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Chapter 10

  • 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?"
  • "Oh, because—Hark!"
  • The two of them ran to the bedroom door.
  • "Olga! Olga!" And then a guttural level jumble of sounds.
  • Kitty's quick brain reached out for a similitude—water rushing over 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.
  • "And then?"
  • "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?"