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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Daffodil Mystery - Chapter The Last. The Statement Of Sam Stay
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The Daffodil Mystery - Chapter The Last. The Statement Of Sam Stay Post by :bambito Category :Long Stories Author :Edgar Wallace Date :May 2012 Read :1340

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The Daffodil Mystery - Chapter The Last. The Statement Of Sam Stay

"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 motor-driving, and I secured a licence in another name as a taxicab driver and for twelve months drove a cab on the streets. At the end of that period I was convicted for stealing passengers' baggage and was sent to prison for eighteen months.

"It was after my release from this term of imprisonment that I first met Mr. Thornton Lyne. I met him in the following manner. I had been given a letter from the Prisoners' Aid Society and went to Mr. Thornton Lyne to get a job. He took a great interest in me and from the very first was the best friend I had ever had. His kindness was wonderful and I think there never was a man in the world with such a beautiful nature as his.

"He assisted me many times, and although I went back to prison, he never deserted me, but helped me as a friend and was never disgusted when I got into trouble.

"I was released from gaol in the spring of this year and was met at the prison gates by Mr. Thornton Lyne in a beautiful motor-car. He treated me as though I were a prince and took me home to his grand house and gave me food and beautiful wine.

"He told me that he had been very much upset by a young lady whom he had looked after. This young lady worked for him and he had given her work when she was starving. He said that she had been spreading lies about him and that she was a bad girl. I had never seen this person, whose name was Odette Rider, but I felt full of hatred towards her, and the more he spoke about the girl the more determined I was to have revenge on her.

"When he told me that she was very beautiful, I remembered in the same gang as me at Wandsworth Gaol there had been a man named Selser. That is the name as far as I can remember. He was serving a lagging (a term of penal servitude) for throwing vitriol in the face of his girl. She had let him down and had married another man while he was serving a term of imprisonment. I believe she was very beautiful. When Selser got out he laid wait for her and threw vitriol in her face, and he has often told me that he didn't regret it.

"So that when Mr. Lyne told me that the girl was beautiful, this idea struck me that I would have revenge upon her. I was living in Lambeth at the house of an old lag, who practically took nobody but crooks as lodgers. It cost more than ordinary lodging but it was worth it, because if the police made any inquiries the landlord or his wife would always give wrong information. I went to this place because I intended committing a burglary at Muswell Hill with a man who was released from gaol two or three days before me, who knew the crib and asked me, when we were at work one day, if I would go in with him on the job. I thought there might be a chance of getting away with the stuff, if I could get somebody to swear that I hadn't left the house that night.

"I told the landlord I had a job on the 14th and gave him L1. I saw Mr. Lyne on the 14th at his house and put the idea up to him. I showed him the vitriol which I had bought in the Waterloo Road and he said he would not hear of my doing it. I thought he only said that because he did not want to be mixed up in the case. He asked me to leave the girl to him and he would settle with her.

"I left his house about nine o'clock at night, telling him I was going back to my lodgings. But really I went to the block of flats in the Edgware Road where this girl Rider lived. I knew the flat because I had been there the night before at Mr. Lyne's suggestion to plant some jewellery which had been taken from the store. His idea was that he would pinch her for theft. I had not been able to get into the house, owing to the presence there of a detective named Tarling, but I had had a very good look round and I knew the way in, without coming through the front door, where a porter was always on duty.

"I had no difficulty either in getting into the building or into the flat. I thought it best to go in early because the girl might be out at the theatre and I should have a chance of concealing myself before her return. When I got into the flat I found it was in darkness. This suited my purpose very well. I went from one room to another. At last I came to the bedroom. I made an inspection of the room, looking about for a likely place where I could hide.

"At the foot of the bed was an alcove covered by a curtain where several dresses and a dressing-gown were hanging, and I found that I could easily get in there behind the clothes and nobody would be the wiser. There were two clothes-hooks projecting outside the curtain just inside the alcove. I mention these because of something which happened later.

"Whilst I was prying around I heard a key turn in the lock and switched off the lights. I had just time to get into the alcove when the door opened and a man named Milburgh appeared. He turned on the lights as he came into the room and shut the door after him. He looked around as though he was thinking about something and then, taking off his coat, he hung it on one of the hooks near the alcove. I held my breath fearing that he would look inside, but he did not.

"He walked about the room as though he was looking for something, and again I was afraid that I should be discovered after all, but by and by he went out and came back with a small suit-case. It was after he had gone that I saw poking out of the pocket of the overcoat which had been hung on the hook, the butt of a pistol. I didn't quite know what to make of it, but thinking that it was better in my pocket than in his if I were discovered, I lifted it out of the pocket and slipped it into my own.

