Part 3 out of 6
"Futility! Futility!" And he would have bent his head to the stroke.
So then there was resource and there was courage. And he lay in
yonder room, beaten and penniless. The top piece in the grim irony
- to have come all these thousands of miles unscathed, to be dropped
at the goal. But America? Well, that would be solved later.
"By the Lord Harry!" Cutty stopped and struck his hands together.
>From the hour Kitty had pronounced the name Stefani Gregor an idea
had taken lodgment, an irrepressible idea, that somewhere in this
drama would be the drums of jeopardy. The mark of the thong! Never
any doubt of it now. Those magnificent emeralds were here in New
York, The mob - the Red Guard - hammering on the doors, what would
have been Two-Hawks' most natural first thought? To gather what
treasures the hand could be laid to and flee. Here in New York,
and in Karlov's hands, ultimately to be cut up for Bolshevik
propaganda! The infernal pity of it!
The passion of the gem hunter blazed forth, dimming all other phases
of the drama. Here was a real game, a man's game; sport! Cutty
rubbed his hands together pleasurably. To recover those green flames
before they could be broken up; under the ancient ruling that
"Findings is keepings." The stones, of course, meant nothing to
Karlov beyond the monetary value; and upon this fact Cutty began
developing a plan. He stood ready to buy those stones if he could
draw them into the open. Lord, how he wanted them! Murder and loot,
always murder and loot!
The thought of those two incomparable emeralds being broken up
distressed him profoundly. He must act at once, before the
desecration could be consummated. Two-Hawks - Hawksley hereafter,
for the sake of convenience - had an equity in the gems; but what
of that? In smuggling them in - and how the deuce had he done it?
- he had thrown away his legal right to them. Cutty kneaded his
conscience into a satisfactory condition of quiescence and went
on with his planning. If he succeeded in recovering the stones
and his conscience bit a little too deeply for comfort - why, he
could pay over to Hawksley twenty per cent. of the price Karlov
demanded. He could take it or leave it. In a case like this - to
a bachelor without dependents - money was no object. All his life
he had wanted a fine emerald to play with, and here was an
opportunity to acquire two!
If this plan failed to draw Karlov into the open, then every
jeweller and pawnbroker in town would be notified and warned. What
with the secret-service operatives and the agents of the Department
of Justice on the watch for Karlov - who would recognize his
limitations of mobility - it was reasonable to assume that the
Bolshevik would be only too glad to dicker secretly for the disposal
of the stones. Now to work. Cutty looked at his watch.
Nearly midnight. Rather late, but he knew all the tricks of this
particular kind of game. If the advertisement appeared isolated,
all the better. The real job would be to hide his identity. He
saw a way round this difficulty. He wrote out six advertisements,
all worded the same. He figured out the cost and was delighted to
find that he carried the necessary currency. Then he got into his
engineer's - dungarees, touched up his face and hands to the
required griminess, and sallied forth.
Luck attended him until he reached the last morning newspaper on the
list. Here he was obliged to proceed to the city room - risky
business. A queer advertisement coming into the city room late at
night was always pried into, as he knew from experience. Still, he
felt that he ought not to miss any chance to reach Karlov.
He explained his business to the sleepy gate boy, who carried the
advertisement and the cash to the night city editor's desk.
Ordinarily the night city editor would have returned the
advertisement with the crisp information that he had no authority
to accept advertisements. But the "drums of jeopardy" caught his
attention; and he sent a keen glance across the busy room to the
rail where Cutty stood, perhaps conspicuously.
"Humph!" He called to one of the reporters. "This looks like a
story. I'll run it. Follow that guy in the overalls and see what's
Cutty appreciated the interlude for what it was worth. Someone was
going to follow him. When the gate boy returned to notify him that
the advertisement had been accepted, Cutty went down to the street.
"Hey, there; just a moment!" hailed the reporter. "I want a word
with you about that advertisement."
Cutty came to a standstill. "I paid for it, didn't I?"
"Sure. But what's this about the drums of jeopardy?"
"Two great emeralds I'm hunting for," explained Cutty, recalling
the man who stood on London Bridge and peddled sovereigns at two
bits each, and no buyer.
"Can it! Can it!" jeered the reporter. "Be a good sport and give
us the tip. Strike call among the city engineers?"
"I'm telling you."
"Like Mike you are!"
"All right. It's the word to tie up the surface lines, like Newark,
if you want to know. Now, get t' hell out o' here before I hand
you one on the jaw!"
The reporter backed away. "Is that on the level?"
"Call up the barns and find out. They'll tell you what's on. And
listen, if you follow me, I'll break your head. On your way!"
The reporter dashed for the elevator - and back to the doorway in
time to see Cutty legging it for the Subway. As he was a reporter
of the first class he managed to catch the same express uptown.
On the way uptown Cutty considered that he had accomplished a shrewd
bit of work. Karlov or one of his agents would certainly see that
advertisement; and even if Karlov suspected a Federal trap he would
find some means of communicating with the issuer of the advertisement.
The thought of Kitty returned. What the dickens would she say - how
would she act - when she learned who this Hawksley was? He fervently
hoped that she had never read "Thaddeus of Warsaw." There would
be all the difference in the world between an elegant refugee Pole
and a derelict of the Russian autocracy. Perhaps the best course to
pursue would be to say nothing at all to her about the amazing
Upon leaving Elevator Four Cutty said: "Bob, I've been followed by
a sharp reporter. Sheer him off with any tale you please, and go
"I'll fix him, sir."
Cutty took a bath, put on his lounging robe, and tiptoed to the
threshold of the patient's room. The shaded light revealed the
nurse asleep with a book on her knees. The patient's eyes were
closed and his breathing was regular. He was coming along.
Cutty decided to go to bed.
Meantime, when the elevator touched the ground floor, the operator
observed a prospective passenger.
"Last trip, sir. You'll have to take the stairs."
"Where'll I find the engineer who went up with you just now?"
"The man I took up? Gone to bed, I guess."
"Nothing doing, bo. I'm wise. You're the fourth guy with a subpoena
that's been after him. Nix."
"I'm not a lawyer's clerk. I'm a reporter, and I want to ask him a
"Gee! Has that Jane of his been hauling in the newspapers?
Good-night! Toddle along, bo; there's nothing coming from me. Nix."
"Would ten dollars make you talk?" asked the reporter, desperately.
"Ye-ah - about the Kaiser and his wood-sawing. By-by!"
The operator, secretly enjoying the reporter's discomfiture, shut
off the lights, slammed the elevator door to the latch, and walked
to the revolving doors, to the tune of Garry Owen.
The reporter did not follow him but sat down on the first step of
the marble stairs to think, for there was a lot to think about. He
sensed clearly enough that all this talk about street-railway strikes
and subpoenas was rot. The elevator man and the engineer were in
cahoots. There was a story here, but how to get to it was a puzzler.
He had one chance in a hundred of landing it - tip the mail clerk in
the business office to keep an eye open for the man who called for
"Double C" mail.
Eventually, the man who did call for that mail presented a card to
the mail clerk. At the bottom of this card was the name of the
chief of the United States Secret Service.
"And say to the reporter who has probably asked to watch - hands
off! Understand? Absolutely - off!"
When the reporter was informed he blew a kiss into air and sought
his city editor for his regular assignment. He understood, with the
wisdom of his calling, that one didn't go whale fishing with trout
Early the next morning in a bedroom in a rooming house for aliens
in Fifteenth Street, a man sat in a chair scanning the want columns
of a newspaper. Occasionally he jotted down something on a slip
of paper. This man's job was rather an unusual one. He hunted
jobs for other men - jobs in steel mills, great factories, in the
textile districts, the street-car lines, the shipping yards and
docks, any place where there might be a grain or two of the powder
of unrest and discontent. His business was to supply the human
No more parading the streets, no more haranguing from soap boxes.
The proper place nowadays was in the yard or shop corners at
noontime. A word or two dropped at the right moment; perhaps a
printed pamphlet; little wedges wherever there were men who wanted
something they neither earned nor deserved. Here and there across
the land little flares, one running into the other, like wildfire
on the plains, and then - the upheaval. As in Russia, so now in
Germany; later, England and France and here. The proletariat was
He was no fool, this individual. He knew his clay, the day labourer,
with his parrotlike mentality. Though the victim of this peculiar
potter absorbs sounds he doesn't often absorb meanings. But he
takes these sounds and respouts them and convinces himself that he
is some kind of Moses, headed for the promised land. Inflammable
stuff. Hence, the strikes which puzzle the average intelligent
American citizen. What is it all about? Nobody seems to know.
Once upon a time men went on a strike because they were being cheated
and abused. Now they strike on the principle that it is excellent
policy always to be demanding something; it keeps capitalism where it
belongs - on the ragged edge of things. No matter what they demand
they never expect to give an equivalent; and a just cause isn't
necessary. Thus the present-day agitator has only one perplexity
- that of eluding the iron hand of the Department of Justice.
Suddenly the man in the chair brought the newspaper close up and
stared. He jumped to his feet, ran out and up the next flight of
stairs. He stopped before a door and turned the knob a certain number
of times. Presently the door opened the barest crack; then it was
swung wide enough to admit the visitor.
"Look!" he whispered, indicating Cutty's advertisement.
