“Is it far?” asked Myra.
“Quite far. It’s over on Great Jones Street!”
And so Myra went, quite lost in the cyclone of life.
They gained the corner of Great Jones Street—one of those dim byways of trade that branch off from the radiant avenues. As they turned in the street, they met a bitter wind that was blowing the pavement clean as polished glass, and the dark and closing day was set off sharply by the intense lamps and shop-lights. Here and there at a window a clerk pressed his face against the cold pane and looked down into the cheerless twilight, and many toilers made the hard pavement echo with their fast steps as they hurried homeward.
“There they are,” said Rhona.
Two girls, both placarded, came up to them. One of them, a thin little skeleton, pitiably ragged in dress, with hollow eyes and white face, was coughing in the cuff of the wind. She was plainly a consumptive—a little wisp of a girl. She spoke brokenly, with a strong Russian accent.
“It’s good to see you yet, Rhona. I get so cold my bones ready to crack.”
She shivered and coughed. Rhona spoke softly.
“Fannie, you go right home, and let your mother give you a good drink of hot lemonade with whiskey in it. And take a foot-bath, too.”
Fannie coughed again.
“Don’t you tell me, Rhona. Look out for yourself. There gets trouble yet on this street.”
Myra drew nearer, a dull feeling in her breast. Rhona spoke easily:
“None of the men said anything or did anything, did they?”
“Well, they say things; they make angry faces, and big fists, Rhona. Better be careful.”
“Where are they?”
“By Zandler’s doorway. They get afraid of the cold.”
Rhona laughed softly, and put an arm about the frail body.
“Now you run home, and don’t worry about me! I can take care of myself. I expect another girl, anyway.”
“Good-night—get to bed, and don’t forget the hot lemonade!”
The two girls departed, blowing, as it were, about the corner and out of sight. Rhona turned to Myra, whose face was pallid.
“Hadn’t you better go back, Miss Craig? You see, I’m used to these things.”
“No,” said Myra, in a low voice. “I’ve come to stay.”
She was thinking of tiny Fannie. What! Could she not measure to a little consumptive Russian?
“All right,” said Rhona. “Let’s begin!”
They started to walk quietly up and down before the darkened loft building—up fifty yards, down fifty yards. A stout policeman slouched under a street-lamp, swinging his club with a heavily gloved hand, and in the shadow of the loft-building entrance Rhona pointed out to Myra several ill-looking private detectives who danced up and down on their toes, blew their hands, smoked cigarettes, and kept tab of the time.