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Chapter 10

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« on: April 05, 2023, 07:43:40 am »

MADAME Collins was a highly successful intriguer, now that she had gained experience and the poise given by experience. To no one in the suburbs, not even to the milk roundsman, is given the opportunity for gossip which the suburban dressmaker enjoys. After the costume has been fitted, and changing naturally from the easy and fertile subject of clothes, there comes a time in every interview with every customer when local affairs must be discussed. Some merely talk parish shop, and with these Madame Collins had to walk warily, but most are only too willing to discuss neighbours, especially to a sympathetic audience of one, and that a woman. Madame Collins heard all about Mr. Marble’s newly acquired wealth almost as soon as he acquired it. She had noted the information mentally; rich men were always desirable acquaintances, especially to a woman utterly wearied of life in a suburb on very little money after the varied experiences she had enjoyed as a girl in a district occupied by English troops during the war.

The historic meeting with Mr. Marble on the day that the furniture arrived was only partly planned. Madame Collins had been walking along Malcolm Road on perfectly legitimate business when she had seen all the massy gilt being carried in, and she had been impressed. They must have cost a great deal of money, even if they were in abominable taste, and then when she had seen Mr. Marble himself, tiepin, wrist-watch, cigarette case, well-cut clothes and all, her mind was at once made up. There must be a great deal of truth in what she had heard about his money. It was the easiest thing in the world to scrape acquaintance with him after that.

Then in a week’s time what Madame Collins did not know about the Marble ménage was hardly worth knowing—save for the, to her, unimportant detail about a certain transaction consummated twenty months before in the Marbles’ dining-room. Neighbours had already hinted that all was not well between Mr. Marble and his wife, and that was all the knowledge Madame Collins asked for. A rich man estranged from his wife, and that wife simple enough to be easily hoodwinked, living conveniently near, meant all the colour and all the money that Madame Collins’ drab life demanded—especially seeing that he was obviously a raw hand in dealings with women, and had not yet had his money long enough to be spoilt by it.

To Mrs. Marble, Marguerite Collins had borne Greek gifts. She had offered her a friendship which the lonely woman had eagerly accepted. She had invited her to her little house in the next street, and there had introduced her to her husband, proving that she was a perfectly respectable married woman. Annie Marble did not appreciate what a cipher Collins himself was.

For Collins was a dull and a tragic figure. He was cursed with an intense sensitiveness for music combined with complete absence of creative talent. All his life, with the exception of a violent interval in France during the last year of the war culminating in his marriage to Marguerite, he had earned his living tuning pianos. He was a very good piano tuner, and highly prized by the firm that employed him. Therein lay the tragedy. For the perfect piano tuner must never play the piano. If he does, he loses half his worth as a tuner. His ear loses that shade of anxious accuracy that makes him the perfect tuner. So Collins, thirsty for music, inexpressibly moved by music, spent his life in a piano factory tuning pianos, eternally tuning pianos. No wonder that Marguerite Collins found life drab.

Collins accepted the advent of the Marbles into his wife’s life with the lack of interest that he evinced towards everything. He talked with weary politeness to Marble himself on the one or two occasions that the latter had accompanied Annie there. But he probably did not know their names. After all these years of married life he had ceased to be interested in his wife’s doings. Marguerite, red-haired, brown-eyed, tempestuously passionate, and with her native peasant craftiness to guide her, was by no means the ideal wife for him. By that time they both knew it.

Marguerite played her new capture with dexterous skill—not that there was much skill needed, seeing that Marble’s greatest wish at the moment was to be her captive, provided no one else knew about it. There had been glances from her hot brown eyes into which Mr. Marble was at liberty to weave all sorts of meanings. There had been strange coincidences when she had happened to be out shopping just when Mr. Marble was walking home from the bus that brought him from the station. There had been times, anxiously awaited, when he had escorted her home after she had been to Malcolm Road calling in the evening. Then, in the comforting darkness, she had walked close at his side so that he could feel her warmth against his. She had long ago decided that she would yield to him, but she was not going to yield too readily. She wanted money as well as intrigue, money that she could put into the bank account that stood in her name alone, in which her husband had no share. Peasant avarice was in her blood, the avarice that demands hard money and plenty of it—enough too, to enable her to forsake her spiritless husband and live her own life in Rouen or even Paris.

