"Kitty," he said, breaking the tableau, "what are you doing here?"
"You've been hurt! There is blood on you!"
"A trifling cut. But I'm hurt, nevertheless, that you should be so thoughtles_s to come here against my orders. It doesn't matter that Karlov has given u_he idea of having you followed. But for the sake of us all you must be mad_o understand that we are dealing with high explosives and poison gas. It'_ot what might happen to me or to Uncle Sam's business. It's you. Any momen_hey may take it into their heads to get at me and Hawksley through you.
That's why we watch over you. You don't want to see Hawksley done in, do you?
It's real tragedy, Kitty, and nobody can guess what the end is going to be."
Kitty's lip quivered. "Cutty, if you talk like that to me I shall cry."
"Good Lord, what about?"—bewildered.
"About everything. I've been on the verge of hysterics all day."
"Kitty, you poor child, what's happened?"
"Nothing—everything. Lonesome. When I saw all those mothers and wives an_isters and sweethearts on the curb to-day, watching their boys march by, i_it me hard. I was alone. Nobody. So please don't be cross with me. I'm on th_agged edge. Silly, I know. But we women often go to pieces over nothing, without any logical reason. Ready to face murder and battle and sudden death; and then to blow up, as you men say it, over nothing. I had to move, g_omewhere, do something; so I came here. But I came on—what do you cal_t?—official business. Here!" She offered him the wallet.
"Belongs to Johnny Two-Hawks. He hid it that night behind my flatirons on th_ange. Why, Cutty, he's rich!"
"Did he show the contents?"
"Only the money and the bonds. He said if he had died the money and bond_ould have been mine.
"Providing Gregor was also dead." Cutty looked into the wallet, but disturbe_othing. "I imagine these funds are actually Gregor's."
"He told me to give the wallet to you. And so I waited. I fell asleep. S_lease don't scold me."
"I'm a brute! But it's because you've become so much to me that I was angry.
You're Tommy and Molly's girl, and I've got to watch out for you until yo_each some kind of a port."
"Thank you for the flowers. You'll never know just what they did for me. Ther_as somebody who gave me a thought."
"Kitty, I honestly don't get you. A beauty like you, lonesome!"
"That's it. I am pretty. Why should I deny it? If I'd been homely I shouldn'_ave been ashamed to invite my friends to my shabby home. I shouldn't hav_old shouldered everybody through false pride. But where have you been, an_hat have you been doing?"
"Official business. But I just missed being a fine jackass. I'll look into th_allet after I've cleaned up. I'm a mess of gore and dust. Is it interestin_tuff?" dreading her answer.
"The wallet? I did not look into it. I had no right."
"Ah! Well, I'll be back in two jigs."
He hurried off, relieved to learn that the secret was still beyond Kitty'_nowledge. Of course Hawksley wouldn't carry anything in the wallet by whic_is true identity might be made known. Still, there would be stuff to excit_er interest and suspicion. Hawksley had shown her some of that three hundre_housand probably. What a game!
He would say nothing about his own adventures and discoveries. He worked o_he theory that the best time to tell about something was after it had becom_ fact. But no theory is perfect; and in this instance his reticence was goin_o cost him intolerable agony in the near future.
Within a quarter of an hour he was back in the living room. Kitty was out o_ight; probably had curled up on the divan again. He would not disturb her.
Hawksley's wallet! He drew a chair under the reading lamp and explored th_allet. Money and bonds he rather expected, but the customs appraiser'_eceipt was like a buffet. The emeralds belonged honorably to his guest! Al_is own plans were knocked galley-west by this discovery.
An odd sense of indignation blazed up in him, as though someone had impose_pon him. The sport was gone, the fun of the thing; it became merely officia_usiness. To appropriate a pair of smuggled emeralds was a first-clas_porting proposition, with a humorous twist. As it stood now, he would b_icking Hawksley's pocket; and he wasn't rogue enough for that. Hang the luck!
Emeralds, rubies, sapphires, pearls, and diamonds! No doubt many of them wit_istories—in a bag hung to his neck—and all these thousands of miles! No_ince the advent of the Gaekwar of Baroda into San Francisco, in 1910, had s_any fine stones passed through that port of entry.
But why hadn't Hawksley inquired about them? Stoic indifference? A good loser?
How had he got through the customs without a lot of publicity? The Russia_onsul of the old regime probably; and an appraiser who was a good sport. T_ave come safely to his destination, and then to have lost out! Th_agnificent careless generosity of putting the wallet behind Kitty'_latirons, to be hers if he didn't pull through! Why, this fiddling derelic_as a man! Stood up and fought Karlov with his bare fists; wasn't ashamed t_eep over his mother's photograph; and fiddled like Heifetz. All right. Thi_ohnny Two-Hawks, as Kitty persisted in calling him, was going to reach hi_ontana ranch. His friend Cutty would take it upon himself to see to that.
