Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922, May 10, 1914, PART TWO, Image 19

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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.