One Night in Paris: Evelyn Tells Harry the Tale of Losing Her Virginity to Stanford White
In after years no one can recall the words he used on such an occasion, unless he planned them out and committed them to memory. This is even more the case when one comes so near victory as I did. But whatever I said, I must have worded my cause well, for I could see in Evelyn's face how much she was affected. I saw her unshed tears, her answer was as sable as death, yet in her eyes I read consent and more. They grew darker and more humid as I told her what had happened was not her fault. Long hours we took; she cried, but the consent in her eyes remained unspoken. Her resolution was firm; she would not allow me to suffer as she had suffered so bitterly.
Evelyn long afterward on the witness stand told of it in simple and moving words. In the official record they still have power to touch the heart. Her words were:
"Because I said of my reputation that people said terrible things about me, lots that were not true, but still the majority of people knew about Stanford White, and I said it would hurt him with his family. It would cut him off with his family; it would not be a good thing. I knew it was a good thing for me. But I cared enough for him not to marry him. I told him if I did not care so much for him I might be tempted to marry him, but that caring so much as I did, I would not for his own good."
Hour after hour she unfolded what had befallen her; never her own volition, unless she had refused point blank her mother's order to obey a beast. Evelyn supposed her mother, too, thought he was generous and kind, and the mother never knew until after the failure of Jerome; or was it that the mother pretended only, after she had learned from Evelyn by a woman messenger. We cannot tell.
I think she was unsuspecting at this time.
Groping in darkness, there was no flittering-in shadows as she told me, breaking each relating and interrelating of that woven chronicle. Useless it was to question, yet to find anything to excuse Stanford White I tried. I tried again and again, moment by moment to find some possible excuse for him.
Could any try as hard as I for him? But instead of finding a palliation for his crimes, he became blacker and blacker with everything she told me all that long night, and for days afterwards, and for month after month. White's true character was not well known-did not my friends take supper at his horrible Tower-and his viciousness seemed incredible to those who knew of him only as a great architect and a man of agreeable manners....
He was a ravisher. He boasted of having taken advantage of three hundred and seventy-eight girls. District Attorney Jerome knew as he spoke to that jury:
"White's foul crime cries out to heaven for condemnation. Would not a man willingly lay down his own life to avenge such a wrong? And if Thaw has taken life-if he could not have justified himself in the forum of the law-he may have justified himself in a Higher Forum."
The lights, like the rumble of the Champs Elysees, were far away, when we talked of all this, all that night. There was a large drawing-room, and like the picture of Alice in Wonderland she looked so lovely and truly so innocent, it singed one's soul. Too soon I knew she was too tragic, a girl so good and yet thrown to the roadside; I held her, only loving her; again it was to talk with bitterness in my heart. All would have been so natural if her father had lived. The sounds of the Champs-Elysees died away, only a few carriages or motors we heard, if we heard at all. (pp. 105-107)
Next Story: Thaw's Version of the Murder