It struck him that after all he would have to play the game as he had planne_t. Those gems falling into the hands of the Federal agents would surely brin_o light Hawksley's identity; and Hawksley should have his chance.
Cutty then came upon the will. Somehow the pathos of it went deep into hi_eart. The poor devil!—a will that hadn't been witnessed, the handwriting th_ame as that on the passport. If he had fallen into the hands of the polic_hey would have justifiably locked him up as a murder suspect. Two-Hawks! I_as a small world. He returned the contents to the wallet, leaving out th_ill, however. This he thrust into a drawer.
"Coffee?" said Kitty at his elbow.
"Kitty? I'd forgotten you! I thought I smelt coffee. Just what I wanted, too, only I hadn't brains enough left to think of it. Smells better than anythin_uroki makes… . Tastes better, too. You're going to make some lucky duffer _ine wife."
"Is there anything you can tell me, Cutty?"
"A whole lot, Kitty; only I'm twenty years too old."
"I mean the wallet. Who is he?"
Cutty drained the cup slowly. A good coherent lie, to appease Kitty'_uriosity; half a truth, something hard to nail. He set down the empty cup, building. By the time he had filled his pipe and lit it he was ready.
Something bored up through the subconscious, however—a query. Why hadn't h_old her the plain truth at the start? Wasn't on account of the drums. H_adn't kept her in the dark because of the drums. He could have trusted he_ith that part of it—his tentative piracy. That to divulge Hawksley's identit_ould be a menace to her peace of mind now appeared ridiculous; and yet he ha_orked forward from this assumption. No answer to the query. Generally h_hought clearly enough; but somewhere along this route he had made a muddle o_hings and couldn't find the spot. The only point clearly defined was that h_hould wish to keep her out of the affair because there were elements o_ositive danger. But somewhere inside of him was a question asking fo_ecognition, and it eluded him. Nothing could be solved until this questio_ot out of the fog. Even now he might risk the whole truth; but the lie he ha_oven appeared too good to waste.
Human frailty. The most accomplished human being is the finished liar. Neve_o forget a detail, to remember step by step the windings, over a ticklis_oad. And Cutty, for all his wide newspaper experience, was a poor lia_ecause he had been brought up on facts. Perhaps his lie might have passed ha_e not been so fagged. The physical labours of the night had dulled hi_erceptions.
"Ab, but that tastes good!"—as he blew forth a wavering ring of smoke.
"It ought to have at least one merit," replied Kitty, wrinkling her nose. Wha_ fine profile Cutty had! "Now, who and what is he? I'm dying to know."
"An odd story; probably hundreds like it. You see, the Bolsheviki have drive_ut of the country or killed all the nobles and bourgeoisie. Some of them hav_scaped—into China, Sweden, India, wherever they could find an open route. T_is story there are many loose ends, and Hawksley is not the talking kind. Yo_ustn't repeat what I tell you. Hawksley, with all that money and a forge_nglish passport, would have a good deal of trouble explaining if he ran afou_he police. There is no real proof that the money is his or Gregor's. As _atter of fact, it is Gregor's, and Hawksley was bringing it to him. Hawksle_s Gregor's protege."
Kitty nodded. This dovetailed with what Johnny Two-Hawks had told her tha_ight.
"How the two came together originally I don't know. Gregor was in his younge_ays a great violinist, but unknown to the American public. Early in hi_areer he speculated with his concert earnings and turned a pot of money. H_ropped the professional career for that of a country gentleman. He had _andsome estate, and lived sensibly. He sent Hawksley to England to school an_pent a good deal of time there with him, teaching him how to play the fiddle, for which it seems Hawksley had a natural bent. He had to Anglicize his name; for Two-Hawks would have made people laugh. To be a gentleman, Kitty, one doe_ot have to be a prince or a grand duke. Gregor was a polished gentleman, an_e turned Hawksley into one."
Again Kitty nodded, her eyes sparkling.
"The Russ—the educated Russ—is a queer biscuit. Got to have a finger in som_olitical pie, and political pies in Russia before the war were lese-majesty.
The result—Gregor got in wrong with his secret society and the politica_olice and was forced to fly to save his life. But before he fled he had al_is convertible funds transferred. Only his estate was confiscated. Hawksle_as in London when the war broke out. There was a lot of red tape, naturally, regarding the funds. I shan't bother you with that, Hawksley, hoping to bette_is protector's future, returned to Russia and joined his regiment and fough_ntil the Czar abdicated. Foretasting the trend of events, he tried to ge_ack to England, but that was impossible. He was permitted to retire to th_regor estate, where he remained until the uprising of the Bolsheviki. Then h_tarted across the world to join Gregor."
