The Face in the Night - Edgar Wallace - ebook

The Face in the Night ebook

Edgar Wallace

0,0

Opis

The Face in the Night” was written in the year 1924 by Edgar Wallace. Leaving her chicken farm and moving to London to seek her sister, Audrey Bedford is caught passing the Queen of Finland’s stolen necklace, and allows herself to be sent to prison for a year rather than implicate her guilty sibling. Once released, she takes a position as scribe to the mysterious Mr. Malpas, who lurks in his electrically-automated apartment and only allows himself to be seen from across a darkened room. When Malpas’ neighbor, the Australian Mr. Marshalt is murdered in the lair, Audrey is enmeshed in a tangle of lost diamonds, a long-burning feud, the fate of her father, and the affections of Captain Dick Shannon, Chief Inspector of Scotland Yard.

Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi na:

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

Liczba stron: 517

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

Androidzie
iOS



Contents

1. The Man From The South

2. The Queen Of Finland’s Necklace

3. Audrey

4. The Hon. Lacy

5. Slick—Philosopher

6. The Sisters

7. The Plot

8. The Arrest

9. Disowned

10. The Truth

11. Mr. Malpas

12. The Interview

13. Bunny Talks Straight

14. A Chance Meeting

15. The Man Whom Lacy Did Not Know

16. Shannon Pays A Call

17. Tonger Assists

18. Lacy Entertains

19. The Story Of Joshua

20. A Message From Malpas

21. Martin Elton Predicts An Inquest

22. A Proposal

23. Slick Hints

24. The Swimmer

25. The Call To Paris

26. The Woman In The Park

27. The Betrayal

28. The House Of Death

29. Mr. Malpas’s God

30. The Cigarette-Case

31. Martin Elton Comes Home

32. The Letter

33. In The Outer Circle

34. Mr Brown Offers Advice

35. The Feet On The Stairs

36. A Vision Of Marshalt

37. The Buffet Lift

38. Stormer’s

39. The Face In The Night

40. The Guest Who Disappeared

41. A Job For Audrey

42. The Spotter

43. Dora Tells The Truth

44. The New Heiress

45. Mr. S. Smith Brings News

46. In A Haymarket Flat

47. The Idol

48. A Bag

49. A Domiciliary Visit

50. Audrey’s Story

51. A Reconciliation

52. Mr. Torrington’s Secretary

53. What Bunny Saw

54. Moving An Idol

55. The Flat Burglar

56. The Lever

57. Audrey Goes To Dinner

58. Mr. Torrington Surprises

59. A Lady Calls On Mr. Smith

60. Fould’s Wharf

61. Marshalt’s Story

62. What Audrey Saw

63. The Man On The Landing

64. Dora Will Not Tell

65. Stanford

66. By The Back Way

67. The Last Victim

68. The Pivot Wall

69. The Double

70. What Slick Said

I. THE MAN FROM THE SOUTH

The fog, which was later to descend upon London, blotting out every landmark, was as yet a grey, misty threat. The light had gone from the sky, and the street-lamps made a blurred showing when the man from the South came unsteadily into Portman Square. In spite of the raw cold he wore no overcoat; his shirt was open at his throat. He walked along, peering up at the doors, and presently he stopped before No. 551 and made a survey of the darkened windows. The corner of his scarred mouth lifted in a sardonic smile.

Strong drink magnifies all dominant emotions. The genial man grows more fond of his fellows, the quarrelsome more bitter. But in the man who harbours a sober grievance, booze brings the red haze that enshrouds murder. And Laker had both the grievance and the medium of magnification.

He would teach this old devil that he couldn’t rob men without a come-back. The dirty skinflint who lived on the risk which his betters were taking. Here was Laker, almost penniless, with a long and painful voyage behind him, and the memory of the close call that had come in Cape Town, when his room had been searched by the police. A dog’s life–that was what he was living. Why should old Malpas, who had not so long to exist, anyway, live in luxury whilst his best agent roughed it? Laker always felt like this when he was drunk.

He was hardly the type that might be expected to walk boldly up to the front door of 551 Portman Square. His long, unshaven face, the old knife wound that ran diagonally from cheek to point of chin, the low forehead, covered with a ragged fringe of hair, taken in conjunction with his outfit, suggested abject poverty.

