The Drums of Jeopardy (Chapter 7, page 1 of 10)


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Chapter 7

Twice before in her life Kitty had looked upon death by violence; and it
required only this present picture to convince her that she would never
be able to gaze upon it callously, without pity and terror. Newspaper
life--at least the reportorial side of it--has an odd effect upon men
and women; it sharpens their tragical instincts and perceptions and
dulls eternally the edge of tenderness and sentimentality. It was
natural for Kitty to possess the keenest perceptions of tragedy; but she
had been taken out of the reportorial field in time to preserve all
her tenderness and romanticism. Otherwise she would have seen in that
crumpled object with the sinister daub of blood on the forehead merely
a story, and would have approached it from that angle. But was he dead?

She literally forced her steps toward the body and stared. She dropped
to her knees because they were threatening to buckle in one of those
flashes of physical incoordination to which the strongest will must bow
occasionally. She was no longer afraid of the tragedy, but she feared
the great surging pity that was striving to express itself in sobs; and
she knew that if she surrendered she would forthwith become hysterical
for the rest of the evening and incompetent to carry out the plan in her
head.

A strong, healthy young man done to death in this fashion only a few
minutes after he had left her kitchen! Somehow she could not look upon
him as a stranger. She had given him food; she had talked to him; she
had even laughed with him. He was not like those dead she had seen
in her reportorial days. Her orbit and Johnny Two-Hawks' had
indeterminately touched; she had known old Gregory, or Gregor, who had
been this unfortunate young man's friend. And he had hoped they might
never meet again!

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