Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922, May 10, 1914, PART TWO, Image 19
0 maha Sunday Bee Magazine Page IGHT "Jr COFFIN trap H is FaithlessWife A Grand Guignol "Thriller" in Real Life, This Unusual and Uncomfortable Stratagem by Which a Rich Swedish Merchant Secured Divorce from the Wife Who Loved Another Mrs. Karl Peterson, the Divorced Wife. IT Is not often that real life supplies tlio peculiar sort of plot required in tho hair-raising plays which have made tho Thcatro Grand Guignol, of Paris, famous the world over. Yet a divorce case just tried In Stockholm, Sweden, presented ovldenco that shows a faithless wife and her male accomplice to have figured in scenes that could hardly be improved upon at tho Grand Guignol, where tho es sential stage "props" aro coffins and flhrouds, bottles of vitriol and knives drip ping with stage blood. It is unfortunately trtio that wives arc occasionally faithless In actual life, as well as upon tho stage. And tho same applies to husbands. Divorce court rec ords reveal many ingenious ruses where by wives and husbands have secured evi dence of tho faithlessness of their wed ded partners; but this appears to bo tho first Instance of a husband accomplishing such a feat by having himself pronounced dead and placed in a coffin ready for burial. That Is tho feat that was successfully performed by Karl Petersen, a well-to-do citizen of tho Swedish capital. Upon evi dence thus obtHlncd the court granted him a divorce from tho handsome woman to whom ho had been married baroly a year. Owing to her beauty and many charm ing accomplishments, Mrs. Petersen's for mer suitors and admirers wero not alto gether discouraged by tho fact of her marriage ta one of the wealthiest mer chants of Stockholm. Several of them be camo froquent, guests at tho Petersen homo. One in particular a certain dash ing young society man named Swen Egs trom shortly became a Tocognlzed fam ily friend of tho typo that, in this country and England, is called "tame cat." Several months ago Petersen became Btisplclous that Egstrom was oxceedlng his duties ns bundle-carrier and general utility man about the house. In fact, he more than half bolloved that the bond between his charming bride and Egstrom was of a naturo that was reflecting upon hi3 own honor. Petersen vainly en deavored to prove or disprove his sus picions, and then resolved upon spinning tho strangest wob in which an erring wlfo ever was entangled. He feigned illness and made that an oxcuso to go to his country house for a few days' rest away from tho business and social whirl of tho metropolis. Ho was accompanied only by two or three old and confidential servants. Tho day after his arrival In tho coun try, Petersen took to his bed and quietly summoned his confidential physician, to whom he stated his suspicions and out lined the details of his plan Tho phy sician's sympathies wero with the hus band. "For a beginning," said Petersen, "I want you to telegraph to my wife, saying that I am dying." "I will do that, willingly." said tho physician. "And I will manago to make you appear as dead as you are supposed to be, when the tlmo comes. But I can't see my way clear to signing any death certificate." "How long can you defer your official report of my death?" Inquired Petersen. ,"Wlll forty-eight hours be long enough?" "Ample," said Petersen. "I have rea son to bellovo that within twenty-four hours after you nave pronounced me dead my wlfo's paroxysms of grief will havo subsided sufficiently to allow her to give me all tho ovldence I need." The physician sent tho telegram In the afternoon, and a few hours later received Mrs. Petersen's answer that she would take tho first train and reach her hus band's bedside on the next nfternoon. Peterson's 'Illness" had an alarming change for tho worse at midnight. At dawn the physician announced to the sor rowing servants that their master had passed away. The butler alone was In the ronsplracy. for reasons that will become tbvlous. Dut lie was naturally melancholy ind, therefore, needed to add merely a ouch more of solemnity to his features. Petersen being of spare build and en tirely without color in face or hands, It was a simple matter for the physician to add tho corpse-like chill and rigidity that would deceive any ordinary beholder. He also undertook tho "setting" of a Bcene in tho library that would give the suspected wife every opportunity to betray herself. A handsome burial casket had been timed to arrive before noon. This was placed jn treaties in the library within a yard r two of a desk, on which was a tele )hone. The physician took upon himself tho utles of undertaker. Aldod by the un .oceivod bntlef, he prepared Petersen's orpse-llke body for burial and placed It n the casket. The coffin's cover wag in wo parta4 The lower two-thirds was rowed down, the upper part being left thrown ack on Its hinges, bo that sorrowing relatlvos might view tho features of tho dead merchant. s These preparations wore com plete some tlmo before the ar rival of Mrs. Petersen. She ar rived from tho railway station In an automobile escorted by tho faithful Egstrom. Tho phy sician met them at tho door. "My poor, dear husband!" said tho wife. "Do toll mo that he is better." A housemaid, visible in tho hall, throw her apron over hor face and burst Into tears. "Calm yourself," said tho physician. "Your poor husband suffered very lit lje "Oh, he's dead! My darling husband Is dead!" exclaimed Mrs. Petersen. Tho grief of the housemaid told all. Egstrom, tho family friend, quietly of faced himself, for the tlmo being. Tho physician conducted tho sorrowing wlfo Into tho library. Ho received hor faint ing form In his arms for ono glanco at tho white face In tho cofljn assured hor that fainting was now in order. Then ho curried her to her room and delivered her over to tho ministrations of the sin-' cerely sorrowing housemaid. Mrs. Potersen was too much overcome to appear at dinner. Tho physician found it convenient to Temaln for tho night. It gave him socrot pleasure to dlno with Egstrom and listen to that gentleman's mournful acknowledgment of tho late Petersen's Innumerable graces of mind and heart Mrs. Peterson did not loavo hor room that night. Egstrom retired early to tho chamber allotted to him. The butler busied himself in the kit chen behind closed doors preparing a nourishing broth that could- be safoly taken by a dead man without bringing any tint of llfo to his checks. Tho physician watched besldo tho cof fin. Toward midnight ho was awakened by a loud yawn. For a moment, con fused by drowsiness, ho was startled at the sight of Potersen sitting up In his coffin and drumming impatiently on its lid with his fingers. "Did she come?" asked Petersen, who, In tho Interests of tho conspiracy, had lain all this time unconscious under the Influence of a drug. "Sho came," said the physician. "When she gazed on your dead face she fainted as I was there ready to catch her. Wo took her to her room, and she hasn't loft It since. Egstrom was with her, of courso." "Did tho fellow stay?" asked the "corpse," eagerly. "He did. We dined together and he recalled all your excellent qualities." "Good." said tho corpse. "Now kindly tell Olesen to bring mo that bowl of broth. I'm famished and It's my only dead man's chance to oat." Sitting up in his coffin, with the folded lid for a table, Petersen conKUmod his broth with evident relish. "How about a bit of steak?" ho inquired. The physician promptly vetoed solid food and advanced with his hypodermic needle. "Not yet," pleaded the corpse. "In fact, 1 won't need auy more of your dopo. There won't bo any more attontlon paid to mo not till I play my little Joker." "If you fall asleep naturally you may snore," warned tho physician. "Naturally 1 won't fall asloop," eald the corpse. "From now. on this is a wide awake job." "Nothing can happen for six or eight hours yot," obsorved tho doctor. "You'd better get some sleep while you can." Dut Petersen was restless In his narrow quarters, and to get out to stretch his logs and to got back in again would disarrange tho coffin's upholstery. So ho suggested a game of cribbago. "I'll play you for the amount of your bill," ho said with a grim smilo. "Which bill? Doctor or undertaker?" "Doth, in tholr natural ordor," Potorson camo back at tho facetious physician. So tho doctor brought cards and crib bago board, placed them on tho folded cof fin lid, and tho gamo began. The corpse "pegged" rapidly away from his opponent, winning three straight games. "That settles tho doctor's bill," ho said. "Reach Into that box on the desk and give me a cigar." They lighted cigars and proceeded with tho other half of tho contest best two out of three. As tho coming dawn rovealod ltsolf through tho window tho doctor threw down his cards, beaten. "And that disposes of tho undertaker's bill," remarked tho corpBO with much sat isfaction. Right here Olesen, tho butler, entered noiselessly and whispered: "Mr. Egstrom is up, ready for break fast. Mrs. Petersen has ordered hor breakfast in hor room, sir." Tho corpse bobbed down into its coffin, whlto hands folded across his breaBt. Tho doctor threw himself into an