A Rogue By Compulsion (22)
August 26, 2016
Victor Bridges’ 1915 hunted-man adventure, A Rogue by Compulsion: An Affair of the Secret Service, was one of the prolific British crime and fantasy writer’s first efforts. It was adapted, that same year, by director Harold M. Shaw as the silent thriller Mr. Lyndon at Liberty — the title under which the book was subsequently reissued. HiLoBooks is pleased to serialize A Rogue by Compulsion — in 25 chapters — here at HILOBROW.
“What have we done, Neil?”
Joyce put the question with a calmness that was truly delightful.
“It seems to me,” I said, “that we’ve torn it badly.” Then, with a last look at Sonia’s retreating figure, I added: “Come inside, and I’ll try to explain.”
We entered the hut, where the floor was still strewn with the fragments of Joyce’s letter. She seated herself on the edge of the bed and waited patiently while I took a couple of turns up and down the room.
“Joyce,” I said, “I deserve kicking. I’m not sure I haven’t messed up the whole business.”
“Tell me,” she said quietly. “I know about Latimer already; I saw Tommy at the flat this morning.”
“Well, that simplifies things,” I said; and without wasting any further time in self-reproaches, I plunged straight into the story of Sonia’s surprise visit and its abrupt and spirited ending.
“How I could have been such an ass I don’t know,” I finished ruefully. “I must have put the letter down on the table after I’d done reading it, and there I suppose it was sitting the whole time.”
Joyce, who had listened to me without interrupting, nodded her head. “It was just one of those things that had got to happen,” she said philosophically. “It’s no good worrying now. The thing is, what are we to do about it?”
I thought for a moment.
“We must let Latimer know at once,” I said. “I’ll write out what Sonia told me — just the main facts, and you must take the letter straight up to London, and find him as soon as you can. I shall stop here, as he asked me to.”
Joyce’s face looked a little troubled.
“What do you think Sonia will do?” she asked.
“Goodness knows!” I said. “She seemed to have some particularly unpleasant intention at the back of her mind; but I don’t quite see what it is.”
“She won’t care what she does,” said Joyce. “I know exactly how she feels. Suppose she were to go to the police?”
“She could hardly do that,” I objected. “She’d be incriminating herself.”
“But suppose she does,” persisted Joyce. “Suppose they come and arrest you here; Latimer won’t be able to help you then.”
“I can’t go back now, Joyce,” I said seriously. “I can’t get out of it just because it might be dangerous to me. After all, it’s England they’re scheming against.”
“And what if it is?” she returned indignantly. “A nice way England’s treated you!”
I came over to the bed and took her hands in mine.
“Come, Joyce,” I said, “you don’t really mean that. I want encouraging, not depressing. All my natural instincts are to look after myself and let England go to the devil.”
Half laughing and half crying, she jumped up and threw her arms round me.
“No, no, no,” she said. “I want you to do the right thing always; but oh, Neil, I’m so frightened of losing you. I just can’t do without you now.”
“Well,” I said, “I’m hanged if I can do without you, so we’re in the same boat.”
I kissed her twice, and then, sitting down at the table, made a brief summary of what I had learned from Sonia. Latimer so far knew nothing of my relations with the latter, so I was compelled to explain how badly I had behaved in order to account for her visit. I then gave him a short description of the painful way in which the interview had terminated, and added the information that I was waiting on at the hut in the expectation of a visit from McMurtrie.
“You can explain things more fully to him, Joyce,” I said. “It’s no good trying to keep anything back now; we’ve gone too far. The great thing is to get that letter to him as soon as you possibly can. Tommy will probably know where he is.”
She nodded. “I shall find him all right.” She slipped the envelope inside her dress, and glanced at the watch she was wearing on her wrist. “There are several things I wanted to tell you,” she added, “but they none of them matter for the moment. If I go at once, I can just catch the three-thirty.”
“I’ll come as far as the road with you,” I said. “I daren’t leave the hut for long, in case McMurtrie turns up.”
We went outside and had a good look round. Sonia had long since disappeared, and the place wore its usual aspect of utter desolation. I took the precaution of locking the door, however, and then at a sharp pace we set off together across the marsh.
“Tell me about George,” I said. “How are you getting on with the elopement plan?”
Joyce smiled. “I think George is growing a little impatient. He wants to get away as soon as possible.”