The occupant of the room snatched the newspaper and carried it to a
Will purchase the drums of jeopardy at top price. No questions
asked. Address this office.
"Very good. I might have missed it. We shall sell the accursed
drums to this gentleman."
"Sell them? But - "
"Imbecile! What we must do is to find out who this man is. In the
end he may lead us to him."
"But it may be a trap!"
"Leave that to me. You have work of your own to do, and you had best
be about it. Do you not see beneath? Who but the man who harbours
him would know about the drums? The man in the evening clothes. I
was too far away to see his face. Get me all the morning newspapers.
If the advertisement is in all of them I will send a letter to each.
We lost the young woman yesterday. And nothing has been heard of
Vladimir and Stemmler. Bad. I do not like this place. I move to
the house to-night. My old friend Stefani may be lonesome. I dare
not risk daylight. Some fool may have talked. To work! All of us
have much to do to wake up the proletariat in this country of the
blind. But the hour will come. Get me the newspapers."
Karlov pushed his visitor from the room and locked and bolted the
door. He stepped over to the window again and stared down at the
clutter of pushcarts, drays, trucks, and human beings that tried
to go forward and got forward only by moving sideways or worming
through temporary breaches, seldom directly - the way of humanity.
But there was no object lesson in this for Karlov, who was not
philosophical in the peculiar sense of one who was demanding a
reason for everything and finding allegory and comparison and
allusion in the ebb and flow of life. The philosophical is often
misapplied to the stoical. Karlov was a stoic, not a philosopher,
or he would not have been the victim of his present obsession.
The idea of live and let live has never been the propaganda of the
anarch. To the anarch the death of some body or the destruction
of some thing is the cornerstone to his madhouse.
Nothing would ever cure this man of his obsession - the death of
Hawksley and the possession of the emeralds. Moreover, there was
the fanatical belief in his poor disordered brain that the
accomplishment of these two projects would eventually assist in the
liberation of mankind. Abnormally cunning in his methods of approach,
he lacked those imaginative scales by which we weigh our projects
and which we call logic. A child alone in a house with a box of
matches; a dog on one side of Fifth Avenue that sees a dog on the
other side, but not the automobiles - inexorable logic - irresistible
force - whizzing up and down the middle of that thoroughfare. It is
not difficult to prophesy what is going to happen to that child,
Karlov was at this moment reaching out toward a satisfactory solution
relative to the disappearance of the gems. They had not been found
on his enemy; they had not been found in the Gregor apartment; the
two men assigned to the task of securing them would not have risked
certain death by trying to do a little bargaining on their own
initiative. In the first instance they had come forth empty-handed.
In the second instance - that of intimidating the girl to disclose
his whereabouts - neither Vladimir nor Stemmler had returned.
Sinister. The man in the dress suit again?
Conceivably, then, the drums were in the possession of this girl;
and she was holding them against the day when the fugitive would
reclaim them. The advertisement was a snare. Very good. Two could
play that game as well as one.
The girl. Was it not always so? That breed! God's curse on them
all! A crooked finger, and the women followed, hypnotized. The girl
was away from the apartment the major part of the day; so it was in
order to search her rooms. A pretty little fool.
But where were they hiding him? Gall and wormwood! That he should
slip through Boris Karlov's fingers, after all these tortuous windings
across the world! Patience. Sooner or later the girl would lead the
way. Still, patience was a galling hobble when he had so little time,
when even now they might be hunting him. Boris Karlov had left New
York rather well known.
He expanded under this thought. For the spiritual breath of life to
the anarch is flattery, attention. Had the newspapers ignored
Trotzky's advent into Russia, had they omitted the daily chronicle of
his activities, the Russian problem would not be so large as it is
this day. Trotzky would have died of chagrin.
He would answer this advertisement. Trap? He would set one himself.
The man who eventually came to negotiate would be made a prisoner and
forced to disclose the identity of the man who had interfered with
the great projects of Boris Karlov, plenipotentiary extraordinary for
the red government of Russia.
Midtown, Cutty tapped his breakfast egg dubiously. Not that he
speculated upon the freshness of the egg. What troubled him was that
advertisement. Last night, keyed high by his remarkable discovery
of the identity of his guest and his cupidity relative to the
emeralds, he had laid himself open. If he knew anything at all about
the craft, that reporter would be digging in. Fortunately he had
resources unsuspected by the reporter. Legitimately he could send
a secret-service operative to collect the mail - if Karlov decided to
negotiate. Still within his rights, he could use another operative
to conduct the negotiations. If in the end Karlov strayed into the
net the use of the service for private ends would be justified.
Lord, those green stones! Well, why not? Something in the world
worth a hazard. What had he in life but this second grand passion?
There shot into his mind obliquely an irrelevant question. Supposing,
in the old days, he had proceeded to reach for Molly as he was now
reaching for the emeralds - a bit lawlessly? After all these years,
to have such a thought strike him! Hadn't he stepped aside meekly
for Conover? Hadn't he observed and envied Conover's dazzling
assault? Supposing Molly had been wavering, and this method of
attack had decided her? Never to have thought of that before! What
did a woman want? A love storm, and then an endless after-calm.
And it had taken him twenty-odd years to make this discovery.
Fact. He had never been shy of women. He had somehow preferred to
play comrade instead of gallant; and all the women had taken
advantage of that, used him callously to pair with old maids, faded
wives, and homely debutantes.
What impellent was driving him toward these introspections? Kitty,
Molly's girl. Each time he saw her or thought of her - the uninvited
ghost of her mother. Any other man upon seeing Kitty or thinking
about her would have jumped into the future from the spring of a
dream. The disparity in years would not have mattered. It was all
nonsense, of course. But for his dropping into the office and
casually picking up the thread of his acquaintance with Kitty, Molly
- the memory of her - would have gone on dimming. Actions,
tremendous and world-wide, had set his vision toward the future; he
had been too busy to waste time in retrospection and introspection.
Thus, instead of a gently rising and falling tide, healthily
recurrent, a flood of mixed longings that was swirling him into
uncertain depths. Those emeralds had bobbed up just in time. The
chase would serve to pull him out of this bog.
He heard a footstep and looked up. The nurse was beckoning to him.
"What is it?"
"He's awake, and there is sanity in his eyes."
"Great! Has he talked?"
"No. The awakening happened just this moment, and I came to you.
You never can tell about blows on the skull or brain fever - never
any two eases alike."
Cutty threw down his napkin and accompanied the nurse to the bedside.
The glance of the patient trailed from Cutty to the nurse and back.
"Don't talk," said Cutty. "Don't ask any questions. Take it easy
until later in the day. You are in the hands of persons who wish
you well. Eat what the nurse gives you. When the right time comes
we'll tell you all about ourselves, You've been robbed and beaten.
But the men who did it are under arrest."
"One question," said the patient, weakly.
"Well, just one."
"A girl - who gave me something to eat?"
"Yes. She fed you, and later probably your life."
"Thanks." Hawksley closed his eyes.
Cutty and the nurse watched him interestedly for a few minutes; but
as he did not stir again the nurse took up her temperature sheet and
Cutty returned to his eggs. Was there a girl? No question about
the emeralds, no interest in the day and the hour. Was there a
girl? The last person he had seen, Kitty; the first question, after
coming into the light: Had he seen her? Then and there Cutty knew
that when he died he would carry into the Beyond, of all his earthly
possessions - a chuckle. Human beings!
The yarn that reporter had missed by a hair - front page,
eight-column head! But he had missed it, and that was the main thing.
The poor devil! Beaten and without a sou marque in his pockets, his
trail was likely to be crowded without the assistance of any
newspaper publicity. But what a yarn! What a whale of a yarn!
In his fevered flights Hawksley had spoken of having paid Kitty for
Kitty had said nothing about it. Supposing -
"Telephone, sair," announced the Jap. "Lady."
Molly's girl! Cutty sprinted to the telephone.
"Hello! That you, Kitty?"
"Yes. How is Johnny Two-Hawks?"
"Back to earth."
'When can I see him? I'm just crazy to know what the story is!"
"Say the third or fourth day from this. We'll have him shaved and
sitting up then."
"Has he talked?"
"Not permitted. Still determined to stay the run of your lease?"
Cutty heard a laugh. "All right. Only I hope you will never have
cause to regret this decision."
"Fiddlesticks! All I've got to do in danger is to press a button,
and presto! here's Bernini."
"Kitty, did Hawksley pay you for that meal?"
"Good heavens, no! What makes you ask that?"
"In his delirium he spoke of having paid you. I didn't know."
Cutty's heart began to rap against his ribs. Supposing, after all,
Karlov hadn't the stones? Supposing Hawksley had hidden them
somewhere in Kitty's kitchen?
"Anything about Gregor?"
"No. Remember, you're to call me up twice a day and report the news.
Don't go out nights if you can avoid it."
"I'll be good," Kitty agreed. "And now I must hie me to the job.
Imagine, Cutty ! - writing personalities about stage folks and
gabfesting with Burlingame and all the while my brain boiling with
this affair! The city room will kill me, Cutty, if it ever finds
out that I held back such a yarn. But it wouldn't he fair to Johnny
Two-Hawks. Cutty, did you know that your wonderful drums of jeopardy
are here in New York?"
"What?" barked Cutty.
"Somebody is offering to buy them. There was an advertisement in
the paper this morning. Cutty?"
