Wherein Sacharissa Remains In and a Young Man
Can't Get Out
The snowstorm had ceased; across
Fifth Avenue the Park resembled the mica-incrusted view on an expensive
Christmas card. Every limb, branch, and twig was outlined in clinging
snow; crystals of it glittered under the morning sun; brilliantly
dressed children, with sleds, romped and played over the dazzling
expanse. Overhead the characteristic deep blue arch of a New York
sky spread untroubled
by a cloud. Her family--that is, her father, brother-in-law,
married sister, three unmarried sisters and herself--were expecting
to leave for Tuxedo about noon. Why? Nobody knows why the wealthy
are always going somewhere. However, they do, fortunately for story
"It's quite as beautiful
here," thought Sacharissa to herself, "as it is in the country.
I'm sorry I'm going."
Idling there by the
sunny window and gazing out into the white expanse, she had already
dismissed all uneasiness in her mind concerning the psychical experiment
upon herself. That is to say, she had not exactly dismissed it,
she used no conscious effort, it had gone of itself--or, rather,
it had been crowded out, dominated by a sudden and strong disinclination
to go to Tuxedo.
As she stood there
the feeling grew and persisted, and, presently, she found herself
repeating aloud: "I don't want to go, I don't want
to go. It's stupid to go. Why should I go when it's stupid to go
and I'd rather stay here?"
and Destyn were having a classical reconciliation in a distant section
of the house, and the young wife had got as far as:
"Darling, I am so
worried about Rissa. I do wish she were not going
to Tuxedo. There are so many attractive men expected at the Courlands'."
"She can't escape men
anywhere, can she?"
"N-no; but there will
be a concentration of particularly good-looking and undesirable
ones at Tuxedo this week. That idle, horrid, cynical crowd is coming
from Long Island, and I don't want her to marry any
"Well, then, make her
stay at home."
"She wants to go."
"What's the good of
an older sister if you can't make her mind you?" he asked.
"She won't. She's set
her heart on going. All those boisterous winter sports appeal to
her. Besides, how can one member of the family be absent on New
Arm in arm they strolled
out into the great living room, where a large, pompous, vividly
colored gentleman was laying down the law to the triplets--three
very attractive young girls, dressed precisely alike, who said,
"Yes, pa-pah!" and "No pa-pah!" in a
grave and silvery-voiced chorus whenever filial obligation required
"And another thing,"
continued the pudgy and vivid old gentleman, whose voice usually
ended in a softly mellifluous shout when speaking emphatically:
"that worthless Westbury--Cedarhurst--Jericho-- Meadowbrook set
are going to be in evidence at this housewarming, and I caution
you now against paying anything but the slightest, most superficial
and most frivolous attention to anything that
any of those young whip-snapping, fox-hunting cubs
may say to you. Do you hear?" with a mellow shout like a French
horn on a touring car.
The old gentleman waved
his single eyeglass in token of dismissal, and looked at his watch.
"The bus is here,"
he said fussily. "Come on, Will; come, Linda, and you, Flavilla,
Drusilla, and Sybilla, get your furs on. Don't take the elevator.
Go down by the stairs, and hurry! If there's one thing in this world
I won't do it is to wait for anybody on earth!"
Flunkies and maids
flew distractedly about with fur coats, muffs, and stoles. In solemn
assemblage the family expedition filed past the elevator, descended
the stairs to the lower hall, and there drew up for final inspection.
A mink-infested footman
waited outside; valets, butlers, second-men and maids came to attention.
demanded Mr. Carr, sonorously.
"Here, dad," said his
oldest daughter, strolling calmly into the hall, hands still linked
loosely behind her.
"Why haven't you got
your hat and furs on?" demanded her father.
"Because I'm not going,
dad," she said sweetly.
The family eyed her
"Not going?" shouted
her father, in a mellow bellow. "Yes, you are! Not going!
And why the dickens not?"
"I really don't know,
dad," she said listlessly. "I don't want to go."
Her father waved both
pudgy arms furiously. "Don't you feel well? You look well. You are
well. Don't you feel well?"
