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Bat Wing

11.
The Shadow On The Blind
Perhaps it was childish on my part, but I accepted this curt dismissal very ill-
humouredly. That Harley, for some reason of his own, wished to be alone, was
evident enough, but I resented being excluded from his confidence, even
temporarily. It would seem that he had formed a theory in the prosecution of
which my cooeperation was not needed. And what with profitless conjectures
concerning its nature, and memories of Val Beverley's pathetic parting glance as
we had bade one another good- night, sleep seemed to be out of the question,
and I stood for a long time staring out of the open window.
The weather remained almost tropically hot, and the moon floated in a cloudless
sky. I looked down upon the closely matted leaves of the box hedge, which rose
to within a few feet of my window, and to the left I could obtain a view of the
close-hemmed courtyard before the doors of Cray's Folly. On the right the yews
began, obstructing my view of the Tudor garden, but the night air was fragrant,
and the outlook one of peace.
After a time, then, as no sound came from the adjoining room, I turned in, and
despite all things was soon fast asleep.
Almost immediately, it seemed, I was awakened. In point of fact, nearly four
hours had elapsed. A hand grasped my shoulder, and I sprang up in bed with a
stifled cry, but:
"It's all right, Knox," came Harley's voice. "Don't make a noise."
"Harley!" I said. "Harley! what has happened?"
"Nothing, nothing. I am sorry to have to disturb your beauty sleep, but in the
absence of Innes I am compelled to use you as a dictaphone, Knox. I like to
record impressions while they are fresh, hence my having awakened you."
"But what has happened?" I asked again, for my brain was not yet fully alert.
"No, don't light up!" said Harley, grasping my wrist as I reached out toward the
table-lamp.
His figure showed as a black silhouette against the dim square of the window.
"Why not?"
"Well, it's nearly two o'clock. The light might be observed."
"Two o'clock?" I exclaimed.
"Yes. I think we might smoke, though. Have you any cigarettes? I have left my
pipe behind."
I managed to find my case, and in the dim light of the match which I presently
struck I saw that Paul Harley's face was very fixed and grim. He seated himself
on the edge of my bed, and:
"I have been guilty of a breach of hospitality, Knox," he began. "Not only have I
secretly had my own car sent down here, but I have had something else sent, as
well. I brought it in under my coat this evening."
"To what do you refer, Harley?"
"You remember the silken rope-ladder with bamboo rungs which I brought from
Hongkong on one occasion?"
 
 
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