One of the boys was sitting in the white Mercedes. He bitcoin code erfahrungenrevved the engine and the car smashed through the garden gate, up the gravel path, and down into the garden.
She looked at the girl. A hard face, though comely witron energy exchangeth youth and health. It was her one chance. Good or bad, she must try. And there was no time for a slow approach. She said, "You can't all be murderers here."The girl seemed to be startled for a moment, and then controlled herself, and looked at Irene with curiosity.
"Murderers?" she echoed. "I don't know what you mean. It's a dogs' home. They kill lots of them.""And taxi-drivers?""Taxi-drivers?" the girl repeated. She stared in what appeared to be genuine bewilderment."Anyway, they killed one in the last hour. I saw them wheel his body across the garden and take it through the door on the"That would be from the yard. It sounds silly. They couldn't have put him to sleep there."
"I didn't say they did. They might have killed him some other way.""I expect he was just drunk.""Yes," Professor Blinkwell agreed readily, "their methods may be getting quite a lot from him, if I remember the sort he was. The trouble would be to know what to believe."
To himself, Kindell admitted the force of that argument. The man who had professed to be his own messenger to Irene, and had given her the valise in his name, would not be likely to be short of a useful lie."Yes," he said, "there's always that difficulty.""Perhaps," the Professor suggested, "they'd have a better prospect of getting him to say what you want to know if he were not afraid that it might be used against him in connection with the policeman's murder.""I daresay they would."
"I suppose the police here are a good deal more concerned about the American girl."It was a statement rather than a question, but Kindell had become sufficiently familiar with the subtlety of the Professor's conversational methods to accept it differently. He regarded it as a leading question. Or rather, as an indication of the lines on which a business deal might be arranged. "Than about Reynard's murder you mean? I should say they are. That's a headache for Paris rather than Scotland Yard. But they'll naturally be anxious that Miss Thurlow should not get into any trouble here."
"There may be the offer of a reward, if the young lady should not be promptly found?""I should think there will. But I hope we shall have her back before there's time to advertise that.""May I suggest that an assurance that whoever may be holding her now will not be required to explain the reason for her detention - if a channel for such communication could be discovered - might be of material assistance? That is, if she really be detained against her own will, as you seem disposed - perhaps too readily - to assume?""Yes. Perhaps it would. But it would be a difficult undertaking to give."
"By the police, yes. But if you could make such a bargain yourself, into which they might not intrude, I should suppose, if the safety of the daughter of the American Ambassador should be involved, it is a case where they might be willing to close their eyes?""You think her safety is really at stake?""I can only infer from what I have heard from you - but it is for you to judge rather than me."Kindell hesitated how to reply. His own inclination was to place Irene's safety before any other consideration, and - she being who she was--he saw that the police might take the same view. But he saw also that it would be an exceedingly difficult bargain to define, and one which he had no authority to make. Even a personal promise, such as a private citizen might feel free to give, was a dereliction of duty by him unless he had permission for what he did. What, he wondered, would the consequence be, if he should not bargain, but threaten? If he should challenge these treacherous criminals by an assertion that the police were already aware of their nefarious activities, and that their positions, perilous already, would be tenfold worse if they should not aid him in securing her safe return from wherever - as he would protest - they must know her to be?
But if he should take this course, and be confronted only by indignation and denial? What should he do then? Was it not better to accept Professor Blinkwell's suggestion, and endeavour to come to terms in a more delicate way?The girl interrupted the moment's silence which his hesitation involved. She had been standing uncertainly at the door, neither having been required to stay nor given permission to go. "Is there anything more, ma'am?" she asked.
Her question reminded Kindell of one thing that he had not asked, because he knew it already, but he saw that her reply might be an indication of how far he should believe her on other points. He said: "Just a moment, Becky. Can you tell me what kind of car the man came in?""Do you mean the first man, sir, or the second?"
"I don't understand you. You didn't say there were two.""There was the man who fetched the second case.""How long ago was that?""About an hour ago, sir. Perhaps a bit less.""What sort of a man was he?""He was rather thin, sir. I didn't look at him particularly. He seemed in a hurry."
"You didn't tell me about this, Becky," her mistress said, with a faint note of rebuke in her voice."No, ma'am. I didn't know that I need."
Professor Blinkwell asked, "Did he return the first case when he took the other away?""No, sir. He said that would be sent back in the morning."
