The Dark Eyes of London - Edgar Wallace - ebook

The Dark Eyes of London ebook

Edgar Wallace

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The Dark Eyes of London” is a crime novel by the British writer Edgar Wallace which was first published in 1924. Inspector Holt and his valet Sunny are planning a visit to Monte Carlo when an urgent telegram arrives from the Chief Commissioner of Scotland Yard. Mr. Gordon Stuart has been found drowned in suspicious circumstances. An unbalanced doctor and his brother murder a series of wealthy men to benefit from their life insurance policies, using a charity for the blind as a front for their activities. Holt returns on the same boat as Flash Fred Grogan, continental crook and gambler. Attempting to solve the mystery leads Holt into a string of exciting adventures and romance. It was based on an earlier short story „The Croakers” which Wallace had written.

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Liczba stron: 348

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Contents

I. LARRY HOLT IN PARIS

II. SIR JOHN HASON

III. THE SECRETARY

IV. FLASH FRED SEES A CLIENT

V. THE WILL

VI. THE WRITING IN BRAILLE

VII. A TELEGRAM FROM CALGARY

VIII. THE MEMORIAL STONE

IX. THE MAN WHO LOST A FINGER

X. MR STRAUSS “DROPS”

XI. BURGLARS AT THE YARD

XII. FANNY WELDON TELLS THE TRUTH

XIII. TODD’S HOME

XIV. FANNY HAS A VISITOR

XV. THE FIGHT IN THE DARK

XVI. GROGAN MEETS A LADY

XVII. THE INSURANCE MONEY

XVIII. AT THE PAWNBROKER’S

XIX. IN FLASH FRED’S FLAT

XX. THE WOMAN WHO DREW THE INSURANCE MONEY.

XXI. WHEN DIANA FAINTED

XXII. THE MAN WHO WAS DEAF

XXIII. THE DISAPPEARANCE OF DIANA WARD

XXIV. THE LAUNDRY YARD

XXV. WHAT HAPPENED TO DIANA

XXVI. BACK AGAIN

XXVII. “JOHN DEARBORN IS NOT BLIND”

XXVIII. WHO RUNS DEARBORN?

XXIX. FLASH FRED’S STORY

XXX. IN THE TUBULAR ROOM

XXXI. FRED LENDS HIS KEYS

XXXII. A BREAKFAST PROPOSAL

XXXIII. LEW

XXXIV. LARRY INSPECTS A HOUSE

XXXV. THE DEATH ROOM

XXXVI. THE WOMAN IN THE GARAGE

XXXVII. THE HEIRESS

XXXVIII. THE END OF JAKE

XXXIX. THE GET-AWAY

XL. A LETTER FROM LARRY

XLI. DIANA PULLS A LEVER

XLII. IN THE TRAP

XLIII. THE PASSING OF DAVID

XLIV. THE END OF THE CHASE

XLV. THREE CIGARETTES

I. LARRY HOLT IN PARIS

Larry Holt sat before the Café de la Paix, watching the stream of life flow east and west along the Boulevard des Italiens. The breath of spring was in the air; the trees were bursting into buds of vivid green; the cloud-flecked skies were blue; and a flood of golden sunshine brought out the colours of the kiosks, and gave an artistic value even to the flaring advertisements. Crowded motor-buses rumbled by, little taxis dashed wildly in and out of the traffic, to the mortal peril of unsuspecting pedestrians.

A gendarme, with cloak over his shoulder, stood in a conventional attitude on the kerb, his hand behind him, staring at nothing, and along the sidewalk there were hurrying bareheaded girls, slow-moving old men, and marching poilus. Itinerant vendors of wares loafed past the tables of the café, dusky-faced Arabs with their carpets on their arms, seedy-looking men who hawked bundles of picture post cards and would produce, at the slightest encouragement, cards which were not for the public gaze. All these things and people were a delight to Larry Holt, who had just returned from Berlin after four years’ strenuous work in France and Germany, and felt in that holiday spirit to which even the mind of a detective will ascend.

The position occupied by Larry Holt was something of a mystery to the officials of Scotland Yard. His rank was Inspector, his work was the administrative work of a Commissioner; and it was generally understood that he was in the line for the first vacant assistant commissionership that came along. The question of his rank, of his prospects, did not trouble Larry at that particular moment. He sat there, absorbing the sweetness of spring with every breath he drew. His good-looking face was lit up with the sheer joy of living, and there was in his heart a relief, a sense of rest, which he had not experienced for many a long day.

He revealed himself a fairly tall man when he rose, after paying the waiter, and strolled round the corner to his hotel. It was a slow progress he made, his hands in his pockets, his soft felt hat at the back of his head, a half-smile on his parted lips as he gripped a long black cigarette holder between his white teeth.

He came into the busy vestibule of the hotel, the one spot in Paris where people hustle and rush, where bell-boys really run, and even the phlegmatic Briton seems in a frantic hurry, and he was walking towards the elevator when, through the glass door leading to the palm court, he saw a man in an attitude of elegant repose, leaning back in a big chair and puffing at a cigar.

Larry grinned and hesitated. He knew this lean-faced man, so radiantly attired, his fingers and cravat flashing with diamonds, and in a spirit of mischief he passed through the swing doors and came up to the lounger.

“If it isn’t my dear old friend Fred!” he said softly.

Flash Fred, Continental crook and gambler, leapt to his feet with a look of alarm at the sight of this unexpected visitation.

“Hullo, Mr Holt!” he stammered. “You’re the last person in the world I expected to see–”

“Or wanted to see,” said Larry, shaking his head reproachfully. “What prosperity! Why, Fred, you’re all dressed up like a Christmas tree.”

