Excerpt from The Stone Wall by Mary Casal

When I entered the office to engage a room I found a "fat (un)fair and forty" female smugly sitting at the desk. She turned to me with a typical "Christian" expression on her face, which could not hide the uncompromising, cruel mouth.... One could readily see that she could turn a young girl into the streets of that great city, late at night, and a stranger, because she was not of the faith which would entitle her to a bed and safe refuge. I learned later this had been done many times in this Christian hotel!
... As I stood waiting for the fat one to wait on someone before me, I saw beyond her, over in the rather hidden corner of the office, a youngish girl sitting on a low stool with her head bowed and over her face the most beautiful hands I had ever seen. She was weeping in suppressed sobs. The tears seemed to be coming from the soul rather than from the eyes.
When asked what the fat one could do for me, I wanted to say "Please comfort that girl." But of course that wouldn't do in such a holy place, so I told her I would like a room. It was in July, and it hardly surprised me to find my room very warm. I had plenty to think about. I had answered with fidelity all the questions asked me, and had been given a room. I looked about me and was greatly amused by the expensively printed warnings hanging on the walls. I read the wonderful words of Christ also printed and framed, and hung as a comfort to the hearts of the selected, who were of the "right" faith. A plea for charity! I fell to wondering about the young woman in tears. What comfort could be found on or in the fat bosom, when the hard mouth showed how hollow it was, where instead there should have been charity for all.
Those beautiful hands were before me far into the night. The excessive heat in that stuffy room also contributed toward keeping me awake. I thought little of my discomfort, however, as my heart ached for that girl, whose very hands showed she was out of her sphere. I wondered.
One was allowed to engage a room for only one day at a time but, in spite of the heat, I was determined to try one more night, all on account of the sobs of a stranger.
In the morning, I went to the office to see whether my moral status still measured up to the required standard and -- there at the desk sat the girl with the beautiful hands. The tears had been dried and she looked up at me with eyes shining with love and human kindness.
Here was one who could not turn away a girl on account of her religion, were she not bound by rules so stern she could not evade them. And even in such a case I was sure she would suggest some way of protecting her.
Turning to me she asked sweetly what she could do for me, instead of "what did I want." I said I wished to engage my room for the following night. When she found which room I had occupied, she turned to me in astonishment and said: "You are the first woman occupying that room in the summer who has not entered a violent protest in the morning about the heat! I will see that you have a better one tonight."
My business kept me out until quite late in the afternoon. In acknowledgment of her courtesy in regard to the room, and remembering her anguish when I first saw her, I brought her a bunch of lovely violets when I returned.
She was just going "off duty" when I went to the office. As she had given me a better room and had had my things moved, she said she would show me where it was, as she was going to that floor. She was greatly pleased with the flowers, and her lovely eyes thanked me more than words. I found my room was directly across the hall from hers.
Something told me that here was the girl of my dreams. I wasn't looking for her; she just came into my life, and I knew. But how to convince her that she was to be my mate was the question.
There must be no crude awakening. I knew at once that she was not in her natural environment; that she had been gently reared, but that, through some calamity, she was here making a brave and successful fight.
While I naturally hated the whole atmosphere of that whited sepulcher, I did not hate this one human being connected with the conduct of its business, so I stayed on, engaging my room day by day and never asking to have it changed.
[Space added to facilitate reading.]
Let us call my new friend Juno. We met frequently in the hall, in going to and from our rooms. I had found out her schedule quite by accident, and found I was making my business engagements fit into ones which seemed now of more vital importance to me.
[Space added.]
John Drew [a famous actor] was about to open a new play, and I bought two tickets for the night when I knew Juno was to be free. When I told her, at one of our chance meetings in the corridor between our rooms, that I had the tickets, and asked her to take pity on me, as I had no one with whom to go, she hesitated. She said she had always observed a custom of the house never to accept an invitation to go out with a guest. But she also said she longed to go and, after a little urging, she consented.
She wore a charming, simple little gown which just suited her. I say "little" simply as a term of endearment, for Juno was taller than I, and had a magnificently proportioned figure. I dressed in my only change from the day suit, in a handsome black tailored suit with a black hat and white silk shirt. I called a hansom when we were away from the hotel, for fear of hurting the feelings of the dames who did not smile on this growing friendship.
I remember little of the play. By this time, I was madly in love with Juno and longed to put my arms about her and tell her of it. It all seemed so natural and right to me, I inwardly rebelled, of course, against convention which said "it isn't done." Patience was my watchward for success, as I knew more certainly each minute that we were made for each other and that in time she would know it too.
On the way home, we stopped at a very conservative hotel, where it was permissible and wholly respectable for two ladies to have supper without a male escort. We had a delightful supper and talk, and lingered long, as there had been no "time limit" for her that evening.
