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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Daffodil Mystery - Chapter 36. At Highgate Cemetery
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The Daffodil Mystery - Chapter 36. At Highgate Cemetery Post by :bambito Category :Long Stories Author :Edgar Wallace Date :May 2012 Read :1815

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The Daffodil Mystery - Chapter 36. At Highgate Cemetery

CHAPTER XXXVI. AT HIGHGATE CEMETERY

Odette Rider sat back in a corner of the smooth-running taxicab. Her eyes were closed, for the inevitable reaction had come. Excitement and anxiety had combined to give her the strength to walk to the cab with a firm step which had surprised the matron; but now, in the darkness and solitude, she was conscious of a depression, both physical and mental, which left her without the will or power for further effort.

The car sped through interminably long streets--in what direction she neither knew nor cared. Remember that she did not even know where the nursing home was situated. It might have been on the edge of London for all she was aware. Once, that was as the car was crossing Bond Street from Cavendish Square, she saw people turn and look at the cab and a policeman pointed and shouted something. She was too preoccupied to worry her head as to the cause.

She appreciated in a dim, vague way the skill of the taxi-driver, who seemed to be able to grope his way through and around any obstruction of traffic; and it was not until she found the cab traversing a country road that she had any suspicion that all was not well. Even then her doubts were allayed by her recognition of certain landmarks which told her she was on the Hertford Road.

"Of course," she thought. "I should be wanted at Hertford rather than in London," and she settled herself down again.

Suddenly the cab stopped, backed down a side lane, and turned in the direction from whence they had come. When he had got his car's head right, Sam Stay shut off his engine, descended from his seat, and opened the door.

"Come on out of that!" he said sharply.

"Why--what----" began the bewildered girl, but before she could go much farther the man dived in, gripped her by the wrist, and pulled her out with such violence that she fell.

"You don't know me, eh?" The words were his as he thrust his face into hers, gripping her shoulders so savagely that she could have cried out in pain.

She was on her knees, struggling to get to her feet, and she looked up at the little man wonderingly.

"I know you," she gasped. "You are the man who tried to get into my flat!"

He grinned.

"And I know you!" he laughed harshly. "You're the devil that lured him on! The best man in the world ... he's in the little vault in Highgate Cemetery. The door is just like a church. And that's where you'll be to-night, damn you! Down there I'm going to take you. Down, down, down, and leave you with him, because he wanted you!"

He was gripping her by both wrists, glaring down into her face, and there was something so wolfish, so inhuman, in the madman's staring eyes that her mouth went dry, and when she tried to scream no sound came. Then she lurched forward towards him, and he caught her under the arms and dragged her to her feet.

"Fainted, eh? You'll faint, me lady," he chuckled. "Don't you wish you might never come round, eh? I'll bet you would if you knew ... if you knew!"

He dropped her on the grass by the side of the road, took a luggage strap from the front of the cab, and bound her hands. Then he picked up the scarf she had been wearing and tied it around her mouth.

With an extraordinary display of strength he lifted her without effort and put her back into the corner of the seat. Then he slammed the door, mounted again to his place, and sent the car at top speed in the direction of London. They were on the outskirts of Hampstead when he saw a sign over a tobacconist's shop, and stopped the car a little way beyond, at the darkest part of the road. He gave a glance into the interior. The girl had slid from the seat to the floor and lay motionless.

He hurried back to the tobacconist's where the telephone sign had been. At the back of his fuddled brain lingered an idea that there was somebody who would be hurt. That cruel looking devil who was cross-examining him when he fell into a fit--Tarling. Yes, that was the name, Tarling.

It happened to be a new telephone directory, and by chance Tarling's name, although a new subscriber, had been included. In a few seconds he was talking to the detective.

He hung up the receiver and came out of the little booth, and the shopman, who had heard his harsh, loud voice, looked at him suspiciously; but Sam Stay was indifferent to the suspicions of men. He half ran, half walked back to where his cab was standing, leaped into the seat, and again drove the machine forward.

To Highgate Cemetery! That was the idea. The gates would be closed, but he could do something. Perhaps he would kill her first and then get her over the wall afterwards. It would be a grand revenge if he could get her into the cemetery alive and thrust her, the living, down amongst the dead, through those little doors which opened like church doors to the cold, dank vault below.

He screamed and sang with joy at the thought, and those pedestrians who saw the cab flash past, rocking from side to side, turned at the sound of the wild snatch of song, for Sam Stay was happy as he had not been happy in his life before.

But Highgate Cemetery was closed. The gloomy iron gates barred all entrance, and the walls were high. It was a baffling place, because houses almost entirely surrounded it; and he was half an hour seeking a suitable spot before he finally pulled up before a place where the wall did not seem so difficult. There was nobody about and little fear of interruption on the part of the girl. He had looked into the cab and had seen nothing save a huddled figure on the floor. So she was still unconscious, he thought.

He ran the car on to the sidewalk, then slipped down into the narrow space between car and wall and jerked open the door.

"Come on!" he cried exultantly. He reached out his fingers--and then something shot from the car, something lithe and supple, something that gripped the little man by the throat and hurled him back against the wall.

Stay struggled with the strength of lunacy, but Ling Chu held him in a grip of steel.

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