The Drums Of Jeopardy
Part 6 out of 6
it many times, but always with a chance. There was none here, and
the absolute knowledge paralyzed him.
Had Cutty been alone Kitty would have rushed at the madman; but the
sight of Hawksley robbed her of all mobility. His unexpected
appearance was to her the Book of Revelation. The blind alley she
had entered and reentered so many times and so futilely crumbled....
As for Hawksley, he knew he had but little time. The floor was
billowing; he saw many candles where he knew there was only one. He
was losing his senses. There remained but a single idea - to do the
old thoroughbred one favour for the many. Scorning death - perhaps
inviting it - he lunged headlong at Karlov's knees.
This reckless challenge to death was so unexpected that Karlov had
no time to aim. He fired at chance. The bullet nipped the left
shoulder of Hawksley's coat and shattered the laths of the partition
between the attic and the servant's quarters. Under the impact of
the human catapult Karlov staggered back, desperately striving to
maintain his balance. He succeeded because Hawksley's senses left
him in the instant he struck Karlov's knees. Still, the episode
was a respite for Cutty, who dashed at Karlov before the latter
could set himself or raise the smoking automatic.
Kitty then witnessed - dimly - a primordial, titanic conflict which
haunted her dreams for many nights to come. They were no longer men,
but animals; the tiger giving combat to the gorilla, one striking
the quick, terrible blows of the tiger, the other seeking always to
come to grips.
The floor answered under the step and rush. Rare athletes, these
two; big men who were light on their feet. Kitty could see their
faces occasionally and the flash of their bare hands, but of their
bodies little or nothing. Nor could she tell how the struggle was
going. Indeed until the idea came that they might be trampling
Johnny Two-Hawks there was no coherent thought in her head, only
She ran to the soapbox and kicked it aside. She saw Hawksley on
his face, motionless. At least they should not trample his dead
body. She caught hold of his arms and dragged him to the wall - to
discover that she was sobbing, sobs of rage and despair that tore
at her breast horribly and clogged her throat. She was a woman and
could not help; she could not help Cutty! She was a woman, and all
she could do was to drag aside the lifeless body of the man who
had given Cutty his chance!
She knelt, turning Hawksley over on his back. There was a slight
gash on one grimy cheek, possibly caused by contact with the latchets
of Karlov's boots. She raised the handsome head, pressed it to her
bosom, and began to sway her body from side to side. Tumult. The
Federal agents were throwing their bodies against the door repeatedly.
In the semi-darkness Cutty fought for his life. But Kitty neither
heard nor saw. The world had suddenly contracted; there was only
this beautiful head in her arms; beyond and about, nothing.
Cutty felt his strength ebbing; soon he would not be able to wrench
himself loose from those terrible arms. He knew all the phases of
the fighting game. Chivalry and fair play had no part in this
contest. Clear light, to observe what his blows were accomplishing;
a minute or two of clear light! Half the time his blows glanced.
The next time those arms wound about him, that would be the end.
He was growing tired, winded; he had not gone into battle fresh. He
knew that many of his blows had gone home. Any ordinary man would
have dropped; but Karlov came on again and again.
And all the while Karlov was not fighting Cutty; he was endeavouring
to remove him. He was an obstacle. What Karlov wanted was that
head the girl was holding in her arms; to grind his heel into it.
Had Cutty stepped aside Karlov would have rushed for the other man.
"Kitty, the door, the door!" Cutty shouted in despair, taking a
terrible kick on the thigh. "The door!"
Kitty did not stir.
A panel in the door crushed in. The sole of a boot appeared and
vanished. Then an arm reached in, groping, touched the plank propped
under the door knob, wrenched and tugged until it fell. Immediately
the attic became filled with men. It was time. Karlov had Cutty in
This turn in the affair roused Kitty. Presently she saw men in a
snarl, heaving and billowing, with a sudden subsidence. The snarl
untangled itself; men began to step back and produce pocketlamps.
Kitty saw Cutty's face, battered and bloody, appear and disappear
in a flash. She saw Karlov's, too, as he was pulled to his feet,
his hands manacled. Again she saw Cutty. With shaking hand he was
trying to attach the loose end of his collar to the button. The
absurdity of it!