He stood for a moment, looking down at his awkward-looking boots, and then, mounting the steps, he tapped slowly at the door. Instantly a voice asked: “Who is that?”

“Laker–that’s who!” he said loudly.

A little pause, and the door opened noiselessly and he passed through. There was nobody to receive him, nor did he expect to see a servant. Crossing the bare hall, he walked up the stairs, through an open door and a small lobby into a darkened room. The only light was from a green-shaded lamp on the writing-table, at which an old man sat. Laker stood just inside the room and heard the door close behind him. “Sit down,” said the man at the far end of the room. The visitor had no need for guidance: he knew exactly where the chair and table were, three paces from where he stood, and without a word he seated himself. Again that grin of his twisted his face, but his repulsive-looking host could not see this. “When did you come?”

“I came in the Buluwayo. We docked this morning,” said Laker. “I want some money, and I want it quick, Malpas!”

“Put down what you have brought, on the table,” said the old man harshly. “Return in a quarter of an hour and the money will be waiting for you.”

“I want it now,” said the other with drunken obstinacy. Malpas turned his hideous face towards the visitor. “There’s only one method in this shop,” he said gratingly, “and that’s mine! Leave it or take it away. You’re drunk, Laker, and when you’re drunk you’re a fool.”

“Maybe I am. But I’m not such a fool that I’m going to take the risks I’ve been taking any more! And you’re taking some too, Malpas. You don’t know who’s living next door to you.”

He remembered this item of information, discovered by accident that very morning.

The man he called Malpas drew his padded dressing-gown a little closer around his shoulders, and chuckled.

“I don’t know, eh? Don’t know that Lacy Marshalt is living next door? Why do you think I’m living here, you fool, if it is not to be next to him?”

The drunkard stared open-mouthed. “Next to him… what for? He’s one of the men you’re robbing–he’s a crook, but you’re robbing him! What do you want to get next to him for?”

“That’s my business,” said the other curtly. “Leave the stuff and go.”

“Leave nothing,” said Laker, and rose awkwardly to his feet. “And I’m not leaving this place either, till I know all about you, Malpas. I’ve been thinking things out. You’re not what you look. You don’t sit at one end of this dark room and keep the likes of me at the other end for nothing. I’m going to have a good look at you, son. And don’t move. You can’t see the gun in my hand, but you’ve got my word it’s there!”

He took two steps forward, and then something checked him and threw him back. It was a wire, invisible in the darkness, stretched breast-high from wall to wall. Before he could recover his balance, the light went out.

And then there came upon the man a fit of insane fury. With a roar he leaped forward, snapping the wire. A second obstruction, this time a foot from the ground, caught his legs and brought him sprawling.

“Show a light, you old thief!” he screamed as he staggered lo his feet, stool in hand. “You’ve been robbing me for years–living on me, you old devil! I’m going to squeal, Malpas! You pay or I’ll squeal!”

“That’s the third time you’ve threatened me.”

The voice was behind him, and he spun round and, in a frenzy of fury, fired. The draped walls muffled the explosion, but in the instant’s flash of flame he saw a figue creeping towards the door, and, stark mad with anger, fired again. The reek of burnt cordite hung in that airless room like a veil. “Put on the light; put on the light!” he screamed. And then the door opened and he saw the figure slip through. In a second he was out on the landing, but the old man had disappeared. Where had he gone? There was another door, and he flung himself against it.

“Come out!” he roared. “Come out and face me, you Judas!”

He heard a click behind him. The door of the room whence he had come had closed. A flight of stairs led to another story, and he put one foot on the lower stair and stopped. He was conscious that he was still holding the little leather bag that lie had taken from his pocket when he came into the room, and, realizing that he was going away empty-handed, with his linsiness incomplete, he hammered at the door behind which he guessed his employer was sheltering.

“Aw, come out, Malpas! There’ll be no trouble. I’m a bit drunk, I guess.”

There was no answer.

“I’m sorry, Malpas.” He saw something at his feet, and, stooping, picked it up. It was a waxen chin, perfectly modelled and coloured, and it had evidently been held in position by two elastic bands, one of which was broken. The sight of this tickled him and he burst into a yell of laughter.

“Say, Malpas! I’ve got a part of your face!” he said. “Come out, or I’ll take this funny chin of yours to the police. Maybe they’ll want to recover the rest of you.”

