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Authors: Frances Lockridge

The Norths Meet Murder

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The Norths Meet Murder

A Mr. and Mrs. North Mystery

Frances and Richard Lockridge

MYSTERIOUSPRESS.COM

With the exception of Pete, the characters in this novel are fictional and have no counterparts in life. Pete is real; the authors live in his house.

CONTENTS

T
UESDAY
, O
CTOBER
25

1 4:45
P.M.
to 5:15
P.M.

2 5:15
P.M.
to 7:00
P.M.

3 7:00
P.M.
to Midnight

W
EDNESDAY

4 8:00
A.M.
to Noon

5 Noon to 2:00
P.M.

6 2:00
P.M.
to 5:15
P.M.

7 5:15
P.M.
to 5:45
P.M.

8 5:45
P.M.
to 7:15
P.M.

9 7:15
P.M.
to 11:00
P.M.

T
HURSDAY

10 8:00
A.M.
to 10:45
A.M.

11 10:45
A.M.
to Noon
.

12 Noon to 1:30
P.M.

13 1:30
P.M.
to 4:15
P.M.

14 4:30
P.M.
to 5:30
P.M.

15 5:30
P.M.
to 8:00
P.M.

16 8:00
P.M.
to 9:55
P.M.

17 10:10
P.M.
to Midnight

F
RIDAY

18 Midnight to 2:00
A.M.

19 8:00
A.M.
to 1:30
P.M.

20 1:30
P.M.
to Sunday, 9:25
P.M.

S
UNDAY

21 9:25
P.M.
to 11:00
P.M.

22 Wednesday, November 2

About the Authors

1

T
UESDAY
, O
CTOBER
25:

4:45
P.M.
TO
5:15
P.M.

Mr. North came home rather early that Tuesday afternoon, and as soon as he came in Mrs. North realized he was in a mood. He was, for one thing, annoyed about the weather, because it was behaving so irregularly. He said that he was annoyed with the weather and that, as far as he was concerned, he wished it would make up its mind, because if it made up its mind to be summer all year round one could at least dress for it.

“As it is—” he said, going off into his own room angrily, and beginning to thump shoes.

“What?” said Mrs. North, from the living-room. She could hear that Mr. North was still talking, but hot what he was talking about. In a moment, however, he came back in shirtsleeves and slippers.

“—in sixty-eight years,” Mr. North said, coming back.

“What?” said Mrs. North. “What's in sixty-eight years?”

Mr. North looked at her and inquired, rather peevishly, if she hadn't been listening to a word he said. Mrs. North said that, if he was going to wander off whenever he started to say something—

“The weather,” Mr. North said. “The warmest October in sixty-eight years. In the paper.”

“Oh,” said Mrs. North. She thought a minute.

“Why sixty-eight years?” she said. “It's always sixty-eight years, for some reason, and I've never understood why.”

“Oh,” said Mr. North, “that—well, the Weather Bureau's sixty-eight years old.”

Mrs. North said, “Oh,” and then said it was warm, wasn't it, and that she had a fine idea.

“So,” said Mr. North, “have I. A very fine idea. Cocktails, or maybe Tom Collinses. And your making them.”

“No,” Mrs. North said, “I mean a really fine idea. I've had it since yesterday.”

“Look,” said Mr. North, “cocktails are enough fine idea for me. Just cocktails, or maybe Tom Collinses.”

Mrs. North nodded and said that she thought that would be all right, too, but hers was a real idea. “And, anyway, you're getting so you want drinks every afternoon,” she said. “I don't think that can be very good for you, do you?”

“Listen—” said Mr. North. Then he rose, coldly, and went to the kitchen. After a while he came back with two Tom Collinses. They sipped and said, “Ah!” and Mr. North, mollified, inquired whether it needed more sugar. Mrs. North said it was perfect the way it was, and watched while the drink slowly dissolved Mr. North's mood. He admitted it was dissolved by smiling at her and saying that the thing was, one got all set for cool weather, and then warm weather left its mark. “Leaves you drained,” Mr. North said, leaving his glass in the same condition. Mrs. North nodded, and decided to go back to her fine idea.

“What would you think about a party?” Mrs. North said. Mr. North made small, discouraging sounds, so she continued rapidly. “Not an expensive party,” she said. “Just a party upstairs. I thought of it yesterday and it's perfectly all right with Mrs. Buano, and we can dance. Wouldn't that be fun?”

“Upstairs?” said Mr. North, following at a little distance.

