The Terror and Other Stories - Edgar Wallace - ebook

The Terror and Other Stories ebook

Edgar Wallace



The master mystery-story teller presents a collection of short stories that include „The Terror” and many more. A group of criminals carry out a daring robbery of an armored van. Two of the criminals are betrayed by the mastermind of the operation. After ten years in prison they come out and search for the man behind the crimes who betrayed them. This genuine mystery story takes the reader from one exciting adventure to another with all the adroitness and ingenuity of Mr. Wallace’s previous successful books. One is left gasping with suspense as the many clues are unraveled only to be followed by others still more stubborn. Edgar Wallace provides a thrill of another sort!

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Liczba stron: 167

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O’SHEA was in his maddest mood, had been like it all night. Stalking up and down the grassy slope, muttering to himself, waving his hands at some invisible audience, cackling with laughter at his own mysterious jokes; and at dawn he had fallen upon little Lipski, who had dared light a cigarette in defiance of instructions, and had beaten him with savage brutality, and the other two men had not dared interfere.

Joe Connor sprawled on the ground, chewing a blade of grass, and watching with sombre eyes the restless figure. Marks, who sat cross-legged by his side, watched too, but there was a twisted and sneering smile on his thin lips.

“Mad as a coot,” said Joe Connor in a low voice. “If he pulls this job off without getting us in gaol for the rest of our lives we’ll be lucky.”

Soapy Marks licked his dry lips.

“He’s cleverest when he’s mad.” He spoke like a man of culture. Some said that Soapy was intended for the church before a desire for an easier and more illicit method of living made him one of the most skillful, and nearly the most dangerous, gangster in England.

“Lunacy, my dear fellow, does not mean stupidity. Can’t you stop that fellow blubbering?”

Joe Connor did not rise; he turned his eyes in the direction of the prostrate figure of Lipski, who was groaning and swearing sobbingly.

“He’ll get over it,” he said indifferently. “The bigger beating he gets the more he respects O’Shea.”

He wriggled a little closer to his confederate.

“Have you ever seen O’Shea–his face, I mean?” he asked, dropping his voice a note lower. “I never have, and I’ve done two”–he thought–“three,” he corrected, “jobs with him. He’s always had that coat on he’s got now, with the collar right up to his nose, the same old hat over his eyes. I never used to believe there was that kind of crook–thought they were only seen on the stage. First time I ever heard of him was when he sent for me–met him on the St. Albans Road about twelve o’clock, but never saw his face. He knew all about me; told me how many convictions I’d had, and the kind of work he wanted me for––”

“And paid you well,” said Marks lazily, when the other paused. “He always pays well; he always picks up his ‘staff’ in the same way.”

He pursed his lips as though he were going to whistle, examined the restless figure of the master thoughtfully.

“He’s mad–and he pays well. He will pay better this time.”

Connor looked up sharply.

“Two hundred and fifty quid and fifty getaway money–that’s fair, ain’t it?”

“He will pay better,” said Marks suavely. “This little job deserves it. Am I to drive a motor-lorry containing three tons of Australian sovereigns through the streets of London, possibly risk hanging, for two hundred and fifty pounds–and getaway money? I think not.”

He rose to his feet and dusted his knees daintily. O’Shea had disappeared over the crest of the hill, was possibly behind the hedge line which swept round in a semi-circle till it came within half a dozen feet of where the men were talking of him.

“Three tons of gold; nearly half a million pounds. At least I think we’re entitled to ten per cent.”

Connor grinned, jerked his head towards the whimpering Lipski.

“And him?”

Marks bit his lip.

“I don’t think we could include him.”

He glanced round again for some sign of O’Shea, and dropped down beside his companion.

“We’ve got the whole thing in our hands,” he said in a voice that was little more than a whisper. “He’ll be sane to-morrow. These fits only come on him at rare intervals; and a sane man will listen to reason. We’re holding up this gold convoy–that’s one of O’Shea’s oldest tricks, to fill a deep cutting full of gas. I wonder he dare repeat it. I am driving the lorry to town and hiding it. Would O’Shea give us our share if he had to decide between an unpleasant interview with us and a more unpleasant interview with Inspector Bradley?”

