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SOUTH FLORIDA DEVASTATED 1000 DEAD, 38,000 DESTITUTE 1 страница




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BROADWAY BEAUTY BEATEN

 

Fox he got a bushy tail
Possum's tail is bare
Rabbit got no tail at all
But only a tuft o' hair

 

FLORIDA RELIEF FUND FAR SHORT

 


MARTIAL LAW LOOMS

 

It ain't gonna rain no more

 

according to the police the group spent Saturday evening
at Hillside Park, a Belleville amusement resort and about mid-
night went to the bungalow. The Bagley girls retired, they
told the police, and when the men entered their room one of
the girls jumped from a window

 

But how in hell kin the old folks tell
It ain't gonna rain no more?

 


MARGO DOWLING

 

Agnes got off the sleeper dressed from head to foot in
black crape. She had put on weight and her face had a grey
rumpled look Margo hadn't noticed on it before. Margo
put her head on Agnes's shoulder and burst out crying
right there in the sunny crowded Miami station. They got
into the Buick to go out to the beach. Agnes didn't even
notice the car or the uniformed chauffeur or anything.
She took Margo's hand and they sat looking away from
each other out into the sunny streets full of slowlymoving
people in light clothes. Margo was patting her eyes with
her lace handkerchief. "Oughtn't you to wear black?"

 

-379-

 

Agnes said. "Wouldn't you feel better if you were wearing
black?"

 

It wasn't until the blue Buick drew up at the door of
the bungalow on the beach and Raymond, the thinfaced
mulatto chauffeur, hopped out smiling respectfully to take
the bags that Agnes began to notice anything. She cried
out "Oh, what a lovely car."

 

Margo showed her through the house and out on the
screened porch under the palms facing the purpleblue sea
and the green water along the shore and the white
breakers. "Oh, it's too lovely," Agnes said and let herself
drop into a Gloucester hammock sighing. "Oh, I'm so
tired." Then she began to cry again. Margo went to do her
face at the long mirror in the hall. "Well," she said when
she came back looking freshpowdered and rosy, "how do
you like the house? Some little shack, isn't it?"

 

"Oh, we won't be able to stay here now. . . . What'll
we do now?" Agnes was blubbering. "I know it's all the'
wicked unreality of matter. . . . Oh, if he'd only had
proper thoughts."



 

"Anyway the rent's paid for another month," said
Margo.

 

"Oh, but the expense," sobbed Agnes.

 

Margo was looking out through the screendoor at a big
black tanker on the horizon. She turned her head and
talked peevishly over her shoulder. "Well, there's nothing
to keep me from turning over a few options, is there? I
tell you what they are having down here's a boom. Maybe
we can make some money. I know everybody who is any-
body in this town. You just wait and see, Agnes."

 

Eliza, the black maid, brought in a silver coffeeservice
and cups and a plate of toast on a silver tray covered by
a lace doily. Agnes pushed back her veil, drank some
coffee in little gulps and began to nibble at a piece of toast.
"Have some preserves on it," said Margo, lighting herself

 

-380-

 

a cigarette. "I didn't think you and Frank believed in
mourning."

 



"I couldn't help it. It made me feel better. Oh, Margo,
have you ever thought that if it wasn't for our dreadful
unbelief they might be with us this day." She dried her
eyes and went back to the coffee and toast. "When's the
funeral?"

 

"It's going to be in Minnesota. His folks have taken
charge of everything. They think I'm ratpoison."

 

"Poor Mr. Anderson. . . . You must be prostrated, you
poor child."

 

"You ought to see 'em. His brother Jim would take
the pennies off a dead man's eyes. He's threatening to sue
to get back some securities he claims were Charley's. Well,
let him sue. Homer Cassidy's my lawyer and what he says
goes in this town. . . . Agnes, you've got to take off those
widow's weeds and act human. What would Frank think if
he was here?"

