The Clue of the Twisted Candles

Edgar Wallace
The Clue of the Twisted Candle
by Edgar Wallace
The 4.15 from Victoria to Lewes had been held up at Three Bridges in
consequence of a derailment and, though John Lexman was fortunate
enough to catch a belated connection to Beston Tracey, the wagonette
which was the sole communication between the village and the outside
world had gone.
"If you can wait half an hour, Mr. Lexman," said the station-master, "I
will telephone up to the village and get Briggs to come down for you."
John Lexman looked out upon the dripping landscape and shrugged his
"I'll walk," he said shortly and, leaving his bag in the station-master's
care and buttoning his mackintosh to his chin, he stepped forth
resolutely into the rain to negotiate the two miles which separated the
tiny railway station from Little Tracey.
The downpour was incessant and likely to last through the night. The
high hedges on either side of the narrow road were so many leafy
cascades; the road itself was in places ankle deep in mud. He stopped
under the protecting cover of a big tree to fill and light his pipe and
with its bowl turned downwards continued his walk. But for the driving
rain which searched every crevice and found every chink in his
waterproof armor, he preferred, indeed welcomed, the walk.
The road from Beston Tracey to Little Beston was associated in his
mind with some of the finest situations in his novels. It was on this road

that he had conceived "The Tilbury Mystery." Between the station and
the house he had woven the plot which had made "Gregory Standish"
the most popular detective story of the year. For John Lexman was a
maker of cunning plots.
If, in the literary world, he was regarded by superior persons as a writer
of "shockers," he had a large and increasing public who were fascinated
by the wholesome and thrilling stories he wrote, and who held on
breathlessly to the skein of mystery until they came to the denouement
he had planned.
But no thought of books, or plots, or stories filled his troubled mind as
he strode along the deserted road to Little Beston. He had had two
interviews in London, one of which under ordinary circumstances
would have filled him with joy: He had seen T. X. and "T. X." was T.
X. Meredith, who would one day be Chief of the Criminal Investigation
Department and was now an Assistant Commissioner of Police,
engaged in the more delicate work of that department.
In his erratic, tempestuous way, T. X. had suggested the greatest idea
for a plot that any author could desire. But it was not of T. X. that John
Lexman thought as he breasted the hill, on the slope of which was the
tiny habitation known by the somewhat magnificent title of Beston
It was the interview he had had with the Greek on the previous day
which filled his mind, and he frowned as he recalled it. He opened the
little wicket gate and went through the plantation to the house, doing
his best to shake off the recollection of the remarkable and unedifying
discussion he had had with the moneylender.
Beston Priory was little more than a cottage, though one of its walls
was an indubitable relic of that establishment which a pious Howard
had erected in the thirteenth century. A small and unpretentious
building, built in the Elizabethan style with quaint gables and high
chimneys, its latticed windows and sunken gardens, its rosary and its
tiny meadow, gave it a certain manorial completeness which was a
source of great pride to its owner.

He passed under the thatched porch, and stood for a moment in the
broad hallway as he stripped his drenching mackintosh.
The hall was in darkness. Grace would probably be changing for dinner,
and he decided that in his present mood he would not disturb her. He
passed through the long passage which led to the big study at the back
of the house. A fire burnt redly in the old-fashioned grate and the snug
comfort of the room brought a sense of ease and relief. He changed his
shoes, and lit the table lamp.
The room was obviously a man's den. The leather-covered chairs, the
big and well-filled bookcase which covered one wall of the room, the
huge, solid-oak writing-desk, covered with books and half-finished
manuscripts, spoke unmistakably of its owner's occupation.
After he had changed his shoes, he refilled his pipe, walked over to the
fire, and stood looking down into its glowing heart.
He was a man a little above medium height, slimly built, with a breadth
of shoulder which was suggestive of the athlete. He had indeed rowed 4
in his boat, and had fought
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