“Yes,” I said; “I have no doubt the Mediterranean sounds attractive to him. There’s a pretty stiff penalty attached to selling Government secrets if you happen to be found out. Besides, I expect he’s still worrying a lot about me.”
Joyce nodded. “He told me last night that I was the only thing that was keeping him in London. You see I can’t quite make up my mind whether I love him well enough to come away.”
“That’s unfortunate for George,” I said. “Latimer will probably act at once as soon as he gets that letter, and directly he does I mean to go straight to Cheyne Walk, unless I’m dead or in prison.”
Joyce took my arm. “Neil,” she said, “whatever happens you mustn’t be arrested. If you think there’s any chance of it you must go on board the Betty and take her somewhere down the river. You can let me know at the flat where you are. Promise me you will, Neil. You see if the police once got hold of you, even Latimer mightn’t be able to do anything.”
For a moment I hesitated. So far I had told Joyce nothing of the wild suspicion about Marks’s identity which Sonia’s revelations had put into my head. I didn’t want to rouse hopes in her which might turn out quite baseless. Besides, even if I were really on the right track, and Marks was the man who had betrayed the gang in St. Petersburg, it was quite another thing to prove that they were responsible for splitting his skull. I had nothing to support the idea beyond Joyce’s bare word that she had seen McMurtrie in the flat on the afternoon of the murder. Sonia’s testimony might have been useful, but after today I could hardly picture her in the witness-box giving evidence on my behalf.
On the whole, therefore, I thought it best for the present to keep the matter to myself. I promised, however, that in the event of my observing anything in the nature of a policeman stealthily approaching the hut I would at once seek sanctuary on the Betty — an assurance which might have sounded worthless to some people, but certainly seemed to comfort Joyce.
Anyhow she said good-bye to me with her usual cheerfulness and pluck, and we parted after a last affectionate kiss in full view of the open marsh. Then I returned to the hut suffering from that novel and highly unpleasant sense of loneliness that Joyce’s departures had begun to awake in me.
I don’t think there is anything much more trying to one’s nerves than having to sit and wait for some critical event which may happen at any moment. I have had a good deal of practice at waiting in my life, but I never remember the hours dragging so desperately slowly as they did the remainder of that afternoon.
A dozen times I went over what Latimer and Sonia had told me, putting together their different stories in my mind and trying to think if there was any point I had overlooked. I could see none. The mere way in which they had corroborated each other was enough to make me feel sure that they were both speaking the truth. Besides, everything that had happened from the moment I had crept in through the kitchen window at McMurtrie’s house pointed to the same conclusion.
I may appear stupid not to have seen through the doctor earlier, but after all a gang of professional spies is hardly the sort of thing one expects to run up against in a Devonshire village. A few years ago, indeed, I should have laughed at the idea of their existence anywhere outside the pages of a shilling shocker, but my three years in Dartmoor had led me to take a rather more generous view of what life can throw up in the way of scoundrels.
Whether they had killed Marks or not, I had little doubt now that they were wholly responsible for the attempt to murder Latimer. Though I had good evidence that when it came to the point the two gentlemen on Sheppey didn’t stick at trifles, I could hardly fancy a couple of German Naval officers deliberately countenancing such methods. If they had, they certainly deserved the worst fate that even Mr. Gow could wish them.
Somehow or other my private interest in the affair seemed to have been temporarily forced into the background. I felt I was probably doing the best thing I could for myself in throwing in my lot with Latimer, but in any case his enthusiasm had got hold of me, and at all risks I was determined to stick to my side of the bargain. I knew that in her heart Joyce would have hated me to do otherwise.
My chief danger, as she had instantly seen, was the chance of Sonia betraying me to the police. The latter, who knew nothing of the part I was playing as a sort of unpaid bottle-washer to the Secret Service, would at once jump at the chance of arresting an escaped convict — especially such a well-advertised one as myself. However improbable Sonia’s story might sound, they would at least be certain to take the trouble to investigate it.
On the other hand, of course Sonia might not go to the police at all, and even if she did, it was quite possible that Latimer would strike first and so give me the chance of clearing out.