 

"He is here," Agnes shrieked and went all to pieces and
started sobbing again. "He's watching over us right now.
I know that!" She dried her eyes and sniffed. "Oh,
Margie, coming down on the train I'd been thinking that
maybe you and Mr. Anderson had been secretly married.
He must have left an enormous estate."

 

"Most of it is tied up. . . . But Charley was all right,
he fixed me up as we went along."

 

"But just think of it, two such dreadful things happen-
ing in one winter."

 

" Agnes," said Margo, getting to her feet, "if you talk
like that I'm going to send you right back to New
York. . . . Haven't I been depressed enough? Your nose
is all red. It's awful. . . . Look, you make yourself at
home. I'm going out to attend to some business.""Oh, I
can't stay here. I feel too strange," sobbed Agnes. "Well,
you can come along if you take off that dreadful veil.
Hurry up, I've got to meet somebody."



 

-381-

 

She made Agnes fix her hair and put on a white blouse.
The black dress really was quite becoming to her. Margo
made her put on a little makeup. "There, dearie. Now
you look lovely," she said and kissed her.

 

"Is this really your car?" sighed Agnes as she sank
back on the seat of the blue Buick sedan. "I can't believe
it.""Want to see the registration papers?" said Margo.
"All right, Raymond, you know where the broker's office
is.""I sure do, miss," said Raymond, touching the shiny
visor of his cap as the motor started to hum under the
unscratched paint of the hood.

 

At the broker's office there was the usual welldressed
elderly crowd in sportsclothes filling up the benches, men
with panamahats held on knees of Palm Beach suits and
linen plusfours, women in pinks and greens and light tan
and white crisp dresses. It always affected Margo a little
like church, the whispers, the deferential manners, the
boys quick and attentive at the long blackboards marked
with columns of symbols, the click of the telegraph, the
firm voice reading the quotations off the ticker at a desk
in the back of the room. As they went in Agnes in an awed
voice whispered in Margo's ear hadn't she better go and
sit in the car until Margo had finished her business. "No,
stick around," said Margo. "You see those boys are chalk-
ing up the stockmarket play by play on those black-
boards. . . . I'm just beginning to get on to this business."
Two elderly gentlemen with white hair and broadflanged
Jewish noses smilingly made room for them on a bench
in the back of the room. Several people turned and stared
at Margo. She heard a woman's voice hissing something
about Anderson to the man beside her. There was a little
stir of whispering and nudging. Margo felt welldressed
and didn't care.

 

"Well, ma dear young lady," Judge Cassidy's voice
purred behind her, "buyin' or sellin' today?" Margo
turned her head. There was the glint of a gold tooth in

 

-382-

 

the smile on the broad red face under the thatch of silvery
hair the same color as the grey linen suit which was crossed
by another glint of gold in the watchchain looped double
across the ample bulge of the judge's vest. Margo shook
her head. "Nothing much doing today," she said. Judge
Cassidy jerked his head and started for the door. Margo
got up and followed, pulling Agnes after her. When they
got out in the breezy sunshine of the short street that ran
to the bathingbeach, Margo introduced Agnes as her
guardian angel.

 

"I hope you won't disappoint us today the way you did
yesterday, ma dear young lady," began Judge Cassidy.
"Perhaps we can induce Mrs. Mandeville . . ."

 

"I'm afraid not," broke in Margo. "You see the poor
darling's so tired. . . . She's just gotten in from New
York. . . . You see, Agnes dear, we are going to look at
some lots. Raymond will take you home, and lunch is all
ordered for you and everything. . . . You just take a nice
rest."

 

"Oh, of course I do need a rest," said Agnes, flushing.
Margo helped her into the Buick that Raymond had just
brought around from the parkingplace, kissed her and
then walked down the block with the judge to where his
Pierce Arrow touringcar stood shiny and glittery in the hot
noon sunlight.

