The Twister - Edgar Wallace - ebook

The Twister ebook

Edgar Wallace

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Edgar Wallace’s „The Twister”, published in 1928, is a tale of murder, high finance, and intrigue. Lord Frensham knows exactly who’s swindling him in the stock market – Anthony „Tony” Braid, who many call The Twister. And he’s not about to believe Braid’s crazy notion that his own nephew, his flesh and blood, is behind the embezzlement... Then Frensham is found dead in his office, but Inspector Elk of the Scotland Yard knows it’s not suicide, no matter the elaborate scheme the murderer invented. But who is the murderer? It is a highly entertaining little thriller. The characters are broadly drawn but vivid, the plot movers along at a breakneck pace, and it’s rather luridly sensationalistic for its era.

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Liczba stron: 305

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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 1

There was once a little trainer of racehorses and a jockey who were at variance. The third party to the dispute was a bookmaker of dubious reputation and the trouble arose over a horse called Ectis, which was favourite for the Royal Hunt Cup. Both jockey and trainer were under suspicion; they lived so near a warning-off notice that they could afford to take no risks.

This dispute was whether the horse should be scientifically left at the post or (as the jockey suggested) whether all risks should be eliminated by a small dose of a certain drug before the race. Both men were foreseeing certain contingencies; for if the horse were left, the jockey was to blame, and if the stewards thought the animal had been “doctored” and there was an inquiry, the trainer would most certainly depart from the turf with some violence.

Eventually, the trainer had his way; Ectis was to be caught at the gale “flat-footed”. The bookmaker who acted for both laid the horse continuously, and from favourite he became second favourite, and from second favourite, third: from thence he drifted into the 100 to 6 class.

“I can’t understand it,” said the trainer to the owner on the day before the race. “The horse was never better, Mr. Braid.”

Mr. Braid drew thoughtfully at a long cigar, and his dark eyes fixed on the wizened little trainer. He was new to the game–in England, at any rate–an easygoing man, very rich, very amenable. He had no racing friends and knowledgeable racing men regarded curiously the slim figure with the dark, greying hair and the long sallow face and, without pitying him, expressed their regret that so profitable a mug had fallen into the hands of Lingford the trainer and his conscienceless partner, Joe Brille, the jockey.

Mr. Anthony Braid did not, apparently, pity himself. He had a small but lovely house at Ascot where he lived alone even during The Week, and he was content with his loneliness. You saw him standing aloof in various members’ enclosures smoking his long cigar and looking a little vacantly into space. He seldom betted, but when he did, he betted in modest tens; he never disputed the suggestions of his trainer; he made no inquiries of his jockey. You had the impression that racing bored him.

“Possibly,” he drawled when the trainer paused, “possibly the bookmakers fancy something else?”

“That’s right, sir–they think Denford Boy is a certainty.”

Often did Mr. Lingford regret that he could not run Ectis to win –there might be a fortune for him. But he owed a lot of money to the bookmaker who was ‘laying’ the horse, and it meant the greater part of two thousand to lose.

An hour before the Royal Hunt Cup was run, Anthony Braid took his trainer aside.

“My horse has shortened a little in price,” he said.

Mr. Lingford had noticed the fact. “Yes, sir–somebody has been backing him all over the country.”

He was somewhat uneasy, because that morning the book-maker most concerned had accused him of double dealing.

“Yes,” said Tony Braid in his deep rich voice. “I have been backing him all over the country! I stand to win thirty thousand pounds.”

“Indeed, sir!” The trainer was relieved. He thought it might have been a confederate of Brille, and that the jockey was twisting him. “Well, you’ll have a good run for your money, Brille says–”

“What Brille says doesn’t interest me,” said the owner, gently. “He doesn’t ride the horse–I’ve brought over a jockey from France. And, Mr. Lingford, I’ve changed my trainer, I personally handed over the horse to Mr. Sandford half an hour since, and if you go near him I’ll have you before the Stewards. May I offer you a word of advice?”

The dazed trainer was incapable of reply.

“My advice,” said Anthony Braid, “falls under two heads. One; go into the ring and back Ectis to win you enough to live on for the rest of your life, because I don’t think you’ll ever train another horse; two: never try to swindle a man who graduated on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Good morning!”

