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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Daffodil Mystery - Chapter 37. Ling Chu Returns
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The Daffodil Mystery - Chapter 37. Ling Chu Returns Post by :bambito Category :Long Stories Author :Edgar Wallace Date :May 2012 Read :1608

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The Daffodil Mystery - Chapter 37. Ling Chu Returns


Tarling dropped the telephone receiver on its hook and had sunk into a chair with a groan. His face was white--whiter than the prisoner's who sat opposite him, and he seemed to have gone old all of a sudden.

"What is it?" asked Whiteside quietly. "Who was the man?"

"Stay," said Tarling. "Stay. He has Odette! It's awful, awful!"

Whiteside, thoughtful, preoccupied; Milburgh, his face twitching with fear, watched the scene curiously.

"I'm beaten," said Tarling--and at that moment the telephone bell rang again.

He lifted the receiver and bent over the table, and Whiteside saw his eyes open in wide amazement. It was Odette's voice that greeted him.

"It is I, Odette!"

"Odette! Are you safe? Thank God for that!" he almost shouted. "Thank God for that! Where are you?"

"I am at a tobacconist's shop in----" there was a pause while she was evidently asking somebody the name of the street, and presently she came back with the information.

"But, this is wonderful!" said Tarling. "I'll be with you immediately. Whiteside, get a cab, will you? How did you get away?"

"It's rather a long story," she said. "Your Chinese friend saved me. That dreadful man stopped the cab near a tobacconist's shop to telephone. Ling Chu appeared by magic. I think he must have been lying on top of the cab, because I heard him come down by the side. He helped me out and stood me in a dark doorway, taking my place. Please don't ask me any more. I am so tired."

Half an hour later Tarling was with the girl and heard the story of the outrage. Odette Rider had recovered something of her calm, and before the detective had returned her to the nursing home she had told him the story of her adventure.

"I must have fainted," she said. "When I woke up I was lying at the bottom of the cab, which was moving at a tremendous rate. I thought of getting back to the seat, but it occurred to me that if I pretended to be faint I might have a chance of escape. When I heard the cab stop I tried to rise, but I hadn't sufficient strength. But help was near. I heard the scraping of shoes on the leather top of the car, and presently the door opened and I saw a figure which I knew was not the cabman's. He lifted me out, and fortunately the cab had stopped opposite a private house with a big porch, and to this he led me.

"'Wait,' he said. 'There is a place where you may telephone a little way along. Wait till we have gone."

"Then he went back to the cab, closed the door noiselessly, and immediately afterwards I saw Stay running along the path. In a few seconds the cab had disappeared and I dragged myself to the shop--and that's all."

No news had been received of Ling Chu when Tarling returned to his flat. Whiteside was waiting; and told him that he had put Milburgh into the cells and that he would be charged the following day.

"I can't understand what has happened to Ling Chu. He should be back by now," said Tarling.

It was half-past one in the morning, and a telephone inquiry to Scotland Yard had produced no information.

"It is possible, of course," Tarling went on, "that Stay took the cab on to Hertford. The man has developed into a dangerous lunatic."

"All criminals are more or less mad," said the philosophical Whiteside. "I wonder what turned this fellow's brain."

"Love!" said Tarling.

The other looked at him in surprise.

"Love?" he repeated incredulously, and Tarling: nodded.

"Undoubtedly Sam Stay adored Lyne. It was the shock of his death which drove him mad."

Whiteside drummed his fingers on the table, thoughtfully.

"What do you think of Milburgh's story?" he asked, and Tarling shrugged his shoulders.

"It is most difficult to form a judgment," he said. "The man spoke as though he were telling the truth, and something within me convinces me that he was not lying. And yet the whole thing is incredible."

"Of course, Milburgh has had time to make up a pretty good story," warned Whiteside. "He is a fairly shrewd man, this Milburgh, and it was hardly likely that he would tell us a yarn which was beyond the range of belief."

"That is true," agreed the other, "nevertheless, I am satisfied he told almost the whole of the truth."

"Then, who killed Thornton Lyne?"

Tarling rose with a gesture of despair.

"You are apparently as far from the solution of that mystery as I am, and yet I have formed a theory which may sound fantastic----"

There was a light step upon the stair and Tarling crossed the room and opened the door.

Ling Chu came in, his calm, inscrutable self, and but for the fact that his forehead and his right hand were heavily bandaged, carrying no evidence of his tragic experience.

"Hello, Ling Chu," said Tarling in English, "you're hurt?"

"Not badly," said Ling Chu. "Will the master be good enough to give me a cigarette? I lost all mine in the struggle."