"The first problem in arithmetic is two and two make four. By-by!"
Dizzily Cutty hung up the receiver. He had not reckoned on the
possibility of Kitty seeing that damfool advertisement. Two and
two made four; and four and four made eight; so on indefinitely.
That is to say, Kitty already had a glimmer of the startling truth.
The initial misstep on his part had been made upon her pronouncement
of the name Stefani Gregor. He hadn't been able to control his
surprise. And yesterday, having frankly admitted that he knew
Gregor, all that was needed to complete the circle was that
advertisement. Cutty tore his hair, literally. The very door he
hoped she might overlook he had thrown open to her.
Thaddeus of Warsaw. But it should not be. He would continue to
offer a haven to that chap; but no nonsense. None of that sinister
and unfortunate blood should meddle with Kitty Conover's happiness.
Her self-appointed guardian would attend to that.
He realized that his attitude was rather inexplicable; but there
were some adventures which hypnotized women; and one of this sort
was now unfolding for Kitty. That she had her share of common
sense was negligible in face of the facts that she was imaginative
and romantical and adventuresome, and that for the first time she
was riding one of the great middle currents in human events. She
was Molly's girl; Cutty was going to look out for her.
Mighty odd that this fear for her should have sprung into being that
night, quite illogically. Prescience? He could not say. Perhaps
it was a borrowed instinct - fatherly; the same instinct that would
have stirred her father into action - the protection of that dearest
If he told her who Hawksley really was, that would intrigue her. If
he made a mystery of the affair, that, too, would intrigue her. And
there you were, 'twixt the devil and the deep blue sea. Hang it,
what evil luck had stirred him to tell her about those emeralds?
Already she was building a story to satisfy her dramatic fancy. Two
and two made four - which signified that she was her father's
daughter, that she would not rest until she had explored every corner
of this dark room. Wanting to keep her out of it, and then dragging
her into it through his cupidity. Devil take those emeralds! Always
the same; trouble wherever they were.
The real danger would rise during the convalescence. Kitty would be
contriving to drop in frequently; not to see Hawksley especially, but
her initial success in playing hide and seek with secret agents,
friendly and otherwise, had tickled her fancy. For a while it would
be an exciting game; then it might become only a means to an end.
Well, it should not be.
Was there a girl! Already Hawksley had recorded her beauty. Very
well; the first sign of sentimental nonsense, and out he should go,
Karlov or no Karlov. Kitty wasn't going to know any hurt in this
affair. That much was decided.
Cutty stormed into his study, growling audibly. He filled a pipe
and smoked savagely. Another side, Kitty's entrance into the drama
promised to spoil his own fun; he would have to play two games
instead of one. A fine muddle!
He came to a stand before one of the windows and saw the glory of
the morning flashing from the myriad spires and towers and roofs,
and wondered why artists bothered about cows in pastures.
Touching his knees was an antique Florentine bridal chest, with
exquisite carving and massive lock. He threw back the lid and
disclosed a miscellany never seen by any eye save his own. It was
all the garret he had. He dug into it and at length resurrected
the photograph of a woman whose face was both roguish and beautiful.
He sat on the floor a la Turk and studied the face, his own tender
and wistful. No resemblance to Kitty except in the eyes. How
often he had gone to her with the question burning his lips, only
to carry it away unspoken! He turned over the photograph and read:
"To the nicest man I know. With love from Molly." With love. And
he had stepped aside for Tommy Conover!
By George! He dropped the photograph into the chest, let down the
lid, and rose to his feet. Not a bad idea, that. To intrigue Kitty
himself, to smother her with attentions and gallantries, to give her
out of his wide experience, and to play the game until this intruder
was on his way elsewhere.
He could do it; and he based his assurance upon his experiences and
observations. Never a squire of dames, he knew the part. He had
played the game occasionally in the capitals of Europe when there
had been some information he had particularly desired. Clever,
scheming women, too. A clever, passably good-looking elderly man
could make himself peculiarly attractive to young women and women in
the thirties. Dazzlement for the young; the man who knew all about
life, the trivial little courtesies a younger man generally forgot;
the moving of chairs, the holding of wraps; the gray hairs which
served to invite trust and confidence, which lulled the eternal
feminine fear of the male. To the older women, no callow youth but
a man of discernment, discretion, wit and fancy and daring, who
remembered birthdays husbands forgot, who was always round when
There was no vanity back of these premises. Cutty was merely
reaching about for an expedient to thwart what to his anticipatory
mind promised to be an inevitability. Of course the glamour would
not last; it never did, but he felt he could sustain it until
yonder chap was off and away.
That evening at five-thirty Kitty received a box of beautiful roses,
with Cutty's card.
"Oh, the lovely things!" she cried.
She kissed them and set them in a big copper jug, arranged and
rearranged them for the simple pleasure it afforded her. What a
dear man this Cutty was, to have thought of her in this fashion!
Her father's friend, her mother's, and now hers; she had inherited
him. This thought caused her to smile, but there were tears in her
eyes. A garden some day to play in, this mad city far away, a home
of her own; would it ever happen?
The bell rang. She wasn't going to like this caller for taking her
away from these roses, the first she had received in a long time
- roses she could keep and not toss out the window. For it must not
be understood that Kitty was never besieged.
Outside stood a well-dressed gentleman, older than Cutty, with
shrewd, inquiring gray eyes and a face with strong salients.
"Pardon me, but I am looking for a man by the name of Stephen
Gregory. I was referred by the janitor to you. You are Miss
"Yes," answered Kitty. "Will you come in?" She ushered the stranger
into the living room and indicated a chair. "Please excuse me for a
moment." Kitty went into her bedroom and touched the danger button,
which would summon Bernini. She wanted her watchdog to see the
visitor. She returned to the living room. "What is it you wish to
"Where I may find this Gregory."
"That nobody seems able to answer. He was carried away from here in
an ambulance; but we have been unable to locate the hospital. If
you will leave your name - "
"That is not necessary. I am out of bounds, you might say, and I'd
rather my name should be left out of the affair, which is rather
"In what way?"
"I am only an agent, and am not at liberty to speak. Could you
"Then he is a stranger to you?"
Kitty described Gregor deliberately and at length. It struck her
that the visitor was becoming bored, though he nodded at times. She
was glad to hear Bernini's ring. She excused herself to admit the
"A false alarm," she whispered. "Someone inquiring for Gregor. I
thought it might be well for you to see him."
"I'll work the radiator stuff."
Bernini went into the living room and fussed over the steam cock of
"Nothing the matter with it, miss. Just stuck."
"Sorry to have troubled you," said the stranger, rising and picking
up his hat.
Bernini went down to the basement, obfuscated; for he knew the
visitor. He was one of the greatest bankers in New York - that is
to say, in America! Asking questions about Stefani Gregor!
About nine o'clock that same night a certain rich man, having
established himself comfortably under the reading lamp, a fine book
in his hands and a fine after-dinner cigar between his teeth, was
exceedingly resentful when his butler knocked, entered, and presented
"My orders were that I was not at home to any one."
"Yes, sir. But he said you would see him because he came to see you
regarding a Mr. Gregory."
"Damn these newspapers! ... Wait, wait!" the banker called, for
the butler was starting for the door to carry the anathema to the
appointed head. "Bring him in. He's a big bug, and I can't afford
to affront him."
"Yes, sir" - with the colourless tone of a perfect servant.
When the visitor entered he stopped just beyond the threshold. He
remained there even after the butler closed the door. Blue eye and
gray clashed; two masters of fence who had executed the same stroke.
The banker laughed and Cutty smiled.
"I suppose," said the banker, "you and I ought to sign an armistice,
"And you've always been rather a puzzle to me. A rich man, a
gentleman, and yet sticking to the newspaper game."
"And you're a puzzle to me, too. A rich man, a gentleman, and yet
sticking to the banking game."
"What the devil was our row about?"
"Can't quite recall."
"Whatever it was it was the way you went at it."
"A reform was never yet accomplished by purring and pussyfooting,"
"Come over and sit down. Now, how the devil did you find out about
this Gregory affair?" The banker held out his hand, which Cutty
grasped with honest pressure. "If you are here in the capacity of a
newspaper man, not a word out of me. Have a cigar?"
"I never smoke anything but pipes that ruin curtains. You should
have given your name to Miss Conover."
"I was under promise not to explain my business. But before we
proceed, an answer. Newspaper?"
"No. I represent the Department of Justice. And we'll get along
easier when I add that I possess rather unlimited powers under that
head. How did you happen to stumble into this affair?"
"Through Captain Rathbone, my prospective son-in-law, who is in
Coblenz. A cable arrived this morning, instructing me to proceed
precisely in the manner I did. Rathbone is an intimate friend of
the man I was actually seeking. The apartment of this man Gregory
was mentioned to Rathbone in a cable as a possible temporary abiding
place. What do you want to know?"
"Whether or not he is undesirable."
"Decidedly, I should say, desirable."
"You make that statement as an American citizen?"
"I do. I make it unreservedly because my future son-in-law is
rather a difficult man to make friends with. I am acting merely
as Rathbone's agent. On the other hand, I should be a cheerful
liar if I told you I wasn't interested. What do you know?"
"Everything," answered Cutty, quietly.
"You know where this young man is?"