easy chair, puffing furiously on a. fresh cigar to ac cqunt for the unfunoreal atmosphere of the room. But these precautions proved unneces sary. Tho Potersen country houso being Isolated, thero wero no callers. Mrs. Pet erson nnd Egstrom went out for a drive immediately after breakfast. Mrs. Peter son was suro that the doctor would make all arrangemonts. She was "too overcome to be of any use." She and her "kind escort" probably would not return until ovenlng. The corpse spent a long day between unsatisfying cat naps and bowls of most Inadequate broth. Egstrom and Mrs. Potersen returned baroly in tlmo for din ner, after which they retired to their re spective roomsl Tho physician agreed with tho corpse that It might excite sus picions If ho remained any longor. So he departed Immediately after dinner. "Good Lord!" sighed tho corpse. "An other night of it." Dut ho stuck to his resolution not to risk anything by getting out of his cot fin. During this long Becond night the butler was his victim at cribbago. At dawn tho poor butler was as nearly dead from lack of sleep as the corpse looked once more serenely stretched out in his coffin awaiting developments. Those developments camo early Imme diately after breakfast, which Mrs. Peter Ben and Egstrom took together In tho small breakfast room adjoining the library. Petersen could hear their cheerful conversation. "Petersen sat up in his coffin. Mrs. Petersen and Egstrom, not two yards away, were clasped in each other's arms." After breakfast tho unsuspecting couple entered the library, carefully closing tho door after them. They baroly glanced at tho coffin, never once looking lnsldo, where Potorson lay with a most undoath like flush of exasperation on his counte nance Mrs. Petersen wont directly to the tele phone Petersen heard hor calling up ono of his most Intimate business associates. Jn tones that wore so choerful as to bo almost gay sho announced the joyous fact of her husband's death. "Tho will leaves everything to me, you know," telephoned Mrs. Poterson. "I shall be rich and you know what that moans, naughty boyl" Petersen could hardly restrain himself. It was lucky ho did, for now he heard tho voice of Egstrom tenderly rebuking Mrs. Potersen for holding out false hopos to the "fool at tho other end of tho wire." "La, lo! Let mo have my llltlo joko with tho old reprobate," said Mrs. Peter son. "You know, Ducklo, that I lovo no ono but you, and never have." "You darling!" These two words wore utterod In tho voice of Egstrom. Potorson sat up in his coffin. Mrs. Potorseu nnd Egstrom, not two yards away, wero claspod In each othor's arms. At that Instant tho butler entered. Tho oxposure was complete, witness included. "Caught!" thunderod tho corpso, with bony finger pointed nt tho deceitful couple, Mrs. Petersen, beholding tho fearsomo spectacle of hpr departed husband sitting up In his coffin and so justly denouncing her, fainted in dead earnest. Egstrom was so scarod that ho lot her fall ' to tho floor. Then he ran. from tb( room and dashed, hatloss, from tho houso, Petersen crawled out of the coffin. Aided by the butler, he carried Mrs. Peter oen to her room and sent for a physician for truly she needed ono. When Potersen had regaled himsolf with a bath and a largo steak with plenty of fried potatoes, he went back to tho city and started dlvorco proceedings. The trial, which promptly freed Peter sen, created a sensation. Egstrom nearly collapsed on the witness stand. He is said to be traveling abroad fpr his health. The divorced Mrs. Petersen is living in strict retirement. It is roportod that the shock of that "Grand Guignol" eccno showing her de parted husband sitting up in his coffin tu accuse her has transformed her from a beauty into a nerve-racked old woman. Our New Gun That Can Shoot 400 Mexicans a Minute-and Never Get Hot THE machine gun is the inostnlng order as a bright, Ingenious deadly weapon over invented. American soldier would do. The United States Army pos- A machine gun Is a dovlco that fos-es the most deadly of all ma- fires rifle bullets continuously and chlno guns. It is called the Denet- automatically. All the soldier has Mercler gun. to do is to pull a string or press a The Benet-Merclor gun is capable lover and then tho bullets fly out. of killing 400 men a minute. It Tho man in control can play the would kill 400 Moxlcans a minute stream of hullets over ft Held Just as If they got In the way. Tho Mexl- you scatter the Jots of a watering cans also have some machine guns can over tho garden. It Is Impos- hut they aro of a very inferior type slblo for any