Every day, every week, was so like the preceding ones that it seemed as if their happy life might go otronbet nedirn forever. She was gladly conscious that there was more than gratitude and good will in her heart. She now cherished a deep affection for her husband and felt that he had become essential to her life.
Chapter 28 Another Waifbitcoin koers juni 2021It was indeed poor, forlorn little Jane that had appeared like a specter in the kitchen door. She was as wet and bedraggled as a chicken caught in a shower. A little felt hat hung limp over her ears; her pigtail braid had lost its string and was unraveling at the end, and her torn, sodden shoes were ready to drop from her feet. She looked both curiously and apprehensively at Alida with her little blinking eyes, and then asked in a sort of breathless voice, "Where's him?"
"Mr. Holcroft?"Jane nodded."He's gone out to the fields. You are Jane, aren't you?"Another nod."Oh, DEAR!" groaned Alida mentally; "I wish she hadn't come." Then with a flush of shame the thought crossed her mind, "She perhaps is a friendless and homeless as I was, and , and 'him' is also her only hope. "Come in, Jane," she said kindly, "and tell me everything."
"Be you his new girl?""I'm his wife," said Alida, smiling.The American ambassador was announced, and Kindell followed him into the room.
Mr. Thurlow was polite, but abrupt. "It is Professor Blinkwell we wish to see.""I'm afraid," she answered, "you've come rather too late. But he left a message, in case you should ring up, that he was uneasy about what might be happening, and he has gone out to see what he can do.""Well, we'd better follow him up. Perhaps you can tell us where we should be most likely to find him.""I'm sorry he didn't say."
"But you could make a good guess?" the ambassador persisted.Kindell, who knew Myra's tone of sincerity, thought that she was speaking the truth for once, and that it would be useless to press her further. He was not surprised when she repeated: "I'm sorry I've no idea. He didn't say a word about it."
But Mr. Thurlow had not finished. He asked, with the abruptness he had first used, "It wouldn't by any chance be a Dogs' Home?"Myra was a practised and skilful liar, and she had, in fact, no particular reason for supposing that her uncle had gone to Snacklit's, being ignorant of the concluding events of the day. But the question startled her by its suggestion of a knowledge she had not supposed that they would have had.In half a second she had voice and expression under control, and said, with some trace of natural annoyance: "I keep telling you that I've no idea where. He's sure to be back before long. Would you like to wait?"But in that half-second Kindell had seen the startled fear in her eyes. He heard the ambassador say curtly: "No, we won't wait. We'll be getting on." As they left the house together, he said, "I suppose it's the Dogs' Home now?"
"Yes," the ambassador replied grimly. "I reckon I should have won that bet. But I wonder what they've done with Rene there?""Know the Snacklit Dogs' ome?" he asked the taxi-driver "Then here's a pound note, and don't stop for the lights if there's a way through.""Right you are, guv'nor," the man said cheerfully, and headed his car to the destination to which one of his fraternity had already gone that day on a journey from which there was no return.Chapter 36 THe Poker or Else The Bell
SNACKLIT LOOKED AT the three whose conversation his entrance had abruptly stopped, and there was suspicion in his eyes.either Kate nor Billson were, he had good reason to believe, aware of his more sinister activities. Kate was a household servant, engaged through a Labour Exchange a few months before, at a wage sufficiently high to make it a place she would be reluctant to leave.
Billson was employed in the business. He acted as porter he worked the lift, he was the routine executioner of the dogs and cats, and any other domestic creatures who had tired the patience of their owners by illness or age, or making it difficult to close their owners' houses.Snacklit had told him that a young woman had called of whose honesty he was not sure, and that he was not to allow her to leave the premises unless she should be shown out in a regular manner. That had been both a precaution against Irene getting away through the front entrance and a means of keeping Billson in that part of the premises while other things were happening elsewhere of which it was desirable that he should not know.
Had Snacklit foreseen that he would have that telephone-call which he could not ignore, he would have made different arrangements. Now he looked round in a well-founded doubt of what might have been said while he was away.His anxiety and the sense of urgency under which he acted were increased by the fact that he did not return only from receiving and refusing Professor Blinkwell's telephone instructions. He had also interviewed the detective-sergeant whom Superintendent Allenby had sent to the house. He thought he had been successful in turning that enquiry aside; but it had been a plain warning of the activity of the police - of an enquiry which might be concentrating upon him. Suppose they had come with a search-warrant, and had discovered her there - had listened to what she certainly would have said - had looked into the furnace while the taxi-driver's bones were still recognizable? There was no time for further hesitation now. He asked, "What's been happening here?"Kate would have answered, but Billson was quicker than she. He said: "Kate just called me in, sir. I don't know why."Kate explained: "The young lady said she wanted to go, so I called Billson. You told me to, if she did."Irene saw that, though they might not be prepared to give her further support, they did not betray what she had said, and she got some small comfort from that.Snacklit said, "Well, you can both go now."
