Текст книги

Edgar Wallace
Jack O' Judgment

"Well?" asked Crewe.

"Confound the girl, she won't talk," grumbled Silva. "I'd give something to break that pride of hers, Crewe. By jove, I'll do it one of these days," he added between his teeth.

Crewe laughed.

"There's no sense in going off the deep end because a girl turns you down," he said. "What did she say about the flat? And what did she say about her visit to Albemarle Place?"

"She said nothing," said the other shortly. "Come along, let's go back to the colonel."

On the return journey he declined to be drawn into any kind of conversation, and Crewe, after one or two attempts to procure enlightenment as to the result of the interview, relapsed into silence.

They found the colonel waiting for them, and to all appearances the colonel was undisturbed by the happenings of the evening.

"Well?" he asked.

"She admits she was here," said Pinto.

"What was she doing?"

"You'd better ask her yourself," said the other with some asperity. "I tell you, colonel, I can't handle that woman."

"Nobody ever thought you could," said the colonel. "Did she give you any idea as to what her business was?"

Pinto shook his head and the colonel paced the big room thoughtfully, his big hands in his pockets.

"Here's a situation," he said. "There's some outsider who's following every movement we make, who knew that boob from Huddersfield was coming, and who knew what our business was. That somebody was this infernal Jack o' Judgment, but who is Jack o' Judgment, hey?"

He looked round fiercely.

"I'll tell you who he is," he went on, speaking slowly "He's somebody who knows our gang as well as we know it ourselves, somebody who has been on the inside, somebody who has access, or who has had access, to our working methods. In fact," he said using his pet phrase, "a business associate."

"Rubbish!" said Pinto.

This polished man of Portugal, who had come into the gang very late in the day, was one of the few people who were privileged to offer blunt opposition to the leader of the Boundary Gang.

"You might as well say it is I, or that it is Crewe, or Dempsey, or Selby–"

"Or White," said the colonel slowly; "don't forget White."

They stared at him.

"What do you mean?" asked Crewe with a frown.

White had been a favourite of his.

"How could it be White?"

"Why shouldn't it be White?" said the colonel. "When did Jack o' Judgment make his first appearance? I'll tell you. About the time we started getting busy framing up something against White. Did we ever see him when White was with us—no! Isn't it obviously somebody who has been a business associate and knows our little ways? Why, of course it is. Tell me somebody else?

"You don't suggest it is 'Snow' Gregory, anyway?" he added sarcastically.

Crewe shivered and half-closed his eyes.

"For heaven's sake don't mention 'Snow' Gregory," he said irritably.

"Why shouldn't I?" snarled the colonel. "He's worth money and life and liberty to us, Crewe. He's an awful example that keeps some of our business associates on the straight path. Not," he added with elaborate care, "not that we were in any way responsible for his untimely end. But he died—providentially. A doper's bad enough, but a doper who talks and boasts and tells me, as he told me in this very room, just where he'd put me, is a mighty dangerous man, Crewe."

"Did he do that?" asked Crewe with interest.

The colonel nodded.

"In this very room where you're standing," he said impressively, "at the end of that table he stood, all lit up with 'coco' and he told me things about our organisation that I thought nobody knew but myself. That's the worst of drugs," he said, shaking his head reprovingly; "you never know how clever they'll make a man, and they made 'Snow' a bit too clever. I'm not saying that I regretted his death—far from it. I don't know how he got mixed up in the affair–"

"Oh, shut up!" growled Pinto; "why go on acting before us? We were all in it."

"Hush!" said the colonel with a glance at the door.

There was a silence. All eyes were fixed on the door.

"Did you hear anything?" asked the colonel under his breath.

His face was a shade paler than they had ever remembered seeing it.

"It is nothing," said Pinto; "that fellow's got on your nerves."

The colonel walked to the sideboard and poured out a generous portion of whisky and drank it at a gulp.

"Lots of things are getting on my nerves," he said, "but nothing gets on my nerves so much as losing money. Crewe, we've got to go after that Yorkshireman again—at least somebody has got to go after him."

"And that somebody is not going to be me," said Crewe quietly. "I did my part of the business. Let Pinto have a cut."

Pinto Silva shook his head.

"We'll drop him," he said decisively, and for the first time Crewe realised how dominating a factor Pinto had become in the government of the band.

"We'll drop him–"

Suddenly he stopped and craned his head round.

It was he who had heard something near the door, and now with noiseless steps he tiptoed across the room to the door, and gripping the handle, opened it suddenly. A gun had appeared in his hand, but he did not use it. Instead, he darted through the open doorway and they heard the sound of a struggle. Presently he came back, dragging by the collar a man.

"Got him!" he said triumphantly, and hurled his captive into the nearest chair.



Their prisoner was a stranger. He was a lean, furtive-looking man of thirty-five, below middle height, respectably dressed, and at first glance, the colonel, whose hobby was distinguishing at a look the social standing of humanity, was unable to place him.