man to remain alive to tho American, and those half- in an open space over which a ma- civilized people aro not capable of chine gun is playing Its death rain, keeping the mechanism in good run- Tho only imperfection in the ab- A Single Clip of 30 Cartridges Fired by the New Guns in Less Than Five Seconds. solute deadllness of the machine gun was its liability to Jam occa sionally. That has been almost en tirely overcome in tho Benct-Mer-cier gun. This gun weighs only twenty-nine Bounds and needs no tripod like the older machine guns. In an emergency it might be rested on tho shoulder of ono man and fired by another. But under ordinary cir cumstances the soldier who fires It lies on his stomach on the ground, holding the breech, while the muz zle is upheld at tho requisite olova tion by a pair of steel prongs. Only two men aro needed to operate this marvollous weapon. One alms tt and pulls the trigger, while the othor replaces tho spent clips ot cartridges with fresh onos as fast as they are used up. Two addi tional men aro required, howover, for bringing supplies of tho cartridge-clips, each one of which con tains rifle cartridges with conical hnllotR. Theoretically, the gun Isjrapable of ridge -!ite. foods In a now cartridge, clogging the latter. Those troublos a foreign gun If It is superior to firing 000 bullets a minute that U and fires II. Thus tho procoiw re- have cither been eliminated or re- nn American gun. We want the best to nay, at the rate of ten n soeond. peatlng Itself with almost lneonoclv- duced to u minimum In tho Denet- possible weapon. Tho Benot-Mercler Tn nctunl practice, however, it can able rapidity, the bullets aro (lis- Mcrclor gun. A sundslorm has been Is made by u French company, though dlschnrgo only 400 per minute, be- charged In a continuous stream like known lo put a machine ririe out Denet, ono of the Inventory is an, (anno some tlmo Is lost In replocing water from a hose. of commlnMoit torapornrly. American, Our government has sc- the spent clips with fresh ones. But Nothing to compare with tho Benct- It Is liiKenlously cooloil by tho clr- cured tho right to manufacture It at 400 per mlnuto means 21.000 mnn- Mervlor has been known up to tlio ruin t Ion of air around the barrel. Sprlugtteld; nnd tho Colt Company ki'Ilng projectiles per hour nt which prosent tlmo. Yot the War Dopart- A machine gun Is of uecenslty a at Hartford, Is equipped for turning rate tho entiro population ot greater mont does not consider It boyond very complex piece of meclmnlsm. It out. Now York might, theoretically speok- Improvement. As n matter of fait, For portability, it must be rando lipht Strange, thought it may seem, the. inp, be wiped out by n fdnglo Denet- the perfect machine gun has not In wolght, yet It has to operate under regular army of the Vnlted States) Meroler in a battle over eight dnys of yet been developed. All such woawni tho mont tryliiu imaginable condition poskcfsos no machine gun companies,' twenty-four hours each. give trouble now nnd thon with enduring enormously high pressure simply for the reason that they have Tho Bcnct-Merclor is nn auto- "Jams," due to stoppage of tho mo- from the powdor chnrgox. not been authorized by Congress as mntle gun. It is gas-opernted. Tho olianlfm. Such Jams my be caufcod Even now a competitive tost Is go- yet. With every regiment of 'Infantry kuh from onch powder charge, fol- by heat caused by tho enormous ac- Ing on at the Government uwmal or cavalry In the service, howoTer lowing the bullet as it goo through tivlty of the mechanism, by dirt no- at Sprlngflold. to soo If any gun is a so-called "machine gun platoon, tho barrel, pawton through a holo cumulated from the tiring, by break- can prove itxelf better than the Denet- eonslMlng of twonty men detailed In tho bottom of tho barrel Into the ago of partx. due to rapidity fire, or, Mercler. In this conpetltlon are en- from different corapaules. Each pla chamber beneath tho latter. Its ex- In other Instances, to Irrogularltles tered two machine rifles from Eng- toon comprises two "sections." Each panslon in the chamber pretwes back In tho cartridges. Onco In n while land, ono from Donmark and two boatlon has one mule, cnrrylng onu a piston with n colled aprlng, the it happens that tho primer drops from the I nlted Statex. Our own machiue gun and l.'JOO rounds of am. recoil of which ejects the empty cart- out of n cnrtrldRe Into tho moolianlsm, War Department would rather havo munition; also two additional muleaJ hv the HUr Company. Great Urlta-in rtlstvts Itenorvwl. How One Man Can Manipulate the New Deadly Arm.