"At this moment he is in my apartment, rather seriously battered and
"Well, I'll be tinker-dammed! You know who he is, of course?"
"Yes. And I want all your information so that I may guide my future
actions accordingly. If he is really undesirable he shall be
deported the moment he can stand on his two feet."
The banker pyramided his fingers, rather pleased to learn that he
could astonish this interesting beggar. "He has on account at my
bank half a million dollars. Originally he had eight hundred
thousand. The three hundred thousand, under cable orders from
Yokohama, was transferred to our branch in San Francisco. This was
withdrawn about two weeks ago. How does that strike you?"
"All in a heap," confessed Cutty. "When was this fund established
"Shortly before Kerensky's government blew up. The funds were in
our London bank. There was, of course, a lot of red tape, excessive
charges in exchange, and all that. Anyhow, about eight hundred
"What brought him to America? Why didn't he go to England? That
would have been the safest haven."
"I can explain that. He intends to become an American citizen. Some
time ago he became the owner of a fine cattle ranch in Montana."
"Well, I'll be tinker-dammed, too!" exploded Cutty.
"A young man with these ideas in his head ought eventually to become
a first-rate citizen. What do you say?"
"I am considerably relieved. His forbears, the blood - "
"His mother was a healthy Italian peasant - a famous singer in her
time. His fortune, I take it, was his inheritance from her. She
made a fortune singing in the capitals of Europe and speculating
from time to time. She sent the boy, at the age of ten, to England.
Afraid of the home influence. He remained there, under the name of
Hawksley, for something like fourteen years, under the guardianship
of this fellow Gregory. Of Gregory I know positively nothing. The
young fellow is, to all purposes, methods of living, points of view,
an Englishman. Rathbone, who was educated at Oxford, met him there
and they shared quarters. But it was only in recent years that he
learned the identity of his friend. In 1914 the young fellow
returned to Russia. Military obligations. That's all I know.
Mighty interesting, though."
"I am much obliged to you. The white elephant becomes a normal drab
pachyderm," said Cutty.
"Still something of an elephant on your hands. I see. Bring him
here if you wish."
"And sic the Bolshevik at your door."
"That's so. You spoke of his having been beaten and robbed.
"Yes. An old line of reasoning first put into effect by Oliver
Cromwell. The axe."
"The poor devil!"
"Fact. I'm sorry for him, but I wish he would blow away conveniently."
"Rathbone says he's handsome, gay, but decent, considering. Humanity
is being knocked about some. The hour has come for our lawyers to go
back to their offices. Politics must step aside for business. We
ought to hang up signs in every state capitol in the country: 'Men
Wanted - Specialists.' A steel man from Pittsburgh, a mining man from
Idaho, a shipowner from Boston, a meat packer from Omaha, a grain man
from Chicago. What the devil do lawyers know about these things - the
energies that make the wheels of this country go round? By the way,
that Miss Conover was a remarkably pretty girl. She seemed to be a bit
suspicious of me."
"Good reasons. That chap went to Gregor's - Gregor is his name -
and was beaten, robbed, and left for dead. She saved his life."
"Good Lord! Does she know?"
"No. And what's more, I don't want her to. I am practically her
"Then you ought to get her out of that roost."
"Hang it, I can't get her to leave. I'm not legally her guardian;
self-appointed. But she has agreed to leave in May."
"I'm glad you dropped in. Command me in any way you please."
"That's very good of you, considering."
"The war is over. We'd be a fine pair of fools to let an ancient
grudge go on. They tell me you've a wonderful apartment on top of
that skyscraper of yours."
"Will you come to dinner some night?"
"Any time you say. I should like to bring my daughter."
"She doesn't know?"
"No. Heard of Hawksley; thinks he's English."
"I am certainly agreeable." This would be a distinct advantage to
Kitty. "I see you have a good book there. I'll take myself off."
In the Avenue Cutty loaded his pipe. He struck a match on the
flagstone and cupped it over the bowl of his pipe, thereby throwing
his picturesque countenance into ruddy relief. Opposite emotions
filled the hearts of the two men watching him - in one, chagrin; in
the other, exultation.
Cutty decided to walk downtown, the night being fine. He set his
foot to a long, swinging stride. An elephant on his hands, truly.
Poor devil, for a fad! Nobody wanted him, not even those who wished
him well. Wanted to become an American citizen. He would have been
tolerably safe in England. Here he would never be free of danger.
A ranch. The beggar would have a chance out there in the West. The
anarchist and the Bolshevik were town cooties. His one chance,
actually. The poor devil! Kitty had the right idea. It was a
mighty fine thing, these times, to be a citizen under the protection
of the American doctrine.
Three hundred thousand! And Karlov had got that along with the drums.
The devil's own for luck! The fool would be able to start some fine
ructions with all that capital behind him. Episodes in the night.
Kitty dreamed of wonderful rose gardens, endless and changing; but
strive as she would she could not find Cutty anywhere, which worried
her, even in her dream.
The nurse heard the patient utter a single word several times before
he fell asleep.
"What is it?" she asked.
"Fan!" And he smiled.
She hunted for the palm leaf, but with a slight gesture he signified
that that was not what he wanted.
Cutty played solitaire with his chrysoprase until the telephone
broke in upon his reveries. What he heard over the wire disturbed
"You were followed from the Avenue to the apartment."
"How do you know?"
"I am Henderson. You assigned me to watch the apartment in Eightieth
through the night. I followed the man who followed you. He saw your
face when you lit the pipe. When the banker left Miss Conover he was
followed home. That established him in the affair. The follower hung
round, and so did I. You appeared. He took a chance shot in the dark.
Not sure, but doing a bit of clever guessing."
"You still followed him?"
"Where did he wind up?"
"A house in the warehouse district. Vacant warehouses on each side.
Some new nest. I can lead you to it, sir, any time you wish."
Cutty pushed aside the telephone and returned to his green stones.
After all, why worry? It was unfortunate, of course, but the
apartment was more inaccessible than the top of the Matterhorn.
Still, they might discover what his real business was and interfere
seriously with his future work on the other side. A ruin in the
warehouse district? A good place to look for Stefani Gregor - if
he were still alive.
He was. And in his dark room he cried piteously for water - water
A March day, sunny and cloudless, with fresh, bracing winds. Green
things pushed up from the soil; an eternal something was happening
to the tips of the tree branches; an eternal something was happening
in young hearts. A robin shook the dust of travel from his wings
and bathed publicly in a park basin.
Here and there under the ten thousand roofs of the great city poets
were busy with inkpots, trying to say an old thing in a new way.
Woe to the pinched soul that did not expand this day, for it was
spring. Expansion! Nature - perhaps she was relenting a little,
perhaps she saw that humanity was sliding down the scale, withering,
and a bit of extra sunshine would serve to check the descension and
breed a little optimism.
Cutty's study. The sunlight, thrown westward, turned windows and
roofs and towers into incomparable bijoux. The double reflection
cast a white light into the room, lifting out the blue and old-rose
tints of the Ispahan rug.
Cutty shifted the chrysoprase, irresolutely for him. A dozen
problems, and it was mighty hard to decide which to tackle first.
Principally there was Kitty. He had not seen her in four days,
deeming it advisable for her not to call for the present. The
Bolshevik agent who had followed him from the banker's might
decide, without the aid of some connecting episode, that he had
wasted his time.
It did not matter that Kitty herself was no longer watched and
followed from her home to the office, from the office home. Was
Karlov afraid or had he some new trick up his sleeve? It was not
possible that he had given up Hawksley. He was probably planning
an attack from some unexpected angle. To be sure that Karlov
would not find reason to associate him with Kitty, Cutty had
remained indoors during the daytime and gone forth at night in
Problem Two was quite as formidable. The secret agent who had
passed as a negotiator for the drums of jeopardy had disappeared.
That had sinister significance. Karlov did not intend to sell the
drums; merely wanted precise information regarding the man who had
advertised for them. If the secret-service man weakened under
torture, Cutty recognized that his own usefulness would be at an
end. He would have to step aside and let the great currents sweep
on without him. In that event these fifty-two years would pile
upon his head, full measure; for the only thing that kept him
vigorous was action, interest. Without some great incentive he
would shrivel up and blow away - like some exhumed mummy.
Problem Three. How the deuce was he going to fascinate Kitty if
he couldn't see her? But there was a bit of silver lining here.
If he couldn't see her, what chance had Hawksley? The whole sense
and prompting of this problem was to keep Kitty and Hawksley apart.
How this was accomplished was of no vital importance. Problem
Three, then, hung fire for the present. Funny, how this idea stuck
in his head, that Hawksley was a menace to Kitty. One of those fool
ideas, probably, but worth trying out.
Problem Four. That night, all on his own, he would make an attempt
to enter that old house sandwiched between the two vacant warehouses.
Through pressure of authority he had obtained keys to both warehouses.
There would be a trap on the roof of that house. Doubtless it would
be covered with tin; fairly impregnable if latched below. But he
could find out. From the third-floor windows of either warehouse
the drop was not more than six feet. If anywhere in town poor old
Stefani Gregor would be in one of those rooms. But to storm the
house frontally, without being absolutely sure, would be folly.
Gregor would be killed. The house was in fact an insane asylum,
occupied by super-insane men. Warned, they were capable of blowing
the house to kingdom come, themselves with it.
