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"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 thoughtless as to come here against my orders. It doesn't matter that Karlov has given up the idea of having you followed. But for the sake of us all you must be made to understand that we are dealing with high explosives and poison gas. It's not what might happen to me or to Uncle Sam's business. It's you. Any moment they 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
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 and sisters and sweethearts on the curb to-day, watching their boys march by, it hit me hard. I was alone. Nobody. So please don't be cross with me. I'm on the ragged 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, go somewhere, do something; so I came here. But I came on - what do you call it? - official business. Here!" She offered him the wallet.
"Belongs to Johnny Two-Hawks. He hid it that night behind my flatirons on the range. 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 bonds would have been mine.
"Providing Gregor was also dead." Cutty looked into the wallet, but disturbed nothing. "I imagine these funds are actually Gregor's."
"He told me to give the wallet to you. And so I waited. I fell asleep. So please 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 you reach some kind of a port."
"Thank you for the flowers. You'll never know just what they did for me. There was 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't have been ashamed to invite my friends to my shabby home. I shouldn't have cold shouldered everybody through false pride. But where have you been, and what have you been doing?"
"Official business. But I just missed being a fine jackass. I'll look into the wallet after I've cleaned up. I'm a mess of gore and dust. Is it interesting stuff?" 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's knowledge. Of course Hawksley wouldn't carry anything in the wallet by which his true identity might be made known. Still, there would be stuff to excite her interest and suspicion. Hawksley had shown her some of that three hundred thousand probably. What a game!
He would say nothing about his own adventures and discoveries. He worked on the theory that the best time to tell about something was after it had become a fact. But no theory is perfect; and in this instance his reticence was going to cost him intolerable agony in the near future.
Within a quarter of an hour he was back in the living room. Kitty was out of sight; 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 the wallet. Money and bonds he rather expected, but the customs appraiser's receipt was like a buffet. The emeralds belonged honorably to his guest! All his own plans were knocked galley-west by this discovery.
An odd sense of indignation blazed up in him, as though someone had imposed upon him. The sport was gone, the fun of the thing; it became merely official business. To appropriate a pair of smuggled emeralds was a first-class sporting proposition, with a humorous twist. As it stood now, he would be picking 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 with histories - in a bag hung to his neck - and all these thousands of miles! Not since the advent of the Gaekwar of Baroda into San Francisco, in 1910, had so many 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 Russian consul of the old regime probably; and an appraiser who was a good sport. To have come safely to his destination, and then to have lost out! The magnificent careless generosity of putting the wallet behind Kitty's flatirons, to be hers if he didn't pull through! Why, this fiddling derelict was a man! Stood up and fought Karlov with his bare fists; wasn't ashamed to weep over his mother's photograph; and fiddled like Heifetz. All right. This Johnny Two-Hawks, as Kitty persisted in calling him, was going to reach his Montana 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 planned it. Those gems falling into the hands of the Federal agents would surely bring to light Hawksley's identity; and Hawksley should have his chance.
Cutty then came upon the will. Somehow the pathos of it went deep into his heart. The poor devil! - a will that hadn't been witnessed, the handwriting the same as that on the passport. If he had fallen into the hands of the police they would have justifiably locked him up as a murder suspect. Two-Hawks! It was a small world. He returned the contents to the wallet, leaving out the will, 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 anything Kuroki makes.... Tastes better, too. You're going to make some lucky duffer a fine 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's curiosity; 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 he told her the plain truth at the start? Wasn't on account of the drums. He hadn't kept her in the dark because of the drums. He could have trusted her with that part of it - his tentative piracy. That to divulge Hawksley's identity would be a menace to her peace of mind now appeared ridiculous; and yet he had worked forward from this assumption. No answer to the query. Generally he thought clearly enough; but somewhere along this route he had made a muddle of things and couldn't find the spot. The only point clearly defined was that he should wish to keep her out of the affair because there were elements of positive danger. But somewhere inside of him was a question asking for recognition, and it eluded him. Nothing could be solved until this question got out of the fog. Even now he might risk the whole truth; but the lie he had woven appeared too good to waste.
Human frailty. The most accomplished human being is the finished liar. Never to forget a detail, to remember step by step the windings, over a ticklish road. And Cutty, for all his wide newspaper experience, was a poor liar because he had been brought up on facts. Perhaps his lie might have passed had he not been so fagged. The physical labours of the night had dulled his perceptions.