"Take him away. But don't be rough with him. He's only a poor
devil of a madman," said Cutty.
Karlov turned and calmly spat into Cutty's face. A dozen fists were
raised, but Cutty intervened.
"No! Let him be. Just take him away and lock him up. He's a
rough road to travel. And hustle a comfortable car for me to go
home in. Not a word to the newspapers. This isn't a popular raid."
As soon as the attic was cleared Cutty limped over to Molly Conover's
daughter. The poor innocent! The way she was holding that head was
an illumination. With a reassuring smile - an effort, for his lips
were puffed and burning - he knelt and put his hand on Hawksley's heart.
"Done in, Kitty; that's all."
"He isn't dead?"
"Lord, no! He had nine lives, this chap, and only one of 'em
missing to date. But I had no right to let him come. I thought he
was fairly fit, but he wasn't. Saved my life, though. Kitty, your
Johnny Two-Hawks is a real man; how real I did not know until
to-night. He has earned his American citizenship. Fights like he
fiddles - on all four strings. All our troubles are at an end; so
"Alive? He is alive?"
The wild joy in her voice! "Yes, ma'am; and we two can regularly
thank him for being alive also. That lunge gave me my chance. He's
only stunned. Perhaps he'll need a nurse again. Anyhow, he'll be
coming round in a minute or two. I'll wager the first thing he
does is to smile. I should."
Suddenly Kitty grew strangely shy. She became conscious of her
anomalous position. She had promised to marry Cutty, promised
herself that she would be his true wife - and here she was, holding
another man's head to her heart as if it were the most precious
head in all the world. She could not put that head upon the floor
at once; that would be a confession of her embarrassment; and yet
she could not continue to hold Hawksley while Cutty eyed her with
semi-humorous concern. Cutty was merciful, however. "Let me hold
him while you make a pillow out of your coat." After he had laid
Hawksley's head on the coat he said: "He'll come about quicker this
way. We've had some excitement, haven't we?"
"I don't want any more, Cutty; never any more. I've been a silly,
"Not silly, only glorious."
"Your poor face!"
"Banged up? Well, honestly, it feels as it looks, Kitty, this chap
was going to give himself up in exchange for you. Not a word of
protest, not a question. All he said was: 'I am ready.' That's why
I'm always going to be on his side."
"He did that - for me?"
"For you. Did it never occur to you that you're the sort folks
always want to do things for if you'll let them?"
"God bless you, Cutty!"
"He's always blessing me, Kitty. He blessed me with your mother's
friendship, now yours. Kitty, I'm going to jilt you."
"Jilt me?" - her heart leaping.
"Yes, ma'am. We can't go through with that mummery. We aren't
built that way. I'll figure it out in some other fashion. But
marriage is a sacred contract; and this farce would have left a
scar on your honest mind. You'd have to tell some man. Your kind
can't go through life without being loved. Would he understand?
I wonder. He'll be human or you wouldn't fall in love with him;
and always he'll be pondering and bedevilling himself with queer
ideas - because he'll be human. Of course there's a loophole
- you can sue me for breach of promise."
"Please, Cutty; don't laugh! You're one of those men they call
Greathearts. And now I'm going to tell you something. It wasn't
going to be a farce. I intended to become your true wife, Cutty,
make you as happy as I could."
Cutty patted her hand and got up. Lord, how bruised and sore his
old body was! ... His true wife! She might have been his if he had
not missed that train. But for this hour, hot with life, she might
never have discovered that she loved Hawksley. His true wife! Ah,
she would have been all of that - Molly's girl!
"Will you mind waiting here until I see where old Stefani Gregor is?"
"No," answered Kitty, dreamily.
Cutty limped to the door. Outside he leaned against the partition.
Done in, body and soul. Always opening the gates of paradise for
somebody else... His true wife! Slowly he descended the stairs.
Alone, Kitty smoothed back the dank hair from Hawksley's brow, which
she kissed. Benediction and good-bye.
Because it was assumed that some of Karlov's pack might be at large
and unsuspectingly return to the trap, Federal agents would remain on
guard all night. They explored the house, hunting for chemicals,
documents, letters, and addresses. They found enough high explosive
to blow up the district. And they found Stefani Gregor. They were
standing by the cot as Cutty came in.
