Our Lightning Serial.
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AUTHOR OF “THE BLOOD THAT DRIPPED ON THE DOORMAT,”
“THE SCREAM IN
BELGRAVE SQUARE,” “THE VAMPIRE OF BODGER’S ALLEY.”
Synopsis of Previous Chapters.—The Hon.
Lord Baldwin Berkeley, the son of a poor but honest swank juggler on the minor
Music Halls, has joined the Variety Artists’ Federation against the wishes of
his sweetheart, Her Grace the Lady Marjorie Stagg-Mantle. While digging for
guano in the Klondyke he is overpowered and robbed of his savings by Marquis
the Senior Subaltern Luke Lockhart and his gang of bravoes. Returning to England,
he is accosted at Southampton by a masked stranger, who reveals the fact that, his
father having died intestate, Baldwin is heir to three self-contained flats in
Deptford. Things go on like this for some time, and Baldwin is selected to
play for England v. Australia in the second Test Match, though the
choice is disapproved of by “Linesman.”“Linesman”: pseudonym of a cricket commentator and author, writing in Blackwood’s Magazine and elsewhere; his real name was Captain Maurice Harold Grant (1872–1962). [NM]
Luke Lockhart is selected as twelfth man. While dressing for the match at Lord’s, Baldwin is shot at. As his turn to go to the wicket arrives the lunch interval begins. Taking a modest dry ginger-ale at lunch he is conscious of a curious taste in his mouth.
The Rigour of the Game.
That was the word that flashed like a Marconigram across Baldwin’s rapidly congealing brain. Drugged! He set down his glass. Across the table an evil smile struck him like a blow. Luke Lockhart, his eyes full of sinister triumph, his mouth full of lobster salad, was enjoying the sight of his handiwork.
“Villain! Scoundrel!” began Baldwin, but fell even as he spoke. The deadly Arabian drug had fulfilled its mission.
* * * * *
Outside, in the sunlight, all was
eagerness and anticipation. The thirty thousand spectators, tired of waiting
to be served with lunch by the two barmaids employed by the
M.C.C.Marylebone Cricket Club, one of the oldest and most revered in
at the public luncheon-bar, had gone back to their seats, and were shouting for play to begin. “We want Berkeley!” they cried. But where was Berkeley? The Australians were out in the field now, and from the players’ gate Rhodes Rhodes: Wilfred Rhodes (1877–1973) was a leading professional cricketer who played for England 58 times and was so good he was recalled to play for his country in 1930 at the age of 52.
was walking to the wicket. But of Berkeley there was no sign. Craig, Craig: Albert Craig, “the Surrey Poet” (1850–1909) attended cricket and football matches and wrote popular verses and short essays describing the players and events. He had them printed on broadsheets and sold them to the crowd.
running round the ropes, was doing a busy trade with a poem which began:
“We all are wondering darkly,
What’s become of Mr. Berkeley.”
Then suddenly a roar of delight rose from the crowded benches. A white-clad figure was moving rapidly down the pavilion steps. But the roar died away as it was seen that this was not the missing man. Luke Lockhart—for it was he—advanced towards the wicket.
“Where’s Berkeley?” howled the crowd.
He raised a hand for silence.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” he shouted; “I regret to say that the Hon. Lord Baldwin Berkeley took too much ginger-ale at lunch, and is twopence on the can. With permission of kind friends in front, I will endeavour.”
A slim, svelte form burst from the ladies’ enclosure. A clear, musical voice rang out. “Luke Lockhart, you lie!”
It was Marjorie. She was instantly
removed by Craig, Mr. Lacey,
Mr. Lacey: Sir Francis Eden Lacey (1859–1946) was
the first man ever to be knighted for services to cricket, on retiring as
Secretary of the M.C.C., a post which he held from 1898 to 1926.
and a policeman; and Lockhart, smiling cynically, proceeded to the wicket.
A breathless hush brooded over the
ground. Far away, in the Edgware Road, a pin fell with a dull, sickening
thud. Lockhart took guard. Cotter,
Cotter: Albert “Tibby” Cotter (1884–1917),
Australian cricketer who played in 21 Tests between 1904 and 1912.
bowling at the nursery end, began his over. But unobserved by all, Baldwin had snatched up a bat, and, leaping on a motor-bicycle, had sped like an arrow towards the pitch. Even as the ball left the bowler’s hand he sprang off. Luke Lockhart shaped for the Tyldesley Tyldesley: John Thomas “Johnny” Tyldesley (1877–1933) was one of the finest batsmen of his time.
“if ”-shot past point. But scarcely had he raised his bat, when a hand, seizing the back of his trousers, dragged him back from the crease; and Baldwin, springing into the vacant place and timing the ball to a nicety, drove it full pitch on to the mound.
“Foiled!” screamed Luke Lockhart, and fell to the ground foaming.
(To be continued.)