Problem Five was a mere vanishing point. He doubted if he would
ever see those emeralds. What an infernal pity!
He built a coronet and leaned back, a wisp of smoke darting up from
the bowl of his pipe.
"I say, you know, but that's a ripping game to play!" drawled a
tired voice over his shoulder.
Cutty turned his head, to behold Hawksley, shaven, pale, and
handsome, wrapped in a bed quilt and swaying slightly.
"What the deuce are you doing out of your room?" growled Cutty, but
with the growl of a friendly dog.
Hawksley dropped into a chair weakly. "End of my rope. Got to talk
to someone. Go dotty, else. Questions. Skull aches with 'em. Want
to know whether this is a foretaste of the life I have a right to
live - or the beginning of death. Be a good sport, and let's have
"What is it you wish to know?" asked Cutty, gently. The poor beggar!
"Where I am. Who you are. What happened to me. What is going to
happen to me," rather breathlessly. "Don't want any more suspense.
Don't want to look over my shoulder any more. Straight ahead. All
the cards on the table, please."
Cutty rose and pushed the invalid's chair to a window and drew another
up beside it.
"My word, the top of the world! Bally odd roost."
"You will find it safer here than you would on the shores of Kaspuskoi
More," replied Cutty, gravely. "The Caspian wouldn't be a healthy place
for you now."
With wide eyes Hawksley stared across the shining, wavering roofs. A
pause. "What do you know?" he asked, faintly.
"Everything. But wait!" Cutty fetched one of the photographs and laid
it upon the young man's knees. "Know who this is - Two-Hawks?"
A strained, tense gesture as Hawksley seized the photograph; then
his chin sank slowly to his chest. A moment later Cutty was
profoundly astonished to see something sparkle on its way down the
bed quilt. Tears!
"I'm sorry!" cried Cutty, troubled and embarrassed. "I'm terribly
sorry! I should have had the decency to wait a day or two."
"On the contrary, thank you!" Hawksley flung up his head. "Nothing
in all God's muddied world could be more timely - the face of my
mother! I am not ashamed of these tears. I am not afraid to die.
I am not even afraid to live. But all the things I loved - the
familiar earth, the human beings, my dog - gone. I am alone."
"I'm sorry," repeated Cutty, a bit choked up. This was honest
misery and it affected him deeply. He felt himself singularly drawn.
"I want to live. Because I am young? No. I want to prove to the
shades of those who loved me that I am fit to go on. So my identity
is known to you?" - dejectedly.
"Yes. You wish me to forget what I know?"
"Will you?" - eagerly. "Will you forget that I am anything but a
naked, friendless human being?"
"Yes. But your enemies know."
"I rather fancy they will keep the truth to themselves. Let them
publish my identity, and a hundred havens would be offered. Your
Government would protect me."
"It is doing so now, indirectly. But why do you not want it known?"
"Freedom! Would I have it if known? Could I trust anybody? Would
it not be essentially the old life in a new land? I want a new life
in a new land. I want to be born again. I want to be what you
patently are, an American. That is why I risked life a hundred
times in coming all these miles, why I sit in this chair before you,
with the room rocking because they battered in my head. I do not
offer a human wreck, an illiterate mind, in exchange for citizenship.
I bring a tolerably decent manhood. Try me! Always I have admired
you people. Always we Russians have. But there is no Russia now
that I can ever return to!" Hawksley's head drooped again and his
bloodshot eyes closed.
Cutty sensed confusion, indecision; all his deductions were upset
in the face of this strange appeal. Russian, born of an Italian
mother and speaking Oxford English as if it were his birthright; and
wanting citizenship! Wasn't ashamed of his tears; wasn't afraid to
die or to live! Cutty searched quickly for a new handhold to his
antagonism, but he found only straws. He was honest enough to
realize that he had built this antagonism upon a want, a desire;
there was no foundation for it. Downright likeable. A chap who had
gone through so much, who was in such a pitiable condition, would
not have the wit to manufacture character, camouflage his soul.
"Hang it!" he said, briskly. "You shall have your chance. Talk like
that will carry a man anywhere in this country. You shall stay here
until you are strong again. Then some night I'll put you on your
train for Montana. You want to ask questions. I'll save you the
trouble by telling you what I know."
But his narrative contained no mention of the emeralds. Why? A bit
conscience-stricken because, if he could, he was going to rob his
guest on the basis that findings is keepings? Cutty wasn't ready to
analyze the omission. Perhaps he wanted Hawksley himself to inquire
about the stones; test him out. If he asked frankly that would
signify that he had brought the stones in honestly, paid his
obligations to the Customs. Otherwise, smuggling; and in that event
conscience wouldn't matter; the emeralds became a game anybody could
take a hand in - anybody who considered the United States Customs an
infringement upon human rights.
What a devil of a call those stones had for him! Did they mean
anything to Hawksley aside from their intrinsic value? But for the
nebulous idea, originally, that the emeralds were mixed up somewhere
in this adventure, Cutty knew that he would have sent Hawksley to a
hospital, left him to his fate, and never known who he was.
All through the narration Hawksley listened motionless, with his eyes
closed, possibly to keep the wavering instability of the walls from
interfering with his assimilation of this astonishing series of fact.
"Found you insensible on the floor," concluded Cutty, "hoisted you to
my shoulders, took you to the street - and here you are!"
Hawksley opened his eyes. "I say, you know, what a devil of an old
Sherlock you must be! And you carried me on your shoulders across that
fire escape? Ripping! When I stepped back into that room I heard a
rushing sound. I knew! But I didn't have the least chance.... You
and that bully girl!"
Cutty swore under his breath. He had taken particular pains to
avoid mentioning Kitty; and here, first off, the fat was in the fire.
He remembered now that he had told Hawksley that Kitty had saved his
life. Fortunately, the chap wasn't keen enough with that banged-up
head of his to apply reason to the omission.
"Saved my life. Suppose she doesn't want me to know."
Cutty jumped at this. "Doesn't care to be mixed up with the
Bolshevik end of it. Besides, she doesn't know who you are."
"The fewer that know the better. But I'll always remember her
kindness and that bally pistol with the fan in it. But you? Why
did you bother to bring me up here?"
"Couldn't decently leave you where Karlov could get to you again."
"Is Stefani Gregor dead?"
"Don't know; probably not. But we are hunting for him." Cutty had
not explained his interest in Gregor. Those plaguey stones again.
They were demoralizing him. Loot.
"You spoke of Karlov. Who is he?"
"Why, the man who followed you across half the world."
"There were many. What is he like?"
"Ah !" Hawksley became galvanized and extended his fists. "God let
me live long enough to put my hands on him! I had the chance the
other day - to blot out his face with my boots! But I couldn't do
it! I couldn't do it!" He sagged in the chair. "No, no! Just a
bit groggy. All right in a moment."
"By the Lord Harry, I'll see you through. Now buck up. Hear that?"
cried Cutty, throwing up a window.
"Look through that street there. See the glint of bayonets?
American soldiers, marching up Fifth Avenue, thousands of them,
freemen who broke the vaunted Hlndenburg Line. God bless 'em!
Americans, every mother's son of 'em; who went away laughing, who
returned laughing, who will go back to their jobs laughing. The
ability to laugh, that's America. Do you know how to laugh?"
"I used to. I'm jolly weak just now. But I'll grin if you want me
to." And Hawksley grinned.
"That's the way. A grin in this country will take you quite as far.
All right. In five years you'll be voting. I'll see to that. Now
back to bed with you, and no more leaving it until the nurse says so.
What you need is rest."
Cutty sent a call to the nurse, who was standing undecidedly in the
doorway; and together they put the derelict back to bed. Then Cutty
fetched the photograph and set it on top of the dresser, where
Hawksley could see it.
"Now, no more gallivanting about."
"I promise, old top. This bed is a little bit of all right. I say!"
"How long am I to be here?"
"If you're good, two weeks," interposed the nurse.
"Two weeks? I say, would you mind doing me a trifling favour? I'd
like a violin to amuse myself with."
"A fiddle? I don't know a thing about 'em except that they sound
good." Cutty pulled at his chin.
"Whatever it costs I'll reimburse you the day I'm up."
"All right. I'll bring you a bundle of them, and you can do your
Out in the corridor the nurse said: "I couldn't hold him. But he'll
be easier now that he's got the questions off his mind. He will
have to be humoured a lot. That's one of the characteristics of
"What do you think of him?"
"He seems to be gentle and patient; and I imagine he's hard to resist
when he wants anything. Winning, you'd call it. I suppose I mustn't
ask who he really is?"
"No. Poor devil. The fewer that know, the better. I'll be home
Once in the street, Cutty was besieged suddenly with the irresistible
desire to mingle with the crowd over in the Avenue, to hear the
military bands, the shouts, to witness the gamut of emotions which
he knew would attend this epochal day. Of course he would view it
all from the aloof vantage of the historian, and store away
commentaries against future needs.
And what a crowd it was! He was elbowed and pushed, jostled and
trod on, carried into the surges, relegated to the eddies; and always
the metallic taptap of steel-shod boots on the asphalt, the bayonets
throwing back the radiant sunshine in sharp, clear flashes. The
keen, joyous faces of those boys. God, to be young like that! To
have come through that hell on earth with the ability still to smile!
