Part 2 out of 6
secretly or their efforts would come to nothing.
Once inside the kitchen Cutty shifted his burden into his arms, the
way one carries a child, and followed Kitty into the unused bedroom.
He did not wait for the story, but asked for the telephone.
"I'm going to call for a surgeon at the Lambs. He's just back from
France and knows a lot about broken heads. And we can trust him
absolutely. I told him to wait there until I called."
"Cutty, you're a dear. I don't wonder father loved you."
Presently he turned away from the telephone. "He'll be here in a
jiffy. Now, then, what the deuce is all this about?"
Briefly Kitty narrated the episodes.
"Samaritan stuff. I see. Any absorbent cotton? I can wash the
wound after a fashion. Warm water and Castile soap. We can have
him in shape for Harrison."
Alone, Cutty took note of several apparent facts. The victim's
flannel shirt was torn at the collar and there were marks of finger
nails on the throat and chest. Upon close inspection he observed a
thin red line round the neck - the mark of a thong. Had they tried
to strangle him or had he carried something of value? Silk underwear
and a clean body; well born; foreign. After a conscientious
hesitance Cutty went through the pockets. All he found were some
crumbs of tobacco and a soggy match box. They had cleaned him out
evidently. There were no tailors' labels in any of the pockets; but
there were signs that these had once existed. The man on the bed
had probably ripped them out himself; did not care to be identified.
A criminal in flight? Cutty studied the face on the pillow. Shorn
of that beard it would be handsome; not the type criminal, certainly.
A bit of natural cynicism edged into his thoughts: Kitty had seen
through the beard, otherwise she would have turned the affair over
to the police. Not at all like her mother, yet equally her mother's
match in beauty and intelligence. Conover's girl, whose eyes had
nearly popped out of her head at the first sight of those drum-lined
walls of his.
Two-Hawks. What was it that was trying to stir in his recollection?
Two-Hawks. He was sure he had heard that name before. Hawksley
meant nothing at all; but Two-Hawks possessed a strange attraction.
He stared off into space. He might have heard the name in a tongue
other than English.
A sound. It came from the lips of the young man. Cutty frowned.
The poor chap wasn't breathing in a promising way; he groaned after
each inhalation. And what had become of the old fellow Kitty called
Gregory? A queer business.
Kitty came in with a basin and a roll of absorbent cotton.
"He is groaning!" she whispered.
"Pretty rocky condition, I should say. That handkerchief in his cap
doubtless saved him. Now, little lady, I frankly don't like the
idea of his being here. Suppose he dies? In that event there'll be
the very devil to pay. You're all alone here, without even a maid."
"Am I all alone?" - softly.
"Well, no; come to think of it, I'm no longer your godfather in
theory. Give me the cotton and hold the basin."
He was very tender. The wound bled a little; but it was not the
kind that bled profusely. It was less a cut than a smashing bruise.
"Well, that's all I can do. Who was this tenant Gregory?"
"A dear old man. A valet at a Broadway hotel. Oh, I forgot!
Johnny Two-Hawks called him Stefani Gregor."
"Yes. What is it? Why do you say it like that?"
"Say it like what?" - sparring for time.
"As if you had heard the name before?"
"Just as I thought!" cried Cutty, his nimble mind pouncing upon a
happy invention. "You're romantic, Kitty. You're imagining all
sorts of nonsense about this chap, and you must not let the
situation intrigue you. If I spoke the name oddly - this Stefani
Gregor - it was because I sensed in a moment that this was a bit of
the overflow. Southeastern Europe, where the good Samaritan gets
kicked instead of thanked. Now, here's a good idea. Of course we
can't turn this poor chap loose upon the public, now that we know
his life is in danger. That's always the trouble with this Samaritan
business. When you commit a fine action you assume an obligation.
You hoist the Old Man of the Sea on your shoulders, as it were. The
chap cannot be allowed to remain here. So, if Harrison agrees, we'll
take him up to my diggings, where no Bolshevik will ever lay eyes
"For the sake of a handle. They might be Chinamen, for all I know.
I can take care of him until he is on his feet. And you will be
saved all this annoyance.
"But I don't believe it's going to be an annoyance. I'm terribly
interested, and want to see it through."
"If he can be moved, out he goes. No arguments. He can't stay
in this apartment. That's final."
"Exactly why not?" Kitty demanded, rebelliously.
"Because I say so, Kitty."
"Is Stefani Gregor an undesirable?"
"You knew him. What do you say?" countered her godfather, evading
the trap. The innocent child! He smiled inwardly.
Kitty was keen. She sensed an undercurrent, and her first attempt
to touch it had failed. The mere name of Stefani Gregor had not
roused Cutty's astonishment. She was quite positive that the name
was not wholly unfamiliar to her father's friend.
Still, something warned her not to press in this direction. He
would be on the alert. She must wait until he had forgotten the
incident. So she drew up a chair beside the bed and sat down.
Cutty leaned against the footrail, his expression neutral. He
sighed inaudibly. His delightful catnap was over. Stefani Gregor,
Kitty's neighbour, a valet in a fashionable hotel! Stefani Gregor,
who, upon a certain day, had placed the drums of jeopardy in the
palms of a war correspondent known to his familiars as Cutty. And
who was this young man on the bed?
"There goes the bell!" cried Kitty, jumping up.
The ring was repeated vigorously and impatiently.
"Kitty, I don't quite like the sound of that bell. Harrison would
have no occasion to be impatient. Somebody in a hurry. Now,
attend to me. I'm going to steal out to the kitchen. Don't be
afraid. Call if I'm needed. Open the door just a crack, with your
foot against it. If it's Harrison he'll be in uniform. Call out
his name. Slam the door if it is someone you don't know."
Kitty opened the door as instructed, but she swung it wide because
one of the men outside was a policeman. The man behind him was a
thickset, squat individual, with puffed, discoloured eyes and a
nose that reminded Kitty of an alligator pear.
"What's going on here?" the policeman demanded to know.
A phrase, apparently quite irrelevant to the situation, shot into
Kitty's head. Moribund perspectives. Instantly she knew, with that
foretasting mind of hers, that the man peering over the policeman's
shoulder and Johnny Two-Hawks had met somewhere that day. She was
now able to compare the results, and she placed the victory on
Two-Hawks' brow. Yonder individual somehow justified the instinct
that had prompted her to play the good Samaritan. Whence had this
gorilla come? He was not one of the men who had issued in such
dramatic haste from the Gregor apartment.
"This man here saw you and another carrying someone across the fire
escape. What's the rumpus?" The policeman was not exactly
belligerent, but he was dutifully determined. And though he was
ready to grant that this girl with the Irish eyes was beautiful, a
man never could tell.
"There's been a tragedy of some kind," began Kitty. "This man
certainly did see us carrying a man across the fire escape. He had
been set upon and robbed in the apartment across the way."
"Why didn't you call in the police?"
"Because he might have died before you got here."
"Where's the man who helped you?"
"Gone. He was an outsider. He was afraid of getting mixed up in a
police affair and ran away." Behind the kitchen door Cutty smiled.
She would do, this girl.
"Sounds all right," said the policeman. "I'll take a look at the
"This way, if you please," said Kitty, readily. "You come, too,
sir," she added as the squat man hesitated. Kitty wanted to watch
his expression when he saw Johnny Two-Hawks.
Seed on rocky soil; nothing came of the little artifice. No Buddha's
graven face was less indicative than the squat man's. Perhaps his
face was too sore to permit mobility of expression. The drollery
of this thought caused a quirk in one corner of Kitty's mouth. The
squat man stopped at the foot of the bed with the air of a mere
passer-by and seemed more interested in the investigations of the
policeman than in the man on the bed. But Kitty knew.
"A fine bang on the coco," was the policeman's observation. "Take
anything out of his pockets?"
"They were quite empty. I've sent for a military surgeon. He may
arrive at any moment."
"This fellow live across the way?"
"That's the odd part of it. No, he doesn't."
"Then what was he doing there?"
"Probably awaiting the return of the real tenant who hasn't returned
up to this hour" - with an oblique glance at the squat man.
"Kind o' queer. Say, you stay here and watch the lady while I scout
The squat man nodded and leaned over the foot of the bed. The
policeman stalked out.
"I was in the kitchen," said Kitty, confidingly. "I saw shadows on
the window curtain. It did not look right. So I started to inquire
and almost bumped into two men leaving the apartment. They took to
their heels when they saw me.
Again the squat man nodded. He appeared to be a good listener.
"Where were you when we crossed the fire escape?"
"In the yard on the other side of the fence." There was reluctance
in the guttural voice.
"Oh, I see. You live there."
As this was a supposition and not a direct query, the squat man
wagged his head affirmatively.
Kitty, her ears strained for disquieting sounds in the kitchen, laid
her palm on the patient's cheek. It was very hot. She dipped a bit
of cotton into the water, which had grown cold, and dampened the
wounded man's cheeks and throat. Not that she expected to accomplish
anything by this act; it relieved the nerve tension. This man was
no fool. If her surmises were correct he was a strong man both
in body and in mind. In a rage he would be terrible. However, had
Johnny Two-Hawks done it - beaten the man and escaped? No doubt he
had been watching all the time and had at length stepped in to learn
if his subordinates had followed his instructions and to what extent
they had succeeded.
"If he dies it will be murder."
"It is a big city."
"And so many terrible things happen like this every day. But sooner
or later those who commit them are found out. Nemesis always follows
on the heels of vengeance."
