“And you would bargain and chaffer with me! You would dictate your terms, you scum! You with your head in a noose, a spy that has failed in his mission, a miserable wretch that I can send to his death with a flip of my little finger! You impudent hound! Well, you’ll get your deserts this time, Captain Desmond Okewood ... but I’ll have that paper first!”
Roaring “Give it to me!” he rushed at me like some frenzied beast of the jungle. The veins stood out at his temples, his hairy nostrils opened and closed as his breath came faster, his long arms shot out and his great paws clutched at my throat.
But I was waiting for him. As he came at me, I heard his clubfoot stump once on the polished floor, then, from the radiator behind me, I raised high in my arms the heavy marble slab, and with every ounce of strength in my body brought it crashing down on his head.
He fell like a log, the blood oozing sluggishly from his head on to the parquet. I stopped an instant, snatched the cigar-case from the pocket where he had placed it, extracted the document and fled from the room.
MISS MARY PRENDERGAST RISKS HER REPUTATION
The rooms of our suite were intercommunicating so that you could pass from one to the other without going into the corridor at all. Schmalz had retired this way, going from my room through the bathroom to his own room. In the excitement of the moment I forgot all about this, else I should not have omitted such an elementary precaution as slipping the bolt of the door communicating between my room and the bathroom.
As I stepped out into the corridor, with the crash of that heavy body still ringing in my ears, I thought I caught the sound of a light step in the bathroom; the next moment I heard a door open and then a loud exclamation of horror in the room I had just left.
The corridor was dim and deserted. The place seemed uninhabited. No boots stood outside the rooms, and open doors, one after the other, were sufficient indication that the apartments they led to were untenanted.
I didn’t pause to reason or to plan. On hearing that long drawn out cry of horror, I dashed blindly down the corridor at top speed, followed it round to the right and then, catching sight of a small staircase, rushed up it three steps at a time. As I reached the top I heard a loud cry somewhere on the floor below. Then a door banged, there was the sound of running feet and ... silence.
I found myself on the next floor in a corridor similar to the one I had just left. Like it, it was desolate and dimly lit. Like it, it showed room after room silent and empty. Agitated as I was, the contrast with the bright and busy vestibule and the throng of uniformed servants below was so marked that it struck me with convincing force. Even the hotels, it seemed, were part and parcel of the great German publicity bluff which I had noted in my reading of the German papers at Rotterdam.