Again the Three Just Men
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Pages (PDF): 151
Publication Date: 1929
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More adventures of Edgar Wallace's most popular characters, Manfred, Gonsalez, and Poiccart, better known to the underworld as the dreaded Three Just Men. Again the Three Just Men (published in the US as 'The Law of the Three Just Men' consists of 13 short stories. Chapters include: The Rebus; The Happy Travellers; The Abductor; The Third Coincidence; The Slane Mystery; The Marked Cheque; Mr Levingrou's Daughter; The Share Pusher; The Man Who Sang in Church; The Lady From Brazil; The Typist Who Saw Things; The Mystery of Mr Drake; and, 'The Englishman Konnor'.
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As The Megaphone once said, in its most pessimistic and wondering mood, recording rather than condemning the strangeness of the time:
"Even The Four Just Men have become a respectable institution. Not more than fifteen years ago we spoke of them as 'a criminal organization'; rewards were offered for their arrest…today you may turn into Curzon Street and find a silver triangle affixed to the sedate door which marks their professional headquarters…The hunted and reviled have become a most exclusive detective agency…We can only hope that their somewhat drastic methods of other times have been considerably modified."
It is sometimes a dangerous thing to watch a possible watcher.
'What is Mr Lewis Lethersohn afraid of?' asked Manfred, as he cracked an egg at breakfast. His handsome, clean–shaven face was tanned a teak–brown, for he was newly back from the sun and snows of Switzerland.
Leon Gonsalez sat opposite, absorbed in The Times; at the end of the table was Raymond Poiccart, heavy–featured and saturnine. Other pens than mine have described his qualities and his passion for growing vegetables.
He raised his eyes to Gonsalez.
'Is he the gentleman who has had this house watched for the past month?' he asked.
A smile quivered on Leon's lips as he folded the newspaper neatly.
'He is the gentleman—I'm interviewing him this morning,' he said. 'In the meantime, the sleuth hounds have been withdrawn—they were employed by the Ottis Detective Agency.'
'If he is watching us, he has a bad conscience,' said Poiccart, nodding slowly. 'I shall be interested to hear all about this.'
Mr Lewis Lethersohn lived in Lower Berkeley Street—a very large and expensive house. The footman who opened the door to Leon was arrayed in a uniform common enough in historical films but rather out of the picture in Lower Berkeley Street. Mulberry and gold and knee breeches…Leon gazed at him with awe.
'Mr Lethersohn will see you in the library,' said the man—he seemed; thought Leon, rather conscious of his own magnificence.
A gorgeous house this, with costly furnishings and lavish decorations. As he mounted the wide stairs he had a glimpse of a beautiful woman passing across the landing. One disdainful glance she threw in his direction and passed, leaving behind her the faint fragrance of some exotic perfume.
The room into which he was shown might have been mistaken for a bedroom, with its bric–a–brac and its beauty of appointments.
Mr Lethersohn rose from behind the Empire writing table and offered a white hand. He was thin, rather bald, and there was a suggestion of the scholar in his lined face.
'Mr Gonsalez?' His voice was thin and not particularly pleasant. 'Won't you sit down? I had your inquiry—there seems to be some mistake.'
He had resumed his own seat. Though he might endeavour, to cover up his uneasiness by this cold attitude of his, he could not quite hide his perturbation.
'I know you, of course—but it is ridiculous that I should set men to watch your house. Why?'
Gonsalez was watching him intently.
'That is what I have come to learn,' he said, 'and I think it would be fairest to tell you that there is no doubt that you are watching us. We know the agency you employed—we know the fees you have paid and the instructions you have given. The only question is, why?'
Mr Lethersohn moved uncomfortably and smiled. 'Really…I suppose there is no wisdom in denying that I did employ detectives. The truth is, the Four Just Men is rather a formidable organization—and—er—Well, I am a rich man….'
He was at a loss how to go on.
The interview ended lamely with polite assurances on either side. Leon Gonsalez went back to Curzon Street a very thoughtful man.
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