Anyhow, forewarned as I was, I felt it would be an uncommonly bright policeman who succeeded in arresting me. In the day-time, so long as I kept a good look out, anything like a surprise attack was impossible, and after that night I made up my mind that I would sleep on the Betty. The only thing was, I should most certainly have to deprive myself of the luxury of a skipper. Useful as he was at taking letters into Tilbury, it would be decidedly embarrassing to have him on board if I happened to arrive in a hurry on the beach with two perspiring detectives in hot pursuit.
At six o’clock, as there was still no sign of a visitor, I decided to walk over to the Betty and tell Mr. Gow that he could treat himself to another holiday. It would only take me about half an hour, and in case McMurtrie turned up while I was away I could leave a message on the door to the effect that I should be back before seven.
I did this, pinning it up carefully with a drawing-tack and then after making sure that everything was secure I started off for the creek.
I found Mr. Gow in his usual restful attitude, his head and shoulders sticking up out of the fo’c’s’le hatch, and a large pipe protruding from his mouth. With the instincts of a true retainer he promptly removed the latter as soon as he heard my hail, and hoisting himself up on deck put off in the dinghy.
“I’m not coming aboard,” I said. “I only walked over to tell you that you can have a couple of days ashore. We shan’t be using the boat till Saturday or Sunday.”
He thanked me and touched his cap (I could see he was beginning to think it was rather a soft job he had stumbled into), and then, with the air of some one breaking unpleasant tidings, he added: “Do you happen to know, sir, as we’re clean out o’ petrol?”
I didn’t happen to know it, but under the circumstances it was information I was glad to acquire.
“Can you get me some — soon?” I asked.
He nodded. “I’ll bring along a couple o’ cans in the mornin’, sir, and leave ’em aboard.”
“Any news?” I asked.
“Well, sir, I seed the Dutchmen’s launch goin’ down this arternoon — travellin’ proper they was too, same as when they swamped me. I suppose you ain’t bin able to do nothin’ about that matter not yet, sir?”
“I’m looking into it, Mr. Gow,” I said. “I have a friend helping me, and between us I think we shall be able to get some satisfaction out of them. I shall probably have more to tell you on Saturday.”
With this answer he seemed quite content. “Well, I’ll just run back aboard and get my bag, sir,” he observed. “I reckon I’d better pull the dinghy up on top o’ the bank when I done with her. If any o’ them Tilbury folk should ‘appen to come along they won’t see ‘er then — not among the long grass.”
It was a sensible suggestion on the face of it, but in view of the fact that I might find it necessary to embark rather abruptly, I couldn’t afford to risk any unnecessary delays.
“Don’t bother about that tonight, Gow,” I said. “Just drag her above high-water mark. It’s quite possible I may be using her in the morning.”
Having thus provided for my retreat in the case of an emergency, I returned to the hut by the usual route along the sea-front. I took the precaution of putting up my head and inspecting the place carefully before climbing over the sea-wall, but I might as well have saved myself the trouble. The marsh was quite deserted, and when I reached the hut I found my little notice still pinned to the door, and no trace of any one having paid me a visit in my absence.
I remained in the same state of splendid isolation for the rest of the evening. There was no difficulty about keeping watch, for as soon as the sun went down a large obliging moon appeared in the sky, lighting up the marsh and the Tilbury road almost as clearly as if it were day-time. I could have seen a rabbit a hundred yards off, let alone anything as big and obvious as a Scotland Yard detective.
At about one in the morning I turned in for a couple of hours’ rest. I felt that if Sonia had gone straight to the authorities they would have acted before this, while if she was sleeping on her wrath there was no reason I shouldn’t do the same. I had given up any expectation of McMurtrie until the next morning.
I woke at half-past three, and resumed my vigil in the pure cool twilight of early dawn. I watched the sun rise over the river, and gradually climb up into a sky of pale blue and lemon that gave promise of another radiantly fine day. There was scarcely a breath of wind stirring, and everything was so deliciously quiet and peaceful that it almost seemed as if the events of the last three years were merely the memory of some particularly vivid nightmare.
“Almost,” I say, for as a matter of fact I was never for a moment under any such pleasant delusion. If I had been, I should have had an early awakening, for at eight o’clock, just as I was thinking of routing out something in the nature of breakfast, I saw a little black dot advancing along the Tilbury road, which soon resolved itself into the figure of my faithful Charles.
He struck off across the marsh and came up to the hut, where I was standing at the door waiting for him.
