The Howe Messenger (Howe, Tex.), Vol. 14, No. 34, Ed. 1 Friday, August 20, 1937 Page: 3 of 8
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Friday, August 20, 1937
THE HOWE MESSENGER
© Kathleen Norris
Vicky’s eyes found the little round
Violet puncture of the bullet hole
;at the flawless marble temple. Se-
rena’s sleeping face was placid,
but the once scarlet mouth was pale
and flecked with blood, and the
beautiful pale gold hair was loos-
ened into a careless cascade that
bung in a web over the side of the
bed. There was a horrible sprawl-
ing relaxation in her position, a
dreadful mysterious shutness in the
colorless lips that made Vicky trem-
“Is there anything to do, Quent?”
“Not now.” He did not turn from
bis contemplation of the wreck of
what had been so soft, so lovely
and alluring and fragrant and
warm only a few hours ago. “No,
it was instantaneous, Vic,” he mut-
“She thought he was dead, d’you
See?” the older man supplied sud-
denly. “The Chinese woman had
-come out of his room. It was while
we were all in the hall there, awhile
back, when we all thought that poor
Morrison had no chance.”
“I thought, from the way you all
-talked,” Quentin said, “that he
was! I was amazed when Amah
said he wanted to see me. And cer-
tainly she must have thought so.
An hour later Victoria and Quen-
tin walked across the Morrisons’
side garden, and through the gate
into the lane and through their own
gate. A perfect spring dawn was
strengthening over the world now;
it was four o’clock; the east was
flushed with exquisite delicate pink,
against which shoals and galleons
of delicate silver and gray and paler
gray cloud made long bars.
“I feel—reborn,” Vicky said.
“Reborn. I’m terribly grateful,
Vic,” Quentin said.
“Oh, grateful! If you knew what
I was thinking of all night long.
Every horror that anyone can imag-
ine seemed to be sweeping over
fine. I had you in jail; I had us all
(moving to some remote place.”
“Perhaps you think I didn’t, Vic,
while we were working over him.
Perhaps you think I didn’t have a
chance to think how I’d taken my
life and destroyed it with my two
bands. But thank God it’s all over
“I am tired. Quentin, doesn’t the
'tea for the Vienna doctors and our
lunch at the St. Francis seem longer
-ago than yesterday!”
“That wasn’t yesterday!” he ex-
“That’s all it was.”
“My God,” he said again, struck.
“She did do it, didn’t she, Quent?”
“Yes,” he said with a serious
look. “I guess she did.”
“Her killing herself”—The words
jsounded so strange that Vicky had
to stop short and think of them—
“her killing herself looked as if she
‘did,” she mused.
“She had that—I don’t know what
to call it—ruthless quality,” Quen-
tin said. '“She went over any ob-
stacle that was in her way.”
“He roused the very worst in her;
be always did,” Victoria mused.
“He seemed to sit back and laugh
«t her, and he never let her have
enough money even to get away.
She told me—she came to see me
every few days, you know—that she
■had to charge even her lunches at
hotels. That day she seemed to me
desperate. She looked so beauti-
ful, too; she was in a sort of corn
color, and her eyes looked so blue.
Mother said after she left, ‘All
dressed up and nowhere to go!’ I
suppose it was death-in-life to her
to live in that quiet country house.”
Quentin nodded, listening,
“You’ve been a trump all night
long, Vic,” he said, after a while.
“If you’d been like most women,
and refused to go over there, we
might be in bad trouble this morn-
ing. If you were like most women,
you’d have kicked me out years
ago, I don’t know why you act the
way you do, but I want you to
know—this sounds damn flat—but I
want you to know that I admire
you and that I’m grateful! I owe
everything I’ve got in the world to
you. I’m just beginning to realize
that it’s an awful lot. You know
I’m not good at speeches, but when
I think about you—and this is what
I wanted to tell you—I get all
choked up. I’m—I’m grateful.”
“Thank you, Quentin!” Vic said
from the other end of the table.
“We’ll go on here, and some day
I’ll have a chance to show you that
I’m changed,” Quentin said. “It’s
taken me a long time to wake up.
I’ve been a fool. I did the rottenest
thing to you a man can do to his
wife; it’s just my luck, it’s my in-
credible luck that you’ve—well, I
won’t say forgiven me; you don’t
forget those things, and you can’t
forgive them — but that you’ve
worked it out your way.”
“You did something of which you
are ashamed,” she said simply. “I—
didn’t. Why should there be any
question of forgiveness? If I did
something — something wrong, to-
morrow — you’d be sorry—you’d
think a little the less of me; but
you wouldn’t be personally touched
because I forged a check—your own
honor would be just what it was!
My life isn’t yours. I’m me.”
“I wish to the Lord you would
do something dumb,” Quentin said
with ineloquent force, after a pause.
“I sound smug,” Vicky said, “but
I’m not. And I do dumb things every
day. Thousands of them. There were
months—there were actual years
when your home life was nothing
but mistakes, nerves, uproar, my
crying and being tired and sick,
the children going into mumps and
whooping cough, bills piling up.”
“But, good heavens, Vic, what’s
that!” the man said roughly, in im-
patience. “What’s all that compared
to the other thing, compared to
hurting your pride, and killing your
love for me, and putting the thought
of another woman eternally between
us? Why, lots of the fellows go
home to women who are extrav-
agant and nagging and nervous,
and who don’t have a houseful of
gorgeous kids to show for it!
