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Chapter 8

  • A phrase, apparently quite irrelevant to the situation, shot into Kitty'_ead. Moribund perspectives. Instantly she knew, with that foretasting mind o_ers, that the man peering over the policeman's shoulder and Johnny Two-Hawk_ad met somewhere that day. She was now able to compare the results, and sh_laced the victory on Two-Hawks' brow. Yonder individual somehow justified th_nstinct that had prompted her to play the good Samaritan. Whence had thi_orilla come? He was not one of the men who had issued in such dramatic hast_rom the Gregor apartment.
  • "This man here saw you and another carrying someone across the fire escape.
  • What's the rumpus?" The policeman was not exactly belligerent, but he wa_utifully determined. And though he was ready to grant that this girl with th_rish eyes was beautiful, a man never could tell.
  • "There's been a tragedy of some kind," began Kitty. "This man certainly di_ee us carrying a man across the fire escape. He had been set upon and robbe_n the apartment across the way."
  • "Why didn't you call in the police?"
  • "Because he might have died before you got here."
  • "Where's the man who helped you?"
  • "Gone. He was an outsider. He was afraid of getting mixed up in a polic_ffair and ran away." Behind the kitchen door Cutty smiled. She would do, thi_irl.
  • "Sounds all right," said the policeman. "I'll take a look at the man."
  • "This way, if you please," said Kitty, readily. "You come, too, sir," sh_dded as the squat man hesitated. Kitty wanted to watch his expression when h_aw Johnny Two-Hawks.
  • Seed on rocky soil; nothing came of the little artifice. No Buddha's grave_ace was less indicative than the squat man's. Perhaps his face was too sor_o permit mobility of expression. The drollery of this thought caused a quir_n one corner of Kitty's mouth. The squat man stopped at the foot of the be_ith the air of a mere passer-by and seemed more interested in th_nvestigations of the policeman than in the man on the bed. But Kitty knew.
  • "A fine bang on the coco," was the policeman's observation. "Take anything ou_f his pockets?"
  • "They were quite empty. I've sent for a military surgeon. He may arrive at an_oment."
  • "This fellow live across the way?"
  • "That's the odd part of it. No, he doesn't."
  • "Then what was he doing there?"
  • "Probably awaiting the return of the real tenant who hasn't returned up t_his hour"—with an oblique glance at the squat man.
  • "Kind o' queer. Say, you stay here and watch the lady while I scout round."
  • The squat man nodded and leaned over the foot of the bed. The policema_talked out.
  • "I was in the kitchen," said Kitty, confidingly. "I saw shadows on the windo_urtain. It did not look right. So I started to inquire and almost bumped int_wo men leaving the apartment. They took to their heels when they saw me."
  • Again the squat man nodded. He appeared to be a good listener.
  • "Where were you when we crossed the fire escape?"
  • "In the yard on the other side of the fence." There was reluctance in th_uttural voice.
  • "Oh, I see. You live there."
  • As this was a supposition and not a direct query, the squat man wagged hi_ead affirmatively.
  • Kitty, her ears strained for disquieting sounds in the kitchen, laid her pal_n the patient's cheek. It was very hot. She dipped a bit of cotton into th_ater, which had grown cold, and dampened the wounded man's cheeks and throat.
  • Not that she expected to accomplish anything by this act; it relieved th_erve tension. This man was no fool. If her surmises were correct he was _trong man both in body and in mind. In a rage he would be terrible. However, had Johnny Two-Hawks done it—beaten the man and escaped? No doubt he had bee_atching all the time and had at length stepped in to learn if hi_ubordinates had followed his instructions and to what extent they ha_ucceeded.
  • "If he dies it will be murder."
  • "It is a big city."
  • "And so many terrible things happen like this every day. But sooner or late_hose who commit them are found out. Nemesis always follows on the heels o_engeance."
  • For the first time there was a flash of interest in the battered eyes of th_ntruder. Perhaps he saw that this was not only a pretty woman but a keen one, and sensed the veiled threat. Moreover, he knew that she had lied at on_oint. There had been no light in the room across the court.
  • But what in the world was happening out there in the kitchen? Kitty wondered.
  • So far, not a sound. Had Cutty really taken flight? And why shouldn't he hav_aced it out at her side? Very odd on Cutty's part. Shortly she heard th_eavy shoes of the policeman returning.
  • "Guess it's all right, miss. I'll report the affair at the precinct and hav_n ambulance sent over. You'll have to come along with me, sir."
  • "Is that legally necessary?" asked the squat man, rather perturbed.
  • "Sure. You saw the thing and I verified it," declared the policeman. "It won'_ake ten minutes. Your name and address, in case this man dies."
  • "I see. Very well."
  • Kitty wasn't sure, but the policeman seemed embarrassed about something. Th_irectness was gone from his eyes and his speech was no longer brisk.
  • "My name is Conover," said Kitty.
  • "I got that coming in," replied the policeman. "We'll be on our way."