"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. What a 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 driven out of the country or killed all the nobles and bourgeoisie. Some of them have escaped - into China, Sweden, India, wherever they could find an open route. To his story there are many loose ends, and Hawksley is not the talking kind. You mustn't repeat what I tell you. Hawksley, with all that money and a forged English passport, would have a good deal of trouble explaining if he ran afoul the police. There is no real proof that the money is his or Gregor's. As a matter of fact, it is Gregor's, and Hawksley was bringing it to him. Hawksley is Gregor's protege."
Kitty nodded. This dovetailed with what Johnny Two-Hawks had told her that night.
"How the two came together originally I don't know. Gregor was in his younger days a great violinist, but unknown to the American public. Early in his career he speculated with his concert earnings and turned a pot of money. He dropped the professional career for that of a country gentleman. He had a handsome estate, and lived sensibly. He sent Hawksley to England to school and spent 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 does not have to be a prince or a grand duke. Gregor was a polished gentleman, and he 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 some political pie, and political pies in Russia before the war were lese-majesty. The result - Gregor got in wrong with his secret society and the political police and was forced to fly to save his life. But before he fled he had all his convertible funds transferred. Only his estate was confiscated. Hawksley was 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 better his protector's future, returned to Russia and joined his regiment and fought until the Czar abdicated. Foretasting the trend of events, he tried to get back to England, but that was impossible. He was permitted to retire to the Gregor estate, where he remained until the uprising of the Bolsheviki. Then he started across the world to join Gregor."
"That was brave."
"It certainly was. I imagine that Hawksley's journey has that of Ulysses laid away on the shelf. Karlov was the head of the society which had voted Gregor's death. So he had agents watching Hawksley. And Karlov himself undertook the chase across Russia, China, and the Pacific."
"I'm glad I gave him something to eat. But Gregor, a valet in a hotel, with all 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 with his 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."
"You'll have to spend the night here. It's round four, and the power has been shut off. There's the stairs, but it would be dawn before you reach the street."
"I do. I don't believe you're in a good mood to send back to that garlicky warren. I wish to the Lord you'd leave it!"
"It's difficult to find anything desirable within my means. Rents are terrifying. I'll sleep on the divan. A rug or a blanket. I'm a silly fool, I suppose."
"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't care whether he died or not. He was even lonelier than I. I lay down on the divan, and then I heard music. Funny, but somehow I fancied he was calling me back; 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 from Battery to Bronx to hear a good violinist."
Fiddles and Irish hearts. Swiftly came the vision of Hawksley fiddling the heart out of this lonely girl - if he had the chance. And he, Cutty, was going to fascinate her - with what? He rose and took her by the shoulders, bringing her 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 the devil made me say that?"
The sinister and cynical idea leaped from its ambush. "Why, Cutty, I - I don't believe 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 way of reversing the illogical and giving it logical semblance. It was perfectly logical that he should not kiss her; and yet that was exactly what he should have done. The fatherliness of the salute - and he couldn't have made it anything else - would have shamed Kitty's peculiar state of mind out of existence and probably sent back to its eternal sleep that which was strangely reawaking in his lonely heart.
"Forgive me, Kitty. That wasn't exactly nice of me, even if I was trying to be funny."
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 both hands into his hair, but he drew them out immediately without retaining any of the thinning gray locks. Done up, both of them; that was the matter. He longed to console her, but knew not what to say or how to act. He had not seen a woman 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 kneel and put his arms round her; and yet it was a situation that called for arms and endearments. He had sense enough to recognize that. Molly's girl crying like that, and he able to do nothing! It was intolerable. But what was she weeping about?
Covering the divan was a fine piece of Bokhara embroidery. He drew this down over Kitty and tucked her in, turned off the light, and proceeded to his bedroom.
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 was despicable. A silly little fool, too, to suppose that so keen a mind as Cutty's would not see through the artifice! What was happening to her that she could let such a thought into her head?
By and by she was able to pick up Cutty's narrative and review it. Not a word about 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 advertisement offering to buy the drums, no questions asked? Very well, then; if he would not 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, trying to find a pick-up to the emotions that beset him. One thing issued clearly: He had 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 began slowly to absorb the artificial light of his bed lamp.
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