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Chapter 6

  • The reportorial instinct in Kitty Conover, combined with her natural feminin_uriosity, impelled her to seek to the bottom of affair. Her newspaper was a_ar from her as the poles; simply a paramount desire to translate th_ncomprehensible into sequence and consequence. Harmless old Gregor'_isappearance and the advent of John Two-Hawks—the absurdity of tha_ame!—with his impeccable English accent, his Latin gestures, and his blac_ye, convinced her that it was political; an electrical cross current out o_hat broken world over there. Moribund perspectives. What did that signif_ave that Johnny Two-Hawks had fought somewhere that day for his life? Ha_regor been spirited away so as to leave Two-Hawks without support, to confus_nd discourage him and break down his powers of resistance? Or had there bee_omething of great value in the Gregor apartment, and Johnny Two-Hawks ha_ome too late to save his friend?
  • A word slipped into her mind like a whiff of miasma off an evil swamp. As sh_ecognized the word she felt the same horror and repugnance one senses upo_eing unexpectedly confronted by a cobra. Internationalism. The scum of th_orld boiling to the top. A half-blind viper striking venomously a_verything—even itself! A destroyer who tore down but who knew not how or wha_o build. Kitty knew that lower New York was seething with this species o_errorism—thousands of noisome European rats trying to burrow into the granar_f democracy. But she had no particular fear of the result. The reactin_hemicals of American humour and common sense would neutralize that virus.
  • Supposing a ripple from this indecent eddy had touched her feet? The torch o_iberty in the hands of Anarch!
  • Johnny Two-Hawks. Somehow—even if she never saw him again—she knew she woul_lways remember him by that name. Phases of the encounter began to return.
  • Fine hands; perhaps he painted or played. The oblong head of well-balance_entality. A pleasant voice. Breeding. To be sure, he had laughed at that fa_opping out. Anybody would have laughed. Never had she felt so idiotic. He ha_ravely expressed the hope that they might never meet again because his lif_as in danger. What danger? Conceivably the enmity of _ociety—internationalism. The word having found lodgment in her thoughts too_oot. Internationalism—Utopia while you wait! Anarchism and Bolshevis_ffering nostrums for humanity's ills! And there were sane men who defende_he cult on the basis that the intention was honest. Who can say that th_attlesnake does not consider his intentions honourable?
  • The attribute lacking in the ape to make him human is continuity of though_nd action in all things save one. He often starts out well but he neve_rrives. His interest is never sustained. He drops one thing and turns t_nother. The exception is his enmity, savage and cunning, relentless an_nduring.
  • Kitty was awake to one fact. She could not venture to dig into this affai_lone. On the other hand, she did not want one of the men from the city room—_eporter who would see nothing but news. If Gregor was only a prisone_ublicity might be the cause of his death; and publicity would certainly reac_ardily against Johnny Two-Hawks. To whom might she turn?
  • Cutty!—with his great physical strength, his shrewd and alert mentality, an_is wide knowledge of peoples and tongues. There was the man for her—Kitt_onover's godfather. She dumped the contents of her handbag upon the stand i_he hallway in her impatience to find Cutty's card with his telephone number.
  • It was not in the directory. She might catch him before he went out for th_vening.
  • A Japanese voice answered her call.
  • "'Souse, but he iss out."
  • "Where?"
  • "No tell me."
  • "How long has he been gone?"
  • "'Scuse!"
  • Kitty heard the click of the receiver as it went down upon the hook. But sh_asn't the daughter of Conover for nothing. She called up the University Club.
  • No. The Harvard Club. No. The Players, the Lambs; and in the latter club sh_ound him.
  • "Who is it?" Cutty spoke impatiently.
  • "Kitty Conover."
  • "Oh! What's the matter? Can't you have lunch with me?"
  • "Something very strange is happening in this old apartment house, Cutty. I'_fraid it is a matter of life and death. Otherwise I shouldn't have bothere_ou. Can you come up right away?"
  • "As soon as a taxi can take me!"
  • "Thanks."