"Where is Sam Stay?"

Ling Chu lit the cigarette before he answered, blew out the match and placed it carefully in the ash-tray on the centre of the table.

"The man is sleeping on the Terrace of Night," said Ling Chu simply.

"Dead?" said the startled Tarling.

The Chinaman nodded.

"Did you kill him?"

Again Ling Chu paused and puffed a cloud of cigarette smoke into the air.

"He was dying for many days, so the doctor at the big hospital told me. I hit his head once or twice, but not very hard. He cut me a little with a knife, but it was nothing."

"Sam Stay is dead, eh?" said Tarling thoughtfully. "Well, that removes a source of danger to Miss Rider, Ling Chu."

The Chinaman smiled.

"It removes many things, master, because before this man died, his head became good."

"You mean he was sane?"

"He was sane, master," said Ling Chu, "and he wished to speak to paper. So the big doctor at the hospital sent for a judge, or one who sits in judgment."

"A magistrate?"

"Yes, a magistrate," said Ling Chu, nodding, "a little old man who lives very near the hospital, and he came, complaining because it was so late an hour. Also there came a man who wrote very rapidly in a book, and when the man had died, he wrote more rapidly on a machine and gave me these papers to bring to you, detaining others for himself and for the judge who spoke to the man."

He fumbled in his blouse and brought out a roll of paper covered with typewriting.

Tarling took the documents and saw that it consisted of several pages. Then he looked up at Ling Chu.

"First tell me, Ling Chu," he said, "what happened? You may sit."

Ling Chu with a jerky little bow pulled a chair from the wall and sat at a respectful distance from the table, and Tarling, noting the rapid consumption of his cigarette, passed him the box.

"You must know, master, that against your wish and knowledge, I took the large-faced man and put him to the question. These things are not done in this country, but I thought it best that the truth should be told. Therefore, I prepared to give him the torture when he told me that the small-small girl was in danger. So I left him, not thinking that your excellency would return until the morning, and I went to the big house where the small-small girl was kept, and as I came to the corner of the street I saw her get into a quick-quick car.

"It was moving off long before I came to it, and I had to run; it was very fast. But I held on behind, and presently when it stopped at this street to cross, I scrambled up the back and lay flat upon the top of the cab. I think people saw me do this and shouted to the driver, but he did not hear. Thus I lay for a long time and the car drove out into the country and after a while came back, but before it came back it stopped and I saw the man talking to the small-small woman in angry tones. I thought he was going to hurt her and I waited ready to jump upon him, but the lady went into the realms of sleep and he lifted her back into the car.

"Then he came back to the town and again he stopped to go into a shop. I think it was to telephone, for there was one of those blue signs which you can see outside a shop where the telephone may be used by the common people. Whilst he had gone in I got down and lifted the small-small woman out, taking the straps from her hands and placing her in a doorway. Then I took her place. We drove for a long time till he stopped by a high wall, and then, master, there was a fight," said Ling Chu simply.

"It took me a long time to overcome him and then I had to carry him. We came to a policeman who took us in another car to a hospital where my wounds were dressed. Then they came to me and told me the man was dying and wished to see somebody because he had that in his heart for which he desired ease.

"So he talked, master, and the man wrote for an hour, and then he passed to his fathers, that little white-faced man."

He finished abruptly as was his custom. Tarling took the papers up and opened them, glanced through page after page, Whiteside sitting patiently by without interrupting.

When Tarling had finished the documents, he looked across the table.

"Thornton Lyne was killed by Sam Stay," he said, and Whiteside stared at him.

"But----" he began.

"I have suspected it for some time, but there were one or two links in the evidence which were missing and which I was unable to supply. Let me read you the statement of Sam Stay."

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"My name is Sam Stay. I was born at Maidstone in the County of Kent. My age is twenty-nine years. I left school at the age of eleven and got mixed up with a bad set, and at the age of thirteen I was convicted for stealing from a shop, and was sent to Borstal Institute for four years. "On my release from Borstal I went to London, and a year later was convicted of house-breaking, receiving a sentence of twelve months' imprisonment with hard labour. On my release from prison I was taken up by a society who taught me

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CHAPTER XXXVI. AT HIGHGATE CEMETERYOdette Rider sat back in a corner of the smooth-running taxicab. Her eyes were closed, for the inevitable reaction had come. Excitement and anxiety had combined to give her the strength to walk to the cab with a firm step which had surprised the matron; but now, in the darkness and solitude, she was conscious of a depression, both physical and mental, which left her without the will or power for further effort. The car sped through interminably long streets--in what direction she neither knew nor cared. Remember that she did not even know where the nursing