(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Elizabeth Abigail de Sollar writes to the narrator to express her admiration for his books. Then she calls to arrange a meeting. In the course of the conversation, he mentions his fondness for Thomas Hardy; she soon sends him a beautifully bound set of Hardy’s works. Finally, after a number of delays, she arrives at the narrator’s West Side Manhattan apartment.

As she had in her letter, Elizabeth tells the narrator how much she likes his writing. She also gives him another present, a Ouija board, because he seems interested in the occult.

He asks about her life, and she willingly replies. She is the granddaughter of a Polish rabbi but has married a Christian. Her husband taught philosophy but has quit his professorship to write about astrology and numerology. Soon she is revealing more intimate details, including the information that she is a virgin, that she has never slept with her husband, and that she daydreams about “passionate affairs” with the narrator. She adds, however, that she has not come to seduce him.

The visit is repeatedly interrupted by telephone calls. Even before Elizabeth arrives at the narrator’s apartment, her husband, Oliver Leslie de Sollar, calls, saying that their daughter (his child from a previous marriage, Elizabeth claims), is suffering an asthma attack and that Elizabeth must come home with the medicine that she carries in her purse. Later, Mr. de Sollar calls again to warn the narrator to beware of Elizabeth: “She lives in a world of illusions. ....

(The entire section is 623 words.)