The Arizonan rose at once. He knew that she knew. “I was intendin’ to help you off with yore grips,” he said.
She flamed into passionate resentment of his interference. “I’ll attend to them. I can look out for myself, sir.”
With that she turned her back on him.
THE BIG TOWN
When Clay stepped from the express into the Pennsylvania Station he wondered for a moment if there was a circus or a frontier-day show in town. The shouts of the porters, the rush of men and women toward the gates, the whirl and eddy of a vast life all about him, took him back to the few hours he had spent in Chicago.
As he emerged at the Thirty-Fourth Street entrance New York burst upon him with what seemed almost a threat. He could hear the roar of it like a river rushing down a canon. Clay had faced a cattle stampede. He had ridden out a blizzard hunched up with the drifting herd. He had lived rough all his young and joyous life. But for a moment he felt a chill drench at his heart that was almost dread. He did not know a soul in this vast populace. He was alone among seven or eight million crazy human beings.
He had checked his suitcase to be free to look about. He had no destination and was in no hurry. All the day was before him, all of many days. He drifted down the street and across to Sixth Avenue. He clung to the safety of one of the L posts as the traffic surged past. The clang of surface cars and the throb of motors filled the air constantly. He wondered at the daring of a pink-cheeked slip of a girl driving an automobile with sure touch through all this tangle of traffic. While he waited to plunge across the street there came a roar overhead that reminded him again of a wall of water he had once heard tearing down a canon in his home land.
Instinctively one arm clutched at the post. A monster went flying through the air with a horrible, grinding menace. It was only the Elevated on its way uptown. Clay looked around in whimsical admiration of the hurrying people about him. None of them seemed aware either of the noise or the crush of vehicles. They went on their preoccupied way swiftly and surely.
“I never did see such a town, and me just hittin’ the fringes of it yet,” Clay moaned aloud in comic despair, unaware that even New York has no noisier street than Sixth Avenue.
Chance swept him up Sixth to Herald Square. He was caught in the river of humanity that races up Broadway. His high-heeled boots clicked on the pavement of one of the world’s great thoroughfares as far as Forty-Second Street. Under the shadow of the Times Building he stopped to look about him. Motor-cars, street-cars, and trucks rolled past in endless confusion. Every instant the panorama shifted, yet it was always the same. He wondered where all this rush of people was going. What crazy impulses sent them surging to and fro? And the girls—Clay surrendered to them at discretion. He had not supposed there were so many pretty, well-dressed girls in the world.