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"Taxi-drivers?" the girl repeaquarto halving bitcointed. She stared in what appeared to be genuine bewilderment.

When he had gone, and Becky had left the room, the Professor said: "I can see that you have a reliable maid. And your own attitude was exactly that which the position required. I shall not forget."cardano chainHe shook hands with Mrs. Collinson with more than his usual amiability, but when he was alone in the taxi which he had hailed for his own use his jaw was hard set and there was black anger and ruthless cruelty in his eyes.

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"The fool," he thought. "The damned fool. To land me in this!" As to Snacklit, he had no doubt at all. His days must be nearly done. But as to Irene, even if the police should be willing to make such a bargain as he had proposed, he was not sure that it would be wise to carry it out. He was clear of complicity now. Clear of anything that could be proved. Dead men tell no tales. And it is the same with girls. The question needed most careful thought.Chapter 32 Irene Has Seen Too MuchIRENE HAD CLEARED the tea-tray. Any anxiety she may have felt had left her appetite unsubdued. She brushed a crumb from her dress. She stood up. She was inclined to walk out, or to find what the obstruction would be.Then she had an idea at which she paused. Was it not possible that they had sent for the valise which she had said had been delivered to Mrs. Collinson, and that they were only waiting to see that it was intact before releasing her, with the admission that all was well?The tea, from which she was feeling no ill-effects, seemed to support that comfortable theory. And, if it were so, would it not be an undignified folly to make a fuss, and perhaps have an unpleasant altercation, for which a little patience would show that there had been no need?

It was a correct theory so far as that Snacklit's recollections of the Professor's advice had caused him to send a discreet and indirect messenger for the valise, and it was true that he had decided to reserve the question of how he should dispose of her until he should know that that had been done, and, as he hoped, all possibilities of other complications removed. It was too sanguine only in its assumption that, if the valise were found to have its lock intact and its contents undisturbed, there would be immediate freedom for her.But hesitating over this possibility, she walked over to the window and looked down on to the garden. It was still solitary. Its high walls were such that she saw it could not be overlooked. If she should endeavour to reach it, would it provide an easier exit than she might find through the front premises? She saw nothing to encourage that hope. Solid wooden doors in the walls. . . . Almost certainly locked. . . . But someone - something - was coming under the window now. Coming from the direction of the yard into which she had been driven. It was a hand-truck being wheeled by two men. They crossed the broad path beneath the window to a door in the wall on the further side - the wall over which the chimney showed from which the thick black smoke rose, as she had seen it an hour before.Kindell thought hard, as he followed the grey car into Mostyn Road. He said: "Listen, Irene. We've got to pull this off, or we shall be almost back where we were, and your father'll get most of the blame. Gustav's going to stick it out that I really did send the valise to you, more likely than not, and you can see where we shall be."

"We shall be through the windscreen more likely than not, if you keep driving like that.""Sorry. It couldn't be helped. Got any money?""Yes. Three or four pounds. Why?""That ought to do. The next time I slow down at the traffic lights, I want you to slip out, so that they won't see you. Stop the first taxi you can, and follow me. Tell your driver to follow the grey car. As soon as I see you've taken up the chase, I shall turn off. I've got to get the police on the alert. That car can move, and even if we can't keep it in sight, I don't mean it to get away.

"But if you can keep on its track till it delivers the case, I want you to drop out then, get the nearest call-box, ring up Scotland Yard, ask for Mr. Allenby - you'll find you'll be put through at once - and report to him. Dell your driver to keep on following the car, and not to lose sight of it till it's gone to earth somewhere where it's clear that it's putting up. Give him plenty, and tell him there'll be five pounds more for him when he calls at Scotland Yard, if he shows that he's got some brains. Have you got all that clear?""Yes. I think so. Mr. Allenby. Scotland Yard. Is that right?"

