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The Inter-Urban Handicap
by [?]

That night, instead of going to the laboratory, we walked down Broadway until we came to a hotel much frequented by the sporting fraternity.

We entered the restaurant, which was one of the most brilliant in the white-light region, took a seat at a table, and Kennedy proceeded to ingratiate himself with the waiter, and, finally, with the head waiter. At last, I saw why Kennedy was apparently wasting so much time over dinner.

“Do you happen to know that girl, Cecilie Safford, that Broadhurst’s trainer, Murchie, eloped with?” he asked.

The head waiter nodded.

“I used to know her,” he replied. “She used to come in here a good deal, but you won’t find her in the Broadway places any more these days. She’s more likely to be over on Eighth Avenue.” He mentioned the name of a cabaret saloon.

Kennedy paid the check and again we started out. We finally entered a place, down in a basement, and once more Kennedy began to quiz the waiter.

This time he had no trouble. Across the room, the waiter pointed to a girl, seated with a young fellow at a round table. I could scarcely believe what I saw. The face had the same features as that of the photograph in the oval gilt frame in Murchie’s apartment, but it was not the same face.

As I studied her, I could imagine her story without even hearing it. The months of waiting for Murchie to marry her and his callous refusal had been her ruin. Cecilie had learned to drink, and from that had gone to drugs.

Her mirror must have told her that she was not the same girl who had eloped with Murchie. Her figure had lost its slim, beautiful lines. Her features were bloated. Her eyes were smaller, and her lips were heavy. Her fresh color had disappeared. She had a gray, pasty look. All she had–her beauty–had vanished.

Murchie had been divorced, and was about to marry–but not Cecilie. It was to a young and lovely girl, with such a face of innocence as Cecilie had when Murchie had first dictated a letter to her in the office at the horse show, and had fascinated her with his glittering talk of wealth and ease. The news of his engagement had driven her frantic.

Curiously enough, the young fellow with her did not seem to be dissipated in the least. There was, on the contrary, an earnestness about him that one was rather sorry to see in such a place. In fact, he was a clean-cut young man, evidently more of a student than a sport. He reminded me of some one I had seen before.

I was getting rather interested in an underworld cabaret when, suddenly, Kennedy grasped my arm. At the same moment, a shot was fired.

We jumped to our feet in time to see a young tough, with a slouch like that of the rubbers and grooms at Broadhurst’s. The fellow who had been seated with Cecilie was struggling with him for the possession of a pistol, which had been discharged harmlessly. Evidently the tough had been threatening him with it.

The waiters crowded around them, and the general melee about Cecilie’s table was at its height when a policeman came dashing in on the run.

The arrest of the gunman and his opponent, as well as of Cecilie as a witness, seemed imminent. Kennedy moved forward slowly, working his way through the crowd, nearer to the table. Instead of interfering, however, he stooped down and picked up something from the floor.

“Let’s get out of this as quickly as possible, Walter,” he whispered, turning to me.

When we reached the street, he stopped under an arc-light, and I saw him dive down into his pocket and pull out a little glass vial. He looked at it curiously.

“I saw her take it out of her pocketbook and throw it into a corner as soon as the policeman came in,” he explained.