But she nearly miscalculated, owing to her not being in possesion of all the data. There came a time when in place of the pleasant lunches in town—when she had to be up buying her materials—a little dinner was suggested. Marguerite had the whole scene in her mind’s eye. There would be a private room, and a discreet waiter, and plenty of good wine—Burgundy, she thought would be best. Then, with Mr. Marble well warmed and comforted, would come the tale of unexpected business losses and of pressing debts. Mr. Marble might not believe it; he would be welcome not to. But he would offer a loan, nevertheless, and when she had it safely in her purse, she would melt with gratitude towards him. She would be overcome, yielding, tender. Then she would hear no more about that ‘loan’. But the farce would be necessary, nevertheless. Otherwise Mr. Marble might get unwelcome ideas into his head—that it was solely by his charms that he had overcome her resistance. Marguerite preferred to have matters on a sound business footing.

At first everything went according to plan. Marguerite arrived only ten minutes late, just enough to make Mr. Marble anxious and yet not long enough seriously to annoy him. And at the sight of her all anxiety vanished. She was in splendid evening dress, low-cut and dazzling, so that Mr. Marble caught his breath as he looked at her. He himself was in a lounge suit, as was necessary with a wife at home who would look for some explanation should he do anything so extraordinary as to go out in dress clothes.

There had been no difficulty about obtaining a room to themselves; the waiter had been discreet, the wine had been good, the dinner excellent. Marguerite noted with pleasure that Marble ate hardly anything. He seemed to be in a fever.

Marble sat at the table. He was paying no attention to the woman opposite him. Coffee and liqueur brandy stood awaiting his leisure. The waiter had gone for good, with his bill paid. Marguerite was about to bring her carefully-rehearsed story into action, when she noticed the look on his face. He was staring, staring hard, past her at the opposite wall. In that direction lay the door that led into the tawdry bedroom, but clearly he was not thinking about that. The stare was a stare of agony.

Marble had felt uneasy almost as soon as the arrival of Madame Collins had set free his thoughts to wander where they would. He had a sudden awful suspicion that while he was dallying here someone was interfering with the flower-bed in his backyard. It would be poetic justice if it were so—newspaper poetic justice. He could imagine their baldly moral comments in the flaming reports that would appear in the next day’s papers. Cases of that kind, where there had been long concealment of the body, were nearly as popular in the newspapers as cases where the body had been cut up or burnt. And he would be dragged away. Then—his thoughts jumped back to half-remembered fragments of a stray copy of The Ballad of Reading Gaol which had come into his possession. There was something about ‘the black dock’s dreadful pen’. His mind hovered there for a space, and then fled on through all the horrible verses about ‘the silent men who watch him night and day’ and about crossing his own coffin as he moves into the hideous shed. Then writhing into his mind came the lines about having a cloth upon his face and a noose about his neck. Marble’s breath came croakingly through his dry, parted lips. In imagination he already had a cloth upon his face. He could feel it, stifling, blinding him, while the officials padded warily about him making all ready. Marble struggled in his chair.

Madame Collins’ voice came to him, apparently from an immense distance, asking him if he were ill. Even then he only came partially to himself. At her anxious questionings he only laughed. Annie Marble had heard laughter like that once in her life. It was a mirthless sound, a disgusting sound. Marguerite shrank back in horror, crossing herself. Marble’s chair scraped hideously as he dragged himself up from the table.

‘Home,’ he said, leaning first on the table, then on her shoulder, for support, ‘home, quickly.’

Downstairs they went together, he with dragging steps yet striving to hasten, she with horror and fright in her eyes. They went home as fast as a taxicab could take them. Mr. Marble’s fears had, of course, been baseless. Not a soul had been in the backyard. But he could not explain to Marguerite Collins about the silly fright he had given himself. Nor, on the other hand, could he convince himself that his fears were unjustified. The obsession was growing. Mr. Marble was experiencing more and more reluctance to spend his spare time anywhere whence he could not keep his eye on that backyard of his. And yet he lusted after Marguerite Collins of the warm hair as he lusted after little else. That was why he was so pleasantly excited to see his family drive off to Victoria on their way to the Grand Pavilion Hotel.

Marguerite was pleased, too. She was a woman of strong common sense, and rapidly recovered from the fright she had had.

