seemed to
fall flat before the man's curiously altered manner--"from which I
shall subtract one."

She burst into tears.

"Listen," he urged, taking her arm gently to lead her to an easy-

"No, no, no!" she cried, now thoroughly aroused, with eyes that
again snapped accusation and defiance at him, "don't touch me. Talk
to me, if you want to, but don't, don't come near me." She was now
facing him, standing in the high-ceilinged "studio," as they called
the room where she had kept up in a desultory manner for her own
amusement the art studies which had interested her before her
marriage. "What is it that you want to say? The other nights you
said nothing at all. Have you at last thought up an excuse? I hope
it is at least a clever one."

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Sat 18th Jan 2020, 17:20