P.-C. Lee - Edgar Wallace - ebook

P.-C. Lee ebook

Edgar Wallace

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This unique thriller collection contains the 24 short vintage crime stories – a complete series featuring Police Constable Lee of the London „D” Division, written by the great Edgar Wallace. P.-C. Lee is a typical Wallace character, full of wit and charm. A number of these were reprinted in Ideas in 1928-1929 and in other magazines. Nine of the P.-C. Lee stories were later included in the 1961 collection „The Undisclosed Client and Other Stories”. Written by prolific writer Edgar Wallace, creator of J. G. Reeder, and a dozen more characters in his dozens of books and hundreds of short stories, his publishers once claimed that a quarter of all books then read (in the 1910-1920’s) in England were written by him.

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Liczba stron: 309

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Contents

01. MR. SIMMONS' PROFESSION

02. A MAN OF NOTE

03. FOR JEWEY'S LAGGIN'

04. PEAR DROPS

05. HOW HE LOST HIS MOUSTACHE

06. SERGEANT RUN-A-MILE

07. THE SENTIMENTAL BURGLAR

08. CHANGE

09. A CASE FOR ANGEL ESQUIRE

10. CONTEMPT

11. CONFIDENCE

12. FIRELESS TELEGRAPHY

13. THE GENERAL PRACTITIONER

14. THE SNATCHERS

15. THE GOLD MINE

16. MOULDY THE SCRIVENER

17. MRS. FLINDIN'S LODGER

18. THE DERBY FAVOURITE

19. THE STORY OF A GREAT CROSS-EXAMINATION

20. TANKS

21. THE SILENCE OF P.-C. HIRLEY

22. THE POWER OF THE EYE

23. THE CONVICT'S DAUGHTER

24. THE LAST ADVENTURE

01. MR. SIMMONS’ PROFESSION

THE magistrate looked over his glasses at the prisoner in the dock, and the prisoner nodded in the friendliest way.

The clerk at his little desk before the magistrate jerked his head round in the direction of the dock.

“Were you drunk last night?” he asked pointedly.

“I were in a manner of speakin’ excited,” said the prisoner carefully.

“You are charged with being drunk. Are you guilty or not guilty?”

“Not guilty,” said the accused loudly.

The clerk nodded, and a constable made his way to the box.

A stolid-looking constable, who moved with surprising agility, and glanced at the resentful prisoner with a twinkling eye.

“P.-C. Lee 333 ‘D’,” he began, “I was on duty last night–”

“Hold hard,” said the aggressive prisoner, “let’s have all this took down in black an’ white.”

He fished out from the depths of his mud-stained overcoat a tattered memorandum book and the stump of pencil.

“Now then,” he said sternly, “what did you say your name was, me man?”

“P.-C. Lee, of ‘D’,” repeated the good-natured constable.

“Oh!”

Very deliberately the accused closed his book and replaced it. He looked benevolently round, then: “Guilty,” he said.

“Seven and six or five days.” said the magistrate.

“The fact of it is, sir,” said the accused man later–he was sitting in the waiting room whilst his wife was collecting the necessary three half-crowns–“I didn’t catch your name.”

“I dessay,” said P.-C. Lee with a smile.

“I respect you, Mr. Lee,” said the prisoner oratorically, “as if you was me own brother–hopin’ there’s no offence.”

“None whatever,” said P.-C. Lee, “an’ talkin’ about brothers, where’s your brother Elf?”

“Elf?” said the other wonderingly, “Elf? Why, he’s in Orstralia.”

“I don’t know a public house of that name,” said P.-C. Lee reflectively. “but I dessay I shall find him.”

P.-C. Lee lives quite close to me. We have met professionally when he was severely reticent and remarkably polite and respectful; we have met privately, when he was more communicative.

Inspector Fowler, to whom I mentioned the fact of our acquaintance, had nothing but praise for Lee.

“He’s a remarkable chap,” he said enthusiastically. “He’s practically the last court of appeal in the Notting Dale district. They take him all their little disputes to settle and he holds an informal court at his lodgings.”

For P.-C. Lee lives in the heart of Notting Dale, in a tiny house near Arbuckle-street, and sometimes, when he’s off duty, and when there is a slack time in his arbitration court, he comes to me to smoke a pipe and talk shop.

“Crime,” reflected P.-C. Lee, “ain’t always murder, nor highway robbery, nor forgin’ cheques for £10,000. That’s the crimes authors–present company excepted–write about. It’s generally a tale about how a detective with whiskers fails to discover the lost diamonds, an’ a clean-shaven feller, who plays the fiddle, works it out on paper that the true robber was the Archbishop of Canterbury, But crime, as we know it in the ‘D’ Division, is mostly made up of ‘bein’ a suspected person’ or ‘loiterin’ with intent’ or ‘being found on unoccupied premises for the purpose of committin’ a felony’; or, as you have seen yourself, ‘drunk an’ usin’ abusive language’.