"After a while he came back as I say and started packing the bag on the bed. Presently he looked at his watch and said something to himself, turned out the lights and hurried out. I waited and waited for him to come back but nothing happened, and knowing that I would have plenty of time if he came back again, I had a look at the pistol I had. It was an automatic and it was loaded. I had never worked with a gun in my life, but I thought I might as well take this as I intended committing a crime which might land me in jug for the term of my natural life. I thought I might as well be hung as go to penal servitude.

"Then I put out the lights and sat down by the window, waiting for Miss Rider's return. I lit a cigarette, and opened the window to let out the smell of the smoke. I took out the bottle of vitriol, removed the cork and placed it on a stool near by.

"I don't know how long I waited in the dark, but about eleven o'clock, as far as I can judge, I heard the outer door click very gently and a soft foot in the hall. I knew it wasn't Milburgh because he was a heavy man. This person moved like a cat. In fact, I did not hear the door of the bedroom open. I waited with the vitriol on the stool by my side, for the light to be switched on, but nothing happened. I don't know what made me do it but I walked towards the person who had come into the room.

"Then, before I knew what had happened, somebody had gripped me. I was half-strangled by an arm which had been thrown round my neck and I thought it was Milburgh who had detected me the first time and had come back to pinch me. I tried to push him away, but he struck me on the jaw.

"I was getting frightened for I thought the noise would rouse the people and the police would come, and I must have lost my head. Before I knew what had happened I had pulled the gun out of my pocket and fired point-blank. I heard a sound like a thud of the body falling. The pistol was still in my hand, and my first act was to get rid of it. I felt a basket by my legs in the darkness. It was full of cotton and wool and stuff and I pushed the pistol down to the bottom and then groped across the room and switched on the lights.

"As I did so, I heard the key turn in the lock again. I gave one glance at the body which had fallen on its face and then I dived for the alcove.

"The man who came in was Milburgh. His back was to me. As he turned the body over I could not see its face. I saw him take something out of the drawer and bind it round the chest and I saw him strip off the coat and vest, but not until he had gone out and I came from the recess, did I realise that the man I had killed was dear Mr. Lyne.

"I think I must have gone raving mad with grief. I don't know what I did. All I thought of was that there must be some chance and he wasn't dead at all and he must be got away to a hospital. We had discussed the plan of going into the flat and he had told me how he would bring his car to the back. I rushed out of the flat, going through the back way. Sure enough there was the car waiting and nobody was about.

"I came back to the bedroom and lifted him in my arms and carried him back to the car, propping him up in the seat. Then I went back and got his coat and vest and threw them on to the seat by him. I found his boots were also in the car and then for the first time I noticed that he had slippers on his feet.

"I have been a taxi-driver so I know how to handle a car and in a few minutes I was going along the Edgware Road, on my way to St. George's Hospital. I turned in through the park because I didn't want people to see me, and it was when I had got into a part where nobody was about that I stopped the car to have another look at him. I realised that he was quite dead.

"I sat in that car with him for the best part of two hours, crying as I never have cried, then after a while I roused myself and carried him out and laid him on the sidewalk, some distance from the car. I had enough sense to know that if he were found dead in my company it would go very badly with me, but I hated leaving him and after I had folded his arms I sat by him for another hour or two.

"He seemed so cold and lonely that it made my heart bleed to leave him at all. In the early light of morning I saw a bed of daffodils growing close by and I plucked a few and laid them on his breast because I loved him."

Tarling finished reading and looked at his assistant.

"That is the end of the Daffodil Mystery," he said. "A fairly simple explanation, Whiteside. Incidentally, it acquits our friend Milburgh, who looks like escaping conviction altogether."

* * * * *

A week later two people were walking slowly along the downs overlooking the sea. They had walked for a mile in complete silence, then suddenly Odette Rider said:

"I get very easily tired. Let us sit down."

Tarling obediently sunk down by her side.

"I read in the newspapers this morning, Mr. Tarling," she said, "that you have sold Lyne's Store."

"That's true," said Tarling. "There are very many reasons why I do not want to go into the business, or stay in London."

She did not look at him, but played with the blades of grass she had plucked.

"Are you going abroad?" she asked.

"We are," said Tarling.

"We?" she looked at him in surprise. "Who are we?"

"I am referring to myself and a girl to whom I made violent love at Hertford," said Tarling, and she dropped her eyes.

"I think you were sorry for me," she said, "and you were rather led into your wild declaration of--of----"

"Love?" suggested Tarling.

"That's the word," she replied with a little smile. "You were led to say what you did because of my hopeless plight."

"I was led to say what I did," said Tarling, "because I loved you."

"Where are you--we--going?" she asked awkwardly.

"To South America," said Tarling, "for a few months. Then afterwards to my well-beloved China for the cool season."

"Why to South America?" asked the girl.

"Because," said Tarling, "I was reading an article on horticulture in this morning's papers and I learnt that daffodils do not grow in the Argentine."


(THE END)
Edgar Wallace's Novel: Daffodil Mystery

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