 

The judge drove his own car. Margo sat with him in
the front seat. As soon as he'd started the car she said,
"Well, what about that check?""Why, ma dear young
lady, I'm very much afraid that no funds means no
funds. . . . I presume we can recover from the estate."
"Just in time to make a first payment on a cemetery lot."
"Well, those things do take time . . . the poor boy seems
to have left his affairs in considerable confusion."

 

"Poor guy," said Margo, looking away through the rows
of palms at the brown reaches of Biscayne Bay. Here and
there on the green islands new stucco construction stuck out

 

-383-

 

raw, like stagescenery out on the sidewalk in the daytime.
"Honestly I did the best I could to straighten him out."

 

"Of course. . . . Of course he had very considerable
holdings. . . . It was that crazy New York life. Down
here we take things easily, we know how to let the fruit
ripen on the tree."

 

"Orangaes," said Margo, "and lemons." She started to
laugh but the judge didn't join in.

 

Neither of them said anything for a while. They'd
reached the end of the causeway and turned past yellow
frame wharfbuildings into the dense traffic of the Miami
waterfront. Everywhere new tall buildings iced like layer-
cake were standing up out of scaffolding and builder's
rubbish. Rumbling over the temporary wooden bridge
across the Miami River in a roar of concretemixers and a
drive of dust from the construction work, Margo said,
turning a roundeyed pokerface at the judge, "Well, I guess
I'll have to hock the old sparklers." The judge laughed.
and said, "I can assure you the bank will afford you every
facility. . . . Don't bother your pretty little head about it.
You hold some very considerable options right now if I'm
not mistaken.""I don't suppose you could lend me a couple
of grand to run on on the strength of them, judge."

 

They were running on a broad new concrete road
through dense tropical scrub. "Ma dear young lady," said
Judge Cassidy in his genial drawl, "I couldn't do that for
your own sake . . . think of the false interpretations . . .
the idle gossip. We're a little oldfashioned down here.
We're easygoin' but once the breath of scandal . . . Why,
even drivin' with such a charmin' passenger through the
streets of Miamah is a folly, a very pleasant folly. But
you must realize, ma dear young lady . . . A man in ma
position can't afford . . . Don't misunderstand ma motive,
ma dear young lady. I never turned down a friend in ma
life. . . . But ma position would unfortunately not be
understood that way. Only a husband or a . . ."

 

-384-

 

"Is this a proposal, judge?" she broke in sharply. Her
eyes were stinging. It was hard keeping back the tears.

 

"Just a little advice to a client. . . ." The judge sighed.
"Unfortunately I'm a family man."

 

"How long is this boom going to last?"

 

"I don't need to remind you what type of animal is
born every minute."

 

"No need at all," said Margo gruffly.

 

They were driving into the parkinglot behind the great
new caramelcolored hotel. As she got out of the car Margo
said, "Well, I guess some of them can afford to lose their
money but we can't, can we, judge?""Ma dear young lady,
there's no such word in the bright lexicon of youth." The
judge was ushering her into the diningroom in his fatherly
way. "Ah, there are the boys now."

 

At a round table in the center of the crowded dining-
room sat two fatfaced young men with big mouths wearing,
pinkstriped shirts and nilegreen wash neckties and white
suits. They got up still chewing and pumped Margo's hand
when the judge presented them. They were twins. As they
sat down again one of them winked and shook a fat fore-
finger. "We used to see you at the Palms, girlie, naughty
naughty."

 

"Well, boys," said the judge, "how's tricks?""Couldn't
be better," one of them said with his mouth full. "You see,
boys," said the judge, "this young lady wants to make a
few small investments with a quick turnover. . . ." The
twins grunted and went on chewing.

 

After lunch the judge drove them all down ta the
Venetian Pool where William Jennings Bryan sitting in an
armchair on the float under a striped awning was talking
to the crowd. From where they were they couldn't hear
what he was saying, only the laughter and handclapping
of the crowd in the pauses. "Do you know, judge," said
one of the twins, as they worked their way through the
fringes of the crowd around the pool, "if the old boy

 

-385-

 

hadn't wasted his time with politics, he'da made a great
auctioneer."