"No, you don't! You're
pale! You're pallid! You're peaked! Take a tonic and lie down. Send
your maid for some doctors--all kinds of doctors--and have them
fix you up. Then come to Tuxedo with your maid to-morrow morning.
Do you hear?"
"Very well, dad."
"And keep out of that
elevator until it's fixed. It's likely to do anything. Ferdinand,"
to the man at the door, "have it fixed at once. Sacharissa, send
that maid of yours for a doctor!"
"Very well, dad!"
She presented her cheek
to her emphatic parent; he saluted it explosively, wheeled, marshaled
the family at a glance, started them forward, and closed the rear
with his own impressive person. The iron gates clanged, the door
of the opera bus snapped, and Sacharissa strolled back into the
rococo reception room not quite certain why she had not gone, not
quite convinced that she was feeling
For the first few minutes
her face had been going hot and cold, alternately flushed and pallid.
Her heart, too, was acting in an unusual manner--making sufficient
stir for her to become uneasily aware of it.
"Probably," she thought
to herself, "I've eaten too many chocolates." She looked into the
large gilded box, took another and ate it reflectively.
A curious languor possessed
her. To combat it she rang for her maid, intending to go for a brisk
walk, but the weight of the furs seemed to distress her. It was
absurd. She threw them off and sat down in the library.
A little while later
her maid found her lying there, feet crossed, arms stretched backward
to form a cradle for her head.
"Are you ill, Miss
"No," said Sacharissa.
The maid cast an alarmed
glance at her mistress' pallid face.
"Would you see Dr.
The maid hesitated:
"Beg pardon, but Mr.
Carr said you was to see some doctors."
"Very well," she said
indifferently. "And please hand me those chocolates. I don't care
for any luncheon."
"No luncheon, miss?"
Sacharissa had never
been known to shun sustenance.
The symptom thoroughly
frightened her maid, and in a few minutes she had Dr. Blimmer's
office on the telephone; but that eminent practitioner was out.
Then she found in succession the offices of Doctors White, Black,
and Gray. Two had gone away over New Year's, the other was out.
The maid, who was clever
and resourceful, went out to hunt up a doctor. There are, in the
cross streets, plenty of doctors between the Seventies and Eighties.
She found one without difficulty--that is, she found the sign in
the window, but the doctor was out on his visits.
She made two more attempts
with similar results, then, discovering a doctor's sign in a window
across the street, started for it regardless of snowdrifts, and
at the same moment the doctor's front door opened and a young man,
with a black leather case in his hand, hastily descended the icy
steps and hurried away up the street.
The maid ran after
him and arrived at his side breathless, excited:
you come--just for a moment, if you please, sir! Miss Carr won't
eat her luncheon!"
"What!" said the young
"Miss Carr wishes to
see you--just for a----"
"But I don't know any
"I understand that,
"Look here, young woman,
do you know my name?"
"No, sir, but that
doesn't make any difference to Miss Carr."
"She wishes to see
"Oh, yes, sir."
"I--I'm in a hurry
to catch a train." He looked hard at the maid, at his watch, at
the maid again.
"Are you perfectly
sure you're not mistaken?" he demanded.
"No, sir, I----"
"A certain Miss Sacharissa
Carr desires to see me? Are you certain of that?"
"Oh, yes, sir--she----"
"Where does she live?"
"One thousand eight
and a half Fifth Avenue, sir."
"I've got just three
minutes. Can you run?"
"Come on, then!"
And away they galloped,
his overcoat streaming out behind, the maid's skirts flapping and
her narrow apron flickering in the wind. Wayfarers stopped to watch
their pace--a pace which brought them to the house in something
under a minute. Ferdinand, the second man, let them in.
"Now, then," panted
the young man, "which way? I'm in a hurry, remember!" And he started
on a run for the stairs.
"Please follow me,
sir; the elevator is quicker!" gasped the maid, opening the barred
The young man sprang
into the lighted car, the maid turned to fling off hat and jacket
before entering; something went fizz-bang! snap! clink! and the
lights in the car were extinguished.
"Oh!" shrieked the
maid, "it's running away again! Jump, sir!"
The ornate, rococo
elevator, as a matter of fact, was running away, upward, slowly
at first. Its astonished occupant turned to jump out--too late.