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"Yes. Now, out you go."Next moment, he was alone.So far, the grey car had not been hard to follow. It was heading east, and there was nothing erratic in its course, nor any other evidence that its occupants were aware that they were followed. It was not going specially fast, and the traffic lights had been opportune for pursuit. So they were once again, as they enabled Kindell to close the intervening distance, so that there was nothing between them but a hooded van which concealed him effectually; and just as the red light changed a taxi drew up beside him. From it, Irene waved him farewell as it moved forward, and he delayed a second to note its number before taking-the leftward turn.Well, he must hope that she would have the luck to keep the swifter car under observation! But he was not depending upon that, or he would have kept the pursuit in his own hands. Within two minutes he was in a police telephone booth, and giving the information which would cast a swift net round the whole area within which the grey car must still certainly be. "They'll be lucky indeed," he thought, "if they put on enough speed to get away from Irene, and avoid the notice of the police."

But the voice of authority, which had directed him to hold on while it issued the orders which the occasion required, was now speaking again, "So you've still got the valise?""Yes.""That's a pity.""There was no possible time to deliver it, without losing sight

"Yes. I see that. It's a pity, all the same.""Shall I go back, and do it now?"

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"You've never met Mrs. Collinson?""No."

"Well, it's a risk. But it may be the best way. The drugs are of no use in our hands.""They're bound to see the contents of the other one now.""No, they're not. We may pick up whoever's got it before he has a chance to open it. If he does, they'll be puzzled as to what it means, especially if they have the right one handed over - and he mayn't have a chance to let Blinkwell know."Kindell saw that there was sense in this argument. The fact was that the valise was of little use while it remained in their hands. Even against Gustav, it was not decisive evidence unless he could be proved to have known what it contained. To get it into the hands of those for whom it had been intended, and to arrest them after it had been opened, and when they were knowingly handling its illicit contents - it was at that they must aim, and, thinking this, he observed again how far from helpful the ambassador's action had been. But it was fair to him to remember that he had acted under a radical misconception of the position.Anyway, his course was clear now. The only risk he could see was that he might encounter Myra, as Irene had done before and, as he correctly guessed the position to be, the improbability of that was extreme. And he was no longer acting without official support, or actually against instructions, as he had done more than once in the last forty-eight hours. He went back to the car, and drove rapidly to Mrs. Collinson's residence.Chapter 25 Irene Does Not Return

A YOUNG MAID opened the door. She had a vacuous prettiness which did not suggest either that she was of a criminal kind or that she was one whom criminals would be likely to employ. She looked fit for the breaking of china; minor stupidities; I possibly pert replies.Nothing more serious would be likely to occupy or disturb her mind.

"I have come," Kindell said, "from the American Embassy. A suitcase was delivered here yesterday in mistake for this one. The labels got accidentally changed. Perhaps I had better see Mrs. Collinson. His Excellency wished me to apologize and explain."The girl's jaw dropped slightly. "I believe," she said, "as it's been taken away. I'd better tell the missus."

"If you please," Kindell replied, and the girl went to seek her mistress, leaving him at the open door.She returned next minute, saying, "The missus says as it's nothing to do with her, but you can leave it if you've a mind."

But, as she said this, which, it may be safely assumed, was a very free rendering of Mrs. Collinson's actual words, that lady appeared behind her, having evidently decided that something was happening with which she should deal herself. She said: "That's all right, Becky. I'll see the young man myself." Becky retired, and Mrs. Collinson took her place.Kindell said: "His Excellency wishes me to express his regret for the mistake which has been made. He wishes me to explain that the valise came as part of his own luggage, but Mr. Kindell had provided a label to be used for its delivery to you, and that label was very carelessly put on to another suitcase."Mrs. Collinson did not look particularly interested. She said: "Well, you"re a bit late. He took it away half an hour ago. It's really nothing to do with me . . . But you can leave it, if you think that's the best course. I daresay he'll come back when he finds he's got the wrong one.""We are naturally anxious to get that one back," Kindell replied. "Don't you think you might telephone him, and explain? He wouldn't be likely to see what was inside without bursting it open, and it would be a pity not to let him know what's happened before he does that."

Mrs. Collinson looked stubborn. She said at last, "Well, I don't mind you using my 'phone, if you think that would be any help."Thank you. If you will let me know his number, I'll get through at once."

