John Creasey: Stars For The Toff

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John Creasey Stars For The Toff
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JOHN CREASEY

Stars For The Toff

 

 

Copyright Note

This e-book was created by papachanjo, with the purpose of providing a digitized format of the books written by John Creasey without the least intention of commercial gain of any sort. This e-book should hence be utilized for reading only and if you like it and can buy it, please do to support the publishers.

This book was scanned by a friend in America along with others.

I am trying to create at least an ample collection of all the John Creasey books which are in the excess of 500 novels. Having read and possess just a meager 10 of his books does not qualify me to be a fan but the 10 I read were enough for me to rake up some effort to scan and create these e-books.

If you happen to have any John Creasey book and would like to add to the free online collection which I’m hoping to bring together, you can do the following:

Scan the book in greyscale

Save as djvu — use the free DJVU SOLO software to compress the images

Send it to my e-mail: papachanjo@rocketmail.com

I’ll do the rest and will add a note of credit in the finished document.

This book is for Olga Stringfellow who introduced me—and so the Toff—to the stars.

from back cover

Madame Melinska was tall, dignified . . . and the object of someone’s very bitter hatred. The Honourable Richard Rollison—the Toff—would have been interested in the case of the dark-haired fortune-teller in any case, but when he discovered that his own aunt had invested a large sum of money in Madam Melinska, he felt called upon to take an active hand in the matter. His aunt could afford the loss, but the Toff considered it very unsporting when the underworld took advantage of his immediate family. Then he discovered that his aunt was not at all upset about the money loss . . . and the fortune-teller’s powers were more than just a con woman’s fancy! Before matters progressed much further, he found himself in murder and danger up to his very fashionable neck!

Table of Contents

 

Copyright Note

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

CHAPTER ONE

A Man And His Man

“Jolly,” said the Honourable Richard Rollison.

“Yes, sir?” responded his manservant.

“Do you know a word which perfectly describes both you and me?”

Jolly, a man of many pauses and great deliberation, studied Rollison’s face earnestly. In that subconscious way which old friends acquire, he saw the other as a kind of reflection of himself. There were, of course, marked differences. Rollison’s eyes were clear and grey and fringed with upward sweeping lashes; Jolly’s were brown and sad, their brightness only lurking, their lashes sparse. Rollison’s face was that of a man younger by ten than his forty-odd years; a handsome one too; Jolly, who was sixty, could pass anywhere for seventy. Rollison’s face was hardly lined and his handsomeness was heightened by the bronze of Alpine winter sunshine; Jolly’s face was pale and wizened.

“You’re taking your time,” remarked Rollison.

“You are a difficult person to describe, sir. May I ask whether you mean a physical description?”

“No. A description—” Rollison hesitated, then beamed as if a bon mot had sprung to his mind— “a description which sets our age and our place in this unhappy world.”

After another pause, Jolly asked: “How many letters, sir?”

Rollison’s face dropped.

“You know very well that I can’t spell.”

“I know you enjoy pretending that you can’t, sir. A description which sets our age and our place in this world. Ah. Let me see.” Jolly screwed up his eyes as if praying to an oracle, while Rollison watched him affectionately; there had never been a time when he had not known Jolly.

Jolly opened his eyes very wide.

“Anachronistic, sir?” he hazarded.

Rollison laughed.

“I should have expected it! You’re as ready to face the facts of life as I am. Anachronistic it is indeed. We belong to yesterday. Perhaps even the day before yesterday. No man has a man today.”

“Most unfortunate when true, sir,” remarked Jolly.

“And no man serves another with the same unfailing loyalty as you do,” observed Rollison. “Do you think there will ever be another like you?”

“There will certainly never be another gentleman like you, sir.”

“Hm,” said Rollison pensively. “We may both be right. The day of dudes and dukes and private eyes is past, this is an age of bugs and computers and brainwashing. Do you know what has prompted my near-nostalgic mood?”

“I think so, sir,” said Jolly.

They both smiled as they turned their gaze upon the wall behind the large pedestal desk where Rollison sat much of most days. On this wall were the trophies, as Jolly had come to call them, of the hunt; so it was known as the Trophy Wall. On it hung a strange assortment of objects, from a poison phial to a pencil-pistol, from a bloodstained dagger once used to stab to a lip-sticked silk stocking once used to strangle. There was a preserved scorpion and a feather from the neck of a dead chicken; a torn glove; and the faded score of an old song sheet. Each was the trophy of a hunt, by Rollison, of a criminal—of a man who had killed. Each hunt had been successful and each exhibit told the story—why. Even the top hat, closest to the ceiling, two bullet holes drilled through the shiny nap of the crown, told a story: that hat, worn during an escapade nearly twenty-five years ago, had first earned Richard Rollison his soubriquet—the Toff.

It had since become famous in many parts of the world.

On the Trophy Wall were forty-nine exhibits—representative of the forty-nine men and women who had been brought to justice by the Toff. Some had been hanged; some (the later ones) were serving their so-called life sentences. Several, reprieved during the doleful days of hanging, were now leading outwardly happy and respectable lives.

“The next,” said Rollison, “will be the fiftieth trophy.”

“I was wondering, sir,” said Jolly.

“Wonder on.”

Need there be?”

“A number fifty?”

“That is what I ask myself from time to time, sir.”

“Jolly,” said Rollison, “don’t you believe in fate?”

“Not altogether, sir.”

“Elucidate.”

“Not if you mean you are fated to make yet another investigation, sir. I think is within your power to stop it.”

“I don’t, Jolly.”

“I cannot believe that all our actions are predestined,” Jolly protested, with notable dignity. “We are surely masters of our own fate to some degree.”

“You were born into service,” Rollison reminded him.

“And stayed because I liked it, sir.”

“Had you been born a bookmaker or a candlestick-maker, would you have spent your life with me?”

Jolly raised his hands a resigned inch or so.

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