Angel Esquire - Edgar Wallace - ebook

Angel Esquire ebook

Edgar Wallace

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Angel Esquire” (1919) is a great crime story by one of the masters of the genre. This novella revolves around the hunt for an inheritance, or rather the word to unlock the safe where the inheritance is safely stored. A nasty old millionaire dies, leaving clues to the combination of his safe where all his fortune is hidden, to several people, and the race is on! Will the beautiful innocent young girl whose father was swindled by the millionaire get to it first? Or will the criminal associates of said millionaire beat her? It’s up to Angel Esquire, the famous and unorthodox detective to be sure that youth and innocence win!

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Liczba stron: 294

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Contents

ANGEL, ESQUIRE — THE SHORT STORIES

I. THE YELLOW BOX

II. THE SILVER CHARM

III. A CASE FOR ANGEL, ESQUIRE

ANGEL, ESQUIRE — THE NOVEL

I. THE LOMBARD STREET DEPOSIT

II. THE HOUSE IN TERRINGTON SQUARE

III. ANGEL ESQUIRE

IV. THE “BOROUGH LOT”

V. THE CRYPTOGRAM

VI. A THE RED ENVELOPE

VII. WHAT THE RED ENVELOPE HELD

VIII. OLD GEORGE

IX. THE GREAT ATTEMPT

X. SOME BAD CHARACTERS

XI. THE QUEST OF THE BOOK

XII. WHAT HAPPENED AT FLAIRBY MILL

XIII. CONNOR TAKES A HAND

XIV. OPENING THE SAFE

XV. THE SOLUTION

ANGEL, ESQUIRE — THE SHORT STORIES

I. THE YELLOW BOX

WHEN Christopher Angle went to school he was very naturally called “Angel” by his fellows. When, in after life, he established a reputation for tact, geniality, and a remarkable equability, of temper, he became “Angel, Esquire,” and, as Angel Esquire, he went through the greater portion of his adventurous life, so that on the coast and in the islands and in the wild lands that lie beyond the It’uri Forest, where Mr C. Angle is unknown, the remembrance of Angel, Esquire, is kept perennially green.

In what department of the Government he was before he took up a permanent suite of rooms at New Scotland Yard it is difficult to say. All that is known is that when the “scientific expedition” of Dr Kauffhaus penetrated to the head waters of the Kasakasa River, Angel Esquire, was in the neighbourhood shooting elephants. A native messenger en route to the nearest post, carrying a newly-ratified treaty, counter-signed by the native chief, can vouch for Angel’s presence, because Angel’s men fell upon him and beat him, and Angel took the newly-sealed letter and calmly tore it up.

When, too, yet another “scientific expedition,” was engaged in making elaborate soundings in a neutral port in the Pacific, it was his steam launch that accidentally upset the boat of the men of science, and many invaluable instruments and drawings were irretrievably lost in the deeps of the rocky inlet. Following, however, upon some outrageous international incident, no less than the–but perhaps it would be wiser not to say–Angel was transferred bodily to Scotland Yard, undisguisedly a detective, and was placed in charge of the Colonial Department, which deals with all matters in those countries–British or otherwise–where the temperature rises above 103 degrees Fahrenheit. His record in this department was one of unabated success, and the interdepartmental criticism which was aroused by its creation and his appointment, have long since been silenced by the remarkable success that attended, amongst others, his investigations into the strange disappearance of the Corringham Mine, the discovery of the Third Slave, and his brilliant and memorable work in connection with the Croupier’s Safe.

To Angel, Esquire, in the early spring came an official of the Criminal Investigation Department.

“Do you know Congoland at all, Angel?” he asked.

“Little bit of it,” said Angel modestly.

“Well, here’s a letter that the chief wants you to deal with–the writer is the daughter of an old friend, and he would like you to give the matter your personal attention.”

Angel’s insulting remark about corruption in the public service need not be placed on record.

The letter was written on notepaper of unusual thinness.

