The Complete Adventures of the Domino Lady - Lars Anderson - ebook
Opis

“Compliments of the Domino Lady!” In order to avenger the murder of his father, socialite Ellen Patrick donned a domino mask and evening dress and packed a .45. Running for six rare stories in mid-1930s pulp magazines, these stories remain elusive. Now, these are collected in an affordable edition, complemented by an all-new Afterword by pulp historian Tom Johnson.

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The Complete Adventures of the Domino Lady

by

Lars Anderson

Afterword by

Tom Johnson

Altus Press • 2018

Copyright Information

© 2018 Altus Press

Publication History:

“The Domino Lady Collects” originally published in the May 1936 issue of Saucy Romantic Adventures. Copyright © 1936 Fiction Magazines, Inc.

“The Domino Lady Doubles Back” originally published in the June 1936 issue of Saucy Romantic Adventures. Copyright © 1936 Fiction Magazines, Inc.

“The Domino Lady’s Handicap” originally published in the July 1936 issue of Saucy Romantic Adventures. Copyright © 1936 Fiction Magazines, Inc.

“Emeralds Aboard” originally published in the August 1936 issue of Saucy Romantic Adventures. Copyright © 1936 Fiction Magazines, Inc.

“Black Legion” originally published in the October 1936 issue of Saucy Romantic Adventures. Copyright © 1936 Fiction Magazines, Inc.

“The Domino Lady’s Double” originally published in the November 1936 issue of Mystery Adventure Magazine. Copyright © 1936 Fiction Magazines, Inc.

“Where Did It Start” copyright © 2018 Tom Johnson. All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without permission in writing from the publisher.

The Domino Lady Collects

Chapter 1

GLITTERING sunshine was vainly attempting to bore its way through the closely shuttered Venetian blinds protecting the bedroom windows of an apartment on Wiltshire Boulevard. Across the busy thoroughfare, the fragrant buds of a California spring were shooting into life in the tiny park.

A tousled blonde head, resting in a nest of soft curls sunk deep in a silken pillow, moved slightly, and brown eyes blinked drowsily. A damp, cerise mouth deliciously shaped, opened in a delicate yawn, and, under the coverlet, a shapely leg stirred, languorously.

The Domino Lady, Hollywood’s most mysterious female, was awakening!

A fair, pink-skinned arm, prettily rounded, drew aside the coverlet as she squirmed out of bed and glided to the window to pull up the shutters and let the sunshine into the room. Then, taking a cigarette from a silver and black box on her bedside table, she threw herself back on the bed where she lay outside the covers to enjoy the fragrant puffs of smoke that would serve to clear her sleep-drenched and tired brain.

A nightgown of sheerest, green silk was but scant concealment for her gorgeous figure. A chastely-rounded body and a slender waist served to accentuate the seductive softness of her hips and the sloping contours of her slim thighs, while skin like the bloom on a peach glowed rosily in the reflected sunlight.

Abruptly, a musical tinkling broke the stillness of the room. It was the bell of her telephone which had been specially installed since she objected to the usual jangling one, and, without raising her shining head from the pillow, she picked the instrument up, and answered:

“Yes!” Her soft voice throbbed melodiously with a peculiarly emotional quiver, a little trick of hers. She never knew who might be at the other end of the wire!

“Oh, hello, Eloise!” Her voice resumed its normal tone. “I had intended calling you this morning. Anything new?”

“Not a thing, Ellen!” responded Eloise Schenick, despondently. “This affair has me desperate! If he does as he threatens, and Lew learns of….”

“Sh-h-h-h!” cautioned The Domino Lady in a sibilant whisper. “Not over the telephone, dear! You can never tell who might be listening in, you know!”

The sound of a sob came to her over the wire. “I’d forgotten!” murmured her caller, contritely. “I’ve been so worried that I’m almost crazy! If you can’t help me….”

The other laughed soothingly.

“Don’t take it so hard, kiddo,” she advised softly. “You know I’m going to help you. Never fear, that precious husband of yours will not find out a thing. I’ll have those letters back before morning, and safe in your hands, or my name isn’t Ellen Patrick!”

“Oh, you darling! If you only can….”