[Space added.]
She told me much about her life before she took the position in which I found her. As I had surmised, she had been brought up in very different surroundings, an orphan. All her brothers and sisters had been married, she was engaged to be herself, and was deeply in love with the man. It developed, however, that there were reasons why she could not marry this man, and she had decided to find solace in hard work. She had also decided that she would never marry.
After this first evening, which she said she had enjoyed more than anything she had done since she had left her home, we had many little chats and walks together.
[Space added.]
I referred one day to the tears she was shedding the first time I ever saw her hands. She laughingly said she remembered that evening so well. She had heard my voice when I was going through the awful questioning and longed to look up, even through her tears, but she did not dare to with those eyes so red. However, she did go to the register as soon as I had gone upstairs and found out my name. Perhaps she, too, had that feeling that we were to mean more to each other.
[Space added.]
She then told me why she was so silly that night. This was her first experience in earning her living, as the rich relative who had brought the children up in the most luxurious surroundings had cut them off without a penny when he found that they were contemplating marriage. The occasion of the tears was that some well meaning woman had left the change of twenty-five cents on the desk and told Juno to keep it for herself! She thought there could be no greater disgrace in life than to have to receive a "tip" from a common woman. She had no time to refuse it, and she dared not throw it after her -- a woman with so little discrimination.
Now my way was clear. I felt that if I could win her love, I might bring to her even greater happiness than she had anticipated with the man whom she thought she loved. Furthermore, I would not in any way be interfering with any future marriage plans.
It was apparent that she thought I was different from any woman she had ever known, and that she was both interested in and attracted by me. We had many long walks together and went often to art galleries and to the theater. Our tastes were much alike, and this comradeship was the foundation upon which I was working.
My sexual passions were not aroused by my contact with her. I longed to caress her and give some sign of my love, but I could not do so as yet.
The elderly dames, after the pattern of the one whom I had found in charge of the hotel when I arrived, while they were always polite to me and I feel liked me, were alert in their warnings to Juno about forming a friendship which might interfere with her work. Juno was the only young person on the "staff." They were terrified that I might take her away, for they, as well as everyone else with whom she came in contact, loved her sincerely.
Juno was entirely out of her element in the place, yet she was doing her work with a degree of enthusiasm sufficient to sap her vitality quickly. The dames had no knowledge of me other than they gained by the questions they asked when I applied for admission to the hotel. They told Juno that, notwithstanding the fact that I was a charming woman, she should be a little careful about succumbing to my charms. In after years we often laughed at these precautions against losing her taken by the dames.
Our friendship grew. She would often drop into my room on her way to bed, after an evening on duty. I would leave my door slightly ajar so she could see that I was lying on the bed and reading.
My personal appearance? If someone else were writing about that I believe they would say: She had a wonderful complexion and smooth skin, soft brown hair which curled in little ringlets about the forehead and neck (it is now snowy white, wavy in front and cut in a "boyish bob"), which were white and with correct lines; not too fat (as I am now), artistic hands, also pronounced as capable ones; a figure true to form, of about "size forty" at that time; graceful in all movements; a voice soft and well modulated; speaking good English, enunciating her words easily but clearly, and so on.
One evening I had loosened my necktie and the collar of my light blue shirt -- a color then quite in vogue -- and was impatiently waiting for my girl to be through with her work and to peep in to say good night and give me the sweet little kiss, as we had progressed to that stage by this time. Very proper little kisses, however.
My feelings for her at this time were not of an amorous nature. My heart was calling for her as a mate. We were so in sympathy on every subject we touched. We loved the same things in music, literature, and art. The music we heard together stirred her as it did me, with a depth of emotion we hardly understood. I occasionally got glimpses of her passionate and hungry nature and longed to open the gates of pent-up emotion.
During this rapturous period of wooing, I was occupied in a sort of a desultory way with the large contract for my toy, but I must confess my heart was somewhere else. There were orders enough ahead to keep the home forces busy, so I could wait, as indeed it was in a measure necessary for me to do, in dealing with so large a concern, with all its complicated machinery.
My other two friends claimed a part of my time, but my heart and thoughts were so wholly taken up with what I knew to be the one whom I had sought all my life, that I allowed no opportunity for a possible resumption of former intimacies with either.
I was patiently waiting for the right time to declare my love -- until a beautiful foundation of sympathy and companionship could be firmly established, as any wise and normal lover should do.
Hundreds of little ways came to my mind, day by day, in which to nourish the perfect flower that waxed stronger, and grew and grew.
The time and opportunity came at last, when I was sure that she not only loved me but was also "in love" with me (but did not realize it), for me to tell her as gently as possible how deeply I was in love with her and what I hoped would be the culmination of this great love -- that we could really belong to each other with a more intense love than she had ever dreamed possible. Of course, she was mystified. My kiss that night was more intense than ever before, and her lips willingly yielded to mine ....
