Unlike many femme fatale, Jean McVeigh is neither beautiful, nor curvy. She was too thin, sallow flesh, too pale in tone for her untinted brown hair covered her jutting bones sparsely. No artifice enhanced her womanhood but this, in a certain way, gave her class.
Jean McVeigh does, however, have what most femmes fatales want: money. She comes from a family of wealthy people on both her father and mother’s side. And like most femmes fatales she is lonely.
In a hotel bar in London, she meets Stuart Howell, a dashing, young man with a series of failed investments and in love with Valerie a girl he desperately wants. (We know where this is going, don’t we?)
Her (McVeigh’s) preoccupation with him was out of all proportion to the circumstances, or to sanity. She told this to herself over and over but failed to weaken her intense longing for another meeting. Jean was at a bad point of her life, the end of one phase and the beginning of nothing.
Isn’t this great writing? Oh, but wait…there’s more.
This is after a balcony scene in their hotel where Stuart falls from the balcony and is in hospital bed.
Jean was tempted to pull away, escape the hypocritical arms, at the same time she wanted to stay within the warm circle of refuge. Behind him she saw the lilies, the iris, the beautiful dark grapes. Mrs. Howell had ordered the best and costliest care for her husband but had sent nothing personal, no flowers, fruit, books or cheerful messages. Too selfish, too absorbed in fear, completely possessed by suspicion, she had failed in kindness.
Untrue to rebellious pride she had accepted a man whose life was dedicated to all she had rejected, the importance and accumulation of tangible wealth. Not so much for companionship, nor for solace, not even for her yearning body’s sake, but to show off her womanhood by the possession of a husband.