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The Angel of Terror

Country of origin: USA USA
Available texts by the same author here Dokument

Chapter XXXVI

   Mr. Briggerland did not enthuse over any form of sport or exercise. His hobbies were confined to the handsome motor-cycle, which not only provided him with recreation, but had, on occasion, been of assistance in the carrying out of important plans, formulated by his daughter.
   He stopped at Mentone for breakfast and climbed the hill to Grimaldi after passing the frontier station at Pont St. Louis. He had all the morning before him, and there was no great hurry. At Ventimille he had a second breakfast, for the morning was keen and his appetite was good. He loafed through the little town, with a cigar between his teeth, bought some curios at a shop and continued his leisurely journey.
   His objective was San Remo. There was a train at one o'clock which would bring him and his machine back to Monte Carlo, where it was his intention to spend the remainder of the afternoon. At Pont St. Louis he had had a talk with the Customs Officer.
   "No, m'sieur, there are very few travellers on the road in the morning," said the official. "It is not until late in the afternoon that the traffic begins. Times have changed on the Riviera, and so many people go to Cannes. The old road is almost now deserted."
   At eleven o'clock Mr. Briggerland came to a certain part of the road and found a hiding-place for his motor-cycle--a small plantation of olive trees on the hill side. Incidentally it was an admirable resting place, for from here he commanded an extensive view of the western road.
   Lydia's journey had been no less enjoyable. She, too, had stopped at Mentone to explore the town, and had left Pont St. Louis an hour after Mr. Briggerland had passed.
   The road to San Remo runs under the shadow of steep hills through a bleak stretch of country from which even the industrious peasantry of northern Italy cannot win a livelihood. Save for isolated patches of cultivated land, the hills are bare and menacing.
   With these gaunt plateaux on one side and the rock-strewn seashore on the other, there was little to hold the eye save an occasional glimpse of the Italian town in the far distance. There was a wild uncouthness about the scenery which awed the girl. Sometimes the car would be running so near the sea level that the spray of the waves hit the windows; sometimes it would climb over an out-jutting headland and she would look down upon a bouldered beach a hundred feet below.
   It was on the crest of a headland that the car stopped.
   Here the road ran out in a semi-circle so that from where she sat she could not see its continuation either before or behind. Ahead it slipped round the shoulder of a high and over-hanging mass of rock, through which the road must have been cut. Behind it dipped down to a cove, hidden from sight.
   "There is the Lovers' Chair, mademoiselle," said Mordon.
   Half a dozen feet beneath the road level was a broad shelf of rock. A few stone steps led down and she followed them. The Lovers' Chair was carved in the face of the rock and she sat down to view the beauty of the scene. The solitude, the stillness which only the lazy waves broke, the majesty of the setting, brought a strange peace to her. Beyond the edge of the ledge the cliff fell sheer to the water, and she shivered as she stepped back from her inspection.
   Mordon did not see her go. He sat on the running board of his car, his pale face between his hands, a prey to his own gloomy thoughts. There must be a development, he told himself. He was beginning to get uneasy, and for the first time he doubted the sincerity of the woman who had been to him as a goddess.
   He did not hear Mr. Briggerland, for the dark man was light of foot, when he came round the shoulder of the hill. Mordon's back was toward him. Suddenly the chauffeur looked round.
   "M'sieur," he stammered, and would have risen, but Briggerland laid his hand on his shoulder.
   "Do not rise, François," he said pleasantly. "I am afraid I was hasty last night."
   "M'sieur, it was I who was hasty," said Mordon huskily, "it was unpardonable...."
   "Nonsense," Briggerland patted the man's shoulder. "What is that boat out there--a man o' war, François?"
   François Mordon turned his head toward the sea, and Briggerland pointed the ivory-handled pistol he had held behind his back and shot him dead.
   The report of the revolver thrown down by the rocks came to Lydia like a clap of thunder. At first she thought it was a tyre burst and hurried up the steps to see.
   Mr. Briggerland was standing with his back to the car. At his feet was the tumbled body of Mordon.
   "Mr.--Brig...!" she gasped, and saw the revolver in his hand. With a cry she almost flung herself down the steps as the revolver exploded. The bullet ripped her hat from her head, and she flung up her hands, thinking she had been struck.
   Then the dark face showed over the parapet and again the revolver was presented. She stared for a second into his benevolent eyes, and then something hit her violently and she staggered back, and dropped over the edge of the shelf down, straight down into the sea below.

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