Mrs. North nodded.

“On the top floor,” she said. “Where it's been vacant so long, poor Mrs. Buano, and we could fix it up and have the electricity turned on and take the radio up and—”

“Listen,” said Mr. North, “I don't think I'm getting this. Why a party? Why upstairs?”

The party, Mrs. North said, because it had been a long time since they had had a party and she thought it was about time, and upstairs because there was so much room and she had just thought of it. “That's the fine idea,” she said. “People can just leave their things down here.” Mr. North pulled himself together and made more drinks, and afterward he went at the matter seriously, although he did not then, or later, clearly determine whether they were to have the party because Mrs. North had remembered the top floor apartment was vacant, or whether they were using the top floor apartment because they had to have a party. He tried to clear this point up for some time, too, because such points are among those Mr. North likes to have clear.

The top floor apartment was, in itself, clear enough, and Mr. North admitted to himself, and after a time to Mrs. North, that it would be a good place to have a party, other things being equal and if they were really going to have a party. And he agreed that Mrs. Buano, who owned the house, would probably be glad to let them use the apartment, which she advertised as a studio, since it was at the moment of very little use to her. It was a fine apartment, too, and neither of the Norths had ever understood why it was so difficult for Mrs. Buano to rent—why it was difficult to rent even before it was used for purposes which, for a very considerable time, made any thought of renting it out of the question.

The apartment occupied the whole of the additional story Mrs. Buano had had built on the house in a halcyon day when it seemed to most of the owners of old houses in the neighborhood of Washington Square that there would never be living space enough for those who wanted to rent it. Below the added story, the house was standard—the three-story and semi-basement brick house which was, for a great many years, the mean of New York domestic architecture. In such houses, almost all New Yorkers of sufficient duration and normally migratory habit have lived at one time or another.

Those houses were built, seldom less than fifty years ago, as dwellings for one family, but that did not last, as nothing in New York lasts. The families dwindled or moved or lost their money; the houses were remodeled into apartments and those were, around the square, occupied for some years by people convinced that everything south of Fourteenth Street was quaint. Those people dwindled, too, and after them came occupants not too unlike, except, of course, for timely change of mores, those who had lived in such houses first—save for change of habit, that is, and evident shrinkage, which permitted them to be content with a fraction of the space necessary to the fuller, and possibly in many respects, more arduous, life of their ancestors. Basements which had housed kitchens housed young couples engaged in advertising; parlor floors were occupied by the more solvent journalists or stock brokers, and the floors above were occupied by others of divers occupations and, in almost all instances, young or youngish or, at any rate, not old. In general, those living on the second floors did not know those living on the third floors; it was equally probable that they knew people who knew the people who lived on the third floors, so that always, leading a normally social life in that stratum, you were being introduced to people who knew people you also knew. As Mrs. North said, people overlapped.

The Buano house stood shoulder to shoulder with almost identical brick-front houses in Greenwich Place, from any part of which, since it is only a block long, one may hear the children playing in Washington Square, where children play at the tops of their voices. Mrs. Buano's predecessor had made it over; Mrs. Buano had given it an added head. And Mrs. Buano reserved the basement and first floor to herself.

The house was some thirty feet wide and perhaps seventy deep. The front had not been remodeled, so, facing it, one faced a broad flight of brown steps, leading up from the sidewalk to double front doors. At the right of the steps there was an iron railing, broken by a gate, and, going through the gate and down a few stairs to the left, one came to Mrs. Buano's basement front door, under the main stairs. Although Mrs. Buano had two doors opening off the common hall on the first floor, she and her guests commonly used the basement entrance as the more convenient, and in conformity with the unfailing human inclination to go downstairs rather than up them whenever possible.

Going up the brownstone stairs, you came to double doors, unlocked. Opening them you were in a square vestibule and facing an inner set of double doors, which were locked. If you lived there, you had a key to these inside doors and continued on your way. But if you were visiting someone who lived there, proceedings were slightly more difficult. Then you turned to the left wall of the vestibule and looked for your host's doorbell.

The left wall of the vestibule had set into it the four mailboxes of the tenants—Mrs. Buano, the Norths, the Nelsons of the third floor, and the fourth-floor box, at the moment unnamed. Each box was identified by a name card slipped into a slot, and the Nelsons' box was further identified by being full of the Nelsons' mail, which the Nelsons had not had forwarded when they went on vacation to California. Above the boxes was an open grating.

BOOK: The Norths Meet Murder
2.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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