"His number?" Mrs. Collinson looked surprised. "I've no idea. I scarcely know him at all. I've been puzzled as to why he used my address." And then, as one who was conscious of some cause for resentment, but did not wish to be unmannerly to those who were not directly concerned, she added: "But I suppose it would be in the telephone book. If you'd like to try that - - "She moved aside as she spoke, inviting him to enter, but he was not attracted by the comedy of ringing himself up at his empty room. He said: "I don't think that's really necessary. It would be going beyond my instructions. His Excellency might prefer to do it himself. . . . If you would very kindly telephone us when the case is returned, we will fetch it without delay."

He had rested the one he had brought on a hall chair as this conversation proceeded. Now he withdrew his hand, and moved backward to the door.Mrs. Collinson looked at it, he thought, for one doubtful second, as though she would prefer to tell him to take it away but other considerations prevailed. She called sharply to Becky who appeared from the end of the hall, and said to her: "You'd better let this stay here till Mr. Kindell comes for it. He's taken the wrong one. You'll have to see he leaves that, and we ll let this gentleman know."

"If he finds he's took the wrong one, we'll soon be hearing him at the bell," Becky foretold, and Kindell, having lingered to see as much as he could, withdrew with an added realization of how difficult it was to obtain conclusive evidence against the evasive tactics which these wealthy criminals so adroitly used.His next action must obviously be to take back the car, and to excuse himself to the ambassador for returning alone. He was not entirely at ease on the last point, remembering the condition on which Irene and he had set out together, though he felt no apprehension for her safety, and felt that there was sufficient justification for the course he had taken.But his doubt was soon removed when he found that Mr. Thurlow, after listening to his narrative in attentive silence, said with more cordiality than he had often shown him during recent days: "Well, I'd say you've made a good job of that. It sounds as though you've put the cops on the right track, and it won't be long before they'll be able to haul in the line.""I was a little afraid," Kindell said frankly "that you might think that I shouldn't have let Irene go on alone But it was either that or - - "

"It was either that or leaving her to take back the valise," the ambassador agreed, "and you'd got to put the cops wise which you'd do better than she. I'd say you did it the best way and Irene isn't a fool. Sitting in a taxi watching another car that doesn't know she s on its track oughtn't to be any headache to her. It isn't as though your toughs make a habit of shooting it out in the London streets."Kindell's own mind, which was not entirely at ease, could not resist the soundness of this argument, and he was relieved that Mr. Thurlow took the matter in so sensible a way. He saw that to the American mind, there could be no ready recognition of danger in London streets. And it was mere recognition of the obvious to see that, whoever might be in the grey car, their first thought, even if conscious of observation, would be to avoid anything which would draw further attention to themselves. They believed themselves to have a very valuable and damning quantity of illicit drugs in their possession. Surely, their only thought would be to elude pursuit in the busy streets. Irene should be in no danger from them; and she was with a taxi-driver whose number was known,

"Well," Kindell said, "I ought to ring up the Yard now, if you don't mind my doing it from here."The ambassador waved his hand toward the instrument in reply. He said: "It's through to the exchange now. Go ahead." He was soon having the benefit of Kindell s part in a conversation from which it quickly became evident that something unexpected had happened - something that Kindell found it hard to believe, and that it was no pleasure to him to hear.

The connection being quickly made, Kindell asked, Is that Superintendent Allenby speaking?""Yes. Where are you?"

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Perspectives of a 2x entrepreneur turned VC at @UpfrontVC#

Mark Suster

Written by

2x entrepreneur. Sold both companies (last to salesforce.com). Turned VC looking to invest in passionate entrepreneurs 〞 I*m on Twitter at @msuster

Both Sides of the Table

Perspectives of a 2x entrepreneur turned VC at @UpfrontVC, the largest and most active early-stage fund in Southern California. Snapchat: msuster

Mark Suster

Written by

2x entrepreneur. Sold both companies (last to salesforce.com). Turned VC looking to invest in passionate entrepreneurs 〞 I*m on Twitter at @msuster

Both Sides of the Table

Perspectives of a 2x entrepreneur turned VC at @UpfrontVC, the largest and most active early-stage fund in Southern California. Snapchat: msuster