For the first time there was a flash of interest in the battered
eyes of the intruder. Perhaps he saw that this was not only a pretty
woman but a keen one, and sensed the veiled threat. Moreover, he
knew that she had lied at one point. There had been no light in the
room across the court.
But what in the world was happening out there in the kitchen? Kitty
wondered. So far, not a sound. Had Cutty really taken flight? And
why shouldn't he have faced it out at her side? Very odd on Cutty's
part. Shortly she heard the heavy shoes of the policeman returning.
"Guess it's all right, miss. I'll report the affair at the precinct
and have an ambulance sent over. You'll have to come along with me,
"Is that legally necessary?" asked the squat man, rather perturbed.
"Sure. You saw the thing and I verified it," declared the policeman.
"It won't take ten minutes. Your name and address, in case this man
"I see. Very well."
Kitty wasn't sure, but the policeman seemed embarrassed about
something. The directness was gone from his eyes and his speech was
no longer brisk.
"My name is Conover," said Kitty.
"I got that coming in," replied the policeman. "We'll be on our
Not once again did the squat man glance at the man on the bed. He
followed the policeman into the hall, his air that of one who had
accepted a certain obligation to community welfare and cancelled
Kitty shut the door - and leaned against it weakly. Where had Cutty
gone? Even as she expressed the query she smelt burning tobacco.
She ran out into the kitchen, to behold Cutty seated in a chair
calmly smoking his infamous pipe!
"And I thought you were gone! What did you say to that policeman?"
"I hypnotized him, Kitty."
"No. Just looked into his eye and made a few passes with my hands."
"Of course, if you believe you ought not to tell me - " said Kitty,
which is the way all women start their wheedling.
Cutty looked into the bowl of his pipe.
"Kitty, when you throw a cobble into a pond, what happens? A splash.
But did you ever notice the way the ripples have of running on and
on, until they touch the farthest shore?"
"Yes. And this is a ripple from some big stone cast into the pond
of southeastern Europe. I understand."
"That's just the difficulty. If you understood nothing it would be
much easier for me. But you know just enough to want to follow up
on your own hook. I know nothing definitely; I have only suspicions.
I calmed that policeman by showing him a blanket police power issued
by the commissioner. I want you to pack up and move out of this
neighbourhood. It's not congenial to you."
"I'm afraid I can't afford to move until May."
"I'll take care of that gladly, to get you out of this garlicky
"No, Cutty; I'm going to stay here until the lease is up."
"Gee-whiz! The Irish are all alike," cried the war correspondent,
hopelessly. "Petticoat or pantaloon, always looking for trouble."
"No, Cutty; simply we don't run away from it. And there's just as
much Irish in you as there is in me."
"Sure! And for thirty years I've gone hunting for trouble, and
never failed to find it. I don't like this affair, Kitty; and
because I don't I'm going to risk my Samson locks in your lily-white
hands. I am going to tell you two things: I am a secret foreign
agent of the United States Government. Now don't light up that way.
Dark alleys and secret papers and beautiful adventuresses and
bang-bang have nothing at all to do with my job. There isn't a
grain of romance in it. Ostensibly I am a war correspondent. I
have handled all the big events in Serbia and Bulgaria and Greece
and southwestern Russia. Boiled down, I am a census taker of
undesirables. Socialist, anarchist and Bolshevik - I photograph them
in my mental 'fillums' and transmit to Washington. Thus, when Feodor
Slopeski lands at Ellis Island with the idea of blowing up New York,
he is returned with thanks. I didn't ask for the job; it was thrust
upon me because of my knowledge of the foreign tongues. I accepted
it because I am a loyal American citizen."
"And you left me because you' didn't know who might be at the door!"
"Precisely. I am known in lower New York under another name. I'm a
rabid internationalist. Down with everything! I don't go out much
these days; keep under cover as much as I can. Once recognized, my
value would be nil. In a flannel shirt I'm a dangerous codger."
"And Gregor and this poor young man are in some way mixed up with
"What is the other thing you wish to tell me?"
"Because your eyes are slate blue like your mother's. I loved your
mother, Kitty," said Cutty, blinking into his pipe. "And the
singular fact is, your father knew but your mother never did. I
was never able to tell your mother after your father died. Their
bodies were separated, but not their spirits."
Kitty nodded. So that was it? Poor Cutty!
"I make this confession because I want you to understand my attitude
toward you. I am going to elect myself as your special guardian so
long as I'm in New York. From now on, when I ask you to do
something, understand that I believe it best for you. If my
suspicions are correct we are not dealing with fools but with madmen.
The most dangerous human being, Kitty, is an honest man with a
half-baked or crooked idea; and that's what this world pother,
Bolshevism, is - honest men with crooked ideas, carrying the torch
of anarchism and believing it enlightenment. What makes them tear
down things? Every beautiful building is only a monument to their
former wretchedness; and so they annihilate. None of them actually
knows what he wants. A thousand will-o'-the-wisps in front of
them, and all alike. A thousand years to throw off the shackles,
and they expect Utopia in ten minutes! It makes you want to weep.
Socialism - the brotherhood of man - is a beautiful thing
theoretically; but it is like some plays - they read well but do not
act. Lopping off heads, believing them to be ideas!"
"The poor things!"
"That's it. Though I betray them I pity them. Democracy; slowly
and surely. As prickly with faults as a cactus pear; but every year
there are less prickles. We don't stand still or retrogress; we
keep going on and up. Take this town. Think of It to-day and
compare it with the town your father knew. There's the bell. I
imagine that will be Harrison. If we can move this chap will you
go to a hotel for the night?"
"I'm going to stay here, Cutty. That's final."
At the precinct station the squat man gave a name and an address to
the bored sergeant at the desk, passed out a cigar, lit one himself,
expressed some innocuous opinions upon one or two topics of the day,
and walked leisurely out of the precinct. He wanted to laugh. These
pigheads had never thought to question his presence in the backyard
of the house in Seventy-ninth Street. It was the way he had carried
himself. Those years in New York, prior to the war, had not been
wasted. The brass-buttoned fools!
Serenely unconscious that he was at liberty by explicit orders,
because the Department of Justice did not care to trap a werewolf
before ascertaining where the pack was and what the kill, he
proceeded leisurely to the corner, turned, and broke into a run,
which carried him to a drug store in Eightieth Street. Here he was
joined by two men, apparently coal heavers by the look of their
hands and faces.
"They will take him to a hospital. Find where, then notify me.
Remember, this is your business, and woe to you if you fail. Where
is it?" One of the men extended an object wrapped in ordinary
"Ha! That's good. I shall enjoy myself presently. Remember:
telephone me the moment you learn where they take him. He is still
alive, bunglers! And you came away empty-handed."
"There was nothing on him. We searched."
"He has hidden them in one of those rooms. I'll attend to that
later. Watch the hospital for an hour or so, then telephone for
information regarding his condition. Is that motor for me? Very
Inside the taxicab the squat man patted the object on his knees,
and chuckled from time to time audibly. It would be worth all that
journey, all he had gone through since dawn that morning. Stefani
Gregor! After these seven long years - the man who had betrayed
him! To reach into his breast and squeeze his heart as one might
squeeze a bit of cheese! Many things to tell, many pictures to
paint. He rode far downtown, wound in and out of the warehouse
district for a while, then dismissed the taxi and proceeded on foot
to his destination - a decayed brick mansion of the 40's sandwiched
in between two deserted warehouses. In the hall of the first
landing a man sat in a chair under the gas, reading a newspaper. At
the approach of the squat man he sprang to his feet, but a phrase
dissipated his apprehension and he nodded toward a door.
"Unlock it for me and see that I am not disturbed."
Presently the squat man stood inside the room, which was dark. He
struck a match and peered about for the candle. The light discovered
a room barren of all furniture excepting the table upon which stood
the candle, and a single chair. In this chair was a man, bound.
He was small and dapper, his gray hair swept back a la Liszt. His
chin was on his breast, his body limp. Apparently the bonds alone
held him in the chair.
The squat man laid his bundle on the table and approached the
"Stefani Gregor, look up; it is I!" He drummed on his chest like
a challenging gorilla. "I, Boris Karlov!"
Slowly the eyelids of the prisoner went up, revealing mild blue eyes.
But almost instantly the mildness was replaced by an agate hardness,
and the body became upright.
"Yes, it is Boris, whom you betrayed. But I escaped by a hair,
Stefani; and we meet again."
What good to tell this poor madman that Stefani Gregor had not
betrayed him, that he had only warned those marked for death? There
was no longer reason inside that skull. To die, probably in a few
moments. So be it. Had he not been ready for seven years? But
that poor boy - to have come all these thousands of miles, only to
walk into a trap! Had he found that note? Had they killed him?
Doubtless they had or Boris Karlov would not be in this room.
"We killed him to-night, Stefani, in your rooms. We threw out the
food so he would have to seek something to eat. The last of that
breed, stem and branch! We are no longer the mud; we ourselves
are the heels. We are conquering the world. Today Europe is ours;
A wintry little smile stirred the lips of the man in the chair.
America, with its keen perceptions of the ridiculous, its withering
"No more the dissolute opera dancers will dance to your fiddling,
Stefani, while we starve in the town. Fiddler, valet, tutor, the
rivers and seas of Russia are red. We roll east and west, and our
emblem is red. Stem and branch! We ground our heels in their faces
as for centuries they ground theirs in ours. He escaped us there
- but I was Nemesis. He died to-night."
