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Fire-Tongue Sax Rohmer

The Orchid Of Sleep

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The Assistant Commissioner, who had palpably seen military service, was a big man with very tired eyes, and a quiet, almost apologetic manner.

"Ah, Detective Inspector," he said, as Wessex entered. "I wanted to see you about this business of Mr. Nicol Brinn."

"Yes, sir," replied Wessex; "naturally."

"Now," the Assistant Commissioner turned wearily in his chair, and glanced up at his subordinate--"your accepting the parole of a suspect, under the circumstances, was officially improper, but I am not blaming you--I am not blaming you for a moment. Mr. Nicol Brinn's well-known reputation justified your behaviour." He laid one large hand firmly upon the table. "Mr. Nicol Brinn's absence alters the matter entirely."

"I am well aware of it," murmured the inspector. "Although," continued the Assistant Commissioner, "Mr. Brinn's record leads me to believe that he will have some suitable explanation to offer, his behaviour, you will admit, is that of a guilty man?"

"It is, sir; it certainly is."

"The Press, fortunately, has learned nothing of this unpleasant business, particularly unpleasant because it involves such well-known people. You will see to it, Detective Inspector, that all publicity is avoided if possible. Meanwhile, as a matter of ordinary departmental routine, you will circulate Mr. Brinn's description through the usual channels, and--" the Assistant Commissioner raised his eyebrows slightly.

"You mean that?" asked Wessex.

"Certainly. He must be arrested by the first officer who recognizes him."

"Very good, sir. I will move in the matter at once."

"Do so, please." The Assistant Commissioner sighed wearily, as one of his telephones set up a muted buzzing. "That is all for the moment, I think. Good morning."

Detective Inspector Wessex came out, quietly closing the door behind him. He felt that he had been let down very lightly. But nevertheless he was unpleasantly warm, and as he walked slowly along the corridor he whistled softly, and:

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"Arrest of Mr. Nicol Brinn," he muttered. "What a headline, if they ever get it!"

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