Chapter XL

Madeline went directly from the train to Printing House Square and had a long talk with "Tom" Lacey. He had been advised of her coming and her quest and had already made a search for Masters, but without result. This he had no intention of imparting, however, but told her a carefully prepared story.

Masters had been writing regularly for some time and it was generally believed among his friends that he had pulled up in a measure, but where he was hiding himself no one knew. Cheques and suggestions were sent to the Post Office, but he had no box, nor did he call for his mail in person.

He appeared no more at the restaurants in Nassau or Fulton Streets, or in Park Row, and it would be idle to look for him up town. It was apparent that he wished to avoid his friends, and to do this effectually he had probably hidden himself in one of the rabbit warrens of Nassau Street, where the King of England or the Czar of all the Russias might hide for a lifetime and never be found. But Masters could be "located," no doubt of that. "It only needs patience and alertness," said Lacey, looking straight into Madeleine's vigilant eyes. "I have a friend on the police force down there who will spot him before long and send for me hot-foot."

It was Lacey's intention to sublet a small office in one of the swarming buildings, put a cot in it and a cooking stove, and transfer Masters to it as soon as he was found. He knew what some of Masters' haunts were and had no intention that this delicate proud woman should see him in any of them.

When she told him that she should never leave Masters again after his whereabouts had been discovered, he warned her not to take rooms in a hotel. There would be unpleasant espionage, possibly newspaper scandal. There was nothing for it but Bleecker Street. It was outwardly quiet, the rooms were large and comfortable in many of those once-fashionable houses, and it was the one street in New York where no questions were asked and no curiosity felt. It was no place for her, of course--but under the circumstances--if she persisted in her idea of keeping Masters with her until his complete recovery--

"My neighbors will not worry me," she said, smiling for the first time. "It seems to be just the place. I already feel bewildered in this great rushing noisy city. I have lived in a small city for so long that I had almost forgotten there were great ones; and I should not know what to do without your advice. I am very grateful."

"Glad to do anything I can. When Holt wrote me you were coming and there was a chance to pull Masters out of the--put him on his legs again, I went right up in the air. You may count on me. Always glad to do anything I can for a lady, too. I used to see you at the theatre and driving, Mrs. Talbot, and wished I were one of the bloods. Seems like a fairy tale to be able to help you now."

He had red hair and slate-colored eyes, a snub nose and many freckles, but she thought him quite beautiful; he was her only friend in this terrifying city, and there was no doubt she could count on him.

"How shall I go about finding a lodging in Bleecker Street?" she asked. "I stayed at the Fifth Avenue Hotel when I visited New York with my mother, and as I know nothing of the other hotels, I left my luggage at the depot until I should have seen you. I didn't dare go where I might run into any one. Californians are beginning to visit New York. Moreover, my brother and his family live here and I particularly wish to avoid them."

"A theatrical troupe is just leaving town--so there should be several empty rooms. A good many of them hang out there when in New York. There is one thing in your favor. Your--pardon me--beauty won't be so conspicuous in Bleecker Street as it would be in hotels. It isn't only actresses that lodge there, but--well--those ladies so richly dowered by nature they command the longest pocketbooks, and the owners thereof sometimes have a pew in Trinity Church and a seat on the Stock Exchange. The great world averts its eyes from Bleecker Street, and you will be as safe in there as the most respectable sinner. Nor will you be annoyed by rowdyism in the street, although you may hear echoes of high old times going on in some of the houses patronized by artists and students--it's a sort of Latin Quarter, too. Little of everything, in fact. Now, come along. We'll take a hack, get your luggage, and fix you up."

"And you'll vow--"

"To send for you the moment Masters is located? Just rely on Tom Lacey."