Killer Kay - Edgar Wallace - ebook

Killer Kay ebook

Edgar Wallace



Killer Kay” is one of the mystery story from collection which includes the following short stories by Edgar Wallace, a famous British author of mystery genre: „The Business-Woman”, „Blue Suit”, „Battle Level”, „The Air Taxi”, „The Convenient Sea”, „The Vamp and the Librarian”, „Thieves Make Thieves”. Fast-paced, with good twists and turns, an unusual mystery scheme and a little romance. Edgar Wallace was an immensely popular British writer of mystery thrillers. Today, Wallace is still popular in Great Britain. His impact has been greatly felt in the German motion-picture industry, where many of his books were made into excellent screen thrillers.

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Liczba stron: 165

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WHEN the Eastbourne Express pulled out of Victoria Station on a bright afternoon in June, Mary Boyd had neither eyes for the glories of the Sussex scenery through which the train was presently flying, nor for the heartening sunshine, nor yet for the other occupant of the carnage in which she sat. For the greater part of an hour he was so immersed in the study of newspapers, that he also seemed oblivious to her presence.

The express was shrieking through Three Bridges when, looking up, she caught his eyes fixed on her. A lanky, lean-faced man of forty, his hair grey at the temples, but for the rest a deep brown, brushed back from his forehead, he had the appearance of a successful professional man. He was dressed with finicking care; his morning coat fitted perfectly, his dark trousers were carefully creased, and the silk hat on the seat by his side polished so that it shone. In that one glance she took him in, from the pearl pin in his cravat to the shiny point of his enamelled shoes. And there her interest might have ended if those deep-set eyes of his had not held hers in fascinated bondage.

Only for a second and then, flushing, she turned her gaze to the countryside which was running swiftly past.

“Aren’t you Miss Boyd?”

His voice was remarkably deep and rich, and in it was an indefinable quality of sympathy.

She turned her eyes again in his direction, surprise, suspicion, resentment at this intrusion into her sorrow, manifested in that one glance.

“Yes, I am Miss Boyd,” she said quietly, and wondered if she had ever met him. It was hardly likely, for his was a face which she would not have forgotten.

“I am Dr. Kay of the Home Office,” he introduced himself, and she was puzzled. Dr. Kay? She remembered something about him. Frank must have spoken of him.

“I did not wait for the end of the inquest,” he went on. “I was trying to find the verdict in the last editions. I suppose it was…?”

She nodded, her lips compressed, her eyes filled with unshed tears. Bertram Boyd had not been an ideal father. His pitiful weakness had estranged him from his family, and had brought his wife to a premature end. Yet there were memories of him that Mary treasured. She remembered him before his love of the bottle had mastered him–a jolly, good-natured man, who had carried her on his shoulder through the garden of Ashcome House. So that was how this stranger had seen her; in that dismal court where twelve bored tradesmen had adjudicated upon the method by which Colonel Bertram Boyd had ended his life. They might well regard it as a waste of time, since Boyd had been found one morning by a horrified kitchenmaid, with his head in a gas oven and all the taps turned on. And this in the town house of Sir John Thorley, his brother-in-law.

“I was in court,” said the lean-faced man. “I wonder… I realise it must pain you to speak of these things even to a doctor–but I wonder if you can tell me whether your father had shown any suicidal tendencies before?”

She hesitated, loath, as he knew, to talk about the hideous tragedy which clouded her life. And yet those eyes of his were very compelling, as they were kind. He looked like a man who felt intensely, though it was hardly likely, she told herself, that a doctor of experience should feel things very deeply.

“Yes, sometimes… he used to drink a great deal, and lately, since my aunt’s death–Lady Thorley, you know–he had been very depressed. Uncle John took him to town, thinking that a change of scene and new interests might brighten him, but I don’t think that his new life had any effect. I had a letter from Sir John only a day before–before this dreadful thing happened, saying that poor father had been strange in his manner.”

“But,” persisted the other, “did your father ever say to you, ‘I am tired of life,’ or anything of that kind?”

She shook her head.

“No. But he has said it to Uncle John… it came out in the evidence.”

Dr. Kay was silent. He sat hunched up in a corner of the compartment, a heavy frown on his face, his lips pursed, his eyes fixed on the carpeted floor.

“I wish I had stayed, but unfortunately I had an appointment. Was anything found in your father’s room?”

Again she seemed disinclined to answer.

“Two whisky bottles–one empty, the other nearly empty,” she said.

“Was he dressed when he was found?”

She nodded.

“Fully dressed, except he was in his stockinged feet. He had put on his slippers earlier in the evening. Sir John’s valet, in his evidence, said that when he went into the room the last thing that night he was sitting in his slippers.”

“Can you tell me what kind of slippers he wore?”

Her gesture of distaste was not lost on the questioner.

“They were bathroom slippers–the kind without backs that you slip your feet into. I am awfully sorry if I seem rude, Dr. Kay, but I really wish not to discuss this matter.”

He nodded gravely.

