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Chapter 22

  • "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.
  • "What's this?"
  • "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."
  • "I promise."
  • "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."
  • "Who cares?"
  • "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.