Tuesday, October 10, 2017


Clarence Budington Kelland's novels of mystery and suspense were mid-century works, and therefore clean, cozy works and therefore suitable reading for the whole family, much like the venerable Saturday Evening Post in which most of them first appeared as six to eight part serials.
   But, as the more liberated post-war era and the 1960s loomed, the Post in keeping with the times, occasionally used illustrators who have become known as pioneers of "Good Girl Art," which while never explicit or salacious in any way, was a bit racier than the Post's usual fare.
   Principle among these artists was Robert Meyers, whose illustrrations for Kelland's Miss Drugget Takes the Train (The Artless Heiress) have become internationally famous.
   The three illustrations below, copyright the Curtis Publishing Co,, show why...
   The legs and and above the knee skirts in this full color illustration for the first installment of the story make it sexy while still remaining within the bounds of good taste.
   This scene of Miss Drugget discovering a mix up in suitcases, also from the first installment, is slightly risque, but faithful to the book, and by today's standards, very tame indeed.

    Probably the single most famous and sexy illustration from any Kelland serial, if only because it has been widely republished on many "bondage" themed websites:

   Finally, filled with eye-catching women is this scene from a fashion shop where Miss Drugget shops for less dowdy clothing...

   You can read Miss Drugget Takes the Train, one of Kelland's "Innocents at Large" mysteries, for only 99 cents at Amazon's Kindle store (CLICK HERE).

   Here is the hilarious, tantlizing first chapter of Kelland's novel:


COLUMBINE Pepper Drugget was the unofficial secretary to her aunt Miss Egeria Cordwainer, proprietor and headmistress of the Cordwainer School. The title of the institution was stark, severe and uninviting. Its prospectus announced that a certain number of young ladies from five to ten years of age were accepted each year into this grove of Academe to be instructed primarily in Polish, elegance, grace, good taste, refinement and delicacy, with what might be termed a postgraduate course in finesse.
To gain admission to Miss Cordwainer's institution was a matter of extreme difficulty. The standards of admission were high. Wealth could not buy its way in; influence could not force the doors; family eminence alone would not suffice, though it helped. In short, in the Cordwainer School snobbery attained its most perfect flowering.
Miss Cordwainer scorned business efficiency and debits and credits. The Government required her to keep books, which she did in a manner to bewilder income-tax inspectors. There was to her mind something parvenu about keeping track of money, though there was nothing stultifying about the possession of it. On a certain occasion she made a pronouncement which might be of high value to the business world. "My fees," she said, "are so high that I do not have to vex myself with such trivialities as costs or overhead or outlay." On that day she enunciated a business axiom that guaranteed financial success to any institution that could adopt it.
It was in this splendid social and economical atmosphere that Columbine Pepper Drugget had been reared—a world in which almost nobody was socially acceptable, and in which system, budgets and the ABC of good financial practice was infra dig.
Columbine's father had deserted her mother when the baby was three years old, and her mother had died and left her alone at the age of five.

