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The Original Bulldog Drummond: 4

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The Original Bulldog Drummond: 4
Leonaur Original
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Author(s): ‘Sapper’ (H. C. McNeile)
Date Published: 2010/01
Page Count: 388
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-031-0
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-032-7

The penultimate volume in Leonaur’s collected edition of Sapper's original Bulldog Drummond—two great adventure novels and a bonus short story

These are the original adventures of Sapper's Bulldog Drummond collected together in a special Leonaur five volume collection—each special book containing two full length Bulldog Drummond novels plus one short story featuring the eponymous hero. Their author, Sapper—H. C. McNeile—was a British Army officer in the Royal Engineers during the Great War and took the popular name of his corps as his unforgettable nom-de-plume. His main character, the hard fighting, hard playing but clean living English gentleman, Hugh Drummond, is a wealthy and decorated ex-officer for whom life after the First World War is proving mightily dull. To remedy this intolerable state of affairs he and his trusted band of henchmen, 'The Black Gang,’ embark on a career of detection and high adventure (occasionally crossing the line of the law) satisfyingly filled with villainous 'foreign' foes, deadly 'bad-but-beautiful’ women and, of course, a bevy of beautiful 'good' women to be rescued from death and fates worse than! Drummond is a man's-man of the likes of Richard Hannay and Doc Savage, a hero that could be set against the likes of a Fu Manchu and a proto James Bond who is guaranteed to throw himself into colourful 'between the wars' two fisted action at every opportunity—to the delight of readers who enjoy adventure from a more innocent age.
This fourth volume contains the full length novels The Return of Bulldog Drummond and Knock Out and the bonus short story ‘Wheels Within Wheels.’ These fabulous volumes are available in softcover and hardcover with dust jacket. 