  • Not once again did the squat man glance at the man on the bed. He followed th_oliceman into the hall, his air that of one who had accepted a certai_bligation to community welfare and cancelled it.
  • Kitty shut the door—and leaned against it weakly. Where had Cutty gone? Eve_s she expressed the query she smelt burning tobacco. She ran out into th_itchen, to behold Cutty seated in a chair calmly smoking his infamous pipe!
  • "And I thought you were gone! What did you say to that policeman?"
  • "I hypnotized him, Kitty."
  • "The newspaper?"
  • "No. Just looked into his eye and made a few passes with my hands."
  • "Of course, if you believe you ought not to tell me—" said Kitty, which is th_ay all women start their wheedling.
  • Cutty looked into the bowl of his pipe.
  • "Kitty, when you throw a cobble into a pond, what happens? A splash. But di_ou ever notice the way the ripples have of running on and on, until the_ouch the farthest shore?"
  • "Yes. And this is a ripple from some big stone cast into the pond o_outheastern Europe. I understand."
  • "That's just the difficulty. If you understood nothing it would be much easie_or me. But you know just enough to want to follow up on your own hook. I kno_othing definitely; I have only suspicions. I calmed that policeman by showin_im a blanket police power issued by the commissioner. I want you to pack u_nd move out of this neighbourhood. It's not congenial to you."
  • "I'm afraid I can't afford to move until May."
  • "I'll take care of that gladly, to get you out of this garlicky ruin."
  • "No, Cutty; I'm going to stay here until the lease is up."
  • "Gee-whiz! The Irish are all alike," cried the war correspondent, hopelessly.
  • "Petticoat or pantaloon, always looking for trouble."
  • "No, Cutty; simply we don't run away from it. And there's just as much Iris_n you as there is in me."
  • "Sure! And for thirty years I've gone hunting for trouble, and never failed t_ind it. I don't like this affair, Kitty; and because I don't I'm going t_isk my Samson locks in your lily-white hands. I am going to tell you tw_hings: I am a secret foreign agent of the United States Government. Now don'_ight up that way. Dark alleys and secret papers and beautiful adventuresse_nd bang-bang have nothing at all to do with my job. There isn't a grain o_omance in it. Ostensibly I am a war correspondent. I have handled all the bi_vents in Serbia and Bulgaria and Greece and southwestern Russia. Boiled down, I am a census taker of undesirables. Socialist, anarchist and Bolshevik—_hotograph them in my mental 'fillums' and transmit to Washington. Thus, whe_eodor Slopeski lands at Ellis Island with the idea of blowing up New York, h_s returned with thanks. I didn't ask for the job; it was thrust upon m_ecause of my knowledge of the foreign tongues. I accepted it because I am _oyal American citizen."
  • "And you left me because you' didn't know who might be at the door!"
  • "Precisely. I am known in lower New York under another name. I'm a rabi_nternationalist. Down with everything! I don't go out much these days; kee_nder cover as much as I can. Once recognized, my value would be nil. In _lannel shirt I'm a dangerous codger."
  • "And Gregor and this poor young man are in some way mixed up wit_nternationalism!"
  • "Victims, probably."
  • "What is the other thing you wish to tell me?"
  • "Because your eyes are slate blue like your mother's. I loved your mother, Kitty," said Cutty, blinking into his pipe. "And the singular fact is, you_ather knew but your mother never did. I was never able to tell your mothe_fter your father died. Their bodies were separated, but not their spirits."
  • Kitty nodded. So that was it? Poor Cutty!
  • "I make this confession because I want you to understand my attitude towar_ou. I am going to elect myself as your special guardian so long as I'm in Ne_ork. From now on, when I ask you to do something, understand that I believ_t best for you. If my suspicions are correct we are not dealing with fool_ut with madmen. The most dangerous human being, Kitty, is an honest man wit_ half-baked or crooked idea; and that's what this world pother, Bolshevism, is—honest men with crooked ideas, carrying the torch of anarchism an_elieving it enlightenment. What makes them tear down things? Every beautifu_uilding is only a monument to their former wretchedness; and so the_nnihilate. None of them actually knows what he wants. A thousand will-o'-the- wisps in front of them, and all alike. A thousand years to throw off th_hackles, and they expect Utopia in ten minutes! It makes you want to weep.
  • Socialism—the brotherhood of man—is a beautiful thing theoretically; but it i_ike some plays—they read well but do not act. Lopping off heads, believin_hem to be ideas!"
  • "The poor things!"
  • "That's it. Though I betray them I pity them. Democracy; slowly and surely. A_rickly with faults as a cactus pear; but every year there are less prickles.
  • We don't stand still or retrogress; we keep going on and up. Take this town.
  • Think of It to-day and compare it with the town your father knew. There's th_ell. I imagine that will be Harrison. If we can move this chap will you go t_ hotel for the night?"
  • "I'm going to stay here, Cutty. That's final."
  • Cutty sighed.