A poem of the twelfth month of the Great War from the revised 1923 edition of Robert Stead's The Empire Builders.
I'd met Mrs Fontaine twice before, once at the court, once at my office when she'd heard that I'd pay Tony's college fees. She had struck me as elderly, ill and pathetic. I guess I wanted her to be like that.Trivia: Night of Horns was first published in 1958 London by Secker & Warburg. The first American edition was published by Fawcett under the title Murder Comes Calling. Its back cover features dialogue that does not appear in the novel.
She opened the door.
She had on a negligee and a slip. The negligee showed most of the slip and the slip showed most of her breasts. Her feet were bare, her hair hadn't been combed in a while, her eyes were bleary and the rye on her breath would have knocked down a dray horse.
|Old McGill, 1945|
"Abbey—"Read nothing into this encounter, Abbey has dedicated her life and body with newly budding beasts – at sixteen? – to Con, a man twice her age. Hers is the unreasoning heart.
"C'n I get into you bed?"
Paule transferred herself quickly and snuggled up to Abbey for warmth and comfort. She cried a little and dried her tears on the collar of Abbey's pyjamas.
"Everything's so queer now," she sniffled gratefully.
On a sudden impulse she came over him and climbed onto his lap, her long legs dangling to the floor.Told you it was unusual.
"You young hussy," protested Con, "are you trying to take away my good name? And me so careful all these years?"
"I just want to hug you some. You're always so remote and dignified. You ought to be hugged oftener."
"Go right ahead. I'd be a cad to refuse an offer like that."
She put he arms around his neck and rubbed her smooth cheek vigorously against his. Then she nuzzled her face lovingly into his neck and her fine, silky hair covered his shoulder. She lay there quietly, one hand resting against his breast. Con's long face wore a slightly foolish smile of enjoyment during the performance.
But, as she lay there so quietly, he gradually became aware of the beating of her young heart and the warmth of her small pointed breasts against him. A proudly uneasy pleasure swept through him. When she stirred a little, his arms close around her. "Don't move," he said. She lay perfectly still, with closed eyes. He smoothed back the fair hair from her cheek and his fingers touched the warm flesh of her upper arm lingeringly. A heavy, using warmth pressed through his veins. He was afraid to move; afraid of her warmth, her sweetness, and her absolute trust. He sat there watching her face, feeling the fierce urge of desire in conflict with an inexplicable tenderness.
All at once he gave her a rough shake.
"Get off," he said abruptly. "You're too hard on my rheumatism."
|Abbey and Con as depicted on the cover of the Popular Library edition.|
The scene does not appear in the novel.
|Constance Beresford-Howe, Prose Editor, with Richard B. Goldbloom, Ralph Norman, Douglas Archibald, Helen Leavitt and Sheila Mercer in the offices of Forge,|
McGill's literary magazine.
Old McGill, 1945