First published in Look magazine 1957
First published in the collection And Four To Go in 1958
The exodus had started. I planted my left foot on the edge of her box, heaved myself up, and caught the edge of the next-door box with my right foot with a fancy spread-eagle. It was too near a split to be comfortable, but at least I was up high enough to focus over the heads of the crowd. A glance showed me that Tabby had left his niche and edged through to the line of exit. Out they came, all flavors. The men ran from cutaways to sacks and from toppers to floppies, not more than half of them with topcoats, and the women displayed an assortment of furs, coats, jackets, stoles, suits, and hats for the birds. I shot a couple to warm up the camera, and once I thought I spotted my target, but the man with her was not Milliard Bynoe, and as she approached I saw that her orchid spray wasn’t Vanda, but Phalaenopsis. Then suddenly there she was, headed straight toward me, with a man on either side of her, and the one on her right was Bynoe. Her fur jacket, sable or long-haired hamster or something, was open, and drooping below her left shoulder was a ten-inch spray of glowing pink. She was one of the most attractive objects I had seen that day, and as she got closer and I aimed the camera for another shot the back of my mind was reflecting that you couldn’t find a better argument to persuade a man to marry a woman twenty years his junior, which was what Millard Bynoe had done.
Another Easter Special….
My edition of the Rex Stout short story collection And Four to Go has an excellent introduction by the very fine crime writer Jane Haddam – three of the four stories have a ‘holiday’ theme, and she herself has done a raft of such mysteries. Talking about this one, she says:
“Easter Parade,” for instance, was originally published in Look magazine with color pictures to accompany the text. The fair-play clues to the puzzle were supposed to be in the photographs. Although I have not seen these photographs, I know from report that there is a hardcover edition of And Four to Go that includes them, but in black and white. Having read the story without them, I can say that they are not strictly necessary. Stout was too careful to leave all the responsibility for planting clues up to some camera.--- but she wrote that in 1992. Nowadays, some searching online will reveal the lost pictures, and I thought it would be of interest to reproduce them.
The story is entertaining, with a lot of standard Stout features, but not terribly memorable. Archie has been sent to try to photograph a rare orchid in a woman’s corsage, while a dubious lowlife of his acquaintance is going to try to snatch it. Something will, of course, go wrong. But the big feature is the Easter Parade: the nobs of New York are pouring out of St Thomas’s church on Easter Sunday, and will go promenading down Fifth Avenue. The description of this – part of it above – is quite splendid.
There’s been a raft of Rex Stout entries on the blog recently, as he was featured in our Tuesday Night Club. Another one of the And Four To Go stories is on the blog here - Xmas-themed.
The image is on Wikimedia Commons, with this attribution: "Stout-EP-1" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.