Fire-Tongue HTML version

19. What Happened To Harley—Concluded
He regained the curve of the drive without meeting any opposition. There,
slipping the pistol into his pocket, he climbed rapidly up the tree from which he
had watched the arrival of the three cars, climbed over the wall, and dropped into
the weed jungle beyond. He crept stealthily forward to the gap where he had
concealed the racer, drawing nearer and nearer to the bushes lining the lane.
Only by a patch of greater darkness before him did he realize that he had
reached it. But when the realization came one word only he uttered: "Gone!"
His car had disappeared!
Despair was alien to his character: A true Englishman, he never knew when he
was beaten. Beyond doubt, now, he must accept the presence of hidden
enemies surrounding him, of enemies whose presence even his trained powers
of perception had been unable to detect. The intensity of the note of danger
which he had recognized now was fully explained. He grew icily cool, master of
his every faculty. "We shall see!" he muttered, grimly.
Feeling his way into the lane, he set out running for the highroad, his footsteps
ringing out sharply upon the dusty way. The highroad gained, he turned, not to
the left, but to the right, ran up the bank and threw himself flatly down upon it,
lying close to the hedge and watching the entrance to the lane. Nothing
appeared; nothing stirred. He knew the silence to be illusive; he blamed himself
for having ventured upon such a quest without acquainting himself with the
geography of the neighbourhood.
Great issues often rest upon a needle point. He had no idea of the direction or
extent of the park land adjoining the highroad. Nevertheless, further inaction
being out of the question, creeping along the grassy bank, he began to retreat
from the entrance to the lane. Some ten yards he had progressed in this fashion
when his hidden watchers made their first mistake.
A faint sound, so faint that only a man in deadly peril could have detected it,
brought him up sharply. He crouched back against the hedge, looking behind