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Barr's characters are, for the most part, not of usual types, and that his incidents, though occurring on familiar planes of life, are of a somewhat romantic kind. But this does not hinder his tale from being of a really enjoyable kind. It is interesting, more than interesting, almost agitating. The scene when things come to a climax, and John Kenyon is waiting for the telegram which is to decide the lot of his partner and himself, is as powerful a thing in its way as anything that we have read.
The subject-matter of the story is, we should say, mining speculation. We hope that such rascals as William Longworth are not very common in the speculating world. Barr can write well on many subjects.
A Woman Intervenes. By Robert Barr. (Chatto and Windus.)
The car was unlighted, and she was. Pat glanced quickly over his shoulder. Immediately, and with incredible rapidity, the powerful car gathered speed, turned into the Boulevard and raced down that thoroughfare in the direction of the Madeleine. Finally she sank back into her corner, and Pat felt her gaze upon him through her veil.
He knew she was trying to determine what type of man she had to deal with and he felt he should address some remark, some word of thanks for her timely rescue. But for the first time in his life he found himself at a loss for words. The most ordinary, common-place phrases seemed denied him. He felt like a fool and the consciousness of the poor light in which he was presenting himself in her eyes added to his embarrassment. Finally they swept past the Madeleine and turned sharply into the Rue Royale.
For the first time Pat became conscious of the terrific pace at which they were travelling. It was just about the theatre hour and all thoroughfares were crowded. It seemed that they were in imminent danger of losing life or limb and in more imminent danger of depriving others of the same desirable perquisites.
He turned to his companion:. The paper! He had sat there all this time like a fool unconsciously clutching that mysterious document. So her appearance on the scene had not been an accident after all? Indeed, he knew himself an idiot to have entertained the thought for a moment. Even in Paris, women of her kind did not pick up strange men and spirit them.
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He blessed the mysterious paper, and was about to give it to her when the warning of the man from whom he had received it flashed into his. She made a gesture of annoyance and a note of steel chilled the natural sweetness of her voice as she said:. I warn you it is dangerous. I and those associated with me are not to be trifled with. You are at my mercy. Be warned, monsieur, the first suspicious move on your part will be your last.
Now the papers, please! To make her meaning clear she suddenly pressed the muzzle of a small but businesslike revolver against his. Pat whistled softly. So that was the situation. They were so likely to act on impulse. He decided that the situation did not call for revolvers. Am I the heavy villain or are you the unscrupulous adventuress? Through a combination of unforeseen circumstances you have been thrust into the midst of an affair, the magnitude of which would make the sacrifice of a human life or so of no importance whatever.
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Come, monsieur! Time presses. Give me that document, accept my gratitude, and forget that this rather dramatic episode ever took place. Believe me it is the safest the only course as far as you are concerned. DAT reflected. He did not believe this dainty, cultured woman capable of using her weapon in cold blood, in spite of the determination'expressed in her voice. On the other hand the papers were of undoubted importance and should be delivered to the proper authorities in the shortest possible time.
He remembered that they were sealed with the seal of the French Republic and presumed them to contain important state secrets. He was also predisposed to trust his companion—longed to earn her gratitude. Yet the papers were a trust thrust upon him and he had been warned against a dark woman.
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He cursed the veil that hid her features from him, but determined to see the matter through. Startled, she turned to look for trouble ahead. In an instant he had her wrist imprisoned in his strong hand. It was an old trick. Fat grinned shamelessly at the ease with which it had worked. He was taking, no chances on her pulling the trigger to attract attention. But come, madame, we can discuss matters with less constraint on a footing of equality.
Drop the revolver, please! His voice was imperative and accompanied by a pressure on her wrist which, if not sufficient to hurt her, was enough to convince her of the uselessness of struggling against his strength. He was wholeheartedly thankful that she did realize it and sensibly released her hold on the revolver which Pat caught deftly with his disengaged hand before it fell to the floor of the car.
I have accidentally come into possession of a document to regain which two people have threatened my fife within a few minutes. Please believe that my one desire is to be of service to you, but before surrendering this paper I must know your motive in wishing to obtain possession of it. Surely, madame, you would respect me less if I followed my inclinations and surrendered these papers to you without a thought to the possible consequences?
HIS voice had more of pleading than masterfulness in it now. He had become desperately anxious that she should understand the conscientious scruples which made it necessary for him to treat her thus. Besides, she now seemed so helpless; her dainty figure, so alert but a few minutes before, now drooped with such pathetic and un-. Her plans, whatever they were had evidently sadly miscarried, Pat's warm heart went, out: to her in sympathy and every ounce of manhood in him longed to comfort her.
Again the temptation to surrender the papers to her almost conquered him, but again the warning made him hesitate. She did not immediately respond but sat as if weighing his words. Pat, however, again felt her steady gaze upon him and knew she was studying him once more—making up her mind what action to pursue.
A Woman Intervenes. By Robert Barr. (Chatto and Windus.) » 1 Aug » The Spectator Archive
Finally she asked :. I or another few seconds she sat in thought.
Then her figure again assumed its alert confidence and she once more bent towards him to look out of the little back window. Know then, monsieur, that for months France has been secretly working to bring about a counterrevolution in Russia. When these plans were all perfected, were in fact, about to be put into execution, certain papers of vital importance were found to have been stolen.
Not only the success of the whole undertaking, but also the lives of hundreds of Russians who looked to France for deliverance depended on these papers. Owing to the fact that their absence was discovered very shortly after their theft, and that the whole machinery of the French Secret Service was immediately put into motion, we have succeeded in recovering them before copies could betaken. But I am hoping you will now surrender them to me like the gallant gentleman I am sure you are. My reply must sound so improbable that I fear you will imagine I am inventing.
On the other hand, it was imperative that these patters be conveyed to them immediately on their recovery, which was planned for to-night. Unfortunately, shortly before the time appointed, this person was seriously hurt in an accident and I was sent at the eleventh hour to take his place. It also happened that of all the corners in Paris you should be standing on that particular one at that particular hour.
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Say you do believe me, monsieur! The intimate little action, the contact of that soft, little hand thrilled him, as did also the tone of her voice which implied, it seemed, that it was not her veracity for which she feared, but rather his good opinion of her. He did not reply, but sat in silence until with a sigh she withdrew. Perhaps, although this confrere is known to you, you are unknown to him?
He knows me quite well! THEY were now well on their way to Versailles.
The road was comparatively dark, all windows but that in front were heavily curtained, and although she had not again let fall her veil, there could no longer be any great danger of recognition if that was what she feared. Before she was aware of his purpose, Pat suddenly reached forward and switched on the small electric lamp over their heads. For just a moment the car was flooded with light and Pat caught the first clear sight of the companion he had had. Beautiful, exquisite, she undoubtedly was, but his heart sank for, alas! He had just time to note these details before, with a little exclamation of vexation, she again switched off the light.
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