The Daffodil Mystery - Edgar Wallace - ebook

The Daffodil Mystery ebook

Edgar Wallace

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Set in England at the turn of the 20th century, Wallace’s crime novel „The Daffodil Mystery” follows the mysterious circumstances under which shop owner Lyne was found dead in Hyde Park, murdered undoubtedly! The clues were numerous but contradictory... The murdered man is an unsavory character who is called on the carpet by the investigator he tries to hire to frame the girl Odette Rider. Detective Jack Tarling and his trusted Chinese assistant become involved in helping the police solve the murder while also trying to protect the girl from being arrested for the murder. Moreover, the happenings within the novel are intensified by the colorful set of characters, which are marked by their plausible façade and contribute to the novel’s appeal.

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Liczba stron: 341

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Contents

An Offer Rejected

The Hunter Declines His Quarry

The Man Who Loved Lyne

Murder

Found In Lyne’s Pocket

The Mother Of Odette Rider

The Woman In The Case

The Silencing Of Sam Stay

Where The Flowers Came From

The Woman At Ashford

Thornton Lyne Is Dead

The Hospital Book

Two Shots In The Night

The Search Of Milburgh’s Cottage

The Owner Of The Pistol

The Heir

The Missing Revolver

The Finger Prints

Ling Chu Tells The Truth

Mr. Milburgh Sees It Through

Covering The Trail

The Heavy Wallet

The Night Visitor

The Confession Of Odette Rider

Milburgh’s Last Bluff

In Mrs. Rider’s Room

The Laugh In The Night

The Thumb-Print

The Theory Of Ling Chu

Who Killed Mrs. Rider

Sam Stay Turns Up

The Diary Of Thornton Lyne

Ling Chu—Torturer

The Arrest

Milburgh’s Story

At Highgate Cemetery

Ling Chu Returns

Chapter The Last: The Statement Of Sam Stay

I. AN OFFER REJECTED

“I am afraid I don’t understand you, Mr. Lyne.”

Odette Rider looked gravely at the young man who lolled against his open desk. Her clear skin was tinted with the faintest pink, and there was in the sober depths of those grey eyes of hers a light which would have warned a man less satisfied with his own genius and power of persuasion than Thornton Lyne.

He was not looking at her face. His eyes were running approvingly over her perfect figure, noting the straightness of the back, the fine poise of the head, the shapeliness of the slender hands.

He pushed back his long black hair from his forehead and smiled. It pleased him to believe that his face was cast in an intellectual mould, and that the somewhat unhealthy pastiness of his skin might be described as the “pallor of thought.”

Presently he looked away from her through the big bay window which overlooked the crowded floor of Lyne’s Stores.

He had had this office built in the entresol and the big windows had been put in so that he might at any time overlook the most important department which it was his good fortune to control.

Now and again, as he saw, a head would be turned in his direction, and he knew that the attention of all the girls was concentrated upon the little scene, plainly visible from the floor below, in which an unwilling employee was engaged.

She, too, was conscious of the fact, and her discomfort and dismay increased. She made a little movement as if to go, but he stopped her.

“You don’t understand, Odette,” he said. His voice was soft and melodious, and held the hint of a caress. “Did you read my little book?” he asked suddenly.

She nodded.

“Yes, I read–some of it,” she said, and the colour deepened on her face.

He chuckled.

“I suppose you thought it rather curious that a man in my position should bother his head to write poetry, eh?” he asked. “Most of it was written before I came into this beastly shop, my dear–before I developed into a tradesman!”

She made no reply, and he looked at her curiously.

“What did you think of them?” he asked.

Her lips were trembling, and again he mistook the symptoms.

“I thought they were perfectly horrible,” she said in a low voice. “Horrible!”

He raised his eyebrows.

“How very middle-class you are, Miss Rider!” he scoffed. “Those verses have been acclaimed by some of the best critics in the country as reproducing all the beauties of the old Hellenic poetry.”

She went to speak, but stopped herself and stood with lips compressed.

Thornton Lyne shrugged his shoulders and strode to the other end of his luxuriously equipped office.

“Poetry, like cucumbers, is an acquired taste,” he said after a while. “You have to be educated up to some kind of literature. I daresay there will come a time when you will be grateful that I have given you an opportunity of meeting beautiful thoughts dressed in beautiful language.”

She looked up at this.

“May I go now, Mr. Lyne?” she asked.

“Not yet,” he replied coolly. “You said just now you didn’t understand what I was talking about. I’ll put it plainer this time. You’re a very beautiful girl, as you probably know, and you are destined, in all probability, to be the mate of a very average suburban-minded person, who will give you a life tantamount to slavery. That is the life of the middle- class woman, as you probably know. And why would you submit to this bondage? Simply because a person in a black coat and a white collar has mumbled certain passages over you–passages which have neither meaning nor, to an intelligent person, significance. I would not take the trouble of going through such a foolish ceremony, but I would take a great deal of trouble to make you happy.”

He walked towards her slowly and laid one hand upon her shoulder. Instinctively she shrank back and he laughed.

“What do you say?”

She swung round on him, her eyes blazing but her voice under control.

“I happen to be one of those foolish, suburban-minded people,” she said, “who give significance to those mumbled words you were speaking about. Yet I am broad-minded enough to believe that the marriage ceremony would not make you any happier or more unhappy whether it was performed or omitted. But, whether it were marriage or any other kind of union, I should at least require a man.”

He frowned at her.

“What do you mean?” he asked, and the soft quality of his voice underwent a change.

Her voice was full of angry tears when she answered him.

“I should not want an erratic creature who puts horrid sentiments into indifferent verse. I repeat, I should want a man.”

His face went livid.

“Do you know whom you are talking to?” he asked, raising his voice.

“I am talking to Thornton Lyne,” said she, breathing quickly, “the proprietor of Lyne’s Stores, the employer of Odette Rider who draws three pounds every week from him.”

He was breathless with anger.

“Be careful!” he gasped. “Be careful!”

“I am speaking to a man whose whole life is a reproach to the very name of man!” she went on speaking rapidly. “A man who is sincere in nothing, who is living on the brains and reputation of his father, and the money that has come through the hard work of better men.

“You can’t scare me,” she cried scornfully, as he took a step towards her. “Oh, yes, I know I’m going to leave your employment, and I’m leaving to-night!”

The man was hurt, humiliated, almost crushed by her scorn. This she suddenly realised and her quick woman’s sympathy checked all further bitterness.

“I’m sorry I’ve been so unkind,” she said in a more gentle tone. “But you rather provoked me, Mr. Lyne.”

He was incapable of speech and could only shake his head and point with unsteady finger to the door.

“Get out,” he whispered.

Odette Rider walked out of the room, but the man did not move. Presently, however, he crossed to the window and, looking down upon the floor, saw her trim figure move slowly through the crowd of customers and assistants and mount the three steps which led to the chief cashier’s office.

“You shall pay for this, my girl!” he muttered.

He was wounded beyond forgiveness. He was a rich man’s son and had lived in a sense a sheltered life. He had been denied the advantage which a public school would have brought to him and had gone to college surrounded by sycophants and poseurs as blatant as himself, and never once had the cold breath of criticism been directed at him, except in what he was wont to describe as the “reptile Press.”

He licked his dry lips, and, walking to his desk, pressed a bell. After a short wait–for he had purposely sent his secretary away –a girl came in.

“Has Mr. Tarling come?” he asked.

“Yes, sir, he’s in the board-room. He has been waiting a quarter of an hour.”

He nodded.

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