 

Margo began to feel tired and wilted. She followed the
twins into the realestateoffice full of perspiring men in
shirtsleeves. The judge got her a chair. She sat there tap-
ping with her white kid foot on the tiled floor with her
lap full of blueprints. The prices were all so high. She felt
out of her depth and missed Mr. A to buy for her, held
have known what to buy sure. Outside, the benches on the
lawn were crowded. Bawling voices came from everywhere.
The auction was beginning. The twins on the stand were
waving their arms and banging with their hammers. The
judge was striding around behind Margo's chair talking
boom to anybody who would listen. When he paused for
breath she looked up at him and said, " JudgeCassidy,
could you get me a taxi?""Ma dear young lady, I'll drive
you home myself. It'll be a pleasure.""O.K.," said Margo.
"You are very wise," whispered Judge Cassidy in her ear.

 

As they were walking along the edge of the crowd one
of the twins they'd had lunch with left the auctioneer's
stand and dove through the crowd after them. "Miss
Dowlin'," he said, "kin me an' Al come to call?""Sure,"
said Margo, smiling. "Name's in the phonebook under
Dowling.""We'll be around." And he ran back to the
stand where his brother was pounding with his hammer.
She'd been afraid she hadn't made a hit with the twins.
Now she felt the tired lines smoothing out of her face.

 

"Well, what do you think of the great development of
Coral Gables?" said the judge as he helped her into the
car. "Somebody must be making money," said Margo
dryly.

 

Once in the house she pulled off her hat and told Ray-
mond, who acted as butler in the afternoons, to make some
martini cocktails, found the judge a cigar and then excused
herself for a moment. Upstairs she found Agnes sitting in
her room in a lavender negligee manicuring her nails at

 

-386-

 

the dressingtable. Without saying a word Margo dropped
on the bed and began to cry. Agnes got up looking big
and flabby and gentle and came over to the bed. "Why,
Margie, you never cry. . . .""I know I don't," sobbed
Margo, "but it's all so awful. . . . Judge Cassidy's down,
there, you go and talk to him. . . .""Poor little girl.
Surely I will but it's you he'll be wanting to see. . . .
You've been through too much.""I won't go back to the
chorus . . . I won't," Margo sobbed. "Oh, no, I wouldn't
like that. . . . But I'll go down now. . . . I feel really
rested for the first time in months," said Agnes.

 

When Margo was alone she stopped bawling at once.
"Why, I'm as bad as Agnes," she muttered to herself as
she got to her feet. She turned on the water for a bath.
It was late by the time she'd gotten into an afternoondress
and come downstairs. The judge looked pretty glum. He
sat puffing at the butt of a cigar and sipping at a cocktail
while Agnes talked to him about Faith.

 

He perked up when he saw Margo coming down the
stairs. She put some dancemusic on the phonograph.
"When I'm in your house I'm like that famed Grecian
sage in the house of the sirens . . . I forget hometies,
engagements, everything," said the judge, coming toward
her onestepping. They danced. Agnes went upstairs again.
Margo could see that the judge was just on the edge of
making a pass at her. She was wondering what to do about
it when Cliff Wegman was suddenly ushered into the room.
The judge gave the young man a scared suspicious look.
Margo could see he thought he was going to be framed.

 

"Why, Mr. Wegman, I didn't know you were in
Miami." She took the needle off the record and stopped
the phonograph. " JudgeCassidy, meet Mr. Wegman."
"Glad to meet you, judge. Mr. Anderson used to talk
about you. I was his personal secretary." Cliff looked hag-
gard and nervous. "I just pulled into this little old town,"
he said. "I hope I'm not intruding." He grinned at Margo.

 

-387-

 

"Well, I'm woiking for the Charles Anderson estate now."