"That was brave."
"It certainly was. I imagine that Hawksley's journey has that of Ulysses lai_way on the shelf. Karlov was the head of the society which had voted Gregor'_eath. So he had agents watching Hawksley. And Karlov himself undertook th_hase across Russia, China, and the Pacific."
"I'm glad I gave him something to eat. But Gregor, a valet in a hotel, wit_ll that money!"
"The red tape."
"What a dizzy world we live in, Cutty!"
"Dizzy is the word." Cutty sighed. His yarn had passed a very shrewd censor.
"Karlov feels it his duty to kill off all his countryman who do not agree wit_is theories. He wanted these funds here, but Hawksley was too clever for him.
Remember, now, not a word of this to Hawksley. I tell you this in confidence."
"You'll have to spend the night here. It's round four, and the power has bee_hut off. There's the stairs, but it would be dawn before you reach th_treet."
"I do. I don't believe you're in a good mood to send back to that garlick_arren. I wish to the Lord you'd leave it!"
"It's difficult to find anything desirable within my means. Rents ar_errifying. I'll sleep on the divan. A rug or a blanket. I'm a silly fool, _uppose."
"You can have a guest room."
"I'd rather the divan; less scandalous. Cutty, I forgot. He played for me."
"What? He did?"
"I had to run out of the room because some things he said choked me up. Didn'_are whether he died or not. He was even lonelier than I. I lay down on th_ivan, and then I heard music. Funny, but somehow I fancied he was calling m_ack; and I had to hang on to the divan. Cutty, he is a great violinist."
"Are you fond of music?"
"I am mad about it! I'm always running round to concerts; and I'd walk fro_attery to Bronx to hear a good violinist."
Fiddles and Irish hearts. Swiftly came the vision of Hawksley fiddling th_eart out of this lonely girl—if he had the chance. And he, Cutty, was goin_o fascinate her—with what? He rose and took her by the shoulders, bringin_er round so that the light was full in her face. Slate-blue eyes.
"Kitty, what would you say if I kissed you?" Inwardly he asked: "Now, what th_evil made me say that?"
The sinister and cynical idea leaped from its ambush. "Why, Cutty, I—I don'_elieve I should mind. It's—it's you!" Vile wretch that she was!
Cutty, noting the lily succeeding the rose, did not kiss her. Fate has a wa_f reversing the illogical and giving it logical semblance. It was perfectl_ogical that he should not kiss her; and yet that was exactly what he shoul_ave done. The fatherliness of the salute—and he couldn't have made i_nything else—would have shamed Kitty's peculiar state of mind out o_xistence and probably sent back to its eternal sleep that which was strangel_eawaking in his lonely heart.
"Forgive me, Kitty. That wasn't exactly nice of me, even if I was trying to b_unny."
She tore away from him, flung herself upon the divan, her face in the pillows, and let down the dam.
This wild sobbing—apparently without any reason terrified Cutty. He put bot_ands into his hair, but he drew them out immediately without retaining any o_he thinning gray locks. Done up, both of them; that was the matter. He longe_o console her, but knew not what to say or how to act. He had not seen _oman weep like this in so many years that he had forgotten the remedies.
Should he call the nurse? But that would only add to Kitty's embarrassment, and the nurse would naturally misinterpret the situation. He couldn't knee_nd put his arms round her; and yet it was a situation that called for arm_nd endearments. He had sense enough to recognize that. Molly's girl cryin_ike that, and he able to do nothing! It was intolerable. But what was sh_eeping about?
Covering the divan was a fine piece of Bokhara embroidery. He drew this dow_ver Kitty and tucked her in, turned off the light, and proceeded to hi_edroom.
Kitty's sobs died eventually. There was an occasional hiccup. That, too, disappeared. To play—or even think of playing—a game like that! She wa_espicable. A silly little fool, too, to suppose that so keen a mind a_utty's would not see through the artifice! What was happening to her that sh_ould let such a thought into her head?
By and by she was able to pick up Cutty's narrative and review it. Not a wor_bout the drums of jeopardy, the mark of the thong round Hawksley's neck.
Hadn't she let him know that she knew the author of that advertisemen_ffering to buy the drums, no questions asked? Very well, then; if he woul_ot tell her the truth she would have to find it out herself.
Meanwhile, Cutty sat on the edge of his bed staring blankly at the rug, tryin_o find a pick-up to the emotions that beset him. One thing issued clearly: H_ad wanted to kiss the child. He still wanted to kiss her. Why hadn't he?
Unanswerable. It was still unanswerable even when the pallor of dawn bega_lowly to absorb the artificial light of his bed lamp.