Scovil exits

At first, Scovil’s brain stopped working. Their work was interrupted just as big Grogan’s thoughts were interrupted when Jerry Aiken punched him in the jaw. Then Scovil suddenly regained consciousness. This was real, totally real. Those lights weren’t the lights of the dream world, the sounds cascading around him weren’t the sounds of the dream world. The cursing from that corner when a man left a poker game — penniless — was all too true to real life.

It was Nancy; yes, there was no doubt about it; but what had happened to the shell that had previously hidden him? His former self compared to this present was like the December sky compared to July. Was she beautiful? Yes; she had always been beautiful, but now she was intoxicating. He downright confused Scovil’s senses. And a thousand little changes had taken place in him. The smile that never left her lips now changed the whole curve of them. And the eyes were completely new, because their expression spoke a new language. In a word, the last time Scovil had seen his daughter, she had been looking at a blank slate. Now he saw that the board was filled with the words of a new, fascinating poem.

He suddenly felt like clapping his hands, raising them above his head and squealing with happiness. For a miracle had happened. Nancy Scovil was awake! No longer would he have to carry a wearisome burden for days, weeks, months, and years, but there was a girl who could enchant even the most sensible man he knew, the most beautiful of the beauties he knew—a fascinating courtesan.

Now that he had regained consciousness, he vaguely felt that Nancy had turned, looked at him for a moment, and then turned away again. The girl shook the cube again with her back to him as he stepped forward and touched her shoulder.

Nancy swept his hand away, rolled the die and won. But those who lost were still in just as good a mood as he had been. They seemed to find it more fun to lose to him than to win against someone else. They laughed and played as if the broad gold coins and rustling bills were insignificant, worthless toys—tokens. Some of the men patted their pockets and raised their hands in the air to show that they were out of money, but Nancy quickly bent over him and poured a heavy stream of gold into his trousers before he could move aside.

Scovil touched the girl again.

“Nancy!” he said.

The girl turned, glancing quickly over her shoulder. His eyes showed not a little emotion; his gaze met Scovil’s stare so repulsively coldly that the latter was left speechless. He was hardly even sure anymore that the girl was his daughter.

“Listen,” he continued a little irritated and put his hand on
Nancy’s shoulder again.
»Bill», said the girl without turning her head, »this swordsman bothers me. He must be drunk. Take him away; will you do it, mate?”

His “partner” was a lanky, middle-aged man whose face was grayed out by a four-day-old shaving bed. He walked with a wobble that showed he had spent his entire life in the saddle. Above the waist, he was a replica of Hercules. Below the waist he was a boy of twelve, and his small, thin legs were bent into arches by the weight of the burden they carried. Now his hand slid forward and brushed John Scovil’s hand off Nancy’s shoulder. Then he pushed himself between them and forced the larger man to back up with a lurch.

»How are you, stranger?» he said teasingly. »Are you drunk or are you naturally deranged? Or don’t you know how to talk to a woman?”

»And who the hell authorized you to investigate me?» snapped
Scovil hotly.
»It doesn’t belong here», answered the other, jerking his belt. »I asked you something. Are you going to answer me?”

»Evil be upon you. Nancy, come here!”

The girl didn’t flinch, and as Scovil took a step forward, the other grabbed her very much like a seasoned master handles a rookie and slammed her into the wall, causing her to stagger. The jolt made him gasp for breath, and at the same time enraged him like a matador’s red coat on a maddened bull. He was about to attack the man on the eve of his escape, but he noticed the latter’s hand clutching the butt of the revolver.

»You fools!» stammered Scovil. “Don’t you know that the girl is my daughter?”

As he crashed into the wall, all eyes turned to him, and now orderly Bud Levine stepped between him and danger. Oddly enough, the orderly didn’t even see Scovil or Bill, but was staring intently at the girl.

»Miss,» he snapped fiercely, »what does all this mean? Have you decided to keep me busy all evening?»;

Finally, Nancy turned.

»What’s wrong now?» he asked. »Surely you’re not angry with me, orderly, are you?”

Bud Levine’s coldness melted away like ice melts on the first warm day of spring. He had to force himself to refrain from responding to the girl’s smile.

“I don’t know anything else,” he finally managed, “that once again you have incited two men to fight. What is it about?”

»I’ll tell you,« promised Nancy.

She looked her father straight in the eyes, and the other was startled and stunned by the girl’s gaze, which had no trace of familiarity. Scovil was filled with chilling terror. Had Nancy lost her mind? Was that what the brightness in his eyes meant?

“That man”, explained the girl, “reached out to me, and I asked my friend Bill to protect me”.

»Huh!» snarled Bud Levine, spinning on his heel and glaring at Scovil. »Is that the kind of dog you are? Aren’t you old enough to act like a man? Listen, Numero Kymmene knows how to teach men how to behave. Unique teaching methods are used here, and the lessons learned here will not soon be forgotten!»

The surrounding men grunted fiercely in confirmation of his words; Scovil was cast with looks as menacing as thunderclouds.