No answer came, and, still chuckling, he went down the stairs and sought to open the front door. There was no handle, and the keyhole was tiny, and, squinting through, he could see nothing.

“Malpas!”

His big voice came echoing down from the empty rooms above, and with a curse he flew up the stairs again. He was half-way to the first landing when something dropped. Looking up, he saw the hateful face above, saw the black weight falling, and strove to avoid it. Another second and he was sliding down the stairs, an inert mass.

II. THE QUEEN OF FINLAND’S NECKLACE

There was a dance at the American Embassy. The sidewalk was spanned by a striped awning, a strip of red carpet ran down the steps to the kerb, and for an hour glittering limousines had been bringing the distinguished and privileged guests to join the throng already gathered in the none too spacious saloons that form the forty-ninth state of the Union.

When the stream of cars had dried to the merest trickle, a compact, jovial-faced man stepped down from a big machine and walked leisurely past the fringe of sightseers. He nodded genially to the London policeman who kept the passage clear, and passed into the hall.

“Colonel James Bothwell,” he said to the footman, and made his slow progress to the saloon.

“Excuse me.” A good-looking man in evening dress took his arm affectionately and diverted him towards a small ante-room fitted as a buffet, and at this early hour deserted.

Colonel Bothwell raised his eyebrows in good-natured surprise at this familiarity His attitude seemed to say: You are a perfect stranger to me, probably one of these queerly friendly Americans, so I must tolerate your company. “No,” said the stranger gently.

“No?” Colonel Bothwell’s eyebrows could not go any higher, so he reversed his facial processes and frowned.

“No–I think not.” The grey eyes smiling down into the Colonel’s were twinkling with amusement.

“My dear American friend,” said the Colonel, trying to disengage his arm. “I really do not understand… you have made a mistake.”

The other man shook his head slowly. “I never make mistakes–and I am English, as you very well know, and you are English too, in spite of your caricature of the New England accent. My poor old Slick, it is too bad!”

Slick Smith sighed, but gave no other evidence of his disappointment.

“If an American citizen can’t make a friendly call on his own Ambassador without lashin’ the bull-pen to fury, why, sump’n’s wrong, that’s all. See here. Captain, I got an invitation. And if my Ambassador wants to see me I guess that’s no business of yours.”

Captain Dick Shannon chuckled softly. “He doesn’t want to see you. Slick. He’d just hate to see a clever English crook around here with a million dollars’ worth of diamonds within reach. He might be glad to see Colonel Kothwell of the 94th Cavalry on a visit to London and anxious to shake him by the hand, but he has no use at all for Slick Smith, Jewel Thief, Confidence Man and Super-Opportunist. Have a drink with me before you go?”

Slick sighed again. “Grape juice,” he said laconically, and indicated the bottle which was otherwise labelled. “And you’re wrong if you think I’m here on business. That’s a fact. Captain. Curiosity is my vice, and I was curious to see Queen Riena’s diamond necklace. Maybe it’s the last time I’ll see it. Go easy with that water, George–whisky can’t swim.”

He stared gloomily at the glass in his hand before he swallowed its contents at a gulp.

“But in a way I’m glad you spotted me. I got the invitation through a friend. Knowing what I know, my coming here was the act of one who imagines he is being followed by black dogs and poisoned by his spiritual adviser. But I’m curious. And I’m cursed with the detective instinct. You’ve heard of them nuts, Jekyll and Hyde? That’s me. Every man’s got his dreams, Shannon. Even a busy.*”

[* A “busy” or “busy fellow” is, in the argot of the underworld]

“Even a busy,” agreed Dick Shannon.

“Some men dream about the way they’d spend a million,” Slick went on pensively. “Some men dream of how they’d save a girl from starvation and worse, and be a brother to her until she got to love him… you know! Between jobs I dream of how I would unravel deadly mysteries. Like Stormer –the busy thief-taker that gave me away to you. They’ve got something on me.”

It was perfectly true that Shannon had had his first intimation of Slick’s character from that famous agency.

“Do we meet now as brother detectives?” he asked, “or are we just plain busy and… ? “

“Say ‘thief–don’t worry about my feelings,” begged Slick. “Yes, I’m a busy tonight.”

“And the Queen’s diamonds?”

Slick drew a long breath.

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.

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.

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.

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