For Marble began the happiest month he had known since James Medland’s visit. There was no bothering family to worry him at all. He cooked his own breakfast after a fashion, and his other meals he had out save for the occasions when he bought cooked food and consumed it at home. The evenings were very long and pleasant at first. He could sit and brood in the drawing-room with a book about crimes on his knee, drinking as he wished, without the worried eyes of his wife to cause him annoyance, and even though sometimes his thoughts began to stray towards detection and failure he was able at that period to change them, in consequence of the new interest he had. For sometimes as it grew dark, there would come a hurried little tap at the door, and he would go and open it to Marguerite Collins. She would come in superb, wonderful, ripe to rottenness, and then Marble would forget his troubles entirely for the time. He did not appreciate her taste in wine, but he saw that there was always wine for her. For himself he was content with whisky, and the time would fly by. At the end of the evening there would be a passing of a little bundle of money—trust Marble to deal in cheques as little as possible under these circumstances—and Marguerite would slip out as quietly as she came.

They were strange evenings, half dream, half nightmare. By a queer twist of thought, Marble found that the sharing of his house and of its view of the backyard was oddly comforting when Marguerite was with him. He could lose himself within the nest of her warm, white arms more completely than had ever been possible to him before. Her dark eyes were like velvet with passion, and her little gasps of love, only half simulated, led him on and on into all the mazy, misty byways of sodden animalism. From Marguerite at least he had value for his money.

Even the awakening next morning, blear-eyed and foul-mouthed, was not as wretched as might have been thought. For at least he had grateful solitude, and to Mr. Marble solitude was very grateful, unless he had Marguerite with him. There was no wife with the anxious look in her eyes to worry him; he could roam round the house and satisfy himself for the thousandth time that the garden was undisturbed; he could dress himself slowly and leave the house without all the fuss of saying good-bye. He was usually half an hour late, of course, but that did not matter. He knew that dismissal from the office was near and inevitable, but he did not mind. Every day he could see in the eyes of the junior partner who had been so diffident about offering him five hundred a year a growing annoyance at his sodden appearance and unpunctual habits. Of course, he had done nothing to earn the salary he received. He had assisted the firm to no grand coup like the one he had brought off for himself. That—he had known it all along—was most unlikely now that he no longer had the spur of imminent necessity. But the new firm could dismiss him when it liked. He had twelve hundred a year of his own, and he did not want to be bothered with business. So to the office he went, red-eyed, unshaven, with shaking hands. His scanty red hair was fast turning grey.

The rest of the Marble family was endeavouring to enjoy itself. Some of its members were successful in varying degrees. The trio itself had been the object of amusement to the loungers in the palm-shaded entrance hall. Mrs. Marble was so badly dressed, despite Winnie’s misguided efforts, and she was so obviously frightened of porters and waiters; Winnie herself had roused some interest in a few breasts. She was young, anyone could see that, but not one of them guessed how young she was. Her clothes simply called for comment, and her actions likewise. Her face was over-powdered, and she was developing a habit of looking sidelong at the men in the lounge as she walked past them. That mixture of youth and innocence and yet apparent readiness awoke strange longings in the hearts of some of the old men who viewed her.

The cunning ones approached the mother first. There were chance conversations arising out of nothing in the hotel lounge, and Mrs. Marble was agreeably surprised to have men with grey hair and the most perfect manners treating her with as much respect as if she were a duchess. She was flushed and flustered, but it was very nice to have the society of these gentlemen. One or two of them gave her the pleasure of dining at her table with herself and her daughter, and sometimes one would accompany them on some excursion to places in the neighbourhood. Winnie thoroughly enjoyed herself.

There were one or two young men, too, who scraped acquaintance with the queer party. One of them dropped out when he discovered that Mrs. Marble did not possess much jewellery, and, in fact, did not care for jewellery, but the others stayed on. They danced with Winnie in the evenings, or took her ‘just for the rag’ to the local theatre. They were nearly annoyed when they found that Mrs. Marble took it for granted that she was to accompany them; but there was no thought in her mind save just that. She could not picture a state of affairs in which anyone would sooner be alone with her daughter than have her present as well. But the men, young and old alike, found that there was one sure way of enjoying Winnie’s society unadulterated; that was to settle Mrs. Marble comfortably on the pier listening to the band, in a deckchair, and then take Winnie for a walk round. Mrs. Marble was quite pleased when she found how attentive the men all were to her, and to what pains they went to see that she was quite comfortable and had all she wanted. It was a pleasant change from seventeen years odd of married life with William Marble. And it was astonishing how often Winnie replied to Mrs. Marble’s question: ‘What would you like to do this morning?’ (or this afternoon), with the ready response, ‘Oh, let’s go on to the pier and listen to the band, Mother.’