“Damnation!” cried the latter. »Don’t I have the right to talk about my own daughter?»

“What?” shouted the orderly in astonishment and turned to face Nancy again. »Is that so?»

But the girl laughed softly, harmoniously.

»Well, but, orderly,» he replied lightly, »I have never seen the whole sword before».

“You haven’t seen,” repeated Bud Levine, looking at Scovil again. “Listen, you fat-faced chump, do you think you can bully me like that?”

“Merciful heaven!” scowled Scovil, holding out his hands in desperation. »Are you crazy, Nan? Is your mind out of whack? Do not you remember me? Or are you trying to make fun of me? Orderly — if you are such — interrogate me — examine me — I will prove to you that I am his father!’

The orderly and the men standing around him were affected by Scovil’s vigorous, sincerely direct words, even against their will. Many put their hats on the back of their necks, and many clawed at their ears.

But Nancy Scovil leaned against the table and laughed. He seemed to enjoy the scene.

“I’ll leave that up to you, Bill,” he said, making an appealing gesture. »Will I bring — bring —»

He stopped his sentence; a burst of laughter completed the missing words. That was the snarky closing remark of the argument; the orderly clearly understood his task.

»Listen up! You come with me», he commanded Scovil. »You won’t get a girl, my friend, but you will get a place to stay for free.»

“But,” began Scovil, “good heavens, man, do you mean to say you’re going to arrest me?”

“Shut your mouths,” growled Levine, “and thank God you don’t get what’s coming to you.” Yes, I don’t want to arrest you, if you want me to hand you over — to them.”

He gestured towards the angry men who were pushing closer and closer. John Scovil paled.

“Orderly,” interjected the pleasant voice of the new Nan Scovil, “haven’t you noticed the wild look in his eyes?” Ask him what he’s been up to!”

“Hey man!” snapped the orderly. »Can’t you hear when the woman talks to you? What have you been up to?”

»Having ridden like hell for half the night trying to catch up with my runaway daughter!» snarled Scovil. »And what about you, good orderly, I will deliver you —»

“That’s it!” interrupted Nancy. »I guessed it was so. That old Mr. Pole has been riding all day in the hot sun, and his head is gone. Fat, elderly people like that can’t stand the heat, you understand.»

»Old Mr. Polo? Fat? In the sunshine?” snapped Scovil.
»This prank will make you sweat! Orderly, I have to —»
»Save your words for the judge! Full translation and Mars at the door! Whether it’s a sunburn or something else, you need to keep an eye out. Just imagine, gentlemen, if he had met that girl-couple and we hadn’t been there to protect him!”

The answer was a murmur from the crowd.

“But, orderly,” requested Nancy, coming up to him, “couldn’t you take him to the hotel and spare him the booth?” He seems like a gentleman and I certainly don’t hold a grudge against him. Also, he looks a bit plain. I don’t think he was ever very smart. If you lock him up in a hotel, I’ll pay the room rent.»

»Horn and raging women!» roared Scovil.

“Shut up!” said the orderly. »Don’t you even have the sense of propriety and sense to thank this lady for everything she has done for you? And now get out of here before I kick you out the door!”

The orderly’s menacing gaze penetrated Scovil’s consciousness, though clouded by rage, and he had sense enough to spin around and march to the door.

XXXV destruction

Free advice

Talking to the orderly about the hotel and her father being taken there for safekeeping reminded Nancy that she was tired. Despite the long, hard riding and the whole evening’s humming, it was not stoning fatigue, but a pleasant exhaustion. Taking advantage of the fact that the departure of John Scovil and Bud Levine had diverted the men’s attention from him, he slipped out a side door and ran unseen into the hotel. After reaching his room, he lit the lamp and threw himself into a chair to recall the experiences of the past day and evening, before laying down.

The cool air blowing from the open window swayed and rustled the curtain and caressed his face, and there were quiet voices, a phone call, and the patter of hooves from the street as some traveler entered or left Number Ten. Amazingly clearly, he then heard Levine’s and his father’s voices from directly below. At first he didn’t understand it, but soon he realized that the sound came from the chimney, which rose into his room through the partition of the room below. Standing next to it, he distinguished the men’s words just fine.

“Tomorrow morning you’ll feel better, my friend”, assured the orderly. »And now rest here and try to calm down.»

“This horn-like insult—” began his father.

“Nobody’s going to hurt you, stranger,” soothed Bud Levine, “as long as you don’t hurt yourself.” The girl apologized on your behalf.»

It was too much of Nancy. He burst out laughing, but immediately stifled it again, remembering that the others could hear it.

But even then it was too late. For in a frenzy, Scovil bellowed below: »Sir, that bastard is laughing at me even now.»

“It is possible.”

“I assure you he’s up there laughing his ass off because I’m here.”

There was a short silence. Then the orderly’s voice was heard: »I guess the girl was right. Sunstroke. Come on, neighbor, go ahead and take it easy. I’ll stop by in a few minutes to see how you’re doing.»

“But—” began Scovil.

