“Billy,” said I, “there’s the deuce to pay. You’re an old friend of mine, and you possess a share of discretion, and you’ve got to help me. Le Mire is gone. I must find her.”
“Find Le Mire?” He stared at me in amazement. “What for?”
“Because my brother Harry is with her.”
Then I explained in as few words as possible, and I ended, I think, with something like this:
“You know, Billy, there are very few things in the world I consider of any value. She can have the lad’s money, and, if necessary, my own into the bargain. But the name of Lamar must remain clean; and I tell you there is more than a name in danger. Whoever that woman touches she kills. And Harry is only a boy.”
Billy helped me, as I knew he would; nor did he insist on unnecessary details. I didn’t need his assistance in the search, for I felt that I could accomplish that as well alone.
But it was certainly known that Harry had been calling on Le Mire at her hotel; conjectures were sure to be made, leading to the assertions of busy tongues; and it was the part of my friend to counteract and smother the inevitable gossip. This he promised to do; and I knew Billy. As for finding Harry, it was too late to do anything that night, and I went home and to bed.
The next morning I began by calling at her hotel. But though the manager of the theater had gotten no information from them, he had pumped them dry. They knew nothing.
I dared not go to the police, and probably they would have been unable to give me any assistance if I had sought it. The only other possible source of information I disliked to use; but after racking my brain for the better part of the day I decided that there was nothing else for it, and started on a round of the ticket offices of the railroads and steamship companies.
I had immediate success. My first call was at the office where Harry and I were accustomed to arrange our transportation. As I entered the head clerk—or whatever they call him—advanced to greet me with a smile.
“Yes,” said he in response to my question; “Mr. Lamar got his tickets from me. Let’s see—Thursday, wasn’t it? No, Friday. That’s right—Friday.”
“Tickets!” I muttered to myself. And in my preoccupation I really neglected to listen to him. Then aloud: “Where were the— tickets for?”
“For Friday’s train?”
“Yes. The Western Express.”
That was all I wanted to know. I hurried home, procured a couple of hastily packed bags, and took the afternoon train for the West.
A modern Marana.
My journey westward was an eventful one; but this is not a “History of Tom Jones,” and I shall refrain from detail. Denver I reached at last, after a week’s stop-over in Kansas City. It was a delightful adventure—but it had nothing to do with the story.