“All right!” agreed Ellen, quickly, decisively, “I’m taking immediate steps in that direction! And, should they fail, I’ll be seeing your friend this evening! So, either way, I promise you results, Eloise! Now, perk up, so Lew Schenick won’t smell a mouse…. ’Bye!”

As she cradled the phone for a moment, a tight little smile played about the corners of her luscious mouth. Then, lifting the instrument once more she spoke briefly:

“This is Miss Ellen Patrick, Apartment 422…. Please send a boy up in fifteen minutes.”

Sliding from the bed, she peeled the silken nightrobe from her and ran into the ornate bathroom. A needle shower quickly stung her rose body into a state of hot-blooded energy. After a brisk rubdown with a big towel, she slipped into a black velvet negligee which hid her youthful body more completely than the silk nightgown had disclosed it!

Slipping pink-toed feet into black suede slippers, she glided into the living room where she sank into a straight-backed chair before a walnut writing desk. For a long moment she was busy, writing in her usual perfect flowing chirography which was so indicative of her impressive personality. The note she handed the boy a few minutes later was inscribed in white ink on smooth black stationery, and was addressed to “Mr. Rob Wyatt, The Franklyn Arms.” It read:

“This is your last chance to come across. If certain letters are not returned to their rightful owner before midnight tonight, I shall be forced to call and pick them up myself.”

The distinctive epistle was signed, The Domino Lady!

Chapter 2

OWEN PATRICK had been one of the most feared politicians in California at one time. An assassin’s slug had put a period to his career three years before, and there were those who believed the killer to have been a hired gunman in the employ of the state machine. The big Irishman’s dauntless spirit and keen wit had been transplanted in his only child, Ellen.

Before her father’s untimely death, the girl had lived a life of comparative ease as befitted the child of Owen Patrick. She had spent four years at Berkeley, a year in the Far East and then—a cowardly bullet had robbed her of the one who meant more to her than life itself. Small wonder then that she pursued the life of a ruthless, roguish adventuress, at times accepting nigh impossible undertakings simply for the sake of friendship and the love of adventure. At other times, she was coldly involved in hazardous schemes merely to embarrass the authorities, whom she blamed for her father’s death, at the same time earning an adequate income wherewith to obtain the luxuries to which she had become accustomed. Of late, she had become well-known and feared as The Domino Lady!

Take the present case, for instance. Eloise Schenick, former dancer and wife of Lew Schenick of Trianon Films, Inc., had been a classmate at Berkeley in the old days. Married to a man years her senior, she had been indiscreet, and compromising letters were being held over her head by a well-known Hollywood character. This man, a big game hunter and sometimes character actor, was noted for his triumphs in the wild places, but his hunting was not strictly confined to the carnivore! And his parties were the talk of the town!

Wealthy in his own right, Rob Wyatt’s exorbitant demands were but an indication of the inherent cruelty of the man. As a last resort, the tearful Eloise had confided in her old chum, never dreaming that she was addressing the notorious Domino Lady, herself, or that Ellen knew the formidable Wyatt in person. And, as usual, while pitying the victim for her foolishness, the adventure-loving Ellen had unhesitatingly accepted the issue, gratis!

Pretty, shapely, talented, the “young avenger,” as Ellen liked to style herself, was in great demand in society. Many proposals of marriage had fallen to her lot, but she had thus far remained free of marital bonds. At twenty-two, she was known as one of the most beautiful girls in California’s Southland. Of medium height and willowy, there was something about her radiant, Nordic beauty that captivated all with whom she came in contact. And, as far as the sex of her was concerned, its appeal had long since been granted!

LIFTING the champagne glass to her cerise lips, Ellen Patrick’s great brown eyes flitted over the bronzed features of Rob Wyatt who was leaning toward her in the conservatory of his penthouse atop the sumptuous Franklyn Arms. He was frowning slightly, but she couldn’t help admiring his rugged handsomeness, square chin and mouth, the well-knit masculine figure. He was tall, with a finely drawn, rather nervous face, a high-bridged arrogant nose, and lips that were strangely full and impetuous; a man of queer charm and strange moods, admired for his nerve and his attainments in the wild game field, feared for his inherent cruelty of nature, loved hopelessly by many women in his life of whose existence he at times seemed utterly unaware. Ellen had always liked him, though the liking was not unmixed by a strange fear!