"And what sort of car did he have?" Kindell went on."It looked like a taxi, sir. I feel sure that's what it was."
It all sounded plausible enough. If they were all acting it was being cleverly done. Yet he was far from sure. But he saw one thing he did not like. Only Irene had known that he was returning to the house with the second case.The man in the grey car might have opened the first one and seen the nature of its contents. But that would give him no reason to expect that the second would be subsequently delivered with its contents intact. The natural inference would be very different from that.Either these people were giving him concocted lies, or Irene must herself have supplied the information which had caused the second man to come, and that implied that she had been in contact - in conversation - either voluntary or otherwise - with the man she had been pursuing. That was not what she had agreed to do. She was to have followed only. It did no more than confirm what he had already supposed. But it was an unwelcome confirmation, and, in view of the way in which her taxi had been returned to the rank, it had a most sinister sound. He resumed his interrupted conversation with Professor Blinkwell by saying "Yes, I suppose you're right, that I'm the one to judge; but, all the same, I should be glad to know what you think."Professor Blinkwell's tone was considerate as he replied:
"I don't want to be an alarmist, and I should be very sorry to say anything that would make you additionally anxious. But from the facts you have given me, I do think that it would be prudent to endeavour to get in touch with the parties concerned, and make the best bargain you can for the young lady's release.""You think that could be done?"
"I think it ought to be tried. I would indeed make an effort for you myself - I could not, of course, undertake that it would succeed - but I might have to pledge my word that there would be no subsequent punitive action of any kind. You would have to go back to Scotland Yard and telephone me an explicit authority to that effect.""Very well. I'll see what I can do."
"Then you had better have the taxi in which we came, as time is important to you. I will get another, and shall be back at my own house by when you will be getting through to me."The Professor looked as though he had something further to say, but Kindell was through the door without waiting to hear.
When he had gone, and Becky had left the room, the Professor said: "I can see that you have a reliable maid. And your own attitude was exactly that which the position required. I shall not forget."He shook hands with Mrs. Collinson with more than his usual amiability, but when he was alone in the taxi which he had hailed for his own use his jaw was hard set and there was black anger and ruthless cruelty in his eyes."The fool," he thought. "The damned fool. To land me in this!" As to Snacklit, he had no doubt at all. His days must be nearly done. But as to Irene, even if the police should be willing to make such a bargain as he had proposed, he was not sure that it would be wise to carry it out. He was clear of complicity now. Clear of anything that could be proved. Dead men tell no tales. And it is the same with girls. The question needed most careful thought.Chapter 32 Irene Has Seen Too Much
IRENE HAD CLEARED the tea-tray. Any anxiety she may have felt had left her appetite unsubdued. She brushed a crumb from her dress. She stood up. She was inclined to walk out, or to find what the obstruction would be.Then she had an idea at which she paused. Was it not possible that they had sent for the valise which she had said had been delivered to Mrs. Collinson, and that they were only waiting to see that it was intact before releasing her, with the admission that all was well?
The tea, from which she was feeling no ill-effects, seemed to support that comfortable theory. And, if it were so, would it not be an undignified folly to make a fuss, and perhaps have an unpleasant altercation, for which a little patience would show that there had been no need?It was a correct theory so far as that Snacklit's recollections of the Professor's advice had caused him to send a discreet and indirect messenger for the valise, and it was true that he had decided to reserve the question of how he should dispose of her until he should know that that had been done, and, as he hoped, all possibilities of other complications removed. It was too sanguine only in its assumption that, if the valise were found to have its lock intact and its contents undisturbed, there would be immediate freedom for her.
But hesitating over this possibility, she walked over to the window and looked down on to the garden. It was still solitary. Its high walls were such that she saw it could not be overlooked. If she should endeavour to reach it, would it provide an easier exit than she might find through the front premises? She saw nothing to encourage that hope. Solid wooden doors in the walls. . . . Almost certainly locked. . . . But someone - something - was coming under the window now. Coming from the direction of the yard into which she had been driven. It was a hand-truck being wheeled by two men. They crossed the broad path beneath the window to a door in the wall on the further side - the wall over which the chimney showed from which the thick black smoke rose, as she had seen it an hour before.There was a large rug cast over that with which the truck was loaded. As the men put the truck down, and one pushed past it to unlock the door, the rug fell somewhat aside. It was adjusted almost at once, but what she had seen was beyond doubt. Two booted feet, and a man's leg.