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The Big-Town Round-Up by William MacLeod Raine

Climbed it and came to the dormer door of the next house


The

girl shrugged her shoulders. "Little old New York is my beat. It's the biggest puddle in the world and I'll do my kickin' here." Abruptly she switched the talk back to his affairs. "You wantta go slow when you tackle Jerry Durand. I can tell you one thing. He's in this business up to the neck. I seen his shadow Gorilla Dave comin' outa the house next door twice to-day."

"Seen anything of the girl?"

"Nope. But she may be there. Honest, you're up against a tough game. There's no use rappin' to the bulls. They'd tip Jerry off and the girl wouldn't be there when they pulled the house."

"Then I must work this alone."

"Why don't you lay down on it?" she asked, her frank eyes searching his. "You soitainly will if you've got good sense."

"I'm goin' through."

Her black eyes warmed. "Say, I'll bet you're some guy when you get started. Hop to it and I hope you get Jerry good."

"I don't want Jerry. He's too tough for me. Once I had so much of him I took sick and went to the hospital. It's the girl I want."

"Say, listen! I got a hunch mebbe it's a bum steer, but you can't be sure till you try it. Why don't you get in through the roof instead o' the window?"

"Can I

get in that way?"

"Surest thing you know--if the trapdoor ain't latched. Say, stick around outside my room half a sec, will you?"

The cattleman waited in the darkness of the passage. If his enemies were trying to ambush him in the house next door the girl's plan might save him. He would have a chance at least to get them unexpectedly in the rear.

It could have been scarcely more than two minutes later that the young woman joined him.

Her small hand slipped into his to guide him. They padded softly along the corridor till they came to a flight of stairs running up. The girl led the way, taking the treads without noise in her stockinged feet. Clay followed with the utmost caution.

Again her hand found his in the darkness of the landing. She took him toward the rear to a ladder which ended at a dormer half-door leading to the roof. Clay fumbled with his fingers, found a hook, unfastened it, and pushed open the trap. He looked up into a starlit night and a moment later stepped out upon the roof. Presently the slim figure of the girl stood beside him.

They moved across to a low wall, climbed it and came to the dormer door of the next house. Clay knelt and lifted it an inch or two very slowly. He lowered it again and rose.

"I'm a heap obliged to you, Miss," he said in a low voice. "You're a game little gentleman."

She nodded. "My name is Annie Millikan."

"Mine is Clay Lindsay. I want to come and thank you proper some day."

"I take tickets at Heath's Palace of Wonders two blocks down," she whispered.

"You'll sure sell me a ticket one of these days," Clay promised.

"Look out for yourself. Don't let 'em get you. Give 'em a chance, and that gang would croak you sure."


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