 

"Poor fellow," said Judge Cassidy, getting to his feet.
"I had the honor of bein' quite a friend of Lieutenant
Anderson's. . . ." Shaking his head he walked across the
soft plumcolored carpet to Margo. "Well, ma dear young
lady, you must excuse me. But duty calls. This was indeed
delightful." Margo went out with him to his car. The
rosy evening was fading into dusk. A mockingbird was
singing in a peppertree beside the house. "When can I
bring the jewelry?" Margo said, leaning towards the judge
over the front seat of the car. "Perhaps you better come
to my office tomorrow noon. We'll go over to the bank
together. Of course the appraisal will have to be at the
expense of the borrower.""O.K. and by that time I hope
you'll have thought of some way I can turn it over quick.
What's the use of having a boom if you don't take advan-
tage of it?" The judge leaned over to kiss her. His wet lips
brushed against her ear as she pulled her head away. "Be
yourself, judge," she said.

 

In the livingroom Cliff was striding up and down fit to
be tied. He stopped in his tracks and came towards her
with his fists clenched as if he were going to hit her. He
was chewing gum; the thin jaw moving from side to side
gave him a face like a sheep. "Well, the boss soitenly
done right by little Orphan Annie."

 

"Well, if that's all you came down here to tell me you
can just get on the train and go back home."

 

"Look here, Margo, I've come on business."

 

"On business?" Margo let herself drop into a pink over-
stuffed chair. "Sit down, Cliff . . . but you didn't need to
come barging in here like a process server. Is it about
Charley's estate?"

 

"Estate hell . . . I want you to marry me. The pickin's
are slim right now but I've got a big career ahead."

 

Margo let out a shriek and let her head drop on the back
of the chair. She got to laughing and couldn't stop laugh-

 

-388-

 

ing. "No, honestly, Cliff," she spluttered. "But I don't
want to marry anybody just now. . . . Why, Cliff, you
sweet kid. I could kiss you." He came over and tried to
hug her. She got to her feet and pushed him away. "I'm
not going to let things like that interfere with my career
either."

 

Cliff frowned. "I won't marry an actress. . . . You'd
have to can that stuff."

 

Margo got to laughing again. "Not even a moving-
picture actress?"

 

"Aw, hell, all you do is kid and I'm nuts about you."
He sat down on the davenport and wrung his head between
his hands. She moved over and sat down beside him. "For-
get it, Cliff."

 

Cliff jumped up again. "I can tell you one thing, you
won't get anywheres fooling around with that old buzzard
Cassidy. He's a married man and so crooked he has to go
through a door edgeways. He gypped hell out of the boss
in that airport deal. Hell. . . . That's probably no news
to you. You probably were in on it and got your cut first
thing. . . . And then you think it's a whale of a joke when
a guy comes all the way down to the jumpingoff place to
offer you the protection of his name. All right, I'm
through. Good . . . night." He went out slamming the
glass doors into the hall so hard that a pane of glass broke
and tinkled down to the floor.

 

Agnes rushed in from the diningroom. "Oh, how dread-
ful," she said. "I was listening. I thought maybe poor Mr.
Anderson had left a trustfund for you.""That boy's got
bats in his belfry," said Margo. A minute later the phone
rang. It was Cliff with tears in his voice, apologizing, ask-
ing if he couldn't come back to talk it over. "Not on your
tintype," said Margo and hung up. "Well, Agnes," said
Margo as she came from the telephone, "that's that. . . .
We've got to figure these things out. . . . Cliff's right
about that old fool Cassidy. He never was in the picture

 

-389-

 

anyways.""Such a dignified man," said Agnes, making
clucking noises with her tongue.

 

Raymond announced dinner. Margo and Agnes ate
alone, each at one end of the long mahogany table covered
with doilies and silverware. The soup was cold and too
salty. "I've told that damn girl a hundred times not to
do anything to the soup but take it out of the can and
heat it," Margo said peevishly. "Oh, Agnes, please do the
housekeeping . . . I can't get 'em to do anything right."
"Oh, I'd love to," said Agnes. "Of course I've never kept
house on a scale like this.""We're not going to either,"
said Margo. "We've got to cut down."