She was truly worried. She said she loved me madly, but not as she had ever supposed she could love a woman -- even more than she had loved the man whom she was engaged to marry. She wondered whether I really were a woman. I assured her that I was, and a wholly normal one, telling her of my two children, and so forth.
I talked about our possible marriage. Why not? I had thought the thing out and I argued that a union of hearts and souls constituted a real union, call it marriage if need be. My experience had shown me that to most men, and very likely to some women, marriage merely meant a legitimized permission to cohabit for the relief of sexual desire.
To me it seemed that a union between two women could be of a higher type, and creative of a more secure happiness and good than any other. At this time I was convinced that I was the only woman who had ever thought of matters in this way. I am sure my thoughts were far from anything but the highest type of love in all its beauty.
We decided it would be best for both of us to think things over quietly, before we finally decided to bind ourselves to each other in solemn compact.
[Space added.]
Having at last concluded the deal upon which I had been working, I found it necessary to go to a city about twelve hours distant by rail. Of course we were to write often. Juno's decision would naturally have its influence upon my future field of action, as she knew. I arranged for flowers and fruits to be sent to her regularly during my absence, and was quite the accepted "lover."
She had much to consider, too, in making any change such as we had pictured. It would become necessary for her to change or at least to re-arrange her work, so that we could live together. We had planned to have our own apartment, each to go on with some work through the day, but to have our evenings and nights at home to ourselves.
The parting was hard, for we were very dear to each other and had been together for quite a while, enjoying every minute of our companionship.
I waited twenty-four hours after arriving before I wrote to her. That had given me time to reassure myself, and she too had been able to think things over. The letter I wrote must have carried to her some idea of the love I felt for her and probably gave her a vivid picture of what our life would be, if lived as one.
[Space added.]
The following afternoon after I had made a very good deal with a large firm in that city, and so kept the home fires burning, I received a telegram from her: "Come, every bit of me wants you," signed with an initial. 
I canceled business engagements for the next day and hustled about to find that, by taking a night boat (a mode of travel I had always hated), I could reach the city early in the morning of a day I knew Juno was to be free. I wired her to be at our quiet and conservative hotel at a certain hour in the morning, and to wait if I were late.
How it rained all night! I knew, for I walked the covered deck until nearly morning. It was still pouring when, after a short sleep, I resumed my impatient marathon with renewed vigor.


The next chapter continues:

The boat docked and the rain fell in torrents. I called a cab and gave the driver directions to go to a wholesale florist, anywhere he could find one on the way uptown. It took some persuasion to get the big bunch of violets from the wholesaler, but I did so, and sped away to my love. The wonderful violets alone would have told the story of my love for her, for they personified everything beautiful.
When I arrived, Juno was waiting for me in the parlor of our hotel, eager, and with a most ardent welcome. After the necessary formalities, we were shown to our room. When we were alone our arms were about each other and our lips met in the first kiss that was a pledge of a great and beautiful love. She loved the violets and, in our enthusiasm, it was rather hard to come to earth and make some plans.
She had arranged for a free day. That was an important point gained. Then, being both very normal beings, we felt that we must have the breakfast to which we were accustomed. A delicious one was ordered, and we sat and loved and talked and thought. She wondered.
After the removal of the breakfast dishes, we began to talk of our love. I tried to make her see that for me it was not a passing fancy and that I believed it was a serious matter to her. We discussed all phases of marriage, and I gave her my views, based on my own experience. She, of course, felt that there could never be a man in her life again. So we decided that a union such as ours was to be could be made as holy and complete as the most conventional marriages, if not more so.
I suggested that we read the marriage ceremony together as a sort of benediction to our union. We had built up a firm foundation for our lives in the love we held for each other. Our coming together was not for animal satisfaction. There was a real sympathy of ideas and ideals and, as a by-product, as it were, was to come the physical relief of sex desire. As I always carried my prayer book with me, we very solemnly read the service, and meant every word of it. ... We both believed that I was the only one in the world who desired the love of a woman. The time for mere conversation was over. I found willing response to my caresses.
She, too, wanted to show her love, as I had mine. At last I had reached the heights of physical love.
Poets have written and sung of "that day of love" or "that night of love" in words and tones which could not express the bliss of it, so why should I try to do so?
We lingered and loved and rested, and felt there could be no end to the desires which arose. It was the expression of about twenty-five years of suppression of emotion in both of us. In a sane moment, we dressed and took a long drive and had lunch at a favorite restaurant in the Park, and then returned to our room early in the afternoon. We had to make plans now for the future ....


Casal pages 143-57.