“I reckon, ma’am, you’re right.”
CLAY READS AN AD AND ANSWERS IT
Clay was waiting for lunch at a rotisserie on Sixth Avenue, and in order to lose no time—of which he had more just now than he knew what to do with—was meanwhile reading a newspaper propped against a water-bottle. From the personal column there popped out at him three lines that caught his attention:
If this meets the eye of C.
L. of Arizona
please write me. Box M-21, The Herald.
Am in trouble. KITTY M.
He read it again. There could be no doubt in the world. It was addressed to him, and from Kitty. While he ate his one half spring chicken Clay milled the situation over in his mind. She had been on the lookout for him, just as he had been searching for her. By good luck her shot at a venture had reached him. He remembered now that on the bus he had casually mentioned to her that he usually read the “Herald.”
After he had eaten, Clay walked down Broadway and left a note at the office of the “Herald” for Kitty.
The thought of her was in his mind all day. He had worried a good deal over her disappearance. It was not alone that he felt responsible for the loss of her place as cigarette girl. One disturbing phase of the situation was that Jerry Durand must have seen her. What more likely than that he had arranged to have her spirited away? Lindsay had read that hundreds of girls disappeared every year in the city. If they ever came to the surface again it was as dwellers in that underworld in the current of which they had been caught.
Jerry was a known man in New York. It had been easy for Clay to find out the location of his saloon and the hotel where he lived. The cattleman had done some quiet sleuthing, but he had found no trace of Kitty. Now he knew that she had turned to him in her need and cried for help.
That she was in trouble did not surprise him. The girl was born for it as naturally as the sparks fly upward. She was a provocation to those who prey. In her face there was a disturbing quality quite apart from her prettiness. Back of the innocence lay some hint of slumberous passion. Kitty was one of those girls who have the misfortune to stir the imaginations of men without the ability to keep them at arm’s length. Just what her present difficulty was Clay did not know, but he was quite sure it had to do with a man. Already he had decided to rescue her. He had promised to be her friend. It never occurred to him to stand back when she called.
He had an engagement that afternoon to walk with Beatrice Whitford. She was almost the only girl in her set who knew how to walk and had the energy for it. In her movement there was the fluent, untamed grace that expressed a soul not yet stunted by the claims of convention. The golden little head was carried buoyantly. In her step was the rhythm of perfect ease. The supple resilience of her was another expression of the spiritual quality that spoke in the vivid face.