Meanwhile, Captain Harrison of the Medical Corps entered the Conover apartmen_riskly.
"You old vagabond, what have you been up to? I beg pardon!"—as he saw Kitt_merge 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. _ook the liberty of telephoning for Miss Frances, who returned on the sam_hip with me. I concluded that your friend would need a nurse. Let me have _ook 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. Tha_lack eye, though, is an older affair. Who is he?"
"I suspect he's some political refugee. We don't know a thing about hi_therwise. 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 i_anger; and if we get him into my lofty diggings they won't be able to trac_im. Not far from here there's a private hospital I know. It goes through fro_ne street to the next. I know the doctor. We'll have the ambulance carry th_atient 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 polic_ill not bother us. I've seen to that. I rather believe it falls in with som_f 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 simpl_een knocked out. Serious only if unattended. Your finding him probably save_im. 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. Fagge_ut, 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 hi_eck?"
"Hanged if I know."
"All out of the room now. I want it dark. Just as soon as the nurse arrive_'ll return. Three rings." Harrison left the apartment.
Cutty spent a few minutes at the telephone, then he joined Kitty in the livin_oom.
"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 bange_readfully. 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 things."
"Listen!" she interrupted, taking hold of his sleeve. "Hear it?"
"Only the Elevated."
"Tumpitum-tump! Tumpitum-tump! Cutty, you hypnotized me this afternoon wit_our horrid drums."
"The emeralds?" He managed to repress the start.
"I don't know what it is; drums, anyhow. Maybe it is the emeralds. Somethin_as been happening ever since you told me about them—the misery and evil tha_ollow 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'v_ommon sense and humour."
"And a lot more besides, Kitty. You're a raving, howling little beauty; an_ow you've remained out of captivity this long is a puzzler to me. Haven't yo_ot 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 editor says."
"Exactly what do you want?" Cutty was keenly curious, for some reason he coul_ot define. He did not care for diamonds as stones; but he admired an_ersonality that flashed differently from each new angle exposed.
"Oh, a man, among other things. I don't mean one of those godlike chromos i_he frontispiece of popular novels. He hasn't got to be handsome. But he mus_e able to laugh when he's happy, when he's hurt. I must be his business i_ife. He must know a lot about things I know. I want a comrade who will com_o me when he has a joke or an ache. A gay man and whimsical. The law can mak_ny 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 yo_o 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 an_ice clothes. I imagine that you would make both husband and comrade; or yo_ould 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 m_ompanionable. Experience is something we must buy; it isn't left i_omebody's will. Let us say that I possess all the necessary attributes sav_ne."
"And what is that?"
"Youth, Kitty. And take the word of a senile old dotard, your young man, whe_ou 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. Th_errible pity of youth is that it has the habit of conferring these attribute_ather than finding them. You put garlands on the heads of snow images, an_he first glare of sunshine—pouf!"
"Cutty, I'm beginning to like you immensely"—smiling. "Perhaps women ought t_ave two husbands—one young and handsome and the other old and wise lik_ourself."
Cutty wished he were alone in order to analyze the stab. Old! When he kne_hat 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 hi_ithout his appreciation of the fullness of the score. And yet he was mor_han a match for any ordinary man of thirty in sinew and brain; and no man me_he new morning with more zest than he himself met it. But to Kitty he wa_ld! Lavender and oak leaves were being draped on his door knob. He laughed.
"Why do you laugh?"
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 ragge_oulders.
"Olga!" she whispered. "He is a Russian!"
"There are Serbian Olgas and Bulgarian Olgas and Rumanian Olgas. Probably hi_weetheart."
"The poor thing!"
"Sounds like Russian," added Cutty, his conscience pricking him. But h_elcomed 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 an_onveyed to the private hospital. Cutty had no way of ascertaining whethe_hey were followed; but he hoped they would be. The knowledge that thei_ictim was in a near-by hospital would naturally serve to relax the enem_igilance temporarily; and this would permit safely and secretly the secon_eg of the journey—that to his own apartment.
He decided to let an hour go past; then Two-Hawks was taken through th_uilding to the rear and transferred to the truck. Cutty sat with the drive_hile Captain Harrison and the nurse rode inside with the patient.
On the way Cutty was rather disturbed by the deep impression Kitty Conover ha_ade upon his heart and mind. That afternoon he had looked upon her wit_atherly 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 min_f a woman of thirty. Altitude. He had forgotten that relative to altitude_here are always two angles of vision—that from the summit and that from th_reen valley below. Kitty saw him beyond the tree line, but just this side o_he snows—and matched his condescension with pity! He chuckled. Doddering ol_ss, what did it matter how she looked at him?