The body in the chair relaxed a little. "He was clean and honest,
Boris. I made him so. He would have done fine things if you had
let him live."
"Why, you yourself loved him when he was a boy!"
"Stem and branch! I loved my little sister Anna, too. But what did
they do to her behind those marble walls? Did you fiddle for her?
What was she when they let her go? My pretty little Anna! The fires
of hell for those damned green stones of yours, Stefani! She heard
of them and wanted to see them, and you promised."
"I? I never promised Anna! . . . So that was it? Boris, I only
saw her there. I never knew what brought her. But the boy was in
"The breed, the breed!" roared the squat man. "Ha, but you should
have seen! Those gay officers and their damned master - we left
them with their faces in the mud, Stefani; in the mud! And the
women begged. Fine music! Those proud hearts, begging Boris Karlov
for their lives - their faces in the mud! You, born of us in those
Astrakhan Hills, you denied us because you liked your fiddle and
a full belly, and to play keeper of those emeralds. The winding
paths of torture and misery and death by which they came into the
possession of that house! And always the proletariat has had to pay
in blood and daughters. You, of the people, to betray us!"
"I did not betray you. I only tried to save those who had been
kind to me."
A cunning light shot into Karlov's eyes. "The emeralds!" He struck
his pocket. "Here, Stefani; and they shall be broken up to buy bread
for our people."
"That poor boy! So he brought them! What are you going to do with
"Watch you grow thin, Stefani. You want death; you shall want food
instead. Oh, a little; enough to keep you alive. You must learn
what it is to be hungry."
The squat man picked up the bundle from the table and tore off the
wrapping paper. A violin the colour of old Burgundy lay revealed.
"Boris!" The man in the chair writhed.
"Have I waked you, Stefani?" - tenderly. "The Stradivarius - the
very grand duke of fiddles! And he and his damned officers, how
they used to call out - 'Get Stefani to fiddle for us!' And you
fiddled, dragged your genius though the mud to keep your belly warm!"
"To save a soul, Boris - the boy's. When I fiddled his uncle forgot
to drag him into an orgy. Ah, yes; I fiddled, fiddled because I had
promised his mother!"
"The Italian singer! She was lucky to die when she did. She did
not see the torch, the bayonet, and the mud. But the boy did - with
his English accent! How he escaped I don't know; but he died
to-night, and the emeralds are in my pocket. See!" Karlov held
the instrument close to the other's face. "Look at it well, this
grand duke of fiddles. Look, fiddler, look!"
The huge hands pressed suddenly. There was brittle crackling, and
a rare violin became kindling. A sob broke from the prisoner's lips.
What to Karlov was a fiddle to him was a soul. He saw the madman
fling the wreckage to the floor and grind his heels into the
fragments. Gregor shut his eyes, but he could not shut his ears;
and he sensed in that cold, demoniacal fury of the crunching heel
the rising of maddened peoples.
Meanwhile ,Captain Harrison of the Medical Corps entered the
Conover apartment briskly.
"You old vagabond, what have you been up to? I beg pardon!" - as
he saw Kitty emerge from behind Cutty's bulk.
"This is Miss Conover, Harrison."
"Very pleased, I'm sure. Luckily my case was in the coat room at
the club. I took the liberty of telephoning for Miss Frances, who
returned on the same ship with me. I concluded that your friend
would need a nurse. Let me have a look at him."
Callously but lightly and skillfully the surgeon examined the
battered head. "Escaped concussion by a hair, you might say.
Probably had his cap on. That black eye, though, is an older
affair. Who is he?"
"I suspect he's some political refugee. We don't know a thing about
him otherwise. How soon can he be moved?"
"He ought to be moved at once and given the best of care."
"I can give him that in my eagle's nest. Harrison, this chap's life
is in danger; and if we get him into my lofty diggings they won't be
able to trace him. Not far from here there's a private hospital I
know. It goes through from one street to the next. I know the
doctor. We'll have the ambulance carry the patient there, but at
the rear I'll have one of the office newspaper trucks. And after a
little wait we'll shoot the stretcher into the truck. The police
will not bother us. I've seen to that. I rather believe it falls
in with some of my work. The main idea, of course, is to rid Miss
Conover of any trouble."
"Just as you say," agreed the surgeon. "That's all I can do for
the present. I'll run down to the entrance and wait for The nurse."
"Will he live?" asked Kitty.
"Of course he will. He is in good physical condition. Imagine he
has simply been knocked out. Serious only if unattended. Your
finding him probably saved him. Twelve hours will tell the story.
May be on his feet inside a week. Still, it would be advisable to
keep him in bed as long as possible. Fagged out, I should say,
from that beard. I'll go down and wait for Miss Frances."
"And ring three tunes when you return," advised Cutty.
"All right. Did they try to strangle him or did he have something
round his neck?"
"Hanged if I know."
"All out of the room now. I want it dark. Just as soon as the
nurse arrives I'll return. Three rings." Harrison left the
Cutty spent a few minutes at the telephone, then he joined Kitty
in the living room.
"Kitty, what was the stranger like?"
"Like a gorilla. He spoke English as if he had a cold."
Cutty scowled into space. "Have a scar over an eyebrow?"
"Good gracious, I couldn't tell! Both his eyes were black and his
nose banged dreadfully. Johnny Two-Hawks probably did it."
"Bully for Two-Hawks! Kitty, you're a marvel. Not a flivver from
the start. And those slate-blue eyes of yours don't miss many
"Listen!" she interrupted, taking hold of his sleeve. "Hear it?"
"Only the Elevated."
"Tumpitum-tump! Tumpitum-tump! Cutty, you hypnotized me this
afternoon with your horrid drums."
"The emeralds?" He managed to repress the start.
"I don't know what it is; drums, anyhow. Maybe it is the emeralds.
Something has been happening ever since you told me about them - the
misery and evil that follow their wake."
"But the story goes that women are immune, Kitty."
"Nonsense! No woman is immune where a wonderful gem is concerned.
And yet I've common sense and humour."
"And a lot more besides, Kitty. You're a raving, howling little
beauty; and how you've remained out of captivity this long is a
puzzler to me. Haven't you got a beau somewhere?"
"No, Cutty. Perhaps I'm one of those who are quite willing to wait
patiently. If the one I want doesn't come - why, I'll be a jolly,
philosophical old maid. No seconds or culls for me, as the magazine
"Exactly what do you want?" Cutty was keenly curious, for some
reason he could not define. He did not care for diamonds as stones;
but he admired any personality that flashed differently from each
new angle exposed.
"Oh, a man, among other things. I don't mean one of those godlike
chromos in the frontispiece of popular novels. He hasn't got to be
handsome. But he must be able to laugh when he's happy, when he's
hurt. I must be his business in life. He must know a lot about
things I know. I want a comrade who will come to me when he has a
joke or an ache. A gay man and whimsical. The law can make any
man a husband, but only God can make a good comrade."
"Kitty," said Cutty, his fine eyes sparkling, "I shan't have to
watch over you so much as I thought. On the other hand, you have
described me to a dot."
"Quite possibly. Vanity has its uses. It keeps us in contact with
bathtubs and nice clothes. I imagine that you would make both
husband and comrade; or you would have, twenty years ago" - without
intentional cruelty. Wasn't Cutty fifty-two?
"Kitty, you've touched a vital point. It took those twenty years
to make me companionable. Experience is something we must buy; it
isn't left in somebody's will. Let us say that I possess all the
necessary attributes save one."
"And what is that?"
"Youth, Kitty. And take the word of a senile old dotard, your young
man, when you find him, will lack many of the attributes you require.
On the other hand, there is always the possibility that these will
develop as you jog along. The terrible pity of youth is that it has
the habit of conferring these attributes rather than finding them.
You put garlands on the heads of snow images, and the first glare of
sunshine - pouf!"
"Cutty, I'm beginning to like you immensely" - smiling. "Perhaps
women ought to have two husbands - one young and handsome and the
other old and wise like yourself."
Cutty wished he were alone in order to analyze the stab. Old! When
he knew that mentally and physically he could take and break a dozen
Two-Hawks. Old! He had never thought himself that. Fifty-two
years; they had piled up on him without his appreciation of the
fullness of the score. And yet he was more than a match for any
ordinary man of thirty in sinew and brain; and no man met the new
morning with more zest than he himself met it. But to Kitty he was
old! Lavender and oak leaves were being draped on his door knob.
"Why do you laugh?"
"Oh, because - Hark!"
The two of them ran to the bedroom door.
"Olga! Olga!" And then a guttural level jumble of sounds.
Kitty's quick brain reached out for a similitude - water rushing
over ragged boulders.
"Olga!" she whispered. "He is a Russian!"
"There are Serbian Olgas and Bulgarian Olgas and Rumanian Olgas.
Probably his sweetheart."
"The poor thing!"
"Sounds like Russian," added Cutty, his conscience pricking him.
But he welcomed that "Olga." It would naturally put a damper on
Kitty's interest. "There's Harrison with the nurse.
Quarter of an hour later the patient was taken down to the ambulance
and conveyed to the private hospital. Cutty had no way of
ascertaining whether they were followed; but he hoped they would be.
The knowledge that their victim was in a near-by hospital would
naturally serve to relax the enemy vigilance temporarily; and this
would permit safely and secretly the second leg of the journey - that
to his own apartment.