Connor plucked another blade of grass and chewed on it gloomily.

“He’s clever,” he began, and again Marks’ lips curled.

“Aren’t they all?” he demanded. “Isn’t Dartmoor full of clever people? That’s old Hallick’s great joke–he calls all the prisoners collegers. No, my dear Connor, believe me, cleverness is a relative term––”

“What does that mean?” growled Connor with a frown. “Don’t try swank on me, Soapy–use words I can understand.”

He looked around again a little anxiously for the vanished O’Shea. Behind the hill crest, in a narrow lane, O’Shea’s big car was parked that would carry him to safety after the job. His confederates would be left to take all the risks, face the real dangers which would follow, however cleverly the coup was organised.

A little distance away to the left, on the edge of the deep cutting, four big steel gas cylinders lay in line. Even from where he sprawled he could see the long white road leading into the cutting, on which presently would appear the flickering lights of the gold convoy. His gas mask lay under his hand; Marks had his sticking out of his coat pocket.

“He must have a lot of stuff,” he said.

“Who–O’Shea?” Marks shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know. He spends money like a lunatic. I should think he was broke. It’s nearly twelve months since he had a big haul.”

“What does he do with the money?” asked Connor curiously.

“Spends it, as we all do,” was the laconic answer. “He talked about buying a big country house last time I saw him; he was going to settle down and live the life of a gentleman. Last night, when I had a chat with him, he said it would take half this loot to pay his debts.”

Marks examined his well-manicured nails.

“Amongst other things he’s a liar,” he said lightly. “What’s that?”

He looked towards the line of bushes a few yards distant. He had heard a rustle, the snap of a twig, and was on his feet instantly. Crossing the short intervening space, he peered over the bushes. There was nobody in sight. He came back thoughtfully to Connor.

“I wonder if the devil was listening,” he said, “and how long he’s been listening!”

“Who–O’Shea?” asked the startled Connor.

Marks did not reply, but drew a deep breath. Obviously he was uncomfortable.

“If he’d heard anything he would have come for me. He’s moody–he’s been moody all night.”

At this point Connor got up and stretched himself.

“I’d like to know how he lives. I’ll bet he’s got a wife and family tucked away somewhere–that kind of bird always has. There he is!”

The figure of O’Shea had appeared across the rise; he was coming towards them.

“Get your masks ready. You don’t want any further instructions, Soapy?” The voice, muffled by the high collar which reached to the tip of his nose, was rational, almost amiable.

“Pick that fellow up.” He pointed to Lipski, and, when the order had been obeyed, he called the cringing man before him. “You’ll go to the end of the road, put your red lantern on and stop them. By stop them I mean slow them down. Don’t let yourself be seen; there are ten armed men on the lorry.”

He examined the cylinders; from the nozzle of each a thick rubber pipe trailed down into the cutting. With a spanner he opened the valve of each, and the silence was broken by the deep hissing of the gas as it escaped.

“It’ll lie in the bottom, so you needn’t put on your masks till we’re ready,” he said.

He followed Lipski to the end of the cutting, watched the red lamp lit, and pointed out the place where the man was to hide. Then he came back to Marks. Not by word or sign did he betray the fact that he had overheard the two men talking. If there was to be a quarrel this was not the moment for it. O’Shea was intensely sane at that moment.

They heard the sound of the incoming trolley before they saw the flicker of its lights emerge from the cover of Felsted Wood.

“Now,” said O’Shea sharply.

He made no attempt to draw on a mask, as did his two assistants.

“You won’t have to use your guns, but keep them handy in case anything goes wrong–don’t forget that if the guard isn’t knocked out immediately it will shoot at sight. You know where to meet me to-morrow?”

The shrouded head of Soapy nodded.

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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.