The Ringer - Edgar Wallace - ebook

The Ringer ebook

Edgar Wallace

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Perhaps Edgar Wallace’s best-known book, originally published under the title „The Gaunt Stranger” in 1925. Inspector Wembury’s day turns from bad to worse when a legendary assassin who was supposed dead in Australia returns to London seeking vengeance for the murder of his sister. Scotland Yard know The Ringer had left his sister in the care of unscrupulous lawyer Maurice Meister and that she was later found drowned, so they warn Meister that The Ringer is in London. Who is The Ringer? It will be a clever reader who can spot him before the very end of the story. An exiting page tuner full of intrigue and mystery, „The Ringer” is a must-read for all fans of thrilling crime fiction.

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Liczba stron: 325

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Contents

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 7

CHAPTER 8

CHAPTER 9

CHAPTER 10

CHAPTER 11

CHAPTER 12

CHAPTER 13

CHAPTER 14

CHAPTER 15

CHAPTER 16

CHAPTER 17

CHAPTER 18

CHAPTER 19

CHAPTER 20

CHAPTER 21

CHAPTER 22

CHAPTER 23

CHAPTER 24

CHAPTER 25

CHAPTER 26

CHAPTER 27

CHAPTER 28

CHAPTER 29

CHAPTER 30

CHAPTER 31

CHAPTER 32

CHAPTER 33

CHAPTER 34

CHAPTER 35

CHAPTER 36

CHAPTER 37

CHAPTER 38

CHAPTER 39

CHAPTER 40

CHAPTER 41

CHAPTER 42

CHAPTER 43

CHAPTER 44

CHAPTER 45

CHAPTER 46

CHAPTER 1

The Assistant Commissioner of Police pressed a bell on his table, and, to the messenger who entered the room a few seconds after: “Ask Inspector Wembury if he will be good enough to see me,” he said.

The Commissioner put away into a folder the document he had been reading. Alan Wembury’s record both as a police officer and as a soldier was magnificent. He had won a commission in the war, risen to the rank of Major and had earned the Distinguished Service Order for his fine work in the field. And now a new distinction had come to him.

The door opened and a man strode in. He was above the average height. The Commissioner looked up and saw a pair of good-humoured grey eyes looking down at him from a lean, tanned face.

“Good morning, Wembury.”

“Good morning, sir.”

Alan Wembury was on the sunny side of thirty, an athlete, a cricketer, a man who belonged to the out-of-doors. He had the easy poise and the refinement of speech which comes from long association with gentlemen.

“I have asked you to come and see me because I have some good news for you,” said the Commissioner.

He had a real affection for this straight-backed subordinate of his. In all his years of police service he had never felt quite as confident of any man as he had of this soldierly detective.

“All news is good news to me, sir,” laughed Alan.

He was standing stiffly to attention now and the Commissioner motioned him to a chair.

“You are promoted divisional inspector and you take over ‘R’ Division as from Monday week,” said the chief, and in spite of his self-control, Alan was taken aback. A divisional inspectorship was one of the prizes of the C.I.D. Inevitably it must lead in a man of his years to a central inspectorship; eventually inclusion in the Big Four, and one knows not what beyond that.

“This is very surprising, sir,’” he said at last. “I am terribly grateful. I think there must be a lot of men entitled to this step before me–”

Colonel Walford shook his head.

“I’m glad for your sake, but I don’t agree,” he said. And then, briskly: “We’re making considerable changes at the Yard. Bliss is coming back from America; he has been attached to the Embassy at Washington–do you know him?”

Alan Wembury shook his head. He had heard of the redoubtable Bliss, but knew little more about him than that he was a capable police officer and was cordially disliked by almost every man at the Yard.

“‘R’ Division will not be quite as exciting as it was a few years ago,” said the Commissioner with a twinkle in his eye; “and you at any rate should be grateful.”

“Was it an exciting division, sir?” asked Alan, to whom Deptford was a new territory.

Colonel Walford nodded. The laughter had gone out of his eyes; he was very grave indeed when he spoke again.

“I was thinking about The Ringer–I wonder what truth there is in the report of his death? The Australian police are almost certain that the man taken out of Sydney Harbour was this extraordinary scoundrel.”

Alan Wembury nodded slowly.

The Ringer!

The very name produced a little thrill that was unpleasantly like a shiver. Yet Alan Wembury was without fear; his courage, both as a soldier and a detective, was inscribed in golden letters. But there was something very sinister and deadly in the very name of The Ringer, something that conjured up a repellent spectacle…the cold, passionless eyes of a cobra.

Who had not heard of The Ringer? His exploits had terrified London. He had killed ruthlessly, purposelessly, if his motive were one of personal vengeance. Men who had good reason to hate and fear him, had gone to bed, hale and hearty, snapping their fingers at the menace, safe in the consciousness that their houses were surrounded by watchful policemen. In the morning they had been found stark and dead. The Ringer, like the dark angel of death, had passed and withered them in their prime.

“Though The Ringer no longer haunts your division, there is one man in Deptford I would like to warn you against,” said Colonel Walford, “and he–”

“Is Maurice Meister,” said Alan, and the Commissioner raised his eyebrows in surprise.

“Do you know him?” he asked, astonished. “I didn’t know Meister’s reputation as a lawyer was so widespread.”

Alan Wembury hesitated, fingering his little moustache.

“I only know him because he happens to be the Lenley’s family lawyer,” he said.

The Commissioner shook his head with a laugh. “Now you’ve got me out of my depth: I don’t even know the Lenleys. And yet you speak their name with a certain amount of awe. Unless,” he said suddenly, “you are referring to old George Lenley of Hertford, the man who died a few months ago?”

Alan nodded.

“I used to hunt with him,” mused the Commissioner. “A hard-riding, hard-drinking type of old English squire. He died broke, somebody told me. Had he any children?”

“Two, sir,” said Alan quietly.

“And Meister is their lawyer, eh?” The Commissioner laughed shortly. “They weren’t well advised to put their fortune in the hands of Maurice Meister.”

He stared through the window on to the Thames Embankment. The clang of tram bells came faintly through the double windows. There was a touch of spring in the air; the bare branches along the Embankment were budding greenly, and soon would be displayed all their delicate leafy splendour. A curious and ominous place, this Scotland Yard, and yet human and kindly hearts beat behind its grim exterior.

Walford was thinking, not of Meister, but of the children who were left in Meister’s care.

“Meister knew The Ringer,” he said unexpectedly, and Wembury’s eyes opened.

“Knew The Ringer, sir?” he repeated.

Walford nodded.

“I don’t know how well; I suspect too well–too well for the comfort of The Ringer if he’s alive. He left his sister in Meister’s charge–Gwenda Milton. Six months ago, the body of Gwenda Milton was taken from the Thames.” Alan nodded as he recalled the tragedy. “She was Meister’s secretary. One of these days when you’ve nothing better to do, go up to the Record Office–there was a great deal that didn’t come out at the inquest.”

“About Meister?”

Colonel Walford nodded.

“If The Ringer is dead, nothing matters, but if he is alive”–he shrugged his broad shoulders and looked oddly under the shaggy eyebrows at the young detective–“if he is alive, I know something that would bring him back to Deptford–and to Meister.”

“What is that, sir?” asked Wembury.

Again Walford gave his cryptic smile.

“Examine the record and you will read the oldest drama in the world –the story of a trusting woman and a vile man.”

And then, dismissing The Ringer with a wave of his hand as though he were a tangible vision awaiting such a dismissal, he became suddenly the practical administrator.

“You are taking up your duties on Monday week. You might like to go down and have a look round, and get acquainted with your new division?”

Alan hesitated.

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