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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesHead Of Kay's - Chapter VII - A CLUE
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Head Of Kay's - Chapter VII - A CLUE Post by :Tankdude Category :Long Stories Author :P G Wodehouse Date :June 2011 Read :1242

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Head Of Kay's - Chapter VII - A CLUE


The guard-tent had disappeared.

Private Jones' bewildered eye, rolling in a fine frenzy from heaven to
earth, and from earth to heaven, in search of the missing edifice,
found it at last in a tangled heap upon the ground. It was too dark to
see anything distinctly, but he perceived that the canvas was rising
and falling spasmodically like a stage sea, and for a similar
reason--because there were human beings imprisoned beneath it.

By this time the whole camp was up and doing. Figures in
_deshabille_, dashing the last vestiges of sleep away with their
knuckles, trooped on to the scene in twos and threes, full of inquiry
and trenchant sarcasm.

"What are you men playing at? What's all the row about? Can't you
finish that game of footer some other time, when we aren't trying to
get to sleep? What on earth's up?"

Then the voice of one having authority.

"What's the matter? What are you doing?"

It was perfectly obvious what the guard was doing. It was trying to
get out from underneath the fallen tent. Private Jones explained this
with some warmth.

"Somebody jumped at me and sat on my head in the ditch. I couldn't get
up. And then some blackguard cut the ropes of the guard-tent. I
couldn't see who it was. He cut off directly the tent went down."

Private Jones further expressed a wish that he could find the chap.
When he did, there would, he hinted, be trouble in the old homestead.

The tent was beginning to disgorge its prisoners.

"Guard, turn out!" said a facetious voice from the darkness.

The camp was divided into two schools of thought. Those who were
watching the guard struggle out thought the episode funny. The guard
did not. It was pathetic to hear them on the subject of their
mysterious assailants. Matters quieted down rapidly after the tent had
been set up again. The spectators were driven back to their lines by
their officers. The guard turned in again to try and restore their
shattered nerves with sleep until their time for sentry-go came round.
Private Jones picked up his rifle and resumed his beat. The affair was
at an end as far as that night was concerned.

Next morning, as might be expected, nothing else was talked about.
Conversation at breakfast was confined to the topic. No halfpenny
paper, however many times its circulation might exceed that of any
penny morning paper, ever propounded so fascinating and puzzling a
breakfast-table problem. It was the utter impossibility of detecting
the culprits that appealed to the schools. They had swooped down like
hawks out of the night, and disappeared like eels into mud, leaving no

Jimmy Silver, of course, had no doubts.

"It was those Kay's men," he said. "What does it matter about
evidence? You've only got to look at 'em. That's all the evidence you
want. The only thing that makes it at all puzzling is that they did
nothing worse. You'd naturally expect them to slay the sentry, at any

But the rest of the camp, lacking that intimate knowledge of the
Kayite which he possessed, did not turn the eye of suspicion towards
the Eckleton lines. The affair remained a mystery. Kennedy, who never
gave up a problem when everybody else did, continued to revolve the
mystery in his mind.

"I shouldn't wonder," he said to Silver, two days later, "if you were

Silver, who had not made any remark for the last five minutes, with
the exception of abusive comments on the toughness of the meat which
he was trying to carve with a blunt knife for the tent, asked for an
explanation. "I mean about that row the other night."

"What row?"

"That guard-tent business."

"Oh, that! I'd forgotten. Why don't you move with the times? You're
always thinking of something that's been dead and buried for years."

"You remember you said you thought it was those Kay's chaps who did
it. I've been thinking it over, and I believe you're right. You see,
it was probably somebody who'd been to camp before, or he wouldn't
have known that dodge of loosing the ropes."

"I don't see why. Seems to me it's the sort of idea that might have
occurred to anybody. You don't want to study the thing particularly
deeply to know that the best way of making a tent collapse is to loose
the ropes. Of course it was Kay's lot who did it. But I don't see how
you're going to have them simply because one or two of them have been
here before."

"No, I suppose not," said Kennedy.

After tea the other occupants of the tent went out of the lines to
play stump-cricket. Silver was in the middle of a story in one of the
magazines, so did not accompany them. Kennedy cried off on the plea of

"I say," he said, when they were alone.

"Hullo," said Silver, finishing his story, and putting down the
magazine. "What do you say to going after those chaps? I thought that
story was going to be a long one that would take half an hour to get
through. But it collapsed. Like that guard-tent."