“He might be a rounder, a roué, even a blackmailer!” thought Ellen, “but there’s something darned compelling about him just the same! And there’s plenty of ice and iron beneath that velvety exterior, I’ll bet me!…”

She took a test sip of the wine, breathed: “Heavenly!”

He leaned closer. “The champagne?” he questioned pointedly. “Or the toast?”

She laughed softly as she remembered that he had said: “To you… and me… and tonight!” just before he had drained the glass.

“What do you think?” she parried pertly, brown eyes narrowing, languorously.

“Why, the toast, of course!” he responded, boldly. “Since it is asking too much that I believe you to be as coldly indifferent as you would have one think!”

Again, her tinkling laughter sounded. “It was a lovely thought!” she admitted; then dropped her eyes before the intensity of his gaze.

During the afternoon, Ellen had worked the magic which had gotten her the invitation to Wyatt’s party. But that had been easy. Merely a call on the telephone, since the hunter had been wanting her to come to his penthouse for months without success.

In the sanctity of her luxurious apartment she had prepared herself for the adventure, bathing her gorgeous body and dressing it into a thing altogether lovely to behold. The frock, a smart creation of brown satin, fitted snugly about her white throat after the Russian fashion, but did not prevent the flaunting of her perfect body. Long, brown earrings she had fastened in her tiny pink ears to dangle bewitchingly below her shining coiffure. A bit of exotic perfume, scarlet for her lips, coloring for her smooth cheeks…. A white silken cape trimmed in white fur… why, Rob Wyatt’s eyes were but paying her the homage she deserved!

“Why haven’t you visited me before?” he was asking.

Ellen recovered quickly: “Perhaps it was only because you didn’t impress me as really desiring my company!” she teased, impishly.

“Not a chance, my dear!” he objurgated, firmly. “And I’m sure you’ve realized the truth after my persistency!”

“But you are reputed to have the pick of Hollywood,” she charged, softly, “so you couldn’t have missed my presence to any great extent!

He grinned. Being a very wealthy man, his code was simple. Money could do anything, but anything. It was evident that he enjoyed fencing with this beautiful girl as a prelude to her final abdication to his advances.

“The fact that you’ve remained aloof disproves your statement!” he murmured. “But if you’d care to prove it, you’ll have to include yourself among the most beautiful for my sake, at least!”

Ellen flushed. Wyatt certainly had a way with him. A smooth, impressive magnetic personality radiating a compelling appeal. The hint of arrogance which showed through the veneer of his suavity added to his charm and desirability in the eyes of most women. Even Ellen felt herself liking him more and more!

Without replying, her eyes wandered to the glittering panorama of the city far below, visible through the open windows that stretched from floor to ceiling on one side of the huge conservatory.

“What a magnificent view!” she remarked.

“Do you like it?” he asked, taking her rounded arm as she rose. “Would you like to walk around the terrace and see the sights?”

ELLEN had finished her second glass of champagne, and it had been wonderful. Every sip of her favorite drink seemed to be more tasty than the one preceding it, and a warm glow came into being within her soft body. And her mental reaction turned decidedly to the exhilarating! Rising from her seat, she moved onto the terrace with Wyatt, her slim, pink-tipped hand grasping the crook of his elbow.

Darkness surrounded them there. Chairs and cushioned settees, potted palms and uniquely-boxed plants were everywhere. Ellen quickly found that the sights mentioned by her attentive host included not only the panoramic night view of Hollywood and vicinity, but also several necking parties being indulged in by several others of Rob Wyatt’s party guests!

As they strolled along, Ellen caught glimpses of interlocking arms, the paleness of feminine flesh glowing whitely against the somber hue of masculine coats…. Heard faint murmurs, soft whispers, as caresses were exchanged between the more amorous guests!

The wine had given her a feeling of walking on air as she glided along the terrace, clinging to the arm of Wyatt. As disjointed bits of conversational emotion came to their ears, she laughed, softly.

“Rather a sophisticated party, Mr. Wyatt!”

“Just the usual thing, my dear!” he grinned, placing a big hand over the slender one that was so snugly ensconced in the crook of his arm.

“And that’s why Hollywood likes Rob Wyatt ‘shindigs,’ you see!”

“So it would seem!” laughed Ellen.

WHILE strolling, they had come upon an unoccupied settee, and now Wyatt indicated it with a nod of his dark head. “Shall we?”