Cutty felt the tears running down his cheeks. Instinctively he knew
that this was to be his last thrill of this order. He was fifty-two.
"Quit your crowding there!" barked a voice under his chin.
"Sorry, but it's those behind me," said Cutty, looking down into a
florid countenance with a raggedy gray moustache and a pair of blue
eyes that were blinking.
"I'm so damned short I can't see anything!"
"Neither can I."
"You could if you wiped your eyes."
"You're crying yourself," declared Cutty.
"Blinking jackass! Got anybody out there?"
"All of 'em."
"I get you, old son of a gun! No flesh and blood, but they're ours
all the same. Couple of old fools; huh?"
"Sure pop! What right have two old codgers got here, anyhow? What
brought you out?"
"What brought you?"
"Damn it! If I could only see something!"
Cutty put his hands upon the shoulders of this chance acquaintance
and propelled him toward the curb. There were cries of protest,
curses, catcalls, but Cutty bored on ahead until he got his man where
he could see the tin hats, the bayonets, and the colours; and thus
they stood for a full hour. Each time the flag went by the little
man yanked off his derby and turned truculently to see that Cutty
did the same.
"Say," he said as they finally dropped back, "I'd offer to buy a
drink, only it sounds flat."
"And it would taste flat after a mighty wine like this," replied
Cutty. "Maybe you've heard of the nectar of the gods. Well, you've
just drunk it, my friend."
"I sure have. Those kids out there, smiling after all that hell;
and you and me on the sidewalk, blubbering over 'em! What's the
answer? We're Americans!"
"You said it. Good-bye."
Cutty pressed on to the flow and went along with it, lighter in the
heart than he had been in many a day. These two million who lined
Fifth Avenue, who cheered, laughed, wept, went silent, cheered again,
what did their presence here signify? That America's day had come;
that as a people they were homogeneous at last; that that which laws
had failed to bring forth had been accomplished by an ideal.
Bolshevism, socialism - call it what you will - would beat itself
into fragments against this Rock of Democracy, which went down to
the centre of the world and whose pinnacle touched the stars.
Reincarnation; the simple ideals of the forefathers restored. And
with this knowledge tingling in his thoughts - and perhaps there
was a bit of spring in his heart - Cutty continued on, without
destination, chin jutting, eyes shining. He was an American!
He might have continued on indefinitely had he not seen obliquely
a window filled with musical instruments.
Hawksley's fiddle! He had all but forgotten. All right. If the
poor beggar wanted to scrape a fiddle, scrape it he should. The
least he, Cutty, could do would be to accede to any and every whim
Hawksley expressed. Wasn't he planning to rob the beggar of the
drums, happen they ever turned up? But how the deuce to pick out
a fiddle which would have a tune in it? Of all the hypercritical
duffers the fiddler was the worst. Beside a fiddler of the first
rank the rich old maid with the poodle was a hail fellow well met.
Of course Gregor had taught the chap. That meant he would know
instantly; just as his host would instantly observe the difference
between green glass and green beryl.
Cutty turned into the shop, infinitely amused. Fiddles! What next?
Having constituted a guardianship over Kitty, he was now playing
impressario to Hawksley. As if he hadn't enough parts to play!
Wouldn't he be risking his life to-night trying to find where Stefani
Gregor was? Fiddles! Fiddles and emeralds! What a choice old
hypocrite he was!
Fate has a way of telling you all about it - afterward; conceivably,
that humanity might continue to reproduce its species. Otherwise
humanity would proceed to extinguish itself forthwith. Thus, Cutty
was totally unaware upon entering the shop that he was about to tear
off its hinges the door he was so carefully bolting and latching and
padlocking between Kitty Conover and this duffer who wanted to fiddle
his way through convalescence.
Where there is fiddling there is generally dancing. If it be not the
feet, then it will be the soul.
There are some men who know a little about all things and a great
deal about many. Such a man was Cutty. But as he approached the
counter behind which stood an expectant clerk he felt for once that
he was in a far country. There were fiddles and fiddles, just as
there were emeralds and emeralds. Never again would he laugh over
the story of the man who thought Botticelli was a manufacturer of
spool thread. He attacked the problem, however, like the
thoroughbred he was - frankly.
"I want to buy a violin," he began, knowing that in polite musical
circles the word fiddle was taboo. "I know absolutely nothing at
all about quality or price. Understand, though, while you might be
able to fool me, you wouldn't fool the man I'm buying it for. Now
what would you suggest?"
The clerk - a salesman familiar with certain urban types, thinly
including the Fifth Avenue, which came in for talking-machine
records - recognized in this well-dressed, attractive elderly man
that which he designated the swell. Hateful word, yes, but having
a perfectly legitimate niche, since in the minds of the hoi polloi
it nicely describes the differences between the poor gentleman and
the gentleman of leisure. To proceed with the digression, to no one
is the word more hateful than to the individual to whom it is
applied. Cutty would have blushed at the clerk's thought.
"Perhaps I'd better get the proprietor," was the clerk's suggestion.
"Good idea," Cutty agreed. "Take my card along with you." This was
a Fifth Avenue shop, and Cutty knew there would be a Who's Who or a
Bradstreet somewhere about.
In the interim he inspected the case-lined walls. Trombones. He
chuckled. Lucky that Hawksley's talent didn't extend in this
direction. True, he himself collected drums, but he did not play
them. Something odd about music; human beings had to have it, the
very lowest in the scale. A universal magic. He was himself very
fond of good music; but these days he fought shy of it; it had the
faculty of sweeping him back into the twenties and reincarnating
After a certain length of time, from the corner of his eye he saw
the clerk returning with the proprietor, the latter wearing an
amiable smile, which probably connoted a delving into the aforesaid
volumes of attainment and worth. Cutty hoped this was so, as it
would obviate the necessity of going into details as to who he was
and what he had.
"Your name is familiar to me," began the proprietor. "You collect
antique drums. My clerk tells me that you wish to purchase a good
"Very good. I have in my apartment rather a distinguished guest
who plays the violin for his own amusement. He is ill and cannot
select for himself. Now I know a little about music but nothing
"I suggest that I personally carry half a dozen instruments to your
apartment and let your guest try them. How much is he willing to
"Top price, I should say. Shall I make a deposit?"
"If you don't mind. Merely precautionary. Half a dozen violins
will represent quite a sum of money; and taxicabs are unreliable
animals. A thousand against accidents. What time shall I call?"
The proprietor's curiosity was stirred. Musical celebrities, as he
had occasion to know, were always popping up in queer places. Some
new star probably, whose violin had been broken and who did not
care to appear in public before the hour of his debut.
"Three o'clock," said Cutty.
"Very well, sir. I promise to bring the violins myself."
Cutty wrote out his check for a thousand and departed, the chuckle
still going on inside of him. Versatile old codger, wasn't he?
Promptly at three the dealer arrived, his arms and his hands gripping
violin cases. Cutty hurried to his assistance, accepted a part of
the load, and beckoned to the man to follow him. The cases were
placed on the floor, and the dealer opened them, putting the rosin
on a single bow.
Hawksley, a fresh bandage on his head, his shoulders propped by
pillows, eyed the initial manoeuvres with frank amusement.
"I say, you know, would you mind tuning them for me? I'm not top
The dealer's eyebrows went up. An Englishman? Bewildered, he bent
to the trifling labour of tuning the violins. Hawksley rejected the
first two instruments after thrumming the strings with his thumb.
He struck up a melody on the third but did not finish it.
"My word! If you have a violin there why not let me have it at once?"
The dealer flushed. "Try this, sir. But I do not promise you that
I shall sell it."
"Ah!" Hawksley stretched out his hands to receive the instrument.
Of course Cutty had heard of Amati and Stradivari, master and pupil.
He knew that all famous violinists possessed instruments of these
schools, and that such violins were practically beyond the reach of
many. Only through some great artist's death or misfortune did a
fine violin return to the marts. But the rejected fiddles had
sounded musically enough for him and looked as if they were well up
in the society of select fiddles. The fiddle Hawksley now held in
his hands was dull, almost black. The maple neck was worn to a
shabby gray and the varnish had been sweated off the chin rest.
Hawksley laid his fingers on the strings and drew the bow with a
powerful flourishing sweep. The rich, sonorous tones vibrated after
the bow had passed. Then followed the tricks by which an artist
seeks to discover flaws or wolf notes. A beatific expression settled
upon Hawksley face. He nestled the violin comfortably under his chin
and began to play softly. Cutty, the nurse, and the dealer became
Minors; a bit of a dance; more minors; nothing really begun, nothing
really finished - sketches, with a melancholy note running through
them all. While that pouring into his ears enchained his body it
stirred recollections in Cutty's mind: The fair at Novgorod; the
fiddling mountebanks; Russian.
Perhaps the dealer's astonishment was greatest. An Englishman! Who
ever heard of an Englishman playing a violin like that?
"I will buy it," said Hawksley, sinking back.
"Sir," began the dealer, "I am horribly embarrassed. I cannot sell
that violin because it isn't mine. It is an Amati worth ten thousand
"I will give you twelve."
"But, sir - "
"Name a price," interrupted Hawksley, rather imperiously. "I want it."
Cutty understood that he was witnessing a flash of the ancient blood.
To want anything was to have it.