He decided to let an hour go past; then Two-Hawks was taken through
the building to the rear and transferred to the truck. Cutty sat
with the driver while Captain Harrison and the nurse rode inside
with the patient.
On the way Cutty was rather disturbed by the deep impression Kitty
Conover had made upon his heart and mind. That afternoon he had
looked upon her with fatherly condescension, as the pretty daughter
of the two he had loved most. From the altitude of his fifty-two
he had gazed down upon her twenty-four, weighing her as like all
young women of twenty-four - pleasure-loving and beau-hunting and
fashion-scorched; and in a flash she had revealed the formed mind
of a woman of thirty. Altitude. He had forgotten that relative
to altitudes there are always two angles of vision - that from the
summit and that from the green valley below. Kitty saw him beyond
the tree line, but just this side of the snows - and matched his
condescension with pity! He chuckled. Doddering old ass, what
did it matter how she looked at him?
Beautiful and young and full of common sense, yet dangerously
romantical. To wait for the man she wanted, what did that signify
but romance? And there was her Irish blood to consider. The
association of pretty nurse and interesting patient always afforded
excellent background for sentimental nonsense, the obligations of
the one and the gratitude of the other. Well, he had nipped that
in the bud.
And why hadn't he taken this Two-Hawks person - how easy it was to
fall into Kitty's way of naming the chap! - why hadn't he taken him
directly to the Roosevelt? Why all this pother and secrecy over
a total stranger? Stefani Gregor, who lived opposite Kitty and who
hadn't prospered particularly since the day he had exhibited the
drums of jeopardy - he was the reason. These were volcanic days,
and a friend of Stefani Gregor - who played the violin like
Paganini - might well be worth the trouble of a little courtesy.
Then, too, there was that mark of the thong - a charm, a military
identification disk or something of value. Whatever it was, the
rogues had got it. Murder and loot. And as soon as he returned
to consciousness the young fellow would be making inquiries.
Perhaps Kitty's point of view regarding a certain duffer aged
fifty-two was nearer the truth than the duffer himself realized.
Second childhood! As if the drums of jeopardy would ever again
see light, after that tempest of fire and death - that mud
One thing was certain - there would be no more cat-napping. The
game was on again. He was assured of that side of it.
Green stones, the sunlight breaking against the flaws in a shower
of golden sparks; green as the pulp of a Champagne grape; the drums
of jeopardy! Murder and loot; he could understand.
Immediately after the patient was put to bed Cutty changed. A
nondescript suit of the day-labourer type and a few deft touches
of coal dust completed his make-up.
"I shan't be back until morning," he announced. "Work to do.
Kuroki will be at your service through the night, Miss Frances.
Strike that Burmese gong once, at any hour. Come along, Harrison."
"Want any company?" asked Harrison, with a belligerent twist to his
Cutty laughed. "No. You run along to your lambs. I'm running with
the wolves to-night, old scout, and you might get that spick-and-span
uniform considerably mussed up. Besides, it's raining."
"But what's to become of Miss Conover? She ought not to remain
alone in that apartment."
"Well, well! I thought of that, too. But she can take care of
"Those ruffians may call up the hospital and learn that we tricked
"Try to force the truth from Miss Conover."
"That's precisely the wherefore of this coal dust. On your way!"
Eleven o'clock. Kitty was in the kitchen, without light, her chair
by the window, which she had thrown up. She had gone to bed, but
sleep was impossible. So she decided to watch the Gregor windows.
Sometimes the mind is like a movie camera set for a double exposure.
The whole scene is visible, but the camera sees only half of it.
Thus, while she saw the windows across the court there entered the
other side of her mind a picture of the immaculate Cutty crossing
the platform with Johnny Two-Hawks thrown over his shoulder. The
mental picture obscured the actual.
She had called him old. Well, he was old. And no doubt he looked
upon her as a child, wanting her to spend the night at a hotel! The
affair was over. No one would bother Kitty Conover. Why should
they? But it took strength to shoulder a man like that. What fun
he and her father must have had together! And Cutty had loved her
mother! That made Kitty exquisitely tender for a moment. All
alone, at the age when new friendships were impossible. A lovable
man like that going down through life alone!
Census taker of alien undesirables; a queer occupation for a man so
famous as Cutty. Patriotism - to plunge into that seething
revolutionary scum to sort the dangerous madmen from the harmless
mad-men. Courage and strength and mental resource; yes, Cutty
possessed these; and he would be the kind to laugh at a joke or a
One thing, however, was indelibly printed on her mind. Stefani
Gregor - either Cutty had met and known the man or he had heard of
Suddenly she became conscious that she was blinking as one blinks
from mirror-reflected sunlight. She cast about for the source of
this phenomenon. Obliquely from between the interstices of the
fire-escape platform came a point of moving white light. She craned
her neck. A battery lamp! The round spot of light worked along the
cement floor, vanished occasionally, reappeared, and then vanished
altogether. Somebody was down there hunting for something. What?
Kitty remained with her head out of the window for some time,
unmindful of the spatter of rain. But nothing happened. The man
was gone. Of course the incident might not have the slightest
bearing upon the previous adventures of this amazing night; still,
it was suggestive. The young man had worn something round his neck.
But if his enemies had it why should this man comb the court,
unless he was a tenant and had knocked something off a window ledge?
She began to appreciate that she was very tired, and decided to go
back to bed. This time she fell asleep. Her disordered thoughts
rearranged themselves in a dazzling dream. She found herself
wandering through a glorious translucent green cavern - a huge
emerald. And in the distance she heard that unmistakable
tumpitum-tump! tumpitum-tump! It drew her irresistibly. She
fought and struggled against the fascinating sound, but it continued
to draw her on. Suddenly from round a corner came the squat man,
his hair a la Fuzzy-Wuzzy. He caught her savagely by the shoulder
and dragged her toward a fire of blazing diamonds. On the other
side of that fire was a blonde young woman with a tiara of rubies
on her head. "Save me! I am Olga, Olga!" Kitty struggled
fiercely and awoke.
The light was on. At the side of her bed were two men. One of
them was holding her bare shoulder and digging his fingers into it
cruelly. They looked like coal heavers.
"We do not wish to harm you, and won't if you're sensible. Where
did they take the man you brought
Kitty did not wrench herself loose at once. She wasn't quite sure
that this was not a continuance of her nightmare. She knew that
nightmares had a way of breaking off in the middle of things, of
never arriving anywhere. The room looked natural enough and the
pain in her shoulder seemed real enough, but one never could tell.
She decided to wait for the next episode.
"Answer!" cried the spokesman of the two, twisting Kitty's shoulder.
"Where did they take him?"
Awake! Kitty wrenched her shoulder away and swept the bedclothes
up to her chin. She was thoroughly frightened, but her brain was
clear. The spark of self-preservation flew hither and about in
search of expediencies, temporizations. She must come through this
somehow with the vantage on her side. She could not possibly betray
that poor young man, for that would entail the betrayal of Cutty
also. She saw but one avenue, the telephone; and these two men
were on the wrong side of the bed, between her and the door.
"What do you want?" Her throat was so dry she wondered whether
the words were projected far enough for them to hear.
"We want the address of the wounded man you brought into this
"They took him to a hospital."
"He was taken away from there."
"Yes, he was. You may not know where, but you will know the address
of the man who tricked us; and that will be sufficient."
"The army surgeon? He was called in by chance. I don't know where
"The man in the dress suit."
"He was with the surgeon."
"He came first. Come; we have no time to waste. We don't want to
hurt you, and we hope you will not force us.
"Will you step out of the room while I dress?"
"No. Tell us where the man lives, and you can have the whole
apartment to yourself."
"You speak English very well."
"Enough! Do you want us to bundle you up in the bedclothes and
carry you off? It will not be a pleasant experience for a pretty
young woman like yourself. Something happened to the man you knew
as Gregory. Will that make you understand?"
"You know what abduction means?"
"Your police will not catch us."
"But I might give you the wrong address."
"Try it and see what happens. Young lady, this is a bad affair
for a woman to be mixed up in. Be sensible. We are in a hurry."
"Well, you seem to have acquired at least one American habit!" said
a gruff voice from the bedroom doorway. "Raise your hands quickly,
and don't turn," went on the gruff voice. "If I shoot it will be
to kill. It is a rough game, as you say. That's it; and keep them
up. Now, then, young lady, slip on your kimono. Get up and search
these men. I'm in a hurry, too."
Kitty obeyed, very lovely in her dishevelment. Repugnant as the
task was she disarmed the two men and flung their weapons on the bed.
"Now something to tie their hands; anything that will hold."
Kitty could see the speaker now. Another coal heaver, but evidently
on her side.
"Tie their hands behind them... I warn you not to move, men. When
I say I'll shoot I mean it. Don't be afraid of hurting them, miss.
Very good. Now bandage their eyes. Handkerchiefs."
But Kitty's handkerchiefs did not run to the dimensions' required;
so she ripped up a petticoat. Torn between her eagerness to
complete a disagreeable task and her offended modesty, Kitty went
through the performance with creditable alacrity. Then she jumped
back into bed, doubled her knees, and once more drew up the
bedclothes to her chin, content to be a spectator, her eyes as wide
as ever they possibly could be.
Some secret-service man Cutty had sent to protect her. Dear old
Cutty! Small wonder he had urged her to spend the night at a hotel.