But amid all this enjoyment John was not enjoying himself. There was no place in the Grand Pavilion Hotel where he could sit and read in comfort, and the beach and the promenade were too crowded to permit such a thing either. He always had the Giant Twin, of course, but he did not always want to be out on it. Motor-cycling, even on the finest example of the finest make of motor-cycle in the world, begins to pall a little after three weeks’ enforced indulgence, and there came a time when John was frankly bored. He was bored with hotel meals, with hotel friends, and with hotel public rooms. Music at his meals ceased to have any attraction for him at all. The men who sought Winnie’s society looked upon him as an unmitigated nuisance, and were not too careful about concealing their opinion. And Winnie held the same opinion and did not try to conceal it at all. He could not even discuss motor-bicycles with anyone, in that he never met anyone who had ever owned such a thing.

John was bored, utterly and absolutely. After a fortnight’s stay he hinted as much to his mother, but hints were not very effective in his mother’s case. Three days later he tried again, with equal unsuccess. When he had endured three whole weeks he took the bit between his teeth and announced his intention of going home.

‘But, my dear, why?’ asked Mrs. Marble.

John did his best to explain, but he felt from the start it was hopeless. The intuition proved correct, for Mrs. Marble had no sympathy at all with boredom, never being bored herself.

‘I don’t think father will like it if you go home,’ said Mrs. Marble. ‘He’s spent an awful lot on this holiday for you, and you ought to show that you appreciate it.’

‘But there’s nothing to do,’ expostulated John.

‘Why, there’s lots and lots to do, dear. You can listen to the band, or you can go out on the motor-bike, or—or—oh, there’s lots to do. A great active boy like you ought to find things to do as easily as anything.’

‘A great active boy can’t listen to a band all day and all night,’ said John, ‘even if I was a boy, and even if I liked listening to bands, which I don’t, very much. Hang it, I can’t get hold of any decent books to read, and when I do I can’t find anywhere to read them.’

‘Don’t argue with him, Mother,’ cut in Winnie. ‘He’s only finding fault.’

‘Finding fault’ was in Mrs. Marble’s eyes a sort of vice to which the male sex was peculiarly prone at inconvenient moments. She suffered on account of it on occasions when Mr. Marble’s temper was not all that it should have been. Winnie seized the advantage conferred upon her by this dexterous tactical thrust.

‘I don’t see why he shouldn’t go home, if you ask me,’ she said. ‘He’d be company for father, and it’s only for a week, when all’s said and done.’

Her arguments were not particular happy, for Mrs. Marble remembered with a slight shudder the time when she had flung herself between her son and her husband. And she would be positively unhappy, whenever she remembered to be, at the thought of two helpless males alone in a house which cost her so much pains to run. But Winnie had her own reasons for wishing John away, reasons not unconnected with walks upon the pier and with visits to local cinematograph theatres.

‘I should let him go,’ said Winnie. ‘Then he can collect a few of the mouldy old books he wants to read. He’ll soon get fed up with being at home, and then he can come down here again. It’ll only be for a day or two. He won’t stand cooking his own breakfast longer than that. Then he’ll be able to tell you how father’s getting on.’

It was a wily move. Mrs. Marble, in the intervals between being intimidated by waiters and chambermaids and enjoying the luxury they represented, was occasionally conscience-stricken about her deserted husband. She heard from him very little—only one or two straggling scrawls that told her nothing. More would have meant too much trouble to Mr. Marble. Winnie’s suggestion was therefore well timed.

‘Well, do that then, dear,’ said Mrs. Marble. ‘Go home just for the night and get all the books and things you want. Of course, if father doesn’t mind, you can stay longer if you like. But you mustn’t do anything that might make him cross.’

It was hardly the free-handed congé that Winnie would have liked her to give, but, still, it was something.

When John announced his intention of starting off at once Mrs Marble was shocked into protest. To her there was something unthinkable in changing one’s place of abode at ten minutes’ notice. She succeeded in persuading her son into postponing his departure until the next day—Saturday.

