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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Daffodil Mystery - Chapter 5. Found In Lyne's Pocket
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The Daffodil Mystery - Chapter 5. Found In Lyne's Pocket Post by :hectoryrosa Category :Long Stories Author :Edgar Wallace Date :May 2012 Read :3269

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The Daffodil Mystery - Chapter 5. Found In Lyne's Pocket

CHAPTER V. FOUND IN LYNE'S POCKET

"The London police are confronted with a new mystery, which has features so remarkable, that it would not be an exaggeration to describe this crime as the Murder Mystery of the Century. A well-known figure in London Society, Mr. Thornton Lyne, head of an important commercial organisation, a poet of no mean quality, and a millionaire renowned for his philanthropic activities, was found dead in Hyde Park in the early hours of this morning, in circumstances which admit of no doubt that he was most brutally murdered.

"At half-past five, Thomas Savage, a bricklayer's labourer employed by the Cubitt Town Construction Company, was making his way across Hyde Park _en route to his work. He had crossed the main drive which runs parallel with the Bayswater Road, when his attention was attracted to a figure lying on the grass near to the sidewalk. He made his way to the spot and discovered a man, who had obviously been dead for some hours. The body had neither coat nor waistcoat, but about the breast, on which his two hands were laid, was a silk garment tightly wound about the body, and obviously designed to stanch a wound on the left side above the heart.

"The extraordinary feature is that the murderer must not only have composed the body, but had laid upon its breast a handful of daffodils. The police were immediately summoned and the body was removed. The police theory is that the murder was not committed in Hyde Park, but the unfortunate gentleman was killed elsewhere and his body conveyed to the Park in his own motor-car, which was found abandoned a hundred yards from the scene of the discovery. We understand that the police are working upon a very important clue, and an arrest is imminent."

Mr. J. O. Tarling, late of the Shanghai Detective Service, read the short account in the evening newspaper, and was unusually thoughtful.

Lyne murdered! It was an extraordinary coincidence that he had been brought into touch with this young man only a few days before.

Tarling knew nothing of Lyne's private life, though from his own knowledge of the man during his short stay in Shanghai, he guessed that that life was not wholly blameless. He had been too busy in China to bother his head about the vagaries of a tourist, but he remembered dimly some sort of scandal which had attached to the visitor's name, and puzzled his head to recall all the circumstances.

He put down the newspaper with a little grimace indicative of regret. If he had only been attached to Scotland Yard, what a case this would have been for him! Here was a mystery which promised unusual interest.

His mind wandered to the girl, Odette Rider. What would she think of it? She would be shocked, he thought--horrified. It hurt him to feel that she might be indirectly, even remotely associated with such a public scandal, and he realised with a sudden sense of dismay that nothing was less unlikely than that her name would be mentioned as one who had quarrelled with the dead man.

"Pshaw!" he muttered, shrugging off the possibility as absurd, and, walking to the door, called his Chinese servant.

Ling Chu came silently at his bidding.

"Ling Chu," he said, "the white-faced man is dead."

Ling Chu raised his imperturbable eyes to his master's face.

"All men die some time," he said calmly. "This man quick die. That is better than long die."

Tarling looked at him sharply.

"How do you know that he quick die?" he demanded.

"These things are talked about," said Ling Chu without hesitation.

"But not in the Chinese language," replied Tarling, "and, Ling Chu, you speak no English."

"I speak a little, master," said Ling Chu, "and I have heard these things in the streets."

Tarling did not answer immediately, and the Chinaman waited.

"Ling Chu," he said after awhile, "this man came to Shanghai whilst we were there, and there was trouble-trouble. Once he was thrown out from Wing Fu's tea-house, where he had been smoking opium. Also there was another trouble--do you remember?"

The Chinaman looked him straight in the eyes.

"I am forgetting," he said. "This white-face was a bad man. I am glad he is dead."

"Humph!" said Tarling, and dismissed his retainer.

