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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 196 pages of information about The Jervaise Comedy.

“Yes.  Bed’s the best place, just now,” I lied.

“Right oh!  Good-night, old chap,” Ronnie said effusively.

I pretended to be going upstairs and they did not wait for me to disappear.  As soon as they had left the Hall, I sneaked down again, recovered from the cloak-room the light overcoat I had worn on our expedition to the Farm—­I have no idea to whom that overcoat belonged—­borrowed a cap, and let myself out stealthily by the front door.

As I quietly shut the door behind me, a delicious whiff of night-stock drifted by me, as if it had waited there for all those long hours seeking entrance to the stale, dry air of the Hall.

* * * * *

And it must have been, I think, that scent of night-stock which gave me the sense of a completed episode, or first act, as I stood alone, at last, on the gravel sweep before the Hall.  Already the darkness was lifting.  The dawn was coming high up in the sky, a sign of fair weather.

I have always had a sure sense of direction, and I turned instinctively towards the landmark of my promised destination, although it was invisible from that side of the Hall—­screened by the avenue of tall forest trees, chiefly elms, that led up from the principal entrance to the Park.  I had noticed one side road leading into this avenue as I had driven up from the station the previous afternoon, and I sought that turning now, with a feeling of certainty that it would take me in the right direction.  As, indeed, it did; for it actually skirted the base of “Jervaise Clump,” which touched the extreme edge of the Park on that side.

As I cautiously felt my way down the avenue—­it was still black dark under the dark trees—­and later up the tunnel of the side road which I hit upon by an instinct that made me feel for it at the precise moment when I reached the point of its junction with the avenue—­I returned with a sense of satisfaction to the memory of the last four hours.  I was conscious of some kind of plan in the way the comedy of Brenda’s disappearance had been put before us.  I realised that, as an art form, the plan was essentially undramatic, but the thought of it gave me, nevertheless, a distinct feeling of pleasure.

I saw the experience as a prelude to this lonely adventure of mine—­a prelude full of movement and contrast; but I had no premonition of any equally diverting sequel.

The daylight was coming, and I believed, a trifle regretfully, that that great solvent of all mysteries would display these emotions of the night as the phantasmagoria of our imagination.

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