 

"I guess I'd better write Miss Franklyn to see if she's
got another job for me."

 

"You just wait a little while," said Margo. "We can stay
on here for a couple months. I've got an idea it would do
Tony good down here. Suppose we send him his ticket to
come down? Do you think he'd sell it on me and hit the
dope again?""But he's cured. He told me himself he'd
straightened out completely." Agnes began to blubber over
her plate. "Oh, Margo, what an openhanded girl you
are . . . just like your poor mother . . . always thinking
of others."

 

When Tony got to Miami he looked pale as a mealy-
worm but lying on the beach in the sun and dips in the
breakers soon got him into fine shape. He was good as gold
and seemed very grateful and helped Agnes with the
housework, as they'd let the maids go; Agnes declared she
couldn't do anything with them and would rather do the
work herself. When men Margo knew came around she
introduced him as a Cuban relative. But he and Agnes
mostly kept out of sight when she had company. Tony
was tickled to death when Margo suggested he learn to
drive the car. He drove fine right away, so they could let
Raymond go. One day when he was getting ready to drive
her over to meet some big realtors at Cocoanut Grove,

 

-390-

 

Margo suggested, just as a joke, that Tony try to see if
Raymond's old uniform wouldn't fit him. He looked fine.
in it. When she suggested he wear it when he drove her
he went into a tantrum, and talked about honor and man-
hood. She cooled him down saying that the whole thing
was a joke and he said, well, if it was a joke, and wore it.
Margo could tell he kinder liked the uniform because she
saw him looking at himself in it in the pierglass in the hall.

 

Miami realestate was on the skids, but Margo managed
to make a hundred thousand dollars' profit on the options
she held; on paper. The trouble was that she' couldn't get
any cash out of her profits.

 

The twins she'd met at Coral Gables gave her plenty of
advice but she was leery, and advice was all they did give
her. They were always around in the evenings and Sun-
days, eating up everything Agnes had in the icebox and
drinking all the liquor and talking big about the good
things they were going to put youall onto. Agnes said she
never shook the sand out of her beachslippers without
expecting to find one of the twins in it. And they never
came across with any parties either, didn't even bring
around a bottle of scotch once in a while. Agnes was kinder
soft on them because Al made a fuss over her while Ed
was trying to make Margo. One Sunday when they'd all
been lying in the sun on the beach and sopping up cock-
tails all afternoon Ed broke into Margo's room when she
was dressing after they'd come in to change out of their
bathingsuits and started tearing her wrapper off her. She
gave him a poke but he was drunk as a fool and came at her
worse than ever. She had to yell for Tony to come in and
play the heavy husband. Tony was white as a sheet and
trembled all over, but he managed to pick up a chair and
was going to crown Ed with it when Al and Agnes came in
to see what the racket was about. Al stuck by Ed and gave
Tony a poke and yelled that he was a pimp and that they
were a couple of goddam whores. Margo was scared. They

 

-391-

 

never would have got them out of the house if Agnes
hadn't gone to the phone and threatened to call the police.
The twins said nothing doing, the police were there to run
women like them out of town, but they got into their
clothes and left and that was the last Margo saw of them.

 

After they'd gone Tony had a crying fit and said that
he wasn't a pimp and that this life was impossible and that
he'd kill himself if she didn't give him money to go back
to Havana. To get Tony to stay they had to promise to
get out of Miami as soon as they could. "Now, Tony, you
know you want to go to California," Agnes kept saying
and petting him like a baby. "Sandflies are getting too bad
on the beach anyway," said Margo. She went down in the
livingroom and shook up another cocktail for them all.
"The bottom's dropped out of this dump. Time to pull
out," she said. "I'm through."


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