Ling Chu was the cleverest of all his sleuths, a man who never lifted his nose from the trail once it was struck, and he had been the most loyal and faithful of Tarling's native trailers. But the detective never pretended that he understood Ling Chu's mind, or that he could pierce the veil which the native dropped between his own private thoughts and the curious foreigner. Even native criminals were baffled in their interpretation of Ling Chu's views, and many a man had gone to the scaffold puzzling the head, which was soon to be snicked from his body, over the method by which Ling Chu had detected his crime.

Tarling went back to the table and picked up the newspaper, but had hardly begun to read when the telephone bell rang. He picked up the receiver and listened. To his amazement it was the voice of Cresswell, the Assistant Commissioner of Police, who had been instrumental in persuading Tarling to come to England.

"Can you come round to the Yard immediately, Tarling?" said the voice. "I want to talk to you about this murder."

"Surely," said Tarling. "I'll be with you in a few minutes."

In five minutes he was at Scotland Yard and was ushered into the office of Assistant Commissioner Cresswell. The white-haired man who came across to meet him with a smile of pleasure in his eyes disclosed the object of the summons.

"I'm going to bring you into this case, Tarling," he said. "It has certain aspects which seem outside the humdrum experience of our own people. It is not unusual, as you know," he said, as he motioned the other to a chair, "for Scotland Yard to engage outside help, particularly when we have a crime of this character to deal with. The facts you know," he went on, as he opened a thin folder. "These are the reports, which you can read at your leisure. Thornton Lyne was, to say the least, eccentric. His life was not a particularly wholesome one, and he had many undesirable acquaintances, amongst whom was a criminal and ex-convict who was only released from gaol a few days ago."

"That's rather extraordinary," said Tarling, lifting his eyebrows. "What had he in common with the criminal?"

Commissioner Cresswell shrugged his shoulders.

"My own view is that this acquaintance was rather a pose of Lyne's. He liked to be talked about. It gave him a certain reputation for character amongst his friends."

"Who is the criminal?" asked Tarling.

"He is a man named Stay, a petty larcenist, and in my opinion a much more dangerous character than the police have realised."

"Is he----" began Tarling. But the Commissioner shook his head.

"I think we can rule him out from the list of people who may be suspected of this murder," he said. "Sam Stay has very few qualities that would commend themselves to the average man, but there can be no doubt at all that he was devoted to Lyne, body and soul. When the detective temporarily in charge of the case went down to Lambeth to interview Stay, he found him lying on his bed prostrate with grief, with a newspaper containing the particulars of the murder by his side. The man is beside himself with sorrow, and threatens to 'do in' the person who is responsible for this crime. You can interview him later. I doubt whether you will get much out of him, because he is absolutely incoherent. Lyne was something more than human in his eyes, and I should imagine that the only decent emotion he has had in his life is this affection for a man who was certainly good to him, whether he was sincere in his philanthropy or otherwise. Now here are a few of the facts which have not been made public." Cresswell settled himself back in his chair and ticked off on his fingers the points as he made them.

"You know that around Lyne's chest a silk night-dress was discovered?"

Tarling nodded.

"Under the night-dress, made into a pad, evidently with the object of arresting the bleeding, were two handkerchiefs, neatly folded, as though they had been taken from a drawer. They were ladies' handkerchiefs, so we may start on the supposition that there is a woman in the case."

Tarling nodded.

"Now another peculiar feature of the case, which happily has escaped the attention of those who saw the body first and gave particulars to the newspapers, was that Lyne, though fully dressed, wore a pair of thick felt slippers. They were taken out of his own store yesterday evening, as we have ascertained, by Lyne himself, who sent for one of his assistants to his office and told him to get a pair of very soft-soled slippers.

"The third item is that Lyne's boots were discovered in the deserted motor-car which was drawn up by the side of the road a hundred yards from where the body was lying.

"And the fourth feature--and this explains why I have brought you into the case--is that in the car was discovered his bloodstained coat and waistcoat. In the right-hand pocket of the latter garment," said Cresswell, speaking slowly, "was found this." He took from his drawer a small piece of crimson paper two inches square, and handed it without comment to the detective.

Tarling took the paper and stared. Written in thick black ink were four Chinese characters, "_tzu chao fan nao_"--"He brought this trouble upon himself."

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