"P-push the third button,
sir! Quick!" cried the maid, wringing her hands.
"W-where is it!" stammered
the young man, groping nervously in the dark car. "I can't see any."
"Cr-rack!" went something.
"It's stopped! It's
going to fall!" screamed the maid. "Run, Ferdinand!"
The man at the door
ran upstairs for a few steps, then distractedly slid to the bottom,
"Are you hurt, sir?"
"No," came a disgusted
voice from somewhere up the shaft.
Every landing was now
noisy with servants, maids sped upstairs, flunkeys sped down, a
butler waddled in a circle.
"Is anybody going to
get me out of this?" demanded the voice in the shaft. "I've a train
The perspiring butler
poked his head into the shaft from below:
"'Ow far hup, sir,
might you be?"
"How the devil do I
"Can't you see nothink,
"Yes, I can see a landing
and a red room."
"'E's stuck hunder
the library!" exclaimed the butler, and there was a rush for the
The rush was met and
checked by a tall, young girl who came leisurely along the landing,
nibbling a chocolate.
"What is all this noise
about?" she asked. "Has the elevator gone wrong again?"
Glancing across the
landing at the grille which screened the shaft she saw the gilded
car--part of it--and half of a perfectly strange young man looking
"It's the doctor!"
wailed her maid.
"That isn't Dr. Blimmer!"
said her mistress.
"No, miss, it's a perfectly
"I am not
a doctor," observed the young man, coldly.
Sacharissa drew nearer.
"If that maid of yours
had asked me," he went on, "I'd have told her. She saw me coming
down the steps of a physician's house--I suppose she mistook my
camera case for a case of medicines."
"I did--oh, I did!"
moaned the maid, and covered her head with her apron.
"The thing to do,"
said Sacharissa, calmly, "is to send for the nearest plumber. Ferdinand,
"Meanwhile," said the
imprisoned young man, "I shall miss my train. Can't somebody break
that grille? I could climb out that way."
"Sparks," said Miss
Carr, "can you break that grille?"
Sparks tried. A kitchen
maid brought a small tackhammer--the only "'ammer in the 'ouse,"
according to Sparks, who pounded at the foliated steel grille and
broke the hammer off short.
"Did it 'it you in
the 'ead, sir?" he asked, panting.
the young man, grinding his teeth.
Sparks 'oped as 'ow
it didn't 'urt the gentleman. The gentleman stanched his wound in
came back to report upon the availability of the family plumber.
It appeared that all plumbers, locksmiths, and similar indispensable
and free-born artisans had closed shop at noon and would not reopen
until after New Year's, subject to the Constitution of the United
"But this gentleman
cannot remain here until after New Year's," said Sacharissa. "He
says he is in a hurry. Do you hear, Sparks?"
The servants stood
in a helpless row.
"Ferdinand," she said,
"Mr. Carr told you to have that elevator fixed before it was used
Ferdinand stared wildly
at the grille and ran his thumb over the bars.
"And Clark"--to her
maid--"I am astonished that you permitted this gentleman to risk
"He was in a hurry--I
thought he was a doctor." The maid dissolved into tears.
"It is now," broke
in the voice from the shaft, "an utter impossibility for me to catch
any train in the United States."
"I am dreadfully sorry,"
"Isn't there an ax
in the house?"
The butler mournfully
"Then get the furnace
It was fetched; nerve-racking
blows rained on the grille; puffing servants applied it as a lever,
as a battering-ram, as a club. The house rang like a boiler factory.
"I can't stand any
more of that!" shouted the young man. "Stop it!"
Sacharissa looked about
her, hands closing both ears.
"Send them away," said
the young man, wearily. "If I've got to stay here I want a chance
After she had dismissed
the servants Sacharissa drew up a chair and seated herself a few
feet from the grille. She could see half the car and half the man--plainer,
now that she had come nearer.
He was a young and
rather attractive looking fellow, cheek tied up in his handkerchief,
where the head of the hammer had knocked off the skin.
"Let me get some witch-hazel,"
said Sacharissa, rising.
"I want to write a
telegram first," he said.
So she brought some
blanks, passed them and a pencil down to him through the grille,
and reseated herself.