A Dip in the Poole
I was sitting in a large comfortable leather armchair
in the lobby of the Hotel Poole, leafing through a
magazine, when the young woman in the dark weed suit
picked Andrew J. Stuyvesant’s pocket.
She did it very cleverly Stuyvesant--a silver-haired
old gentleman who carries a walking stick and is worth
fifteen or twenty million dollars-had just stepped out
of one of the elevators in front of me.
The young woman appeared from the direction of the
marble staircase. Walking rapidly, and pretending to
be absorbed in thought, she bumped into him. She then
appeared embarrassed and apologized. Stuyvesant bowed
in a gallant way, saying, “Why that’s perfectly all
I could see that she got his wallet and the diamond
stickpin from his tie. Stuyvesant neither felt nor
suspected a thing.
The young woman apologized again and then hurried off
across the thick carpeting toward the main entrance at
the end of the room. As she moved, she skillfully
slipped the items into a tan suede bag she carried
over one arm.
Immediately, I popped out of my chair and moved
quickly after her. She managed to get within a few
steps of the glass doors before I caught up with her.
I let my hand fall on her arm. “Excuse me just a
moment,” I said, smiling.
She stiffened, becoming completely still. Then she
turned and regarded me icily. “I beg your pardon,” she
said in a frosty voice.
“You and I had best have a little chat.”
“I am not in the habit of chatting with men I don’t
“I think you’ll make an exception in my case,” I
Her brown eyes flashed angrily as she said, “I
suggest you let go of my arm. If you don’t, I shall
call the manager.”
I shrugged lightly. “There’s no need for that.”
“I certainly hope not.”
“Simply because he would only call for me.”
“I’m the chief of security at the Hotel Poole, you
see,” I told her. “I’m what once was referred to as
the house detective.”
She grew pale, and the light dimmed in her eyes.
“Oh,” she said softly.
At my direction, we moved toward the hotel’s lounge,
a short distance on our left. She sat down in one of
the leather booths approached, but I shook my head and
I looked at the young woman on the other side of the
table. The soft glow from the candle in its center
gave her classic features the impression of purity and
“Without a doubt,” I said, “You’re the most beautiful
dip I’ve ever encountered.”
“I ….don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said.
“A dip is underworld slang for a pickpocket.”
She pretended to be insulted. “Are you suggesting
that I …?”
“Oh, come on,” I said. “There’s no purpose to be
served in continuing this act. I saw you lift Mr.
Stuyvesant’s wallet and his diamond stickpin. I was
sitting directly across from the elevator, not fifteen
She didn’t say anything. Her fingers drummed over her
tan suede bag. After a moment, her eyes lifted to
mine, briefly, and then dropped to the bag again. She
sighed in a tortured way. “You’re right, of course,”
she finally said. “ I stole those things.”
I reached out, gently took the bag from her and
snapped it open. Stuyvesant’s wallet and stickpin
rested on top of the various articles inside. I
removed them, reclosed the bag and returned it to her.
She said softly. “I’m not a thief. I want you to know
that. Not really, I mean. I have this compulsion--this
uncontrollable urge--to steal. I’m powerless to stop
“Yes. I’ve been to several doctors, but they’ve been
unable to cure my so far.”
I shook my head in sympathy, “It must be terrible for
“Terrible,” she agreed. “When my father learns of
this, he’ll have me put away in a hospital. He
threatened to do that if I ever stole anything again.”
I said, “Your father doesn’t have to know what
happened here today. There was no real harm done,
actually. Mr. Stuyvesant will get his wallet and
stickpin back. And I see no reason for causing the
hotel unnecessary embarrassment through the publicity
that will result if I report the incident.”
Her face brightened hopefully. “Then you’re going to
let me go?”
I took a long breath. “I suppose I’m to soft-hearted
for the type of job that I have. Yes, I’m going to let
you go. But you must promise me that you’ll never set
foot inside of the Hotel Poole again. If I ever see
you here, I’ll have to report you to the police.”
“You won’t!” she assured me earnestly. “I have an
appointment with another doctor tomorrow morning. I
feel sure I can be helped.”
I nodded, then turned to stare though the lounge to
where the guests were moving back and forth in the
lobby. When I turned back again, the street door to
the lounge was just closing and the young woman was
I sat there for a short time, thinking about her. If
she was a kleptomaniac, I decided then I was the King
of England. What she was, of course, was a
professional pickpocket. I could tell that by her
technique which was very skillful. She was also an
extremely clever liar.
I smiled to myself and stood up and went out into
the lobby again. But instead of resuming my position
in the armchair, I made a sharp left and walked
casually out of the hotel and on to Powell Street.
As I made my way through the afternoon crowds, my
right hand rested lightly on the fat leather wallet
and the diamond stickpin in my coat pocket. I found
myself feeling a little sorry for the woman. But just
Because Andrew J. Stuyvesant had been my mark from
the moment I first saw him entering the Hotel Poole
that morning I had waited three hours for him to come
into the lobby. And I was just seconds away from
bumping into him myself, when she came out of nowhere
and grabbed his wallet and stickpin. So I figured I
really had a right to them, after all.