MR. AND MRS. EDELHOM were out upon the sun porch. Both were provided with field glasses which made it possible for them very closely to scrutinize individual figures upon the beach across the street.
Mr. Edelhom was a fat, puffy little man of forty-two. His wife was forty. She looked as though she had been scraped with a strigil and carefully polished. Not unpretty, she held on to youth with a tenacity that mother Nature must have found interesting, and more than a little baffling.
She was at the present moment watching, through her glasses, a most voluptuously He and gaudily sun-browned life guard.
Mr. Edelhom was inventorying, through his glasses, a high school girl who, in a tight black suit, which ended, apparently, where her pleasingly molded torso sprouted slim, smooth thighs, merited watching, according to his lights. Each spouse previously had explained to the other that the lake freighter, which was passing five or six miles out in the lake at the horizon, was an interesting thing to look at through high-powered field glasses. With a sigh Mrs. Edelhom lowered her glasses and glanced down into the street. She tautened. A grim line formed about her tight mouth with its thin lips that were sharply outlined with carmen. "There goes that Godchaux person," she remarked at her husband. His eyes glued to the glasses, he was past hearing.
Mr. Godchaux annoyed and irritated Mrs. Edelhom beyond all endurance. Ever since the Edelhoms had moved into the apartment building on Clarendon Avenue, directly across the street from a municipal beach, he had treated her in a manner that was not to be forgiven. He was the first man she had ever come in contact with who, given the opportunity, had not tried to seduce her. ...Not that Mrs. Edelhom was a woman lacking a safe and sane attitude toward the moralities. She was an eminently respectable, even a "straight-laced" soul. However, as such, she felt that more than ordinary consideration was her due. Most of the men she encountered tried, more or less seriously, to tempt her, thereby providing opportunities for vehement declarations of utter impregnability and wifely virtue that enabled her deviously to gratify an urge to turn the fact of her sexual probity--a thing rather disadvantageous per se and engendered by latent religious fears--to some pleasing purpose.
Such men as had not attempted to debauch her in the past had been gentlemanly enough to offer suitable excuses, such as the fact that, like her husband, they belonged to the Loyal Order of Behemoths, whose fraternal laws sternly command that no brother may, however provoked, seek unseemly pleasure with the good wife of another brother, but only with the consorts of men not Loyal Behemoths: or, still better, with the wives of such men as had, through deluded notions of piety, affiliated themselves with the Consecrated Order of St. Anthony, dedicated to the placing of the Pope in the White House.
Fortunately Mrs. Edelhom, being a rather naive soul, despite her surface sophistication, did not understand that considerate men, who count themselves Red Blooded Americans, make a feint at tempting women who obviously expect such a gesture, just as a matter of common politeness and good form.
Handsome Mr. Godchaux certainly was, with a whimsical cast to his countenance which intrigued her because she had, until beholding him, only seen such expressions as he exhibited upon the faces of the type of masculine artists who give unsparingly of their histrionic talents to the cinema. He clothed his straight, well-proportioned figure in garments which--while palpably not up to the minute as to style according to the Kuppenheimer Clothing advertisements--had "class."
"What do you suppose he does?" she remarked aloud.
"Uh?" asked her husband, putting down his field glasses with a sigh.
"I say, what do you suppose Mr. Godchaux does for a living?"
"Good God! How do I know? You've asked me that a thousand times!"
"Well, I thought maybe you'd heard."
"I thought you finally decided that he was a boot-legger, a trafficker in women, or else a Wallingford."
"I don't think he's a trafficker in women," she mused aloud. "He couldn't be a high class crook, or he'd have been caught by this time--the police always get them. Of course, he may be a bootlegger."
"I met him on the street the other day as I was coming home," volunteered her husband. "I hinted around, thinking maybe he'd spill something. He's queer that way. Polite as all hell, but there's something. ...Not that he really says or does anything you could put your finger on."
"Did you get anything out of him?"
"No. Hell no!"
"Well...? What did you say to him?"
"Oh, I said: 'It's a swell day.' And he said: 'Yes indeed.' And then I said: 'Swell weather we're having.' And he said: 'Superb.' And I asked him how he liked living in this building and he said: 'It's a most superior building. I like it very much. Has such a splendid view of the lake, and a minimum of radios and saxophones. Particularly I like the neighbors; they're so good about minding their own affairs.' Then I took a long chance to find out something. and said: 'I notice you spend a lot of time at home,' and he said: 'Oh! Had you noticed?'
"Then he didn't say nothing for a long time, and I couldn't think of nothing more to say, and we got to the door, and he went on upstairs, just nodding to me, polite as hell. He's a slick one, take it from me, He's got an air; Oh. ...Makes you feel peculiar; and yet he beams at you and looks interested in what you're saying."
"If you want my opinion, he's a superior pri--"
"Julius ," Mrs. Edelhom made haste to interrupt.
Note: Unfortunately, Sin and Such, like most of Woodford's fiction, is out of print, and Woodford Memorial Editions does not carry this title. If you are interested in purchasing it, we suggest that you contact a bookseller that deals in rare and hard-to-find books.
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