The admiration of her childhood returned, but without the shackles
of shyness. She had always trusted him absolutely, and to this
trust was now added understanding. To have him pop into her life
again in this fashion, all the ordinary approaches to intimacy
wiped out by these amazing episodes; the years bridged in an hour!
If only he were younger!
"Watch them, miss. Don't be afraid to shoot. I'll return in a
moment" - still gruffly. The secret-service man pushed his
prisoners into chairs and left the bedroom.
Kitty did not care how gruff the voice was; it was decidedly pleasant
in her ears. Gingerly she picked up one of ,the revolvers. Kitty
Conover with shooting irons in her hands, like a movie actress! She
heard a whistle. After this an interval of silence, save for the
ticking of the alarm clock on the stand. She eyed the blindfolded
men speculatively, swung out of bed, and put on her stockings and
sandals; then she sat on the edge of the bed and waited for the
sequence. Kitty Conover was going to have some queer recollections
to tell her grandchildren, providing she had any. That morning she
had risen to face a humdrum normal day. And here she was, at
midnight, hobnobbing with quiescent murder and sudden death!
To-morrow Burlingame would ask her to hustle up the Sunday stuff,
and she would hustle. She wanted to laugh, but was a little afraid
that this laughter might degenerate into incipient hysteria.
There was still in her mind a vivid recollection of her dream - the
fire of diamonds and the blonde girl with the tiara of rubies. Olga,
Olga! Russian; the whole affair was Russian. She shivered. Always
that land and people had appeared to her in sinister aspect; no
doubt an impression acquired from reading melodramas written by
Englishmen who, once upon a time, had given Russia preeminence as a
political menace. Russia, in all things - music, art, literature
- the tragic note. Stefani Gregor and Johnny Two-Hawks had roused
the enmity of some political society with this result. Nihilist or
Bolshevist or socialist, there was little choice; and Cutty sensibly
did not want her drawn into the whirlpool.
What a pleasant intimacy hers and Cutty's promised to be! And if
he hadn't casually dropped into the office that afternoon she would
have surrendered the affair to the police, and that would have been
the end of it. Amazing thought - you might jog along all your life
at the side of a person and never know him half so well as someone
you met m a tense episode, like that of the immaculate Cutty
crossing the fire escape with Two-Hawks on his shoulders!
She heard the friendly coal heaver going down the corridor to the
door. When he returned to the bedroom two men accompanied him. Not
a word was said. The two men marched off with the prisoners and
left Kitty alone with her saviour.
"Thank you," she said, simply.
"You poor little chicken, did you believe I had deserted you?" The
voice wasn't gruff now.
"Cutty?" Kitty ran to him, flinging her arms round his neck. "Oh,
Cutty's heart, which had bumped along an astonishing number of
million times in fifty-two years, registered a memorable bump against
his ribs. The touch of her soft arms and the faint, indescribable
perfume which emanates from a dainty woman's hair thrilled him beyond
any thrill he had ever known. For Kitty's mother had never put her
arms round old Cutty's neck. Of course he understood readily enough:
Molly's girl, flesh of her flesh. And she had rushed to him as she
would have rushed to her father. He patted her shoulder clumsily,
still a little dazzled for all the revelation in the analysis. The
sweet intimacy of it! The door of Paradise opened for a moment, and
then shut in his face.
"I did not recognize you at all!" she cried, standing off. "I
shouldn't have known you on the street. And it is so simple. What
a wonderful man you are!"
"For an old codger?" Cutty's heart registered another sizable bump.
Kitty laughed. "Never call yourself old to me again. Are you
always doing these things?"
"Well, I keep moving. I suspected something like this might happen.
Those two will go to the Tombs to await deportation if they are
aliens. Perhaps we can dig something out of them relative to this
man Gregor. Anyhow, we'll try."
"Cutty, I saw a man in the court with a pocket lamp before I went
to bed. He was hunting for something."
"I didn't find anything but a lot of fresh food someone had thrown
"It was you, then?"
"Yes. There was a vague possibility that your protege might have
thrown out something valuable during the struggle."
"Lord knows! A queer business, Kitty, you've lugged me into - my
own! And there is one thing I want you to remember particularly:
Life means nothing to the men opposed, neither chivalry nor ethics.
Annihilation is their business. They don't want civilization; they
want chaos. They have lost the sense of comparisons or they would
not seek to thrust Bolshevism down the throats of the rest of the
world. They say democracy has failed, and their substitute is murder
and loot. Kitty, I want you to leave this roost."
"I shall stay until my lease expires."
"Why? In the face of real danger?"
"Because I intend to, Cutty - unless you kidnap me."
"Have you any good reason?"
"You'll laugh; but something tells me to stay here."
But Cutty did not laugh. "Very well. Tomorrow an assistant janitor
will be installed. His name is Antonio Bernini. Every night he
will whistle up the tube. Whistle back. If you are going out for
the evening notify him where you intend to go and when you expect
to be back. A wire from your bed to his cot will be installed. In
danger, press the button. That's the best I can do for you, since
you decide to stick. I don't believe anything more will happen
to-night, but from now on you will be watched. Never come directly
to my apartment. Break your journey two or three times with taxis.
Always use Elevator Four. The boy is mine; belongs to the service.
So our Bolshevik friends won't gather anything about you from him."
As a matter of fact, Cutty had now come to the conviction that it
would be well to let Kitty remain here as a lure. He had urged her
to leave, and she had refused, so his conscience was tolerably clear.
Besides, she would henceforth be guarded with a ceaseless efficiency
second only to that which encompasses a President of the United
States. Always some man of the service would be watching those
who watched her. This was going to develop into a game of small
nets, one or two victims at a time. Because these enemies of
civilization lacked coherence in action there would be slim chance
of rounding them up in bulk. But from now on men would vanish - one
here, a pair there, perhaps on occasion four or five. And those who
had known them would know them no more. The policy would be that
employed by the British in the submarine campaign - mysterious
silence after the evanishment.
"It's all so exciting!" said Kitty. "But that poor old man Gregor!
He had a wonderful violin, Cutty; and sometimes I used to hear him
play folklore music - sad, haunting melodies."
"We'll know in a little while what's become of him. I doubt there
is a foreign organization in the city that hasn't one or more of
our men on the inside. A word will be dropped somewhere. I'm
rarely active on this side of the Atlantic; and what I'm doing now
is practically due to interest. But every active operative in New
York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago is on the lookout for a
man who, if left free, will stir up a lot of trouble. He has
leadership, this Boris Karlov, a former intimate here of Trotzky's.
We have reason to believe that he slipped through the net in San
Francisco. Probably under a cleverly forged passport. Now please
describe the man who came in with the policeman. I haven't had
time to make inquiries at the precinct, where they will have a
minute description of him."
"He made me think of a gorilla, just as I told you. His face was
pretty well banged up. Naturally I did not notice any scar. A
dreadfully black beard, shaven."
"Squat, powerful, like a gorilla. Lord, I wish I'd had a glimpse
of him! He's one of the few topnotchers I haven't met. He's the
spark, the hand on the plunger. The powder is all ready in this
land of ours; our job is to keep off the sparks until we can spread
the stuff so it will only go puff instead of bang. This man Karlov
is bad medicine for democracy. Poor devil!"
"Why do you say that?"
"Because I'm honestly sorry for them. This fellow Karlov has
suffered. He is now a species of madman nothing will cure. He and
his kind have gained their ends in Russia, but the impetus to kill
and burn and loot is still unchecked. Sorry, yes; but we can't have
them here. They remind me of nothing so much as those blind deep-sea
monsters in one of Kipling's tales, thrown up into air and sunlight
by a submarine volcano, slashing and bellowing. But we can't have
them here any longer. Keep those revolvers under your pillow. All
you have to do is to point. Nobody will know that you can't shoot.
And always remember, we're watching over you. Good-night."
"Mouquin's for lunch?"
"Well, I'll be hanged! But it can't be, Kitty. You and I must not
be seen in public. If that was Karlov you will be marked, and so
will any one who travels with you."
"Fact. But come up to the roost - changing taxis - to-morrow at
five and have tea."
Down in the street Cutty bore into the slanting rain, no longer a
drizzle. With his hands jammed in his side pockets and his gaze
on the sparkling pavement he continued downtown, in a dangerously
ruminative frame of mind, dangerous because had he been followed he
would not have known it.
Molly Conover's girl! That afternoon it had been Tommy Conover's
girl; now she was Molly's. It occurred to him for the first time
that he was one of those unfortunate individuals who are always able
to open the door to Paradise for others and are themselves forced to
remain outside. Hadn't he introduced Conover to Molly, and hadn't
they fallen in love on the spot? Too old to be a hero and not old
enough to die. He grinned. Some day he would use that line.
Of course it wasn't Kitty who set this peculiar cogitation in motion.
It wasn't her arms and the perfume of her hair. The actual thrill
had come from a recrudescence of a vanished passion; anyhow, a
passion that had been held suspended all these years. Still, it
offered a disquieting prospect. He was sensible enough to realize
that he would be in for some confusion in trying to disassociate the
phantom from the quick.
Most pretty young women were flitter-flutters, unstable, shallow,
immature. But this little lady had depth, the sense of the living
drama; and, Lord, she was such a beauty! Wanted a man who would
laugh when he was happy and when he was hurt. A bull's-eye - bang,
like that! For the only breed worth its salt was the kind that
laughed when happy and when hurt.