“I’ve done all kinds of duty, plain clothes an’ otherwise, an’ although I’ve had my share of big cases, an’ have been to the Old Bailey scores an’ scores of times, the gen’ral run of life has been takin’ violent an’ insultin’ ‘drunks’ to the station, an’ pullin’ people in for petty larceny.

“One of the most extraordinary chaps I’ve had to deal with was a man by the name of Simmons. He moved into 64, Highfield-street, an’ I got a tip from headquarters to look after him. A quiet little man, who smoked a briar pipe, an’ went about his work sayin’ nothing to anybody.

“He was a bachelor so far as I could find out, an’ there was an old woman, who was his aunt, who kept house for him.

“The rum thing was that he didn’t associate with any of the ‘heads’.

“There was a nice lot of lads in my district. Nick Moss who did seven years for armed burglary; Teddy Gail, who did five for runnin’ a snide factory*; Arthur Westing, the tale-pitcher–Lord! I could fill a book with their names.”

[* A counterfeit coin manufactory.]

“Somehow, they knew he was in a queer line of business, an’ naturally they tried to be friendly with him–but he had nothin’ to do with them, an’ that made ‘em wild. They tried to find out what his lay was, but he was as close as an oyster. They came to me, some of ‘em, an’ worked the conversation round innocently to Simmons.

“Nick Moss was the most curious.

„ ‘That’s a queer chap in 64, Mr. Lee,’ he says. ‘Can’t make him out.’

„ ‘Can’t you?’ says I.

„ ‘No,’ says Nick, shakin’ his head. ‘Do you think he’s quite straight, Mr. Lee?’

„ ‘I hope so,’ says I. ‘It’d be a dreadful thing if a dishonest feller came into this pure an’ innercent neighbourhood corruptin’ the morals of its upright citizens.’

„ ‘It would,’ says Nick.

“To tell you the truth, I had no more idea of what Simmons’ game was than they had. My instructions were worded rather curiously. ‘Watch Simmons, but don’t interfere with him.’

“I thought once that he must be a nark*, but the station Inspector told me he wasn’t on the books, an’ none of our C.I.D. men knew him. All I knew about him was that from time to time he used to go away for two or three days at a time carryin’ his little brown bag an’ smokin’ his pipe. My mate, who’s an energetic young chap, stopped him one night when he was coming home an’ asked to see inside of his bag.”

[* Police spy.]

“But there was nothin’ except a paper of sandwiches an’ a couple of short luggage straps. The sandwiches was wrapped up in a paper that bore the name of a Chelmsford confectioners, an’ we watched for the Chelmsford report to see if there had been a burglary–but nothin’ appeared. I don’t know whether Simmons reported the matter; so far as we knew at the station he didn’t, but a few days afterwards my mate was transferred to ‘R’ Division, and got a nasty letter from the Yard tellin’ him not to exceed his duty.

“One night, soon after this, I was standin’ on duty at the corner of Ladbroke Grove, when a woman came to me sobbin’.

“I recognised her at once. She was the wife of Crawley Hopper, a chap well known to the police as a ladder larcernist.*”

[* A “ladder larceny” is a definite form of housebreaking. Whilst a family is at dinner a ladder is placed against a bedroom window, the thief enters and clears the bedroom of portable valuables.]

„ ‘Mr. Lee,’ she sobs, ‘look at my eye!’

„ ‘I wouldn’t mind the beatin’,’ she says, ‘but he’s took up with another girl.’

„ ‘Go home to your mother, Mrs. Hopper,’ I says, ‘He’s in drink an’ he’ll be sorry in the morning.’

„ ‘He’ll be sorry to-night,’ she says savagely, ‘because he was the man that did the Highbury job last Wednesday.’

„ ‘Oh!’ I says–we’d been on the lookout for the man who did the Highbury job–‘in that case I’ll ask you for a few particulars.’

“The end of it was, I found Crawley in a little pub standin’ drinks all round. He had his arm round the neck of his new girl an’ I beckoned him outside.

„ ‘I want you, Hopper,’ I says.

„ ‘What for?’ says Hopper, as white as a sheet.

„ ‘The Highbury job. Come along quietly to the station.’

„ ‘It’s a fair cop,’ says Hopper, an’ went like a lamb.

„ ‘Who gave me away?’ he says.

„ ‘Information received,’ I answered.

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