“So the guests aren’t the only ones who get ideas?” she insinuated, softly.

“Could my mind be blank on a night like this?” he retorted in jest, then sobered. “I’m taking a chance on having this crowd around tonight! A chance not many would take, I’m sure… but when I knew you were coming here, I couldn’t call it off….”

She was instantly on guard. “A chance?” she asked, quickly. “Why, what do you mean?”

Laughing couples were everywhere, but Wyatt’s sober eyes were only for her. “I’ve been threatened!” he admitted, softly. “Threatened by the blonde adventuress who has styled herself ‘The Domino Lady’!…” He broke off, evidently at a loss as to just how to proceed.

Ellen laughed: “Why, that’s really absurd!” she exclaimed. “To think of your being molested in your own home while surrounded by friends and servants! Have you called the police?” Her concern was evident in her words and actions, and her host became at once more confiding.

“Why, no, I haven’t called the police,” he admitted, “because, you see, this little matter does not concern the police! It is strictly private, and something I’d rather not have them meddling with at present. It might cause a scandal, were it to come to light, and I cannot afford any scandal with a lieutenant governorship in the offing!” He whispered the latter sentence with an air of greatest secrecy; and Ellen almost laughed aloud.

“But what are you intending?” she asked, casually. “Surely you do not intend to quietly submit to threats without doing something?”

“I have everything attended to, thanks to the written threat I received,” he boasted, patting her bare arm and grinning, knowingly. “You see, there is no entrance to this penthouse excepting through the fire escapes, and steps leading to the lobby. I have men in the fire escapes, and on guard in the lobby. They will come to my aid at the slightest evidence of foul play. And they will be particularly alert during the midnight hour when the little crook is supposed to put in her appearance!”

“Then you’re perfectly safe,” Ellen assured him with a laugh. She wanted to ask further questions, but refrained. It wouldn’t do to arouse Wyatt’s suspicions, so she adroitly changed the subject. “Isn’t it time for a bit of music?” she asked, glancing at the tiny baguette on her wrist.

“Certainly, if you desire it, beautiful lady!” he grinned, brightening perceptibly. “Since the Wyatt menage is adequately equipped for anything in the way of a good time!”

“Including the perfect host!” she breathed. Ellen thought it a good idea to hand him a compliment, since she had obtained the necessary information from him, and she still had twenty minutes before midnight!

“Never more so than tonight!” he said, softly. “And all because you’re numbered among my guests.”

He grasped her bare arm, led her into a sumptuous living room. He switched on a powerful radio. The entrancing strains of the dreamy When I Grow Too Old to Dream floated out into the room.

“Shall we dance?” he asked.

She nodded, and he was quick to clasp her in his arms. She smiled at his hungry zeal.

“You’re a dream! Ellen, beautiful!” he whispered, intensely as he led her through the steps of the waltz.

Thrills stabbed Ellen. She couldn’t help liking the possessive grip of his arm about her slender waist, drawing her close to him. Her lovely curves were flattened to his body, and she experienced an emotion quite unlike any that had before claimed her!

She had danced with many men without responding to their ardor, but, once in a while, she was cognizant of the rising tides within her, indicating that a particular partner was the type who could stir her soul to the depths and arouse the latent passions of her affectionate nature. It was so with Rob Wyatt! Willingly, her soft body clung to him in the measured movements of the dance, as light as the proverbial feather in his arms!

Abruptly, Rob Wyatt stood stockstill in the middle of the waltz. He held Ellen close, tilted her shining head upward so that his dark gaze penetrated to the very center of her being, as his hungry mouth closed over her hot, crimson lips. Such a kiss it was, something entirely new to the little adventuress, and it filled her with hungry longings as new and untried desires were given birth in her soft body. For a moment, she returned the kiss, forgetful of all else in the ecstasy of the moment. Then, remembering, she was out of his arms, retreating before him.

“Let’s dance again?” breathed Wyatt, hoarsely, holding out his arms to her. Ellen hesitated a moment. Since he was obviously not wishing to press matters, she decided it best to follow suit. She smiled a brilliant smile, her alert mind working at full speed. It was now five minutes of midnight!

“I really should powder my nose first,” she replied, pertly.

“It doesn’t need it, you know,” he demurred.

