Harry Thaw's Story (from his book, The Traitor)

One Night in New York: Harry's Account of the Murder of Stanford White

We had dinner at Martin's Restaurant, Evelyn, Tommy McCaleb and I and Truxton Beale. We intended to go to Sherry's, but Beale, when we met by accident, was not dressed, so we changed. We were cheerful, very, and it happened that a number of friends had tables around us. Some of us moved over and talked, they came to us, then Mr. and Mrs. Clement Griscom, of the American Steamship Line, towards the end crossed over and were very kind in so doing, for they were much older than we.

It might be a half-hour after we reached our table I saw a tremor in Evelyn; I asked if she was ill. She told me no, and in a moment she tried to be more cheerful even than the rest. I nearly forgot her shuddering.

Then Evelyn asked for a piece of paper and McCaleb had one. This was some time after. She wrote, and I remembered she held a menu card so she could write on that small bit of paper. She gave the message to McCaleb or to Beale for only me to see. I read these words: "The B. was here a minute ago but went out again." I smiled reassuringly as it was I who must see him, not Evelyn now, and asked her: "Are you all right?" She nodded: " Yes." We did not ask more; the others never were aware. This was no place for me, wild at missing him: how did that blackguard enter, how was I unaware of his presence? He had got out, how did he get out?

I had to cheer up poor Evelyn, too. She was cheerful, but I knew what she had seen for she had shuddered and grown white at the sight of him merely passing in a carriage; here she saw the" B" unexpectedly in this dining room. Still he was gone. We simply forgot him. We could talk after a dinner that had been cheerful, except that damned spot. All our different friends went away, their tables vacant; still I preferred to wait, for going to a theatre is usually a bore. "We are having a good time here, I said, "why not stay?" But Evelyn wanted action, and we had tickets at a premier at the Madison Square Garden Roof; in fact, Captain Wharton was in one of our chairs. We all had to go.

The play was so-so, our chairs too far back, and part talked, part seeing the play. We were five persons for four chairs, so I walked around, and seeing Clinch Smith I sat down with him for a, time. After talking casually I returned and McCaleb walked off. Later he returned and Captain Wharton left us. We talked perhaps half an hour, and thinking they would prefer to leave I asked: "Should we go?" And the others neither dissented nor agreed. Probably a little later Evelyn wanted to go and we started, Evelyn, Truxton Beale, McCaleb and I.

Probably we talked along the way, we might have spoken to Smith, or he might have gone; I don't know. Our seats being far back, that was to the west from the stage, going out we went south, along the Madison A venue side of the roof to the southwest corner (that is to the southwest end of the Madison Square Garden). We then went east on the south (26th Street) side and saw the Tower.

We never noticed it entering, nor when we sat and looked at the play or with Smith, farther back than we, there noise and light, just a show, but there was a Tower. It did not look like that Giralda. I looked at it, its bigness increased in the darkness; I saw those high up little windows where she suffered and never her fault whatever. I knew Evelyn remembered even better still. I called: "Shall we go and see Coopsey Hewitt?" He had asked us to see his chemical appliances there. I called to avoid the thinking, that sacrifice of her whole life.

At this moment none of us knew that there was a girl in that cast, Maude Fulton, Evelyn-like, and seventeen years of age. It was her first appearance and her beauty, young and fresh, captivated White. He saw her and wrote asking her to supper. She refused, not knowing him. He knew her manager and he wrote again, and during the intermission he went behind the scenes to see the manager, Lionel Lawrence, who asked him, "Please wait until afterwards, we are so troubled this first night." He came out and waited. Worse for him.

So White was to die in the very act of trying to debauch another girl hardly past childhood. Had he not been waiting for her, he might not have come to his death that night. Of all this we knew nothing, nor did we know of another girl the following night. Miss Fulton learned of this second victim, whom my revolver saved, and long afterward when she had become celebrated both on the stage and as an author she told about it. On the night following White's death she and some members of the Company entered the elevator, when in came a mere slip of a girl.

A bit of a girl, a mere child to be exact, hardly more than thirteen (Miss Fulton knew, for she was then only seventeen) with her hair down her back, a shop girl type, shamefacedly approached.

"I shall never forget what happened. The elevator boy, his name was Arthur, seemed for an instant at a loss: 'Where do you want to go?' She hung her head still further. 'I want to go to Mr. White's rooms.' "We were stunned," Miss Fulton said. "A deathlike silence prevailed. We girls looked at one another foolishly, helplessly. The kid didn't know. She had a rendezvous with White in his apartment and was trying to keep it. Finally Arthur broke the suspense. Without so much as a tremor he said: 'Mr. White is not here tonight,' and gently helped the child out of the car. The lever was moved, the elevator went up and we prepared to put on our make-up.

"Just another little victim headed for hell."

I had looked at the stage and now I looked to my left to see if there were any I knew, a thing I always did. I saw the "B" and I said, "Excuse me" to McCaleb, the others being ahead some yards. I saw a path from the stage to his table; going directly he would not have seen me. I walked to the stage and turned towards him so that he must see me coming.

There I saw him thirty feet in front of me, and as he watched the stage he saw me. I walked towards him and about fifteen feet away I took out my revolver. He knew me and he was rising and held his right hand towards, I think, his gun, and I wanted to let him try, but who was next? A man, a dozen men might have maimed me, cut off the light, allowed him to escape and rape more American girls as he had; too many, too many as he ruined Evelyn.

Half-rising he gazed at me malignantly. I shot him twelve feet away. I felt sure he was dead. But I wanted to take no chances; I walked toward him, and fired two more shots. He dropped.

I looked to see if any fool should attack me; there were two bullets left, if needed. Instead all the people moved and moved so far, surging to the end of the roof, that I feared some might be forced to fall, toppling to the street eighty feet below, so I slowly raised the gun above my head, and turned rather fast, yet not enough to alarm anyone, and went back the same way as I had taken.

Some men observing that they were safe, I walked and handed the pistol to one of them. Then straight to Evelyn. She uttered a cry: "My God, Harry, what have you done?" I held her close and told her: "It is all right, dearie, I have probably saved your life." Then I kissed her.

 [pp. 141-145]

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