The average young woman, rushing into his arms the way she had,
would not have stirred him in the least. And immediately upon the
heels of this thought came a taste of the confusion he saw in store
for himself. Was it the phantom or Kitty? He jumped to another
angle to escape the impasse. Kitty's coming to him in that fashion
raised an unpalatable suggestion. He evidently looked fatherly, no
matter how he felt. Hang these fifty-two years, to come crowding
his doorstep all at once!
He raised his head and laughed. He suddenly remembered now. At
nine that night he had been scheduled to deliver a lecture on the
Italo-Jugoslav muddle before a distinguished audience in the
ballroom of a famous hotel! He would have some fancy apologizing
to do in the morning.
He stepped into a doorway, then peered out cautiously. There was
not a single pedestrian in sight. No need of hiking any further
in this rain; so he hunted for a taxi. To-morrow he would set the
wires humming relative to old Stefani Gregor. Boris Karlov, if
indeed it were he, would lead the way. Hadn't Stefani and Boris
been boyhood friends, and hadn't Stefani betrayed the latter in
some political affair? He wasn't sure; but a glance among his
1912 notes would clear up the fog.
But that young chap! Who was he? Cutty set his process of logical
deduction moving. Karlov - always supposing that gorilla was
Karlov - had come in from the west. So had the young man. Gregor's
inclinations had been toward the aristocracy; at least, that had
been the impression. A Bolshevik would not seek haven with a man
like Gregor, as this young man had. But Two-Hawks bothered him;
the name bothered him, because it had no sense either in English or
in Russian. And yet he was sure he had heard it somewhere. Perhaps
his notes would throw some light on that subject, too.
When he arrived home Miss Frances, the nurse, informed him that the
patient was babbling in an outlandish tongue. For a long time
Cutty stood by the bedside, translating.
"Olga! . . . Olga! . . . And she gave me food, Stefani, this
charming American girl. Never must we forget that. I was hungry,
and she gave me food.... But I paid for it. You, gone, there was
no one else.... And she is poor.... The torches! ... I am burning,
burning! ... Olga!"
"What does he say?" asked the nurse.
"It is Russian. Is it a crisis?" he evaded.
"Not necessarily. Doctor Harrison said he would probably return to
consciousness sometime to-morrow. But he must have absolute quiet.
No visitors. A bad blow, but not of fatal consequence. I've seen
hundreds of cases much worse pull out in a fortnight. You'd better
go to bed, sir."
"All right," said Cutty, gratefully. He was tired. The ball did
not rebound as it used to; the resilience was petering out. But
look alive, there! Big events were toward, and he must not stop to
feel of his pulse.
Three o'clock in the morning.
The man in the Gregor bedroom sat down on the bed, the pocket lamp
dangling from his hairy fingers. Not a nook or cranny in the
apartment had he overlooked. In every cupboard, drawer; in the beds
and under; the trunks; behind the radiators and the pictures; the
shelves and clothes in the closets. What he sought he had not found.
His vengeance would not be complete without those green stones in
his hands. Anna would call from her grave. Pretty little Anna, who
had trusted Stefani Gregor, and gone to her doom.
All these thousands of miles, by hook and crook, by forged passports,
by sums of money, sleepless nights and hungry days - for this! The
last of that branch of the breed out of his reach, and the stones
vanished! A queer superstition had taken lodgment in his brain; he
recognized it now for the first time. The possession of those stones
would be a sign from God to go on. Green stones for bread! Green
stones for bread! The drums of jeopardy! In his hands they would
But wait! That pretty girl across the way. Supposing he had
intrusted the stones to her? Or hidden them there without her being
aware of it?
Kitty Conover ate in the kitchen. First off, this statement is
likely to create the false impression that there was an ordinary
grain here, a wedge of base hemlock in the citron. Not so. She
ate in the kitchen because she could not yet face that vacant chair
in the dining room without choking and losing her appetite. She
could not look at the chair without visualizing that glorious,
whimsical, fascinating mother of hers, who could turn grumpy janitors
into comedians and send importunate bill collectors away with nothing
but spangles in their heads.
So long as she stayed out of the dining room she could accept her
loneliness with sound philosophy. She knew, as all sensible people
know, that there were ghosts, that memory had haunted galleries, and
that empty chairs were evocations.
Her days were so busily active, there were so many first nights and
concerts, that she did not mind such evenings as she had to spend
alone in the apartment. Persons were in and out of the office all
through the day, and many of them entertaining. For only real
persons ever penetrated that well-guarded cubby-hole off the noisy
city room. Many of them were old friends of her mother. Of course
they were a little pompous, but this was less innate than acquired;
and she knew that below they were worth while. She had come to the
conclusion that successful actors and actresses were the only people
in America who spoke English fluently and correctly.
Yes, she ate in the kitchen; but she would have been a fit subject
for the fastidious Fragonard. Kitty was naturally an exquisite.
Everything about her was dainty, her body and her mind. The
background of pans and dishes, gas range and sink did not absorb
Kitty; her presence here in the morning lifted everything out of the
rut of commonplace and created an atmosphere that was ornamental.
Pink peignoir and turquoise-blue boudoir cap, silk petticoat and
stockings and adorable little slippers. No harm to tell the secret!
Kitty was educating herself for a husband. She knew that if she
acquired the habit of daintiness at breakfast before marriage it
would become second nature after marriage. Moreover, she was
determined that it should be tremendous news that would cause a
newspaper to intervene. She had all the confidence in the world
in her mirror.
She got her breakfast this morning, singing. She was happy. She
had found a door out of monotony; theatrical drama had given way to
the living. She had opened the book of adventure and she was going
straight through to finis. That there was an undertow of the
sinister escaped her or she ignored it.
In all high-strung Irish souls there is a bit of the old wife, the
foreteller; the gift of prescience; and Kitty possessed this in a
mild degree. Something held her here, when for a dozen reasons she
should have gone elsewhere.
She strained the coffee, humming a tune out of The Mikado, the
revival of which she had seen lately:
My object all sublime
I shall achieve in time
To make the punishment fit the crime.
The punishment fit the crime.
And make the prisoner pent
A source of innocent merriment.
Of innocent merriment!
And there you were! To make the punishment fit the crime. Wall in
the Bolsheviki, the I.W.W.'s, the Red Socialist, the anarchists - and
let them try it for ten years. Those left would be glad enough to
embrace democracy and sanity. The poor benighted things, to imagine
that they were going forward there in Russia! What kind of mentality
was it that could conceive a blessing to humanity in the abolition of
baths and work? And Cutty felt sorry for them. Well, as for that, so
did Kitty Conover; and she would continue feeling sorry for them so
long as they remained thousands of miles away. But next door!
"Grapefruit, eggs on toast, and coffee; mademoiselle is served!" she
cried, gayly, sitting down and attacking her breakfast with the zest
of healthy youth.
Often the eyes are like the lenses of a camera minus the sensitized
plate; they see objects without printing them. Thus a dozen times
Kitty's glance absently swept the range and the racks on each side
of the stovepipe, one rack burdened with an empty pancake jug and
the other cluttered with old-fashioned flatirons; but she saw nothing.
She was carefully reviewing the events of the night before. She
could not dismiss the impression that Cutty knew Stefani Gregor or
had heard of him; and in either case it signified that Gregor was
something more than a valet. And decidedly Two-Hawks was not of the
By the time she was ready to leave for the office the Irish blood
in her was seething and bubbling and dancing. She knew she would
do crazy, impulsive things all day. It was easy to analyze this
exuberance. She had reached out into the dark and touched danger,
and found a new thrill in a humdrum world.
The Great Dramatist had produced a tremendous drama and she had
watched curtain after curtain fall from the wrong side of the lights.
Now she had been given a speaking part; and she would be down stage
for a moment or two - dusting the furniture - while the stars were
retouching their make-up. It was not the thought of Cutty, of
Gregor, of Johnny Two-Hawks, of hidden treasure; simply she had
arrived somewhere in the great drama.
When she reached the office she had a hard time of it to settle down
to the day's work.
"Hustle up that Sunday stuff," said Burlingame. Kitty laughed.
Just as she had pictured it. She hustled.
"I have it!" she cried, breaking a spell of silence.
"What - St. Vitus?" inquired Burlingame, patiently.
"No; the Morgue!"
"What the dickens - !"
But Kitty was no longer there to answer.
In all newspaper offices there is a department flippantly designated
as the Morgue. Obituaries on ice, as it were. A photograph or an
item concerning a great man, a celebrated, beauty or some notorious
rogue; from the king calibre down to Gyp-the-Blood brand, all
indexed and laid away against the instant need. So, running her
finger tip down the K's, Kitty found Karlov. The half tone which
she eventually exhumed from the tin box was an excellent likeness of
the human gorilla who had entered her rooms with the policeman. She
would be able to carry this positive information to Cutty that
When she left the office at four she took the Subway to Forty-second
Street. She engaged a taxi from the Knickerbocker and discharged it
at the north entrance to the Waldorf, which she entered. She walked
through to the south entrance and got into another taxi. She left
this at Wanamaker's, ducking and dodging through the crowded aisles.
She selected this hour because, being a woman, she knew that the
press of shoppers would be the greatest during the day. Karlov's
man and the secret-service operative detailed by Cutty both made the
same mistake - followed Kitty into the dry-goods shop and lost her
as completely as if she had popped up in China. At quarter to five
she stepped into Elevator Number Four of the building which Cutty
called his home, very well pleased with herself.