“And that’s a fib,” she smiled. “I’ll only be a moment!”

AS SHE turned to go, there came an interruption, A servant entered the room, bowed unctuously. “The telephone in the den, sir,” he said, “and it is important!”

Wyatt frowned, but went to answer the summons. With a gay little laugh, and a prayer of thanks for the interruption, Ellen disappeared into the ladies’ dressing room. It was without occupant at the moment, and Ellen crossed to the bed upon which a pile of hats and wraps were laid out. She had no time to lose she reflected grimly, as she stooped and grasped the hem of her dress, drew it hurriedly upward over her shapely body. The brown frock was immediately hidden from view beneath the coverlets of the bed. This left the purposeful little intruder’s body sheathed in a form-fitting evening dress of black crepe which she had worn beneath the high-collared brown one!

The creation of black, backless and daringly cut in at its décolletage, was the startling costume of the daring Domino Lady!

A moment later, she was creeping from the dressing room, and crossing the conservatory, but now the white silken cape partially covered the black frock, a black domino mask of shining silk masqueraded her eyes, and a small, black automatic sprouted in her determined right fist! The Domino Lady was on her way to keep her midnight engagement!

Chapter 3

ELLEN glided softly along a dim-lit corridor until she reached a massive end-door. The cold butt of the automatic steadied her, brought a grim smile to her lips. She reached out, twisted the knob silently, slowly, cautiously. She pushed the door open the barest fraction of an inch and peered in.

A moment later, she was switching on the softly shaded lights of the den which Wyatt had quitted a moment before. The flood of illumination revealed a sumptuous, masculine office with a huge desk set well to the rear of the place.

She wasted no time but hastened across the thick rug to attempt to find what she had come to get. The desk, she found cluttered with documents and scribbled notations. To each piece of paper, no matter how small, Ellen gave hurried attention. But success did not come to her, although she wasted precious moments in vain search.

As she worked, a grim smile twitched at her curved lips as she imagined her erstwhile host’s reaction when he found the desk tampered with! Then, the smile was erased as her mind went back to the image when her father’s still form had been found in the Keyser Building, riddled with state machine’s bullets!

And by his own admission, this man Wyatt was ambitious for a position of power in the state; a creature who was sadistically torturing her friend with indiscreet letters although he did not need the demanded blackmail money! With poignant pain, she recalled that her aid was all that would save her friend, at the same time putting a crimp in the murdering state machine, could she but uncover something incriminating in Wyatt’s den.

The penthouse was strangely silent now. Somewhere near, a clock ticked, reminding Ellen of the great need of speed now that midnight was past! There was one remaining drawer to be opened, and she delved into it with a desperate little prayer for aid. One hand encountered a sheath of papers, and she drew them forth, knowing that the precious letters were not numbered among them!

Abruptly, breath caught in her throat. Her brown eyes went wide behind the slits in the domino mask! From beneath the pile, one sheet of paper seemed to leap at her like a coiled serpent! It was heavy and official-appearing, and it was covered with notations and figures of a most incriminating nature! Ellen looked at the small packet, exultant.

This document was a sell-out of state power to Rob Wyatt along with a promised concession to Owens’ Valley water rights! Its meaning was clear. It was a statement of intention, turning over not only a large political slice of the state to Wyatt henchmen, but a veritable empire in precious irrigation rights!

The full import struck Ellen with the force of a mailed fist, and she was almost surprised by the sudden entrance of Rob Wyatt, now clad in a sleek dressing gown, who closed the massive door behind him!

Under all circumstances, the big game hunter was a cool customer. Serious but entirely calm, he faced Ellen Patrick across the desk, cognizant of the threatening weapon in her hand, but the expression on his face was not that of a man who anticipates the defeat of his plans. A smile played across his enigmatic features, and he seemed quite pleased with himself.

“Well, I must compliment you upon keeping our little engagement, Miss Domino Lady!” Wyatt taunted with a laugh. “As well as upon the charming costume you’re wearing! However, I must warn you—no matter how you obtained entrance to this suite—it will require more than that automatic or a melodramatic costume to get you safely out of here! All exits are well-guarded, my dear!”

ELLEN paled slightly. She had been in tight corners before, but never one the equal of this! She felt rather than saw the dark eyes caressing her sensuous figure as Wyatt advanced a pace in the face of her gun! She moved but slightly backward, held the gun higher.