Ectis won by three lengths, and amongst the disreputable section of the racing crowd Mr. Anthony Braid acquired a new nickname. He who had been “The Case” and “The Mug” (the terms being synonymous) was known as “The Twister”. And the name stuck. He had it flung at him one day in his City office, when he caught Aaron Trosky, of Trosky Limited, for considerably over fifty thousand. It is true Mr. Trosky, in the innocence of his heart, had tried to ‘catch’ Mr. Anthony Braid for a larger sum over a question of mining rights, but that made no difference. “You’re no better than a twister,” wailed the quavering Aaron. “That’s what they call you, and that’s what you are!”

“Shut the door as you go out.” said Anthony.

Undeterred by Mr Trosky’s experience, one Felix Fenervy brought a platinum proposition to The Twister. He should have known better. Anthony examined the maps, read the engineer’s vague reports (they would not have deceived a Commissioner Street office-boy) and invited Mr. Fenervy to lunch. Anthony had also a platinum proposition–a strip of territory in Northern Rhodesia. Why not, suggested the gentle Tony, combine the two properties under the title of the Consolidated Platinum Trust and take the complete profit on both flotations? The idea fired Fenervy. The next morning he paid to his victim twenty-three thousand pounds deposit and was under the impression that he was making money.

This was Anthony Braid whose wealth none but his banker knew, until that morning he came to call upon a man who closed the door in his face, a man who liked yet was irritated by him. Whether Tony Braid liked Lord Frensham or not is beside the point. His attentions were, perhaps, so concentrated upon another member of the family, that Lord Frensham’s suspicion and Julian Reef’s hatred were matters of supreme indifference.

“Mr. Anthony Braid, my Lord,” said the butler.

Lord Frensham shifted back into his deep desk chair, ran his ringers impatiently through his thick gray hair and frowned.

“Oh!” he growled, looked at the man, and then with an impatient wave of his hand: “All right–show him in, Charles!”

A square-shouldered man, untidily dressed, unshaven at the moment, strong-featured, big-handed, gruff of voice, abrupt of manner, this was the eighth Earl of Frensham. An obstinate and loyal man, who had gone into the City to repair a family fortune which was beyond repair, the simple, lovable qualities of his nature everlastingly fought against the remorseless requirements of his circumstances.

When Charles had gone he pulled open a drawer of his desk and took out a folder bulging with documents, opened it and turned paper after paper. But, his mind was not on the affair of the Lulanga Oil Syndicate: he was framing in his mind a definite and crushing response to the suggestion which would be made to him in a few minutes.

“Mr. Anthony Braid, m’lord.”

The man who came into the library demonstrated all that a good tailor and careful valeting could contribute towards a perfect appearance. His spare build gave the illusion of height. His black coat was carefully cut: his grey waistcoat had onyx buttons; his striped trousers bore a knife-edged crease. Mr. Anthony Braid was forty and as straight as a gun- barrel. His hair was almost black and emphasized the sallowness of the long and not unpleasant face. His eyes were dark and inscrutable. He stood, his eyes fixed upon his host, and no word was spoken until they were alone.

“Well?” challenged Frensham impatiently. “Sit down–sit down, will you, Braid? Or are you dressed to sit?”

Mr. Braid put his hat, gloves and stick with meticulous care upon a small table, hitched his trouser-knees with great deliberation and sat down. “A lovely morning,” he said. He had a deep sweet voice and a smile that was disarming. “I trust you are well, Frensham–and Ursula?”

Lord Frensham was not in the mood to discuss the weather or his daughter.

“I had your letter,” he said gruffly, “and to tell you the truth I thought it was rather an–er-“

“Impertinence,” said Mr. Braid, the ghost of a smile in his eyes.

“Exactly,” said the other jerkily. “If not worse. What you tell me in effect is that Julian Reef, who is not only my nephew but a fellow- director, is ‘bearing’ Lulanga Oils–in fact, that he is doing his best to ruin me. To tell you the truth, Braid, I was rather surprised that you put such a monstrous charge in writing. Naturally I shall not show your letter to Reef, otherwise–”

The dark eyes of Mr. Braid lit up. “Why not show him the letter?” he asked gently. “I have not the slightest fear of an action for libel. I have some six hundred thousand pounds–perhaps a little more. No jury ever awarded so much damages. There would still be sufficient to live on.”

His hearer scowled at him.

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