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Fire-Tongue Sax Rohmer

Conflicting Clues

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"Did you follow, Wessex?" he said. "Stokes was on the right track, but made a bad blunder. You see, his appearance led to the woman's retreat."

"He explained that to me," returned the inspector, gloomily. "She got out by another door as he came in. Oh! a pretty mess he has made of it. If he and Rector had been cooperating, they could have covered her movements perfectly."

"There is no use crying over spilt milk," returned Innes. He glanced significantly in the inspector's direction. "Miss Abingdon has rung up practically every hour all day," he said.

Wessex nodded his head.

"I'm a married man myself," he replied, "and happily married, too. But if you had seen the look in her eyes when I told her that Mr. Harley had disappeared, I believe you would have envied him."

"Yes," murmured Innes. "They haven't known each other long, but I should say from what little I have seen of them that she cares too much for her peace of mind." He stared hard at the inspector. "I think it will break her heart if anything has happened to the chief. The sound of her voice over the telephone brings a lump into my throat, Wessex. She rang up an hour ago. She will ring up again."

"Yet I never thought he was a marrying man," muttered the inspector.

"Neither did I," returned Innes, smiling sadly. "But even he can be forgiven for changing his mind in the case of Phil Abingdon."

"Ah," said the inspector. "I am not sorry to know that he is human like the rest of us." His expression grew retrospective, and: "I can't make out how the garage you were speaking about didn't report that matter before," he added.

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"Well, you see," explained Innes, "they were used to the chief making long journeys."

"Long journeys," muttered the inspector. "Did he make a long journey? I wonder--I wonder."

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