At first Bessie’s pursuit led her along the pleasant, tree-shaded streets of the suburb where the Mercers lived. Bessie had never been in the city before and all was strange to her. But here it seemed to her that the stories she had read of crowded streets must have been exaggerated, for she saw few people. Sometimes automobiles passed her, and delivery wagons, and a few children were playing here and there. But there were no high buildings, and it seemed almost as peaceful as it had around Hedgeville.
But then gradually, as she went on, conditions changed. She crossed a street on which there ran a street car line, and there many people were passing. Still she managed to keep Jake Hoover in sight, and, though she could not always see Charlie Jamieson, she supposed that Jake could, and it was Jake she was following, after all.
More than once Jake turned and looked behind him, and Bessie had to be constantly on her guard lest he discover her. At first it was easy enough to escape his eye—she had only to dodge behind a tree. But as she drew nearer and nearer to the business part of town the trees began to disappear. There was no more green grass between the pavement and the street itself; the pavements were narrower, and they were needed for the crowds that passed quickly along. But in those very crowds Bessie found a substitute for the trees. She felt that they would protect her and cover her movements, and she increased her pace, so that she could get nearer to Jake, and so run less risk of losing him in the crowd.
No one paid any attention to her, and that seemed strange to Bessie, used to the curiosity of country folk regarding any stranger, although Zara, who knew more about city life, had told her that it would be so. She was grateful, anyhow; she wanted to be let alone. And evidently Jake was profiting by the same indifference.
Her chase led her before long into the most thickly settled part of the city. Trolley cars clanged past her all the time now; the center of the street was full of vehicles of all sorts, and, as she hurried along, she was hard put to it to keep her feet, so great was the rush and the hurry of those with whom she shared the pavement.
Then she came to a sort of central square, where all the business of the town seemed to be concentrated. On one side was a great building. Outside were cabs and newsboys, and Bessie recognized it as the station through which, with Eleanor Mercer and the rest of the Camp Fire Girls, she had come to the city. Bessie stopped at the curb, dazed and confused. Here she lost sight of Jake.
After her long chase, that seemed bitterly hard. Had she only known what was coming, she would have been closer to him, but, as it was, she could only stand on the corner, looking helplessly about, on the off chance that she would again catch sight of his well-known figure.