There’s no comparison between the
“I think there is. I think nagging
and extravagance and nerves are
serious things, too, and I think wom-
en who won’t have children, who
hate home, who are always running
about with other men, are just as
bad! Even if they don’t go to the
limit—even if they fool along, get-
ting everything they can out of a
man and then stopping short, never
giving anything—it seems to me de-
testable,” Vic said. “My own temp-
tations are different,” she added.
“I think maybe I’m a mother first
and a wife afterward; I’ve never
gone in for pink baby pillows and
The words brought back with a
moment of horror the memory of
her last sight of Serena’s bedroom,
and she was still.
“Serena loved you,” she said
thoughtfully, in the silence.
“She never loved anyone but her-
self,” Quentin said. “Everything
she said and did revolved about
that. She loved her own beauty
and power. She used them to get
what she wanted. I knew it, after
a while. Morrison must have dis-
covered it as soon as they were
married. Her first husband tried
twice to kill himself. She was cold
and vain, poor girl! And she was
the woman,” he ended, “for whom
I broke your heart!”
“No, you didn't break my heart.”
“Breaking a person’s heart is a
cheap way of putting it,” Quentin
said. “It sounds romantic, when it
wasn’t anything but damn stupid
and selfish. You said what it really
did, a minute ago. It made you
think less of me; that’s the real
price. We never can go back of
that. You’ll never be able to trust
me again. There’ll always be that
feeling, somewhere, ’way back ia
your mind, that I failed you!”
Vicky, her elbows on the kitchen
table, her chin in her hands, looked
“I suppose so,” she said slowly.
“But I don’t know that it matters.
You’ve seen me looking pretty hor«
rible, ugly and crying and fright-
ened and only anxious to be l§t oft
pain; it doesn’t seem to make you
like me any less when I’m all gotten
up in my new Paris clothes. Luck-
ily people forget those things, when
—under it all—they love each
Quentin answered her with a long
“I think you really believe that,”
he said after a while. “You’re nol
like anyone else in the world!”
Vicky in her turn was thoughtful,
“Perhaps we’re both tired,” sha
said. “For that matter, what’s hap-
pened tonight is enough to throw us
into nervous breakdowns. We don’t
often talk this way. But it’s only
fair to tell you something, Quentin,
that may partly explain the way
I feel, the way I act. When we
were married, eleven years ago, I
talked about marrying for reasons,
about not being carried away by
excitement, about not falling in love.
“I told you my idea of marriage
was companionship, home, children.
You were a widower with a deli-
cate youngster—” She laughed. “It
seems funny now to think of Gwen
as delicate, doesn’t it?” she said.
“Women were making your life a
burden, and you needed just what I
had to give. I remember our talk-
ing of it once, and your saying that
whatever the agreement was before
marriage, however reasonable and
dispassionate the feeling was, no
man could have a young wife around
and not come to love her, that is
presuming that he didn’t come to
hate her. Do you remember that?”
“Well, the joke was on me,” Vicky
said, “for I had it—had it desperate-
ly, the whole time! I trembled and
got silly when you spoke to me, I
thought of you all day long and lay
awake dreaming of you all night.
I was the love-sickest woman who
ever knelt down and thanked God
that the most marvelous man in the
world had deigned to look at her!
I never told you, I was too proud.
I tackled the big house and the serv-
ants and Gwen; I even went to the
hospital and had your babies, Quent.
But I never dared tell you! You
never asked me to; you took me
calmly for granted, meals and fur-
nace and Gwen and babies and an-
swering the telephone and buying
you new shirts, and that was the
way I wanted it to be. I didn’t
want to be the one to introduce the
silly, the sentimental side of it, cry
when you forgot my birthday, and
expect you to compliment me every
night on the way my hair was done!
I’d said I wanted a certain kind of
marriage—work and responsibility
and companionship, and plenty of
criticism if I didn’t do my job, and
I got it! But I’ve loved you all the
time! Quent, when you come home
tired at night and go. to sleep with
your big heavy head on my shoulder,
I lie awake sometimes for joy. Juliet
has nothing on me, nor Beatrice, not
She stood up, smiled at him.
“There!” she said. “That’s my
awful confession. I’ve made you
Quent took Victoria in his arms.
“You’ve made me a speech, Vic,
I’ll never forget it.”
In our next issue!
by Alan LeMay
A new story of the West 0 « . cattle ranges . . $
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Read Every Installment
Ask Me <J)
A Quiz With
1. What countries have dictators
2. Is there any guide to the
length of sentences when one is
preparing a lecture?
3. How is GPU (Russia’s secret
4. By what title was Commodore
Perry known to the Japanese?
5. How fast do bullets travel?
2. The principal dictatorships
ere Russia, Austria, Italy, Ger-
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2. There is the generalization
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5. Military rifles drive their bul-
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♦With chocolate ice cream powder,
use Ya package (scant Ya cup) and
4 tablespoonfuls sugar.
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Bryant, Russell W. The Howe Messenger (Howe, Tex.), Vol. 14, No. 34, Ed. 1 Friday, August 20, 1937, newspaper, August 20, 1937; Howe, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth1049280/m1/3/: accessed July 10, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; .