"Yes, sir. Just this minute went out."
"Did he speak?"
"A woman's name."
"Yes, sir. Looks to me as if he had been starved to death. Know
who he was?"
"Yes. Tell the coroner to be gentle. Once upon a time Stefani
Gregor spoke to kings by right of genius."
The thought that he himself might have been the indirect cause of
Gregor's death shocked Cutty, who was above all things tender.
He had held back the raid for several days, to serve his own ends.
He could have ordered the raid from Washington, and it would have
gone through as smoothly as to-night. The drums of jeopardy. Well,
that phase of the game was done with. He had held up this raid so
that he might be on hand to search Karlov; and until now he had
forgotten the drums. Accurst! They were accurst. The death of
Stefani Gregor would always be on his conscience.
Cutty stared - not very clearly - at the cameo-like face so
beautifully calm. As in life, so it was in death; the calm that
had brooked and beaten down the turbulent instincts of the boy,
the imperturbable calm of a great soul. Rosa. The sublime
unselfishness of the man! He had sacrificed wealth and fame for
the love of the boy's mother - unspoken, unrequited love, the
quality that passes understanding. And his reward: to die on this
cot, in horrid loneliness. Rosa.
All at once Cutty felt himself little, trivial, beside this forlorn
bier. What did he know about love? He had never made any
sacrifices; he had simply carried in his heart a bittersweet
recollection. But here! Twenty-odd years of unremitting devotion
to the son of the woman he had loved - Stefani Gregor. Creating
environments that would develop the noble qualities in the boy,
interposing himself between the boy and the evil pleasures of the
uncle, teaching him the beautiful, cleansing his soul of the
inherited mud. Reverently Cutty drew the coverlet over the fine
"What's this?" asked one of the operatives. "Looks like the pieces
of a broken fiddle."
Out of those dark red bits of wood - some of them bearing the
imprints of hobnails - Cutty constructed the scene. A wave of
bitter rage rolled over him. The beast! Karlov had done this
thing, with poor old Gregor looking on, too weak to intervene.
Not so many years ago these bits of wood, under the master's
touch, had entranced the souls of thousands. Cutty recalled a
fairy tale he had read when a boy about a prince whose soul had
been transformed into a flower which, if plucked or broken, died.
Karlov had murdered Stefani Gregor, perhaps not legally but
Rehabilitated in soul, Cutty left the room. He had read a
compelling lesson in self-sacrifice. He was going to pick up his
cross and go on with it, smiling. After all, Kitty was only an
interlude; the big thing was the game; and shortly he would be in
the thick of great events again. But Kitty should be happy.
His old analytical philosophy resumed its functions. The contempt
and jealousy of one race for another; what was God's idea in
implanting that in souls? Hawksley was at base Russian. The boy's
English education, his adopted outlook upon life, made it possible
for Cutty to ignore the racial antagonism of the Anglo-Saxon for
all other races. Stefani Gregor at one end of the world and he at
the other, blindly working out the destinies of Kitty Conover and
Ivan Mikhail Feodorovich and so forth and so on, with the blood
of Catharine in his veins! Made a chap dizzy to think of it.
Traditions were piling up along with crowns and sceptres in the
When he returned to the attic he felt himself fortified against
any inevitability. Hawksley was sitting up, his back to the wall,
staring groggily but with reckless adoration into Kitty's lovely
face. Youth will be served. As if, watching these two, there
could be any doubt of it! And he had bent part of his energies
toward keeping them separated.
"Ha!" he cried, cheerfully. "Back on top again, I see. How's
"Haven't any; no legs; I'm nothing at all but a bit of my own
imagination. How do you feel?"
"Like the aftermath of an Irish wake." Then Cutty's battered face
assumed an expression that was meant to typify gravity. "John," he
aid, "I've bad news for you."
John. A glow went over the young man's aching body. John. What
could that signify except that he had passed into the eternal
friendship of this old thoroughbred? John.
"Stefani is dead. He died speaking your mother's name."
Hawksley's head sank; his chin touched his chest. He spoke without
looking up. "Something told me I would never see him alive again.
Old Stefani! If there is any good in me it will be his handiwork.
"I say," he added, his eyes now seeking Cutty's, "you called me
John. Will you carry on?"