“Hold it!” The command, softly-spoken, knifed through the room and brought a halt to the calmly, leisurely advancing man. “All your guards can do you no good, once I’ve let daylight through your heart, Rob Wyatt! And that’s exactly what will happen within the next moment unless you obey my orders!”

He took a backward step, thinking fast. He knew that the crackle of the small calibre weapon would not be heard outside the door of the den, or upon the fire-escapes. And this grim, purposeful woman who threatened him might be just another tart with a quick trigger finger and no judgment!

Eyes glowing through the openings in her mask, full lips set in a straight line, a gentle flush on the flower-like cheeks—from the tips of her tiny evening slippers to the very top of her sleek blonde head, she looked like what she was! A determined woman, confident of her own power! She moved forward to face the now-frowning Wyatt.

He tried to regain his composure. “What’s your game anyway?”

“Whatever it is, it’s not crooked politics!” she rasped, and enjoyed his look of consternation.

“Politics?” He stared at her, hard. “What—what do you know about politics?” he demanded.

She laughed in his face. “Plenty that won’t stand a good airing!” she said, softly, teasingly. “And it all concerns your ambitions, and your guarantees of protection, Wyatt! Am I right so far?”

He looked at her as though dazed. He was silent, thinking.

She continued, relentlessly. “I know all the details! And it would delight me to send you to prison where you belong!”

“So what?” he managed, weakly. There was no real force to the words. The terrible threat in her words had burned him to the heart, and his face became a desperate mask pierced by narrowed, dark eyes.

“So what?” she laughed, harshly. “So plenty! I have you right where I want you! I have in my possession all that is necessary to convict you, secure you a nice long stretch in the pen for robbing poor people of their water rights, and conspiring to fix an election!”

He fairly gasped: “You mean…?”

“I mean that unless you hand over those letters I called for right now, I’m giving you the works, and leaving here as I entered, with all the incriminating evidence!”

Wyatt looked at her bleakly. “I should tell you to go….”

“But you won’t,” she interrupted, quickly. “Because you’re afraid of me! You’re afraid of the evidence I can use against you. Think of it! The big game hunter who was never afraid in his life!”

He broke in harshly: “Don’t use that ‘big-strong-he-man’ stuff on me! It won’t get you anywhere! I’m not afraid of anything that I don’t have to be. I’m not taking chances, and that’s how I’ve become the biggest shot in town right now! I’m going to give you those letters in return for the documents you’ve stolen from my desk. Of course,” he went on, calmly now, “you won’t get far away before I have you back for house-breaking!”

“It suits me,” she told him, evenly. “But mark one thing down to be remembered, Wyatt! You’ll never see me again until I call again to secure those documents which will send you where you belong! I’m out to get you from this moment forward, and The Domino Lady never fails to deliver. Don’t forget that!”

Wyatt grunted, but his smile was egotistical as he walked to a hidden closet in the corner and returned with a slender packet which he placed upon the desk. Ellen quickly secured it, tossed the Wyatt documents to the waiting man. She smiled as she slipped the packet of letters into a tiny pocket inside the white cape. Then, she moved swiftly, spoke harshly.

“Now, get going!” she rasped, coldly. “Walk to the wall! Face it and place your arms behind you! One false move, and I’ll put daylight through you!”

Since there was nothing else to do, Rob Wyatt did as directed with the best grace he could muster under the circumstances. He fumed and swore a terrible vengeance as he nosed the wall and placed his hands behind him. But he was totally unprepared for the next move of his visitor.

Dipping swiftly beneath the cape, Ellen produced a tiny hypodermic syringe which had been previously loaded with a quick-acting drug which, while harmless, would incapacitate the victim for several minutes!

Noiselessly, she went close behind Wyatt, and her soft laugh and a prickling sensation behind the right ear as she used the needle deftly, were his first indication of her intention. Immediately, the room began to blur before his eyes, and a choking darkness crept into his brain!

Swift realization of what had happened swept over him even before the words of his assailant seeped into his darkening brain:

“Just a bit of suspended animation, my dear friend, while The Domino Lady makes her exit!”

IF SPEED were required before, Ellen Patrick outdid herself now. A tiny black card with the inscription The Domino Lady’s Compliments