Beautiful and young and full of common sense, yet dangerously romantical. T_ait for the man she wanted, what did that signify but romance? And there wa_er Irish blood to consider. The association of pretty nurse and interestin_atient always afforded excellent background for sentimental nonsense, th_bligations of the one and the gratitude of the other. Well, he had nippe_hat in the bud.
And why hadn't he taken this Two-Hawks person—how easy it was to fall int_itty's way of naming the chap!—why hadn't he taken him directly to th_oosevelt? Why all this pother and secrecy over a total stranger? Stefan_regor, who lived opposite Kitty and who hadn't prospered particularly sinc_he day he had exhibited the drums of jeopardy—he was the reason. These wer_olcanic days, and a friend of Stefani Gregor—who played the violin lik_aganini—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 o_omething 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 makin_nquiries.
Perhaps Kitty's point of view regarding a certain duffer aged fifty-two wa_earer the truth than the duffer himself realized. Second childhood! As if th_rums of jeopardy would ever again see light, after that tempest of fire an_eath—that mud volcano!
One thing was certain—there would be no more cat-napping. The game was o_gain. He was assured of that side of it.
Green stones, the sunlight breaking against the flaws in a shower of golde_parks; green as the pulp of a Champagne grape; the drums of jeopardy! Murde_nd loot; he could understand.
Immediately after the patient was put to bed Cutty changed. A nondescript sui_f the day-labourer type and a few deft touches of coal dust completed hi_ake-up.
"I shan't be back until morning," he announced. "Work to do. Kuroki will be a_our 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 moustache.
Cutty laughed. "No. You run along to your lambs. I'm running with the wolve_o-night, old scout, and you might get that spick-and-span unifor_onsiderably mussed up. Besides, it's raining."
"But what's to become of Miss Conover? She ought not to remain alone in tha_partment."
"Well, well! I thought of that, too. But she can take care of herself."
"Those ruffians may call up the hospital and learn that we tricked them.
"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 th_indow, which she had thrown up. She had gone to bed, but sleep wa_mpossible. So she decided to watch the Gregor windows. Sometimes the mind i_ike a movie camera set for a double exposure. The whole scene is visible, bu_he camera sees only half of it. Thus, while she saw the windows across th_ourt there entered the other side of her mind a picture of the immaculat_utty 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 _hild, wanting her to spend the night at a hotel! The affair was over. No on_ould bother Kitty Conover. Why should they? But it took strength to shoulde_ man like that. What fun he and her father must have had together! And Cutt_ad loved her mother! That made Kitty exquisitely tender for a moment. Al_lone, at the age when new friendships were impossible. A lovable man lik_hat going down through life alone!
Census taker of alien undesirables; a queer occupation for a man so famous a_utty. Patriotism—to plunge into that seething revolutionary scum to sort th_angerous madmen from the harmless mad-men. Courage and strength and menta_esource; yes, Cutty possessed these; and he would be the kind to laugh at _oke or a hurt.
One thing, however, was indelibly printed on her mind. Stefani Gregor—eithe_utty had met and known the man or he had heard of him.
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 _oint of moving white light. She craned her neck. A battery lamp! The roun_pot of light worked along the cement floor, vanished occasionally, reappeared, and then vanished altogether. Somebody was down there hunting fo_omething. What?
Kitty remained with her head out of the window for some time, unmindful of th_patter of rain. But nothing happened. The man was gone. Of course th_ncident might not have the slightest bearing upon the previous adventures o_his amazing night; still, it was suggestive. The young man had worn somethin_ound 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 t_ed. This time she fell asleep. Her disordered thoughts rearranged themselve_n a dazzling dream. She found herself wandering through a gloriou_ranslucent green cavern—a huge emerald. And in the distance she heard tha_nmistakable tumpitum-tump! tumpitum-tump! It drew her irresistibly. Sh_ought and struggled against the fascinating sound, but it continued to dra_er 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 o_lazing diamonds. On the other side of that fire was a blonde young woman wit_ tiara of rubies on her head. "Save me! I am Olga, Olga!" Kitty struggle_iercely and awoke.
The light was on. At the side of her bed were two men. One of them was holdin_er bare shoulder and digging his fingers into it cruelly. They looked lik_oal heavers.
"We do not wish to harm you, and won't if you're sensible. Where did they tak_he man you brought?"