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"But my dear Mr. Holcroft, you don't realize--men never do realize--that you will have a long, lonely ride with a female of unknown--unknown antercedents. It will be scarcely respecterble, and respecterbility should be man and woman's chief aim. Jane is not a timid child, and in an emergency like this, even if she was, she would gladly sacrifice herself to sustain the proprieties of life. Now that your life has begun under new and better auspices, I feel that I ought to plead with you not to cloud your brightening prospects by a thoughtless unregard of what society looks upon as proper. The eyes of the community will now be upon us--"

"No, I suppose not. It's all become a muddle to me. I mean this church and religious business."She looked at him wistfully, as if she wished to say something, but did not venture to do so. He promptly gave a different turn to the conversation by quoting Mrs. Mumpson's tirade on churchgoing the first Sunday after her arrival. Alida laughed, but not in a wholly mirthful and satisfied way. "There!" he concluded, "I'm touching on things a little too sacred for you. I respect your feelings and beliefs, for they are honest and I wish I shared in 'em." Then he suddenly laughed again as he added, "Mrs. Mumpson said there was too much milking done on Sunday, and it's time I was breaking the Fourth Commandment, after her notion."

Alida now laughed outright, without reservation."'By jocks!' as Watterly says, what a difference there is in women!" he soliloquized on his way to the barn. "Well, the church question is settled for the present, but if Alida should ask me to go, after her manner this morning, I'd face the whole creation with her."When at last he came in and threw off his waterproof coat, the kitchen was in order and his wife was sitting by the parlor fire with Thomson's "Land and the Book" in her hand."Are you fond of reading?" he asked."Yes, very."

"Well, I am, too, sort of; but I've let the years slip by without doing half as much as I ought.""Light your pipe and I'll read to you, if you wish me to."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?""You can come with me, if you like, and you shall have it as soon as I get home."

Snacklit said angrily: "Don't take any notice of what she says. She'll be your death, if you do."Burfoot made no answer to that. He turned back to the door. "If you'll come with me, miss," he said, in a more civil voice than he had used before, "I'll show you the way out. But I'd put that poker back. You won't want to carry it through the streets."He had winked at his master as he turned round, and Snacklit said no more. He gave his attention again to his bleeding face, which was now darkened by a long bruise, lividly blue.But an ugly smile came painfully to his face as Irene followed the man through the door. He thought that full payment would soon be made.

Chapter 37 The Home Secretary Wants To KnowTHE HOME SECRETARY had to wait. He was told that Superintendent Allenby was on the Paris telephone, and could not be interrupted, even for him. Impatient though he might be, he had to wait for some time. When he got connected at last, he said: "I want to know just what the position is, and what's being done. I can't think how you could allow matters to get into such a position."

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"You mean about Miss Thurlow?""Yes, and His Excellency. Where are they now? I hope you're not going to tell me that you don't know."

"We don't know for certain where Miss Thurlow is yet. Her father's out looking for her, with a gun in his hip pocket.""You mean you've - - ""We've done all we could, of course. And there's still some reason to think it may turn out all right."But there's fresh information just come in from Paris, and the question is really for you, sir. What you think it will be best for us to do. They've got a waiter detained there who's made a statement that Professor Blinkwell murdered Reynard, because he was on the point of revealing to Mr. Thurlow that Blinkwell had got some device for smuggling drugs through with the ambassador's luggage without his knowledge.""You mean Blinkwell, the director of Vantons? It sounds incredible.""I should say it's true, more likely than not. Blinkwell was certainly at the hotel. And someone finally did get the drugs through in that way, though it was by a different trick from the one that Gustav - that's the waiter - says they were first going to use.

"But to say it's probably true isn't to say it can be proved. There's only Gustav's word, and he gave another version before, which we know was all lies."Anyway, the S?ret? seem to have their tails in the air. They say they're sending through the extradition papers at once, and they want us to fetch Blinkwell in before he can get word of what's going on."

"Well, they've a right to ask that. Whether they'll get the extradition depends, of course, on what evidence they can produce. And that's a matter for the court to decide. I'm not concerned about that. It's the American - - ""But that's just where the difficulty comes in. Blinkwell's made an offer, almost in plain words, to hand over Miss Thurlow if we promise to leave him and his gang alone. Of course, he doesn't call it his gang, but I should say that's what it is. The question is, if we arrest him now, how's it going to affect that?"

"You know where Blinkwell is now?""Not exactly. We know that Thurlow went to his house and was out again in about three minutes, driving almost certainly to a Dogs' Home in Hampstead. I should say there'll be quite a party there before long."