“Two telegrams and a letter for you, sir,” he said, producing them from his bag. “They came this morning, sir.”
With an assumption of leisurely indifference that I was very far from feeling, I took them out of his hand. The letter was addressed in McMurtrie’s writing, but I put it aside for a moment in favour of the two wires. The first was from Joyce.
“Saw L. late yesterday evening. He will act today. Agrees with my suggestion about the Betty if necessary. J.”
I thrust it into my pocket and opened the other.
“A copper come last nite and ask for you. He see Misses O.”
For an instant I stared at this cryptic message in bewilderment; then suddenly the recollection of my final instructions to Gertie ‘Uggins rushed into my mind.
So Sonia had gone to the police, or had at least contrived to send them a message which served the same purpose. Their visit to Edith Terrace was probably explained by the fact that she had given them both addresses so as better to establish the truth of her story. Anyhow the murder was out, and with a new and not unpleasant thrill of excitement I crushed up Gertie’s wire in my hand and tore open McMurtrie’s letter.
“DEAR MR. NICHOLSON,
“I have been away on business and have only just received your letter, otherwise I should have come to see you this afternoon. In the first place allow me to congratulate you most heartily on your success, of which personally I was never in any doubt.
“For the moment I have left the Hotel Russell, and am staying with some friends in Sheppey. I shall run up the river in their launch early tomorrow morning, as I believe there is a small creek close to the hut where we can put in.
“Please have a specimen of the powder ready, and if it is possible I should like you to arrange for an actual demonstration, as I shall have a friend with me who is already considerably interested in our little company, and would be prepared to put up further capital if convinced of the merits of your invention.
“You can expect us about high water, between half-past nine and ten.
“Your sincere friend,
As I read the signature McMurtrie’s smiling mask-like face seemed suddenly to rise up in front of me, and all my old instincts of distrust and repulsion came to keep it company. So he was at the bungalow, and in little over an hour he would be here — he and the mysterious friend who was “already considerably interested in our little company.” I smiled grimly at the phrase; it was so characteristic of the doctor; though when he wrote it he could little have guessed how thoroughly I should be able to appreciate it.
He was also equally ignorant of the complications introduced into the affair by Sonia. Unless I had been altogether misled by Gertie’s message, it was probable that the police were even now on their way to arrest me, just as McMurtrie’s launch was most likely setting out from the little creek under the bungalow. There seemed every prospect of my having a busy and interesting morning.
At this point in my reflections I looked up, and found Charles eyeing me with an air of respectful patience. I took some money out of my pocket, and selecting a ten-shilling piece placed it in his grubby but not unwilling palm.
“You are a most useful boy, Charles,” I said, “and you can keep the change as usual.”
He pocketed the coin with a gratified stammer.
“You ain’t ‘ad time to make no fireworks yourself, sir?” he hazarded, after a short pause.
“Not yet,” I replied; “but it looks as if I should today.”
He brightened up still further at the news, and observing that he hoped there would be some letters to bring the next morning departed on his return journey.
I went back into the hut and shut the door. Now that matters were so rapidly approaching a climax, I felt curiously cheerful and light-hearted. I suppose it was a reaction from the strain and hard work of the previous week, but anyhow the thought that in all probability the police were hard on my track didn’t seem to worry me in the least. The only point was whether they would reach the hut before McMurtrie did. I hoped not, for I was looking forward to an interview with the doctor, but it certainly seemed as well to take every precaution.
I started by unearthing the box of powder from outside, and filling up my flask from it. Then, when I had covered it over again, I collected all the papers which I had not burned on the previous day, and stored them away in my inside pockets. Finally I opened a tinned tongue, and aided by the dry remains of my last loaf, made a healthy if not very exciting breakfast. I never believe in conducting violent exertions on an empty tummy.
All this time, I need hardly say, I was keeping an uncommonly sharp look-out over the marsh. The most likely way in which any one who didn’t wish to be seen would attempt to approach the hut was along the Tilbury road, and it was towards the last clump of trees, behind which Sonia had left her car the previous day, that I directed my chief attention.
Three-quarters of an hour passed, and I was just beginning to think that McMurtrie would be the winner after all, when I suddenly caught sight of something dark slinking across the exposed part of the road beyond the plantation. Standing very still, I watched carefully from the window. I have excellent eyesight, and I soon made out that there were three separate figures all stooping low and moving with extreme caution towards the shelter of the trees.