Flash Fred grinned uncomfortably, but made a brave show of indifference. “I’m going straight now, Mr Holt,” he said.

“Liar you are, and liar you will always be,” said Larry without heat.

“I swear to you on the Book–” began Fred vigorously.

“If,” said Larry without resentment, “you stood between your dead aunt and your failing uncle, and took an oath on Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, I wouldn’t believe you.” He gazed admiringly at Fred’s many adornments, at the big pin in his tie, at the triple chain of gold across his neatly tailored waistcoat, at his white spats and patent shoes, and then brought his eyes back to the perfectly brushed hair.

“You look sweet,” he said. “What is the game? Not,” he added, “that I expect you to tell me, but it must be a pretty prosperous game, Fred.”

The man licked his dry lips.

“I’m in business,” he said.

“Whose business are you in now?” asked Larry, interested. “And how did you get in? With a jemmy or a stick of dynamite? That’s a new line for you, Fred. As a rule, you confine yourself strictly to picking crumbs of gold off the unwary youth of the land–and,” he added significantly, “in picking the pockets of the recently deceased.” The man’s face went red.

“You don’t think I had anything to do with that murder in Montpellier?” he protested heatedly.

“I don’t think you shot the unfortunate young man,” admitted Larry, “but you were certainly seen bending over his body and searching his clothes.”

“For identification,” said Fred virtuously. “I wanted to find out who did it.”

“You were also seen talking to the man who did it,” said Larry remorsefully. “An old lady, a Madame Prideaux, looking out of her bedroom window, saw you holding him and then saw you let him go. I presume he ‘dropped’.”

Fred said nothing at first. He hated a pretended gentleman who descended to the vulgarity of employing the word “drop” for “bribe”.

“That’s two years ago, Mr Holt,” he said. “I don’t see why you should rake that thing up against me. The examining magistrate gave me a clean bill.”

Larry laughed and dropped his hand on the man’s shoulder. “Anyway, I’m off duty now, Fred. I’m going away to enjoy myself.”

“You ain’t coming to London, I suppose?” asked the man, looking at him quickly.

“No,” said Larry, and thought he saw signs of relief.

“I’m going over today,” said Fred, in a conversational tone. “I was hoping we’d be fellow-passengers.”

“I’m grieved to shatter your hopes,” said Larry, “but I’m going in the other direction. So long.”

“Good luck!” said Fred, and looked after him with a face which did not indicate any desire for Larry Holt’s fortune.

Larry went up to his room and found his man brushing his clothes and laying them out on his bed. Patrick Sunny, the valet he had endured for two years, was a serious young man with staring eyes and a round face, and he grew suddenly energetic on Larry’s appearance. He brushed and he hissed, for he had been in a cavalry regiment.

Larry strolled to the window and looked down on the Place de L’Opera at the busy scene.

“Sunny,” he said, “you needn’t brush those dress things of mine. Pack ‘em.”

“Yes, sir,” said Sunny.

“I’m going to Monte Carlo by the night train.”

“Indeed, sir?” said Sunny, who would have said exactly the same if Larry had expressed his intention of going to the Sahara or the North Pole.

“To Monte Carlo, Sunny!” chortled Larry. “For six bright, happy, expensive weeks–start packing at once.” He picked up the telephone from the writing-table and called the Travel Bureau.

“I want a sleeper and a first-class reservation for Monte Carlo by tonight’s train,” he said. “Monte Carlo,” he repeated louder. “No, not Calais. I have not the slightest intention of going to Calais–thanks.” He hung up the receiver and stood looking at his servitor. “I hate talking to you, Sunny,” he said, “but I must talk to somebody, and I hate your name. Who gave you that horrible name?”

“My forefathers,” said Sunny primly, continuing his brushing without looking up.

“They rather missed the ‘bus, didn’t they?” asked Larry. “For if there is anything less like a bright spring day than you, I should like to avoid it. But we’re southward bound, Sunny, to this Cote d’Azur, to the land of flowers and folly, to the orange groves–do you like oranges, Sunny?”

“I prefer walnuts, sir,” said Sunny, “but fruit of any kind means nothing to me.”

Larry chuckled and sat on the edge of the bed. “We’re going to be criminals and take people’s money from them,” he said, “instead of nosing about the criminal practices of others. No more robberies, defalcations, forgeries and murders, Sunny. Six weeks of dolce far niente.”

“I don’t play that game myself, sir,” said Sunny. “I prefer cribbage.”

Larry picked up the afternoon paper and had turned its columns. There were quite a few items of news to remind him of his profession and its calls. There was a big bank robbery at Lyons, a mail coach had been held up in Belgium by armed robbers; and then he came to a paragraph.

“The body of a man picked up on the steps leading down from the Thames Embankment has been identified as Mr Gordon Stuart, a rich Canadian. It is believed to be a case of suicide. Mr Stuart had been spending the evening with some friends at the theatre, and disappeared between the acts, and was not seen again until his body was discovered. A coroner’s inquest will be held in due course.” He read the paragraph twice, and frowned.

“A man doesn’t usually go out between the acts of a play and commit suicide–unless the play is very bad,” he said, and the obedient Sunny said, “No, sir.” He threw the newspaper down.

“Sunny, I’m getting into bad habits. I’m taking an interest in lunacy, and for that same reason I notice that you’ve folded my trousers so that the crease comes down the side. Unfold ‘em, you lazy devil!” He spent the afternoon making preparations for his journey, and at half-past six, with his trunks in the hands of the porters and Sunny carrying his overcoat, he was settling his bill at the cashier’s desk, had folded up the receipt and was putting it in his pocket when a bell-boy came to him.

“Monsieur Holt?” he asked.

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