To understand Kitty at this moment one must be able to understand
the Irish; and nobody does or can or will. Consider her twenty-four
years, her corpuscular inheritance, the love of drama and the love
of adventure. Imagine possessing sound ideas of life and the ability
to apply them, and spiritually always galloping off on some broad
highway - more often than not furnished by some engaging scoundrel
of a novelist - and you will be able to construct a half tone of
That civilization might be actually on its deathbed, that positively
half of the world was starving and dying and going mad through the
reaction of the German blight touched her in a detached way. She
felt sorry, dreadfully sorry, for the poor things; but as she could
not help them she dismissed them from her thoughts every morning after
she had read the paper, the way most of us do here in these United
States. You cannot grapple with the misery of an unknown person
several thousand miles away.
That which had taken place during the past twenty-four hours was to
her a lark, a blindman's buff for grown-ups. It was not in her to
tremble, to shudder, to hesitate, to weigh this and to balance
that. Irish curiosity. Perhaps in the original that immortal line
read: "The Irish rush in where angels fear to tread," and some
proofreader had a particular grudge against the race.
When the elevator reached the seventeenth floor, the passengers
surged forth. All except Kitty, who tarried.
"We don't carry to the eighteenth, miss.
"I am Miss Conover," she replied. "I dared not tell you until we
"I see." The boy nodded, swept her with an appraising glance, and
sent the elevator up to the loft.
"You understand? If any one inquires about me, you don't remember."
"Yes, miss. The boss's orders."
"And if any one does inquire you are to report at once."
The boy rolled back the door and Kitty stepped out upon a Laristan
runner of rose hues and cobalt blue. She wondered what it cost
Cutty to keep up an establishment like this. There were fourteen
rooms, seven facing the north and seven facing the west, with
glorious vistas of steam-wreathed roofs and brick Matterhorns and
the dim horizon touching the sea. Fine rugs and tapestries and
furniture gathered from the four ends of the world; but wholly
livable and in no sense atmospheric of the museum. Cutty had
She had visited the apartment but twice before, once in her childhood
and again when she was eighteen. Cutty had given a dinner in honour
of her mother's birthday. She smiled as she recalled the incident.
Cutty had placed a box of candles at the side of her mother's plate
and told her to stick as many into the cake as she thought best.
"Hello!" said Cutty, emerging from one of the doors. "What the
dickens have you been up to? My man has just telephoned me that he
lost track of you in Wanamaker's."
Kitty explained, delighted.
"Well, well! If you can lose a man such as I set to watch you,
you'll have no trouble shaking the others."
"It was Karlov, Cutty."
"How did you learn?"
"Searched the morgue and found a half tone of him. Positively
Karlov. How is the patient?"
"Harrison says he's pulling round amazingly. A tough skull. He'll
be up for his meals in no time."
"How do you do it?" she asked with a gesture.
"Manage a place like this? In a busy office district. It's the
most wonderful apartment in New York. Riverside has nothing like
it. It must cost. like sixty."
"The building is mine, Kitty. That makes it possible. An uncle
who knew I hated money and the responsibilities that go with it, died
and left it to me."
"Why, Cutty, you must be rich!"
"I'm sorry. What can I do? I can't give it away."
"But you don't have to work!"
"Oh, yes, I do. I'm that kind. I'd die of a broken heart if I had
to sit still. It's the game."
"Did mother know?"
With the toe of a snug little bronze boot Kitty drew an outline round
a pattern in the rug.
"Love is a funny thing," was her comment.
"It sure is, old-timer. But what put the thought into your head?"
"I was thinking how very much mumsy must have been in love with
"But she never knew that I loved her, Kitty."
"What's that got to do with it? If she had wanted money you wouldn't
have had the least chance in the world."
"Probably not! But what would you have done in your mother's place?"
"Snapped you up like that!" Kitty flashed back.
"You cheerful little - little - "
"Liar. Say it!" Kitty laughed. "But am I a cheerful little liar?
I don't know. It would be an awful temptation. Somebody to wait
on you; heaps of flowers when you wanted them; beautiful gowns and
thingummies and furs and limousines. I've often wondered what I
should do if I found myself with love and youth on one side and
money and attraction on the other. I've always been in straitened
circumstances. I never spent a dollar in all my days when I didn't
think I ought to have held back three or four cents of it. You
can't know, Cutty, what it is to be poor and want beautiful things
and good times. Of course. I couldn't marry just money. There
would have to be some kind of a man to go with it. Someone
interesting enough to make me forget sometimes that I'd thrown away
a lover for a pocket-book."
"Would you marry me, Kitty?"
"Are you serious?"
"Let's suppose I am"
"No. I couldn't marry you, Cutty I should always be having my
mother's ghost as a rival."
"But supposing I fell in love with you?"
"Then I'd always be doubting your constancy. But what queer talk!"'
"Kitty, you're a joy,! Lordy, my luck in dropping in to see you
"And a little whippersnapper like me calling a great man like you
"Well, if it embarrasses you, you might switch to papa once in a
Kitty's laughter rang down the corridor. "I'll remember that
whenever I want to make you mad. Who's here?"
"Nobody but Harrison and the nurse. Both good citizens, and I've
taken them into my confidence to a certain extent. You can talk
freely before them."
"Am I to see the patient?"
"Harrison says not. About Wednesday your Two-Hawks will be sitting
up. I've determined to keep the poor devil here until he can take
care of himself. But he is flat broke."
"He said he had money."
"Well, Karlov's men stripped him clean."
"Have you any idea who he is?"
"To be honest, that's one of the reasons why I want to keep him here.
He's Russian, for all his Oxford English and his Italian gestures;
and from his babble I imagine he's been through seven kinds of hell.
Torches and hobnailed boots and the incessant call for a woman named
Olga - a young woman about eighteen."
"How did you find that out?"
"From a photograph I found in the lining of his coat. A pretty
"Good heavens!" - recollecting her dream. "Where was it printed?"
"Amateur photography. I'll pick it up on the way to the living
It was nothing like the blonde girl of her dream. Still, the girl
was charming. Kitty turned over the photograph. There was writing
on the back.
"Russian? What does it say?"
"'To Ivan from Olga with all her love.'"
Cutty was conscious of the presence of an indefensible malice in
his tones. Why the deuce should he be bitter - glad that the chap
had left behind a sweetheart? He knew exactly the basis of Kitty's
interest, as utterly detached as that of a reporter going to a fire.
On the day the patient could explain himself, Kitty's interest
would automatically cease. An old dog in the manger? Malice.
"Cutty, something dreadful has happened to this poor young woman.
That's what makes him cry out the name. Caught in that horror, and
probably he alone escaped. Is it heartless to be glad I'm an
American? Do they let in these Russians?"
"Not since the Trotzky regime. I imagine Two-Hawks slipped through
on some British passport. He'll probably tell us all about it when
he comes round. But how do you feel after last night's bout?"
"Alive! And I'm going on being alive, forever and ever! Oh, those
awful drums! They look like dead eyes in those dim corners.
Tumpitum-tump! Tumpitum-tump!" she cried, linking her arm in his.
"What a gorgeous view! Just what I'm going to do when my ship comes
in - live in a loft. I really believe I could write up here - I mean
worth-while things I could enjoy writing and sell."
"It's yours if you want it when I leave."
"And I'd have a fine time explaining to my friends! You old innocent!
... Or are you so innocent?"
"We do live in a cramped world. But I meant it. Don't forget to
whistle down to Tony Bernini when you get back home to-night."
"Why the gurgle?"
"Because I'm tremendously excited. All my life I've wanted to do
mysterious things. I've been with the audience all the while, and I
want to be with the actors."
"You'll give some man a wild dance."
"If I do I'll dance with him. Now lead me to the cookies."
She was the life of the tea table. Her wit, her effervescence, her
whimsicalities amused even the prim Miss Frances. When she recounted
the exploit of the camouflaged fan, Cutty and Harrison laughed so
loudly that the nurse had to put her linger on her lips. They might
wake the patient.
"I am really interested in him," went on Kitty. "I won't deny it.
I want to see how it's going to turn out. He was very nice after I
let him into the kitchen. A perfectly English manner and voice, and
Italian gestures when off his guard. I feel so sorry for him. What
strangers we races are to each other! Until the war we hardly knew
the Canadians. The British didn't know us at all, and the French
became acquainted with the British for the first time in history.
And the German thought he knew us all and really knew nobody. All
the Russians I ever saw were peasants of the cattle type; so that the
word Russian conjures up two pictures - the grand duke at Monte Carlo
and a race of men who wear long beards and never bathe except when it
rains. Think of it! For the first time since God set mankind on
earth peoples are becoming acquainted. I never saw a Russian of this
"A leaf in the whirlpool. - Anyhow, we'll keep him here until he's on
his feet. By the way, never answer any telephone call - I mean, go
anywhere on a call - unless you are sure of the speaker."
"I begin to feel important."
"You are important. You have suddenly become a connecting link
between this Karlov and the man we wish to protect. I'll confess I
wanted you out of that apartment at first; but when I saw that you
were bent on remaining, I decided to make use of you."
"You are going to give me a part in the play?"
"Yes. You are to go about your affairs as always, just as if nothing
had happened. Only when you wish to come here will you play any game
like that of to-day. Then it will be advisable. Switch your route
each time. Your real part is to be that of lure. Through you we shall
gradually learn who Karlov's associates are. If you don't care to play
the role all you have to do is to move."
