Thursday, March 31, 2016

no hiding place

by jean-claude etranger

illustrated by konrad kraus

lord marbank, who had been threatened with death by the black hand and was in hiding, was shocked to find one of the local farmhands passed out on a divan in the drawing room of his chateau in the depths of the northern countryside.

he rang at once for the butler.


“yes, milord?”

“what is this?”

“why, it’s just morgan.”

“morgan! and who is morgan?”

“why, he’s just a country fellow.”

“why is he in the drawing room?”

“well, milord, looks like he just wandered in, like, from outside.”

“this is insupportable. get him out of here. and find hargan.”

suddenly hargan, the bodyguard lord marbank had hired on the recommendation of his old colleague in the foreign office sir james tiddler, appeared. “you wished to see me, my lord?”

“yes, i did. what kind of protection is this? when a fellow like this can just wander in and pass out in the drawing room in the middle of the afternoon.”

“why, he’s just a country fellow from the looks of him,” hargan replied imperturbably. “ quite harmless, i am sure. we’ll have him out of here in a jiffy. come, gober, take his left arm and i'll take his right and we’ll give him a heave.”

“stop a minute!” cried lord marbank. “listen to me. how can you protect me from the black hand when you can’t even keep a dumb brute like this out of my - my inner sanctum, as it were?”

“but he’s not a member of the black hand, is he, my lord?,” hargan replied, a little testily. “we will take care of him and i will take care of the black hand when they show up, and then we’ll all be right snug and proper.”

his lordship started to reply, but just then a bat flew into the room through the open french window. the bat had a snake in its mouth and the snake wrapped itself around lord marbank’s throat and bit him, killing him instantly.

the bat flew back out the window, and the snake crawled away under the tea table.

the butler and the bodyguard looked down at the body.

“i say, there must be some sort of lesson there, don’t you think?” gober asked hargan.

“aye, may be. these swells. always complaining about something, never giving a poor working man any peace.”

“indeed,” the butler agreed. “protection from the black hand! for all the good it did him he might as well have stayed in town and had himself a good time, going to the lord mayor’s ball.”

hargan grunted in assent. “give me a hand here. we’ll stretch his lordship out nice and peaceful on this sofa and then get morgan outside.”

“look here!” gober cried. “do you think the black hand had aught to do with this business?”

“that will be for the coroner to decide, old son. not the likes of you and me. now, then. you take his left arm.”


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