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."
"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!"
"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?"