The following extract from the story Hunting a Husband by Mary Douglas appeared in the Evening Public Ledger of 10 May 1918. [You’ll need a strong stomach past this point]
I was listening sadly to the sound of moving in the room below.
The room below. That had meant my sick man. The whimsical smile and the light in hollow eyes. The studio blurred before my vision.
“May I come in?” It was my ever-present Scotch neighbour with his chirruping ways.
“The Sara Lane is alone?” He settled himself on the couch with a ukulele. But I did not like the twang-twang tonight. I was not in the mood.
Bobby MacAllistair threw down the ukulele. He walked over to me.
“So!” he said.
He was sitting in a moment in his favourite attitude, at my feet. I felt something soft and heavy against my dress. But I did not notice. I put my hand down. It touched a thick head of shaggy hair.
“Just leave it so a minute,” he said. I was lonely, too. I did. Then I felt flexible fingers steal up and hold mine. Hold mine with a warm throbbing clasp.
Still I was silent. The hold of those warm fingers was comforting…
“Sara,” he said. “Sara, kiss me.”
“Bobby MacAllistair how can you be so silly?”
“Sara,” he said again, “just once.” He was kneeling now. He tried to catch my hands. But I clasped them behind my back.
A sudden resolve come to me.
“All right,” I said. “I will. Then we’ll be engaged.” I am afraid my tone was business like….
There must be something else a body could do with one’s evening back in May 1918… Let’s see. I could have gone to the Church Historical Society’s meeting ‘at the Episcopal Divinity School’ to hear an address on “The Books and Writings of Bishop White” by the Rev. Lucian Moore Robinson, or there was the Vaudeville presented by the members of the 315th Infantry.