Bulldog Drummond: Dead Man’s Gate

“It’s a mystery how they ever thought they’d get away with it. Or indeed anything at all.” Inspector Wallis reached to help himself to the last grilled kidney, caught the eye of the man sitting across the table watching him like a hawk, and helped himself to more bacon instead. “I’ve some two dozen of the blighters cluttering up the place until they go in front of His Majesty’s justice and not one of them admits to knowing a thing about it. The driver of the last lorry just frowns as if beset by a sudden headache whenever I ask him how he meant to escape. He’s a sullen stubborn spiteful fellow with not a bit of wit to him. To be perfectly frank, I’m starting to believe he hadn’t given a single thought to getting away until he found that he couldn’t.” Wallis leaned forward and his eyes narrowed. “Which is all very well but whoever was behind this surely thought about such matters a great deal.” Now he folded his arms and sat back. “In short, Hugh, I have a jail full of privates with no sign of any sergeants and the one I want is the major who sent them over the top.”

Captain Hugh “Bulldog” Drummond, D.S.O., M.C., once of His Majesty’s Royal Loamshires and now, as he described himself, a gentleman of leisure and adventure, raised a fork and speared the remaining kidney. He glanced to his servant, James Denny, formerly a private of the same regiment, and bared his teeth in a wide friendly grin. “James, do tell Mrs Denny that she’s surpassed herself yet again. Caution her though – I think that if she surpasses herself too many times then she might meet herself coming the other way.”,/p>

James Denny returned a perplexed frown but nodded all the same. “I shall do that sir, and hope that she fathoms your meaning better than I do.” He left bearing the empty dishes.

Drummond’s eyes returned to the inspector. His eyes were what most people noticed and remembered about him, though in part perhaps in desperation to forget the rest of what was, in even his own honest assessment, a cheerfully ugly face with very little to recommend it. But his eyes made up for that. They were set deep and came at you with a calm and steady gaze full of assurance and a sense of purpose, and yet with a sparkle of honest mischief and boundless enthusiasm. “Are you saying you have no clues at all as to who roused this rabble and filled their pockets with dynamite?”

Inspector Wallis dabbed at his lips with his napkin. “Aside from a name, exactly so. I don’t have him, nor indeed anything much by which to find him. As you can imagine, a great deal rests on getting this man before he strikes again. It’s most vexing.”

“A score or more of his privates and not one can tell you anything about him? It does seem odd.” Drummond laughed and took another mouthful of kidney.

They can tell me he’s a gentleman, soft-spoken and not greatly imposing in his build, and that he’s clean-shaven. They call him Crabbleston, but as to his real identity, not one of them seems to have the slightest clue.”