Rex Stout Fullscreen Officer and Lady (1917)


It may interest you to know that yesterday at the gallery at Miss Vanderhoof’s Academy I got nine straight centers from the hip. I am much better with the eye.

I am Major Wentworth of Squadron A of the Girls’ Military Auxiliary, and I am the crack shot of our regiment.

Four, five, six—”

Bill was speechless.

He calculated the distance to the bed. Easily ten feet. That revolver barrel was certainly aimed level.

Nine straight centers from the hip, and much better with the eye.

Coldish business.

He hesitated.

The brown eyes held his steadily.

“Seven, eight, nine—”

His keen eye saw the muscles of the little wrist begin to tighten.

Up went his hands above his head.

“That’s better,” said the sweet, helpless child approvingly.

“I would have pulled the trigger in another half second.

I had decided to get you in the right shoulder.

Now turn your back, please, but keep your hands up.”

Bill did so. Almost immediately came the command to turn about again.

She had clambered out of bed and stood there on the rug with her pink nightgown trailing about her feet and her soft brown hair tumbling over her shoulders.

She looked more tiny than ever.

But the muzzle of the revolver wavered not a fraction of an inch as she stepped sidewise to the wall and pressed her finger against a button there. Nothing was said while she repeated the operation three times. More silence.

“Look here, little girl,” Bill began earnestly, “there’s no use gettin’ your arm all tired with that toy gun.

I ain’t going to hurt you.”

“You may call me Major Wentworth,” was all the reply he got.

“All right, Major.

But come, what’s the use—”


If you move again like that I’ll shoot.

I wonder what’s the matter with Hilda.

She sleeps very lightly.”

This last to herself.

Bill looked interested.

“Is Hilda a big sort of a woman in a blue nightgown?”


Have you seen her?”

The brown eyes filled with sudden alarm.


Where is she?

Is she hurt?”

“Nope.” Bill chuckled.

“Kitchen floor.


I was eatin’ strawberry shortcake when she come in.”

The major frowned.

“I suppose I must call my father. I hate to disturb him—”

“He’s incapable, too,” announced Bill with another chuckle.

“Tied up with sheets and things.

You see, Major, we’re all alone.

Tell you what I’ll do.

There’s a suitcase full of silver down on the library windowsill.

I’ll agree to leave it there—”