“What is it?”
“Sexton, sir. Miss Natalie has the car at the door, and is waiting for you.”
“All right. I will be down immediately.”
A VISIT TO THE INDIGENT
The guests had either retired to their rooms, or were wandering about the spacious grounds; at least none were in evidence when West emerged on to the side terrace, where Miss Natalie and Percival Coolidge waited. The car was an electric runabout, the single broad seat ample for the three, and West found himself next to the girl who took charge. Few words were exchanged until they turned into the main high-way, headed toward the city. Even then conversation scarcely touched on the special object of their trip. Indeed, Coolidge seemed inclined to avoid the subject entirely, turning the conversation into other channels whenever the matter was broached. This was so persistently done as to arouse West’s notice, but Natalie appeared indifferent, interested only in her guidance of the car. It was not a long ride, the point sought being a short submerged street in the southwestern section of the city. To West this district was entirely unknown, even the street names being unfamiliar, but he learned through the conversation of the others that they were in the neighbourhood of some of the Coolidge factories, many of the surrounding houses being the homes of employees. Percival called his attention to a few of these, more substantial than the others, as evidence of the wages paid in their establishments, and also expatiated to some extent upon the benevolent oversight shown their workmen. The girl, however, remained quiet, her attention concentrated upon the street.
Indeed it needed to be if they were to escape accident, for the streets traversed were, on this Sunday morning, evidently filled from curb to curb with children engaged in all manner of games, with their elders massed on the steps in front of the houses, watching them apathetically. The runabout felt its way cautiously forward through the jostling throng of screaming youngsters, and finally turned into Arch Street, only two blocks in length, with low, two storied, wooden cottages on either side. Percival, plainly nervous at the surroundings, indicated the place sought in the middle of the first block, and Natalie ran the car up against the curb.
“Is this the place?” she asked doubtfully, eyeing the rather disreputable cottage, which seemed deserted. “I have never been here before. What a mass of kids! Do they always play like that in the street?”
Coolidge unfastened the door, and stepped out.
“Yes, it’s all right,” he answered sharply. “You might wait here, West; we’ll only be gone a few minutes. Come along, Natalie,”
The girl hesitated, evidently not altogether satisfied.
“Is it necessary that I go in?” she asked.
“That was why I asked you to come,” impatiently. “Because you understand these matters, and, being a woman, can judge better what steps should be taken. Come; it will only require a few moments—West won’t mind.”