A sudden and irresistible desire to laugh seized hold of me; there was something so intensely funny about the strategic pains they were taking, when all the while they might just as well have advanced boldly across the open marsh. Still it was hardly the time to linger over the comic side of the affair, so retiring from the window, I threw a last quick glance round the hut to make quite sure that I had left nothing I wanted behind. Then walking to the door I opened it and stepped quietly outside.
I decided that it was impossible to reach the sea-wall without being seen, so I made no attempt to do so. I just set off in the direction of the creek, strolling along in the easy, unhurried fashion of a man taking a morning constitutional.
I had not gone more than ten yards, when from the corner of my eye I saw three figures break simultaneously out of the plantation. They no longer made any pretence about their purpose. One of them cut straight down towards the hut, a second came running directly after me, while the third started off as rapidly as possible along the road, so as to head me off if I attempted to escape inland.
Any further strategy on my part appeared to be out of place. I grasped the position in one hurried glance, and then, buttoning my coat and ramming down my cap, openly and frankly took to my heels. I heard the gentlemen behind shout out something which sounded like a request that I should stop, but I was too occupied to pay much attention. The marsh was infested with small drains, and one had to keep one’s eyes glued on the ground immediately ahead to avoid coming an unholy purler. That was the only thing I was afraid of, as I was in excellent condition, and I have always been a very fair runner.
When I had covered about a couple of hundred yards I looked back over my shoulder. I expected to find that I had widened the gap, but to my dismay I discovered that my immediate pursuer had distinctly gained on me. I could just see that he was a tall, active-looking fellow in a policeman’s uniform, with a long raking stride that was carrying him over the ground in the most unpleasant fashion. Unless he fell over a drain and broke his silly neck it seemed highly probable that he would arrive at the creek almost as soon as I did.
As I ran I prayed fervently in my heart that Mr. Gow had followed my instructions and left the dinghy within easy reach of the water. Otherwise I was in a tight place, for though I could swim to the Betty all right, it would be impossible to take her out of the creek in a dead calm and with no petrol aboard for the engine. I should be compelled to stand at bay until a breeze got up, repelling boarders with the boat-hook!
Just before I reached the sea-wall I looked round a second time. My pursuer was now only about thirty yards distant, but it was evident that his efforts had begun to tell on him. He again shouted out some breathless advice to the effect that it would be “best” for me to surrender, but without waiting to argue the point I scrambled up the bank and cast a hurried, anxious glance round for the dinghy.
Any doubts I might have had about Mr. Gow’s trustworthiness were instantly dispelled. The boat was lying on the mud only a few yards out of reach of the tide. With a gasp of thankfulness I leaped on to the saltings, and clearing the distance in about three strides, clutched hold of the gunwale and began to drag it towards the water.
Just as I reached that desirable element the figure of my pursuer appeared above the bank. I gave a last savage wrench, but my foot slipped in the treacherous mud, and I as nearly as possible stumbled to my knees. That final tug, however, had done the trick. The boat was floating, and with a wild effort I scrambled in, and seizing an oar, shoved off furiously from the shore.
I was only just in time. Jumping from the sea-wall, the policeman fairly hurled himself across the intervening space, and without a moment’s hesitation plunged into the creek after me. I shortened my oar, and as he made a grab for the stern I suddenly lunged forward with all the force I could command. The blade took him fair and square in the wind, and with a loud observation that sounded like “Ouch!” he sat down abruptly in the water. Before he could recover himself I was ten yards from the shore, sculling vigorously for the centre of the stream.
I made no attempt to reach the Betty. There was still a dead calm, and by going on board I should merely have been shutting myself up in a prison from which there was no escape. My best plan seemed to be to make for the open river, when I might either pick up McMurtrie and his launch, or else row across to the opposite shore.
I accordingly headed for the mouth of the creek, while my pursuer, who by this time had sufficiently recovered to stagger to his feet, waded dismally back to the shore. Here he was joined by his two companions, who had evidently been following the chase with praiseworthy determination.
For a moment I saw them all three consulting together, and then my friend the policeman started hastily throwing off his clothes with the apparent intention of swimming across the river, while the other two came running along the bank after me. They were both in plain clothes, but the unmistakable stamp of a Scotland Yard detective was clearly imprinted on each of them.