The slam of the door cut his speech short, and then Nancy Scovil let out a low-pitched grunt. Words came pouring out of her father, and Nancy returned to her chair and pressed her hands to her ears.

But a new whim made him rush back to the stove. He found that it was a relatively easy task to remove the part of the horn that connected the furnace to the main line. That done, he could speak right up the chimney to the room below. He called carefully:

»Herra Scovil!»

The rain suddenly stopped.

“Mr. Scovil!” he shouted again.

He heard footsteps approaching; below, the oven door rattled.

“Mr. Scovil!” for the third time.

“Well?” roared his father’s voice from the chimney.

»Do you know my voice?»

»Nancy, you will regret this, to heaven!»

»I don’t believe that.»

»What the hell has gotten into you?»

»I thought how great a street it would be in New York. Just imagine how the newspapers would rave about it: A well-known money man arrested because he claimed to be a relative of a young woman. Sunstroke? How does that sound, daddy dear?”

The answer was a grunt.

Then: »At least, thank God, you will never find out there.»

»I have a pen and ink here, and a two-cent stamp is enough for that prank.»

“Nancy, you couldn’t.”

“That I do not know. The temptation is great.»

»Nancy, dear child, it would no longer be a joke, it would almost be a matter of desecration. You wouldn’t do that, would you, Nan?’

“I’m thinking about it.”

»How long will this diabolical game last?»

»Playing? Do you think Number Ten thinks it’s a joke?”

He laughs quietly.

“Nancy—damn you, girl—you seem to have some influence over these brutes. Tell them to stop this madness!”

»The matter has gone too far. They wouldn’t agree to let such a dangerous person go free, even at my request.»

His father’s throat let out restrained curses.

»You have only one way to get out of trouble, father.»

“What is it?”

»When Levine returns, be yourself as if you had just recovered; appear like a man who has survived a gust of madness.»

“You mean I have to explain to him that you’re not my daughter?”

Nancy laughed again.

»I don’t understand how you could survive otherwise.»

»I will never do that!»

»Then you have to go to jail and then you will be brought before a judge. That’s a shame, father.»

»What exactly are you up to, Nancy? What are you aiming for with this trick of yours?»

»I want to get rid of all my acquaintances. That’s all.”

“What?”

“So; I’m tired of everything old. I wouldn’t go back to New
York now even if I got a million dollars!»
»Where do you want to go?»

»I don’t have the faintest idea about that.»

»But who are you going with?»

»There are plenty of excellent men in Numero Kymmene who are ready to do anything at my request.»

He heard his father grunt.

»Nan, you’re absolutely crazy.»

“I’m not. You are all wrong. For the first time in my life, I am completely sane and clear-headed.»

»Do you mean that you would go hiking with such a wild man?»

»Why wouldn’t I go?»

»Why not? Girl, you’d be shunned in all respectable circles after that!’

“Not at all. I am perfectly safe when I am accompanied by any of them. They may be rough on the surface, but inside they are men of honor.»

»That may be true, but how would it be understood in New York?»

»Five from New York! I’m out of it.”

It was quiet again for a while. Then Nancy heard her father mumbling to himself: »That’s not possible. This is a dream, and I will wake up very soon.»

Out loud, Scovil said, “Did you leave the camp alone?”

»No — in the company of Red and Pete.»

“That’s what I thought. Those damned thieves! How have they been?”

»They are in prison.»

“What?”

»They became troublesome; hurt me. That’s why I probably delivered them. They will be released after a day or two.»

Another gurgling from below.

Then: “Nancy, I’m going to ask Jerry Aiken to track you down.”

»You have to get him out of prison first.»

“What?”

“It is true. Ask Levine if you don’t believe me. In a word, father, I want to get rid of all my acquaintances. I want to go to a new place.»

»Nancy, I have to save you from yourself.»

»You are not capable of that. You have a lot of work to do to save yourself.»

“What do you mean?”

»If you can persuade Levine to let you go, you’d better get a horse and ride away from Number Ten as fast as it takes you.»

»Why? I am a citizen of this country; I have rights.”

»You are an obnoxious citizen here. Boys don’t like you, Dad, and they have their own ways of showing their displeasure. It’s unfortunate, but there’s nothing you can do about it.”

»Then I’ll come back. Nancy, you still regret this alley.»

»You will not find me, father, until I am ready to come into your sight.
You can even bet on that.»
»Girl —»

»St! What it is?”

From outside his room, from the street below, a sonorous baritone voice began to sing.

Nancy cried, ‘Good night, father; I have a guest.»

As Scovil slipped something, the girl fitted the horn piece into place. A plume of soot fell down the chimney, and the last thing he heard was his father spluttering and spluttering, and then sneezing, coughing, and blowing his nose restrainedly. Dad must have been too close to the bottom of the chimney and got suffocating soot in his eyes, nose and throat,

Meanwhile, the song had become louder.

»May your sleep be as deep as my gentleness, love lasting your sweet memory.»

For the first time in Numero Kymmene’s history, a serenade was heard on its dusty street!