“I shall make it a point to do so at any cost,” he returned, “and I can say only this, that we are all deeply indebted to you for the interest you have shown in the case.”
“Not at all,” she replied enthusiastically, evidently having overcome the first hesitation which had existed because Miss Blackwell had been Langhorne’s stenographer.
Miss Ashton had quickly jotted down in her notebook the best description we could give of the missing girl, her address, and other facts about her, and a list of those whom she meant to start at work on the case.
For a moment she hesitated over one name, then with a sudden resolution wrote it down.
“I intend to see Hartley Langhorne about it, too,” she added frankly. “Perhaps he may tell something of importance, after all.”
I am sure that this final resolution cost her more than all the rest. Carton would never have asked it of her, yet was gratified that she saw it to be her duty to leave nothing undone in tracing the girl, not even considering the possibility of offending Langhorne.
“Decent people don’t seem to realize,” she remarked as she shut her little notebook and slipped it back into her chatelaine, “how the System and the underworld really do affect them. They think it is all something apart from the rest of us, and never consider how closely we are all bound together and how easy it is for the lowest and most vicious stratum in the social order to pass over and affect the highest.”
“That’s exactly the point,” agreed Carton. “Take this very case. It goes from Wall Street to gangland, from Gastron’s down to the underworld gambling joints of Dopey Jack and the rest.”
“Society—gambling,” mused Miss Ashton, taking out her notebook again. “That reminds me of Martin Ogleby. I must see Mary and try to warn her against some of those sporty friends of her husband’s.”
“Please, Miss Ashton,” put in Carton quickly, “don’t mention that I have told you of the detectaphone record. It might do more harm than good, just at present. For a time at least, I think we should try to keep under cover.”
Whether or not that was his real reason, he turned now to Kennedy for support. We had been, for the most part, silent spectators of what had been happening.
“I think so—for the present—at least as far as our knowledge of the Black Book goes,” acquiesced Craig. He had turned to Miss Ashton and made no effort to conceal the admiration which he felt for her, after even so brief an acquaintance. “I think Miss Ashton can be depended upon to play her part in the game perfectly. I, for one, want to thank her most heartily for the way in which she has joined us.”
“Thank you,” she smiled, as she rose to go to her own office. “Oh, you can always depend on me,” she assured us as she gathered up her portfolio of papers, “where there are the interests of a girl like Betty Blackwell involved!”