“A lady who has had or is having correspondence with somebody in a part of the world where the postage rate is high,” he said to himself, and the first words of the letter confirmed this view:

“My husband, who has just returned from the Congo, where he has been on behalf of a Belgian firm to report on alluvial gold discoveries, has become so strange in his manner, and there are, moreover, such curious circumstances in connection with his conduct, that I am taking this course, knowing that as a friend of my dear father’s you will not place any unkind construction upon it, and that you will help me to get at the bottom of this mystery.”

The letter was evidently hurriedly written. There were words crossed out and written in.

“Humph,” said Angel; “rather a miserable little domestic drama. I trust I shall not be called in to investigate every family jar that occurs in the homes of the chief’s friends.”

But he wrote a polite little note to the lady on his “unofficial” paper, asking for an appointment and telling her that he had been asked to make the necessary enquires. The next morning he received a wire inviting him to go to Dulwich to the address that had appeared at the head of the note. Accordingly he started that afternoon, with the irritating sense that his time was being wasted.

Nine hundred and three Lordship Lane was a substantial-looking house, standing back from the road, and a trim maid opened the door to him, and ushered him into the drawing-room.

He was waiting impatiently for the lady, when the door was flung open and a man staggered in. He had an opened letter in his hand, and there was a look on his face that shocked Angel. It was the face of a soul in torment–drawn, haggard, and white.

“My God! my God!” he muttered: then he saw Angel, and straightened himself for a moment, for he started forward and seized the detective by the arm eagerly.

“You–you,” he gasped, “are you from Liverpool? Have they sent you down to say it was a mistake?”

There was a rustle of a dress, and a girl came into the room. She was little more than a girl, but the traces of suffering that Angel saw had aged her. She came quickly to the side of the man and laid her hand on his arm.

“What is it–oh, what is it, Jack?” she entreated.

The man stepped back, shaking his head. “I’m sorry, ver’ sorry,” he said dully, and Angel noticed that he clipped his words. “I thought–I mistook this gentleman for someone else.”

Angel explained his identity to the girl in a swift glance.

“This–this is a friend of mine,” she faltered, “a friend of my father’s,” she went on hesitatingly, “who has called to see me.”

“Sorry–sorry,” he said stupidly. He stumbled to the door and went out, leaving it open. They heard him blundering up the stairs, and after a while a door slammed, and there came a faint “click” us he locked it.

“Oh, can you help me?” cried the girl in distress. “I am beside myself with anxiety.”

“Please sit down, Mrs Farrow,” said Angel hastily, but kindly. A woman on the verge of tears always alarmed him. Already he felt an unusual interest in the case. “Just tell me from the beginning.”

“My husband is a metallurgist, and a year ago, he was commissioned by a Belgian company interested in gold-mining to go to the Congo and report on some property there.”

“Had he ever been there before?”

“No; he had never been to Africa before. It was against my wish that he went at all, but the fee was so temptingly high, and the opportunities so great, that I yielded to his persuasion, and allowed him to go.”

“How did he leave you?”

“As he had always been–bright, optimistic, and full of spirits. We were very happily married, Mr Angel–” she stopped, and her lips quivered.

“Yes, yes,” said the alarmed detective; “please go on.”

“He wrote by every mail, and even sent natives in their canoes hundreds of miles to connect with the mail steamers, and his letters were bright and full of particulars about the country and the people. Then, quite suddenly, they changed. From being the cheery, long letters they had been, they became almost notes, telling me just the bare facts of his movements. They worried me a little, because I thought it meant that he was ill, had fever, and did not want me to know.”

“And had he?”

“No. A man who was with him said he was never once down with fever. Well, I cabled to him, but cabling to the Congo is a heart-breaking business, and there was fourteen days’ delay on the wire.”

“I know,” said Angel sympathetically, “the land wire down to Brazzaville.”

“Then, before my cable could reach him, I received a brief telegram from him saying he was coming home.”

“Yes?”

“There was a weary month of waiting, and then he arrived. I went to Southampton to meet him.”

“To Southampton, not to Liverpool?”

“To Southampton. He met me on the deck, and I shall never forget the look of agony in his eyes when he saw me. It struck me dumb. ‘What is the matter, Jack?’ I asked. ‘Nothing,’ he said, in, oh, such a listless, hopeless way. I could get nothing from him. Almost as soon as he got home he went to his room and locked the door.”

“When was this?”

“A month ago.”

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