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Fire-Tongue Sax Rohmer

The Chase

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He knew of just such a hilly road immediately behind Lower Claybury station. Indeed, it was that by which he should be compelled to descend if he continued to pursue his present route to the town. He could think of no large, detached house, the Manor Park excepted, which corresponded to the one which he sought. But that in taking the high road he had acted even more wisely than he knew, he was now firmly convinced.

He determined to proceed as far as the park gates as speedily as possible. Therefore, returning to the wheel, he sent the car along the now level road at top speed, so that the railings of the Manor Park, when presently he found himself skirting the grounds, had the semblance of a continuous iron fence wherever the moonlight touched them.

He passed the head of the road dipping down to Lower Claybury, but forty yards beyond pulled up and descended. Again he stood listening, and:

"Good!" he muttered.

He could hear the other car labouring up the slope. He ran along to the corner of the lane, and, crouching close under the bushes, waited for its appearance. As he had supposed, the chauffeur turned the car to the right.

"Good!" muttered Nicol Brinn again.

There was a baggage-rack immediately above the number plate. Upon this Nicol Brinn sprang with the agility of a wildcat, settling himself upon his perilous perch before the engine had had time to gather speed.

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When presently the car turned into the drive of Hillside, Nicol Brinn dropped off and dived into the bushes on the right of the path. From this hiding place he saw the automobile driven around the front of the house to the garage, which was built out from the east wing. Not daring to pursue his investigations until the chauffeur had retired, he sought a more comfortable spot near a corner of the lawn and there, behind a bank of neglected flowers, lay down, watching the man's shadowy figure moving about in the garage.

Although he was some distance from the doors he could see that there was a second car in the place--a low, torpedo-bodied racer, painted battleship gray. This sight turned his thoughts in another direction.

Very cautiously he withdrew to the drive again, retracing his steps to the lane, and walking back to the spot where he had left the Rolls Royce, all the time peering about him to right and left. He was looking for a temporary garage for the car, but one from which, if necessary, he could depart in a hurry. The shell of an ancient barn, roofless and desolate, presently invited inspection and, as a result, a few minutes later Colonel Lord Wolverham's luxurious automobile was housed for the night in these strange quarters.

When Nicol Brinn returned to Hillside, he found the garage locked and the lights extinguished. Standing under a moss-grown wall which sheltered him from the house, from his case he selected a long black cigar, lighted it with care and, having his hands thrust in the pockets of his light overcoat and the cigar protruding aggressively from the left corner of his mouth, he moved along to an angle of the wall and stared reflectively at the silent house.

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