Flat 2 - Edgar Wallace - ebook

Flat 2 ebook

Edgar Wallace

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Opis

Emil Louba traded profitably in human souls. When he added Jane Martin to his stock-in-trade, he won the hatred of Hurley Brown-who was soon to be a Power at Scotland Yard. And for Louba, then, the sands were running out... This one’s a fairly standard murder mystery by Edgar Wallace mold. The murder is that of the nasty Louba, who’s made and lost a fortune. He’s also made lots of enemies over the years so, when he’s bumped off with the candlestick in his swanky London apartment, there’s no shortage of suspects – in fact, even people who aren’t suspects are offering to help the folk they think might have done it, on the basis that no one deserves to swing for ridding the world of a swine like Louba.

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Liczba stron: 311

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Contents

I. A SHOT IN THE NIGHT

II. THE LITTLE MAN WHO CAUSED A RIOT

III. THE WOMAN WHO ESCAPED

IV. THE GIRL WHO RAN AWAY

V. THE BEADED CASKET

VI. THE MAN WHO WAITED

VII. BERYL MARTIN

VIII. THE GIRL WHO HAD LOST

IX. THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN

X. THE MAN WHO CUT THE ALARM

XI. THE MAN WHO TOOK WHAT HE WANTED

XII. THE MAN IN THE FLAT

XIII. THE WATCHERS

XIV. THE BURNER OF LETTERS

XV. THE WOMAN WITH THE GLOVES

XVI. THE MAN WHO WAS SUSPECTED

XVII. THE MAN WHO WAS ARRESTED

XVIII. THINGS THAT MILLER FORGOT

XIX. CHARLIE AND KATE

XX. MILLER HAS A THEORY

XXI. THE TRAILER OF CHARLIE

XXII. THE MAN WHO HAD DISAPPEARED

XXIII. THE MAN ON THE STAIRS

XXIV. THE MAN UNDER THE SEAT

XXV. THE MAN WHO FOLLOWED LOUBA

XXVI. THE MAN WITHOUT AN OVERCOAT

XXVII. THE MAN WHO HAD BOASTED

XXVIII. THE IDEA OF CHARLES BERRY

XXIX. THE MAN IN THE FOG

XXX. THE COMMISSIONER WHO DISAPPEARED

XXXI. MILLER

XXXII. THE STORY

XXXIII. THE KILLING

XXXIV. THE END

I. A SHOT IN THE NIGHT

A shot rang out sharply, and Captain Hurley Brown did not need the direction of the sound to guide him to Robert Weldrake’s door. He had tried to intercept the white-faced boy, who had brushed him aside and entered his room, slamming the door and locking it.

Hurley Brown had seen that expression on a man’s face before, and that man, too–just such another promising young officer as Robert Weldrake–had worn it on his return from the last of several interviews with Emil Louba. A shot had followed on that occasion also. Lingering outside, uneasy, smoking cigarette after cigarette, unable to seek his own quarters with the memory of that stricken-face before him, he was debating whether to insist on the boy opening his door to him when the shot stabbed the silence and sent him tearing up the half-dozen shallow stairs to the locked door.

There was no answer to his knock, and he scarcely waited for any, Putting his shoulder to the door, he had already forced it inwards, straining at the lock, when McElvie, Weldrake’s batman, and two officers joined them; and their combined efforts burst the lock, sending them staggering a few paces into the room.

There was little need to raise him. They saw at a glance that Robert Weldrake was dead. The room was still full of an acrid smell, his stiffening fingers clutched at his service revolver.

‘That damned Louba!’ muttered Brown, the first to break the silence, and more than one of his companions spat out vicious curses.

‘If somebody would shoot him. Malta’d be a lot cleaner,’ declared McElvie wrathfully. Nobody disagreed with him. That Louba was the cause of the tragedy was accepted without debate. It was not an isolated case.

Hurley Brown hated Louba. He had seen too many men ruined by him and his kind. He had determined to drive him out of Malta, and had already taken steps to interest the military authorities in the evil influence his establishment exercised over the men stationed on the island.

He had seen the disaster towards which Robert Weldrake drifted, had tried to gain his confidence, to warn him; but the boy had been too deep in to extricate himself.

When nothing more was to be done, and they left the still figure to its loneliness. Brown separated from the others and walked briskly towards Louba’s establishment. As he entered the cabaret, which was a gaudy mask for the remaining and more important part of the establishment, he became aware that there was something unusual happening.