"The idea! I'm grateful for anything. You men will never understand.
You go forth into the world each day - politics, diplomacy, commerce,
war - while we women stay at home and knit or darn socks or take
care of the baby or make over our clothes and hats or do household
work or play the piano or read. Never any adventure. Never any
games. Never any clubs. The leaving your house to go to the office
is an adventure. A train from here to Philadelphia is an adventure.
We women are always craving it. And about all we can squeeze out
of life is shopping and hiding the bills after marriage, and going
to the movies before marriage with young men our fathers don't like.
We can't even stroll the street and admire the handsome gowns of our
more fortunate sisters the way you men do. When you see a pretty
woman on the street do you ever stop to think that there are ten at
home eating their hearts out? Of course you don't. So I'm going
through with this, to satisfy suppressed instincts; and I shan't
promise to trot along as usual."
"They may attempt to kidnap you, Kitty."
"That doesn't frighten me."
"So I observe. But if they ever should have the luck to kidnap you,
tell all you know at once. There's only one way up here - the
elevator. I can get out to the fire escape, but none can get in
from that direction, as the door is of steel."
"And, of course, you'll take me into your confidence completely?"
"When the time comes. Half the fun in an adventure is the element
of the unexpected," said Cutty.
"Where did you first meet Stefani Gregor?"
Captain Harrison laughed. He liked this girl. She was keen and
could be depended upon, as witness last night's work. Her real
danger lay in being conspicuously pretty, in looking upon this affair
as merely a kind of exciting game, when it was tragedy.
"What makes you think I know Stefani Gregor?" asked Cutty, genuinely
"When I pronounced that name you whirled upon me as if I had struck
"Very well. When we learn who Two-Hawks is I'll tell you what I
know about Gregor. And in the meantime you will be ceaselessly under
guard. You are an asset, Kitty, to whichever side holds you.
Captain Harrison is going to stay for dinner. Won't you join us?"
"I'm going to a studio potluck with some girls. And it's time I was
on the way. I'll let your Tony Bernini know. Home probably at ten."
Cutty went with her to the elevator and when he returned to the tea
table he sat down without speaking.
"Why not kidnap her yourself," suggested Harrison, "if you don't want
her in this?"
"She would never forgive me."
"If she found it out."
"She's the kind who would. What do you think of her, Miss Frances?"
"I think she is wonderful. Frankly, I should tell her everything
- if there is anything more to be told."
When dinner was over, the nurse gone back to the patient and Captain
Harrison to his club, Cutty lit his odoriferous pipe and patrolled
the windows of his study. Ever since Kitty's departure he had been
mulling over in his mind a plan regarding her future - to add a
codicil to his will, leaving her five thousand a year, so Molly's
girl might always have a dainty frame for her unusual beauty. The
pity of it was that convention denied him the pleasure of settling
the income upon her at once, while she was young. He might outlive
her; you never could tell. Anyhow, he would see to the codicil. An
accident might step in.
He got out his chrysoprase. In one corner of the room there was a
large portfolio such as artists use for their proofs and sketches;
and from this he took a dozen twelve-by-fourteen-inch photographs
of beautiful women, most of them stage beauties of bygone years.
The one on top happened to be Patti. The adorable Patti! ... Linda,
Violetta, Lucia. Lord, what a nightingale she had been! He laughed
laid the photograph on the desk, and dipped his hand into a canvas
bag filled with polished green stones which would have great
commercial value if people knew more about them; for nothing else in
the world is quite so beautifully green.
He built tiaras above the lovely head and laid necklaces across the
marvellous throat. Suddenly a phenomenon took place. The roguish
eyes of the prima donna receded and vanished and slate-blue ones
replaced them. The odd part of it was, he could not dissipate the
fancied eyes for the replacement of the actual. Patti, with
slate-blue eyes! He discarded the photograph and selected another.
He began the game anew and was just beginning the attack on the
problem uppermost in his mind when the phenomenon occurred again.
Kitty's eyes! What infernal nonsense! Kitty had served merely to
enliven his tender recollections of her mother. Twenty-four and
fifty-two. And yet, hadn't he just read that Maeterlinck, fifty-six,
had married Mademoiselle Dahon, many years younger?
In a kind of resentful fury he pushed back his chair and fell to
pacing, eddies and loops and spirals of smoke whirling and sweeping
behind him. The only light was centred upon the desk, so he might
have been some god pacing cloud-riven Olympus in the twilight. By
and by he laughed; and the atmosphere - mental - cleared.
Maeterlinck, fifty-six, and Cutty, fifty-two, were two different men.
Cutty might mix his metaphors occasionally, but he wasn't going to
mix his ghosts.
He returned to his singular game. More tiaras and necklaces; and
his brain took firm hold of the theme which had in the beginning
lured him to the green stones.
Two-Hawks. That name bothered him. He knew he had heard it before,
but never in the Russian tongue. It might be that the chap had been
spoofing Kitty. Still, he had also called himself Hawksley.
The smoke thickened; there were frequent flares of matches. One by
one Cutty discarded the photographs, dropping them on the floor
beside his chair, his mind boring this way and that for a solution.
He had now come to the point where he ceased to see the photographs
or the green stones. The movements of his hands were almost
automatic. And in this abstract manner he came to the last
photograph. He built a necklace and even ventured an earring.
It was a glorious face - black eyes that followed you; full lipped;
every indication of fire and genius. It must be understood that he
rarely saw the photographs when he played this game. It wasn't an
amusing pastime, a mental relaxation. It was a unique game of
solitaire, the photographs and chrysoprase being substituted for
cards; and in some inexplicable manner it permitted him to concentrate
upon whatever problem filled his thoughts. It was purely accidental
that he saw Patti to-night or recalled her art. Coming upon the last
photograph without having found a solution of the riddle of Two-Hawks
he relaxed the mental pressure; and his sight reestablished its
ability to focus.
"Good Lord!" he ejaculated.
He seized the photograph excitedly, scattering the green stones.
She! The Calabrian, the enchanting colouratura who had vanished
from the world at the height of her fame, thirty-odd years gone!
Cutty saw himself at twenty, in the pit at La Scala, with music-mad
Milan all about him. Two-Hawks! He remembered now. The nickname
the young bloods had given her because she had been eternally
guarded by her mother and aunt, fierce-beaked Calabrians, who had
determined that Rosa should never throw herself away on some beggarly
And this chap was her son! Yesterday, rich and powerful, with a
name that was open sesame wherever he went; to-day, hunted,
penniless, and forlorn. Cutty sank back in his chair, stunned by
the revelation. In that room yonder!
For a long time Cutty sat perfectly motionless, his pipe at an
upward angle - a fine commentary on the strength of his jaws - and
his gaze boring into the shadows beyond his desk. What was
uppermost in his thoughts now was the fateful twist of events that
had brought the young man to the assured haven of this towering
All based, singularly enough, upon his wanting to see Molly's girl
for a few moments; and thus he had established himself in Kitty's
thoughts. Instead of turning to the police she had turned to him.
Old Cutty, reaching round vaguely for something to stay the current
- age; hoping by seeing this living link 'twixt the present and the
past to stay the afterglow of youth. As if that could be done! He,
who had never paid any attention to gray hairs and wrinkles and
time, all at once found himself in a position similar to that of
the man who supposes he has an inexhaustible sum at the bank and
has just been notified that he has overdrawn.
Cutty knew that life wasn't really coordination and premeditation
so much as it was coincident. Trivials. Nothing was absolute and
dependable but death; between birth and death a series of accidents
and incidents and coincidents which men called life.
He tapped his pipe on the ash tray and stood up. He gathered the
chrysoprase and restored the stones to the canvas bag. Then he
carefully stacked the photographs and carried them to the portfolio.
The green stones he deposited in a safe, from which he took a
considerable bundle of small notebooks, returning to the desk with
these. Denatured dynamite, these notebooks, full of political
secrets, solutions of mysteries that baffle historians. A truly
great journalist never writes history as a historian; he is afraid
to. Sometimes conjecture is safer than fact. And these little
notebooks were the repository of suppressed facts ranging over
twenty-odd years. Gerald Stanley Lee would have recognized them
instantly as coming under the head of what he calls Sh!
An hour later Cutty returned the notebooks to their abiding place,
his memory refreshed. The poor devil! A dissolute father and uncle,
dissolute forbears, corrupt blood weakened by intermarriage, what
hope was there? Only one - the rich, fiery blood of the Calabrian
But why had the chap come to America? Why not England or the
Riviera, where rank, even if shorn of its prerogatives, is still
treated respectfully? But America!
Cutty's head went up. Perhaps that was it - to barter his phantom
greatness for money, to dazzle some rich fool of an American girl.
In that case Karlov would be welcome. But wait a moment. The chap
had come in from the west. In that event there should be an Odyssey
of some kind tucked away in the affair.
Cutty resumed his pacing. The moment his imagination caught the
essentials he visualized the Odyssey. Across mountains and deserts,
rivers and seas, he followed Two-Hawks in fancy, pursued by an
implacable hatred, more or less historical, of which the lad was
less a cause than an abstract object. And Karlov - Cutty understood
Karlov now - always span near, his hate reenergizing his faltering
There was evidently some iron in this Two-Hawks' blood. Fear never
would have carried him thus far. Fear would have whispered,