They soon caught me up, and hurrying on ahead reached the mouth of the creek, while I was still some twenty yards short of it. I was just wondering what on earth they hoped to do, when, looking over my shoulder, I saw one of them scramble up the sea-wall, and begin to shout and wave his arms as if he had suddenly gone mad.
A few savage pulls brought me up level, and then turning in my seat I discovered the cause of his excitement. Some way out in the stream was a small coast-guard cutter with three men on board, two of whom were at the oars. They had evidently grasped that there was something serious the matter, for they had brought their boat round and were already heading in towards the shore.
My position began to look a trifle unhealthy. I was out of practice for sculling, and if the coast-guards chose to interfere it was obviously only a question of a few minutes before they would succeed in rowing me down. For a moment I had some idea of going ashore on the opposite bank, and again trusting to my heels. Then I saw that my friend the policeman, who could apparently swim as well as he could run, was already half way across the creek, and would be on my track long before I could get the necessary start. On the whole it seemed best to stick to the water, so digging in my sculls I pulled out into the main stream.
As I rounded the sea-wall I could hear the man who was standing on top bawling out my name to the coast-guards, and hurling them frantic injunctions to cut me off. I cast one swift glance up and down the river, and as I did so I nearly gave a shout of excitement. A couple of hundred yards away, but coming up at a tremendous pace, was a large white petrol launch, which I recognized immediately as the one that had swamped Mr. Gow.
Whether the coast-guards saw her too I really can’t say. I doubt if they did, for by this time they had evidently realized who I was, and their whole attention was fixed on preventing my escape. They were rowing towards me with tremendous energy, the officer in charge half standing up in the stern and encouraging them to still fiercer efforts.
Putting every ounce I could into my stroke, I set off down stream. It was just a question as to whether I could clear them, and I doubt if any winner of the Diamond Sculls could have shoved that dinghy along much faster than I did for the next few seconds. Nearer and nearer we drew to each other, and for one instant I thought that I had done the trick. Then from the corner of my eye I saw the cutter fairly leap forward through the water, and the next moment, with a jolt that almost flung me out of the seat, she bumped alongside.
Dropping his oar, one of the men leaned over and grabbed hold of my gunwale.
“No go, Mister,” he observed breathlessly. “You got to come along with us.”
The words had hardly left his lips when with a wild shout the officer in charge leaped to his feet.
“Look out, there!” he yelled. “Port, you fools! Port your helm!”
I swung round, and got a momentary glimpse of a sharp white prow with a great fan of water curling away each side of it, and then, before I could move, there came a jarring, grinding crash, mixed with a fierce volley of shouts and oaths.
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SERIALIZED BY HILOBOOKS: Jack London’s The Scarlet Plague | Rudyard Kipling’s With the Night Mail (and “As Easy as A.B.C.”) | Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Poison Belt | H. Rider Haggard’s When the World Shook | Edward Shanks’ The People of the Ruins | William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land | J.D. Beresford’s Goslings | E.V. Odle’s The Clockwork Man | Cicely Hamilton’s Theodore Savage | Muriel Jaeger’s The Man With Six Senses | Jack London’s “The Red One” | Philip Francis Nowlan’s Armageddon 2419 A.D. | Homer Eon Flint’s The Devolutionist | W.E.B. DuBois’s “The Comet” | Edgar Rice Burroughs’s The Moon Men | Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland | Sax Rohmer’s “The Zayat Kiss” | Eimar O’Duffy’s King Goshawk and the Birds | Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Lost Prince | Morley Roberts’s The Fugitives | Helen MacInnes’s The Unconquerable |
Geoffrey Household’s Watcher in the Shadows | William Haggard’s The High Wire | Hammond Innes’s Air Bridge | James Branch Cabell’s Jurgen | John Buchan’s “No Man’s Land” | John Russell’s “The Fourth Man” | E.M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops” | John Buchan’s Huntingtower | Arthur Conan Doyle’s When the World Screamed | Victor Bridges’ A Rogue By Compulsion | Jack London’s The Iron Heel | H. De Vere Stacpoole’s The Man Who Lost Himself | P.G. Wodehouse’s Leave It to Psmith | Richard Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game” | Houdini and Lovecraft’s “Imprisoned with the Pharaohs” | Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Sussex Vampire.”