“I understand that, Miss Boyd. Will you please believe that I am not asking out of idle curiosity? Nevertheless, I am being unpardonably cruel, for I could discover all these things without questioning you. I had met your aunt, by the way; she was always an invalid, and if I remember aright, she died of scarlet fever. There was some story of a burglar having frightened her. Do you live in Eastbourne?”

Her father had a house there, she told him, and he went on to talk enthusiastically of Sussex. He was a Sussex man, and to him there was no other county in the world. He once had a cottage on the downs, but a wandering Zeppelin making for Portsmouth had dropped a bomb, which had left a large hole filled with splinters of furniture where the cottage had been.

“You have built another, doctor?”

He shook his head.

“No. I am going to Eastbourne on business,” he said, and did not enlarge upon the object of his visit.

Frank Hallwell was waiting for her at the station–a tall, athletic figure that was good to look upon. In the excitement of meeting him she did not say good-bye to her travelling companion.

“I was a beast to let you go up alone, darling,” said the young man as he tucked her arm in his. “I should have taken no notice of your commands. Thank God it is all over.”

She heaved a quick sigh.

“Don’t let us talk about it,” she said, and then saw a tall hat shining above the press of passengers at the barriers.

“Do you know him?” she asked. “The man in the silk hat–he travelled down with me.”

Frank Hallwell followed the direction of her eyes.

“Good Lord!” he said. “It is Killer Kay.”

“Killer Kay!” she said, puzzled. “I know his name is Kay, but why ‘Killer’?”

Frank was a rising lawyer in the Public Prosecutor’s office, and was an authority upon her travelling companion.

“They call him ‘Killer’ at the Home Secretary’s office because he has sent more men to the gallows than any three men in this country. There isn’t a criminal in England who doesn’t know him by name, for he is one of the greatest crime experts the world has known. Lombrose and Mantazana were kindergarten pupils compared with Killer.”

She shivered.

“I suppose he is down here in connection with that beach murder that everybody is talking about,” he went on enthusiastically. “I wish I had seen him. I would have introduced you.”

“Frank, please…”

He was instantly penitent.

Frank Hallwell lived with his father in a house adjoining the three-acre estate of the late Colonel Boyd.

He had spent the evening with the girl the second night after her return, and was drinking a night-cap preparatory to turning in, when there was announced the man for whom he had devoted two days of fruitless search.

“This is a pleasant surprise, doctor,” he said, helping the visitor to divest himself of his shining oilskins, for half a gale was blowing up the Channel, and the rain splashed ceaselessly against the curtained windows. “I knew that you were here, and I’ve been looking for you. You travelled down with Miss Boyd, to whom, by the way, I am engaged.”

Killer Kay had a smile of infinite sweetness.

“Had I known that you were Miss Boyd’s fiancé, I should have looked you up two nights ago, HallweIl. I only learnt that fact to-night.”

He preceded the young man into his snug study, chose a cigar from the open box with the greatest deliberation, and sank with a little sigh of comfort into a big arm-chair.

“She died accidentally,” he said. “I have been experimenting––”

“She–who?” asked the startled Frank.

“The girl on the beach… I’m sorry.” Kay smiled again at the alarm he had caused. “The local police were satisfied that the girl was murdered. The man in custody swears that the stone fell from the cliff above. Nobody has ever seen stones fall from the cliff, but they do fall at night. I was nearly killed an hour ago by one. They were lovers, and had found what they thought was a cosy and sheltered spot under the cliff. It is a death trap, and if nobody has seen the stones that come down, it is because the cliff chooses the dark hours for its eccentric shedding of rock.”

“He is innocent?”

“Undoubtedly. I have examined the body… however, that was not what I intended talking about. How is Sir John?”

“Thorley? Did they tell you he was down? Yes, he came this afternoon. Poor chap, he is terribly upset about the whole affair.”

Dr. Kay pulled at his cigar, his eyes half closed, a picture of content.

“I wonder if I could meet him?” he asked at last. “I have an idea that he may throw some light upon a very peculiar circumstance attending Boyd’s death–his valet would do as well, of course, but I prefer tapping the stream at the source.”

“That is easy. He is staying over for a day or so to settle the Colonel’s estate. Sir John is being very decent about it all, and has advanced poor Mary a thousand to carry on until the estate is administered…. Rich? I think he is very rich. He has a big house in town, an estate in Worcestershire, and a villa at Mentone. He carries very large sums about with him, which isn’t very wise. For example, he paid Mary in notes.”

Killer Kay was sitting upright, his eyes blazing.

“Notes, eh? Fine!”

“I don’t see anything ‘fine’ about paying in banknotes, doctor,” smiled Frank.

“You don’t, eh? Well–anyway, we shall see.”

Next night he strolled up the long avenue to the Boyds’ house, and before he was announced Mary Boyd came out into the hall to meet him.

“I had no idea I was travelling with such a celebrity, doctor,” she said, with a faint smile. “I have not told my uncle about your–your profession. He is rather worried just now and I thought it might…”

“Exactly, Miss Boyd,” Killer Kay smiled. “You are very wise. I suppose you have been very busy?”

She nodded.

“Signing things, eh? With witnesses?”

She nodded again.

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