Irene became aware that she was desperately afraid of what might happen if she should be left alone with Snacklit again. She said, "They're not going without me.""I suppose," Snacklit retorted, "I can give orders in my own house."
"You can't give orders to me. I say, if they go out of the room I go too. . . . If I'm kept here, I mean to be able to tell the police who's in it, and who's not."The two servants had stood hesitating, evidently interested in what they heard. Snacklit looked at them angrily. Billson said, "Come alone, Kate." He put his hand on her arm and drew her out of the room.
Irene would have followed, but Snacklit was too quick for her. He was first at the door, turned the key, and dropped it into his pocket. He faced her, scowling. Here was a fresh reason for doubt. If she were traced to the house (but was that likely?) how much would those two say, if they should be questioned? How safely could they be bribed? Neither of them was of high character. But their degree of loyalty to him might not be great. It was an added risk, but still - if she could be done away with completely without their knowledge, was it not still the one path on which a prospect of safety lay?"Now," he said, "if you value your skin, you'll sit down quietly and tell me what you really know, or think you know, and what made you follow me in the way you did."
"And if you value your skin you'll unlock the door. I shan't tell you anything till the key's back where it belongs,""You'll wait a long time, if you wait for that," he said "but I've no time to lose. If you won't talk sensibly to me, f shall have to send for someone who'll treat you differently than I was meaning to do."As he said this, his eyes were on the bell. Irene, having declined his suggestion that she should sit down, was standing near the fireplace. He would have to come close to her to reach the bell-push.Her own eyes had settled for a moment upon a heavy metal ornament on the mantelpiece. She judged its weight, and the distance between them. She had attended a college where baseball was not unknown. She thought she could manage that.
"I'll give you one last chance," she said. "If you don't open the door - - "He laughed, and advanced towards her, with a purpose she did not understand, but to which she saw only one sufficient reply. She seized the heavy ornament, and threw with all the force of her desperation, and of a young and vigorous arm. Snacklit ducked, or he would have been worse hurt than he was. But the attack had been so sudden and unexpected that he was not quick enough to avoid it entirely.
It did not come full in his face, as had been intended, but it struck him a glancing blow, and he fell forward.She knew the pocket in which he had put the key. She had it out as he tried dizzily to rise. Seeing what she had done, he snatched at her catching an arm. He was still half-dazed by the blow, but he tried to drag her toward the grate. She misunderstood his intention, and, instead of trying to keep him away, she struggled to be first there. She succeeded in her own aim, which she had supposed to have been his. She caught the poker in her free hand, but as she did so he rose sufficiently to press the lower of the two bell-pushes beside the grate.
The next moment the poker came down hard on the hand that held her, and she was free.She had dropped the key in the struggle, and must come near him to look for it in the thick rug. He was still only raised on one hand, but he made a sudden grab at her foot, pulling her down.
At that, in a passion of mingled anger and fear, she struck hard and blindly with the poker across his face. He screamed at the blow, and fell back. "Burfoot!" he called. "Burfoot!" and then tried again to rise and pursue her, as he saw that she was taking no further notice of him, but had already got the key into the door."You hell-cat!" he said. "You don't know how you're going to pay for this." He stood swaying, wiping the blood from his face. He thought his cheekbone was broken. He spat out blood and a broken tooth.Irene stood at the open door, where Burfoot blocked her way. She knew him both as the man who had driven the grey car and, more certainly, as one of those who had wheeled the handcart across the garden.Even with the short poker in her hand, she did not feel that she would be equal to a struggle with him, nor was she used to settling her differences in such a manner.
She took a step back, letting him enter the room. Conventional standards of conduct became dominant again as she said in explanation, and in a voice that was almost apologetic: "I couldn't help it. He wouldn't let me get out of the room."The man looked stolidly at his injured master, and then at her. She was uncertain how he would take it, until he said brutally, "You'll get your neck wrung if you try any games with me." His eyes were evil, but his lips grinned, as though the idea of her resisting him were an enjoyable joke.
Snacklit said: "You'll know what's got to be done with her after this. You can call Wilkes, if you need help. . . . Better keep the others out of it, if you can."Irene said boldly: "You won't call anyone, if you're a wise man. I'm going to give a hundred pounds to whoever gets me out of here, and you may as well have the lot." She added, seeing no sign of change in his expression, "The police may be here any minute, and you'd rather I say you're one of those who were helping me to get out."
"Tom, she's lying," Snacklit interposed. "But if it's true, you can't be too quick. She saw you and Wilkes crossing the lawn."The man appeared to take no notice. He said slowly: "You'd give me a hundred pounds? You'd do that if I let you go quiet by the side door?"