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."
"No tell me."
"How long has he been gone?"
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.
"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!"
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!