Miss Cordwainer, her aunt and sole living relative, had rescued her and taken her into the school, where she had been reared in a curiously hap-hazard but not unkind fashion. She had been permitted rather than ordered to attend classes, and when, at the age of ten, she had completed what the school had to offer, there was an end to it. Miss Cordwainer was not interested in education beyond the point where her school left off.
But, haply, there was a very good library, acquired for the purpose of impressing parents. Columbine, having something that resembled an inquiring mind, and having little else to do, read much without direction or plan. She plowed through histories, biographies, philosophies and economics in a helter-skelter way, and she stored away what she read without subjecting it to any digestive process. So that, by the time she was of voting age, she had perused a vast number of books and was in possession of mountains of facts and theories; and was completely destitute of actual experience of life or acquaintance with human beings other than the teachers, children and servants in the school.
She had been taken to the Metropolitan Opera House to hear selected music, to the Metropolitan Museum to gaze at selected objets d'art, to Carnegie Hall to listen to virtuosos, and to the Town Hall to be bored by lecturers.
Inasmuch as the pupils wore a sort of uniform dating back to the days of Godey's Lady's Book, which she herself had worn until she was ten and then had approximated as she grew older, she was little concerned with the mode. Her hair was not bobbed, but gathered in a bun at the back of her head so tightly drawn that it pulled at her eyes and gave them a sort of slanting, Oriental look. The eyes so disfigured were liquid and intelligent. She was five feet and four inches tall and weighed a hundred and sixteen pounds. She wore steel-rimmed spectacles, not horn-rimmed, because Miss Cordwainer considered them an affectation. Such notions as she had of the facts of life had been drawn from prim and not definitely informative treatises or from tomes so scientific as to convey nothing human.
Columbine Pepper Drugget reached the age of twenty-one in August. It was in October that she received the first letter that ever had been addressed to her in the score and one years of her life.
She sat in her cubbyhole of an office and turned it over and over in her fingers, unable to grasp the fact that this strange thing had happened to her. Miss Cordwainer, who had delivered it into her hands, stood over her.
"Well, well!" she demanded. 'What is it? From whom is it? Why do you not open it?"
"I am startled," Columbine said. "I never have received a letter before." She had a way, now and then, of saying things that surprised people or made them stare or made them gasp. "A letter," she said slowly, "before you open it, is a thrilling mystery. After you open it, maybe it's a dud."
"What a word! Dud! Wherever did you learn it? What does it mean?"
"I learned it," Columbine said, "from Jessica Pangbourne. It means, I understand, something that does not come up to expectations. I believe it is of British derivation and originally referred to a bomb that did not detonate."
"Absurd," said Miss Cordwainer. "Read it at once."
Columbine postponed the moment. She regarded the return address. "It comes," she said, "from several men. Postlewhaite, Hoopenlooper, Postlewhaite and Dodd. Could it be from all of them?"
"Open it and find out," snapped Miss Cordwainer.
So at last Columbine tore open the envelope and withdrew a letter-sized sheet, which she unfolded.
"The four men," she said, looking up, "are attorneys-at-law. All four of them, probably." She glanced down the sheet to the signature and her face was disappointed. "Oh," she exclaimed, "it's signed by Mr. Hoopenlooper. I was hoping it would be signed by Mr. Dodd."
"Why by Mr. Dodd?" asked her aunt.
"Because," replied Columbine, "he sounds less pompous."
"Well," asked Miss Cordwainer with ill-restrained impatience, "what has the pompous Mr. Hoopenlooper to say?"
"It says," answered Columbine, "that if I will call at his office promptly I will be told something to my advantage." She looked up and smiled delightedly. "How nice!"
'Why nice?" her aunt asked.
"Because," said Columbine soberly, "it postpones eating the frosting until tomorrow."
"How intriguing!" said Miss Cordwainer. "What in the world can be to your advantage? I can conceive of nothing."
"That," answered Columbine, "is what provides it with the kick."
"Kick?" asked Miss Cordwainer.
"A word," said Columbine, "acquired from Rosemary Newton." "Such regrettable words," said Miss Cordwainer, "should not be used under this roof."
Her niece looked at her solemnly. "Aunt Egeria," she said, "you would blow your top if you heard all the words that are uttered in this house." "Blow my—"
"Exactly. What it expresses is not clear, but it pleasures one to say it." "You must immediately telephone this Mr. Hoopenlooper for an appointment."
"Why," asked Columbine, "should I telephone him?"
"Because," said Miss Cordwainer, "it is customary."
"Who made it customary?"
"Why—why, I don't know."
Miss Drugget, who had read Civil Government, frowned and then said, "This is a republic."
"It is," agreed Miss Cordwainer, not seeing any connection.
"In a republic," went on Columbine, "all citizens in person or by representative are supposed to be present and vote on any law that is passed." "Why, that is the procedure."
"Well," said Columbine, "I was not present in person nor by representative when such a custom was established. So I am not bound by it. I shall not, therefore, telephone Mr. Hoopenlooper for an appointment. It is he who wants to see me. I shall, therefore, crash the gate without preliminaries."
"Never, never," said Miss Cordwainer faintly, "have I heard anything so outrageous."
"The thought," said Columbine, "never occurred to me before, but it must be simply scrumptious to do something outrageous. If"—her eyes gleamed avidly—"if I could think of something outrageous I think I should do it. Just for the hell of it."
"Awk!" Miss Cordwainer exclaimed, and collapsed in a chair.
In the morning, promptly at nine o'clock, Columbine sallied forth to beard Mr. Hoopenlooper in his den. Her aunt insisted upon accompanying her, impelled, first, by curiosity, and, second, by solicitude lest something untoward befall her niece on such a foray into the great, mysterious world.

Only 99 cents at Amazon's Kindle store (CLICK HERE)