The Clue of the Twisted Candle

The Clue of the Twisted Candle


"You have all the manners of an early Christian martyr," she said.

"Poor soul! Would you like to be thrown to the lions?""I should prefer being thrown to the demnition ducks and drakes,"he said moodily.

"You're such a miserable man," she chided him, "and yet you have everything to make life worth living.""Ha, ha!" said T.X.

"You have, of course you have! You have a splendid position.

Everybody looks up to you and talks about you.You have got a wife and family who adore you - "He stopped and looked at her as though she were some strange insect.

"I have a how much?" he asked credulously.

"Aren't you married?" she asked innocently.

He made a strange noise in his throat.

"Do you know I have always thought of you as married," she went on; "I often picture you in your domestic circle reading to the children from the Daily Megaphone those awfully interesting stories about Little Willie Waterbug."He held on to the railings for support.

"May we sit down" he asked faintly.

She sat by his side, half turned to him, demure and wholly adorable.

"Of course you are right in one respect," he said at last, "but you're altogether wrong about the children.""Are you married!" she demanded with no evidence of amusement.

"Didn't you know?" he asked.

She swallowed something.

"Of course it's no business of mine and I'm sure I hope you are very happy.""Perfectly happy," said T.X.complacently."You must come out and see me one Saturday afternoon when I am digging the potatoes.

I am a perfect devil when they let me loose in the vegetable garden.""Shall we go on?" she said.

He could have sworn there were tears in her eyes and manlike he thought she was vexed with him at his fooling.

"I haven't made you cross, have I?" he asked.

"Oh no," she replied.

"I mean you don't believe all this rot about my being married and that sort of thing?""I'm not interested," she said, with a shrug of her shoulders, "not very much.You've been very kind to me and I should be an awful boor if I wasn't grateful.Of course, I don't care whether you're married or not, it's nothing to do with me, is it?""Naturally it isn't," he replied."I suppose you aren't married by any chance?""Married," she repeated bitterly; "why, you will make my fourth!"She had hardy got the words out of her mouth before she realized her terrible error.A second later she was in his arms and he was kissing her to the scandal of one aged park keeper, one small and dirty-faced little boy and a moulting duck who seemed to sneer at the proceedings which he watched through a yellow and malignant eye.

"Belinda Mary," said parting, "you have got to give up your little country establishment, wherever it may be and come back to the discomforts of Portman Place.Oh, I know you can't come back yet.That 'somebody' is there, and I can pretty well guess who it is.""Who?" she challenged.

"I rather fancy your mother has come back," he suggested.

A look of scorn dawned into her pretty face.

"Good lord, Tommy!" she said in disgust, "you don't think I should keep mother in the suburbs without her telling the world all about it!""You're an undutiful little beggar," he said.

They had reached the Horse Guards at Whitehall and he was saying good-bye to her.

"If it comes to a matter of duty," she answered, "perhaps you will do your duty and hold up the traffic for me and let me cross this road.""My dear girl," he protested, "hold up the traffic?""Of course," she said indignantly, "you're a policeman.""Only when I am in uniform," he said hastily, and piloted her across the road.

It was a new man who returned to the gloomy office in Whitehall.

A man with a heart that swelled and throbbed with the pride and joy of life's most precious possession.

Edgar Wallace