"Keep an eye on you? So long as you may need me."
"I come from a lawless race. Stefani had to fight. Even now I'm
afraid sometimes. God knows I want to be all he tried to make me."
"You're all right, John. You've reached haven; the storms hereafter
will be outside. Besides, Stefani will always be with you. You'll
never pick up that old Amati without feeling Stefani near. Can
"Between the two of you, perhaps."
With Kitty on one side and Cutty on the other Hawksley managed the
descent tolerably well. Often a foot dragged. How strong she was,
this girl! No hysterics, no confusion, after all that racket, with
death - or something worse - reaching out toward her; calmly telling
him that there was another step, warning him not to bear too heavily
on Cutty! Holding him up physically and morally, these two, now all
he had in life to care for. Yesterday, unknown to him; this night,
bound by hoops of steel. The girl had forgiven him; he knew it by
the touch of her arm.... Old Stefani! A sob escaped him. Their
"No; I was thinking of Stefani. Rather hard - to die all alone
- because he loved me."
Kitty longed to be alone. There were still many unshed tears - some
for Cutty, some for Stefani Gregor, some for Johnny Two-Hawks, and
some for herself.
In the limousine Cutty sat in the middle, Kitty on his left and
Hawksley on his right, his arms round them both. Presently
Hawksley's head touched his shoulder and rested there; a little
later Kitty did likewise. His children! Lord, he was going to
have a tremendous interest in life, after all! He smiled with
kindly irony at the back of the chauffeur. His children, these
two; and he knew as he planned their future that they were thinking
over and round but not of him, which is the way of youth.
At the apartment Cutty decided to let Hawksley sit in an easy chair
in the living room until Captain Harrison arrived. Kuroki was
ordered to prepare a supper, which would be served on the tea cart,
set at Hawksley's knees. Kitty - because it was impossible for her
to remain inactive - set the linen and silver. She was in and out
of the room, ill at ease, angry, frightened, bitter, avoiding
Hawksley's imploring eyes because she was not sure of her own.
She was sure of one thing, however. All the nonsense was out of her
head. To-morrow she would be returning to the regular job. She
would have a page from the Arabian Nights to look upon in the days
to come. She understood, though it twisted her heart dreadfully: she
was in the eyes of this man a plaything, a pretty woman he had met
in passing. If she had saved his life he had in turn saved hers;
they were quits. She did not blame him for his point of view. He
had come from the top of the world, where women were either ornaments
or playthings, while she and hers had always struggled to maintain
equilibrium in the middle stratum. Cutty could give him friendship;
but she could not because she was a woman, young and pretty.
Love him? Well, she would get over it. It might be only the glamour
of the adventure they had shared. Anyhow, she wouldn't die of it.
Cutty hadn't. Of course it hurt; she was a silly little fool, and
all that. Once he was in Montana he would be sending for his Olga.
There wasn't the least doubt in her mind that if ever autocracy
returned to power, he'd be casting aside his American citizenship,
his chaps and sombrero, for the old regalia. Well - truculently to
the world at large - why not?
So she avoided Hawksley's gaze, sensing the sustained persistence
of it. But, oh, to be alone, alone, alone!
Cutty washed the patient's hands and face and patched up the cut on
the cheek, interlarding his chatter with trench idioms, banter,
jokes. Underneath, though, he was chuckling. He was the hero of
this tale; he had done all the thrilling stunts, carried limp bodies
across fire escapes in the rain, climbed roofs, eluded newspaper
reporters, fought with his bare fists, rescued the girl.... All
with one foot in the grave! Fifty-two, gray haired - with a prospect
of rheumatism on the morrow - and putting it over like a debonair
Hawksley met these pleasantries halfway by grousing about being
babied when there was nothing the matter with him but his head, his
body, and his legs.
Why didn't she look at him? What was the meaning of this persistent
avoidance? She must have forgiven last night. She was too much of
a thoroughbred to harbour ill feeling over that. Why didn't she
look at him?
The telephone called Cutty from the room.
Kitty went into the dining room for an extra pair of salt cellars
and delayed her return until she heard Cutty coming back.
