The Thief in the Night - Edgar Wallace - ebook

The Thief in the Night ebook

Edgar Wallace

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Edgar Wallace (1875-1932) was a publishing phenomenon in his day, his name being synonymous with the word „thriller,” a genre some would credit him with inventing. His popularity at the time was comparable to that of Charles Dickens – one of Wallace’s publishers claimed that a quarter of all books read in England were written by him. „The Thief in the Night” is an enjoyable easy going, fast moving mystery novella, set in England during the 1928’s. Diamond plaques are being stolen from wealthy girls and poison pen letters are being delivered Inspector Jack Danton is puzzled... Wonderful entertainment and highly entertaining. If you haven’t discovered the joys of Wallace’s thrillers there is a good place to start. Highly recommended.

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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 I

…also ask your wife where she was on Saturday, the 23rd, when she was supposed to be in the country. I can tell you that she was dining tête-à-tête with a young guards officer at his flat.

Yours sincerely,

A Candid Friend.

LORD WIDDICOMBe put down the letter with a contemptuous smile. For a second he was inclined to tear it up and throw the written venom into the fire. Of this, however, he thought better, and rang the bell for his valet.

“Frank, will you ask her ladyship to be so good as to come to me?”

In a few minutes came Lady Widdicombe, slight and pretty. She was twenty years younger than her lord, but there was no happier pair in the land.

“My dear,” said the earl, with a twinkle in his grey eyes, “somebody has been trying to break up our happy home.”

He passed the letter to her and watched the anger kindle in her face as she read.

“What a beast!” she gasped. “The 23rd; why, I dined with Ronnie that night, of course!”

“A young guards officer! My stepson!”

Lord Widdicombe chuckled and patted her cheek.

“You’re a wicked woman,” he said solemnly, “and I’ve found you out. But who the devil is the writer?”

Lady Widdicombe shook her head.

“It’s wicked, abominable,” she said vehemently; “of course, it does no mischief where you and I are concerned, but think what it means when that kind of letter goes into a household where suspicion already exists? And by the way, Willie, the burglar has been busy again–Mrs. Crewe-Sanders has lost a most valuable diamond plaque.”

His lordship raised his eyebrows.

“Another plaque? That is about the fourth that has been taken in a month–I admire that burglar’s consistency; by heavens, he is a gentleman and a scholar compared with A Candid Friend. Don’t tell Diana, she’ll be fearfully worried.”

His wife was silent. She stared through the long french windows across the rain-soaked park, and it was clear that the dismal prospect was not the cause of her absorption.

“I wonder why Diana so dislikes Barbara May?” she asked thoughtfully.”

His lordship grinned.

“It is such a joy to find Diana holding strong views on any subject,” he said, “that I’ll forgive even her dislike of Barbara May. But don’t tell her about the letter–I’m sending it up to Scotland Yard. By the way, talking of Scotland Yard, I have asked Jack Danton to come down for the cricket week. It’s rum, a fellow like that being in the police.”

But Lady Widdicombe was thinking of something else as she drifted out of the library.

She found Diana Wold sitting in the little drawing-room overlooking the rosary–a soddened rosary that bore no resemblance to the lovely pleasuance which the summer would bring–and Diana, looking ethereal in white, had a volume of poetry open on her knees.

She raised her violet blue eyes as her cousin entered, and put down the book.

Diana’s beauty was the fragile beauty of delicate china, her quick smile was appealing and just a little sad.

She rose and kissed the other on the cheek, and gave the impression by a certain timidity that she was a little scared of her self-possessed relative.

“Why do you dislike Barbara?” asked Elsie Widdicombe with that directness which was her most disconcerting quality.

The girl laughed, and when Diana laughed she was very beautiful.

“You are so queer, Elsie,” she said. “Do I dislike Barbara. at all? Perhaps …no, I think I just don’t like her. She is a charming girl, but somehow we do not harmonize …we swear at each other like purple and pink. I am the pink. She hates poetry and I adore it. She loves hunting and golf; I like motoring and tennis. I am constitutionally lazy and she is amazonically robust and energetic. Why this interrogation–has Willie been rhapsodizing over Barbara?”

Lady Widdicombe seated herself in the big settee.

“I was just thinking–I saw you had a letter from Mrs. Crewe-Sanders this morning–I had one too. Did she tell you–”

Diana nodded and there was a twinkle in her fine eyes.

“Now I know why you mention Barbara–she was staying with the Crewe-Sanders.”

Lady Widdicombe protested, a little feebly.

“Barbara was staying with them,” the girl went on teasingly, “and she was staying with the Colebrooks when Mrs. Carter lost her plaque, and she was a guest of the Fairholms when Lady Fairholm lost her plaque.”

“Diana!”

“Oh yes, I know. But it is true, isn’t it? And isn’t this true also,” the smile left the girl’s face and she spoke slowly, “that all those beastly anonymous letters from ‘A Candid Friend’ are addressed to people who are known to Barbara May?”

Lady Widdicombe rose.

“Really, Diana, I never dreamt that you could be so uncharitable! They are our friends, too. I don’t think you know what you are saying; you are suggesting that Barbara is not only a thief but a–”

“I know,” Diana nodded sadly, “it is a rotten suggestion, but we are faced with the irresistible logic of facts.”

Lady Widdicombe snorted.

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