"About that tent business," said Kennedy. "Of course that was all rot
what I was saying just now. I suddenly remembered that I didn't
particularly want anybody but you to hear what I was going to say, so
I had to invent any rot that I could think of."

"But now," said Jimmy Silver, sinking his voice to a melodramatic
whisper, "the villagers have left us to continue their revels on the
green, our wicked uncle has gone to London, his sinister retainer,
Jasper Murgleshaw, is washing his hands in the scullery sink,
and--_we are alone!_"

"Don't be an ass," pleaded Kennedy.

"Tell me your dreadful tale. Conceal nothing. Spare me not. In fact,
say on."

"I've had a talk with the chap who was sentry that night," began

"Astounding revelations by our special correspondent," murmured

"You might listen."

"I _am listening. Why don't you begin? All this hesitation
strikes me as suspicious. Get on with your shady story."

"You remember the sentry was upset--"

"Very upset."

"Somebody collared him from behind, and upset him into the ditch. They
went in together, and the other man sat on his head."

"A touching picture. Proceed, friend."

"They rolled about a bit, and this sentry chap swears he scratched the
man. It was just after that that the man sat on his head. Jones says
he was a big chap, strong and heavy."

"He was in a position to judge, anyhow."

"Of course, he didn't mean to scratch him. He was rather keen on
having that understood. But his fingers came up against the fellow's
cheek as he was falling. So you see we've only got to look for a man
with a scratch on his cheek. It was the right cheek, Jones was almost
certain. I don't see what you're laughing at."

"I wish you wouldn't spring these good things of yours on me
suddenly," gurgled Jimmy Silver, rolling about the wooden floor of the
tent. "You ought to give a chap some warning. Look here," he added,
imperatively, "swear you'll take me with you when you go on your tour
through camp examining everybody's right cheek to see if it's got a
scratch on it."

Kennedy began to feel the glow and pride of the successful
sleuth-hound leaking out of him. This aspect of the case had not
occurred to him. The fact that the sentry had scratched his
assailant's right cheek, added to the other indubitable fact that
Walton, of Kay's, was even now walking abroad with a scratch on his
right cheek, had seemed to him conclusive. He had forgotten that there
might be others. Still, it was worth while just to question him. He
questioned him at Cove Reservoir next day.

"Hullo, Walton," he said, with a friendly carelessness which would not
have deceived a prattling infant, "nasty scratch you've got on your
cheek. How did you get it?"

"Perry did it when we were ragging a few days ago," replied Walton,
eyeing him distrustfully.

"Oh," said Kennedy.

"Silly fool," said Walton.

"Talking about me?" inquired Kennedy politely.

"No," replied Walton, with the suavity of a Chesterfield, "Perry."

They parted, Kennedy with the idea that Walton was his man still more
deeply rooted, Walton with an uncomfortable feeling that Kennedy knew
too much, and that, though he had undoubtedly scored off him for the
moment, a time (as Jimmy Silver was fond of observing with a satanic
laugh) would come, and then--!

He felt that it behoved him to be wary.

Content of CHAPTER VII - A CLUE (P G Wodehouse's novel: Head of Kay's)

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CHAPTER VIII - A NIGHT ADVENTURE--THE DETHRONEMENT OF FENNOne of the things which make life on this planet more or lessagreeable is the speed with which alarums, excursions, excitement, androws generally, blow over. A nine-days' wonder has to be a bigbusiness to last out its full time nowadays. As a rule the third daysees the end of it, and the public rushes whooping after some otherhare that has been started for its benefit. The guard-tent row, as faras the bulk of camp was concerned, lasted exactly two days; at the endof which period it was generally agreed that all that could

Head Of Kay's - Chapter VI - THE RAID ON THE GUARD-TENT Head Of Kay's - Chapter VI - THE RAID ON THE GUARD-TENT

Head Of Kay's - Chapter VI - THE RAID ON THE GUARD-TENT
CHAPTER VI - THE RAID ON THE GUARD-TENTWren and Billy Silver had fallen out over a question of space. It wasSilver's opinion that Wren's nest ought to have been built a foot ortwo further to the left. He stated baldly that he had not room tobreathe, and requested the red-headed one to ease off a point or so inthe direction of his next-door neighbour. Wren had refused, and, aftera few moments' chatty conversation, smote William earnestly in thewind. Trouble had begun upon the instant. It had ceased almost asrapidly owing to interruptions from without, but the truce had beenmerely temporary. They