The music had ceased and general conversation had died y away. Glasses were neglected and all heads were turned in the same direction. So far as Hurley Brown could see, it appeared to be an altercation between a customer and one of the performers, a scantily dressed dancer or singer who still had one foot on the low platform at the end of the room. The man she faced was plump and voluble, dark-eyed, with a full florid face and a flamboyant style of dress.

As Brown moved towards the doorway leading to the gaming rooms, the curtains were pulled aside to admit Emil Louba, followed by a weasel-faced fellow who immediately returned to his place in the meagre orchestra which flanked the platform.

‘I’m glad your man fetched you!’ shouted the disturber. ‘It saves me the trouble of finding you.’

‘Ah, da Costa! My friend da Costa!’ remarked Louba, with a purring suavity.

‘Your ruin I’ll be!’ roared da Costa, approaching him. He was small beside the big broad-shouldered Louba, and quivered with a fresh access of rage as the other looked down on him, a smile beneath the black sweeping moustache. ‘Again you have done it!–when will you be content? Do you think I am to be crossed by you everywhere I turn?’

‘All is fair in love and business, my dear da Costa–surely you know that! We can be trade rivals and yet remain the best of friends. But we interrupt the entertainment.’

He took da Costa’s arm in a grip that was savage, despite the smile still on his face, and tried to draw him out of sight and hearing of the gaping crowd.

‘I mean to interrupt it!’ cried da Costa, dragging himself free. ‘That girl is under contract to me–I pay her a salary three times what she is worth–I trained her–she owes everything to me–’

‘It’s a lie!’ screamed the woman. ‘I’m perfectly free to go where I like, and–’

‘And the lady prefers Malta to Tripoli,’ exclaimed Louba. ‘That is all there is about it.’

‘It is not all nor nearly all what you have done to me!’ exploded da Costa. ‘Whenever I am in a good place, you come and set up in opposition or you take my performers away, or–’

‘Or in other ways prove myself the better man,’ assented Louba. ‘Business is a ver’ good game, da Costa, if you know how to play it. Come, now, and leave these good people to their entertainment.’ His fingers sank into da Costa’s plump arm, and be dragged him a step or two towards the curtained doorway.

‘You ungrateful hussy, you shall come back to Tripoli, or you shall pay for your breach of contract and for all the while I kept and trained you, before you earned one penny,’ threatened da Costa, tearing his arm free from Louba’s grasp and springing towards the woman, shaking his fists in her face.

She was more than equal to his abuse, screaming and gesticulating, defying him in scraps of half a dozen languages, until Louba interfered.

‘Go up there and get on with your work,’ he commanded, taking her by the shoulders and bundling her back on to the platform.

He made a sign to the musicians, and also to two waiters.

As though there had been no interruption, the woman and the orchestra burst forth together, she spreading a smile over her shrewish features, and proceeding to twist and turn with great vigour. The waiters seized da Costa and ran him down the length of the room and out into the street, where they scuffled with him for some time on the steps, preventing his re-entrance.

Louba bowed to the company, the overhead lights glistened on his smooth black hair.

‘A t’ousand pardons,’ he murmured. ‘One cannot have the best establishment of its kind without rivals!’

He was about to leave by the way he had come, when Hurley Brown approached him.

‘Nor without retribution, I hope,’ added Brown.

‘Why, Captain Hurley Brown!’ Louba bowed with mocking exaggeration. ‘I take this very kind of you, Captain. It is not often I have the pleasure of seeing you here, although…your young friend, Lieutenant Weldrake, is a frequent visitor.’

‘He will not be in the future,’ came the grim reply.

‘No?’ Louba laughed softly. ‘Well, we shall see! I t’ink you have tried to keep him away before, but…unless my memory is ver’ bad, without much success. Eh?’

‘I shall succeed this time. I promise you.’

‘That is so? Well’–he shrugged his shoulders–‘so long as he settles up like a gentleman before he go, I will not complain. He is leaving us?’

‘He has already left us. And you will leave us soon. You will leave us, Louba, if I have to tie a brick round your neck and drop you in the middle of the sea.’

‘What do you mean by saying he has left us? He has not settled his obligations to me yet. It is not much more than an hour ago since I had to remind him of all that stuff about British officers and gentlemen.’

‘Louba,’ said Hurley Brown, very softly, ‘I really don’t know how I keep my hands off you!’

‘Perhaps it is because you know I should have you t’rown out if you raised a finger to me, dear friend.’

‘You–!’ His arm was caught as he raised it.

‘You will really not gain anything by violence,’ said Louba. ‘And it would be very unbecoming. Eh? Tell me what you mean by saying that boy has gone.’

‘He’s just been murdered.’

‘Murdered? By whom?’

‘By you, Louba.’

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