It was very hot, and the flies were a horrible nuisance. I stood under the shadow of the hedge, flapped a petulant handkerchief at the detestably annoying flies, and stared down the road towards the far, invisible distances of Hurley. No one was in sight. The whole country was plunged in the deep slumber of a Sunday afternoon, and I began to feel uncommonly sleepy myself. I had, after all, only slept for a couple of hours or so that morning.
I yawned wearily and my thoughts ran to the refrain of “fourteen and a half miles; fourteen and a half miles to Hurley Junction.”
“Oh! well,” I said to myself at last. “I suppose it’s got to be done,” and I stepped out into the road, and very lazily and wearily began my awful tramp. The road ran uphill, in a long curve encircling the base of the hill, and I suppose I took about ten minutes to reach the crest of the rise. I stayed there a moment to wipe my forehead and slap peevishly at my accompanying swarm of flies. And it was from there I discovered that I had stumbled upon another property of the Jervaise comedy. Their car—I instantly concluded that it was their car—stood just beyond the rise, drawn in on to the grass at the side of the road, and partly covered with a tarpaulin—it looked, I thought, like a dissipated roysterer asleep in the ditch.
I decided, then, without the least compunction, that this should be my heaven-sent means of reaching the railway. The Jervaises owed me that; and I could leave the car at some hotel at Hurley and send the Jervaises a telegram. I began to compose that telegram in my mind as I threw off the tarpaulin preparatory to starting the car. But Providence was only laughing at me. The car was there and the tank was full of petrol, but neither the electric starter nor the crank that I found under the seat would produce anything but the most depressing and uninspired clanking from the mechanism that should have responded with the warm, encouraging thud of renewed life.
I swore bitterly (I can drive, but I’m no expert), climbed into the tonneau, pulled back the tarpaulin over me like a tent to exclude those pestilent flies, and settled myself down to draw one or two deep and penetrating inductions.
My first was that Banks had brought the car here the night before with the fixed intention of abducting Brenda Jervaise.
My second was that the confounded fellow had cautiously removed some essential part of the car’s mechanism.
My third, that he would have to come back and fetch the car sometime, and that I would then blackmail him into driving me to Hurley Junction.
I did not trouble to draw a fourth induction. I was cool and comfortable under the shadow of the cover. The flies, although there were many openings for them, did not favour the darkness of my tent. I leaned well back into the corner of the car and joined the remainder of the county in a calm and restful sleep.