"Karlov is dead," he announced. "Started a fight in the taxi, got
out, and was making for safety when one of the boys shot him. He
hadn't the jewels on him, John. I'm afraid they are gone, unless he
hid them somewhere in that - What's the matter, Kitty?"
For Kitty had dropped the salt cellars and pressed her hands against
her bosom, her face colourless.
Hawksley, terrified, tried to get up.
"No, no! Nothing is the matter with me but my head.... To think I
could forget! Good - heavens!" She prolonged the words drolly.
She turned her back to them. When she faced them again she extended
a palm upon which lay a leather tobacco pouch, cracked and parched
and blistered by the reactions of rain and sun.
"Think of my forgetting them! I found them this morning. Where do
you suppose? On a step of the fire-escape ladder."
"Well, I'll be tinker-dammed!" said Cutty.
"I've reasoned it out," went on Kitty, breathlessly, looking at
Cutty, "When the anarchist tore them from Mr. Hawksley's neck, he
threw them out of the window. The room was dark; his companion
could not see. Later he intended, no doubt, to go into the court
and recover them and cheat his master. I was looking out of the
window, when I noticed a brilliant flash of purple, then another
of green. The pouch was open, the stones about to trickle out.
I dared not leave them in the apartment or tell anybody until you
came home. So I carried them with me to the office. The drums,
Cutty! The drums! Tumpitum-tump! Look!"
She poured the stones upon the white linen tablecloth. A thousand
"The wonderful things!" she gasped. "Oh, the wonderful things!
I don't blame you, Cutty. They would tempt an angel. The drums of
jeopardy; and that I should find them!"
"Lord!" said Cutty, in an awed whisper. Green stones! The
magnificent rubies and sapphires and diamonds vanished; he could
see nothing but the exquisite emeralds. He picked up one - still
warm with Kitty's pulsing life - and toyed with it. Actually, the
drums! And all this time they had been inviting the first comer
to appropriate them. Money, love, tragedy, death; history, pageants,
lovely women; murder and loot! All these days on the step of the
fire-escape ladder! He must have one of them; positively he must.
Could he prevail upon Hawksley to sell one? Had he carried them
He turned to broach the suggestion of purchase, but remained mute.
Hawksley's head was sunk upon his chest; his arms hung limply at
the sides of his chair.
"He is fainting!" cried Kitty, her love outweighing her resolves.
"Cutty!" - desperately, fearing to touch Hawksley herself.
"No! The stones, the stones! Take them away - out of sight! I'm
too done in! I can't stand it! I can't - The Red Night! Torches
and hobnailed boots!"
Her fingers seemingly all thumbs, her heart swelling with misery
and loneliness, wanting to go to him but fearing she would be
misunderstood, Kitty scooped up the dazzling stones and poured
them hastily into the tobacco pouch, which she thrust into Cutty's
hands. What she had heard was not the cry of a disordered brain.
There was some clear reason for the horror in Hawksley's tones.
What tragedy lay behind these wonderful prisms of colour that the
legitimate owner could not look upon them without being stirred in
"Take them into the study," urged Kitty.
"Wait!" interposed Hawksley. "I give one of the emeralds to you,
Cutty. They came out of hell - if you want to risk it! The other
is for Miss Conover, with Mister Hawksley's compliments." He was
looking at Kitty now, his face drawn, his eyes bloodshot. "Don't
be apprehensive. They bring evil only to men. With one in your
possession you will be happy ever after, as the saying goes. Oh,
they are mine to give; mine by right of inheritance. God knows I
paid for them!"
"If I said Mister - " began Kitty, her brain confused, her tongue
"You haven't forgiven!" he interrupted. "A thoroughbred like you,
to hold last night against me! Mister - after what we two have
shared together! Why didn't you leave me there to die?"
Cutty observed that the drama had resolved itself into two
characters; he had been relegated to the scenes. He tiptoed toward
his study door, and as he slipped inside he knew that Gethsemane was
not an orchard but a condition of the mind. He tossed the pouch on
his desk, eyed it ironically, and sat down. His, one of them - one
of those marvellous emeralds was his! He interlaced his fingers
and rested his brow upon them. He was very tired.
Kitty missed him only when she heard the latch snap.
