And on this the touring car seemed to get out of control, swinging across the street. Immediately the other, crowded to the gutter, attempted to take the curb, but, the wheels meeting it at an angle not sufficiently acute, the manoeuvre failed. To a chorus of yells November’s driver shut down the brakes not a thought too soon—not soon enough, indeed, to avoid a collision that crumpled a mudguard as though it had been a thing of pasteboard.
Simultaneously P. Sybarite’s chauffeur set the brakes, and with the agility of a hounded rabbit seeking its burrow, dived from his seat to the side of the car farthest from the gangsters.
In an instant he was underneath it.
P. Sybarite, on the other hand, had leaped before the accident.
Staggering a pace or two—and all the time under fire—he at length found his feet not six feet from the limousine. It had stopped broadside on. In this position he commanded the front seats without great danger of sending a shot through the body.
His weapon rose mechanically and quite deliberately he took aim—making assurance doubly sure throughout what seemed an age made sibilant by the singing past his head of the infuriated gangster’s bullets.
But his finger never tightened upon the trigger.
November had ceased firing and was plucking nervously at the slide of his automatic. His driver had jumped down from his seat and was scuttling madly up the street.
In a breath P. Sybarite realised what was the matter: as automatics will, when hot with fast firing, November’s had choked on an empty shell.
With a sob of excitement the little man lowered his weapon and flung himself upon the gang leader.
November rose to meet him, reversing his pistol and aiming at P. Sybarite’s head a murderous blow. This, however, the little man was alert to dodge. November came bodily into his arms. Grappling, the two reeled and went down, P. Sybarite’s fingers closing on the throat of the assassin just as the latter’s head struck the pavement with brutal force.
The man shivered, grunted, and lay still.
P. Sybarite disengaged and got up on his feet.
In a daze, P. Sybarite shook and felt himself all over, unable to credit his escape from that rain of bullets.
But he was apparently unharmed.
Then suddenly he quickened to the circumstances: the thing was finished, November stunned and helpless at his feet, November’s driver making off, the crowd swarming round, the police an imminent menace.
Now if Marian were in the body of the town-car, as he believed, he must get her out of it and away before the police and detectives could overtake and apprehend them both.
Instant action, inspired audacity, a little luck—and the thing might possibly be accomplished.