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30. The Fight In The Dark
Towards eleven o'clock at night the fog began slightly to lift. As Kerry crossed the
bridge over Limehouse Canal he could vaguely discern the dirty water below, and
street lamps showed dimly, surrounded each by a halo of yellow mist. Fog signals
were booming on the railway, and from the great docks in the neighborhood
mechanical clashings and hammerings were audible.
Turning to the right, Kerry walked on for some distance, and then suddenly
stepped into the entrance to a narrow cul-de-sac and stood quite still.
A conviction had been growing upon him during the past twelve hours that
someone was persistently and cleverly dogging his footsteps. He had first detected
the presence of this mysterious follower outside the house of Sin Sin Wa, but the
density of the fog had made it impossible for him to obtain a glimpse of the man's
face. He was convinced, too, that he had been followed back to Leman Street, and
from there to New Scotland Yard. Now, again he became aware of this persistent
presence, and hoped at last to confront the spy.
Below footsteps, the footsteps of someone proceeding with the utmost caution,
came along the pavement. Kerry stood close to the wall of the court, one hand in a
pocket of his overall, waiting and chewing.
Nearer came the footsteps--and nearer. A shadowy figure appeared only a yard or
so away from the watchful Chief Inspector. Thereupon he acted.
With one surprising spring he hurled himself upon the unprepared man, grasped
him by his coat collar, and shone the light of an electric torch fully into his face.
"Hell!" he snapped. "The smart from Spinker's!"
The ray of the torch lighted up the mean, pinched face of Brisley, blanched now by
fright, gleamed upon the sharp, hooked nose and into the cunning little brown
eyes. Brisley licked his lips. In Kerry's muscular grip he bore quite a remarkable
resemblance to a rat in the jaws of a terrier.
"Ho, ho!" continued the Chief Inspector, showing his teeth savagely. "So we let
Scotland Yard make the pie, and then we steal all the plums, do we?"
He shook the frightened man until Brisley's broad-brimmed bowler was shaken off,
revealing the receding brow and scanty neutral-colored hair.
"We let Scotland Yard work night and day, and then we present our rat- faced
selves to Mr. Monte Irvin and say we have 'found the lady' do we?" Another
vigorous shake followed. "We track Chief Inspectors of the Criminal Investigation
Department, do we? We do, eh? We are dirty, skulking mongrels, aren't we? We
require to be kicked from Limehouse to Paradise, don't we?" He suddenly released
Brisley. "So we shall be!" he shouted furiously.
Hot upon the promise came the deed.
Brisley sent up a howl of pain as Kerry's right brogue came into violent contact with
his person. The assault almost lifted him off his feet, and hatless as he was he set
off, running as a man runs whose life depends upon his speed. The sound of his
pattering footsteps was echoed from wall to wall of the cul-de-sac until finally it was
swallowed up in the fog.