She was alone with Hawksley; and all her terror returned. Not to
touch him, not to console him; to stand staring at him like a dumb
"I do forgive - Johnny! But your world and my world -"
"Those stains! The wretches hurt you!"
"What? Where?" - bewildered.
"The blood on your waist!"
Kitty looked down. "That is not my blood, Johnny. It is yours."
"Mine?" Johnny. Something in the way she said it. "Mine?" - trying
to solve the riddle.
"Yes. It is where your cheek rested when - I thought you were dead."
The sense of misery, of oppression, of terror, all fell away
miraculously, leaving only the flower of glory. She would be his
plaything if he wanted her.
"Kitty, I came out of a dark world - to find you. I loved you the
moment I entered your kitchen that night. But I did not know it.
I loved you the night you brought the wallet. Still I did not
understand. It was when I heard the lift door and knew you had gone
forever that I understood. Loved you with all my heart, with all
that poor old Stefani had fashioned out of muck and clay. If you
held my head to your heart, if that is my blood there - Do you, can
you care a little?"
"I can and do care very much, Johnny."
Her voice to his ears was like the G string of the Amati. "Will
you go with me?"
"Anywhere. But you are a prince of some great Russian house, Johnny,
and I am nobody."
"What am I, Kitty? Less than nobody - a homeless outcast, with only
you and Cutty. An American! Well, when I'm that it will be
different; I'll be somebody. God forgive me if I do not give it
absolute loyalty, this new country! ... Never call me anything but
"Johnny." Anywhere, whatever he willed her to be.
"I'm a child, Kitty. I want to grow up - if I can - to be an
American, something like that ripping old thoroughbred yonder."
Cutty! Johnny wanted to be something like Cutty. Johnny would have
to grow up to be his own true self; for nobody could ever be like
Cutty. He was as high and far away from the average man as this
apartment was from hers. Would he understand her attitude? Could
she say anything until it would be too late for him to interfere?
She was this man's woman. She would have her span of happiness,
come ill, come good, even if it hurt Cutty, whom she loved in another
fashion. But for Johnny dropping through that trap she might never
have really known, married Cutty, and been happy. Happy until one
or the other died; never gloriously, never furiously, but mildly
happy; perhaps understanding each other far better than Johnny and
she would understand each other. The average woman's lot. But to
give her heart, her mind, her body in a whirlwind of emotions,
absolute surrender, to know for once the highest state of exaltation
- to love!
All this tender exchange with half a dozen feet between them. Kitty
had not stirred from the far side of the tea cart, and he had not
opened his arms. She had given herself with magnificent abandon;
for the present that satisfied her instincts. As for him, he was
not quite sure this miracle might not be a dream, and one false move
might cause her to vanish.
"Johnny, who is Olga?" The question was irrepressible. Perhaps it
was the last shred of caution binding her. All of him or none of
him. There must be no other woman intervening.
Hawksley stiffened in his chair. His hands closed convulsively and
his eyes lost their brightness. "Johnny?" Kitty ran round the tea
cart. "What is it?" She knelt beside the chair, alarmed, for the
horror had returned to his face. "What did they do to you back
there?" She clasped one of his hands tensely in hers.
"In my dreams at night!" he said, staring into space. "I could run
away from my pursuers, but I could not run away from my dreams!
Torches and hobnailed boots! ... They trampled on her; and I, up
there in the gallery with those damned emeralds in my hands! Ah,
if I hadn't gone for them, if I hadn't thought of the extra comforts
their sale would bring! There would have been time then, Kitty.
I had all the other jewels in the pouch. Horses were ready for us
to flee on, loyal servants ready to help us; but I thought of the
drums. A few more worldly comforts - with hell forcing in the
"I didn't tell her where I was going. When I came back it was to
see her die! They saw me, and yelled. I ran away. I hadn't the
courage to go down there and die with her! She thought I was in
that hell pit. She went down there to die with me and died
horribly, alone! Ah, if I could only shut it out, forget! Olga,
my tender young sister, Kitty, the last one of my race I could love.
