The Double - Edgar Wallace - ebook

The Double ebook

Edgar Wallace

0,0

Opis

One of the most prolific writers of the twentieth century, Edgar Wallace was an immensely popular author, who created exciting thrillers spiced with tales of treacherous crooks and hard-boiled detectives. „The Double” is a story about a man who encounters his unknown double and the trouble that arises. When Dick Staines joined the police force the big case of the day had been the Staines murder. The only clue was an unknown thumb-print, the case was never solved. Ten years later and Detective Inspector Staines investigating a curious burglary in fashionable Belgravia finds a thumb-print on a glass. The strangest of murders with surgical overtones confronts Dick Staines our Cambridge educated detective.

Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi na:

Androidzie
iOS
czytnikach certyfikowanych
przez Legimi
czytnikach Kindle™
(dla wybranych pakietów)
Windows
10
Windows
Phone

Liczba stron: 368

Odsłuch ebooka (TTS) dostepny w abonamencie „ebooki+audiobooki bez limitu” w aplikacjach Legimi na:

Androidzie
iOS



Contents

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

CHAPTER V

CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VII

CHAPTER VIII

CHAPTER IX

CHAPTER X

CHAPTER XI

CHAPTER XII

CHAPTER XIII

CHAPTER XIV

CHAPTER XV

CHAPTER XVI

CHAPTER XVII

CHAPTER XVIII

CHAPTER XIX

CHAPTER XX

CHAPTER XXI

CHAPTER XXII

CHAPTER I

WHEN Dick Staines left the University of Cambridge, he was confronted with several alternatives, all more or less unalluring. On the strength of his honours degree in science he might have taken a mastership at a preparatory school; alternatively, he could have gone into a great motor works for three years at a salary of thirty shillings a week, with no sure prospect at the end of his apprenticeship; or he could have been appointed to a commission in His Majesty’s Army, where he would have received sufficient pay and allowances to disc charge his monthly mess bill; or he might, had he influence, have entered that branch of the Civil Service whence one starts forth on a diplomatic career.

He had no influence, he had no money, except the rags of a thousand pound legacy which had taken him through Cambridge.

He returned one night to the furnished room in Gower Street which he had taken on his arrival in London, and set out before him the four definite offers he had received. He had discovered that even a mastership at a preparatory school was not a post easy to secure. The final offer of a motor-car company he tore up and threw into the fire. From his pocket he took a printed blank and this he filled up with some care and posted. Three days later he was invited to make a call at Scotland Yard, and within six months Mr. Richard Staines, Bachelor of Arts (Camb.), was patrolling the Finchley Road in the uniform of the Metropolitan Constabulary.

Many things contributed to his rapid promotion. A bit of luck, as he confessed, the left hook to the jaw which sent Peter Lanbradi sprawling to the floor just as his finger was pressing the trigger of a pistol malignantly directed towards an Under-Secretary of State, his skill as a runner, and, last and most important, his command of Continental languages. He spoke four perfectly, two well, and three others well enough. Four years after he had joined the force, he was a sergeant in the. C.I.D., earmarked for further promotion.

That promotion came. He was Detective-Inspector Staines when he went to Brighton with Lord Weald, whom he and most people addressed familiarly as ‘Tommy.’ They had been together at Cambridge, were members of the same college, had been arrested together in the same rag.

“It’s the queerest thing in the world, old thing,” bleated Tommy, as he sent his swift Rolls dodging between two farm carts. “Only yesterday it seems you and I were being dragged down Petty Cury by a Robert–and now you’re a Robert!”

He chuckled joyously at the thought.

He was a round-faced man who looked much younger than his years, and though he was by no means a pigmy he was half a foot shorter than the bareheaded, brown-faced man who sat by his side. Good looks were an asset to Dick Staines, though he found no profit in them. He had, the build and eager face of an athlete; the grey, smiling eyes of one who found life rather amusing. Tommy and he had not seen each other for years. Lord Weald had just returned from a trip in South Africa, and they had met accidentally in town–somewhat inconveniently for Dick Staines, who was going to Scotland for a fortnight’s fishing, the guest of a plutocratic Assistant Commissioner. Since his finances were by no means assured, he had let his pretty little Chelsea flat for a month–an arrangement which looked like being very inconvenient, as he explained to his companion.

“Why I’m sky-hooting down to Brighton for two days, heaven knows!”

“You’re sky-hooting to Brighton, old boy,” said Tommy, “because it would have been deuced uncivil if you hadn’t accepted an old pal’s urgent invitation. You told me yourself that your Commissioner, or whatever he calls himself, will not be in Scotland till the end of the week. Besides, I’ve got a lot to tell you. I’ve had tremendous adventures–lion-chasing, everything!”

“Who did the chasing–you or the lion?”

“We took it in turns,” said Tommy calmly. “Sometimes I was in front and sometimes they were. And besides, Brighton’s good for the liver and there’s somebody in Brighton, the prettiest thing you ever met. Never seen anything like her, old boy–”

“A lioness?”

Lord Weald turned pained eyes upon him.

“She’s a nurse, old boy. I’ve never had the cheek to find out who she is, but you’re a detective and all that sort of thing–”

“If you imagine,” said Dick Staines sternly, “that I’m coming to Brighton to further your low amours, you’ve got another guess coming, Tommy.”

