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Fire-Tongue Sax Rohmer

Wessex Gets Busy

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Phil Abingdon looked at him doubtingly. "I am almost afraid to ask you," she said in a low voice, "but--if you hear anything, will you ring me up?"

"I promise to do so."

Chartering a more promising-looking cab than that in which he had come, Detective Inspector Wessex proceeded to 236 South Lambeth Road. He had knocked several times before the door was opened by the woman to whom the girl Jones had called on the occasion of Harley's visit.

"I am a police officer," said the detective inspector, "and I have called to see a woman named Jones, formerly in the employ of Sir Charles Abingdon."

"Polly's gone," was the toneless reply.

"Gone? Gone where?"

"She went away last night to a job in the country."

"What time last night?"

"I can't remember the time. Just after a gentleman had called here to see her."

"Someone from the police?"

"I don't know. She seemed to be very frightened."

"Were you present when he interviewed her?"


"After he had gone, what did Polly do?"

"Sat and cried for about half an hour, then Sidney came for her."


"Her boy--the latest one."

"Describe Sidney."

"A dark fellow, foreign."


"No. A sort of Indian, like."

"Indian?" snapped Wessex. "What do you mean by Indian?"

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"Very dark," replied the woman without emotion, swinging a baby she held to and fro in a methodical way which the detective found highly irritating.

"You mean a native of India?"

"Yes, I should think so. I never noticed him much. Polly has so many."

"How long has she known this man?"

"Only a month or so, but she is crazy about him."

"And when he came last night she went away with him?"

"Yes. She was all ready to go before the other gentleman called. He must have told her something which made her think it was all off, and she was crazy with joy when Sidney turned up. She had all her things packed, and off she went."

Experience had taught Detective Inspector Wessex to recognize the truth when he met it, and he did not doubt the statement of the woman with the baby. "Can you give me any idea where this man Sidney came from?" he asked.

"I am afraid I can't," replied the listless voice. "He was in the service of some gentleman in the country; that's all I know about him."

"Did Polly leave no address to which letters were to be forwarded?"

"No; she said she would write."

"One other point," said Wessex, and he looked hard into the woman's face: "What do you know about Fire-Tongue?"

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