And I ran away like a yellow dog, like a yellow dog! I don't know
where her grave is, and I could not seek it if I did! I dared not
write Stefani; tell him I had seen Olga go down under Karlov's
heels, and then ran away! ... Day by day to feel those stones
Nothing is more terrible to a woman than the sight of a brave man
weeping. For she knew that he was brave. The sudden recollection
of the emeralds; a little more comfort for himself and sister if
they were permitted to escape. Not a cowardly instinct, not even
a greedy one; a normal desire to fortify them additionally against
an unknown future, and he had surrendered to it impulsively, without
explaining to Olga where he was going.
"Johnny, Johnny, you mustn't!" She sprang up, seizing his head and
wildly kissing him. "You mustn't! God understands, and Olga. Oh,
you mustn't sob like that! You are tearing my heart to pieces!"
"I ran away like a yellow dog! I didn't go down there and die with
"You didn't run away to-night when you offered your life for my
liberty. Johnny, you mustn't!"
Under her tender ministrations the sobs began to die away and soon
resolved into little catching gasps. He was weak and spent from
his injuries; otherwise he would not have given way like this,
discovered to her what she had not known before, that in every
man, however strong and valiant he may be, there is a little child.
"It has been burning me up, Kitty."
"I know, I know! It is because you have a soul full of beautiful
things, Johnny. God held you back from dying with Olga because
He knew I needed you."
"You will marry me, knowing that I did this thing?"
Marry him! A door to some blinding radiance opened, and she could
not see for a little while. Marry him! What a miserable wretch
she was to think that he would want her otherwise! Johnny
Two-Hawks, fiddling in front of the Metropolitan Opera House, to
fill a poor blind man's cup!
"Yes, Johnny. Now, yesterdays never were. For us there is nothing
but to-morrows. Out there, in the great country - where souls as
well as bodies may stretch themselves - we'll start all over again.
You will be the cowman and I'll be the kitchen wench. As in the
beginning, so it will always be hereafter, I'll cook your bacon and
She pulled his chair round and pushed it toward a window, dropped
beside it and laid her cheek against his hand.
"Let us look at the stars, Johnny. They know." Kuroki, having
arrived with coffee and sandwiches, paused on the threshold, gazed,
wheeled right about face, and returned to the kitchen.
By and by Kitty looked up into Hawksley's face. He was asleep.
She got up carefully, lightly kissed the top of his head - the
old wound - and crossed to Cutty's door. She must tell dear old
Cutty of the wonderful happiness that was going to be hers. She
opened the study door, but did not enter at once. Asleep on his
arms. Why, he hadn't even opened that Ali Baba's bag! Tired out
- done in, as Johnny Two-Hawks called it in his English fashion.
She waited; but as he did not stir she approached with noiseless
step. The light poured full upon his head. How gray he was! A
boundless pity surged over her that this tender, valiant knight
should have missed what first her mother had known - now she
herself - requited love. To have everything in the world without
that was to have nothing. She would not wake him; she would let
him sleep until Captain Harrison came. Lightly she touched the
gray head with her lips and stole from the study.
"Oh, Molly, Molly!" Cutty whispered into his rigid fingers.
And so they were married, in the apartment, at the top of the world,
on a May night thick with stars. It was not a wedding; it was a
marriage. The world never knew because it was none of the world's
business. Who was Kitty Conover? A nobody. Who was John Hawksley?
Something to be.
Out of the storm into the calm; which is something of a reversal.
Generally in love affairs happiness is found in the approach to
the marriage contract; the disillusions come afterward. It was
therefore logical that Kitty and her lover should be happy, as they
had run the gamut of test and fire beforehand.
The young people were to leave for the West soon after the supper
for three. At midnight Cutty's ship would be boring down the bay.
Did Kitty regret, even a little, the rice and old shoes, the
bridesmaids and cake, so dear to the female of the species? She
did not. Did she think occasionally of the splendour of the title
that was hers? She did. To her mind Mrs. John Hawksley was
incomparably above and beyond anything in that Bible of autocracy
- the Almanach de Gotha.
After supper Cutty brought in the old Amati.
"Play," he said, lighting his pipe.
So Hawksley played - played as he never had played before and
perhaps as he would never play again. We reach zenith sometimes,
but we never stay there. But he was not playing to Cutty.
Slate-blue eyes, two books with endless pages, the soul of this
wife of his. He had come through. The miracle had been
Kitty smiled and smiled, the doors of her soul thrown wide to
absorb this magic message. Love.
