The Rayner-Slade Amalgamation by J. S. Fletcher


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Page 2

The chauffeur showed no surprise at this question; he had served
Allerdyke for three years, and was well accustomed to his ways.

"Hull?" he replied. "Let's see, sir--that 'ud be by way of Leeds, Selby,
and Howden. About sixty miles in a straight line, but there's a good bit
of in-and-out work after you get past Selby, sir. I should say about
four hours."

"Plenty of petrol in the car?" asked Allerdyke, turning down the
platform. "There is? What time did you have your supper?"

"Ten o'clock, sir," answered Gaffney, with promptitude.

"Bring the car round to the hotel door in the station yard," commanded
Allerdyke. "You'll find a couple of Thermos flasks in the locker--bring
them into the hotel lounge bar."

The chauffeur went off down the platform. Allerdyke turned up the covered
way to the Great Northern Hotel. When the chauffeur joined him there a
few minutes later he was giving orders for a supply of freshly-cut beef
sandwiches and hard-boiled eggs; the Thermos flasks he handed over to be
filled with hot coffee.

"Better get something to eat now, Gaffney," he said. "Get some
sandwiches, or some bread and cheese, or something--it's a longish spin."

He himself, waiting while the chauffeur ate and drank, and the provisions
were made ready, took a whisky and soda to a chair by the fire, and once
more pulled out and read the telegram. And as he read he wondered why
his cousin, its sender, wished so particularly to see him at once. James
Allerdyke, a man somewhat younger than himself, like himself a bachelor
of ample means and of a similar temperament, had of late years concerned
himself greatly with various business speculations in Northern Europe,
and especially in Russia. He had just been over to St. Petersburg in
order to look after certain of his affairs in and near that city, and he
was returning home by way of Stockholm and Christiania, in each of which
towns he had other ventures to inspect. But Marshall Allerdyke was quite
sure that his cousin did not wish to see him about any of these
matters--anything connected with them would have kept until they met in
the ordinary way, which would have happened within a day or two. No, if
James had taken the trouble to send him a message by wireless from the
North Sea, it meant that James was really anxious to see him at the first
available moment, and would already have landed in Hull, expecting to
find him there. However, with a good car, smooth roads, and a fine,
moonlit night--

It was not yet twelve o'clock when Allerdyke wrapped himself up in a
corner of his luxurious Rolls-Royce, saw that the box of eatables and the
two Thermos flasks were safe in the locker, and told Gaffney to go ahead.
He himself had the faculty of going to sleep whenever he pleased, and he
went to sleep now. He was asleep as Gaffney went through Leeds and its
suburbs; he slept all along the country roads which led to Selby and
thence to Howden. But in the silent streets of Howden he woke with a
start, to find that Gaffney had pulled up in answer to a question flung
to him by the driver of another car, which had come alongside their own
from the opposite direction. That car had also been pulled up; within it
Allerdyke saw a woman, closely wrapped in furs.

"What is it, Gaffney?" he asked, letting down his own window and
leaning out.

"Wants to know which is the best way to get across the Ouse, sir,"
answered Gaffney. "I tell him there's two ferries close by--one at Booh,
the other at Langrick--but there'll be nobody to work them at this hour.
Where do you want to get to?" he went on, turning to the driver of the
other car.

"Want to strike the Great Northern main line somewhere," answered the
driver. "This lady wants to catch a Scotch express. I thought of
Doncaster, but--"

The window of the other car was let down, and its occupant looked out.
The light of the full moon shone full on her, and Allerdyke lifted his
cap to a pretty, alert-looking young woman of apparently twenty-five, who
politely returned his salutation.

"Can I give you any advice?" asked Allerdyke. "I understand you want--"

"An express train to Scotland--Edinburgh," replied the lady. "I made out,
on arrival at Hull, that if I motored across country I would get a train
at some station on the Great Northern line--a morning express. Doncaster,
Selby, York--which is nearest from wherever we are!"

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Tue 10th Dec 2019, 10:24