He flashed his torch around the walls: there was no trace of any window. He was in a central strong room well below ground level—caught as securely as a rat in a trap. And so, having satisfied himself by an inspection of the door that there was no fear of suffocation, he lit a cigarette and proceeded to size up the situation.<br>
Algy was the first hope. He would almost certainly go to the place where the car had been left, and, finding it there, he would know that Drummond was still in the building. But he would not be able to get in, as he had no key to the outside door. All he could do would be to hang about outside.<br>
The next possibility was Hardcastle. Was he likely to come? If so, it was easy money: Hardcastle wouldn’t have an earthly. If the other two were with him it would be different: Penton was a singularly powerful individual. And he couldn’t hope to lay out the three of them. So clearly his best chance lay in Hardcastle coming alone.<br>
He went to the door and listened intently, but everything was silent except for the monotonous ticking of the clock. And he was idly flashing his torch round in an endeavour to locate it when a sudden rasping noise started in one corner, and the next instant, to his utter amazement, he heard Irma speaking.<br>
“Good evening, mon ami.”<br>
Completely dumbfounded, he turned his torch in the direction of the voice, and the mystery was solved. Partially hidden behind some of the packages was a gramophone which had just been turned on.<br>
“I am more than sorry,” continued the voice, “that I was not there personally to receive you. And before I go any further I will say at once that I quite realise you may now smash the record and terminate the entertainment. I hope you won’t, for two reasons. First, I took a lot of trouble over making it; second, there is a very important message for you that comes right at the end. In that hope, therefore, I will proceed.<br>
“I don’t think, Hugh, that you’ve been very clever this time. In fact, dear friend, I am terribly disappointed in you. That you should walk straight into one of the most palpable traps imaginable is a sign of deplorably weakening intellect. Did you really believe that anyone in their senses would take on that unmitigated buffoon Longworth to do anything except scarecrows? But happening to be behind the scenes when he arrived that day, I realised he might be of assistance to me. And so I told Penton to engage him.<br>
“That little man Tredgold is a good actor, isn’t he? Quite good enough, anyway, to deceive poor Algy. And I must say he has played his part very well. A few mysterious references to dope, and your idiot friend rose like a fish. And so did you didn’t you, Hugh?<br>
“However, to proceed. You will have guessed by now that your present unpleasant predicament is very largely due to a system of electrical wiring. Your progress along the passage was marked by lights in the office upstairs. As you came to each door in turn a bulb went out: as you shut the door it went on again. And so your arrival in the room where you now find yourself was timed by us to a second. It would have been a pity to turn on the electric gramophone too soon.<br>
“And now, because a record does not go on for ever, I must come to the point. Can you guess why I have taken the trouble to do all this? I think you can, Drummond, damn you! For years now I have had at the bottom of my mind one idea only. At times I have been occupied with other things, but ever and always has that main object of my life been with me—revenge on you. And now it is coming. Like the fly, you have walked straight into my parlour, and this time there is no escape. I could weep that I shall not be there actually to see it, but I am in the building, Drummond, alone with my imagination. And shortly I shall visualise you sweating with fear as you claw vainly for a way out.<br>
“Did you hear that ticking noise when you first came in? What did you think it was, you fool—a clock? Guess again, Drummond, guess again. Go and look in the right-hand corner opposite the door. The only hour that that clock will ever mark is the second that sends you to eternity. It’s a bomb, Drummond, and what are you going to do with it? Throw it out of the window? There is no window? Throw it through the door? You cannot open the door. You’re alone with it, locked up, in that room.<br>
“The others don’t know that I’ve put it there, Drummond: they only think that you’ve been lured into your prison as a punishment for your unwarranted interference. They might have been frightened of the consequences of murdering you, but I’m not. As you hear these words I am sitting in an ecstasy of anticipation knowing that the aim of my life is about to be accomplished. I don’t care if the building is blown sky high; I don’t care if the drugs around you are scattered to the four winds of Heaven; I don’t care who is killed so long as you die screaming for mercy. I may be mad, Drummond: perhaps I am. But that isn’t going to help you much, is it? You’ve got ten minutes to live, and during those ten minutes you can ask yourself who has won in the long run, you or I.”<br>
The voice ceased, though the scraping of the machine still continued, and Hugh Drummond, putting his hand to his forehead, found that it was wet with perspiration. And then abruptly the gramophone itself stopped: the only sound was the monotonous ticking in the right-hand corner opposite the door.<br>
He switched his torch in that direction, and cursed himself savagely when he found the beam was shaking. There it was—a harmless-looking brown box, and for a while he stared at it, his mind blank. What was he going to do? Was there anything to do? He was under no delusions, though the whole thing seemed like some monstrous nightmare. He knew, none better, that she was capable of anything where he was concerned, that to kill him she would willingly run the risk of being tried for murder herself.<br>
With a tremendous effort he pulled himself together: he was not going under without some sort of fight. Feverishly he tore off his coat and trousers, and wrapped them as tightly as he could round the bomb: working like a maniac, he piled packages of dope against it to try and minimise the force of the explosion. Then, seizing more packages, he hurled them in a heap near the opposite corner with the idea of taking what cover he could behind them. And then, with nothing further to do to occupy his mind, the full horror of the situation came over him.<br>
He glanced at his wristwatch: two minutes of life left. God! what a fool he had been. He ought to have spotted that it was a trap all along.<br>
And yet as he looked back he could think of nothing definite that should have given it away. Tredgold—curse the little swine!—was a good actor: when he laid his hands on him next time. . . . <br>
His jaw set grimly: he’d forgotten. There wasn’t going to be a next time. It was the end. In the bottom of his heart he knew that his feeble precautions were utterly useless: he knew that he had a minute left to live. And for a few seconds his nerve broke, and he raved like a madman.<br>
Then, with iron control, he got himself in hand again. Even if he was going out alone—like a rat in a trap, with no one to see—he’d go out decently.<br>
He craved for a cigarette, but his case was in the pocket of his coat now wrapped round the bomb. There was no time to get it: even that solace was denied him. And suddenly, such can be the reactions of the human mind, he began to laugh. <br>
That the show which a little while before he had regarded as the most boring of his career should have turned out be the one when he was to meet his death struck him as humorous. But the laughter soon died, and with another glance at his watch he lay down behind the heap of packages.