Even then she was full of instructions at the last moment.

‘You know where the clean sheets are, don’t you, dear?’ she said. ‘They’re in the lowest drawer in the big chest of drawers. Mind you air them before you put them on your bed. Oh, and when you come down again will you bring my white fur? It’s getting rather cold in the evenings now. You’re sure you know the way home all right? It’s rather a long way to go all by yourself.’

John had often before covered three times the distance in a single day, but he forbore saying so. He felt that it would be wiser to let his mother run on and have her full say out and then he would clear off without further argument. She continued, unmindful:

‘I shall be quite anxious to hear that you got home safely. Mind you write as soon as you’re there, and be sure you tell me how father is. And—and—don’t forget what I said about not doing anything to annoy father.’

That made John fidget uneasily in his chair. At long last Mrs Marble ended with:

‘Well, good-bye, dear. Have a good time. Have you got enough money? Then good-bye. Don’t forget what I said. We’re just going on the pier with Mr Horne. Good-bye, dear.’

And Winnie and Mrs Marble and Mr Horne were gone.

That was a most enjoyable day for John. For once he was neither the hotel prisoner nor yet was he at home with his father. It was the transition stage. He spent his time deliciously, luxuriously. He bathed by himself, at the far end of the town—his last bathe before starting out for home. That took time, for he wanted to make the most of it. Then he came back to the Grand Pavilion Hotel, took the Giant Twin from the garage, where it stood impatient and intolerant of all these domesticated saloons and limousines. The kickstarter swung obediently, and the engine broke into its sweet thunderous roar. John swung himself into the saddle, and the Giant Twin sprang impatiently forward as he let in the clutch. They climbed the steep ascent of the side street without an effort, nosed their way through the squalor of the slums at the back of the town, and in fifteen minutes were out on the free open downs. But John was determined not to waste a minute of his day’s happiness. He curbed the ardour of the Giant Twin to a mere fourteen miles an hour—a Rosinante speed worthy of his quixotic mood, as he told himself. They ambled along the great high road in wonderful spirits. The wind blew past him gently, and he filled his lungs with it, sighing with pleasure. It was twelve o’clock when he started; by one o’clock not thirty miles—not half the way—had been covered. John lunched by himself at a big yet homely hotel by the roadside. It was a decided change from lunch at the Grand Pavilion Hotel, with a band blaring only ten feet away, and mother talking platitudes—she couldn’t help that, poor dear, but it grew wearisome after a week or two—and Winnie looking round discreetly at the men, or, worse, chattering away to some greasy-haired fellow she had wangled mother into inviting. They were all greasy-haired, somehow, and not one of them knew how to speak to a fellow, not even the young ones. And as for the old ones! There was one doddering old idiot who had asked him if he kept white mice! John stretched his legs in comforting fashion under the table and lit a cigarette. Thank God, that was over, anyway. He couldn’t have borne that place another day. He hoped he would be all right with father. Father was such an uncertain sort of fellow nowadays. But apparently all he wanted was to be left alone, and that was all he wanted, as well. So they ought to get on all right. If they didn’t—well, it couldn’t be as bad as the hotel, anyway, with mother fussing over him and Winnie scrapping all the time. There was a little bit of the boor and a little bit of the bear about John.

But he was light-hearted enough when he came down and started up the Giant Twin once more for the last run homeward. He still went slowly, partly of his own free will, partly because of the growing volume of Saturday traffic that he met. He turned away from Croydon, and the Giant Twin brought him triumphantly up the long hill to the Crystal Palace without an effort. Ten minutes later the motor-bicycle ran silently with the clutch out, down the slope of Malcolm Road, and pulled up gently outside Number 53. John dismounted slowly. It had been a glorious day. Even now it was not yet evening. There was nothing better than a late afternoon in August, at the end of a flaming day. The rather depressing little road looked positively heavenly to the exile after three weeks at the Grand Pavilion Hotel. There was just a touch of red in the sky, where the sun was beginning to sink. John was half smiling as he looked round him, while he fumbled in his pocket for his latch-key. He was even smiling as he put the key in the lock, and as he walked into the house.