"I repeat, sir, I cannot sell it. It belongs to a Hungarian who is
now in Hungary. I loaned him fifteen hundred and took the Amati as
security. Until I learn if he is dead I cannot dispose of the
violin. I am sorry. But because you are a real artist, sir, I will
loan it to you if you will make a deposit of ten thousand against any
possible accident, and that upon demand you will return the instrument
"That's fair enough," interposed Cutty.
"I beg pardon," said Hawksley. "I agree. I want it, but not at the
price of any one's dishonesty."
He turned his head toward Cutty, "You're a thoroughbred, sir. This
will do more to bring me round than all the doctors in the world."
"But what the deuce is the difference?" Cutty demanded with a gesture
toward the rejected violins.
The dealer and Hawksley exchanged smiles. Said the latter: "The
other violins are pretty wooden boxes with tolerable tunes in their
insides. This has a soul." He put the violin against his cheek
Massenet's "Elegie," Moszkowski's "Serenata," a transcription, and
then the aria from Lucia. Not compositions professional violinists
would have selected. Cutty felt his spine grow cold as this aria
poured goldenly toward heaven. He understood. Hawksley was telling
him that the shade of his glorious mother was in this room. The boy
was right. Some fiddles had souls. An odd depression bore down
upon him. Perhaps this surprising music, topping his great emotions
of the morning, was a straw too much. There were certain exaltations
that could not be sustained.
A whimsical forecast: This chap here, in the dingy parlour of his
Montana ranch, playing these indescribable melodies to the stars,
his cowmen outside wondering what was the matter with their "inards."
Somehow this picture lightened the depression.
"My fingers are stiff," said Hawksley. "My hand is tired. I should
like to be alone." He lay back rather inertly.
In the corridor Cutty whispered to the dealer: "What do you think
"As he says, his touch shows a little stiffness, but the wonderful
fire is there. He's an amateur, but a fine one. Practice will
bring him to a finish in no time. But I never heard an Englishman
play a violin like that before."
"Nor I," Cutty agreed. "When the owner sends for that fiddle let
me know. Mr. Hawksley might like to dicker for it. If you know
where the owner is you might cable that you have an offer of twelve
"I'm sorry, but I haven't the least idea where the owner is. However,
there is an understanding that if the loan isn't covered in eighteen
months the instrument becomes salable for my own protection. There
is a year still to run."
Four o'clock found Cutty pacing his study, the room blue with smoke.
Of all the queer chaps he had met in his varied career this Two-Hawks
topped the lot. The constant internal turmoil that must be going on,
the instincts of the blood - artist and autocrat! And in the end,
the owner of a cattle ranch, if he had the luck to get there alive!
Dizzy old world.
Something else happened at four o'clock. A policeman strolled into
Eightieth Street. He was at peace with the world. Spring was in
his whistle, in his stride, in the twirl of his baton. Whenever
he passed a shop window he made it serve as a mirror. No waistline
yet - a comforting thought.
Children swarmed the street and gathered at corners. The older ones
played boldly in midstreet, while the toddlers invented games that
kept them to the sidewalk and curb. The policeman came stealthily
upon one of these latter groups - Italians. At the sight of his
brass buttons they fled precipitately. He laughed. Once in a month
of moons he was able to get near enough to touch them. Natural.
Hadn't he himself hiked in the old days at the sight of a copper?
Sure, he had.
A bit of colour on the sidewalk attracted his eye, and he picked up
the object. Something those kids had been playing with. A bit of
red glass out of a piece of cheap jewellery. Not half bad for a
fake. He would put one over on Maggie when he turned in for supper.
Certainly this was the age of imitation. You couldn't buy a brass
button with any confidence. He put the trinket in his pocket and
continued on, soon to forget it.
At six he was off duty. As he was leaving the precinct the desk
sergeant called him back.
"Got change for a dollar, an' I'll settle that pinochle debt,"
offered the sergeant.
"I'll take a look." The policeman emptied his coin pocket.
"What's that yuh got there?"
"The red stone?"
"Oh, that? Picked it up on the sidewalk. Some Italian kids dropped
it as they skedaddled."
"Let's have a look."
"Sure." The policeman passed over the stone.
"Gee! That looks like real money. Say, they can do anything with
glass these days."
"They sure can.
A man in civilian clothes - a detective from headquarters - went up
to the desk. "What you guys got there?"
"A ruby this boob picks up off'n the sidewalk," said the sergeant,
winking at the finder, who grinned.
"Let's have a squint at it."
The stone was handed to him. The detective stared at it carefully,
holding it on his palm and rocking it gently under the desk light.
Crimson darts of flame answered to this treatment. He pushed back
"Well, you boobs!" he drawled.
"What's the matter?"
"Matter? Why, this is a ruby! A whale of a ruby, an' pigeon blood
at that! I didn't work in the' appraiser's office for nothing. But
for a broken point - kids probably tried to crack it - it would
stack up somewhere between three and four thousand dollars!"
The sergeant and the policemen barked simultaneously: "What?"
"A pigeon blood. Where was it you found it?"
"Holy Moses! On Eightieth."
"Any chance of finding that bunch of kids?"
"Not a chance, not a chance! If I got the hull district here there
wouldn't be nothin' doin'. The kids'd be too scared t' remember
anything. A pigeon-blood ruby, an' I wasn't gonna pick it up at
"Lock it up, sergeant," ordered the detective. "I'll pass the word
to headquarters. Too big for a ring. Probably fallen from a pin.
But there'll be a holler in a few hours. Lost or stolen, there'll
be some big noise. You two boobs!"
"Well, whadda yuh know about that?" whined the policeman. "An' me
thinkin' it was glass!"
But there was no big noise. No one had reported the loss or theft
of a pigeon-blood ruby of unusual size and quality.
Kitty came home at nine that night, dreadfully tired. She had that
day been rocked by so many emotions. She had viewed the parade from
the windows of a theatrical agency, and she had cheered and cried
like everybody else. Her eyes still smarted, and her throat betrayed
her every time she recalled what she had seen. Those boys!
Loneliness. She had dined downtown, and on the way home the shadow
had stalked beside her. Loneliness. Never before had these rooms
seemed so empty, empty. If God had only given her a brother and he
had marched in that glorious parade, what fun they two would be
having at this moment! Empty rooms; not even a pet.
Loneliness. She had been a silly little fool to stand so aloof,
just because she was poor and lived in a faded locality. She mocked
herself. Poor but proud, like the shopgirl in the movies. Denied
herself companionship because she was ashamed of her genteel poverty.
And now she was paying for it. Silly little fool! It wasn't as if
she did not know how to make and keep friends. She knew she had
attractions. Just a senseless false pride. The best friends in the
world, after a series of rebuffs, would drop away. Her mother's
friends never called any more, because of her aloofness. She had
only a few girl friends, and even these no doubt were beginning to
think her uppish.
She did not take off her hat and coat. She wandered through the
empty rooms, undecided. If she went to a movie the rooms would be
just as lonely when she returned. Companionship. The urge of it
was so strong that there was a temptation to call up someone, even
someone she had rebuffed. She was in the mood to confess everything
and to make an honest attempt to start all over again - to accept
friendship and let pride go hang. Impulsively she started for the
telephone, when the doorbell rang.
Immediately the sense of loneliness fell away. Another chapter in
the great game of hide and seek that had kept her from brooding
until to-night? The doorbell carried a new message these days.
Nine o'clock. Who could be calling at that hour? She had forgotten
to advise Cutty of the fact that someone had gone through the
apartment. She could not positively assert the fact. Those articles
in her bureau she herself might have disturbed. She might have taken
a handkerchief in a hurry, hunted for something under the lingerie
impatiently. Still she could not rid herself of the feeling that
alien hands had been rifling her belongings. Not Bernini, decidedly.
Remembering Cutty's advice about opening the door with her foot
against it, she peered out. No emissary of Bolshevisim here. A
weary little messenger boy with a long box in his arms called her
The boy thrust the box into her hands and clumped to the stairhead.
Kitty slammed the door and ran into the living room, tearing open
the box as she ran. Roses from Cutty; she knew it. The old darling!
Just when she was on the verge of breaking down and crying! She let
the box fall to the floor and cuddled the flowers to her heart, her
eyes filling. Cutty.
One of those ideas which sometime or another spring into the minds
of all pretty women who are poor sprang into hers - an idea such as
an honest woman might muse over, only to reject. Sinister and
cynical. Kitty was at this moment in rather a desperate frame of
mind. Those two inherent characteristics, which she had fought
valiantly - love of good times and of pretty clothes - made ingress
easy for this sinister and cynical idea. Having gained a foothold
it pressed forward boldly. Cutty, who had everything - strength,
comeliness, wisdom, and money. To live among all those beautiful
things, never to be lonely again, to be waited on, fussed over, made
much of, taken into the high world. Never more to add up accounts,
to stretch five-dollar bills across the chasm of seven days. An
old man's darling!
"No, no, no!" she burst out, passionately. She drew a hand across
her eyes. As if that gesture could rub out an evil thought! It is
all very well to say "Avaunt!" But if the idea will not? "I
couldn't, I couldn't! I'd be a liar and a cheat. But he is so
nice! If he did want me! ... No, no! Just for comforts! I
couldn't! What a miserable wretch I am!"