  • Kitty then went through the apartment and turned out all the lights. Next sh_rew up a chair to the kitchen window and sat down to watch. All was dar_cross the way. But there was nothing singular in this fact. Johnny Two-Hawk_ould have sense enough to realize that it would be safer to move about in th_ark. It was even probable that he was lying down.
  • Tumpitum-tump! Tumpitum-tump! went the racing Elevated; and Kitty's hear_aced along with it. Queer how the echo of Cutty's description of the drum_alling a jehad—a holy war—should adapt itself to that Elevated. Drums!
  • Perhaps the echo clung because she had been interested beyond measure in hi_ale of those two emeralds, the drums of jeopardy. Mobs sacking palaces an_useums and banks and homes; all the scum of the world boiling to the top; th_ed Night that wasn't over.
  • She uttered a shaky little laugh. She would tell Cutty. The real drums o_eopardy weren't emeralds but the roll of warning that prescience taps upo_he spine, the occult sense of impending danger. That was why the Elevate_ent tumpitum-tump! tumpitum-tump! She would tell Cutty. The drums of fear.
  • He over there and she here, in darkness; both of them waiting for something t_appen; and the invisible drumsticks beating the tattoo of fear. If he were i_er thoughts might not she be a little in his? She stood up. She would do it.
  • Convention in a moment like this was nonsense. Hadn't he kept his side of th_ine scrupulously?
  • Nonchalance. It occurred to her for the first time that there must be goo_aterial in a man who could come through in a contest with death, nonchalant.
  • She would fetch him and have him here to meet Cutty, this rather forlor_ohnny Two-Hawks, with his unshaven face, his black eye, and his nonchalance.
  • She would fetch him at once. It would save a good deal of time.
  • There were but ten apartments in the building, two on a floor. The living roo_ormed an L. Kitty's buttressed Gregor's. The elevator shaft was inside,
  • facing the court; and the stair head was on the Gregor side of the elevator.
  • The two entrances faced each other across the landing.
  • As Kitty opened her door to step outside she was nonplussed to see two me_ssue cautiously from the Gregor door. The moment they espied her, however,
  • there was a mad rush for the stair head. She could hear the thud of their fee_ll the way down to the ground floor; and every footfall seemed to touch he_eart. One of them carried a bundle.
  • She breathed quickly, and she knew that she was afraid. Neither man was Johnn_wo-Hawks. Something dreadful had happened; she was sure of it. Reenforcin_er sinking courage with nerve energy she ran across to the Gregor door an_nocked. No answer. She knocked again; then she tried the door. Locked. Th_lutter in her breast died away; she became quite calm. She was going to ente_his apartment by the way of the fire escape. The window he had come out o_as still up. She had made note of this from the kitchen. In returning he ha_tepped on to the springe of a snare.
  • She hurried back to her kitchen for the automatic. She hadn't the least ide_ow to manipulate it; but she was no longer afraid of it. Bravely she steppe_ut on to the fire escape. To reach her objective she had to walk under th_adder. Danger often puts odd irrelevancies into the human brain. As she move_orward she wondered if there was anything in the superstition regardin_adders.
  • When she reached the window she leaned against the brick wall and listened.
  • Silence; an ominous silence. The window was open, the curtain up. Within,
  • what? For as long as five minutes she waited, then she climbed in.
  • Now as this bedroom was a counterpart of her own she knew where the ligh_utton would be. She might stumble over a chair or two, but in the end sh_ould find the light. The fingers of one hand spread out before her and th_ther clutching the impossible automatic, she succeeded in navigating th_ncharted reefs of an unfamiliar room. She blinked for a moment after throwin_n the light, and stood with her back to the wall, the automatic wabbling a_othing in particular. The room was empty so far as she could see. There wa_vidence of a physical encounter, but she could not tell whether it was due t_he former or to the latter invasion.
  • Where was he? From where she stood she could not see the floor on the far sid_f the bed. Timidly she walked past the foot of the bed—and the transien_aralysis of horror laid hold of her. She became bereft of the power to gras_nd hold, and the automatic slipped from her fingers and thudded on th_arpet.
  • On the floor lay poor Johnny Two-Hawks, crumpled grotesquely, a streak o_lood zigzagging across his forehead; to all appearances, dead!