Mr. Marble had lately been looking forward to his Saturday afternoons. Following a lazy morning at the office, and a lazy lunch in town, he could travel quietly homeward after the rush. And at home, for in this case it was worth daring the watchfulness of the neighbours, especially considering that arriving as she did before he came back they might well think that she had come on some neighbourly errand in bringing shopping or to see that all was well in the house, there would be waiting for him Madame Collins, Marguerite—Rita, he called her nowadays. And they would have the whole afternoon and evening before them. She would not be leaving before dark. It would be a wonderful day. Eat, drink, and be merry, for to-morrow you die. Mr. Marble ate, and most decidedly he drank, and he was merry as well, if such a term can be applied to his nightmare feeling of wild abandon. And the abandon was only possible because he was at 53 Malcolm Road, and able to make sure that there was no chance of his dying suddenly yet awhile.

John came into the dining-room. There was no one there. But the sight of the room brought the first chill to his heart. The gilded furniture blazed tawdrily in the fading sunlight; the room was in an indescribable muddle: dirty dishes and empty bottles were littered about it, and cigarette ash and cigarette ends were strewn over the floor. And in the room there was a subtle and distasteful blend of scents. Overlying the stale tobacco smell and the fustiness of unopened windows was the smell of spilt drink, and permeating the whole there was yet another odour, slight yet penetrating—a stale, unpleasant smell as of degraded hyacinths. John’s nose wrinkled in distaste as the vile reek assailed his nostrils. The drink, and the tobacco, and the fustiness, and the muddle he could account for, and he had been prepared for them on a smaller scale. But this other scent, irritating his clean boy’s palate, was different. It was more unclean even than the others.

He left the room hurriedly. He had already half decided that his father was not at present in the house. He set his foot on the stairs to go to his own room to open the windows, open them wide, so that the clean evening air would circulate there at any rate, but he withdrew it as a thought struck him. Most probably his father was in the back room—it had been his habit for a long time now to sit there on most occasions. If he were there, and if, as John reluctantly admitted to himself was most likely, he were drinking, it would be well for him to go in and report his arrival as soon as might be. His father would be furious if he were in the house without his knowledge. John walked back to the drawing-room, turned the handle of the door, and entered.

But he went no farther than just beyond the threshold. There he stopped, for a sickening, hellish two seconds, while the hyacinth scent rushed in greater volume upon him, its presence now explained, and while the sight that met his eyes struck him dazed, as might a club. It was sickening, bestial, abominable. He fled in a staggering run, fumbling in dazed haste at the handle of the door. To blend with the tumult of horrible remembrance came the sight, just as he reached free air again, of his father lurching after him, mumbling some wild words which he could not catch, but whose import clearly was for him not to go away, but to stay while he could explain. But John fled.

There was nothing else he could do. Every cell of his body called for air, air, air. Air to flood away that loathsome reek of hyacinths; air to flood his brain and blot away that memory of beastly, drunken nudity; air, air, air!

At the edge of the pavement stood his one trusty friend, the Giant Twin, who never would betray him. He leaned upon the friendly saddle for a second, while his whirling mind recovered itself to the slight degree possible. Air, air, air! He flung himself into the saddle, hands going automatically to ignition and throttle. The engine was still hot, and broke into its old friendly roar as he thrust at the kickstarter. Next second he was gone, wheeling wildly in the road, with the engine bellowing jubilantly as he forced the throttle wider.

The sunset was spreading over the sky, blood-red and tawny, as the sun vanished behind the houses, but it was still stiflingly hot. The air that raced past John’s cheeks might as well have come straight from a blast-furnace. It raced past his cheeks, tugged at his hair, filled his lungs to bursting, and yet it gave no relief. Wider and wider went the throttle, and now the Giant Twin was hurtling along the roads as though they were a racetrack. John did not know where he was going, nor did he care. Air was what he wanted, air, more air. He sat well back in the saddle, while the tornado of his own begetting wrenched at him with a myriad fingers. Yet as he did so he shuddered at the recollection of the reek of hyacinth scent. The throttle was wide open now, and they were swirling round corners at an acute angle amid a shower of flying grit. Air, more air! John’s hand moved to a forbidden lever, and the Giant Twin leaped forward even faster as the exhaust roared in thunder past the cutout.

It could not last. Not even the Giant Twin, ever loyal, could hold on those glassy roads at that speed. One last corner, and then the tyres lost their grip on the hardly noticeable camber. The Giant Twin leaped madly, plunging across the road, across the pavement. A cruel brick wall awaited them, in one rending crash of ruin.
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