Cutty smoked on, with his eyes closed. He heard it, too. Love.
"Well," he said, sighing, "I see innovations out there in Montana.
The round-up will be different. The Pied Fiddler of Bar-K will
stand in the corral and fiddle, and the bossies will come galloping
in, two by two - and a few jackrabbits!" He laughed. "John, the
Amati is yours conditionally. If after one year it is not reclaimed
it becomes yours automatically. My wedding present. Remember, next
winter, if God wills, you'll come and visit me."
"As if we could forget!" cried Kitty, embracing Cutty, who accepted
the embrace stoically. "I'll be needing clothes, and Johnny will
have to have his hair cut. Oh, Cutty, I'm so foolishly happy!"
"Time we started for the choo-choo. Time-tables have no souls. But,
Lord, what a racket we've had!"
"Well, rather!" - from Hawksley.
"Bo, listen to me. Out there you must remember that 'bally' and
'ripping' and 'rather' are premeditated insults. Gee-whiz! but
I'd like a look-see when you say to your rough-and-readies: 'Bally
rotten weather. What?' They'll shoot you up."
More banter; which fooled none of the three, as each understood the
other perfectly. The hour of separation was at hand, and they
were fortifying their courage.
"Funny old top," was Hawksley's comment as they stood before the
train gate. "Three months gone we were strangers."
"And now - " began Cutty.
"With hoops of steel!" interrupted Kitty. "You must write, Cutty,
and Johnny and I will be prompt."
"You'll get one from the Azores."
"Train going west!"
"Good luck, children!" Cutty pressed Hawksley's hand and pecked at
Kitty's cheek. "Shan't go through with you to the car. Kuroki is
The redcaps seized the luggage, and Hawksley and his bride followed
them through the gate. Because he was tall Cutty could see them
until they reached the bumper. Funny old world, for a fact. Next
time they met the wounds would be healed - Hawksley's head and old
Cutty's heart. Queer how he felt his fifty-two. He began to
recognize one of the truths that had passed by: One did not sense
age if one ran with the familiar pack. But for an old-timer to jog
along for a few weeks with youth! That was it - the youth of these
two had knocked his conceit into a cocked hat.
"Poor dear old Cutty!" said Kitty.
"Old thoroughbred!" said Hawksley.
And there you were, relegated to the bracket where the family kept
the kaleidoscope, the sea-shell, and the album. His children,
though; from now on he would have that interest in life. The blessed
infant - Molly's girl - taking a sunbonnet when she might have worn
a tiara! And that boy, stepping down from the pomp of palaces to
the dusty ranges of Bar-K. An American citizen. It was more than
funny, this old top; it was stark raving mad.
Well, he had one of the drums. It reposed in his wallet. Another
queer thing, he could not work up a bit of the old enthusiasm. It
was only a green stone. One of the finest examples of the emerald
known, and he could not conjure up the panorama of murder and loot
behind it. Possibly because he was no longer detached; the stone
had entered his own life and touched it with tragedy. For it was
tragedy to be fifty-two and to realize it. Thus whenever he took
out the emerald he found his imagination walled in. Besides, it
was a kind of magic mirror; he saw always his own tentative
villainy. He was not quite the honest man he had once been.
But what was happening down the line there? The passengers were
making way for someone. Kitty, and racing back to the gate! She
did not pause until she stood in front of him, breathless.
"Forget something?" he asked, awkwardly.
"Uh-hm!" Suddenly she threw her arms round his neck and kissed
him. "If only the three of us could be always together! Take care
of yourself. Johnny and I need you." Then she caught his hand,
gave it a pressure, and was off again. Cutty stood there, staring
blindly in her direction. Old Stefani Gregor; sacrifice. By and
by he became conscious of something warm and hard in his palm.
He looked down.
A green stone, green as the turban of a Mecca pilgrim, green as the
eye of a black panther in the thicket. He dropped the emerald into
a vest pocket and fumbled round for his pipe - always his mental
crutch. He lit it and marched out of the station into the night
- chuckling sardonically. For the second time the thought occurred
to him: Of all his earthly possessions he would carry into the
Beyond - a chuckle.
Molly, then Kitty; but the drums of jeopardy were his!
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