"You mean you let His Excellency - - ""I couldn't have stopped him without knocking him down. We've got a good man - not one of the regular force - in his car with him. And there's another car following him wherever he goes, though he isn't likely to know that. Besides that, when I heard which way he was heading, I sent a squad straight to Snacklit's place. That's the Dogs' Home. I saw them off just before I took the Paris call. They ought to be there by now.""Well, I expect you've done all you could. We must just hope for the best. I suppose we shall soon know.""Yes, sir. I think we have. And as to pulling Blinkwell in - "

"I shouldn't do that, unless you think it will help you in this matter. I want you to put the Thurlows' interests first. Get them out of it, and then - - ""Yes, sir. I understand."

Mr. Lambton said that he had no doubt of that. He wished to be rung up instantly if anything of importance should occur. Not to his secretary. Not through the Commissioner. Allenby was to report to him direct. He would be at the House for the next two hours, if not three.Chapter 38 Incidents Of An Active Hour

IF WE SHOULD be disposed to consider that some of those concerned acted with extreme folly and disregard for almost certain consequences to themselves during the hour with which we are now dealing, we should give due weight to the fact that no one but the three concerned were aware of the conversation which had occurred between Irene, Kate, and Billson. And if we should go on to analyse cause and effect, and to observe the perverse results of the most cautious and intelligent courses, we may see the origin of all that followed in the telephone message from Professor Blinkwell, which caused Snacklit to leave Irene, to which the action of Allenby in sending an officer to enquire concerning Snacklit's car must be added, as it prolonged Snacklit's absence from the room. . . .The long fa?ade of Snacklit House had three entrances. One was closed by the wide gates into the yard. One, the central and most imposing, was that which gave access to the business premises, where dogs and other animals could be bought, or deposited for hospital treatment, or for the destruction of which it was etiquette to speak so delicately, and which was so discreetly, expeditiously and thoroughly done.

Beyond that was the entrance to the philanthropist's private residence. It had an appearance of modesty, disguising the fact that it led to luxurious apartments which crossed the complete length of the rear of the building, both at its first and second floors.Professor Blinkwell, who knew the place, directed his chauffeur to drive to the private entrance, and to wait for him there. He did not intend there should be any appearance of his having made a furtive visit. He acted on his usual principle of conforming to the natural conduct of a man whose conscience is well at ease. In the past, he had found it to be a method which served him well.Kate was the one who normally opened the door, as she did now. Billson was in charge of the main entrance, which was closed at this hour, but there was another reason why he was not on the scene, to which we shall come.Kate took the Professor's name, which was strange to her. She knew that customers came at all hours, and such she took him to be. She asked him to take a seat in the hall, and went to give Snacklit his name. The Professor gave her a ten yards' start, and then followed her. The carpets were soft and thick and she did not hear him until she had knocked at the door of her master's room. He was close behind her then. He said: "All right, my good girl. I can manage now." She thought it discreet to withdraw.

Snacklit called, "Come in," in a voice of irritation, and stared in surprise unmixed with pleasure when he saw who it was who entered. The Professor looked equally surprised at the condition of the man upon whom he intruded with so little ceremony.Snacklit lay back on a settee. There was a swelling on the side of his head where it had been first hit, and the black bruise, streaked with drying blood, had now spread over half his face. He held a reddened towel, with which he was still wiping blood from his mouth.

"You seem," the Professor said coldly, "to have been making a mess of things, or perhaps I should say that they have been making a mess of you.""It's that she-devil whose been handling the stuff," Snacklit answered. "She looked as though a mouse could have made her jump; but you never know."

"Well," the Professor answered, "you shouldn't have brought her here. It was the act of a fool, and I've come to see what can be done now.""I didn't bring her. She followed me."

Both Sides of the Table

Perspectives of a 2x entrepreneur turned VC at @UpfrontVC#

Mark Suster

Written by

2x entrepreneur. Sold both companies (last to salesforce.com). Turned VC looking to invest in passionate entrepreneurs 〞 I*m on Twitter at @msuster

Both Sides of the Table

Perspectives of a 2x entrepreneur turned VC at @UpfrontVC, the largest and most active early-stage fund in Southern California. Snapchat: msuster

Mark Suster

Written by

2x entrepreneur. Sold both companies (last to salesforce.com). Turned VC looking to invest in passionate entrepreneurs 〞 I*m on Twitter at @msuster

Both Sides of the Table

Perspectives of a 2x entrepreneur turned VC at @UpfrontVC, the largest and most active early-stage fund in Southern California. Snapchat: msuster