By the time Tommy Weald had recovered from his indignation and incoherence they had reached the hotel. They were going up the steps of the broad entrance, when a man came out–a man with a large, red face, and a short, bristling, black moustache. He stared at ‘Tommy, and waved a cheery hand.

“Dashed amusin’ feller,” said Tommy. “Know him?”

Dick shook his head.

“Walter Derrick,” explained his lordship. “Lives next door to me in Lowndes Square. Big house, pots of money, but dashed amusin’. My poor, dear old governor used to say that his father was the most dashed unpleasant man he’d ever met, but this feller is–is–”

“Dashed amusin’?” suggested Dick.

Going up in the elevator, Tommy, whose mind could never hold two ideas at once, expatiated upon the dashed amusingness of his neighbour. So far as Dick Staines could gather, Mr. Derrick’s chief claim to the title of good fellow was that he laughed at all Tommy’s jokes.

Dick knew the gentleman very well by name; indeed, he had recognised his big yellow Rolls standing outside the hotel. The only thing he had heard in his disfavour was that on one occasion, when a poor cousin, his sole relative, had called at the house to secure his help in a time of domestic trouble, Mr. Derrick had sent for the police and had the importunate relative removed. Which was curiously unlike the big, genial soul. His father had been the most notorious miser in London. He had carried his meanness to such lengths that, according to legend, he had quarrelled with Walter Derrick over the purchase of a bicycle, and for years the pair had been estranged, Derrick working abroad as a common labourer.

Nothing of those seven or eight years’ exile had soured the man. From the shy, furtive lad that very few people had seen, and nobody had known intimately, he returned a year before the old man died, one who saw all the humour there was in life.

“He’s dashed glad to be alive–he told me so,” said Tommy.

This little extra holiday was a pleasant break to Dick Staines. After dinner, the evening being warm and the light still holding, the two men strolled along the front, and Tommy, who had hardly stopped speaking since he reached England, related with great force and vigour, and with a wealth of illustrative gesture, the adventures (tame enough they sounded, even embellished as they were) that had come his way.

They had reached a less populated part of the parade when Dick felt his arm clutched.

“There she is!”

Dick Staines turned his head. A girl in severe nurse’s costume was walking slowly towards them. Until they were nearly abreast he could not see her face.

There is a beauty which instantly appeals; more critical examination brings disappointment. There is another type which impresses more slowly and more lastingly, and a third, and the rarest of all, an instant discovery of loveliness which brings with it the illusion of familiarity.

Seeing her for the first time, Dick Staines was certain that a long acquaintance must have built up his knowledge and appreciation of her beauty. In less than a second he had seen and she had passed.

“Well, what do you think, old boy?” Tommy was anxiously awaiting his verdict.

“She’s very pretty,” said the cautious Dick Staines, and felt a brute at his churlish lack of enthusiasm.

“She’s a nurse, old boy,” said Tommy unnecessarily. “Pushes a dithering old Johnny all over the place in a perambulator–well, she doesn’t exactly push him, but she’s on the spot. Ain’t she a stunner?”

“She’s certainly a stunner,” admitted Dick. “What is her name?”

“Mary Dane. You wouldn’t guess that I’d find that out,” said Tommy triumphantly, “but I have! Mary Dane–sounds like something off the screen, doesn’t it?”

“How do you know her name is Mary Dane?”

“Because I asked at the boarding-house,” said the shameless Tommy. “That’s an idea that wouldn’t have occurred to you–some of us fellers have got more initiative than Roberts. And I’ll tell you something else: the old gentleman she pulls about is a man named Cornfort. They dodge up and down the coast, looking for the right kind of air. I spoke to her once–said ‘Good-morning.’”

“What did she say?” asked Dick, amused at this sudden romance.

“She said Good-morning,’ too,” said Tommy. “But she so took me aback answering me at all that I couldn’t think of anything more to say! She’s a lady, old boy–got a voice like custard–you know, kind of soft and creamy…” He floundered, seeking an illustration.

They walked back, hoping to see her again, but were disappointed. That night, as they sat in the smoke room, discussing a final whisky and soda, Mr. Walter Derrick strolled in. He was in evening dress, a fine, happy-looking figure of a man. He glanced round the room, and presently his eyes rested on Lord Weald, and he walked slowly across to where they were sitting.

“Hallo, Weald! Siamese twins, you and I, eh? They lived next door in London, and in Brighton they were not divided!” He chuckled at this as he sat down.

He smiled at Dick, his eyes gleaming good-humouredly behind his horn-rimmed glasses.

“And what terrible crime brings you to Brighton, Mr. Inspector?” he said, to Dick’s surprise. “Oh yes, I know you. Saw you giving evidence in court–criminal cases are a hobby of mine. I’ve got the best library in London.”

“Dick’s a friend of mine,” Tommy hastened to explain his guest’s position. “We were at ‘Varsity together; then he became a Robert, and there you are!”

Evidently Mr. Derrick had no great interest in Dick’s social position.

“It’s queer I should have met you. I was only talking with somebody the other night and your name cropped up. We were discussing the Slough shooting case. You remember, the cashier of some company–I don’t remember what it was–was shot dead and the pay-roll taken. I was in Africa at the time, and my impression was that they’d caught the man, but my friend tells me that he was never captured. That’s probably before you went into the Force.”

“On the very day I entered the Force,” said Dick quietly. “No, he was never captured. We have, of course, a clue–”

Mr. Derrick nodded.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.