Durand leaped at him across the sidewalk. His strong fingers closed on the throat of the bow-legged puncher. He shook him as a lion does his kill. The rage of the pugilist found a vent in punishing the friend of the man he hated. Johnnie grew black in the face. His knees sagged and his lips foamed.
The officers pried Jerry loose from his victim with the greatest difficulty. He tried furiously to get at him, lunging from the men who were holding his arms.
The puncher sank helplessly against the wall.
“He’s got all he can carry, Mr. Durand,” one of the bluecoats said soothingly. “You don’t wantta croak the little guy.”
The ex-prize-fighter returned to sanity. “Says I’m white-slavin’ a girl, does he? I’ll learn him to lie about me,” he growled.
Johnnie strangled and sputtered, fighting for breath to relieve his tortured lungs.
“Gimme the word, an’ I’ll run him in for a drunk,” the policeman suggested out of the corner of a whispering mouth.
Jerry shook his head. “Nope. Let him go, Pete.”
The policeman walked up to the Runt and caught him roughly by the arm. “Move along outa here. I’d ought to pinch you, but I’m not gonna do it this time. See? You beat it!”
Durand turned to one of his followers. “Tail that fellow. Find out where he’s stayin’ and report.”
Helplessly Johnnie went staggering down the street. He did not understand why he had been treated so. His outraged soul protested at such injustice, but the instinct of self-preservation carried him out of the danger zone without argument about it. Even as he wobbled away he was looking with unwavering faith to his friend to right his wrongs. Clay would fix this fellow Durand for what he had done to him. Before Clay got through with him the bully would wish he had never lifted a hand to him.
A FACE IN THE NIGHT
Clay did his best under the handicap of a lack of entente between him and the authorities to search New York for Kitty. He used the personal columns of the newspapers. He got in touch with taxicab drivers, ticket-sellers, postmen, and station guards. So far as possible he even employed the police through the medium of Johnnie. The East Side water-front and the cheap lodging-houses of that part of the city he combed with especial care. All the time he knew that in such a maze as Manhattan it would be a miracle if he found her.
But miracles are made possible by miracle-workers. The Westerner was a sixty-horse-power dynamo of energy. He felt responsible for Kitty and he gave himself with single-minded devotion to the job of discovering her.