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A Rogue by Compulsion   By:

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A ROGUE BY COMPULSION

An Affair of the Secret Service

By VICTOR BRIDGES

With Frontispiece By JOHN H. CASSEL

1915

[Illustration: "A CURTAIN AT THE END OF THE ROOM WAS DRAWN SLOWLY ASIDE, AND THERE, STANDING IN THE GAP, I SAW THE SLIM FIGURE OF A GIRL."

Chapter X.

Drawn by John H. Cassel.]

TO

THAT BEST OF FRIENDS

HUGHES MASSIE

CONTENTS

CHAPTER

I. A BOLT FOR FREEDOM

II. A BICYCLE AND SOME OVERALLS

III. A DUBIOUS REFUGE

IV. ECHOES OF A FAMOUS CASE

V. AN OFFER WITHOUT AN ALTERNATIVE

VI. THE FACE OF A STRANGER

VII. A KISS AND A CONFESSION

VIII. RT. HON. SIR GEORGE FRINTON, P.C.

IX. THE MAN WITH THE SCAR

X. MADEMOISELLE VIVIEN, PALMIST

XI. BRIDGING THREE YEARS OF SEPARATION

XII. A SCRIBBLED WARNING

XIII. REGARDING MR. BRUCE LATIMER

XIV. A SUMMONS FROM DR. McMURTRIE

XV. A HUMAN "CATCH"

XVI. CONFRONTING THE INTRUDER

XVII. THE WORKSHOP ON THE MARSHES

XVIII. A NEW CLUE TO AN OLD CRIME

XIX. LAUNCHING A NEW INVENTION

XX. APPROACHING A SOLUTION

XXI. SONIA'S SUDDEN VISIT

XXII. THE POLICE TAKE ACTION

XXIII. IN THE NICK OF TIME

XXIV. EXONERATED

XXV. A LITTLE FAMILY PARTY

CHAPTER I

A BOLT FOR FREEDOM

Most of the really important things in life such as love and death happen unexpectedly. I know that my escape from Dartmoor did.

We had just left the quarries eighteen of us, all dressed in that depressing costume which King George provides for his less elusive subjects and we were shambling sullenly back along the gloomy road which leads through the plantation to the prison. The time was about four o'clock on a dull March afternoon.

In the roadway, on either side of us, tramped an armed warder, his carbine in his hand, his eyes travelling with dull suspicion up and down the gang. Fifteen yards away, parallel with our route, the sombre figure of one of the civil guards kept pace with us through the trees. We were a cheery party!

Suddenly, without any warning, one of the warders turned faint. He dropped his carbine, and putting his hand to his head, stumbled heavily against the low wall that separated us from the wood. The clatter of his weapon, falling in the road, naturally brought all eyes round in that direction, and seeing what had happened the whole eighteen of us instinctively halted.

The gruff voice of the other warder broke out at once, above the shuffling of feet:

"What are you stopping for? Get on there in front."

From the corner of my eye I caught sight of the civil guard hurrying towards the prostrate figure by the wall; and then, just as the whole gang lurched forward again, the thing happened with beautiful abruptness.

A broad, squat figure shot out suddenly from the head of the column, and, literally hurling itself over the wall, landed with a crash amongst the thick undergrowth. There was a second shout from the warder, followed almost instantly by a hoarse command to halt, as the civil guard jerked his carbine to his shoulder.

The fugitive paid about as much attention to the order as a tiger would to a dog whistle. He was off again in an instant, bent almost double, and bursting through the tangled bushes with amazing swiftness.

Bang!

The charge of buckshot whistled after him, spattering viciously through the twigs, and several of the bolder spirits in the gang at once raised a half hearted cry of "Murder!"

"Stop that!" bawled the warder angrily, and to enforce his words he quickened his steps so as to bring him in touch with the offenders.

As he did so, I suddenly perceived with extraordinary clearness that I should never again get quite such a good chance to escape. The other men were momentarily between me and the warder, while the civil guard, his carbine empty, was plunging through the trees in pursuit of his wounded quarry.

It was no time for hesitation, and in any case hesitation is not one of my besetting sins. I recollect taking one long, deep breath: then the next thing I remember is catching my toe on the top of the wall and coming the most unholy purler in the very centre of an exceptionally well armoured blackberry bush... Continue reading book >>




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