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Bat Wing

18.
Complications
I am afraid of this man Aylesbury," said Paul Harley. We sat in the deserted
dining room. I had contributed my account of the evening's happenings, Dr.
Rolleston had made his report, and Inspector Aylesbury was now examining the
servants in the library. Harley and I had obtained his official permission to
withdraw, and the physician was visiting Madame de Staemer, who lay in a state
of utter prostration.
"What do you mean, Harley?"
"I mean that he will presently make some tragic blunder. Good God, Knox, to
think that this man had sought my aid, and that I stood by idly whilst he walked
out to his death. I shall never forgive myself." He banged the table with his fist.
"Even now that these unknown fiends have achieved their object, I am helpless,
helpless. There was not a wisp of smoke to guide me, Knox, and one man
cannot search a county."
I sighed wearily.
"Do you know, Harley," I said, "I am thinking of a verse of Kipling's."
"I know!" he interrupted, almost savagely.
"A Snider squibbed in the jungle. Somebody laughed and fled--"
"Oh, I know, Knox. I heard that damnable laughter, too."
"My God," I whispered, "who was it? What was it? Where did it come from?"
"As well ask where the shot came from, Knox. Out amongst all those trees, with a
house that might have been built for a sounding-board, who could presume to
say where either came from? One thing we know, that the shot came from the
south."
He leaned upon a corner of the table, staring at me intently.
"From the south?" I echoed.
Harley glanced in the direction of the open door.
"Presently," he said, "we shall have to tell Aylesbury everything that we know.
After all, he represents the law; but unless we can get Inspector Wessex down
from Scotland Yard, I foresee a miscarriage of justice. Colonel Menendez lay on
his face, and the line made by his recumbent body pointed almost directly
toward--"
I nodded, watching him.
"I know, Harley--toward the Guest House."
Paul Harley inclined his head, grimly.
"The first light which we saw," he continued, "was in a window of the Guest
House. It may have had no significance. Awakened by the sound of a rifle-shot
near by, any one would naturally get up."
"And having decided to come downstairs and investigate," I continued, "would
naturally light a lamp."
"Quite so." He stared at me very hard. "Yet," he said, "unless Mr. Colin Camber
can produce an alibi I foresee a very stormy time for him."
 
 
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