JONATHAN STANNARD’S SECRET VICE
Mrs. Stannard saw her husband with a woman at Courin’s Restaurant. So, the mystery which was making her life miserable was solved. But then, she saw a man. It was John Dupont – her husband had not lied to her, because he was going to dine that evening with John Dupont.
She had married Jonathan Stannard twelve years before.
Three years later he had become famous with his books about appreciations of the classic and attacks on the modern.
As a husband he was perfect and he still loved her.
But there was the mystery.
It had begun six months before. He had said he had an appointment at the Century Club. But when later an important message had come and she had telephoned the club, he was not there.
When he returned, he said: ‘Why, I’ve been at the club.’
But she felt the doubt enter her mind.
Then, he had taken tickets for a Hofmann, but she had a headache and he had gone alone. He said Debussy was awful, but going through the morning paper, she read the following: ‘… Salammbo, the new tone poem by Debussy was dropped from the program…’
So, her husband had not been there! Should she demand an explanation? Yes. No. If he had lied once, he would lie again. Useless.
She could not believe that her husband, the man who above all others stood for morality, lied.
But he had lied; he had lied to her twice within the week.
Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday evening he had gone out without saying a word of where he had been.
‘There’s a woman,’ she thought.
When her husband left the house the next evening, she followed him. But not very far. At the corner he took a taxi.
The next time, she had a taxi ready.
She saw him as he went into the subway station; but by the time she paid the chauffeur and run down the steps, a train had gone.
She went home and
within thirty minutes a man entered her library.
‘You are – ‘ she began.
‘Mr. Pearson, of Doane & Doane,’ he replied. ‘You telephoned for a man, I believe. This is Mrs. Stannard?’ ‘Yes. You are – a detective?’ ‘I am.’
‘You follow people?’ she asked. ‘I sure do,’ he said.
‘Well – ‘ she hesitated – ‘I am a little worried – ‘ ‘Pardon me,’ the detective interrupted, ‘is it about your husband?’
‘Certainly!’ said Mrs. Stannard.
‘You want to know where he goes. Day or night?’
‘Ah! Now, what is his full name?’
‘Yes. He writes.’
‘U-m. Does he drink?’
‘Er – fond of – er – women?’ ‘Well! Well – No.’ ‘I see. Always been a good husband?’ ‘Yes.’
‘You say he’s a writer. Stories?’
‘No. Mr. Stannard writes criticisms. He is a man of high morals.’
‘I see,’ said Mr. Pearson, ‘Mr. Stannard is a serious guy. He seems to have a grudge against the movies.’
‘He is for noble in art,’ said Mrs. Stannard. ‘He has conducted a campaign against the cinema because it appeals only to the lowest function of our mentality.’
‘Just so,’ Mr. Pearson agreed. ‘I remember him now. I’ve heard my daughter speak of him. He hates things that other people like.’ He read: “The cinema is a poison. One dose is harmless, but repeated day after day it is slowly corroding the intellect of the nation.'”
‘Probably, secret vice,’ said the detective.
Mrs. Stannard lived a year in the week. She remembered the detective’s words, ‘secret vice.’ There was something horrible about them. Yes, there were worse things even than a woman.