The Angel of Terror by Edgar Wallace
Jean Briggerland put down the paper and laughed.
"It is nothing to snigger about," growled Briggerland savagely.
"If I didn't laugh I should do something more emotional," said the girl coolly. "To think that that fool should go back and make the attempt single-handed. I never imagined that."
"Faire tells me that he's not expected to live," said Mr. Briggerland. He rubbed his bald head irritably. "I wonder if that lunatic is going to talk?"
"What does it matter if he does?" said the girl impatiently.
"You said the other day----" he began.
"The other day it mattered, my dear father. To-day nothing matters very much. I think we have got well out of it. I ignored all the lessons which my textbook teaches when I entrusted work to other hands. Jaggs," she said softly.
"Eh?" said the father.
"I'm repeating a well-beloved name," she smiled and rose, folding her serviette. "I am going for a long run in the country. Would you like to come? Mordon is very enthusiastic about the new car, the bill for which, by the way, came in this morning. Have we any money?"
"A few thousands," said her father, rubbing his chin. "Jean, we shall have to sell something unless things brighten."
Jean's lips twitched, but she said nothing.
On her way to the open road she called at Cavendish Mansions, and was neither surprised nor discomfited to discover that Jack Glover was there.
"My dear," she said, warmly clasping both the girl's hands in hers, "I was so shocked when I read the news! How terrible it must have been for you."
Lydia was looking pale, and there were dark shadows under her eyes, but she treated the matter cheerfully.
"I've just been trying to explain to Mr. Glover what happened. Unfortunately, the wonderful Jaggs is not here. He knows more about it than I, for I collapsed in the most feminine way."
"How did he get in--I mean this madman?" asked the girl.
"Through the door."
It was Jack who answered.
"It is the last way in the world a lunatic would enter a flat, isn't it? He came in with a key, and he was brought here by somebody who struck a match to make sure it was the right number."
"He might have struck the match himself," said Jean, "but you're so clever that you would not say a thing like that unless you had proof."
"We found two matches in the hall outside," said Jack, "and when Dr. Thun was searched no matches were found on him, and I have since learnt that, like most homicidal lunatics, he had a horror of fire in any form. The doctor to whom I have been talking is absolutely sure that he would not have struck the match himself. Oh, by the way, Miss Briggerland, your father met this unfortunate man. I understand he paid a visit to the asylum a few days ago?"
"Yes, he did," she answered without hesitation. "He was talking about him this morning. You see, father has been making a tour of the asylums. He is writing a book about such things. Father was horrified when he heard the man had escaped, because the doctor told him that he was a particularly dangerous lunatic. But who would have imagined he would have turned up here?"
Her big, sad eyes were fixed on Jack as she shook her head in wonder.
"If one had read that in a book one would never have believed it, would one?"
"And the man Hoggins," said Jack, who did not share her wonder. "He was by way of being an acquaintance of yours, a member of your father's club, wasn't he?"
She knit her brows.
"I don't remember the name, but if he is a very bad character," she said with a little smile, "I should say distinctly that he was a member of father's club! Poor daddy, I don't think he will ever regenerate the East End."
"I don't think he will," agreed Jack heartily. "The question is, whether the East End will ever regenerate him."
A slow smile dawned on her face.
"How unkind!" she said, mockery in her eyes now. "I wonder why you dislike him so. He is so very harmless, really. My dear," she turned to the girl with a gesture of helplessness. "I am afraid that even in this affair Mr. Glover is seeing my sinister influence!"
"You're the most un-sinister person I have ever met, Jean," laughed Lydia, "and Mr. Glover doesn't really think all these horrid things."
"Doesn't he?" said Jean softly, and Jack saw that she was shaking with laughter.
There was a certain deadly humour in the situation which tickled him too, and he grinned.
"I wish to heaven you'd get married and settle down, Miss Briggerland," he said incautiously.
It was her chance. She shook her head, the lips drooped, the eyes again grew moist with the pain she could call to them at will.
"I wish I could," she said in a tone a little above a whisper, "but, Jack, I could never marry you, never!"
She left Jack Glover bereft of speech, totally incapable of arousing so much as a moan.
Lydia, returning from escorting her visitor to the door, saw his embarrassment and checked his impulsive explanation a little coldly.
"I--I believed you when you said it wasn't true, Mr. Glover," she said, and there was a reproach in her tone for which she hated herself afterwards.