She caught up the copper jug and still holding the roses to her
heart, the tears streaming down her cheeks, rushed out to the kitchen
for water. She dropped the green stems into the jug, buried her
face in the buds to cool the hot shame on her cheeks, and remembered
- what a ridiculous thing the mind was! - that she had three shirt
waists to iron. She set the jug on the kitchen table, where it
remained for many hours, and walked over to the range, to the
flatiron shelf. As she reached for a flatiron her hand stopped in
A fat black wallet! Instantly she knew who had placed it there.
That poor Johnny Two-Hawks!
Kitty lifted out the wallet from behind the flatirons. No doubt of
it, Johnny Two-Hawks had placed it there when she had gone to the
speaking tube to summon the janitor. Not knowing if he would ever
call for it! Preferring that she rather than his enemies should
have it. And without a word! What a simple yet amazing hiding
place; and but for the need of a flatiron the wallet would have
stayed there until she moved. Left it there, with the premonition
that he was heading into trouble. But what if they had killed him?
How would she have explained the wallet's presence in her apartment?
Good gracious, what an escape!
Without direct consciousness she raised the flap. She saw the edges
of money and documents; but she did not touch anything. There was
no need. She knew it belonged to Johnny Two-Hawks. Of course there
was an appalling attraction. The wallet was, figuratively, begging
to be investigated. But resolutely she closed the flap. Why?
Because it was as though Two-Hawks had placed the wallet in her
hands, charging her to guard it against the day he reclaimed it.
There was no outward proof that the wallet was his. She just knew,
that was all.
Still, she examined the outside carefully. In one corner had been
originally a monogram or a crest; effectually obliterated by the
application of fire.
Who he was and what he was, by a simple turn of the wrist. It was
Cutty's affair now, not hers. He had a legal right to examine the
contents. He was an agent of the Federal Government. The drums of
jeopardy and Stefani Gregor and Johnny Two-Hawks, all interwoven.
She had waited in vain for Cutty to mention the emeralds. What
signified his silence? She had indirectly apprised him of the fact
that she knew the author of that advertisement offering to purchase
the drums, no questions asked. Who but Cutty in New York would know
about them? The mark of the thong. Johnny Two-Hawks had been
carrying the drums, and Karlov's men had torn them from their
victim's neck during the battle. Was there any reason why Cutty
should not have taken her completely into his confidence? Palaces
looted. If Stefani Gregor had lived in a palace, why not his
protege? Still, it was possible Cutty was holding back until he
could tell her everything.
But what to do with it? If she called him up and made known her
discovery, Cutty would rush up as fast as a taxicab could bring him.
He had peremptorily ordered her not to come to his apartment for
the present. But to sit here and wait, to be alone again after he
had gone! It was not to be borne. Orders or no orders, she would
carry the wallet to him. He could lecture her as much as he pleased.
To-night, at least, she would lay aside her part as parlour maid
in the drama. It would give her something to do, keep her mind
off herself. Nothing but excitement would pull her out of this
She hid the wallet in the pocket of her underskirt. Already her
blood was beginning to dance. She ran into her bedroom for two
veils, a gray automobile puggree and one of those heavy black
affairs with butterflies scattered over it, quite as effectual as
a mask. She wound the puggree about her hat. When the right
moment came she would discard the puggree and drop the black veil.
Her coat was of dark blue, lined with steel-gray taffeta. Turned
inside out it would fool any man. She wore spats. These she would
leave behind when she made the change.
Someone might follow her as far as the Knickerbocker, but beyond
there, never. She was sorry, but she dared not warn Bernini. He
might object, notify Cutty, and spoil everything.
By the time she reached the street exhilaration suffused her. The
melancholia was gone. The sinister and cynical idea had vanished
apparently. Apparently. Merely it had found a hiding place and
was content to abide there for the present. Such ideas are not
without avenues of retreat; they know the hours of attack. Kitty
was alive to but one fact: The game of hide and seek was on again.
She was going to have some excitement. She was going into the
night on an adventure, as children play at bears in the dark. The
youth in her still rejected the fact that the woof and warp of this
adventure were murder and loot and pain.
En route to the Subway she never looked back. At Forty-second Street
she detrained, walked into the Knickerbocker, entered the ladies
dressing room, turned her coat, redraped her hat, checked her
gaiters, and sought a taxi. Within two blocks of Cutty's she
dismissed the cab and finished the journey on foot.
At the left of the lobby was an all-night apothecary's, with a door
going into the lobby. Kitty proceeded to the elevator through this
avenue. Number Four was down, and she stepped inside, raising her
"Very important. Take me up."
"The boss is out."
"No matter. Take me up.
"You're the doctor!" What a pretty girl she was. No come-on in her
eyes, though. "The boss may not get back until morning. He just
went out in his engineer's togs. He sure wasn't expecting you.
"Do you know where he went?"
"Never know. But I'll be in this bird cage until he comes back."
"I shall have to wait for him."
"Up she goes!"
As Kitty stepped out into the corridor a wave of confusion assailed
her. She hadn't planned against Cutty's absence. There was nothing
she could say to the nurse; and if Johnny Two-Hawks was asleep
- why, all she could do would be to curl up on a divan and await
The nurse appeared. "You, Miss Conover?"
"Yes." Kitty realized at once that she must take the nurse into her
confidence. "I have made a really important discovery. Did Cutty
say when he would return?"
"No. I am not in his confidence to that extent. But I do know that
you assumed unnecessary risks in coming here."
Kitty shrugged and produced the wallet. "Is Mr. Hawksley awake?"
"It appears that he left this wallet in my kitchen that night. It
might buck him up if I gave it to him."
The nurse, eyeing the lovely animated face, conceded that it might.
"Come, I've been trying futilely to read him asleep, but he is
restless. No excitement, please."
"I'll try not to. Perhaps, after all, you had better give him the
"On the contrary, that would start a series of questions I could
not answer. Come along."
When Kitty saw Hawksley she gave a little gasp of astonishment. Why,
he was positively handsome! His dark head, standing out boldly
against the bolstering pillows, the fine lines of his face definite,
the pallor - he was like a Roman cameo. Who and what could he be,
this picturesque foundling?
His glance flashed into hers delightedly. For hours and hours the
constant wonder where she was, why no one mentioned her, why they
evaded his apparently casual questions. To burst upon his vision
in the nadir of his boredom and loneliness like this! She was
glorious, this American girl. She made him think of a golden
scabbard housing a fine Toledo blade. Hadn't she saved his life?
More, hadn't she assumed a responsibility in so doing? Instantly
he purposed that she should not be permitted to resign the office
of good Samaritan. He motioned toward the nurse's chair; and Kitty
sat down, her errand in total eclipse.
"Just when I never felt so lonely! Ripping!"
His quick smile was so engaging that Kitty answered it - kindred
spirits, subconsciously recognizing each other. Fire; but neither
of them knew that; or that two lonely human beings of opposite sex,
in touch, constitute a first-rate combustible.
Quietly the nurse withdrew. There would be a tonic in this meeting
for the patient. Her own presence might neutralize the effect. She
had not spent all those dreadful months in base hospitals without
acquiring a keen insight into the needs of sick men. No harm in
letting him have this pretty, self-reliant girl alone to himself for
a quarter of an hour. She would then return with some broth.
"How - how are you?" asked Kitty, inanely.
"Top-hole, considering. Quite ready to be killed all over again."
"You mustn't talk like that!" she protested.
"Only to show you I was bucking up. Thank you for doing what you
"I had to do it."
"Most women would have run away and left me to my fate."
"Not my kind."
"Rather not! Your kind would risk its neck to help a stray cat.
I say, what's that you have in your hand?"
"Good gracious!" Kitty extended the wallet. "It is yours, isn't it?"
"Yes. I wanted you to bring it to me the way you have. If I hadn't
come back - out of that - it was to be yours."
"Mine?" - dumfounded. "But - - "
"Why not? Gregor gone, there wasn't a soul in the world. I was
hungry, and you gave me food. I wanted that to pay you. I'll wager
you've never looked into it."
"I had no right to."
"See!" He opened the wallet and spread the contents on the
counterpane. "I wasn't so stony as you thought. What? Cash and
unregistered bonds. They would have been yours absolutely."
"But I don't - I can't quite," Kitty stammered - "but I couldn't
have kept them!"
"Positively yes. You would have shown them to that ripping guardian
of yours, and he would have made you see."
"Indeed, yes! He would have been scared to death. You poor man,
can't you see? Circumstantial evidence that I had killed you!"
"Good Lord! And you're right, too! So it goes. You can't do
anything you want to do. The good Samaritan is never requited; and
I wanted to break the rule. Lord, what a bally mix-up I'd have
tumbled you in! I forgot that you were you, that you would have
gone straight to the authorities. Of course I knew if I pulled
through and you found the wallet you would bring it to me."
Kitty no longer had a foot on earth. She floated. Her brain
floated, too, because she could not make it think coherently for
her. A fortune - for a dish of bacon and eggs! The magnificence,
the utter prodigality of such generosity! For a dish of bacon and
eggs and a bottle of milk! Had she left home? Hadn't she fallen
asleep, the victim of another nightmare? A corner of the atmosphere
cleared a little. A desire took form; she wanted the nurse to
come back and stabilize things. In a wavering blur she saw the
odd young man restore the money and bonds and other documents to
"I want you to give this to your guardian when he comes in. I want